February 12, 2006
IS THE ABA ENCOURAGING PEOPLE to break the law?
IS THE ABA ENCOURAGING PEOPLE to break the law?
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGITY-JIG: Drove back from D.C. in the teeth of the fearsome East Coast Blizzard, which in fact, at least on our travel route, was more like the Brutal Afghan Winter than, say, the Blizzard of ’93. Some snow and ice, and a few flipped 18-wheelers, but not very bad really.
Back later. In the meantime, a nice summary of what’s really at stake in the Cartoon Wars:
Sari Hanafi, an associate professor at the American University in Beirut, said for Arab governments resentful of the Western push for democracy, the protests presented an opportunity to undercut the appeal of the West to Arab citizens. The freedom pushed by the West, they seemed to say, brought with it disrespect for Islam. Hanafi said the demonstrations “started as a visceral reaction — of course they were offended — and then you had regimes taking advantage, saying, ‘Look, this is the democracy they’re talking about.’ The protests also allowed governments to outflank a growing challenge from Islamic opposition movements by defending Islam.”
And note this:
“The wave swept many in the region. Sheik Muhammed Abu Zaid, an imam from the Lebanese town of Saida, said he began hearing of the caricatures from several Palestinian friends visiting from Denmark in December but made little of it. ‘For me, honestly, this didn’t seem so important,’ Abu Zaid said, comparing the drawings to those made of Jesus Christ in Christian countries. ‘I thought, I know that this is something typical in such countries,’ he recalled.”
Like race riots in the early 20th Century, this is a case of ignorant yahoos being exploited by elites in order to protect the elites’ power against civilizing influences.
THIS DOESN’T SOUND like much of a Homeland Security triumph:
The city’s ports, considered a major target of terrorists, are about to be taken over by a firm based in the United Arab Emirates, a country with financial links to the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Dubai Ports World is set to complete a $6.8 billion deal to purchase Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., a London company that already runs commercial port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami.
Color me unimpressed.
DID SOME BLOGGER INTERVIEWS at Bloggers’ Row yesterday for the next podcast, and tested out this cool but fairly cheap Olympus digital recorder. Listened to the results on headphones and they sound quite good — very clear despite considerable background noise. I wish everything got better and cheaper as fast as electronics are.
UPDATE: Reader C.G. Browning says that $200 isn’t cheap. Well, it depends — the pro models are much more expensive.
ANOTHER UPDATE: An anonymous reader from Australia writes: “Not everybody gets everything free the way you do.”
Actually, pretty much the only thing I get free is books, and the occasional DVD. When I write about gadgets, they’re gadgets I’ve bought myself. If someone were to send me a freebie for review, I’d note that.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Writing in the Washington Post, Michael Grunwald takes a broken-windows approach to pork:
[C]onventional wisdom is congealing around the notion that Congress is what it is, and can’t be changed.
But that was once conventional wisdom about New York, too. “The most important thing we’ve learned since the mid-’90s is that there’s plenty we can do to clean up bad neighborhoods,” said Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin. It turns out that aggressive policing really can defeat an anything-goes mentality, that entrenched criminal cultures really can be reformed, that potential offenders tend not to offend when they believe their crimes will be witnessed, reported and punished. “At some point, people have to say: Enough is enough,” said Carnegie Mellon University criminologist Alfred Blumstein, author of “The Crime Drop in America.”
In Congress, unlike cities, reducing crime is less of an end in itself than a means to the end of better government; members of Congress, their aides and the lobbyists who schmooze them can victimize taxpayers without breaking any laws. Still, in this moment of runaway cynicism, it’s worth asking whether the strategies that cleaned up the mean streets can clean up K Street.
“Sure, why not?” Levin said. “You’ll have to change the culture. But we’ve learned a lot about how to do that.”
Thus culture change, and the broken-windows approach itself, is the underlying philosophy of PorkBusters, of course. Let’s keep it up.
Sen. Tom Coburn certainly is, as George Will notes:
Coburn is the most dangerous creature that can come to the Senate, someone simply uninterested in being popular. When House Speaker Dennis Hastert defends earmarks — spending dictated by individual legislators for specific projects — by saying that a member of Congress knows best where a stoplight ought to be placed, Coburn, in an act of lese-majeste, responds: Members of Congress are the least qualified to make such judgments.
Recently, when a Republican colleague called to say “his constituency” would not allow him to support Coburn on some measure, Coburn tartly told the senator that “there is not one mention in the oath [of office] of your state.” Senators are just not talked to that way under the ponderous rituals of vanity that the Senate pretends are mere politeness. . . .
Civilization depends on the ability to make even majorities blush, so it is momentous news that shame may be making a comeback, even on Capitol Hill, as a means of social control. Embarrassment is supposed to motivate improved education in kindergarten through 12th grade under the No Child Left Behind Act: That law provides for identifying failing schools, the presumption being that communities will blush, then reform. And embarrassment is Coburn’s planned cure for Congress’s earmark culture.
“Quite time-consuming” was Coburn and John McCain’s laconic description, in a letter to colleagues, of their threat to bring the Senate to a virtual standstill with challenges to earmarks. In 1999, while in the House, Coburn offered 115 anti-pork amendments to an agriculture bill — in effect a filibuster in a chamber that does not allow filibusters. Collaborating with Coburn makes McCain, the Senate’s dropout from anger management school, look saccharine.
When Coburn disparaged an earmark for Seattle — $500,000 for a sculpture garden — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was scandalized: “We are not going to watch the senator pick out one project and make it into a whipping boy.” She invoked the code of comity: “I hope we do not go down the road deciding we know better than home state senators about the merits of the projects they bring to us.” And she warned of Armageddon: “I tell my colleagues, if we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next.” But Coburn, who does not do earmarks, thinks Armageddon sounds like fun.
I suspect that a lot of people will be doing their best to undermine Coburn as a result, but I also think that it’ll be pretty obvious what they’re really about.
UPDATE: Couldn’t find it earlier — I was rushed trying to get out of DC and into the blizzard — but here’s N.Z. Bear’s post from September on culture changes and the “broken windows” theory as applied to pork and PorkBusters.
POWER LINE is podcasting.
CARTOON WARS UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has the video of my appearance on CNN, in which I’m rather critical of CNN’s decision not to show the cartoons.
UPDATE: Read this, too.
And a further “Heh” to Tigerhawk.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, this review of my appearance may provide a new InstaPundit slogan: “Reynolds may be boring but at least he’s not an actor.”
Sissy Willis has a transcript, and corrects a minor mis-speak on my part that I didn’t realize I’d made before, though now I see that Abbie Tatton got me to correct myself without my even realizing it. Well, I was bone tired by then, having spent much of the day taping book-related TV and radios stuff. I think I finished well, though, even if I was boring. But hey, I’m a law professor. Boring is what we do best!
LOTS MORE OLYMPICS-BLOGGING over at the Gold Rush.
Well, it’s not like you’re going to see much of it here. . . .
THE BELMONT CLUB offers thoughts on why negotiation is likely to fail where Iran is concerned.
MORE ON THE EVER-EXPANDING U.N. PROCUREMENT SCANDALS from Claudia Rosett and George Russell.
WITH A BLIZZARD hitting the East Coast later today, here’s some advice on safe home generator use from Popular Mechanics.
Here’s one: “Thou shall understand that the West gets their info on Islam not from your preaching nor from the books you translate to them but from your actions.”
UPDATE: John Hinderaker has a big photo roundup on those actions.
A LOOK AT HARUN FAZUL, the “African bin Laden.”
YES, BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT: Taped an episode of CNN’s On the Story last night that will air tonight at 7 ET (I’m in the second segment), about the Cartoon Wars. My opening line on CNN’s coverage: “You guys blew it.” I got less charitable from there.
ED DRISCOLL writes on the press as Victorian gentleman.
MORE ON CHINA:
Executives from Google Inc. and other Internet companies head to Capitol Hill next week, where they will become feature players in an awkward debate: Are U.S. companies giving in to China too easily?
Last month, Google announced an agreement with the Chinese government to censor search results from its Chinese site. It was the latest Internet company to accede to the Chinese government’s censorship restrictions, following Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.
I hope they find the eperience embarrassing.
GOLD RUSH is a new PJ Media blog devoted to the Torino Olympics.
JON HENKE looks at a troubling story about Guantanamo. Given all the inaccurate reports we’ve heard about that facility, I think I’ll wait for confirmation on this, but it’s something that ought to be looked into.
“BUY DANISH” wins by a landslide.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here’s the AP story on pork promised earlier. Excerpt:
A controversy over earmarks – the congressional name for funding pet projects – is particularly intense. Especially since one GOP-led committee compiled a secret tally sheet showing earmark requests made by Republicans calling for reform.
“Earmarks have become the currency of corruption,” Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., recently wrote Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. “We can’t allow this to continue.”
High on the list of challenges for the GOP is the annual drafting of a budget. President Bush’s appearance on Friday’s program was a reminder that he’s calling for $70 billion in savings over five years from benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and payments to farmers.
Read the whole thing. And also read this WSJ piece by Tom Coburn. (Free link).
SORRY BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT but I’ve been awfully busy today. Got to meet a lot of cool bloggers at the booksigning, though. More on that later.
ANNE APPLEBAUM responds to blogospheric criticism, and Ed Morrissey replies to her response.
UPDATE: Several readers note that Anne Applebaum is one of the good guys, and that’s certainly true. And it’s very much to her credit that she’s engaging her critics here.
REBECCA MCKINNON looks at further developments on Yahoo! in China.
PRAISE for the Washington Post’s web-friendly approach.
A SECOND LOOK at global warming data.
An ex–Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter and former U.S. Senate and House aide, Lindauer, 43, was charged in March 2004 with conspiring to act as a spy and being an unregistered Iraqi agent. U.S. prosecutors allege the antiwar activist accepted $10,000 from Hussein’s intelligence unit over five years and sought to support resistance groups after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She insisted her efforts—principally, to get economic sanctions lifted against Iraq—were misunderstood. She was not specifically charged with spying or espionage. The bigger question, however, was always her sanity. She had a history of mood swings and paranoid fears. People were watching her, she often said, although, as it turned out, federal agents indeed had set up surveillance and tapped her phone. Still, if she betrayed her country, did she do so knowingly?
I had lost track of this.
FROM PODCASTING TO PODFADING: That’s why we haven’t committed to a schedule for ours — it might feel too much like work. Though doing something at night and posting at 3 a.m. would feel like work pretty much anytime . . . .
HOLLY AHO of Soldiers’ Angel has written a book, entitled From Here To There: an intimate look at the joys and sorrows of supporting our troops.
A CARTOON WAR roundup.
MEG KREIKEMEIER: “So where were the glowing headlines about the economy?” She continues:
In fact, the lack of headlines prompted a search of the Lexis Nexis database to compare magazine articles written about the topic of economic recovery for President Clinton in 1993 and 1994 and for President Bush in 2004 and 2005; years when the economy began to show significant improvements for both presidents.
The search turned up 320 articles for President Clinton and 260 for President Bush. The searches produced articles published by well-known news magazines, financial publications as well as trade publications.
A review of the magazines revealed that far more articles were written about President Clinton in the weekly news magazines whereas the bulk of the articles written about President Bush were found in financial and trade magazines and in right-of-center publications like The National Review and The Weekly Standard.
Most glaring was the disparity in coverage by both US News and World Report and Time Magazine.
Not only did US News and World Report and Time Magazine publish significantly more articles about Clinton, but the tone of the articles was very different, as well.
TOM MAGUIRE has lots of interesting stuff — just keep scrolling.
THE “GOOGLE DESKTOP” doesn’t sound very secure.
HARRY REID AND JACK ABRAMOFF: More connections than Harry Reid would like. As I’ve said before, this can’t help being a Republican scandal, but the Democrats hurt themselves by trying to pretend that it’s only a Republican scandal.
MARK STEYN ON HUGH HEWITT, talking about Islamist extremism and American politics. Transcript is here.
SWEDEN IS REPORTEDLY SHUTTING DOWN WEBSITES that show the dread Mohammed cartoons. Michael Moynihan is practicing civil disobedience.
ANN ALTHOUSE looks at blogs from both sides now.
MADE IT IN ONE PIECE: The Insta-Wife doesn’t like to drive for long, so I didn’t manage to blog any more while enroute.
WEST COAST TERROR PLOT thwarted?
I’M ON THE INTERSTATE (not driving) but Ryan Sager is blogging from CPAC.
WALTER OLSON HAS more on the rather lame lawsuit against Craigslist mentioned below.
BLOGGING WILL BE LIGHT TODAY — I’m traveling to Washington, where I’ll be signing books tomorrow (Friday) at CPAC, in the Exhibit Hall, at 10:00 AM. I’ll also be doing
a panel on online media at 11:15,* and a meet-and-greet in the publisher’s booth (518/520) at 2. Drop by if you’re there and have the time.
* Preempted by a C-SPAN taping. Sorry! I’m an author. I go where the publicists tell me.
HOWARD KURTZ: “Much of the MSM missed the boat. Too many wrote predictable leads about the Coretta Scott King funeral, all but ignoring, or at least burying, the Bush-bashing that was going on.”
LAST WEEK’S RAZORBLOGGING led to suggestions that I try one of these. Hey, it’s a steep $9.99, but no sacrifice is too great for you guys so I picked one up. Actually, it’s even better than the other one, and the scientific Insta-wife hand-on-the-cheek test confirms that. You want to make fun of this stuff (er, at least, I do), but it actually works.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: I blame
John Ashcroft Alberto Gonzales. And Fox News!
AUSTIN BAY: “Anne Applebaum is confused.”
By the way, lo-fi versions for dialup users can now be found here.
UPDATE: Kai Carver emails from Paris:
Thanks! You fit on my phone now.
Lo-fi isn’t just for poor 20th-century dial-up users.
It’s also for future-savvy, one-device-only-in-pocket digerati!
I’ll keep that in mind.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Porkbusters now has a new tracking page that displays support for the Pork Barrel Reduction Act in graphic form, by state and by Senator.
At the very least, politicians now feel that they have to look as if they’re strongly in favor of reform. That’s already substantial progress over just a few months ago, but it’s no reason to let up on the pressure.
SOUTH DAKOTA’S “intellectual diversity” bill continues to move toward passage, having now passed the state House.
HERE’S AN ARTICLE on Aubrey de Grey and life extension.
Interestingly, the piece compares de Grey to nanotechnology’s Eric Drexler, who has been somewhat marginalized over the past ten years. I think that de Grey is a bit naive in saying that because people are cordial and give him intellectual respect, he’s safe. Drexler got the same respect and courtesy, until he didn’t. The nanotechnology industry folks decided to try to marginalize Drexler because they didn’t want people talking about “spooky” advanced technologies for fear that such talk would lead to pressure for more regulation. That was, as I’ve said before, a deeply unwise move that may still come back to harm the industry. De Grey is probably safe from such attacks, but it’s because the political configuration is different.
The good news is that even in the nanotechnology field, there are some signs of progress.
CARTOON WARS: Another kind of false moral equivalence is criticized over at Normblog: The treatment of free speech and a “right” not to be offended as if they’re on a par.
Maybe the government’s not casting its electronic net wide enough. I’d rather they go through 100,000 phone calls and identify 20 people. … And if the ratio to justify “probable cause” is really “right for one out of every two guys,” as a “government official who has studied the program closely” suggests to WaPo, that shows how wildly obsolete the Constitution’s “probable cause” requirement is when you’re trying to catch not horse thieves in 1789 but people with weapons that can kill whole cities in 2006.
I don’t think I’d go that far, but I’m not sure that what’s going on here even constitutes a search or seizure. Bearing in mind, of course, that neither I nor the critics Mickey criticizes actually knows what’s going on here. The people who do seem . . . interested.
UPDATE: Reader Errol Phillips writes:
Why not bring the Issue to the floor of the Senate and let our esteemed representatives tell us where they stand instead of all the posturing.
A simple YES or NO vote to allow the Program to continue should suffice.
Good idea. Clarity is good.
SWEDEN IS RETHINKING ITS ECONOMIC MODEL in favor of one that’s more friendly to small businesses and startups. Seems wise to me.
I have to agree with Publius on this:
This is very good news for both the international community as well as the Iranian people. The benefit for us is that we won’t have to worry about a hostile Iran with nuclear weapons, and the benefit for them is that they get to live in a free society. It works both ways. The only criticism I have of this policy is that it should have been implemented much, much sooner.
Er, faster please?
LEE HARRIS WONDERS why Jimmy Carter was comparing Martin Luther King to Osama bin Laden.
POT, MEET KETTLE: Journalist warns that bloggers are often narcissistic egocentrists.
FALSE MORAL EQUIVALENCE FROM ANNE APPLEBAUM: And a response: “Newsweek negligently printed an inflammatory factual claim that turned out to be false. Jyllands-Posten didn’t. . . . Maybe this is a hard concept to grasp at the Washington Post, but advocating freedom of the press–as we obviously do–is not inconsistent with criticizing newspapers and magazines when they screw up.”
CARTOON WARS UPDATE: IraqPundit sees a positive development:
The fear of the cartoonists recalls the case of Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding in 1989 after his book The Satanic Verses drew calls for his death. There were plenty of riots at the time. But there were few who spoke out in defence of Rushdie.
What is different now? Why are more Muslims calling for reasonable responses to offensive cartoons than rose to defend Rushdie? The reasons are, of course, complex, including that Rushdie himself was raised in a Muslim home. But part of the explanation may be that more Muslims have been horrified by the events of the years since Rushdie’s book was published. That is, plenty of Muslims are disgusted by the terrorists responsible for the World Trade Center bombing, September 11th, the Madrid and London attacks and other horrific acts.
Maybe ever more Muslims will realize that it’s time to stop assuming the role of victim, and blaming the West for everything that wrong with the Muslim world. Change must come from within the community itself. Maybe these acts will bring about serious efforts to end a violent era and begin a moderate one.
Let’s hope so. We certainly want to encourage those folks — which we do both by standing up to the extremists, and by avoiding claims that the problem with Islam is Islam.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here.
THE RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING has been evacuated on a chem-bio alert, though it’s likely a false alarm.
Today we talked with James L. Swanson, author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, about John Wilkes Booth, Confederate plots, revisionist history, the trustworthiness of actors, the upcoming movie based on the book, featuring Harrison Ford, and much more.
Helen didn’t think she’d find this one interesting, but once she started reading the book she was hooked. It was about a narcissistic killer — her specialty!
You can listen to the podcast directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking here, or you can subscribe on iTunes — and we wish you would, as apparently that’s what got us into the top 10 “talk radio” podcasts.
The end music is by Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere, off the CD Heartbreak and Duct Tape. Lead vocals by Kat Brock of Dixie Dirt, with former Judybat Paul Noe on bass. I love the song, and thus let it run a bit longer than usual. John Wilkes Booth really “should’ve grown up while he had the chance.”
Meanwhile, as always, the lovely and talented Insta-Wife is looking for comments and suggestions. Hope you like this!
UPDATE: For those with dialup connections, a slim, trim 16 kbps version can be found here. I’ve put up some of the earlier episodes in that format, too.
And there’s an archive of all our podcasts that can be accessed by clicking the “podcasts” tab on the navbar at the top of the screen, or by clicking here.
OFFENSIVE TO MUSLIMS: The Mohammed cartoons were published in Egypt, in October.
REBECCA MCKINNON reports that Yahoo! has helped jail another Chinese dissident.
A Chicago fair housing group has sued groundbreaking Web site Craigslist for allegedly publishing discriminatory advertisements, a case that could test the legal liabilities of online ad venues.
The suit is part of an emerging attempt by housing watchdogs nationally to hold online classified sites to the same strict standards as the publishers of print classifieds, such as newspapers.
The suit is potentially significant because it suggests that the rules for an Internet site should be the same as for a traditional publisher, in which every ad should be vetted to conform with the law. But that notion contradicts the way the Internet has blossomed, where informal communities tend to police themselves and free expression is valued.
Kind of a damning contrast, isn’t it, between traditional newspapers and a place where “free expression is valued.”
Seems to me that free expression should be valued everywhere, and that suits like this should lead us to rethink the rules governing newspapers.
UPDATE: Blogging lawprof Eric Goldman says the suit is bogus: “If this sounds familiar, it’s because Roommate.com was sued under the exact same law for exactly the same behavior and won an easy victory under 47 USC 230. The Roommate.com case is on appeal, so perhaps the appellate court will see things differently. Otherwise, I don’t understand the thinking of plaintiffs–particularly a group of lawyers–who bring lawsuits like this in the face of a clear federal exculpatory statute and directly-on-point adverse precedent.” Based on this obervation, if I were Craigslist I’d think about going for sanctions — but I’m aggressive that way.
UPDATE: More thoughts here, including speculation that threatened newspapers are actually behind the suit. Doubtful, but an entertaining thought.
SOME THOUGHTS on the tension between blogging and work.
JOHN BOLTON: Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize:
John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is one of two Americans who have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Last year, Democrats and a few Republicans refused to confirm Bolton to the U.N. post, forcing President Bush to resort to a recess appointment.
Bolton and Kenneth R. Timmerman were formally nominated by Sweden’s former deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark, for playing a major role in exposing Iran’s secret plans to develop nuclear weapons.
They documented Iran’s secret nuclear buildup and revealed Iran’s “repeated lying” and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a press release said.
Not bad for a guy who couldn’t get confirmed. . . .
EUGENE VOLOKH FOR THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS? That’s the suggestion of reader Douglas Bass, who writes:
I was surprised to discover the number of vacancies on the Federal bench. Hugh Hewitt recently said something about it being time to “restock the bench,” that is, nominate Federal Judges that could one day be Supreme Court Justices. There are 26 nominees pending, but 28 open spaces. There’s a great deal of debate over the confirmation (or the lack thereof) of the existing nominees, but very little debate over the nomination of people for the 28 open spaces. Maybe people are just tired of talking about stare decisis.
But could Eugene give up blogging for the bench?
AMIR TAHERI WRITES ON THE CARTOON WARS:
“The Muslim Fury,” one newspaper headline screamed. “The Rage of Islam Sweeps Europe,” said another. “The clash of civilizations is coming,” warned one commentator. All this refers to the row provoked by the publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper four months ago. Since then a number of demonstrations have been held, mostly–though not exclusively–in the West, and Scandinavian embassies and consulates have been besieged.
But how representative of Islam are all those demonstrators? The “rage machine” was set in motion when the Muslim Brotherhood–a political, not a religious, organization–called on sympathizers in the Middle East and Europe to take the field. A fatwa was issued by Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Brotherhood sheikh with his own program on al-Jazeera. Not to be left behind, the Brotherhood’s rivals, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba), joined the fray. Believing that there might be something in it for themselves, the Syrian Baathist leaders abandoned their party’s 60-year-old secular pretensions and organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut. . . .
The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of “laughing at religion,” at times to the point of irreverence. Again, offering an exhaustive list is not possible. But those familiar with Islam’s literature know of Ubaid Zakani’s “Mush va Gorbeh” (Mouse and Cat), a match for Rabelais when it comes to mocking religion. Sa’adi’s eloquent soliloquy on behalf of Satan mocks the “dry pious ones.” And Attar portrays a hypocritical sheikh who, having fallen into the Tigris, is choked by his enormous beard. Islamic satire reaches its heights in Rumi, where a shepherd conspires with God to pull a stunt on Moses; all three end up having a good laugh.
Islamic ethics is based on “limits and proportions,” which means that the answer to an offensive cartoon is a cartoon, not the burning of embassies or the kidnapping of people designated as the enemy. Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.
Or get sucked into supporting it out of “respect for Islam.”
VERNOR VINGE UPDATE: Last night, instead of doing what I should have been doing, I started reading the new Vernor Vinge novel, Rainbows End. It’s not a sequel to his far-future works. It’s set in the near future — 2025 — and it’s a world I recognize, because it’s an Army of Davids world. Check out the first two paragraphs:
The first bit of dumb luck came disguised as a public embarrassment for the European Center for Defense Against Disease. On July 23, schoolchildren in Algiers claimed that a respiratory epidemic was spreading across the Mediterranean. The claim was based on a clever analysis of antibody data from the mass-transit systems of Algiers and Naples.
CDD had no immediate comment, but in less than three hours, public-health hobbyists reported similar results in other cities, complete with contagion maps. The epidemic was at least one week old, probably originating in Central Africa, beyond the scope of hobbyist surveillance.
It’s not all sunny, though:
Every year, the civilized world grew and the reach of lawlessness and poverty shrank. Many people thought that the world was becoming a safer place . . . Nowadays Grand Terror technology was so cheap that cults and criminal gangs could acquire it. . . . In all innocence, the marvelous creativity of humankind continued to generate unintended consequences. There were a dozen research trends that could ultimately put world-killer weapons in the hands of anyone having a bad hair day.
Yep. As I note in Army, there’s a downside to this empowerment of individuals business, as well as an upside. Vinge, however, makes that observation considerably more, um, exciting.
THE GLENN AND HELEN SHOW is now listed as a “new and notable” podcast on iTunes — and what’s funny is that just above it are video podcast episodes of Helen’s TV show Snapped. Check out the one on “Rita Gluzman” if you’re interested.
UPDATE: Hey, just noticed we’re in the Top 10 for “talk radio” podcasts on iTunes, too: Ahead of Bill O’Reilly and the BBC, but behind Howard Stern.
THE JOY OF NUKES: My TCS Daily column is up.
THE NEW YORK TIMES: “Some Democrats are Sensing Missed Opportunities:”
In interviews, senior Democrats said they were optimistic about significant gains in Congressional elections this fall, calling this the best political environment they have faced since President Bush took office.
But Democrats described a growing sense that they had failed to take full advantage of the troubles that have plagued Mr. Bush and his party since the middle of last year, driving down the president’s approval ratings, opening divisions among Republicans in Congress over policy and potentially putting control of the House and Senate into play in November.
Asked to describe the health of the Democratic Party, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said: “A lot worse than it should be. This has not been a very good two months.”
The problem stems from a lack of self-discipline, and a base that’s far from the electorate, but that must be assuaged. And as Barack Obama says: “We have been in a reactive posture for too long. I think we have been very good at saying no, but not good enough at saying yes.”
Criticism isn’t a platform, but they’ve failed to offer affirmative plans of their own:
“We’re selling our party short; you’ve got to stand for a lot more than just blasting the other side,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. “The country is wide open to hear some alternatives, but I don’t think it’s wide open to all these criticisms. I am sitting here and getting all my e-mail about the things we are supposed to say about the president’s speech, but it’s extremely light on ideas. It’s like, ‘We’re for jobs and we’re for America.’ “
Indeed. Somebody run this guy for President.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link) reports on How Muslim Clerics Stirred the Arab World Against Denmark. Excerpt:
Keen to “globalize” the crisis to pressure the Danish government, Mr. Abu-Laban and his colleagues decided to send delegations to the Middle East. They prepared a dossier to distribute during the travels. The document, which exceeded 30 pages, featured copies of the published cartoons and Arabic media reports about the controversy. It also contained a group of highly offensive pictures that had never been published by the newspaper, including a photograph of a man dressed as a pig, with the caption: “this is the real picture of Muhammad.”
Read the whole thing. Also, Hugh Hewitt had Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, and Joe Carter on his show last night, talking about the Cartoon Wars. Transcript and audio are here.
UPDATE: Austin Bay’s latest column is on the Cartoon Wars. And on his blog he observes: “The Danish ‘Cartoon War’ is an information warfare operation conducted by Islamist terror groups and at least two Middle Eastern dictatorships (Syria and Iran).”
MORE: Meryl Yourish notes a disturbing lack of context in media reports on the issue.
LAURA INGRAHAM is blogging from Iraq.
FREE PRESS WALKOUT:
The editorial staff of the alternative weekly New York Press walked out today, en masse, after the paper’s publishers backed down from printing the Danish cartoons that have become the center of a global free-speech fight.
Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel emails, on behalf of the editorial staff:
New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization. Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group — consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editor Jonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.
This whole affair is certainly clarifying some things. (Via Andrew Sullivan).
UPDATE: Speaking of clarifying, Iraqi blogger Alaa writes:
I consider it offensive to show disrespect to Islamic religious symbols or any religious symbols of any kind, for that matter. However there is more to this than meets the eye. It seems to me quite suspicious that this storm is created at this particular time. To start with this is certainly not the first time that insults and affronts of this nature appear on print in western media in many countries and places. Such things do not deserve any kind of reaction other rather the contempt they deserve. Yet there are those who seem to seize upon such opportunities for motives that have nothing to do with the apparent religious sensitivities. Clearly there are those who wish to harm relations between the West in General and the Moslem World and more particularly we should not forget the contribution of Denmark to the allied effort in Iraq. Yes friends, I who consider my self a fervent Moslem, tell you that this is an artificial storm stirred by the same kind of people who are beheading, kidnapping and blowing up market places and day workers in Iraqi cities etc. Those in the West who give such people the ammunition and pretexts to launch such pitiful shows and stir up the emotions of gullible simple people, are their allies and facilitators.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: More on the walkout here.
SOUTH DAKOTA’S “intellectual diversity” bill is moving.
THE JEWISH STREET explodes.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Sooooiiieee! It’s feeding time for the hogs — and as they nose up to the trough they can fill out this Senate pork application form!
Be sure to write legibly, and use a Number Two pencil . . . .
THE GLENN AND HELEN PODCASTS are now available via Yahoo! which has a pretty good podcast setup.
SOME THOUGHTS on the future of telecommuting.
Why does this keep happening? Part of it, I think, is that the Democratic Party is in a state where it finds it hard to get national TV coverage except when someone dies. I think that their behavior reflects another forlorn hope for regeneration. I guess looking at policies is out of the question, though.
UPDATE: Doesn’t look like the youth vote is going to save them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Anchoress sees a Wellstone parallel, too, and observes: “No, none of it was surprising.”
MORE: Jay Reding writes: “Can we have some dignity, please?”
Apparently not. And this post by Eric Muller only serves to underline the very point it attempts to refute. The problem with today’s Democrats is that they try to invest the naked hunger for power with the dignity of the civil rights movement, a dignity that they no longer possess because it was based on a self-discipline that they no longer possess.
UPDATE: Okay, the promo literature made it sound like a sequel, and Amazon tagged it as a “Zones of Thought” book, but looking at it I don’t think it is. Sorry. I’ll offer more detail when I’ve, you know, actually read it.
I’LL BE ON RIGHTALK RADIO (you can stream it live at that link), being interviewed about An Army of Davids by Ace of Ace Of Spaces HQ and Karol Sheinin of Alarming News. Ace emails about the book: “it’s not what I expected. It’s very good, just not as focused on blogging as I figured it would be. More of an Alvin Toffler reorganization-of-the-way-we-live-and-work thing.”
Yep. Hugh Hewitt pretty much preempted the pure-blogging-book area.
I’ll be on about 4:10 Eastern.
NOTHING IS SACRED: Just ask Sinead O’Connor.
ELECTION FAIRNESS: Michael Barone offers advice to Secretaries of State. Excerpt:
There are two other developments I find disturbing. One is the fact that large numbers of political players are charging that the basic requirement of showing voter identification at the polls is a form of undue intimidation. I think this is an astounding and indefensible argument. We have to show identification to cash a check or board an airliner. Identification is easily available to any American — and almost all of us carry official identifying cards on us at all times. To equate the requirement that identification be shown with the violence and intimidation visited on black Americans in the South up to and including the 1960s is, in my mind, to belittle and disparage the courage and bravery of those Americans, most of them black but some of them white, who literally risked their lives in order to see that all Americans would have the right to vote. Their efforts were successful, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 quickly proved to be the most effective civil rights legislation the federal government ever passed.
The other disturbing development is the proposal that election rules should be federalized, perhaps under the current advisory Election Assistance Commission. This raises severe practical problems. The federal government has found it difficult to establish uniform computer systems for individual federal agencies; I understand that a long-term program to do that in the Internal Revenue Service had to be abandoned. Establishing computer-compatible systems for the 50 states and District of Columbia would presumably be much harder. Second, and more important, federalizing election rules would allow nationwide manipulation that could affect election results.
Read the whole thing.
INTERESTING INTERVIEW with Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Read the whole thing.
CLERIC CONVICTED: “The Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was found guilty today by a jury in London on charges of using his sermons to incite murder and race hatred, news agencies reported.”
I’m against “hate speech” laws, but if they exist they should certainly be enforced evenhandedly, and there’s a lot of hate speech coming from guys like Hamza. This, however, appears to go beyond simple “hate speech” to include solicitation of murder, though it’s not entirely clear from the story.
TRADE RETALIATION? The EU warns Iran about boycotting Danish goods.
FREE EXPRESSION IN THE MUSLIM WORLD: The BBC reports:
A South African editor has received threats after her paper reprinted one of the cartoons that have angered Muslim groups internationally.
Ferial Haffajee, editor of the Mail and Guardian said she had received abusive letters and text messages.
On Friday, South African Muslim activists won an interdict barring another paper, the Sunday Times, from printing the cartoons. . . .
South Africa’s constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression.
The Mail and Guardian published one of the cartoons on its international news page on Friday, to illustrate a story about last week’s protests.
“People have been phoning my mother and exercising pressure through her,” Ms Haffajee told the BBC News website.
She said some groups had threatened to march on the newspaper’s offices in Johannesburg.
“It displays a lack of tolerance that is nerve-wracking,” she said.
Ms Haffajee said she felt she was being targeted personally because she is herself a Muslim.
The BBC itself is getting bad marks here.
Meanwhile, John Scalzi is unimpressed by the Iranian response:
A newspaper in Iran — run by allies of that country’s Jew-hating current president — printing cartoons that might possibly be anti-Jew? Who thought we would ever see that day?
Christ, this is boring already. Speaking in my capacity as Official Spokesman for The West®, I think Iranian newspapers — particularly ones run by pals of the current president of Iran — should go ahead and run any sort of dumbass Holocaust cartoons they want to. Indeed, I celebrate the right of Iranian newspapers to run whatever the hell they want. This is, alas, more than can be said about the Iranian government, whose grip on the press in that country is so total that the 2005 Reporters Without Borders Annual World Press Freedom Index has Iran listed 163rd in a field of 167 (a field in which Denmark, incidentally, ranked number one).
One can hope that when the allies of Iran’s president are enjoying their refreshing little taste of “free expression,” they might consider asking their pal for a little more genuine freedom of the press while they’re at it. But, you know. I’m not exactly holding my breath for that one. Because then the people who run the paper probably wouldn’t remain pals of the president of Iran. And we all know how problematic that can be. But in my capacity as Official Spokesman for The West®, I certainly hope they give it a try.
And of course I certainly hope someone who actually is a spokesman for The West® remembers to ask Iran when it plans to give its newspapers the ability to run actual news, as well as Jew-hating cartoons.
They’re pathetic little losers. They want to be pathetic little losers with nuclear weapons — but they’ll still be pathetic little losers, regardless.
UPDATE: But according to some on the left, raising concerns about Muslim extremism, death threats, and censorship just proves that you’re — a right-wing extremist!
Antonia “Notice Me!” Zerbisias of the Toronto Star, — best known in the blogosphere for attributing an anonymous commenter’s remarks to blogger Stefan Sharkansky and making the bizarre claim that warbloggers have “fallen silent” — is now claiming that the whole thing is about Muslim-hating Westerners. Riiight.
That’s why Iraqi Muslim blogger Zeyad noted:
The protestors are blasting free speech in Europe, yet they are using that same free speech to call for murder and bloodshed. I would strongly support deporting those people back to the miserable societies they originally came from.
Those damned American nativists!
Meanwhile, Canadian blogger Damian Penny has some more sensible thoughts. As usual!
Read this post, too.
STILL MORE: Reader Dave Murphy emails:
Ms. Zerbisias’ logic is flawless. I think if we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that the ONLY people to blame for the rioting are the people sitting in their homes on a continent where the cartoons did not originate and where there is no rioting. It’s as clear as day. Oh and also Michelle Malkin is fat.
Riight. Zerbisias isn’t even good about being catty! Meanwhile, Jay Homnick is unimpressed with apologies for Islamist terror.
And reader Michael McDowell isn’t having any of it:
Zerbisias condemns those Westerners who “claim to be morally superior.” Well that is absolute horseshit. I am tired of being told not to judge other cultures through my “American lens” because I don’t understand their circumstances. I believe in equal rights without regard to race, religion, color, gender or country or origin. I believe in the freedom of homosexuals to marry and live freely in society. I believe in freedom of expression, and speech, and the free exchange of ideas. I believe in kindness, compassion, consideration, and that dogs make life better. I don’t “claim to be morally superior” to those ass-hat murderers; I am morally superior.
Indeed. You’d expect lefties like Zerbisias to side with people like McDowell, and Zeyad, over a bunch of sexist, homophobic theocrats — but that would require that they side with America, too. Which is right out.
SO I READ THIS POST by Matthew Yglesias on the Trademark Dilution Revision Act, and was prepared to believe that it was terrible — “terrible” being a pretty good description for most intellectual property legislation in recent years. But this piece in Ars Technica suggests that it’s not quite that bad, though it still sounds like no prize.