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March 15, 2003



SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING: I've been busy with assorted meetings, talks, and schmoozing. Plus, local TV (San Diego channel 8) came out to interview bloggers on blogging. You can see Lisa Snell, Virginia Postrel, and Nick Gillespie here getting ready to be quizzed for the viewers' edification. Note the TV camera wrapped for protection against the torrential California rains. And yes, that's what they're having here. Just my luck. At least it was nice yesterday.

March 14, 2003

THE PEOPLE RUNNING PUMA APPEAR TO BE IDIOTS. Gawker offers them some advice.

My advice: New Balance.

MORE REPORTS that Osama has been caught, and the U.S. is hushing it up. True? Disinformation? One or the other, probably. . .

HANS BLIX THINKS GLOBAL WARMING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WAR, which perhaps explains his lackadaisical approach to his job.

But what explains MTV's belief that "Between Iraq and a Hard Place" is a clever title?

WHAT FRANCE WANTS: Nothing here that will surprise most blog readers. Except, perhaps, the term "cultural cleansing."

WHILE I WAS AIRBORNE SOMEWHERE OVER LOUISIANA, Eugene Volokh was taking TAPPED to task for hypocrisy.

The blogosphere never rests.

I TOLD YOU it was a "Trent Lott moment" for the Democrats. I was right, and they pass the test:

Embattled U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) quit his House leadership post today for making what he called "insensitive" remarks about Jews pushing the nation into war with Iraq.

Moran said he gave up his position as a regional Whip for the House Democrats "as a way to demonstrate acceptance of responsibility" for his controversial comments at a March 3 anti-war forum in Reston, when he said, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this."

Not a dramatic drop, but then Moran didn't have far to fall. He's always been a marginal member of Congress, and now he's just a bit more marginal.

MARS EVAPORATES: Reader Mostafa Sabet responds to my Mars posting over at GlennReynolds.com by asking:

One question I have regarding terraforming Mars is its ability to keep the brand-spanking new atmosphere we produce on Mars. I thought one of the reasons Mars' atmosphere was so thin was that it did not have the gravitational pull to keep it. Wouldn't we need to create some sort of additional, artificial gravity to keep all the air in? I know CF4 would probably remain in Mars' atmosphere because of its weight, but what about O2. Granted in the decades (centuries) till the atmosphere could support animal life we might have the artificial gravity tech, but is there a solution short of this?

Granted, it's been a while since I studied astronomy and you would probably know better than I. If what I asked is not the case, could you help pointing me to some related articles? Thanks for the help and I love the pointers. It depresses me that the most likely way for us to reach Mars is if the Chinese make a race out of this (and by then they'll likely have a head start, too).

Well, Mars would lose its atmosphere gradually, but "gradually" in this context means over tens of thousands of years at least, as I understand it. I highly recommend Bob Zubrin's books, starting with The Case for Mars, for more detailed information.

As for the idea that we'll go because of Chinese competition, well, it's not as depressing as the idea that we might not go at all. But, yeah, it's depressing that it might take something like that.

MADE IT IN ONE PIECE, and only a little late. Flying seems to have gotten less unpleasant lately, though I may have just gotten lucky.

Had a nice walk along the beach, where military aircraft flew overhead regularly. You'd think there was a war on, or something. The Stennis apparently left town last night, headed who-knows-where. Korea? Here's one I snapped right overhead.

Sadly, while the hotel has lots of Victorian charm, it lacks high speed internet access, so I'm connecting via dialup. That's likely to reduce the bloggage this weekend, though maybe not as much as the various scheduled activities. And, by the way, that means that I'm less likely than usual to have time to keep up on email. Sorry about that. Just looking at the inbox, though, it seems as if an announcement that I'm travelling has, as usual, generated more email rather than less. Guess people want to be sure I don't miss anything. . . .

Here's a short QuickTime video from the beach, made with my digital camera. I'm not sure it was worth the time it took to upload, using this slow connection. . . .

I'M OFF TO REASON WEEKEND, where I'll be speaking about -- you guessed it -- weblogs, along with Virginia Postrel and Eugene Volokh. I'm taking the laptop, so blogging will continue, but not until later today.

But there will be a new post (Mars is involved) over at GlennReynolds.com later today. If you're interested in nanotechnology, don't miss this post. And Oxblog seems to be on a roll. Back later.

NELSON ASCHER sends this link to an article in The Guardian by Le Monde's correspondent there, and adds these observations:

This article by Le Monde's correspondent in England is absolutely marvellous. First, the guy isn't speaking as a journalist, but as a spokesperson for the government, and this is even stranger as, officially at least, Le Monde is a leftist paper while Chirac's a rightist. You can see that he cannot make a single criticism of his own government, not even for the sake of looking a bit more balanced or objective. Then there is the arrogance that is so much more evident because he's absolutely unable to see it himself. He is using with Blair the same tone Chirac has used with the East Europeans. It seems that right now every Frenchman is himself a Chirac, and any other country, even more powerfull ones, is just one small insignificant vassal. And right in the middle of all this arrogance what does he say? That his country's doing what it's doing because it is afraid of its own Muslims!!!! Wait: weren't they the brave ones who were able to challenge the "hyperpower"? And according to him it's Tony Blair who has reached the depths of despair. And then he confesses that there's indeed a crisis in his own dear Europe. And so on...

One seldom sees such a childish and transparent display of wounded pride in what's supposed to be a grown-up profession.

Indeed.

YOU CAN EMAIL JACQUES CHIRAC to let him know what you think about French policy on Iraq and the United States.

HAD LUNCH WITH DOUG INSTALAWYER WEINSTEIN the other day. He's moved from leaning antiwar to being -- very -- firmly pro-war. It's obvious that Saddam's a threat as long as he's alive, he says. Others are starting to see it the same way. Maybe Andrew Sullivan's right, and French intransigence is actually increasing support for war, by making the absurdity of "diplomacy" as an alternative painfully obvious.

FRENCH TOAST: Not actually French.

March 13, 2003

I HOPE I CAN MAKE Kathy Shaidle happy. Her blog isn't boring, and it has been around longer than mine.

GARY FARBER looks behind the Perle/Hersh story and suggests that something else entirely is going on.

LIVE AUDIO-WARBLOGGING -- very cool.

DON'T FORGET: Saturday is Eat an Animal for PETA Day. Mmm. Meat.

HERE'S A VERY NICE IMAGE GALLERY showing American and British troops preparing for action in the Gulf.

There are a lot of very well-done pictures here, and looking through the gallery will serve as a useful reminder of what the troops are having to put up with. And of who our friends are.

(Via Stephen Green).

WHO'S THE HIGHEST PAID BLOGGER ON EARTH? Hint: not me. (Somehow, the PayPal and Amazon buttons don't match what -- oh, but that would be telling.) But I have gone through over 100 gigabytes of bandwidth already this month.

RAGING PLATYPUS is the cool new geek breakfast drink, apparently. It certainly seems to be popular.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY, and you should be, you should consider attending the Foresight Institute's Vision Weekend in Palo Alto, on May 2-4. I plan to be there, but there will also be a bunch of bigshots (follow the link for a few of them). Anyway, if you decide to go, you can save $100 by registering by Saturday. Follow the link for more information. I go most years, and I've always found it a terrific experience.

ATRIOS HAS TAKEN THE BOEING with a new blogging gig at the New York Press. I have to say that I like his post there -- the tone's somehow better (to me anyway) than his blog. He's right about the danger posed by the growing trend toward forum-shopping by libel plaintiffs, too. Here's something I wrote on the subject recently.

EUGENE VOLOKH points out a troubling story about a Congressional committee subpoenaing the records of federal judge Mike Rosenbaum because it thinks he may have been handing out overly light sentences in drug cases. I think Volokh has it right here:

I'm not up the caselaw related to separation of powers in this context; it might be that this sort of subpoena is constitutionally permissible -- I'm just not sure. But it does strike me as a very bad idea -- a distraction of the judge from his normal duties, and a means of bullying those judges whose legal decisions the Congress dislikes. If Congress wants publicly available records (status of appeals, copies of decisions, and the like), it should get them. If it wants sentencing transcripts, it should pay for them. If it wants private in-chambers information (such as information about whether the clerks helped the judge with his testimony), it has no business demanding it. Either way, the contemplated subpoena seems quite improper.

The allegations of the judge supposedly misleading Congress or of his testimony raising "serious concerns" about the judiciary strike me as unsound. The article doesn't give all the details, but it sounds at most like the Judge expressed his opinions in an inartful way. (I take it that his claim was that some people get heavy sentences even though they're only marginally culpable, or perhaps that he thinks they're probably not culpable but a jury decided otherwise.)

As Volokh says: "Not a good sort of business for Congress to be getting into."

It looks like bullying to me, too. What are they thinking here?

ROBERT MUSIL is casting doubt upon the Den Beste Theory. On the other hand, he's uncovered still more information on the economic interests that France, Germany, Russia, and China have in keeping Saddam in power.

OKAY, HERE'S ANOTHER ONE: Whenever I write about Knoxville, or post pictures from Knoxville, I get email from homesick Knoxville expats in New York, Los Angeles, Bangalore, etc.

So here's another picture. I took this from the Indian Mound on Cherokee Boulevard on the way home from work. It had just rained, and -- in the large version, at least, which you can get to by clicking the photo -- you can see the mist rising from the lake. The pears are starting to bloom, and I actually saw a cluster of dogwoods blooming early today. They were on a southward-facing slope, and it must be warmer there, because mine aren't even close.

The actual Dogwood Festival is still weeks away, so that's a good thing. But my daffodils are blooming, and spring is definitely here. I'm ready.

To all you folks along the Great Lakes, where things are reportedly freezing solid, well -- you've got my sympathy. Unless, like Sari Stein, you just love the snow, in which case I guess I've got your sympathy.

IS RESOLUTION 1441 AN AUTHORIZATION FOR WAR? In Bush v. Doe, the First Circuit notes that: "In diplomatic parlance, the phrase 'serious consequences' generally refers to military action."

(Reader Bert Wolff noticed this.)

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more from that case.

JAMES ZOGBY'S POTEMKIN DIALOGUE: Zach Barbera is deeply unimpressed with a program that lets American college students talk via satellite with "typical" Iraqi students -- who, of course, are vetted by the Iraqi government and whose every word is watched.

ME, A GREEN? HEY -- THESE INTERNET QUIZZES DON'T LIE!

(Picture of Nader removed because it was taking forever to load, if it loaded at all.)

Green - You believe that small economic units
should control the goods, and that the
government should be permissive of
"victimless crimes," respectful of
civil liberties and very strict towards big
business. You also believe in either a
socialist tax structure or more power to local
communities. You think that environmental
policies should be written into law. Your
historical role model is Ralf Nader.


Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Er, do they? And is "Ralf" Nader any relation to the guy in the picture?

SAMIZDATA POINTS to this story on corruption in the EU and observes:

But whereas businessmen at Enron and elsewhere were swiftly brought before the courts, it seems that corruption in the bureaucracy of the EU is proving much tougher to clean up.

To which I would add, why is anyone surprised?

Somehow, these scandals never lead people to question government, the way that scandals like Enron lead to dark warnings about the "dark side of capitalism."

I'M QUITE HAPPY TO BE MARRIED, but if I were still single, how could I not be interested in a billionairess who made her money from brewing beer?

(Via Aaron Bailey, who also points out that McDonald's new wi-fi will be better for your wallet and your waistline than Starbucks' -- and he's got the numbers to prove it!)

UPDATE: Conrad emails that I've inspired this profession of undying love. Hey, she could do worse!

EUGENE VOLOKH OFFERS ADVICE on choosing titles for law review articles. I wonder how he'd feel about an article entitled Is Democracy Like Sex?

CHRIS BERTRAM has an interesting observation on Algeria, and the French government's role in perpetuating the bloodletting there.

LA HABRA UPDATE: The vandalized 9/11 memorial has been rebuilt, bigger than before.

Not everyone is happy, though, as "peace" activist Jennifer Quintana makes clear:

"It's an American flag, obviously it has everything to do with the war," she told the crowd. "There should be no war, just peace and togetherness."

According to this story, she then demonstrated her commitment to peace and togetherness by assaulting one of the people who reconstructed the memorial. Sheesh.

HERE'S AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFF JARVIS about his new syndicated warblog, and about blogs and Big Media in general.

Meanwhile, here's a story on weblogs that quotes a lot of D.C.-area bloggers. And here's an interesting story on vloggging that I just noticed.

I ALMOST DIDN'T LINK THIS, because the basic argument is old news in the blogosphere. But on reflection, I think it's pretty big news that William Safire is endorsing the Steven Den Beste theory that the nations opposing war against Saddam are doing so largely to cover up their own violation of sanctions:

France, China and Syria all have a common reason for keeping American and British troops out of Iraq: the three nations may not want the world to discover that their nationals have been illicitly supplying Saddam Hussein with materials used in building long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

We're not talking about short-range Al Samoud 2 missiles, which Saddam is ostentatiously destroying to help his protectors avert an invasion, nor his old mobile Scuds. The delivery system for mass destruction warheads requires a much more sophisticated propulsion system and fuels.

He seems to have done some research, too, as he's got details. And it sounds like more are on the way.

MY TAKE ON WEBLOGS AND EMPLOYERS, as quoted in this article:

He advises company officials to ignore the Web logs of employees as long as they don't waste company time, don't attempt to speak for the company and don't break the law.

"Besides," he says, "this is America, where free speech is valued. That should matter, even in circumstances where there's no actual legal protection. ... Obviously, an employee who spills trade secrets via a blog should be fired, just as one who spills trade secrets via other means should be fired. But that hardly calls for a special Web log 'policy.' The last thing anybody needs is some 'Dilbert-esque' Web log policy."

Not everyone agrees, however.

SUSANNAH BRESLIN has been looking into those "controversial" Puma ads.

ARTHUR SILBER thinks that Bush is being stupid to push the partial-birth abortion ban. I'm inclined to agree. Yeah, I know, shore up the base, etc. But is it really doing that? Maybe.

JANES.COM has an interesting piece on France vs. the United States:

France used to have large oil interests in Iraq, and a reasonable expectation of retaining some influence in the region. Chirac's current policy has put all this at risk. The French attitude has also split Europe, with Britain, Spain, Italy and the former communist countries in eastern Europe now deeply suspicious of Paris. The French leader always knew that, ultimately, he could not stop the USA from resorting to war. So why is he persisting?

Mainly because he believes that all the disadvantages pale into insignificance in comparison with the ultimate prize: a France that leads all those willing to stand up to US 'arrogance' around the world, a France that articulates Europe's distinct opinion and enjoys a good reputation in the Arab world as well.

Is the new French global policy impregnable? There are two snags. First, the USA is now determined to foil Chirac's policies; President George W Bush will do everything possible to make sure that France ultimately emerges the loser; until now the French were considered in Washington as just a nuisance, but now they are widely regarded as a real menace.

Second, Chirac assumes that Germany is now wedded to an anti-US policy. Yet Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's coalition government in Berlin is teetering, and may well collapse in a year or so.

I think that Chirac also underestimates the extent to which he is breeding long-term hostility among ordinary Americans -- and hence, among American politicians long after Bush is gone -- as a result of what is widely seen as betrayal, not simple opposition. Chirac may not care: it was another French leader who said apres moi, le deluge, after all. But the French people should care, and so should any French politicians with ambition to succeed him.

FROM THE SPECTATOR:

Those Europeans, including British people, who attack American policy have not seen thousands of their own citizens killed before their eyes in a single act. And they are not prepared to do anything about it themselves.

This surely is the crucial point. Americans are not warlike people, but they will now go after rogue states and terrorists because, if they don’t, no one else will. All over the world, America takes on responsibilities because others shirk them. They got involved in Kosovo because Europeans had neither the means nor the ability to sort it out. They pursue a ‘one-sided’ policy on Israel because without it the Jews would be driven into the sea. They need a huge increase in military spending partly because France, Germany and others are not prepared to spend a penny more themselves.

What the present crisis underlines is that Western Europe is losing its influence. In the coming decades, the greatest growth of manufacturing will be in China, the fastest growth of population in the Middle East and India, and the strongest enterprise culture and greatest military power will remain in America. The sound we can hear from Paris and Berlin is not the march of ever closer union, but the rage of ever closer impotence. Once again, when the world gets dangerous, it is the Americans, British and Australians who respond. The vacuum left by others leaves us no choice.

Yes, Jim Bennett's "anglosphere" concept is looking more prescient every day.

UGLY LOSERS: Sam Francis, Pat Buchanan, Jim Moran, and others come in for a pounding over antisemitism:

And that's why Moran, Buchanan, Matthews, Novak — and more leftists than I can count — should be ashamed. They've lost an argument. They lost it on the merits and they don't like it. In their arrogance or bitterness, they assume they couldn't have lost the fight fairly, and so they look for whispering neocons and clever Jews (or, in other contexts, nefarious oil traders).

Ugly indeed, especially in the cases of Buchanan and Moran.

JACK BALKIN WRITES about the Padilla case:

No one is going to mistake Padilla for a choirboy. He is a member of a Chicago street gang. He may well be up to no good, and if he violated the law, he should be punished for his crimes. But he is also a United States citizen. The rights of citizens include the rights in our Bill of Rights, including the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Those rights apply whether one is good or bad, whether one is guilty or innocent, and whether one is a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian.

The Justice Department was wrong to insist that by simply designating some one an enemy combatant, the Executive can strip away the basic constitutional protections that all citizens enjoy. If the government can strip away Padilla's rights at will, it can strip away yours and mine. When you give government arbitrary power, eventually it will use that power arbitrarily.

I agree. I have no problem with the detention of illegal combatants from Al Qaeda. But we need a firewall where U.S. citizens are concerned, because without it, there's a risk that such power will be used against political opponents, something that is deeply corrupting.

AMITAI ETZIONI REFLECTS:

If you are worried about the quality of our top-line intellectual magazines, the following quote might reassure you: Harpers found in its December 2002 issue that “the minimum number of neutered pets worldwide that have been implanted with fake testicles stands at 100,000.”

But what's really impressive is that he then discusses some other articles about politics, and doesn't work in a fake-testicles joke.

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is over at Jay Caruso's this week. Check out posts from all over the Blogosphere.

EMAIL: Cleared the email off the server earlier -- nearly 2200 messages in less than a week. I've been worse than usual about reading 'em because (1) I've had more mail than usual; and (2) I've been busier than usual. I try to read them all, but there were more left unread than usual. Sorry.

FORWARD TO THE PAST! I agree with Ellen Goodman on a lot of this. And who'd've thought she'd quote me on paper ballots?



IF YOU MISSED IT YESTERDAY, check out Day by Day, and this interview with its creator, Chris Muir. I think this could be the next Doonesbury.

STUPID JOURNALIST TRICKS: A lot of people are upset about this story, misleadingly headlined PENTAGON THREATENS TO KILL INDEPENDENT REPORTERS IN IRAQ.

What the story is really about, though, is the Pentagon warning people who operate satellite uplinks in Iraq that they might be targeted during an attack.

Well, yeah. What makes these people think that they're entitled to immunity from what's going on around them in a battle zone? To an anti-radiation missile, a journalist's satellite uplink looks just like a military communications facility. Saying that the Pentagon is "threatening to kill independent journalists" who insist on operating one during a war is like saying the Pentagon is "threatening to kill" people by warning them that if they drive around in tanks, wearing Iraqi uniforms, they might be shot at during an attack. Duh.

My question is, do people who don't know the difference, or who know it and deliberately obscure it, deserve to be called "journalists" at all? Even if they work for the BBC?

And my answer is "no."

IS BUSH A TEXAN? Is Virginia Postrel a Californian?

I FEEL the same way.

DICK GEPHARDT gets a good review.

He didn't seem stiff at all to me, and came across with more passion than I remember seeing from him.

And this isn't from a Dem. I've never heard back from his office about those hydrogen cars, though.

March 12, 2003

BANANA OIL is a movie blog. In black and white. He writes about other stuff, too, though.

UPDATE: Here's another movie blog. It even has sprocket holes!

THE TELEGRAPH writes:

Any fair-minded person watching Tony Blair's performance in the House of Commons yesterday would have concluded that we have a prime minister fit to lead us into war.

Mr Blair displayed courtesy, conviction, clarity, courage and even wit. His line was that the UN has willed the end of the disarmament of Saddam Hussein again and again: now the members of the Security Council must show that they will the means. Whether or not it was a mistake to "go the UN route" is, for the time being, irrelevant.

Mr Blair has taken that route, and he is following its logic with determination and belief. President Chirac said on Monday: "No matter what the circumstances, we will vote No." Those were not the words of someone who wants to make the international system work; Mr Blair's words were.

Indeed.

A READER EMAILS:

Why are the major media limiting their discussion of the constitutionality of the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 to whether or not it is in accord with the Stenberg decision? Why is there no discussion of whether Congress has Article I power to enact it? I know that you have written about this in the past (before Morrison?), and was wondering what your thoughts were.

I know the Act seems to have an interstate nexus as an element: "in or affecting interstate commerce." Huh? When is/is not an abortion "in or affecting interstate commerce?"

When the patient is straddling a state line? Seriously, I don't know why the press isn't covering this, except that abortion-ban opponents -- who generally favor expansive government power in other areas, I think -- aren't big on commerce-power limits, while anti-abortion types, who include many self-described federalists, don't want to discuss the issue in this context.

I raised this question some years ago in letters that appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and I got a phone call from one of the sponsors' legislative assistants, but she kept insisting that there wasn't a Lopez problem because the bill only affected abortions "in or affecting commerce." But when I asked what abortions, if any, counted, I didn't ever really get an answer. But the problem is that either (1) the bill doesn't affect many, or any abortions; or (2) the bill affects a lot of abortions, but only because it adopts a definition of "commerce" that lets Congress do pretty much anything it wants.

Dave Kopel and I wrote a law review article about this in 1997, and it seems to me that our argument is stronger since the Supreme Court's more recent federalism decisions. The argument that Congress has this power under the Fourteenth Amendment also seems to have been foreclosed.

This is something that I have called -- in a different, but related context -- fair-weather federalism. You'd think that the press, which we're always told is about challenging people, would raise this issue, but it hasn't done much. Linda Greenhouse mentioned it once in the New York Times, but otherwise the issue has been largely ignored.

BACK DURING THE BROUHAHA over the Harvard snow penis and its, er, takedown, someone wondered if any campus would permit a statue of a vagina. Obviously, the answer is yes.

This is in front of the University of Tennessee student center. I snapped it when I was out for a walk earlier today.

It's kind of a Mayan-style representation (much cooler than the very uncool realism of the Harvard statue -- though some people are trying to bring that sort of thing back) but people have called it the vagina statue for years.

Eve Ensler's got nothing on us, baby.

JAMES MORROW WONDERS why people aren't making more of a fuss over China's mobile execution vans.

THE BLOVIATOR has been posting all week on health care for the uninsured, and you should go there and scroll freely.

I don't know what I think about this. Tennessee's TennCare program -- a sort of HillaryCare Lite -- has been a disaster. Large amounts of money have disappeared (more or less literally, as there's a good deal of fraud) but providers aren't being paid. It's unsustainable, and on the verge of collapse, even though it was advertised as a way to save money while expanding coverage.

I'd like to see everyone covered against major medical stuff, but when a program covers all or most of your routine medical expenses it's not "insurance" -- it's just "free health care." And such things tend to be overused, like all free or underpriced goods. I don't have any solutions, but it's obvious that "spend more money" isn't a solution, either, because even colossal amounts of money aren't enough, over time.

Long term, I think that many medical technologies will turn a cost corner and get cheaper (nanotechnology, and advanced biotechnology, should bring this about) but not now, and certainly not in the next five years. Probably not in the next ten.

MATT WELCH DOESN'T SEEM TO LIKE my sort-of defense of the french-fry-renaming silliness.

Yes, it's stupid. But it's harmless, as opposed to things like trade sanctions that are harmful. And, as I said, I don't think the French appreciate the damage that their government is doing. Something silly, and harmless, that might get their attention isn't all bad. And if people in Congress have figured that out, it isn't even stupid.

Anyhow, that's my take.

AFRICANS BACK GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD:

A delegation of African scientists who attended a European Union (EU) conference on agriculture in the developing world has come out in support of the US complaint that EU policies put pressure on African governments to reject food aid containing genetically modified organisms.

Last year Zambia turned down the offer of genetically modified maize from the US, saying the safety of the food had not been proven. It also declined the offer of a milled version free from seeds that farmers could plant.

The scientists complained that humanitarian groups such as Oxfam, Christian Aid and Save The Children, backed by EU funds, had frightened African governments into rejecting food aid. They said the groups had also alarmed starving populations. "Some groups have told people that genetically modified products are dangerous and could cause cancer," said the executive director of industry body Africabio, Prof Jocelyn Webster. Webster and Prof James Ochanda, head of biochemistry at the University of Kenya, led the African delegation.

The scientific delegation said that genetically modified crops boosted yields and could make Africa less dependent on foreign food aid.

Today's Europe: Starving African children in the name of ideology -- and conveniently forestalling agricultural competition at the same time!

TIM BLAIR OBSERVES: "Strange how the left's contempt for WASP-y George so often mutates into suspicion of the wicked Jews, who really run the planet."

DANIEL DREZNER writes in The New Republic that democratizing Iraq may not be as hard as people say. I hope he's right!

TINFOIL HAT (APPARENTLY) ASKEW, an Antiwar.com writer asserts that the episode in La Habra, California in which a September 11 memorial was desecrated and antiwar slogans were posted was the work of sinister agents provocateurs.

In the real world, however, an antiwar activist seems to have admitted the vandalism.

Here's another report, which suggests that the woman's vandalism may have been followed by other, more serious, vandalism conducted by a separate group.

SPRING IS HERE, it's sunny and in the 70s, and I played hooky from the deskwork I should be doing long enough to take a stroll around campus.

Here's a shot of the law school, from the Student Center. It's a beautiful day, and I should be out enjoying it. Instead I'm getting ready to judge a practice argument for the Trademark Law moot court team.

Meanwhile, the Frederick Douglass Moot Court team is heading off to the national finals. They're doing better this year than they did the year I coached them. . . .

UPDATE: My colleague Gary Pulsinelli -- law professor, Ph.D in virology, god of patent and trademark law and, most importantly, Trademark Team coach -- reminds me that his team is on the way to the national finals, too. Yeah, I should have been clearer than that. Moot court rocks!

NICK DENTON HAS A BRILLIANT SUGGESTION:

So how to punish the French? Changing the name of French fries won't do it, nor pouring French wine into the gutter. But here's an idea: dismantle the French empire in Africa. France has long supported African dictators who rob their own people to go on shopping sprees in the Rue de la Paix. The US should support the democratic opposition to every French client across the continent. It's a win-win solution: promote democracy in a badly-governed region, and castrate the French at the same time.

Count me in -- at least if we can find or create the appropriate democratic opposition, which may not be quite as easy as this makes it sound. I wonder what AfricaPundit thinks?

Meanwhile Paul Philp emails this suggestion:

Isn't the time coming for the American people to show their gratitude and appreciation to Tony Blair. He is in political trouble for supporting the US and a little public support from the streets of America might help.

Stop the 'Freedom Fries' nonsense, call 'em chips like the English do.

Raise the Union Jack up next the Stars and Stripes in solidarity. Burn the 'Down with France' signs and up with the "Thank you Tony" signs. Tony Blair has been a tireless courageous advocate and ally of America since 8:48 am September 11, 2001. It is time to show him that he is appreciated. It is time to show the British people that the American people are the most generous on the planet and their sacrifice will not be taken for granted.

France will get hers soon enough. For now, a friend needs our help.

Good point. Maybe a pro-Blair demonstration at the British Embassy?

WI-FI, "FREEDOM" FRIES, AND MORE: All over at GlennReynolds.com.

ARMED LIBERALS: Talkleft notes the field trip that I mentioned here yesterday, and points out that the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is planning to do the same kind of thing.

I think they'll find it educational, and worthwhile.

NOAH SHACHTMAN is still on the case where Los Alamos security problems are concerned. He's got an article in Wired News, and more on his blog, Defense Tech.

I'm kind of surprised this hasn't gotten more attention.

FREDRIK NORMAN and some fellow Norwegians have set up a website and organization in response to anti-Americanism there. Here's the English version.

Thanks very much, guys.

INTERESTING STUFF is going on at the Oxford Democracy Forum, where there's a panel discussion going on right about now. Here's Josh Chafetz's bit, and here's David Adesnik's.

There's also a link-rich FAQ page that many people, including journalists, are likely to find useful.

CHRIS PATTEN is threatening E.U. sabotage of efforts to reconstruct Iraq after a war.

I think we should cooperate. No contracts relating to reconstruction should go to companies from countries that oppose the war. I wouldn't want to subject them to a moral dilemma.

UPDATE: Luke Pingel emails:

Let the EU members for whom Mr. Patten speaks abstain from contributing to rebuilding Iraq. Just as long as they also promise to abstain from rebuilding Iraq's civil and political society as well.

The Iraqis have endured enough without being saddled with France's committment to the sacred troika of bureaucracy, intransigence, and arrogance.

Indeed.

TINA BROWN dissed Jeff Jarvis, and it made Page Six.

I keep telling people, he seems like a nice guy, and he is. But you cross him at your peril. . . .

MORE GOOD NEWS ABOUT COMPUTERS: My TechCentralStation column is up.

I'VE BEEN MEANING to link to Chris Muir's Day by Day strip. I've enjoyed it for a while. I predict that some smart newspapers will be picking it up any, er, day now.

In the meantime, Dean Esmay has a very nice interview with Chris Muir. Don't miss it.




I programmed in Fortran, once.

March 11, 2003

ARNOLD KLING IS DRAWING PARALLELS between supply-siders and hippies.

I JUST BECAME A JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER FAN.

TIM BLAIR is denouncing web porn -- which he's found in a surprising place.

DAVID WARREN WRITES:

The French et al. smell blood, they are not going to back off now when they see the prospect of doing real damage. Their strategy was from the beginning to split the British from the Americans by humbling Mr. Blair, to delay the inevitable full-scale attack into the Iraqi hot season, when the fighting would be more difficult and thus the casualties higher; to isolate the U.S. diplomatically; to galvanize the international peace movement against the Bush administration; and to improve Saddam's prospects for creating a catastrophe when war comes.

The French betrayal is as total as it was surprising, after earnest promises from President Chirac to support the U.S. in return for elaborate concessions on U.N. Resolution 1441. They think they now have President Bush in a fox-trap: from which he cannot escape without chewing off a leg. They may be right: he may now have no choice but to chew off the British leg.

But whether they are right or not, they will now reap the whirlwind.

Yes, the end result is likely to be uglier because of the French government's backstabbing and appeasement. As usual. This time, we need to be sure that it ends up uglier for the French leaders, too.

I MADE "FRESH AIR" TONIGHT. Go here and follow the link for the Geoffrey Nunberg piece. The relevant part starts at about 3:30. It's a fairly interesting piece, despite Nunberg's semi-sloppiness in labeling me a "conservative." Guess he doesn't read InstaPundit all that much.

Nunberg has a problem with the term "pro-war protesters." He thinks that you're not protesting unless you're stickin' it to da man. What he doesn't realize is that a lot of people who march in these rallies feel that they're doing just that. Yesterday's protesters, after all, are today's establishment. (Especially at NPR?)

You can read more about it here.

VEGARD VALBERG is back!

AMILAND HAS SOME DAMNING EVIDENCE of German trade with Iraq. Read the post, and you'll see more support for the Den Beste theory that Germany and France are trying block war in order to cover up the extent of their support.

SORRY FOR THE LIGHT POSTINGS: It was a busy day, and after I got home with takeout sushi (and managed to squeeze in the brief post below) I had to go back out and pick up and then deliver some prescriptions for my mother-in-law.

But what made me late getting home originally was a field trip with my Advanced Constitutional Law seminar. We've been doing the right to keep and bear arms, so I arranged a field trip to Guncraft Sports, which has an excellent indoor range and instructional facilities.

We compared the differences in guns protected and unprotected under the Tennessee Constitution's right to arms provision with the difference between legal and banned weapons under the federal assault weapons ban, with examples. (Guncraft also sells used guns, and therefore had grandfathered pre-ban weapons). The Tennessee rule is functional: guns that are the "ordinary military equipment" are protected. (The Tennessee right to arms, according to the Tennessee Supreme Court, exists "to keep in awe those who are in power" by making a revolution possible. Read a long treatment here, or a shorter one here.) Those that are only useful for crime -- chiefly derringers and the like -- are not.

The federal "assault weapon" ban, on the other hand, is basically cosmetic, as illustrated by the comparison of an semiautomatic "assault weapon" in .223 caliber with flash hider, pistol grip, and bayonet lug and a traditional Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle in .223 without those features. Functionally, they're identical: both will shoot the same bullets as fast as you pull the trigger, and there aren't any drive-by bayonetings. The Ruger just looks old-fashioned. You can explain this stuff, but it's helpful to show it.

The students got a chance to shoot a variety of guns, from a .45 automatic to a .357 magnum revolver to an HK MP5 submachinegun, which last was especially popular with a couple of the women. Indeed, the bellicose-women trend was pretty visible in the class. All the students had been shooting before, something you probably wouldn't find in a law school in the Northeast or in California, but the women were notably enthusiastic. (One even knew from experience that Tuesday is "ladies' day" -- free range time -- at Guncraft.)

I suppose that in some ways the teaching value would have been higher if some of the students hadn't had any experience with guns. On the other hand, perhaps the legal parts of the lesson would have been eclipsed by the sheer novelty of the experience. And I'm just happy to have had a successful field trip in a class that doesn't lend itself to field trips very well. The Environmental Law folks get to go to the Smoky Mountains and measure air quality with lasers. I couldn't match that, but this was pretty good.

WHAT'S THE SIGN THAT A CELEBRITY HAS REALLY ARRIVED?

he'd or she'd be feted at White House dinners and performing for the troops; sipping coffee with Katie Couric and writing guest posts for Instapundit.

No celebrity (except Eugene Volokh, who's kind of a celebrity, I guess) has actually made guest posts on InstaPundit. But I suppose they can still hope. Don't cry, Hollywood, there's always tomorrow. . . .

TOM WICKER ASKS:

Does a U.S. president really have the power "to make war at pleasure"?

Interesting question, but irrelevant, since -- as Wicker seems to have forgotten -- Bush got Congressional authorization. Twice.

THIS SEEMS PRETTY LAME to me, as does the limp response:

LA HABRA -- Antiwar protesters burned and ripped up flags, flowers and patriotic signs at a Sept. 11 memorial that residents erected on a fence along Whittier Boulevard days after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and have maintained ever since.

However, although officers witnessed the vandalism Saturday afternoon, police did not arrest three people seen damaging the display because they were "exercising the same freedom of speech that the people who put up the flags were,' La Habra Police Capt. John Rees said Monday.

"For this to be vandalism, there had to be an ill-will intent,' he said.

Rees said in order for police to take any action, the owner of the fence would have to file a complaint.

The "ill-will intent" seems pretty obvious to me. The owner thinks so, too.

Do the police really think that destroying other people's property is just another variety of free speech? Then there's this:

It's unbelievable, because there were absolutely no political messages on this fence. It was all about supporting our troops, which could mean bringing them home, and about remembering 9-11.'

Les Howard, a sociology professor at Whittier College, said the incident might be an indication of some confusion among people trying to stop a possible war against Iraq but uncertain how to express their sentiments.

The other possibility, of course, is that they were expressing exactly how they feel.

MORE UNDIPLOMATIC BEHAVIOR:

The problem arose when Karzai visited the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for what the committee had billed as a "meeting." Generally, heads of state meet with the committee in private, but Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) instead invited Karzai to a hearing room with reporters present.

Karzai was placed at a witness table looking up at the senators, the usual layout for people summoned to testify at a hearing. There were several skeptical and hostile questions that Karzai did not expect and had not prepared for, according to the Afghan officials. . . .

In addition to being seated at a table below the committee members, Karzai was scolded by some of them.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) warned that if Karzai told the committee everything was going well, "the next time you come back, then your credibility will be in question." Hagel said later that he felt the administration had "coached" Karzai.

Holding a recent report released by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told Karzai that "police in Herat are detaining women and girls caught alone with unrelated men, are being forced to submit to medical exams to see if they have recently had sexual relations."

The Karzai government is trying to expand its authority across the country, but it still has only limited control in many areas, including the western city of Herat. . . .

"We thought these people were our friends, but now we really don't know," a senior Afghan government official said. "This was a protocol blunder, and there was real insensitivity on the part of some senators. They were talking about nitty-gritty problems in Afghanistan and missing the big picture that there is a war on terrorism going on while we try to make a country again from scratch."

Lame.

LEE HARRIS WRITES on our world-historical gamble.

VOTE NO TO ANTI-WAR: Indiana University's student government has voted down an anti-war resolution. Interesting. I didn't think that sort of thing was allowed.

PORPHYROGENITUS POINTS OUT THIS REPORT:

MADRID, March 10 (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, an active supporter of the United States on Iraq, on Monday linked the "material interests" of France, Russia and China in Iraq to their opposition to the use of force there.

Spain, currently on the U.N. Security Council, has joined the United States and Britain in backing a tough new resolution giving Iraq little time to disarm or face military strikes.

"We don't have any material interests in Iraq...France has material interests in Iraq. Russia has material interests in Iraq. China has material interests in Iraq. We don't have any," Aznar told Telecinco television in drawing a distinction between governments on opposing sides within the U.N. Security Council.

Asked by the interviewer if those interests explained the French, Russian and Chinese positions on Iraq, Aznar said, "That's a question only they can answer."

"Simply, it seems to me they are on the wrong path and should be adding more pressure on (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein...They have the wrong orientation," Aznar said. . . .

"What is the alternative to security today that the United States offers to the world? ... Can you really think about fighting against terrorism without the participation of the United States?" Aznar asked.

Funny that John Kerry didn't mention that when he was putting down our coalition.

NOW THIS IS SMART: Eat lunch at McDonald's and get free Wi-Fi internet. And McDonald's isn't the only one:

Besides McDonald’s, Internet surfers will also be able to tote their laptops to 400 U.S. Borders book stores, hundreds of hotels and a pair of U.S. airports where WiFi access will be available by summer, companies announced Monday.

And computer maker Toshiba and chipmaker Intel say they’ll set up wireless “hot spots” in coffee shops, hotels and convenience stores across the United States.

As I've said before, this is the wave of the future.

UPDATE: Nick Schulz emails:

You know, if McDonald's were smart, they'd do more of that kind of thing - making themselves a destination, 'third place' kind of institution. They need to change their image, since, as Virginia Postrel will point out in her forthcoming book Look and Feel, in an age of abundance and convenience, what people are looking for - and willing to pay for - are interesting experiences and aesthetics (two things not traditionally associated with Mickey D's).

Yep. Next they need some comfy chairs.

THOR HALVORSSEN looks at who's supporting Hugo Chavez.

AUSTIN BAY, who has repeatedly opined that a major part of the Bush Administration's strategy involves using a drawn-out threat of war as a means of smoking out Al Qaeda cells, emails this link to a story supporting his thesis. Excerpt:

"We have seen a surge in communications and other activity that seems to be driven by the situation in Iraq," the official said. "The information we have leads us to believe that there are plans for terrorist attacks soon after any military operation starts in Iraq." . . .

"It's logical to assume that al-Qaida would try to attack American interests after the U.S. starts a military operation in Iraq," said Diaa Rashwan, a senior researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "Bin Laden would want to show the Arab masses that he's defending Iraq, while Arab leaders are allowing the Americans to use their bases."

I think that he may be onto something here, though I suspect that the Administration regards this as a bonus effect of delay that results from other factors, rather than as a reason for drawn-out saber-rattling all by itself. Here's another interesting tidbit from the same article:

Intelligence agencies have known for years that terrorists use anonymous e-mail accounts to communicate. But officials recently discovered a new twist, where two or more operatives have access to the same Hotmail or Yahoo account. One of them writes a message and doesn't send it anywhere. Later, another person logs into the same account and reads that message. This way, the message is never sent and cannot be intercepted or traced.

So much for Carnivore, I guess.

PORTUGAL IS SIDING WITH THE UNITED STATES: Here's why:

Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz told state radio that if Portugal were attacked, "it would be unlikely France and Germany would come to our rescue."

He said: "Let us suppose Portugal, proper or its archipelagos, faced a threat, who would come to our rescue? The European Commission, France, Germany?

"I think it would be NATO who would come to our rescue, in other words, it would be the U.S., no one else would defend us. For instance, during the 1996 mission in Bosnia, operations took place with the support of 20 satellites, of which only one was European," and the remainder belonged to the U.S.

"If we were attacked, is that what they would offer to defend us? How curious is this: in Bosnia, when we were called to send soldiers urgently to that region, the U.S. had C-17 and C-130 planes, and France leased ferry boats, which during the summer are employed in tourist services to Corsica.

Reality asserts itself.

EVE TUSHNET has more on the torture issue. Read it. Be sure to keep scrolling.

SADDAM AS MASTER MEDIA MANIPULATOR: Jim Dunnigan observes that he's been pretty successful. Excerpt:

Those who feel that media manipulation is not a weapon should note well how successful Saddam Hussein has been in using the press to defend himself. Despite the fact that Saddam's brutal rule kills more Iraqi civilians every month than the 1991 Gulf War did, he has managed to present a future war (using an even higher percentage of smart bombs) as more lethal than his own bloody war on the Iraqi people. Despite the majority of Iraqis constantly asking reporters, and Westerners, "when are the Americans coming to liberate us from Saddam and his murderers," Saddam has the world's media ignoring this and concentrating on protests against removing the most brutal government in the Middle East. Saddam has also managed to perpetuate several other myths, the major one being that "the Arab Street" will rise up and, well, rise up, if Iraqi is invaded. This possibility has been invoked for decades, but the "Arab Street" has never shown up. No one seems to have noticed.

There's more.

IT'S THE EIGHTEEN-MONTH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11. Just thought I'd mention that.

I JUST HEARD ERIC MULLER on NPR, interviewed on Korematsu and lessons learned from the Japanese internments. It was a good story, and also made the important point that there's not much reason to contemplate locking up very many Iraqi nationals in America anyway, since they're probably the most pro-war, anti-Saddam segment of the population.

CHRISSIE HYNDE ISN'T ALONE:

Quite probably the worst thing about the inevitable and totally unjustifiable war with Iraq is that there’s no chance the U.S. might lose it. . . .

Someday, perhaps, we may grow out of our mindless, pimple-faced arrogance, but in the meantime, it might do us a ton of good to have our butts kicked. Unfortunately, like most of the targets we pick on, Iraq is much too weak to give us the thrashing our continuously overbearing behavior deserves.

Well, somebody should have their butts kicked, all right. There were people hoping we'd lose in Afghanistan. Now there are people who hope that we'll lose in Iraq. And although they'll probably howl over it, I don't think it's wrong to call them bad Americans. Because I think that if you root against your own country in a war, it raises justifiable doubts, to put it mildly, about your patriotism.

I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

As a retired soldier, the thing that infuriates me when I hear comments hoping that America loses this war, is that wars are lost when our troops are killed instead of the other sides'. Yes, that's a bit simplistic, but the only other way we could lose the war is if substantial numbers of civilians are killed and it becomes a public relations nightmare. In either case, we lose only if there is a high body count of our troops or Iraqi civilians, and that's not the kind of thing I would hope for. Me, I hope we win, and do it quickly.

Yes, a swift American victory is pretty much the only outcome that doesn't involve a lot of dead people. But the concern for preventing death is, for some of these folks, just an excuse. They really -- as Ms. Hynde and Mr. Robbins are honest enough to admit, at least -- just want America to lose.

FOR FRANCE AND RUSSIA, IT'S ALL ABOUT OOIIILLL:

Under the scenarios being discussed, a U.S.-controlled government could conceivably run Iraq for as long as two years after the bombing stops. France and Russia, it seems, fear and loathe the prospect of the U.S. exerting such decision-making power in postwar Iraq because they could be cut out of the business opportunities that rise from the ruins of Baghdad. Meanwhile, the fate of their oil contracts, inked as they were with Saddam Hussein's regime, would be in doubt.

The notion that doing deals with dictators is economically risky strikes me as a good one in general.

"A CULTURE OF COVER-UP" at the European Union: It's amusing to me that people who are unhappy with corporate influence on American governance hold the E.U. up as a shining example, when in fact it seems to be far more bought-and-paid-for. It's like Enron, everywhere.

March 10, 2003

I SAID A WHILE BACK that Democrats who want to win elections could learn a lot from Phil Bredesen's successful come-from-behind campaign to win the governorship in Tennessee, where Democrats have not recently done well in statewide races.

As Bill Hobbs -- who supported Hilleary, not Bredesen, in the election -- notes, a lot of people could learn a lot from how Bredesen is handling the budget, too. Maybe even some Republicans. . . .

UPDATE: SKBubba thinks he's doing a good job, too.

DANIEL DREZNER can't believe that I haven't commented on a New York Times Magazine story. But I don't have to. He has.

SIRHAN SIRHAN was denied parole again.

I DIDN'T SEE IT, but the Clinton/Dole point/counterpoint segment on 60 Minutes is getting pretty brutal reviews.

PEOPLE ARE EXCITED about the world's largest Cheeto. Well, yeah.

DRUDGE cites this poll as indicating growing support for war in Iraq. That's basically right, with a few qualifications.

Meanwhile Stephen Green has comments on timing.

I DON'T THINK ERIC ALTERMAN knew who he was dissing, when he dismissed Jeff Jarvis. Jeff, of course, responds like a gentleman.

But poor Eric doesn't realize that he missed out on the chance for wealth and power beyond his wildest dreams. Instead, he'll probably wind up like the last guy to dis Jeff Jarvis. And, as you'll see if you follow the link, that's not pretty at all. . . .

HEY -- thanks to all the folks who hit the Paypal and Amazon buttons over the weekend. I appreciate it.

THE FOUNDATION FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION is releasing guides to student rights on campus. Very timely, I'd say.

IT'S A TRENT LOTT MOMENT FOR THE DEMOCRATS:

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2003; 3:22 PM

Jewish organizations condemned Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) today for delivering what they said were anti-Semitic remarks at an anti-war forum in Reston, in which he suggested that American Jews are responsible for pushing the country to war with Iraq and that Jewish leaders could prevent war if they wanted. . . .

Moran has labored to emerge from a string of personal financial problems and ethics controversies over his acceptance of loans from parties with interests before him. Jewish activists said the episode threatened to make Moran the Democratic Party's Trent Lott, referring to the former Senate majority leader from Mississippi who was deposed this winter for saying that the country would have been better off electing a segregationist for president in 1948.

Moran's relationship with pro-Israel organizations and American Jewish leaders has steadily worsened in recent years over his pro-Palestinian stands in the Middle East conflict, interpretation of Israeli history and acceptance of campaign cash from individuals sympathetic to the terrorist organization Hamas or under investigation for terrorist ties.

Then there's this guy. No question about it. Anti-semitism is on the rise.

At least Democrats are distancing themselves from Moran:

State Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), an 11-year incumbent from Reston, said Moran's remarks were "inexcusable and intolerable."

"For the congressman to scapegoat and blame the Jewish community for the impending war is intolerable. Whether we suport or oppose the war, we must respect all religious communities," Howell said. "There is no question that responsible Democratic leaders should distance themselves from him."

At the very least.

UPDATE: Ted Barlow distinguishes this from the Lott case, though not in a way that helps Moran.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Armed Liberal has more on Moran. He's not happy. Neither is Dan Gelfand.

APPARENTLY BUSH PULLED THE RUG out from under Chirac today.

SCRAPPLEFACE GETS SERIOUS: With an invitation for readers to post comments supporting our troops.

MAX BOOT WRITES that the United States should not let itself be tied down by "Lilliputians."

Personally, I think it's time that somebody tried appeasing us for a change.

DECLAN MCCULLAGH: "Revealed: Indymedia's government links, ties to Bush administration." Heh.

SOME IRAQIS AREN'T OVERJOYED at the thought that they may face a female administrator, postwar. (Via Third Hand).

On the other hand (would that be a fourth hand?) here's a report that Iraqis are downing statues of Saddam Hussein. The beginning of an internal revolt?

UPDATE: Justin Katz has comments on the first item.

JAMES LILEKS WRITES about war movies and Chrissie Hynde.

HAD AN INTERESTING LUNCH with U.T. Law faculty and a visiting scholar from Bulgaria. We actually have a pretty well-established connection there, started when one of my colleagues was observing elections a few years ago, but most of what I know about Bulgaria actually comes from reading Sofia Sideshow. Lots of interesting discussion about Bulgarian politics and diplomacy.

One point that he made was the great value of U.S. assistance in anti-corruption efforts via USAID and other agencies. I've heard this from quite a few people from various places. It's the sort of thing that does a lot of good, but doesn't get much attention. I don't know if efforts along that line are getting more assistance now, or if they're being turned into stepchildren because of the general focus on anti-terrorism. If the latter, then someone's making a big mistake.

ST. LOUIS KURDS ARE RALLYING IN FAVOR OF WAR -- but without Turkey. (Via No Watermelons.)

CONFESSIONS OF A WEARY WAR-BLOGGER: Over at GlennReynolds.com. But though my head is weary, it remains unbowed.

JUST HOW MANY SMOKING GUNS DO WE NEED?

United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq have discovered a new variety of rocket apparently configured to spread bomblets filled with chemical or biological agents over large areas, United States officials say.

The reconfigured rocket warheads appear to be cobbled together from Iraq's stockpiles of imported or home-built weapons, some of which Iraq has already used with both conventional and chemical warheads. Iraq insists it has destroyed all its old chemical warheads, a claim the inspectors have not verified.

But, no doubt, Saddam will promise not to do it again and that will be enough for some people.

JOHN KERRY IS CALLING BRITAIN, AUSTRALIA, SPAIN, ET AL. a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted."

Is a man who aims such crude insults at our allies capable of being a successful President?

UPDATE: Jason Rylander emails that he thinks I'm being unfair here:

When I went to the article, it was clear he was referring not to the nations generally but the fact that we have to bribe, coerce and extort them to join us in the war effort. That's very different than what one glea[n]s from a reading of your post, isn't it?

I don't think so. After all, it's a lie -- and hence an insult -- to suggest that those countries are only with us because they're bribed, coerced or extorted. Does Kerry really think that's why John Howard and Tony Blair, for example, are standing by us?

Of course the notion, implicit in Kerry's statement, that one should never use bribery or extortion in putting together an alliance bespeaks either more dishonesty -- if Kerry knows better -- or a dangerous naivete regarding diplomacy, if he doesn't.

There's just no way to spin this so that Kerry looks good. Unless, of course, you think that a good Presidential candidate should live in "Pilger world," a place where "doing anything because it's American-inspired is proof of perfidy while surrender is nothing short of virtuous."

CATERINA FAKE NOTES Saddam's personal history with torture.

HERE IS A PAGE OF PHOTOS from a pro-America rally in Pittsburgh over the weekend. For more along these lines, go here, and here. Also here.

HERE'S A HEARTWARMING STORY:

KAKUMA, Kenya — The engines rumbled and the red sand swirled as the cargo plane roared onto the dirt airstrip. One by one, the dazed and impoverished refugees climbed from the belly of the plane into this desolate wind-swept camp.

They are members of Africa's lost tribe, the Somali Bantu, who were stolen from the shores of Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania and carried on Arab slave ships to Somalia two centuries ago. They were enslaved and persecuted until Somalia's civil war scattered them to refugee camps in the 1990's. . . .

Over the next two years, nearly all of the Somali Bantu refugees in Kenya — about 12,000 people — are to be flown to the United States. This is one of the largest refugee groups to receive blanket permission for resettlement since the mid-1990's, State Department officials say. . . .

In Somalia, the lighter-skinned majority rejected the Bantu, for their slave origins and dark skin and wide features. Even after they were freed from bondage, the Bantu were denied meaningful political representation and rights to land ownership. During the Somali civil war, they were disproportionately victims of rapes and killings.

I think it's going to be quite an adjustment for them, and no doubt there are people (nearly all non-Bantu) who are outraged that their traditional ways are going to have to change in the process. I suspect, though, that they'll do better here than they would in, say, France.

The New York Times, however, can't help but make a hash of the story by including this passage:

The refugees watch snippets of American life on videos in class, and they marvel at the images of supermarkets filled with peppers and tomatoes and of tall buildings that reach for the clouds. But they know little about racism, poverty, the bone-chilling cold or the cities that will be chosen for them by refugee resettlement agencies.

They know little about racism or poverty? Read your own freakin' story -- they've been enslaved because of their skin color, and they're living in refugee camps! They're encountering running water and flush toilets for the first time! Jeezus. To a certain class of writer, "racism and poverty" can only exist in America, and have no meaning anywhere else.

IS A FRANCO-GERMAN SPLIT in the offing?

Meanwhile Irwin Stelzer writes in the Times that it's decision time for Tony Blair.

March 09, 2003

HMM. SOUNDING MORE LIKE A WARBLOGGER ALL THE TIME and in an unlikely setting.

I GOT A NEW MONITOR for my main computer, and now I can read Pejman's page again.

HANS BLIX is going to be asked some pointed questions about the drones that he omitted from his report to the Security Council:

The British and US ambassadors plan to demand that Hans Blix reveals more details of a huge undeclared Iraqi unmanned aircraft, the discovery of which he failed to mention in his oral report to Security Council foreign ministers on Friday. Its existence was only disclosed in a declassified 173-page document circulated by the inspectors at the end of the meeting — an apparent attempt by Dr Blix to hide the revelation to avoid triggering a war.

I think that Blix's credibility took a bit of a hit with that discovery. He's now in a tough spot. If he lies, the United States and Britain can -- rightly -- call the inspection process a sham, and Blix partisan. If he tells the truth, it will become apparent that Saddam hasn't been complying at all, and that the inspection process has been, well, a sham.

If someone were trying to demonstrate the bogus nature of the inspection process they could hardly have done better than Blix himself has done.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Crane observes:

"If someone were trying to demonstrate the bogus nature of the inspection process they could hardly have done better than Blix himself has done."

Surely Blix knew this would not be overlooked. He must have known hiding it would make an even stronger case.....hmmmm.

Perhaps Blix is not the ally of the Franco-German coalition we think he is. I can't think of a more eloquent way for him to say everything by saying nothing. Disinterested to the end.

Hmm. I've certainly known bureaucrats that subtle. Is Blix one? We'll probably never know.

RADLEY BALKO AND OLIVER WILLIS seem surprisingly unconcerned about the prospect that Al Qaeda terrorists might be tortured.

All I can say is, that (1) the French did it a lot in Algeria; and (2) they still lost; and (3) it's wrong. Even if you can explain away (1) & (2) by noting that, well, we're talking about The French here, that doesn't work for (3).

Yeah, the torture of Al Qaeda guys concerns me less than the torture of, I don't know, innocent people -- but it's still wrong, and if the practice goes into general use a lot of innocent people, perhaps named by torture victims who just want to name someone to make it stop, will suffer. And so will the people who do the torturing, and so, indirectly, will the rest of us.

UPDATE: Boy, I was behind the curve on this. I should've checked Radley's main page. He's got posts here and here responding to critics, though not changing his position. I didn't find another post by Oliver, though I notice that he's calling Bush soft on homeland security. Well, certainly by these standards.

UPDATE: Now Oliver has responded.

DALE AMON thinks he's identified Bush's long-term foreign relations strategy. And it doesn't have much to do with establishing a new empire. Rather the reverse, actually.

BILL HERBERT IS DEBUNKING BOGUS CLAIMS that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed isn't really a big fish after all. He's got evidence.

SOME OBSERVATIONS on European vs. American views of nationalism, and the resultant mutual incomprehension, from Bitter Sanity.

UPDATE: Meanwhile Steven Den Beste suggests that the U.N. doesn't have much of a future.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This doesn't inspire confidence in the U.N., either.

MICHAEL BARONE WRITES on the next stage of war:

It is important to act fast. There have been benefits from going through the United Nations on Iraq, but there have also been costs. One of those is time--time enough for North Korea to make trouble while we are preparing for major military action thousands of miles away. Now North Korea is threatening to manufacture and spread nuclear weapons. Quick success in Iraq, followed by success as soon as possible in Syria and Iran, will help us deal with that threat too, as soon we must.

Indeed.

HERE'S MORE on Milwaukee's pro-liberation rally.

FIFTH COLUMN ALERT: Andrew Sullivan writes:

What, after all, is the difference between this and the 1990s? Nothing. But somehow we all knew it would come to this, didn't we? The Times has been campaigning for appeasement of Saddam for over a year. The hawkish pirouettes in between were diversions. What this editorial is really about is the first shot in the coming domestic war - to undermine this military campaign once it begins, to bring down this administration, and to advocate the long-term delegation of American power to an internationalist contraption whose record has been to facilitate inaction and tyranny. The Times, in campaigning against war, has actually fired the opening shot in the coming domestic war. Hostilities have begun.

I guess this would matter more, if the editorial positions of the Times mattered more.

UPDATE: I guess it wasn't clear, but the post above was supposed to be archly indicating that I think Andrew is a bit over the top with this point. "Domestic war?" And against the Times? I guess it was a little too arch, though, since neither Josh Chafetz nor Arthur Silber read it that way.

I think we're quite a ways from "domestic war." I do think that there are people in positions of influence who would rather see us lose this war. Some are honest about it, like Chrissie Hynde, and some aren't. And some are just positioning themselves to take advantage if things go badly, but don't otherwise care. Is that a "fifth column?" It's enough of one that I think Andrew has won that point over the people who said he was over the top when he originally used the term.

But it's not "domestic war." And I don't know whether the editors of The New York Times fall into this category. While they clearly have an irrational dislike for President Bush, my sense is that they want what's best for America -- however misguided their views on that subject might be -- and aren't calling, after the fashion of Chrissie Hynde, for America to be given "what it deserves."

With regard to the latter group, though, I tend to agree with Susanna Cornett.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew responds, noting that:

By domestic war, I simply mean a deep domestic fight over the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. That's a wrenching experience I hope won't happen. But in many ways, it already has. To take one simple example: has there ever been a case when a former president has actually publicly undermined a sitting president at a critical time in U.N. diplomacy, essentially advising critical foreign governments to balk at America's requests on the eve of a war? If someone knows of a precedent for Jimmy Carter's op-ed, please let me know.

Good point. Imagine if Gerald Ford had been writing op-eds criticizing Carter's handling of the hostage crisis, even as the negotiations were going on.

Then again, it could hardly have turned out worse. In fact, much of our problem with radical Islamism today is because of Carter's weakness and ineptitude nearly twenty-five years ago.

HERE'S ANOTHER ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS. It's worth reading just for this phrase: "the eBayization of media." Heh.

DAMIAN PENNY is running a caption contest.

UPDATE: Reader Bill Adams points out that Damian's new site design lacks an email address. D'oh! Put one up, Damian! Meanhile, Adams' suggested caption is "Also sprach Bud Bundy."

HERE'S A STORY ABOUT A BIG DEMONSTRATION IN PARIS -- and it's not about the war. Well, not exactly:

PARIS, March 8 — Ten thousand people took to the streets in Paris on Saturday to denounce violence suffered by women in high-rise housing estates around France's major towns. . . .

Home to many immigrants from the Maghreb, such suburbs have seen a rise in radical Islam that has turned attitudes towards women even harsher. Pressure is mounting for Muslim women to wear veils and forced marriages that snatch girls from college and a career are now commonplace. . . .

Young women who live on some estates have adopted a dress code of baggy pants and puffy jackets, saying that girls who wear short skirts are branded sluts and considered ''fair game.''

Reports of gang rapes have made headlines but statistics do not indicate whether such attacks are on the rise.

Meanwhile, similar protests are going on in Iran:

Hundreds of Iranian women marked International Women's Day on Saturday with a demonstration demanding equal social and political rights to men, a first in this conservative male-dominated country since the 1979 Islamic revolution. . . .

"How can we celebrate this day when our women are not entitled to choose their husbands, are not allowed to demand divorce and get just half the blood money a man gets?" protest organizer Noushin Ahmadi asked, referring to the practice of giving the family of a female murder victim about half the average compensation paid to a male victim's relatives.

Interesting.

A DAMNING ASSESSMENT of the United Nations -- and from the New York Times!

Even ardent internationalists worry that the institution finds itself in a lose-lose situation — ridiculed as a puppet if American pressure forces a reluctant Security Council majority to support a war against Saddam Hussein, or reduced once more to a self-absorbed cipher if France, Russia and Germany lead the Security Council to thumb its nose at the world's superpower. . . .

For James S. Sutterlin, a former United Nations executive and the author of "The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Security," the question is not the institution's relevance, but its competence."The centrality of the Security Council was evident in its very failure," in Rwanda and Bosnia, he said. "There was the very serious problem that the central organization responsible for security couldn't do it."

For American conservatives, the past three months have been galvanizing. "The notion that the U.N. is really a problem," William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, said this week, "was a fringe notion until about three months ago. Now serious people, who are not unilateralists, are much more open to alternatives to the U.N."

Yes. The U.N. has made a lot of new enemies, and appalled a lot of its old friends. If its chief role is to serve as a forum for French efforts to feel important, then the U.N. will be no more important than France itself.

PUNDITWATCH is up! My favorite bit:

On Capital Gang, speaking of Bill Clinton’s deal to debate Bob Dole on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Bob Novak uttered one of the most telling self-assessments ever: “Never before has a former president of the United States descended to my level.”

Ouch.

THE BENEFITS of a free press.

HERE ARE SOME PICTURES from a pro-liberation rally in Tulsa. And here's a link to a highlights video. Once again, talk radio was involved.

ANOTHER GERMAN OFFICIAL HAS called Bush a dictator.

Those cowboy Europeans, always popping off at the mouth with some ill-considered, undiplomatic statement. When will they acquire some subtlety?

PEACE TRAIN'S getting louder. Well, sort of.

TO THE SINGLE WOMEN OF THE BLOGOSPHERE: How can you pass up an offer like this?

I have a good job, plenty of money and I own my own home. I am a talented musician, a great conversationalist and I give wonderful back-rubs, complete with aromatic lotions applied by my stong but gentle fingers. I do front-rubs, too. I am an excellent cook and I am not bald. I like candlelight dinners, long walks on the beach and blah, blah, blah.

Well, okay, there are a couple of minor catches to this deal. . . .

THE MOTHER OF ALL SURRENDERS:

TERRIFIED Iraqi soldiers have crossed the Kuwait border and tried to surrender to British forces - because they thought the war had already started.

The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.

The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.

"Not today, old chap -- but do keep next week free. . . ."