"WE CHOOSE TO LIVE IN FREEDOM": Nice conclusion by Rudy Giuliani in his Saturday Night Live opening speech. Paul Simon's performance wasn't one of his best, but that's because he was obviously almost too moved to sing at all. You could see the same emotions on the faces of the others on stage, even tough-as-nails Rudy. ("Can we be funny?" "Why start now?" A new InstaPundit motto?)
OH, BY THE WAY -- Tennessee won, 26-18. Though LSU played so much better than UT in the first half that it wasn't even funny.
STAR-SPANGLED BANNER WATCH: Reader Michael Wells writes that he's noticed the same eerie absence of the National Anthem, even from places where it's usually performed. He suggests that it's because The Star-Spangled Banner is, after all, a war song. As also evidenced by the inappropriate use of the term "tragedy" (which I noted today in signs at Eddie Bauer and in Anheuser Busch commercials during the football game), he suggests that this represents a bit of denial on the part of many. Perhaps, he says, they'll wake up to the fact that we're at war when there's another attack.
This seems plausible to me. The other argument (don't irritate our allies, the British, who after all are the villains in the song) doesn't hold much water since the British, quite nobly, performed the Anthem at Buckingham Palace, and the Queen sang along.
Reports of the Banner's reappearance, or unexplained absence at places where it is customarily performed, are welcome.
TOMORROW'S NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS a major economic slowdown, with consumers buying much less. I don't, ahem, buy it. At least, my local mall (which is the largest in Tennessee) was jampacked today, and folks sure seemed to be buying stuff. Sure, I'm generalizing from my personal experience (which Mickey Kaus calls the "first rule of punditry"), but so, I suspect, are the Times reporters on the story. I expect that in the New York area, where the trauma is greater and the impact of travel disruptions, etc., more substantial, people are more cautious.
AIR TRAVEL, on the other hand, isn't going to recover, and the reason isn't just a failure of nerve -- it's economics. At the moment I'm reconsidering a speaking engagement in Boston. It's moderately lucrative, but I had agreed to do it mostly because I could fly up there, speak, and be home that night. With the increased hassles from security, that's pretty much out of the question now. So I'm looking at a two-day trip, for the same money, cutting my effective pay in half. This is the case for a lot of people, in a lot of different sectors, and a lot of them are going to cancel trips -- not out of fear, but because they're not viable propositions any more. Or they're going to drive -- from Knoxville to DC, for example, has always been only marginally faster flying than driving once you factor in airport hassles at both ends. Now driving probably has the edge. This plays out across the country too. AIRLINES are going to have to find ways to make flying more attractive to help counter this. Perhaps they'll return to 1960s levels of service. Of course, most of them seem to be taking the opposite approach, talking about cancelling meal service, banning all carry-on luggage, and doing just about everything they can to make flying more unpleasant. Since they've been treating customers like dirt for decades, it's no surprise that their first instincts run in this direction. But that approach will only make their problems worse.
THE CURRENT COVER PHOTO on the Washington Post's website features black-masked anarchists stopping a man from interfering in the burning of an American flag. For those of us who don't want to see a nasty government crackdown on civil liberties (a group into which the anarchists may not fall, as many of them take the "the worse it gets the better it is" view) this picture is particularly disturbing.
THE TELEGRAPH WRITES of "the alarming coincidence between states that harbour international terrorists and those states that have active, maturing programmes of WMD [weapons of mass destruction]." The context is a story about Iraq's recent intensification of chemical and biological warfare efforts.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER? Watching the opening to the Tennesssee/LSU game (on ESPN -- I'm not doing this from a Palm on the 50-yard line) I noticed they sang God Bless America instead of the National Anthem, which always used to come before the game. And then I realized that since Sept. 11 I've heard that and America the Beautiful, repeatedly, but never The Star-Spangled Banner. Is this just some bizarre artifact of what I've happened to watch, or is this a true phenomenon? And why (besides the anthem's being hard to sing)?
This seems significant, somehow, though I'm not sure exactly why.
SUPPORT FOR WAR IS "UNSWERVING" says the Washington Post. Over 80 percent support war even if it means large numbers of casualties. This isn't surprising: it's what happened the last time the United States was attacked by a foreign power. Some think that this support will flag with time. It probably will -- many forget that by 1945 most Americans were pretty war-weary (though not so much so as the Germans, Japanese, etc.). That war-weariness is why the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was so well-received by the American public.
MATT DRUDGE IS REPORTING THAT STRIKES AGAINST TERRORIST CAMPS will begin in less than two days. I hope that this is disinformation. Otherwise, this kind of reporting is likely to do real harm.
MORE CHAOS IN AFGHANISTAN: This story reports on refugees, the Taliban recruiting young men for the army randomly at gunpoint (yeah, that's going to produce motivated troops), etc. This story, on the other hand, recounts Islamist feeling in Pakistan, and a lot of people who think the United States has declared war on Islam. Who's telling them this? Pakistani radio? I'd be interested in knowing the sources of this propaganda.
I think that there's also some propaganda aimed at the United States here, though. The old "watch out for the Arab street" angle has been played many times. But Musharraf understands that it's a different game now. As a nuclear power, but a weak nuclear power, Pakistan is in an enormously risky position. If it were to go over to a fundamentalist anti-US regime, the United States would have to seize or destroy its nuclear weapons. In doing so, the United States could count on support from all the neighboring countries except Afghanistan. (A recent poll I saw indicated that more Indians thought the US should attack than Americans, or even Israelis). Pakistan has at most 25 nuclear weapons. The United States has a lot more. After the Gulf War a Pakistani general said the lesson was that you couldn't go up against the Americans without nuclear weapons. But Baghdad is still standing. Had Saddam posed a nuclear threat, it wouldn't be.
A REVEALING QUOTE FROM ONE OF TODAY'S PEACE MARCHERS IN WASHINGTON:
Natalie Williams, 68, of East Harlem, N.Y., carried another anti-war slogan stating "Violence Does Not Solve Violence."
"I don't categorize this speaking out against a potential war as anti-American," Williams said. "I'm objecting to the policies of America. The U.S. — they were the ones who set up these policies, this exploitation of people around the world."
Did you get that? She regards the United States as a "they," not a "we." It's kind of like Ross Perot's "you people" remark, isn't it?
And that's my main objection to the "peace" march folks. Even though they're mostly people who had planned to march against globalization this weekend, they in fact see themselves as globalized -- as not really being part of their own country. To them, the United States is the other, suitable for demonization. I do categorize that as anti-American, no matter what Ms. Williams thinks.
INTERESTING ARTICLE ON ANTI-AMERICANISM IN BRITAIN: Arguing that the antis' real problem isn't with America per se or even with capitalism, since the Left is out of alternatives to capitalism anyway. It's really about style: the Left doesn't like brashness and wants a more therapeutic Oprah-ized style from the United States. (Hmm. Maybe this is why they loved Clinton and hate Bush?)
I'm not sure this analysis is right -- people on the Left, chiefly academics, bureaucrats, and artists of limited talent -- tend to dislike capitalism because people like them don't do especially well under capitalism relative to others they disrespect. And that's especially true of American capitalism, of course. Under communism, on the other hand, these kinds of people were on top. Sure, they were on top of a miserable heap of suppurating oppression, but, still, they were on top, in a place where being a Senior Academician or a state poet meant you were somebody. The apparatchik-wannabes of the West dislike capitalism because under capitalism they are superficialities, tolerated and even fairly well compensated, but not really important. Much like the Islamist fundamentalists, they dislike Western capitalism because it is constantly telling them that people aren't that impressed with them. Like the Islamists, they're constantly trying to prove their importance by saying and doing steadily more outrageous things. And, like the Islamists, they are succeeding only in convincing more and more people that they're not so much beneath notice as beneath contempt.
OUTRAGEOUS AND DEMANDING AN APOLOGY: JOSH LONDON WRITES IN SPINTECH MAGAZINE:
Unless America losses its resolve, or adopts the cowardly and squeamish sorority girl tendencies of leftist academics, media elites or General Colin Powell, the war against terrorism will be swift, decisive and victorious.
This is outrageous and London should immediately apologize for this vicious diatribe, which is an incredibly unfair and unwarranted slander against sorority girls.
JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR foresees limits on freedom in a story by Linda Greenhouse from the New York Times. It's not clear whether O'Connor is for or against these limits, but is it really proper for a Supreme Court Justice -- who'll likely be ruling on some of those limits -- to be talking about this at all?
ANOTHER REPORT saying that the Taliban are losing their grip. Fine with me.
HILLARYCARE IS DEAD for the foreseeable future, but my state has been stuck with its own version -- seen at the time as a pioneer for the national health insurance plan supported by the Clintons -- and it has been eating the state budget alive while not delivering much in the way of care. Doctors hate it, because it pays little or not at all. The cost-shaving MCOs who were supposed to make it cheap are going broke. Now patients are being jettisoned in a last-ditch effort to save it.
TennCare was supposed to be a model for the nation. It is, I think, but not in the way it was intended to be. But it sure has made a lot of lobbyists, consultants, and politically connected fly-by-night operators rich.
ANDREW SULLIVAN NOTES that commenting on 'the dubious loyalty of some on the fringe left does not amount to a "disgusting diatribe" but a mere statement of fact. A movement to oppose all and every Western response to terrorism is already afoot, and it is based on the notion, widely held in these quarters, that the United States is morally inferior to the hoodlums who killed thousands, or is so morally crippled that it has no right to a robust response.' He's right. Those who don't understand this don't understand much, or don't want to.
"MAGICAL THINKING" AND BOGUS SOLUTIONS: This item on the psychology of responding to terrorism explains where such idiocies as banning nail clippers come from. The connection to the equally-dumb "zero tolerance" approach to school violence is obvious. Note also the reference to research showing that people who resist mass killings are more likely to survive than those who respond passively. I think that this lesson has sunk in.
BIN LADEN NEEDS DIALYSIS, according to Jane's, which ought to make him a lot easier to track down.
LARRY TRIBE weighs in on antiterrorism and freedom. Good piece.
THE INTERNET DIDN'T DO IT as this article by Charles Cooper points out.
THE WASHINGTON POST argues against censorship. Well, I'm against censorship. But the Post is a bit of a fair-weather friend. It doesn't like Bill Maher being punished for his remarks, even though they offended millions of people (not me, but that's beside the point). It doesn't like the response to the UNM professor who said that anyone who could blow up the Pentagon was OK with him.
But we've already established that offending lots of people is a reason to be sacked, haven't we? Does anyone remember "The Greasman," a DC-area shock jock who was canned for making remarks that some people found racially offensive? The Post wasn't defending him, unless I somehow missed that editorial. And do we really think the Post would have defended a UNM professor who said that the Rodney King beating, or the Louima assault, were just examples of people getting what they deserved? If the climate is friendly toward efforts to punish people for offensive speech, it's because the PC crowd, which the Post has seldom opposed, has made it so. Now the Post is unhappy, but its protests ring hollow.
Fair-weather friends of free speech may be better than nothing. But not by much.
PATRICK RUFFINI'S site has some very interesting points. School vouchers for Afghanistan? (Hey, read it -- it's better than that makes it sound). He promises new functionality for his page starting on Monday, functionality that will blow Blogger-pased pages (er, like this one) out of the water. I actually do intend to upgrade this page at some point (it's still struggling along under the kludgey approach I put together in August when I wasn't even sure I wanted to keep up a mezine) but then, Patrick actually designs websites for a living. Check out his latest at MichaelBarone.Com.
CHARLES BABINGTON writes that we will need vocal Arab support in the coming months. To that I would add vocal support from American Muslims. So far, Muslim clergy in America haven't done much speaking out. This is puzzling many people in America, and no doubt abroad, about their support for the United States.
WERE THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS A FAILURE? Let's seriously entertain that possibility. First, there's some evidence that there were several more hijackings planned, but foiled by the swift grounding of commercial flights that morning. (Who was the quick-thinking person who made that decision and gave that order? I've seen nothing on that.) And had the United Airlines Flight 93 aircraft aimed at the White House, or Capitol (I think the latter, but I've seen mixed accounts) not been crashed by the passengers, the level of damage would have been much higher, both materially and psychologically. Had these efforts succeeded, things might have been much worse.
But the failure is on a bigger level. Unless this was just the biggest stock-manipulation scam in history, the goal, presumably, was to leave the United States either paralyzed, or blindly lashing out in ways that would isolate the West from the Islamic world and perhaps pave the way for fundamentalist extremists to take over one or more Arab governments. (Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the most likely candidates; Algeria is another possibility). Instead, the Taliban government, the most reliably extremist government in the Islamic world, is in serious trouble, and Western governments that have sheltered, or at least ignored, radical Islamists are rounding them up, Arab governments are using this as an excuse to crack down on fundamentalists they don't like a lot anyway, and -- this is a point made by Barney Frank -- the United States is now over this whole third-world guilt thing.
The United States is now anything but paralyzed, and in fact seems to have been galvanized into a far more serious, self-confident, and assertive state of mind. Instead of treating Islamist extremists as minor irritants and B-movie stereotypes, it has made their extermination a top priority. (Even liberals like Tom Friedman are on board). Had these attacks been made purely on military targets -- say, CIA Headquarters and the Pentagon -- the reaction would be strong, but not nearly as strong as the World Trade Center attack made it. This is an error in planning that will likely prove catastrophic, brought on by the planners' ignorance of American culture.
Worse still in many ways, from the attackers' standpoint, Americans are beginning to take a serious interest in Islam, and to realize the importance of waging cultural war against the extremists' views. Given the power of American culture, this should be a daunting prospect. All told, this scenario should surely count as the terrorists' worst nightmare. Which is why, I think, the September 11 attacks must be reckoned a failure. Destructive as they were in New York and Washington, they will generate a "blowback" that will be far more destructive to their planners.
That blowback exists largely because they have completely misunderstood American psychology. Given that American policymakers are regularly faulted for failing to understand other cultures, it's worth noticing that such misunderstandings work both ways.
TOM FRIEDMAN is one of the people who have experienced a serious attitude adjustment since September 11. Example:
From here forward, it's the bad guys who need to be afraid every waking moment. The more frightened our enemies are today, the fewer we will have to fight tomorrow. . . . right now is the season of hunting down people who want to destroy our country. War alone may not solve this problem, but neither will social work. And one thing a focused, covert war will do is create a level of deterrence that has not existed up to now. Every state has to know that after Sept. 11, harboring anti-U.S. terrorists will be lethal.
JONAH GOLDBERG defends Silvio Berlusconi, and McDonald's, in a first-rate NRO column.
IT'S A PROTEST AGAINST GLOBAL CAPITALISM! IT'S A PROTEST AGAINST (RESPONDING TO ACTS OF) WAR! It's two, two, two protests in one!
(Runner up: "Hey, you got anti-war in my antiglobalization protest!" "No, you got anti-globalization in my antiwar protest" -- "MMmm. Tastes good, though!")
Thousands of people who were scheduled to protest the World Bank and IMF this weekend are showing up anyway, only now they want to protest a U.S. military response to the 911 assault instead. "Violence breeds violence" says one of the protesters. Think about this. If it's true, then doesn't it mean that any U.S. retaliation was just "bred" by the 911 attacks, and is thus the terrorists' fault? And why is it that this maxim is only directed at violence by, well, people the protesters already dislike?
Some readers think I paint with too broad a brush when talking about the antiglobalization people. Well, maybe. I think that there's a legitimate concern about the growth of corporate power, and especially about the increasing mobilization of government power in direct support of corporate economic interest (see, e.g., the DMCA). But that's really an argument for more and freer capitalism not an argument against it. Powerful oligopolies tied to governments aren't really free capitalism at all. I would like to see more and freer capitalism, around the globe, to help poor people become rich (as it does wherever it's tried). The antiglobalization people (except for a tiny fringe of anarcho-capitalists who don't really fit in) want to see more government power, and less free markets -- they just want that power used in directions they prefer. That's very different.
There's also a puerile and narcissistic element to both the antiglobalization and the "peace" movement (no surprise: as the quick shift in protest emphasis shows, they have an awful lot of overlap) that offends me -- and that would offend me even more if I hoped to see them accomplish their goals.
ANOTHER REPORT that Taliban control is crumbling, with men deserting the army and avoiding the draft, looting, and a breakdown in general order. I sure hope that these reports are true.
READER MARIS KURENS WRITES WITH THIS SUGGESTION:
As part of an effort to give the "alternative people" some voice in our anti-terror campaign I propose the following.
Considering that the terrorist rage is based on an envy born of misconceptions about our society our academics and alternative lifestyle leaders should organize a series of teach-ins at various mid-east sites featuring a star studded cast, led by Jesse Jackson, of some of our more outspoken spokespersons. For the initial venues I would suggest Kabul, Islamabad, Tehran, Baghdad with a triumphant finish in Riyadh.
These teach-ins could serve to demonstrate that the US is not a monolithic, hegemonistic ogre, but that opposition voices do ring out and in many ways share the same antagonism to the power structure felt by our middle-eastern brothers.
We could have Eleanor Smeal and Patricia Ireland talk about women's reproductive rights. Alan Dershowitz could alert them to the horrendous consequences of state sponsored religion. ACT-UP could lecture them on the vileness of homophobia. We could get Bill Clinton to analyze and parse the language of the fatwas, especially the meaning of 'is'. And I'm sure we could get a whole planeload of deconstructionists to enlighten the imams and mullahs about the evils of inherent in commonly accepted historical accounts. And as a finale, a light-hearted, slightly "outrageous", satiric fashion show featuring the latest in chador styles as interpreted by the renowned Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Absolutely. Perhaps the Ford or Joyce Foundations would fund this effort on behalf of international understanding.
WHY HAVE THE TALIBAN BEEN SO SCARED? One answer may be that U.S. special forces have apparently been running around Afghanistan for at least a week. Given that the Taliban are probably getting fragmentary, confused, and exaggerated information about this activity over their less-than-cutting-edge communications net, they're probably fearing the worst. I wonder if part of the point of this exercise is to have precisely that effect? In fact, perhaps some of the special forces activity is aimed specifically at frightening the Taliban. That would make sense -- our guys might manage to find Osama bin Laden themselves, but they can probably scare the Taliban, who almost certainly can find him if they want to.
IDENTITY THEFT IS COMMON FOR TERRORISTS, MSNBC reports. I rather doubt that a National ID card would change that. Fortunately, the White House has abandoned that dumb idea.
DAVID PLOTZ DEFENDS SILVIO BERLUSCONI in Slate. And he's right to do so. This has played out interestingly. I flagged the Berlusconi item early (see below) but what I thought was objectionable was his call to "conquer" the muslim world. But what's the part that has the intellectuals of the West after his scalp? Not that, but his claim that western civilization is "superior." THAT is the unforgivable statement. Apparently relativism trumps all other values (which is odd, when you think about it). Quote:
(This is a classic example of a "gaffe," as defined by our boss Michael Kinsley: "when a politician speaks the truth.")
I believe in the superiority of Western democracies. Don't you? Shouldn't we admire "a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights, and...respect for religious and political rights." Americans and western Europeans cherish these rights. They are what make our nations so strong. And Berlusconi is certainly right about Islamic countries: There isn't a single one that guards political, human, and religious rights as they are guarded in Europe and the U.S., and they are the weaker for it.
INSTAPUNDIT IS IN BEST OF THE WEB AGAIN TODAY: Honest, I don't pay those guys anything. And we're not related.
CNN RECANTS, OR CLARIFIES, OR SOMETHING: From Christa Robinson, CNN VP, Public Relations: "We would greatly appreciate you posting this clarification. CNN has not 'banned' the use of the word 'terrorist,' in fact, CNN has referred to the persons responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as'terrorists' and the act as 'terrorism" since September 11.'"
MEDIA HYPOCRISY UPDATE: When people criticize Bill Maher, it's censorship. But when the publisher of a newspaper refuses to run ads for an initiative he opposes, that's community spirit. "They're trying to make this look like a free speech issue and it isn't," he says. Riiiight.
I DON'T LIKE GIULIANI'S ANGLING FOR MORE TIME: It sets a lousy precedent. We had elections on time during the Civil War, during World War II, and at other tough times in our history. Now New York can't afford to swear in a new mayor? I grant that the guys running for the office don't look especially inspiring now, but so what? If we allow our leaders to extend their terms because of crises, we'll wind up with more crises. Count on it.
AN INTERESTING LETTER in the Globe and Mail. The author, Greg Narbey, responds to a "blame America" treatment of terrorism:
Toronto -- Can Thomas Homer-Dixon explain why the legacy of "conflict, dislocation, and -- yes -- poverty" has not created a similar anti-Western terrorist movement in South and Central America? Certainly the U.S. has been involved in highly unpopular foreign policy initiatives there. Yet there is no indication that beyond a generalized anti-Americanism, there is an intractable hostility to the U.S., and certainly no desire to kill, injure and maim U.S. civilians.
Could it be that, unlike Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen etc., South America has not produced an equivalent terrorist movement because it hopes to attain the liberty, democracy and equality of the United States and other Western nations? It may be time to confront the possibility that poverty does not create terrorism, but an implacable hostility to modernity does.
Thanks to reader Joseph Mandarino for pointing this out.
NEAL BOORTZ REPORTS THAT CNN IS JOINING REUTERS in refusing to use the word "terrorist." That's OK. But from now on when I talk about CNN or Reuters, I'm going to avoid using the world "journalist."
L.A. COUNTY HAS GIVEN UP its effort to tax satellites in orbit. Personally, I think taxation should stop where the atmosphere does.
We have federal laws making underdeveloped areas tax-exempt. And space is an underdeveloped area. Maybe we should see some legislation here.
MEDIA BIGOTRY: Janette Rodrigues demonstrates the double standard on ethnic slurs with this remark in Jim Romenesko's MediaNews: "Unfortunately, we couldn't take off because some banjo-playing yahoo with developmental difficulties called in a bomb threat and the airport was evacuated." Rodrigues is describing a stop at the Jackson, Mississippi airport. Imagine if some WASP reporter had described a bomb threat at the San Antonio airport as coming from some "burrito-eating ..." well, you get the idea.
Slurs against "white trash," "rednecks," etc. are still perfectly acceptable in polite media company, which is exquisitely sensitive about other racial issues. Why, exactly, is that?
WHO IS GLENN REYNOLDS? Virginia Postrel suggests that I provide more information about myself on this site. Actually, I've felt that the unadorned nature of InstaPundit has been part of its charm, but since I've been getting some other requests along those lines here's a short bio.
I teach law at the University of Tennessee. My specialties are Constitutional Law and Law, Science & Technology. Before becoming a law professor I practiced at the Washington, DC office of Dewey Ballantine, where my work was focused mostly on space and telecommunications issues. I was also a law clerk to a federal appeals judge.
I've written in various law reviews, and in popular publications like the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the National Review Online, Reason, etc. I've done the pundit's TV triple crown: Larry King Live, O'Reilly Factor, and NewsHour. I've also been on various NPR shows, including Talk of the Nation, Marketplace,, etc. My most recent book was coauthored with Peter Morgan: The Appearance of Impropriety: How the Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business and Society (The Free Press, 1997). It got a lot of excellent bigshot reviews in the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. and sold several dozen copies. As Virginia notes, I produce records on the side for a small record company that I own with my brother and another guy.
Okay, there you are. Do you care? Maybe. Should you? I dunno. What I have to say here seems to me to be more important than my credentials. Maybe if I do a site upgrade I'll add an "about me" page, but I kind of like the stripped-down approach.
RECOMMENDATION: One of the cool things about mezines is that someone will take an issue and cover it in more depth than any major media outlet will. (Er, unless the issue is Gary Condit -- jeez, does that sound like ages ago now or what?) Stuart Buck has done this with Jesse Jackson's opportunistic efforts to insert himself into developments in Afghanistan. Check it out.
THIS LETTER in the Washington Post suggests bringing back volunteer Civil Defense workers. Not a bad idea.
ANOTHER REPORT ON WHAT WALTER SHAPIRO HAS CALLED the bipartisan "Anti-Hysteria Caucus." This story by Robin Toner from the New York Times describes the unusual alliance of Dick Armey and Maxine Waters against many overreaching provisions wanted by the administration. It also shows that the left remembers harassment by the FBI directed at Martin Luther King, and the right remembers FBI abuses under the Clinton Administration. Both now seem to realize that such abuses will happen regardless of whose party is in charge. Too bad they didn't remember it in 1996 (though that was partly due to Dick Morris's program of demagoguing the Oklahoma City bombing), but I'm glad to see them awake to the issue now.
THE CONTRADICTIONS OF THE ANTIGLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT are explored in this piece by Guy Verhofstadt, current president of the European Union, in the Bangkok Post. (Admit it, you couldn't name the President of the EU before this, could you?) I found the link on Andrea See's website. Quote:
Another contradiction resides in the fact that, while opposing globalisation, you strongly urge tolerance towards lifestyle diversity. Surely, we owe the fact that we live in a multicultural and tolerant society to the process of globalisation. I thought that nostalgia for the narrow-minded societies of our forefathers was the sole domain of conservatives who glorify the past, of extreme right-wingers who believe in the superiority of their own race, and of religious fanatics who live and die by the Bible or the Koran.
In this way, anti-globalisation protests unwittingly veer dangerously towards extremist, "populist" right-wing views. The only difference is that you oppose multinationals because of the alleged harm they cause to the South, whereas the extreme right, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, condemns multinationals because he wants to retain control over his own economy.
There's much more, and it's all well worth reading.
A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO I MENTIONED JOHN LOTT'S RESEARCH ON GUNS and suggested that widespread gun-carrying might not only prevent crime, but also terrorism. John Lott has an oped today demonstrating that he thinks so too.
NOTE TO ANDREA SEE: Sorry, but I don't have the slightest idea what that case is about. I've neglected my study of Singaporean common law shamefully.
THE "FEARLESS" TALIBAN ARE POOPING IN THEIR, ER, ROBES according to this story from the Los Angeles Times. Quote:
KALAI BALLA, Afghanistan -- In the village of Taqob, outside Kabul, two teen-age girls at a Taliban checkpoint lift the shrouds of every woman who flees the city and every woman who arrives, peering into their faces. They search for insurgents, foreigners, spies.
Of all the signs of panic among the radical Islamic Taliban, this new step to search women is perhaps the most ironic: They are now afraid of chadri--the head-to-toe shrouds all Afghan women are compelled to wear on the streets.
For the people of Kabul, the most surprising thing now is that the Taliban is suddenly scared. It is afraid of U.S. bomb strikes, afraid of an attack on Kabul by opposition Northern Alliance forces and afraid of a popular uprising in support of its enemies.
be afraid. And I'm glad to see that they are.
TEMPEST IN A TEACUP? I'm already on record as defending Bill Maher, but this story by Bill Carter and Felicity Barringer in the New York Times is a good example of making mountains out of molehills.
It was ill advised of Ari Fleischer to take notice of Maher at all (especially since Maher's comment sounded a lot like something President Bush said), but the remark of Fleischer's in question, that in times like these "people have to watch what they say and watch what they do," seems to me to be exactly right. Certainly many people who have criticized Fleischer for this remark, in this context, would have approved the same remark addressed to racial issues after the L.A. riots. Wouldn't they? This is a time of particular sensitivity -- both emotionally, for the many people traumatized by the 911 attacks, and politically, as our opponents watch us for signs of division and irresolution. So, yes, people should watch what they say and what they do. It matters.
At any rate, what is and isn't happening to Maher (my prediction: his flagging career will now get a boost) hardly qualifies as censorship. A couple of companies pulled their advertising. That's a far cry from the Sedition Act. Again, was the Times concerned with censorship when gay groups were boycotting sponsors of "Dr. Laura" -- a TV show that was doomed from the start anyway by its woodenness and irrelevance (much like "Politically Incorrect," lately)?
One good sign: for years, the Left has been the chief enemy of free speech in this country, using claims of insensitivity, harassment, and general political correctness in an effort to silence those it disagreed with. Many on the Left have even questioned whether free speech should exist at all.
I imagine that will stop, at least for a while.
AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION BY RAY KURZWEIL in the New York Times:
The Sept. 11 tragedy will accelerate a profound trend already well under way from centralized technologies to distributed ones and from the real world to the virtual world. Centralized technologies are subject to disruption and disaster. They also tend to be inefficient, wasteful and harmful to the environment. Distributed technologies, on the other hand, tend to be flexible, efficient and relatively benign in their environment effects.
In the immediate aftermath of this crisis, we already see a dramatic movement away from meetings and conferences in the real world to those in the virtual world, including Web- based meetings, Internet-based videoconferencing and other examples of virtual communication.
This meshes with my "moving to the suburbs" point from a few days ago. I think it's likely.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC just got hammered in court for streaming songs without paying royalties. That's especially ironic since it was doing exactly what it had sued MP3.Com for. Record companies -- making organized crime look ethical.
WHY I'M NOT IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
NO BLOWBACK? That's what Peter Beinart says in The New Republic. He says that the Islamist anti-Western people got a foothold in Afghanistan because the CIA was reluctant to get involved directly and worked through proxies with a different agenda. He concludes:
There was no blowback. America's involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s didn't help create Osama bin Laden; Saudi Arabia's involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s helped create Osama bin Laden, in large part because the United States was too timid to direct the war itself. Similarly, it wasn't America's intervention in Afghanistan in the 1990s that created the Taliban; it was Pakistan's intervention and America's non-intervention. Doves might consider this as they counsel the U.S. to respond to September 11 by leaving the rest of the world to its own devices. After all, it was leaving the rest of the world to its own devices that got us into this in the first place.
A READER OFFERS THIS OBSERVATION on the Iranian pro-America protests:
Note the ages of the participants. Exactly the folks who don't remember the Shah and have grown up feeling not angry at the West, but feeling like they are missing out on all the fun. Message to US Policy Makers... don't piss off another generation.
Good point. I note that anti-Americanism around the world (including in America!) seems to be most strong in people of ... a certain age. It's a Boomer thing; I wouldn't understand.
EVIDENCE FOR RICHARD RILEY'S "DUMB" THEORY: A man with false ID was arrested in L.A. When he got to the jail it turned out that he had a large tattoo of Osama bin Laden (a portrait, with the name "Osama bin Laden" under it just to avoid any confusion) on his chest. If he turns out to be part of a terrorist cell, it's good news and bad news. The good news is, these guys aren't that smart. The bad news is, look how much damage some dumb guys can do.
Isn't a tattoo like that sinful in Islam? Not only as a graven image, but as elevating an individual to such a stature?
IF YOU'VE HAD TROUBLE VIEWING THIS SITE for the last couple of hours, it's because of a hardware upgrade. Things should be back to normal now.
BUSH HAS RULED OUT A NATIONAL ID CARD according to the Washington Times. Good for him. The article quotes some people who think it's a good idea, but they don't sound like they've thought about it much. Don't they realize that the system is sure to be hacked? This isn't trading liberty for security. It's just giving away liberty for nothing.
INSTAPUNDIT MADE "BEST OF THE WEB" AGAIN: for the "rules for activists" post. Thanks!
READER BENJAMIN MORRIS OBSERVES: "In the myth The Rape of Europa, Zeus turns himself into a bull and spirits Europa away on his back, and then has his way with her." He's right. I had forgotten the spiriting away business, and remembered only the naughty part. Hey, when I was in school I dated a classics major, I wasn't one myself.
SOMEBODY JUST MAILED ME THIS WONDERFUL CARTOON. Actually, this is a pretty good strategy. We should try something along these lines.
PRO-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRAN: Yep, that's right, according to this account, which says this is the second pro-American demonstration that Iranian security forces have broken up since Sept. 11; this one came right after Iran announced it would not support the U.S.
The police action came some 30 minutes after the young people surrounded the square, standing side by side, holding flowers and candles in their hands in memory of the thousands of victims of the September 11 attacks.
Several minutes of silence were observed before groups of people began singing an old Iranian patriotic song.
Others chanted "Death to terrorism," and "Death to the Taliban," while some chanted: "America, condolences, condolences," or "Terrorists get lost," and "Death to (Osama) bin Laden," the Saudi-born militant and prime suspect in the attacks.
Doesn't surprise me. Lots of Iranians have family in the United States that they keep in touch with. This kind of thing is true everywhere, and is a powerful resource for the United States. Hmm. Refugees streaming out of Afghanistan, Taliban troops bugging out, and now pro-American demonstrations in Iran. This isn't working out quite the way it was planned, now is it?
WHAT IS BOOK BANNING? According to the American Library Association, which I love, it's whenever anyone tries to keep a book out of a library. Except, as Jeff Jacoby points out, when it's librarians and booksellers who are doing it. The hate email from librarians and booksellers, aimed at conservative books, that Jacoby reproduces doesn't say much for their open-mindedness.
MICKEY KAUS POINTS OUT that the story about the United States giving $43 Million to the Taliban in an antidrug program isn't actually true. Actually, it was relief money that was specifically NOT given to the Taliban. Will the folks who are saying this stop saying it now that it turns out not to be true?
HERE'S A WARNING from my IT folks:
1. Important Message From
2. Alarm!! Virus Alert
3. Peace Between America and Islam!
4. This War Must Be Done!
If you receive email with any of these lines as the subject, PLEASE DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENTS
InstaPundit Secret Headquarters is heavily fortified against viruses and other cyberattacks. It's a good thing, too, as I've been receiving a lot of them over the past couple of weeks -- more than usual. This may or may not be connected with terrorism, but it pays to be especially suspicious these days.
TOOK MY CLASS OUTSIDE: Not ideal, even though there's a very nice patio with tables and chairs in front of the law school, because I needed a board for the export controls stuff. But it's a glorious day, and people need some cheering up. The satellite broadcasting issue took up the slack, though: students were very much in favor of an aggressive pro-Western propaganda campaign. Not much sympathy went to the New International Information Order (remember that?) or similar third-world inititiatives designed to keep out Western values. I usually have a couple of students who'll sound off against Western cultural hegemony, but nobody was interested in that today. I wonder what's going on at VOA . . . .
WHAT HAS TONY BLANKLEY BEEN SMOKING? Or is that just the scent of panic around him?
The danger to our liberties does not lie in their temporary, legal suspension, but in the persistence of such a suspension beyond the time needed to defeat the enemy. Congress should promptly pass two bills. The first would suspend the writ of habeas corpus for any detention relating, at our government's sole discretion, to possible terrorist intents. The second bill should construe the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures to mean that any search or seizure is reasonable in our government's efforts to prevent terrorism.
These government powers should be plenary in scope, but limited in time. Such legislation should be sunset after one year. It would then take an affirmative act of Congress and the president to re-enact them. If the public and the Congress judge that the president has not abused his granted powers for the first year, they may wish to re-enact for one more year such powers if the danger persists.
Okay, I guess there's an argument that such a step is preferable to "antiterrorism" laws that will stay in effect indefinitely. But we've had lots of "temporary" emergencies that just keep getting renewed. I don't think Blankley's approach would help. Plus it would set off a huge surge in membership and activity on the part of domestic militia groups and such who would fear that the whole thing is a smokescreen for establishing a dictatorship. Nor would such fears be entirely unreasonable.
Somebody get Blankley one of those "Don't Panic!" buttons, please.
RETURNING TO NORMAL -- KIND OF: I took another walk around campus today. The weather is so absolutely perfect that it would have been a crime against nature not to. Today, things seem almost normal. There are still more flags and fewer (actually no) football-slogan banners hanging out of dorm windows, even though we play LSU at home on Saturday (did somebody decide to skip those, or did it just happen? I don't know) but there aren't as many flags as last week. (Sadly, I didn't see a single flag handkerchief top.) People were playing touch football on the grass next to the McClung Tower, and a seminar was meeting around the Europa fountain (which features a rather rampant Zeus -- pretty racy, though Europa is unaccountably riding on his back). A street preacher was raving on a corner near the undergraduate library -- at least, I think he was a preacher. I listened for a while but only heard "power" "authority" and "justice" (no mention of God or Christ) so he might have been an antiglobalization ranter, but he looked a bit clean-cut for that. He was incoherent enough to fill either role. When I got back to the Law School, the big-screen TV in the commons was tuned to "Young and the Restless" instead of CNN or FoxNews.
Of course, not everything was normal. There are campus police standing around in a lot more places than usual, and the football stadium (which seats some ungodly number of people, upwards of 110,000, I think) is already sealed off and being checked. They'll have new security procedures this weekend, our first home game since 911. The banner-towing airplanes that usually buzz around during games have been grounded, halting a local tradition and threatening to put the family that flies them out of business -- this is their moneymaking season.
Soon I'll be in my Space Law and Policy seminar, talking about satellite broadcasting and export controls. Things will be back to normal there, too, I expect.
READER DENNIS MANGAN calls my attention to this take by Boris Johnson on what motivates radical Islamists' hatred of the West -- the emancipation of women. Quote:
I think it is to do with their sense that they are representatives of a culture under siege. They fear that American morals and values will take them over, just as Coca-Cola and McDonald's have conquered the Earth. And what is the biggest single difference between their culture and Western culture? That's easy: it's the treatment of women.
Not all Islamic societies are equally sexist. You may not believe it, but the Turks gave women the vote before the British did. But listen to the casual bias of bin Laden's address to "brother Muslims". Look at the wacko women's gear that the BBC's John Simpson wore when he smuggled himself into Afghanistan, a sort of blue tent with a letterbox hole for the nose.
This is a world where women are lashed for adultery; where little girls are denied education; where female teachers are sacked; and where women are kept from elementary health care. Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader, says that mingling men and women is Western and decadent, and leads to licentiousness. To call these views medieval is an insult to the Middle Ages. And yet they are held, with varying intensity, across the Muslim world. . . .
Female emancipation has been the biggest social revolution since print. In trying to resist it, the Muslim fanatics are establishing themselves as doomed cultural Luddites. Let me say what the Left cannot say, since it chokes on the contradictions of its position, at once feminist, and yet relativist.
It is time for concerted cultural imperialism. They are wrong about women. We are right. We can't have them blowing us up. The deluded fanatics must be helped to a more generous understanding of the world. Female education is the answer to the global population problem. It is the ultimate answer to the problem of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.
Gee, you'd think that this would get Susan Sontag and Barbara Kingsolver on Bush's side, wouldn't you? But when you've spent your life denouncing Western civilization as the root of sexism, it must be hard to draw this sort of distinction. Johnson is right, and the ideological counterattack -- which in the long run is what will win the war -- must focus on the emancipation of women in Islamic countries.
GETTING IMPATIENT: Some people are getting impatient, and asking "where's the plan?" according to Howard Kurtz. I think there is a plan. I think that Bush is pursuing a rope-a-dope strategy with the Taliban, letting the fear of an American attack weaken them more than the reality would. And, as I mentioned yesterday, it seems to be working -- there are huge numbers of refugees, Taliban troops are looting and bugging out, and the Taliban leaders are even beginning to adopt a more conciliatory approach. Had we bombed initially, it might have united them. It's also given us time to make any strikes that come better targeted and harder. (And to coordinate, say, a strike on Iraq or other places, while the strikees there think we're focusing on Afghanistan).
Now, obviously this won't work forever -- even with rope-a-dope you have to come out swinging eventually. I'd guess it's about time for that -- by the weekend anyway. Otherwise our own position will start to fray, Jesse Jackson will travel to Afghanistan, or whatever, and Bush will run the risk of being Carterized. If they know this, you'll see strikes within, say, the next 48 hours.
FREEBIE FOR THE PRESS: Bush is apparently going to announce a $2.50 per leg security tax today. Question to ask Bush or Norm Mineta: What about the money that's unspent in the Aviation Trust Fund? Last I checked there were billions and billions sitting unspent. Why not spend that, instead of imposing a new tax?
WHICH IS SCARIER? STUPID OR SMART? A thought from reader Richard Riley:
You mention but dismiss the possibility that the guys asking publicly and openly about crop dusting planes were just dim. I agree it's too dangerous to assume that's what they were, but don't forget some of the things that came out about the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993. As I recall everybody got an amazed laugh from one of the bombers going back to the van rental company to demand his $200 deposit back after the thing exploded - no explanation has ever emerged except that the guy was clueless. So it's actually a real possibility. One thing that makes dimness more plausible is how scarily low-tech the recent attacks were: as Will Saleton noted in Slate, there were no bombs, no guns, no actual weapons of any kind except dime-store utility knives. So far, at least, these are NOT James Bond-ish evil, high-tech geniuses. Maybe that's even more scary?
A READER WRITES:
The US should be very generous towards refugee support in Pakistan. If people live better as refugees, they are going to get mighty annoyed at the Taliban. Might serve as an excellent source of recruitment for the Anti-Taliban forces if done right.
CAFEPRESS ROCKS: Less than 24 hours ago I posted an item on the popular Gun-toting Mommy Liberty t-shirts designed by 17-year-old artist Eliza Gauger, which Wired called the most popular artistic work responding to the 911 attacks. I ordered one right after posting the story. Just a minute ago, a DHL guy showed up with the shirt. Wow. I hadn't even ordered overnight delivery -- I had ordered 2-day. What service! Downside -- does superfast service mean that DHL isn't doing much else, because economic activity has slowed down? Still, it's pretty impressive that CafePress got it out the door the same day I ordered. It's almost enough to make me forgive them for shutting down the "Target Osama" store. It's a swell shirt, too.
TERRORISTS AND ENCRYPTION OVERRATED? This study reports that the use of steganography on the Internet is less common than many have claimed. You mean it's all (at least mostly) a bunch of hype?
Probably. Dead drops, prelaid plans, and simple telephone codes are the mainstays of spycraft because they're simple, they work, and not much can go wrong.
"CONQUER THE ISLAMIC WORLD!" That's the battle cry of Silvio Berlusconi. It's like Ann Coulter without the miniskirt. Well, uh, no, not really. It's a much less appealing vision than that.
A LETTER IN THE L.A. TIMES FROM A J. LICARI makes an interesting point:
How ironic. On Sept. 25 The Times reported on Page A3 that a group of Middle Eastern men repeatedly visited a fertilizer company and asked questions about the Air Tractor 502 crop-dusting plane. They wanted to know how far the plane would fly, how much fuel the plane holds and what the capacity and weight of the plane were. Well, on that same page The Times provides a sketch of the plane with all the answers.
Good point -- although it took me literally 15 seconds on Google to find the same information
. Which raises a question to me: why were these guys asking those questions? Here are some possibilities. (1) They were researching an alternate plan in case the plane-hijacking thing looked unfeasible; (2) They were gathering information for some other batch of terrorists in the same group; (3) It's some sort of misdirection scheme in which they meant
for word of these inquiries to come out after the WTC/Pentagon attacks (this makes some sense, since these guys used the Internet -- surely they've heard of Google); (4) something else that I can't think of before my second cup of coffee. Something in this picture doesn't add up, though, unless you assume that these guys were just really stupid. And that's a dangerous assumption.
THE VERDICT ON THE NEW STAR TREK SERIES: Generally positive according to this Slashdot thread. I didn't get to see it, so I can't attest to the validity of the opinions expressed there. (Warning: some comments contain spoilers for those of us who haven't seen it). Sounds like it has a refreshing absence of smug moralizing, anyway.
STOP ACTING LIKE WIMPS: Newt Gingrich says we should reopen Reagan National Airport and -- going even farther -- Pennsylvania Avenue. As long as they're closed, Americans and the world, he says, will know that it isn't business as usual. We should stop cowering in fear. Nice piece.
CRUSADE AND JIHAD: Some reflections by Princeton professor Bernard Lewis can be found here.
AN OBSERVATION from reader Jackson Houser:
How about a simple three part test for any new
A. Does it distinguish better than what we have now
between terrorists and ordinary citizens?
B. Does it distinguish better than what we have now
between terrorists and ordinary criminals?
C. Does it treat ordinary citizens more like
terrorists and ordinary criminals or less like
If any proposal does not pass all three parts, then itshould not be labeled "anti-terrorist." And it probably shouldn't be passed at all, unless it can be shown to be an improvement over current criminal statutes.
WOOHOO! Virginia Postrel is back! Read her reports from Washington on liberty, freedom, and legislation (not quite mutually exclusive, but...). These say they were posted yesterday, but they weren't on her page earlier today, so I guess they're new.
MACROSCOPIC QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT: Could it bring about practical teleportation? Not any time too soon, but this report says that scientists have demonstrated it in the lab. Cool. Still won't get you there faster than light, though.
MORE REPORTS of trouble in Afghanistan. Question: if the Afghans are as fearless as people say, why are there millions of refugees fleeing the possibility of a U.S. attack? Observation: Bush appears to be letting the fear of an attack destabilize the regime, on the theory that it's more deadly than the attack itself would be. So far it seems to be working. I doubt that the Taliban will collapse without a push from outside, but this has got to be unpleasant for them, and leaving them in a worse position. And, because there haven't been any attacks yet, it's hard for anyone to blame the refugee problem on the United States. Plus it provides a visible demonstration that many Afghans aren't exactly anxious to die for the privilege of remaining under Taliban rule.
AN UNIDENTIFIED SIXTH GRADE TEACHER in the Sacramento area is on administrative leave for burning a flag in the classroom last week. "Bablylon is burning," he is reported to have said.
There are some dubious aspects to this story, and I sure hope it doesn't turn out to be true. As an educator myself, I have to say that some aspects of my profession are living up to the worst stereotypes. In truth, the P.C. crowd has always been a minority, even at institutions of higher education. But they have a lot of clout with administrators because they're loudmouthed and stick together. People who think they're idiots -- and there are a lot of us -- will just have to emulate that style.
America the great Satan? In the Koran it states... you shall know your enemy by his actions, let not his words confuse or divide you...look to his actions for they foretell of their true intentions.
When the Soviet Union attacked Afhganistan, who provided assistance to the Muslims first? Who provided the most assistance? When Yugoslavia was killing tens of thousands of Muslims, who led the charge for more decisive action? Who provided the most assistance? When Yugoslavia began oppressing and Killing Kosovars, who led the charge to assist them? Who provided the most assistance? When Irag attacked Kuwait, our brothers in beliefs, who led the coalition? Who provided the most assistance? When many Muslim nations sat idle?
The answer to all is America. If we are to believe the words of the Koran...Actions do speak louder than words. What nations actions have spoke of tolerance and love for their fellow man not just Christians than America?
From "An Open Letter to Osama bin Laden" by Sadmira, a muslim woman in America, in Slate
. The rest of it is great, too. Question: Why aren't muslim clerics in America saying things like this out loud? I mean, LOUD?
ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE in BlackPressUSA many DC area blacks sympathize with the 911 attacks. Quote:
ANC Vice Chair Mahdi Leroy J. Thorpe, Jr., who leads Ward 2 in the District made no bones about his sense that the attack is a matter of the U.S. getting a taste of what it dishes out.
“If you are African American, Latino, Asian or any person of color, you may see this as a great day when you consider the way people of color are treated regularly,” he said.
Other reports I've seen suggest rather the opposite. But maybe we can get this guy a job at the University of New Mexico. Here's a contrary view from the NAACP
The hijacking of American jetliners, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are tragedies of untold proportions and attacks against our way of life without equal. This massive loss to
the family of humankind moves all people of conscience to mourn and pray for the dead. These tragedies
and these acts of evil must not go unpunished. Justice must be served. This is a time for all Americans to stand united and defend the ideals of a free and open society where terrorism has no place.
MORE EVIDENCE OF A SEA CHANGE IN ATTITUDES: A Minnesota school social worker and mother who says that "sometimes violence is the answer."
A STATE LEGISLATOR IS CALLING FOR THE FIRING of University of New Mexico Professor Richard Berthold. Berthold, readers will recall, is the professor who said that "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote." Berthold has since apologized for the remark.
Berthold doesn't deserve to be fired for this -- and, legally, can't be since he's tenured. (Actually, even an untenured professor, or other state employee, couldn't be fired for this). He deserves humiliation for his idiotic views, not punishment.
However, I can't help but suspect that many of those who are rushing to Berthold's defense now wouldn't be supporting him if he were accused of something really serious, like making a remark in class that might be interpreted as racist or sexist. Perhaps Berthold's experience will remind the left that free speech actually is worth defending. Or maybe not.
RICH GALEN SHARES THIS EMAIL describing a show of support by the German navy.
THE LATEST WORD FROM MOHAMMED ATTA: And he's not pleased. Quote:
"I was promised I would spend eternity in Paradise, being fed honeyed cakes by 67 virgins in a tree-lined garden, if only I would fly the airplane into one of the Twin Towers," said Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11, between attempts to vomit up the wasps, hornets, and live coals infesting his stomach. "But instead, I am fed the boiling feces of traitors by malicious, laughing Ifrit. Is this to be my reward for destroying the enemies of my faith?"
The rest of Atta's words turned to raw-throated shrieks, as a tusked, asp-tongued demon burst his eyeballs and drank the fluid that ran down his face.
According to Hell sources, the 19 eternally damned terrorists have struggled to understand why they have been subjected to soul-withering, infernal torture ever since their Sept. 11 arrival.
Read the whole thing. It just gets better. Is this available in Arabic? If not, somebody should set up a translated mirror site.
AN EXCELLENT OBSERVATION BY JONATHAN TURLEY:
We often forget the challenges that we have overcome and the enemies that we have faced. More importantly, in the face of such danger, we can forget about our unique capability to deal with such threats. The Madisonian democracy was designed to handle bad, not good, weather. The Framers even inserted provisions into the Constitution to deal with extreme emergencies, including such drastic measures as the suspension of habeas corpus. We have a constitutional and legal system that can adjust to new threats better than any system on Earth. The idea that we are rigid and unprepared is to ignore the greatest strength of the Madisonian democracy: Its ability to adapt quickly and decisively in the face of national crisis.
THE ANTIGLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT is in danger of unravelling because of a split in response to the 911 attacks, The New Republic reports. Hard-core lefty campus activists still see the U.S. government and Western capitalism as the enemy; their blue-collar allies don't agree and see such opinions as traitorous. It's a replay of the 1960s New Left script, sounds like. That one nearly destroyed the Democratic party. Now activists full of Woodstock nostalgia want to repeat it.
THE SUPREME COURT TERM OPENS NEXT WEEK: You can see a summary of the cases here.
BACKGROUND ON ZAHIR SHAH, King-in-Exile of Afghanistan, can be found in this item from Slate.
CANADA: TERRORIST HAVEN? That's what Neil Seeman reports:
Canada is a Club Med for terrorists, but nobody in the government seems to give a damn. Last May, two ministers attended a fundraiser for the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organization that targets civilians in Sri Lanka. Those of us who criticized the Liberals for coddling terrorists were called racists. . . .
At least four suspects in the World Trade Center attacks crossed into the U.S. through the porous Canadian border. Canada, according to former CSIS chief of strategic planning David Harris, is "a big jihad aircraft carrier [terrorists use] for launching strikes against the U.S."
One hopes that Canadian authorities will address this issue immediately, though Seeman isn't one of those so hopeful. But it is certainly not in Canada's interest to have the U.S. / Canadian border, and trade relationship, subjected to the kinds of controls that will be necessary if Canada does not put its own house in order.
A SEA CHANGE, ALL RIGHT: This picture of a gun-toting Statue of Liberty bearing the caption "The most dangerous place in the world is between a mother and her children" is the most popular piece of amateur artwork to come out in the wake of the 911 attacks, according to this story in Wired. It has been reprinted in newspapers, emblazoned on coffee mugs, and -- of course -- emailed all over. The artist, Eliza Gauger, 17, was inspired by her own mother. Here's a quote:
"I was illustrating my own mother's willingness to do anything, even something she hated -- my mother is terribly afraid of guns -- to protect her children," said Gauger in an e-mail. "I think America feels the same way about its citizens."
I think my friend (see below) was right about gun control. Gauger has set up a store using CafePress (who I like despite their shutdown of the "Target Osama" store I wrote about earlier). It's here
DAVE KOPEL cites a poll saying that 72% of the public is in favor of arming pilots. But he says bureaucratic inertia may doom this initiative unless legislation (the bill is HR 2896) is passed.
FREDRIK K.R. NORMAN suggests ending the drug war as part of our assault on terrorism. Doing so would free up enormous resources, end a threat to civil liberties, and deprive terrorists of access to drug money. Another interesting suggestion that I found via his site: how about national ID cards for politicians?
Imagine if we had a system compelling politicians to swipe their card through a reader every time they entered a building -- any building, for any purpose. Suppose further this information were captured in some free Oracle database accessible by every voter.
Notwithstanding the hurdles of accessing Oracle databases, we'd have a beautiful way to track our servants in government. We could even tie their congressional voting record to their card and maybe get Larry Ellison to write free reports so we could read executive summaries of their legislative records and find out what we pay them to do. Maybe Ellison could even link in their email address book so we'd know who sends them birthday greetings.
Think of the reform it would bring to political campaigns. They would speak, we would listen, and we could easily compute their liar's average -- what they claim against what they did.
Sure, there'd be some loss of privacy. But we all have to make sacrifices for the public good. Right?
WHY THE PEACE MOVEMENT WON'T BE GOING ANYWHERE: Er, besides the obvious I mean. Read these rules for activists and see if you think they're the stuff of which successful mass movements are made.
NPR is currently running a story on the boom in gun sales, which it says is particularly strong in Eastern states. A friend of mine -- who is pretty strongly pro-gun-control -- told me the other day that he thought the 911 attacks were the death knell for the gun control movement. And that he was thinking of buying a gun, too. It's likely, of course, that most of these guns will stay locked in closets where they'll play no role in defending against terrorists, besides making people feel safer. But I suppose that is a significant role, too.
Of course, widespread carrying of concealed weapons will probably do some good, both against terrorists and against violent crime in general, as Yale scholar John Lott hs pointed out. In states where carry permits are liberally granted (I think they number 33) it has certainly played a significant role in reducing crime.
BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: Okay, it's not actually Berkeley, but here's some good news from elsewhere in the benighted Bay Area. This story by Mark Simon from the Chronicle reports on the large supportive crowds that have made a previously unnoted Afghan restaurant in San Carlos standing-room-only. People have been showing up to show that they know the difference between Afghan-Americans and Osama bin Laden's henchmen and supporters:
In the meantime, Ahmad and Rahimi say they are living in an extraordinary moment. When they expected suspicion, they found trust. When they worried about rejection, they found the embrace of friends and customers.
"God bless America," said Ahmad. "God bless the American people and the way they support us."
KINDNESS TOWARD MUSLIMS is widespread according to this story in the Los Angeles Times. Quote:
Reports of ethnic profiling and sporadic attacks on perceived Middle Easterners persist, but Muslims in Southern California say they have been astounded by more numerous reports of restraint and kindness. They see it in the woman who brings roses to her Persian American colleague. They hear it in the reassurance of the auto mechanic who tells his Pakistani customer, "It's OK" to be named Mohammed. . . .
Such displays of compassion come as a shock to many Muslims and Middle Easterners, who braced for a widespread backlash after Sept. 11 and are still keeping an eye out for scattered incidents of discrimination.
Some Muslims in Southern California say that public shows of support from political leaders, such as President Bush reading peaceful passages from the Koran, set the tone for the rest of the country.
I see the same thing here, and have reported it. I can't help but feel that this is deeply disappointing to certain people on the left, who have a lot invested in the notion that America is (except for them) a deeply benighted and vicious place, and who no doubt expected Bush to be in the forefront of yahooism. But really -- where else would you see such a calm response to something so awful? I'm damn proud. But then, my self-worth doesn't come from an overweening sense of moral superiority.
WALTER SHAPIRO has some fine observations on the growing "anti-hysteria caucus" in Congress, reporting on the interesting across-the-usual-lines alliance in favor of civil liberties, and on the refusal of Congress to be stampeded into approving a bunch of wish-list proposals. I have to say, I'm proud of the absence of panic in Congress, but somewhat disappointed in the Justice Department for putting forward a lot of proposals that seem more opportunistic than helpful. At a time when trust in the integrity of the authorities is essential, it is essential that the authorities act with the utmost integrity, so as to earn that trust.
JOSH MARSHALL writes about arming pilots. He's concerned that hijackers will get take the guns away from the pilots and use them to hijack the plane. Now, this isn't impossible, but I always wonder: why don't we advise people as follows: "If somebody tries to hijack a plane with a gun, just take it away from them and use it against them!"
We don't do that because taking a gun away from somebody who has it is pretty difficult and dangerous. However, Marshall's point is another argument for arming somebody in addition to the pilots. Air marshals are good, but the "volunteer deputy air marshal" program that a reader proposed last week would be better, because there's realistically no other way to have one on every flight.
And personally, I find Marshall's mock-announcement more reassuring than threatening: "I mean, imagine having your travel agent telling you, it's a widebody, you're in first class by the window, and Captain Scroggins is known to pack some serious heat ... "
MICHAEL JORDAN IS COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT and will play for the Wizards. He's going to donate his first year's salary of $1 million to the victims of the terrorist attacks. He's probably lost a step or two during retirement, which means he'll only be twice as good as everyone else, not three times.
MICHAEL KELLY WRITES concerning the dubious moral stature of pacifism. I recall what Eowyn said in The Two Towers: "It takes but one to make a war, not two, and those who do not have swords may still die upon them."
INDONESIA'S PRESIDENT MEGAWATI backed the United States in rather strong terms this afternoon. Quote:
Indonesia's president offered Tuesday to cooperate with the United States in fighting terrorists and warned that terrorists are making a "big mistake" if they think they can destroy America. . . .
Megawati then recalled that Thomas Jefferson once said that the tree of democracy will grow stronger if it is watered with the blood of its martyrs.
"The victims of the terrorist attacks are such martyrs. Because of the sacrifice of their lives, the tree of democracy will grow stronger," she said, again to loud applause.
The Indonesian leader described the attack on New York's World Trade Center as "the worst atrocity ever inflicted in the history of civilization."
The Indonesian leader said she told President Bush last Wednesday that "we mourn with America, that we share your grief and outrage, that an attack on the World Trade Center is not only an attack on the city of New York but an attack on the world."
Note the turnaround on the Taliban/bin Ladenite language -- their action is the "atrocity" and their victims are the "martyrs." No accident in that choice of phrasing. But then, I suppose that the female president of the world's largest muslim country isn't well disposed toward the Taliban. . . .
GERALDINE BROOKS BLAMES SAUDI ARABIA IN THIS ITEM FROM SLATE: It's nothing you haven't heard here as far back as September 15, but I think that consciousness of the Saudis' problems -- for them, and for us -- is spreading.
"STUNNING" CLOSE UP IMAGES OF THE COMETARY CORE were released today. Okay, they're not stunning the way that, say, images of nebulae are stunning -- the cometary core looks like a dirty, potato-shaped snowball (they're still debating if it's an icy dirtball or a dirty snowball), basically -- but what they lack in aesthetic grandeur they make up for by being the first pictures anyone has ever seen of a comet core up close. And, which is extremely cool to me, anyway, they look exactly the way it's been described in every science fiction story about comets I ever read.
IT'S GOING TO BE BOMBS AND BREAD in Afghanistan. Sounds about right. Kinda gives the lie to this lame cartoon, doesn't it?
D'OH! Say, I wonder how Abraham Verghese, who wrote a piece in the New York Times last month comparing George W. Bush to the Taliban, feels about that comparison now.
(Here's what InstaPundit said about this comparison at the time: " If Abraham Verghese, the author, ever actually encounters the Taliban or their handiwork, I trust he will appreciate the scope of his error.")
GETTING IT WRONG: This page from the Foresight Institute features many hilarious putdowns of newfangled gadgets that will never catch on, like automobiles, airplanes, rockets, etc. Fun reading. Here's a great quote:
Smallpox is a visitation from God; but the cowpox is produced by presumptuous man; the former was what Heaven ordained, the latter is, perhaps, a daring violation of our holy religion.
Sounds like something that Leon Kass
, who opposes using science for the "relief of man's estate," might have said.
CONGRESS IS TAKING ITS TIME with the proposed antiterrorism legislation. That's a good thing.
I've heard from a colleague -- but not actually seen the language -- that DOJ is trying to use the antiterror package to sneak through a repeal of the "McDade Amendment" provision that requires the Justice Department to pay the legal fees of those it prosecutes if that prosecution is deemed to be frivolous, harassing, or in bad faith. The McDade provision is an excellent piece of law, and represents one of the few checks on prosecutorial abuse at the federal level. Getting rid of it has nothing to do with opposing terrorism, as far as I can see.
Keep your eyes open for stuff like this. There'll be more. MEMO TO ASHCROFT: Things like this undermine your credibility, at a time when you need it the most. Put out the word to your underlings -- no slip-throughs in this bill, or you'll undermine the antiterror campaign before it starts.
HANDWRITING ANALYSIS OF OSAMA BIN LADEN: I don't think there's much to the science of "graphology," but here's an analysis of Osama bin Laden for what it's worth.
WHAT IS AN AMERICAN? Some helpful guidance from George Mason University Law Professor Peter Ferrara.
THE PEACE MOVEMENT IS GROWING AND THOUSANDS OF YOUNG MEN ARE FLEEING THE DRAFT: Er, in Afghanistan, that is. Quote:
The Taleban defence minister claimed yesterday to have mobilised an additional 300,000 troops, most of them volunteers ready to die defending the regime. Reports from Afghanistan, however, paint a picture of a regime beginning to crumble as its commmanders desert.
Thousands of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and other minorities are fleeing their homes in central Afghanistan as Taleban fighters visit their villages to round up conscripts. “Every family is being asked to hand over one young man,” Mohammad said. “I left before they could come for me.”
Nobody here believes the Taleban’s estimate of their fighting force. Analysts say that before the present crisis, their army numbered fewer than 50,000. Even with conscription, it could not have swelled above 70,000, far less if reports of large-scale defections are true. Refugees from Herat say that only a quarter of Taleban officials and fighters remain.
AMERICANS -- NOT AS STUPID AS WE'VE BEEN TOLD: This article on polls reports that Americans are willing to wage a protracted war, and endure thousands of casualties, but don't want to go off half-cocked or react hysterically.
We've heard for decades that the American public is unwilling to face a serious war, but is prone to react hysterically. This is part of a more general message, in media coverage of just about everything, to the effect that Americans are dumb. (This includes the to-me-baffling advertisements that portray customers of the advertised product as stupid). But once again the American public is showing itself more sensible, and less hysterical, than the media.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Jonah Goldberg writes about people on the Left and Right who get it -- and about those who don't.
ANTITERRORIST PROPOSALS have more to do with ordinary people than with terrorists, according to Reason Express.
POWELL VS. BUSH: William Kristol writes that Colin Powell has been notable for his tendency to downplay or explain away things that President Bush has said. Powell had better watch this. No Secretary of State can long withstand such talk, even in peacetime. And it's not peacetime. And since Powell's recommendation/demand that we not go on to Baghdad in the gulf war is probably in no small part responsible for our current fix, his position is especially weak.
RETURNING TO NORMAL: I've been posting a lot for the last two weeks -- more than normal. This morning I finally made excellent progress on a law review article that's been dead in the water since the 11th. I'll still post several times a day, but perhaps a bit less constantly. And as I've been doing lately, I'm going to try to talk about things other than war and terrorism more -- though doing that last got me called a "cad" by Andrea See. Seems she noticed my reference to her pseudo-TLD of ".orgy" in my item on the cancelled Brazilian, er, event.... Chortle.
A VOICE OF SANITY: This letter in The new York Times proves that there are people with sense in the academy. Here's an excerpt:
Mr. Fo and like leftists in Europe and at home claim to speak for a world view that insists on the causal link between the deathly impoverishment of two-thirds of the world and the vast wealth of the United States. To see these ideas confirmed through mass murders committed by the most reactionary world actors of the age condemns the ideas in a way no white paper of the World Bank could ever accomplish.
Mr. Fo's point of view embarrasses the left historically and diminishes its project of seeking peace and social justice in the post-cold-war world.
Berkeley, Calif., Sept. 22, 2001
The writer teaches modern Italian politics
at the University of California at Berkeley.
YAHOO ASIA reports that Saudi Arabia is withdrawing its recognition of the Taliban. It joins the UAE, who did this a couple of days ago. What about Pakistan, now the only country to recognize the Taliban?
READER ADAM CARSTENS points out this superb quote from Tom Friedman's column today:
I went to the ballgame Friday night, took in Dvorak's "New World" Symphony at the Kennedy Center Saturday, took my girls out to breakfast in Washington Sunday morning, and then flew to the University of Michigan. Heck, I even went out yesterday and bought some stock. What a great country.
I wonder what Osama bin Laden did in his cave in Afghanistan yesterday?
THIS LAME SALON PIECE BY JIM DEROGATIS hopes that Generation Y won't become patriotic. Instead, the author hopes that it will embrace the antiglobalization movement. Quote:
[W]ill the masses of young America start thinking about the political movement that has been embraced by some of their peers? Will they begin to seriously question the substantive problems facing America and the world, challenging the unilateral foreign policies and the global corporatization that are clearly a part of what provoked the reprehensible actions of Sept. 11?
THANK GOD FOR DAN QUAYLE: With even Geraldo professing his admiration for President Bush, Democratic commentators are at a loss without some GOP figure they can ridicule as a dim bulb. Oh, wait, there's always Dan Quayle! Whew, that was a close one.
DAVID COLE'S oped in the New York Times talks about the dangers of going too far with antiterrorism laws. Important point:
[G]uilt by association and ethnic profiling encourage sloppy intelligence gathering and impede security efforts. Over the last 15 years, for example, the I.N.S. has selectively detained Arab aliens on secret evidence for their political affiliations; this has made the Arab-American community suspicious of federal intervention, which in turn can make the job of identifying real threats even more difficult.
This is a very important point. The American muslim and arab communities are our best line of defense against infiltrators. It makes no sense to treat them in ways that will make them sullen and uncooperative.
Of course, the reverse holds, too: there's no better way for the American muslim and arab communities to avoid this sort of thing than to act as our best line of defense. Cooler heads are prevailing now, but they're far more likely to stay in charge if they can point to conspicuous acts of loyalty.
NAPSTER HAS SETTLED with songwriters and publishers. It still has to conclude a deal with record companies, but its prospects for being back in business are better.
The question is, does anyone care? Services like Imesh, AudioGalaxy, and Gnutella are now trading more files than Napster did at its peak. Mark my words, the record companies are going to wish they'd kept Napster alive instead of trying so hard to kill it.
THE AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION is coming out in favor of arming pilots. Makes sense. I still like the volunteer deputy air marshal suggestion, though.
A LEAP IN LOGIC: This is John Ashcroft on the need for "antiterrorism" legislation:
"There is absolutely no guarantee that these safeguards would have avoided the Sept. 11 occurrence," Mr. Ashcroft replied. "We do know that without them, the occurrence took place."
I propose that the Attorney General of the United States be required to wear a propeller beanie
while in the discharge of his official duties. There's no guarantee that this would have prevented the Sept. 11 occurrence, but we do know that, without it, the occurrence took place.
THIS ARTICLE BY GINA KOLATA IN THE NEW YORK TIMES talks about potential abuses of advanced technology. It's a good article (er, well, it quotes me, so that could cut either way I suppose) but the opening connection to encryption is a bit forced, it seems to me. For encryption to have mattered in the 911 attacks, there would have to have been messages that the authorities knew about, but couldn't read, that made a difference. Since the authorities weren't even trying to read the hijackers' email, encryption couldn't have made a difference, now could it? Ignorance is stronger protection than encryption, any day.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: According to this Reuters story a planned three-day sex orgy (er, a brothel is involved) in Rio de Janeiro has been cancelled because of complaints from the Catholic Church. The orgy will still be held in a couple of weeks, at a different location. Organizers don't think that travel difficulties will get in their way. "For this kind of thing," one said, "folks never have crises."
As far as I know, serialdeviant.org(y) is uninvolved.
CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER: Just caught part of Geraldo on CNBC. After a clip of President Bush explaining that the economy will get better and that we will win, Geraldo said that his view of Bush had been "completely transformed. I'm proud that he's my President." What next? Katha Pollitt getting a flag tattoo?
"POLITICALLY INCORRECT" IS IN DANGER OF CANCELLATION, according to Arianna Huffington. She says it's because of Bill Maher's remarks that suicidal terrorists aren't "cowards." Instead, he said, "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly."
Maybe I just don't get it, but I don't see what's so wrong with this statement. The Clinton aspirin-factory bombing was a good example of this, and it was, if not cowardly, certainly bogus since it was mostly about getting Monica Lewinsky off the headlines for a day. I know lots of people across the political spectrum who think this, and while President Bush didn't call this kind of thing cowardly, he's come close in his dismissal of spending $10 milllion missiles on empty $10 tents. I don't see it as a "blame America first" kind of response; it hasn't seemed like a big deal to me since I first heard it. It doesn't minimize the evil of the terrorists, and it hardly promotes America (as some other commentators have done) to the position of number-one evildoer in the world, or suggests that we somehow "deserved" the attack.
On the other hand, Arianna is somewhat over the top on this issue. It's hardly the McCarthy era all over again, and cancelling a show because viewers and sponsors are mad isn't government censorship. I also wonder whether PI, which I always considered pretty lame (and not helped much by Huffington, whose claim to fame has always eluded me) isn't really being cancelled because its ratings were sliding anyway, with this just a convenient precipitating factor.
THE COMPUTER CRIMES SECTION OF THE PROPOSED ANTITERRORISM ACT IS DREADFUL and would likely leave us more vulnerable, not less vulnerable, as this post from Slashdot makes clear:
What's even worse is the provision that giving advice or information which may be used to facilitate computer crimes is not only criminalized but subject to the same penalties.
To put it another way, if this law passes then someone could be given life in prison without parole for documenting vulnerabilities which allow systems to be compromised by a cracker or a worm. Indeed, it isn't clear that, with the removal of the statute of limitations, they couldn't charge the people documented the vulnerabilities responsible for eg. Code Red or Nimda under this law. This provision is like the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA writ large. Whereas at least the DMCA only applies to copy-control restrictions on copyrighted material, this law could potentially make all discussion of any vulnerabilities which allow systems or information to be compromised illegal.
These provisions are so utterly preposterous and out of proportion to the crimes (or so-called crimes) discussed as to boggle the mind.
If you make it illegal to discuss computer-system vulnerabilities, those vulnerabilities will go unfixed. It's as simple as that.
These provisions also play to the worst paranoia of people who believe that the government has a hidden agenda here. As I mentioned earlier, that sort of thing may bring us domestic terrorism, as well as the foreign kind. It certainly won't promote the kind of national unity needed to fight terrorism.
INTERNMENT CAMPS? Newsday reports that one-third of New Yorkers support internment camps for people who are "sympathetic to terrorist causes." I don't know what to make of this poll, which seems rather sloppy (one doubts that they meant Katha Pollitt, or the U. Texas faculty member below). But this would be a really lousy idea unless it's actually limited to terrorist cell members or enemy aliens should we wind up at war against a particular nation, and I think that it's questionable judgment to even be doing polls on this.
The White House has been quite visibly opposed to anything like this approach, and nobody else of any stature has even proposed it. So why poll on it and create unnecessary fear among muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, and editors at The Nation?
"A FOUNTAIN OF UNDILUTED FOOLISHNESS:" That's what the President of the University of Texas calls faculty member Bob Jensen's oped saying that the 9/11 attacks were "no more despicable" than many actions of the United States government. Texas President Larry Faulkner is too kind, but then those academic administrators always sugarcoat things. (Some of Jensen's fellow faculty members express a fear that faculty expression will be "chilled" by Faulkner's remarks. This is absurd -- no faculty member ever lost stature by irritating a University president, much less by being publicly reproved by one, even when the reproof, as in this case, is merited.)
Katha Pollitt's views on the flag deserve the same appellation. According to Pollitt, "The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war." These tiresome remnants of the once-New Left grow steadily more pathetic. I think they're realizing that they're the 21st Century's version of Archie Bunker, though -- antediluvian figures espousing the views of an age that's past. The difference: Archie was a bigot with a heart of gold. Their hearts are of a less noble metal. More proof of generational irrelevance: Pollitt's daughter went out and bought a flag for display with her own money, despite (because of?) Pollitt's disapproval. From 60s radical to "not under my roof!" bourgeois parent. How it must hurt.
PHIL ZIMMERMAN SAYS THAT THE WASHINGTON POST story about him feeling guilt over PGP encryption misrepresented his views. He says that "inappropriate liberties" were taken in the editing of the article.
Some interesting points from Slashdot posters: has anyone called the President of Boeing (or AA, or UAL) and asked about guilt feelings? (The Wright brothers are unavailable for comment).
Also this one:
PGP empowers people to exchange secrets. Computers empower people to run flight simulators and much else. The internet empowers people to meet each other, organize, and exchange data. All are used for great good, and some evil. One of the things that threaten government and large industry the most is the fact that these technologies empower the individual in a way that only government and industry were empowered before. They would like to use the excuse that these technologies can be used for crime to remove them from everybody's hands.
What strikes me about this tragic disaster is the way government is targeting technologies that are not connected with the crime, simply because the implication that they could be used is there, using the need to protect the people as a hollow justification to remove our rights.
Another good point: perhaps we should call it "secure communication" rather than "encryption," to make the point that it's not just about hiding, but about safety. Or maybe just call it an "envelope," to underscore that it's about keeping unauthorized people from reading your mail.
TRADING FREEDOM FOR SECURITY: The press jumped on the presumed need to trade freedom for security (literally) before the dust had settled. Question -- will they be willing to trade press freedom for security? Will they be as casual about that as they are with other freedoms?
IF YOU RELY ON THIS SITE FOR FINANCIAL ADVICE YOU'RE IN DEEP TROUBLE (if I'm so smart, why ain't I rich?): But on 9/20 I suggested survival gear companies as an investment for people who were (wrongly, I think) panicked about the market. Well, according to this story in USA Today people are swarming survival-gear stores buying guns, ammunition, MREs, gas masks (inexpensive Israeli surplus masks, previously available for under $20, are now almost unavailable), 150-hour candles, solar-powered radios, etc.
I think it's fine to have all this stuff -- everyone should be prepared to go at least a week, preferably two or three, without groceries, electricity, or running water. The Red Cross says so, and I think it's only prudent. I rather doubt, however, that most of this gear will do a lot to protect against terrorists. It makes people feel better, though, and it does bespeak a positive sentiment of self-reliance and non-passivity.
And, for anyone who listened to InstaPundit, it may make some money. If you're one of 'em, any donations will be gratefully accepted. . . .
UPDATE: I posted this link before to Captain Dave's Survival Center, but I'm reposting it for those who are interested. It may not be the best survival site on the web, but it's one I happened to have in my bookmarks from researching Y2K stuff a couple of years ago. (Cap'n Dave must have something on the ball, since he's still in business; most of my other links of this sort have gone dark). There's some general advice, some links, and I'm sure he'd be happy to sell you stuff. I don't know the guy except for his website, and I've certainly never bought anything from him, so don't take this as an endorsement. But it's an amusing read if nothing else.
MORE NON-AMERICANS THAN AMERICANS KILLED AT WTC? Reader Ronald Carpio points out that that's what Cryptome says. As you'll see if you visit the page, the numbers are being adjusted daily. But it's not such a big surprise, considering.
READER DOUG TURNBULL WRITES:
First, I completely agree with your emphasis on PR in the upcoming struggle. To win in the long term, we need to change the opinions of the average "Muslim on the street." For too long, it seems we've let the extremists dictate the terms of the debate and frame all the questions and issues. We were letting bin Laden and others get away with things that the spin meisters would never have allowed in a US debate over, say the budget.
I hope our leaders understand this, and focus the same attention to countering the lies of the enemy with our own truths (and our own lies, for that matter) as they do during election campaigns. We've been training crack response forces for this for decades--it's time for Mary Matalin and George Carville and all the other spinmeisters to go out and do the country proud. Let's see bin Laden's record smeared, his efforts mocked, and our own and the moderate Arab position exalted.
Second, as a piece with your discussion of the PC reaction in Berkeley and elsewhere, were you also struck by the adoption of PC tactics by Arab regimes? They were "deeply offended" and the use of terms like crusader and Infinite Justice, demanding that the US be more sensitive to the concerns or Moslems everywhere. Very telling, in my opinion, and a sign that, while the motivations may be diametrically opposed, the means and ends of the PC police and oppressive state regimes can sometimes be frighteningly similar.
SOME LESSONS FROM MILITARY HISTORY by Victor Davis Hanson, which mirror some of what you've already read here.
MICHAEL MOORE WAKES UP: Today's "Best of the Web" reports that Michael Moore's tone has changed since he arrived in New York and saw the devastation. It also reports this quote from Moore's website:
This started out as a documentary on gun violence in America, but the largest mass murder in our history was just committed -- without the use of a single gun! Not a single bullet fired! No bomb was set off, no missile was fired, no weapon (i.e., a device that was solely and specifically manufactured to kill humans) was used. A boxcutter! -- I can't stop thinking about this. A thousand gun control laws would not have prevented this massacre. What am I doing?
Maybe there's hope for this guy yet.
MARK STEYN WRITES ON CANADA'S CONTRIBUTIONS, its military problems, and its hurt feelings.
I LIKE DAVE SHIFLETT'S COLUMNS, but today's remarks about Virginia Postrel seem to me to miss the mark. Shiflett chides Virginia for her comments noting that the Flight 93 heroes belie neocon claims of American decadence, because they're all tech executives but nonetheless acted heroically.
Shiflett's response is that one of them was a graduate of a Christian school. Huh?
Here's an interesting thought that I had while reading this. Tech guys are, in overwhelming numbers, wargamers (or at least were in their teens). If you're familiar with the simulations games put out by outfits like Avalon Hill and Simulations Publications Inc. since the 1970s, you know that these games aren't just amusements, but sources of amazingly complete education on matters military. Add to this the military SF that's popular with so many in the tech community -- books by people like David Drake, S.M. Stirling, Eric Flint, Harry Turtledove, et al. -- much of which is also very educational, by design.
This was a response to the feeling of many in the 1970s that Americans were woefully ignorant about military matters. An entire culture has built up around these things, and the people who are conversant with it know a lot. The result is that, taken as a whole, there's probably a greater reservoir of military knowledge in the tech community, and overall American society, now than at any time in history. This phenomenon has been largely ignored by mainstream media, but it's quite significant. And it's something that we ought to be drawing on.
FRED THOMPSON MADE IT OFFICIAL TODAY: He's running for reelection according to a Knoxville radio station, which broadcast a short segment featuring his statement.
SOME INTERESTING PARALLELS between anti-Americanism and anti-semitism among European elites in this article from NRO. What's interesting to me, as the article mentions, is the difference between elite media and lefty opinion and mass popular opinion. The same, of course, has been true in America.
That difference has been no secret, but what this has done is to strip even the faintest pretence of moral superiority from these elites. They are revealed as moral inferiors, posturing as moral superiors. Their influence is likely to dwindle, and that's a good thing. They've been a pathological phenomenon for decades.
ANTI-GLOBALISM AND LOW-BUDGET MARXISM: Some thoughts from a reader:
I haven't thought this out as much as I would like, but here is a thought. I have been struck over the past few months by the rise of "Post-Communist Chic," largely in the form of hammer-and-sickle scarves, flags , etc. at WTO and IMF protests. Now, if these guys are even vaguely serious about their Marxism they should really be offended by extreme Muslim Fanatics. Talk about opposing ideologies. Perhaps they're waving Soviet Flags in the same sort of mindless "show of resistance to authority" that makes some Southerners wave Confederate battle flags? I like the comparison.
RICHARD BENEDETTO ASKS how long can the bipartisan unity we're experiencing last? As long as necessary, I expect, where war-related issues are concerned. On the other hand, too much bipartisanship can be a bad thing, as my law school classmate (and former DNC chair) Joe Andrew argues.
The key isn't an absence of debate: it's an absence of the sleazy, no-holds-barred nastiness that has marked American politics over the past several decades. It may be that, like academic politics, much American politics has been so vicious because there is so little at stake. (Remember the "lockbox" debate?) Now there's a lot at stake, and debate isn't vicious at all. Those who -- like Jerry Falwell or Michael Moore -- have tried to make it so have been roundly denounced. Let's keep that up.
JOURNALISTS ARE UNHAPPY that the Pentagon isnt giving them the information they want. And that it may be giving them false information to deceive enemies. (The Taliban have banned TV, but you can bet they're watching CNN). They fear the kind of close control over information that took place during the Gulf War. Here's some interesting info about the ratio of troops to reporters over the past century, from Jim Dunnigan's book Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War: WWI, 53,684:1; WWII, 8,667:1; Korea, 2,667:1; Vietnam; 2,800:1; Gulf War, 577:1.
My favorite vignette from the Gulf War was a war correspondent from Mademoiselle (yes, you read that right) asking female soldiers if the close conditions made it difficult to find opportunities to masturbate. That's a pretty good sign that the war was being over-covered.
OKLAHOMA CITY WAS TERRORISM; THE WTC ATTACKS WERE NOT: That's what Reuters says, according to this report by Howard Kurtz. Reuters isn't using the word terrorism because, it has decided, one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. In the same spirit of neutrality, Kurtz reports, ABC has forbidden its staff to wear American flag pins.
You don't think Reuters' position has anything to do with trying to suck up to sources in countries that don't like the U.S., do you?
NATIONAL ID-IOCY CARD: Oracle chief Larry Ellison thinks we need a National ID card. He also thinks that his company should provide the software for the National ID database.
Now, honestly, can he possibly think this will work? A National ID card would be a gigantic database. Lots of people will have to be able to access it, since new folks are being born, naturalized, renamed after marriage or divorce, etc., all the time. When it's initially put together it will be full of fake identities already in use by spies, drug dealers, etc. Then, within a month or two it will either be hacked, or compromised by untrustworthy people who are part of the system.
This is inevitable. Remember, the system will be processing hundreds of millions of people. Bad guys only need to compromise a few dozen of those transactions a year.
So how will this help us? It's easy to see how it will help Oracle.
SENATOR FRED THOMPSON WILL RUN FOR REELECTION according to credible sources. Makes sense.
BILL CLINTON SAYS HE TRIED TO KILL OSAMA BIN LADEN, but the plan was dropped after Pakistan's coup, according to this story in The Times. Nice try, but do you think Osama knew? And was not amused?
A FRIEND TELLS ME that he attended a wedding in Britain last week. Strangers came up, on hearing him speak with an American accent, to express their condolences. Every church he saw had a prayer table with an American flag on it. At times like this, he said, you find out who your friends are. And aren't.
KNOXVILLE EXPAT KEITH SPURGEON (who now lives in the East Village in NYC) sends this report:
"I found a lefty who calls some of the lefty anti-Americans to task (as well as some rightwingers, too). Joe Conason:
You've been looking for some examples and there's one."
True. Here's a quote:
But in the conflict that we are about to enter, the enemy is not an oppressed nationalist group with negotiable goals. It is instead a reactionary international movement with aspirations to destroy Western democracy. Its ideology is medieval, opposed to progress in every sense. Its policy is the brutal repression of women, labor, peasants and any dissenting social force. Its model is its own version of “the Caliphate,” meaning an imperial perversion of Islam that puts infidels to the sword. Its bloodlust would not be satisfied by a just settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
I remember Keith as a local public-radio personality. Now I have to find out how he discovered InstaPundit...
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP -- WASHINGTON & KNOXVILLE: This article from the Washington Post says that shoppers are tentative and few in DC-area malls.
Not around here. Mall parking lots looked jammed as I went by. The Borders store I stopped in was fuller than usual (and no 1942 tunes today). There were also a lot of people in shorts, t-shirts and halters at the large park on Cherokee Boulevard that fronts the Tennessee river. The weather was picture-perfect. Frisbees were being thrown, canoes paddled, picnics eaten, and, in general, normal life was pretty much in evidence -- though there were a lot of American flags in view, both on cars and as items of apparel. (The American-flag handkerchief top for women is something I hadn't seen before this past week -- but apparently, flagwear is the hip new apparel item among high-schoolers and college students).
SOME PEOPLE ARE BLAMING PHIL ZIMMERMAN for the WTC and Pentagon attacks. This is because Zimmerman is the inventor of "Pretty Good Privacy," an email encryption program.
Er, except that the terrorists didn't pull off their mission because their email couldn't be read. They pulled off their mission because nobody bothered to try to read their email. That's hardly the same thing.
There's a technical term for the people who are blaming Phil Zimmerman: "idiots." Or, just maybe, folks with an agenda who aren't too picky about the facts.
It's also worth noting (as Matt Blaze does in this article) that without strong encryption, computer systems would be far more vulnerable to cyberterrorism. We would be well-advised to promote widespread encryption, not try to prevent it.
ALLISON ALVAREZ REPORTS FROM GWU with news that the campus, scheduled to be closed for the now-canceled IMF/World Bank meetings, will now be kept open. She also has some advice on how to treat muslim women friends who have decided to forego their headscarfs.
PACIFISM VS. PASSIVISM: John Wildenthal sends this quote from Gandhi:
"Better far than cowardice is killing and being killed in battle." —
Mahatma Gandhi http://www.mahatma.org.in/quotes.jsp?link=bg
CONTINGENCY PLANNING ASSIGNMENT for the Pentagon. Pakistan is cooperating with us. Their government will probably hold up through this (the popularity of the Taliban in Pakistan, though real, is probably overestimated in the West). But just in case it doesn't, there needs to be a plan, on somebody's part, for securing the Pakistani nuclear arsenal (reported to consist of 25 nuclear weapons, though this is probably an exaggeration) in the event that Pakistan suffers a breakdown. Since some elements in the Pakistani military do sympathize with Anti-Western islamists, it's important to ensure that the weapons don't fall into their hands.
This is a Pakistani problem in the first instance. But it's probably a Delta Force problem if they can't handle it. (Or maybe I'm not thinking creatively enough). Good news: Russia and China would be just as horrified as the United States if those weapons fell into the wrong hands. And there are a lot of wrong hands in that part of the world. If you're looking for a way that things can go seriously wrong, this is it.
AL GORE IS RESURFACING: He gave three short speeches to Tennessee Democrats yesterday. All were basically the same. Gore said that he "strongly supports" President Bush, who he says is doing an "excellent job." He also said that he plans to stump for Democratic candidates in Tennessee.
This marks Gore's reappearance on the national stage after a lengthy period of keeping under the radar. He was at last week's National Cathedral service (though I almost didn't recognize him with the beard) but as far as I know gave no media interviews then.
SUGGESTION FOR BUSH: Gore has a lot of experience with the Russians. Call on his advice, and consider sending him on some coordinating missions.
"ANYONE WHO CAN BLOW UP THE PENTAGON HAS MY VOTE" -- That's what this professor said. Now he's saying he's sorry. Sigh. You know, it's actually a minority of faculty overall who have views like these. Most professors just grin and bear it when the PC crowd says dumb things. This is the main source of that crowd's power. But they're really a minority even in academia.
The University of New Mexico is handling it right. They're not trying to fire him. They're just letting him look like an idiot.
AN END TO REURBANIZATION? Suburban sprawl is always blamed on the automobile companies, but I think a lot of it must be credited to the magazine illustrations of big cities with the "zone of total destruction," etc. indicating the result of nuclear attacks. Starting around 1950, people felt unsafe in cities.
Dan Gillmor predicts a similar phenomenon as a result of terrorism fears. Interesting; he may well be right. Already, I understand, some of the companies from lower Manhattan are considering low-rise offices in New Jersey.
WANT TO BE A FEDERAL AIR MARSHAL? The application information is here. The upside: lots of travel. The downside: lots of travel, and people may try to kill you.
SOMETHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT: I got an email on a domestic-terrorism list I've subscribed to for years. It warns that the "Homeland Defense" and antiterrorism legislation may -- if too intrusive or big-brotherish -- spur domestic terrorism. That's a good point. Right now the militias are rallying around the flag, but that could change if the federal government starts looking like it's more concerned with establishing domestic controls than with fighting foreign terrorists. And trouble at home is the last thing we need at the moment.
READER PAUL HOLMES WRITES:
Allow me to offer what I hope is a more cogent defense of the peace protestors in New York than the one offered below.
I believe it is very difficult to stake out a pro-war or anti-war position as long as President Bush declines to define the precise goals of that war or the means we will choose to achieve them. For example, I would wholeheartedly support an incursion into Afghanistan with the objective of engaging, capturing or assassinating Osama bin Laden. I would probably support a campaign designed to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban and install a democratic government. But I would be deeply disturbed by a war that involved wholescale bombing of Afghan cities and a worsening of the humanitarian crisis there.
As of today, all three of those scenarios are possible. One reason Bush's poll numbers are so high is probably because he has declined to define this war beyond the very general idea that we need to defeat global terrorism. I don't think it's unreasonable to oppose a war so vaguely defined. In fact, I think our Default position should be that we oppose all wars until we hear a satisfactory explanation of what they will accomplish and what actions will be committed in our name.
(I was at the Mets game while the marchers were marching. It was, I think, a more productive use of my time.)
This is entirely reasonable. I would oppose indiscriminate bombing of Afghanistan (heck, I'll go out on a limb and oppose all
indiscriminate bombing.) I guess where I differ is that I don't really think that's on the table. Oh, we've rattled the nuclear saber a little, in the hopes of scaring the Taliban (which, judging by the refugees at the borders and the reports of panic and looting by Taliban forces in Kabul, is working to some degree.) But does anyone actually think this is going to happen? Nothing we've heard out of the White House suggests it is.
If I thought that the peace protesters in New York and elsewhere shared Mr. Holmes' moderate and sensible views, I would be defending them, too. But if they do, it's news to me. Instead it seems to be an opportunity for blaming America for whatever they can think of (my favorite inanity: the WTC attack was because of the bombing range at Vieques) and, Falwell-like, trying to inject their own unrelated agendas into the tragedy.
MORE ON FREEDOM VS. SECURITY: This column by Brock Meeks argues against proposed antiterrorism legislation. As InstaPundit readers know, I agree with him -- though I think he overstates the risk that those opposing the legislation will be branded as traitors. There are a lot of people, left and right, who share these concerns.
I also note that the "freedom for security" trade is generally bogus. While most security tends to decrease freedom, it doesn't follow that decreasing freedom necessarily increases security. Too many people assume that it does.
EXCELLENT OPED FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: The point is that what is going on is primarily a battle for cultural supremacy, with two distinct parts of Islam playing the major roles. I agree: as I've said before, bullets and bombs have their place but long-term (just as in the battle against communism) ideology and economics are more important. Quote:
No paper trail has connected the Sept. 11 terrorists to any American or Canadian mosque, and there is every reason to believe that Bin Laden's contempt for the acculturated Muslim communities of North America is total. But in the years ahead, why may it not be the voice of Western Muslim communities like these, rather than Bin Laden's voice, that resounds most loudly in the world Umma ? Rather than the enemy within, the Muslims of the West should be seen as the ally within. . . . But if this community of often recent immigrants can rise to the historic challenge, the good news is that they will not be without allies elsewhere in the House of Islam. Is there a single Muslim nation in the world that aspires to the condition of Afghanistan? Is there not every reason to believe that a voice both authentically Western and authentically Muslim would find a wide audience?
Absolutely. Failing to respond to this terror attack will certainly breed more, but so will responding to it as a purely military or national-political matter.
THE DEEP SPACE ONE PROBE appears to have succeeded brilliantly in its comet flyby mission. This is all the more impressive since it wasn't designed to do this, and had to survive a very hostile environment. The folks who pulled this off deserve a big pat on the back; and maybe a budget to do something equally daring again.
A PEACE MOVEMENT LETTER TO TAKE SERIOUSLY: Here is a letter by someone who displays the discipline and focus that are so often missing. Note several key characteristics: (1) It's not about decrying all the sins, real and imagined, of the United States and Western culture since the beginning of time; (2) It's not about demonstrating the writer's moral superiority; (3) It's not about some sort of phony "moral equivalence"; and (4) It doesn't minimize or excuse terrorist acts. I still disagree (I think), but this isn't self-indulgent posturing. It's serious.
It's funny, though, that I don't see a whole lot of evidence for any huge warlike surge of undiscriminating violence among Americans. Yeah, some people say "nuke 'em," but even those people mostly wouldn't push the button if they were in a position to do so. And they're very much a minority. The consensus seems to favor something tough but focused. You might argue that such an approach is immoral or unwise, but it's hardly overwhelming in its bellicosity.
One of my beefs, which I've probably belabored enough for now, is that the peace movement is fundamentally unserious. It reminds me of something one of my law professors, Charles Black, said. With Thurgood Marshall, Black wrote the brief in Brown v. Board of Education and worked on many subsequent civil rights cases. They won them all. But he said to me (years later, of course) that he wished they'd had better lawyers on the other side. If the lawyers on the other side had done a good job, he said, they could have hammered out some good, taut law. But because the lawyers on the side of the Southern states simply repeated the same losing arguments about states' rights, the law that came out of those cases was one-sided and not very good, even though they won. It was "untempered by litigation," he said.
I feel the same way about the peace movement. So much of it is fundamentally unserious and -- much like the arguments of southern states in civil-rights cases -- far more about posturing to their base than about real argument. The result is that whatever we do will be untempered by serious discussion.
Given this, I suppose it's even more impressive that the American public is taking such a restrained view.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PACIFISM AND PASSIVISM: A reader sends this excerpt on the subject:
This is from Carol M. Shifflett's _Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training_:
"It is always right to investigate nonviolent solutions to problems. Unfortunately _pacifism_ confused with _passivism_ in the 'do-nothing-because-it-is-more-saintly-of-me'sense is not necessarily the moral high road, is usually unhealthy in practice and often an evolutionary dead end. The career criminal or professional predator does not rob, rape, or kill out of desperation, but as a conscious choice of free will, convenience, or simply because it's fun and he enjoys it. Therefore consider passive non-resistance to attack from the attacker's point of view: _convenient_ and _contemptible_. Sacrifice of self or others to such a perversion of right and reason is _not_ a moral act."
This aptly summarizes one of my problems with the peace movement; too many are incapable of making that distinction. (Ever notice how so many who say they're for peace spend most of their time talking against the United States?) Here's another: There's such a thing as disciplined nonviolence; it's hard, and in many ways (though not always) admirable. See, e.g., Gandhi. Then there's our tradition of "peace" movements since Vietnam: undisciplined, self-centered (when the draft ended, so did the peace movement -- overnight), and posturing. Mr. Ferguson's letter, below, which despite its purported commitment to debate is mostly about Mr. Ferguson's posturing, is a good example. So are most of the peace protests so far, which involve uncritically recycling the 1960s script. (Ferguson also states an utter falsehood -- that Ariel Sharon committed the massacres at the Sabra and Shattila refugee camps -- which either shows that he's ignorant, or that he's dishonest. It was Maronite Christians who massacred the Palestinians there; Sharon's "crime" was not stepping in to stop it. By this kind of logic, the UN committed the genocide in Rwanda).
I'd like to see the peace movement step up to the plate and offer something that might help. Such as going as "missionaries of nonviolence" to the countries where terrorists thrive. Any takers?
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