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October 25, 2003

FINISHED THE INTERVIEWS, and later had dinner with a bunch of law-professor types, including Tyler Cowen and David Bernstein of The Volokh Conspiracy and Larry Solum of Legal Theory Blog.

Go read this Matt Welch article on Sabine Herold from The National Post. I may or may not blog later -- the "STSN High-Speed Internet Access" in the hotel should be called "Intermittent Internet Access" since it seems to lose sync for about five seconds out of every ten, making blog posting very irritating and problematic.

And don't miss Carolyn McCarthy's Iraq Blog:

Ever since we landed in Baghdad yesterday, I've been amazed at the morale of our troops. I talked to one soldier who said even though we haven't found the weapons of mass destruction, he's convinced that we are in Iraq for the right reasons. He felt that the conditions that the people of Iraq were facing under Hussein were so bad, that even being here just to help them free their country was reason enough. I've got a lot of reservations about the run up to the war in Iraq. Poor intelligence, lack of a coherent message from the Administration and a faulty plan for winning the peace are all problems, but seeing our work with my own eyes has been helpful. We're doing a lot of good over here.

Hmm. Another Democratic member of Congress taking a more positive view of what's going on in Iraq than the Big Media. . . .

And there's more bad news for Gerhard Schroeder. Good.

UPDATE: Jeez, Tyler Cowen has already blogged our dinner. That's the blogosphere!

And Anna has pictures from the D.C. antiwar protests. The InstaWife saw them, and pronounced them lame. The protests, that is, not the pictures.

October 24, 2003

AMERICA 100, TALIBAN 0: This says it all!

UPDATE: Weirdly, this post got me a lot of critical email along these lines:

Are you sure it is not TALIBAN 0, AMERICA 100? This picture, perhaps more than anything else, will confirm the corruptive influence of American culture to the Islamic world. I can understand at least a passing appreciation of what this picture might represent -- a rejection of the gnostic fundamentalist view (both Christian and Muslim) of the human body. When I see the black shrouded women of the Middle East who look like "Cousin It" of the Adaams family, I feel pity for them and a resolute conviction that the Taliban and the "culture" that they represent must be opposed. But I must also ask, Mr. Reynolds, is this (the woman is the red bikini) all that the United States of America has to offer the world? Is this picture what America is all about?

I have greatly enjoyed your blog and read it daily, but at times such entries are rather telling. I am neither a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim, but sometimes your lack of any semblance of discernment about anything other than pragmatic economics or foreign policy is appalling. Mr. Reynolds, is there anything other than a particular brand of conservative politics that informs your world view? What is it that informs your understanding of what it good, true, and beautiful? Are goodness, truth, and beauty even a part of your world view? From whence comes your sense of ethics or morality? Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

Please do not consider this E-mail a condemnation or pompous, puritanical rant. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing that woman, but this is the problem: Should we, as married men who have vowed to love our wives, indulge ourselves in this way?

Last question first: the InstaWife's comment was "wow, she's hot!" 'Nuff said.

As for the rest, I'm not a "conservative." I'm strongly pro-bikini. I don't believe in "traditional family values" as a political platform. I'm more in the Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! category. If that bothers, you, too bad. There are plenty of other blogs out there.

October 23, 2003

OKAY, I'm still waiting for the guys to deliver the chairs to the interview suite -- where we need 'em at 8:30 tomorrow morning -- but I'm just too beat to blog anymore. See you later.

GREGG EASTERBROOK'S TMQ COLUMN IS GONE, but there's a TMQ homage contest underway.

NOT MANY PEOPLE REALIZE that Knoxville is home to a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Oddly enough!

DI ANOTHER DAY: Brendan O'Neill has a creditable piece on conspiracy theories, but I think he wrote the whole thing just to have an excuse for the title.

MY MISTAKE: Atrios takes me to task for identifying Jimmy Carter with the 55 mile per hour speed limit in this week's TCS column. Originally, I did so very specifically because I remembered so many people complaining about it and blaming Jimmy.

Trouble is, they were wrong, and so was I. (Yeah, I could have found the right answer via Google, but you have to think to look at Google, and I thought I knew.) A couple of readers emailed me and pointed out the error, and I fixed it, though not to Atrios' satisfaction. The point of the column, however (at least to me), wasn't really Jimmy Carter. But I'll post a clearer correction at TCS, just to make it plain. I don't promise not to make mistakes -- and anyone who does is, ahem, overoptimistic -- just to fix 'em when I do.

As for Atrios' comments on the Reagan drinking-age increase spearheaded by Liddy Dole, it was a lousy and hypocritical move, the sort of thing I've called fair-weather federalism.

UPDATE: As proof, of, well, something, a reader immediately emailed me to say that I shouldn't be accusing Atrios of fair-weather federalism. Unless he's secretly Liddy Dole (not the first on my list of his potential secret identities, but hey, who knows?) I wasn't.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The beauty of blogs. The TCS folks noticed this post and put up their own correction, which is more generous to me, and less generous to them, than is really warranted, or than I would have written myself. They didn't catch the mistake, it's true, but I'm the one who made it. I must say, though, that the manufactured outrage over this issue from the lefty bloggers is rather amusing. It's as if I'd accused Carter of ordering thermostat settings across the country or something. Oh, wait. . . .

And reader Geoff Campbell notes that the national speed limit, which was originally intended as a temporary measure, was reenacted in 1978 with more teeth -- which probably explains why I remember people bitching about Carter in connection with speed limits. And reader Robert Ellison notes:

You say you'll clarify the issues regarding Jimmy Carter's support of the 55-mph speed limit at TCS. I hope that when you do, you also make it clear that Carter was a very strong supporter of the limit, and that it was he more than anyone else who switched the standard justification for the limit from "55 saves fuel" (which is why the limit was originally imposed) to "55 saves lives" (which was a minor argument at the time of the imposition).

So Carter strongly supported a stupid law that didn't achieve its original goal (saving fuel), and then he put up a new, more stupid reason for the law, thus undermining its legitimacy. When we repealed the limit, both the original and new reasons were proven false.

Carter wasn't malevolent here, but as usual, he was an idiot. THAT is why we tend to associate him with the 55-mph limit. 55 wastes time!

This seems to be true, judging by this State of the Union message:

In the area of accidental injury control, we have established automobile safety standards and increased enforcement activities with respect to the 55 MPH speed limit. By the end of the decade these actions are expected to save over 13,000 lives and 100,000 serious injuries each year.

I urge the new Congress to continue strong support for all these activities.

At the very least, Carter certainly didn't mind being associated with the speed limit. I suppose it's progress toward suspicion of the Nanny State that even lefties now view such an association as a vicious calumny. Nonetheless, I regret the initial error.

MORE: I don't think I can tie it to blogs and CB radio, but Andrew Lloyd points out Jimmy Carter's best moment as President. I agree.

SORRY THE BLOGGING'S BEEN SO LIGHT -- I've been travelling all day and I'm beat. I'll try to deliver some free ice cream tomorrow, but no promises on when or how much.

Email will be iffy, too.

THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS is a new lefty think tank (though this Post story's headline makes it seem as if it's the first such, which it isn't). And they've got Eric Alterman writing for them -- and with the best picture of him I've seen so far. Give me that photographer's number. . . .

BILL HOBBS WONDERS why Chief Wiggles' Iraqi toy drive isn't getting more attention.

I don't like criticizing people for what they're not blogging about, as a general matter, but I hope that more people will think about it, and decide to help. If not, well, the blogosphere is a big place, and we don't all have to be blogging about the same stuff, after all.

ANOTHER QUAGMIRE IS PRODUCING PROTESTS:

“I mean like all the soldiers and Iraqis dying in the Middle East is bad enough,” stated Progressive Union secretary Kavita Pavel. “But has the Republican administration given one thought to how dangerous it is to live in Mississippi? Over 28,000 people died there in 2002, like way more Americans than have been killed in Iraq. Mississippi also has the highest traffic fatality rate in the country and over the last decade 130 people have been killed by tractors. We need to pullout as soon as possible and divest quickly from John Deere.”

And we've still got forces there. Who will clean up this mess?

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER:

The Times had asked the professor, Mark von Hagen, to examine the coverage of the correspondent, Walter Duranty, after receiving a letter in early July from the Pulitzer Prize Board seeking its comment. In its letter to The Times, the board said it was responding to "a new round of demands" that the prize awarded to Mr. Duranty in 1932 be revoked. The most vocal demands came from Ukrainian-Americans who contended that Mr. Duranty should be punished for failing to report on a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933.

In his report to The Times, Professor von Hagen described the coverage for which Mr. Duranty won the Pulitzer — his writing in 1931, a year before the onset of the famine — as a "dull and largely uncritical recitation of Soviet sources."

"That lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime," the professor wrote, "was a disservice to the American readers of The New York Times and the liberal values they subscribe to and to the historical experience of the peoples of the Russian and Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life."

In his eight-page report, Professor von Hagen, an expert on early 20th-century Russian history, did not address whether the Pulitzer Board should revoke the award it gave to Mr. Duranty. Mr. Duranty died in 1957.

But in comments first published yesterday in The New York Sun, Professor von Hagen said he believed the board should indeed take such action. He echoed those remarks in an interview last evening with The Times.

Better late than never, as I said.

CLAY SHIRKY HAS AN AMUSING OBSERVATION regarding restaurant reviews:

The Times coverage is unintentionally hilarious. Zagat uses cumulative anonymous ratings from diners who send in their opinions of various restaurants. The Times journalist, Florence Fabricant, goes on and on about how these ratings draw on as few as 100 people, obviously casting about for some way to explain how a 30 seat restaurant in Brooklyn could be rated above Alain Ducasse, where a bowl of soup will set you back almost forty dollars, while never noting that the alternative method of judgment — the impressions of a single restaurant reviewer — are a more limited sample.

Read it all.

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE notes that UCLA's undergraduate admissions program has generated a bit of controversy.

DAVID ADESNIK notes that some journalists are either bad at math, or just plain dishonest in their Iraq reportage.

DAVID HOGBERG has a roundup on the latest Krugman controversy, and the reactions thereto.

READ LILEKS ON THE RUMSFELD MEMO: It's too good to excerpt. Someone should give a copy to the President.

UPDATE: Roger Simon liked Lileks' piece. Donald Sensing, to put it mildly, didn't. I have to say that I really didn't read Lileks' piece at all the way that Sensing did.

And read this from Tom Paine.

IAIN MURRAY has a new URL and a lot of interesting new posts.

BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHTER THAN USUAL -- and perhaps a bit distracted -- this week, because I've been busy in the run-up to the big law-school interviewing conference. I'm off later today, and I'll spend the next couple of days in a hotel room talking to one law-prof candidate after another. Blogging will be light and intermittent, I suspect.

READER GARY HUDSON sends this link to the Methuselah Mouse Prize, a project dedicated to encouraging research aimed at retarding or reversing the aging process. Check it out. And if you're a rich philanthropist, consider donating.

CALIFORNIA'S BUDGET CRISIS EXPLAINED:

It looks like taxpayers will indeed be footing the overtime bill to get the new, $225 million Carquinez Bridge finished in time for Gov. Gray Davis to cut the ribbon before he leaves office.

More than a dozen construction workers were called out Saturday and Sunday to help finish the electrical and other work that needed to be done to meet the new Nov. 8 deadline, a week ahead of schedule, reliable sources say.

And workers are expected to be out on the bridge this weekend as well.

"It really fries my (behind),'' one contractor on the job told us. "They're literally spending tens of thousands of dollars on overtime they don't have.''

Note to Brad DeLong: I don't actually mean that this "literally" explains the California budget crisis, all by itself.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE unhappy with Microsoft Office 2003. Jay Solo thinks it may be Microsoft's 55 mph speed limit.

UPDATE: Kevin Aylward says people's concerns on this front are bogus and unfounded.

Doesn't matter to me. I'll give up my WordPerfect when they pry it from my cold, dead hard drive.

October 22, 2003

LARRY LESSIG has more comments on the Broadcast Flag issue, though I stand by my earlier comment that they're trying to keep people from "stealing" stuff that they can't seem to give away.

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY'S first annual college-admissions survey is now online. TAPPED blogger Nick Confessore has an article in the issue.

FRITZ SCHRANCK HAS SOME THOUGHTS on CB radio and speed limits.

JIM MILLER WRITES THAT the French don't understand us.

FLAGRANT UNILATERALISM:

France escaped hefty fines today despite flagrantly breaching EU rules on running the single currency.

The let-off from the European Commission triggered fresh attacks on the euro’s credibility, with warnings that the UK could not be expected to join the currency while others were allowed to ignore the rules.

The Commission acknowledges that the French government is failing to keep its economy in line with EU requirements.

But this afternoon in Brussels it ducked the embarrassing option of punishing a country which says its domestic requirements on spending and deficits mean it cannot meet the strictures of the much-maligned Stability and Growth Pact.

These people have no respect for international agreements. . . .

BRAD DELONG DEMONSTRATES that he doesn't understand the meaning of the word "figurative."

Here's a helpful illustration of the difference:

Literal: Joan didn't want to put her silk blanket in her automatic dryer. Although it was January, she risked putting it on the clothesline. The winter wind gently tossed the lacy blanket.

Figurative: Joan looked out into her yard with great excitement. Overnight, a layer of snow had covered the ground. The winter wind gently tossed the lacy blanket.

In the second example, you see, there's not an actual lacy blanket, just a bunch of snow. But we use the term because it's evocative and adds color.

As my comment noted, Paul Krugman is now accusing Donald Luskin of stalking him in the literal, not figurative sense. I, on the other hand, was using the term in a figurative, not literal sense.

Tune in tomorrow for another episode of "English 101 for Economics Professors."

UPDATE: Justin Katz emails:

I propose these examples:

Figurative: Glenn Reynolds tore the heart out of Brad DeLong's argument.

Literal: Head thuggee Mola Ram tore the heart out of his human sacrifices in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Context makes it clear that you used "stalking" figuratively, having drawn the term from Luskin's column, which drew it from Krugman's then-figurative slur of "stalker-in-chief." In contrast, Krugman has, as you suggest, now shifted to the literal sense, actually specifying "stalked me personally" in his television appearance.

Yes, "actually stalked me personally" doesn't seem at all figurative to me. But I promise not to "personally" tear Brad DeLong's heart out in any literal sense.

And really, Temple of Doom? Can't we get an example from one of the good Indiana Jones movies? [LATER: Don't get upset, Justin, it was still a good example!]

ANOTHER UPDATE: When he's done with his English Comp homework, perhaps DeLong should look at these charges that Paul Krugman is, um, excessively close to certain anti-semitic Malaysian political figures.

ARMED LIBERAL is claiming vindication. I think he's right.

ANNE HAIGHT watched the Columbine video and has comments. Excerpt: "neither of these guys knows jack shit about how to correctly hold a firearm."

Watch out for those bellicose women.

ATROCITY, AMERICAN STYLE: Proof, as if any were needed, that Al Jazeera is desperate.

GREG BURCH is jumping on the Condi Rice for Vice President bandwagon.

A FRIGHTENING STORY ABOUT BIZARRE ANTISEMITIC CONSPIRACY THEORIES among American muslims.

UPDATE: Steve Antler makes a highly relevant observation on this subject.

MY THOUGHTS ON BREAKING THE LAW, and oral sex, over at GlennReynolds.com.

A CYNIC might advise Israel to simply kill all the Palestinians. After all, the world doesn't seem to mind mass murder:

The pictures that the committee has procured -- and now published, together with a report called "The Hidden Gulag" -- are satellite photographs of North Korean concentration camps. With remarkable clarity they show, for example, the contours of Yodok, one of the most notorious prison camps in North Korea: the barracks and "villages" inhabited by different categories of prisoners, including political prisoners; the mines, the flour mill, the farms where prisoners work; the cemetery. They also show the outlines of Bukchang, another vast camp, including its cement factory, its hospital, its punishment barracks, its school for prisoners' children. Distinct objects, including the high walls that enclose the camps, are clearly visible.

Claudia Rosett has more. The Israelis are, of course, too humane to subject the Palestinians to the genocide that the Palestinians would surely visit on them if positions were reversed.

For this, however, the Israelis get no credit, from the world that is busy ignoring what is going on in North Korea.

UPDATE: Reader Joe Hrutka emails:

Scary, professor, all they would have to do is announce universal health care and education, shut the borders and kill anyone they want. Or denounce George W. Bush as a warmonger. Then they get a free pass. Call it the Castro technique.

It does look that way, doesn't it?

TIRED OF THE LEFT AND RIGHT? Visit the Centrist Coalition.

BRANCH OUT: By reading this week's Carnival of the Vanities, and enjoying posts from blogs you haven't read before!

CHIEF WIGGLES is supposed to be on MSNBC tonight, in a segment about his Iraqi Toy Drive.

WELL, DUH:

AS the ratings have rolled in for the first three weeks of the new television season, one question has dominated the conversations inside the industry's executive suites: what the heck is going on? . . .

And men between 18 and 24 are apparently deserting television in droves. So far this year nearly 20 percent fewer men in that advertiser-friendly demographic are watching television during prime time than during the same period last year.

They can't all be reading blogs -- but if network executives were reading blogs, they wouldn't be so baffled. Heck, if they were watching their own shows, they wouldn't be so baffled. . . .

UPDATE: As further evidence of cluelessness, they're trying to keep people from "stealing" stuff that they can't give away.

THE RUMSFELD MEMO SHOULDN'T HAVE LEAKED. That's not because it's bad -- I agree with Bryan Preston on the substance:

The press seems to be spinning it, and the Dems are of course spinning it too, as a direct refutation of all the Bush administration's positive public statements on the progress of the war. It is no such thing. It's a strategic document, written to force its small circle of recipients to think about a finite set of circumstances within the larger context of the war, and to justify their positions on the US progress or lack thereof with respect to those circumstances. It is the kind of memo a leader writes to his subordinates when he wants them to maintain focus and think about broad ways to win the war in the long term.

Frankly, I think this memo shows that Rumsfeld understands the war perhaps better than anyone else in Washington. Mindful of the successes in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, he also has his eye on the big picture and the difficulties ahead. He wants DoD to become more agile in dealing with a very agile threat. He wants no one under his command to rest on their laurels. Never one to be confused with Sister Mary Sunshine, Rumsfeld wants his troops to think long and hard and come up with solutions to the broad institutional problems that make fighting a small band of terrorists perhaps the most difficult task DoD has faced to date.

I disagree with Preston, though, about the real damage done by the leak. The real damage isn't that it gives our enemies a window into our military thinking, though that's certainly damaging. The real damage is that when this sort of self-examination -- which is essential to winning any war -- becomes the subject of leaks and bad press, you tend to get less of it.

As with the Plame affair, the reporter should be subpoenaed, and the leaker should be canned, or jailed. This sort of thing shouldn't be leaking.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus calls the memo leak the latest development in the war against the war against terror.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia Postrel weighs in.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Unfogged calls the USA Today story about the memo "nasty, slimy spin," and observes:

If you wonder why public officials speak in vague and uninformative generalities and never level with the public, this piece of work by USA Today should answer your question. Thanks, guys.

I agree that the USA Today story takes what should be a positive development -- U.S. officials trying to do a good job and engaging in self-criticism -- and twists it into a negative story.

I wonder what they would have done with the World War II inquiry into why our torpedoes weren't working? Of course, if they'd published that, FDR likely would have thrown them in jail, posthaste.

LT Smash, recently returned from the Gulf and Iraq, writes:

These are precisely the kinds of topics that our military leaders need to be discussing. But given the strategic implications of these questions, this should be an internal discussion, not one that is splashed across the front page of the USA TODAY.

I join Glenn Reynolds in calling on the government to subpoena the reporters who wrote this story and compel them to give up their source.

This leaker isn’t a whistleblower who deserves protection. This was an act of treason.

And where are all the people who were screaming about the Plame leak?

MORE: John Cole is unhappy with the spin that has been put on this memo. And David Tucker observes:

Even critics of the war on terrorism would probably agree that Rumsfeld is cautious in assessing what we have accomplished so far. He could have claimed more. That he does not, shows that that the purpose of the memo, as his spokesman claimed, is to push and prod his subordinates. By claiming more, he might make them relax. Instead, he is pushing them to do even better.

This is the first reason why this memo is good news. It shows, if we needed further proof, that Rumsfeld is not prone to complacency.

Read the whole thing. And marvel, yet again, how the press's "zero defects" approach to (this) war causes it, yet again, to miss the real story.

Too bad there's not a "zero defects" approach to reporting, eh?

And I still think the reporter on this leak should be subpoenaed.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Ted Nolan emails:

Isn't this exactly a page from Cohen's _Supreme Command_ that everybody in DC claimed to be reading last year? Describing what civillian overseers are _supposed_ to be doing? Have they all forgotten already?

If people in Washington read all the books they "claimed to be reading," we'd be better off. At least they'd have less time for mischief, with all that reading. . . .

Reader Greg Schwinghammer echoes this:

The USA Today story regarding the leaked Rumsfeld memo reminds me of an old airline commercial. It starts in a football locker room at halftime with the coach demanding, "we need to tackle better; we need to catch passes; we need to execute and play smart; and somebody please tell me how they are getting to our quarterback!" One player says, "Coach, aren't we ahead by 35 points?" And the coach says, "that's the problem I'm talking about. As soon as we get comfortable, we stop getting better as a football team."

I started my adult life as an Army officer, and the most important thing we did on every training exercise was careful after action reports. We did self- critiques on everything, from rail loading the tanks to the gunnery ranges to combined live fire exercises. The AAR was always considered the most important part of the exercise, where you took stock and figured out how to do things better. I've received many emails forwarded by soldier buddies including after action reports and "lessons learned" from Afghanistan and Iraq. Senior NCOs send tips to their friends, and the lessons and reminders percolate through the Army. Rumsfeld is just doing exactly the same thing to make sure we are doing things right.

Indeed. But while Rumsfeld is trying to learn how to better fight this war, the press is still fighting Vietnam.

MORE: Eric Muller emails this link to the Rumsfeld memo, now on the Pentagon website, and says it's thus not a leak, or why would the Pentagon have made it public? Hmm. It's true that if Rumsfeld had released it before it was in USA Today it wouldn't be a leak. But after? Well, then, when the CIA said that Valerie Plame worked there, did that mean. . . . . Ah, hell, never mind.

Anyway, Robert Tagorda has more thoughts.

STILL MORE: D'oh! I didn't realize that Eric Muller had a blog post on this. But Eugene Volokh says he's skeptical of Muller's non-leak theory. As, obviously, am I. I rather doubt that Rumsfeld wanted this publicized. The spinning in Muller's comments is amusing, though.

MORE YET: Another reader asks the unasked question:

The big unanswered question here is where is the equivalent Memo (and introspection) from the State Department?

Where, indeed?

YET MORE: Reader Marty Lederman emails that he doesn't think that the spin on the press stories is anti-Rumsfeld at all. I suppose it's a matter of interpretation, but it sure seems negative to me.

YEP, EVEN MORE: Sure sounds like a leak to me:

Official: Rumsfeld 'Livid' Over Memo Leak

Call me crazy, but I'm staying with the leak theory, for now.

AND EVEN MORE THAN THAT: Tacitus agrees that it was a leak, and speculates on who leaked it.

FINALLY: A reader notes that this is just the latest in a series of splashy "leak" stories that all generate bad publicity for the White House and DoD, to the benefit of the CIA.

Heads should have rolled there after 9/11. They should be rolling now.

SORRY FOR THE LATE START: Things are pretty busy for me this week. More later.

October 21, 2003

THE NEW YORK TIMES' JOHN MARKOFF got a lot of heat for likening blogs to CB radio. Lots of people said that he doesn't understand blogs. But in my TechCentralStation column for tomorrow, I note that the real problem is that he doesn't understand CB radio.

UPDATE: This Jesse Walker piece on the rebellious aspects of CB radio is worth reading, too.

HERE'S WHAT the Denial-of-Service attack did, gouging a huge chunk out of today's traffic. Judging by this, some people did manage to get through, though I wasn't one of them.

DEROY MURDOCK has more on the Saddam / terror connection.

THANKS to the folks who hit the tipjar. Your thank-you notes were delayed by the hack attack, but will be forthcoming.

In answer to someone who asked if a donation would ensure that I'd keep blogging: No. InstaPundit is a labor of love. If it stops being fun, I'll stop doing it. No danger of that happening anytime soon, but no guarantees, either. Like Tom Sawyer and the fence, if I start feeling obliged to do it, it'll stop being fun.

THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE is blasting Paul Krugman for anti-Semitism.

UPDATE: Reader Daniel Jacobson suggests that this should really read "blasting Paul Krugman for being soft on anti-Semitism." He's right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, Krugman critic Don Luskin is being accused of being an econogonzo journalist.

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on what will happen when blogs get really popular.

Sadly, there's no reference to me owning a Gulfstream.

IT'S ALL HOW YOU SAY IT: Mickey Kaus was dissing Harvey Weinstein years ago, but didn't suffer horrible retribution. [That's because he had me to keep him out of trouble -- Ed. Good point!]

OXBLOG'S PATRICK BELTON points to a fascinating article on Cuba in the Financial Times. Conclusion: Cuba is a poverty-ridden police state, not a workers' paradise. Go figure.

HERE'S A FOLLOWUP to the story about soldiers at Fort Stewart on medical hold that I linked earlier.

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA: Bring back the 1970s! And get rid of that ugly specter of patriotism that's haunting America!

WELL, THE DoS ATTACK seems to have been dealt with, for the moment at least. There are a bunch of posts on the backup site -- instabackup.blogspot.com -- so check those out.

Winds of Change has multiple posts on this topic, and thinks that there will be more of these attacks. So bookmark the backup sites and be ready.

A.N.S.W.E.R. is planning an antiwar protest [I thought the war was over! -- Ed. Yeah, go figure.] for Washington this weekend.

The folks from ProtestWarrior plan a counterprotest.

There's more on A.N.S.W.E.R. here, here, and especially here. See if the media coverage of the protests notes the true nature of their organizers.

KATIE ALLISON GRANJU looks at Generation-X parenting, in Salon. One key point: people want flexibility in their work schedules, and they want it badly enough to make major sacrifices in other areas to get it. That seems right to me.

Generation-Y parenting, which I'm seeing more of from my law students, is kind of interesting. They seem to be having children earlier. A pregnant law student was almost unknown when I was starting out in the early 1990s. Now there are always several. It's easier, they note, to take a year out from law school than to take a year out when you're up for partner. And they often observe that women who put off childbearing too long have more problems. I don't know if this is a national trend, but I wouldn't be surprise to hear that.

CONCERNS ABOUT THE VALIDITY OF ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES are being met by:

1. Opening up the entire systems to external scrutiny, so as to ensure trust and reliability;

2. A heartfelt dedication to improving the systems;

3. A public-relations campaign.

Guess which answer is correct.

DAVID HOGBERG is deeply unhappy with Paul Krugman's latest.

UPDATE: Scott Wrightson is unhappy, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Musil is offering historical and political perspective.

OXBLOG has firsthand reports from Kabul and Paris. Both places are reportedly calmer and safer than many might suppose.

TOM MAGUIRE REPORTS that the Plame affair is growing more complicated, and the CIA's role in it more suspicious.

WEBLOGS AND BIG MEDIA: Jeff Jarvis has some interesting thoughts and observations.

PAUL KRUGMAN'S UNRAVELLING: He's accusing Donald Luskin of being a stalker, in the literal, not figurative sense.

I believe the actual term is "critic."

UPDATE: Read this, too.

ANOTHER DENIAL-OF-SERVICE ATTACK aimed at HostingMatters last night. That's why the site was down for a while.

October 20, 2003

EUGENE VOLOKH points out this quote from Madeleine Albright:

This is playing with fire. In the Balkans, signs of impatience can be misinterpreted as symptoms of weakness. We cannot afford that in a region where weakness attracts vultures. . . .

We will not achieve our goals in Southeast Europe if our eyes are always on the clock and our focus is solely on what others do. We are more than bookkeepers and spectators. We are leaders, and our fundamental objective in Southeast Europe is not to leave. It's to win.

That was in 2000. Too bad she's changed her tune nowadays.

Of course, Albright was a failure then, too. I lost confidence when I saw her respond to hecklers in Dayton with a deer-in-the-headlights stare, and stammers. "This is a Secretary of State?" I thought. "Paralyzed by a few hooting protesters with multiple piercings?"

Now she's doing the hooting. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess.

UPDATE: It was my mistake -- the protesters were in Columbus at Ohio State, not Dayton. Thanks to reader Robert Schwartz for the correction.

THE NEW REPUBLIC has posted a statement on Easterbrook.

A BIT MORE ON EASTERBROOK and media concentration over at GlennReynolds.com, where I note that "even if you think it’s OK to fire people for criticizing their boss, you may not want Michael Eisner to be everybody’s boss."

Meanwhile Mickey Kaus weighs in on why he thinks ESPN was wrong to fire Easterbrook.

Meanwhile, a reader wonders if the blogosphere is right to be rallying around Easterbrook. I don't know -- I confess that I tend to side with bloggers, even bloggers I disagree with about everything else, against the outside world. But as I said earlier, if The New Republic had fired him I might have been surprised, but it wouldn't have struck me as unfair. His post may not have been evidence of antisemitism, but it was, as I say over at GlennReynolds.com, "crappy." But the ESPN thing just seems like overreach.

And, yeah, they had the legal right to fire him, I think. But, you know, Disney has the legal right to issue Heaven's Gate: The Extended Anime Version, and bundle it with a claymation remake of Gigli. That doesn't mean that bloggers shouldn't criticize them, or call their decision stupid, if that's how we feel.

UPDATE: Canadian reader John MacDonald emails:

If there is too much concentration, independent journalists will have a media"chill" similar to a libel"chill".They'll reflect what the boss reflects or they can be "downsized", nice euphemism for getting canned.In Canada most of the converged media are in a few hands where they don't want to rock the boat too much because they are beholden to the government for renewal of broadcast licences.Whether on the left or right, it's not healthy having 50%+ concentration for a vigorous press.No matter how much the media financial spindoctors want to dress it up-if not checked , it will become a pac man game with most media gobbled up until it's in few hands.Seeing how most of the Canadian media are afraid of their own shadows and give the government an easy walk on important issues, I don't think a vibrant U.S. media should end up in few hands. Not in the best interests of the public or good government. That's one reason I've been reading U.S. media for years.They dig out stuff, here they just gloss it over , next to the ads which is the most important function, it seems, of the media.

Yes.

SUSANNAH BRESLIN'S Reverse Cowgirl blog disappeared a while back and I wondered what she was up to. Turns out she has a book out (and a novel in progress). She'll be reading from her book at the New Orleans Book Fair, in The Dragon's Den, 435 Esplanade Avenue, on Friday, at 7pm. If you go there, you can see if she's really as tall as she claims. (And if she still had a blog, she could be promoting her book with it, now. . . .)

UPDATE: Here's an article, with a photo. She sure looks tall.

INSTAPUNDIT READER BRUCE BATISTA has obtained a retraction from a columnist who repeated the "imminent threat" canard:

Generous as they are, my editors are not about to put their money where my mouth is, especially since they, and presumably Mr. Batista, have access to the same on-line newspaper database that apparently does not contain any direct reference by the president to an "imminent threat" from Saddam among hundreds of references by others to an unspecified "imminent threat."

To the contrary, in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, according to alert reader Pedro J. Diaz, the president went out of his way to say that the threat from Iraq was not imminent. These were Bush's words:

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, all recriminations would come too late."

So, Mr. Batista and others who rushed to their keyboards to correct my "journalistic malpractice" or "outright fraud" can claim the high ground.

Indeed they can.

The columnist, Tom Brazaitis of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, then falls back on the "but Bush implied it!" defense. Except that, as he's just admitted, Bush didn't imply it, but expressly disclaimed it.

What the "Bush implied it" claim really amounts to is an astonishing admission that the corps of journalists and pundits who cover national politics, and who pride themselves on their sophistication in doing so, got the story wrong

What's more, they got it wrong in the face of explicit statements from the President, and others.

That's far more humiliating than any retraction. It's an admission of outright professional incompetence. These guys claim to be able to get to the truth when the President is lying. Meanwhile, they can't even get to the truth when he's explicitly telling the truth. How pathetic is that?

UPDATE: Reader Gerry Canavan sends this link to an item from InstaPundit last March, when I wrote:

A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK that Bush's comments last night about Iraq being a threat to the United States and its neighbors were merely policy justifications.

But they're also laying the groundwork for justifying an attack on Iraq, even without Security Council approval, as self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

Yeah, but that's dated March 7, 2003 -- many months after Congress passed its authorization to go to war, which doesn't really support the "Bush lied to get his war approved" argument, does it?

VIRGINIA POSTREL once told me that I should remind people of the tip jar regularly. I do everything that Virginia tells me to, so consider yourself reminded. It's more of a donation than a tip, really. But think of it as a way to stand up against corporate media!

Or not. Whatever.

LARRY LESSIG thinks that the Easterbrook firing is more evidence of the dangers of media concentration:

If ESPN fired Easterbrook because it overreacted to his comment, then that’s an injustice to Easterbrook, and a slight to society.

But it it fired Easterbrook because Easterbrook criticized the owner, that’s an offense to society, whatever the injustice to Easterbrook — at least when fewer and fewer control access to media. No doubt, anti-semitism has done infinitely greater harm than misused media mogul power. But if firing your critics becomes the norm in American media, then there will be much more than insensitivity to anti-semitism to worry about in the future.

Indeed. And that's why I think that ESPN firing Easterbrook for dissing the head of its parent corporation is different from, say The New Republic firing Easterbrook for anti-semitism in the pages of TNR -- which, interestingly, TNR has shown no disposition to do.

UPDATE: Reader Hunter McDaniel makes a good point:

If Easterbrook had worked for Fox and taken a shot at Rupert Murdoch, I don't think anyone would have been surprised to see him fired. Notwithstanding its formal status as a public corporation, everyone knows that Murdoch's empire is a family business.

The same is not true of Disney now, 40 years after Walt's death. Eisner is just a hired hand, and for him to enforce a cult of personality within the business he has been entrusted to run is way out of line. This is as much about proper corporate governance as it is about free spech.

Indeed.

STEPHEN GREEN has a festival of interesting links.

I'M ALL FOR JEAN CHRETIEN BEING SNUBBED, but this story seems to have a key point wrong:

Bush has yet to visit Canada in the almost three years since he was sworn in as president.

I guess that Quebec, where Bush attended the "Summit of the Americas," isn't part of Canada.

UPDATE: Reader John MacDonald notes that Bush also visited Alberta for the G-8, but suggests that what the writer meant to say was that Bush hasn't undertaken a formal state visit to Canada, as such.

Quebec reader Kevin Germann says something similar:

Technically speaking, attending a summit that happens to be in Canada is not visiting Canada. A traditional visit would focus on bilateral issues and perhaps involve the President addressing the Canadian parliament. The diplomatic tradition has been that the President's first foreign visit has been to Canada, acknowledging the importance and closeness of US-Canada friendship. Bush has indeed snubbed Chretien, and deservedly so, in my opinion.

Well, okay. So why didn't the Toronto Star say that? Apparently, the Star feels it should have, because another reader forwarded me an email from its ombudsman, promising a correction.

IN LIGHT OF THE EASTERBROOK/EISNER CONTROVERSY, Politica Obscura has declared that Clarence Thomas is no longer black:

If it is unfair to cite one's religious background in trying to hold that person to a higher standard, then certainly it should also be unfair to cite one's race.

Oh, yeah, that's going to happen.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS, a collection of business and economics related blog posts, is up. Read and enjoy!

EVAN COYNE MALONEY'S NEW VIDEO, When Protesters Attack (from the Palestinian rally at Rutgers where there was officially no violence or disorder) is up. View it and judge for yourself.

October 19, 2003

MORE GUN CONTROL, MORE CRIME:

Gun crime in England and Wales rose to record levels in the past year, with nearly 200 incidents every week.

There were 10,250 incidents, including 80 murders, involving firearms in the year to April, 276 (about 3 per cent) more than the previous year and double the number recorded five years ago.

Overall crime has dropped in the past few months, Home Office statistics show, but there is a continuing rise in the number of violent offences recorded by the police.

Not a smashing success, so far.

RICH HAILEY thinks that things are looking up for Bush. Walter Russell Mead thinks so, too.

IRAQ'S FIRST BURGER KING is already in the top ten for sales worldwide. (Via LL).

SGT. STRYKER'S IS RUNNING AN EXPERIMENT, trying to sum up both positive and negative stories about Iraq in a balanced way using a unique format.

Hey, maybe it'll catch on!

MERYL YOURISH HAS MORE THOUGHTS on the Easterbrook flap, and suggests that people email Slate to suggest that it pick up Easterbrook's TMQ column.

UPDATE: Reader Joel Buckingham writes:

People shouldn't contact ESPN or Slate, contact FOX Sports Net, I know Easterbrook doesn't care for the DirecTV Monopoly, but what better way to get back at ABC, go to the company that is running over ABC like a tank over well...Either way, I say Easterbrook should do TMQ for FSN, then wow...think of the traffic that would bring to Fox, I bet they'd love to take a swipe at ESPN/ABC too.

Heh. Getting Easterbrook a new job isn't my goal, though the fact that many of his toughest critics -- and I think that Meryl Yourish may well have been his very toughest critic -- are trying to do just that indicates that ESPN, or Disney, or Michael Eisner, or somebody, overreacted here. If you've missed this whole flap (say, because you have a "life" and don't spend your weekend reading blogs), you can read what I think here, and links to what, well, pretty much everyone else thinks here.

Interestingly, I just did a Google News search for Easterbrook + ESPN and there's no sign of any major-media coverage of this story at all. So if you haven't been reading blogs, you won't have heard of it, I guess.

C.D. HARRIS is unimpressed by Democratic efforts to change the party's position on gun control, seeing them as merely cosmetic.

I MENTIONED THIS BEFORE, but Chief Wiggles' toy drive is back in business.

TONY BLAIR was hospitalized briefly for heart palpitations, but seems to be doing fine now.

Whew.

MEDIA COVERAGE IN IRAQ:

I went out to find a crater in front of the house. My god that was close. By a miracle nobody in the street was hurt. The idiots who planted that bomb were dumb enough to put it inside a sewers drainage which absorbed the shock of the blast. The only damage was the sound it made. Most of our windows were shattered.
After a while the soldiers left the place. Suddenly a reporter and a cameraman from Al-Arabiyah station appeared, they were so fast. I crossed the street to take a look. They were talking to some bearded guy who I hadn't seen before in the neighbourhood. He was enthusiastically talking about the humvee that flew in the air, and the 4 injured soldiers. I didn't see any of that. I was bewildered. Someone next to me told me that nothing like that happened at all. My brother and a couple of friends of his started to chant in front of the camera: LIAR, LIAR,... Everyone laughed at this, but the bearded guy started to swear by Allah. Someone pointed out that the bearded guy wasn't even in the area when the bomb exploded. Uh oh, I thought, he seemed to know about it before it happened. The cameraman violently shoved my brother and his friend aside telling them to shut up. . . .

In the evening, Al-Arabiyah reported the following: 3 Americans badly injured and one Jeep damaged at .... in Baghdad. They showed the bearded guy talking and edited the rest of it.

Thats the way media in present day Iraq works.

At least the Western media don't do anything like this.

THE L.A. FILM CRITICS have canceled their awards this year because of MPAA heavy-handedness.

MARK STEYN:

Even at the time, the Roeper position required a certain suspension of disbelief. John Allen Muhammad was a Muslim, a supporter of al-Qaida's actions, a man who marked the events of Sept. 11 by changing his name to "Muhammad" and a man who marked the first anniversary of Sept. 11 by buying the Chevy Caprice subsequently used in the sniper attacks. Coincidence? Of course! According to Richard Roeper, it's only a handful of conservative kooks who'd even think otherwise.

Interesting item from the London Evening Standard last week:

"Evidence has emerged linking Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad with an Islamic terror group. Muhammad has been connected to Al Fuqra, a cult devoted to spiritual purification through violence. The group has been linked to British shoe bomber Richard Reid and the murderers of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan last year."

Hmm. Might be nothing. Might be just another coincidence. Lot of them around at the moment -- like that Saudi Cabinet minister who coincidentally stayed in the same hotel on the night of Sept. 10 as some of the 9/11 terrorists. Just one of those things. But the authorities seem to be taking the links more seriously than when they first surfaced a year ago.

Here's another coincidence: The guy who heads up the organization that certifies Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military was arrested at Dulles Airport last month and charged with illegally accepting money from Libya. The month before that, Abdurahman Alamoudi was caught by the British trying to smuggle some $340,000 into Syria.

Think about that for a minute. Ten years ago, at an American military base, at a ceremony to install the first imam in this country's armed forces, it was Alamoudi who presented him with his new insignia of a silver crescent star. And the guy's a bagman for terrorists.

Read the whole thing. Yep, the Saudi connection is looking clearer all the time. And here's the John Muhammad / Al Fuqra story that Steyn mentions. Stay tuned. (Via Bill Quick.)

UPDATE: Read this, too.

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS BACK IN THE NEW YORK TIMES TODAY, with the following observation:

In an appeal to the growing fundamentalism of the developing world, this is a shrewd strategy. In the global context, gays are easily expendable. But it is also a strikingly inhumane one. The current pope is obviously a deep and holy man; but that makes his hostility even more painful. He will send emissaries to terrorists, he will meet with a man who tried to assassinate him. But he has not and will not meet with openly gay Catholics. They are, to him, beneath dialogue.

Personally, I think that Yasser Arafat is worse than a gay parishioner. But I guess that's just one of many things the Pope and I disagree about.

ROBERT TAGORDA has a list of Senators who voted for the Iraq loan-conversion, and who are up for reelection, with notes on which ones are most vulnerable.