January 26, 2003
EUGENE VOLOKH is deeply disappointed.
EUGENE VOLOKH is deeply disappointed.
VIRGINIA POSTREL has posted a full account of her Lasik eye surgery, some good advice for U.S. Embassy staffers abroad, and some comments on anti-semitism in the Davos protests:
(At least they equate Jews with apes rather than rats, taking the Islamofascist line rather than the Nazi one.) It’s also inevitable. Opposing Jews and opposing trade, opposing trade and opposing America, opposing Jews and opposing America–it all goes together. I do have one question: Do these people think Donald Rumsfeld is Jewish? My guess is yes.
Well, those people are confused about a lot of things. . . .
UPDATE: Here’s more from Gotham.
SPEAKING OF PEOPLE BACK FROM HIATUS: The UnaBlogger is back! (Er, and he’s been gone long enough that if you’re new to the Blogosphere, I should note that whether this counts as “safe for work” depends on where you work. To me, it’s just cute cheesecake. If you think your boss is less progressive than me, well, be warned.)
JIM TREACHER IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE. Hey, I’m just glad he’s back.
ATRIOS seems to think that I write a column for the Washington Times, and derive great income thereby. If so, it’s escaped my attention. (Especially the “great income” part.) I think the only thing I ever wrote for the Wash. Times was a piece entitled “Greasing the Skids at the Start of Death Row,” condemning the Habeas Corpus provision of the 1996 antiterrorism bill, which oped I coauthored with GWU professor Bob Cottrol and which was placed there through the efforts of that noted Moonie front group, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
What you’re seeing is desperation in the face of the A.N.S.W.E.R. debacle. (Atrios’ post tries to compare writing for the Washington Times with standing alongside anti-semites and Stalinists.) And it’s well-founded desperation. Or such sloppiness that he thinks my book reviews for the Washington Post were actually in the Times. (Or maybe it’s just trolling. . . .)
And have you ever noticed how it’s okay to show religious prejudice against Moonies, but not against fanatical Muslims? Nothing political there. Jeez.
UPDATE: TalkLeft is offering me a free membership in the NACDL. Dare I accept, in this era of creeping McCarthyism?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Kleiman thinks I’m entitled to a retraction, but thinks that my point about religious bigotry is weak.
HEY, I THINK I GET HATE MAIL FROM THIS GUY, TOO. If I replied to it, I hope I’d reply in the same vein.
HEARTENING NEWS: “Members of the British Muslim community are among those calling the loudest for Abu Hamza — the radical Islamist preacher whose mosque was raided yesterday by London police — to leave the country.”
AFRICANS ARE PROTESTING French unilateralism and neo-colonialism.
IF THIS IS THE A.N.S.W.E.R., says Mike Silverman, it must have been a pretty dumb question. Heh.
THIS ABC NEWS REPORT IS NOTHING WE DIDN’T KNOW, but it’s nice that it’s being reported:
Two related California studies to be released this week conclude it is currently impractical to catalog the ballistic “fingerprints” of every firearm in the state.
Recording every firearm made and sold in the nation’s most populous state could be overwhelming, according to an internal California Department of Justice report obtained last fall by The Associated Press. . . .
Given the miserable failure of Canada’s gun registry, it’s no real surprise that a California bullet registry would be, well, a miserable failure.
SCRAPPLEFACE DOES IT AGAIN: France Warns Iraq Against Acting Alone:
“Unilateralism is bad,” said Mr. deVillepin. “We urge Iraq to work in a multilateral way, through the U.N. perhaps, to manufacture, deploy and conceal weapons of mass destruction.”
Heh. Read the whole thing — the final sentence is the, er, killer.
INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on “war tourism,” NGOs, and nuclear threats, from Baghdad blogger Salam Pax.
OLIVER WILLIS is football-blogging, and I think he plans to keep it up. He also asks a question that I wish I had thought to ask, and makes an observation worth a lot of people’s attention:
Dave Winer throws in some Internet triumphalism describing how “In 2003, when we want to, we can beat the NY Times, on a technical subject” in relation to today’s worm attack.
What use is any “internet reporting” when half the internet is inaccessible?
ALSO: This thing should make us think twice about how net-centric we want to make things. ATM machines were disrupted for most of the day, and I can bet that telephony like Vonage was offline as well.
Plus, he’s got cheerleader photos!
N.Z. BEAR HAS A CROSS-EXAMINATION OF HANS BLIX that’s worth reading.
BUSH’S FAILURE: He’s doing all right on the war — but he’d better be, because this is really damning:
WASHINGTON — Addressing the delegates more than two years ago at the Republican National Convention, President Bush invoked a line that had become a sort of mantra.
“Big government is not the answer,” he said.
Now, just past the midway point of his first term in office, Bush is presiding over the largest, most expensive — and, some would say, most intrusive — federal government in history.
Domestically, we might have a smaller government with Al Gore as President. As the article notes:
In the past five years, while median household income has grown by about 16 percent, the federal government’s spending has increased by 45 percent.
The trend was under way when Bush took office. After a four-year period ending in 1997 that saw fairly stable spending management — Congress’ budget authority grew from $509 billion to $511 billion — a spike began in 1998, when federal spending got an $18 billion boost to $529 billion. Spending in 2003 could top $750 billion.
Okay, a lot of that happened under Clinton/Gore — but Bush promised to stop it, not to carry on the policies of his predecessors. That was Gore’s schtick.
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias points up another dropped ball, though he’s surprisingly charitable about it. Still, someone in the White House needs to be paying more attention here.
JIM HENLEY is now in his new bloghome. I don’t think you’ll notice a lot of difference in the way it looks, but it’s an MT setup on a more stable host.
CHEMICAL WARFARE SUITS WERE FOUND in the Finsbury Park Mosque raid:
BRITISH police investigating a terror plot by Islamic saboteurs have found chemical warfare protection suits in a north London mosque.
The discovery has shocked detectives, who believe the find confirms supporters of Osama bin Laden were planning a poison attack on civilian targets in Britain.
Scotland Yard and MI5 detectives had kept the discovery of the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) suits secret.
They feared disclosing it would spark panic.
Government ministers have warned any suggestion that the Finsbury Park mosque had been involved would have worrying racist overtones.
It would? Why, exactly?
ROBERT MUSIL has an answer for Maureen Dowd.
PUNDITWATCH is up, and features a memorable quote from David Brooks.
“THE JUDENREIN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT:” Kesher Talk reports that even leftie Jews are being frozen out of A.N.S.W.E.R. – organized marches if they believe that Israel has a right to exist.
Huh? I thought this was all about peace, and Iraq. How did Israel get into this? You think there’s a bigger agenda here?
TODD STEED, who I was in a band with once back when Jimmy Carter was President, has a new album out called “Knoxville Tells.” You can follow the link to read about it, or read a review here, or you can hear “East Towne Mall” here. You can hear “Smoky Mountain Dip” in RealAudio here.
There’s more vintage Steed here, including two of my favorite songs, “Five O’Clock” and “Ethiopian Jokes.” Yet another reason why I’m glad to live in Knoxville.
READER RAFAEL S. is disturbed by this defaced American flag featured in the Davos protests. “I hope the 3 bloody stars don’t represent the 3 states hit by Al-Qaeda,” he writes, asking “What else could it mean?”
I don’t know. Any ideas?
UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has more.
EUROPE AND AMERICA: Gianni Riotta writes in the Post:
It is not America’s unilateralism that relegates Europe to the kids’ table. It is Europe’s budget priorities. Europe spends $2.50 a day on every cow that grazes happily on the grass of the EU. Yet defense spending lags. Andrew Moravcsik, a professor of government at Harvard University, estimates that “the United States spends five times more on military R&D than all of Europe.” Europe’s soldiers cannot fight beside their U.S. comrades-in-arms because they lack technology such as the AN/Pvs-7 night vision goggles; the U.S. Army has 215,000 of them. European forces have 11 heavy military transport planes; U.S. forces have 250.
The United States will accept Europe as a real equal when it sees muscle behind diplomacy. However much Europeans dislike Uncle Sam’s war machine, they forget that Europe can’t fight without it.
Yes. And the United States would, I think, be happy if Europe took actual responsibility for some of the world’s problems instead of carping from the sidelines. Most of America’s biggest problem areas, after all, from Vietnam to the Middle East, were inherited from others. But so long as Europe favors subsidies over substance, carping from the sidelines will be all it can do.
Several government security screeners at LaGuardia Airport said that moments before they took a certification test to operate machines that detect bombs in luggage, instructors told them answers to all or most of the questions.
Four screeners interviewed separately described nearly identical scenarios from classes last month: an instructor taught material for several hours and then read and answered a series of 25 multiple-choice questions that were on an exam the screeners took immediately afterward.
“He read the questions right out of the test, word for word, answer for answer,” one screener said, adding that the 25 people in his class wrote down the correct answers on note paper and copied them onto their tests with the instructor out of the room.
A second screener, in a separate class in mid-December, said the instructor stayed in the room during the test but that the exam questions “were the same questions he asked orally just before the test.”
“It was pretty much set up so that you shouldn’t have any way to fail,” said a third screener, who, like all screeners interviewed, asked not to be named fearing retaliation. “The guy read all 25 questions to you just before he gave the test. To tell you the truth, as he gave the questions, I wrote the answers down, because he read them exactly in order.”
ARROYO GRANDE UPDATE: A reader said below that the story of the two high school students who tackled a gunman was talk-radio material. Talk-show host Michael Graham emails that he agrees, and he’ll be talking about it on his show on Cincinnati’s WLW, today from 12-3 Eastern. The URL for online streaming is here, or you can click the button on the stations’ website during the show.
SHORT-TERM ENLISTMENT: Here’s an article on a new short-term enlistment plan designed to produce more enlistees without resort to the draft. I’m not sure what I think about this — I’m not encouraged by one backer’s statement that it’s just a step along the way to compulsory “national service,” which I don’t support, and I’m concerned about the creation of a two-tiered military. On the other hand, there are a lot of military specialties that don’t require the kind of extensive training or commitment that combat arms tend to, and — in fact — we’ve already got a sort of two-tier system, as Tom Ricks noted in comparing the training regimen at Parris Island and Fort Benning with the less rigorous training provided to support troops at Fort Jackson. And it’s likely that a non-trivial number of short-term enlistees will decide to stick around for longer, which should help with recruiting.
Anyway, it’s an interesting development. There’s also a paper from the Progressive Policy Institute, Citizen Soldiers and the War on Terror, endorsing the idea.
Speaking of recruiting, somebody sent me a link to an article saying that Northern California was producing military recruits at a higher rate than anywhere else except (of course) Nashville, but I’ve lost the link. If you read this, can you send it again?
UPDATE: Reader Anthony Kim sends the link, but notes that the headline, “suckers for a uniform” is rather insulting.
AXIS OF WEASELS UPDATE: This article reports a sign at the antiwar protests last weekend reading “Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield – Axis of Weasel” — meaning that Scott Ott didn’t come up with the term first. But, of course, that makes the Scrappleface use of the term all the more impressive: not just creating a meme, but turning the opposition’s term against it, to the point where only geeky bloggers such as myself note the prior usage.
UPDATE: “Axis of Weasels” has made Maureen Dowd’s column for tomorrow. She also has a kind-of retraction of the Jefferson Davis wreath story. I’m calling that two triumphs for the blogosphere, with extra points for degree-of-difficulty.
NEW YORKISH is sort of like the offspring of a drunken roll in the hay involving Gawker and The Onion.
MICKEY KAUS ARGUES that if you’re anti-war, you should support Medicare reform!
I’m not sure I’m buying this, but it’s amusing.
JOHN COLE’s Balloon Juice has moved. Drop by, say hello, and adjust your bookmarks accordingly.
And via Balloon Juice, I noted that this Norman Borlaug oped — which appeared in the for-pay Wall Street Journal earlier this week — is now online at OpinionJournal. It’s a must-read on the subject of genetic engineering and third-world hunger. Borlaug won a Nobel Peace Prize — and, unlike some more recent recipients, actually deserved it.
VENEZUELANS ARE STAGING A 24-HOUR RALLY AGAINST CHAVEZ:
The rally – intended to last 24 hours – was called in protest against a court decision to block a referendum on President Chavez’s rule, which opponents say is dictatorial.
Venezuela, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, has been gripped by the eight-week strike, which has caused severe fuel and some food shortages.
President Chavez is refusing to step down, saying his opponents are being manipulated by Venezuela’s wealthy elite. . . .
The protesters have accused Mr Chavez of behaving like a dictator and mismanaging the economy and have called on him to resign or call early elections.
They flooded a four-kilometre stretch (2.5 miles) of the major highway, chanting Until he goes! and waving the national colours of the Venezuelan flag.
There are blog-pictures here.
THE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY has formed. There’s even a branch in Tennessee.
I was tempted to make the usual Stoner joke, but, actually, I wish them success. The “War on Drugs” is a horrible disaster that will, I think, be looked back on as an episode ranking somewhere between Prohibition and slavery on the scale of institutionalized evil.
LOTT UPDATE: So is the Lott affair over, or not? A few days ago, it looked as if it had been laid to rest, but people are still talking. I’ve been waiting for Jim Lindgren to do a wrapup on this, which he was going to do last week but which he’s now promising for sometime next week. Lott critic-in-chief Tim Lambert summarizes the whole affair here, and while his dislike of, and distrust of, Lott is quite evident, he’s got all the links pro and con. There is now substantial evidence that Lott did in fact conduct a survey in 1997 — some factual corroboration and one person who says he was surveyed, which seems to be enough to satisfy most people, if not all. And certainly there’s no evidence presented, beyond inference and questions, that Lott didn’t conduct the survey. If that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.
But for now, the surest sign that this issue is largely settled is that Lambert is now arguing a different question — not whether the survey was conducted, but whether the 98% figure is accurate. I have no opinion on this at all. I’m not qualified to judge the statistical merit of this stuff, and at any rate, the question originally presented wasn’t whether Lott is a poor scholar, but whether he’s an honest one.
I’ve been uncomfortable blogging on this subject because I’ve been involved in trying to get to the bottom of it, though chiefly in the form of repeated and forceful admonitions to Lott to make as much information public as possible, as soon as possible. Lott has released his income tax data and all of the information on his forthcoming survey replicating the 1997 study to scholars for examination. They seem satisfied. (Interestingly, Lott, like Lambert, seems to think that the real question is whether his figure is ultimately right. They’re both wrong, in my opinion). Unlike the Bellesiles affair, where I was on the outside wondering why it was getting no attention, here I was (somewhat) on the inside — enough, at any rate, that blow-by-blow blogging felt wrong, especially on side issues like email pseudonyms.
I’ve been a bit annoyed by the efforts on behalf of many to make this into a Bellesiles-payback case. First, the Bellesiles case was in the email-list and scholarly inquiry phase for over two years. When I first blogged it, on October 3, 2001, the Bellesiles case had already been the subject of extensive detective work by Clayton Cramer, investigative reports in the Boston Globe and National Review Online, and over a year of back-and-forth on the same email list where people have been discussing Lott. My first post was, in fact, occasioned by Emory University’s demand to Bellesiles that he explain himself. I hadn’t blogged the issue earlier because it seemed premature; people were still looking into the matter.
As I said in my first post on this subject, even Lambert stated up front that this question didn’t call Lott’s main argument into question. Bellesiles was accused of, and eventually shown to have engaged in, outright fabrication of major data crucial to the essential argument of a major published work. Lott was accused, and not shown to have engaged in, false reports of conducting a study that was never published anywhere. The Bellesiles process went on for two years. The Lott process, by that standard, has taken place in an eyeblink. It’s also notable that Tim Lambert wasn’t ignored or dismissed in the way that Clayton Cramer was for years, and that some of those (including me) who have leaned hardest on Lott to explain himself are those who generally favor the results that his work shows. That’s in notable contrast to the Bellesiles case, too.
Greg Beato, who sometimes takes it upon himself to lecture me on fairness and decorum, has demonstrated his commitment to fairness and decorum by photoshopping Lott in drag and conflating Bellesiles’ false claims that a critic had forged emails attributed to him, with Lott’s use of a pseudonym in chat groups, two rather different things, on the dubious basis that both were “Internet-related.”
Lott has not covered himself with glory in this matter, and the pseudonymous-posting thing is kind of weird (though, um, certain bloggers are not in a position to criticize pseudonymous argument too much, and raising it after the main claim seemed to have been laid to rest seemed a bit cheesy to me). And I think that Lott’s reputation will suffer from all of this, and it probably should. But the desire of many people to have a Bellesiles-payback-on-the-cheap has done them no credit either. Accusing an academic of fraud is a serious matter, best done by those who — like Clayton Cramer, or Jim Lindgren — have done actual work, and have actual evidence relevant to the matter at hand. That’s one reason why I’ve waited on Lindgren, since everyone seems to agree that he’s honest, and he can hardly be accused of wanting a Bellesiles payback. And when Lindgren posts his findings, I’ll report those, of course.
UPDATE: David Levy, an economist at GMU, emails:
I’ve known John Lott for a long time and he’s been really good about data sharing. I require students to replicate published worked in my econometrics classes and one of them had the guts to get data from John. “Guts” only
because the data set is huge. It came on a zip disk (if I remember correctly) and probably in Stata format. No one at George Mason was using Stata then so it was a mild pain to get it converted.
People reviewing their own work and neglecting to sign their name has a long, wonderful tradition. One of the best reviews of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is by … yup … WW himself.
Levy also edits the excellent Library of Economics website.
MORE FRIENDS OF PEACE AND DEMOCRACY in San Francisco.
DAVID WARREN WRITES THAT:
next week is the crunch. I expect we will come to look back on this as we do now upon the League of Nations in its last moments — the League’s failure to act on Abyssinia, and so forth, in the gathering clouds of World War II.
The U.N. has manoeuvred Mr. Bush into a position where he cannot advance towards Baghdad without pushing them over. It follows he will push them over — and let the world know why. As I see it, we have reached the end of the road, either for Mr. Bush or for the United Nations. I expect Mr. Bush to prevail; but if he doesn’t, I’ll tell you. I expect Mr. Bush to be blamed for the convulsion that then seizes the U.N., but in the longer run I think it will be seen that the U.N. killed itself.
The North American media are if possible overplaying the soap operatic performances of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, as they strew thumbtacks along the road to Baghdad. If you turn to the European media, you see that the French and Germans themselves hardly take their leaders so seriously. They are used to this kind of cynical posturing, and it doesn’t make the front page. What scares them is rather the American earnestness, the possibility that Mr. Bush means what he says. They expect politicians to lie to them — it is part of the “social contract” as in Canada — and when one of them starts putting his money where his mouth is, they are naturally alarmed. . . .
Here, in microcosm, is the real battle, the one reflected in macrocosm in the contest between Mr. Bush and the United Nations. It could be summed in one sentence:
“Do we think that what we ARE is worth defending?”
HERE’S A RATHER UNDER-COVERED DEMONSTRATION: 40,000 Koreans demonstrating in favor of the United States, and getting next to no coverage in the United States.
MORE ALGERIANS: This just keeps happening:
Four Algerians are being investigated over possible terrorist links after being stopped leaving a bureau de change with thousands of pounds in cash.
The men held outside a London bureau by Customs officers were carrying more than £16,000 in US dollars.
Security services were alerted and are investigating where the money came from, what it was for and the possibility it was linked to terrorist funding in the UK or abroad.
The cash, which Customs believed to be linked to criminal activity, was seized on January 9 following an intelligence operation.
When stopped, the men claimed the money had been withdrawn from a bank account in Algeria and that it was going to be used for clothes shopping in the UK and US.
They produced copies of bank slips and invoices but investigators established through officials in Algeria that the account did not exist.
“I’m shopping for clothes. My size? I wear a ‘C-4′ — see, that’s why it’s on my shopping list for the Semtex mall. . . . It’s somewhere in New Jersey, I think.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES IS WAY BEHIND THE BLOGOSPHERE, but it’s finally onto the International A.N.S.W.E.R. story:
Answer, whose name stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, was formed a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, by activists who had already begun coming together to protest policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Some of the group’s chief organizers are active in the Workers World Party, a radical Socialist group with roots in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The party has taken positions that include defense of the Iraqi and North Korean governments and support for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugolav president being tried on war crimes charges.
The positions of some of Answer’s members have caused rifts in past antiwar movements as well. In January 1991, at the onset of the Persian Gulf war, two coalitions of protesters marched separately, on consecutive weekends, because one refused to align itself with the other, whose members included current Answer officers who would not criticize the Iraqi government or support economic sanctions against it.
In an interview today, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a spokeswoman for Answer, said questions raised about the group’s role were “classic McCarthy-era Red-baiting.”
It’s not McCarthyism to call people who are communists, communists. Communists, as devoted followers of murderous totalitarianism, deserve to be called to account every bit as much as their Nazi colleagues. And in the 21st century, they can hardly pretend to be ignorant of their ideology’s true nature.
I think it’s interesting, though, that today’s antiwar movement hasn’t maintained the separation from the communists that it maintained before. Some people are catching on, though:
The next national rally is scheduled for Feb. 15 in New York, and it is being sponsored by United for Peace, a coalition of more than 120 groups, most of them less radical than Answer.
It’s pretty hard to be more radical than a group whose key members think that the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, are both just fine. These guys don’t seem to have gotten the word, though.
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll notes that the Times story has proved James Lileks right: “McCarthyism” today doesn’t mean false accusations of communism; it apparently means calling self-identified communists by their proper name.
ANOTHER UPDATE: David Adesnik criticizes my blanket condemnation of communism, and there’s an interesting debate going on over on Oxblog. Nelson Ascher, who informed me of the debate, sends this answer to Adesnik:
A communist in America today who in his way endorses the Gulag is every bit as much an apologist for totalitarianism and genocide as any rightwing nut who denies the Holocaust. In a way, we could say he/she is even worse, because there is no Nazi extermination camp in activity anywhere, but there are Gulags in places like Cuba, North Korea or China. Thus, while a German neo-Nazi, for instance, is directly responsible at most for some immigrants killed in Europe, a communist is backing exisiting regimes that keep exterminating hundreds of thousands as we discuss.
Then, his idea that they or some of them may have been justified because of “their passionate commitment to social justice” is rather hard to defend. We could even say that at least the Nazis were sincere (though nobody would take them at their word in time) while the communists gave even hypocrisy a bad name. Murdering in the name of lofty ideals is, for me, an extra perversion once, besides the human corpses, they littered the discourse with the corpses of the ideas and ideals they’ve instrumentalised and debased. That, by the way, is exactly what many in the left are doing nowadays when they use terms like “peace” and “human rights” to promote Saddam’s dictatorship or the cold blooded massacre of Israelis. And what was exactly the kind of social justice they actually preached? Hunger for all, except for party members.
It’s because there are people trying to show that, well, the worst the left did wasn’t as bad as the worst the right did, that our European friends keep denying that leftist synagogue burning is anti-Semitic. What’s the next step? Looking for the righteous roots of Islamicist anger? The Muslims too have their own ideas about social justice, right?
When, during the Russian civil war, the Finnish whites were threatening to intervene against the Bolsheviks, Lenin warned Mannenheim that the distance from Henlsinki to Petrograd was the same as the distance from Petrograd to Helsinki. Thus, “the gulf that separates America from Europe” because of “simplistic” American anti-Communism isn’t smaller than the gulf that separates Europe from America because of simplistic European apology of communist crimes.
The Western European communists backed their Eastern European, Cuban, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese counterparts until the bitter end and even after that. For God’s sake: the Trotskyites nowadays do back lunatic Stalinist/Maoist regimes such as that in North Korea! They’ve also backed the fascistic military in Argentine during the Falklands war as well as the Talibans.
Yes, the only unifying thread I can find is opposition to America if possible, and, failing that, opposition to Western ideas of freedom. To call such an ideology evil is no exaggeration. To defend it is to defend, well, evil.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Meryl Yourish responds to the defenders of A.N.S.W.E.R.’s role in the protests.
I’VE HAD TROUBLE REACHING A LOT OF SITES TODAY, and Oliver Willis emails that this fast-spreading Internet worm may be the reason. He says he can’t even reach his own site. I hope the first-class tech people at HostingMatters are on the ball; so far, InstaPundit seems fine.
If it goes down, don’t forget the backup at http://instabackup.blogspot.com. And those of you who run your own servers, well, be careful.
UPDATE: Dave Winer notes that blogs beat Big Media on this one.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Of course, if I’d bothered to check the support forum I would have seen that the geniuses at HostingMatters were already on top of it.
Appearing agitated and frightened, the young man, with a closely trimmed beard and mustache, sat inside the white U.N.-marked utility vehicle for 10 minutes, AP reported. At first, an inspection team leader sought help from nearby Iraqi soldiers, but the man refused to leave the vehicle as the uniformed men pulled on his sleeve and collar.
“I am unjustly treated!” he shouted.
Then U.N. security men arrived, and they and Iraqi police carried the man by his feet and arms into the fenced compound, journalists said. The man was turned over to Iraqi authorities at a government office adjacent to the compound, U.N. officials said.
I guess the U.N. wouldn’t want to give would-be Iraqi defectors the idea that doing so might be, you know, safe. The guy had a notebook. I wonder what was in it?
I suppose he could be just a common garden-variety nut, but he doesn’t look like one in the picture, and we’ll certainly never know. But the message was undoubtedly received by any potential defectors: approach us, and we’ll hand you over.
Can we charge the inspectors with “material breach?”
A PACK, NOT A HERD: I reported last week on the two heroic teenagers who subdued an armed and dangerous classmate in Arroyo Grande, California. Sadly, I was about the only one outside the local media in Arroyo Grande who did. Here’s a local column on the subject:
It’s not often that students jump a gun-toting, teenage nut-ball who’s taken a classroom hostage at gunpoint, then wrestle him to the floor so their high school won’t become synonymous with Columbine and grape Kool-Aid.
Arroyo Grande High students Clay Gheza and Jonathan Griswold did. The kid who’d walked into their sophomore English class on Friday waving a 9 mm pistol with murder in mind was more interested in having a bloody good time than conjugating verbs. If Gheza and Griswold hadn’t grabbed him, we’d probably be attending a lot of funerals this week and I’d be so despairing that you wouldn’t be able to read this column because I wouldn’t be able to write it, and it’d be hard for you to read it anyway, blinking away all those tears.
Everybody in SLO County knows about it, and that’s the problem: Nobody else does. That’s what makes me more annoyed than usual. . . .
I flipped the channels incessantly, endlessly, annoyingly on Friday and Saturday and all this week, hoping to see Gheza and Griswold being interviewed by Connie Chung and Wolf Blitzer about their amazing act of selfless regard on that Friday morning, how they leapt and struggled the kid to the ground, holding the his arm down, the gun waving, struggling more, it might go off, the students screaming, the bullet, the bullet, it might go off, we could all be killed, hold him, hold him–
And the inevitable lame question from our irrepressible, ubiquitous, and oh-so-coifed national news models: “And how did you feel?” Headlines across the nation, “Student Heroics Avert Classroom Murder,” a phone call from the president, “Boys, your braveness and heroicking makes me proud–could sure use your help with that Baghdad bozo,” and the talking heads nodding and blabbing, “McLaughlin,” “McNeil,” “The Capitol Gang,” all bursting with amazed approval, astonishment, and praise, “Gosh, Jim, can you believe it? Amazing, simply amazing, why if they’d been on board those planes, there’d have been no Twin Towers disaster–we’ll be right back with an exclusive interview right after the break … ”
Nope. Nothing. Zippola-nada-noodle. If there was a mention, I missed it, and so did everyone I know who has a TV remote and a national newspaper subscription and the sense to know that this is the stuff journalists stumble out of bed each morning nursing their hangovers over, hoping to find that big old dog with that big old bite for that big old Pulitzer, maybe today, maybe, maybe–Arroyo Grande? Where’s that? How many kids got killed? None? Bummer. Hey, I know! We could go make some ice cubes on the sidewalk!”
“I just thought, ‘I’m going to take him down,’” Jonathan Griswold told the Tribune. “We didn’t want him to hurt anyone,” said Clay Gheza, with humble modesty that makes me feel like a jerk. I could learn from him.
So could Dan Rather, as soon as he pulls his head out of his butt.
I don’t actually believe that there’s a conspiracy among Big Media to constantly present an image of the American public as a bunch of bumbling, helpless boobs in need of constant supervision by the Nanny State, while suppressing all evidence to the contrary. But, you have to admit, its easy to see why some people do think that.
UPDATE: As far as I can tell, the story only got covered in the item I link above, and in these “”news brief” treatments in the Mercury News and the Fresno Bee, where it sat next to stories about community fund-raising dances and too-tall Santa statues. Pretty damned lame.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Scott Boone reports that it got some coverage:
I DID see a national news story on these guys…I think it was on 20/20 the other night (Thursday). I say “I think” because it could have been Dateline, etc (sorry, I was flipping channels, being a “pirate” and not watching the commercials–please don’t rat on me ;)
Anyhow, the one thing about the interview that really caught me was the fact that the interviewer never really tied this act with the acts on Flight 93…that they really are in the same vein. And more importantly, nothing was even HINTED at that it is THIS kind of vigilance and courage that we, as a country, need to promote in order to vanquish our savage enemies and their idiotarian allies. They wryly made more hay out of the fact that the “jocks” did nothing, and that the “rocker” and the “surfer” saved the day…geez, nice time to solidify the foundations of class warfare.
Just wanted to pass along that it was at least news-magazined, if underreported.
Well, sorry, you’re busted on the commercial-skipping thing, you “thief.” Funny that a local writer didn’t know about this (and neither did the Arroyo Grande local who sent me the link), but not actually shocking. Did anyone else see any coverage?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire has found some other coverage, though far less than the story deserves.
He thinks the story should be all over talk radio. I agree.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, here’s a transcript of a CNN story. Maybe nobody in Arroyo Grande actually watches TV?
And reader Fred Butzen emails:
Many thanks for the posting on Gheza and Griswold. Having a couple of teenagers myself, one of whom has just signed up with the Marines, I appreciate hearing stories like this. There’s a lot of troubled kids out there, but there’s also a lot of kids whose heads are screwed on straight as well.
Their action, though, simply underscores what a woman friend said to me after 9/11:
“It takes balls to live free.”
I can’t think of a better summary of why we fight the Islamofascists – and why we’ll win.
And why the French aren’t interested. . . .
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND THE INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM: An interesting perspective from someone who has seen both.
A READER SENDS THIS LINK to an Iraq Daily column and asks “Isn’t Tupac Shakur dead?”
Ah, but that’s what they want you to think. Actually he became disgusted with American imperialism and defected to Iraq, where he’s producing propaganda to educate the masses.
Coming soon: An explanation of why the American people really don’t support Bush, despite the recent election and Congressional declaration of war, by Notorious B.I.G.
Oh, wait — my mistake: it’s already out!
HERE’S A WHITE HOUSE PAPER on what genuine disarmament looks like. Not surprisingly, it’s rather different from the shell game that Iraq has been running. Put it together with this oped by Condi Rice from earlier in the week, and the White House has made pretty clear what it’s demanding, and what it’s not getting, from Iraq.
I’VE HINTED AT POSSIBLE UNTOWARD FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS involving North Korea and South Korean politicians. This story isn’t quite what I had in mind, but it’s fascinating.
MORE ON THE PRIVACY FRONT: I’m deeply skeptical about this program:
Last week, the Transportation Security Agency announced its intent to create a new passenger-screening database that will be the centerpiece of a system to scan for potential terrorists by instantly checking every domestic traveler’s credit history, arrest record and property tax data.
Property tax data? Hmm. I suppose that could be a legitimate way of checking addresses — but only for people who own property. Seems dubious. Or will we — along the lines of other programs — start saying that people who owe property taxes, or child support, will lose the “privilege” of travel by airplane?
There’s this, though, which is comforting as long as you believe it:
Unlike the controversial Total Information Awareness research project, the central database of the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Program II, or CAPPS II, will contain permanent financial records, intelligence reports and law enforcement records only on those suspected of posing a national security risk, according to the Jan. 15 Privacy Act notice.
But how many of these assurances do I believe? Sadly, based on past performance, not very many.
FRANCE AND IRAQ? Trent Telenko says that France has lost it. A reader calls the current self-destructive stand the diplomatic equivalent of WaterWorld (Ouch!) — an expensive bit of self-indulgence that’s effectively going to end France’s position as a Bankable Star.
“IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER HIM, Gary Hart is the Democrat who cheated on his wife with a skinny girl.” Jay Leno, just now. The joke didn’t get a very big laugh.
THE NEW SMARTER HARPER’S INDEX is up! Don’t miss it.
TONY ADRAGNA is fact-checking TAPPED.
UPDATE: Well, it appears to be more complex than Adragna thought, though apparently it’s more complex than TAPPED thought, too. Does anybody know what’s going on there?
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT! No, really, that’s what it is.
HEY! There might be hope for Robert Fisk yet! Okay, cuteness aside, this story about a reattached head (yes, that’s what I said) is pretty cool.
IBERIAN NOTES HAS MORE ON THE SPANISH AL-QAEDA ARRESTS:
The Al Qaeda arrests here in Barcelona (see below) are significant news. They are solid proof that Al Qaeda is a threat to the civilized world. They planned to commit acts of terrorism, apparently using chemicals, right here. And in London, Paris, and Strasbourg. If this doesn’t convince Europeans, including those in France, for God’s sake, that it’s time to draw a line in the sand and say “Take your stand. You’re either with us and against the terrorists, and we mean all the terrorists; you’re neutral and will enjoy the advantages and also suffer the drawbacks of having been a fence-sitter; or you’re on their side. Which is it?”–then I don’t know what will. And if anyone doesn’t see by now that Al Qaeda is in cahoots with Hezbollah, Al Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and all those other flaming bags of shit, you are willfully ignoring the obvious. And where do those people get their money, weapons, and support? Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, Algeria. AND certain people, some highly placed, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and everywhere else in the Arab / Muslim world and a lot of places outside it.
What I find amazing are all the educated, intelligent people who are perfectly willing to believe that mobile phones fry their brains, that Monsanto is trying to take over the world, that the CIA or the Mafia or the Teamsters killed Kennedy, that there’s a conspiracy between the government, the referees, and some obscure figures with “muchos intereses” to screw FC Barcelona out of the League again this year, that opening the window when it’s hot outside is bad for you, that you can catch a cold if the wind blows on you, that crystals have a lot of power and so do pyramids and that everyone has an energy field (and that mine is negative), that feng fuckin’ shui is something more than a millenarian superstition, that electric power lines give off radiation, that there are people out there who pay untold sums of money to watch snuff movies, that there are Satanic cults sacrificing babies infiltrating our nursery schools, that it’s possible to lose weight without eating less, exercising more, or both, that AIDS is a plot by the federal government to exterminate blacks or gays or both, that the CIA was running drugs from Nicaragua into the USA to fund the contras, that you can learn a foreign language by paying thousands of dollars and sitting at a computer terminal, that the US Army had hit squads to kill deserters in Vietnam, that O.J.’s son was the one who really did it, or that this whole war thing is a devilish plot cooked up between the oil companies, the Pentagon, the arms manufacturers, Dick Cheney, and the Bavarian Fuckin’ Illuminati, yet they are unwilling to believe that there are governments and organizations out there that are working together with the goal of destroying everything that we all cherish about our Western society and that maybe we ought to take action against them now while we still can rather than wait until we can’t anymore.
Indeed. Scroll down for quite a lot of detailed information on who these Algerian Al Qaeda sympathizers are.
LAW PROFESSOR BLOGGER ERIC MULLER has more thoughts on Korematsu.
GOOD GRIEF! Traffic’s already over 100K, again! Hmm. I blame the cold weather, keeping people close to their nice, warm computers. . . .
UPDATE: At 11:45, it’s 111, 449 — a new record by a mile. Must be damn cold out there.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Adam Woolcock emails: “Don’t credit the cold weather for all your hits! Here in Melbourne, Australia it was 43d celcius here today (109 fahrenheit). If any of your readers want to swap and come live in this inferno i’ll be happy to take offers.”
Er, well, in your case maybe it’s the nice, air-conditioned computer room. . . .
ANOTHER MAN IMPRISONED FOR EXERCISING HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. I assume the ACLU will be all over this one.
TONY ADRAGNA OBSERVES: “Problem with the French is that they need a reminder ’bout how everytime the Germans exert influence on the Continent things invariably end up worse.”
You’d think they’d have learned by now.
A MAJOR DROPPED BALL in Defense Department computer security. Jeez.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC will be doing a swimsuit issue, next month. Hmm. Maybe I should do an InstaPundit swimsuit issue!
Maybe I shouldn’t.
KEN LAYNE EXPLAINS HOW TO FIX SALON: Someone should listen.
UPDATE: John Scalzi is dissing Salon’s business model and also points out that InstaPundit gets as many daily uniques as Salon has subscribers. On the one hand, well, that’s true, but I don’t charge people thirty bucks a year. On the other hand, I haven’t burned though tens of millions of dollars of other people’s money by funding lavish offices, wild parties, and absurd vanity ventures.
Hmm. And too bad — it sounds like it would have been fun!
STEVEN DEN BESTE LAYS IT ON THE LINE WITH A PREDICTION:
The Anglo-American conquest of Iraq will be seen in history as what historians like to call a turning point. It will mean the end of the UN as anything even remotely resembling a meaningful international body. It will also mean the practical end of NATO, which just refused a request that it move forces to protect its member Turkey from any Iraqi punishing attack north. It will totally alter the world diplomatic situation, with many bilateral relationships becoming stronger and others becoming much more cool and the reputations of some nations rising and those of others dropping through the floor. And it’s going to end up changing the political dynamic inside Europe which has until now fed the process of formation and expansion of the EU.
The conquest of Iraq will wipe away any remaining traces of the international diplomatic order left over from the Cold War.
And it’s going to happen and no amount of vocal opposition and diplomatic grandstanding is capable now of forcing Bush to involuntarily refrain from ordering the attack.
I think he’s probably right. And I think that a reformed Iraq has the potential to lead to regime change throughout the region — something that the various leaders have been worried about, as have their patrons (and clients?) elsewhere.
UPDATE: The Pontificator says I’m wrong to want regime change throughout the region, since it might be bloody and chaotic.
Bloody might be okay, if it’s the right people. I’m perfectly happy to see the last emir strangled with the entrails of the last mullah, if it comes to that. But it probably won’t, or at least it need not. After all, you could have made (and people did make) the same kind of predictions about the fall of the Soviet Union, and it didn’t turn out that way.
At any rate, regime change will come anyway, sooner or later, because it’s a region of weak states, unhappy citizens, and strong outside interest. I think this is a better context for regime change than we’re likely to find otherwise. And, as I said earlier:
I don’t pretend to offer guarantees that American intervention in the region will make life better for the people who live there. I think it will, I hope it will, and I think we should do our best to make that so. But those are secondary objectives. The primary objective is to make clear to leaders that if their country threatens America, they, the rulers, will be out of power at best, and dead along with all their family and friends at worst. Is that “nice?” No. I don’t care.
This is also why I prefer a Mussolini-style ending in which Saddam is lynched by his own people to exile, or even a trial. I think that would provide a valuable lesson.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ann Haker emails:
If Saudi subjects now see that their neighbor, Iraq, is using its oil wealth to build a dynamic and vibrant economy, while their own leaders have lavished most of the oil revenues on themselves and their Swiss bank accounts, they wil begin to demand that the oil wealth of the Arabian Peninsula be used for their benefit, not the benefit of the al Saud family.
That’s what the Saudi family must fear most.
Well, maybe not most, but yes, I think the “trust” move was a diplomatic stroke that hit several targets at once.
BOY, THE U.S. / EUROPE DIVIDE HAS GOTTEN BAD: Rand Simberg has found contingency planning for a U.S. invasion.
A PACK, NOT A HERD:
A Far North Dallas man who shot and killed two would-be burglars Thursday morning probably will not face charges, according to Dallas police and legal experts.
About 9 a.m. Thursday, the 29-year-old man was at home with his wife and three young children when a man knocked on the side door and asked for someone the resident did not know, police said.
One or both suspects then forced their way into the apartment, shooting the resident once in the arm, police said. The resident retreated to his bedroom, retrieved a gun, and a shootout ensued in the living room on Knoll Trail Drive near the Dallas North Tollway, police said. . . .
“In Texas, we maximize the idea of your home is your castle, and if intruders break in, they do so at their own peril,” said Jerry Dowling, a criminal law professor at Sam Houston State University.
STEPHEN GREEN is back and blogging. He poses this question:
French soldiers and ships helped bring us victory in our Revolution. French farmers gave us brie and crème fraîche and the wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux. French thinkers gave us Voltaire and Victor Hugo. France stands second to only the United Kingdom as the European nation contributing most to Western Civilization.
But after WWI, France went as bad as potato salad left out at a sunny summer picnic.
From victory at the Marne to occupation after Ardennes in ’40. Defeat in Vietnam. Defeat in Algeria. From confidence against rising German power to subsuming to it under the EU. From a muscular foreign policy to carping from the sidelines.
What the hell went wrong?
I blame an insufficiency of healthy lycopene, but Stephen has a different explanation.
AXIS OF WEASELS UPDATE: Reader Scott Hanson emails from Germany that it’s being reported there:
The Axis of Weasels is getting coverage even in the German media. NDRInfo, the regional news radio station, was interviewing their Washington correspondent about the ‘old Europe’ flap. When asked how Americans were reacting, he pointed out the ‘Axis of Weasel’ headline from the NY Post. Of course, he had to explain what ‘weasel’ meant in this context, since ‘Axis of Small Mammals’ doesn’t exactly convey the correct meaning.
ScrappleFace: Tomorrow’s News Today
“U.N. Tells Blix ‘Stop Looking for Smoking Guns’ “–headline, ScrappleFace.com, Jan. 9
“US Tells Blix Not to Look for ‘Smoking Gun’ “–headline, Australian Broadcasting Corp. Web site, Jan. 24
“Rumsfeld Sorry for ‘Axis of Weasels’ Remark”–headline, ScrappleFace.com, Jan. 22
“AXIS OF WEASELS: Germany and France Wimp Out on Iraq”–front-page headline, New York Post, Jan. 24
If I were Scott Ott, I’d be saying “Buwahahaha!” Something he wrote on his computer yesterday is giving French and German diplomats heartburn today. If that’s not the American Dream come true, I don’t know what is.
HMM: This must be the “New Europe:”
Czech soldiers who accepted an offer to return home from Kuwait if they “did not feel ready” for a US-led war against Iraq have come in for huge public criticism.
Nobody expected any of the 250-strong Nuclear, Biological and Chemical unit to take up the offer from a defence minister hoping to illustrate his soldiers’ dedication. But when 27 of them did – with seven of them flying straight home – national pride was severely dented.
Such was the opprobrium that the remaining 20 are thinking of staying on. The army reports that soldiers, stung by the reaction, are volunteering by the dozen and another 130 will be on their way to Kuwait this weekend.
“I don’t want to be called a coward, that’s why I’ve stayed,” said one soldier. “We’ve already stayed two months over our time.”
“I don’t want to be called a coward.” And a public willing to do it. It’s hard to imagine this happening with, say, French troops. . ..
(Via Porphyrogenitus, who notes that the New York Times needs to get around a bit more and move beyond the sclerotic Eurocracy when it reports on European attitudes and events.)
SO WHO’S RIGHT ABOUT WHAT’S RUINING AMERICA? Walter Olson, or Arianna Huffington? I address this question over at GlennReynolds.com.
THE “AXIS OF WEASELS” MEME IS SPREADING: A reader emails:
Just heard “axis of weasel” comment on MSNBC. This was in their top of the hour ‘straight news’ segment, not a commentator.
Forget the “heh.” This is a full-scale “chortle!”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Mattehews emails:
Just before 9 AM EST CNN reported that a viewer had responded via e-mail to its Axes of Weasels story.
The viewer suggested Saddam be forced into exile in Germany; allowed to take it over; and then invade France.
Yeah, well, don’t call us when it happens, guys. That account is way overdrawn. . . .
Notice, carefully there, what the US was supposed to learn from September 11th. Not that we were at war. Not that there are a bunch of toedick fuckwads who want to kill us. No, the US was supposed to learn humility. All that supposed European sympathy was a front for a smug, “That’ll learn ‘em. Sad it had to be like that, but that’ll learn ‘em.”
Well, we learned something, all right.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Havemann emails:
It’s kind of amusing to see the French and the Germans go into high-dudgeon mode over the “insult” of being labelled as “old Europe.” The axis of weasels has never hesitated to malign the US as “cowboys” and worse — but boil with simulated outrage when *we* call ‘em as we see ‘em.
They can dish it out, but they can’t take it. Weasels *and* wimps.
Yes, and the “cowboy” thing is kind of old. What’s funny is, when you read the Times story you see a lot of nasty comments about Bush’s “culture” and “religion” that European leaders would be far too P.C. to make in talking about, say, radical Islamists.
STILL MORE: A reader emails:
You’re right. And the NY Times itself is too PC to make such references to Islamists.
Also, the Times treats all Bush bashing or America blaming from Germany or France as worthy of enshrinement at the National Archives.
Rand Simberg meanwhile, notes via email that when the French call us “cowboys,” most Americans (though, um, not those resident at the New York Times), respond “damn straight!” He suspects that the French won’t feel the same about the term “weasel.”
TOM RIDGE has some special events planned to celebrate the launch of the Homeland Security department. Fun for the whole family!
THE OLD ALLIANCE IS BROKEN, reports the Agonist. I think he’s right.
THE QUESTION IS, IF RUMSFELD ACTUALLY DID THIS, how many people would pick up the reference?
SPEAKING OF THE PROBLEMS OF BIG MEDIA (well, we usually are, here in the blogosphere, aren’t we?) Josh Marshall notes that Time has retracted the White House / Jefferson-Davis-wreath-laying story. The problems with that story were noted in the blogosphere some time ago, but it’s good to see Time admitting its error so quickly. Here’s a link to the retraction.
UPDATE: Justin Katz is waiting for retractions from the people who made a big deal out of this story.
ANOTHER ISSUE OF VIRGINIA POSTREL MAGAZINE has hit the stands. Er, monitors. Um, servers?
WHY DO AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS SUCK? Nick Denton asks, and answers, that question in a lengthy essay.
THE ECONOMIST is calling for a fourteen-year copyright term, renewable once:
Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right. Its sole purpose was to encourage the circulation of ideas by giving creators and publishers a short-term incentive to disseminate their work. Over the past 50 years, as a result of heavy lobbying by content industries, copyright has grown to such ludicrous proportions that it now often inhibits rather than promotes the circulation of ideas, leaving thousands of old movies, records and books languishing behind a legal barrier. Starting from scratch today, no rational, disinterested lawmaker would agree to copyrights that extend to 70 years after an author’s death, now the norm in the developed world.
It’s okay with me, and I have more copyrighted stuff than most people.
DAVID BROOKS OBSERVES:
If you went into a lab and tried to create a state that would be perfectly suited for producing successful national politicians, you would create Tennessee. It is southern, which is important because the South is both the largest and the fastest growing region of the country. But it is not too southern. It is rich, and has that huge fundraising base, but it is not culturally elitist, like New York and California. Most important, it is heterodox. If you are going to live in Tennessee and thrive there, you cannot live in an insular cultural enclave, the way Trent Lott can in Mississippi, or the way Nancy Pelosi can in the Bay Area. In Tennessee you have to travel to the eastern part of the state, where they supported the Union, you have to travel to the western part, where they supported the Confederacy, and you have to travel to West Nashville, where they support Cadillac dealerships. If you travel and campaign throughout Tennessee, you are apt to acquire an instinctive feel for how different types of people think and react.
I’ve had some thoughts along these lines myself. Tennessee does seem to produce more than its share of good (or at least successful) politicians, and it is so diverse that it used to call itself “the three states of Tennessee” — and the state constitution still has vestiges of internal federalism, like the requirement that no more than two of the five justices be from the same Grand Division (East, West, or Middle). That probably does tend to winnow (or at least educate) statewide officeholders in a way that a more unitary state wouldn’t. (Not that we don’t still produce world-class losers from time to time).
It probably helps that the media markets are fragmented, too. I wonder if anyone has researched this sort of thing?
READER ALI KARIM BEY, who has been emailing me for a while with evidence supporting his contention that John Kerry will be our next President, sends this piece from The New Republic. I’m not convinced that this makes the case, as these excerpts indicate:
Just as Dean is inheriting the Bradley machine, John Kerry is inheriting the Al Gore operation. “They have the Gore staff of 2004,” says Brazile, who, as Gore’s campaign manager, ought to know. . . . Indeed, if there is one candidate who might really benefit from a Sister Souljah moment, it’s Kerry. “Kerry’s in danger of being the pander-bear of the race,” says an adviser to a rival campaign.
I find Kerry deeply unimpressive. I can articulate some of the reasons, but a lot of it is just the gut reaction I have when I see him on TV. That reaction seems like it might be widely shared, and it’s a big problem for Kerry if it is.
Of course, all the Democratic candidates look unimpressive at the moment. By the time one of them is the nominee, he will likely seem to have a lot more stature. But, really, if the war goes well, and the economy doesn’t tank, Bush should win. And if the war goes badly, and the economy tanks, he probably won’t. Which makes handicapping the Democratic field a pretty unrewarding endeavor at the moment.
UPDATE: You know if Democrats keep calling for a return to the draft, it just might have an effect on the election. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Of course, I could be totally wrong about the war and the economy. By that kind of logic, Gore should have trounced Bush easily. I’m not sure which way this cuts.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who is free from the self-doubt I express above emails:
Oh, get real! How can anyone take seriously a candidate whose campaign depends on the sale of Heinz ketchup? Not to mention his appearance: the Knight of the Woeful Countenance look has been out for over a century. You might have to go back even beyond Lincoln to find a face more expressive of depression. If Kerry won as president there would be more suicides in the US than in the Socialist Utopia of Sweden. Imagine having to look at that face day after day on television. And that droning voice…
Well, let’s stop right there, buddy. Kerry’s one thing, but don’t come around here dissing Heinz Ketchup. We’re talking America in a bottle. Heinz Ketchup is a quintessentially American food, which I’ll put up against any of yer sissified Frenchy sauces. Any candidate should be proud to have his campaign funded by Heinz Ketchup — it’s like having your campaign funded by baseball!
(In a John Barnes alternate-history novel where the Germans won World War Two, American expats huddle in New Zealand, comforting themselves with Heinz Ketchup. Like Proust’s madeleines, only with healthy lycopene!)
FINAL KETCHUP-RELATED UPDATE: In the interest of nauseating full disclosure, I once served as an adviser to the Heinz Family Foundation. They didn’t give me any money. Or even any free ketchup.
WOW! My score was about 1,200. I didn’t think I’d do nearly that well. . . .
THIS STORY HAS HOWARD DEAN COMPARING GEORGE BUSH TO THE TALIBAN: Sorry, Howard, but that’s so 2002.
BY GEORGE, I THINK HE’S GOT IT: The secret behind “Joe Millionaire.”
TODAY IS THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF DANNY PEARL’S KIDNAPPING: His mistake? He believed the assurances of Islamic radicals. He thought they wanted a dialogue, but all they really wanted was to kill an American, and a Jew.
I HEREBY AWARD “BLOG POST OF THE DAY” to the ScrappleFace “Axis of Weasel” item that I mentioned below. Not only is it circulating in email throughout the corridors of power, it inspired this powerful graphic, and made Best of the Web, Even more inspiring, it’s apparently spreading into more general currency, at least according to this comment posted on the site:
I am watching “The Big Story with John Gibson” on FOX News… and their lead in was on France and Germany… and they said “Axis of Weasels”… I spit out my Coke all over the place!
The Blog-Force is strong in this one.
RACHEL LUCAS HAS AN INSPIRED RANT growing out of the Thacker affair. It’s too good to excerpt, really, but I can’t resist quoting this sentence: “That’s like putting Barbra Streisand on the War Council.”
But, really, it’s the sort of thing that deserves to be read in its entirety.
COLLIN MAY AT INNOCENTS ABROAD has a number of very interesting posts about France, Germany, and the “death blow” that France has administered to the traditional Western alliance. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.
ANOTHER UPDATE: And check out this graphic. Somebody stick some up on telephone poles near the German and French embassies. . . .
READER ZACHARY BARBERA SUGGESTS IT MUST BE “CUDDLE DICTATORS MONTH” IN FRANCE. This story suggests that he’s right:
France has confirmed that it is inviting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to take part in a summit of African Heads of State next month.
Mr Mugabe is currently banned from entering the European Union because of doubts about the legitimacy of his re-election last year.
But French President Jacques Chirac was convinced that the Zimbabwean leader’s presence at the summit would help promote justice, human rights and democracy in his country, foreign ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau told journalists.
Then there’s this explanation for France’s abstention when Qadafi was elected to the Human Rights Commission:
If France chose to abstain in the vote, which saw Libyan ambassador to Geneva Najat al-Hajjaji elected head of the UN commission on human rights, it was done in such a way that France could send two different messages to Libya, a French spokesman said.
He noted that if the vote had been taken a year or two ago, France would undoubtedly have joined the United States and Canada in voting against Libya _ to protest Libya’s alleged involvement in the bombing of a French aircraft over Niger in 1989.
However, Paris also wanted to respect the memory of a large number of Africans who died in the plane crash and so thought it best to neither support nor oppose Tripoli’s elevation at the world body, the spokesman said.
“Axis of Weasel,” indeed.
UPDATE: I just noted that Zach Barbera has already blogged this on his blog. Note to bloggers — when you send me links to stories, let me know if you’ve already blogged them. I’d rather send the traffic to you than to Reuters! But if you don’t mention it, I don’t always think to check.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus is denouncing French unilateralism in abandoning E.U. sanctions.
TODD GITLIN is criticizing A.N.S.W.E.R. on Fresh Air. Follow the link and click to hear the audio.
NO ANTISEMITISM TO SEE HERE. NOPE, NOTHING. MOVE ALONG, NOW. . . .
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Parents of more than 100 Danish scouts were outraged over a game of tag at a scout camp in which children acted as Jews wearing yellow Stars of David and tried to escape from adults pretending to be Nazis.
The group of about 160 scouts, aged 11-14, included a dozen teenagers from the Danish-speaking minority in northern Germany. The school yard was turned into a concentration camp with swastikas on the windows. . . .
Jes Imer of the local FDF chapter told the tabloid B.T. that they “may have crossed the line this time with a night game where Nazis chase Jews.”
The school yard included a sign with the German words “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work will set you free,” the infamous inscription over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
“I don’t know whether I should apologize,” Imer told B.T.
Oh, I know. You couldn’t make stuff like this up. Sadly, you don’t have to. At least the parents were shocked.
UPDATE: Reader David Rosenberg says not so fast with the antisemitism charges:
I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the people who organized this game were anti-semites.
I was a counselor at a Jewish day camp in California where we once concocted a similar game although without the props like Jewish stars etc. I think we had the kids trying to escape from Europe past the Nazi border guards.
Later on, the other counselors and I agreed that the game was too scary and totally inappropriate. But I don’t think we would have thought that it could be interpreted as anti-semitic, even if it had been a non-Jewish day camp and even if we had been non-Jews.
Sure, let’s hold the Germans (even Danish-speaking ones) to a higher standard, but I’d like to see more facts before I call it the A word.
Meanwhile Ben Dolfin writes:
This sounds similar to a game we play at our church in the youth group. We have persecution Sunday where Youth Group members pretend to be Christians located in a country that doesn’t allow the freedom of religion. Roman Empire, Russia during communism, China, etc. The kids are all dropped off outside town at night in groups of 2-3 and they need to all assemble and meet at a location in town and hold a bible study. Meanwhile the counselors and friendly volunteers drive around with spotlights and attempt to run down and capture the Christians. The point of the exercise is to who people that in some areas people can’t freely assemble and worship, but in reality it turns into a big hide and go seek game for adults with 500,000 candlepower deer spotlights, full camo outfits, and running through cornfields at midnight. If you got caught we even loaded people into a “prison truck” which was basically a big van. It’s very similiar sounding to what they appeared to be doing.
So although it may sound bad, I think there was a moral lesson that they were teaching in there somewhere. Instead of giving the groups labels of Nazi and Jew they should have called them “evil tyrants” and “free people”. I think that was their biggest error. It sounds bad, but I think it was probably harmless in it’s intent. That’s my guess at this time anyways.
Um, okay. But if that’s true, there’s no hint of it in the story. Which would make the story very bad reporting, though that’s certainly not out of the question.
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