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June 29, 2002

WELL, THE POWER'S BACK ON, and I've got a nearly finished draft of my TCS column. But I think I'm going to bed. Good night.

TEEN SEX VERSUS ADULT SEX: One man's distinction.

COMPUTING BY CANDLELIGHT: No, really. The power went out shortly after we got home from the "Hey, Arnold!" movie. I'm on the laptop -- still with a highspeed connection, since the router and DSL modem are connected to an uninterruptible power supply that's good enough to run them for hours. But I've got a candle burning for room illumination -- it's like Abe Lincoln in the 21st century, sort of. Here at InstaPundit Secret Headquarters we don't let no stinkin' thunderstorms get in the way of bloggin'!

The "Hey, Arnold!" movie was pretty darn bad. The Nickelodeon show is okay, and my standards for kiddie cartoon flicks are low -- I was even able to enjoy "Return to Neverland," which most people panned. But I have some standards. It was a rehash of an ancient plot: developer wants to bulldoze neighborhood for mall, kids have to stop him. The developer, in a slap that Virginia Postrel should take personally, keeps telling people not to be afraid of change, and constantly repeats "change is good!" right to the very end. The heroes all want to keep things just the way they've always been.

But forget the lame plot. The animation sucked; the drawings all looked faintly blurry all the time. It wasn't even up to Hanna-Barbera standards. And it wasn't bad projection -- the previews were sharp, and so were the titles. It was just crap.

My daughter enjoyed it, though, and when we got home we finished The Prisoner of Azkaban (on our third time through the series) by flashlight before she went to sleep.

UPDATE: Brian Carnell says the movie sucked like a bilge pump. Yeah, I was actually being kind. He's right: Nickelodeon should be ashamed. At least it was short.

INSTAPUNDIT has earned me a little money since its inception. But it's a huge success compared to Salon. Just think how long I could keep going if I were down to my last $1.5 million in cash.

FOR THOSE WHO WONDER how I spend my time, for the last three hours or so I've been working on my next TechCentralStation column (space aliens are involved; I'm using the wireless laptop in the playroom, where I have a big comfy chair that's ideal for this purpose) while my daughter plays Barbies. There was a brief interruption in Barbiedom while she played "Trouble" with her mom when she got back from the office, but the goings on in Barbiedom are apparently very absorbing though I'm a bit hazy on what exactly they are. Of course, I used to be just as absorbed playing with the green plastic soldiers that cost a buck for a whole bag -- though that absorption was generally a lot louder and more destructive.

Every once in a while I flip screens and post one of these. In a little while I'll fire up the grill (a spicy-teriyaki tuna for us, chicken for my daughter). Tonight, we may see the new "Hey, Arnold!" movie if it's not too crowded.

I'm not sure why anyone should care about this, but somebody emailed me that it was a topic of conversation at the Blogosphere panel yesterday. So, since I couldn't answer in person, here you are.

A READER SENDS THIS WORLDCOM-RELATED OBSERVATION:

I worked for many years at a big five firm, I have sympathies both ways when it comes to these accounting messes, but with the WorldCom situation, I think the press is missing a few points.

First, the accounting delusions did not cause the company to collapse and 17,000 people to lose their jobs. No, a very bad business model that said if you keeping on growing by acquiring lousy companies, you can become one great big good company, failed (this is simply a variation of the old, we sell everything at a loss but make up for it in volume). All the bad accounting did was extend the time before these people HAD to be laid off. In other words, they were not screwed because they worked for a crooked CFO; they were screwed because they worked for a stupid company.

Second, the CFO was, almost for sure, not trying to defraud people in the sense of achieving any personal gain. Without any personal knowledge of this company, I can almost bet you, what he was thinking, was that if I just buy the company some time, things will correct themselves--and nobody will ever notice how I bridged this problem.

I think that's probably right.

READER JAY ALLMAN sends this link to an interesting David Warren column on Christian pacifism.

Warren says that the notion that Christ was antiwar is unfounded.

HERE'S ANOTHER REPORT from yesterday's Blogosphere panel.

JIM HENLEY offers some interesting speculation on the anthrax investigation, and a possible Rhodesian connection. It does hang together nicely, but it's still speculation. There's enough information, though, that someone with investigative resources ought to be able to decide if it has some basis.

I LIKE GINGER STAMPLEY'S site policy statement. It's pretty much the way I feel.

STANLEY HAUERWAS UPDATE: Christian blogger Christopher Johnson says Hauerwas is wrong.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WAR AND A "WAR ON" -- "WARS END".

OKAY, THIS IS SO STUPID that it's probably required by law in Georgia.

I THINK I MAY APPLY MOBY'S APPROACH to hate email. Chortle.

DAVE WINER says the nothing-for-any-actual consumers Microsoft settlement was about giving power to Hollywood and the federal government at the expense of users.

What worries me is that I think he's right.

And here's a story about how Hollywood wants permission to hack and destroy networks it thinks are infringing its copyrights. This is absolutely disgraceful.

UPDATE: Jeez, and read this. It's enough to turn you into a Microsoft basher.

ERIC ALTERMAN ASSIMILATION WATCH: Ken Layne agrees with his assessment of the antiwar left.

JOE KATZMAN ties together Sufi wisdom, Muslim/Jewish tennis doubles, and Noam Chomsky.

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: Orrin Judd has an interesting contrast.

I HOPE THAT THIS STORY IS TRUE:

U.S. intelligence sources in Washington are saying that the job of taking out the suicide bombing infrastructure of the extremist Hamas group will be done by Egyptians.

Under the guise of helping the Palestinian Authority with their reforms so called Egyptian experts will begin to appear in the West Bank and Gaza. Only they'll be intelligence operatives, and soon designated suicide bombers and their support teams will begin to disappear. The United States has extracted a promise from Egypt not to station forces permanently in the Palestinian enclave. "(The Egyptians) are absolutely ferocious" one U.S. intelligence officer says admiringly.

(Via Fred Pruitt).

MORE ON HAUERWAS: Okay, it's not generating email the way the men in college post did, or the SUV and interracial marriage posts did, but it's generated a fair amount. Some samples:

Reader Angie Schultz is a bit hard on Telford Work:

I was prepared to respect Work's attitude, but no longer. In that link you posted:


> Firing off a missile or two to "send a message" was a common enough
> response from the Clinton Administration. It projected the image (and
> the reality) of a country dismissive of its foes, arrogant about its
> power, and complacent about its future. It enraged and encouraged
> America's enemies.


No, indeed, it projected the image of a country insecure in its power, hesitant to march overseas and deliver its enemies the ass-kicking they so richly deserved. (And I'll point out that, though I wasn't paying much attention, I thought at the time that firing a couple cruise missiles was either too little or too much.)

It did encourage our enemies, but only because it made them think us weak.


> At my school's memorial service, even before we knew who had
> perpetrated the act, we instinctively repented of our triumphalism,
> arrogance, and complacency


That's right, we are automatically to blame, no matter what happened, no matter who our enemies are or what their ultimate goals. Osama et al want to set up the Caliphate, for Chrissake, where no doubt Christians would be put to the sword, as in Saudi Arabia (Osama thinks the Saudis are a bunch of pansies), and Work and his oh-so-pious ilk are sorry we are not more accomodating of them.

He also says he hopes Christians would fight non-violently. Forgiving the oxymoron, most of Americans consider themselves Christian, however lightly or fervently they hold the religion. Guess this would mean actually defending the country would fall to Jews and atheist, plus whatever small percentage of other non-pacifist religions remain in the country. Unless of course by "Christian" Work means (as so many Christians do) "my brand of Christianity which is the only legitimate one". Those other "Christians" (who aren't really, you know) can go do the hard and bloody work. He sounds like a damned Eurominister.

By the time he's reminding us that we need to be humbled for relying on our own power, rather than God's, I'm done. Experience and history show that people and nations who rely solely on God's intervention, rather than developing their own powers, are doomed.

Feh.

In case you haven't gathered, I'm an atheist, and I'm really pissed
off.

Well, I think Work is thoughtful and serious. Hauerwas. . . well, I'm not so sure. I think he's gotten caught up in the act.

Reader Chris Moseley writes:

I'm a Christian and I also agree with you about Hauerwas' prayer.

I once heard Hauerwas give a paper at Duke. What one needs to realize about him is that he sees himself as a gadfly (in the Socratic sense) for the church. His schtick is to make outrageous statements that get attention; if challenged by coherent criticism, he retreats or deflects the challenge, but the purpose has been served. What I've read of his work appears not to be scholarship but the maintenance of a carefully crafted pose.

I recall that at the talk I attended, Hauerwas likened middle-class white Christians (the sort who might listen to 'Jars of Clay', say) to Nazis. This was part of the schtick, but it may also reflect genuine hatred on his part.

However, what he may hate and fear above all else is to be ignored. From what I've read of his writing, he has reason to fear this.

I don't think that Hauerwas hates middle-class America. But by all appearances he doesn't respect it, or its beliefs, as much as he respects those who do hate America. The Nazi analogy is also in this article: "Americans are, for the most part, good, decent and hardworking people, Hauerwas says, but 'so were the people that supported the Nazis.'"

Reader James Dixon says I'm wrong:

Prof. Reynolds:


> The 9/11 attacks, in other words, seem to have been exactly what
> Hauerwas was praying for.


Uhm, no. I'll quote:

"Sober us with the knowledge that you will judge this nation, you will humble this nation, you will destroy this nation for our pride."

I would argue that the 9/11 attacks had, if anything, exactly the opposite effect.

Perhaps it wasn't America's pride that God chose to humble. That doesn't change what Hauerwas was praying for.

In addition, while Hauerwas did ask for specific outcomes in his prayer, he left the matter of how best to achieve those outcomes entirely in God's hands (note the "if it be your will"). I doubt that even Hauerwas would consider the deaths of thousands of innocents to be a method God would choose.

I don't know. Read the prayer. How else do you "humble" a great nation? Historically, it has usually involved fire and blood. As for the "if it be your will," that's the usual weasel-phrase people add after asking God to do their will.

Glenn, Hauerwas is arguing from a theological perspective. As much as I like your blog, you are not qualified to debate him on those terms, anymore than he is to debate you on Constitutional law. While I am not a trained theologian either, I can confidently state that his positions are in fact based on accepted Christian doctrine. The positions themselves are extreme, in that they would not be those reached by most reasoning Christians, but few Christians would argue the doctrine from which they are derived.

Yeah, but so what? Personally, I think that Constitutional discourse should be comprehensible to everyone. I feel the same about theological discourse. I agree that Hauerwas argues from a Christian tradition (one that I don't share) but I don't feel that gives his opinions on secular questions, like the war, any additional authority. At any rate, Hauerwas is someone who has chosen to take his positions beyond the seminary walls. That makes him fair game -- and to his credit, I don't think he would try to maintain that only those with union cards may debate him. I repeat: I think I'm doing him credit by taking his ideas seriously, rather than simply ignoring them.

I personally do not agree with him, as I consider the Afghan conflict to be a "just war".

As to why he is taking these positions, he is reminding Christians that they are Christians first and Americans second. For a Christian, the commandments of Christ take precedence over all else, even the survival of the United States. He is simply pointing this out to them. You can argue all you want that this is unwise, but this is a matter of faith, not wisdom, so whether it is wise or not is beside the point to believing Christians (and his arguments are aimed squarely at believing Christians, anyone else they reach is a side benefit).

Anyway, I doubt I've cleared the matter up any, but I thought I should try. Thank you for taking the time to share your views with us. Oh, and if you would rather be addressed as Dr. Reynolds, please let me know. I personally consider Professor to be the more respectful title.

I'm happy with all non-profane titles of address. Law professors don't use "doctor," though, even though the degree is a doctorate, for reasons based in history (at one time the law degree wasn't a doctorate) and professional rivalry (the whole medical doctors versus lawyers thing).

It's fine for Hauerwas to tell Christians that they're Christians first and Americans second -- so long as he's willing understand that by doing so he puts himself, and Christians who agree with him, in the position of being dismissed as people who, well, put America's interests second to their own religious beliefs. Kind of like Pat Robertson.

Brent Hardaway writes:

I enjoy your site and I'm an evangelical Christian who thought that your prayer in response to Hauerwas was most appropriate and on target. It is not any "cautionary note". I spent seven years in a Mennonite denomination where a strong minority of the members are pacifists. I'm sad to say that the modern manifestation of Christian pacifism has nothing to do with it's more noble past. I think that it makes most of them very bitter that America has the power to secure itself by the use of military force, because it's much more difficult to go around saying "violence begets violence" when in fact violence can neutralize the enemy. Their words seem to imply that they would like America to be defeated in a war. Well, at least as long as their personal safety would remain intact.

Yes. There's rather a lot of arrogance in this position. It's wrong to say "The United States will destroy a nation that threatens its beliefs." But it's okay to say, "The United States should be destroyed as a nation because defending it threatens my beliefs." The former, we're told, is nationalistic arrogance -- the latter, presumably, is piety of some sort.

Screw it. You want to be a martry for Christianity, fine. Get a load of Bibles and take them to Saudi Arabia. But don't fool yourself that the rest of us share your beliefs, or desire your fate. My own belief is well captured by a passage from the Tennessee Constitution: "the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind."

There's an interesting email exchange over at Kieran Lyons' site that's worth reading, too.

OKAY, I'VE FOUND MY NEW HEROES: Amir Hadad and Aisamul Haq Quresh, an Israeli Jew and Pakistani Muslim who are partnered at Wimbledon.

Pakistan's government is not happy. They should get a clue.

June 28, 2002

BY ITS FRUIT THE TREE IS KNOWN:

A teenager who pleaded guilty to murder described his contempt for school and for America in essays that reveal a transformation from popular student to cold-blooded killer of two Dartmouth College professors. . . .

In another school essay, Tulloch said he believed America treated Europeans and Japanese poorly during World War II and entered the war only when its interests were challenged.

"The Japanese? Well, we had to kill or be killed, right? And the Jews? Well, heck, they're all the way across the ocean, what do we owe them. And so, since it is a known fact that American lives are worth more than any other, we stayed out of the war. We bombed Japan, ruined countless future generations and still didn't give a damn," Tulloch wrote in May 1999, when he was a junior.

Well, he's a historical illiterate, but he's got the attitude down.

TELFORD WORK doesn't like the sarcastic prayer I wrote in response to a prayer of Stanley Hauerwas's.

I'd like to agree with Work, who is a very thoughtful guy, that Hauerwas was just trying to deflate hubris. I'm all for that -- as I said in a post after the Afghanistan victory (quoting Han Solo) "Great shooting! Don't get cocky." Pride does go before a fall.

But I just don't read Hauerwas that way. His prayer isn't a cautionary note. Rather it's a demand for God to visit judgment on an America that Hauerwas thinks is too big for its britches. Now you can construct a coherent theological argument for such a position, which people will be persuaded by or not. But I think it's lousy. (And I note that Hauerwas seems almost boastful as he describes the extent of the American power that he decries. Pride comes in many forms.)

I think Hauerwas's prayer should be Exhibit One for the Rev. Donald Sensing's piece contrasting a previous era's pacifists' patriotism and willingness to sacrifice for their country in nonviolent ways with today's pacifists, who seem more anxious to sit astride their high horses. Can you imagine one of these pacifists praying "make those we bomb instruments of your judgment"? I can't. And I think that it's entirely fair to call such a prayer un-American. That's what it's author intends it to be, and that's what it is. (Indeed, I think that Hauerwas would take pride in having his work described this way). And calling it that isn't being dismissive. It's taking it very seriously on its own terms.

If Hauerwas's theology is sound, then it is also fair to associate Christian theology in general with such attitudes. If it's not, then perhaps Christian theologians should spend a bit more time criticizing him. Personally, I think his prayer stinks. Read this account of the "judgment" Hauerwas prayed for and see if you agree.

UPDATE: Bryan Preston writes:

Just wanted to say that I'm with you on this. I'm a Christian, and frankly I'm appalled at the pacifist wing of my faith and its conduct since 9-11. They're on very shaky theological ground, as the "just war" doctrine has been an integral part of mainstream Christianity at least since Augustine. Further, by praying for judgement on America, they're cheering on murderous, brutal people who would, as their first act if they won, ban Christianity--that's what they tend to do in the countries they rule now. They're taking a cowardly, immoral stand in my view.

You're right to expose Hauerwas, and your counter prayer was just (and funny too). I said so on my blog, and a majority of Christians agree with you.

Well, thanks. I just wonder: If Brazil was the world's "hyperpower," would Hauerwas be calling down God's judgment on Brazil? The answer, I think, is "only if Hauerwas were from Brazil."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader James Christiansen suggests that I am ignorant of theology. He also says that Stanley Hauerwas is in fact criticized by a lot of theologians, and sends this exchange from First Things as an example.

Well, I'm probably ignorant of theology, at least compared to some -- but not of theologians, having grown up around them (much of my childhood was spent around the Harvard Divinity School). I'll save my views on theology, and of theology as a discipline, for another time, but yes: I know that Hauerwas is controversial, and often criticized within the discipline, and occasionally in nonprofessional semipublic fora like First Things. I think, however, that the times call for something more than that.

AND SMALLER FLEAS TO BITE 'EM: Okay, this is getting silly.

STEPHEN GREEN HAS responded to TAPPED's challenge.

I'M LISTENING TO NPR at the moment, which is running a very negative story on Robert Mueller's decision to speak to the American Muslim Council.

UPDATE: Howard Feinberg has background on the American Muslim Council.

HERE'S A REPORT on the Blogosphere panel that I missed. I like the term "airplane trouble," which suggests that it was my personal Lear that was misbehaving. But, uh, you guys are going to have to hit the tipjar a lot harder before that comes true.

It sucked not being able to make it.

UPDATE: ARNOLD KLING has a report too. It was not, however, "lack of an honorarium" that kept me away -- except that I had an $800 plane ticket (NOT paid for by the panel sponsors) that would have been wasted if I hadn't made it in time, as seemed extremely likely.

Though I suppose the "you need an honorarium to get Glenn to speak" meme is one I should try to encourage. Make that "you need a really big honorarium. . . ." In the meantime, picking up the tab on the plane ticket would help, I guess. But, really, the thought that I would probably be stuck in Charlotte while the panel went on without me anyway was the deal-killer. I guess I could have tried flying up the night before -- but that didn't work for Lileks, or for the woman standing behind me in line, who had been stuck overnight.

UPDATE: Here's another report, and a pretty good one.

And here's another one, with pictures.

STEVEN DEN BESTE ANSWERS Donald Sensing's statement that all the pacifists Sensing has met are cowards. Of course, it may just be that they're not making pacifists like they used to. Den Beste also looks at the latest Israeli incursions into the West Bank and asks: "Where's the outrage?" The answer, I think, is that the Palestinians have pretty much used up their moral capital. Which I think suggests that Bush's rope-a-dope was successful. The Palestinian problem isn't standing in the way of war anymore.

UPDATE: Sensing replies with an extended riff on why they're not making pacifists like they used to. Excerpt:

American religious pacifism has a rich history going back to the early days of the republic, but its adherents also sought ways to serve their country in times of war. They did not shirk from sharing the risk of preserving freedom even though they refused to take up arms in their own hands.


They don't make pacifists like they used to. On the whole, American "pacifist" ranks have been filled with white men and women of privileged backgrounds whose primary motivation seems mostly anti-American. Hence, they refuse to share the risks of preserving America, even in non-combat roles, perhaps because they don't see America as something worth preserving.

JOSH MARSHALL LOOKS AT CHRIS WHITTLE'S -- AND EDISON'S -- FINANCES and doesn't like what he sees. Whittle, of course, is a Knoxvillian. He built a big publishing empire here (he once owned Esquire, among a bunch of other magazines, the Channel One TV network, and a bunch of cheesy efforts to advertise in places like doctors' offices). Whittle's grandiose Colonial-style headquarters building (known as "Historic Whittlesburg" around these parts) is now a magnificent Federal Courthouse whose over-appointed chambers -- it was bought by the Feds when Whittle went belly-up, at firesale prices complete with real oriental rugs, pink marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, etc. -- are the envy of federal judges everywhere.

Unfortunately, Whittle seems to be better at buying things and borrowing money than at running things and making money. I'd like to see Edison succeed, but I've always doubted its financial soundness. Even expensive private schools depend on a surprisingly large amount of volunteer labor and financial donation that it's not at all clear a for-profit school can attract. Marshall's got an axe to grind, of course, "and plenty of fury to turn the wheel." But I think he's right to be doubtful about Edison's future.

The good news is that a bunch of the people who came to Knoxville to work for Whittle stayed after it went belly up. Many of them started their own smaller ventures, or became freelance writers, thus enriching the area substantially.

MOIRA REDMOND has posted her farewell message to Slate. For better or worse, InstaPundit owes, well, pretty much everything to The Fray. Moira will be missed.

ERIC ALTERMAN DESERVES A SOUND FISKING FOR THIS ABSURD STATEMENT:

As for CCR, well, who the hell was their drummer? I never saw them, but were they any better than Fogerty solo? I can’t imagine it. The man is magic-except for that one crappy album with the voodoo stuff on the cover.

The drummer was Doug "Cosmo" Clifford, for whom the album Cosmo's Factory is named. He's a hell of a drummer, who has recently done good work with Southern Pacific. The bass player, Stu Cook, is also superb as almost any random CCR track will prove (but listen to "Pagan Baby" or "Born to Move" if you doubt me). Clifford and Cook could lay down a line you could hang your wash on. And John's brother Tom Fogerty ranks among the world's top rhythm guitarists, and did some good solo work, too before his health went.

I'm as big a John Fogerty fan as anybody alive, and his solo stuff is excellent (especially by comparison with, say, Mick Jagger's solo stuff -- ugh). I saw his first reappearance in public at Mud Island in 1986, and have seen him several times since. He's great. But the whole was more than the sum of the parts with Creedence Clearwater Revival.

UPDATE: Reader H. Koenig writes: "Those two (Clifford and Cook) have a band called "Creedence Clearwater Revisted" which has been recently advertised as playing at at least one Indian Casino here in the Pacific Northwest."

Anybody heard 'em play?

ANOTHER UPDATE: And, of course, the answer is "yes!" Multiple yeses, in fact. Reader Brian Jones (no, not that Brian Jones: he's dead) writes:

I not only saw them play, I got to introduce them, at the 30th anniversary of Woodstock...not that mess up at Griffis AFB, but at Yasgur's Farm with several of the other original performers.

While I can't vouch for how this half-CCR performs on other nights -- I've seen too many cringeworthy oldies shows -- the two original members were delighted to be back on that stage, and it showed in their performances and rubbed off on the other band members.

Still, the previous year's show was better.

Meanwhile reader Bruce Kratofil writes:

I just happened to hear CCR version 2.0 last week (June 20). We were staying on Hilton Head, and they gave a concert at the tennis stadium a short walk from our rental - effectively a free concert, since you could walk right outside the tennis court and both listen and watch.

They went out and hired a John Fogerty sound-alike lead singer (whose name escapes me) and they also added a rhythm guitarist from the Cars. On the instrumental parts, such as the end of "Grapevine", you really couldn't tell the difference. On the vocals, the trick was not to pay too close attention to them, and it sounded close enough.

I never heard the original ones except via vinyl -- and now CD.

Me neither, though my mom played their records so many times they wore out when I was a kid. Which is parenting at its finest.

I'M A BIG FAN OF MELISSA SECKORA'S and now she's profiled as a "rising star" by UPI. I'm not surprised to read that she's blessed with "brains, beauty, talent and drive" but I was a bit surprised to find out that she's 26. Somehow her writing gives the impression of a grizzled journalism pro. Guess I'll have to leave out the "grizzled" part now.

WELL, THAT SUCKS: I won't be at the Blogosphere panel after all. I got up at 4:30 a.m., drove to the airport for my 7:30 nonstop flight, was told at 6:45 that it was cancelled. The next flight would have gotten me to D.C. just in time to waltz in at noon -- if everything went perfectly, which the agent told me was unlikely given "equipment and crew issues" at Charlotte. So rather than risk spending my day at Charlotte and still missing the panel, which seemed far and away the most likely outcome, I aborted.

To be fair, he was nice and helpful in trying to find alternate routes, didn't give me any overoptimistic bullshit, and cheerfully refunded my ticket without any guff. And -- in yet another reason to love Knoxville -- the parking lot attendant didn't even charge me when she heard why my stay was so brief. So I had a better experience than Lileks, but with the same ultimate outcome.

I'm going to take the opportunity to spend some quality time with my wife. Back later. In the meantime, check out this challenge to the Blogosphere from TAPPED.

UPDATE: Laurence Simon of Amish Technical Support has taken up the challenge.

OKAY, HERE'S A QUICKIE: Howard Owens says we shouldn't be ashamed of the Crusades: they were a defensive war against Arab aggression.

And the Blogosphere panel has already produced a Lileks piece. Also, a good column today from Charles Krauthammer and a rather mixed column from Salman Rushdie -- I don't think that the war is going badly, as he seems to, but he's certainly right about the Muslim world's muteness on terrorism. Oh, and the irony: this story came with a huge honkin' popup ad.

And lastly, check out the picture of Dick Gephardt accompanying this article in the New York Times. He looks like they caught him in the middle of a downhill ski run. Nobody was trying very hard to make him look good when they decided to run that one.

Have a good day. I'll be back later.

June 27, 2002

I'M GOING TO BED EARLY, since I have to get up at the crack of dawn to fly to DC for the Blogosphere panel. Probably no more posts until tomorrow night, unless I find myself with time to kill somewhere where there's an internet connection.

THE SPAM MAP shows the interrelationship of many spam emailers in graphic form. But where's Mrs. Mobutu Sese Seko?

PHILIP SHROPSHIRE makes the all-too-seldom-heard left-wing argument for colonizing Mars. I admire this piece, and agree with most of it. It's a welcome break from the rather large crowd of people on the left who haven't approved of anything new since the invention of the wet blanket.

ERIC RAYMOND ANNOUNCES HIS FIRST Blogchild.

AMERICAN AGENTS, disguised as roving mullahs are wandering through Pakistan. The beauty of this is that if their cover works, the mission is successful. If their cover's blown, it means that genuine roving mullahs (who don't like us, for the most part, and who are a plague on that part of the world) will find themselves distrusted and, hopefully, roughly interrogated.

FISKING MOLLY IVINS: Yeah, okay, it's easy -- but this guy's new, and he does it well.

JOHN ENTWISTLE is dead, apparently of a heart attack. Bummer.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll has some thoughts. I saw The Who at RFK stadium in 1989, from 9th row seats. They were awesome. I always liked Entwistle because he was so businesslike, and so incredibly good. That's a combination I admire -- common in bass players, not so common elsewhere in rock and roll.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brink Lindsey shares some memories of drunken revels and jam sessions with Entwistle.

ECONOMIC SCHADENFREUDE ISN'T LIMITED TO THE NATION: Charles Austin reflects on how journalists love bad economic news.

No chance any of those guys will take any blame for hyping the boom the way they're hyping the bust, is there? They were pumping companies as hard as Arthur Andersen, but we won't hear about that now.

INSTAPOWER? Yep. A bunch of pictures have been added to the PopShot Magazine interview with the Capitalist Chicks. How do I know it was InstaPower? Because they told me so.

READER HARRY HELMS offers this slant on the voucher decision:

Wonder if all the cultural conservatives applauding today's Supreme Court decision on vouchers realize this means their tax dollars can now be used to support students attending Islamic madrasas? And what will be the reaction of those same conservatives when they learn about vouchers being used by parents who want to give their children an education in an "Islamic-based environment"?

Stay tuned. This decision is going to have a LOT of interesting ramifications.

Well, but at least they'll have to say the Pledge of Allegiance. . . .

UPDATE: Here's an old Jonathan Rauch article from Reason on unforeseen consequences of vouchers. I think that these fears have resonance only to the extent that voucher schools get no oversight, which I see as unlikely.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has blogged a reply to Helms.

PSYCHOTIC DEATH CULT UPDATE. Sorry, no other caption does justice to this.

(Via Charles Johnson).

THE BLOVIATOR (who teaches public health law in real life, I think) says that the Homeland Security bill would be a public health disaster.

UPDATE: I was right. Ross Silverman writes: "You are correct. I teach health law and policy, and have a particular interest in public health law."

THE PLEDGE RULING has been stayed pending action by the full Ninth Circuit.

MICHAEL BARONE has noticed a Dick Gephardt speech on the war that deserves more attention.

A READER sends this picture with the phrase "Hooray for our side!" and suggests that it's why the West will defeat Islamist fundamentalists.

Well, it certainly helps explain why our side has more appeal.

UPDATE: I think we killed this server. At least, the link's gone bad, and the parent site is returning cryptic error messages. Oops. Maybe it'll be back up tomorrow.

IS PRESIDENT BUSH MAKING HIMSELF A DICTATOR? Krugman, Dowd & Moore say yes. Spinsanity says no. And it says that Krugman, Dowd, and Moore need to drop their manipulative paranoia and get a grip. Yep.

JANE GALT EXPLAINS WORLDCOM. I like the way she frames the initial question.

HEY! Didn't Dave Winer have this idea first?

RAPID RESPONSE: Reason has an article on the vouchers decision, by Mike Lynch. It also has a piece by Charles Paul Freund, pointing out that the Pledge started out as a piece of Socialist propaganda. Interesting reading.

CHRISTIAN PACIFISM UPDATE: Reader Ramesh Ponnuru sends this prayer from Stanley Hauerwas's book Prayers Plainly Spoken:

Title: Save Us from Our American Power

Hauerwas puts in an editor's note: "I wrote this prayer after the United States sent missiles into Iraq because Iraq had allegedly tried to kill George Bush when he visited Kuwait. President Clinton showed he 'meant business' by bombing them."

Here's the prayer: "Graceful Lord, we find ourselves living in the most powerful country in the world. The pride and self-righteousness such power breeds are beyond compare. No power exists that can humble us. We are tyrants of all we survey. We decide to bomb these people, send rockets against those people, kill those we call terrorists--all because we can. We are the most powerful people in the world. It is hard not to be caught up in such power. It is intoxicating. Save us from it. Sober us with the knowledge that you will judge this nation, you will humble this nation, you will destroy this nation for our pride. Send us a reminder that you are God, that you alone have the right of vengeance, and if it be your will, make those we bomb instruments of your judgment. At the very least, save us from the 'normality of killing.' Amen."

The 9/11 attacks, in other words, seem to have been exactly what Hauerwas was praying for. I hope he's happy. Here's my prayer in response:

Dear God, at the very least, save us from the inanity and excessive self-regard of those who choose to say they are Thy servants and mouthpieces, but who only seem interested in humbling others' pride, and whose positions always seem to mirror those of Mother Jones. Except that even Mother Jones is showing some sign of a backbone these days. Perhaps I should say The Nation -- which seems to see nothing more offensive than American "boastfulness." In Thy mercy and power, please grant these smug Pharisees in their well-paid sinecures a clue. Amen.

UPDATE: A reader named Dave (his email address gives no clue as to his name, and his signature gives only his first -- this is often why I call people "a reader" in these posts, the other reason being that they request confidentiality) sends this thought:

I think the problem is that someone prayed Voltaire's prayer, and He's still answering it.

Dave


"I have only made but one prayer in my life: `O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And it was granted."
-- Voltaire

That's been the prayer of warbloggers everywhere, and boy, oh boy, has it been granted.

JAY NORDLINGER has some thoughts on antisemitism and Holocaust denial at SFSU and the University of Michigan (scroll down). He offers a lot of interesting information (some of which was new to me) both about the extent to which hardcore antisemitism (and anti-Americanism, which is becoming antisemitism's frequent companion) has spread on college campuses -- and some heartening examples of how students are pushing back.

SPEAKING OF CHOOSING POORLY: I think that these guys have a case. But boy are they idiots.

THE PALESTINIANS ARE CHOOSING. . . POORLY: Check out these insults directed at Condi Rice. Brian Emmett is unimpressed.

ISNTAPUNDIT is royally p.o.'ed at the various other InstaPundit-knockoff sites that have sprung up lately. He figures he had that market cornered, tells the other guys where to get off.

OKAY, when I implied that nobody reads paper magazines, I was kidding. In fact, I found this article by Seth Godin in Fast Company while I was waiting to get my hair cut. It rules. Also, elsewhere I saw Esther Dyson making the point that high-speed wireless will make computer use more social -- instead of being tied to a machine you can take the machine where people are, making computing a group activity more like watching TV together. That's how it is in my house now that the wireless network is working.

CHICKS, BUCKS AND ROCK'N'ROLL: PopShot Magazine has an interview with the Capitalist Chicks. It's on their website -- I don't usually get the actual mag, but I assume it's there, too. Cool photo on the cover of the webzine; is it the cover photo on the actual, hardcopy version? I don't know.

But who reads magazines on paper anymore anyway?

UPDATE: The cover pic rotates, so I've added it here. I don't think they'll mind.

ANOTHER UPDATE: They didn't mind. In fact, they sent this one for your further enjoyment. I had it on the site for a minute, but it's a bit too big for the main page.

THE CLEVELAND SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM WAS JUST UPHELD BY THE SUPREME COURT -- which adds an interesting angle to the Pledge of Allegiance case. Perhaps Patrick Ruffini will update his post on the political impact of the Pledge decision to take that into account.

HERE'S A LINK to a page where you can view the decision in PDF form. Warning: it's 995K.

UPDATE: Here's another link that seems a lot faster. And Eugene Volokh has links to the Court's other important decisions today.

IT'S A COULTER-A-THON: Henry Hanks says that TAPPED's fact-checking comes up short.

BLOGOSPHERE PANEL UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has bowed out due to scheduling problems, but Josh Marshall and John Hiler will be there, which is something new since my previous mention. It's the National Press Club, tomorrow at noon. Here's a link to the press release.

UPDATE: Hey, I thought Jonah Goldberg was invited. Come anyway, Jonah!

TROUBLING DEVELOPMENTS IN COLOMBIA: Here's a short report from the Miami Herald and a much more detailed analysis from El Sur. Essentially, the FARC terrorists are trying to take over the country, starting with mayors and municipal officials.

CAN WE TRUST THE HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAUCRACY AS MUCH AS WE NEED TO? I have my doubts, as this FoxNews column makes clear.

N.Z. BEAR SAYS Stephen Green is wrong about the pledge. Me, I agree with the Bear on the Pledge: adding "under God" was just a cave to a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, actually -- but I just don't care about this issue much. I agree with Stephen that it's a bit of a distraction when we're at war.

MICKEY KAUS SAYS THAT TOM DASCHLE IS BLUFFING.

PROFESSOR BRANNON DENNING WRITES:


You might want to read this editorial from the NYT, which has been complaining for a couple of weeks that the Federal Election Commission has voted on regs that distort the intent of McCain-Feingold, and how horrible that is.

Can you imagine? A regulatory agency uses its regulatory power to distort the will of Congress?? A scandal! So we can expect a strong editorial position in favor of a robust nondelegation doctrine next? . . . . Riiiiiiiiight.

Hey, this guy should get a blog!

TAPPED IS BACK, after some pretty minimal posting lately. They couldn't resist the lure of a new Ann Coulter book, I guess.

PATENT ABUSE IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY: Derek Lowe is on the case.

I think we're well past the point at which the patent system promotes innovation. It's now encouraging a lot of unproductive activity designed to secure a monopoly, more than it's encouraging new knowledge.

DAILYHEADWORK isn't exactly a blog -- it's more like an op-ed a day. I'll bet a lot of people surfing for porn are disappointed, though.

I'M NOT MUCH OF A FINANCIAL BLOGGER, and I have no investment tips to offer. My personal investment strategy -- which is "buy and hold" based on a combination of ignorance, sloth, procrastination, and, er, strategy, yeah, that's it -- has done surprisingly well, but there's not much to emulate.

However, if you're interested in following the increasingly disastrous WorldCom affair, DotCom Scoop has a blog devoted to WorldCom. And Bob Hiler has a piece on WorldCom as a pyramid scheme that everyone keeps emailing me about.

UPDATE: Go to Google, search "worldcom" and see the sponsored links that pop up. Some people are quick off the mark! (Thanks to no-relation reader Tom Reynolds for noticing).

HOWARD OWENS Fisks Charley Reese, though Owens calls Reese a lefty. I think Reese is more of an isolationist, antisemitic paleo-rightie, though I admit that it gets harder and harder to tell the difference.

HOW TO AIR BIN LADEN TAPES: Reader Craig Demel has some advice:

Since the last couple tapes have been devoid of any references to
post-December events, bin Laden is probably dead, and what we're
seeing is greatest-hits footage, in a transparent attempt to convince
us he's not.

So my idea for news organizations trying to decide how or whether
to air new tapes which surface is, air them, then say, "Oh, we've
also got a _new_ videotape from the Three Stooges", then show
Larry, Moe, and Curly slapping each other and yelping and growling.

Ah, a wise guy, eh? Why I oughta. . .

HOW TO EMBARRASSS THE UNITED NATIONS: From Occam's Toothbrush.

STEPHEN GREEN says that there's no escaping religious discord, but that the Pledge isn't important when we've got a war on. He's right.

June 26, 2002

RED SKELTON'S COMMENTARY ON THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE lacks the words "under God," but he has a prescient observation.

MEN AND WOMEN AND COLLEGE: Okay, this is going to be shorter than I had planned, because I'm working on a major writing project, and I've got to be able to type full speed tomorrow. But here are some comments I've gotten in response to my earlier post about colleges being hostile environments to males, and that perhaps accounting for the newly-controversial gender imbalance in favor of women. A few correspondents simply denied that there's any sort of P.C. or anti-male environment on campuses, a sort of flat-earthery that is readily refuted by a reference to Daphne Patai's Heterophobia or any of a hundred examples of kangaroo-court sexual-harassment policies.

Or just read this lengthy post by Eduardo Goldstein, sharing firsthand experience of being falsely accused of sexual harassment. ("The written rules are stacked against men. If a female reports anything, the college has to believe her. Even if the person receiving the complaint (RA, etc.) knows the complaint is bullshit, they can't say 'you're lying' - they have to write it down and pass it on. Otherwise the university will have to deal with the charges of ignoring complaints, and no one wants that. " Read the whole thing.) Who can seriously deny that this phenomenon exists? Not recent college graduate and InstaPundit reader Jennifer Fuller, who describes the kind of situation I alluded to. And we assume in civil-rights law generally that a "hostile environment" discourages people from seeking employment or education in hostile settings, so it seems a reasonable assumption here, too.

There were alternative explanations. Reader Brian Ledford was one of several who said that the increase in lucrative jobs not requiring a college degree, particularly in computer-related fields, may be a partial explanation:

Are you sure the disparity isn't simply due to computer science type programs moving to technical schools? If your ideal job is IT related, you're probably better off with a two year degree and two years of experience than a four year degree. The technical colleges will be more market oreinted as well, I'd imagine. And computers overwhelmingly attract men. Schools without engineering programs "suffer" the same gender inequity. As an example, UNC-Chapel Hill (my alma mater) has approximately the same gender breakdown that is being regarded as a crisis in your post. Why? No engineering school.

Reader John Kluge offered a different explanation:

I would be very curious to see what the gender breakdown is among whites and Asians in college versus blacks and Hispanics. Just a guess but I bet the ratio is pretty close to fifty fifty among whites and Asians and much more disproportionately female among blacks and Hispanics. Its an important statistic that was left out of the Washington Post article. Is the problem in colleges a problem with men in general or a problem with black and Hispanic men going to lousy schools, living in a lousy culture that doesn't value education and consequently increasingly falling behind the rest of society? Its an important distinction and no one seems to be picking up.

Reader John Vecchione agrees, but says that men should just suck it up and be macho about it:

I agree that colleges and universities are hostile to the very idea of men and that the administrations do as much as possible to alienate them. The misinterpretation of Title IX has axed programs that kept many men only marginally interested in higher education in school. The attack on fraternities has been disastrous, as has the P.C. feminist onslaught. On the other hand, I can't stand whining about this. Its unseemly.

Unseemly whining, John, is the key to power in today's society. Eschew it at your peril.

Reader Andrew Colocotronis blames drugs:

I think it is a statistical fact that boys are diagnosed as ADD more than girls. My mother has mentioned numerous parent teacher conferences she attended were the teacher would unilaterally suggest to the parents that they look into Ritalin for their son. In some of the high schools where she was an administrator upwards of 30% of the students were labeled as ADD. Not surprising, the article you linked mentioned that boys are disproportionately likely to be in Special Ed programs. ADD is by its very name a disability that earns a child Special Ed status. Some parents actually want that stigma for their son or daughter because it guarantees extra school help for their child and special consideration during college admission. I do not mean to enter into the larger Ritalin debate, but to point out that an educational system that promotes labeling children as disabled probably lowers self-esteem and retards academic performance. Raising the self-esteem of girls and overcoming second class citizenship status are seen as important components in furthering female academic success. So why is the converse not also be true-- lowering the self-esteem of boys and referring to many as disabled erodes male academic success.

Noah Millman sent a link to this long and thoughtful post on his own blog, from which I will take an unfairly brief excerpt:

But I wanted to touch on another assumption of Glenn's (the blogosphere seems to be on a first-name basis with itself, so I guess I will be, too): that the insanity of contemporary sexual harrassment policy has somehow discriminated against men. The implicit notion is that the proper code of conduct in college is: let the partygoer beware. Boys will be boys, and if girls want to play with the boys they should be free to do so and shouldn't go crying to the Administration (or their lawyers) if they wake up in the wrong bed with very little on. I strongly reject this premise.

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that the folks who are angry about the biases in our current sexual code of conduct - and they are biased against men - are apologists for date rape. Indeed, they correctly assert that the radical feminist notion that all men are rapists shields the real rapists and thereby harms more women than it helps. Moreover, it gives power to precisely those women who are least responsible and provides the least protection to those women who are most likely to be truly victimized: the naive, the shy, the insecure.

Well, that's pretty much my point -- that and the thought that knowing that there are a lot of people on campus who say and think that all men are rapists and that all heterosexual sex is rape (as Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and numerous acolytes have said) might discourage a few men from going to begin with.

Fritz Schranck sent a link to his post on the subject, too, which includes the following, along with much more:

It's also unfortunately true that the College of Correction, or the prison system as it is commonly known, also experiences a gender gap going in the opposite direction, especially among the age cohorts commonly associated with attendance at universities.

Well, there are a lot of folks in prison, and the vast majority of them are young males, though I don't know if it's enough to account for the difference, and rather doubt that it is. I think that prisons and colleges tend not to draw from the same pool of individuals.

Reader Monica Roman blames Hollywood:

Today, I was running the reservoir at Central Park and thought I was being sexually harassed by a young man running behind me. He was making loud, pornographic statements about my anatomy and what he wanted to do to it. When I turned around to look at him, I realized that he was merely singing along to the song being played by his CD player! Perhaps the thug culture perpetuated by the big recording companies is discouraging males of all races from pursuing the disciplined behavior required to complete college (unless you happen to be a star athlete and are not required to attend classes in order to receive your diploma).

Well, luckily you won't find any of that star-athlete stuff going on at the University of Tennessee, where we prize academics over athletics at all times. . . .

Carl Janiski, meanwhile, emails me a link to a blog post that takes the radical position that I'm right, but that it's a good thing:

He's entirely right. Colleges have become more hostile to men, but I wonder how much of that is a bad thing. Perhaps the modern trend in higher education has become an effort to root out and refine some of that male hostility and agressiveness, traits which are far less adaptive in our sophisticated, twenty-first century civilization than they were in the environment of our evolutionary adaptation. The recent shifts in graduation could simply reflect this modern emphasis.

More broadly, it does seem to be a trend for men to become more like women and vice versa. I've heard women refered to as the "civilizing gender" for their greater natural endowment of social skills. Much of the effort of feminism in the past thirty years has been directed towards making women more like men in the equally important areas of assertiveness and individual expression. Men and traditional maleness are now taking a hit in the name of further progress away from our animal natures.

My biggest regret is that the process has to be so hard on the individual men who will suffer the shame traditionally associated with failure at endeavors such as college. I'd be most interested in figuring out how we can "evolve ourselves" without so much trampling on the most unfit and least adapted -- which, after all, is the rule of the game as written by mother nature, not by us.

Being a guy who didn't play sports (unless you count karate and the rifle team, which you shouldn't) and who did well in school, I should approve of this social-Darwinist approach, but I have to note that it's an approach that's rather at odds with the one generally taken by civil rights law. And that was my original point: a shortage in any other group generates a lot of "what's wrong with us?" soul-searching at universities. This generated mostly a "what's wrong with them?" reaction.

Lots of interesting stuff. That's part of the fun of having a blog, especially one that gets a lot of email. Post one paragraph of commentary, and get all this back! I love the Internet.

UPDATE: Reader Joe Davidson writes:

I think that the problem starts in kindergarden. Every time a student (almost always a boy) is disciplined for "shooting" someone with his index finger, every time a game of dodge ball or tag is stopped because it is not "nice", all the boys involved or witnessing this are turned off on education.

We have made boyhood a medical condition to be cured for the middle class students, and a criminal problem to be punished for the lower classes. School mischief has become criminalized.

Is it any wonder that boys are turned off?

WHILE WE WORRY ABOUT THE PLEDGE, Charles Johnson reports that some folks who are less worried about church/state overlap (and who are probably Saudi-funded) are preaching jihad in Greensboro.

MORE ON CHRISTIAN PACIFISM: A history lesson.

GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: I would have missed this one if I hadn't seen it on Athena Runner's site. Excerpt:

Gov. Gray Davis this spring blocked efforts to impose a new $22-million tax on the timber industry, three months after leading timber interests donated $105,000 to his reelection campaign.

The legislative analyst's office suggested the timber tax hike, and several Democratic lawmakers embraced it as a way to help close the state's $23.6-billion budget deficit. But the governor successfully opposed it during budget talks, according to legislators who participated in those discussions.

I'm no expert on California politics, but it's a new story like this every day. That can't be good.

SPEAKING OF DISSING COLUMNISTS FOR BLOG-BASHING, read this letter by Mark Friesen in Romenesko's MediaNews, dissing the Mercury News's Mike Cassidy for his dumb blog article. Excerpt:

Oh, yippee! Another newspaper columnist sucking up newsprint by taking shots at blogs! How brilliant! What is it with these guys? Did everyone get the same E-Z COLUMN TOPICS spam? And why is it they make fun of people that blather on endlessly about trivial and boring topics? Afraid of competition? If the only blogs Cassidy can find are people "talking off the tops of their heads," then he needs to give his browser a bit more of a workout.

There's more, too. Even journos are making fun of this stuff now.

MORE ON THE PLEDGE: Volokh -- who unlike me isn't suffering from RSI, as his post-length indicates -- has a typically detailed and thorough analysis. And the Rev. Tony Pierce has an also long and detailed analysis that's, er, rather different: "at least now bloggers can write about something other than calling newspaper columnists asswipes for dissing blogging." There's a lot more, though, calling upon Tony's, um, expertise, as an ordained Christian minister.

UPDATE: Juan Gato weighs in, too. So does Charles Murtaugh. And Megan McArdle, too.

Oh, and Dahlia Lithwick thinks the Ninth Circuit panel was rather slippery, and will be reversed. Meanwhile Spoons says it was right.

Pejman has a post, too. So does Dan Perkins. But several readers want to know "what would Hank say?" Which, by the way, is also a song.

IT'S REALLY FOR TOMORROW, BUT my FoxNews column is up. It's about trust, law enforcement, and the war on terror.

UPDATE: Oh, and read Kevin Holtsberry's post on what we ought to be doing about Homeland Defense.

BOTH JONATHAN ADLER AND ROBERT GEORGE SAY that the Pledge issue is a political gift to Bush, letting him wage culture-war and stereotype the Dems as namby-pamby leftists. Probably true.

MORE THOUGHTS ON CHRISTIANITY AND PACIFISM from the Rev. Donald Sensing can be found here. Also this post saying that the problem with pacifism is pacifists.

THE INDEPUNDIT has psychically determined the next decision of the Ninth Circuit regarding establishments of religion.

I wish I could get excited about the Pledge thing, but I can't. I thought the Pledge was better before "under God" was added -- it did just fine throughout World War Two and much of the Cold War with no God references -- but on the other hand, like a lot of these kind of challenges, it seems like much ado about nearly nothing to me. To quote an atheist reader who emailed that he thought the decision was dumb: "big whoop."

UPDATE: Boy, reader Ed Totty didn't like that, though I'm not entirely sure on what grounds: "Much ado about nothing? You reveal your true self. You are now deleted from my list of favorites. Get in touch with your audience while you still have one."

Okay, is he mad because I was disrespectful to the Pledge, or to atheists? Beats me. As for the audience point, I guess that would bother me if I were, you know, paid for this or something. -- LATER: Totty has emailed back to say that the fact that I have to ask proves my iniquity. Ooo. . . kay. I had a girlfriend once who said stuff like that, but she was at least good looking. Don't let the monitor hit you on the way out, Ed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ben Domenech agrees that "under God" should go.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Jason Skiles writes: "I'm an atheist. 'Under God' doesn't bother me. I wish the 9th had left well enough alone. This'll just rally the enemy troops. Feh."

JUDGE PATTERSON UPDATE: NZ Bear has turned up some more information. Susanna Cornett has stepped on Will Warren's turf -- and Dr. Seuss's -- with this poem. And Dave Kopel emails this link to a report of the trial that supports the original account. Kopel says he trusts the reporter, Ari Armstrong.

Some people have emailed to say that it's okay for a judge to order a lawyer not to talk about the Constitution to the jury. I think that's rather a broad statement, especially as applied to closing arguments -- and at any rate it's rather odd for the judge to tell the lawyer that he doesn't want to hear any constitutional arguments. Pretty lame, if you ask me.

THE HAUERWAS / AL QAEDA CONNECTION: Blogged by Kieran Lyons. Hint: Both of 'em don't like secularism very much. Or America's embodiment of secular values.

I AGREE WITH THIS IN SPADES.

WORLDCOM QUESTIONS: Prof. John Ayer, who has books on this kind of thing, writes:

The following is not a rhetorical question, though obviously I have my suspicions. Anyway --

Observers of the unfolding WorldCom collapse are invited to ask: how much, in principle, does Worldcomm's strategy (of capitalizing expenses) differ from AOL's strategy in 1995-96 -- of taking cash inflows into "income" before they were earned (i.e., of /not/ capitalizing inflows)? Both have the effect of artificially inflating income. One obvious difference: AOL fiddled its books in a rising market, where all is forgiven.

Separate WorldCom point: early stories are saying that the improper capitalizations were left off the cash flow statement. Almost certainly not so. It appears they were left off the statement of cash flow /from operations/. But the cash flow statement has three parts: operations, investment, finance. Presumably the capitalized expenses, though removed from operations, did show up in investment. Of course the point is right in principle, considering that cash flow /from operations/ is the only portion of the statement the market seems to consider.

These seem like reasonable questions to me, though I don't have books, or even articles, on accounting issues.

I BLAME STANLEY HAUERWAS FOR THIS.

TELFORD WORK (who is a professor of Religious Studies) has a lengthy and thoughtful commentary on Stanley Hauerwas' antiwar remarks. Excerpt:

In the form bloggers are reading them, Stanley's remarks are just going to make it harder than ever for both Christians and non-Christians to see that. He went and pulled a Jerry Falwell, a Barbara Kingsolver. Now liberals, conservatives, and libertarians alike will be all the more likely to confuse Church pacifism (which Stanley champions) with sixties-style new left national pacifism (which he doesn't). Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr will look even more like the sober, responsible public theologians, and their detractors will look even more like wackos. First Things will feel all the more vindicated. . . .

But explanations are not excuses. It is irresponsible to lob rhetorical grenades into a social discourse already this volatile. I know Stanley, O'Neill, and the NCR are just trying to get people to examine their commitments in light of the unqualified lordship of Jesus Christ. That is already essential – and all the more essential in times of emergency. There are better ways to do it. People are now listening who weren't listening before. If speakers don't show them extra consideration, they are going to stop listening.

There's much more to this than my excerpt captures. Read the whole thing.

DAVE TEPPER REPORTS that spammers are using blog domains. So if you get an email from my domain offering to enlarge your penis or sell you discount toner cartridges, you can disregard it. It's not from me.

He's also tracked down at least one of the offenders, and is promising vengeance. It's happened to Avedon Carol and Mac Thomason as well, apparently.

UPDATE: Reader Steven Skubinna writes:

All I gotta say is, thanks for the heads up. Because I would have trusted you. A guaranteed Instapundit enhanced penis would have got my credit card number, for sure. Good thing you were proactive in safeguarding your credibility.

I suppose you aren't going to be recommending barnyard sex sites as well, huh? And if your wife e-mails me about Nigerian bank accounts I can disregard that too?

Well, the size of my penis is a major topic of discussion on certain websites, but I'm not into peddling products. As for my wife -- I advise you to do whatever she says, without any backtalk. It's safer that way.

IS A COMPANY SCREWING YOU OVER ON YOUR BILL? Could mean it's on the verge of bankruptcy!

STRATFOR agrees that Bush is throwing down the gauntlet with the Saudis:

Bush in effect is washing his hands of trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Washington's challenge, however, is not aimed at the Palestinians but at the country that pushed for greater U.S. involvement in the peace process: Saudi Arabia. Riyadh tried to shift U.S. attention from its war against al Qaeda by making resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key prerequisite for Saudi cooperation on hunting Osama bin Laden's associates and financiers. Bush's speech warns the Saudis that Israel and the Palestinians will no longer serve as a distraction.

This means that a Saudi-U.S. confrontation may be on the horizon. By no longer taking responsibility for the Palestinians, Washington is affirming its goal of destroying al Qaeda. To do this, it must strike at the network's center of gravity: Saudi Arabia. In response, the oil-rich kingdom will now seek to create alliances to resist American pressure. Worried about U.S. military deployments in Yemen and the surrounding Gulf states and unable to trust U.S. ally Jordan, Riyadh likely will move to strengthen ties with the two countries bent on resisting U.S. dominance: Iran and Iraq.

That seems like a loser's game, but since the Sauds are constitutionally unable to quit backing Islamist terror, they don't have any other cards to play.

Also, if you believe (as many bloggers do) that the Administration was using the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation as a distraction tool while the military buildup took place, this probably means that the buildup is more or less over and that more serious action is imminent.

JIM HENLEY WRITES that he'd rather see the occasional American city nuked than give up on freedom and establish a police state.

I agree with this, actually: if you're willing to make sacrifices for freedom, then it follows logically once you set up the choice. But I don't really see this as the choice. (Henley also quotes another writer as saying that democracy won't last out the century -- but that's a pretty presumptuous statement to make in the year '02). If you buy the whole unstoppable-slippery-slope-to-tyranny worldview then, sure, you've got a problem. But if that worldview were true, the Alien and Sedition Acts would never have been repealed, slavery never would have ended -- and for that matter, neither would Prohibition, or the draft.

That doesn't mean that Henley's worries are entirely misplaced, only that I don't see things as being quite that grim. My nightmare scenario, in fact, is one in which the "war on terror" starts looking like the "war on drugs." Which is why I'm in favor of invading Iraq, giving the al-Sauds the boot, and in general fighting a genuine war rather than settling into long-term chronic-illness mode. The bureaucrats naturally favor the latter, as it involves less accountability (you can't really "lose" a "war on" as opposed to a "war" -- you just need more money!) and long-term funding. But in opposing honest-to-goodness war in favor of law-enforcement techniques, you make the police-state aspects of a "war on" (like the War On Drugs) far more likely to materialize.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN is up. I swear I didn't know about Microsoft's "Palladium" initiative when I wrote it, but Palladium seems to be pretty close to what I was warning about. The Register seems to agree.

TODAY'S JIM DOERTY AWARD FOR CONSTITUTIONALLY CLUELESS JUDGING GOES TO Denver municipal judge Robert L. Patterson for this statement to a lawyer in a civil rights case:

You are not to reference the Constitution in these proceedings. You will not address it in voir dire, you will not address it in your opening remarks, you will not ask any questions about the Constitution when you summon your witnesses, and you will not talk about the Constitution when you give your closing arguments.

Jeez.

UPDATE: NZ Bear emails that he's not sure the quote from the judge is accurate: he says he seems to recall the judge denies saying this, but he can't find the source. I'll look into it, but until then you should regard this as unverified.

TRIFECTA UPDATE: RonK has the explanation. At least, I think he's right here.

SYRIA IS FEELING THE PRESSURE and launching a new diplomatic initiative.

EURO-WEENIE UPDATE: Academics fired for being Israeli.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has his reader survey results so far online, continuously updated. Pretty interesting. As I suspected, blog readers have pretty impressive demographics.

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, a Palestinian suicide attack on Israeli nuclear-weapons facilities was thwarted.

MORE BAD NEWS FROM ALGERIA. The reader who sent it notes: "If this was Atlanta this would be huge. but its Algeria, and nobody cares.

Maybe Algeria, Sudan, and Yemen can form the 'axis of I-dont-care'."

SOUTER / BELLESILES UPDATE: The Tom Davies article on Souter's historical dishonesty that I mentioned yesterday is now available on the web in PDF form.

June 25, 2002

SORRY: The post on women, men and college will have to wait until tomorrow. I've just sent my Fox column off, and my RSI is acting up. I'm giving my tendons a break. See you tomorrow.

SOME NICE PERSPECTIVE from Justin Sodano:

Yes, blogging's more popular than ever. Yes, some of you are getting lots and lots of attention (even me, for a brief period).

But everyone needs to calm down, take a step back, and realize that we are all just typing words into a computer. We're not saving the world. We're not fighting off the Middle Eastern scum. We're not even donning gear and protecting our families. We're just writing. I'm sorry, it's no more than that, whether you're getting 30 hits per day or 30,000.

Yep. Don't get me wrong -- I love the Blogosphere, and I love writing. But that's what it is, for better and for worse. Writing. Not even words on paper. Pixels on a screen.

UPDATE: Reader Barnaby Pape says I'm being overly reductionist: "Yep, just words. And ideas are just millions of electro-chemical reactions navigating synapses. Yep, can't much come of those, nothin' significant there....wonder what's in the fridge?" Heh. But I think my meaning was clear.

NOT GRASSROOTS, BUT ASTROTURF: Bill Quick has identified some near-identical letters to the editor opposing an invasion of Iraq. So who's behind this? Some sleazeball PR firm in the pay of Saddam Hussein? Or a domestic political outfit?

UPDATE: As the comments below Bill's post show, the source seems to be a Usenet posting sent to a lot of green and Democratic groups, from someone named Eli Pariser at Moveon.org.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Quick has more information on his page, including a list of Moveon.org donors.

Who says bloggers don't do original reporting?

MATT WELCH takes on another lame newspaper piece on blogging, this one by Mike Cassidy of the Mercury News. Be sure to read the comments, too. Summary: "This type of column -- the 'I turned my back on a not-very-new trend of specific interest to my readers, so now, instead of catching up, I’m going to make fun of it' piece -- is a sub-category just dominated by monopolist daily newspapers."

HERE'S A CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR story on the Nigerian video industry, which is going great guns. (Actually, a member of my extended family, which includes Nigerians in Lagos, is working in that industry now). Best quote:

"In the old days, traveling theaters used to put on shows about the God of Thunder, Ogun – that was nice," says Iyabo Olowokande, head of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Film Cooperation. "But then we discovered the movies."

The story says that Nigeria is nipping at Hollywood's heels. It would be more accurate, though, would to say that it's nipping at Bollywood's heels. Indian films, which -- by volume at least -- ruled the Nigerian market are now facing a lot of domestic competition.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON ASHCROFT: Eugene Volokh says that what Ashcroft told Congress about dissent aiding terrorists isn't that different from what Clinton said in 1996 -- but the reaction is.

YES, I know I've just linked to IsntaPundit, InstaPandit, and IndePundit. I'm just as bemused by this as you are.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll says I should also mention PoohPundit here. I think I already did a month or so ago, but okay. It is an InstaPundit parody site, though the name isn't as close as those others. On the other hand, it does claim to be "The New York Times of the Bearbloggers," which is pretty cool.

INSTAPANDIT says I'm wrong about colleges being unfriendly to males. His comments appear to have been posted before I added the comments from reader Jennifer Fuller, below.

UPDATE: Oh, and I just noticed this post by Kevin Deenihan criticizing those who stereotype Greeks. (He means frat-Greeks, not Greece-Greeks).

ISNTAPUNDIT isn't happy with WTC replacement plans.

THE INDEPUNDIT says we're winning and Al Qaeda is losing.

AARON BERGMAN has been sending me email telling me I'm wrong for months. Now he's got his own blog so he can do it wholesale instead of retail.

TRIFECTA UPDATE: Reader Lucy Stone says it really matters:

Hi Instapundit. You mention that the "trifecta" issue just won't go away. And you know, it shouldn't. Here's why: it's so Clintonian, so average slimy politician of Bush. If you bill yourself as a straight shooter and not your average politician, than be a straight shooter otherwise you have no credibility. The "I hit the trifecta" remark --aside from being in terribly bad taste in my opinion-- is so obviously CYA and disingenuous. Why can't Bush just say, look, circumstances have changed and therefore my criteria have changed. Americans have shown they will give him the benefit of the doubt when they believe he's being straight. The continued trifecta remark, which he makes surely because he thinks it's witty, is shamelessly political and in context of the 9/11 deaths, again, in terribly bad taste. (I can't believe people actually laugh at this remark.) Sometimes he says things in jest that completely take me aback, because they seem to be his most honest moments. And I'm not sure I like what I see in those moments --things would be so much easier if I were a dictator being one of the more disturbing comments he's made.

Bush has said he's different from other politicians and every time he acts like just another politician he breaks faith, and in the end that will seriously injure his chances at re-election, because once he's seen as just another politician he looses his strongest selling point.

I agree with all of this. Especially under the current circumstances, it's enormously important that Bush -- and his whole administration -- be exceptionally honest and trustworthy. (In fact, that's my FoxNews column topic). I think the "trifecta" thing has had so little resonance with me because (as I've mentioned before) I sure thought I remembered Bush saying that. Apparently I'm wrong, though.

MCCLUHLESS is a blog about blogging and the thoughts of Marshall McCluhan. Check it out.

COLLEGES AND MEN: Adam Magazine says I'm wrong about anti-male bias at colleges. Some of his points are right, but I don't think they refute my position, which is that colleges have -- quite deliberately -- been made a hostile environment for the typical (or stereotypical) male student.

Magazine's point is that not all male students are typical, which is true, but I don't think it matters: it's the typical students who are being deterred. (In fact, I'd almost say that Magazine is, like many oppressed individuals, identifying with his oppressors and saying "I'm different from those other men." Would that make him an "Uncle Tim?" No, too Pythonesque.) I'm hardly a typical male either, but so what? That doesn't change the effect -- or motivation -- of many of these policies. Sure, some men will be more comfortable in a feminized environment, just as some women are more comfortable in a masculinized environment. The latter is considered sex discrimination, though, so why not the former?

I got a bunch of email on this subject -- I'm going to post a roundup tonight.

UPDATE: Reader Jennifer Fuller says Magazine is wrong, too:

I have to agree with you, that Magazine totally misses the point. It's not that less date rape is a bad thing, it's that most colleges (and I just got out of college, Texas A & M in College Station) don't just teach that rape is bad and to be nice to minorities. They tell you flat out that ALL men are potential rapists and lynchers, and that only much, much education and many, many workshops will prevent this. Most men are neither rapists or lynchers, and don't think that they need to be re-educated on this point. Magazine's cluelessness about other men is striking - he really seems to think that either you're a sensitive theater major or a hulking brute, with nothing in between.

And don't discount the absolute disconnect that the anti date-rape movement has wrought over the last 15 years. Men are now being told that they can go out drinking with women, flirt with them, offer to take them home, both voluntarily get undressed, make out, kiss, touch, fondle and have sex - and yet if the next day, the woman regrets it, then the man is the one who is fully responsible for that terrible mistake and must pay for it. Many, many women's advocates on campus consider the described scenario to be an actual rape, and that the man must be punished as a rapist. It's asinine, and stupid, and utterly counterproductive, since the legitimate victims of a true date rape come across as identical to the brainless irresponsible sex-regretters, and men in general get sick of the whole game. I went to one of the more conservative colleges in Texas, if not the United States, and if that was the situation there, I can only imagine what it's like everywhere else.
Jenn Fuller
Austin, Texas

Yes, the bureaucratic imperative that has led womens-center types at many colleges to push the envelope of sex-harassment farther and farther has done a great deal of damage. Say -- now that men are a minority on college campuses, where are the men's centers and men's-rights-advocates in paid fulltime campus positions?

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: He's like Jesus. He's like Martin Luther King. He's like Gandhi. But, apparently, he can't fill a room.

SLASHDOT HAS A WHOLE BUNCH OF LINKS ON THE GROWING MUSIC PAYOLA SCANDAL. Hmm. Is there a RICO suit in this somewhere?

Here's my favorite comment: "What gets me is that on one hand, the labels are whining that the radio stations WON'T play their music, and on the other hand bitching that webcasters ARE playing their music."

WOW. When I wrote tomorrow's TechCentralStation column, I hadn't heard about this. But it's pretty close to what I warn against.

THE SOUTER-BELLESILES CONNECTION? Well, not quite. But my colleague Tom Davies has published an article in the Wake Forest Law Review that accuses Souter of pretty serious historical falsification in his opinion in Atwater v. Lago Vista. Here's an excerpt:

In this article I present a detailed critique of hte historical analysis that Souter offered in the Atwater majority opinion and of the larger assertions associated with law-and-order originalism. I argue that Souter's claims bear little resemblance to authentic framing-era arrest doctrine. Indeed, I conclude that his supposed historical analysis consisted almost entirely of rhetorical ploys and distortions of the historical sources. The historical authorities regarding arrest authority actually show that warrantless misdemeanor arrests for minor offenses were usually unlawful, except in some categories of minor offenses that gave rise to an unusual need for a prompt arrest -- the position advocated by Gail Atwater's counsel and endorsed by the four dissenting justices in Atwater.

Davies is extremely thorough and well-regarded -- his last article, on the original understanding of the Fourth Amendment, in the Michigan Law Review, has been very well-received and was cited favorably by the Supreme Court last term, which this article really won't be. But he makes a pretty damning case for historical dishonesty on Souter's part, which court-watchers should pay close attention to. Furthermore, this may have some relevance for cases of "proactive law enforcement" as in the Padilla / Al Muhajir case.

For those lawyers out there (and who else would care?) the cite is 37 Wake Forest L. Rev. 239 (2002).

WHY THEY HATE US: Ran into my former neighbor, a lovely Saudi woman I've mentioned here before a time or two. She's started a new business of her own, and when I ran into her she was looking quite chic in jeans and a cropped baby-doll t-shirt. One can only imagine how stuff like this plays in Riyadh.

Well, actually, there's no need to imagine: we know.

GYONGYI GAAL, who publishes the excellent "Neuroprosthesis News" weblog, says that I'm wrong about the dangers of neuroscience. Well, sort of. I certainly find nothing to disagree with in this conclusion:

Fortunately the science of mind control is still in rudimentary stages, giving the public more than enough time to become educated about developments and potential problems. Professor Reynolds is correct that the real ultimate danger is not of the science itself but from potential totalitarian involvement by the government. Neuroscientists alone cannot avoid such a development, either by refusing to contribute to progress or by delivering their results with conditions and restrictions attached to start with.

LOOKING BACK ON THE WAR: Hmm. Stanley Hauerwas might like this future, but I don't.

RIGHT WING NEWS has a piece on the best unknown political blogs. Er, except that once you win, aren't you disqualified?

SAUDIS OFFENDED by seeing members of Congress wearing yarmulkes, Rich Lowry reports:

In unprecedented fashion, Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz accused Jews of leading attack on Saudi Arabia in US congress and British media.

On Saturday he told reporters after attending a military graduation in Al-Kharaj that you can see Jewish member of congress wearing their Jewish hats in congressional meetings. He said “we watch them on television wearing their yamaka in congress and that is enough evidence.”

Saud delenda est.

LOS ANGELES TIMES UPDATE: A reader points out that the L.A. Times did actually cover the COPS endorsement story on 6/18, only one day after InstaPundit, Simberg, etc. and not a week later as my earlier post suggested.

VIRGINIA POSTREL is off hiatus and back in the saddle.

PSYCHOTIC DEATH CULT UPDATE: Read this:

Mariam Farahat interrupted the somber greetings offered by a visitor. "I don't want condolences, I want congratulations," she said. "I encouraged my son to sacrifice himself. It is a victory." . . .

The mother makes no apologies. She said she believes armed attacks and suicide bombings are bringing the goal of Palestinian independence closer, because they have made Israelis feel insecure. "We love martyrdom as much as Israel loves the fantasy life it is leading," she said, weeping.

Wusam said he would like to imitate his older brother. Hearing this, Farahat's composure returned. "I love all my children," she said, "but my feelings for them can never match the feelings I have for my martyred son."

MORE EVIDENCE OF SAUDI COMPLICITY IN TERRORISM:

A search of a Sarajevo office of the Saudi High Commission for Relief turned up anti-Semitic and anti-American videotapes and children's pamphlets as well as maps of Washington and photos of U.S. military installations. A raid this month on the offices of Al-Haramain netted tapes calling for attacks on foreign peacekeepers, said Sylvester. One recurring theme: the tale of the "poison roast," in which Jews invite Islamic children to a deadly feast. "Why are they teaching Bosnian children to hate America?" he asked. (Saudi officials denied knowledge of this material.) Raids on Benevolence, where another of the suspects worked, turned up correspondence between Enaam Arnaout and Osama bin Laden dating back to the 1980s, as well as photos of the two men.

These guys need to listen to Bush's speech again.

IF THIS WEREN'T THE ARAB NEWS I'D SUSPECT IT WAS SATIRE: A warning about shrewd pyschological warfare operatives who infiltrate the Kingdom in the guise of clueless reporters.

Sorry folks: it's no disguise.

GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: This column by Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee says that Davis's loss of the COPS endorsement to Simon (see below) isn't as big a deal as it seems to be. Weintraub has some interesting points on these endorsements in general:

The Davis campaign reacted to the endorsement by bashing COPS as a fraud. "Even when they were with us," sneered campaign spokesman Roger Salazar, "they've never been more than what they are today, which is a telemarketing organization."

But that never stopped Davis from using the group for his own political cover, or from scrambling furiously to try to keep their endorsement from going to his rival. His campaign manager, Garry South, tried to have Holden fired after hearing that he was agitating for Simon.

The furor over COPS shows that endorsements are often more about the goals of the backers than the performance of the candidate. In this case those goals were petty and personal in the extreme. But the lesson probably applies across the board.

Thanks to Insta-reader Mike Daley.

SEX DISCRIMINATION IN COLLEGE: 57 percent of degrees are going to women. There's a lot of hand-wringing about why, but they miss the obvious: over the past 20 years there has been a concerted effort to make colleges male-unfriendly environments, with attacks on fraternities, with anti-male attitudes in many classes, with intrusive sexual-harassment rules that start with the assumption that men are evil predators, and so forth. Now men don't find college as congenial a place. It's a hostile environment, quite literally.

How come none of the experts quoted in this article has noticed that?

LET THEM SWEAT: Nick Kristof is defending sweatshops, pointing out that the working conditions and pay in the third-world factories that campus activists love to hate are actually big improvements for many of their workers:

Ahmed, who dropped out of school in the second grade, earns $2 a day hunched over the loom, laboring over a rug that will adorn some American's living room. It is a pittance, but the American campaign against sweatshops could make his life much more wretched by inadvertently encouraging mechanization that could cost him his job.

"Carpet-making is much better than farm work," Ahmed said, mulling alternatives if he loses his job as hundreds of others have over the last year. "This makes much more money and is more comfortable."

Indeed, talk to third world factory workers and the whole idea of "sweatshops" seems a misnomer. It is farmers and brick-makers who really sweat under the broiling sun, while sweatshop workers merely glow.

Such bracing realism is not encouraged on the New York Times op-3d page. Mr. Kristof can expect a short career if he continues in this vein.

June 24, 2002

OKAY, THIS IS BAD NEWS FOR GRAY DAVIS. But it's also bad news for the Los Angeles Times, because this story is dated June 24, but the press release announcing it came out on June 17 -- as noted here that very day -- and I got it from Rand Simberg. Advantage: Blogosphere!

JASON STEORTS says that Larry Summers has had a good first year at Harvard.

THE "TRIFECTA" ISSUE JUST WON'T DIE: Here's the latest from SpinSanity for those who are still following this. (Scroll down for the very latest update).

WILL WARREN RIDES AGAIN! And Susan Sontag is pissed.

READER JOHN MONASCH WRITES to compliment me on InstaPunditWatch:

This is great! Instapundit-Watch is hilarious! I enjoy a well-done spoof. You are right on the money with your satire of the absurd misreadings and ridiculous whining of blog-critics like that Boston Globe writer, Warlogger Watch (a troll himself?), and this week's L.A. Times article. If this site is actually you Glenn, trying to deflect/discredit any would-be critics, touche; a skillfully conducted charade and pretending not to have a sense of humor is [a] masterstroke!

I'm looking forward to the appearance of a Lileks-Watch blog and a U.S.S.Clueless-Watch blog and many other good humor sites. Mediacritics-critics-spoofs ad nauseum: the rate at which this medium is spawning new variations and new themes is truly astounding.

What can I say, John? You've got me dead to rights. . . .

STEVEN DEN BESTE has an interesting analysis of the Bush speech. He reads it pretty much as I do -- but he's longer, and clearer, than I was. He agrees with me that it's about more than just the Palestinians.

JOE KATZMAN has some observations concerning Arafat's likely strategy in the coming months.

I think that the United States' strategy will be to let the Israelis run wild, while telling other Arab nations that this is what happens to people who take the wrong side in the terror war -- and while pointing out that the Israelis are constrained in ways that the United States is not.

LILEKS IN CONGRESS! A reader just emailed that Rep. Tom Tancredo was reading from Lileks' latest Screed on the House floor a few minutes ago.

CRAIG SCHAMP says the Chronicle has been wallowing in Nixon-era nostalgia while missing the true free speech-and-repression story right under its nose.

READER TRENT TELENKO notes this part of the speech, aimed at Syria:

"I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel -- including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. ****And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.**** "

Yes, Bush is throwing down the gauntlet to a lot of folks in terms that they must surely understand. This presumably explains the sudden increase in cooperation we've seen in the last week or two.

UPDATE: Reader Dick Aubrey analyzes the speech:

When Bush was making his speech in the fall, laying out, among other things, what he expected the Taliban to do, I said to my wife (gleefully), "They can't do it. They're screwed. We win." Which is to say there was no way the Taliban could even pretend to meet the requirements. The really good part is that in that case, and this, the requirements were eminently reasonable, desirable, and beyond quibble.

I love it.

THE BOSTON GLOBE'S OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINS that people can't tell the difference between opinion pieces and news reports nowadays. I wonder why?

JOHN SCALZI ASKS "What do they teach them in schools these days?"

NOT SO WOBBLY NOW: Bush says become a Western-style democracy and then we'll talk peace. And no more Arafat -- we're tired of that terrorism shit, dudes, and we're not fooled.

This isn't just an Israel / PLO thing, it's a signal to some other people. (Look at the passage following the reference to "people of Muslim countries" in the text).

Reader S.E. Brenner says the BBC was so miffed it dropped the speech suddenly halfway through. "No dancing in the streets of Soho tonight."

ERIC ALTERMAN -- becoming a warblogger? Read this:

I am pleased to be able to fob the job of addressing the current US version of the problem on my friend Todd Gitlin, whose smart piece on anti-Semitism is in Mother Jones online. [NOTE: Gitlin opens with SFSU -- GR]

Todd writes, “Wicked anti-Semitism is back. The worst crackpot notions that circulate through the violent Middle East are also roaming around America, and if that wasn’t bad enough, students are spreading the gibberish. Students! As if the bloc to which we have long looked for intelligent dissent has decided to junk any pretense of standards.” He has a great deal more faith in students than I do, however. . . .

Also, a brief digression to France: Why do so few people wish to notice that all this anti-Semitic violence in France is being carried out by Arabs? Doesn’t that make a difference? The French are no more or less anti-Semitic than they have always been. French anti-Semitism is not exactly news. Hello: Ever see “The Sorrow and the Pity?”

Eric, you are being assimilated into the blogosphere. Resistance is futile.

(The Gitlin piece, by the way, is excellent.)

A SAD FATHER'S DAY STORY regarding BET's website and viewer email.

REBECCA BLOOD joins the crowd savaging the Los Angeles Times' web registration process.

I don't get it. They irritate a lot of people, ensure that their site is read and linked to less often, and get a lot of forms on which people lie about all the information they ask about anyway. How many of these registrants are named "Elmer Fudd" and list "nobody@biteme.com" or something similar as their email address? A lot, I'll bet. Then there are the more sophisticated folks, who just report that they're 97 year-old Eskimo women with household incomes in excess of $250,000 per annum. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Lee Kane writes:

Regarding the LA Times required registration, I always make sure to put in the most wildly incorrect and mismatched data that I can when confronted with such "surveys". (For example, I might say that I work as a clerk and make over 150K per year and live in Alaska. I was born in 1999, etc.)

What better way to force sites to stop the surveys than to make their data useless? The more people who engage in this fake data practice the more useless the data will become.

Yes, I expect that a lot of people do this, and I imagine their numbers are steadily growing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers wrote that "cypherpunk" works as both ID and password at the LA Times. I wonder how many other sites that's true for. . . .

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Emily Jones writes:

I think a lot of the online papers have realized this and set up their registration so that you cannot log in until you check your e-mail and follow the link that they leave you. I've set up an account on Yahoo! specifically because of this. I only ever check it when I'm forced to register for a news site.

Inbox: 1
Bulkmail: 357

Every time.

Cheers,
Emily

SFSU UPDATE: Erin O'Connor is happy that the anti-semitic GUPS website is down, but unhappy that the University's action in taking it down looks like censorship.

As I said earlier, I'd rather see them punished for their violent actions, which they appear to be. It's a somewhat more complicated question whether taking down their website, hosted on the University server, is censorship, or at least censorship that violates the First Amendment. My own feeling is that campus speech codes are wrong, and they're usually held unconstitutional. But when you're an accredited student organization, and your site is hosted by the University, it's arguably not just your speech, but theirs -- at least enough that they can make you abide by a "no hate speech" rule for what's there. And it gives them a colorable claim that they should be able to limit what you say on that site. That's a distinct matter from punishing you for things you say elsewhere. (And it's one reason why I don't have InstaPundit on the University of Tennessee's servers, where I could host it for free if I wanted. I don't want any confusion about who' in charge of this site.)

I believe in punishing actions, not speech, and that's what was really called for with regard to GUPS. The website was more illustrative (as Glenn Frazier points out) of what GUPS was like than it was a problem in itself.

And that's one reason why the University's action is more troubling than it might otherwise be. While the website was up, it was obvious to the world what kind of a group this was. Now it's not. Which coincidentally (?) makes life easier for the University as it faces charges of not being hard enough on the group for its actions.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has a post on this too.

LET THE FLAMEWARS BEGIN! Arnold Kling is weighing in on the "Version fatigue" debate, and he's dissing Unix and Linux something fierce.

Send the hatemail to Kling, not me. I've already put in my two cents' worth. One minor correction, though. Kling says that I don't have the patience to study manuals. I do have the patience. After all, I'm a law professor who reads and writes thousand-footnote articles -- it's just that I've recognized that studying manuals is often wasted, since most of the knowledge contained in them will be obsolete with the next version. Not all software is that way -- Sonic Foundry (which not coincidentally, keeps the same programmers working on the same things in successive versions) avoids that problem quite well. But more software should be like Sonic Foundry's.

I do notice that the term "version fatigue" seems to be catching on. Cool.

I ASK, Ranting Screeds answers. With a Simpsons reference, no less.

LILEKS DISSES THE LA TIMES ANTIBLOGGER PIECE -- without reading it! But that's the point:

I hadn’t registered, so I couldn’t get the story. The LA Times required my name, address, phone number, AND my income level. All required fields. Click on the privacy policy, and of course it’s the usual thicket of prickly conditions, concluding with the assertion that the policy may change at any time, and continued use of the site will be construed as agreement to the policy, even if it’s changed since last I read it. In other words, they could change it tomorrow to allow for the LA Times to send my personal info to Gobsmacking Wombat Porn, Inc, which would send me a torrent of full-color come-ons, and I’d have nothing to say about it.

All to read some crummy story in a bloated paper? I learned more reading the commentary about it on other sites. Which were free. Which asked nothing. Which did what I want before I knew I wanted it, and which have built up so much good will I’d subscribe to each if the price was right. And if any of the people who ran these sites asked for my phone number because they wanted to talk about something, I’d tell them.

Never trust a company that calls you a guest. Trust the ones who know you’re a customer and call you just that. Or treat you like a customer on the small chance you may be one some day.

Truth. (Yeah, I know there's another link to Lileks below -- but that's to a Screed. This is a Bleat.)

H.D. MILLER has been cruising Islamist websites, reading about the "martyrs" of Afghanistan, and has some thoughts:

What makes Suraqah's death count for anything more than the flowery rhetoric that was expended in describing it?

Beyond offering first aid, there's no hint that his actions were ever especially heroic. He didn't fling himself on a grenade, or charge a machinegun nest full of Special Forces troops, or hold off a battalion of Rangers. There's no indication that his actions prolonged the Islamic theocracy of Afghanistan one minute, or delayed the establishment of a secular Afghan republic one second. The sequence of events is this: an American pilot, flying at 25,000 feet, with little risk to himself and his machine, punched a button, and Suraqah al-Andalusi was blown in half. Then the pilot flew back to the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in time to have a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and catch the Steelers game on satellite television.


That's how it was, and that's exactly the way it should be.


As sorry as I am for Suraqah al-Andalusi's widow and two children, I have to say that I'm glad his death was as impersonal and as sudden as it was. The only way I'd be happier if we could have arranged it so a minor Pentagon functionary could punch a big red button that activated a death ray on the same satallite that broadcast the NFL; a death ray that would have instantly vaporized Suraqah al-Andalusi, leaving behind a pile of ashes and a semi-molten AK-47.


We need to make the death of every terrorist and every terrorist supporter as impersonal, as inconsequential, and as unheroic as possible. Make all jihadi martyrdoms as pointless and as inevitable as Suraqah al-Andalusi's. Take away the glamour and the heroism and the mysticism, and leave the corpse and a deep and abiding sense of hopelessness. For us it should be like the extermination of vermin, the stomping of a roach. And for them, they should made to know that the reaper is coming; they should be made to fear the shadow seconds before the darkness.

Miller was inspired to these thoughts by the viewing of the Daniel Pearl murder tape -- which can be chalked up as of a piece with most everything else those guys do: brutal, evil, and ultimately ineffective. They deserve to die ingloriously, and they will, and we should rub the noses of their supporters in this fact mercilessly.

MALAISE? A while back, Steven Chapman noted a certain lassitude around the Blogosphere. Now Andrew Sullivan is saying more or less the same thing, only with regard to society at large.

Well, there's less happening on a day-to-day basis than there was in the fall, which translates into less adrenaline and more cortisol, I suppose. My guess is that things will pick up again soon enough. Instead of worrying about the current pace of events, I'd advise taking advantage of it. It's not likely to last.

ROSS SILVERMAN BLOGS an interesting item regarding smallpox vaccinations.

ADD THIS TO YOUR WORRY LIST: Mike Silverman has a potential terrorist target: the upcoming Gay Pride parades.

Pride parades in large cities (NY, SF, etc) usually draw half a million to a million participants and spectators, and security is usually very light, limited to police who engage in traffic and crowd control. Given the massed number of people, I really hope parade organizers in the big cities are extra-vigilant with security this year. In the past I have worried about attacks from militia types and other right-wing loons, but the masses of people at a parade must be attractive to Islamic terrorists as well.

Hmm. Sadly, this makes sense to me.

STILL MORE EVIDENCE that Mars was once warm and wet:

"Imagine more than five times the volume of water in the Great Lakes being released in a single flood, and you'll have a sense of the scale of this event," said Ross Irwin, a geologist in the museum's Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS) and the paper's lead author.

How much of that water still remains locked in the martian soil is unclear, but this is certainly a positive sign: at least we know that the water was there at one point.

WELL, it's easy to find the most admirable crew in this quote from a Washington Post article on racial troubles at a Maryland high school:

"The cheerleaders hang with the cheerleaders, the jocks with the jocks, the bangers with the bangers, the blacks with the blacks, and the Indians go to class," said Tristen Bryant, an African American. "You stay with your race. That's where you feel comfortable."

Jeez. Maybe if more students were going to class there'd be less time for ethnic tensions.

BRENDAN O'NEILL hates human rights, as well as the antiwar movement, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and anticapitalism. But he's a lefty!

A CAREFUL CONTENT ANALYSIS OF AL QAEDA THREATS has convinced Tim Blair that the organization is on the ropes.

UPDATE: On a more serious note, Jay Caruso points out a contradiction, and steers us to this article suggesting that Al Qaeda really is on the ropes, but that the publicity it's getting will inspire copycats who will inflate its apparent importance.

CHARLES COLSON writes about the threat of Islamofascist recruitment in prisons. He's right that it's an issue, but his solution -- which seems basically that Christianity is better -- doesn't fly.

First, it's got First Amendment problems. Under current Supreme Court law you could probably get rid of all prison ministries if you chose, but you can't favor one religion over another. Second, his view of Christianity in prison is a bit rosy-eyed: Christian Identity types have been recruiting there for years.

Finally, one way to reduce this threat would be to stop putting people in prison for short, revolving-door sentences. If people aren't going to get out of prison until they're 70, I don't care who recruits 'em. And if they're not in prison at all, they're not subject to prison recruiting.

What has produced such a large and vulnerable population for Islamists to exploit is the locking up of lots of people for nonviolent drug crimes. Get rid of them, and keep the people guilty of real crimes like rape, robbery and murder in there for a long time, and you'll solve this problem. And a lot of others. And without violating the First Amendment.

JAMES LILEKS needs a position in higher education, as this piece proves. Perhaps he could be President of SFSU -- there may be a vacancy there soon.

June 23, 2002

THERE'S A NEW Smarter Harper's Index up. It's a good one.

HERE'S A NEW CRIME-RELATED BLOG from what its writer seems to think is a lefty point of view, though I don't find a whole lot to disagree with there and a lot of folks seem to think I'm some sort of anti-lefty. Anyway, it's worth a look, though it needs permalinks.

NZ BEAR reports on evidence of weird Al Qaeda support for Bush. Er, or perhaps bad writing coupled with bad translation.

THERE'S A NEW TENNESSEE BLOGGER, and he's identified a major-media goof -- which, in a sort of corollary to Kaus's law, occurs in an article telling us how dumb ordinary Americans are. (Via Rich Hailey).

RAND SIMBERG adds to the blogger pile-on of the L.A. Times' Tim Rutten.

I'VE LONG SINCE quit wasting my time with warbloggerwatch, so I had to find out from Steven Chapman that they're obsessed with the size of my penis.

Heh. They can't handle the truth.

A RELIGION OF PEACE? Check out this photo, one of a seemingly-endless series. I said that Palestinian culture is turning into a psychotic death cult. A few people didn't like that, but they can't seem to explain this stuff away -- they just try to change the subject.

THOMAS A. KELLEY, who's in charge of the September 11 investigation, obstructed Justice in the Waco probe, the Washington Post reports.

You know, words fail me at just how pathetic this is. And it's going to give more credence to theories that the FBI hasn't been giving us the straight dope since Oklahoma City and before.

If we can't trust these guys to be honest on this stuff, how can we trust them with the powers they want to fight Al Qaeda?

ESCAPED ROBOT: But there's nothing to worry about.

JOHN ELLIS is really down on Yahoo. I think his column is dead-on.

SADDAM FAKES DEAD BABY FUNERALS, in order to blame sanctions, reports the BBC. (Via Matt Welch).

WELL,SOMEONE AT THE L.A. TIMES likes blogs, at least well enough to lift some phrases from InstaPundit reader Jorge Schmidt, reports Matt Welch. I'm pretty skeptical of these parallelisms, but this one certainly is striking.

UPDATE: The LAT's writer says she didn't get it there, and Matt's taking her at her word.

HOW FARM SUBSIDIES ARE KILLING PEOPLE AND PROSPERITY in Africa:

Africans need the chance to compete with the few things they have: cheap sun and cheap labour. They need access to the world's markets. And yet several of their richest potential markets are ring-fenced by tariffs and other protectionist measures designed to keep Western farmers in business. The EU and the US in particular are engaged in a protection racket designed to keep rural constituencies and their media fan clubs in some sort of acquiescence.

It is hard to assess the damage protectionism does to the farmers of the poor world, but bodies like the OECD routinely put it in the range of billions of dollars, and suggest it far outranks the aid we send.

Yes, the damage is huge.

SOMEONE IS FINALLY SPEAKING OUT against elvish imperialism.

E-BAY WILL BE OFFERING HEALTH INSURANCE to its high-volume sellers. This seems like an excellent move for e-Bay, and for the sellers.

IAIN MURRAY has some hopeful observations on the direction of European politics. I hope he's right.

AN ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN READING FOR A WHILE KNOWS, I've been deeply skeptical of the whole "homeland security" thing for a while. This anti-whistleblowing provision only underscores my skepticism.

This isn't about protecting America. It's about protecting bureaucrats.

KAUS / RUTTEN SMACKDOWN: Mickey Kaus responds to Tim Rutten's Los Angeles Times screed about weblogs. Excerpt:

In what seems to be an iron law applying to pieces by mainstream journalists huffing about blogger inaccuracy, Rutten's piece itself contains a non-trivial inaccuracy, attributing to me words (describing how W & B sometimes revealed "unsubstantiated or simply wrong information") that were actually written by historian Stanley Kutler and were clearly identified as such (see the item in the 6/19 entries below). The misreporting is non-trivial because it conveniently avoids the need for Rutten to mention that it was Kutler, who isn't a narcissistic blogger, who initially made the point Rutten's dismissing.. (It goes without saying that if Rutten were a blogger he'd have corrected his mistake by now, but since he works for a "serious newspaper" the falsehood will probably stand uncorrected forever.)

Advantage: Kaus! There's a lot more in Kaus's response, too. Follow his links to read extensive and unflattering responses to Rutten's piece from Matt Welch and Ken Layne.

THE POST'S OMBUDSMAN is fact-checking FAIR over the Ohio State University story. It's true that SpinSanity had this story nearly a week ago (Advantage: Blogosphere!) but it's nice to see that the Post reads SpinSanity.

I'M DISAPPOINTED that this George Will column didn't mention the problems at SFSU, UCSD, Orange Coast Community College, etc. But it does contain one quotable passage:

This year's enactment of yet more campaign finance regulations that expand government restrictions on the quantity of political speech is just the latest confirmation of what professor Martin Shapiro of the University of California School of Law at Berkeley noted in 1996. He wrote that "almost the entire First Amendment literature produced by liberal academics in the past 20 years has been a literature of regulation, not freedom -- a literature that balances away speech rights. . . . Its basic strategy is to treat freedom of speech not as an end in itself, but an instrumental value."

Yeah, and not even much of an instrumental value. It would be overly harsh to say that much of the left's enthusiasm for free speech vanished as soon as communists no longer needed it. But the thought has occurred to me, and it's one reason why I stopped considering myself part of the left.