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November 08, 2003

TERRORISTS STRIKE: In Riyadh.

UPDATE: Michael Gersh thinks this is a big deal.

I SAW THE VIDEO of this high-school drug raid in South Carolina, with students lying on the floor while cops pointed guns at them. (Even more pathetically, no drugs were found.)

The traditional American remedy for such official overreaching, back when the Constitution was adopted, was tarring and feathering. Perhaps this "originalist" approach should be revived. If that had been my kid on the floor, I'd be sorely tempted.

Short of that, the police chief, prosecutor, and anyone else responsible should be sacked. Immediately.

UPDATE: Reader Aaron Hegeman emails:

Frankly, I think everyone's missing the big scandal. Yeah, sure, maybe civil liberties were infringed, and maybe there was excessive use of force. Whatever. But how stupid do you have to be to raid a high school and actually not find any drugs? That's like busting into a fraternity party with beer-sniffing dogs and not finding a keg.

Well, that part's pretty lame, I admit, but I don't think it's the big scandal here. Meanwhile Michael Graham writes:

I know [Principal] George McCrackin from my days at WSC in Charleston, SC. He became part of the Michael Graham Experience when he started kicking straight-A students out of school because their shirts weren't tucked in. No, I'm not exaggerating. He felt it was vital for maintaining discipline to keep all shirttails out of public view.

He also wanted mandatory uniforms, but he couldn't find enough brown shirts or red armbands...

So when I saw the video on CNN of the gun-wielding goons terrorizing school kids, my first thought was of ol' George. Sure enough...

Sheesh. He's got more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see the video here. And here's the home page for Stratford High School.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Perry De Havilland says that there's an important lesson for America's children in this: "The State is not your friend."

MORE: Armed Liberal comments:

My primary response is to project my reaction had it been my son's high school, and had my son faced officers with weapons in low-ready who told him to sit with his back to the wall and put his hands on his head. . . .

As someone who shoots, I've learned a healthy respect for what it means to have a loaded weapon out and in my hand. I have trained with enough LEO's and military to have heard the horror stories - a SWAT officer in Ventura County mistakenly shot and killed by his partner in the course of a raid; a young actor at a Halloween party shot and killed by an officer who saw him holding an all-too-real prop gun.

I've heard about accidents in which Negligent Discharges (there are no Accidental Discharges) put rounds into handcuffed suspects, and accidents in training where experienced officers accidentally shoot into the ground, sending lethal spall and ricochet fragments scattering through a room.

And that's only on the partial issue of the decision by the officers to draw their weapons.

The notion that they could cordon off a part of a school, detain everyone there, and on unsubstantiated rumor, search each of them is outrageous. It violates everything I know about our relation as citizens - not suspects - to the power of the state.

Indeed. The police response is that the guns weren't aimed at the kids, they were in low-ready position. When kids are lying on the floor, that's a distinction without a difference -- just watch the video.

STILL MORE: Reader Brian R. Leone emails:

You cannot see it on the grainy/artifact prone internet video feed, but when the networks were showing this footage you could clearly see at least one of the officers had his finger ON THE TRIGGER while he was covering these kids with the muzzle of his weapon. Simply inexcusable. One wrong twitch and an innocent kid dies. I wonder what the law of "negligent infliction of emotional distress" looks like in that state. If I were an attorney in that jurisdiction, I'd take on the whole group of students pro bono.

I was at the gym when I saw the network broadcast, and I didn't notice that -- but it's inexcusable if true. Every handgun training program I've ever taken has stressed that fingers don't go on the trigger, even when confronting someone who might be dangerous, until you're ready to shoot, and for very good reason.

THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME will feature a speech by Hungary's ambassador, Andras Simonyi, on rock music and its role in political change. That's something that I've written on before, and it sounds as if we're on the same page. Winds of Change has more, too.

UPDATE: "We're taking the history test, of who's baddest and who is best: Lennon the brother, Lennon the sisters, Lenin the communist." Discuss.

THE GUARDIAN reports: "300,000 Iraqis May Be in Mass Graves."

UPDATE: Stephen Green comments.

JFK AND GWB: the similarities. Hmm. Well, I had an interesting conversation at dinner in Washington a couple of weeks back, about whether being a "New Frontiers liberal" makes you practically a libertarian these days. Not really, but it may make you a GWB Republican.

Except that Kennedy was better on the budget. Of course, it was easier back then.

UPDATE: Roger Simon -- who actually remembers JFK -- comments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Donald Sensing notes that he pointed this out over a year ago. And he's quite pleased with himself about it. . . .

WHY WE DON'T TRUST THE NEWS: I've had the same kind of experience that Roger Ebert recounts here:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Sometimes I get interviewed by people who genuinely want to understand something. Just as often, I get interviewed by people who have their story already planned, and just want me to utter the appropriate sound bite for the slot they've selected. They become quite disappointed if I don't do that. And I think my experience is pretty typical -- and that in this media-fied age, it's shared by a lot of other people.

UPDATE: Michael Barone emails:

Your posting on media interviews brought to mind a comment by the late Massachusetts Congressman James Burke, a Ways and Means Committee member who once said, "You only need to know two things here: shoes and Social Security." Burke was asked about a young liberal House member. "That guy," he said, sighing. "He thinks this place is on the level."

So it goes with most TV news interviews. When bookers used to call to ask me what I thoughtabout some issue I didn't want to talk about it, I would say, "Gee, that's not a very interesting issue. I don't think I have anything to say about it." They hung up very quickly.

Another reader adds: "Unfortunately, Ebert's experience does not just apply to the media. I learned in graduate school working on my Ph.D. that this is the way most social scientists approach their work." Sigh.

November 07, 2003

EATIN' AIN'T CHEATIN' -- it's not just an old expression. It's the law!

BAN THE BAN is a weblog devoted to fighting D.C.'s smoking ban. Check it out.

HAVING A VIRGINIA POSTREL MOMENT: Note the close attention to aesthetics in this Chik-Fil-A outdoor dining area. Fresh flowers at the tables? And note the "cow" pattern on the vases. . . .

I don't know if they're doing this everywhere, or if it's an experiment, but it's actually pretty cool. Click the image for a larger one showing the context.

And here's another argument for having the digital camera with you at all times, even when you've just run out to pick up "ice dreams" at the drive-thru.

UPDATE: A reader wants to know what digital camera I used for this. I used this Toshiba camera, which I just bought last week. It captured this with no flash, and did pretty well. It also shoots video, up to card capacity, in AVI format at 320x240, 15fps. Not great, but certainly web-quality, and with sound. (It even has an external mike jack.) Seems like a pretty good universal blog-journalism tool. If you go here and scroll way down, you can see an example of the video.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see a short video clip that I took with the camera -- at my brother-in-law's coffeehouse/bar -- here. The light was a bit dim, and it lost a little quality being knocked down to .wmv format, but it gives you a fair idea.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are a couple of more representative samples, one from outdoors and one from indoors. I just copied these into the Windows Movie Maker built into XP, saved 'em as medium-quality WMV files, and uploaded 'em. Very rough-and-ready, but that's what makes it cool.

MORE ON CHINA AND WALMART, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Greg Burch has thoughts on China based on his personal experience. He's optimistic.

JOSH CHAFETZ'S SPEECH TO THE OXFORD UNION ON THE WAR is now posted in its entirety over at OxBlog. Daniel Drezner calls it "the other big speech from yesterday."

Go read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Robert Tagorda has a roundup of reactions to a speech by some guy named Bush. I guess that's the other speech Drezner's talking about . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: And read this report, too. (I almost didn't link it, thinking it was from June, but it's just dated in the Euro style.)

CORI DAUBER NOTES that folks in the media are again repeating long-discredited canards about Jessica Lynch -- even the bogus report of the BBC's John Kampfner that U.S. forces were firing blanks.

Pathetic.

UPDATE: Patrick Belton points out how The Guardian got it wrong back in May. No doubt an apology from The Guardian will be forthcoming. . . .

WHITE HAT TERRORISM: Tom Bell says we need fake terrorists to help guard against real ones.

UNEMPLOYMENT IS DOWN, and employment is up -- by more than economists expected. Steve Verdon is happy. (And scroll up for some interesting information on manufacturing jobs).

How does Paul Krugman feel?

UPDATE: Read this, too.

Meanwhile some readers think I shouldn't mock Paul Krugman here -- Vish Subramanian emails that I should save that for Maureen Dowd, who really deserves it -- but I disagree. I'm no fan of Bush's spending, as I've noted before, but Krugman's hope that a second Great Depression would sweep Bush out of office has been too transparent not to mock. While I generally leave serious Krugman-mockery to the pros, like Kaus and Luskin, I can't resist an occasional jab.

PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION: I've mentioned it before, but here's an article that I wrote with Dave Kopel arguing that regulating abortion is not within Congress's enumerated powers.

LILEKS REVIEWS MATRIX 3 -- and offers a special bonus Fisking of another review of the film!

This one's a must-read.

STOP A MUGGER, GO TO JAIL: Jeff Soyer has identified a serious human rights violation in New York, and has some suggestions as to what you can do about it. (Via Jay Solo).

ANDREW SULLIVAN agrees with the people I link below that Bush's speech yesterday was an important one. But Spanish reader Franco Aleman notes that it's being spun differently in Europe:

Steyn is right. Europe is dying, if only because some (most?) European media are giving their own alternate reality to their readers. It's like reading articles translated by MEMRI.

So, after what's probably one of Bush's more important speeches on international affairs, in which he lays a 'grand vision' (which is what many critics had been finding lacking) announcing new efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East, admitting that the policies during the last 60 years haven't worked and therefore new ones are needed, what's their headline?

"Bush admits his failure at democratizing the Middle East" Link (in Spanish).

But of course. (Here's the link to the Steyn piece on Europe).

UPDATE: Read this post on Europe, from PeakTalk, too.

SOMEBODY WROTE THAT RE-ENLISTMENT RATES were a good metric for how things are going in Iraq. If so, this is good news:

HEIDELBERG, Germany — If Army officials were worried that constant deployments would drive too many soldiers out of uniform, they can rest easy.

As the Army closed out fiscal 2003 at the end of September, so many soldiers had raised their right hands to re-enlist that the service met its retention goals and then some, retaining 106 percent of the soldiers it hoped to keep.

“We needed 51,000 soldiers to re-enlist, and we got 54,151,” said Sgt. Maj. James Vales, a senior retention manager at Army headquarters in Washington.

I don't know how much to make of this, especially as the story indicates that there are quite a few other factors involved, but it's certainly a positive development.

UPDATE: Reader Dustin Appel emails:

Further to your post on re-enlistment rates, I wanted to make you aware of something I haven't seen reported in the media anywhere:

US Army recruiters have told me that all of their slots for Officer Candidate School for FY 04 and 05 are filled, and that they have been overwhelmed with applications. Obviously the Iraq occupation hasn't affected the number of college grads considering entering the military either.

I haven't seen anything about this. Anybody got any links?

TRENT TELENKO is now in a position to say I told you so.

HERE'S ANOTHER IRAQI BLOG.

BOB KERREY weighs in on the Democratic intelligence memo scandal:

The production of a memo by an employee of a Democratic member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is an example of the destructive side of partisan politics. That it probably emerged as a consequence of an increasingly partisan environment in Washington and may have been provoked by equally destructive Republican acts is neither a comfort nor a defensible rationalization.

He notes that the intelligence committees are supposed to be beyond partisanship, and have been so in the past.

November 06, 2003

JOSH CHAFETZ, VICTORIOUS, goes to bed.

JOHN EDWARDS IS GUEST-BLOGGING over at Larry Lessig's place.

MORE THOUGHTS on China, human rights, and Wal-Mart. I do want to stress that I'm not the least bit hostile to Wal-Mart, but I do think that they ought to try to buy things from countries that aren't murderous dictatorships whenever possible.

PATRICK BELTON THINKS that Bush's speech today deserves more attention. He's got the key bits.

UPDATE: Darren Kaplan thinks so, too. So does Daniel Drezner.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg thinks the speech will be remembered.

MARK STEYN WRITES that Europe is over:

Europe is dying. As I’ve pointed out here before, it can’t square rising welfare costs, a collapsed birthrate and a manpower dependent on the world’s least skilled, least assimilable immigrants. In 20 years’ time, as those Dutch Muslim teenagers are entering the voting booths, European countries, unlike parts of Nigeria, will not be living under Sharia, but they will be reaching their accommodations with their radicalised Islamic compatriots, who like many intolerant types are expert at exploiting the ‘tolerance’ of pluralist societies.

How happy what’s left of the ethnic Dutch or French or Danes will be about this remains to be seen. But the idea of a childless Europe rivalling America militarily or economically is laughable. Sometime this century there will be 500 million Americans, and what’s left in Europe will either be very old or very Muslim. That’s the Europe that Britain will be binding its fate to. Japan faces the same problem: in 2006, its population will begin an absolute decline, a death spiral it will be unlikely ever to climb out of. Will Japan be an economic powerhouse if it’s populated by Koreans and Filipinos? Possibly. Will Germany if it’s populated by Algerians? That’s a trickier proposition.

Yes, and sadly Europe's problems are likely to become America's. Again.

UPDATE: A reader points to Steyn's chilling observation: "Europe is dying, and it’s only a question of whether it goes peacefully or through convulsions of violence. On that point, I bet on form." Yes, that's been my worry all along.

IRAQ-WAR OPPONENTS changing their minds -- is it a trend?

UPDATE: Read this, too: "Father of Palestinian suicide bomber doesn't call his son a hero."

AUSTIN BAY reminds us about Burundi and what's going on there:

The offensive began in early July. Fifty thousand people immediately fled their homes, most of them seeking shelter in the jungle, a wretched place, but one preferable to the suburban slums.

The guerrillas sabotaged a dam producing a third of the country's electricity, knocking out power in the nation's capital. The national army, a ragtag bunch of tribal thugs whose basic job is to keep civilians kowtowed, launched a series of counterattacks. In one suspicious instance, the army plastered a neighborhood with rocket artillery. Rocket artillery, an "area weapon," is notoriously inaccurate. The army's attitude: If the "area" didn't have guerrillas, it housed their sympathizers. C'est la guerre.

Or c'est la guerre in Burundi. As usual, few outside Africa noticed. Burundi bleeds, then bleeds some more.

Read the whole thing.

MICKEY KAUS announces his "Krugman gotcha contest," in light of economic improvements that now seem indisputable. The rules are rather strict.

ANOTHER DEFENSIVE GUN USE:

The man fired at her.

She fired back.

He missed.

She didn’t.

Interestingly, she had just recently bought the gun.

THIS JEFF JACOBY COLUMN from the Boston Globe uses the 1946 Saturday Evening Post article on the occupation of Germany (mentioned below) as a jumping-off point.

Thought for the day: What year is it? Well, really, of course, it's 2003, and historical analogies are of only so much use. But everyone keeps talking as if it's 1946.

But what if it's, in a sense, 1943? What if the Iraq war is just the opening phase? After all, Saudi Arabia is the true source of worldwide Islamist terror. And -- like Germany and Japan in 1943 -- it hasn't been invaded yet.

Just a thought, and probably an example of the limited usefulness of historical analogy. But if the Iraq war is seen as the beginning phase of a longer struggle, rather than the end of the war, then, well, a lot of things look different. And I think that's what it is.

UPDATE: Reader Doris Douthat thinks it's 1943:

I'm old enough to remember WWII and to understand that the current World War IV (aka War on Terrorism) is just getting off the ground. I like to compare Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation Torch, the landings in North Africa. This Sat. (Nov 8) is the 61st anniversery of those landings (1942). Rommel was pounding the Brits in Egypt on the verge of breaking through to gain control of Arabia and its oil. Operation Torch was PREVENTATIVE -- it opened a second front behind Rommel and prevented the fall of Egypt.

Both were the first significant offensive ground action for US troops near the beginning of a prolonged conflict. And both seemed conceptually far removed from the immediate war triggers (Dec. 7 & Sep 11). Torch marked the first setback for Hitler after an unbroken string of victories and was to the ETO [European Theater of Operations] what Midway was to Fascism in the PTO. [Pacific Theater of Operations] Similarly Iraqi Freedom is the first setback for ME Islamism following its loss in Asia. Finally, both Operation Torch and Operation Iraqi Freedom had as main strategic goal to prevent a fascist maniac from gaining control of a major portion of the world's oil.

Hmm. Could be.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Germann emails:

I'd say it's 1953. We're in a decades-long Cold War against the Axis of Evil (Evil Empire) with periodic outbreaks of real armed conflicts as in Afghanistan, Iraq (Korea, Vietnam). Obviously the war will not be over until we can travel as securely from Beirut to Tehran as we can travel today through Eastern Europe.

Hmm. Who gets to have Layne/Welch-style fun in whatever the Mideast version of Prague is, in a few years? John Hawkins emails:

I think it's 1943, but Iraq is more analogous to the invasion of Italy than North Africa (Afghanistan would've been Operation Torch).

Italy was the first time we took the battle to the home turf of one of our enemies (rather than just a place they had managed to occupy, like Tunisia or Afghanistan). It was a battle of liberation of sorts too, where their people were glad to be rid of the old tyrant. One can only hope Saddam meets his own Piazzale Loreto, a la Il Duce.

But I definitely don't feel like this war is over yet.

The other similarity to 1943 of course is that it was a year before a Presidential election...

Ms. Douthat's history comes in for some criticism, too:

Doris may be old enough to remember WWII, but she certainly doesn't remember the facts very well. I don't object to her analogy to Operation Torch, but to suggest that Torch "prevented the fall of Egypt" gives far too much credit to the Americans and fall too little to the Brits. El Alamein was long past before Torch. The Americans provided (eventually, after an early disaster or two) the backside to a pincer movement that was mostly British. The Americans had a lesser role in North Africa in 1943 than the Brits had in Iraq in 2003.

That last seems a bit strong, but it's been quite a while since I studied that stuff.

UPDATE: Reader Bob Macaulay emails:

There is a lot wrong with the first Operation Torch/1943 post, but here is what's probably the most important parallel: TORCH and the North Africa campaign is where the US Army went to get tough enough to win future, significant battles. They learned what tactics and equipment worked, and what didn't. They learned to toss ineffectual unit leaders out immediately. Most of all, its where the officers and men learned to hate their enemies, to want to close with and kill them.

Hmm.

PRODUCTIVITY UP, jobless claims down. Well, I'm happy about it.

SASHA VOLOKH will be getting a lot of email over this post. I'll bet he doesn't write anything like this again. . . .

VIRGINIA POSTREL writes on Milton Friedman's enormous influence.

GEORGE MCGOVERN IS TANNED, RESTED AND READY -- and Peter Beinart notes that Democratic disarray on the war may be leading to a reenactment of 1972.

A READER WONDERS IF BLOG-PRESSURE led to this change:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Times has ordered its reporters to stop describing anti-American forces in Iraq as "resistance fighters," saying the term romanticizes them and evokes World War II-era heroism.

I hope so.

BELMONT CLUB is engaging in traffic analysis. And scroll up from the linked post for more.

I don't do this sort of military analysis, and I don't necessarily vouch for theirs, but it's interesting. Stay tuned.

COMMENTS ON THE WAR: LT Smash and Christopher Hitchens weigh in.

DON'T MISS THE IRAQ ROUNDUP over at Winds of Change.

MICHAEL O'HANLON of Brookings writes:

The Democratic Party as a whole, and most of its presidential candidates, are making three consistent mistakes in their otherwise generally fair critiques of Bush administration policy in Iraq. These mistakes should be corrected. If they are not, Democrats will be less effective as constructive critics of President Bush now, and will probably fare worse in national elections next fall.

The first mistake is to argue that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were not a serious concern before the war. The second is that somehow Bush administration unilateralism has been the principal cause of our current problems on the ground in Iraq. And the third is the assumption, explicit or implicit, that the Iraq mission will remain just as difficult as it is today right through general election time next year.

Read the whole thing, especially if you're a Democratic strategist.

I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING: "PETA to NPR: Reject McDonald's 'Blood Money' Bequest."

Heh. Be sure you read the whole thing.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING STORY from the Star-Tribune, showing positives and negatives in Iraq in a surprisingly balanced way. (Via Steve Gigl.)

UPDATE: Robert Tagorda discovers that the subject of the article is a blogger.

CORI DAUBER looks at coverage of the Democratic strategy memo on intelligence and sees some spinning going on, observing:

The memo is mentioned, and quoted, but what seems to me to be the absolute guts of the memo -- that an independent commission will be timed for political advantage -- is never mentioned, just does not appear in the article, a startling omission.

Dauber, a Professor of Communication Studies and Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina, has a lot of interesting observations on the way this scandal is being covered, spun, or ignored.

UPDATE: There's more on how this is being treated here.

IN RESPONSE to Kim du Toit's essay on manhood, which I linked earlier, I just want to note two things: First, that it's come back to me already via multiply-forwarded email from all sorts of friends and acquaintances who don't seem to realize where it originated, suggesting that it's taking on a life of its own, and second that I actually think the strongest part of his essay was his reflection on how television and advertising reflexively denigrate men -- and especially fathers -- nowadays (sort of the Berenstain Bears syndrome writ large).

I also want to note that my enthusiasm for cooking increased when I realized that cookware is just another kind of tool. . . .

UPDATE: Mitch Berg has more:

In advertising, the "Fred Flintstone" archetype has taken complete hold; Fred was impulsive, stupid, lost to his self-centered and wrong-headed desires. Wilma was the inevitable voice of wisdom and reason. It's gotten to the point where kids today accept that as the norm (the fathers on Lizzie McGuire, Boy Meets World, Even Stevens and so many other kids' shows follow that model.) It wasn't always that way; compare fathers on TV produced in the fifties and early sixties (Andy Griffith, Robert Young, even Hugh Beaumont - all of whom were on a level field with their TV wives and girlfriends) and TV set in the fifties and early sixties (Tom Bosley's ridiculous father in Happy Days, or the impotently tormented Dan Lauria in Wonder Years). You're talking about two drastically different samples of men. Why is that? I think Kim has it right.

Education is, if anything, worse.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile reader Michael Anderson agrees with me:

I also want to note that my enthusiasm for cooking increased when I realized that cookware is just another kind of tool. . . .

Huge, glittering, extremely sharp knives, billowing open flames, hunks of raw meat, gratuitous beer-and-wine drinking during preparations...what could be more manly?

Yep. If this isn't manly, I don't know what is. . . .

Reader Les Meade, meanwhile, sends this:

Your link to the Berenstain Bears syndrome reminded me of something that my son (now 24) commented upon years ago about why he wouldn't watch the TV show Home Improvement. He said it was because every show was exactly the same; "the Dad is an idiot and screws everything up until Mom puts him back in line." I think he was only 13 when he pointed this out to me. What boy wants to grow up with such low expectations for his future?

And what happens to the ones who do?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dan Mallon emails:

What bothers me more is the way men and fathers are depicted in advertisements. They can't cook, clean, or care for themselves when they're sick.

In my house, I cook and shop. My wife does most of the cleaning as she doesn't like how I do it. We both do laundry, both changed diapers and cared for sick kids.

Imagine putting an advertisement on that showed a woman saying, "Can you balance the checkbook, honey? You know I can't do math."

They'd be lynched. I wonder, though, if this phenomenon doesn't go part of the way toward explaining why network TV is losing so many male viewers.

Reader Barbara Skolaut emails:

A reader wrote to you that his then-13-year-old son said he wouldn't watch Home Improvement because "every show was exactly the same; "the Dad is an idiot and screws everything up until Mom puts him back in line."

I wouldn't watch it either, for exactly that reason. And I'm a now-57-year-old woman. I'm sure other women noticed it, too, but loved the concept. I didn't; I've always hated it when women as a group are denigrated (and having grown up in the the 50's, I can assure you I was on the receiving end of plenty of it) and think if it's wrong for men to do it to women, the reverse is also true.

The answer to the age-old question "what do women want?" is respect. Well, if we want it, we need to give it. It's just as wrong to say "all men are [fill in insult of your choice]" as it is to say "all women are [insult du jour].

Yes. I think that advertisers, TV programmers, etc. are way behind the curve on this and don't realize how angry this makes a lot of men, and many women, and how much it's costing them.

And how much it's contributing to what Jeff Jarvis calls the citizens' media revolution.

MORE: Shell comments: "It isn't the Battle of the Sexes. It's a battle of ideologies. Not left vs. right or Dems vs. Pubs, but Socialism vs. Individual Responsibility. And there are women, and men, on both sides of the divide."

Jonathan Gewirtz emails: "Dude, I've got two favorite tools: my Glock and my Cuisinart. And I'll bet there are women who would make the same statement."

STILL MORE: Other comments are in the "Extended Entry" area. Hit "More" to read 'em.

Read More ?


REPUBLICAN VICTORY SECRETS: Polipundit reports an unprecedented mobilization of volunteers.

That seems right. Quite a few of our law students went to work for Haley Barbour in Mississippi last weekend. Two things struck me about that: that they were getting volunteers from so far away, and that so many students were volunteering on behalf of a Republican candidate.

MATT WELCH has a piece on fires and insurance in California. It's a good piece, but I wonder if one partial solution would be for insurance requirements to be more intrusive.

About ten years ago, Buzz Aldrin's neighborhood in Laguna Beach was swept by fires. Buzz -- being a smart guy -- had removed flammable vegetation from the immediate vicinity of his house, and quite some distance on the downslopes. His neighbors hadn't. When the smoke cleared, stately Aldrin manor was still standing, while his neighbors' homes were, um, toast.

In the TV footage that I saw, the burning homes were hard up against burning trees. I wonder if people shouldn't be required to take Buzz-like precautions if they want fire insurance. Seems like a reasonable requirement to me.

November 05, 2003

AN ARAB NEWS COLUMNIST WRITES that he was wrong to oppose the war with Iraq.

ZEYAD AT HEALING IRAQ has a post that you should read.

THE STAINLESS STEEL MOUSE:

BEIJING – The "stainless-steel mouse" is her cyber nom de plume. Her name is Liu Di, and in the one picture available, she has a young face and a wide, shy smile. Until the authorities tracked her down a year ago Friday, she was one of the most famous Internet web masters in China.

A third-year psychology student at Beijing Normal University, Ms. Liu formed an artists club, wrote absurdist essays in the style of dissident Eastern-bloc writers of the 1970s, and ran a popular web-posting site. Admirers cite her originality and humor: In one essay Liu ironically suggests all club members go to the streets to sell Marxist literature and preach Lenin's theory, like "real Communists." In another, she suggests everyone tell no lies for 24 hours. In a series of "confessions" she says that China's repressive national-security laws are not good for the security of the nation.

But since Nov. 7, 2002, when plain-clothes police made a secret arrest, Liu has not been heard from. No charges have been filed; her family and friends may not visit her, sources say; and, in a well-known silencing tactic, authorities warn that it will not go well for her if foreign media are informed of her case.

Hmm. A bit late for that. I don't think I care to buy any more Chinese goods (especially, you know, computers and electronics) while this sort of thing goes on, and I suspect a lot of others may feel the same way, which should worry some people.

Perhaps someone should ask these folks, or even these folks, if China is an appropriate supplier.

UPDATE: Reader John Wetherbie suggests that McDonald's should top giving away Chinese-made toys with happy meals, in favor of toys made in the democratic countries of Eastern Europe.

If I were McDonald's, I'd want to do that, if possible.

FIRST ALLAH, and now Yahweh has a blog. Er, aren't they supposed to be the same guy?

ANOTHER APPEARANCE by Miss Afghanistan.

ANOTHER HOWARD DEAN GAFFE:

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told a Tallahassee audience today that southerners have to quit basing their votes on "race, guns, God and gays."

In other news, Dean told a group of American Indians that "you have to quit voting based on who gives you the most liquor on election day."

Okay, actually the last was the comment of the reader who sent this link. But the stereotyping is just as bad in the real example.

UPDATE: Hey, maybe it's not a gaffe -- he's picked up a coveted endorsement because of it.

ZELL MILLER WEIGHS IN on the Democratic intelligence memo scandal:

“Heads should roll!”

HAROLD KOH will be the next Dean of the Yale Law School.

ERIC SCHEIE has thoughts on the culture wars. "In modern America, the debate over where men ought to be placing their penises has become a colossal national trainwreck of religion and politics."

UPDATE: This post by Donald Sensing is sort of related.

BRUCE ROLSTON amusingly tracks the evolution of a word.

I DON'T VISIT DEMOCRATIC UNDERGROUND very often. Thus, I miss stuff like this.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has comments.

MAYBE THIS ANSWERS MICKEY KAUS'S QUESTION about why former Clinton officials aren't criticizing Bush on the Iraq war. Reader Bob Conyne sends this interesting statement by Richard Gephardt:

Could you explain your vote authorizing the President to take action against Iraq? What is you[r] disengagement plan?

Rep. Richard A Gephardt: I supported the resolution because I gained information from the CIA and other former Clinton security officials that Iraq either had weapons or components of weapons of mass destruction. I have been severely critical of President Bush's inability or unwillingness to get more international UN help in Iraq. Getting that help is the only way we can succeed.

(Emphasis added). This would seem to undercut the "Bush lied about WMD" argument, wouldn't it?

UPDATE: Dodd Harris has more.

THE CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up. Don't miss it!

A MAJOR ETHICAL LAPSE AT THE NEW YORK TIMES? An anti-debt-repudiation oped by a guy who isn't disclosed as representing creditors of Iraq?

THEY'RE ON A ROLL, over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

And Stephen Green has post-election advice for both Democrats and Republicans.

THIS MEMO on politicizing intelligence inquiries will unfortunately confirm a lot of people's worst fears about the Democrats' seriousness on national security matters.

Here's the text of the memo.

UPDATE: Sen. Jon Kyl comments. And Steven Den Beste points out a historical analog.

I wonder if this story will get as much play as the Rumsfeld memo? It should.

I SHOULD HAVE LINKED THIS DAVID BROOKS COLUMN YESTERDAY:

There, in front of her children and mother-in-law, two men grabbed her arms while another pulled her head back and beheaded her. Baath Party officials watched the murder, put her head in a plastic bag and took away her children.

Try to put yourself in the mind of the killer, or of the guy with the plastic bag. You are part of Saddam's vast apparatus of rape squads, torture teams and mass-grave fillers. Every time you walk down the street, people tremble in fear. Everything else in society is arbitrary, but you are absolute. When you kill, your craving for power and significance is sated. You are infused with the joy of domination.

These are the people we are still fighting in Iraq.

Read the whole thing.

SOME SIGNS OF PROGRESS at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. About time.

NEW MEDIA SAVING THE OLD MEDIA? Interesting. Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis says this is a bad thing.

LOVING MONSTERS: My TechCentralStation column is up. What sort of person likes the idea of being prey?

November 04, 2003

DON'T MISS this Africa regional briefing from Winds of Change.

THE INSTAWIFE AND I HAVE DECAMPED to a secure, undisclosed location. There's Internet access here (obviously) but I don't know how much blogging I'll do. Back later.

In inside-the-blogosphere news, meanwhile, there's a joint statement from Atrios and Donald Luskin. (It's here, too.)

SPINSANITY has a lengthy sum-up on the "imminent threat" debate:

As a factual matter, conservatives are largely correct and liberal critics and journalists are guilty of cheap shots or lazy reporting. However, the evidence is not completely clear and both sides are guilty of distorting this complex situation for political gain. Specifically, while there's some evidence indicating the Bush administration did portray Iraq as an imminent threat, there's much more that it did not. Those attempting to assert that the White House called Iraq an imminent threat are ignoring significant information to the contrary. Similarly, those who say the Bush administration never used the phrase or implied as much are ignoring important, though isolated, evidence.

Read the whole thing, if this interests you.

WANT TO HELP IN IRAQ? Consider donating via the Spirit of America.

WHO CARES ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION, when we've got international law?

These sorts of sentiments will do more to delegitimize the Supreme Court than just about anything else I can imagine. I have no idea what the Justices are thinking in making such statements, and I strongly recommend that they think again.

PERSPECTIVE from Iraq.

VOTER INTIMIDATION is reported in Philadelphia.

WHY HAS NO ONE IDENTIFIED THE CULPRIT in this shocking leak of private information?

CHIEF WIGGLES GETS A MENTION (well, more than that, really) in this story from The Globe and Mail. They did their homework a bit better than Newsweek did.

KIM DU TOIT says that we're all wimps.

I don't have time to write the lengthy response that this calls for, so just go read it and see what you think yourselves. But what's interesting is that much of his analysis parallels (if more profanely) this article from Salon by Kim Morgan.

UPDATE: Hmm, speaking of "wimp" -- Kim's server is, um, not big enough to handle the traffic from this link. He asks me to post a notice pointing out that he's having trouble, and to suggest that you try later. Happy to oblige.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Seems to be working now. Celinda Lake and some other Democrats want to win over "NASCAR dads." But can they really do what it would take? Maybe they should hire Kim du Toit as a consultant. Naomi Wolf won't be able to help them with this. . . .

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Rob Smith has thoughts on manhood.

Meanwhile, Spoons and his readers weigh in on Kim's post.

DOG BITES MAN: "Terrorists Escape Saudis."

HEADS SHOULD BE ROLLING: Michael Ledeen makes an important point:

It's long past time — since September 12, 2001 to be precise — for people to be sacked for failure, and the fact that virtually no one has — except for Larry Lindsay (seemingly for insufficient aerobic exercise) and a couple of others dealing with "the economy" or with faith-based initiatives and volunteerism — is the greatest failure of this administration. The bureaucracy has learned that there is no penalty for failure. The only way to change their mindset is to do to them what Reagan did to the air controllers.

Unfortunately, Dubya has embraced the Loyalty Thing that is one of the Bush family's most cherished values. He doesn't turn on his own loyal aides, even (perhaps especially) when they come under attack. But this is no way to wage a war, where the only thing that matters is victory.

I'm surprised that the Democrats aren't calling him on this.

CERP UPDATE: Maj. Sean Bannion emails:

I sat in a CPA hosted conference here in Baghdad today and the budget guy, an OMB type, stated that there was 180M for CERP for FY 2004 as part of the supplemental. Heard it with my own ears.

Only catch, it's for both Iraq and Afghanistan -- exact split to be determined.

I still say it's a win.

Sounds good to me.

IN THE POST BELOW, I ask if we should have stayed home in World War II. That's not an entirely rhetorical question: Some people thought so then, though they quickly shut up once the war started. But I'm reading Harry Turtledove's In the Presence of Mine Enemies -- in which the United States did just that -- and I think we're better off still stuck in the European "quagmire" than we would have been if we'd tried to stay out.

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN -- reader Kathy Nelson has typed in a second Saturday Evening Post article from 1946 on how the occupation was going in Germany. Not terribly well, is the answer, and once again there are quite a few familiar bits.

In response to the previous post along these lines, a reader pointed out that the Marshall Plan was introduced later, and perhaps in response to critiques like these. [LATER: Another reader emails: "I wonder how many who point that out are actually FOR the $87 billion reconstruction package for Iraq?" Me, too.] I think that's probably right and that criticism did lead to the Marshall Plan, but I think that his implied point -- that therefore I shouldn't be criticizing the kind of sloppy-and-snarky coverage of Iraq that we're seeing from places like Newsweek -- is wrong. I'd love to see thoughtful coverage of what's going well and badly in Iraq. I'm complaining because I'm not seeing much of it.

Some excerpts follow -- just click "MORE" to read them. I wish that I could reproduce the whole thing, but I've tried to be representative here.

Read More ?


IT'S THE WORLD, STUPID: Jonathan Rauch writes on unilateralism:

The only way to placate today's angry Europeans is to change the ends, not just the means, of U.S. foreign policy. And the only way to have avoided the trans-Atlantic falling-out over Iraq would have been for Bush to condition America's use of force upon the approval of the Security Council (read: France). No responsible American president, of either party, would have done that.

Indeed.

A READER wonders why I'm not blogging about the huge, multibillion-dollar Indian Trust Fund scandal. It's important, I just don't have a lot to say about it except that it calls into question the ability of the federal government to manage large amounts of other people's money without accountability. Whenever you have that, you get something like, well, the Eurocracy. . . .

Anyway, Indian Country Today is all over this story, and I keep a link to it on the left. It's worth checking out anyway, as there's a lot more Indian-related news going on than generally gets Big Media attention elsewhere.

READER WIJNAND VAN DE BEEK (yes, he's Dutch) emails:

I find you apologizing more and more for not blogging enough. . . .

Please don't. You're a busy man, and I understand blogging is insustainable if it's not fun.

Please enjoy yourself blogging and forget about us. It's your hobby, and I'm sure you'll be better at it when you do it in a way that suits you.

If that means a format change, don't worry about it. Do it. . . .

Don't get jailed by your audience. We're only visitors.

Several other people have sent similar sentiments lately. Thanks very much. I'm much busier than usual this semester at my actual job, and sometimes blogging has to take a back seat. That's okay. Please rest assured that my occasional apologies for not blogging enough are largely a matter of politeness, and do not represent any actual anguish on my part. . . .

November 03, 2003

THE ECONOMIST has a good piece on Iraqi reconstruction.

POWERLINE notes a story I missed:

BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 -- The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service that is spurring U.S. investigations of weapons procurement networks and agents of influence who took money from the government of Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. officials familiar with the records. . . .

The recipients of the Iraqi funds were described by U.S. officials not as formal intelligence agents, but as prominent personalities and political figures who accepted money from Iraq as they defended Hussein publicly or pressed his causes.

I'll be fascinated to find out who those "prominent personalities and political figures" are. Think there are some nervous folks out there tonight?

REID STOTT: "We Southerners are all alike."

DANIEL DREZNER NOW HAS AN ARTICLE IN SLATE criticizing the Center for Public Integrity's rather bogus report on Iraq reconstruction contracts:

The CPI devoted six months to research and filed more than 70 Freedom of Information Act requests and appeals to get to the bottom of the story. The conclusion of the report, "Windfalls of War," is that a clear quid pro quo exists between government procurement and campaign contributions to George W. Bush. Charles Lewis, the group's executive director, released a statement arguing that the report reveals "a stench of political favoritism and cronyism surrounding the contracting process in both Iraq and Afghanistan."

There's just one problem: The CPI has no evidence to support its allegations.

Sorry, but this is a pretty embarrassing performance for an outfit with "integrity" in its name.

AIRBRUSHING AT THE BBC: We've seen this sort of thing before.

It's good to fix errors, and you don't have to leave an audit trail for the minor ones. But this wasn't minor.

THE EUROSCANDALS just keep rolling on:

The work was nepotistically handed out and the money siphoned into slush funds.

The MEPs say it proves that the scandal continued during the years that this commission was in place.

This was a commission which pledged to scrub itself with the financial stains that had adhered to its predecessor.

Furthermore, say the MEPs, it is now clear that the bad practice extended beyond Eurostat and into other parts of the commission.

No surprise, there.

STEFAN SHARKANSKY says that there's more outright dishonesty from Molly Ivins.

ANOTHER ADVANTAGE OF PERVASIVE WIRELESS: You can blog, research, and upload columns from locations like this!

For Knoxville expats and UT alumni, here are a couple of other pictures.

HOW ADVANCED CAN A TECHNOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION BE? Jay Manifold has an interesting post.

BACK TO THE MOON? Thoughts at GlennReynolds.com.

I HAVEN'T DONE MUCH on judicial-confirmation battles -- beyond suggesting a "recess appointment" of David Bernstein to the Court of Appeals -- but Nat Hentoff says that what's going on is over the line. It's strong stuff.

In a (somewhat) related vein, read this post by Eric Muller on Lochner.

NEWSMAN AND BLOGBOY: Now there's a Dynamic Duo for the 21st Century.

No spandex outfits, fortunately.

NATIONAL AMMO DAY is coming up. Is it that time of year again already? My how time does fly. . . .

"WILL THERE BE GIANT PUPPETS? 'Cause I'm only going if there are giant puppets."

"THEY DIDN'T STEAL THE MONEY" -- read this post from Sofia Sideshow, which points out something that I took for granted, and notes that it's nothing to take for granted:

Alright, I re-read both articles, looking for mention of the single most obvious facet of the story. Something most Americans don't even think about. Indeed, Glenn didn't pick it up, and the Globe and Mail didn't pick it up, although it's right there, the single-most lauded aspect, and we Americans missed it totally. I'll bet 99% of Americans who read the articles missed it.

They didn't steal the money.

You remember the film "Three Kings," where disaffected angst-ridden grunts went off on their own in search of gold? I mean, they were stuck there in some sort of 'war,' and the crisis they face is whether to help the citizens or succumb to greed. It was very 90's, and brilliant and all that?

Let's repeat this: A squad found tons of money lying around...they started to spend it...on others...without orders.

They didn't steal the money!

You think they'll make a movie of that?

Their honesty is simply taken for granted. It shouldn't be. It's not how the rest of the world works.

What they did is both outrageous and thoroughly American.

So is not realizing it.

That's me. Outrageous, and thoroughly American. Because I didn't realize it.

HOW IRAQ-SUPPORT POLLS ARE BEING SPUN, and much, much more, over at The Volokh Conspiracy, where new conspirator Cori Dauber is blogging up a storm. I'm kind of busy (I've been on a grade-a-thon this weekend), so you might as well head over there. Back later.

Excerpt on the poll issue:

This, it strikes me, is just another way to make it appear that crashing support for Iraq may be inevitable when in fact that is far from the truth since the same poll shows that when asked if they would support continuing the mission in Iraq to the end -- even if it means continued military casualties -- they say yes by about twenty points.

Hmm. I didn't notice that in the headlines. Maybe I missed it. . . .

Don't miss this post on ongoing French perfidy, from Belgravia Dispatch, either. Are the French waging proxy war against us? It's not clear, but I'd have to say the answer is looking like "yes."

UPDATE: Read this, too.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING BACK AND FORTH AMONG LIBERAL BLOGGERS on the war.

November 02, 2003

CENSORWARE: Slashdot reports that Symantec's Internet Security 2004 is blocking pro-gun sites across the board. I've used Internet Security in the past, but I guess I'll be looking elsewhere. Pathetic. And here's a good point from the Slashdot post:

My rather informal test still raises the spectre that a large corporate entity may be clandestinely trying to sway you or your child's political views by censoring content from one side of a political debate. This is indeed chilling, especially considering that such software is required to be used in libraries to protect children.

Indeed.

KEVIN DEENIHAN has thoughts on bloggers as journalists.

CERP UPDATE: Major Sean Bannion has a comment posted that suggests the holdup is only temporary. I hope that's right -- though even a temporary stop seems like a bad idea.

UPDATE: Lynxx Pherrett has more information suggesting that the program will be funded again once the new budget clears. I hope this is right -- and if it is, somebody should tell the troops in Iraq, who seem rather upset at the prospect of it dying.

CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up: lots of business- and economic-related blog posts for your delectation.

CHIEF WIGGLES' BLOG now has video of his MSNBC interview up, in QuickTime format. Maybe Newsweek's Rod Nordland should watch it. . . .

Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard notes that the Chief doesn't deserve to be dissed:

In a story in last week's Newsweek online about Iraqi reconstruction, there was a glancing mention of an important grassroots effort to reach out to Iraqi children. The article talks about safety improvements in parts of Baghdad: "There are motor pools, and Internet cafes, cafeterias and video lounges." And in an almost dismissive manner, it continues: "There's even a blog from inside the Green Zone, put out by someone who says he's a military intelligence soldier using the pseudonym Chief Wiggles (http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com). Lately the boosterish Chief Wiggles has been using his blog to find donors to give him bicycles so soldiers can pedal around the zone giving out toys to children."

Boosterish? We understand the writer probably bears no malice towards the chief, but this operation is no ordinary "toys for tots" program. Wiggles's effort to make life a little easier for the children of Iraq is on a scale with Gail Halvorsen, the celebrated "candy bomber" who dropped chocolates down to German children during the 1948 Berlin airlift. And despite doubts expressed in the Newsweek piece about Wiggles's identity ("someone who says he's a military intelligence soldier"), the man is authentic. The Chief (whose real name is classified for security reasons) serves in Utah's 141st military intelligence battalion (National Guard) and is currently working as an interrogator and debriefer at a palace in Baghdad. But on one occasion, he witnessed a poor girl crying and was so moved he wanted to gather up some toys for her. He then made mention of this idea of giving even more toys to more children on his blog, and thousands of people from around the world responded, all wanting to know how they could help.

To date, the Chief's "Operation Give," a newly set-up nonprofit organization, and "Share Joys Through Toys" effort has yielded more than 800 packages from overseas. Even Federal Express has gotten involved by shipping some of the packages from the United States free of charge. . . .

Wiggles humbly describes himself as "one individual trying to make a difference" and believes that "one person's seemingly insignificant positive actions can exponentially initiate a rippling of positive energy." Call him benevolent, noble, or selfless. Just don't call him boosterish.

No, don't.

SUPPORTING THE TROOPS: Here's a heartwarming story that almost makes me feel good about the airlines.

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA. . . . Note the lynching-noose in the background.

He can't be a Dean voter, though, because the flag on the pickup in the background isn't Confederate. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Gary Vincent emails:

Yeah, also note the tying of the word "sniper" to our rural, pickup-driving, NRA-supporting caucasian friend -- i.e., the Angry White Male (tm). Just how crestfallen is the Left that the D.C. sniper turned out to be a black Muslim?

Crestfallen enough to basically ignore the fact.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, The Bitch Girls show what real NRA members do.

SCRAPPLEFACE wrote:

(2003-10-31) -- The latest figures on decreased jobless claims and a huge increase in third-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) signal a continuation of the Clinton-Gore economic boom, according to an expert.

"After a brief two year 'hiccup' the wisdom of Clinton-Gore still shines through," said one unnamed itinerant professor who has taught at the University of California Los Angeles, Columbia University, Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State University. "Any time economic indicators are this good, you can take it as an article of faith that it's the legacy of the two best men ever elected President -- Bill Clinton and Al Gore."

That was parody. Or was it?

As much as the economy weakened in the last three years, it was coming off such a high that it remains stronger by most measures than in the early 1990's. That high was reached on Mr. Clinton's watch, but it could help Mr. Bush next year.

Say, maybe they read ScrappleFace at The New York Times!

Or maybe they just, you know, live it. . . .

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "The more you race 'em, the less you trust -- the less you drive 'em, the more they rust." The motorhead variation on "damned if you do, damned if you don't."

A TOUGH WEEK in Iraq. I don't blog much on day-to-day events there, because other people are doing that better anyway, and because I prefer to focus on issues -- like the CERP issue -- that have more long-term importance. But, even if this is nothing on the scale of Vietnam, Korea, or World War II, it's real enough. Which is why I admire and respect the people who are over there working to make Iraq a success, and don't want to see their efforts, and sacrifices, wasted.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has good thoughts:

Saddam always relied on the Somalia strategy. He believed - and probably still does - that the U.S. does not have the guts to stick this out and wear down the Sunni dead-enders now combined with Islamist terrorists. He planned on this kind of war of attrition from the minute he knew he was militarily finished. That makes our endurance all the more necessary. The slow collapse of American credibility in the 1990s will take time to reverse. And moments like yesterday are classic attempts to test our determination. Saddam and what he still represents must fail in full view of the world. And we have an irreplaceable opportunity to see it happen.

Yes.

MAUREEN DOWD IS LYING AGAIN: Think that's too strong? Read what Greg Djerejian says -- and follow his links -- and see what you think.

I think that there must be a lot of people who could do a better job on the Times oped page than Maureen Dowd, whose name has already become synonymous with op-ed dishonesty.

According to Dowd: "It's hard to protect yourself from the big lie." Especially, it seems, when it comes via The New York Times.

UPDATE: There's more on Dowd from Cori Dauber, over at The Volokh Conspiracy, who finds Dowd's accusations of "airbrushing" ironic -- at best. And read this, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz's comments would probably wound Dowd more deeply than anything I've written: "Not only is Dowd foolish and wrong, but she's slow. The Dover ceremony controversy is so last week." And here's proof -- Katz blogged it, last week. Ouch.

JUST ANOTHER SOLDIER ("A journal of a National Guardsman's deployment to Iraq") is a military blog that's starting to develop a following, to judge by my email.

POLITICAL TROUBLE BREWING IN BRITAIN? David Carr writes:

For reasons I cannot even begin to adequately explain, the gatherings of the increasingly angry and militant pro-hunt movement conjours up 'spaghetti western' images in my head; the brooding silence, the tumbleweed, the flinty, menacing stares and the 'man's-gotta-do-what-a-man's-gotta-do' atmosphere of grim resolve. . . .

Alright, it's actually the middle of the verdant English countryside, but you get the gist.

Having failed in their appeals to reason, common sense and principle, the hunters are still threatened with a government prohibition that will eradicate a centuries-old tradition and the way of rural life that has grown up around it. They are being 'run out of town' for no better reason than that they are perceived as an easy target for a government that wants to score cultural 'brownie points' with the metropolitan elite.

So the hunters have decided that they are not going to be such an easy target after all. I don't see what else they can do. It's fight or die and they have chosen the former.

The British tradition of "out of doors political activity" (as Gordon Wood terms it) may come to the fore again.

I'VE HAD DAYS when I could have used these.