May 18, 2003
A 2,000 GB FIREWIRE DRIVE! Heck, I need one of those just to hold my email.
A 2,000 GB FIREWIRE DRIVE! Heck, I need one of those just to hold my email.
“HONEST JIM” TREACHER has stuff to sell you. ‘Nuff said.
CHARLES PAUL FREUND points out some interesting developments in the Mideast.
THIS BBC REPORT says that the rescue of Jessica Lynch was fake, and that the soldiers were firing blanks:
“It was like a Hollywood film. They cried ‘go, go, go’, with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital – action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan.”
Now, even if the whole thing were staged, who would shoot off blanks in a war zone, thus attracting the enemy without doing any good?
Nobody, according to Warren Smith, who notes:
American troops use three main infantry weapons.
First, there is the M16A2, a modern derivative of the old Vietnam era M16.
Secondly, there is the M4 carbine, a shortened version of the M16, often used by special forces troops.
Third, there is the Minimi Light Machine Gun.
None of these weapons can be converted from firing blanks to live, or back again, in a speedy manner.
Blank ammunition, when fired in these three weapons, is not powerful enough to force the weapons mechanism through its full cycle of operations. Because there is no live projectile, the build up of gas in the barrel is much less. When the weapon fires, there is no way that the mechanism will re-cock and chamber a fresh round. . .
American troops would be put in an awkward situation. Suppose, in the midst of this staged event, some Iraqi troops or Fedayeen irregulars appeared? How would they defend themselves? Clearly, converting the weapons from blank to live, in the heat of a battle, would be disastrous. It would take, at best, 2-3 minutes to remove a BFA, then vital more seconds in order to replace the belt or magazine of blank ammunition with live. In the dark, it would be very easy to get the blank and live rounds mixed up, too.
It is very hard to imagine how any Special Forces soldiers would agree to enter a combat zone with their weapons primed for blank ammunition.
Things are looking bad for the BBC’s story, but it gets worse. Much worse.
The BFA is large and brightly coloured. It’s a safety feature; a visible way of proving in training that no one is pointing live ammunition at you by mistake.
I don’t have the video footage of the rescue to hand, but I do recall seeing it. I didn’t see any weapons sporting BFAs.
Furthermore, fired blank shell casings look very different to live ones. Blank shell casings have a crimped end to them that is still clearly visible after the round is fired and discarded. So if the BBC wants to prove its story, it can visit the scene of the rescue and produce some discarded blank shell casings. Unless, it wants us to believe that the American troops picked them all up. In the dark. Behind enemy lines. In a war zone.
So how do blank rounds work in the movies? Well, the weapons used are not real. They are specially produced replicas, often based on the mechanism of a real weapon, with the barrel partially sealed. They cannot fire live ammunition under any circumstances whatsoever. This is how film makers create realistic scenes of automatic firing without attaching a BFA to the end of the weapon.
Clearly, no one will be carrying that sort of a ‘weapon’ into a combat area.
So what does this mean to overall importance of the BBC’s story?
Well, the BBC’s witnesses cannot be trusted.
And the BBC has made a huge error that a couple of quick phone calls could have put right.
The BBC may be guilty of seeing what it wants to see in another area too.
Early on in the story they make the astonishing statement that “Witnesses told us that the special forces knew that the Iraqi military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital.”
According to the BBC, the witnesses somehow magically know what American Special Forces knew or thought. How they managed this effort of mental telepathy is not explained.
At 1135 hrs GMT, Saturday, 17th May, I e-mailed a correction detailing my concerns to the comments section of the story at the BBC. I look forward to them posting it in their comments page unedited.
I just checked, and the comment doesn’t seem to be there.
UPDATE: Here’s an earlier critique of the BBC story that I had missed.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more criticism of the revisionist version.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a picture of the BFA that he’s talking about. Hard to miss, I’d think. Is the rescue video on the Web somewhere?
This really, to me, is adding up to the big lie. Tell something in the worst way possible, imply or infer that really bad things happened and/or that it was a sham on one or more levels, and trust the doubt to grow. The absence of checks and balances is a clue, but it is just one of many.
Was Jayson Blair moonlighting for The Beeb? I’d certainly be interested in hearing BBC correspondent John Kampfner’s response to these points.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. Erik says that this story started with the same crackpot Austrian blog that peddled the original (bogus) museum looting story. Oh, well: how much harm could one crackpot Austrian do?
STILL MORE: Here’s the longest video I could find on the web — let me know if there’s something better out there somewhere — showing the actual rescue. The quality isn’t great, but I don’t see any conspicuous BFA’s on the end of the guns, a few of which you can see pretty clearly starting about 50 seconds in. Flash hiders, but nothing else. In fact, I don’t see any firing at all, and come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any guns being fired when this aired on TV either. So why shoot off blanks as part of a “Hollywood” extravaganza if you’re not going to use the footage? Was there footage of gunfire that I missed?
LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: There’s more here, in case you’re following a link from some other page.
MORE CRITICISM OF THE BBC for left-wing bias:
Speaking to GMTV yesterday, Mr Jenkin said: “When you talk to Conservatives who work in the corporation, they say there is an institutional bias, but it’s very subtle, it’s not even a conscious bias.”
He added: “Just look at the fact that the BBC recruits entirely from advertisements in the Guardian. Obviously, media jobs are advertised in the Guardian, but it says something about where the centre of gravity in the BBC is.”
Mr Jenkin continued: “Of course, it is a nationalised industry. It feels threatened by all the change that has taken place around it, in terms of the growth of commercial broadcasting, the contractualisation of jobs. I think there is a cultural disaffinity with free markets, freedom. It sticks to what it thinks is the centre ground and the centre ground in its mind is rather to the left of where most people in the country regard the centre ground.”
MICKEY KAUS says that “blame Pinch” is the new Times watchphrase.
MORE CYBER-BUSKING: Dr. Frank has a new song up for free download, though with cybertipping encouraged. You can read the lyrics here, and you can even buy a CD that also has “Democracy, Whisky, Sexy” on it here.
Be generous — Dr. Frank is trying to encourage Ken Layne to do the same thing, and my guess is that Layne’s more likely to go along if there looks to be a lot of money involved. . . .
I DON’T CARE. I want my flying car, dammit.
WHAT WILL AMNESTY SAY? Is the Barney song torture?
Ask any parent. . . .
In an unrelated development that I just happened to notice on his site, he’s skeptical of the recent secondhand-smoke study.
UPDATE: Arthur Silber has more on the smoking study.
I DON’T LIKE THE SOUND OF THIS:
I have to admit that it is a strange experience to watch a Holocaust film in Germany. It’s even stranger when you’re the only American in the midst of about 200 Germans. But perhaps the strangest thing of all is to watch the reactions of the Germans as the events of the movie unfold. You hear a lot about how Germans are so ashamed today of the behavior of their countrymen during the Nazi period and about how much they’ve done to atone for their past sins. Don’t buy that bill of goods. If the audience of the screening I attended is any indication of German attitudes in general, it doesn’t augur well for the future. Remember, this wasn’t an audience composed of skinheads from the neo-Nazi enclaves in Karlsruhe and the former DDR. This was a group of Germany’s best and brightest: educated, middle class, sophisticated denizens of a major cosmopolitan city.
One scene in particular is seared into my consciousness. It happens about halfway into the film. The Jews of Warsaw have been herded into the Ghetto. A street used by the Germans bisects the Ghetto. While a group of Jews is waiting to cross to the other side of the street, several Nazi thugs force some elderly Jews to dance at an increasingly faster tempo. Weakened by malnutrition, hobbling on crutches, riddled with heart and lung infirmities, many of the Jews fall to the ground in sheer agony. It’s a sickening scene. It’s the kind of scene that makes you ashamed that your last name is Grim. Hell, it’s the kind of scene that makes you ashamed that you listen to Beethoven. If an American soldier had done the same to a German or Jap POW he would have been thrown into the brig for life or cashiered out of the service on a Section 8. But there they were, today’s educated, freedom-loving, let’s-all-hold-hands-and-love-one-another Germans, laughing at torture.
If there is a more sickening spectacle than Germans finding humor in what their fathers and grandfathers did to the Jews, if there is a more perfect example of the utter lack if humanity at the core of the German nation, I am unaware of it. There is something terribly wrong with Germany and the German Volk.
Read the whole thing, and hope he’s wrong.
UPDATE: Howard Veit says the article that this comes from is bogus, and sends this link to a denunciation of the author. On the other hand, reader Barbara Skolaut emails:
You end your post with “and hope he’s wrong.” Sorry, he’s not. I lived in Germany from 1970 to 1973 (I worked for the U.S. Army part of that time, and for a German family the other part), and a favorite saying among the Americans was “scratch a German, find a Nazi.”
I think Grim is on to something at the end of his essay, where he says “the Germans are ashamed because they got their rear ends handed back to them by a bunch of Yanks, Russkies and Brits who they considered-and still consider- to be members of inferior races.” When I lived there, 25 years after the war had ended (and we had helped them rebuild into a prosperous country), there were still a few boarded-up, bombed-out buildings in Frankfurt am Main (and I’m sure in other cities as well), reminding them that they had lost. We were told to remember that we were there as guests, but I have no doubt a great many Germans (particularly the chattering classes) still saw us – and see us even today – as occupiers, even as we were keeping them from having to speak Russian. I loved living there, and loved my trips back (though I guess it will be a while before I give them any more of my money), but I never had any illusions. . . I hope we move what bases we still need in Europe to Poland and Hungary. We don’t need the grief.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Rebecca Shaechter sends this:
I’m currently studying abroad in Germany, and have been here in Bavaria for over 8 months. I have to say that my experience with the Germans has been a LOT different than what was described in Grim’s piece. People here are deeply ashamed of the Holocaust. I have a German last name and speak German pretty fluently, so I’ve been able to get an “insider’s opinion” on a lot of these issues. The thing I hear most is that people are horrified by what happened to the Jews in Germany, are horrified that their country could commit such crimes. When I was back in the States I found a study on the opinions of German youth versus American youth (18-25yrs). One of the questions on the survey was “Are you proud of your country?” Something like 90% of the Americans answered yes, and only 25% of the Germans did so. I guess what I’m trying to say is that from my experience here, it seems like people in my age group at least are profoundly aware of the atrocities that their country/people committed during WWII. They are ashamed and do not want this to happen again.
That said, I haven’t seen “The Pianist” yet, and it will be interesting to see the reaction in the theater and compare it to that of Grim’s. I’m hoping his was a fluke.
UPDATE: Reader Ken Century emails:
I too was shocked upon reading the Grim article several months ago. That is to say, I was shocked because I found it to be so incredibly unbelievable. I am a Jew who lived and worked in Germany from the summer of 1994 to the summer of 1995, and have traveled there no fewer times than twice per year since then. I am also quite fluent in German, have many acquaintances and very good friends there. I am also the type to strike of casual conversations with those around me, and the opportunity to do so presents itself much more readily in Germany with their practice of sharing tables with others. (Something quite pleasant to an extrovert like me!) In all of my time there, I have never hidden the fact that I am Jewish, and in fact it could be said that it was quite often the centerpiece of many of the political and religious discussions that I had there (over a beer), oftentimes with complete strangers. In fact, I just returned from Germany on Friday, and was also there for Bush’s ultimatum, landing here in the U.S. literally hours before the bombs began to fall.
My experiences there tend to reflect very closely those of your other reader Rebecca Shaechter. The knowledge of the Holocaust is much more deep there than here in the United States, and I concur with her that most people there share a deep shame of what happened in their shared past. . . .
All that said, I do feel that while Germany has done a good job memorializing the Holocaust, and that such memorialization has produced a deep common thread within the hearts and minds of its people, I’m not sure that the end effect was entirely all positive. As one can well imagine, many of my recent discussions with friends, acquaintances, and strangers there have revolved around the War on Terrorism and the War in Iraq. What they seem to have collectively learned from their horrible past is a deep sense of pacifism, which while commendable on many fronts, leaves them a bit like a deer in the headlights when confronted with real arguments regarding the U.N., EU, and the general state of world affairs, but more particularly the possibility that “evil” still exists in the world.
I don’t have recent firsthand experience. I remember earnest lectures on racism in the United States — which I found risible even at the age of 9 — from students and faculty at Heidelberg when we lived there in my childhood, but I haven’t spent any real time in Germany since, and certainly nothing that would give me any ability to judge whether Grim’s story rings true. It seems, however, that there’s reason to doubt it. Certainly this reader does:
As another guy with a German last name who lived in Germany, I don’t buy the story by Grim. I was stationed in Germany from 1989 to 1992, patrolled the Intra-German Border, witnessed the opening of the border fence, and got drunk with plenty of Germans. (I also had many visits to Germany to various cities where my US Army uncle was stationed.) Though we soldiers mostly associated with other soldiers, I had some German friends. None were close to the people Grim describes. In my years there, I met one–and only one– German who frightened me. She was a young woman who wanted to know what my grandfathers had done in WWII. She then told me about her grandfather, who drove trucks full of people to Dachau. She initiated the conversation, then angrily defended him saying, “What was he supposed to do? It was his job.” I thought–there is a Nazi. She was a frightening person, but she stands out because she was the only person like that. My landlord was a good-hearted man, who had been an artillery sergeant on the Russian front, wounded a few times. He would not talk about his experience, just sort of stared and said, “It was bad. Bad.”
There is cultural embarassment, and perhaps some defensiveness with people who don’t want to feel the shame of what previous generations have done. One German officer was a liaison to the US Army Armor School. He told my class of officers that he had done nothing, wasn’t alive in WWII, so had nothing to feel guilty about. He was a mouthy idiot, but did not seem anti-Semitic or a believer in a master race. Just a jerk who wanted to move past the collective guilt.
I would be very interested to see a Holocaust film in Germany. But I doubt the reaction would be that described by Grim.
The mail just keeps coming. Paul Music emails:
My sister-in-law lives in Germany, teaches English as a second language, and Bible Studies, in German.
She speaks perfect German, and many are surprised to find out that she’s American, not German. Her experiences, as a white Christian American, are much closer to Grim’s than Shaechter’s or Century’s.
That’s a bummer to hear.
FINAL UPDATE: Okay, I’ve gotten a lot more mail and the consensus is that this story is bogus. I’ve generally found John Hawkins’ site, where this appeared, reliable, but nobody’s perfect. On the other hand, it’s the growth of European antisemitism that makes stories like this believable now, and that growth is, sadly, indisputable.
THE BITCH GIRLS ARE FISKING A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL on the assault weapons ban. Howell Raines’ paper is subjected to considerable abuse for, among other things, not knowing the difference between the legislative and executive branches, and for treating the Violence Policy Center as objective while calling the NRA “fanatics.”
Plus, there’s only one snarky Jayson Blair reference. Watch out girls, or they’ll start calling you “The surprisingly well-mannered and restrained girls.”
PATRICK RUFFINI has an interesting discussion on his site about left/right partisanship and the Blogosphere.
ROOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM: The New York Times has an update on local blogs in NYC, while the Knoxville News-Sentinel writes about Tennessee bloggers. And while Knoxville may not have Gawker, we do have KnoxPatch.com!
There’s also this piece on the perils of dating a blogger. Ah, but then there are the many indescribable benefits of dating a blogger!
LUKE FORD reports on a night of debauchery with Mickey Kaus, Matt Welch, Nick Gillespie, Cathy Seipp, and a host of elite Blogeoisie.
MATT WELCH WRITES on being Ben Affleck for a day.
Matt’s squeeze is much more attractive than Ben’s, though.
BLOGCRITICS has got The Matrix: Reloaded covered from every angle. Here’s the master post with links to all the others.
HOWELL RAINES: Alert reader John Robert Kelly points to John Ellis’s statement of over a year ago, quoted in this InstaPundit entry:
The Rainesian management model resembles a kind of anti-network; in which an ever-smaller number of people are engaged in the guidance and definition of the enterprise. As the network narrows, the center (Raines and his management team) grows in importance. At its worst, this kind of management leads to the Sun God management system, in which The Great Leader is surrounded by adoring sycophants. Raines is a prime candidate to fall into this trap, since his ego needs greatly exceed his management skills.
Here’s the link to the full Ellis post. It works at the moment, but as it’s a Blogspot site, well, no promises.
Meanwhile, given that Ellis proved so prescient about Howell Raines’ management issues, here’s something he noted last week that may prove just as prophetic:
The killer fact: Over the course of the last decade, New York City has added not one private sector job and nearly 100,000 public sector jobs. There’s a tipping point for most everything and New York City is in danger of tipping over.
TIM RUTTEN writes that Howell Raines’ efforts to get ahead of the Jayson Blair scandal have been unsuccessful.
JONATHAN RAUCH has this right:
In short, the United States has been on the wrong side of Arab history for almost five decades, and it is not doing much better than the Soviets. The old policy had no future, only a past. It was a dead policy walking. September 11 was merely the death certificate.
Bush is no sophisticate, but he has the great virtue— not shared by most sophisticates—of knowing a dead policy when he sees one. So he gathered up the world’s goodwill and his own political capital, spent the whole bundle on dynamite, and blew the old policy to bits. However things come out in Iraq, the war’s larger importance is to leave little choice, going forward, but to put America on the side of Arab reform.
Reform will take years, decades even, and it will mean different things in different countries. In Iraq, it meant force. In Syria, it means hostile prodding; in Saudi Arabia, friendly prodding. It means setting a subversive example for Iran, creating the region’s second democracy in Palestine, building on change in Qatar and Kuwait, leading Egypt gently toward multiparty politics. Progress will be fitful, at best. But the direction will be right, for a change.
This is a breathtakingly bold undertaking. The difficulties are staggering. Everything might go wrong. But the crucial point to remember is that everything had already gone wrong. No available policy could justify optimism in the Arab world, but the new policy at least offers hope. It offers a path ahead, a future where there had been only a past. It is not dead. It puts America on the right side of history and on the right side of America.
Much of Europe is alarmed by the change, but then, it would be. American troops in Saudi Arabia guaranteed the flow of oil while turning the United States (along with Israel) into the scapegoat of choice for millions of angry Muslims, some of whom live in Europe. From Paris’s or Amsterdam’s or Bremen’s point of view, what’s not to like about that deal? Why must Washington go and stir everything up?
UPDATE: Chris Noble thinks we’ll be better off for the revolution. So do I.
BLOGEOISIE: the “class of people who read and write blogs.” The term’s from the BBC, which seems to have gotten it from Spiked, which seems rather, er, fitting, doesn’t it? Soon that will be their rallying cry: Epater les blogeois! Or maybe it already is. . . .
UPDATE: The Beeb appears to be behind the curve here: the term turns out to be over a year old. On the other hand, I don’t remember seeing it before.
Meanwhile Roger Simon emails wondering when someone will film Le Charme Discrete de la Blogeoisie. Well, Roger, you are a filmmaker. . . .
A NANOTECHNOLOGY BREAKTHROUGH? It’s certainly an answer to those who said it was impossible to manipulate single atoms.
YES, I’VE BEEN BLOGGING LESS LATELY. Thanks for noticing. There are a number of reasons. One is that things have slowed down — in fact, it seems that almost everyone is blogging less. The war isn’t over, but we’re in — as Steven Den Beste notes — a different phase now. The other day I took down the flag I had taped in the rear window of my car just after 9/11. I put up another one, but it seemed to mark a milestone of sorts. Things aren’t less important now, and I think the Iraqi reconstruction is actually very important, but it’s a different kind of importance with fewer day-to-day developments.
I’ve also been quite busy in my real job. I’m grading exams at the moment (ugh — this post by Jeff Cooper captures the essence well). In the last couple of weeks I’ve also finished up an article on applying the “incidents” methodology used in international law to constitutional questions, written a piece for Legal Affairs on legal regulation of nanotechnology, and wound up the work of a major faculty committee that I’m on. You know, the day job. Paypal notwithstanding, it’s what pays the bills.
I’ve also become very interested in video. With my DVD burner fixed (well, replaced), I put together a music-video DVD of my brother’s band. I edited some footage I had from his outdoor concert at “Volapalooza” into a passable music video and made a fancy DVD whose menu page featured a cool photo of the band (taken from their webpage) and an animated menu where the buttons showed short loops of video. It was surprisingly easy, and the results look great. I’m very happy with the Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 4 / DVD Architect bundle. Both programs work well, don’t crash, and are easy and pretty intuitive to use. Plus, with the academic discount the bundle was only about $250, which is pretty cool since it lets you do things that would have required $250,000 worth of equipment not long ago.
So that’s what’s going on here. Blogging will continue, but — all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding — I do try to have a life from time to time.
UPDATE: I guess it’s not just me.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nope, definitely not
SAMIZDATA IS BACK, having been blown offline by a “bandwidth spike” caused, sadly, by one of my links. According to the Samizdatistas, “Glenn Reynolds has blown up more servers than Al Qaeda.”
But I do it with love. And I’m not taking the rap for the Burning Annie site’s “bandwidth exceeded” problems without more evidence.
Speaking of blogosphere news, An Age Like This is back up, too — but its shutdown wasn’t my fault!
And Edward Boyd’s Zonitics blog is now a group-blog. Well, he’s added a coblogger anyway. Hmm. Maybe group blogs are the wave of the future.
Maybe I should add a co-blogger. Do you think Monica Bellucci would be interested?
BLAME CANADA: Tennessee’s first SARS case is a man who had travelled to Toronto.
JEFF JARVIS has more on the Iranian mullahs’ paranoid and doomed efforts at Internet censorship.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT? This time it’s Susan Estrich.
EUGENE VOLOKH POINTS OUT THAT SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER IS UTTERLY INCOHERENT on the Second Amendment:
So what exactly is Schumer’s position? That “the Second Amendment confers an individual right to own guns”? That it secures “just a collective right to a well-regulated militia”? Or that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to own guns, but that it’s wrong for Attorney General Ashcroft to agree with that?
Read the whole thing, and marvel. One possible explanation: Schumer has realized that it’s basically impossible for a straightforwardly anti-gun candidate to be elected President.
UPDATE: Tom Perry says that he has decoded Schumer’s stance.
ALGERIA UPDATE: Yep, it was Islamic extremists, all right:
Wintersteller, a 63-year-old retired technician, disappeared in late March, along with seven other tourists. One early theory was that they had fallen victim to smugglers who frequent the border region.
But Wintersteller described his abductors as Islamic extremists who “wanted to install an Islamic state in Algeria and overthrow the government.” He quoted the kidnappers as saying they were negotiating with the hostages’ governments.
I hope that this will get more attention.
A GREAT PIECE IN THE GUARDIAN:
Nobody felt safe in Iraq after Saddam became president in 1979, launching a relentless crackdown on his political opponents. I saw some of my secondary school peers murdered. On one occasion, five of them were led out of class and executed for no obvious reason other than that they disagreed with Saddam and his method of ruling the country by fear. They paid for what they believed in with their lives. . .
I had to leave my family, which was destroyed. My brother was killed while on duty in the army. My other two brothers were disabled during their compulsory military service.
Saddam was a disaster for the whole region, and removing him was a necessity. His regime was the cause of wars and instability. Peace and stability could not be established while it was in place. . .
Many questions came to mind: Why did the world allow him to cause so much devastation and suffering in Iraq? Why was the Arab world happy to support a mass murderer? What would have Iraq looked like if we had a government like the one in Kuwait, or even Jordan? Would it not have been a sought-after destination for historians, archaeologists, believers of all world religions, as well as ordinary holidaymakers?
THE LITTLEGREENFOOTBALLS CONSPIRACY has been revealed.
I wonder if this is what the French are worried about?
HOW TO LOOK LIKE A VICTIM: More evidence that crime policies in Britain are insane. And I mean that literally.
FREEDOM TO TINKER has a table showing the status of state “super-DMCA” bills. I don’t think they’re so super, though.
UPDATE: How desperate are the Big Entertainment folks to keep this under the radar? Desperate enough that even newspapers are finding out about it from blogs.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Earlier this said “Big Media folks” above, which was a slip on my part and suggested — wrongly — that I was blaming the Rocky Mountain News. I just meant that the legislation is being slipped through quietly, not that the Rocky was in any way wrong here.
FRANCE IS ACCUSING the United States of organizing a campaign of lies against it.
Lies? Why bother when the truth has been so damning? I think this is revealing, though, in that it suggests the French establishment can’t conceive of a media wave that isn’t government-directed.
UPDATE: Of course, this effort is only getting the French more negative attention. Steven Den Beste is slamming France for playing the victim card, and notes:
If France is a victim, then it’s a victim of its own delusions of grandeur and its own lack of honor. If the government of France truly thinks that it can paint over the events of the last year and try to pretend they never happened, then we will have to augment that description: The French are decadent, treacherous and incredibly stupid lying weasels.
And that’s not even the mean part. Then there’s this observation, from Porphyrogenitus:
What the French really want is for us to return to the status quo ante, where they worked to undercut America at every turn but “for the sake of good relations” we politely took no notice of it and pretended everything was copacetic. I predicted in several posts that they would try to lull us back into somnolence while continuing to pursue these hostile policies (such as warning the countries of Eastern Europe that they’ll have to choose EUrope and not side with America again). I just didn’t know they’d be so brazen about it.
Yes, we’re not talking Richelieu here, are we?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ouch. Heh.
DEMOCRACY IN EUROPE? “Perhaps in fifty years.”
HERE’S A FIRSTHAND BLOG REPORT from an Iraqi mass grave.
HASSAN FATTAH reports in The New Republic that various terrorist groups want to turn Iraq into a new Beirut.
I’m sure they do, and the Bush Administration had better take this very seriously. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that (1) Beirut became the way it did because of the action of outside governments — notably Syria and Iran — who are now staring at U.S. troops in large numbers, and who had better worry that they’re playing into Wolfowitz’s hands by providing an excuse for more regime change; and (2) Is there any clearer evidence of the difference between us and them? Our vision of Iraq’s future: peaceful, free, and prosperous. The Islamofascists’ vision: Beirut. A peaceful, free, and prosperous Iraq is, in fact, their worst nightmare.
If the terrorists succeed in this goal, which I doubt (how many Iraqis really want to live in Beirut: Reloaded?), it will certainly mark a failure for the Bush Administration. But it will mark a far, far greater failure for Arab culture and politics.
For more bad news, from a credible source, read this piece by Jonathan Foreman. Is this stuff getting enough attention at the top? And if not, why not?
JAMES LILEKS, a reasonable and gentle man, is now “21% funkier!”
BILL HOBBS HAS MORE on Tennessee’s anti-TiVO bill, and on why Tennessee’s legislators are so cozy with the cable companies.
UPDATE: Read this editorial from the Rocky Mountain News on why similar legislation in Colorado is a bad idea:
Did you get permission from your cable company before you bought your kids a new VCR? Did your telephone company say you could use a modem to log on to the Internet? Did your Internet service provider give written approval for your Webcam?
Do you think you should have to ask them?
No, I don’t. And I don’t think voters do, either.
THE POWER’S BACK! And thank goodness. I’ll be doing a phoner on C-SPAN in just a few minutes. They’re covering blogs. . . though I had to laugh when they said that MediaWhoresOnline “tends liberal.” That’s putting things rather, er, mildly.
But I love their division of callers into three categories: people who agree or disagree with Bush, and then “bloggers.” That seems about right.
One thing that has been wrong with public debate over the past year or two — and you saw this particularly in the case of the war — is that for the most part it has been all about Bush, regardless of the topic allegedly at hand. That’s something that bloggers have been pointing out pretty steadily.
OKAY, ONE MORE: No damn tornado’s gonna stop me from posting. Jeff Jarvis has some interesting thoughts on Salam Pax, and a translated interview. Excerpt: “It’s so utterly predictable these days: First, you become famous. Then they tear you down.” With regard to David Warren’s piece on Salam, Jarvis cautions, correctly, that we don’t know enough about Salam Pax to judge what his agenda, if any, has been.
And, in an unrelated (or maybe not, entirely) but interesting matter, Eric Alterman is defending John Fund from allegations that Alterman says he has investigated and is convinced are bogus:
It did not take a lot of investigation on my part to conclude that Pillsbury was not the kind of source one could legitimately use to hang a man in public. Why were so many so eager to use her that way? No principle was at stake. It was all about payback.
Back later. I think I’ve got a car adapter for the laptop, somewhere. . . .
STILL NO POWER. According to the radio nobody was hurt, but big trees went down in a lot of places. They’re saying 40,000 are without power. That includes us. The UPS is still running the wireless network and DSL, but I don’t know how much longer it’ll last. Back later.
TORNADOBLOGGING: We’ve had a tornado, the power’s out, and it’s hailing. But here at InstaPundit we can take a flogging and keep on blogging — I’m using the laptop, and the wireless network and DSL modem are on a UPS that’s good for hours. I don’t think I’ll spend all that time blogging, though. If the power doesn’t come on soon, I’ll fire up the gas grill and make dinner on that.
In the words of Calvin, describing his disappointment with how the 21st century was shaping up: “You mean we still have weather?”
UPDATE: Looks like the storm’s passed us by. Still no power. We’re listening to the radio reports over the Internet on the laptop. There may be more storms later, though, and I don’t think I’ll keep blogging — back later.
IT’S BOOK-BLOGGING over at GlennReynolds.com, with appearances by Jacob Sullum, James Miller, Ken Walsh, and blogosphere fave Roger Simon.
DID HOMELAND SECURITY FOLKS help track down fugitive Texas legislators? This story isn’t completely clear on that, but it sounds like it:
One federal agency that became involved early on was the Air and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center, based in Riverside, Calif. — which now falls under the auspices of the Homeland Security Department.
The agency received a call to locate a specific Piper turboprop aircraft. It was determined that the plane belonged to former House Speaker Pete Laney, D-Hale Center.
The location of Laney’s plane proved to be a key piece of information because, Craddick said, it’s how he determined that the Democrats were in Ardmore.
“We called someone, and they said they were going to track it. I have no idea how they tracked it down,” Craddick said. “That’s how we found them.”
On the other hand, this seems like a more appropriate response:
Jorge Martinez, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said the matter “falls squarely within the purview of state authority, and it would not warrant investigation by federal authorities.”
The State of Texas is entirely within its rights to use all of its resources to bring fugitive legislators to meet. Legislative rules allow for that sort of thing most places, and it’s reasonable. But it doesn’t seem like a federal matter to me.
UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, I discover that Dr. Josh Marshall has been all over this. A reader asks, by the way, why this isn’t a federal matter since they crossed a state line to flee. The short answer is that if there were a valid federal statute proscribing interstate flight to avoid a quorum call, then it would be. But although I haven’t researched the question, I rather doubt that such a statute exists, and I’d have to think about whether it would be within the scope of Congress’s enumerated powers anyway.
Of course, none of this makes it actually illegal for federal officials to share information with state officials. It just means that when they do so, they’re not doing their jobs, and they’re getting involved in something that it’s probably best for them to stay out of. Meanwhile those legislators who don’t want Homeland Security information shared for non-Homeland Security purposes would be well-advised to make sure that the law imposes such a ban. Otherwise it will happen.
MARTIN DEVON HAS WHAT SHOULD BE (but surely won’t be) the last word on the Jayson Blair affair:
I really don’t think that this is about lefty bias or affirmative action. It is about poor leadership. Jack Shafer defends Howell Raines saying that any of us can be fooled. Fair enough, but Shafer (perhaps because he was fooled by a monkeyfisher) lets Raines off way too easily.
Any of us can be fooled by a brown-noser — I’ve been. The trick is to foster an open and honest atmosphere with your executive team so that your subordinates will tell you when you are being snowed. That’s what saved me.
When I hired a brown-nosing slick-talking dude that fooled me, I was lucky enough to have many people who felt comfortable enough to warn me that I had made the wroing choice. Different people, from my assistant to rival managers came to me and told me some uncomfortable truths that I (and my boss) had missed.
From the Times own accounts, the email warnings of Jayson Blair’s bosses show that there were credible people who could have (or tried to) blow the whistle on Blair, if only they felt like they could without screwing up their own careers. That was Raines’ failure.
HOLLYWOOD HALFWITS reports that Disney is dropping its support for Michael Moore’s planned Bush-bashing documentary.
HERE’S A MOTION FROM THE SOCIALIST ALLIANCE FOR WORKERS’ LIBERTY disavowing Saddamite MP George Galloway. I don’t know much about the politics of these outfits (I’d have to be a Ken McLeod character to do so) but this can’t be good news for Galloway.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE COOL: This way.
Oh, to be a kid again.
DELLWATCH: The Dell service guy showed up just as I made that last post. In 20 minutes he replaced the drive, and then stood by while I burned a DVD to make sure it worked. It did. He’s already left. Advantage: Dell.
I AGREE WITH JEFF JARVIS that the U.S. Attorney’s interest in the Jayson Blair matter seems inappropriate. But, you know, this happens everywhere nowadays. Yeah, I guess the press is different — but we’re all, to some degree, at the mercy of prosecutors with an infinite number of vague statutes at hand.
ENVIRONMENTAL RULES: Dividing Europe from the rest of the world?
OH, THIS WILL HELP:
BEIJING – China warned it could execute anyone who causes death or injury by deliberately spreading SARS (news – web sites), as officials on Thursday promised more doctors, hospitals and money to fight the flu-like virus in rural areas.
The warning by China’s Supreme Court, reported by the official Xinhua News Agency, appeared to be an effort to force compliance with quarantines and other restrictions. It cited existing laws, many of which include a possible death penalty for even nonviolent offenses, though it often isn’t imposed.
This smacks of desperation to me, and suggests that things aren’t going well as the media coverage would suggest.
UPDATE: For some discouraging historical context, read this. Excerpt:
I’m not so sure that the authorities were keeping the information from the people. It may well be that the people were keeping it from the authorities. . . .
The Chinese official put it this way: “we are having a terrible time getting people to see doctors, even for routine physical checkups. And this is because of an event that took place back in the late 1940s, following Mao’s revolution. At that time, the government promised to eradicate venereal disease in China. And it did. Everyone was forced to undergo an examination by a certified doctor. And anyone with venereal disease was executed. Ever since, most Chinese stayed far away from medical doctors.”
Just another example of the maladaptive nature of totalitarianism.
DAVID EDELSTEIN WASN’T THAT CRAZY about The Matrix Reloaded. (Or its score: “The cheesy, tinny-sounding music doesn’t help. I’ve heard better orchestrations coming out of Game Boys.”) Jonah Goldberg (whose standards, I suspect, differ) found it very enjoyable. And Stephen Hunter writes: “No, it’s not great. No, it’s not a disaster.” (And he loves Monica Bellucci. Well, yeah.)
UPDATE: Jonathan Last liked it pretty well, but says it has too many “junk academics” in it:
while celebrity cameos are fine for “Friends” they can be disastrous in semi-serious movies. Nothing strains an audience’s suspension of disbelief like a slap across the face reminding you that behind the story are a bunch of famous people snapping towels.
So, was Cornel West snapping towels at Susie Bright, or was it the other way around? Inquiring minds want to know. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Diana Hsieh has more on The Matrix. She says it was “awesome.”
HERE’S AN ARTICLE ON “GRASSROOTS VOICES FOR RESPONSIBLE NANOTECHNOLOGY.” It’s nice that there are some of these.
BILL HOBBS is digging into the Tennessee legislation that will let cable companies ban TiVo.
THE DISSIDENT FROGMAN — who has a cool new site — reports on the strikes that have left Paris in a state of near-anarchy.
I LOOKED LAST NIGHT for some postings or reports on how (or even whether) the NPR protests went yesterday, but I didn’t find anything. Now there’s this report, with pictures, from Boston. And here’s a story from Cleveland, one from Fresno, and another from Nashville. Sounds like there were quite a few.
I suspect that the alienation of the Jewish community by its mideast and war coverage poses a real problem for NPR. I know that NPR thinks it does.
UPDATE: Reader Dan Shmikler sends this link to photos of the Chicago protest, and adds:
The local NPR affiliate, WBEZ, interviewed me at length but so far I haven’t heard any report on the air.
One message I tried to emphasize with the WBEZ reporter, and other media who interviewed me, was that the people protesting and upset with NPR’s Middle East coverage are historically hard-core NPR listeners and supporters. As I told them, I have a cabinet full of NPR mugs that I won’t drink from anymore. I would think that they should be concerned that they are alienating a significant part of their core audience.
It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country follows the lead of Boston activists, and starts going to the corporate sponsors of NPR to ask them to stop their support. WBUR lost over $1 million due to this approach.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that happened. I know that NPR is trying to reach out to these people, but I don’t think that’s enough. The demonstrable bias of the coverage — and NPR’s seeming smugness about it — its the problem, and outreach won’t help that. NPR needs to freshen up its coverage, and quit regarding the notoriously biased and antisemitic BBC as a role model.
Inquiring minds want to know: Where was Boring Broadsheet boy wonder Brian McGrory’s Tuesday column? It wasn’t in the paper and our sources say it was spiked.
The reason, we hear, is that McGrory took The New York Times executive editor Howell Raines to task over the Jayson Blair affair and dredged up The Boston Globe’s own dirty laundry: Mike Barnicle.
Which, apparently, didn’t sit too well with the powers that be. Because, we’re told, they refused to run it! McGrory didn’t return our calls and a Globe spokesman declined to discuss the matter.
More crushing of dissent in Ashcroft’s America. . . .
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz has more, including this excerpt:
Joe Sexton, a metropolitan desk editor, used a profanity in demanding to know how the paper could have sent Blair, a 27-year-old reporter with a checkered record, to cover the Washington sniper case. “You guys have lost the confidence of much of the newsroom,” Sexton said. . . .
Boyd apologized for his mistakes but said it was “absolute drivel” to suggest that he had acted as a mentor to Blair, who, like the managing editor, is African American. “Did I pat him on the back? Did I say ‘hang in there’? Yes, but I did that with everybody.”
Kaus is right to point out the Times’ squishiness in supporting race preferences in the abstract, but denying them in the concrete. And there’s this bit:
Some Times staffers say what they call Raines’s “autocratic” management style – a “culture of favoritism,” as one described it – helps explain why Blair was deemed untouchable. Since Raines took over in September 2001, several top editors – including the national editor, assistant national editor and two investigative editors – have either left the paper or moved to other assignments. Staffers have complained that Raines runs a top-heavy “Politburo” in which their influence was greatly reduced and managers were categorized as being either on or off the team.
“With us or against us,” eh? Funny, when Bush says stuff like that they accuse him of being simplistic. Kurtz quotes several people who accuse Raines of using the “bad apple” defense, but none is as mean as this:
If mismanagement at Enron had been this clear-cut, the Times would be demanding the death penalty for Ken Lay. Indeed, taking a page from all corporate scandals, the Times insists that the organization is fine; it was just one bad apple. As I recall, the Times editorial page did not accept that explanation when Merrill Lynch said it about Henry Blodget.
Raines’ behavior is far worse than the corporate chieftains. He clearly bears the most responsibility for this fiasco, but when disaster strikes … he blames the black kid! So far, Raines’ response has been basically to say: “You try to help these people …”
Ouch. But it’s the final paragraph that really stings. I think this will get worse before it gets better.
MELISSA SECKORA, who is now at The Hill, has a story on the new Arabic-language satellite TV network being set up by the United States.
These guys should hire Charles Paul Freund as a consultant.
BUDGETARY PRIORITIES in New York City seem, er, misplaced.
“THATCHER’S BACK, AND GUNNING FOR THE FRENCH:“
BARONESS Thatcher returned to politics last night with an attack on the French, whom she accused of collaborating with “enemies of the West” for short-term gain.
In a one-off comeback speech in New York, which broke a medical ban on speaking in public, the former Conservative Prime Minister attacked those who use environmentalism, feminism and human rights campaigns to fight capitalism and the nation state.
She praised Tony Blair, but above all President Bush, for overriding the “rot” that “paralysed” the United Nations.
NPR AND SLATE ARE teaming up to produce a radio program out of L.A., according to the L.A. Examiner. But where’s Mickey Kaus?
WELL, IT’S DANGEROUS OUT THERE:
The Senate’s leading gun control advocate, Senator Charles Schumer – who’s currently pressuring the White House to extend the 1994 assault weapons ban – travels with an armed bodyguard. . .
Questions arose Wednesday morning about the gun opponent’s security arrangements after the New York Post’s Cindy Adams mentioned in her column that Schumer appeared at a recent event with a bodyguard in tow.
A quick call to Schumer’s office confirmed that the man guarding the Senate’s number one gun controller was packing heat.
Yes, but you see, Schumer’s life is important. He needs the protection. It’s not like he’s just some single mother working late at a convenience store or something.
BILL HOBBS HAS MORE ON THE CABLE-INDUSTRY GIVEAWAY BILL that some say would let the cable companies outlaw TiVO. And he wonders why it’s not getting newspaper coverage.
Hmm. I wonder if there’s cross-ownership between the papers in question and the cable companies.
THE OTHER FOUR HORSEMEN. Chortle.
SOME PEOPLE ARE CALLING IT “THE UNITED NATIONS’ ENRON” — but it’s much worse than that:
The United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq allowed billions of dollars in illegal oil revenue to flow to Saddam Hussein, lawmakers said Wednesday in a call for making internal audits public. . . .
The program also allowed Saddam to hand-pick many of the companies that would get contracts to provide the humanitarian assistance. He funneled business to French, Russian and Chinese interests, lawmakers were told at the hearing Wednesday.
Two experts on global energy markets told the subcommittee that while the United Nations has conducted internal audits of the Iraqi oil program, none has ever been made public. And they said they knew of no mechanism for formal, public audits.
Follow the money. Follow it hard.
EEEW. The Mullah is icky.
CAMPUS SPEECH CODES ARE SO 1993 — but UCLA is thinking of adopting one anyway. Eugene Volokh thinks it’s a bad idea. I think he’s right.
OIL IN SIBERIA: Some interesting developments are afoot.
GOOD NEWS for gun rights:
NEW YORK — A federal jury on Wednesday cleared 45 makers and distributors of handguns who were accused of contributing to violence in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
The suit challenging the companies’ marketing practices was filed by the NAACP.
The jury in New York ruled in favor of the gun makers after five days of deliberations.
Because of the procedural posture of the case, this doesn’t actually put it to bed, but it’s still good news. Then there’s this:
The Republican-controlled House will not renew the federal ban on Uzis and other semiautomatic weapons, a key leader said yesterday, dealing a significant blow to the campaign to clamp down on gun sales nationwide.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said most House members are willing to let the ban expire next year. “The votes in the House are not there” to continue the ban, he told reporters.
His spokesman, Stuart Roy, said, “We have no intention of bringing it up” for a vote. . . .
In May 1994, the Democratic-controlled House passed the Clinton-backed gun ban by two votes. A few months later, House Speaker Thomas Foley (Wash.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (Tex.) and several other Democrats who supported the ban were voted out of office after the NRA and other gun activists targeted them in a political campaign.
The NRA’s power ebbed and flowed throughout the rest of the 1990s, hitting a high-water mark after Gore’s narrow loss in 2000. Gore lost gun rights bastions such as Arkansas, West Virginia and his home state of Tennessee, in part, some Democratic analysts believe, because he was seen as hostile to gun owners. In this year’s first debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls, only Al Sharpton vigorously endorsed the registration and licensing of handguns.
Dodd Harris still thinks that Bush has blown it on this one, though, by claiming to support an extension of the ban. This won’t make the antis happy enough to matter, and it’s irritated a lot of supporters. Plus, saying you’ll support a bill because you expect your colleagues to keep it from reaching the floor seems, well, almost Clintonian.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more background from Dave Kopel.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jacob Sullum notes that the judge, Jack Weinstein, was “hand-picked” by the plaintiffs.
WELL, THIS was only a matter of time.
DELLWATCH: Last summer, longtime readers may recall, I had some problems with Dell’s service. Now I’ve got a guy scheduled to come replace a dead DVD-burner drive. The phone interaction was easy and good. I’ll let you know if he shows up.
MARK STEYN FIRED? I don’t do guest posts here except in times of grave national, or global, emergency. This may be one of those times. Below is a post from Tim Blair, who for the usual reasons can’t get it to post to his Blogger-powered site: [begin Blair post]
WHAT KIND of idiot newspaper editor would fire Mark Steyn? Apparently the kind who now edits the National Post. Below, a series of answers from Steyn to readers asking if he has, in fact, been sacked:
Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would say that the new owners’ penchant for big dramatic public gestures has not served them well. There is no reason to believe this latest one will prove any more successful than their disastrous public downsizing of the Post’s arts and sports coverage after 9/11.
Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation let me observe that at the time Conrad Black sold a half-share in the Post to the Aspers the paper was neck and neck with The Globe And Mail in circulation – there was, as often happens in media markets that have been somnolent for years, a lag between sales and revenue: advertisers are often slower to pick up on things than readers. Making the product weaker editorially is unlikely to solve this problem.
Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would note that in the first week of the new puppet regime there does seem to be a marked Paul Martinization of the paper. If that’s what David Asper means by a “strong conservative voice”, it would seem to me that that’s highly unlikely to do anything for the Post’s commercial viability, given the already crowded market of Liberal cheerleaders.
Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would say papers should avoid relaunches that give the appearance that the pre-existing paper had got it all wrong. That tends to drive away old readers without attracting new ones. See The Independent.
Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would say that that new editor’s “letter to his readers” the Friday after the coup was laughably lame, and to avoid all mention of his predecessors looks not just graceless and petty but extremely insecure.
Obviously it would be highly… aw, never mind.
[End Blair post].
Obviously, the folks at the National Post are blithering idiots to even consider letting go of Mark Steyn. I’m sure that Steyn will continue to prosper. I have my doubts about the National Post.
UPDATE: Charles Johnson says this is the dumbest journalistic personnel move since Jayson Blair was hired by the Times.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, now I have an email, forwarded by a third party but purportedly from the National Post, saying that Steyn hasn’t been fired. Hey, Mark, what’s going on?
SUSANNAH BRESLIN WANTS TO change the spelling of POMO to F-U-N — which should be quite the challenge — and she wants you to help. Oh, and there’s a book-promotion thing going on, too.
TOM PAINE.COM HAS A BLOG NOW. Check it out — it’s LeftyLicious!
UPDATE: Bryan Preston says they should drop the anonymity, and cites Reason’s “Hit and Run” as an example. That’s good advice. Ditto for NRO’s “The Corner,” which is the liveliest in-house blog of all, in no small part because of the personalities — which wouldn’t shine through in an anonyblog. I’ll bet a blog with bylines would draw more readers.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kaus agrees about the anonymous part, and suggests that TomPaine.com could play an InstaPundit-like role for the left. That would be a good thing. Can TomPaine be quirky enough? If it’s a group-blog, and it’s allowed to, yes. I’m not sure that any individual person over there can match me in quirks (I contain multitudes — of quirks), but then, I don’t know ‘em all. . . .
BLOG MELA is the Carnival of the Vanities for Indian Bloggers. Or some such. Anyway, it’s here this week. Check it out for Indian bloggy goodness.
PONTIFEX HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON WOMEN IN COMBAT:
Let’s be blunt. Co-ed bootcamp is asking for trouble. Lowering standards to accomodate females is wrong.
But its a reality that females are going to play a role in our all-volunteer military for the foreseeable future.
What we saw in this war wasn’t that females were closer to the front-lines; what we’re seeing is the eroding away of the rear echelon. With ballistic missiles and mad-dash supply chains, not to mention the increasing reliance on air supremacy, all kinds of people who aren’t infantry or in direct support of a line unit are still crossing into harm’s way.
The Marines have an answer to that, and in fact they always have: “Every Marine a rifleman.” Toting iron doesn’t make you a grunt, but everyone from cooks to boxkickers are expected to be able to engage the enemy if necessary. That’s our mentality, our ethos. And if you’ve got females kicking boxes or making chow, then damn it, they’re Marines too.
[Boxkickers? Supply bubbas. And if you'll note, the females who got the most attention in this war were in billets like supply, motor transport, etc. That's no small thing -- the supply chain on the drive to Baghdad was one of the most crucial parts of the war.]
I could go on, but I’d be belaboring the point, I think.
And Sgt. Mom responds to Phyllis Schlafly:
I’d be inclined to take her concerns seriously were she to demonstrate a grasp of the difference between “combat” and “combat support”.
The rise of terrorism has perhaps blurred the distinction slightly, in that cooks, admin clerks and mechanics are slightly more inclined to be casualties than once was assumed. But then we once assumed that civilian status offered some sort of protection. This distinction has been in tatters since 9/11.
The women she is voicing her concern about are soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. They may be officers or NCOs or junior enlisted. They are volunteers and skilled professionals and to consider them in any other light is infantilizing and demeaning. They have all made choices, and I would do them the honor of assuming they made them freely, and with their eyes open, as I did myself.
If you want to do womankind a service, Phyllis, sweetie, go back to complaining about the unisex bathroom thing. I’ve had to share facilities with guys, sometimes, and believe me; some of them couldn’t hit the ground with their hat, much less the commode with a stream of pee.
Funny — I never heard anyone complain about that on Ally McBeal.
I SHOULD PROBABLY JUST WRITE A SCRIPT that would automatically post these words every weekday at 12:01 AM. But anyway, go read Lileks. Today’s an especially good one.
MORE TEETERING DOMINOS in the mideast?
GABRIEL SYME HAS A QUESTION FOR THE ANTI-WAR PROTESTERS, engendered by the finding of mass graves in Iraq. And don’t miss Perry De Havilland’s observation in the comments.
MONICA LEWINSKY AND STEPHEN GLASS: Matt Labash finds a connection.
ALPHECCA’S WEEKLY SURVEY OF MEDIA GUN BIAS IS UP. He finds rather a lot of it over the past week.
Meanwhile Tom Perry has a lengthy and thoughtful discussion of campus gun bans. And Dave Kopel reports from Britain, where the government’s biggest concern seems to be making sure that people don’t resist crime too vigorously.
RELIGION AND SCIENCE FICTION: My TechCentralStation column, which is Matrix-related, is up. I wish that this piece by Adam Gopnik from The New Yorker had been up when I wrote it. I’m not sure I buy the Catharist angle, but it’s interesting. My favorite quote, though, is here:
The only thing setting Zion apart from the good-guy planets in “The Phantom Menace” or “Star Trek” is that it seems to have been redlined at some moment in the mythic past and is heavily populated by people of color. They are all, like Morpheus, grave, orotund, and articulate to the point of prosiness, so that official exchanges in Zion put one in mind of what it must have been like at a meeting at the Afro-American Studies department at Harvard before Larry Summers got to it. (And no sooner has this thought crossed one’s mind when—lo! there is Professor Cornel West himself, playing one of the Councillors.)
Heh. Of course, there’s a certain pot-and-kettle quality to charges of bloviation coming from Gopnik. On the other hand, Emmanuelle Richard loved the film, though she agrees there’s too much speechifying. And Sgt. Stryker says that Agent Smith should worry about the RIAA more than Neo.
UPDATE: 20,000 Canadians say they’re Jedis.
I’m guessing that Chretien isn’t one of them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz thinks I’m wrong — but I think it’s because he expects more of religion than I do.
JEFF JARVIS HAS A MUST-READ COLUMN ON WEBLOGS AND IRAN. So, er, go read it.
NOW IT’S A SHAFER VS. SULLIVAN CAGE MATCH! Sullivan wins this one handily (1) by quoting Shafer’s boss back at him (nice touch!) and (2) because Shafer’s title — “Defending Howell Raines: He didn’t catch Jayson Blair. You didn’t either.” — is so mind-bogglingly dumb. (Of course, that’s probably not Shafer’s fault — titles usually aren’t the author’s idea. But it’s still dumb.)
No, I didn’t catch Jayson Blair. But it was Howell Raines’ job, not mine, to do so, and he had plenty of warning. Solution: The Times should pay Raines as much as it pays me!
Actually, I think that may be coming. . . .
UPDATE: Andy Freeman emails on the catching-Jayson-Blair angle:
Are you sure? That is, you may not have personally caught Blair, but who did?
The first that I saw of the story was some blogger commenting on the similarity between Blair’s work and that of a real journalist
Yes, I know that one of the folks associated with a plagarized party had complained months earlier, but nothing happened.
However, a couple of days after I saw the blogger comment (which may have quoted the complaining journalist), the Blair story started to get traction.
One of the traditional roles of “the media” is to put a spotlight on things. The NYT, for example, isn’t the first to break most stories, but measures its worth by the spotlight effect.
Bloggers are a lot of competition for that role.
I actually don’t think that blogs have played much of a role in this particular process — except, perhaps, in keeping the Times’ justifications under skeptical scrutiny. But I could be wrong, I guess.
VIRGINIA POSTREL says I should remind people of the tipjar regularly. So consider yourself reminded!
MISSING TOURISTS UPDATE: Some of them have been freed. But there’s no information on who was holding them, or why.
UPDATE: This story says they were rescued from an “Al-Qaida linked terror group.”
In the Algerian capital Wednesday, the Army said the Salafist Group for Call and Combat was responsible for taking the travelers hostage, the official news agency APS reported. The group is on the U.S. State Department’s list of terror organizations.
Algerian news reports have said three Saudi envoys of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden met with a top leader of the Salafist Group in December.
I can’t say I’m surprised, and I wonder what else is going on down there.
I DON’T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE, but they’re mad at NPR’s mideast coverage, and they’re protesting it in quite a few cities today.
MATTHEW HOY WONDERS IF THE NEW YORK TIMES’ NEW ARCHIVING POLICY is designed to frustrate fact-checking.
I think a more, not less, liberal archive policy is called for under the circumstances.
UPDATE: Drudge reports that two more New York Times reporters are being investigated.
Open the archives! Mr. Raines, tear down that firewall!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Richard Bennett observes:
The media establishment has told us that responsible news organizations are more reliable than the blogs because of all these editors and fact-checkers, but who seriously believes that a blogger doing what Blair did could have survived more than a few months without being caught out? I sure don’t.
Bloggers have open archives, too.
INTERESTING STUFF FROM THE ARAB NEWS, courtesy of an alert reader. First there’s this piece:
Who are we trying to fool? Ourselves or the international community? Neither can be fooled.
It’s about time we got our act together. The time of pretending that radicalism does not exist in Saudi Arabia is long past. The time for pretending that we are above errors and could not possibly commit terrorist attacks is no longer with us. It has got to stop. Change must come now. We as a nation cannot afford to leave it to its own slow pace. It’s either now or never. It also must cover all aspects of our life — the school, the mosque, the home, the street, the media.
How can we tell the rest of the world that we are tolerant of other religions and faiths when some of us are not even tolerant of other schools of Islamic thought?
How can we expect others to believe that a majority of us are a peace-loving people who denounce extremism and terrorism when some preachers continue to call for the destruction of Jews and Christians, blaming them for all the misery in the Islamic world? . . .
We needed to hear three questions that are never asked. Like dust, they are swept under the carpet: Why are more and more Saudi young men being fed with radical ideas? Who are the people brainwashing them? How are they being radicalized?
And so it happens that so much dust is swept underneath the carpet that it finally bursts out in full view of everybody. At last, the truth that was hidden has come out.
And then, there’s this:
It goes without saying that those responsible, those who poisoned the minds of the bombers, those who are planning to become bombers, must be tracked down and crushed — remorselessly and utterly. But crushing them will not be enough. The environment that produced such terrorism has to change. The suicide bombers have been encouraged by the venom of anti-Westernism that has seeped through the Middle East’s veins, and the Kingdom is no less affected. Those who gloat over Sept. 11, those who happily support suicide bombings in Israel and Russia, those who consider non-Muslims less human than Muslims and therefore somehow disposable, all bear part of the responsibility for the Riyadh bombs.
We cannot say that suicide bombings in Israel and Russia are acceptable but not in Saudi Arabia. The cult of suicide bombings has to stop. So too has the chattering, malicious, vindictive hate propaganda. It has provided a fertile ground for ignorance and hatred to grow.