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November 30, 2002

PLAYING INTO BUSH'S HANDS:

BAGHDAD -- Serious doubts surfaced over the surprise nature of new arms inspections in Iraq when a United Nations spokesman admitted the head of a suspected weapons site had been given advance warning of the visit by the UN experts to his facility on Saturday.

You can trust the U.N. -- to do stuff like this every time.

YESTERDAY I suggested that "Buy Nothing Day" was looking like a flop. I seem to have been right.

FUNNY -- I haven't heard Noam Chomsky, or Marc Herold, or Germaine Greer, or Robert Fisk talking about these villagers whose lives were shattered by a bombing attack:

"I don't know why this happened to us or what we will do," said Walinki, her voice shaking. "There are dozens of children who don't have parents now. We have no one to support them."

With that, she watched as the grave-diggers continued their work. This is not a place where grave-diggers are hired, where there are gated cemeteries. People dig the graves for their own relatives and bury them next to the huts where they live.

Not a word. Strange. . . .

GENE SPERLING ADVISES Democrats to push for a freeze on tax cuts.

THE STORY THAT WON'T DIE: More on the Saudi funding of 9/11 hijackers, in the Washington Post.

THE CATO INSTITUTE IS CHALLENGING D.C.'S GUN-CONTROL LAWS as violative of the Second Amendment. Cato is reportedly about to file suit.

READER JACOB SEGAL sends this article as an example of right-wing bias at the New York Times. What do you think?

A DICK-TRACY-STYLE two-way wrist radio, for under fifty bucks! Is this a great century, or what? Now if the Diet Smith Corporation would just get to work on those moon colonies. (Via Gizmodo).

WHEN PROFESSORS ATTACK -- they often make fools of themselves. Another riff on the Kirstein affair.

LAME. (Via Fraters Libertas).

THE TREASON OF THE INTELLECTUALS:

Behind both kinds of treason there lurks an ugly fact: second-rate intellectuals, feeling themselves powerless, tend to worship power. The Marxist intellectuals who shilled for Stalin and the postmodernists who shill for Osama bin Laden are one of a kind — they identify with a tyrant's or terrorist's vision of transforming the world through violence because they know they are incapable of making any difference themselves. This is why you find academic apologists disproportionately in the humanities departments and the soft sciences; physicists and engineers and the like have more constructive ways of engaging the world.

Le Corbusier dedicated a book "To Authority." I can think of some others who might as well have.

THE HEAD OF THE ARAB EUROPEAN LEAGUE HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH INCITING RIOTS in Antwerp last week:

The authorities were shocked by the targeted nature of vandalism this week. Flemish pubs and black-owned businesses in the Borgerhout district were attacked, but shops displaying AEL stickers were spared.

Belgium's liberal media agreed yesterday that the country's experiment with tolerant multiculturalism had totally broken down.

The Flemish newspaper De Morgen said: "For a decade, the immigrant quarters of this country have turned into reservoirs of frustration, even hate. They have found a voice in Abou Jahjah."

Abou Jahjah rejects assimilation, demanding segregated schools and self-governing, Arab-speaking ghettos.

(Via LGF).

I SAW LEON FUERTH on FoxNews yesterday. I tuned in midway through, and the discussion seemed to have degenerated -- I didn't get much from the conversation except that Leon was pissed with the interviewer.

What did strike me, though, is how good he looked. I've noticed this phenomenon a lot -- get people out of the White House, or off the Hill, and they just look so much better. Clearer eyes, better color, the sleep-deprivation-induced puffiness gone from their faces, the stress-induced overtones gone from their voices. You see the same transition in the other direction when they go in, but the breakdown is usually more gradual than the recovery, so it's not as dramatic. It kind of makes you wonder why people want those jobs, though.

JACK O'TOOLE RESPONDS to the suggestions by Al From and Bruce Reed that I mentioned yesterday: "That's true, and it's good advice, but the Democrats probably need to lose another election before they'll be ready to listen."

MORE ON THE EURO-AMERICAN DIVIDE:

To my knowledge I was the only American participating. This was an occasion for Europeans--Germans especially--to talk frankly to other Europeans. The panel on which I spoke was chaired by Reiner Pommerin, a professor at the University of Dresden, colonel in the German air force reserves, and advisor to the German Ministry of Defense. My fellow speakers included Germany's former ambassador to the U.K., the current German ambassador to Poland, a DaimlerChrysler managing director, and a professor from Britain. We were to focus on transatlantic relations.

Throughout the two days, Pommerin set the tone with an aggressively antagonistic attitude toward all things American. "Thank God we had the 11th of September," he declared--for this showed the U.S. how it feels to be humbled. Herr professor-colonel went on to suggest that Americans often feel nostalgic for the "good old days of slavery in the nineteenth century." He told ludicrous stories about seeing empty bottles and litter piled "one meter deep" along roadsides in America, illustrating our environmental slovenliness. He insisted the seemingly mighty U.S. military was now a hollow force, all flash and no substance. . . .

This simple reality needs to be faced squarely by Americans: In a great variety of areas--foreign policy, demography, religion, economics--Americans and Europeans are growing apart. While the September 11 attacks deepened American sobriety, patriotic feeling, and national resolution, in Europe they merely created one more flashpoint for division. European elites, already worried they won't be able to keep up with America over the next generation, are now approaching panic as the U.S. coalesces, during its September 11 recovery, into an even steelier and more determined colossus.

Some Europeans complain that the U.S. is more and more heading off on its own without them. They are right. America's psychic link with Europe, I suggest, is fading extremely rapidly. Keep in mind that there are currently 32 million people living in the U.S. who were born abroad, and very few of these new Americans are from Europe. For two generations now, the new blood flowing into the U.S. has come primarily from Asia, Central and South America, the Near East, and the Caribbean. America is becoming a cosmic nation, comprised of all peoples, rather than just an offshoot of Europe.

I think this may be true -- though if the United States breaks with Europe it will be more a result of a European push than an immigrant pull.

CHRIS MOONEY SHARES A FIRSTHAND ALIEN VISITATION REPORT. Well, sort of.

A FEW MONTHS AGO I WROTE THIS:

I predict that within the next year we'll see major and intrusive efforts to protect Big Entertainment and Big Software, disguised as efforts to protect us against hostile hackers.

Now there's this on Slashdot:

Now this article tells about Longhorn's new filesystem being based on the the future Yukon server. And surprise it will only work with new hardware, which they want to be Palladium enabled. And all pitched to you under the rubric of Security & Efficency. For years MS has been accused of only wanting people to run MS Software. Now according to the article, 'Microsoft doesn't think computer users should have to use one program to read and write a word-processing file, another to use a spreadsheet, and a third to correspond via e-mail. Rather, the company thinks, a single program should handle it all.' One program to rule them all, one program to bind them, indeed.

Eternal vigilance.

MINNESOTA BLOGGER MITCH BERG has some thoughts on the Nazi-defaced Norm Coleman billboard and the climate of hatred that leads to such acts.

THEY'RE CALLING IT A SECOND IRANIAN REVOLUTION: Hope it works out better than the first one. But it would pretty much have to. I'm surprised we're not hearing more about this, but then I've been surprised all along:

The fierce dedication to Islam, the Iraq-Iran war, and the 1979 revolution once made Bolooki's family quintessential supporters of Iran's conservative clerics. But their desire for reform is indicative of a significant change below the surface of the political battle now playing itself out in Tehran.

"It's like a volcano coming up, which you can't see until it blows." says one Iranian analyst here.

Hardline supporters of the regime vow to bring five million militants onto the streets today, in a climactic show of strength designed to counter 10 days of prodemocracy student protests this month.

More Iranians are choosing sides in an explosive debate that pits Islamic rule - defined by Iran's unelected conservatives, who have held key levers of power since the Islamic revolution - against popular democracy. . . .

A Western diplomat says that the current regime "is under more pressure than at any time since the revolution. Something has to give," he says. "Reformers are no longer prepared to compromise. [President Mohamad] Khatami is still regarded as the only one who can peacefully bring about change, and that's what people really want."

"If [the system] survives the next year intact, I think it will survive," says the diplomat, adding that the conservative camp may not grasp the changes afoot. "It's the same with all dictators - they do not see their own demise."

Well, I hope to see their demise soon.

November 29, 2002

DOES THE KORAN PROVE THAT MUSLIMS ARE VIOLENT? Jacob Sullum examines the debate, and Razib K. responds.

KENYAN BOMBING BACKFIRES: "We love America. Go away Al Qaeda!" shouted Kenyans.

Hmm. Will "Al Qaeda go home!" graffiti be next? Why not? They are the imperialist aggressors, after all, in the most literal sense.

THE NEW SMARTERHARPERSINDEX IS UP.

WAR AND PEACE, PACIFISM AND SIN: Donald Sensing has some observations.

BLOGROLL UPDATES: The blogroll is huge. It's almost beyond my control to keep updated (but Matthew Yglesias's link finally goes to his new site!). I do my best, though. I've added a few new ones, too. In response to popular demand (well, several emails) I've moved a few people up from the general blogroll to the big-journalism section, where they're easier to find and probably really belong. (What, Postrel writes for the New York Times and isn't "big journalism?" asks a reader. Good point.) If you notice any errors, let me know.

WHY AM I BLOGGING SO MUCH? My daughter (whose computer is in my study) has a new computer game, and she's so into it I don't want to make her quit.

ALPHECCA WEIGHS IN on the whole Conservative Media Bias issue. On the other side of the question, I got a long, thoughtful email from Dave Roberts, endorsing this piece on the Daily Howler.

It seems to me that there are three issues here. One is that the media world is very different than it was the last time we had a Republican President. (This is the gist of Alphecca's comments). Another is that any President has a lot of power to set the media agenda -- most of the anti-Bush complaints along these lines seem to me to be near-verbatim echoes of what I heard conservatives say about Clintonian media control. And finally, and most interesting, is the extent to which a lot of journalists and pundits, including many who lean left, seem to despise Al Gore as a phony at a very personal level. So far I haven't seen a piece that pulls all three of these threads together.

NICK DENTON SAYS I'M UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT.

MY SHARIA AMOUR: Mark Steyn on the new, culturally-sensitive Miss World pageant.

But you just know that he wrote the whole column to have an excuse for the pun in the title.

LOTS OF VENEZUELA UPDATES at El Sur. Just keep scrolling.

CHARLES OLIVER has thought about Mary Daly's support for a world with only 10% men and he likes the idea: "A 9:1 ratio? Heck, Hugh Hefner insists on a mere 2:1 ratio of women to men for his parties. So in essence, this arch feminist would turn the world into the Playboy Mansion with spares. Sounds good to me."

Of course, Charles is assuming he'd be one of the men left. . . .

Meanwhile, Jim Miller reports on a nation that had a ratio leaning that way, but with results that Mary Daly probably wouldn't endorse.

ANOTHER BLOGOSPHERE WEDDING is in the offing. Congratulations and best wishes!

BELLICOSE WOMEN ARE A PROBLEM FOR THE DEMOCRATS, reports Thomas Edsall:

Andrew Kohut, head of the Pew Research Center, found a dramatic shift in women's views about the creation of a national missile defense system. Just before the attacks, his polling showed that 29 percent of women and 42 percent of men agreed that "we need a national missile defense system right now." In October, after the attacks, support among men grew only slightly, to 47 percent, while among women the percentage soared to 51 percent, with 59 percent of women with children backing immediate creation of such a system.

Similarly, a post-9/11 survey by the Winston Group, a Republican firm, found that a higher percentage of women than men backed the idea of arming commercial airline pilots (76 percent as compared with 73 percent).

All of these findings point to the increased receptivity of women to the generally more aggressive and tougher stands of Republicans on issues of military preparedness and dealing with foreign adversaries. These shifts may be temporary, a product of the terrorist threat. But while a war with Iraq might come and go, no one knows how long the threat of terrorist attack will continue. There is no reason to believe that this aspect of the political environment will change in the near future.

Meanwhile, Al From and Bruce Reed have some advice for the Party:

[S]top pretending that we can win a majority simply by energizing our base. . . .

Half that battle is simply respecting the values of mainstream America in the first place. We will never be the party that loves guns most, but we can respect law-abiding citizens' rights to own them. We will never be the pro-life party, but we can show that we want abortion to be rare as well as legal.

I think they're on the right track.

ARE WOMEN MORE LIKELY THAN MEN TO SLEEP WITH INTERNS? This poll says so, for whatever that's worth.

(Via Amish Tech Support).

AFGHAN WOMEN ARE MAKING DOCUMENTARY VIDEOS -- but they're having trouble getting them on TV. I think we should encourage Afghan state television to broadcast these.

OKAY, THAT'S A NEW ONE: I was doing a post on the laptop, when the cats chased each other across my lap. A paw hit the wrong key and the post got deleted somehow. Heh.

INSTAPUNDIT IS NUMBER ONE! I'm not sure what this means, but it's nice to be on top. Thanks to reader Michael Safrin for the link.

GEITNER SIMMONS has some observations regarding hate speech, and accusations thereof.

THE SAUDI CONNECTION TO 9/11 GETS MORE ATTENTION in an article by Stephen Schwartz in The Weekly Standard. Wahhabism, the state religion of the Saudi royal family, is intimately bound up with terrorism, he writes.



HATE CRIME IN MINNESOTA.

UPDATE: Juan Gato, channeling Tom Daschle, blames Garrison Keillor.

IT'S "BUY NOTHING DAY" AND -- to judge from the crowds at the mall parking lot -- this is having about as much impact as similar advocacy-group publicity stunts. Steven Chapman asks:

Why is it that every Left-Green-Christian plan for Saving The Planet (TM) involves individuals spending less and having less, and governments taxing more and spending more? And is it any wonder so many of us think they're retarded for trying to squeeze the square peg of Less into the round hole of More?

No wonder at all.

INTERESTING REPORT FROM CANADA:

Toronto's recent wave of street murders -- more than 40 since the beginning of 2001 -- debunks the claim that Ottawa's gun registry is making Canadians safer from crime. As the price tag for this colossal bureaucratic mess nears $1-billion, it is clearly time for the federal government to consider shutting it down and redirecting some or all of the resources to real crime-fighting measures.

Nearly all of the Toronto murders have been committed with handguns. Yet handguns have been subject to registration in Canada since 1934. In fact, registration has done nothing to stem the use of handguns in murder: In the past 15 years, the proportion of all firearm murders committed with handguns has nearly doubled in Canada from just over one-third to nearly two-thirds.

Imagine that -- just as gun-rights supporters predicted.

WHAT'S MOST INTERESTING ABOUT THIS ITEM on a "mystery contrail" is that it's evidence of someone comparing satellite images with radar tracks and air-traffic-control information.

SOPHOMORIC, YET SATISFYING: ShellShocking reports on things you can only say at Thanksgiving.

JORGE SCHMIDT POINTS OUT THIS EDITORIAL in the Washington Post:

THE WORLD'S fourth largest oil producer, a key American supplier and ally, stands on the brink of a political explosion, and possibly a civil war. Its capital increasingly is split between hostile armed camps; military and police units are faced off against each other, central highways are sometimes blocked by burning barricades. . . .

Mr. Chavez, a muddled socialist whose closest political ally is Fidel Castro, was himself democratically elected in 1999; he then used a series of referendums and new elections to rewrite the constitution and extend his term until 2007, even as he wrecked Venezuela's economy and antagonized the military and middle class. A new election or referendum -- like that ordered yesterday by Venezuela's national electoral council -- would offer a way out. But Mr. Chavez has been reluctant to agree -- his supporters said they would appeal the council's decision -- and increasingly the opposition appears to hope that he can be forced out of office, as he was briefly last April. Opposition supporters rally around some 140 military officers who have rebelled against the government and occupied a city square, while Mr. Chavez's followers vow to fight any coup in the streets. Both sides have been arming themselves.

Hmm. Where might you have heard about this before?

MERYL YOURISH says that the latest attacks indicate that Al Qaeda is growing desperate.

I also note that, as I suspected, the bin Laden tape now appears to be a fake. That strongly suggests that he's dead. The IndePundit agrees. And he's got, er, pictures.

IS IT SEXIST TO WISH FOR A WORLD WITH FEWER MEN? My earlier post on feminist scholar Mary Daly's expressed desire for a world where only one person in ten was male (which one reader called Strangelovian) has inspired Eugene Volokh to wonder whether such sentiments are sexist or not. I don't know: Would wishing for a world with fewer black people be racist?

Megan McArdle is less charitable to Daly:

I am not under the impression that all feminists, or even professors of Women's Studies, believe this sort of nonsense. But I've spent enough time around the movement to know that the majority don't challenge the people saying it, which is almost as bad. . . .

I'm also aware that the reason they say things like that is that no one pays attention to them. But if you're going to propose genocide with the offhand arrogance of a high school essayist, you can't really complain that no one takes you seriously.

Well, it's not exactly genocide, but I take her point. And if, say, Andrew Sullivan expressed the wish for a world that was 90% male, I feel sure he'd be accused of something along those lines.

UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith writes:

Just a thought but maybe, deep down, Ms Daly anticipates the eventual imposition of Sharia.

In this case it actually makes sense to limit the number of men. Islamic law allows men to take up to 4 (and, in some interpretations, more) wives. This feature of Sharia often leads to undesirable consequences like 9 year old girls getting married and legions of sexually deprived young men hanging around the mosque with little entertainment beyond waging suicidal jihad. Ms Daly's proposal would perfect Osama's version of heaven on earth by rightsizing the ratio of breeding stock in the human popluation.

Paving the way for a better Sharia is odd agenda for a feminist, to be sure, but at least it would unshackle Ms Daly and her sisters from the oppression of Western patriarchy.

Yes, it does seem to be the Western variety of patriarchy that Daly and her ilk find troubling.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh thinks that my analogy to racism, above, is overdrawn. Hmm. Maybe. Maybe not. Some people who emailed me found rather disturbing overtones in Daly's language. So did some commenters on Megan McArdle's page.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Carnell is puzzled by Eugene's stance.

HOWARD KURTZ ON AL GORE'S LATEST:

Al Gore has become a true believer in the vast right-wing conspiracy. . . .

Maybe he's just frustrated that his book isn't selling better, despite a zillion media appearances with Tipper.

Let's say Gore is right, that conservative news outlets are trying to blacken the reputations of people like him. Doesn't complaining about it just sound like whining? Or is he playing to his base, the way conservatives have done all these years by moaning about the liberal media?

After all, if you're going to take on Saddam and Osama, you'd better be able to deal with the likes of the Washington Times. The conservative media aren't going anywhere. Deal with it.

Poor Al. Clinton could have pulled this off, but Al just can't.

UPDATE: Greg Wythe, who was blogging furiously on Thanksgiving, wonders when "Clinton envy" will become a term in popular discourse.

PERRY DE HAVILLAND has some observations on context where the Kenya attacks are concerned.

AMERICANS ARE MORE POPULAR IN BRITAIN than at any time in the past several decades, according to a poll reported in The Scotsman. Moral: "Don’t believe everything you read in the Guardian."

Commenting on this, Tim Blair observes: "Everything? Try anything."

CITIES ARE BECOMING MORE RACIALLY INTEGRATED, especially in the South and West. Increased integration appears to be a function of growth.

UPDATE: And here's more good news: More African Americans starting businesses.

TALKLEFT REPORTS that the ACLU has gotten involved in the battle over Racine, Wisconsin's dumb anti-rave raid. (I wrote about the raid here a while back). You can also see the party organizers' website on the subject here.

JAMES LILEKS has a fine Thanksgiving post. No surprise there.

ARABS RIOTED IN ANTWERP Wednesday night. It hasn't gotten much attention in U.S. media, but Live from Brussels has all the details. And scroll down to read the point about Berbers.

NO BIAS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Check out this headline:

6 Israelis Die at Polling Station; Sharon Wins

No comment required.

MICKEY KAUS has been blogging up a storm while the rest of us have dozed in a turkey-induced coma.

November 28, 2002

SOME APPALLING PICTURES from Kenya.

DINNER HERE WAS A SUCCESS, except that next year I think I'll cook a second leg of lamb. Both the turkey and the lamb looked like they had been attacked by hungry piranhas, but the lamb was the most popular. Now I'm going to drink beer with my brother. Woohoo!

I HAVEN'T SAID ANYTHING ABOUT the absurd appointment of Henry Kissinger to find the truth behind the 9/11 attacks because, well, it just seems too absurd for words. David Corn and Mickey Kaus are not so encumbered, and they're both appalled.

All I can figure is that the Bush Administration has an equal-and-opposite mole to the one Tony Woodlief has identified at NPR.

ONE OF THE THINGS I'M THANKFUL FOR: Sgt. Stryker!

JEN TALIAFERRO HAS PUT UP HER SIDE in the latest delinking brouhaha. Me, I agree with the Volokh position on all of this stuff.

Somehow, it's hard to take it seriously in a house full of family, and the smell of turkey and lamb cooking.

THE TURKEY'S IN THE OVEN! And the lamb is marinating. I've been snacking on some of my mother-in-law's excellent hummus to keep up my strength.

Here's a link to an account of the first Thanksgiving. Still no word of what Tony is cooking (last year, I remember, he decided not to do the leg of lamb). But Will Vehrs has a 25-pound turkey in the oven.

UPDATE: Tony has posted his menu and it sounds yummy.

BLOGGING WILL BE INTERMITTENT TODAY: I'm cooking a turkey and a leg of lamb. (I wonder what Tony is cooking?) As usual, we'll be having my family and my wife's family over, so it's a pretty big affair. But the computer's right here, and it's always on, so I'm sure there will be some posting. Happy Thanksgiving! Despite all, we have much to be thankful for.

ONCE AGAIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES IS PLAYING CATCH-UP TO THE BLOGOSPHERE, with a story on the shortage of female warbloggers, something that was bruited about the blogosphere months ago. Jeff Jarvis is unimpressed, and not shy about saying so:

(1) Anyone of any gender who wants to start a blog can. Nobody will stop them. So you can't argue that some bigger power structure -- blog executives, the old blog boys club -- is stopping them. The only thing stopping nonbloggers from . . . blogging is themselves. That, after all, is the whole point of this new medium: It's anybody's. It's everybody's.

(2) There are many, many great women bloggers. I don't need to start listing them. You know them.

Even the writer has to admit that there is no frigging point to her story: "But women are, in fact, blogging in big numbers." So why write it? Why print it? Just because it fits?

I don't think the story is quite that bad, but maybe my expectations for the Times are lower than Jeff's. What I think is curious is that the author didn't interview more female bloggers, especially warbloggers. Sure, she interviews Virginia Postrel, but (1) Virginia writes for the Times, which makes it kind of inside-baseball; and (2) Virginia isn't blogging much anymore. (Why not? Come back, Virginia! We miss you!) Rebecca Blood is mentioned, but she's not a warblogger by any means, and the article seems just to be drawing from her book -- she isn't actually quoted. The other women quoted are non-warbloggers.

But the reporter could have gone down my blogroll and found a lot of women warbloggers who blog more-or-less daily. Talking to them might have shed some light on the story. My guess is that women who do warblogs are interested in different things than women who don't.

The interesting thing to me isn't that there are fewer women warbloggers than men. It's that there are so many more women warbloggers than there would have been ten years ago. The Times missed the bellicose-women trend entirely in this story. I can't help but feel that a conversation with Michele, or Brooke, or Athena, -- all of whom could be found without getting past the "A" section of my blogroll -- might have been enlightening. And led to a better story.

November 27, 2002

MY BROTHER, in his beloved-uncle role, is telling my daughter a bedtime story. We just finished watching Mystery Science Theater together (off the swell Rhino 1st-season DVD collection). So I thought I'd check my email and when I look I've got a bunch of messages from somebody using the pseudonym "Henry Flowers." There are a lot of them, with subject lines like "Den Beste reveals his ignorant bigotry," and "Typical lying Republicans." They're full of typos.

And I wonder -- what kind of guy sits up the night before Thanksgiving churning out that kind of embittered, yet utterly pointless, stuff instead of enjoying life and the holidays?

Al, get some help.

AUSTIN BAY WRITES ABOUT MICRODEVELOPMENT EFFORTS in Africa.

SOMEHOW, THIS DESCRIPTION reminds me of the color commentary from a televised golf tournament. Heh.

OKAY THIS WHOLE DELINKING THING seems to be spreading. Is that such a good idea?

WHY DEMOCRATS SHOULD LOVE FEDERALISM: Read my FoxNews Column -- coauthored this time with Professor Brannon Denning -- to find out.

HOMELAND SECURITY: Maybe it's me, but this kind of reminds me of this.

What do you think?

I WAS GOING TO BUY A DIGITAL CAMERA today, but thanks to Nick Denton's Gizmodo site, I found this article saying that prices are likely to drop sharply in the next few weeks. Thanks, Gizmodo!

My wife, interestingly, was up in New York last week doing a TV show and dropped by her cousin's palatial loft in Chelsea. He gave her a cup of coffee from some outrageously fancy $700 coffeemaker that he'd found via "this great website called 'Gizmodo'." It's a small world.

IS ALL THE ANTI-MEDIA STUFF FROM DEMOCRATS A COORDINATED CAMPAIGN? Neal Boortz and Hugh Hewitt think so. (And Hewitt calls InstaPundit a "third-tier force" in the media! Woohoo! I think that's a tier or two higher than I deserve, actually -- but I'll take it.)

Justin Katz, meanwhile, wonders if the Arab News is in on the campaign, too?

YOU CAN HEAR ME ON "DIGITAL DIALOGUE" HERE, right now.

THE SAUDI / 9-11 CONNECTION still has legs.

MY EARLIER POST quoting feminist scholar Mary Daly in support of a world where the percentage of men was drastically reduced brought these thoughts from reader Steve White:

Regarding the thoughts of Mary Daly and Sally Miller Gearhart, who proposes limiting the number of men to ten percent of the human race: isn't this about what Dr. Strangelove had in mind when he talked about the "mine shaft gap"? I'm not sure, but take a look at the script:


Strangelove: I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of human specimens. It would be quite easy...heh, heh...(He rolls his wheelchair forward into the light.) at the bottom of ah...some of our deeper mineshafts. Radioactivity would never penetrate a mine some thousands of feet deep, and in a matter of weeks, sufficient improvements in drilling space could easily be provided.

President: How long would you have to stay down there?

Strangelove: ...I would think that uh, possibly uh...one hundred years...It would not be difficult Mein Fuehrer! Nuclear reactors could, heh...I'm sorry, Mr. President. Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain plant life. Animals could be bred and slaughtered. A quick survey would have to be made of all the available mine sites in the country, but I would guess that dwelling space for several hundred thousands of our people could easily be provided.

President: Well, I, I would hate to have to decide...who stays up and...who goes down.

Strangelove: Well, that would not be necessary, Mr. President. It could easily be accomplished with a computer. And a computer could be set and programmed to accept factors from youth, health, sexual fertility, intelligence, and a cross-section of necessary skills. Of course, it would be absolutely vital that our top government and military men be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and tradition.

Naturally, they would breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much time, and little to do. Ha, ha. But ah, with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present Gross National Product within say, twenty years.

... (later) ...

General Buck Turgidson: (judiciously) You mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Wouldn't that necessitate abandoning the so-called monogamous form of sexual relation ship?

Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to perform prodigious service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics, which will have to be of a highly stimulating order.

Er, I don't think this is what Daly had in mind. . . . She only endorsed a nine-to-one ratio!

DO YOUR JOB, GET FIRED:

Senior investigators hired to root out fraud and corruption at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been fired -- just days after revealing what they knew to officials with the Department of Energy's inspector general.

Armed guards escorted Glenn Walp and Steven Doran out of their offices on Monday, a half-hour after Stan Busboom, director of security, informed the pair that they were not "suitable fit(s) for the requirements of (their) position(s)" at the lab's Office of Security Inquiries.

Over the past several months, Walp and Doran had led a series of high-profile investigations that generated a tide of bad publicity for the birthplace of the atom bomb.

It's this kind of stuff that explains why people don't trust the whole Homeland Security enterprise.

MORE ON FREE SPEECH -- OR THE LACK THEREOF -- AT HARVARD. Alan Dershowitz notes that if you took "hate speech" and "offensiveness" seriously, you'd have to ban Tom Paulin and Amiri Baraka, two guys that Harvard seems to regard as neither offensive nor hateful despite their obviously being both.

Meanwhile Scott LeHigh reviews recent events at Harvard -- including the cartoon-censorship affair at Harvard Business School, which he correctly calls "laughably trivial," and remarks:

All that reveals a university community lamentably ready to sacrifice free speech on the altar of civility. Harvard is hardly alone there. . . .

Why no sustained outcry from the faculties? ''They don't consider that to be a free speech issue because it is imposed by the academic left, and the academic left is an authoritarian movement, not one of genuine liberalism,'' Silverglate, himself a liberal, observes.

Yes, complaints about McCarthyism ring rather hollow, these days, given that so much of academia has given up on academic freedom as a principle. And once the question isn't whether speech should be suppressed, but rather who gets to do the suppression, the PC crowd shouldn't be surprised to find itself targeted. But it will be, of course, if it ever comes to that. And if it doesn't come to that, it'll be because people like Silverglate, anathema to the PC crowd, have stood up for a principle that too many academics have been happy to abandon.

MICKEY KAUS IS BEGGING FOR HATEMAIL. I knew he'd miss MWO.

SAUDI SCHIZOPHRENIA: The IndePundit writes:

FEW YEARS AGO, I read a news report about some remarks made by a Saudi Prince to the Arab press that struck me as odd. The Prince was responding to a question about the presence of foreign military in the Kingdom, and he replied, rather brusquely, that there were no foreign troops in Saudi Arabia.

What was odd about this was that I was reading this report on board the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, and a few hours earlier I had been tracking a flight of American F-15s from Prince Sultan Airbase to the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq.

The Saudis' relationship with the truth is a complex one. Well, actually, "complex" is a euphemism for "they lie a lot, even when it's obvious, and expect to be taken seriously."

BOTH JOHN POINDEXTER AND THE HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT are coming in for a shellacking from bloggers. Here's what the Acidman says:

We DO NOT NEED THAT SHIT, folks. Granting such power to Washington will not make us more secure; it will make us more likely to be terrorized-- NOT by terrorists, but by own own government. If you trust the IRS, the ATF, the FBI, the CIA and the goddam Post Office, you'll LOVE this fucked-up idea. Put everybody under a government microscope and see how many terrorists are targeted.

They won't have time to fight terrorism, because they'll be going after low-hanging fruit, which is YOU and ME, people. The super-spy agency will be no different than gun-control nutballs. They'll take guns from law-abiding citizens because that's easy to do.

The criminals get to keep theirs. They can't find the fucking criminals; criminals HIDE. So, the crime-fighters go after you. They know where you live.

Given the choice between worrying about a POSSIBLE terrorist attack on my life and a DEFINITE government attack on my privacy, I'll take my chances with the terrorists every time. Terrorists aren't that smart, they don't have that much money, and they aren't the government. They aren't frightening.

The government is.

Meanwhile, Shellshocking writes: "Stay the FUCK out of my shopping cart!" And she joins Kim du Toit, who has been righteously ranting about the Poindexterbase for some time, in encouraging people to write their Senators and Representatives.

Overplaying the domestic-spy hand could be a big mistake for the Administration. And what idiot decided that Poindexter would be a good public face for this program? Or was it some ingenious maneuverer trying to kill the program who put Poindexter in charge? That would explain the creepy logo, too.

Meanwhile, outside the blogosphere, Randy Barnett (who has been mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee. . . .) has some advice for the Administration: "When libertarians do not trust Republican legislators to respect the Bill of Rights, they will be more likely to vote Libertarian," which as we've read has been costing the GOP elections.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh, writing in TechCentralStation, isn't very impressed either.

PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP. Into your soul it will creep. . . .

UPDATE: On the other hand, it's interesting to see Gore jump on the anti-pomo bandwagon:

For now, Mr. Gore can only attempt to explain what motivates the ceaseless lampooning he continues to face from America’s columnists and commentators. "That’s postmodernism," he offered. "It’s the combination of narcissism and nihilism that really defines postmodernism, and that’s another interview for another time, if you’re interested in it.

I'm not sure, though, that postmodernist critics are Gore's biggest problem.

UPDATE: The latest research proves me right!

November 26, 2002

INTERESTING REPORT FROM IRAQ:

The city of Qurnah in the south of iraq (way down in the map, exactly where the tigris and euphrates meet) was bombarded for two days. A friend who works there says that the planes are bombing an empty area very close to the city, the windows of the hotel where he lives are broken, first no one knew why the americans would bomb an empty area. later when they went to look at the craters they found out that there were telephone lines burried in that area. the governarates of Basrah and Maysan are cut off the rest of Iraq, telephonically speaking, that is.

Now why would anyone want to do that?

THEIR TEAM DOESN'T LOSE MANY PLAYERS, but Arthur Silber is thinking of converting to heterosexuality in protest to the latest from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

HERE'S ANOTHER CRICHTON-INSPIRED NANOTECH STORY, this one from Business Week.

AZIZ POONAWALLA HAS another post on non-Wahhabi Islam and terrorism.

BRINK LINDSEY has a post on the Bush Administration's no-tariffs policy.

APPARENTLY, YASSER ARAFAT'S INFLUENCE REACHES FARTHER THAN I REALIZED:

CHILDREN as young as 11 are being encouraged by the Government to show an interest in bomb-making.

A briefing document, which tells science teachers how to engage pupils’ interest, includes the suggestion that they “use ball-bearings to make tilt switches for bombs”.

BB guns, though, are right out.

VIA TIM BLAIR I found this reply by Australian Prime Minister John Howard to a letter by the father of a Bali victim who said Australia is too close to the United States:

You asked me: "Why did [my] son die?" I don't have a perfect answer to that but I will do my best.

He died at the hands of a murderous group of Islamic fanatics who despise the liberal democratic, open life of Western nations, such as Australia. He died because there are people in the world who believe that indiscriminate violent murder is a justifiable political instrument.

Well said.

BOTH SOFIA SIDESHOW and Merde in France note that the warm reception received by President Bush from Easter Europeans isn't getting much attention elsewhere. (Here's a CNN story, though you have to scroll down to find out about the cheers.)

Strangely, Eastern Europe seems to be more of a repository of Western values than most of Western Europe these days.

UPDATE: Emmanuelle Richard has an interview with Merde in France.

UPDATE: Innocents Abroad has more -- and scroll down for an additional post.

JOHN SCALZI WRITES ABOUT CREATIONISM AND THE BIG BANG:

Asking whether one "believes" in the Big Bang doesn't really answer any questions -- it merely suggests that the Big Bang is itself part of a faith-based system, equivalent to a belief in Christ or Allah or Buddha or whomever. This is another piece of semantic ammunition that Creationists and others like to use: That science is just another system of "belief," just another species of religion. Not only is science not just another species of faith, it's not even in the same phylum. Faith is a conclusion. Science is a process. This is why, incidentally, the two are not ultimately inherently incompatible, just as driving somewhere is not inherently incompatible with having a fixed home address.

If I were putting together a poll on the Big Bang, I wouldn't ask people if they believed in it. I would ask them, based on the evidence, what model of universal creation best described its current state. I'd make sure I left space for the "I have no idea" option. I believe -- and this is just hypothesis, not a theory -- that the data from that question would be informative.

Hmm. If you're a Tiplerite, which category do you fall in?

HERE'S YET ANOTHER ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS. And here, courtesy of NYU's journalism school, are a bunch more.

READER STEVE MILLER SENDS THIS LINK TO AN INDYMEDIA POST by apparent S.F. cop-killer Andrew McCrae. One thing's for sure -- this guy's an economic idiot:

The truth is that the people of these Third World countries know exactly how to get themselves out of their economic ruts, but are forcefully kept from doing it because of a dominating U.S. influence. These people want to develop their own industrial and technological industries by putting tariffs on U.S. products. But they can’t do this because the World Trade Organization (WTO) which is both dominated by U.S. corporations, and has the authority to regulate third world use of tariffs, prevents them from doing so.

Tariffs on U.S. products sold within Third World countries would raise their prices and ease consumption of them. This would give third world industries space in the market to strengthen themselves. Using tariffs in this manner is a fundamental tool for any country to develop into a more powerful nation, but the WTO is perpetually keeping them from doing it, just so U.S. companies can sell their own products there.

This is the exact same situation the American colonists were protesting when they threw the Boston Tea Party.

Actually, they were protesting high tariffs on imports. Like tea. But hey, that's just the icing on the cake, here.

THIS POST from a week ago about academic feminists' statements about men got Barry Deutsch upset. I was posting from memory and I can't give a cite, nor am I inclined to spend the library time it would take to make Deutsch happy. And I suppose I could be wrong, though my recollection of the statements in question seems quite clear. But if you're interested, see the update.

UPDATE: Brian Carnell has a post in which he quotes Mary Daly (famous for excluding men from her classes at Boston College) as advocating a world nearly free of men. And he notes that Daly's work has been endorsed by many prominent feminists. I suppose we'll hear that it's "satire," though. Here's an excerpt from an interview that Carnell quotes:

WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article, “The Future—If There is One—Is Female,” writes: “At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race.” What do you think about this statement?

MD: I think it’s not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.

Yeah, this is the kind of stuff I remember. Does this sound like satire to you?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link to the interview. The passage quoted above appears here. There's lots of other fascinating stuff. And here -- as a testament to her mainstream impact -- is some rather fawning praise of Daly's work, including a quotation of the passage above, by a Unitarian minister from a church in Arlington, Virginia.

HE'S NOT THE MESSIAH, HE'S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY: Porphyrogenitus is insulting Mohammed.

UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla replies: "Muhammad SAW is insulted every day. Normal Muslims (ie, 99.999%) don't really give a damn."

A READER WONDERS WHY THIS STORY ISN'T GETTING MORE ATTENTION:

A 23-year-old man opposed to "police-state tactics" was captured in a hotel Tuesday as people in California flocked to a memorial service for a police officer he apparently admitted killing. . . .

Red Bluff, Calif., police officer David Mobilio, 31, was shot once in the head on Nov. 19 as he was refueling his cruiser. A man identifying himself as Andrew McCrae claimed responsibility in a posting Monday to a Web site for San Francisco news, www.sf.indymedia.org.

"Hello everyone, my name's Andy," he said in one of two letters. "I killed a police officer in Red Bluff, California, in a motion to bring attention to, and halt, the police-state tactics that have come to be used throughout our country.

The writer said the killing also was "an action against corporate irresponsibility," which he blamed for "all of the major problems in America and throughout the world today."

I blame Molly Ivins and Noam Chomsky and all the others who have stirred up such hatred. Does Tom Daschle know about this?

I HAVEN'T BEEN UP TO POSTING MUCH TODAY. End-of-semester blahs, I guess. I'm not actually sick, and yet I just feel kind of, well, crappy. But one of my posts led to this poetic response, so I guess it wasn't wasted.

ADDRESSING "ROOT CAUSES:"

ASHINGTON, Nov. 25 — The White House outlined a detailed proposal today to set up a competition among the world's poorest nations for portions of a new $5 billion foreign aid fund. To win, countries must demonstrate that they are curbing corruption, spending more on education and following free market economic principles.

Under the plan, a new federal corporation will be set up to administer the aid, and decisions will be made by a Cabinet-level panel that will dole out the money much the way colleges assign scholarships.

The proposal has yet to be submitted to Congress, but it has a good chance of passing.

"Think of it as a bonus pool," one of Mr. Bush's senior advisers said today, briefing reporters. The administration's judgments about which nations will get the money and which will not, he said, would depend on scores on a range of performance tests. The countries would be rated on everything from their encouragement of civil liberties and their spending on education and health, to their control of inflation and their use of budget targets and tax policy.

As a reader writes, this is actually pretty radical.

THE STORY OF SAUDI COMPLICITY IN THE 9/11 ATTACKS seems to have legs, much to the discomfiture of the Bush Administration.

Or is it all part of some devious plan?

JAMES LILEKS HAS SOME THOUGHTS about antisemitism in Minnesota, and elsewhere.

EUGENE ROSTOW, one of my old law professors, is dead. He was one of my "old" law professors even when I had him, and had to take off part of a semester for a heart attack. But he was an excellent teacher, and encouraged me to publish the paper I wrote for his class, thus starting me on an academic career even though I don't think he agreed with the paper's conclusions. And his 1945 article, The Japanese-American Cases: A Disaster, is a classic.

GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS: Okay, I have to go teach Administrative Law, but I just ran into my old secretary who left here for a job with the county public health department. She's carrying a pager that's just for smallpox (or other bioterrorism, but smallpox is what they're worried about). She gets her shot next week. They've already identified the locations where they'll give emergency vaccinations, and they've made all the plans on who goes where with what so that all it takes to start the vaccination process is one mass pager message. They even have pre-arrangements for buses to take people to the innoculation centers.

I'm glad to hear that there's so much planning and efficiency involved. But it indicates to me that someone is taking the threat rather more seriously than the general run of the media tends to suggest. And while the efficiency is comforting, what this says about the threat isn't comforting at all.

SORRY for the light posting this morning. I've been kind of busy, and not feeling especially well, this week. But here's a big Paul McCartney post from Blogcritics. I'll try to have more later this afternoon.

JACK O'TOOLE'S POLITICALPROFESSIONAL.COM is back up and running, after an extended hiatus. Welcome back, Jack!

STEVEN DEN BESTE has some thoughts on permalinks and "coccooning" on the left.

UPDATE: Hesiod Theogeny replies. (And Wilde responds, though Hesiod seems to have changed his post since Wilde's response).


ANOTHER UPDATE: Vegard Valberg says Den Beste is wrong.

ONE MORE: Eugene Volokh has some cogent thoughts.

OKAY THIS REALLY IS THE LAST ONE: Max Sawicky has weighed in. Meanwhile, Bill Peschel emails:

I'm still busy with the kids on my day off, so I haven't blogged on this, but I just checked Rittenhouse's site and see that two of them -- Aint No Bad Dude and Into the Breach -- are still linked to Charles Johnson's site, five days after Rittenhouse threatened to purge his blogroll of lgf's "fellow travelers."

In fact, I don't think they even know they're "under the gun."

All this floss flying about censorship and cocoons, and nothing has actually happened.

Is there a blogging version of "all hat and no cattle?"

Um, isn't that what blogging is all about? . . . . And Stefan Sharkansky says he's identified some hate speech.

A FINE ESSAY by the father of a Marine, in the Washington Post. Excerpts:

Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. . . .

John's enlisting was unexpected, so deeply unsettling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question "So where is John going to college?" from the parents who were itching to tell me all about how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school John attended, no other students were going into the military.

"But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?" asked one perplexed mother while standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. "What a waste, he was such a good student," said another parent. One parent (a professor at a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and suggested that the school should "carefully evaluate what went wrong." . . .

My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.

Read the whole thing. The author will be doing a live online discussion at WashingtonPost.Com at 1 p.m. Eastern today.

MOXIE OFFERS BIRTHDAY ADVICE FOR THE BUSH TWINS.

THE DMCA AS ANTITRUST VIOLATION? Using it to keep people from sharing sale prices seems like one to me. I hope that some state attorneys general investigate this.

UPDATE: Reader Howard Marvel says that there shouldn't be an antitrust issue here unless there's collusion involved. I don't know, of course, but complaints from multiple people, with the same legal theory, addressed to the same fairly obscure website, suggest to me that there probably is. But that's why I posed it as a question, not a conclusion, and suggested investigation.

FREE SPEECH AT MICHIGAN: Catharine MacKinnon recently lectured on free speech and academic freedom. At least one student is rather unhappy.

UPDATE: I wonder what MacKinnon would say about this?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Alex Bensky writes:

Professor MacKinnon does serve one, albeit, minor constructive purpose. Some years ago, in a week moment, the University of Michigan law school gave me a degree. Every so often they ask me for money and if I'm ever tempted to give them any I remember that MacKinnon is on the faculty.

This is nothing new. The day of the faculty-sponsored picnic for graduating students in 1973 a number of female medical students showed their displeasure with a supposedly offensive textbook by burning a number of copies. I was upset about this and was stunned that evening when almost everyone else seemed to see this as not noteworthy.

A professor went to China one summer and then lectured to an avid and approving audience about how the Chinese system was based on real justice, aimed at rehabilitation only, was gentle and considerate of the human rights of all. This was during the cultural revolution. I recall disapproving looks from everyone when during question time I suggested that perhaps this wasn't all there was to the justice system in the Some People's Republic.

And so on. In the spring of 1972 I could only rarely walk down the street, minding my own business and wearing a "Humphrey for President" button, without drawing catcalls and insults.

A frequent theme in the law school's fundraising letters is the need to maintain the high prestige that the law school enjoys. I am sorry to say that I have never been able to take quite the pride in my Michigan J.D. I wish I could.

Well, a university is a big place, and it's not fair to judge it by the actions of a few. But it's certainly true that Professor MacKinnon adds no lustre to Michigan's stature in the free-speech department. Meanwhile Halley's Comment offers a perspective on 21st-century feminism that MacKinnon is unlikely to favor.

A SCIENTIST-READER EMAILS ABOUT MICHAEL CRICHTON'S PREY:

OK, I just finished reading Prey.

Yow. A thin veneer of science, with frequent references to genetic algorithms, nanotechnology, molecular this and that, genetic engineering, etc. is used to gussy up a plot that merges the juicy bits from various B sci-fi movies of the past, including "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," tracking down nests of loathsome insects, the small group of desperate people being picked off, one-by-one, by the loathsome enemy (with a traitor in their midst) and various and sundry other random things. Then it throws in the afternoon soaps, and some other stuff.

Conclusion: "A good story, nothing to do with nanotechnology."

My copy should arrive today. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

November 25, 2002

SAY, WHAT IF ALL THE TALK ABOUT IRAQ has just been misdirection?

DENISE HOWELL has blogged the Pavlovich case. This is going to make it hard for Big Entertainment companies to sue people in a friendly California court.

IT'S HARD TO BE A MODERATE MUSLIM IN EGYPT. And a lot of other places, apparently.

JOHN RAWLS HAS DIED.

UPDATE: Jacob T. Levy has a remembrance.

VIA JERRY POURNELLE I found this cool satellite image of fog in Central California.

He also points to this excellent essay on copyright, which I had meant to link last week but didn't. Check 'em both out. Here's an excerpt from the essay:

The Founding Fathers wanted that term to be 14 years, with an additional 14 years if the author were still alive. After 28 years, they figured you'd had your chance to exploit your creation, and now it belonged to the nation at large. That way we would never end up with a system of hereditary privilege, similar to the printers guilds of Renaissance England, who tied up rights to dead authors and tightly controlled what could or could not be printed and who could or could not use literary material.

In America, land of free ideas as well as free people, this would never happen, they said.

Well, it's happened. It's happened because for years now Congress has allowed it to happen. We now have an exact replica of the medieval Stationers' Company, which controlled the English copyrights, only its names today are Disney, Bertelsmann, and AOL Time Warner. The big media companies, holding the copyrights of dead authors, have said, in effect, that Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton were wrong and that we should go back to the aristocratic system of hereditary ownership, granting copyrights in perpetuity. To effect this result, they've liberally greased the palms of Congressmen in the form of campaign contributions — and it's worked.

Yep.

HERE'S SOME GOOD NEWS:

The US will on Tuesday unveil a bold proposal to eliminate tariffs on manufactured goods, calling for countries in the World Trade Organisation to sweep away all duties no later than 2015. . . .

The key elements of the US proposal, according to industry and congressional officials briefed on the plan, are: A rapid reduction in high tariffs on non-agricultural products, so that by 2010 there would be no tariffs above 8 per cent. All tariffs would then be reduced progressively to zero by 2015. The elimination, no later than 2010, of all duties that are currently below 5 per cent. A parallel initiative calling for faster elimination of tariffs in many industrial sectors such as chemicals, paper, wood and construction equipment.

Wonder how it'll fly in Europe?

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. In Algeria, this time.

ANTISEMITISM IN EUROPE? No way!

DEREK LOWE isn't impressed with Craig Venter's plans to create a new "artificial" form of life:

The whole project could be explained in terms of cars and trucks: what we have here is an attempt to disassemble a small car down to the most primitive conveyance possible, by removing parts one by one until nothing extraneous remains. This stripped-down go-cart will indeed be a new vehicle, one that's so simple that it could be built from things lying around the house, stuff that you wouldn't normally associate with cars at all. People that think that you need a huge factory to build a car will be amazed. But this thing won't stand a chance on the open road, and will probably barely make it around your back yard on a warm day.

The Neal Stephenson quote is good, too.

MICHAEL MOORE'S ONE-MAN SHOW GETS A BAD REVIEW FROM CLIVE DAVIS:

The show is certainly worth seeing, but not quite for the reasons that Mr. Moore imagines. If you want to know why much of the left has lost its moral compass, if you want to know why Christopher Hitchens no longer feels able to write for the Nation, the reasons are writ large in Mr. Moore's staggeringly crude mixture of agitprop and stand-up comedy.

He works from a simple premise. America is the evil empire, one vast, continental gulag with McDonald's golden arches towering above the barbed wire fence. Corporations grind the workers into the ground and devote endless ingenuity to finding new ways of polluting the atmosphere. Black people are little more than slaves, and all those intelligent people who did not vote for George W. Bush two years ago are busy digging an escape tunnel to Canada.

I exaggerate, of course. But not by much.

Davis loves OxBlog, though! No, really:

Few members of his British fan club bother to acquaint themselves with the basic facts about the American political system, so they fall easy prey to his fictions. The point was put forcefully to me by David Adesnik, one of the three American post-grad students who run Oxblog, a new web log devoted to foreign policy musings. As Mr. Adesnik observed when I met him and his two colleagues Joshua Chafetz and Dan Urman last week, it is amazing how much familiarity with McDonald's, Arnold Schwarzenegger and MTV substitute for knowledge of real American culture.

Yeah, I've noticed that too.

ONCE AGAIN, I find out what's going on at my own campus via Eugene Volokh's weblog. Here's the story:

None of the six Kappa Sigma fraternity members at the University of Tennessee will face disciplinary action by UT for allegedly painting their faces black for a party.

Although UT-Knoxville's Kappa Sigma chapter was suspended by the fraternity's national headquarters due to the incident, both the fraternity and individual members are protected from official school sanctions by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, according to an "overview" of the Oct. 22 incident released by UT.

"Controversy and debate are a normal part of life at a university, and (UT) is firmly committed to protecting the constiutional rights of freedom of speech and expression - even when some find it to be insensitve and offensive," said the UT report.

It took them a while to come around, but they did come around. Good for them.

ANOTHER LETTER FROM OSAMA has been discovered on yet another rabble-rousing website.

UPDATE: This is pretty good, too.

STILL MORE ON THE CUNY/BROOKLYN COLLEGE TENURE CASE, over at The Volokh Conspiracy. One of the College's early defenders has now changed his mind and decided that Professor Johnson is being unfairly punished for his political views.

I JUST HEARD NPR reporting on the FBI hate-crime story that Iain Murray has already debunked. Excerpt:

The hate crimes figures are a joke. Alabama regularly reports no hate crimes. The total number that the FBI reports is normally lower than absolute number of murders. Because no-one can agree on what a hate crime is, agencies vary in how they record and report them. The base number of anti-muslim incidents from 2000 was tiny -- 28 -- and so any increase is going to be large in percentage terms. There are still, however, only half as many anti-muslim incidents as there are anti-jewish ones. If there were more incidents this year than last overall, this was at least partly because a lot more police agencies are contributing figures this year. This makes trend comparisons impossible, and the AP was very naughty to say they increased by 17 percent.

But you've got to say there's a trend or there's no story. Scroll down for more debunking, this time directed at MADD's latest report.

DANIEL DREZNER HAS WRITTEN HIS OWN REPLY TO OSAMA. Excerpt:

I’m sensing some nervous tension in your last missive. You seem concerned about the exchange of letters between American and Saudi intellectuals. You should be scared, since it’s pretty clear that your faith in your faith is staggeringly weak.


Let me explain. You believe you’re a devout Muslim, armed with a super-freaky interpretation of the Quran. OK, so yada, yada, yada, you’re devout. But it’s pretty clear that you believe that when Muslims – much less infidels – are faced with an array of choices, your version of the creed isn’t going to win. This is why you fulminate against the inability to impose Shariah, the U.S. separation of church and state, and the fact that American culture seems to be kicking some global ass. Because without the power of the state, without the elimination of a marketplace of ideas, your "fun-loving" philosophy is doomed to go the way of the do-do bird. Even with the power of the state, you're in trouble. Looked at Iran recently?

Read the whole thing.

MELISSA SCHWARTZ has a new URL. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly. And visit to congratulate her on her stunning new hairstyle.

NO ANTISEMITISM HERE IN EUROPE -- MOVE ALONG NOW, NOTHING TO SEE:

Teachers are afraid to give lessons on the holocaust and the hatred of Jews, because half the class will walk out, says Jan van Kooten, head of education at the Anne Frank Foundation. "Another example: pupils from Monnickendam were no[t] allowed by their parents to visit the Jewish Historical Museum, because they did not want their children to learn about Jewish culture, 'because Jews are bad.'"

Jeez.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has more examples of Euro antisemitism.

MISS WORLD: After being driven out of Nigeria by crazed Islamists, it's now being attacked in London by crazed feminists.

UPDATE: Imagine what would people would say if a gang of crazed American religious zealots started burning mosques and attacking foreigners. But that's what happened in Kaduna:

There were reports of sporadic shooting in the city as enraged Muslim youths attacked Christians and set churches ablaze to protest what they described as an assault on their faith. Non-indigenes were also not spared, as the youths showed their anger.

P.M.News reporter in Kaduna said he counted as many as 21 corpses on the road as he looked for the nearest business centre to file his report.

As uncivilized as the Ku Klux Klan. But less condemned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Iain Murray notes:

In one obscure city, religious clashes killed 2,000 people. That's about the same as died in two years of the Intifada in Israel. Yet there is no Western outrage, no calls for Nigeria to be divided between its two obviously incompatible faiths, and no calls for the UN to pass security council resolutions. If ever there was evidence that the clash of civilizations is about more than just the the Palestinian question, here it is. Perhaps the Miss World riots will open a few eyes.

Indeed.

WHY THE U.N. CHARTER NO LONGER CONTROLS ON USE OF FORCE: Because it's been a disastrous failure and nobody follows it. Here's a quote:

International "rules" concerning use of force are no longer regarded as obligatory by states. Between 1945 and 1999, two-thirds of the members of the United Nations--126 states out of 189--fought 291 interstate conflicts in which over 22 million people were killed. This series of conflicts was capped by the Kosovo campaign in which nineteen NATO democracies representing 780 million people flagrantly violated the Charter. The international system has come to subsist in a parallel universe of two systems, one de jure, the other de facto. The de jure system consists of illusory rules that would govern the use of force among states in a platonic world of forms, a world that does not exist. The de facto system consists of actual state practice in the real world, a world in which states weigh costs against benefits in regular disregard of the rules solemnly proclaimed in the all-but- ignored de jure system. The decaying de jure catechism is overly schematized and scholastic, disconnected from state behavior, and unrealistic in its aspirations for state conduct.

The upshot is that the Charter's use-of-force regime has all but collapsed. This includes, most prominently, the restraints of the general rule banning use of force among states, set out in Article 2(4). The same must be said, I argue here, with respect to the supposed restraints of Article 51 limiting the use of force in self-defense. Therefore, I suggest that Article 51, as authoritatively interpreted by the International Court of Justice, cannot guide responsible U.S. policy-makers in the U.S. war against terrorism in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

This is from a law review article by Prof. Michael Glennon, The Fog of Law: Self-Defense, Inherence, and Incoherence in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, 25 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 539 (2002). (Emphasis added above).

TENNESSEE TEA: Bill Hobbs points out that Tennessee is doing its part to lessen our dependence on imported oil.

I ALREADY MENTIONED THE NEWSWEEK STORY ON THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT CONNECTION TO THE 9/11 HIJACKERS but here's a small item from it that hasn't gotten as much attention as it deserves:

A federal law-enforcement source told NEWSWEEK that Basnan—who was recently convicted of visa fraud and is awaiting deportation—was a known “Al Qaeda sympathizer” who “celebrated the heroes of September 11” at a party after the attacks and openly talked about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been.”

And this is a guy getting money from the Saudi royal family, one with a number of connections that suggest he's some sort of an operative. This tells us all we need to know about the Saudis' attitude. And, as far as I'm concerned, there's plenty of justification for our next attack to land on Saudi Arabia instead of (or as well as) Iraq.

UPDATE: Nick Schulz emails that this story has even gotten Mark Kleiman sounding bellicose:

It now appears that the Saudi government was significantly complicit in bombing our capital and our biggest city, killing 3000 Americans in the process. Are we going to take it lying down?

I hope not.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a story in The New Republic, too. I think this has legs.

JOHN MOSER HAS MORE on the Brooklyn College tenure battle. And he provides this link to a page at the History News Network on the matter.

THE GAP BETWEEN MICHAEL CRICHTON'S NOVEL AND REALITY: My TechCentralStation column, which is running early this week, is up.

MICHELE at A Small Victory is listing the things that she's thankful for. Indymedia is at the top of the list. No, really.

MICHAEL LEDEEN WRITES:

If the American government, or the chatterers, or the academy were at all serious about trying to understand the real world, we would be in the midst of a discussion of the potentially earth-shaking events in Iran. And the main topic of discussion would be how close we are to the downfall of the mullahcracy in Tehran. Last Friday something like half a million Iranian citizens took to the streets to demonstrate their disgust with the regime of the Islamic Republic (the very same Islamic Republic with which some of our diplomats unaccountably continue to make deals, and which our secretary of state unaccountably refuses to condemn in the same clear language used by the president, the national-security adviser, and the secretary of defense). Contrary to what little you have been able to read in the popular press, these demonstrations were not limited to Tehran, but spread all over the country, with amazing results. And it was particularly noteworthy that there were very large numbers of female participants; in Tehran, some people I spoke to estimated that between one-half and two-thirds of the demonstrators were women.

I've been puzzled about why almost no one besides Michael Ledeen (and some bloggers) is talking about this. I'm almost ready to conclude that the Administration is deliberately downplaying it, because they think the mullahs are on their way out anyway, and that (visible) U.S. support for the revolution will do more harm than good. (There is, I strongly suspect, some invisible support.) Either that, or they're just idiots.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has an extensive analysis of the "Osama bin Laden letter" published by The Guardian. I think the letter is bogus, but Sullivan points out that in many ways that's not the most important question.

Anyway, I've composed a reply:

Dear Osama:

Why do we hate you? Because you killed 3,000 Americans and want to kill more. And when you kill Americans, you're dead meat -- and so is anyone who helps you, and maybe anyone who sympathizes too loudly. The question now isn't whether you will win. It's whether the Bush Administration will succeed in disposing of you and your cause before you provoke a response that will cause Arab civilization, such as it is, to join the Aztecs, the Carthaginians, and others who overplayed their brutal hand against a superior foe.

A bit shorter than Osama's, but then my grievance is simpler.

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman writes to ask if I'm endorsing genocide. No. It's what I hope to prevent, as I made clear in an earlier post. But I do view genocide, or at least the destruction of Arab civilization (if not its people) as the inevitable result of Ladenite efforts to escalate and inflame the conflict unless the United States manages to win an early victory. If it's "war to the knife," well, there's only one likely outcome.

SYMPATHY FOR THE MESSIAH: Brock Yates feels sorry for Jesus for what he's suffered at the hands of his devotees:

Poor Jesus Christ. He has been attached to every conceivable nutball cause ranging from cruel, paranoid redneck racism to dietary fads, but never has his name been attached to a motor vehicle.

Not so far, Brock. . . .

FACT-CHECKING MICHAEL MOORE: Forbes says that "Bowling for Columbine" comes up short in the accuracy department. Excerpt:

TITLE: Moore titled the movie Bowling for Columbine because, he suggests, the two kids who shot up Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., went to a 6 a.m. bowling class on the day of the attack.
ACTUALLY: Cool story, but police say it's not true. They say the shooters skipped their bowling class that day.

MISSILES: Moore wonders whether kids at Columbine might be driven to violence because of the "weapons of mass destruction" made in Lockheed Martin's assembly plant in Littleton. Moore shows giant rockets being assembled.
ACTUALLY: Lockheed Martin's plant in Littleton doesn't make weapons. It makes space launch vehicles for TV satellites.

WELFARE: Moore places blame for a shooting by a child in Michigan on the work-to-welfare program that prevented the boy's mother from spending time with him.
ACTUALLY: Moore doesn't mention that mom had sent the boy to live in a house where her brother and a friend kept drugs and guns.

BANK: Moore says North Country Bank & Trust in Traverse City, Mich., offered a deal where, "if you opened an account, the bank would give you a gun." He walks into a branch and walks out with a gun.
ACTUALLY: Moore didn't just walk in off the street and get a gun. The transaction was staged for cameras. You have to buy a long-term CD, then go to a gun shop to pick up the weapon after a background check.

Hmm. If a big corporation were this dishonest, Moore would be making fun of it.

UPDATE: SpinSanity has a post in response, concluding:

When the most popular documentary of the year is riddled with blatant lies and distortions, it's a cause for concern. When the film is part of a pattern by one of the nation’s most prominent political celebrities, it's disturbing. And when the media gives Michael Moore free reign to spread his lies and distortions with very little critical analysis, it's a sad comment on our democracy.

Or at least on our media. However, another reader -- who because he works at Lockheed-Martin will remain anonymous -- points out that the plant Moore refers to did formerly do missile work. That's true, though the Titans that Moore showed -- unless he was using ancient archival footage -- were commercial vehicles used to loft peaceful payloads, not "weapons of mass destruction." (Though I believe that military spy satellites are among them).

MUSLIMS AGAINST FREE SPEECH: Eugene Volokh is unimpressed by the Muslim Legal Defense and Education Fund's assault on Alan Dershowitz.

READER TOM BOSWORTH writes with a suggestion:

An idea just came to mind: Make the future Medals of Honor out of the remains of United Flight 93. As long as there is enough left to cast, I can''t think of a more fitting tribute to the people who defeated the hijackers of that plane, nor a more meaningful material to make the medals for the best of the professionals who defend us.

The Victoria's Crosses are to this day cast from Russian bronze cannons captured by the British in 1855 at the Battle of Sebastapol during the Crimean War. The material from which our Medals of Honor are made could be as meaningful.

I kind of like this.

UPDATE: Reader Adrian Edmonds writes that the Russian-cannon story is a myth:

It is a common belief that these medals are made from Russian cannon. However, this has never been true. The original metal used for the proofs were unsatisfactory so Victoria rejected them and as a decision to make them from base metal. not semi precious , had been made, a engineer went exploring at Woolwich Armoury and came away with two 18 pounder cannon.

In spite of the fact that these were clearly marked with Chinese characters, the myth still persists today that the medals are made from Russian cannon. I believed it myself until last year until a visit to the musem at Woolwich.

Well, there you are.

DAMIAN PENNY points out another academic conspiracy theorist.

November 24, 2002

CHRIS MOONEY has an interesting piece in the Boston Globe on Tyler Cowen and globalization. Excerpt:

It's no cliche to observe that the 40-year-old Cowen - author of 1998's ''In Praise of Commercial Culture'' and director of George Mason University's Mercatus Center - is what he eats. Cowen's guide opens with the proclamation, ''Restaurants manifest the spirit of capitalist multiculturalism.'' On a similar note, his books celebrate the dynamism and creativity that market forces introduce into the arts and culture. Cowen champions such detested entities as Hollywood, megastores, and Brit pop while sharply criticizing snobs, purists, and government subsidies to arts organizations. ''There's no National Endowment for the Arts that subsidizes good food,'' he told an interviewer last year. ''Yet we have a wonderfully diverse selection.''

True enough.

MERDE IN FRANCE points to a report that Iraqi civilians are mostly afraid that America will wimp out again, like it did in 1991.

AT THE BLOG CONFERENCE, people were talking about the dangers of "ideological coccooning," though the only concrete example that anyone could think of was that British guy who didn't want warbloggers to link to him. Now Rick Heller says he's found another.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE? The Rev. Donald Sensing writes on why the question is nonsense.

MICHAEL MOORE, RACIST? Well, maybe not, but the American Prospect accuses him of racial blindness, at least:

My beef with Moore is this: He has managed to make a movie about gun violence in America -- where 53 percent of the gun murder victims are black -- without interviewing a single black victim of gun violence, or even asking black community leaders, who have spent decades successfully trying to combat the problem, for their insights. . . . He went to South Central in Los Angeles, to the very corner where the Los Angeles riots started in 1992 -- but didn't bother to ask that neighborhood's black or Latino residents about their lives. Instead, he stood on a street corner, accompanied by Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear, who is also white, and said, in effect, Look how brave I am for coming here, and man, isn't there a lot of smog? He spoke to a white Los Angeles Police Department officer. He spoke at length with a young white teen in Oscoda, Mich., who openly admittedly to selling stolen handguns to the folks in Detroit (where 395 people were murdered in 2001) but did not interview any of the people who were on the buying -- and shooting -- end of the transactions. How can you make what is essentially a movie about murder without speaking to murderers? . . .

Sure, it will be less glamorous to take on the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs over the more than 4,000 abandoned and neglected buildings that blight the city than it was to harass a stooped and elderly Charlton Heston at his Hollywood home. And it might not make you an international hero to challenge principals and teachers at persistently failing high schools -- you know, the kind where half the students drop out and the ones that graduate at, say, age 21, can barely read or do simple math. But in the end, it might make a hell of a lot more difference.

Any guesses why Moore didn't take this approach?

BRUTAL AND CORRUPT, BUT CLUELESS: Here's an unflattering portrait of the Saudi ruling class.

A PACK, NOT A HERD: Jonathan Rauch has a great column on this:

Suppose President Bush called for volunteers in the war on terror, and thousands of people came forward. Suppose they created volunteer networks for disaster relief, emergency preparedness, and civil defense. Suppose they did most of this work at the community level, under the radar of the national media. And suppose it all happened not in the massive, militarized, top-down mode of WWII but in the networked, decentralized, bottom-up manner of WWW.

Well, brace yourself. Americans have heard the call. . . .

I caught up with Alan E. Imhoff, a retiree who is helping organize hundreds of the county's retired doctors, nurses, and other health personnel into a volunteer medical-reserve corps. "Basically," says Imhoff, "our whole focus is on what we do locally for the first 72 hours, until state and national assistance reaches us." He adds that preparedness programs are sprouting in Maryland so fast it's hard to keep up with the acronyms.

The jihadists of militant Islam are reported to believe that as they toppled the Soviet colossus, so, in time, they can topple the American one. What they do not understand is that the Soviet state made war on civil society for most of its 70-year rule. Americans, meanwhile, have nurtured their churches, charities, and clubs. The Soviet Union fell because it was brittle as well as brutal. America, with its countless nodes of activity and authority, is somewhat more vulnerable than the USSR, but it is infinitely more robust. More robust than Al Qaeda realizes. More robust, even, than many Americans realize.

Yep. But we need to go on the offensive.

WONDER WHEN TOM DASCHLE WILL WEIGH IN ON THIS THREAT:

After a tense 30-minute segment finished taping at WDSU's studios in New Orleans, the two candidates were preparing to leave. According to witnesses, Landrieu looked over her shoulder and told Terrell, "This is your last campaign."

A stunned Terrell replied, "She threatened me."

No other words passed between the two New Orleans women, but moderator Alec Gifford said Landrieu appeared peeved.

"She just kind of stalked out of the studio," Gifford said.

I think that if somebody tries to assassinate Terrell, it will be Landrieu's fault. And if somebody tries to assassinate George Bush, it will be because of all the claims that he's a "boy emperor" who was never elected, and seized power in a "coup." Will we hear criticisms from Daschle then?

Can the sarcasm here get any thicker?

I do think, though, that Daschle will wish he'd kept his mouth shut last week, because those remarks of his have primed to pump to make Landrieu's "threat" a big issue in the coming week. Another Democratic Senatorial candidate on the defensive because of bungling by Democratic Party bigshots --go figure! It's as if they just don't want to win.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Racansky sends this link in answer to Daschle's remarks.

WHILE I WAS AT THE GYM, one of the chat shows involved the "what would Jesus drive" discussion. Let me offer a perspective:

Who cares?

And as for what preening churchmen think we ought to drive, well, my sentiments are unprintable. And I think it's pretty lame that people who would never in a million years let some preacher tell them who to sleep with somehow think it's cool when preachers start telling people not to drive SUVs.

Given the notorious inability -- and unwillingness -- of the religious racket to police its own members' behavior lately, I have zero interest in their opinions on the war, the environment, "social justice," evolution, or any of the subjects on which they desire to opine, and about which they typically know nothing.

PUNDITWATCH is up!

TALKLEFT has some interesting observations about the Left's ball-dropping on civil liberties during the Clinton Administration. That was one of my main reasons for breaking with them, and it's nice to see someone talking about the problem. Maybe Bob Barr's new role with the ACLU (no, really!) will inject some new life into them.

BEST OP-ED MISSED WHILE I WAS ON TRAVEL: This one by Michael Glennon. It explains how the U.N. Charter's provisions on military force have ceased to bind nations, because they've been so widely and thoroughly flouted. Excerpt:

This record of violation is legally significant. The international legal system is voluntary and states are bound only by rules to which they consent. A treaty can lose its binding effect if a sufficient number of parties engage in conduct that is at odds with the constraints of the treaty. The consent of United Nations member states to the general prohibition against the use of force, as expressed in the Charter, has in this way been supplanted by a changed intent as expressed in deeds.

The United States is therefore correct: it would not be unlawful to attack Iraq, even without Security Council approval. It seems the Charter has, tragically, gone the way of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact which purported to outlaw war and was signed by every major belligerent in World War II.

Somewhere at my office (where I'm not at the moment) I have an article saying that a majority of the U.N.'s members have violated its use-of-force provisions since its establishment. That would seem to bolster Glennon's argument. I'll try and find it and post the link tomorrow.

MICKEY KAUS REPORTS from the road, with astonishing observations. I noticed the friendly New Havenites myself, and I'm at a loss. It wasn't a place known for friendliness when I was there -- more like a place that wanted to be as surly as New York, but didn't quite have the moxie to pull it off.

"I AM AS BELOVED AS ATHLETE'S FOOT" -- Gerhard Schroeder isn't winning any popularity awards.

JIM HENLEY has a long post on the efforts of moderate Muslims that's well worth reading. There is opposition to Wahhabism within Islam. We should encourage it. Scroll up to this post, too. And, of course, there's lots of stuff by Aziz Poonawalla that's worth reading.

ROOT CAUSES: Tacitus explores why they hate us.

WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE ON EARTH? The Lifeboat Foundation is working toward building space colonies to save humanity. Well, I'm glad that someone is.

HERE'S MORE ON THE SAUDI 9/11 CONNECTION from the Washington Post. It's likely, of course, that the Bush Administration is pursuing a one-terror-supporting-nation-at-a-time strategy that will address Saudi Arabia later. It's also possible that it isn't. I think that either way it's in the public interest for people to keep pointing the problem out.

Colbert King is pointing out some problems with the Saudis, too.

UPDATE: SKBubba is a Democrat, and he's making noise. But that's not quite what I meant.