FOX BUTTERFIELD'S DIRTY POOL: In this item from Sunday's Times, Fox Butterfield manages to imply that the murder of a former prosecutor in Seattle was committed by a gun-rights activist: "The motive was not immediately clear, but investigators took note that Mr. Wales made many enemies as a strong gun-control advocate."
This has been extensively discussed on a domestic-terrorism list (featuring lots of law-enforcement types) that I'm on, and most people find the notion that a gun-rights person was behind this highly unlikely. Wales, in fact, had huge numbers of enemies among the organized crime and anti-abortion worlds, two groups that, unlike gun-rights activists, have a record of violence. Indeed, Wales had so many enemies that he seems almost like the victim in one of those murder mysteries where everyone has a motive. Butterfield must know this.
Sadly, where gun issues are concerned this kind of dirty pool is par for the course with Butterfield. (And yes, I know that's a mixed sports metaphor).
MATT DRUDGE reports that women are being taken out of combat and near-combat roles. I think this is a mistake. Beating the Taliban is nice. But beating them with girls will be a humiliation that will take the wind out of Islamist militancy for years. I think we should be saturating the mideast with television footage of female soldiers and pilots.
A READER just emailed me that Hillary Clinton was booed at the Concert for New York. That's all I know, but it's kind of interesting.
TED RALL'S VIEWS ON JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE make his sympathy for terrorists a lot easier to understand. Jeez. I knew he was a flake. I just didn't realize what a distasteful flake he is. What a nasty, bitter little man.
WELL, DANG. I'm sitting here working on a piece about the Emerson case for NRO, but now I've run across this terrific piece by Michael Barone on Emerson and it's gotten a lot harder: he's just set the bar much higher. Dang. Well, read his piece, anyway.
AN IDYLLIC EVENING: A picnic by the lake on Cherokee Boulevard. The "Head of the Tennessee Regatta" was just winding up, so we sat on the grass and watched the racing shells go by. It was one of those perfect evenings where summer is fighting a stern rear guard action against fall: the light was golden, the sky was clear blue, and it was warm with just the faintest hint of nip-to-come in the air.
I wonder how Osama's doing in his cave....
ANTITERRORISM EXPERT & MEDIA FAVE Steven Emerson says that there aren't very many moderate Muslim clerics in the United States. In fact, he says,
"So, if there are organizations in America which talk about Jihad, and praise Hamas and Hezbollah -- and there are 15 to 20 of these groups, and thousands of followers -- you can constitute that as a major following. Anybody who subscribes to the tenets of militant Islamic fundamentalism is capable of violence
The organized Muslim leadership has consistently portrayed the FBI as the enemy. It has consistently portrayed the conviction of Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman [for the1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre] is an injustice. It has consistently portrayed the U.S. as engaging in a war on Islam. You have this mentality out there that is no different, to a certain extent, than the way Osama bin Laden has portrayed the United States."
I suggest to Mr. Emerson it's difficult to differentiate between moderate and extremist Muslims when the moderates refuse to denounce the violence of the extremists.
"When they refuse to denounce it," Emerson replies, "or when there are no moderates."
This seems a bit alarmist to me. Compare it with this article from today's New York Times
, which says that Saudi efforts to promote Wahabbism in America have failed because American Muslims are too mellow.
In addition, at least in this interview, there's more than a whiff of Morris Dees-style self-promotion here. Maybe Emerson really is an intrepid private secret agent, guarding us from all sorts of risks. But maybe he's a budding direct-mail entrepreneur with a strong taste for PR. I'd take this stuff with a grain of salt until we know more.
BRAD TEMPLETON has obtained a top-secret sample of Larry Ellison's proposed National ID Card. Check it out.
PSYWAR: Here's what we're telling Taliban soldiers:
Loudspeaker broadcasts beamed down from American planes accused one-eyed Taliban cleric Mullah Mohammed Omar of hiding in a well-equipped bunker. The speakers boomed out in local dialects: "If dying for this form of Islam is noble, why doesn't Mullah Omar go to the front?
"He is enjoying his luxurious quarters and his wives while you are asked to die."
Omar and terror boss Osama bin Laden are scathingly denounced as "cowards" who do not represent Afghanistan or Islam.
With US special forces already in the country and the SAS about to join them, the soldiers were told: "Surrender and we will let you live."
I still like the "Resistance is futile" line, though I guess the Taliban won't get the joke.
IRONING MAIL WON'T KILL ANTHRAX: According to Snopes2.com. Dang. It was so appealing. Of course, probably more people would set themselves on fire trying this than are at risk from anthrax-by-mail anyway.
ANTHRAX THIS! That's the New York Post's response to its bio-mail. Why couldn't the Times, CBS, or -- especially -- the House of Representatives show this response?
"RESISTANCE IS FUTILE" say our propaganda leaflets being dropped on Afghanistan. We haven't added "you will be assimiliated." But, tee hee, that part is true, too.
Is Microsoft behind this propaganda campaign?
OPEWATION WASCAWWY WABBIT: Sheer brilliance from Robert Racansky:
What this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade needs is an Osama bin Laden balloon, preferably behind the Bert balloon, and in front of the Statue of Liberty-esque balloon kicking him in the butt.
This would send a _very visible_ message that bin Laden and his ilk are objects of ridicule and scorn, not fear.
"To my mind, it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. . . . Self-sufficiency is not supposed to be a recreational consideration, and woe to those who have embraced dependency because of its convenience." Remarks from anti-sissy-culture spokesman Ted Nugent. I can imagine what he'd say about banning BB guns.
TERRORISM IS A LOCAL PHENOMENON: That's what the author (Amy Smithson of the Stimson Center) of this oped from the New York Times says, and she warns that the federal bureaucracy is getting in the way:
This year, the federal government is spending $8.7 billion to combat terrorism, but only $311 million is finding its way to local rescuers. More than 40 federal agencies are involved in terrorism prevention and preparedness.
A few essential moves in Washington could do more to ready us for attack. First, Congress must grant Mr. Ridge budgetary authority that would let him rein in the burgeoning federal terrorism-response bureaucracy. Second, Congress must make its own oversight of antiterror efforts more efficient. Finally, Washington needs to understand that all emergencies are local.
With a few exceptions, the federal government's role in responding to a chemical or biological calamity should be to provide mid- to long-term disaster-recovery assistance. Instead, federal agencies and departments have spent energy and resources creating costly or redundant programs. For instance, dozens of unnecessary training programs for local rescuers have been created since 1996. Specialized training camps and research centers dot the country, a sign of pork politics at play.
I hope the "see, we do need big government" crowd reads this.
NOT GETTING IT: You'd think that the WTC attacks, anthrax mailings, etc. would have adjusted people's risk thresholds, making them less sensitive to the sorts of unimportant risks that people obsessed about before 9/11. And to some degree that's happened. But the effect clearly hasn't reached the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which - no doubt still smarting from Hillary Clinton's complaints about bath rings -- is now thinking of requiring a recall of pretty much all BB guns. Oh, puhleez.
Yeah, there's some risk. But as we're learning, there's value in keeping some degree of martial tradition alive in a society. And shooting BB guns is part of instilling that -- while regulating them out of existence is part of the "sissy society" that we need to put behind us.
SOME INTERESTING PARALLELS between the war on piracy 200 years ago and the war on terrorism today. In both cases, ending state sponsorship is the key.
GORE BACKERS BACK BUSH: Okay, Howard Fineman already reported this. But now it's Rick Berke in the New York Times who's saying it:
The most blunt assessments were from Democrats who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. Several said the nation was fortunate to have Mr. Bush in power, and they questioned whether Mr. Gore would have surrounded himself with as experienced a foreign policy team as Mr. Bush did. Citing Mr. Gore's sometimes rambling speech in Des Moines on Sept. 29 in which he praised Mr. Bush, some Democrats also questioned whether the former vice president would have been as nimble at communicating to the public.
One former senator who was a staunch Gore backer said he was relieved that Mr. Bush was president because he feared that the former vice president would think he had all the answers.
"He may know too much," he said. "And he would have tried to micromanage everything."
GOOD COLUMN BY TOM FRIEDMAN about tweezer bans, anti-Americanism, and more. His conclusion is wrong, though: if it comes to a clash of civilizations, we'll win. But we owe it to the Islamic world, and to ourselves, to see that it doesn't come to that. The price is too high. Especially for them.
OPEWATION WASCAWWY WABBIT: Leno and Letterman were hitting Osama hard tonight. This strategy of comic humiliation is very important.
And, I have to say, the whole Taliban crowd just begs for it. I know I should hate these guys, but when I see them on TV they're such goofballs that I don't want to kill them -- as I should -- I just want to go after them with seltzer bottles and cream pies. They aren't the least bit scary. And that's gotta hurt.
GROUND TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, sort of. The size and aggressiveness of these missions keeps growing. I wouldn't be surprised to see an airhead established within the next few days. Much of this, of course, involves scaring the Taliban and heartening the anti-Taliban as much as any concrete military objective. But expect it to escalate pretty quickly now.
THE GREAT CONGRESSIONAL BUGOUT: Jay Leno was hitting them hard on it tonight. Best joke: "Usually those guys only leave town when their interns test positive."
They're not acting like wartime leaders, so they won't get the deference that wartime leaders get.
THIS CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER COLUMN FROM 8/15, pointed up by Tony Adragna, may be a good description of what Israel's next big move will be. I suspect that fear of something like this happening with U.S. acquiescence is the reason why Yasser Arafat has been donating blood, etc., lately.
EVERYBODY'S FAVORITE AUTHORITY THAT YOU NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE, Stratfor.Com, has this take on anthrax by mail. Since it largely echoes my early take on the subject, I naturally think it's brilliant:
Delivering anthrax by mail suggests that the group or groups responsible have not yet produced sufficient quantities of anthrax or acquired the appropriate delivery method for a larger strike. Instead, by targeting the media and government officials, they have gained maximum effect with minimum effort. A few mailed letters have resulted in several thousand false alarms and hoaxes -- tying up police, fire, medical and hazmat teams, stirring panic among the populace, interfering with mail delivery and worrying politicians and the military.
Stratfor also suggests that the size and violence of the 9/11 attacks may be causing the terrorists political problems in the Muslim world:
The attack on the World Trade Center, which killed more than 5,000 people, was seen by much of the Islamic community as being over the top, resulting in too many civilian casualties to be justified even by Washington's international policy or Israel's killings of Palestinians. In fact, Tahirul Qadri of Pakistan, a prominent Muslim cleric, publicly denounced bin Laden and his Taliban protectors, saying the destruction of the World Trade Center was "no jihad" and that those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks "put the lives of millions of Muslims across the world at risk," UPI reported Oct. 17.
Large-scale anthrax attacks on the United States would only serve to further weaken bin Laden's position among Muslim nations. Even Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has condemned anthrax attacks, calling anthrax a "weapon of mass destruction," according to Reuters.
Political leaders and their mouthpieces in the media, however, could be considered more legitimate military targets. This would allow a continuation of the terror war in America without driving Islamic nations closer to the United States. Given these political restraints and the technical difficulties of deploying anthrax, a widespread anthrax attack on a major metropolitan area remains unlikely. For the average American, the chances of getting anthrax remain extremely low.
I agree. But there's also this:
[T]he next terrorist strike in the United States will likely come from another quarter, keeping Washington off-balance and disrupting the ability of the United States to get back to normal soon.
I agree with that, too. That's one reason why we need to change our notion of "normal," and to keep a psychological counteroffensive going, not just in the Islamic world, but at home. These things should be downplayed, not hyped in ratings-sweep mode.
LUCIANNE.COM is reporting that some of the American Media employees are developing "toxic shock" from taking Cipro. This is unlikely, as "toxic shock" is a result of bacterial infection breaking out into overwhelming sepsis, which is an implausible side effect for an antibiotic. More likely they are suffering from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a reaction to some drugs that causes similar symptoms though it is essentially an autoimmune response gone crazy. It's nasty, but rather rare. It would be quite surprising if multiple people developed it.
This is, however, a good reason not to be self-medicating with Cipro. It's also, perhaps, a reason to prescribe better-tolerated drugs like penicillin that are also effective against anthrax. For those of you who can't resist hoarding drugs (and you should resist it), you might focus on tetracycline, which is effective against normal (non-engineered) anthrax, and also against plague -- which penicillin doesn't treat. I believe that Cipro has been recommended out of fear that the anthrax might be resistant to older antibiotics; since this appears not to be the case, people may well move to better tolerated drugs.
If this story pans out, and I have my doubts, look for more media-driven panic. They won't be able to help themselves.
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM P.J. O'ROURKE in this interview:
I firmly believe that these terrorists wanted, indeed foresaw, a nuclear attack on Kabul or Baghdad or perhaps both. The reason they want that sort of thing is that it would help galvanise the people who they consider to be their potential allies but who are presently not their allies - millions and millions of people across the globe who are Muslim, but Muslim as I am Methodist. I consider myself a pretty religious person but I am not looking to create an absolutist Methodist state.
CJ: I'm a Presbyterian. You don't feel the urge to wipe me out?
PJ: No. In fact, I can't quite remember why it is. Which is which?
CJ: Neither can I, which is the whole point.
PJ: They are predestinarians, I think. Which is a very bad thing. But that said, Methodists do believe in free will. What would a Methodist Absolutist state be like? We are so far away from that we can't even imagine what Methodist Sharia Law would be.
CJ: It's only about 500 years actually.
PJ: No, it's not that long in time but it's that long in attitude. Anyway, you can say that all Muslims are against the kind of thing that these terrorists are trying to set up. They are hoping that if enough Muslims were attacked with enough viciousness that everyone will rally. Or so I believe.
I also like this part:
The problem with a criticism of American foreign policy is that it presumes that there is an American foreign policy and there isn't, and especially over the past 10 years there hasn't been. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we've been floundering around taking things on largely guided by the pressure of elections and poll results back in the United States. Very few of our actions have added up to anything that amounts to any kind of coherence. . . .
The problem is that America is an inward looking nation. Why is it an inward-looking nation? It is a very big nation and it is a big nation full of foreigners.
You would think they would be interested in foreign countries but no, they left those foreign countries to get away from that stuff and they don't want to go back.
Read the whole thing. It's worth your time.
HOW DOES THE CONSTITUTION WORK IN WARTIME? Not terribly well, writes University of Texas Law Professor Sandy Levinson. We've always thought that the Korematsu case, which upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans (most of whom were American citizens) would be decided differently now. Don't be so sure, says Levinson.
MORE LAME CAMPUS "DISSENT" -- Here's real dissent for you: try going to a meeting of women's studies professors and arguing for bombing.
The dumbest of these arguments is the "cycle of violence" argument. It's international relations as family therapy. We broke the "cycle" of violence with Germany, which started in 1871, not by refusing to fight but by beating them like a drum. It worked great, too. On the other hand, we've been trying the family-therapy model in the middle east since at least 1967.
And is it just me, or is it weird to hear women's studies professors, in effect, defending the Taliban?
EXCELLENT PIECE ON MORALITY AND WAR by James Robbins. In World War Two, bombing often targeted civilian populations under the "total war" concept. That was morally dubious (at best) and also didn't work. Now it's different:
Recent conflicts have demonstrated that the best use of air power is not blindly to destroy, but to compel the enemy to do our will. It is less effective to threaten the innocent citizens than the decision makers themselves — personally. With precision-guided bombs and bunker-busting munitions we have developed the technology to do so. Knowing that every civilian death only made him stronger, Slobodan Milosevich did not take Operation Allied Force seriously until NATO discovered the location of his bunker and began to target him. Suddenly hanging on to Kosovo did not seem as important.
A familiar phenomenon. Robbins also presents this wonderful quote from Donald Rumsfeld about civilian casualties, which I hadn't seen: "it comes with ill grace for the Taliban to be suggesting that we are doing what they have made a practice and a livelihood out of."
FINE COLUMN BY WALTER SHAPIRO on The Great Congressional Bugout. Perhaps next he'll do one on The Great Media Freakout.
JOHN LOTT WARNS US NOT TO "GO POSTAL" OVER AIRPORT SECURITY, by turning the work over to government employees:
Western European countries started privatizing airport security in the early 1990s after spectacular security failures with government-run operations. The governments set standards but left it to the privately run airports to decide exactly how to meet the standards. . . .
What is startling is how the drop-off in hijackings corresponds with the privatization of these services. There were 21 hijackings in Europe during the 1970s, 16 during the 1980s but only four during the 1990s. Out of these 41 hijackings, only three originated from airports with private security.
Of course, this story suggests that the idiots are in charge
at the moment -- it's the tale of a man who was kicked off of an airplane because of the novel he was reading:
Another 10 minutes or so passed while he sat in the waiting area. A female United employee — Godfrey failed to jot down her name — came over and informed him that he wouldn’t be allowed to fly, "for three reasons."
The first reason, she said, was that Godfrey was reading a book with an illustration of a bomb on the cover. Secondly, she said, he purchased his ticket on Sept. 11. (Godfrey bought the ticket on priceline.com shortly after midnight, at least eight hours before the World Trade Center was attacked).
And the final reason cited by the United employee was that Godfrey’s Arizona driver’s license had expired. The employee pointed to a date to substantiate this allegation.
"No," Godfrey told her. "That’s the day the license was issued."
The woman then pointed to another date on the card, Feb. 17, 2000, contending it was the expiration date. Godfrey countered that the date identified him as "under 21" until then.
"Too bad, it’s too late," the flight attendant informed him.
My question is, will we be better off by making these people Civil Service types who are impossible to fire?
MASSACHUSSETTS HATEWATCH: They burned a flag at Amherst today. 19-year-old "student" (he appears to have dropped out at the beginning of the semester) :
Dan Griffin of Minneapolis, Minn., said the protest sought to show that the United States is responsible for much of the pain and suffering in the world.
The United States has helped continue a spree of genocide that dates back to Columbus in 1492, he said.
This response, from an Amherst student on the scene, seems to be the best sum-up:
"Amherst is 25 square miles surrounded by reality," said Theodore Hertzberg, a sophomore from Long Island. "I'm relieved the rest of the country does not feel the same way."
So am I.
THE GREAT CONGRESSIONAL BUGOUT: I may be wrong, but this ought to put an end to all the talk about how 9/11 has produced unquestioning confidence in our leaders. As I said then, the new confidence was theirs to squander. And they've started.
As I said yesterday: "How can these guys tell us we have to sacrifice a little of our liberty for security, when they just made very clear that they weren't willing to sacrifice even a little of their security for our liberty?"
THIS ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST says that the Taliban have lost most of their support. Sounds plausible to me, though I don't believe anything I hear unreservedly during wartime.
Or during peacetime.
MORE VIOLENCE BREAKS OUT in the baffling mid-west, where people do all sorts of things for odd reasons. Quite amusing.
WHERE'S THE ACLU ON THIS ONE? Apparently, it's okay to sing "God Bless America" at a government-sponsored youth rally -- so long as it's an anti-gun government youth rally.
THIS "TALIBAN SINGLES' AD" IS PRETTY DAMN FUNNY: I like the taglines, too, like "make me one of your wives" and "I Declare a Jihad on U, Baby," along with the unforgettable lover's plaint, "No more beatings, please." Check out the answers for "occupation," "income," and "hobbies," too.
Take it away, Bellicose Soccer Moms. . . .
INTERESTING: This post from Slate's "The Fray" points out that British condescension toward American panic over anthrax is unwarranted, given what the Brits have done regarding mad cow. Hmm. Maybe. I think that mad cow will turn out to be the "swine flu" of this decade. But unlike the obviously-lame and limited anthrax attacks, the scope of the mad cow problem was very unclear at first, and remains so to a degree.
A MULTI-CULTI MOMENT: My head is still spinning with this one. I was at the mall, ordering from Taco Bell. I was the only Anglo in a crowd of Mexicans (real Mexicans, not Americans of Mexican descent). "I guess this isn't very authentic," I said. "Oh yes, it is," one replied. "It's just like the Taco Bell back home."
MICKEY KAUS takes on the preening oppositionalism of Mark Danner's "it's all about oil" oped in the New York Times.
Kaus is particularly on point in noting that the WTC attacks have snuffed out American hypersensitivity to casualties. We've already had 5,000 -- and we have a pretty good idea of why we're willing to fight. Nice piece.
KIMBERLY STRASSEL of the Wall Street Journal just won the Newswomen's Club of New York's Front Page Award for several of her stories, including this very early report on problems with historian Michael Bellesiles' book Arming America. Since then, of course, the problems with Bellesiles' research -- including his claim to have used records that turn out to have been destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake -- have become widely known, and Emory University has ordered Bellesiles to respond to charges of academic misconduct. But Strassel was on the story early, even before Columbia University awarded Bellesiles its (formerly) prestigious Bancroft Prize.
Getting to a story early is a big deal in the news world, but given today's short attention span such accomplishments run the risk of being forgotten by the time the importance of the story becomes generally known. It's nice to see that that didn't happen here.
MORE ON SAUDI "DOUBLE-DEALING" from MSNBC. The Saudis are getting really dreadful press in the United States now. This should worry them deeply -- especially since some of it is clearly being leaked from within the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic communities. It's good news for the Hashemites, though.
"DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS," like several other aid groups, has been pretty critical of the U.S. food drops in Afghanistan, dismissing the project as "a military propaganda operation." A press release asks, "What sense is there in shooting with one hand, and giving medicine with the other?''
Afghans, on the other hand, seem to feel differently:
A typical package, about the size of a donut box, contains plastic cutlery and some 2,200 calories worth of peanut butter, beans with rice, jam and a fruit bar. “I was full for the first time in three years,” says refugee Rajaballi (like many Afghans, he only goes by one name). He especially liked the small packets of salt and pepper, he adds.
Full for the first time in three years -- courtesy of the U.S. military, not
the "international aid community." No wonder these guys are grousing: They're being upstaged. But there's more to it than that.
The unspoken secret is that there's a lot of "propaganda" involved in aid groups' attacks on the United States. For the aid groups, attacking the U.S. is politically costless. On the other hand, attacking thuggish regimes is risky, since they do their work entirely in, well, thuggish regimes. Still, a policy of consistently defending thuggish regimes for selfish reasons hardly constitutes taking the moral high ground.
My previously high opinion of Doctors Without Borders is not so high anymore. I've given them money in the past. I won't in the future.
FEAR AND TREMBLING: READER KEVIN MAGUIRE WRITES:
I suspect I may know why the media elites and our elected leaders seem to be so much more afraid of the terrorists than anyone else is.
Most of us go about our day aware, at least in the back of our minds, that we could be assaulted, mugged, or carjacked at any moment, and the only thing that might save us is our own efforts or those of our friends and family who might happen to be with us.
Celebrities, big-company executives and politicians, though, spend their entire day inside a security bubble - they have bodyguards, their (often armored or bulletproof) cars are driven by armed men (whether police or private security), they work and live in buildings with armed guards and checkpoints in the lobby.
But none of these things are any protection against crashing aircraft or anthrax in the ventilation system.
So, while for most of us the change in perceived daily risk since 9/11 has been a change in degree, for people with security details it's been a change in kind.
Excellent observation, and one that probably explains differing views on other subjects, like gun control, as well.
READER PAUL CHALLACOMBE, fresh from watching too much cable news coverage, says we need a single point of contact for dealing calmly and effectively with the anthrax hysteria. He nominates Sen. Bill Frist, and suggests -- in keeping with an ongoing theme here -- that he be given a TV segment called "What's Up, Doc?" Speaking of which, another reader sends me this link to our fearless leader. Tremble, Osama. Tremble.
IMMIGRANTS & MUSLIMS FOR AMERICA: Joanne Jacobs points out that the younger brother of Amadou Diallo -- killed by NYC police under, ahem, dubious circumstances -- plans to enlist:
Abdoul Diallo, a high school senior, was horrified by the Sept. 11 attack, he told the Post. "I'm Muslim. I don't like bin Laden. He's crazy, and I don't like the way he portrays Muslims. His main mission is to kill as many Americans as possible, and that's completely wrong.''
VIRGINIA POSTREL notes that despite leftists' self-dramatizing claims of impending government censorship, the main hotbeds of censorship are college campuses. (Lots of good stuff on her page this morning; read it all!).
SOLVING THE OIL PROBLEM: I'm not sure I agree with the people who say that our problems with the middle east would go away if we didn't need oil. I think they go deeper than that. But if we weren't buying their oil, the Saudis, Iraqis, Iranians, et al., would have less money with which to foment trouble.
If that sounds appealing to you, then this article on Solar Power Satellites is worth a read. No clouds up there, and you can beam the energy back to earth by microwave or laser (already demonstrated). Then you use it to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Do whatever you want with the oxygen, and use the hydrogen as fuel. When it burns, the exhaust is (drum roll, please) ... water vapor! Pretty environmentally friendly. Two new studies, discussed in the article, suggest that the technology is becoming feasible. (Yeah, it's expensive, but so are dams and nuke plants. And coal-burning is just filthy, as well as being a waste of valuable hydrocarbons).
Good stuff. Just don't put NASA in charge of it or it'll take 50 years and cost $1.2M per kilowatt/hour. God how it pains me to say that, but it's true.
WAR OPPORTUNISM WATCH: Larry Ellison is still pushing his dumb and self-serving National ID plan. It's a dumb idea. Terrorists can always fake documents. It's also transparent cheesy opportunism. Ellison should have his knuckles rapped for this -- does he realize how much ill-will it's generating? Or is he so busy ego-tripping and posing that he doesn't care?
CLARE SHORT, the British International Development Secretary is criticizing what she calls the "spin doctors" for international aid groups. She says they're exaggerating problems to try to get a halt in the bombing, which they presumably want for other reasons.
Me, I've noticed a pattern: whenever somebody criticizes the U.S., they get sacked and looted by the Taliban. First it was Ms. Bunker of the U.N. -- whose buildings were almost immediately thereafter looted and trucks stolen. Then it was the Red Cross complaining about a food warehouse being accidentally bombed -- only to see the Taliban loot and burn the other food warehouses. And, strangely, they're not complaining nearly as loudly when that happens.
Working with regimes like this, you often get a sort of Stockholm Syndrome going. Maybe that explains it.
HASHEMITE RESTORATION UPDATE: An alert reader sent me a link to this 1996 article advocating a restoration to Hashemite rule in another historically Hashemite territory, Iraq.
THIS CARTOON from the National Post cracked me up.
IT'S THINKABLE NOW: This Book Club section from Slate speaks admiringly of how Nixon threatened South Vietnamese President Thieu's life to advance the Paris Peace Talks, and suggests that the Saudis, like Thieu, shouldn't take American support for granted.
READER WILLIAM VEHRS NOTES:
If Planned Parenthood offices have been receiving anthrax threats for some time, the senders obviously have not been successful at their intimidation. It may be that these are "old news," but it also might mean that Planned Parenthood recognizes the value of not overreacting, or it might mean that the media actually is doing them a conscious favor by not reporting and thus inspiring even more copycat mailings.
Congress could learn from Planned Parenthood's conduct.
ANDREW SULLIVAN TAKE NOTE: The navy has apologized for the "gay slur" chalked on a bomb dropped on Afghanistan.
HASHEMITE RESTORATION UPDATE: This article from The Idler argues that restoring the Hashemites is the key to peace in the Middle East:
Already Washington insiders are beginning to truly think the outside the box, thinking the unthinkable -- about replacing the unreliable and dangerously repressive Saudi regime that funded the rise of Osama bin Laden with more moderate and pro-American rulers.
The analysis is simple and straightforward: They believe that the key to peace in the Middle East, as well as to the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, is the return of the Arabian lands belonging to the Hashemite Kingdom, lands stolen from the Jordanian Royal family by the Saudis.
Ibn Saud captured the city of Riyadh in 1902, and his army swept across the Arabian Peninsula in a series of conquests lasting until 1926. On September 23, 1932 he became King of "Saudi Arabia."
But King Abdullah bin al-Hussein of Jordan is in fact the legitmate and hereditary ruler of Arabia. He is a 43rd generation descendent of Mohammed. Because of his blood tie to the Prophet, his ability to bring Western progress to the region is far greater than any usurper's.
NOTE: I don't think the author is a member of the Jordanian royal family, but I can't offer any guarantees . . ..
THE BUGS BUNNY OPTION: This approach is growing in fame. I'm still looking for a compromising photo involving Osama and Miss Piggy. I know it's out there. . . .
BREAKING NEWS SYNDROME: The latest menace? It's widespread and disabling, though not fatal. Except, in the case of a few Congressional leaders, to your reputation. . . .
THE GREAT MEDIA FREAKOUT, EXPLAINED:
From CHRIS FARNSWORTH: Here's a question: why haven't we covered the scores of anthrax threats sent to Planned Parenthood offices with the same fervor that we've covered the ones sent to our colleagues? Some might give the excuse that these letters, from the "Army of God" are hoaxes, and don't rise to the same level. But according to this article from the Miami Herald, they might not be. And other hoaxes or false alarms -- such as the man who spilled confetti on a flight out of San Jose -- have gotten plenty of national play. The only other reason I can find for ignoring these letters is that they're easier to write off as old news -- because, after all, Planned Parenthood gets threats all the time. Now, when journalists are threatened -- well, that must be terrorism.
From the MediaNews letters page
APOCALYPTIC WEIRDNESS: I sent an email about this conference at AEI entitled "What if Congress Were Obliterated?" It went to a list that has several House staffers on it. Naturally I got a whole slew of Out-of-Office-Autoreplies from house.gov addresses, bearing the subject "What if Congress Were Obliterated?"
As for the conference, well, this may be a case of a think tank chasing the news cycle just a little bit too hard.
INSTAPUNDIT'S 250,000TH VISITOR was sometime earlier this afternoon. Over 200,000 of those were in the past month. Gee, just a couple of years ago I would have been heading for an IPO. Sigh. How quickly things change.
READER RAJAT DATTA WRITES:
CNN reports that Al Qaeda has said that the dead body of any American soldier will be dragged through the streets as in Somalia. Couple of points come to mind:
1) These cretins really do not realize the difference in reaction this will have on an American public that is ready for war vs. the case in Somalia when we didn't know or understand what the hell we were doing there. This time, the reaction will be a hardening of resolve.
2) We should immediately announce that since Al Qaeda has made their intentions clear, that we will bury an Al Qaeda terrorist body strategically wrapped in pig skin . . . . Of course, this brings up the question about whether or not we would be dishonoring the pig.
BAD NEWS FOR BIN LADEN: Moammar Qaddafi is distancing himself. He's condemned bioterrorism: "``I cannot imagine that humans can use germs against other humans, whatever the degree of animosity between them,'' he said. ``It is a cowardly, evil and irresponsible action putting in danger the whole of humanity.'' Gaddafi has said Washington has the right to seek revenge for the September 11 attacks and offered his condolences for the victims."
Gee, when you've lost Qaddafi, you're not doing that well. . . .
Of course, it'll be embarrassing if some domestic group is behind this. I think that's fairly unlikely given the many apparent connections between the hijackers and the anthrax letters -- though I strongly suspect that the hoaxes (particularly the phony anthrax sent to Planned Parenthood offices) are domestic opportunism. And it's possible, I suppose, that there's more than one group involved even in the real attacks, though I doubt that.
THE FIRST MUSLIM STAMP was issued by the Postal Service on September 1. It's had kind of rough sledding since. Collectors: stock up now!
SENATOR BILL FRIST was apparently instrumental in persuading the Senate not to bug out like the house. If this is true, he deserves a medal. I'm listening to the press conference now, and it seems clear that the whole thing has been overblown.
This whole incident reflects very poorly on large parts of the political class in DC. Bravo to those people, like Frist and Tom Daschle, who have done better.
MORE ON THE GREAT CONGRESSIONAL BUGOUT: Reader Robert Howley writes:
Sorry, but I don't buy this "people don't understand how scary DC is right now" crap. My fiancée and I live less than a half mile from the Pentagon. She was dressed in full hazmat gear yesterday to supervise the removal of secret drives and information from damaged Pentagon offices. Now this is someone who would have been in those same offices if the attacks had taken place a mere two hours later. (She works for a defense contract firm across the highway from the Pentagon.) Was she scared or nervous to be there yesterday? No, or if she was, she kept it hidden and did her job. And yes, I'm damn proud.
Not enough? Well then, her sister works in the city and lives directly behind the Supreme Court. Does her sister leave the city in fear? No, she also gets up and goes to work everyday.
Now compare and contrast these two wonderful young ladies to the debacle in the congressional offices. Did you read the reports of the medics having to ask over and over again for senate aides to stop cutting into line and to wait their turn? People in the DC area are not running home frightened, the spoiled brats of congress are.
Sorry, but it burns me up that for the most part the people of the US are going about their lives as normally as possible, but congress ran around like the three stooges the moment it "hit" too close to them.
PS. I came very close to losing my younger brother at the WTC complex, I'm proud of how a 21 year old has been able to handle the death and destruction he witnessed all around him. Wish I could say the same for the congress.
Closing the House and skedaddling was a terrible idea. Case closed.
THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING: Good piece by Will Saletan.
A CHILLING THOUGHT from reader Arthur Hellyer:
Think about it. A terrorist wants to spread a disease throughout America. So they infect members of the U.S. House of Representatives while they are in Washington DC, who then cut bait and run back as personal carriers to each congressional district. Wow, what an easy way to spread a disease. What a precedent.
If these guys come down with smallpox, I'm going to call them worse than cowards.
YOU DON'T SAY: Bin Laden May Be Trying to Scare U.S. It's the headline on an AP story that informs us that "Experts believe the contradictory signals are meant to scare Americans." Where would we be without the analytic expertise of the established media?
NOW THIS IS FUNNY:
The image is from WhattheHeck.Com. If you don't get it, you're not a geek, but you can read about the joke here. There are more links on WhattheHeck, too.
"Were we to give up half our territory rather than engage in a just war to preserve it, we should not keep the other half long." -- Thomas Jefferson: Instructions to William Carmichael, 1790.
Found it on The Rallying Point
BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: Racial and national stereotypes, casual ethnic slurs, a touch of blood libel -- where else could it be coming from but a Bay Area lefty? Stephanie Salter says that Americans are stupid, impatient, and ignorant, and likens our military attacks on Osama bin Laden to Timothy McVeigh's bombing.
Add to this the usual self-indulgent faux-martyrdom: "AS LONG AS WE STILL HAVE IT, I'm going to make the most of the First Amendment." Oh, boo hoo. I'm sure the Gestapo will be pounding on her door any moment. Salter also says that it "hurts my heart" that so few people agree with her. She never, of course, entertains the notion that people might not agree with her because she's, well, completely and idiotically wrong.
Funny, but the President she appears to despise has been extremely careful not to engage in the kinds of slurs that Salter seems unable to do without. I guess it's different when you're a "progressive."
MUSLIM CLERIC IN PAKISTAN DENOUNCES BIN LADEN: Okay, so he's not exactly pro-American. But he's able to figure out who the real wrongdoer is. Maybe he can give some advice to Susan Sontag and David Talbot.
MEAN-SPIRITED JOURNALISTS: Lately, there's a lot of journalistic nastiness on the letters page at Jim Romenesko's MediaNews. Most recently, a lot of them are unhappy with Michael Kelly's column attacking the "hysterical, silly, fear-mongering, self-centered, juvenile and ninnyish" media. Well, they're certainly showing the "self-centered, juvenile, and ninnyish" part. I guess they save the "hysterical, silly, fear-mongering" stuff for the rest of us.
Funny, the page wasn't this nasty before 9/11. I think these guys realize they're blowing their coverage, and it's making them lash out.
D'OH! Publishers' Clearinghouse is mailing out samples of powdered detergent at the moment. How many false alarms will this produce?
OF COURSE, NONE OF THEM WERE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS:
Passengers on a Greyhound bus overpowered a hijacker who grabbed the steering wheel and threatened to flip the vehicle, authorities said. . . . The Utah Highway Patrol described the incident as an attempted hijacking.
Bus driver Gene Savage told television station KUTV that he kicked the man away after he grabbed the steering wheel. Several passengers wrestled with the hijacker as Savage stopped the bus, said Doug McCleve, spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol.
THE GREAT CONGRESSIONAL BUGOUT -- ANOTHER THOUGHT: How can these guys tell us we have to sacrifice a little of our liberty for security, when they just made very clear that they weren't willing to sacrifice even a little of their security for our liberty?
HOW THE DOOLITLE RAID WOULD PLAY TODAY: Funny and sad at the same time.
NEAL BOORTZ HAS IT RIGHT ON THE GREAT CONGRESSIONAL BUG-OUT:
For the first time that I can remember – and I think the first time in the history of our country – the Congress dropped everything and ran. Throughout the world we can find examples of parliaments and other governing bodies that have remained in session during times of war –remained in session with bombs and rockets flying overhead.
I will promise you this. Around the world people who, for whatever reason, hate America are alternately cheering and laughing their asses off. The great and glorious United States House of Representatives has fled the nation’s capitol – and they’re going to stay away until some grand Capitol Hill duct cleaning is completed.
Was there a certain threat? Hardly. Not one Congressman has reported the receipt of any anthrax letters in his office. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said that he had “heard” there was anthrax in the ventilation system. It turned out to be untrue … but run they did.
We’re at war. Now the people we have elected to represent us and to protect us from foreign aggression have run. They didn’t stay there and fight. They didn’t stay in Washington and stand by to offer all support to the President and our military. . . .
I have an idea. Got it from a listener. Let's replace the entire membership of the House of Representatives with New York City firemen and police officers. One group runs INTO a building when there's trouble ... the other runs out.
I know, some of you say I don't understand how scary it is in Washington. Maybe not -- though we've had several anthrax scares and evacuations here in Knoxville. (Hell, Andrea See
reports they're having 'em in Singapore.) But it doesn't matter how scary it is. You're allowed to be scared. You're just not allowed to act
scared. Not if you want to call yourself a "leader." And all these guys want that. Now the bill has come due, and they're welshing.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
It seems interesting to me that the moment members of Congress are in danger, they had no problem making the decision to absent themselves from the seat of government. Wasn't that exactly what some members of Congress criticized President Bush for in the hours immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks?
Interesting point. And one I haven't seen made anywhere yet.
ANOTHER UPDATE FROM A DC READER:
I live here. I work here. There's nothing scary about this town except the inordinately high number of procrustean burger-flipper bureaucrats. . . .
This town hasn't suffered anything like the devastating losses in NYC and yet people are running around like their world is at an end. . . . I promise you that the average soldiers over at the Pentagon aren't running around with this "Oh My God" attitude that is so prevalent just over the river.
And if this same thing had happened in Des Moines, or Denver, or Mobile, or San Diego, none of this chickenshit behavior would be going on
READER MARC RITTIERODT WRITES:
Just when we see our so-called leaders panic (Hastert, Gephardt), a John Wayne rides over the horizon. We look closely, and we see it's a woman: Katie O'Beirne. "Ah Hell," she says, and we think, "What a great country!"
Okay, running fan mail for other
pundits is kind of unusual. But in this case it's absolutely warranted. O'Beirne seems to already grasp what most of the political class hasn't figured out: hyping fear and emotionalism is fine (well, tolerable, anyway) during peacetime. But Americans don't want leaders who feel their pain now. They want leaders who will inflict pain on the enemy. Don't believe me? Check out this Zogby Poll
I know, the bad habits of decades are hard to break. All the more reason to admire and praise those who never formed those habits in the first place. Bravo, Kate!
THE BUCK STOPS FOR GOOD? Stuart Buck has a blog entitled The Buck Stops Here. I like it, read it, and have a link to it (on your left). He's also law clerk to a federal judge in DC. Now he has an item on his page saying that "people" at his workplace object and say that it looks like partisan political activity.
I think this is ridiculous. (Is that petty tyrant and judicial character assassin Ralph Mecham behind this?) When I was a law clerk for a federal judge, I wrote opeds and letters to the editor and no one objected. Lots of law clerks do the same, and write law review articles, etc. Since when is this sort of thing "partisan political activity"? It should be obvious (even without the prominent disclaimer) that Buck isn't speaking for his employer, whom he never even identifies by name anyway. And it's not as if he's talking about cases he's working on. Heck, a lot of his stuff isn't even about the law. So what's the beef here?
I'm just guessing, but I wonder if it has to do with Buck's generally conservative/libertarian stance. If he were writing on PC race-and-gender issues, I'll bet he wouldn't be getting this sort of flak.
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VICTORY: Claudia Rosett has another insightful piece in today's WSJ. Nothing, she points out, enhances the strength of a hearts-and-minds campaign like victory. Most people love a winner, and sticking it out to victory without whining or backpedaling also sends the signal that we believe in our own ideas.
I've said all along that military victory is a necessary though not sufficient condition to overall victory. But because it is not, by itself, sufficient does not mean that it is not utterly necessary. It is. If we don't succeed militarily, if we chicken out and declare victory when we don't have one, no amount of hearts-and-minds propaganda will do the trick.
WHY IS INSTAPUNDIT SO, ER, WIDE? Beats me. I didn't do anything to the page layout; it looked fine when I went to bed. I'll see if I can figure it out and fix ... whatever is wrong.
UPDATE: Ah, problem solved. Learn something new every day.
TRAFFIC REPORT: 18, 396 yesterday -- a new record!
WHODUNIT? Michael Barone has some interesting thoughts in a web-exclusive column. I agree that the anthrax attacks have caused more fear -- especially among media and government people -- than is warranted.
TRAFFIC: 16,998 as of a minute ago -- already a new record. InstaPundit will have its 250,000th visit tomorrow. The prize: free access to InstaPundit! Oh, wait, that's what everyone ...
MICKEY KAUS ANNOUNCES THE MKN Network. It's a parody, but one all too close to the original.
MUSLIM FEMINIST COWGIRL FIGHTS STEREOTYPES OF ISLAM. No, really. This is what bin Laden is scared of.
HOW TO TELL IF WE'RE WINNING OR LOSING; some pointers from reader Eric Bainter:
Katie O'Beirne blows off anthrax anxiety with mild profanity and stiff "bio-drink": Win.
House of Reps gets panties in a wad and runs for cover: Lose.
Fly to Canada on vacation as planned before 9/11 and have good time: Win.
Canadian government apparently wrestling Belgium for last place in line behind - way behind - America: Lose, at least for the Canadian government.
Canadian independent muffler sign (big lighted one) says "God Bless our American Friends." Win. If it hadn't been a rental car, I woulda bought a new muffler system right then.
Rosie O'Donnell cancels shows: Big Win! no wait, lose. No, um, which is it - damn, tough to call this one..
During vacation fondue dinner, wife suddenly asks, "I wonder what Osama's having for dinner in his cave? Rat fondue?" triggering near-asphyxiation through giggling with mouth full: Win.
Get up, retrieve newspaper and mail, go to work, do job, do lunch, do work, go home, kiss wife - like usual: Win.
Local TV station airs story on how Cipro is cheaper in Mexico - lose.
Turn off losers on TV, face in general direction of Afghanistan, wave appropriate finger, say "Anthrax this!", go to bed, sleep soundly: Win.
Realize this war's battleground is between my ears, and I control the battle's outcome: Big Win.
TODD GITLIN RULES -- yeah, I can't believe I said that either. But Matt Welch directs us to this piece and it's damned good. Unlike some others, he gets it.
READER DAVID BAKIN writes:
I'd like to recommend this novel, from 1996, where the premise is that the best place for Saddam Hussein to cook up a bioweapon is right in America's corn belt, in the research labs of an agricultural college which takes in graduate students from around the world (set in time just before and during Desert Shield/Desert Storm). Easier to work undisturbed and away from Israeli spies, and better access to necessary materials (which are not very high-tech anyway) in Iowa than Iraq. The weapon is botulism, not anthrax, which (according to the book) is far more deadly and easier to distribute than anthrax. The "cobweb" refers to the NSC/CIA/other govt bureaucracy that, for various reasons of personal empire building, obstructs the only CIA low-level analyst who has figured this out, until it is almost too late.
The Cobweb, by Steven Bury (pseudonym of Neal Stephenson, who wrote the excellent Snow Crash)
[here's the link]
Of course, it is a novel, not a non-fiction reference work, but food for thought.
Food for thought, eh? Hope it isn't poisoned....
I've thought of this myself. Poisoning food would be logical, would inspire a lot of fear, and it's a lot easier to get jobs in the food-processing industry than in places that are more obviously threatened. I hope that folks in the food industry are being vigilant. And folks at ag labs.
PAKISTAN: Better than I said? Maybe:
Staerk is, you realize, only citing examples from a single Pakistani newspaper. As we all know, papers tend to have representative audiences. I spent some time knocking around the Pakistani press, and while there is little US flag-waving going on, there is some... see this essay: http://www.pakistanlink.com/Letters/2001/Oct/12/09.html
Even those that are anti-American are largely not hostile to the US on religious, cultural or even economic grounds. Rather, they are resentful of the US's military and political omnipotence (sort of global "short guy syndrome"). US military responses may well be justified, but as I have said before they are not the means by which we will gain long-term "victory".
Other editorials from the same paper are quite interesting:
True, though I notice that many are by Pakistani expatriates, presumably more cosmopolitan. Or are they?
READER TODD FLETCHER NOTES: "I noticed some of the links from the Jihad webring spawn porn ads windows - sweet justIce!" Hmm. This sounds like hacking to me....
DONATIONS UPDATE: It's been about a week since I started the Honor System and PayPal donations. Net: about $650 -- most of it in the first couple of days, natch. I'm very appreciative of your appreciation.
There's a problem with the PayPal link -- it's only allowing $2.50 donations -- that was supposed to be a recommended amount, not a limitation. I'll fix that soon.
INTERESTING ITEM from reader Frank van Deventer:
I stumbled over something interesting. The Jihad web ring which you can access from the HARB-I-MUMIN newspaper site http://www.ummah.net/dharb/ is largely dead links, particularly anything related to Afghanistan. Individual links within the sites that do work are also dead in many cases.
Yeah, I tried several and they were all dead. Interesting.
A READER WRITES:
Someone (I think from the Violence Policy Center) was quoted as pointing out that "only two" judges endorsed the 2nd amendment part of the opinion. Ah, yeah. So? And that 1 judge was *outvoted* by the other two: it's how courts usually work.
That's like Vanderbilt football fans considering it a victory when they *narrowly* lose to teams like Alabama.
STIFF UPPER LIP: The National Review's Kate O'Beirne is apparently the first pundit to be exposed to anthrax. Her teary, emotion-drenched comment: "Oh, hell." She then insisted on being prescribed an antibiotic consistent with taking a stiff drink.
That's what I mean.
MORE ON HASTERT: Okay, several people think I was too hard on 'em for closing the House. Fair enough, though I still don't think so. At the very least, they should have played it down (which they're doing now) instead of up (which they did this morning). I understand that a lot of people in DC (where most of the mail is coming from) say that we in the hinterlands don't understand what it's like there. OK. But people in DC don't understand how bad it looks here -- and, I imagine, in the rest of the world.
It's war. A stiff upper lip is called for. That's not inconsistent with prudence, but it requires a manner that our politicians haven't cultivated, and need to pick up quickly.
AT OSAMA BIN LADEN'S REQUEST, CNN HAS ASKED HIM SIX QUESTIONS. You can click on the link and see the ones CNN asked. Here are mine:
1. Are the rumors that you are a Jewish Mossad agent true?
2. Were your agents behind the 1998 stampede that killed hundreds in Mecca?
3. Why do Muslims always die by the thousands in any country where you're holed up?
4. Speaking of "holed up," what's this business with you and Bert?
5. Did you send anthrax to the National Enquirer because they said you have a tiny penis?
6. Do you, in fact, have a tiny penis?
Maybe I should email 'em to email@example.com and see what comes back....
BEST OF THE WEB has picked up my commentary on the Emerson opinion, and the NY Times' coverage of it. They misspell reporter William Glaberson's name -- but I suppose that's only fair since the Times once managed to turn me into "Glenn Harlan Roberts."
UPDATE: I just looked and they've fixed the spelling. Is this a tribute to the power of InstaPundit? No, it's just Web journalism, where mistakes are usually fixed within hours. Note that the NY Times never ran a correction on the thing with my name -- never even acknowledged my letter. Remember this when the fatcat media look down their noses at Internet journalism!
SHOW A LITTLE BACKBONE, FOR CHRISSAKE: The House is bugging out -- er, I mean, in recess -- even though all the anthrax scares have been on the Senate side? And the Senate is staying?
Hastert and Gephardt should resign their leadership positions, or be removed, for cowardice in the face of the enemy. Unless there's more to this story than has been reported (which I doubt: Brit Hume, in fact, was just saying that most of what Hastert said about the danger is false) this is an absolute disgrace.
NY Governor Pataki, on the other hand, who I've never particularly liked in the past, is showing real courage and setting a good example. If nothing else, this is showing us which of our so-called "leaders" have character -- and which don't.
BILL GLABERSON'S STORY on the Emerson decision is pretty fair overall. But it has two slips that illustrate a standard problem with media gun reporting -- especially in the New York Times.
The first is this reference to
more recent scholarship, some of it sponsored by the National Rifle Association, [that] has suggested that those earlier readings got history wrong. The newer research, cited by the court yesterday, argued that at the time the Second Amendment was written there was great interest in giving individuals access to firearms.
What's wrong with this? Well, first, only a tiny fraction of scholarship supporting an individual right to arms was "sponsored by the National Rifle Association." However, most pro-individual right writings were written by people like me (full disclosure!), Sanford Levinson and Scot Powe of the University of Texas, William Van Alstyne of Duke, Laurence Tribe of Harvard, Eugene Volokh of UCLA, Akhil Amar of Yale, Daniel Polsby of Northwestern and George Mason University, etc., etc. I rather doubt that any of these people got any money from the NRA for writing their articles -- God knows I didn't. Meanwhile, if you look at footnote 9 in the opinion, you see the court cite numerous articles from the Chicago-Kent Law Review
's symposium on the Second Amendment (including one by debunked historian Michael Bellesiles
) -- which was funded by the anti-gun Joyce Foundation and which paid the authors of these articles, which all oppose an individual right, a whopping $5000 honorarium
for writing their pieces. This is an enormous honorarium (I got $500 for speaking at a Stanford symposium on the Second Amendment last year -- that's more typical) and you can bet that anti-gun groups would be howling if the NRA paid anyone anything like that. But Glaberson -- who knows this, or should -- doesn't mention that.
The second interesting thing is where Glaberson explains that the two judges who voted for the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment were appointed by Republicans. Now, this isn't just a factor in gun reporting -- I've noticed that ever since the last presidential election journalists have started stressing votes and their connection to who appointed the judge. Now, those do go together to a degree and always have -- I'm sure that Hoover and Coolidge-appointed judges voted differently from FDR-appointed judges, too -- but the question of who appointed judges wasn't usually imported into reports on their decisions. One rather doubts that the question would have been raised at all had the decision gone the other way.
SUNERA THOBANI HATE CRIME UPDATE: Wendy McElroy has a great piece on Thobani's hypocrisy in sponsoring hate speech rules, and supporting their use to attack male scholars for political incorrectness, but complaining about "censorship" now that she is the subject of a hate crime investigation.
I'm against hate speech laws, but if they're going to exist, they should be applied impartially against those who spread hate on the basis of race, gender, etc. Interestingly, most of those people are leftish academics.
"ISRAEL DID IT:" A TRANSLATION by a reader:
Here is the embarrassing translation of the whole "Israel did it" conspiracy theory:
"We think the Israelis are smarter than us, and we think you should think so too."
Yep. Kind of sad, really.
MORE ON EMERSON from Alex Knapp.
THE GUN WARS, CONT'D: I've said before that I think the movement to ban or seriously restrict firearms ownership is on the skids. Here's a small, but significant, example of why this seems to be the case. The example is minor and local, but it's being replayed all over the nation.
THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS WERE A COLOSSAL FAILURE: That's what I argue in my FoxNews column this week. See if you agree.
SPEAKING OF ANTI-AMERICAN: Bjorn Staerk quotes a lot of anti-American stuff from the Pakistani press. He adds: "I haven't ignored the pro-american columns - there aren't any."
Personally, I find the language about America "bullying weaker countries" pathetic, considering. I haven't noticed concern for the weak to be a major factor of politics or diplomacy among the nations in that region.
MICHAEL BARONE points out that one reason "why they hate us" is that Arab regimes subsidize vitriolic anti-American and anti-Western propaganda.
This is dangerous stuff. Saudi and Egyptian leaders have often whispered to Americans that they don't believe any of it but that they allow the propagation of such hateful messages because it gives their dissidents a way to vent their anger. These regimes make a deal: Intellectuals can attack the United States and Israel as long as they leave the local government alone. But ideas have consequences. The saturation of such messages over Arab and some Muslim media has made many believers. They, like the masses in Hitler's rallies or the fanatics of imperial Japan, really believe this stuff. Hence the crowds in Yassir Arafat's Palestine cheering at the news of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers.
He's right. They should stop, and we should, er, encourage them. This is war -- as people are still trying desperately to forget -- and you don't permit things like this from your allies in war. And people who aren't your allies in war pay stiff consequences for that choice of status.
TRAFFIC: Just shy of 15,000 yesterday, for InstaPundit's second-best day ever. Cool.
MICHAEL KELLY TAKES THE HYSTERICAL MEDIA TO TASK: in a magnificently withering piece.
MARVIN KALB says that the Administration "must recognize that in this fight the press is not the enemy — it is a valuable and necessary ally, if treated with the trust that its role in a free society warrants." Well, I pretty much agree -- but it's harder to make the case when you have people like NPR producer Loren Jenkins saying he'd report the whereabouts of U.S. Special Forces on secret missions if he could, because he doesn't feel any duty to help out the government -- his job, he says, is to "smoke 'em out." The press was trusted a lot more in Word War Two, but then I don't think many people in the press felt this way in World War Two.
A WHILE BACK I MENTIONED ALGERIA as a problem area. Here's an example of why:
Earlier this month, Franco-Algerian relations suffered a setback during what was meant to be a friendly football match between the two countries, the first of its kind since Algeria gained independence in the early 60s.
At the Stade de France match, French-born Muslims hooted and whistled during the French national anthem, sections of the crowd chanted "Bin Laden! Bin Laden! Bin Laden!" during the game and pelted two French ministers with bottles.
When it was clear that the Algerian team would lose, the Algerian fans stormed the field waving Algerian flags and forced the match to be abandoned.
This is a certain strain of popular Arab politics in a nutshell.
PATRICK RUFFINI points out that according to these online polls, Arabs really do hate us. "This is a religious war — and we aren't the ones who declared it."
ASK AND RECEIVE: I asked for an Arabic version of The Onion's "Hijackers in Hell" page. And here it is!
NOTE: In light of my discussion of Emerson, reader Kris Kampshoff asks what "dictum" is and what this all means. It's late, so this will be short, but, I hope, clear:
"Dictum" is anything in a court's opinion that isn't essential to the outcome. "Holding" is reasoning that's essential to the outcome. "Dictum" isn't of much value in directing later cases. Holding is -- it's precedent, and makes law. The 5th Circuit made a point of noting that its Second Amdendment finding was holding, not dictum.
There have been two schools of thought on the Second Amendment. One is that the Second Amendment protects a right of individuals to own guns. (That's what the 5th circuit held). The other is that it only protects a right of states to have militias (this is what gun-control supporters generally argue). Emerson is important because it follows a large amount of recent scholarship that supports an individual right.
CHUCK FREUND picks up on a PsyWar Update point. See, uh, PsyWar Update.
I JUST HEARD THAT THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER IS TRYING TO SPIN EMERSON AS A BIG VICTORY FOR GUN CONTROL: Not hardly. Considering that just a few years ago these guys were arguing that only "a few gun nuts" thought the Second Amendment protects an individual right, but now have had to deal with a huge body of the scholarly community (including guys like Larry Tribe who can't be spun as shills for the NRA) saying it's an individual right, with many states passing new right-to-arms provisions to their constitutions, and now this decision, holding that there is an individual right, it's hard to see how it can be a victory for them. They used to say that "no federal court" had ever upheld an individual right under the Second Amendment (which wasn't true -- the District Court in the 1939 Miller case did just that); now what will they say?
UPDATE: It appears that they'll try to simply ignore the Second Amendment part and declare victory. Jeez. Read the opinion, and read this press release.
But then, after their ridiculous claims (see below) that Barrett Arms was "arming terrorists" (er, that is, the US government bought some guns from Barrett and gave them to the Afghan Mujahadeen in the 1980s) their credibility is already, um, shot.
MORE ON EMERSON: With the possible exception of some folks at the NRA, the happiest guy with this decision has to be John Ashcroft. That's because the way this decision came down means that he doesn't have to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Doing that would have been awkward, because Ashcroft has already said that he thinks the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Because the Fifth Circuit held it does protect an individual right, but that the statute here fell within an exception, Ashcroft gets the holding he wants without the awkwardness.
So why isn't this dictum? Because the Second Amendment reasoning is in fact part of the holding. A good example would be Jackson v. Virginia, where the Supreme Court held that to satisfy due process the state had to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Then it held that the state had actually done that, and denied the appeal -- or, if I remember correctly, the petition for habeas corpus relief. But that holding is considered just that, a holding, and is followed.
The real question is what case will be the one that takes this to the Supremes. With a split in the circuits, it's only a matter of time now.
THE FIFTH CIRCUIT HAS DECIDED THE EMERSON CASE! It appears to be a substantial win for people who believe the Second Amendment protects an individual right, but I've barely skimmed the relevant parts of the very long opinion. More later. Here's a link.
UPDATE: Okay, based on a slightly more substantial skimming, here's a key quote and some high points:
We reject the collective rights and sophisticated collective rights models for interpreting the Second Amendment. We hold, consistent with Miller, that it protects the right of individuals, including those not then actually a member of any militia or engaged in active military service or training, to privately possess and bear their own firearms, such as the pistol involved here, that are suitable as personal, individual weapons and are not of the general kind or type excluded by Miller. However, because of our holding that section 922(g)(8), as applied to Emerson, does not infringe his individual rights under the Second mendment we will not now further elaborate as to the exact scope of all Second Amendment rights.
The most important things about this decision are that it (1) comes down foursquare on the side of an individual right, and says that is consistent with Miller
, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1939 decision; and (2) rejects the large number of Court of Appeals decisions since Miller
that have twisted both Miller
and the Second Amendment out of all recognition. The court also relies very heavily on the large body of scholarship about the Second Amendment that has appeared in the past ten years, the vast majority of which supports an individual right.
On the other hand, while the Second Amendment language is holding, not dictum, the court leaves the scope of the right unclear. This is still a major victory for gun-rights folks, and a major, major defeat for the gun-control lobby.
I'll post more when I've had a chance to read this closely, but that may or may not be tonight -- I've got a book review for the Washington Post to finish.
"DO WE HAVE TO PAY FOR INSTAPUNDIT NOW?" Yes, someone actually asked me that. No, nobody has to pay. The buttons are just for donations, because so many people were emailing me and asking me to put them up. InstaPundit remains, and will remain, free. And worth every penny.
I MENTIONED SY HERSH'S ARTICLE in The New Yorker over the weekend, but here's the link now that it's up.
Since 1994 or earlier, the National Security Agency has been collecting electronic intercepts of conversations between members of the Saudi Arabian royal family, which is headed by King Fahd. The intercepts depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channelling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it.
The intercepts have demonstrated to analysts that by 1996 Saudi money was supporting Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Central Asia, and throughout the Persian Gulf region. "Ninety-six is the key year," one American intelligence official told me. "Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys—it's like the Grand Alliance— and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations." The Saudi regime, he said, had "gone to the dark side."
The voluminous information about Saudi wrongdoing that is emerging from official sources suggests to me that there's a substantial group within the U.S. government that has real doubts about the value of Saudi Arabia as an ally and that is trying to (1) pressure the Saudis to shape up; or (2) failing that, to lay the groundwork for getting rid of the Saudi royal family. There's too much coming out, from too many official or officially connected sources, for this to be anything else. Of course, that doesn't keep it from being true.
OPPORTUNISM WATCH: By now you've already heard of the Cynthia McKinney story, but here's a the link in case you haven't actually read her shameless pitch.
ONE OF MY STUDENTS got an envelope with no return address and a Santa Clara, CA postmark. He threw it away rather than opening it. Chance that it was anthrax: 1/1,000,000,000. (Of course, the chance that it contained anything he wanted besides junk mail was similarly small....)
MORE ON THE SAUDIS: Mark Steyn lays out the disturbing role of the Saudis (and mentions InstaPundit's Hashemite-restoration idea) in today's column. Hmm. If there were a stock market in Jordan's King Abdullah, I'd buy. If there were a market in shares of the Saudi royal family, I'd sell. They are badly mismanaging things here.
UPDATE: Okay, I'm adding this quote from Steyn's piece:
Professor Glenn Reynolds, whose Instapundit.com is having the best war of any Internet site (the guy seems to update it 22 hours a day: never mind having a night out, he barely takes bathroom breaks), prefers the idea of restoring the Hashemites -- the traditional rulers of the Hejaz and the ones the Brits had in mind for a pan-Arabic kingdom until Ibn Saud started slaughtering his way to the top. Reynolds' point is well-taken. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was a political afterthought -- Churchill, as Colonial Secretary, used to say he created the nation in an afternoon's work -- but generally it has proved more benign than its neighbours.
It's not true. I do take bathroom breaks. I will also note that an afternoon's work for Churchill is probably better than four years' work on the part of the Kissingers, Christophers, Eagleburgers, or Albrights of the world. (Oh, and if I suffer a mysterious accident, blame the Saudis. Though they'd probably screw that up, too.)
HMM. "TALIBAN.ORG" doesn't seem to be in use, but it's been registered. No one answered at the telephone number associated with the domain entry, so I guess this will have to be a mystery for now. "Taliban.com" shows even less information. Does this mean it's the real one? Note that although you can't -- as Jesse Jackson discovered -- dial "1-800-TALIBAN" you can email "Taliban@taliban.com" -- hmm. I wonder if this gets you Mullah Omar's PDA?
STEPHEN MOORE TAKES ON DAVID TELL: Well, at least Tell's position that the solution to terrorism is bigger government. Moore notes that we spend $2 Trillion a year on a government whose first and most important task is to protect us from foreign enemies, which task it failed at on September 11.
The lesson of September 11, 2001 is not that we need bigger government. It is that we need much smarter government. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, who will soon be terribly missed, has said it best when he noted that "a government that tries to do everything can't do anything very well." Precisely. We should stop subsidizing day care and sheep herding, and high-tech companies, and expensive drugs for 85-year-old geriatric patients, and mass-transit projects to nowhere, and Lawrence Welk museums, and shark research, and an utterly worthless education department, and freedom fighters in every corner of the globe, and foreign-aid payments to corrupt and free-market hostile governments, and tens of thousands of troops in Europe protecting we don't know whom from we don't know who, and start investing massively in counterterrorism activities that will keep us safe from our enemies.
He's right, and this is why I think (as I've remarked here before) that it's odd to label people who want the government to focus on important things "anti-government." Would you label people who thought brain surgeons should focus on neurosurgery instead of, say, juggling or macrame, "anti-brain surgery"? And would you label people who thought that brain surgeons should have to
spend a lot of their time juggling and doing macrame "pro
CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: This article by a retired military officer talks about how swiftly the U.S. military has adapted to the geopolitical & military changes of the past 10 years. It goes on to praise, at considerable length and force, U.S. Navy carrier battle groups.
What's amazing: it's written by a retired Air Force officer!
FREDERIK NORMAN HAS SOME thoughts on the Nobel Peace Prize (he's Norwegian, one of the surprisingly large number, for such a small country, of erudite Norwegian bloggers). He also proposes a "United Civilized Nations" to replace the U.N. It would be much smaller....
GREAT POINT FROM KEN LAYNE: "I've seen about a million articles about threatening letters holding a "powdery substance." What, exactly, is a powdery substance? It's called powder." I think I'll go get a glass of a liquidy substance . . . no, I guess it's too early in the day.
OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS: Tom Friedman administers a drubbing to the Saudi royal family.
To listen to Saudi officials, or read the Arab press, you would never know that most of the hijackers were young Saudis, or that the main financing for Osama bin Laden — a Saudi — has been coming from other wealthy Saudis, or that Saudi Arabia's government was the main funder of the Taliban. No, to listen to them you would think that all these young men had virgin births: they came from nowhere, no society is responsible for them, and no Arab state need reflect on how perpetrators of such a grotesque act could have come from its womb.
Attention, Prince Alwaleed: These young men came from your country, and while the Palestinian issue no doubt angers them, it does not compare to their hatred of what Mr. bin Laden called the corrupt, "hypocritical," "hereditary" Arab regimes, starting with Saudi Arabia.
So if you want to do something useful with your $10 million, then endow an anti-corruption campaign in Saudi Arabia, or endow American Studies departments in all Saudi universities, or endow a center of Islamic learning in Saudi Arabia that would focus on the teachings of reformist Islamic scholars. Or give the money to Seeds of Peace, which brings Arab and Israeli youth together, or invest in development inside Saudi Arabia or Palestine, so young Saudis and Palestinians can find fulfilling jobs. Or persuade King Fahd to say publicly that if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, Saudi Arabia would lead the Muslim world into diplomatic relations with Israel.
But whatever you do, stop lying to us and to yourselves. Because we're sick of it, and we're not alone. So many Arab citizens, seeking a better future for their kids, are also starved for the truth.
Can you say "Hashemite Restoration"? I knew that you could....
PSYWAR UPDATE has been, uh, updated.
THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER (last mentioned in InstaPundit for Tom Diaz's rather dodgy column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, from which an online poll that went heavily against him was removed) has been criticizing Barrett Firearms, maker of extremely high-powered rifles, for allegedly selling them to Osama bin Laden. The truth appears in this story from the Washington Post: it was the U.S. Government that was behind that deal, when it bought 25 Barrett .50 rifles for the Afghan resistance back in the '80s.
The Violence Policy Center is, not to put too fine a point on it, dishonest. Indeed, the sheer dishonesty of the gun-control movement in general is quite striking (just look at the trumpeting of Michael Bellesiles' Arming America, and the effort to dismiss criticism of that now-discredited work as being merely a product of the NRA, for example). I think that this tendency to duplicity exists because the major media have let them get away with it. Pro-gun folks may not be morally superior in the abstract, but they know that the have to be honest because if they shade the truth even a little the New York Times and the Washington Post, not to mention "Sixty Minutes" and "Dateline," will be all over them like a pack of mad dogs. It's been a sort of evolutionary process, but the result is that what comes out of anti-gun groups is very often not merely tendentious and slanted, but actually and verifiably false. The Internet means that they can't really get away with this anymore, but they haven't quite caught on to that yet.
STEPHEN HAWKING says that the threat of "doomsday viruses" on earth means that we need to disperse humanity to other planets and to space colonies. Otherwise, he says, humanity will probably wipe itself out before the millennium is over. I agree. Having this many people living on one planet, breathing the same air, drinking the same water: it's unsanitary!
Actually, I was at a workshop on advanced technology and terrorists where many "doomsday" scenarios were discussed, and several participants came out of it saying that space colonies were looking pretty damn good. It's hardly a solution to the immediate problem, of course, and pace Bob Zubrin it won't serve to put bin Laden in his place. But long term, it's probably the only way humanity can survive.
FOUAD AJAMI WRITES:
The military campaign against bin Laden is prosecuted, and will surely be won, by the U.S. But the redemption of the Arab political condition, and the weaning of that world away from its ruinous habits and temptations, are matters for the Arabs themselves.
A darkness, a long winter, has descended on the Arabs. Nothing grows in the middle between an authoritarian political order and populations given to perennial flings with dictators, abandoned to their most malignant hatreds. Something is amiss in an Arab world that besieges American embassies for visas and at the same time celebrates America's calamities. Something has gone terribly wrong in a world where young men strap themselves with explosives, only to be hailed as "martyrs" and avengers.
No military campaign by a foreign power can give modern-day Arabs a way out of the cruel, blind alley
of their own history.
Ajami is right about this. Arab political culture has been deathly ill for decades, and in many ways for centuries. The question is, can we do anything to help with this problem? We can crush the manifestations of it with military force. But what then? I'm not convinced that neo-Imperialism
is the answer, as some are saying, and even if it were I'm not sure that American political culture is well-suited for assuming that role (which I regard as a good thing for American political culture).
"WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO BE AN AMERICAN? BEING AMERICAN IS JUST BEING BORN IN THIS COUNTRY" This is one of several unencouraging statements of nonpatriotism from students at a D.C. -area Islamic school, as reported in the Post. As hard as the country has tried to extend the benefit of the doubt to American Muslims, attitudes like this aren't going to help. "If I had to choose sides, I'd stay with being Muslim. Being an American means nothing to me." If these attitudes are widespread -- and this isn't the first such story I've seen -- it's very bad news for the position of Muslims in America. Very bad. If you think Catholics and Jews had problems with "dual loyalty," issues....
Of course, this story emphasizes that the Islamic school they attend is, essentially, controlled by the government of Iran, and that such attitudes are not widespread among American Muslims. But they're certainly more widespread than such attitudes were among German-Americans or Japanese-Americans in World War Two, by all evidence -- even though the Japanese-Americans, in particular, had experienced enough discrimination to make such attitudes more understandable.
What's funny is, they've internalized a lot of American attitudes or they wouldn't speak so freely to the press.
THIS INTERESTING STORY from MSNBC tells of students at a strict Islamic school in Pakistan who were shown a videotape of the WTC attacks. (This was new to them, as was TV). They were shocked, appalled, and considered it a crime against humanity.
They also couldn't believe that any Muslim would have done it. This wasn't a faked reaction, but a sincere one. We ought to be able to make propaganda use of this, shouldn't we?
WORDS TO LIVE BY: Reader Bill Woods sends this quote from a novel by Keith Laumer:
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured
[Retief]. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead troublemaker."
A BUNCH OF WOMEN'S (i.e., abortion) CLINICS IN TENNESSEE have gotten anthrax mail today -- either real or fake, no word on which yet. I imagine that this is happening around the country, or soon will.
Way back in August, I said that the stem-cell thing was marginalizing the hard-core antiabortion crowd. If they turn out to be the source of these (and that's not certain; it could be Ladenites, after all, since they probably aren't into Planned Parenthood either) I predict it will be the death knell for the pro-life movement.
Capitalizing on terrorism? If this is Operation Rescue, then they're no better than the RIAA.
Of course, if it's the Ladenites, attacks on abortion clinics might be just what it takes to finally bring Barbara Kingsolver and Susan Sontag around....
I'M READING HAMPTON SIDES' Ghost Soldiers right now. Excellent book by a guy I knew slightly at Yale. One quote shows the difference between our current style of warfare and that in WWII: a report to HQ from a ranger unit, complaining "Here we are, with all these goddamned bullets and no Japs." In the end, of course, we were quite gracious to the Japanese. After we beat them.
STILL MORE PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE IDEAS ON PsyWarUpdate.
MIKE KINSLEY has some ideas for beating bin Laden that seem, well, worthy of the RIAA.
A READER OFFERS THIS THOUGHT:
The fanatical Muslims who committed the attacks of 9-11 are the modern moral equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan. They are religious bigots who believe that God has legitimized the killing and terrorizing of innocents in a fallacious 'defence of their culture'. Islamic supremacy is no more justifiable than White supremacy.
Hmmmm, AND... both the KKK and Fanatic Muslims said (say) that their actions are necessary to defend their women's innocence from oversexed barbarians...
I wonder what Barbara Kingsolver thinks about this?
JONAH GOLDBERG HAS IT FIGURED OUT: Why did the terrorists send anthrax to the National Enquirer?
Anyway, my idea's that they sent that envelope of anthrax to "American Media" because they were given explicit orders to attack "the American media." Some former goatherd or eye surgeon or whatever — you don't need to be poor and uneducated to be ignorant — simply grabbed the yellow pages and looked up "American Media." And, lo and behold, there was an address. How convenient!
I'm sure they were more than a little confused when they tried to look up the other targets on their to-do lists — "The Jew-Run Media," "The Military-Industrial Complex," "Joe Sixpack," "American Soccer Moms," and so on — but, hell, "The American Media" was number one anyway.
The funny thing is, after the Osama Bert Laden poster this almost makes sense. There's a deeper point to his column but I won't spoil that by telling -- go read the whole thing.
KNOXVILLE IN THE NEWS: Well, maybe life is getting back to normal. Of course, it depends on your definition of normal.
SPEAKING OF MEDIA: Read the exchange between Charles Pierce and George Zachar (beginning with Pierce's post on 10/13) in Jim Romeneko's MediaNews letters. Pierce and Jenkins should team up for their reporting.
Pierce's self-righteous and condescending arrogance is a good example of why people don't like -- or trust -- the press the way they used to. If this arrogance actually produced better reporting, maybe it would be excusable. But I don't see any great trend toward better reporting over the past 25 years. Just more self-righteous, condescending arrogance. Pierce should have to watch the Saturday Night Live skit about press coverage of the Gulf War 100 times.
Am I making too much of press incompetence and arrogance? Hey, once, in a story about Arthur C. Clarke and the Nobel peace prize, the New York Times couldn't even copy my name off the nomination letter without changing it to "Glenn Harlan Roberts" -- and then they wouldn't publish a correction. What would Perry White say?
THE MEDIA CONSORTIUM THAT'S DOING A FLORIDA RECOUNT WON'T REPORT ITS FINDINGS. Josh Marshall thinks that's bad. So do I. So, I understand, does Rush Limbaugh, who apparently has suggested that the reason the consortium isn't publishing is that it became clear that Bush won.
Whatever. I agree that, at this point, the endless Florida rehash seems like yesterday's -- hell, yesteryear's -- news. But that's no reason not to report it. With even Gore insiders saying they'd rather have Bush in the White House now, I can't imagine that even a very negative outcome for Bush would matter.
So why keep it quiet? I mean, with NPR editor Loren Jenkins saying he'd report the whereabouts of U.S. special forces on secret missions if he found them out, why keep this story under wraps?
IDIOTS OF THE WORLD UNITE. HERE IS YOUR LEADER.
MUSLIM WOMEN SPEAK OUT ON ISLAM, TERRORISM & OPPRESSION HERE.
MORE INTERESTING PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE proposals in PsyWarUpdate. Check 'em out.
JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS are about to be an issue, though no doubt a more muted one than they would otherwise have been. Here is a website providing all sorts of useful and up-to-date information on what's going on. It includes a list of nominations, vacancies, confirmations to date, blue-slip status, and so on.
The ready availability of this information on the Web represents a net loss of power for the Senate. Interesting and clever.
WORRIED ABOUT NUKES? This website purports to show the effects of a nuclear detonation in your hometown, superimposed over a map so you can see how you'd do.
It's kind of bogus, really. First, the smallest weapon it uses is one megaton -- which is larger than the vast majority of actual military warheads. A terrorist warhead would probably produce about 1/100 the power. A "suitcase" or "backpack" nuke of the sort that the Soviets may or may not have lost would be even weaker.
It seems to me to be rather negligent to put this information up and not explain that stuff. Even in the context of 1980s-style nuclear war fears, this map would be misleading. As applied to terrorist bombings it's worse than useless. But since I've noticed people linking to this, I thought I'd mention it.
UPDATE: Reader Chris Daley thinks I was unfair here, and should mention that this page is connected with a documentary on the making of the H-Bomb. That's true (though it's still a bit exaggerated). But it's being presented on a number of websites as if it has some relevance to terrorist nukes. It doesn't.
A PHOTO TRIBUTE TO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER IS HERE.
RICHARD BENEDETTO raises disturbing issues about young Muslims in America:
[I]magine young German Americans refusing to fight Hitler or Italian Americans refusing to fight Mussolini in World War II. To them, the war was a chance to convince a populace that wasn't quite sure they were truly Americans.
Hmm. Perhaps the reason why they felt that way was because they feared the consequences of being thought disloyal.
TED RALL seems to be self-destructing along almost Kingsolveresque lines, and Brendan Nyhan is is helping the process along with this dissection of an apparently deeply dishonest column.
Expect Rall's "It's all about oil" argument to be adopted by the anti-war folks, as a way of distracting people from the fact that it's actually all about mass murder.
READER MARTIN PRATT shares this photo of Osama bin Laden at school in 1971, and adds this comment: "He doesn't look like the kind who could get laid easily, even then....."
I HAVEN'T DEBUNKED BARBARA KINGSOLVER'S LATEST because, frankly, I just couldn't bear to read it a second time -- it's just too stupid and pathetic, and debunking it would have felt, well, too cruel given the obvious intellectual haplessness of the author. But fortunately, Matt Welch has no such scruples, and his takedown is devastating.
ADVANTAGE: INSTAPUNDIT. Last week I wrote about my suspicions that the RIAA had its grubby little fingers in the "antiterrorism" bill. Now, Wired News is reporting that I was right. In fact, the RIAA even tried to sneak in an amendment that would allow them to hack your computer and delete unauthorized MP3 files. Oh, yeah, that's "antiterrorism" all right. (Why do you think I always put the word in quotations marks when I'm talking about this bill?)
This, folks, is war opportunism that verges on treason. And it makes the Weekly Standard's accusations of unpatriotism aimed at people who asked questions about this legislation even more indefensible. The Standard probably didn't know this when Tell's editorial was written, but now I think they owe an in-print apology to the people they've defamed -- and they should run a cover story denouncing the RIAA for its opportunism.
You want to lose the war on terrorism? Just let Americans become convinced that it's nothing more than an excuse for corporate bailouts and power-grabs. We've already had the airline bailout. Now this. How much more can we take before the much-vaunted trust in government after 9/11 collapses into another post-Vietnam, post-Watergate funk? And it'll be a richly deserved one, too.
War calls for sacrifice. And that includes sacrifice from sleazy lobbyists and the sleazy people they represent. Otherwise we're not citizens. We're suckers.
UPDATE: Brendan Nyhan of SpinSanity is uncomfortable with my "verging on treason" language above. Well, maybe he's right. But it's criminally irresponsible to do things like this, at a time like this. Ari Fleischer was right to say that people need to be careful what they say and do right now. And I include both lobbyists and Bill Maher in the category of "people."
THE WEEKLY STANDARD HAS ALWAYS BEEN A DISAPPOINTMENT, but this piece by David Tell is particularly pathetic. It's basically an uncritical serving-up of FBI ass-covering. "We didn't spot the hijackers because our hands were tied by namby-pamby civil libertarians."
Actually, the FBI didn't spot the hijackers because they weren't looking very hard, and they weren't smart enough to put together the pieces of information they already had. They'll send hundreds of men on a snipe hunt for Eric Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina, or come crashing through the doors of some guy that the MPAA or RIAA want prosecuted, but they've been lousy on foreign terrorism pre 9/11. Tell and the Standard should be embarrassed to swallow this self-serving tale whole, and even more embarrassed to call Republicans who are protective of civil liberties the next thing to traitors, which he does.
If Tell were serious about using government power to further the security of the United States, he'd be calling for heads to roll at the FBI and the CIA. It's now apparent that they had the pieces of the puzzle, but didn't put them together because of bureaucratic turf concerns and inadequate analysis. The solution to that isn't more laws to let them gather data -- it's competence. I wish the Weekly Standard were as interested in national competence as it is in national "greatness."
When it first appeared, I had hopes that The Standard would be a right-wing version of The New Republic. But its boring party-line orthodoxy and uncritical boosterism of big government make it more like a right-wing version of The Nation. Not a conservative version, you understand. Just right-wing.
OSAMA BERT LADEN: More on why we should make fun of him, and wear bin Laden Halloween masks, from Andrew Stuttaford in NRO:
So let's have those bin Laden masks, the nastier the better, and take it from there. This is someone to jeer and to scoff at, a clown in a cave to be mocked, parodied, derided, lampooned, taunted, and ridiculed, a jerk on a jihad that we can only despise. Our laughter will help cheer us up, and, who knows, so great is the reach of the Western media (ask Evil Bert), it may also transmit a message to some of those in the Muslim world who now demonstrate their support for terror, an important message about the man that they so admire.
He's a loser.
Perhaps, in a fitting act of revenge for the anthrax attacks, the National Enquirer
should translate its "Osama hates America because an American woman once made fun of his tiny penis" story in to Arabic, and distribute a million or so where they'll do the most good.
DEBUNKING ANTHRAX HYPE: Michael Fumento offers this clear-eyed view of the anthrax threat, cutting through the media's fearmongering:
These horrific "what ifs" are about as useful as observing that American stores stock enough bullets to kill every last citizen — if we all obediently lined up for a single shot to the back of the neck.
The only mass deaths apparently connected with anthrax came from an accidental release of apparently about one trillion spores at the Sverdlovsk (now Yekatinerinburg) biological weapons compound in the former Soviet Union in 1979. Records show that of the 1.2 million residents of the city, only 66 perished.
Meanwhile, Fumento points out, as people are clamoring for Cipro and anthrax vaccines, they're skipping flu shots -- even though flu kills 20,000 Americans a year.
Yeah, but if Tom Brokaw's personal assistant died of flu, we'd see a lot more stories about that, too.
BELLICOSE SOCCER MOMS: Virginia Postrel and Joanne Jacobs have some interesting observations on this phenomenon. I still think that female bellicosity is the most underreported story of this war, especially by contrast with other recent conflicts.
ANTHRAX WHODUNIT: Reader Jim Henley offers these critical observations on who might have been behind the anthrax attacks:
Instapundit is around the fourth link to the Guardian story I've seen, so I've read that thing a lot now. There's _nothing_ in the way of proof in that article. Aside from unsourced comments by unnamed officials - very possibly from the ranks of "the bombers," as Powell calls the Wolfowitz-Perle group - the
actual logic of the piece amounts to, "1) It costs a lot of money and requires high-tech equipment; 2) States have money and high-tech equipment; 3) We have no reason to think it was Iran, so it must be Iraq."
I can't dignify this argument by calling it a syllogism. Okay, it costs a lot of money and you've got to be able to get some fancy centrifuges. So it needs a state sponsor maybe. (And _maybe_ is the word.) Who
has lots of money and can get high-tech equipment and, oh, had to fire their spy chief recently? I mean, besides Pakistan...
Say it with me now: The Pre-Hashemite Kingdom of Arabia.
And no, there's nothing in the way of proof in this e-mail either. But I think it makes at least as much sense.
Hmm. Food for thought. Personally, I'm not entirely convinced that there's a state behind this either. While lameness & ineffectiveness are
hallmarks of a Saddam Hussein operation, he doesn't have a monopoly on ineptitude. And putting together an attack that involves non-weaponized anthrax by mail really doesn't require state resources.
THE GUARDIAN BLAMES IRAQ for the anthrax-by-mail attacks.
Hmm. It's lame and ineffective. Those are hallmarks of a Saddam Hussein operation.
PSYWAR UPDATE now has some reader suggestions; pretty good ones. Feel free to contribute your own to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHURCHILL LIVES: Just read this editorial in The New Republic.
If America is less afraid of body bags now, it may be because we have already sustained six thousand of them (or we would have sustained six thousand of them, if many of the victims of Al Qaeda had not been burned and crushed into nothingness). We may be witnessing the end of Vietnam Syndrome, and Somalia Syndrome, and Gulf War Syndrome: a war without syndromes, waged in our own defense. A just war that is not holy war, but wholly war.
It makes an interesting point: having killed so many on 9/11, it will be hard for the Ladenites to make an impression now. Even doubling or tripling that number (which I rather doubt they can manage, or they would have done it already) wouldn't make double or triple the impression. People are in a wartime mentality, and further attacks will only strengthen that attitude.
THE REDOUBTABLE RAND SIMBERG now has a weblog of his own, which he says was inspired by InstaPundit.
His comments on Bob Zubrin's efforts to turn antiterrorism into a Mars-colonization scheme are amusingly tart.
OKAY, OKAY: Dozens of you have written to correct the reader who said that the Roman matrons told their sons to come home with their shields, or upon them. It was the Spartans. Hmm. I know that the Spartans said this, but I was taught in Latin class that the Romans said it too. Perhaps in imitation of the Spartans? Boy, can't get anything by you guys, though.
ACCEPTABLE DAMAGE: In a CNN.Com poll, 87% of responders find the civilian deaths in Afghanistan from Allied air strikes acceptable.
NEW FEATURE: PsyWar Update is a feature with ideas for psychological war against terrorism. A few "rumor starter" items are posted. Send your suggestions to email@example.com and I'll post the best one. Ideally they should be (1) plausible; (2) amusing; and (3) likely to spread fear, worry, and infighting among the ranks of people who don't like us.
PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE: I'm going to list some suggested approaches. Start thinking about what might work.
ER, YES MA'AM: A bellicose email from bellicose reader Janis Gore:
To any man, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Ba'hai, animist, atheist, agnostic or other, Arab, Latvian, American, Norwegian, Uzbek, Thai or other, white, black or brown:
If you threaten to interfere with the life, liberty or health of my mother, my sister or her daughter, my brothers' wives, their mothers, sisters and daughters, my mother-in-law, or her daughters or granddaughters, or Mr. Reynolds wife or daughters, or Ms. Virginia Postrel or Ms. Joanne Jacobs, or an inspiring schoolteacher escorting a promising student on a National Geographic trip, I reserve the right to blow your balls off.
To the soldiers in the field: AIM LOW!
I pity the fools. I really do.
BUGS BUNNY GOES TO WAR: Here are some examples from the last major war, courtesy of reader Patrick Hoffman.
THIS LETTER in the Washington Post talks about a story saying that the Al-Qaeda have thousands of young people who look forward to death as Americans look forward to life -- and says that this is why we will win.
Sounds to me like the "crack suicide squads" from the Judean Peoples' Front. (More and more, the Ladenites seem like Monty Python gone bad).
It also reminds me of George Patton's remark that you don't win wars by dying for your country -- you win wars by making some poor stupid bastard die for his.
ANTHRAX PANIC: While I was at the gym, I was listening to Sam Donaldson interrogate Tommy Thompson. It was like listening to a bad lawyer badgering a witness. Donaldson was desperate to get Tommy Thompson to say that the United States was "unprepared." Why? We're neither unprepared nor prepared for all contingencies. Thompson kept trying to give sensible answers, and Sam just kept trying to bore in. I don't know what he thought he was accomplishing.
The media are still treating this like last summer's shark-attack panic. What Thompson should have said is, "Sam, this is a war. Nobody's safe in a war. We'll do our best to protect everyone, but things aren't normal, and there' some risk. But the risk that Americans face is nothing compared to the certain destruction facing our enemies. So buck up, man, and show some backbone here!"
HMMM -- Just a thought in relation to Virginia Postrel's idea on Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians, below. President Bush said something about "a" Palestinian state. But he never said where that Palestinian state might be....
BELLICOSE SOCCER MOM UPDATE: Okay, most of what's on The Nation remains irredeemably disconnected from reality. But even Katha Pollitt is beginning to sound vehement when discussing the Taliban's misogyny. She even likens them to Nazis, a condemnation usually reserved for Republicans.
It being The Nation, of course, her solution must be both impossible and self-contradictory (what we need, she says, is "not more war" but rather the "disarming of both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance" and the creation of a democratic state -- and how, exactly, she proposes to accomplish this without, well, a war, is left unstated) but the fact that even Pollitt -- who appends another minor anti-American flag item to this column -- is talking about the Taliban this way should provide some sense of how much idea-space has been made available for war. After all, The Nation still regards Stalin's starvation of the kulaks as agricultural reform.
NOW KEN LAYNE IS RAISING THE HUE AND CRY, TOO: Where the hell is the coverage of the Pro-American/Antiterroist Fatwa by leading Muslim clerics in the middle east? Huh? Where? Isn't this more important than Tom Brokaw's personal assistant having to take antibiotics? Isn't it? Well? Isn't it?
TONY ADRAGNA says that this story pretty much sums up why he hates unions. Hates unions? But Tony's a good lefty. Or at least, he was, until stuff like this got to him, I guess. Note to the labor movement: when you've lost Tony Adragna, and you've got Cynthia Tucker (!) editorializing against you, it's a pretty good sign that you've moved out of the mainstream. Waaay out.
CALLING MICKEY KAUS: Today's New York Times recycles the Osama Bert Laden story already covered by FoxNews.Com (which seems to have gotten there first) and many other places days ago, with, as usual, no credit being given.
UPDATE: Virginia Postrel informs me that Declan McCullagh got to the story first, on his Politech site and at Wired News. I should have known.
N.O.W. IS STILL SQUISHY writes Amy Holmes, but women in general are far more ready for war. Yep.
ROBERT KAPLAN offers this realpolitik view of the middle east:
Anyone who now complains about the difficulty of dealing with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan should note that if those regimes change, the result will likely be more political actors in each country with which to negotiate--corrupt politicians, middle-ranking officers, and clerics--most of whom will exhibit far less moderation than the current leaderships. Recall that the Pakistani intelligence services facilitated the creation of the Taliban in Afghanistan not during military rule, but during the tenure of elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Yeah, but the Pakistani ISI facilitated the creation of the Taliban in service of the same realpolitik
concern with stability, and indifference to higher ideals, that Kaplan sets out here.
The truth is, the status quo powers there are -- pretty much across the board, except maybe in Morocco -- failing to keep the lid on things. The Saudis, for example, appear to have been funding the very people with whom we are at war, to the tune of millions -- maybe hundreds of millions -- of dollars.
I agree that at the moment, a rush to democracy would produce "one man, one vote, one time" as in post-decolonization Africa. But that's no reason to be overly wedded to the status quo, which is also unsatisfactory.
It's enough to (almost) make you miss the Ottoman Empire -- strong enough to keep the region under control, weak and corrupt enough to not cause too many problems of its own. And it's worth considering that the only times that region has seen peace is when some outside power has sat on it. Hard. The Arabs didn't like being sat on by the Ottomans, but they were, for 600 years. Now many of them look back on that period as a golden age.
Long term, though, the only thing that will bring peace to the region is the inculcation of bourgeois Western values. That must be the long-term goal, though I admit that it is a long-term project, not something that will happen in a year, or five, or ten.
BELLICOSE SOCCER MOMS: A reader writes: 'Why should you be surprised at their belicosity? Women can be much more ruthless in their relations than men. It was after all the Roman *mothers* who advised their sons, "Come back with your shield, or on it."'
TORI AMOS has a plan for settling the Taliban's hash once and for all. What's funny is that even though it's, well, kind of dumb, it would in fact be the Taliban's worst nightmare.
IN DEFENSE OF OFFICE ROMANCE: It seems to have worked out at Nerve, according to this article from the New York Times, even in the post-breakup phase.
This isn't a big surprise to me. But then, someone once told me that I didn't have an "old boys' network" so much as an "old girlfriend network," so maybe I'm unusual. But I always figured that if you liked someone well enough to date them -- really date them, I mean, not just a few times -- then you probably ought to like them even when you're not dating anymore.
There seem to be two classes of people on this one: those who think such an attitude is "sick" (as someone once told me), and those to whom it's obvious. That probably signifies something deep, but I'm not sure exactly what it is.
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