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December 07, 2002

CHRIS DALEY, A TSA SCREENER, RESPONDS to a Brock Yates column on airline security that I linked the other day.

THE EMERGING PORNOGRAPHIC MAJORITY: Oliver Willis, er, nails it.

MORE TROUBLE IN IRAN -- AND THAT'S A GOOD THING!

TEHRAN, Iran, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A supposedly anti-American rally turned into a protest against the Iranian clergy in Tehran Saturday with some 3,000 students demanding the release of a reformist leader. . . .

Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday that the students also called for the resignation of the pro-clergy judges who, they said, were trying to crush the reformist movement.

This despite efforts to prevent a protest by arresting leaders yesterday and last night.

UPDATE: Looks like the Administration is handling this well.

DANIEL DREZNER weighs in on Trent Lott:

If Senate Republicans allow him to . . . stay as Majority Leader, they will deserve whatever political misfortunes befall them as a result. It’s up to voters in Mississippi to decide whether they want Lott to continue to represent them in Washington. However, the Majority Leader position is a national one, and Senate Republicans need to think long and hard – oh hell, what am I saying, this takes ten seconds – about whether they want this man to be the visible face of Republican authority.

Beyond the moral reprehensibility of the comments, it’s also clear that Lott’s lack of political acumen is growing, not shrinking. That he made this comment in front of a C-SPAN camera is idiotic. His press spokesman’s statement – “Senator Lott's remarks were intended to pay tribute to a remarkable man who led a remarkable life. To read anything more into these comments is wrong.” – is delusional. This wasn’t something stripped of its context or twisted beyond its original meaning. This was just wrong, and Lott seems to be exerting no effort to make it right.

Senator, I say this as a Republican -- do all of us a favor and get off the national stage.

And scroll down for what Mickey Kaus calls a "sophisticated exegesis of Paul Krugman.

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz says that Lott is "stupid, stupid" and should resign as Majority Leader.

Lott's a liability for the GOP anyway, and this gives them a chance to get rid of him while looking good and doing right. But will they be smart enough?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias agrees that Lott should go: "Meanwhile, it appears that most conservatives actually do appreciate how massively inappropriate Lott's comments were. . . . Still, gasping in disapproval while letting the man continue on as majority leader of the US Senate is a pretty sorry effort. I'd like to think that both political parties could abide by a rule stating that folks expressing nostalgia for Jim Crow shouldn't be elevated to the highest ranks of power and influence."

Seems kind of hard to argue with that.

WHY WE'LL MISS DICK ARMEY

We, the people, had better keep an eye on we, the people; that is, our government. Not out of contempt or lack of appreciation or disrespect, but out of a sense of guardianship. How do you use these tools we have given you to make us safe in such a manner that'll preserve our freedom?

That is a duty to our very essence as a nation. Who we are, what is it about us that has set us apart in the history of the world is our love for freedom.

As I said earlier, freedom is no policy for the timid. And my plaintive plea to all my colleagues that remain in this government as I leave it is, for your sake, for my sake, for heaven's sake, don't give up on freedom.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS FISKING JILL NELSON -- or at least her response to his piece criticizing her equation of beauty contests with oppression.

I think that it's absurd for Nelson to claim her original column was treated unfairly, and her response merely proves the point.

ALPHECCA writes that a recent study linking gun ownership with increased risk of death is bogus.

In particular, he notes the lumping-together of homicides and suicides. This is often done as a way of inflating the numbers (because most "gun deaths" are actually suicides). Whenever I find that, I tend to assume that the study is intended to be alarmist, not informative.

ARTHUR SILBER has a lengthy post on speech codes and postmodernism.

CAMPUSACTIVISM.ORG SAYS THAT LIBERTARIAN STUDENTS aren't progressive enough for it.

I guess a dedication to the politics of the 1960s is still "progressive," though.

VEGARD VALBERG MISTS the idea that The Lord of the Rings is racist.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Joe Bob Briggs has an answer.

CALPUNDIT is, well, Fisking Robert Fisk, in a small way. I think he's onto something.

JIM MILLER HAS MORE ON BRITISH MUSLIMS. And it's disturbing stuff.

LOTS OF INTERESTING STUFF AT RANTBURG TODAY. Check it out.

2600 REPORTS ON A PHOTOGRAPHER ARRESTED FOR PHOTOGRAPHING DICK CHENEY'S HOTEL:

As he was putting his camera away, Maginnis found himself confronted by a Denver police officer who demanded that he hand over his film and camera. When he refused to give up his Nikon F2, the officer pushed him to the ground and arrested him.

After being brought to the District 1 police station on Decatur Street, Maginnis was made to wait alone in an interrogation room. Two hours later, a Secret Service agent arrived, who identified himself as Special Agent "Willse."

The agent told Maginnis that his "suspicious activities" made him a threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act. The Secret Service agent tried to make Maginnis admit that he was taking the photographs to analyze weaknesses in the Vice President's security entourage and "cause terror and mayhem."

When Maginnis refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the Secret Service agent called him a "raghead collaborator" and a "dirty pinko faggot."

I find this story rather hard to believe -- though sadly not impossible. I wonder, though, if 2600 isn't making too much of the Patriot Act angle. Here's an InstaPundit item from August of 2001:

LOOSE THREADS IN THE SOCIAL FABRIC: Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn tells the story of a man who photographed some Amtrak cops in Chicago roughing up a drunk. The cops seized his camera and exposed the film. (He has witnesses). Zorn admits that this is a fairly minor civil rights violation, but he's right to say that things like this are important: "This claim shouldn't clog our courts. But it's worth noting because it describes one of those frequent little abuses that corrode respect for authority, breed mistrust and set even good people against those who ought to be their natural allies. The police may have gotten the film. But do they get the picture?"

The police took advantage of the fact that they were armed to intimidate this guy into surrendering his property. If you or I did the same thing, we'd be treated as criminals. Instead, the victim is being treated as a nuisance and a whiner. My advice: help him get some real revenge -- write your Congressperson and suggest they abolish Amtrak!

It's not unreasonable to question people who are taking pictures in a way that looks suspicious. The "confiscate the camera" impulse, however, is right out, though it's been a common one with law enforcement since long before 9/11. If this guy's story is true, he should sue and make a stink. He has just as much right to take pictures in a public place as someone working for The Rocky Mountain News.

And if Dick Cheney can't stay in a hotel without infringing the rights of people for blocks around, then he shouldn't stay in a hotel. He should stay on military bases, or stay home.

UPDATE: Via the World Wide Rant I find this report by Rob Carr of a somewhat similar experience, though only somewhat.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wilde thinks this is probably a hoax.

December 06, 2002

A COLBY COSH CONSPIRACY THEORY regarding Howell Raines and Augusta National:

The real embarrassment, of course, is for those who claim there is No Such Thing As Liberal Media Bias. Could the Times campaign against Augusta National be a tacit conspiracy to derail Al Gore's renomination campaign? Just as Gore is trying to make headlines claiming that conservatives dominate the U.S. media, this story--in which Pulitzer-winning columnists at the Paper of Record are getting their work rammed onto the spike for arguing in favour of old-fashioned American freedom of association--rears its head. You've got to wonder if they're deliberately trying to make him look like a fool.

Somehow I imagine Wilford Brimley asking "Mr. Raines, are you that smart?"

NOW HERE'S A CULTURE-JAMMING PROJECT, or maybe it's more like a culture-healing project: online Saudi Dating.

BOY, THIS POST HAS IT ABSOLUTELY RIGHT:

At a very fundamental level, the Big Content companies don't understand the revolution that is happening in the digital media realm. They still see us as consumers only capable of digesting their offerings and handing over money. They really don't seem to understand that the reason we are buying PCs, video cameras, digital cameras, broadband connections and the like is that we want to create and share our creations. The quality of "amateur" content is exploding at the same time that Big Media companies are going through one of their all-time lows in music and television creativity. No wonder we're spending more time with our PCs that we are with our TVs.

Yep. But apparently Peter Chernin of Fox doesn't quite get it.

(Via Wayne Klick).

IRANIAN AUTHORITIES ARE REPORTEDLY ARRESTING STUDENTS IN ADVANCE of tomorrow's planned demonstrations.

ARE U.N. VEHICLES smuggling terrorists?

Sad to say, it wouldn't surprise me.

WITH ADMIRABLE DOGGEDNESS (bloggedness?) Jim Henley continues to post updates on the DC sniper case (remember that?) which, among other things, seem to suggest that the Al Fuqra connection bruited about many places, including here, is unfounded.

TRENT LOTT DESERVES THE SHIT he's getting from Atrios and Josh Marshall.

It's one thing to say that Strom Thurmond should be allowed to celebrate his 100th birthday without people focusing on his allegiance to a hateful and oppressive ideology half a lifetime (er, his lifetime -- for most people it would be a whole lifetime) ago -- just as youthful flings with Marxism may be forgiven later on even if they're nothing to be proud of.

But to say, as Lott did, that the country would be better off if Thurmond had won in 1948 is, well, it's proof that Lott shouldn't be Majority Leader for the Republicans, to begin with. And that's just to begin with. It's a sentiment as evil and loony as wishing that Gus Hall had been elected.

(The official 1948 Democratic Party sample ballot on Atrios' page, by the way, is a must-read. It's easy to forget how things once were. Lott has, apparently. At least, it would be worse if he hasn't.)

HERE'S A STORY ON BLOGS AND THE COMING WAR:

CNN owned the story of the first Gulf War -- blogs and the Internet may carry the day if there is a sequel.

Just as the 1991 conflict was the testing ground for 24-hour cable channels like CNN more than 10 years ago, a second conflict there may serve as a trial by fire for the news and commentary sites known as blogs.

I actually think the Afghan War did that, but this is a pretty good article.

THE CAPITALIST CHICKS email to say that they've added a discussion board. Apparently they think that InstaPundit readers are likely to contribute.

They're probably right, and I think that they do achieve their goal of ensuring that readers think of capitalists as something other than dour old men of the Ebenezer Scrooge variety.

RON BAILEY WRITES ABOUT REGENERATIVE MEDICINE: I say, bring it on! Uh, starting with the knee cartilage.

SARI STEIN HAS multiple updates on Concordia University's situation, and this call to arms that could profitably be read by people at many other schools:

On the one hand, the expression of support is wonderful. On the other hand, I'm kind of ashamed to realize just how much Concordia's international reputation has been damaged. I graduated from that school. It's on my diploma and my resume. I had a pretty good three years there - DESPITE the idiots. They are not the majority and they do not represent most students, and most of the time I had no problem just going about my business and ignoring them . . . and getting a damn good education in the process, I might add.

It disheartens me to realize that people are giving up on Concordia instead of fighting to take it back from those who have hijaked it. Would they be so quick to give up on McGill, or Harvard, or Princeton? Would they be so quick to just shrug and say "the school's been taken over by the professional shit-disturbers, good riddance"? I doubt it. No, they'd fight for their school.

To any Concordia student who may be reading this: the power ultimately rests with you, at the voting booth. Get informed, get involved, get organized, and make a change. Victory may be difficult at Concordia but it's not impossible. And the rewards are great: reclaiming the school for the students, in the name of democracy, freedom, and the right thing.

As I say, this is good advice for people at a lot of schools.

EUGENE VOLOKH ON THE EVOLVING SECOND AMENDMENT: This one is a must-read.

FIVE REASONS FOR WAR: A cartoon by Ted Rall.

No, really. More proof of the "it's not a bug, it's a feature" angle to, well, most everything.

HOWELL RAINES HAS SURRENDERED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE and will run the two spiked columns on Augusta National.

I think it's all because of Mickey Kaus's "Flood the Zone" strategy.

DAVE ROBERTS WRITES that the FBI's balldropping on the PTech matter is more evidence that antiterrorism could learn a few lessons from the Blogosphere.

UPDATE: Charles Johnson thinks that the PTech matter is a massive security problem, making all sorts of government security systems untrustworthy. But at the moment, it looks as if the Homeland Security guys are pointing a finger in the wrong direction.

If this kind of thing keeps up, they'll be seeing some "fingers" of their own.

Hmm. Centralizing things in can't help this.

WHO WILL REPLACE PAUL O'NEILL? Ben Domenech has some candidates in mind:

Bono

Pros: As O'Neill's de facto deputy, he already knows the ins and outs of the job. Plus "generosity," "debt relief," and "worldwide economic recovery" just sound better when they're said by a man with an Irish lilt and ridiculous sunglasses.

Cons: Would immediately be rumored by Lloyd Grove to be tussling behind the scenes with Rumsfeld over who is "coolest Cabinet Secretary ever."

Actually, there's no contest. Meanwhile Tony Adragna has multiple takes on the O'Neill / Lindsey resignations. Oh, and there's also more at &c.

I'VE BEEN DOING SOME IMAGE TRANSFERS in support of my wife's documentary, which is now in post-production, and I really liked this picture. I think it'll go on the publicity website when that's up. Anyhow, here's a picture of the InstaWife hard at work on a shoot earlier this year. As you can see, she's enjoying herself.

Yes, we're a family of media geeks, and apparently it's genetic: my daughter was photoshopping a picture of me into something amusing last night. I guess there are worse traits to pass on to the next generation.

HOUSTON PARKING LOT RAID UPDATE:

HOUSTON, 12:16 p.m. CST December 6, 2002 - A Houston grand jury Friday indicted two Houston police officers, including Capt. Mark Aguirre, who headed the Kmart parking lot raid in which hundreds of people were arrested over the summer.

Aguirre and Sgt. Ken Wenzel, who was the field leader for the operation, were each charged with five counts of official oppression. . . .

[T]he mass arrests sparked damage claims and lawsuits that could cost the city millions.

One of those people arrested has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the city, accusing Aguirre and the city of falsely arresting him for "attempted trespass."

If I were one of the law enforcement people behind the similar Racine arrests, I'd be worrying.

UPDATE: Here's a longer account.

I MENTIONED THE NINTH CIRCUIT'S CITATION OF MICHAEL BELLESILES in its anti-Second Amendment decision yesterday. Clayton Cramer reports that the Bellesiles influence goes farther than that.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more on this subject.

I understand that Judge Reinhardt may have been especially susceptible to Bellesiles' views because he is married to Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the Southern California ACLU and fierce proponent of gun control. I'm not suggesting that Judge Reinhardt should have recused himself, as the ACLU was not, to my knowledge, involved in the lawsuit. But I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there was a copy of Bellesiles' Arming America on the nightstand.

A SOFTWARE COMPANY SUSPECTED OF AIDING TERRORISTS has been raided. A reader emails that local radio reports in the Boston area say that employees had told the FBI of a Saudi terror connection there a year ago but the FBI gave them the brush-off, so they persisted until they got Customs interested.

Is this an argument against putting all of our Homeland Security eggs in one potentially-corruptible basket?

GUN CONTROL CULTURE SHIFT: Here's a nugget from Howard Kurtz today on the Louisiana Senate election:

Landrieu even gave a $1,000 donation from Handgun Control to a hunting organization to clear up any "confusion" about her backing of the Second Amendment.

Can it get any worse than that for HCI? She didn't even return the donation -- she gave it to the enemy!

JEEEEEZUS CHRIST: I don't know why, but this item on 512MB Flash memory cards gave me a real headspin. I remember the first 10MB hardcard I saw. And it cost a lot more than this!

IN PRAISE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Josh Chafetz is absolutely right:

I think it's somewhat biased to the left. Hell, I've even gone after one of its columnists in print. But in the end, it's still probably the best newspaper on earth. If you want to really appreciate it, try reading only the British papers for a week.

So good on Last for reminding us: the Times is flawed, and criticism is important -- it can help make it better -- but it's still pretty damned amazing, and it's still the first stop in my morning reading, not because I'm looking for flaws, but because I'm looking for good, detailed, reliable reporting. And the Times usually -- not always, but usually -- delivers the goods.

I agree. I think, in fact, that it's this kind of sentiment that makes a lot of people angry about Howell Raines' efforts to turn the Times into a house organ for the McAuliffe wing of the Democratic Party.

JIM MILLER REPORTS a troubling poll of British Muslims.

You know, it's not prejudice to accuse people of being disloyal when they are, in fact, disloyal. But given the anti-assimilation policies favored in Britain, attitudes like this aren't a big surprise.

"TED BARLOW DISEASE" seems to be spreading. Is there a vaccine for that?

Come back, Ted!

UPDATE: NOOOoooo!

EUROPEAN ANTI-SEMITISM WATCH: Michiel Visser has discovered that in Europe, support for terrorism and genocide can get you an award for "human rights."

Coming next: Nobel Peace Prize winner David Duke.

MY REDUCED-BLOGGING PERIOD this week caused me not to get around to writing about the Padilla decision. Fortunately, Eugene Volokh had it covered. Start here and scroll up.

As I've said before, I favor treating American citizens differently from non-Americans, at least where domestic arrests are concerned. (If you're hanging with Al Qaeda abroad, well, you take your risks as to the occasional Hellfire missile). The big risk isn't individual injustices -- those are bad, but as we've seen the ordinary criminal-justice system produces them in significant numbers anyway, meaning that they don't raise any unique concerns in the antiterrorism context. The big risk is that extraordinary legal powers will be perverted from anti-terrorism to the harassment of political opponents. So long as they can't be exercised against American citizens, that risk is virtually nil.

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THE EMAIL about San Francisco's Rainbow Food Cooperative boycotting Israel. The Rainbow Food Cooperative sure has, and it's an interesting lesson about the power of the Internet to spread the word:

Yes, the store has a right to wage a boycott, just as consumers have a right to boycott the store.

Zimmerman noted that the Rainbow brigade is now learning "that it's not a free ride, and I think that's a good thing."

The odd thing is, for one year, there was a free ride. The boycotters heaped scorn on a small democracy fighting for its life, and no one said peep. No one asked if they were outraged at suicide bombers who deliberately kill Israeli children. No one challenged them to explain how they could say they are boycotting for freedom, without boycotting the oppressive financiers of violent Palestinians.

They had a free ride. They could feel superior and pure, hyping "freedom for the Palestinians and all people." Except they didn't really mean that part about "all people."

The Internet ended that free ride, as it's ending a lot of others. Which is why so many people are nostalgic for the days before it existed.

AND THIS IS THE HOME OF THE FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT? Now it's not just students, but Berkeley's mayor stealing copies of student newspapers he doesn't like. How lame is that?

Pretty lame. But, somehow, not surprising at all.

UPDATE: Hmm. Now the Daily Cal server is down. More of the same? I've changed the link.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kevin Deenihan has a lot more on this, including a correction for what he says is an error in the story linked above. Also, the Daily Cal is back up, and here's the link to its story.

December 05, 2002

SEE, I TOLD YOU I WAS REALLY A LIBERAL. But, like Norma Desmond, I feel that something has changed. . . .

A SMALL PLANE crashed into the Federal Reserve Bank building in Miami. The pilot is dead, but no one else was hurt. Terrorism? If so, it's pretty lame. But Al Qaeda has been trending lame for a while.

UPDATE: They're calling it an accident.

THE WEBLOG ACTION CENTER has information on how to support our servicepeople overseas during the holidays. Check it out.

JUSTICE AND COMEDY: Some interesting thoughts from Stefan Sharkansky.

IT'S NOT QUITE A FISKING, but Eugene Volokh has a pretty brutal critique of the Ninth Circuit's Second Amendment decision, and what that decision doesn't discuss. Eugene pronounces it "disappointing."

BIG IRANIAN STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS are planned for December 7. I think it's going to be an interesting weekend.

UPDATE: By the way, check out this speech, for which Dr. Hashem Aghajari was sentenced, to death, triggering the current wave of revolutionary sentiment. Excerpt:

Non-Muslims Too Have Inalienable Rights

"If we, as Muslims of divine and perfect Islam, value mankind, and say that [people] are human beings regardless of religion, even if they are not Muslims, even if they are not Iranians, such as Turks, Kurds and Lurs,[8] whatever they may be - [we should say that] they are human and they have inalienable rights."

I think this truth is self-evident. And the mullahs fear that it is.

THIS POST of mine had a quote from a Michael Gove article in The Times that quoted Amnesty International's Irene Khan. (Got that?). Now I notice that Kevin Drum has a post saying that the Khan quote is actually several weeks old and not -- as it appears from Gove's piece -- in response to the British government's new report of Iraqi human rights violations.

I don't know how big a deal this is, but I do try to get these things right.

TROUBLE IN VENEZUELA: Here's a BBC story and here's an AP story. A national strike, oil not getting out, lines at gas stations. Ugly.




THE CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY HANUKKAH RALLY went off without being suppressed by the University, which, I'd guess, is unhappy at all the attention its effort to shut down the campus Hillel chapter has gotten. Here's a report from Sari Stein:

Event went great. Huge turnout. We sang, we danced, we lit candles, we proclaimed our freedom. Samer Elatrash got arrested. I'll post more details over on my blog as soon as I finish answering e-mails.

There's a much longer account on her weblog. The photo above is by McGill student Michael D. Smith, who kindly consented to its use here. There are more pictures on Sari Stein's blog.

FLOYD MCWILLIAMS says things aren't as bad in Europe as I think -- it's just the 1970s over there. Hmm. This would explain Daft Punk, not that I have anything bad to say about guys who make electronic music while pretending to be robots.

THONG-CLAD SUICIDE BOMBERS? But where will they hide the C4?

YOU GOTTA HAVE A GIMMICK. For Clinton, it was the saxophone. For George W., it was that he didn't play the saxophone. Now Palmermix has discovered John Kerry's . . . .

UPDATE: Heh. And read this, courtesy of Eve Tushnet, who also found this. Beware the Blogosphere. . . .

HERE'S A REPORT that the New York Times is even spiking letters to the editor from sources who say they were misquoted about the Augusta National affair.

Mickey Kaus is all over this story, but so far I'm ahead of him with this.

STILL MORE OBSERVATIONS OF WATER ON MARS.

Of course, this just makes these observations by Rand Simberg on the upcoming 30th anniversary of the last human footsteps on the Moon that much more poignant.

THE NINTH CIRCUIT, in an opinion by Stephen Reinhardt, says there's no Second Amendment right to arms. At least, I think so -- the opinion is 69 pages long and I've only skimmed the beginning so far.

Footnote 1 is to an article by Michael Bellesiles, though, which doesn't exactly enhance its credibility.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer has more. And now that I've skimmed the whole thing, it seems that the 9th Circuit believes there's a right of the states to have -- in the words of a Warren Burger passage from Parade magazine that the opinion quotes -- "state armies." If this is taken seriously, states can nullify federal gun control laws simply by declaring that their adult citizenry constitutes "the militia" and is to have machine guns. (You can read an article that Don Kates and I wrote in the William & Mary Law Review on this very subject here.)

I don't think it's meant to be taken seriously, though. The "states' right" argument is usually employed by gun control supporters like a chain of garlic against a vampire -- pulled out at need, but then hastily tossed back in the cellar afterward, lest its odor offend.

To be fair, though, I've just skimmed the opinion. It's possible that there's a layer of sophistication that I've missed.

UNILATERALISM: Germany is planning big defense cuts, in violation of its commitments. Geitner Simmons says it well:

German criticism of U.S. military muscle and "unilateralism" is hard to take when German officials are unapologetically shortchanging their own country's military capabilities. The same goes for German complaints about the yawning gap between their country's military capability and that of the United States.

As the Times article points out, the German government's decision directly undercuts a recent pledge by NATO officials to reduce that technology gap.

I think it's fair to call this "irresponsible unilateralism" and "contempt for international agreeements."

UPDATE: Reader Don Stadler writes:

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your opinion about the German defense cuts. They are unilaterism to be sure. But much, much more than that, the cuts are simply desperation. And arguably a good sign.

Yopu have been linking to stories and blogs documenting the slide of Schroeder into a slough of unpopularity because he has been trying to stitch the German budget together with tax increases and no effective reform.

When you are trying to dig a country out of a hole so you can cut taxes what do you do? You cut back on the ineffective things the government is doing.

For Germany defense is a good start. For what is more ineffective than the German Armed Forces? The Greek Navy?

Good point. And, in light of history, probably a cheering one. . . .

BROCK YATES REPORTS FROM THE FRONT LINES on Homeland Security (er, aren't we all on the front lines for. . . oh, hell, never mind). He's not impressed.

STUDENTS AT THE NEW SCHOOL are demanding that Bob Kerrey step down as President. My wife is an alumna of the New School, and I suspect she'd be surprised that the students managed to muster the energy. Heck, though, it's better than working on your dissertation.

Maybe they should transfer to Concordia. They'd probably be happier there.

MORE ANTISEMITISM AT CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY: Martin Devon has the scoop. (There's also a story here).

I wonder how the administrators there (Devon has their names and email addresses) feel about Concordia becoming synonymous in many people's minds with north-of-the-border bigotry? Sadly, I'm afraid they may not care much at all.

UPDATE: There's more information here. And Sari Stein emails:

Also, there's a Chanukah event planned for 5pm today in the Hall building, in violation of the Hillel ban. Turnout is essential. If you could post something about it, I know lots of local Montrealers read your blog so it might help get more people to come out.

Okay. Somebody take a digital camera and post some pics.

COLLIN MAY AT INNOCENTS ABROAD has a lengthy and thoughtful discussion of the Denton/Reynolds tiff, with broader perspectives on transatlantic relations:

I’m a Canadian, and I’ve never lived in the backwoods of Tennessee, but did spend four years living in Boston. Since 1997, I’ve lived in Europe, first in Geneva and now in Paris. And as far as what I read, I prefer le Figaro to le Monde and the Times to the Guardian. Now, in terms of the accusation regarding Europhobia, I tend to agree with Reynolds.

First, his comments on Germany and Gerhard Schroeder aren’t exactly a sign of Europhobia. Most Germans are voicing similar complaints. In fact, Schroeder is now probably among the least respected of European politicians.

There's more, and you should read it all if you're interested in this subject.

MS. MAGAZINE is soliciting nominations for a list of female bloggers (in response to the Times piece from a couple of weeks ago).

Send 'em your nominations.

(Via TalkLeft).

SORRY for the late start and limited blogging today. I've got the same nasty cold that everyone has. I'll spare you the Lileks-like details, but the worst thing is it just makes me feel kind of dizzy and stupid. Maybe a sudafed will help.

CENTRAL PARK JOGGER UPDATE: Looks like a rout for the original prosecutors, and a tremendous miscarriage of justice.

I expect the defendants will be happy to get on with their lives, but I want to repeat a point I raised earlier: what kind of compensation is enough to make up for what they went through? Most states provide niggardly compensation for people who are wrongly imprisoned, if they provide any at all, and most freed defendants aren't in a position to negotiate.

I'd like to see a statute providing for substantial (and I mean substantial-according-to-the-standards-of-lawyers-and-Congressmen, not substantial-for-the-hoi-polloi) compensation for innocent people who are imprisoned. A million bucks a year? That's a good place to start.

Any system of justice will sometimes imprison innocent people. You do the best you can to avoid that (or at least you should). But that's no excuse not to try to make them whole when you realize there's been a mistake. That's just as much a legitimate expense as the salaries paid to prosecutors and judges.

UPDATE: Many readers emailed to say that the Central Park joggers are criminals even if they aren't guilty of the rape in question. Well, maybe. Ann Coulter is certainly making this point.

But, you know, even if it's true that doesn't excuse jailing them for a crime that they didn't commit. Meanwhile prosecutorial reader John Kluge writes:

As a prosecutor, the unraveling of the central park jogger case sends chills up my spine. You are never there when police interview a suspect and have no idea what really happens during those interviews. At the same time, once you have a confession, it is virtually impossible not to go forward with the prosecution, especially in a case involving a real victim. Police misconduct in obtaining false confessions puts prosecutors in an impossible position. Imagine if prosecutors had concluded that the confessions were coerced back at the time of trial and not gone forward with the cases. Back then, they didn't have the serial rapist confessing to the crime. A prosecutor not going forward on a brutal gang rape against five youths who gave videotaped confessions would have caused riot. Prosecutors and the entire justice system depends on the integrity of the police conducting interogations of suspects. By the time the case gets to you, the accused already has a lawyer and is not going to talk anymore. The police are usually the only ones who get a crack at interviewing the accused. To think that there is a possiblity that some of the confessions on which I have based convictions may have been false or coerced by police is a truly disturbing thought.

Yes, and it should be. As far as I can tell, there are two solutions to this problem: (1) Require that a lawyer be present whenever the police talk to anyone; or (2) Videotape every second of interaction between suspects and the police. The former is prohibitively difficult -- though why in God's name anyone in custody talks to the police without a lawyer is beyond me. I watch those TV shows where the cops say "bring in a lawyer and the deal's off" and I cringe. But I know it happens in real life.

The second seems quite feasible these days, and the absence of such taping should be sufficient, in my opinion, to make confessions obtained otherwise unadmissible.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, on rereading Ann Coulter after the sudafed took effect, I think she's still mainly arguing that they really are guilty of the rape in question. Meanwhile The Comedian blogs on what it takes to get a conviction overturned in New York.

LAST UPDATE: Justin Katz, like a lot of emailers, thinks I've been suckered by the New York Times on this one. Well, what convinced me was that Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is reported to believe that the defendants are innocent. Did the Times get that part wrong? Morgenthau is in a position to know a lot more than me, has no incentive to be alarmist about this that I can see, and is a guy that I generally trust. And it's awfully damned hard to get prosecutors to admit error even when it's pretty clear, so when they do admit it, I tend to believe them.

HEY, thanks to the folks who hit the tipjar last week. Just got the transfer email from Amazon.

HOWELL RAINES' MASSIVE EMBARRASSMENT: Mickey Kaus says the New York Times is racist in its treatment of Tiger Woods. Andrew Sullivan says the Times is facing internal revolt. And Fritz Schranck has started a "New York Times Insincerity Watch" feature, noting that the Times continues to profit from coverage of what it editorially regards as gender apartheid. After all, if (as the NYT suggests) Tiger Woods has a moral duty to boycott Augusta National at considerable cost to himself, what about the Times?

Schranck also compares this effort with great newspaper crusades of the past and finds it wanting:

The Washington Post kept alive the coverage of the Watergate break-in and the Nixon Administration during the 1972 presidential campaign.

The Los Angeles Times deserves credit for its extended treatment of the Rodney King beating case and its aftermath.

And now?

The New York Times devotes pages of ink and thousands of pixels on a membership controversy involving one of the most exclusive private country clubs on this green earth.

Compared to the issues previously deemed worthy of a sustained journalistic attack, this latest little tempest just doesn't resonate with the awesome scope of its potential impact on social policy, now does it?

If Raines wanted to launch a big crusade, worthy of the Times -- and one that would even hurt Republicans -- he could devote the New York Times' vast reportorial resources to unravelling the web of Saudi financial influence in Washington. Instead, he's worried about golf.

SAY IT AIN'T SO!

Russian security officials suspect that the Chechens who seized a Moscow theatre in October had wealthy Arab sponsors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and have sought Washington's support in finding the financiers.

Senior officials say they have traced a series of telephone calls from the gunmen to their "sponsors" in the Gulf.

During one call made to an unspecified Gulf state a financier asked for a video of scenes inside the theatre, and was told it could be made for a $1m fee.

"Several long telephone conversations were intercepted to Saudi Arabia, to the Emirates, and to Qatar.

"We can say for sure that the hostage-taking was financed from abroad, and the terrorists maintained permanent contact with their sponsors."

He added that the leader of the hostage-takers, Mosvar Barayev, and several of his fellow Chechens had planned to flee to the Gulf once the crisis was over.

Well, the plan didn't work out very well, did it?

December 04, 2002

NICK DENTON IS unhappy that I've been running items on Europe's problems. He doesn't say that the items I'm running are wrong, or that Europe doesn't have problems. He's just unhappy. Well, to be clear, my attitude isn't schadenfreude, exactly. It's more like someone who realizes that an alcoholic has to hit bottom before he gets help. I've been worried about where Europe has been headed for quite a while, and so far it seems to be following the script with worrisome accuracy. But far too many commentators in Europe, and in America, seem in denial about this. Thus, I think it's worthwhile to point it out.

Sadly, Nick follows up with this post featuring snotty remarks about the ignorance of people living in "suburban Tennessee," who obviously know nothing about Europe. Well, I lived in Germany for a while as a kid when my dad taught at Heidelberg, and when I was in law practice I had European clients like Ericsson and Siemens, and I have family in Paris who I visit occasionally, so I'm not exactly one of the Dukes of Hazzard mentioned in the post, though I claim no special expertise on European affairs. But, you know, you don't need to be on the train to appreciate a train wreck when it's happening. And it's happening.

Was it an example of nasty anti-Europeanism when NPR ran a story this afternoon that was essentially identical to my Gerhard Schroeder post from last night?

I think the truth just hurts. I'm sorry about that. I'd rather see Europe doing well, though I don't believe it's possible for Europe to do well while pursuing the current vision of "Europe." As for the sneers at me personally, well, I can take it, though I don't like that sort of stuff from someone I like and respect, and I don't think it does much to support Nick's argument. Nick and I agreed to disagree about Europe a while ago (I thought). But I don't talk about Nick that way, and I won't.

UPDATE: Brazilian poet Nelson Ascher emails from Paris:

I come from a country where the intellectuals at least are strongly anti-American and philo-European. Besides, my family left the continent only after WW2 and the language we spoke at home wasn't Portuguese, but Hungarian. I actually came to Europe, among other reasons, because of the landscape, or rather, the cityscapes, and because something around 9000 people are murdered every year in my 18 million people town or, in comparative numbers, 10 times as much as those killed by the Palestinians in Israel.

And curiously, I have been getting independently, and even before 911, to the same conclusions about Europe as you and many other bloggers. Besides, my conclusions are mainly based not on statistical data and economic or political analysis, but on the day to day observation of the way Europeans live, act and react.

Nothing (having spent my childhood and early youth under a military dictatorship) amazed me as much as the very convenient lack of interference by the population in the most important political decisions, a situation that is even more worrying when instead of individual countries we concentrate on the EU. I was already here during the recent elections and cannot remember any serious discussion on TV or in the press about France's foreign policy, for instance. The press and the rest of the media, by the way, don't much question the official line on most subjects. There are no French Chomskys, Swedish Howard Zinns, Italian Edward Saids or German Susan Sontags criticizing their own countries or continent: they only criticize the US (or the straw men of their own populist right wing). This is a very Soviet-like kind of free-speech.

Fortunately for you, the US is not as well acquainted with what we, in Brazil, call the civil servant mentality as we are. Even so, I don't think there's any need of describing it, is there? Enough to say that for me, in terms of work ethic and dynamism in general, Western Europeans are beginning, in a best case scenario, to look like Latin Americans and, in a worst case one, like the inhabitants of the Soviet empire.

Yeah, that's how it seems to me, too. Meanwhile, Charles Murtaugh tried to dismiss Lileks' worries about Euro-terrorism, but couldn't manage to.

MARK KLEIMAN says it's okay to call people felons even when they've never been convicted of felonies.

Somehow I'm reminded of the scene in the movie Stripes, which went something like this:

Q: Have either of you been convicted of a felony?

A: Uh, convicted? (Sigh of relief) No!

MORE SEX DISCRMINATION AT BERKELEY'S LAW SCHOOL. Stefan Sharkansky discovered this shocking example of gender apartheid. Doesn't this violate the Constitution?

JUDY WOODRUFF, right-wing tool! Who knew?

IRAQIS COMPLAIN OF U.N. INSPECTORS SPYING.

A RARE GLIMPSE inside InstaPundit Secret Headquarters. Mutants, robot servants, and illegal weapons of mass destruction were removed for the picture.

WILL WARREN, THE POET LAUREATE OF THE BLOGOSPHERE, is retiring.

I hope that, like so many blogospheric retirements, this is temporary. And I hope that Will will leave his poems up, and save copies for eventual publication.

Meanwhile, here's my favorite poem of Warren's. Don't miss it.

SCHROEDER ON THE ROPES: Ralf Goergens reports on Gerhard Schroeder's many domestic political problems. According to Goergens, Schroeder has painted himself into a corner, politically:

Since the Bush administration isn't really asking for anything the American military couldn't do without (the US Army already has received all NBC-related equipment it needs from Germany some years ago) and has repeatedly caused internal trouble for Schroeder by similar requests parts of the German press are starting to suspect that GWB is doing it to show the Schroeder administration up (or maybe just for his own private amusement). . . .

Schroeder's Red-Green government had won the elections by shamelessly pandering to the crucial 5 % of hard line leftists whose support they had lost because of their (timid) economic reforms during their first term in government. They can't risk offending them now because there are important elections in two states early next year; if they want to have any chance to gain a majority in the Bundesrat (upper house of parliament) they'll need to win them both. . . .

All this poses a dilemma for Schroeder. On the one hand he wants to get on GWB's good side again, on the other he can't afford to alienate his hard-left supporters again. He might even try a repeat-performance of his federal election campaign, provided the war on Iraq isn't over by then. I sincerely hope that he won't sink this low; Germany might even be unceremoniously kicked out of NATO. Except for ideologues Germans in general don't hate America, but a lot of them are going to vote for anybody who promises to keep them out of such conflicts, however foolish that may be considering circumstances. I think that even that won't help the Social Democrats, public opinion is solidly against them and there are real rifts even within Schroeder's government.

Read the whole, much longer post. Very interesting. Meanwhile fellow Germanoblogger Papa Scott reports that Schroeder's candidates are being accused of lying about budget projections. I'm as shocked as Papa Scott that anyone would accuse a politician of lying.

SPIKED! Let the Raines-bashing begin.

Er, well, continue, anyway.

UPDATE: Dan Lewis wonders why his phone isn't ringing.

THE CDC WILL BE BROADCASTING A PROGRAM ON SMALLPOX PREPAREDNESS Thursday and Friday. It's also going to be available by Webcast. Links are at The Bloviator.

ARTHUR SILBER ENTERS THE GAY MARRIAGE DEBATE: His solution -- privatize it!

THE SAUDIS ARE REPORTEDLY RALLYING AGAINST DEMOCRACY in the Mideast:

Arab diplomatic sources said the kingdom has been consulting with Egypt, Syria and the Gulf states regarding the ramifications of post-Saddam reforms in Iraq. The sources said Saudi Arabia is concerned that it will be the next target of the Bush administration. . . .

"No one can change the Saudi regime but Allah," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz said.

The proposed accord would also commit league members to oppose any U.S. attempt to freeze the assets of any Arab government. The Saudi aim is to prevent Washington from blocking Saudi assets in the United States or in allied nations that stem from the multi-trillion dollar suit by the families of victims of the Al Qaida attacks on New York and Washington more than a year ago.

It's interesting that those lawsuits are going forward.

JUSTIN SODANO is back from his blogging hiatus.

"FIERCE FIGHTING" breaks out in Northern Iraq.

SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING: I'm quite busy today. In my absence, ponder the significance of this development:

ANKARA, Turkey -- The Turkish government Tuesday offered the use of its bases in a potential war against Iraq, as U.S. officials confirmed that Saudi Arabia has also agreed to give its long-sought military support, twin moves that could clear the way for a formidable attack on multiple fronts.

Particularly as timed with this development:

WASHINGTON -- President Bush today dismissed reports that Iraqi weapons inspections are going well, saying Saddam Hussein's actions away from the U.N. team's work prove that Saddam "is not somebody who looks like he's interested in complying."

Back later.

THE FUTURE isn't what it used to be.

THIS PIECE in the Financial Times rains scorn on proposals for an EU defense policy:

The latest Franco-German proposals to further the EU's defence ambitions highlight the follies of the project. In effect, Paris has acquiesced to Germany's military ineffectiveness in return for Berlin's acceptance of French institutional obsessions that would disconnect the EU from Nato. . .

Most important, whatever their pretensions to a greater military capacity, the Europeans will for the foreseeable future depend on US military assistance. Yet the Americans suspect that European defence ambitions are motivated by a desire for competition with the US, not co-operation. French demands for European autonomy in military planning do little to assuage US concerns.

The E.U. has committed itself, philosophically, politically and -- most of all -- economically to a strategy that ensures its military irrelevance. That makes this kind of discussion moot, I think.

AL GORE GETS IT (HALF) RIGHT: My TechCentralStation column is up.

UPDATE: Jim Pinkerton is a lot harder on Al than I was.

ANOTHER UPDATE: SpinSanity has a round-up on the whole Gore debate.

And here's an interesting piece on Fox News as compared to The West Wing.

ANTISEMITISM IS, APPARENTLY, THE ANTISEMITISM OF THE INTELLECTUALS these days. St. Cloud University has settled a lawsuit alleging systematic bias against Jews.

I'm not sure I agree with the "establish a diversity training system" approach to settling lawsuits like this. I think big, whopping damages do a better job of training people not to discriminate, and without setting up campus bureaucracies that will never die.

I found this via Erin O'Connor, who also has an interesting report on the silencing of women at the University of Michigan.

THE INTELLECTUAL ORIGINS OF AMERICA-BASHING: Lee Harris has an essay on the subject. Excerpt:

This is an intellectual tragedy. The Marxist left, whatever else one might say about it, has traditionally offered a valuable perspective from which even the greatest conservative thinkers have learned — including Schumpeter and Thomas Sowell. But if it cannot rid itself of its current penchant for fantasy ideology of the worst type, not only will it be incapable of serving this purpose; it will become worse than useless. It will become a justification for a return to that state of barbarism mankind has spent millennia struggling to transcend — a struggle that no one felt more keenly than Marx himself.

It has been a long time, of course, since Marxism had much to do with Marx.

AL QAEDA VS. THE NETHERLANDS: Michiel Visser is reporting on an unfolding war there. And war's the right word, though Al Qaeda appears to be losing there, too. The real question is why the British haven't arrested Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who seems to be involved.

December 03, 2002

BLOG CHRISTMAS GIFTS: Jeff Jarvis has made a list, and I think he's even checked it twice.

FREE PASS FOR THE SUPREME COURT: Just caught Falwell on Donahue, saying that (1) he thinks the Supreme Court will find sodomy laws unconstitutional; and (2) he thinks they should be kept in force for "symbolic reasons."

When even Jerry Falwell thinks they'll go down, and cares to defend them only on grounds of symbolism, well, it makes me think that the politics on this issue point the same way as the law. Or, if you're one of those people who see the Court as a largely political animal, you might think that justices on the court who support other "right-wing" outcomes like ending affirmative action might think it useful to balance those by overturning Bowers. I don't think the Court looks at cases that way, myself, but many people do and I suppose I could be wrong.

SCHROEDER IS LEADING GERMANY TO DISASTER, writes Rosemary Righter in The Times. Excerpt:

Revolt is in the air. The most, perhaps the only, popular people in Germany are its satirists; and German satire, when it gets going, is robust verging on nasty. The “shirt game” is gentler, but its message is unmistakable. In response to the 48 different tax increases, on everything from flowers to fuel oil, announced since September by a Chancellor who only last July declared that “tax rises make no economic sense” in a slump, the web designer Christian Stein suggested that people should solve Herr Schröder’s financial worries by sending him the “shirts off their backs”. The response has been such that he predicts that the Chancellor, compared in one of the less vitriolic epithets around to a bad case of athlete’s foot, will have 50,000 of them in his wardrobe come Christmas.

The Germans also want their deutschmark back. It turns out — as became known when C&A, in an inspired bit of marketing, invited Germans to spend their “useless” marks in all its branches this week — that they hated surrendering the currency so much that they still have €8.8 billion stashed under their mattresses. The euro — and, by extension, “Europe” — is becoming equated with national disaster.

There is a queasiness about that goes beyond the dyspepsia induced by this particular winter’s discontents. That could be a good thing if it means that a truth evident to others for some time is finally sinking in. This is that the postwar German system, in which this most systematic of nations has placed its trust, is not just in need of a tonic but is fatally diseased. Not only that, but the quack medicines being administered will make its eventual demise a messy, expensive, and needlessly, humiliatingly, miserable business. . . .

The breakdown is not just economic, but political. The election turned not on hard facts about the economy, but on Herr Schröder’s crude manipulation of anti-Americanism. Germans have turned on their own man for now, but the less able they are to face facts, the more tempting it will be to hunt scapegoats outside Germany. That would be the most alarming development of all.

Can things really be that bad in Germany? And since when did Steven Den Beste start writing for The Times under a pseudonym?

GWEILO DIARIES SAYS that some other bloggers need to be careful about who they call felons, lest they face a libel suit. The actual likelihood of such a suit seems low to me, but it is bad form to call people felons when they're not, and it appears that Gweilo is right. But a quick google search shows that quite a few others have made the same mistake, and I suspect that they may have gotten the idea from this article in Insight magazine, dated today.

TWO TOWERS UPDATE: Reader Michael Drout emails:

Saw the Two Towers today and thought you'd be interested to know that if there's a central "message" that comes out of the movie, it is that the only responsible thing to do for one's people is to ride out and engage the attacking evil rather than retreat into a fortress. Very interesting that Jackson made this movie before September 11, since there are a lot of images ("suicide bomber" orcs; terrified children; Saruman deliberately targeting women and children because they are weaker), none of which are specifically found in the books, but which fit the current zietgeist quite well.

I think people who liked Fellowship will find Two Towers consistent: magnificent setting, good battles, cool creatures (the cgi of Gollum is amazingly effective; the revised dialogue less so), flawless costumes, etc., but also gratuitous plot changes, oversimplifications and changes that are, to me, flat out unexplainable. Definitely worth your $10 and 3 hours.

And as a coincidence, a new book by Tolkien, which I edited, just came out oday. It's a scholarly book about Beowulf that Tolkien wrote in the 1930s but will be of interest to at least some Middle-earth fans. There is some interesting discussion about war, civilization and one's duty to protect it (applied to Beowulf, of course, but generally relevant, as all great literature is). Here's a link to my home page where there's a more developed blurb: Link

Interesting.

THE BRAIN DRAIN: Steven Den Beste looks at it here, and with a lot of interesting reader mail, here.

If Europe causes us too much trouble, we should just open up immigration. That would be a brutal blow.

JERALYN MERRITT IS GUEST-BLOGGING FOR ERIC ALTERMAN -- and she's posting it from Shanghai en route back to the states. Her guest-blogging is excellent: reportage on China's changed stance relating to AIDS, and some nice comments about the left/right connection where civil liberties are concerned -- but if she can guest-blog from Shanghai, what's got Alterman so busy that he can't show up?

I'm guessing it's either a root canal, or a chance to spend the day with Bruce.

UPDATE: Closer to the former than the latter, apparently: Alterman emails that he's sick as a dog but sparing us the gross details. I appreciate that. Whenever Lileks writes about having the flu, I don't feel right myself for the next hour or so.

MORE BACKING AND FILLING FROM THE MULLAHS in Iran.

IS IT THE END OF THE AMERICAN ERA? Not hardly, writes Eric Olsen.

WELL, all that work I've put into my blogroll is paying off in, er, unexpected ways.

(Link courtesy of the obviously too-well-read Jeff Jarvis.)

I RATHER LIKE THIS OATH OF ALLEGIANCE.

JOHN TABIN has been cruising Iranian student websites, and has found something interesting.

STATE CONSTITUTIONS AND ABORTION: Jacob T. Levy says that Slate is full of it.

One reason, I think, why state court decisions on abortion rights (except perhaps for the funding decisions, which are less common) -- and, for that matter, state decisions striking down sodomy laws -- have generated less flak than federal decisions is that they're cast in more negative terms. Rather than announcing, with Reihnardtian glee, "look at this cool new right I've found!" they instead invoke long-standing limitations on government power.

When courts brag about creating new rights, they are, in a very real sense, bragging about excercising a new government power, though one lodged in the judiciary. But when they strike down laws based on general limitations on the legitimate exercise of government power, they're not creating a new government power, but rather respecting limitations on government power.

If you look at decisions which might have been controversial but weren't -- for example, Tennessee's decision striking down the state's sodomy law -- they seem generally to be written in a very originalist, Borkian mode: "The government was never held to have the power to interfere in purely private behavior that didn't hurt anyone else; this is purely private behavior that doesn't hurt anyone else; therefore the government may not interfere." That's what Tennessee's court said in Campbell v. Sundquist, that's what the Kentucky Supreme Court said in Commonwealth v. Wasson, that's what the Georgia Supreme Court said in State v. Powell, and in none of those cases was there much of an uproar. (You can read more about these here).

There may be a lesson there for the U.S. Supreme Court.

JACK WELCH-LIKE PERKS at The New York Times? Well, they're certainly beyond InstaPundit's operating budget.

GEITNER SIMMONS FLAGS AN INTERESTING PIECE from a DLC bigwig on European versus American attitudes on war. Excerpt:

In Berlin, I often asked Germans how they would feel about Iraq if the president were named Clinton or Gore, and had supported Kyoto and the ICC, but still had the same Iraq policy as Bush. Almost all said: "Oh, that would be different." They've confused the messenger with the message; their problem is Bush, when it should be Saddam Hussein.

This is likely to prove an expensive mistake on their part.

UPDATE: Here's more on the subject.

DIANE E. responds to comments about Western "hypocrisy" on human rights from Baghdad blogger Salam.

I think this illustrates the harm that the hypocrisy of groups like Amnesty can do.

TOM HOLSINGER WRITES THAT A LOT OF CRITICS OF THE WAR JUST DON'T GET IT. Holsinger is a big proponent of Walter Russell Mead's "Jacksonian" analysis of America at war.

SADDAM'S USEFUL IDIOTS: Michael Gove writes in the Times about Amnesty International:

When Mr Sabri and Mr Aziz do the Iraqi dictator’s bidding we know they speak with his gun at their back. But what is Irene Khan’s excuse?

Ms Khan is the Secretary-General of Amnesty International and, as of yesterday, number one pin-up girl in Baghdad’s presidential palaces. For her reaction to the publication of the British Government’s dossier on Saddam’s human rights abuses was not satisfaction that one of the world’s most evil men was facing the scrutiny he deserved, but anger that something might be done about him.

“This selective attention to human rights,” Ms Khan pronounced, “is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists.” Why is Ms Khan’s reaction to this dossier condemnation for the British Government rather than the Iraqi? You would have thought that if Amnesty International were objecting to anyone’s cold and calculated manipulation, it would be the Iraqi regime’s wrenching of innocent civilians’ arms out of their sockets.

Having taken part in a Channel 4 debate with Ms Khan, in which she appeared for those arguing against the War on Terror, I know where she is coming from — that unhappy section of the British Left whose antipathy to Western policy makes them Saddam’s useful idiots.

Amnesty International, which I once respected, has lost its credibility entirely over the past year. This is just icing on the cake.

UPDATE: It appears that the quote from Khan actually predates the report that Gove is talking about. More here.

PEOPLE ARE ASKING WHY I haven't written about the sexual harassment case that has led to the resignation of the dean at Berkeley's law school. The reason is that I don't know much, and I don't have any very strong thoughts.

Erin O'Connor, on the other hand, has been following it closely and thinks she knows what's really going on.

DID DIIULIO FAIL BECAUSE HE'S AN ACADEMIC? Daniel Drezner points out that Condi Rice, another academic, is doing just fine in the Administration. Rice, however, was an Administrator, and the snakepit of academic administration breeds minds Machiavellian enough to flourish in any other environment.

DiIulio, on the other hand, was a Talent. As an academic star, he didn't have to waste a lot of time on the bureaucracy, and probably didn't develop the requisite skills. I think that's the difference.

UPDATE: Josh Claybourn has some thoughts, too.

ALTERNATIVE WEEKLIES ARE IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION: And the reason is John Hiler's new CityBlogs initiative. Okay, I exaggerate. But one of the main reasons people pick up free alt-weeklies is for the entertainment listings and quirky local coverage -- and that's something that blogs can do better than once-a-week publications with print-level overhead. So I think that Alt-weeklies will have to either join the blogging revolution, or go out of business. I suspect that ventures like Hiler's will do better than most web ventures at attracting advertising, too, for obvious reasons. Heck, he's already got a real estate agent advertising there!

Check out his page and see what you think. I think it's news.

UPDATE: J.D. Lasica calls CityBlogs "amazing." It has also inspired a spirited discussion on my local alt-weekly's discussion board.

The extra competition would certainly help to address this kind of problem. But my real point was that ink-and-paper, updated once a week, will have trouble competing with the dynamism of projects like Hiler's. Smart Alt-weeklies, though, will try to emulate it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis thinks the alt-weeklies are safe, at least for now.

OBVIOUS HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: "For Boston Archdiocese, Bankruptcy Would Have Drawbacks" -- gee, do you think?

But it's not all bad news, as Scott Ott reports under the headline "Bankrupt Archdiocese Plans 'Huge Blow-Out Sale.'" According to Ott's probably-not-reliable account, ads will feature Cardinal "Crazy Bernie" Law announcing that "everything must go, down to the bare walls!"

NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RACINE RAVE PROSECUTION, which I wrote about earlier here, here, and here.

The first scheduled day of hearings in the mass arrests led to so many not-guilty pleas that the city may have to hire an outside prosecutor to handle the volume. Prosecutors appear to be running scared, as they offered to drop the original charges in exchange for a token $100 payment if people would plead guilty.

They should be scared. This is an outrage -- much like the Houston mass arrest that has produced perjury charges and lawsuits there -- and if there's any justice Racine will in deep financial trouble as a result.

"SNOBBISH, RACIST, AND PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME OF DOUBLE STANDARDS:" Ian Buruma takes on the world's reaction to the Miss World riots. Well, the non-Blogospheric world's reaction, anyway:

Staging the contest in Nigeria might not have been wise, and the journalist may have been courting danger. But some of the reactions in London suggest that the killers may have had a point. There is an odd convergence between fashionable political correctitude and religious bigotry, as though people who have the bad taste to enjoy beauty parades are criminally culpable. Rod Liddle, for example, found it difficult to disagree with the Muslim lynch mob, "from a theoretical point of view", that Miss World represents everything that is horrible about "western culture". . . .

Besides snobbery, there is a worse reason for being more outraged by western vulgarity than non-western murderousness. It might be called moral obtuseness, or even moral racism. The assumption appears to be that Africans or Asians can't be held to our own elevated standards. They are more like wild animals, whose savagery should not be provoked by our foolishness. When we do provoke them, the consequences are entirely our fault. It would be as misplaced to apply our moral standards to their behaviour, as it would be to expect tigers to talk. The murder of Nigerians or Indian Muslims, or Iraqi Kurds, is par for the course, unless we did it, or Americans, or Israelis.

Yes.

MATTHEW HOY SAYS PAUL KRUGMAN IS LYING when he accuses the Wall Street Journal of advocating tax increases for the poor.

December 02, 2002

VIA DAVE WINER I found this take on last week's New York Times piece about women and weblogs, by porn-blogger "Reverse Cowgirl." I'd say it's the final word on the subject.

TODAY WAS A BIG DAY AT THE SUPREME COURT, with a lot of major grants of certiorari in high-profile areas. I mentioned the sodomy case below, but affirmative action, several criminal-rights cases, and other important stuff is now on the docket. One reader speculates that Rehnquist has decided this will be his last term of Court and wants to go out with a bang. I don't know, but it's certainly become an interesting term.

THE ADVANTAGES OF TECHNOLOGY: Some audio on the PBS "Media Matters" documentary wasn't so hot and they wanted to rerecord it. After being stranded in Newark last time, I wasn't hot on flying to NYC. So I rerecorded the stuff in my own home studio, emailed MP3s to the producer so he could pick the version he liked, and now I'm sending it on CD (in both .wav and .aif formats) via FedEx. Of course, you do lose something in the translation, as this report from him indicates:

We recorded Megan, Oliver & Anil in New York this afternoon. Afterwards Megan and Oliver debated non-stop -- they had to be evicted from the studio, and then continued their cross-fire over lunch. Sorry you missed it.

I'm sorry too -- but this was a whole lot easier.

FEWER GUNS, MORE CRIME:

England and Wales have the highest crime rate among the world's leading economies, according to a new report by the United Nations.

The survey, which is likely to prove embarrassing to David Blunkett, the Home Secretary. shows that people are more likely to be mugged, burgled, robbed or assaulted here than in America, Germany, Russia, South Africa or any other of the world's 20 largest nations. Only the Dominican Republic, New Zealand and Finland have higher crime rates than England and Wales.

It's not just gun control of course. Gun control is just the most visible symptom of a systematic surrender to society's worst elements that has been the core element of British crime strategy for over fifty years. Gun control is bad in itself, but it can only exist in a setting in which the right to defend oneself against aggression has already been devalued in a way that makes crime much more rewarding, and hence much more common. That's what has happened in Britain, and it's why the historically low British crime rates have skyrocketed.

The good news is that things have gotten bad enough that there are now voices of sanity being raised. The bad news is that the authorities still haven't caught on, responding to cellphone theft by putting up posters telling people to keep their cellphones out of sight in public.

This reminds me of the gold-chain-snatching epidemic in Ed Koch's New York. The response: a ban on gold chains. That was when I knew things had hit rock bottom. And I was right.

UPDATE: Iain Murray isn't crazy about the UN survey mentioned above, but notes that the International Crime Victimization Survey also puts the Brits at the top.

HEY! SOMEBODY WHO GOT THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AND ACTUALLY DESERVED IT!

I'M KIND OF SURPRISED THAT THESE STORIES ABOUT AMERICAN MUSLIMS' NEW SKEPTICISM OF SAUDI MONEY haven't gotten more notice around the blogosphere. These folks are actually being pretty courageous as they do the right thing, and I think they deserve our praise.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus agrees.

WAS JOHN KERRY'S PHOTO DIGITALLY ALTERED? Rich Galen thinks so, and it does look that way.

UPDATE: Reader Randy Paul is unconvinced:

I'm sorry, but this seems so silly. You'll also notice the other colors in background of the "doctored" photo seem a lot richer, also. This is similar to what happened during this year's World Cup feeds. The same images on ABC's and ESPN's feed were a LOT duller and flatter than Univision (the Spanish language) feeds, yet they were same cameras taking the same images. Indeed, that may explain why the audience for the Univision broadcasts beat the ABC broadcasts in many markets - and not just among Spanish speakers. I speak Spanish and watched Univision for the better images and the better commentary.

I also don't think that the lousy pictures on ABC and ESPN were signs of a nefarious effort to trash soccer in the USA. I don't think that anyone should think that Kerry's picture was doctored for the same reasons. Maybe Galen needs a new television.

Hmm. Well, sadly there's no tipjar on his site, so I guess there's nothing anyone can do about that. . . .

IS THE LORD OF THE RINGS RACIST? Steven Chapman responds with admirable restraint to the maker of that claim:

Now we now why the modern human rights movement has produced no Paine or Jefferson: its proponents seem to prefer instead to adopt the snippy tone of the schoolma'am or head prefect to anything that might actually move us. . . .

I wonder how many of the critics of LotR (you'll find links to their pieces via the link above) would fawn uncritically over the oral traditions of myth-making and storytelling among the ethnic tribal folk of the Congo and Amazon? Yet, strangely, when a white Englishman tells a story with a strong mythic component, they jerk awake from their guilt-induced slumber and launch into a highly predictable and highly tedious political critique with all the clanking, grinding and letting off of steam we've come to expect. Who's the determinist now, Mr Yatt?

Indeed.

MINNESOTA HATE CRIME UPDATE: The friendly posters at Twin Cities IndyMedia think that defacing a Norm Coleman billboard with swastikas and SS symbols is just peachy. Republicanism, we're told, is "one-hundred times more dangerous than mere Nazism."

They also appear to be near-illiterates, but that's not really a surprise either.

BALTIMORE'S PUBLIC LIBRARY has refused meeting space to the World Church of the Creator, a rather unsavory white-supremacist group. Eugene Volokh has a post on the First Amendment issues.

And speaking of free speech Jacob T. Levy responds to the claim that the problem with campuses is too much free speech.

ALL KINDS OF INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS over at Rantburg, which should be a regular stop.

I SUPPOSE IF PEOPLE RIOT when this guy comes to New York, observers will blame "irresponsible French media" and not violent Americans. Right?

IN RESPONSE TO MY POST ON ANTI-AMERICANISM AS A DISTRACTION, reader Mostafa Sabet emails:

I brought up the same thing to my father this weekend, though not using anti-Americanism as the focus. We were discussing Israel as the lynch-pin of the MidEast debate, however I think this is a state sponsored red herring. This is the one cause the oppressive regimes of the region feel safe in allowing their people protest for. As long as their people complain loudly about Israel, they remain blind or numbed to their own hopeless condition. I brought up how in Iran, which appears to be on the cusp of popular revolt, it seems like there are far fewer revolts and protests about Israel than about their own conditions. They are no less sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people, but have better things to worry about, their own lives. This is similar to the position of anti-Americanists, distraction instead of improvement. Blame America instead of corrupt officials and your oppressive regime.

However, we shouldn't use the "they want us to change" excuse as a reason not to improve our policies. We are starting to see how bankrolled thugs can bite us in the ass with the Saudis. Also, our hypocrisy in foreign policy does alienate potential allies. Not to say we should roll over and die, but rather we need honestly examine and improve our MO in foreign policy. It is not appeasement, but rather appraisal and editing.

I agree. I think we should make clear that we'll happily live in peace with people who mean us no harm, but that corrupt thugs who hate us -- or pretend to -- are another matter entirely.

WHY I LOVE MELISSA SCHWARTZ'S BLOG: In the same entry, we get both this:

What I want for Christmas is a Red Ryder 200-shot carbide-action model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.

And this:

I saw the San Francisco ballet on Saturday. Balanchine's Serenade was just exquisite. The other two ballets in the program were Helgi Tomasson creations, which I had mixed feelings about.

'Nuff said.

IS GOOGLE'S ODOMETER STUCK? Henry Copeland has a scoop.

GIVEN WHAT ESQUIRE HAS ACCOMPLISHED with its apparent DiIulio scoop, Daniel Drezner thinks that Maxim and Stuff should send reporters to the White House.

UPDATE: Now DiIulio says the quotes are fake. But at least in Maxim they'd be surrounded by sexy photos of Carmen Electra!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini is calling this "Esquire's Bellesiles." I think it's a bit early for that, but it's certainly going to make somebody or other look bad.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's DiIulio's memo and here's a letter by Esquire reporter Ron Suskind. Did nobody tape the earlier interviews?

HMM. MAYBE THIS ARGUMENT APPLIES TO EUROPEAN ANTI-AMERICANISM, TOO:

Although anti-Americanism is genuinely widespread among Arab governments and peoples, however, there is something seriously misleading in this account. Arab and Muslim hatred of the United States is not just, or even mainly, a response to actual U.S. policies -- policies that, if anything, have been remarkably pro-Arab and pro-Muslim over the years. Rather, such animus is largely the product of self-interested manipulation by various groups within Arab society, groups that use anti-Americanism as a foil to distract public attention from other, far more serious problems within those societies.

This distinction should have a profound impact on American policymakers. If Arab anti-Americanism turns out to be grounded in domestic maneuvering rather than American misdeeds, neither launching a public relations campaign nor changing Washington's policies will affect it. In fact, if the United States tries to prove to the Arab world that its intentions are nonthreatening, it could end up making matters even worse. New American attempts at appeasement would only show radicals in the Middle East that their anti-American strategy has succeeded and is the best way to win concessions from the world's sole superpower.

The European leaders certainly have enough problems to merit a distraction-based approach. Here's a report on Germany's tax problems, which look likely to cause trouble throughout the EU.

EDWARD L. BEACH, author of Run Silent, Run Deep, has died. He also commanded the nuclear submarine Triton on its pioneering round-the-world voyage. I enjoyed that book -- a sort of proto-Tom Clancy novel -- and met him briefly once just after I graduated from law school, when my girlfriend was renting a house next door to his.

CULTURE-SHIFT ALERT: A pro-hunting editorial at The New York Times.

This news story is more ambivalent, carefully noting:

Whether hunting should survive — and whether an overlay of ethics and responsibility can overcome the objections that many people have to killing animals for recreation and food — is another question.

But it's still reasonably fair, also noting that something has to keep the numbers of deer, etc., under control in the absence of predators, and not portraying hunters as drunken bums probably bent on rape or murder in addition to pathologically wanting to torture defenseless animals, the latter portrayals being more common in some politically correct circles.

EUGENE VOLOKH IS LIVE ONLINE AT WASHINGTONPOST.COM even as I write this.

CENSORSHIP AND HATE SPEECH AT YALE: But fortunately, not unanswered. The censorship effort (and some of the hate speech) is from a faculty member; the answer is from a student.

THE ZIMBABWEAN MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT -- not surprisingly, a disastrous failure.

BLAMING THE VICTIM: Cathy Young points out that it's widespread, even among people who usually claim to know better. Excerpt:

You'd think that feminists, at least, would not hesitate to see a battle against a radical fundamentalist movement driven in part by hatred of women's liberation as a battle against evil. Yet one of the most obscene recent examples of moral equivalency comes from Jill Nelson, an outspoken feminist commentator for MSNBC.com.

Nelson writes about the tragic events in Nigeria, where anger over the country's scheduled hosting of the Miss World contest on Dec. 7, and over a newspaper columnist's remark that Muhammad would have probably chosen a wife among the contestants, led to deadly riots by Islamic radicals. Her verdict? ''It's impossible to see a side in any of this where the rights of women are truly of any concern.'' Western men, she asserts, are using women's rights to cloak the real issues of power and control over global resources - ''and who asked for these defenders anyway?'' (The Afghan women who are finally allowed to work and go to school might have a different view.)

Then comes the clincher: ''As far as I'm concerned it's equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burkas in order to survive.''

The theory that people like Nelson are really moles in the pay of Karl Rove, the CIA, or somebody out to discredit opposition to the war just gets more and more plausible. . . .

SGT. STRYKER PLANS A CAREER in advertising, and responds to hate speech.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WILL REVISIT BOWERS V. HARDWICK, its dreadful decision that laws against sodomy don't violate the Constitutional right to privacy. I expect that this "conservative" court will probably overturn the dumb Texas law in question, and rightly so. For more information, here's a law review article that Dave Kopel and I wrote on state police powers in general, with a particular focus on anti-sodomy laws.

CONTRARY TO THE UNSUPPORTED HYPE IN EVELYN NIEVES' ANTI-WAR PUFF PIECE mentioned below, this piece from the Christian Science Monitor says women are supporting the war in record numbers:

Today, a majority of women support sending ground troops to Iraq. Indeed, unlike most other issues on the national landscape, a majority of American men and women are of one mind on the matter of waging war.

Women are actually slightly more likely than men to support President Bush on sending ground troops to Iraq - 58 percent of women to 56 percent of men, according to a recent survey by CNN. Other polls, too, confirm that.

Unlike Nieves' piece -- which basically quotes antiwar activists saying how successful they are -- this piece has actual data. Imagine that.

Of course, Nieves may be right. The women she interviewed were largely Vietnam-era protesters starting a second career -- rather than "mothers against war," they should probably be called "grandmothers against war." And the Monitor piece reports an interesting age-related intragender gap:

This is perceptible in the intragender gap that exists among women according to age. Younger women are more supportive than their older counterparts of the president's war effort. That same CNN poll showed that 66 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 49 support going to war, compared with less than half - 48 percent - of women aged 50 or older.

Hmm. So women who are actually of childbearing age are more likely to support war than their menopausal moms. Yep -- "grandmothers against war" sounds about right. And that's in keeping with the general Boomer-nostalgia tenor of the antiwar movement.

STANLEY KURTZ WRITES about CampusWatch and NoIndoctrination.org, two Internet-based outfits that seek to challenge bias on campus. U. Penn. faculty blogger Erin O'Connor has been writing about the latter for a while now.

JAMES LILEKS WONDERS:

How long until America is hit by European terrorists?

Maybe it’s a stupid question. Probably so. But anti-Americanism in Europe is starting to resemble Islamic nutballism. Like a religion unhinged, it is desperately intense, gripped with eschatological certainties and devoted to an unswerving belief in a caricature that bears little resemblance to the actual nature of its enemy. Like Islamicists, the anti-Americans despise the Jews, although the latter group wouldn’t get their hands dirty getting rid of them. They’d prefer the Jews went up in the attic for a while, sat quietly, and waited for the sound of boots on the steps. (Someone else’s boots.)

Meanwhile Eric S. Raymond is pretty pessimistic about the future of Europe, too:

The EU has two major advantages the Soviets did not — a better tech and infrastructure base, and a functioning civil society (e.g. one in which wealth and information flow through a lot of legal grassroots connections and voluntary organizations). But they have one major disadvantage — large, angry, totally unassimilated immigrant populations that are reproducing faster than the natives. This is an especially severe problem in France, where housing developments in the ring zones around all the major cities have become places the police dare not go without heavy weapons.

We've already gotten a foretaste of what that might mean for European domestic politics. At its most benign, we get Pim Fortuyn in Holland. But Jörg Haider in Austria is a more ominous indicator, and Jean-Marie Le Pen's startling success in the last French presidential elections was downright frightening. Far-right populism with a racialist/nativist/anti-Semitic tinge is on the rise, an inevitable consequence of the demographic collapse of native populations. . . .

One way or another, the cozy Euro-socialist welfare state is doomed by the demographic collapse. Best case: it will grind to a shambolic halt as the ratio of worker bees to drones goes below critical. Worst case: it will blow itself apart in a welter of sectarian, ethnic, and class violence. Watch the frequency trend curve of synagogue-trashings and anti-Jewish hate crimes; that's bound to be a leading indicator.

I hope that both of these predictions are wrong, as most predictions of doom in the West have been for the past several decades. But I'm not at all sure that they are.

UPDATE: Reid Stott has more on this, in response to an antiwar email from a European reader.

ADD THIS to the latest round of criticisms aimed at The New York Times: Ernest Miller says that an article today doesn't understand the difference between intellectual property and export controls.

MORE MOCKERY ON BUSH'S SUCKING-UP TO THE SAUDIS, this time from Mark Steyn.

UPDATE: The unlikely duo of Fred Barnes and Matthew Yglesias both conclude that there's political hay to be made out of this, if the Democrats have the courage to do so.

"MY SHAMEFUL HOMELAND" -- Collin May looks at how Canada has become an international joke.

OKAY, this is taking "reality TV" too far.

JOSH MARSHALL WONDERS why people don't like John Kerry. Funny, I was watching Kerry on TV yesterday and wondering "why do I instinctively dislike this guy?" Looks like I wasn't alone.

YES, SANTA CLAUS, THERE IS A VIRGINIA: and she's blogging up a storm today, with promises to update more frequently in the future. Seems the blogosphere gibes have done the job!

You know, Virginia, if you upgrade to Movable Type, blogging will be a lot less labor intensive.

UPDATE: Hey, I wonder if this means that Ted Barlow might be coming back. I hope so.

ANDREW SULLIVAN notes that Al Gore's comments on a conservative "fifth column" in the media haven't led to charges of McCarthyism, as certain other remarks about fifth columns recently did. Meanwhile both Sullivan and Mickey Kaus have picked up on an egregious error that The New York Times was awfully slow to correct.

December 01, 2002

EVELYN NIEVES HAS ANOTHER PUFF PIECE ON THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT, in tomorrow's Washington Post. Once again, as with this earlier piece, it seems to rely on movement supporters for all the key quotes, and is completely lacking in any sort of skepticism. My favorite quote:

"I said that all mothers should automatically be against war," Reed said. "It was against their nature to be violent instead of nurturing." Maybe, she said, it was time to start a movement -- Mothers Against War.

Reed is a "retired Hampshire College drama teacher" -- not exactly evidence in support of Nieves' largely unsupported assertion that the antiwar movement is expanding beyond the usual suspects.

Is it "creeping Rainesism?" I hope not. Even staffers at The New York Times are weary of Raines' biases.

MERDE IN FRANCE has an Al Qaeda leadership scorecard. Rather a lot of them are dead or in captivity.

ZACH BARBERA writes on political correctness at U. Mass.

MICHAEL MOORE SAYS HE'S BEEN BLACKED OUT ON AMERICAN TV. Tim Blair responds with Nexis research that shows that isn't true at all.

Maybe Tim should write a book entitled Michael Moore is a Big Fat Liar. I'd buy it!

EVEN A FLATWORM TURNS AWAY FROM PAIN: And apparently there are some Palestinian leaders who are smart enough to do the same.

I DIDN'T REMOVE LETTER FROM GOTHAM from my blogroll because I knew she'd be back. I was right. Heh.

KEVIN PHILLIPS says that the Democrats are in trouble -- losing ground with blacks, latinos, and working-class whites -- because of their pursuit of big-money donors. And he identifies a particularly damaging constituency:

In California, for example, it is Democrats who are favored by the state's largest and richest industry: communications and entertainment. Davis had so much money this year that he might have been better named Green Davis. Much of this moola, however, comes with the same price tag that usually accompanies GOP money: fealty to those who contribute it and diminished interest in the day-to-day concerns of ordinary working Americans.

Some entertainment industry money is, in a sense, worse, because it mixes fat-wallet economics with liberal chic, the kind of cultural politics caricatured in Middle America by jokes about Concerned Citizens for Humane Lobster Traps or epitomized by the decision in San Francisco last year to allow city employees to have sex-change operations at public expense. Hollywood combines both Democratic weaknesses in one Gucci briefcase.

And the Gucci briefcase belongs to Jack Valenti. Or maybe Hillary Rosen.

(Via Armed Liberal).

SUMAN PALIT has some thoughts on Islam in India.

U.S. MUSLIMS ARE BEGINNING TO QUESTION SAUDI DONATIONS:

"For too long we've depended too often on overseas financing to keep our institutions alive. This comes at the price of our intellectual independence and integrity," said Mairaj Syed, a UCLA graduate student in Islamic studies.

His comments sparked an online debate about the donation on San Francisco-based AMILAnet, a Muslim-oriented discussion group. . . .

Saudi Arabian donations have helped finance more than 1,700 mosques, Islamic centers and schools around the world. The kingdom has fully or partially financed Islamic centers in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Fresno; Chicago; New York; Washington; Tucson; Raleigh, N.C.; and Toledo, Ohio.

I think that they're right to question the money, which is in support of an agenda that is, quite literally, anti-American.

UPDATE: Here's a longer version of the story from the L.A. Times. Excerpt:

Some Muslim scholars have argued that such leanings are fundamentally intolerant and, taken to their extreme, are used as a religious justification for the terrorism of Osama bin Laden and others.

"The main reason we lack legitimacy among many Americans is because we don't take a critical look at the theological orientations within the Muslim community that could produce ugly acts like 9/11 or the Taliban regime's destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan," Syed said in an interview.

Others argued that acceptance of foreign donations could prevent American Muslims from criticizing the human-rights records of Muslim states.

"Saudi Arabia is a corrupt, dictatorial, fascist state that is an embarrassment to Islam and Muslims," wrote Sarah Eltantawi, communications director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council. Accepting foreign donations from such regimes "could set us back decades, or keep us in the 'straddling the fence' posture vis-a-vis Muslim dictators and oppressors that we seem to be shamefully stuck in today," she wrote.

In his own posting in the online debate, Aslam Abdullah, the editor of Minaret magazine in Los Angeles, called on Muslims to reject all donations from Persian Gulf monarchies because they constitute "immoral money" earned off oil revenue and other sources that rightfully belong to the people of the Gulf countries, not to their kings.

Bravo. A lot of bloggers have been calling for moderate Muslims to take this kind of a stand. Now some are doing it. Let's support them.

THE MYSTIC CHORDS OF MEMORY: Rachel Lucas has a project in mind.

OKAY, THIS IS ABSOLUTELY THE LAST WORD on the whole subject of "de-linking."

IS AL QAEDA IN A CANNIBALIZATION PHASE? Dave Roberts emails:

I've seen a few reports, still unconfirmed, that one of the suicide bombers in Kenya was Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah. If it's true it indicates that Al Qaeda isn't just burning up recruits but is actually consuming the seed corn, the leadership team. Here's a blurb on Abdullah from CNN: link

The name Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah is well-known to authorities and terrorism
experts.

Abdullah, also known as "Saleh," is the al Qaeda leader of East African cells and a member of al Qaeda's leadership group, the shura council, according to federal prosecutors. The name Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah is well-known to authorities and terrorism experts.

More recent reports link make it clear the identification isn't firm yet, but the implications are interesting.

Maybe the supply of African suicide bomber recruits is zero, so the Arab leaders had to do it themselves. Maybe Al Qaeda is so shattered and hunted that the leaders are willing to suicide rather than be captured and miss out on all those virgins. In any case, if the identification turns out to be true, it's a good sign for the anti-terror campaign.

Stay tuned.

I'M FEELING GUILTY because I missed seeing my brother's band play last night. But -- having had multiple houseguests for a week, and knowing that I'd be in the office writing my Administrative Law exam (early, for the benefit of a couple of students who need to take it early) I just couldn't get up for it. The curse of responsibilities.

OKAY, IS THE "STEVE CARTER" WHO WROTE this letter to Salon about "black male nerds" the Steve Carter I think he is?

JOSHUA FERGUSON HAS A THEORY about the recent phony bin Laden tape. I think he's right.

SECTION TWO is a blog featuring former Spinster Gena Lewis, along with some other people. It leans left, and anti-war.

MOIRA BREEN EMAILS to ask if I know of a fund for the benefit of Kenyan survivors of the Al Qaeda attack in Mombasa. I don't. If anyone reading this does, please let me know and I'll post the information.

UPDATE: Here's a post asking the same question by Andrea Harris.

IMAO SAYS THAT THE AMERICAN COMPANIES WHO AID COMMUNIST CHINESE CENSORSHIP are accessories to murder.

I haven't followed this issue as closely as I should have, but anyone who is helping the Chinese censor the Internet deserves to be criticized. Savagely.

THE SAUDI TERROR CONNECTION STORIES JUST KEEP ON COMING:

As FBI agents in Chicago pursued an investigation into alleged terrorist financing in 1998, they ran across a curious money trail that soon led them into a diplomatic swamp. A local chemical firm that was suspected of laundering money for Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, had received a $1.2 million cash infusion from the International Relief Organization, the U.S. branch of one of the world’s biggest Islamic charities. Determined to “follow the money,” they traced some of the charity’s funding to a surprising and sensitive source: the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

THE MONEY FLOW from the Saudis set off alarms in Washington. Investigators were told by top Justice officials to move carefully, according to sources familiar with the case. Some Justice higher-ups appeared worried that any inquiries into the operations of the Saudi Embassy could jeopardize U.S.-Saudi relations. “There was a concern about national security,” said one investigator. The agents did as they were told. A court affidavit spelling out $400,000 in money transfers to the organization was carefully edited—to omit any reference to the Saudi cash. Instead, the document referred blandly to funds from an unidentified “embassy of a foreign government.” The president of the chemical firm was later convicted of fraud. But charges were never filed against the Saudi-financed charity. Investigators complain they were actively discouraged by Justice Department brass from pursuing the group’s possible links to terrorism.

This just proves that softness on the Saudis precedes the current Administration, which is hardly news except maybe to Ted Rall. What's interesting is that this stuff is coming out now.

PUNDITWATCH IS UP!

MEDIA BIAS: Jack O'Toole finds Rush Limbaugh's response to Tom Daschle's whining as unimpressive as he found Daschle's whining itself. I caught part of the interview, and I'm inclined to agree.

MULLAHS RUNNING SCARED? Tom Holsinger emails two interesting articles. This one announces a letup on religious-policing efforts aimed at young lovers:

TEHRAN, Nov 29 (AFP) - Iran's police is not authorised to arrest young unmarried couples seen in the streets anymore, the government-run Iran newspaper reported Saturday.

"The police forces are not allowed to stop and question young boys and girls seen together in the streets, as in the past, unless there is a private complaint filed against them", a Tehran judge was quoted as saying by the government daily Iran.

He also points out this Jeff Jacoby column, which points out that, like the Iranian mullahs, the State Department appears to be finally recognizing the unpopularity of the current regime in Iran. "What prompted the change I don't know. But if the Department of State is finally prepared to support President Bush's policy on Iran, it can only be good news for the war against radical Islamist terrorism." I think it means that the State Department now sees regime change as inevitable.

MORE "RIGHT WING BIAS" AT THE NEW YORK TIMES? Check out this story about FoxNews:

LESLIE H. GELB, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, watches international news obsessively, skipping from channel to channel. "I never watch a commercial," he said.

He now considers Fox News Channel often to be a more reliable news source for international reporting than CNN or the nightly network news. Fox, he said, provides a "fairer picture, a fuller version of the different parts of the arguments" over world affairs.

Mr. Gelb said he makes a distinction between Fox's news coverage and its opinion programs, like "The O'Reilly Factor," which he considers biased. But even here, he finds himself drawn to Fox. "CNN's commentary tends to be less biased and less interesting," he said.

A lot of other people who do not fit comfortably into the right-wing stereotype of Fox viewers apparently agree.

Of course, in the listing of right-wing hosts, the Times omits the decidedly non-right-wing Greta von Susteren. But still, it's obvious that Howell Raines has been bought off by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. And I'm sure we'll be hearing that from some quarters, shortly. . . .

UPDATE: I think it's a grassroots revolt. Sort of like what's happening in Iran, only without the dancing.

JOHN ASHCROFT -- NOT-SO-SUPER GENIUS: This sounds like a dreadful idea to me:

The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say.

It is sadly true that there's some legal authority for such an approach, stemming from the Civil War and World War II. But it's still a terrible idea, and in particular anything that breaks down the protections of American citizens is a terrible idea because it raises the potential for politically-motivated abuse of power in a way that a system aimed at non-citizens does not.

KARL ROVE -- SUPER GENIUS? Looks like it. At least, I just turned on This Week and George Stephanopoulos is characterizing the "Is Islam Evil?" debate as one between a tolerant George Bush and an intolerant Pat Robertson. Heh. Looks like triangulation to me. I mean, I think both Bush and Robertson are sincere in their positions, but casting the debate this way has got to help Bush, both at home and abroad. And I kind of doubt it's an accident.

CRAZED ANTI-AMERICANISM: Mark Steyn is taking the term literally:

I was in the Gulf six months ago, and I came to the conclusion that a majority of the people I met - somewhere between 55 and 70 per cent - were, to use the technical term, nuts. That's to say, they believed things that no rational person could believe. You'd be talking to an attractive, westernised, educated Bahraini lady doctor and she'd suddenly start babbling on about how there was no plane that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, all the footage had been faked by the government. "But I know someone who saw it from his office window," I said. "He just thinks he saw it," she replied. "The Americans know how to do these things." . . .

Well, about halfway through this last week in Canada, I realized I was beginning to feel about my homeland exactly the way I'd felt in Araby: these guys are nuts. . . . Most Canadians and most Europeans are kind, gentle people but, Bush-wise, they're the ones who are mentally challenged. The "moron" line is simply inadequate: no rational person can believe a twice-elected Texas Governor, successful US President and overthrower of the Taliban is a moron unless a majority of Americans are morons, too. And in that case how come the morons have a global dominance unparalleled in history? As with those wacky Arabs and their Zionist conspiracies, Euro-Canadian anti-Americanism is a psychosis.

Actually, it's an example of successful propaganda. Recognizing that these folks care more about feeling good about themselves than about actual accomplishments in the real world, Bush has given them a way to do just that, while he occupies himself with, well, the real world. It's brilliant: Everybody's happy. Sure, American dominance over the world continues to grow, but the Euros secretly like that -- it's certainly better than taking responsibility for the world themselves, and it allows the luxury of sounding dire warnings from the sidelines that no one is expected to take seriously or actually act upon. Like any shrewd negotiator, Bush has figured out how to give the other guy what he really wants, while still getting his way.

ROBERT FISK WEIGHS IN ON THE KENYA BOMBING -- and, surprise, it's Israel's fault! And America's.

William Sjostrom responds to Fisk's tired screed.

Here's my favorite out-of-touch-with-reality segment:

The Afghanistan-trained men of Mr bin Laden's legion do not spring from the squalor of Gaza or the occupied masses of the West Bank. They are ruthless, highly motivated, intelligent – just for once, William Safire was right when he called them "vicious warriors" – and they may be more than a match for Israel's third-rate intelligence men. Israel's rabble of an army can kill child stone-throwers with ease. Al-Qa'ida is a quite different opponent.

Israel, you see, may be capable of defeating all the Arab armies at once, but it's no match for the forces of Al Qaeda -- trained in the harsh crucible of Afghanistan, where its troops withstood American assaults for days at a time!

In truth, the "strength" of Al Qaeda is like the "strength" of Ted Bundy. It's not that they're especially formidable, they're just willing to do things that other people aren't, which means that they can take advantage of surprise. But that only works for a while, and it doesn't mean that they're especially tough when it comes to the clutch.

What's pathetic is just how obvious it is that Fisk (1) has lost touch with reality; and (2) is basically rooting for the other side.

UPDATE: Bill Herbert points out this fawning story on bin Laden by Fisk, from way back. Meanwhile Dan Hartun emails that Fisk is repeating himself.

DAMIAN PENNY excoriates America for stifling dissent. I'm ashamed.