Instapundit.com Instapundit.com

September 06, 2003

SOONER OR LATER, EVERYONE COMES TO KNOXVILLE. Louis Napoleon, Jean Paul Sartre, Mickey Kaus, and now it's LT SMASH, with whom we had a lovely dinner, and who is currently making use of the wireless facilities here at Stately InstaPundit Manor to update his blog.

UPDATE: For some reason the Sartre link was wrong earlier. Fixed now -- though you'll have to scroll down a bit in the linked item.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S BLOG MELA!

DAVE KOPEL REVIEWS THE NEW YORK TIMES' REPORTING ON GUNS and finds it riddled with amateurish errors and apparent deception:

Interestingly, the Times, and its lead reporter on gun issues, Fox Butterfield, were recently acquitted of libel in a case involving a story having nothing to do with guns, the Sam Sheppard murder case. According to the May 23 AP report, Butterfield and the Times won despite the jury's finding that the article he wrote was "not substantially true" and involved false and defamatory statements. His victory was based on a finding that there was "no malicious intent." Supporting the jury's finding that there was no malice was the Times's prompt publication of a correction, once the paper learned about the error in Butterfield's story.

Regarding firearms coverage, the case for actual malice and reckless disregard of the truth by the Times is much stronger.

And it's not just Fox Butterfield who's at fault. And Kopel has plenty of examples.

UPDATE: Tim Lambert emails to point out that this Kopel article contains an error that was corrected in "The Corner," but never in the text of the article itself. I've noticed in the past that NRO seems to have problems correcting articles once they're published online, something that all Big Media folks seem to be worse at than bloggers. Notably, however, Lambert doesn't try to defend Fox Butterfield.

IBN WARRAQ offers an interesting debunking of Edward Said's work over at SecularIslam.org. Excerpt:

And yet, ironically , what makes self-examination for Arabs and Muslims , and particularly criticism of Islam in the West very difficult is the totally pernicious influence of Edward Said’s Orientalism [2]. The latter work taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity – “ were it not for the wicked imperialists , racists and Zionists , we would be great once more ”- encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s , and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam , and even stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslims sensibilities , and who dared not risk being labelled “orientalist ”.

Read the whole thing.

MORE FROM IRAQ: The North Coast Journal has another firsthand report from a returning soldier. Excerpt:

THE QUESTIONS I GET FROM A LOT OF PEOPLE HERE ARE, "What's going on over there? Why is there so much fighting? Why do the Iraqi people hate us so much?" When I first heard that, that's when I realized that the news was not proportionate to what was going on in the country.

I was in eight or nine cities in Iraq. Starting from Kuwait, we saw pretty much every city along the river on the way to Baghdad. People absolutely loved us everywhere we went. There were big parades. We'd just roll down the streets, or sometimes be on foot patrol, and kids would run out of their houses just to wave at us, just to get a wave back from us. People would give us flowers; they'd give us flowers and gifts and Pepsi -- all kinds of stuff.

I'd have people come up to me and say, "What took you so long? You should have done this in '91!" Especially when we were in Baghdad. We were in this huge building, with a huge fence around it. I'd have a lot of people -- especially the elderly guys -- telling me, "I was tortured under this building for 12 or 14 years," or, "There's torture chambers under here." So we went down and checked it out, and sure enough, there were torture chambers under there -- basically an entire block, underground, with cells and everything else.

The stories we're hearing from the troops seem quite consistent -- and quite inconsistent with the day-to-day coverage in mainstream media. I wonder why that is?

At any rate, this story represents a commendable evenhandedness on the part of the North Coast Journal, which was rather thoroughly negative on the war back in March. (Thanks to reader Chris Sherman for the link).

September 05, 2003

HOWARD OWENS HAS A LOT OF LINKS TO GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ that isn't getting much attention, and some thoughts on what it means.

And read this:

Cristea has blood and guts war stories from his six months in Iraq and Kuwait, but he says the last thing he wants to do is to tell them. Instead, the Marine prefers Americans see beyond the fighting and dying in Iraq and know the good he and his comrades-in-arms have brought to that country.

"What's important to me is that my country knows the good we did for (Iraq). You see stuff every day on TV. What they don't hear is the progress we've made over there."

That progress, according to the 1999 Valparaiso High School graduate, includes bringing law and order, government services and freedom.

"We did so much for those people."

Cristea, who returned to his base at Camp Pendleton in California in mid-August, is on leave, visiting his parents in Kouts for several weeks.

"We're thankful, thankful, thankful he's home," his mother, Debi, said,

Cristea wants to counter the prevailing media view of the reception U.S. troops have received in Iraq.

"All you hear is negativity. Ninety-five percent of the population in Iraq, in my experience with the locals -- they had nothing but good to say about us.

"A lot of them would come to us with information, a lot would come to thank us."

Kids jumped up and down when they saw his convoy, Cristea said. In Baghdad, Iraqis would crowd the barbed wire perimeter of his unit's compound and call out "USA! USA! Bush! Bush!"

"Whenever we drove anyplace, it was like we were in a parade," he said.

Read the whole thing.

HERE'S A VERY NICE POST ON WEALTH AND POVERTY by Donald Sensing, who addresses both the micro and macro levels with insight and sensitivity.

THE BROTHERS JUDD have moved to a fancy new website that's worth a look.

BLOG BRAND IDENTITIES. Hmm.

VIRGINIA POSTREL WONDERS why nobody -- even "Tennessee-based InstaPundit" -- noticed the Memphis blackout. Beats me. I noticed it -- when I changed planes on the way back from vacation, the pilot noted that parts of Memphis were blacked out -- but I thought it was a short-term thing and didn't realize how bad it had been. (Of course, Memphis is only about 50 miles closer to me than it is to chez Postrel; Tennessee is a big state). But I don't know why it got so little attention. Here's an oped about that, which Virginia points out.

DEFENSETECH REPORTS PROBLEMS WITH THE MILITARY SPACE PROGRAM that are, according to the Defense Science Board, as severe as the problems with the civilian space program.

IS IT A VIOLATION OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM for a university to shut down a professor's webpage because they disagree with his ideas? Yes.

It's happened at Indiana University, though. I blame John Ashcroft. . . .

UPDATE: Indiana University has done the right thing, and reversed its position on the matter.

NOW HERE'S AN IDEA.

RADLEY BALKO doesn't like the prison rape bill I was praising earlier:

So at risk at being tagged as a shill for prison rapists, I'm wondering: how is this a federal issue? If the law applies only to federal prisons, fine. But the summary from the Stop Prison Rape site clearly implies it's much broader than that. . . .

If conventional, man-on-woman rape doesn't sufficiently affect interstate commerce to invoke the Commerce Clause, how does man-on-man rape within the confines of a state prison?

The answer is that it's not about commerce, but about Congress's power to enforce rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. That's not invoked by ordinary rape -- but when states permit, or, in California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's case, encourage prison rape as a tool of policy, and it's quite clear that they do -- then it becomes a federal issue.

HEY, I CAN'T GET A FLYING CAR, but here's a floating one! (Via Gizmodo).

UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster has a flying-car roundup! Okay, actually it's a roundup of reasons why we don't have flying cars. But you have to admit, it sounds cooler the other way.

A GUY ATTACKS JAMES LILEKS ON METAFILTER, and discovers that he's brought the proverbial knife to a gunfight. Or maybe a toothpick. Ouch.

Lileks is also dissing Sony products. I dunno. I've got a Sony VCR that's neither the best nor the worst. (The best I ever owned was an RCA -- really a Thomson, made in France, no less -- that I bought in 1986 and that worked flawlessly until a few months ago). I have a Sony camcorder that's not a patch on either the big Canon that the InstaWife used for her film, or my not-quite-so-big Canon that I use for various video projects of mine -- but it's been reliable, and it has a lot of nice features that the Canons lack. (My Canon GL2, by the way, actually produces better video, and especially more accurate color, than the XL1S -- I thought that was just me, but apparently most people have found that to be the case.) And I like my Sony DVD player a lot better than the JVC one -- among other things, if you stop a DVD it remembers the location and will automatically restart from that point, which is a nice feature. And the quality seems excellent, though if you follow that link to the Amazon page you'll see that not everyone agrees.

I wonder, though, if Lileks isn't noticing that Sony is getting worse mostly just because he's bought a lot of Sony stuff. My impression is that consumer electronics in general are getting shoddier, and that the corner-cutting has gone a bit too far with a lot of them. You can read my Andy Rooney-like rantings on that subject here.

MY REFERENCE TO KEITH LAUMER'S CAR COLLECTION, below, caused several readers to exclaim in delight, and others in puzzlement. Laumer, for those who don't know him, wrote all sorts of science fiction novels, but his best work (in my opinion) was a series of short stories about an interstellar diplomat, now conveniently collected into a paperback volume edited by Eric Flint. Laumer worked in the U.S. embassies in Burma and South Vietnam, and had a pretty good eye for, well, stuff that seems familiar today. Sample quote:

"Hardly the diplomatic approach," Magnan sniffed. "For centuries now it's been understood that if enough diplomats go to enough parties, everything will come right in the end."

And this one:

Jame Retief, Vice-Consul and Third Secretary in the Corps Diplomatique and junior member of the Terrestrial Embassy to Yill stepped forward.

"Since we hold the prior claim to the system, why don't we put all our cards on the table to start with? Perhaps if we dealt frankly with the Yill, it would pay us in the long run."

Ambassador Straphanger blinked up at the younger man. . . . He assumed a fatherly expression. "Young man, you're new to the service. You haven't yet learned the team play, the give-and-take of diplomacy. I shall expect you to observe closely the work of the experienced negotiators of the mission, learn the importance of subtlety. Excessive reliance on direct methods might tend in time to attenuate the role of the professional diplomat. I shudder to contemplate the consequences."

Highly recommended.

UPDATE: Reader Chris Pastel emails:

My favorite phrase from the Retief series was something to the effect that the function of diplomacy is to maintain tensions at a state just short of war.

Speaking from the vantage of 28 years (mixed active and reserve) in the Marines, I can tell you that that is just too true.

The language is "maintenance of a state of tension short of actual conflict." I think this is a play on the McDougal & Lasswell line about "the indefinite postponement of unacceptably destructive violence."

UPDATE: Several readers note that the book I link above is also available for free online courtesy of the very cool folks at Baen books. You can browse the chapters to your heart's content there -- and read the very nice introduction by David Drake.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here are some other free books by Laumer. Sadly, none of his Bolo stories seem to be included.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Erst says his favorite line is this one from Retief's War:

"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-Jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead troublemaker."

Now that's diplomacy.

ANOTHER ACADEMIC ITEM: So in my mailbox today was a just-published law review with my article Constitutional "Incidents": Interpretation in Real Time. The article (coauthored with fast-rising conlaw star Brannon Denning) is about the application of the "incidents" methodology used by international law scholars to constitutional questions that come up under circumstances where a Supreme Court opinion isn't possible.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out -- but the original manuscript was written two or three years ago, and the piece is only now winding up in print. It's sort of the opposite extreme from blogging, on the instant-gratification scale.

I sent out two pieces (one of them quite short) this summer. It'll be interesting to see how long it will be before they appear in print.

ARTHUR SILBER HAS NAILED MIKE KINSLEY in a hypocrisy slapdown.

Actually, it's more than that: the old Kinsley column that Silber has dredged up is mindbogglingly embarrassing on its own -- even before you notice the double standard.

UPDATE: Some people say that Silber is misreading Kinsley's column, and missing his sarcasm. I followed the link from Silber's post initially and it didn't seem that way, but I went back and read it again, and I think they're probably right. This quote is the tipoff, to me: "Is rape a worse crime than using drugs? Well, many might think so, but you wouldn't know it from the way most politicians talk about drugs."

It's not entirely clear, though I should have assumed that any time Dan Quayle is quoted, Kinsley is being sarcastic. My fault.

WILL THE MCDONALD'S LAWSUITS MEAN THAT YOU CAN SUE RALPH NADER? I explore this question over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: In that post, I say that Nader is rich. How rich, some readers ask? This rich, according to a story by Josh Marshall:

Nader told the Post he believes he's made between $13 million and $14 million over the course of his career; and according to his just-released financial disclosure statement he is worth at least $3.8 million.

Of course, that was in 2000 -- and as the story goes on to note that "much of that wealth is invested in a small group of high-flying tech stocks such as Cisco Systems, Comcorp, Iomega and Ziff-Davis," he may be worth somewhat less today. A millionaire, certainly, though.

TIP FOR PROSECUTORS: It's probably better to be known as the guy who lost the case, than to be known as the inventor of the "unidentified co-ejaculator theory" -- at least in terms of, you know, snickers and giggles.

MORE EVIDENCE OF AN AL JAZEERA / AL QAEDA LINK?

Al Jazeera said police detained Tayseer Alouni, who shot to fame in the Arab world covering the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan and then the Iraq war, at his home in Granada in southern Spain.

It said Alouni and his wife were Spanish citizens.

Spanish police sources confirmed they had arrested Alouni.

"Alouni had been arrested in Granada...in principle for connections with Islamic terrorist organizations," one source told Reuters, but gave no further details.

The source said Alouni had been arrested on the orders of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, best known for an unsuccessful bid to put former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on trial.

Alouni's wife, who was not named, told al Jazeera in an interview that a Spanish police warrant had charged her husband with having links to an al Qaeda cell that was captured in the country.

I'd like to say that I'm shocked by this, but, well, I'm not.

UPDATE: Then there's this:


NEW YORK (AP) - A second son of a former Iraqi diplomat was charged Friday with providing information to Iraqi agents about Iraqi dissidents living in the United States, prosecutors said.

Wisam Noman Al-Anbuge, 24, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He appeared before Judge Michael Mukasey along with his brother, Raed Rokan Al-Anbuge, who was arrested earlier this year on the same charge.

Both men are sons of Rokan Al-Anbuge, Iraq's former liaison with United Nations weapons inspectors.

Hmm. At least we know where Raed is, now. . . . (Emphasis added.)

WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION hate the world's poor so much?

The European commission yesterday launched a ferocious attack on poor countries and development campaigners when it dismissed calls for big cuts in Europe's farm protection regime as extreme demands couched in "cheap propaganda".

In a move that threatens to shatter the fragile peace ahead of next week's trade talks in Cancun, Mexico, Franz Fischler, the EU agriculture commissioner, said Brussels would strongly defend its farmers.

Shameful. And unsophisticated. The Guardian's trade-subsidy blog is depressed, and says that Cancun is becoming "Cantcun:"

With the start of the talks less than a week away, and France – one of the biggest barriers to reform - digging its heels in, it is difficult to see where a breakthrough will come from – even though it is in the self-interest of rich countries to rid themselves of subsidies.

But not of special interest groups within those rich nations, or of the politicians they fund. Which are clearly the issue in France. Still, you'd think these people would have more respect for multilateral institutions and world opinion, wouldn't you?

UPDATE: Samizdata comments: "Note the condescending tone of the EUnik leading the charge on this one. Is it something they actually screen for? Is it in the water in Brussels?"

KARL ROVE'S DREAM VOTER? Perhaps not just Karl Rove's. . . .

JEFF JARVIS NOTES that the blackout revealed the utter inadequacy of evacuation plans in Manhattan, which you'd think people would have been working on after 9/11.

A good topic for anniversary followup stories would be things like this: the stuff that you'd assume someone would have thought about, but that hasn't been addressed.

AS MY EARLIER POST SUGGESTED, I'm not entirely sure what I think of the Bush Administration's turn to the UN. But Jonathan Foreman is unhappy and thinks it's a case of going wobbly that will likely produce disaster:

The issue isn't the further internationalization of the occupation. (Thousands of foreign troops are already patrolling vast stretches of Iraq.) It is symbolism and timing.

The hasty turn to the United Nations smells of panic, unwarranted panic at that, and even worse, the foolish subordination of Iraq policy to electoral concerns.

The administration may genuinely believe it isn't engaged in a humiliating climbdown, but that is inevitably going to be the perception, here and abroad.

This may well be true. Of course, if the freed-up troops wind up invading North Korea or Iran, the perception may be different. . . .

He goes on to make some other important points:

How many people know that the 1st Marine Division, which administered the vast South Central region (until handing it over to the Polish-led multinational division Wednesday), suffered not a single combat death since April 12? (This remarkable fact has gone entirely unreported despite the Marines' repeated attempts to get foreign journalists to make the two-hour journey from Baghdad to Babylon.)

Then there's the little-known success story of the North (even outside Iraqi Kurdistan, which continues to be a beacon of stability and democratic hope). In Mosul and the area around it, the 101st Airborne has done a superb job (as reported by The New York Times' Michael Gordon, one of the few reporters willing to do more than file carping stories from the capital) of winning hearts and minds and getting the country back to work.

This is not to say mistakes aren't still being made. The Coalition Provisional Authority is apparently almost as slow-moving and bureaucratic as a U.N. administration would be, and it continues, almost suicidally, to fumble the task of communicating with the Iraqi people.

And new troops are still often being sent to Iraq without the kind of crowd-control, peacekeeping and policing training that was standard for GIs deployed to Kosovo and Bosnia. They're also not getting the right equipment, including suffient numbers of armored Humvees.

Still, overall conditions don't warrant the handing over of either military or even civilian tasks to the United Nations. Especially as there is little reason to assume that the U.N. will do a better job of administration, constitution-framing or even humanitarian relief.

After all, the last time the United Nations tried to set up a democracy in a devastated land — in Cambodia — the end result was the authoritarian Hun Sen regime. Iraqis neither want nor deserve such a government, but they rightly fear it could be the product of greater U.N. involvement in their country.

I have absolutely no confidence in the U.N., which can be counted on to either make things worse, or to cut and run when things get bad. (See what's happening in Zimbabwe for example.) As for the Marines -- I've gotten quite a few emails saying that the Marines' rather different philosophy (bristle with guns, and shoot back massively whenever attacked) has resulted in much better performance, while the Army's "non-provocative" approach has been much less successful. I haven't seen anything published on that, though. Is there a story on that somewhere that I'm missing? The only "published" report I'm aware of is this one from Jeff Cooper:

We hear curious accounts from the front concerning the disarming of our own troops. Some people in authority seem to have got the idea that we must not let our people appear hostile to the local Arabs. This has caught on more with the Army than with the Marines. We hear from a couple of sources that the locals have discovered that while they may shoot safely at American soldiers, it is very dangerous to shoot at American Marines, who are inclined to shoot back, and they cannot tell the uniforms apart.

I'm hearing that, too.

UPDATE: More on the UN, here.

AS USUAL, I'M SURFING THE WAVE OF A TREND: Ralph Kinney Bennett notes that there are now more cars than drivers in America. That includes me: the InstaPundit household has three cars and two drivers.

Some people probably think that's terrible. I think it's great! I might not collect original-bodystyle Mercury Cougars by the scores like Keith Laumer (I think he had over 50, all from the 1967-68 model year) but I like cars, and I think that it's a good thing that people can afford more of them. As Bennett says:

Americans, more than perhaps any other nation, have been free to fully embrace the use of a device unparalleled as an articulate, efficient, safe, comfortable, versatile mode of travel -- the automobile.

"Light rail," or whatever the latest public transit nostrum, doesn't get you to the parking lot of that interesting restaurant you've heard about in some little town. Nor does it get you back home. Nothing else gets you door to door like a car.

You have to wonder why some people have such a visceral hatred of them. Of course, what I really want is a jetpack. And one of those Jetsons-style flying cars would be nice.

VIRGINIA POSTREL points to this engineering report on Iraqi infrastructure. Basically, a lot of stuff doesn't work. And dictators aren't big on routine maintenance.

QUITE SOME TIME AGO, I noted that Bush was in danger of losing his base. Now it looks to be happening. Libertarians are already iffy; now conservatives are, too.

Bush's hole card is that the Democratic field looks weak. But, of course, it looked weak in 1991, too.

September 04, 2003

NELSON ASCHER WRITES on anti-semitism, and geostrategic diplomacy, in Europe.

TERRY OGLESBY has a nice post on traffic-cams, a technology that inspires me about as much as Electronic Voting.

I don't like mold, either.

And, a warning to law students: you won't really be drafting many of these when you're in practice.

THE DAILY HOWLER is devoting another day to savaging the Washington Monthly piece on Bush.

THE TRUE MEANING OF "FIRST CLASS:" This is a must-read item.

LYNNE KIESLING EVALUATES CRUZ BUSTAMANTE'S GAS-PRICING PLAN and finds it unsound. Actually, she calls it "demagoguery."

UPDATE: Meanwhile the Curmudgeonly Clerk looks at MEChA in its own words.

I LIKE THE SOUND OF THIS:

A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid."

Good. Dictators who support terrorists are supposed to be afraid. That's a major part of the plan. (Via Right-thinking).

MORE ACADEMIC BLOGGING: Eugene Volokh (who has just started teaching, the bum -- I guess UCLA starts after Labor Day, as God intended) has a nice post on free speech during wartime, drawing on his materials for his Free Speech Law class.

My students are always surprised to discover that nearly all of First Amendment free speech law is a creation of the mid- to late-twentieth century. I suspect that Eugene's are, too.

UPDATE: A reader reminds me that Eugene is at Harvard this semester. I had forgotten that.

SOCIAL PROSTHESES? I know a few people who could use one or more of these. . . .

HERE'S SOME GOOD NEWS:

WASHINGTON D.C. – President George W. Bush signed into law the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 today, marking the first time the U.S. government has ever passed a law to deal with sexual assault behind bars.

“The passage of this law is a major milestone, finally bringing prisoner rape out of the shadows,” said Lara Stemple, executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a national human rights organization that has worked on the issue for more than two decades.

The law calls for the gathering of national statistics about the problem; the development of guidelines for states about how to address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem.

It's not like it's going to solve the problem, but at least it puts it on the table.

MORE ACADEMIC TRIVIA: For my sins (which must have been considerable) I'm chairing the Faculty Appointments Committee this year. People who want to be law professors submit their resumes to a centralized clearinghouse run by the Association of American Law Schools. There were 627 resumes in the first distribution, which came out last weekend. I've still got a lot to read. This may lead to reduced blogging -- or it may not, as I'm reading them on the computer, and it's easy, and probably necessary, to switch screens every once in a while.

THE RECALL CAMPAIGN HAS ROGER SIMON MISSING JERRY BROWN. I agree. I didn't see the debate, but I'll bet he would have swept the floor with the others.

BLOGGER HAIKU? Why not?

KATE EXPLAINS why she hates them.

Why don't we hear more of this kind of thing from feminists?

(Via Suburban Blight).

UPDATE: Meanwhile Amir Taheri points out why they hate us:

September 4, 2003 -- 'IT is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy." This is the message of a new book, just published by al Qaeda in several Arab countries.

The author of "The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After The Fall of Baghdad" is Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early '90s. A Saudi citizen also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad, he was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Riyadh last June.

The book is published by The Centre for Islamic Research and Studies, a company set up by bin Laden in 1995 with branches in New York and London (now closed). Over the past eight years, it has published more than 40 books by al Qaeda "thinkers and researchers" including militants such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's No. 2.

What Al-Ayyeri sees now is a "clean battlefield" in which Islam faces a new form of unbelief. This, he labels "secularist democracy." This threat is "far more dangerous to Islam" than all its predecessors combined. The reasons, he explains in a whole chapter, must be sought in democracy's "seductive capacities."

This form of "unbelief" persuades the people that they are in charge of their destiny and that, using their collective reasoning, they can shape policies and pass laws as they see fit. That leads them into ignoring the "unalterable laws" promulgated by God for the whole of mankind, and codified in the Islamic shariah (jurisprudence) until the end of time. . . .

Al-Ayyeri says Iraq would become the graveyard of secular democracy, just as Afghanistan became the graveyard of communism. The idea is that the Americans, faced with mounting casualties in Iraq, will "just run away," as did the Soviets in Afghanistan. This is because the Americans love this world and are concerned about nothing but their own comfort, while Muslims dream of the pleasures that martyrdom offers in paradise.

Calling them "the Klan with a Koran" is perhaps too kind. Or unfair to the Klan.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Buffy would know what to do with this guy.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: On the "Klan with a Koran" front, Michael Ubaldi emails "You ain't just whistlin' Dixie!"

STILL MORE: Meryl Yourish says if I don't hear feminists, it's because I'm not listening.

Well, she's right and wrong. When Martha Burk thinks that the threat to women by Islamic fundamentalism is as important as gender integration at Augusta National, then I'll have what I was asking for. You see, I'm not listening to Martha Burk, et al., but I can't help hearing them anyway. And that's the sign of a movement in action.

VIK RUBENFELD ASKS:

Isn’t it just about time that the left was asked what its plans are for combating terrorism?

The left doesn’t want us in Iraq, where we are bringing the fight right to the terrorists’ own backyard? Okay - what’s their plan?

Yes. Given that what we're up against is, essentially, "the Klan with a Koran," you'd think they'd have some ideas. I don't recall anyone suggesting that the FBI shouldn't have been in Birmingham just because there was a bombing there. . . .

THE HORRORS OF AN ACADEMIC LIFE: I got back from my Administrative Law class, feeling like it's finally on a roll now that Labor Day is behind us, and in my mailbox were the textbook order forms for next semester! Sheesh. Already? (And they had the notation "These are already late!")

The class was good, though. We did two cases that I like a lot: the Benzene case (about administrative factfinding under conditions of uncertainty) and the airbag case (to oversimplify, it's about the standard for judging agency about-faces for essentially political reasons).

I like those cases, which offer a nice look at the very difficult position in which agencies are often put by the intersection of legislation and politics. I also like this article by Malcolm Gladwell on airbags, which I recommended to the class.

I was a huge airbag fan back in the day. Now, for reasons that Gladwell spells out, I'm less of one. I'm still glad to have them in my car, where they provide a modest safety improvement. But they were sold, somewhat disingenously, as a substitute for seatbelts, which they certainly aren't, and never were.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer calls the Gladwell article "very compelling" and adds a story from his own experience.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I got several emails like this one from Gary Saffer:

I've been a paramedic for many years and I can tell you that seat belts are much more effective than air bags at protecting vehicle occupants. One thing that very few people ever mention and fewer people realize is that air bags are one shot devices. That is, they go off and deflate in milliseconds. Accidents however are generally much longer events, lasting hundreds of milliseconds. Many accidents also involve multiple impacts, as did the case of the late Mr. Day. Even if his vehicle had an airbag, most likely it would have inflated and deflated during the first impact leaving him unprotected during the second impact. Perhaps the most important statement in the article is that Mr Day was not wearing a seat belt and died, while his son was wearing a seat belt and survived.

I've also seen numerous people who were "thrown clear" of accidents. Most of them were dead, almost all of the remaining ones had serious injuries. Several people were "thrown clear" only to have their vehicle roll on top of them and kill them. I'll take my chances belted in the car, thank you.

I've never been a proponent of airbags given the cost and limited protection that they give. They should be offered as an option, for those that want to spend the extra money.

I'm okay on them, but they're no panacea. Seatbelts aren't either, but they're close.

DEPRIVING THE THIRD WORLD OF FLUSH TOILETS: These people will stop at nothing.

DON'T MISS THE WAR NEWS ROUNDUP over at Winds of Change. Lots of news -- both good and bad -- that you won't get from Dan Rather!

JOSH CLAYBOURN joins those wondering at the absence of anti-death-penalty protests at the execution of pro-life murderer Paul Hill.

UPDATE: Kathy Kinsley emails that there were protesters, but that the press mostly ignored them. Wonder why?

ALAN OXLEY ON NEW-WAVE FARM SUBSIDIES:

There is a saying in politics that the last resort of rascals is to wrap themselves in the flag. The challenge to the EU to open food markets at the WTO conference next week at Cancun comes at an awkward time. It is an open secret that Europe's businesses are losing global competitiveness. On cue, those chaps in Brussels have reached for the flag.

This flag is not the EU circle of gold stars on the blue background. While undoubtedly attractive, even visionary, no one waves that at football internationals. Go Europe: The true passion is not even reserved for the Tricolor or the Union Jack. It is the local icon. Barcelona, Manchester, Munich.

In a piece of political populist brilliance, some crafty guy in the European Commission picked up that there were food equivalents -- Parma ham, Madeira port, Roqueforte cheese, just for starters -- raw material for the perfect foil for some unpleasantness the EU was facing in the WTO.

I'm going to call it Parmesan, even if it comes from Wisconsin. I'll be striking a blow for freedom!

JAMES LILEKS IS GOING WOBBLY -- on Target!

There were 26 check-out stands. Six were open. And I recollected the Instapundit’s remarks a few months ago about just such a Target moment: too many customers, not enough clerks. I thought back to the items I hadn’t bought because [of] shelves that hadn’t been stocked - rare for Target, very rare. I remembered that the yellow curbs outside needed a lick of paint. And I was reminded that there’s nothing as stupid as brand loyalty.

Sell your Dayton-Hudson stock. They're goin' down. But that "Samuel's" place sounds pretty cool. Wi-fi in the cafe! And Hebrew National hotdogs!

UPDATE: Target's shortage of cashiers is apparently becoming a standard joke.

HOLLOW VICTORY: Jeremy Lott reports that geeks have taken over the world, and don't know what to do with it.

September 03, 2003

MATT WELCH WRITES ABOUT BLOGS -- in the Columbia Journalism Review, no less.

The whole issue is on alternative media -- I got the hardcopy the other day, and it's pretty good.

UPDATE: Billy Beck says that bloggers are standing on the shoulders of giants from Usenet and elsewhere. He's right, of course. (Heck, I remember FIDONET!) And don't miss this piece by Jay Rosen from the same CJR issue.

SURPRISINGLY, a clever French novel about 9/11 isn't a big hit with the Blogosphere. But The New York Times is giddy!

HERE'S A PIECE ON THE INFIGHTING ON THE SIXTH CIRCUIT, which isn't pretty.

THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S PROBLEM: Bad pricing decisions, according to Fritz Schranck:

I certainly don’t think I’m alone in deciding that $18 or so for a CD seems a bit steep, especially considering the quality of much of what passes for popular music lately. Knock the unit price down to $11 or so, however, and it’s much easier for me to decide to buy two or three of ‘em.

The industry continues to blame online and other forms of piracy, but seeing those Kemp Mill crowds readily parting with their cash for the bargain CD prices caused me to think there might be a better explanation.

Who have been the real pirates?

Arrrh!

UPDATE: Fritz Schranck gets results:

Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, on Wednesday said it will cut list prices on compact discs by as much as 30 percent in an effort to boost sales that have been stymied by free online music-sharing services such as Kazaa.

Starting in October, Universal, the home to such artists as Mary J. Blige (news), U2 and Elton John (news), will trim its prices on most of its CDs to $12.98 from its current $16.98-$18.98 range of prices.


"Our research shows that the sweet spot is to sell our records below $12.98,' said Universal Music president Zach Horowitz. "We're confident that when we implement this we will get a dramatic and sustained increase."

"Research?" I'll bet some marketing consultant charged them a lot more than it costs to read Fritz's blog. . . .

THE CASUALTIES KEEP COMING: Stefan Sharkansky notes that the District of Columbia is a quagmire of violent resistance to peaceful government, despite the efforts of American authorities:

According to this week's story from Scripps Howard News Service, there are 140,000 troops in Iraq, and there have been 286 fatalities from all causes since the war began in March (about 24 weeks ago). That gives us an annualized death rate of 443 per 100,000. Only about half of these deaths (147) were in combat, for a combat death rate of 228 per 100,000.

According to Center for Disease Control / National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, there were 21,836 young black men (age 18-30) in Washington DC in 2000, the latest year that mortality data is available. The total number of deaths in this group from all causes was 132, with 95 homicides. i.e. the death rate for this group was 604 per 100,000 and the murder rate was 435 per 100,000.

In other words, a young black male soldier from Washington DC would have been 36% more likely to die by staying at home than by serving in active duty in the Iraq war, and almost twice as likely to be murdered at home than to be killed in combat. Yes, that's horribly sad, but it puts a few things in perspective.

I think we need regime change in the D.C. government, for starters. The death toll is just too high.

UPDATE: Greg Buete has an offensive suggestion.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an interesting comparison of casualty rates in Iraq with those in industry -- suggesting that overall casualties (deaths + injuries) aren't much worse in Iraq than in some industrial areas.

I realize, of course, that statistics are no answer to dramatic photos and hysterical news coverage, which live in a world of their own. But some perspective is useful given the ceaseless negativity in the press: I heard an NPR story the other day that said that a bombing in Baghdad proved that the U.S. effort was futile and that bombers could strike whenever they chose. The story was mostly over before they got around to admitting that nobody had been seriously hurt.

The trouble with that kind of reporting is that it makes it hard to identify real problems, or to get a clear sense of how things are actually going. So although people defend such reporting by pointing to the role of a free press, it's not actually, you know, performing the role that a free press ought to perform.

UPDATE: Then there's Robert Scheer . . . .

MORE EVIDENCE that reporting from Baghdad is, um, excessively negative:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- I have been shocked at the difference between the Baghdad I found on my return and all the bad news from the city.

Despite the recent bombings, Baghdad looks dramatically different. The stores are full of supplies. The streets are crowded with people and cars. The buses are working and police are on the streets, directing traffic.

At night the streets are full of pedestrians, many families with children. I am at a loss to reconcile what we see on the ground with what is being reported.

The "regular people" are much better off than they were. Security has improved with Iraqi police everywhere, telephones are starting to work, electricity, while off and on, is relatively stable, the stores are full of food, and, little by little, people are getting jobs back.

The author, Ken Joseph, has written about Baghdad before -- he's the "human shield" who left when he realized what Saddam's regime was all about. He continues:

Those who naysay everything are very interesting. The people are very clear on who they are -- they all were connected to Saddam. For the first time in their lives, they are going to have to work; no more handouts. The easy life is over. But the numbers are staggering. People estimate nearly 20 percent or more of the population was in some form on Saddam's gravy train, some by choice, others by force. And nearly all of the population had been getting free food, tea and sugar.

As for the crime, they emptied the prisons so nearly 50,000 hard-nosed criminals are on the streets.

Another problem is just as it was before the war -- the outsiders. I cannot understand why the United States has not done two basic things: sealing the borders and setting up a TV station.

There is no border check so Iraq is becoming the magnet for every one that wants to get a chance to fight with Americans. This is a great puzzle to me.

It's almost as if it were some sort of "flypaper" strategy. . . .

THE LEFT CONTINUES TO SELF-DESTRUCT. It's not pretty.

UPDATE: Matthew: "Looking through the Anti-war.us posters, it becomes abundantly clear that the artists' hatred isn't reserved for George W. Bush or the "neocon cabal," but rather, is directed at all of us."

Yes. And we deserve it, for not appreciating their brilliance.

DANIEL DREZNER IS PRAISING GREGG EASTERBROOK'S ESPN COLUMN -- and all I can say is, "indeed." Er, that, and quote this line: "So it's a highly realistic movie about being thirteen, starring girls who aren't 13 and who have digitally-superimposed tongues."

UPDATE: Bruce Rolston, on the other hand, thinks the column is a low point in Easterbrook's career.

ARMED LIBERAL IS UNHAPPY with the Bush Administration's efforts to get the U.N. involved in Iraq.

I'm not so sure that this effort isn't meant to fail, actually. It's likely to, and that will only underscore the irrelevance of the U.N.

UPDATE: John Cole, on the other hand, thinks the Administration is sincere.

THE HOWLER is still unimpressed with The Washington Monthly piece on Bush. (And an accompanying piece is "Pure High Piffle.") First class all the way -- no low piffle at WM!

[Hey, I thought Phil Carter said it would be the "neo-con media on the right" who were upset by this piece. . . . -- Ed. Go figure! Next they'll be saying that FDR promised not to get us into World War Two!]

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY MEDIA GUN BIAS CHART IS UP.

VIRGINIA POSTREL:

Unlike Mark Kleiman, I think Cruz Bustamante's MEChA connection might be reason enough not to vote for him, especially because he's been such a mealy-mouthed coward in addressing the question. But I completely agree with Mark that Bustamante's increasingly nutty economic populism is an even better reason. . .

He's supposed to be an advocate for low-income Californians, and he attacks Wal-Mart, which has not only driven huge productivity gains in the economy over all but, more to the point, sells quality merchandise at low prices? Where exactly does he want the people eating his red meat to shop? Melrose Avenue boutiques? That's economic cluelessness.

Attacking Wal-Mart shows that he's not a populist, but rather a slave to anti-globo-bobo fashion. Which his sad devotion to the outdated radical-chic ideology of MEChA also suggests.

UPDATE: Meanwhile Stephen Green wonders if Arnold Schwarzenegger has what it takes. Who knows? The fact that Davis and Bustamante are losers doesn't, by itself, make Arnold a winner.

ANOTHER UPDATE: But Jesse Ventura says that Arnold's just the ticket to shake up California's sick and corrupt political culture:

Believe me, Democrats and Republicans will break laws, take campaign contributions from anybody, slander, lie, cheat, conspire in defense of their power. And, more often than not, they will enjoy the compliance of the popular media in their quest to maintain their exclusivity.

Tell us something we don't know, Jesse.

EUGENE VOLOKH: "I'm happy to report that the comic book is indeed mostly graphic sex."

OUTLAND WONDERS if the death penalty protesters aren't that interested in protesting Paul Hill's execution, or if media folks just aren't that interested in covering them.

Meanwhile Eric Muller wonders why Hill is getting so much publicity.

MICHAEL UBALDI has been looking at press reports on Afghanistan and he's noticed that they're leaving something out.

Well, Michael, that's because the body count only matters when it's ours. It's as if they were, I don't know, racist or something.

UPDATE: Unless it's noncombatants, I should add. Then the numbers get inflated, rather than ignored. Matt Welch explodes the bogus dead Iraqi babies claim yet again.

Why it's almost as if making America look bad were the unifying theme here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Waldorf emails that we shouldn't underestimate the laziness of the media:

That's true with almost all media with respect to Iraq, not just the intentionally defeatist. Every day and night I hear "today/yesterday, [insert number] U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq by sniper/car bomb/land mine/etc.". That's for two reasons. Reason one is because many of the writers are defeatist and want to highlight American deaths in the hope we pull out and admit we were wrong to invade (fat chance, mind you!); reason two is because they're downright lazy. Every day the local U.S. military command spoon-feeds the number of U.S. deaths to pool journalists and onto the wire, because it's the sort of thing we can't hide -- the families will speak up when their sons and daughters don't come home -- and because these are facts, how many people died, and our government believes in the honest reporting of facts. The enemy casualties are always missing in these reports. That's not because they aren't any, of course, but because determining and verifying a number requires reporters to get out of hidey-holes Baghdad and work for a story, and if the U.S. military tried to estimate enemy dead for the public, they'd be taunted with endless cries of "show us the bodies, we don't believe you" as we did in the case of Uday and Qusay.

Of course U.S. armed forces kill more than are killed. Our boys are very good at what they are trained to do. And the number of enemy dead does matter, because there are that fewer bad guys to take pot-shots at our good guys and maybe potential bad guys may be deterred if their buddies don't come home. But I wouldn't be looking for either Saddam Hussein or Al Qaeda to hold regular press conferences with accurate numbers of casualties on their respective sides.

Laziness is a factor, no doubt about it. And it might even explain the willingness of media folks to accept obviously-inflated civilian casualty numbers from the likes of Tariq Ali and Marc Herold. But would they lazily accept bogus numbers from obviously-interested parties if they made the United States effort look good?

MORE ON 9/11, THE WAR, AND REMEMBRANCE, over at GlennReynolds.com.

MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME? These guys are believers:

At the Vol Market No. 3 on Western Avenue, the person preparing your food, cashing your check or ringing you up at the register likely will be wearing a holstered handgun on their hip.

But unlike most Tennesseans who have a handgun carry permit, Vol Market owners have decided that open display as a visual deterrent is preferable to concealment as final protection. . . .

Store employees have been carrying guns openly after the 1996 carry permit law went into effect. Since then, it has not been robbed but was burglarized three times. And several persons who tried to cash stolen checks were detained by employees until police arrived.

"We are not trying to be police officers, we just want to protect what is ours," said Frye's co-owner, Rich Nichols, 32. "We've never had to draw the guns."

Interesting, and about what I would have expected, actually. Nothing's foolproof, of course, but cops wear guns, and they're seldom mugged.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I love this. It's a free market - you can choose to go to the supermarket where the help carry guns, or the one down the street where they don't, wherever you feel safer!

I know which one I'd choose -- especially over on Western Avenue.

ANOTHER UPDATE: As Spoons notes, Chicago is less progressive than Knoxville in this respect. Chicago needs to update its gun laws. If it saves just one life, it's worth it!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, the traditional approach to crime is making a comeback!

Following the recent armed burglary at Cilla Black's house, another great old dame of British television has decided to take the Tony Martin approach to home protection.

"I've just bought myself a gun," says Lily Savage star Paul O'Grady at the launch of Black's autobiography, What's It All About? "After what happened to Cilla, I'm not taking any chances. If I'm lying in bed and any gob-shite burglars are in my house, thinking I'm not going to do anything, then they'll be in for a shock.

"I'll shoot them in the kneecaps and feed them to my pigs. I'm with Tony Martin on this one. If you're in my house and you shouldn't be, then I'll shoot you, simple as that."

You go, girl.

MAUREEN DOWD'S LATEST COLUMN IS BARELY WORTH FISKING, reports Stephen Green, who notes that her comparison of Clinton with Rommel is, um, inapt.

MORE ON BUSTAMANTE AND RACISM: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a lengthy and link-filled post on the subject. Conclusion:

Cruz Bustamante, to the best of my knowledge, is not a racist, or a secessionist, or an advocate of violence. But he once joined those who were, and who are. And just recently, he failed to denounce them. If he had any shame whatsoever, he wouldn't even get his own vote. It's bad enough that California is currently governed by an incompetent. It need not be governed by a coward. Cruz Bustamante blew an easy call by failing to denounce MEChA. His supporters repeat the mistake by trying to excuse away the indefensible.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Roger Simon comments:

Identity Politics is so reactionary that it works against the very thing it pretends to espouse. I say pretends quite deliberately because many so-called progressive militants in these areas consciously or unconsciously yearn for the by-gone era when they could be social outsiders with all the attendant moral high ground. But all they succeed in doing is alienating people who already, for the most part, agree with them. Not smart and not useful to anybody.

That is why I was surprised to see that MEChA is still employing the rhetoric of another era and why I agree with Mickey Kaus that Bustamante must more fully disassociate himself from it. Not only does this shopworn language do his cause no good, it makes it difficult to have a serious discussion on what is probably the most controversial and complex subject facing California today.

Read the whole thing.

ERIC OLSEN IS CONCERNED that some people have already declared Howard Dean the presumptive nominee.

JAMES LILEKS:

The one thing that made the Nazis distinct from the Sovs was the former’s fixation on racial identity. Blood Uber Alles. What’s your race? C’mon, we need to know. What - is - your - race?

How can we understand you if we don’t know your race?

Good thing we've put that kind of thinking behind us.

RON BAILEY IS REPORTING from the meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences. I hadn't heard of the group, but the report is interesting.

SO I GOT MY COPY OF KEN LAYNE'S CD LAST WEEK, and I've listened to it in the car, at the office, and even on the boombox.

It sounds great everywhere, which is a tribute to the mastering done by Pieter K.

I think that "Worried" is the boss hitbound single, and it may have displaced the Flamin' Groovies' "Slow Death" as the best song the Rolling Stones never wrote. I like all the tunes, even the ones with Welch on backing vocals. Check it out; I don't think you'll be disappointed.

DANIEL DREZNER SAW Virginia Postrel's appearance on CNN yesterday, toilet brushes and all, and posted a review.

AMONG THE TERRORISTS:

Mohamed Sifaoui is an Algerian Muslim journalist who became incensed by the war of terror waged by Islamic fundamentalists against the Algerian people. Not a few of his friends, relatives and colleagues perished at their hands, and before leaving for Paris he himself was nearly killed in an attack on his newspaper.

The combination of cowardice and indulgence shown to the terrorists by bien pensant opinion in France heightened his disgust. To expose the truth he decided to pose as a terrorist sympathiser, and his book is a diary of the three months he spent infiltrating a Parisian cell of al-Qa'eda under an assumed name.

The portraits he provides are not of the suicide bombers or gunmen, but of the recruiters, brain-washers and organisers behind them, yet the book conveys a convincing picture of the terrorist milieu. And a dismal picture it is. The members of the network emerge as a bunch of inadequates and infantile fanatics, although they are not the less fearsome for that.

Inevitably one thinks of the low life who staff the IRA, but it is a false comparison. The people Sifaoui writes about are on an even more debased cultural and psychological level. By their very nature, their grievances against the world can never be removed, and they are capable of pretty well anything.

These aren't people with legitimate grievances. This is the Klan with a Koran.

HELPFUL ADVICE FROM A RELIGIOUS LEADER:

ONE of the leaders of Malaysia’s Islamic opposition has upset women in the country by suggesting that they should stop wearing lipstick and perfume to lower the risk of being raped.

Nik Abdul Aziz, the spiritual leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, claimed that even women who wore Muslim head-scarves could arouse men if they also wore make-up and perfume. The end result could be rape or molestation, he said.

My advice: carry a .357 magnum, and wear whatever the hell you want. "Spiritual leader," my ass.

UPDATE: Speaking of spiritual leaders, here's more advice from Allah. This time I'd say it's dead-on.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Suraya Yahaya emails from Malaysia:

As a Malaysian woman, I totally support your .357 magnum idea as the perfect "license" to wear whatever the hell we want. Of course, we've been doing that anyway (wearing whatever the hell we want that is, the .357 part is kinda tricky) and typically only take notice of Nik Aziz and his "spiritual" comments when we need a joke to tell at the bars....

Preach it, sister.

MORE AMMUNITION FOR THE DEMOCRATS, if they care to use it:

The bin Laden family were granted extraordinary White House privileges to fly out of U.S. airspace following the attacks of Sept. 11th, 2001.

Former White House counter terrorism expert Richard Clarke told Vanity Fair the Bush administration decided to allow a group of Saudis to fly out of U.S. airspace just after Sept. 11-- a time when access to the United States was still restricted and required special government approval.

According to the magazine's sources, at least four flights with about 140 Saudis, including roughly two-dozen members of the bin Laden family, flew to Saudi Arabia that week without even being interviewed or interrogated by the FBI.

That cost us a lot of leverage. And it's not clear that it got us anything. The really interesting part is that no one admits to being responsible for the decision, now. Of course, the Democrats have their own vulnerabilities.

UPDATE: Snopes says the bin Laden flight story is a hoax. The Snopes entry is old; the Washington Times story above is new, and quotes a former White House terror official. Odd that the Washington Times would be recycling something like this if it's false.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader suggests that this may explain why Clarke is recycling this claim now.

THE IMPORTANCE OF COTTAGE INDUSTRY: My TechCentralStation column is up.

WITHOUT ALLIES, THERE IS NO VISION? Donald Sensing examines Gen. Wesley Clark's philosophy and finds it wanting.

September 02, 2003

ED CONE on the upcoming 9/11 anniversary:

Invading Iraq when we did and how we did was not my preference, but it is the policy we are pursuing. We’ve got to succeed. This isn’t a matter of revenge. It’s not bringing anyone’s husband or father back to life. But as the anniversary approaches, let’s remember what started this whole thing.

Yes, let's.

AFFIRMATIVE DESCRIPTION: John Rosenberg reports that Michigan is creating minorities, rather than admitting them.

Steve Martin was ahead of the curve. Again.

THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSION in the last few days about California losing population. Reader Craig Will says it's wrong, and sends this link.

UPDATE: Jeff Wolfe emails:

I was skeptical of the California population data Craig Will pointed you to, since it comes from the state of California. So I looked up the data from the U.S. Bureau of Census, which has less incentive to cook the numbers.

Here's the Census Bureau data for California for the year 7/1/2001 to 7/1/2002:

Net Births & Deaths: 295,598
Net International Migration: 326,917
Net Domestic Migration: -108,595

So, to overgeneralize, you could say Mexicans would rather live in California, but Californians would rather live elsewhere in the U.S. The only state with a bigger negative domestic migration last year was New York (-170,828). New York's total net migration (domestic and international) was -24,436.

The Census data is in a .csv file that can be downloaded here: link.

Hmm. This is certainly more consistent with what I'm hearing.

IT SEEMS AS IF A LOT OF TERRORISTS ARE BEING ARRESTED THESE DAYS:

The sleuths of the anti-terrorist cell of the Delhi Police, who are interrogating the recently arrested Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists, have established that this terrorist module had plans to strike in Mumbai.

According to sources, the two arrested terrorists, Raees and Atiq (both are brothers of Habibullah, who was killed along with Pakistani terrorist Zahoor in a police encounter on Saturday) during interrogation, disclosed that the slain Pakistani terrorist Zahoor was under instructions from the Jaish high command to set up a base in Mumbai and wait for further orders as to where and when to strike.

For this purpose, Atiq had rented a house in the Meera-Bhayender Road in Mumbai and the module was in the process of establishing a base there. The arms consignment seized by the special cell on Saturday was to be sent to Mumbai for accomplishing specific tasks assigned to this terrorist module by the Jaish high command.

Sources said, while Habibullah and his two brothers Raees and Atiq took terrorist training at the Sailkot in Pakistan, their youngest brother Musfiq is still in Pakistan and is undergoing terrorist training there.

It's hard to know how much to make of these reports, but there do seem to be more of them lately.

DEPLETED URANIUM FEARS: A case of the dishonest preying on the credulous, according to this link-rich and heavily-footnoted post by Michael McNeil. And he's right. It's a heavy metal (like lead), and thus it can be toxic (like, er, lead), but the radiation fears are hype. As with, er, lead, the real hazard lies elsewhere. As CPO Sparkey comments: "The most hazardous DU anyone will ever face is the one coming their way at 3,650 fps." Or as physicist Robert Park puts it: “I always figured it would be a lot better to be shot with a uranium bullet than a dum-dum — it should make a good clean hole. Physicists don't spend much time worrying about natural uranium, and DU is even less radioactive by about 40 percent.”

In other words, you can relax, Howard. That these stories get any play at all is a testament to, well, dishonesty and credulousness.

MATTHEW HOY HAS POSTED A LETTER FROM A SOLDIER IN IRAQ. Excerpt:

The difficulty in communicating with this man, to me a true hero, was not the result of a language barrier. It was because his tongue had been literally cut out by the same Iraqi soldiers who had dumped the munitions near his “house,” just prior to releasing him because of our impending arrival.

Later that day I returned with a convoy and removed the ordnance so the kids could play without blowing themselves up.

So those of you who question the righteousness of this conflict might look to your children, or your friends’ children, give thanks for your blessings, and pray that if you were in the same type of situation someone would have the courage to help you and not stay complacent.

Read the whole thing.

I GET PR SPAM FROM THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY and I've noticed that it's developed an increasing anti-Bush spin. That's too bad, since the WM, though liberal, used to take a less party-line approach.

Now, though, The Daily Howler is taking them to task.

LIFE IS GETTING MORE LIKE A THRILLER NOVEL EVERY DAY:

Police suspected a mystery man photographed with Dr David Kelly in Moscow in 1993 was BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan.

Police constable Jonathan Martyn Sawyer mentioned the existence of the photograph during evidence to the Hutton inquiry.

He was one of the officers who carried out a search of Dr Kelly's home the day he was found dead on 18 July.

Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide eight days after being publicly named as the suspected source for Mr Gilligan's report claiming the government had "sexed up" the intelligence case against Iraq.

Pc Sawyer said he took the photograph from Dr Kelly's study during the search.

I have no idea what, if anything, to make of this. This story from The Guardian is, strangely, less positive on the photo than the BBC story quoted above.

ROBERT TAGORDA WRITES about Bustamante:

Personally, I've seen and heard enough to be convinced that Bustamante has no plans to follow through on MEChA separatism. But I've also seen and heard enough to be convinced that Bustamante's recent actions are part of a broader political strategy. It's understandable for a politician like him to act this way. Still, it's rather disappointing, especially when you consider that taking a strong stance against a radical ideology should be easy for someone who believes that "[r]acial separatism is wrong."

You'd think.

UPDATE: Howard Owens has much more on Bustamante, Aztlan and MEChA, and writes:

The Aztlan thing may seem to some like a dime's worth of peanuts, but it is an idea that has gained a surprising number of adherents. Even small ideas can be dangerous. Small ideas can grow into big movements. Bustamante, as the leading Latino politician in the state, has an obligation to use his leadership position to make clear that the Aztlan myth has no place in a progressive and pluralistic society. . . .

What I was going to write about is all of the ways liberals are coming up with to defend and retranslate "Por La Raza todo. Fuera de la Raza Nada," which is rendered most simply and obviously as "For the race, all; Outside the race, nothing." Democrats/MEChA defenders/liberals are doing handstands trying to explain away this overtly exclusionary phrase. It's not working. No matter how that phrase is parsed, it doesn't fit into the supposedly "inclusionary" principles of the Democratic party, and it has no place in a modern pluralistic society. I find it rather amazing and amusing that Democrats would rush to defend a non-inclusionary group. I guess it's only white males that need to be inclusionary?

I guess.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can hear Mickey Kaus on the radio here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Kaus also scores on the lame defense offered by Dr. Velia Garcia, chair of La Raza studies at S.F. State University. Sheesh. You can only capitalize on inattention until people start paying attention. And why am I not surprised that we're hearing this lame defense of overt racism from someone at S.F.S.U., which is noted for such things, nowadays?

BEST OF THE WEB is back after a rather lengthy August hiatus.

NEWSWEEK says that Afghanistan is "sinking deeper into poverty," but Ambit notes that its economy grew 28% last year according to the IMF.

IBERIAN NOTES HAS A POST ON THE SPANISH SUCCESSION: The one coming with the next elections, that is.

Here's more from EuroPundits.

HERE'S A 9/11 REMEMBRANCE dedicated to the intellectual class. Meanwhile, I argue that the politicians are doing better than Big Media over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis responds.

I JUST GOT A COPY OF JOURNALISTIC FRAUD: HOW THE NEW YORK TIMES DISTORTS THE NEWS AND WHY IT CAN NO LONGER BE TRUSTED in the mail. I haven't read it yet, but the title seemed, even to me, a bit strong.

But then I read this article on the Times' coverage of the Alabama Ten Commandments flap:

When I first saw this story on The New York Times Web site, I knew it was bound to run on that newspaper's front page, and it did:


"MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 20 -- They came streaming in from all directions, wearing their crosses and Confederate T-shirts, carrying dog-eared Bibles and bottles of water and enough power bars to last a siege."

But I was immediately skeptical about this "color story," every sentence written as if a punch line lurked just around the corner.

I had seen endless TV footage of the Montgomery protests, and I had noticed not a single Confederate T-shirt, nor any other Confederate memorabilia, for that matter.

Some of the protesters did wear shorts and T-shirts beneath the infernal August sun, but they were mostly middle-aged and elderly people, neatly groomed and, frankly, kind of dull.

Next time I have a surly crowd chasing after me, this is exactly the kind of mob I want it to be.

But by slyly clothing the protesters in "Confederate T-shirts," Times writer Jeffrey Gettleman was pandering to his audience, eliciting snickers by conjuring up a revival of gap-toothed, barefoot, unreconstructed racists.

I'm no fan of Moore or his myrmidons (and neither is columnist Michael Marshall), but this sort of cheap shot is the kind of thing that has deeply wounded the Times' credibility. Read the whole thing for more examples of apparent Times embellishment or worse, and for a more-than-usually sensitive take on journalism and the use of vivid images that aren't representative.

UPDATE: This piece by Cathy Young is good. (It's on Moore, not the Times.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dale Wetzel sends this link to a MediaBistro interview with Bob Kohn, the author of Journalistic Fraud.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Minority of One blogged the event here and here. Somewhat more Confederate stuff reported than in the column above, though Marshall does mention that the neo-secessionist League of the South showed up and was asked to leave. Certainly no evidence that the Times account was representative of the crowd.

BLOGGER JOURNALISM: Airport security badges found in men's room -- with photos.

I feel so very secure. . . .

UPDATE: Well, I feel more secure now -- read the comments on the post to see the Blogosphere's self-fact-checking at work!

ADVICE TO INCOMING FRESHMEN: Pretty good, I guess -- except that free food is not always your friend. But the advice in the comments to put your cellphone on "vibrate" or just turn it off in class is absolutely essential. Take it from a prof. -- if it rings during class, you will wish it hadn't. I'll make sure of that.

Then there's this one: "blog. it's cathartic!"

MORE ON MECHA: Juan non-Volokh has a post responding to the claim (originally linked below) that the Bustamante/MEChA issue is just a right-wing smear.

And here's a link roundup on Left Beach, a blog I hadn't visited before.

PrestoPundit, meanwhile, continues to be on top of the story, and has the Bustamante pictures his campaign doesn't want you to see. Oui magazine never would have published this. . . .

UPDATE: Oh, and don't miss CalBlog, either.

THE GUARDIAN ASKS IF THE BBC "SEXED UP" ITS OWN REPORT:

The BBC chairman has admitted the corporation may have overplayed David Kelly's status in the rush to head off a government row, confessing that a PR wrongly inferred Andrew Gilligan's story had come from an "intelligence source".
In a private exchange of emails published by the Hutton inquiry, Gavyn Davies admitted the line was inserted into the last draft of a key statement by the board of governors giving full backing to the Today reporter.

"The bit about intelligence sources was drafted in at the last minute by a PR person - the way of the world!" he wrote.

Not ready for prime time, if you ask me.

TERRY EASTLAND WRITES ON THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND CAMPUS SPEECH CODES: I should note again, just in case anyone missed it, that Gerald Reynolds is no relation.

SPAM ASSASSIN has been blocking some non-spam emails lately. I've tried to fix it. Between this problem, and the continuing viral assault on my (ha!) "personal" account, and the server crash on the Law School account, I've probably missed some emails. If you sent me anything truly vital that I don't seem to have gotten, you might want to resend it. Please don't resend anything less than truly vital, or you'll just make the flood worse.

IS THERE (OR SHOULD THERE BE) A RIGHT TO FORGET? Richard Glen Boire says there should be. Randall Parker isn't so sure:

There are aspects of how our minds work that are essential for the proper functioning of a rights-based society. The exercise of some kind of modification of the brain that undermines the ability to make a rights-based society work can not itself be an unlimited right. The biggest challenge facing us with mind engineering is that it will eventually become possible to modify minds in a number of ways to create sentient beings that are highly rational but which behave in ways that make the continued existence of a rights-based society highly problematic.

These are issues that will soon be -- if they are not already -- non-hypothetical.

GRUNTDOC is a medical blog I hadn't seen before.

VIRGINIA POSTREL'S NEW BOOK is officially out today. And she'll be on CNN talking about toilet brushes and drawer pulls at 10:45 ET. Sadly, I'll be preparing for my Administrative Law class, an activity in which aesthetics play no great role.

UPDATE: Here's an interview with Virginia in The Atlantic Monthly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis saw her, and she really did bring toilet brushes.

JEFF COOPER:

We are somewhat saddened by this anti-French propaganda which seems popular at the time. It is certainly possible to dislike a head-of-state without letting that influence our social judgments. This Chirac is nobody's favorite person, but let us not forget that the United States has had presidents over preceding decades of whom we have no cause to be proud. My father was something of a Francophile, and spoke the language to a useful extent. He insisted on one occasion that the French must be a truly great people when you consider they can cook a carp and make it taste good.

Good point.

BUSTAMANTE UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has the latest developments covered. Plus, an eBay coverup!

TANNED, RESTED, AND READY: Andrew Sullivan is back from vacation.

MICHAEL MOORE has, um, altered parts of the DVD release of Bowling for Columbine, Spinsanity reports.

UPDATE: Tim Blair: "Moore will be up to his 15th remake before Bowling is able to be called a documentary."

September 01, 2003

SOMEONE TELL THE BELGIANS! Tim Blair links a report of French complicity in Argentine state torture.

THE GOOD NEWS: Daniel Drezner says I'm right.

The bad news: I'd rather be wrong.

UPDATE: Lots of interesting comments to Drezner's post now -- you might want to read through them if you've got a few minutes.

A REPORT ON NORTH KOREA, from The New Yorker:

PHILIP GOUREVITCH: It’s one of the most brutal governments on earth. One of the difficulties in assessing the nature of existence inside North Korea is that it’s so sealed off and insular. And the regime is masterful at preventing anybody who comes in from seeing what’s really going on. So, in the end, one has to rely to a large extent on the word of people who come out. The testimonies of such refugees and defectors have been available only since the mid-nineties, when more and more people, driven by extreme hunger, started to flee North Korea. The picture that has emerged from their accounts certainly confirms everything that one had suspected. It’s a place where the level of sheer physical brutality is extreme and the psychic violence is constant. . . .

There is no civil society. There has never been a civil society in the territory known as North Korea. There was an oppressive dynasty. There was an oppressive imperial presence, and then there was an absolutely and totally oppressive prison camp. I mean, the country’s a gulag. It’s a prison camp. That doesn’t mean that these people are all zombies. They live in a zombie-ish culture, but many of them, judging by the defectors, are capable of retooling their mentality. But it takes a lot. These are lives that have been criminally wasted.

Read the whole thing. If you have the stomach for it.

UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails: "Reading that Gourevitch piece really puts the Albright wine-and-dine into a different, more blood-curdling context."

Yes. It's sometimes necessary for diplomats to wine and dine thugs, of course. What's distressing is how many of them seem to forget that it's thugs they're wining and dining.

CAR BOMB ATTACK THWARTED:

Security forces have arrested two men outside a mosque in the Iraqi city of Kufah after finding two cars laden with bombs.

The arrests came amid warnings from clerics that Saddam Hussein loyalists or al-Qaeda members will strike over the next two days.

The men were arrested outside the Masjed al-Kufah mosque, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad.

A reader from Britain, who sent the link, adds:

Beeb assiduously ignoring this in order to dump all over new Iraqi provisional government before it's even got started, and raise with hostile-to-America studio guests numerous lurid and highly improbable hypotheticals all tending to ultimate prostration and trampling in dust of Yankee Imperialist Entity.

But of course.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Ralph Luker notes:

Ten months ago, responding to the report of Emory University's panel of outside reviewers in the case of Michael Bellesiles, the Organization of American Historians announced that: "The editorial board of the Journal of American History will consider a commissioned essay or a roundtable to address the ethical issues of this and other recent cases and how much historians rely on trust in practicing their craft." As of this date, the editorial board of the JAH has given no indication, to borrow the language of Watergate, of what it intends to do or when it intends to do it.

There's "deliberate," and then there's just plain slow, fading over to "unmoving." As Luker notes, the OAH was embarrassed by its inability to deal with the Bellesiles matter, and by the way amateurs outperformed it. Now they seem to hope that the whole thing will just go away.

HARVARD DOESN'T THINK MUCH of U.S. high schools, according to this report.

UPDATE: Reader Gautam Mukunda says it's not quite like that:

I just saw your link on Harvard's opinion of US high schools. I'm afraid it doesn't quite mean what you (and the person you linked to) think it means. I graduated from Harvard in 2001 and the dirty little secret of the program was that, overwhelmingly, it was populated by recruited athletes. One of my roommates was a safety on the football team and many of my best friends were recruited players on the football team and soccer teams - I certainly didn't have any problem with them being at the school. But Harvard does drop its academic standards significantly for people on its premier sports teams (primarily football and men's hockey - although it happened somewhat on the women's teams as well, it didn't happen nearly as much). There was a rumor my year that at least one player on the hockey team had an SAT score below 1000. So, in this particular case, I don't think it really means that Harvard feels that many of the most elite students in America still don't have basic writing skills. There is a similar program in mathematics as well - and I mean really basic math, algebra and such, which, again, is heavily populated by recruited athletes.

Me, I was a four-letter man. Of course, the letters were B-E-E-R.

TECHCENTRALSTATION has a redesigned website. Check it out, and don't miss Eugene Miller's system for mapping the debate over technology.

MARK STEYN ON LABOR DAY:

This Labour Day weekend, I find myself thinking about the working class, the masses.

No, honestly, I do. Okay, I’m on the beach, but the folks around me lying on the sand have jobs they'll be getting back to on Tuesday. They work. They would be classed as workers. But they're not a homogeneous "working class," they're not conscripts in Karl Marx's "masses." The transformation of Labour Day, from a celebration of workers' solidarity to a cook-out, is the perfect precis of the history of Anglo-American capitalism.

Not everyone is happy about that, naturally. Read the whole thing.

BILL QUICK has recovered from his blog outage.

MORE UNSOPHISTICATED DIPLOMACY, from the French. One day, perhaps, they'll acquire sufficient polish to be effective in the international arena.

TWENTY WORDS: Reader Franco Aleman emails:

The NYT is starting to see the light; the piece is a good one. But what I found astonishing is the first paragraph, coming from the same ranks that made such a big fuss over the 16 words by Bush on his SOTU address...

Yes. Here are the opening paragraphs:

The BBC, the world's largest and best known public service broadcaster, sends out millions of words daily, but its long-nurtured reputation for accuracy, fairness and objectivity is being challenged for just 20 of them.

On May 29, the defense correspondent of its morning radio news show, Andrew Gilligan, said that the government had inserted into its dossier of intelligence on Iraqi arms the claim that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons that were deployable within 45 minutes.

Mr. Gilligan went on to say that "actually the government probably knew that that 45-minute figure was wrong, even before it decided to put it in." The phrase took only seconds to utter, at 6:07 a.m., but the effect has been long lasting.

And it's not over:

While most attention has been focused on the decline in public trust of Mr. Blair's government, the BBC's ratings have slid as its practices and internal judgments have been exposed. In a poll in The Daily Telegraph late last week, 47 percent of those questioned said their opinion of Mr. Blair had gone down since the inquiry began, and 36 percent said their opinion of the BBC had also fallen.

Rightly so.

UPDATE: John Keegan observes:

It does seem extraordinary, whatever value we give to the issues of freedom of speech and independence of the media, that a body founded by royal charter and supported by what is effectively a tax on subscribers should treat with the government as if it were a sovereign body.

The rights and immunities conferred on the BBC at the outset of its existence were clearly both desirable and justifiable, if it were not to become an agency of government news management.

The enlargement of those rights engineered by the BBC, particularly in recent years, suggests that both its employees and trustees now conceive themselves to be outside and even above democratic and constitutional processes. . . .

The issues raised by the BBC's conception of itself as a sovereign power are too large to be dealt with by Lord Hutton. They are crucial, nevertheless, in the context of the inquiry, because they have worked to direct its focus away from the purpose for which it was called into being.

Accountable to neither the voters nor the marketplace! That's the ultimate New Class dream, of course, and explains in part why the BBC has such iconic status to the New Class, worldwide.

UPDATE: Biased BBC has more on this, of course.

"VOICES" is a new blog set up by Michele Catalano to remember 9/11. She fears that the Big Media won't do a proper job. She's not the only one:

They are doing token little gawpy, mewling pieces here and there about individuals whose lives were damaged or destroyed by what they demean as 'incidents', as though this brutal assault were just another mundane 'accident'.

Those were not 'incidents' or 'accidents'; they were the opening salvos of the war in which we are now engaged.

Let's hope they do better than that.

THEY WERE SPOILING FOR WAR, SO THEY SILENCED INTERNAL DISSENT AND BURIED THEIR OWN DOUBTS:

BBC governors decided to turn the tussle with the government over the Iraq dossier story into a make-or-break trial of strength despite harbouring doubts over the original Today report.

Emails released by the Hutton inquiry show that a number of governors, including chairman Gavyn Davies, were determined not to buckle in the face of government pressure even though they thought the story might not stand up to scrutiny. . . .

This evidence will fuel the concerns of those in the BBC who believe it went into battle for the right reasons but over the wrong story.

I blame the NeoBeebs.

UPDATE: Bill Herbert likes the term "neobeebs" and points out some additional problems with the BBC's position: "Gilligan couldn't possibly have believed his own copy."

Sadly, however, he appeared to believe his reviews.

BUSTAMANTE UPDATE: Stefan Sharkansky has posts on MEChA here and here.

He also notes, via email, that the lefty regions of the blogosphere don't seem as willing to condemn Bustamante's racist connections as the righty regions were willing to condemn Trent Lott's.

UPDATE: Make that racist and homophobic. I'm disappointed to see the Democrats choosing such a troglodyte as their standard-bearer.

And yet, as Matt Welch notes, somehow it's Arnold Schwarzenegger who's being called homophobic? Puhleez.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Levy emails:

You should note that Aztlan.net is not officially linked to M.E.Ch.A.--they deny any link, and Hector Carreon of la Voz is part of U.M.A.S., a different chicano student organization. They do share the same views on most issues, but you can't blame M.E.Ch.A./Bustamante for Carreon's words unless you can find some proof M.E.Ch.A. supports la Voz.

Fair enough. The page linked above under "homophobic" goes to Aztlan.net, not MEChA. My mistake. I blame the cough syrup. (And, yes, there really is cough syrup -- I've spent labor day weekend with a nasty cold, which seems deeply unfair. It's like having to scrape ice off your windshield in August -- bad enough in season, but a real gyp out of season.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt Rustler has a post correcting my error on Aztlan.net, above. Meanwhile here's a Daniel Weintraub post on Bustamante.

STILL MORE: Crooked Timber says it's all just a right-wing smear job, and Bustamante has nothing to be ashamed of. (Well, actually they say that "Bustamente" has nothing to be ashamed of. Who's he? Another one of those 134 candidates? But my snarkiness aside, it's a long post that's worth reading if you want to see the pro-Bustamante angle to this story. Trouble is, when A.N.S.W.E.R. is routinely portrayed by the media as a bunch of ordinary concerned citizens, it's not much of a stretch to think that MEChA might be getting a free ride, is it?)

LATER: The post at Crooked Timber is by Ted Barlow -- I didn't credit him above because I had the impression -- apparently wrong -- that he was keeping a lower blog-profile these days. Sorry, Ted. And glad to have you back in the blogosphere! I don't take back the "Bustamente" crack though -- if you're going to post that everyone else is sloppy, it behooves you to spell the name right.

YET MORE AGAIN: Juan non-Volokh has a post saying that the Crooked Timber item above is "sloppy" and notes:

Why do all these MEChA sites post "El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan"? Perhaps because it was a statement of principles adopted at the 1969 National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference, out of which MEChA was born. It is part of "the essential philosophy of MEChA," according to the University of Arizona chapter, and is one formulation of the group's organizing principles. Whether or not the infamous phrase is the "official" slogan of MEChA or not, it is certainly reasonable to view it as part of the association's creed.

I feel pretty sure that a right-wing group saying the same kinds of things about white people that MEChA says about hispanics wouldn't be cut this sort of media slack.

STILL MORE ON THIS: It's a bit behind the curve, but here's a post by David Neiwert defending Bustamante, just in case you're interested. Flatteringly, he seems to think that I'm more influential than Fox News, though that in itself may undercut his credibility.

YET MORE: Now Neiwert is mad at me for "knocking his credibility." Sheesh. I just thought it was funny that he was putting me in the context of Big Media. I actually thought I was being rather generous and even-handed to add his post here. And I think I've gone out of my way to link to, and quote, people who say Bustamante and MEChA aren't racist. I just don't find them persuasive, and I think that Newert would call any white politician who talked about race the way they do a racist.

The rather frantic nature of the response to what seem to me perfectly legitimate questions -- questions that, as Kaus points out, Bustamante could have cleared up easily with a few straightforward sentences when they were first raised -- suggests to me that some people have a lot invested in the notion that their political allies couldn't possibly be racist. Sorry, but reality intrudes. It's not 1964 anymore.j

And Trent Lott wouldn't have gotten a pass for this, either. Meanwhile Robert Tagorda thinks that Pejman Yousefzadeh has pretty much settled things.

STILL MORE: But if that doesn't, here's an exhaustive examination of MEChA in its own words.

KAMIL ZOGBY spots some hopeful news from Najaf:

Imagine: the Shia are the majority in Iraq, and they were murderd and persecuted by Saddam's Bathist Sunni regime for decades; then, Bathist henchmen and al-Qaeda terrorists murder the one of the most revered Shia Ayatollahs in Iraqi Shia society, along with over 120 innocent other Shias; then, a large Shia crowd becomes aware that two al-Qaeda mass killers have sent an e-mail saying "mission accomplished: the dog is dead." And, what do they do? They hustle the two characters off to the "nearest police station ." They didn't kill them on the spot, ripping their limbs from their bodies, and disembowling them on the spot. They brought them to the police! This shows to me, if the story is true, that the majority of Shia want an Iraq that subscribes to rule of law and not the rule of men.

Perhaps the "Arab street" is less irresponsible than some fear.

MORE EURO-SCANDALS:

Pressure was growing on leaders of the Italian left yesterday over allegations that they took massive kickbacks when Telecom Italia bought a chunk of Telekom Serbia during Slobodan Milosevic's rule.
A key financial adviser has accused European commissioner Romano Prodi; a former foreign minister, Lamberto Dini; the leader of the Democrats of the Left party, Piero Fassino; and Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, of taking millions of pounds in backhanders when the deal was done in 1997. . . .

More used to firing similar accusations at Italy's billionaire prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, he suggested, without giving details, that Mr Berlusconi was the real "puppetmaster" pulling the strings behind this scandal too.

Stay tuned.

August 31, 2003

JOHN MCCAIN:

America's mission in Iraq is too important to fail. Given the stakes, we cannot launch this "generational commitment" to changing the Middle East on the cheap. The administration should level with the American people about the cost and commitment required to transform Iraq.

Americans must understand how important this mission is and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve it. Without an intensive campaign now to explain what is at stake and absent the necessary political and financial commitment, we raise the potential for a defeat that will deal a lasting blow to American interests and freedom's progress.

Having liberated Iraq, we must demonstrate the tangible benefits of occupation, which the Iraqi silent majority will tolerate if it successfully delivers services, law and order and a transition to Iraqi rule. The danger is that our failure to improve daily life, security, and Iraqis' participation in their own governance will erode their patience and fuel insurrection.

We do not have time to spare. If we do not meaningfully improve services and security in Iraq over the next few months, it may be too late. We will risk an irreversible loss of Iraqi confidence and reinforce the efforts of extremists who seek our defeat and threaten Iraq's democratic future.

This isn't news to the blogosphere, of course, but it's nice to see that both John McCain and Howard Dean get it. That substantially shrinks the cut-and-run constituency, I'd imagine. McCain is, of course, right about the importance of what's going on in Iraq. What's frustrating is that the reporting from there is simultaneously biased and incomplete, for reasons already elaborated all over the blogosphere. But that's a real disservice, given the importance of the situation.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

You link to McCain's speech sounding the call for openness about the cost, in time and money, of the war on terror. Then you say this is no news to the blogosphere. Is it your belief that Bush has failed to get this message across? Is the blogosphere really so savvy that it's the only group of people who can understand the president's message? I know I've heard him mention many times that it will take years and billions. I also know that I've heard liberal pundits pretending that, far from having said that, Bush has instead said it will be quick and cheap. It's dishonest for McCain to speechify as if that was actually the case.

What I found interesting was the commitment to staying the course, not the sniping at the Administration. I agree that Bush has made plain (at least to those who actually listen to the speeches) that this will be a long and expensive struggle. It's interesting to note, though, that to the extent Bush's critics are moved to go after him on these grounds, they're forced into a position of hawkishnes.

LOOKING BACKWARD: Bruce Hill has a conversation with a descendant. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

IS CALIFORNIA THE NEW EUROPE? This raises troubling issues.

UPDATE: Los Angeles reader D. Spangler emails:

Actually, Glenn, I think California is on a fast-track to becoming the "old Europe." And therein lies the problem ... and why I am counting the days until I can make my escape from this place!

Good point. Say, perhaps Davis should build a wall to keep them in. . . . Most were educated at state expense -- it's not fair for them to take their expertise elsewhere!

THIS COULD BE A BOMBSHELL:

When questioning stalled, according to Posner, cia men flew Zubaydah to an Afghan complex fitted out as a fake Saudi jail chamber, where "two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces," pretending to be Saudi inquisitors, used drugs and threats to scare him into more confessions.

Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, "his reaction was not fear, but utter relief." Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, "tell you what to do." The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd's and a publisher better known as a racehorse owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid. When the fake inquisitors accused Zubaydah of lying, he responded with a 10-minute monologue laying out the Saudi-Pakistani-bin Laden triangle.

Zubaydah, writes Posner, said the Saudi connection ran through Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom's longtime intelligence chief. Zubaydah said bin Laden "personally" told him of a 1991 meeting at which Turki agreed to let bin Laden leave Saudi Arabia and to provide him with secret funds as long as al-Qaeda refrained from promoting jihad in the kingdom. The Pakistani contact, high-ranking air force officer Mushaf Ali Mir, entered the equation, Zubaydah said, at a 1996 meeting in Pakistan also attended by Zubaydah. Bin Laden struck a deal with Mir, then in the military but tied closely to Islamists in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (isi), to get protection, arms and supplies for al-Qaeda. Zubaydah told interrogators bin Laden said the arrangement was "blessed by the Saudis."

As I've said before, they're not our friends. Assuming that it's true, this would seem to support that.

UPDATE: Hmm. This is interesting, too:

Paramilitary forces on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan have arrested an Iraqi national suspected of links to the shadowy al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, a senior security official said on Sunday.

Hmm. Meanwhile Tim Blair asks:

By the way, where are all the Western protests about foreign forces invading Iraq in order to kill innocent Iraqi civilians?

Missing in action, as usual.

UPDATE: Fred Pruitt has some incisive comments over at Rantburg.

MORE: There's this report from Pakistan:

Pakistan's army confirmed yesterday that several officers have been arrested on suspicion of being linked to Islamic extremist groups.

The move will raise renewed fears that the security organs of Pakistan, a nuclear power and important Western ally in the war on terrorism, have been infiltrated by allies of the former Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan is almost important a source of Islamist fundamentalism as Saudi Arabia.

A NICE TOUCH: I mentioned liking the new Simpsons Third Season DVD earlier -- but here's something I like about it that's relevant to all sorts of other things: the DVD menu design.

The temptation in setting up DVDs is to create fancy, creative menus. (And it's a temptation I'm aware of now that I can author 'em myself). And those are cool and impressive for about 30 seconds after you open the DVD, after which they're usually a pain.

The new Simpsons' release has a selection that basically lets you play each disc from beginning to end, like a video tape, without having to deal with menus. That's a great idea, and all DVDs should have that option, easy to implement and up front. Or maybe all DVD players should have it.

MICKEY KAUS is all over the Bustamante / MEChA story:

Is the L.A. Times a) "objectively' reporting on a campaign controversy or b) bending over backwards to exonerate Latino activists, either out of political correctness, or because it's terrified of alienating a large group of potential readers, or as part of its near-monolithic Bustamante-boosting coverage? You make the call! ... Would the Times show similar tolerance for, say, an anti-bilingual site that reprinted a document containing the slogan, "For Anglos, Everything. For non-Anglos, Nothing"?"

But that's different, because, well, it just is, okay?

JOHN SCALZI has figured out that Wi-Fi at home is a huge productivity booster:

At the moment, I'm writing this in Athena's room, on the floor the computer propped up on my lap; Athena is behind me on her bed making up a Powerpuff adventure. Three weeks ago I would have to be in my office to type this and Athena would be coming in about every six seconds to ask me something or to ask me to do something or whatever, which means I would actually have a difficult time getting work done when she was around; now she's happy to let me work because I have proximity to her. . . .

Interestingly, this also works with Krissy; she's more content to let me do work if I'm in line of sight. There's a real psychological difference between being in the office all the time, away from the family while I'm doing work, and being in the room, doing work while the family is doing stuff around me.

Being in the room on wireless is more like reading a book, which nobody minds; being in your office is more like work.

TACITUS IS TRACKING CRUZ BUSTAMANTE'S DODGES regarding the MEChA story.

The mainstream media have largely ignored this, making very clear that there's a serious double-standard where racist organizations are concerned.

THIS IS INTERESTING: A reader from Iraq emails that the U.S. authorities are distributing leaflets offering rewards for turning in saboteurs. Apparently, some Iraqis have added a sticker reading as follows (translated):

Iraq is for Iraqis

Arab national should leave Iraq

If they don't they will bear the consequences

The Iraqi people won't tolerate their remaining here.

Gee, you think this mosque-bombing stuff could be backfiring?