FACT-CHECKING THE OBSERVER: Reader J. Ryan Gilfoil points out this article, which contains the following howler:
A single US nuclear-powered carrier group - which forms around the USS Enterprise, for example, with a flight deck almost a mile in length and a superstructure 20 storeys high - concentrates more military power in one naval group than most states can manage with all their armed forces. America has seven of these battle groups.
(Emphasis added). Well, actually that overstates carrier flight deck length by a factor of about five
-- but on the other hand, we have twelve, soon to be thirteen, carrier battle groups, not seven (nine, I believe, are nuclear). Don't these guys check anything?
UPDATE: Reader Philip Ngai sends this link to a nonofficial page that says there are eight (still not the same as seven!) carrier battle groups; presumably the extra carriers are there to support rotation, etc. Also, unless I'm mistaken (and I may be -- it's been a while since I paid attention to this stuff) carrier battle groups may involve more than one carrier in wartime.
A CONCISE TAKE ON THE WAR TO DATE:
In late September, news agencies all over the world printed this concise cultural analysis made by Afghan mujahedin fighter Maulana Inyadullah, the Ricky Carmichael of eXtreme Musliming:
The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death.
Well, it's January and I'm drinking a Pepsi and Mr. Inyadullah is probably dead. So, contrary to the dire predictions of the clerk at the food coop, the war had a happy ending for everyone.
THIS IS A GOOD COLUMN.
TIM BLAIR has the long-awaited Princess Margaret / Linda McCartney comparison.
UTHANT.COM is, er, grossly disrespectful of Big Media.
STEVEN DEN BESTE'S comments on "asymmetrical warfare" are so good that I'll forgive him for his dig at the Knoxville World's Fair -- especially as it's basically true. On the other hand, I worked there (I was in college then) and enjoyed a number of, er, social opportunities as a result -- and also drank a lot of Foster's and VB at the DownUnder Pub in the Australian pavilion. So from my standpoint, it was a royal success.
HERE'S A LINK TO THE WEEKLY STANDARD BLOG PARODY. Pretty cute.
MEGAN MCARDLE has an excellent response to the people who keep emailing her.
FACT-CHECKING THE SPECTATOR: Reader Steve Gardetto writes from Estonia to identify a serious howler in Simon Heffer's "Americans are Cowards" article:
As an American who's lived in Europe for the last eight years, I tend to pay special attention to articles by Europeans about how Americans are afraid to venture abroad after this or that war, terrorist act, etc. Thus I quickly clicked to the story in The Spectator on this topic. Unfortunately, author Simon Heffer couldn't even get through his first paragraph without "dropping a clanger": his claim the double-Oscar-winning actor in "The Best Years of Our Lives," veteran Harold Russell, had lost his hands in combat in Normandy in 1944. I've seen the powerful film several times, and thought right away that something about that statement wasn't correct. Five Google-minutes later, a half-dozen sites confirmed my recollection that Russell's injuries occurred in North Carolina. It's a small point to be sure, but the lesson is that it was so easily verifiable:
Heffer had apparently done some research, because comments about Russell and the film continue throughout the article. It's so much easier to check the facts these days (someone in the Blog world got off a memorable line: "We can fact-check your ass!"). I would've hoped the literati who use American films to snipe at American foibles would want to get their facts straight first, but apparently this basic step is beneath them......
Nothing's beneath them, Steve.
Another excellent point that many readers have made is that lots of Euros are complaining about the absence of Americans since September. They seem annoyed to discover just how dependent they are on Americans economically, as well as militarily. As reader Jim Martinec notes:
The Chairman of Chelsea Football Club called Americans cowards back in November. His claim was that his club was being hurt financially because Americans were not traveling to see them play. Of course one can reflect on how ridiculous it is that a soccer team must rely on foreign visitors to maintain financial solvency.
One might easily answer that a) Americans do not need the British to maintain their economy. The simple fact is that they need us more than we need them. The other answer: b) Is that the US economy took a serious hit on Sept. 11 and Americans are simply not wasting their money by putting it in the hands of greedy foreigners.
Perhaps they should be brave and face the truth that their economic well being is more reliant upon America than vice versa.
I do know a number of people who are swearing that they won't travel to Europe any time soon as a result of the various anti-American comments emanating from the Eurocracy and the commentariat there. That can't account for all of it, of course, but it doesn't help. I know that instead of my usual case of French beaujolais nouveau for the holidays, I stocked up on excellent Chilean and Argentinean merlots and cabernets, which were cheaper and just as good -- and which didn't come from countries that were loudly criticizing the U.S. And I doubt I'm the only one. Again, stuff like this isn't going to make or break an economy, but it does add up. Furthermore, the idiotic comments of Eurocrats guarantee that we will taunt them some more
UPDATE: Reader H.G. Bare forwards a copy of this letter sent to The Spectator:
Would you please advise Mr. Heffer, that, contrary to his arrogant article, the major reason for Americans not visiting Europe is that they have no reason to get even closer to the source of the recent spate of insulting criticisms of our country.
Thank you very much for your kind attention to my request.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who calls himself "Ross the Anointed" sends this:
If you read all of Simon Heffers article you come across this paragraph:
There is, of course, no question but that the response of that country to the attack on its people and our civilisation has been resolute, nhesitating and unflinching. It is hard to believe that any other country in the developed world would have had the determination and conviction to respond in such a way, even if it had had the military resources to do so. Mr Blair might have done it, though it would have had to have been without the support of many in his own party. Judging by their footling response to 11 September, big European countries such as France or Germany would probably have reacted by plunging into chaos and self-doubt.In fact if you look at the bulk of Heffer's writing in the Daily Mail you can see he is very pro-american, and utterly loathes Chris Patten and the E.U. Bearing in mind that opinion polls in the U.K suggest around 90% of people support the USA, I think there may be a danger of you and some your readers becoming "Jesse Jacksonised" ie. scouring the worlds press for some trivial thing which you can construe as racism/ anti-americanism. That said the behavior of some our more left-wing media outlets was appalling in relation to your treatment of the Taliban it was hardly the majority view.
I read the paragraph, but to me it seemed like ass-covering, since it hardly overrides the sentiments expressed in the remainder of the piece. But I freely admit that I'm not familiar with the rest of Mr. Heffer's writing, and so may not have interpreted it as he intended. Are Americans oversensitive? I guess the question is compared to what? Certainly not compared with those Europeans who seem to regard it as a personal affront when Americans call terrorists "evil." But the criticism that I've levelled at Eurocritics has repeatedly stressed the difference between "elite" and general public opinion, and I think that most of the attack-bloggers who are, and will be, savaging Heffer understand that distinction too.
STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: This is the item that won't die -- but it keeps generating interesting email. "Ross the Anointed" has this tidbit to add in response to the above:
First of all I am really impressed at how quick you respond to e-mail. It is quite funny that Ken Bates is accusing any one of cowardice. About six weeks after Sept 11th his team of very well paid soccer players were drawn against an Israeli team, Haipul Tel Aviv, in a European soccer competition (for obvious reasons Israel plays in European competitions, not mid-eastern ones). No fewer than six of his first team squad refused to fly as it was too dangerous. They get paid $50000 a week to travel to Chelsea games and they won't do it, so how he expects Americans to pay to do so is quite beyond me. Happily enough Chelsea were beaten by the Israeli team.
Reader John Hawkins adds this trenchant observation:
I agree with you - we're not afraid of going to Europe, we're just sick of Europeans bitchin' and moaning about us. If we wanted to go someplace where the locals will scold us and call us simplistic warmongers, we could save a lot of money and just go to San Francisco or Berkeley.
Except, we're not going there either. The recession has people staying at home. The American tourism industry is hurting. I was in Hawaii two months ago, and the swank resort we stayed at was a ghost town. Occupancy rates were under 20% (I wondered why the price was so reasonable) in the middle of winter.
Besides, going to Europe entails flying, and flying is a horrible experience these days. The biggest danger I face flying isn't being blown up by a terrorist, it's being arrested for verbally drop-kicking some arrogant idiot at the security check-point.
Yes, there's a recession on, the airlines have gone out of their way
to make flying unpleasant and slower, and -- go figure! -- travel is down. I've got a couple of trips scheduled in the next couple of months, and my big worry isn't terrorism, it's the people whose lives seem to revolve around making my travel experience an unpleasant one.
A LOT OF INTERESTING INFORMATION on who made money from those Enron partnerships.
SIMON HEFFER SAYS AMERICANS ARE COWARDS for not visiting Europe. Hey, Simon -- it's not cowardice: we're boycotting your prissy anti-American asses.
I mean, what about Chris Patten and assorted other EU and French loudmouths would make us want to come spend our money there?
UPDATE: If you've linked in to this item from elsewhere, scroll up a couple and you'll see a lot of reactions.
THE NEW YORK TIMES is citing the Marc Herold casualty figures without even mentioning that they've been previously, and multiply, discredited. Take it away, Brian Silverman and Matt Welch.
NEVER TRUST CONTENT FROM MICROSOFT: Read this example of Microsoft overreaching again, claiming the right to control the hard drive of your computer at its discretion.
Here's my legal proposal: No shrinkwrap or click-through license shall be enforceable if it can be shown that the terms are inconsistent with reasonable user expectations, said determination to be a jury question. Hardcore contractoids will disagree -- but there's no "meeting of the minds" on these damn agreements anyway, so why pretend?
(Link via the always-interesting Dan Gillmor.)
VISITATION RIGHTS WITH (TOO MANY?) TEETH: Richard Bennett links to a story about a new British plan to jail or fine mothers who deny fathers visitation rights (and presumably vice versa, though the story doesn't say that). Fathers'-rights groups have been agitating for this in the United States. The problem is real, but I'm not so sure that jailing parents is ever the right answer to these disputes. But the "get tough on deadbeat dads" era kind of put paid to that sort of thinking, so I suppose this is just inevitable blowback.
ENRON HEARINGS UPDATE: Well, it's not just the blogosphere making fun of Congress on this.
STEPHEN AMBROSE has been condemned by many who say that a student who did what he did would be unceremoniously flunked. Sadly, that turns out not to be the case. Students in Piper, Kansas who turned in papers full of material downloaded from the Internet were flunked by their teacher -- but then their teacher was undermined and squeezed out of her job by the school board. I hope that it's an elected school board, and that at the next election, its members are un-elected. Here's an excerpt that explains what it did for discipline:
The board won't explain its ruling, news of which has belatedly spread across the U.S. But the kids understood it perfectly. "I went to my class and tried to teach the kids, but they were whooping and hollering and saying, `We don't have to listen to you anymore,'" Pelton says.
Yep. The kids got the message, all right.
UPDATE: Now the D.A. is getting involved, threatening to file charges against the school board for holding an illegal secret meeting to change the grades.
LEFT-WING BLOGGERS ARE as scarce as Irish porn, writes Tim Blair, but he's found a few. Left-wing bloggers, that is. Irish porn sites are still missing in action.
NATALIJA RADIC takes on conservatives for their anti-porn posturing. And, as usual, does it very well -- though she neglects to explain the Irish question.
ANOTHER BLOGGER is unimpressed by the Enron hearings:
The same outraged senators who excoriate Enron executives over crooked accounting schemes have no problem promising to protect the Social Security "trust fund," which doesn't exist except in a crooked accounting scheme. Almost every sanctimonious hockwad involved in raking Enron over the coals TOOK MONEY from Enron. And when the country achieved a budget surplus, the same "fiscally responsible" spendthrifts blew every spending cap into high orbit and broke out the pitchforks and front-end loaders to throw tax dollars to the wind.
A lot of people out in Blogland seem to feel this way. (Link via Samizdata
NEXT WEEK'S WEEKLY STANDARD has an amusing blog parody, which so far is not available on their website. It's pretty funny. I wonder if they got permission from Ev to use the "powered by Blogger" logo? Anyway, he's getting a lot of free advertising these days from all the blog-coverage. Why, it's as if that had been his plan all along. . . .
PICKERING UPDATE: Yesterday I mentioned that James Evers was defending Judge Pickering in the Wall Street Journal. The piece is now available to nonsubscribers at OpinionJournal. Excerpt:
In 1967, many locally elected prosecutors in Mississippi looked the other way when faced with allegations of violence against African-Americans and those who supported our struggle for equal treatment under the law. Mr. Pickering was a locally elected prosecutor who took the stand that year and testified in a criminal trial against the imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was accused of firebombing a civil rights activist. Mr. Pickering later lost his bid for re-election because he dared to defy the Klan, but he gained my respect and the respect of many others as a man who stands up for what is right.
In 1976, while serving as chairman of the state Republican Party, Mr. Pickering hired its first black political staffer. Mr. Pickering didn't send this person only into the African-American community to look for votes. He felt that the Republican Party's message should be delivered by the same individual to all communities, regardless of skin color. I may not have agreed with the Republican Party's message then or even now, but I certainly admire and agree with Mr. Pickering's inclusive approach to politics.
This seems to give the lie to statements that Pickering represents "a throwback to the days of the segregated South," in the words of Alliance for Justice leader Marcia Kuntz
I thought that Robert Bork deserved to be rejected. It's not because he's an original-intent scholar, but because, despite his claims, he's really not an original-intent scholar. (I've written several articles in law reviews explaining why in great detail). And Bork has done his best to prove his critics right ever since. Unfortunately, the Bork battle has given rise to some bad habits among folks like the Alliance for Justice. I think they're blowing their credibility here.
OLYMPIC COVERAGE may be trafficking in the usual Mormon stereotypes, but here's a counterexample:
According to Governor Leavitt, there will be 1,305 places to buy a drink "within the confines of the Olympic area"—twice as many places as in the two previous Winter Olympics venues of Lillehammer and Nagano combined, he says. And the clean, crime-free, wholesome society envisioned by the founders of the Mormon church produces spike-haired, nihilistic punks (depicted in the movie SLC Punk!), black-clad goths and the highest rate of Prozac consumption in the country. Despite the strong antipathy of the Mormon church to homosexuality, Salt Lake City has an internationally known lesbian underground scene.
Let's hear if for diversity. And for places to buy a drink.
YOU CAN'T TELL THE ENRON INVESTIGATORS WITHOUT A SCORECARD: So here's the scorecard, in the form of a piece by Chris Suellentrop in Slate explaining all the committees investigating Enron and what each is interested in -- er, besides face time on national TV, that is.
PAYPAL GOING PUBLIC? Read this report.
THE UNITED NATIONS has also dropped the ball on North Korean food aid. According to these North Korean defectors, the food supposedly being sent to starving North Koreans is instead being diverted to military stockpiles and being used to feed soldiers and the elite.
Gee. Monitors fooled. Military stuff going on under their noses. No meaningful punishment. I'm shocked to hear that such a thing could happen with the UN in charge.
THE UNITED NATIONS has dropped the ball on Cambodian genocide trials, decades after the genocide. I'm sure, however, that the proposed new international criminal court would be, oh, twice as good as this effort.
MORE HAPPENINGS IN ALGERIA as a major Islamist leader is "killed."
FRENCH UNILATERALISM: I'm deeply dismayed that the French have launched this mission to Afghanistan without consulting other nations.
CHRIS PATTEN, the EU Commissioner for International Relations, is savaging America for "unilateralism." But let's unpack this. Is Patten speaking for a nation, one called Europe? If so, then he's really savaging America for eschewing bilateralism, not multilateralism, since what we have is simply a disagreement between two nations.
Or is he speaking for the many nations of Europe? If so, then why don't they speak for themselves, and why do they need him?
One thing's for sure. He's not speaking for the people who elected him. There aren't any of those.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
Chris Patten's recent anti-American statements have been particularly dismaying, because he played a good part as the last British Governor of Hong Kong.
You're quite right to note that voters didn't elect him to his current position. In fact the last time the voters had a crack at him, he lost. He was defeated for reelection in 1992 by the voters of Bath by a 49 to 42 percent margin, especially embarrassing since at the time he was also Chairman of the Conservative party. The last time he won an election was in Bath in 1987.
And reader Dean Pence writes;
I followed your link to this and was bemused/flabbergasted. Is the Guardian aware of how much this sounds like a parody you might find in the National Review?
Sadly, I don't think they are.
UPDATE: Charles Johnson has an appropriately sympathetic take on Patten's remarks. And the pseudonymous Robert Musil has these observations akin to mine -- along with this question: "When it gets to the point where a politician has to make the kind of disclosure Glenn describes, it becomes pretty obvious that the member states are losing their individuality in favor of the EU ubermind. . . . Can calls to replace the separate EU member state seats at the United Nations in favor of a single EU seat be far behind?"
I think that such calls might be echoing through Blogland any day now.
FRENCH ATHLETES SINGLEHANDEDLY salvage U.S./French relations!
UPDATE: Alison Alvarez writes from Japan with this counter-observation:
It might have been just because I was watching Japanese TV, but the most of the French Athletes didn't really seem to be that enthusiastic about waving the dual French-American flag. A few were waving their flags, but far more seemed to have attached them to their jackets with just the French side showing. Whoever made those flags meant well, but this is hardly a coup in US-French relations.
Darn. I knew it sounded too good to be true.
MICHELLE MALKIN takes on the Environmental Working Group, saying:
The Environmental Working Group is not just a humble "non-profit research outfit," as it is being described by the mainstream press. It is a savvy political animal funded by deep-pocketed foundations with a big-government agenda of their own. And it is engaged in aggressive eco-lobbying that belies its image as an innocuous public charity dedicated to "educating" citizens. . . .
I don't know much about these guys, but what Malkin says about them could be applied to most nonprofits.
The 500 biggest nonprofits undoubtedly have as much influence on government as the Fortune 500, but they -- and their finances -- receive far less scrutiny, even though their lobbying is often done with tax-exempt money. Somebody should look into them. I think that a savvy investigative journalist would find a lot of money-laundering, influence-buying, and insider fraud, not to mention shoddy management and the kind of subtler corruption that comes from trying to maximize your direct-mail revenues. Here's a start.
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT CONGRESS AND THE ENRON PENSION ISSUE from reader Tom Wright:
My problem is with the self-righteousness of the Congress.
If one considers the United States of America to be a corporate entity, then, its management is Congress and its shareholders are its citizens.
In this model, the Senators and Congressmen do not pay into Social Security, but can retire, and continue drawing the same pay until they die (with cost of living adjustments).
Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00, and their wives may draw $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives. Their cost for this excellent plan is $00.00. They voted this plan for themselves and is entirely free to them.
You and I, the shareholders, pick up the tab for their plan.
You and I pay every payday until we retire and can expect to get an average $1,000 per month after retirement (for our plan and theirs).
When I watch the grandstanding by the management of the USA, accusing the management of Enron of doing the exact things to their employees and shareholders that the Congress is doing to its shareholders I am sickened by the sight.
Legal criminals, themselves guilty of self-dealing and gross mismanagement, yelling accusations of alleged self-dealing and mismanagement by Enron executives seems to me to be "the pot calling the kettle black."
Mark Twain was the first to say that, "There is no distinctly American criminal class -- except Congress." ( And, I've only given one example of self-dealing / mismanagement by Congress)
I haven't checked Wright's math, but I've gotten a lot of mail making this point. I note that Congress isn't polling very well, and I doubt that the Enron hearings will help. [NOTE: A couple of people have emailed me to say that Wright's statement about Congressional pensions isn't true, and hasn't been since 1983. Here's a link
to Congressman Jim Kolbe's website on the issue. Wright's beliefs, to judge from my email, are widely shared. And my
point, below, was that Congress as an institution doesn't have the necessary moral standing to wax self-righteous about Enron. And it doesn't. It can't even restrain its own investigation process so as to get something done -- instead, every "was that a camera?" Senator and Representative on the make has to get involved.]
UPDATE: Here's another one, from reader Ray Eckhart:
"...but I just don't think members of Congress have enough moral stature to wax righteously indignant over this affair."
A cry of "For Shame" only works when the audience has respect for and trust in the speaker of the phrase. Else, all that comes across is grandstanding and demagoguery.
Congress and those Media vultures feeding off the spectacle should learn a little humility and make an effort to re-earn the public trust before getting all huffy about others.
These displays have little to do with preventing future Enron's, and everything to do with reelection concerns. It's ugly, obvious, and contemptible.
Reading the Blogosphere keeps me sane, and much less cynical than I used to be.
Thanks, Ray, though if reading the Blogosphere is making you less cynical, you must have been pretty far gone when you started. . . .
A READER SENDS THIS EVIDENCE of anti-male hostility. I think this town needs its consciousness raised, and am sending a team to perform the "Penis Monologues." I believe that Maine suffers from a similar double standard.
JONAH GOLDBERG HAS SOME rich insights into the Byrd/O'Neill faceoff.
I'd like to add one more: O'Neill was sending a signal to Congress that picking on even the politically-weakest member of the Administration is dangerous: try it, and your history with the Ku Klux Klan will be thrown in your face. No accident there.
READER D.W. FITE has spent some time at OpenSecrets.Org and sends this rewrite of the Post's Enron story section that I quote below:
[rewrite with data from opensecrets.org]
Committee Chairman James Greenwood (R-Pa.; Enron $1,000; Arthur Anderson $1,300) referred to "avarice" and "appetite." Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.; Enron $2,000; Arthur Anderson $24,200) darkly intoned that the men were "going to have to live with yourselves" in what he described as the "the dark night of your own souls." Billy Tauzin (R-La.; Enron $6,464; Arthur Anderson $57,000) threw out the word "crooks."
Richard Burr (R-N.C.; Enron $1,000; Arthur Anderson $4,500) used the word "sick" and talked about "greed with no regard for the American lives affected by it." Bass used "nauseating," "cruelty" and "inhumanity." Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.; Enron $4,400; Arthur Anderson $3,000) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.; Enron $1,000; Arthur Anderson $15,117) both referred to the men as "terrorists."
"Was it worth it?" Rush asked. "Was the selling of your morals worth it? Was the selling of your souls worth it? I suspect some of you may answer yes."
Very amusing. As I've said before, I think the OpenSecrets.Org database is going to have a big impact on how this scandal unfolds. In fact, I think it already has.
TIM BLAIR says that anti-globalization protesters have become, quite literally, a joke -- as evidenced by a Conan O'Brien skit he reproduces. I think they're just overshadowed by new protest campaigns with broader appeal, like the right-to-expose-your-breasts movement.
JAMES LILEKS has this hilarious piece on the media and Enron -- at least, it's hilarious at first.
ROBERT MUSIL writes that the real villain of the Enron scandal is Robert Rubin who he says must have known of Enron's problems and kept quiet. Here's an earlier post of his on the same subject, too.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL DISSES THE OLYMPICS in this column today. I agree.
BRITISH JOURNALIST TOM GROSS BLAMES THE SAUDIS for Middle East terror. Excerpt:
Indeed it is the Saudis, not the Iraqis, who one way or another leave their fingerprints on virtually every major development among Muslim terrorists. Take, for example, the recent use of women suicide bombers against Israeli civilians. The Islamic authorities in Gaza have so far ordered only men, not women, to blow up Israeli teenagers. The Palestinians behind these recent female attacks (only one of which was "successful") cite as their inspiration last August's fatwa, issued by the Saudi High Islamic Council, exhorting women to become suicide bombers.
Even with the Taliban's collapse, ideological justifying of the September 11 attacks (and of similar future acts) continues among Saudis. Consider, for example, Saudi Sheikh Safar Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hawali as quoted in Al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic daily, on January 13, 2002: "Since when is the Pentagon 'innocent'? The famous American intellectual Gore Vidal himself called it 'Hell and a nest of Satans'... [It is] a den of spies and a Mafia nest." He went on to describe the World Trade Center as "the center of usury and money laundering."
Note the Gore Vidal quote. Sweet.
BELLESILES UPDATE: A story in today's Chronicle of Higher Education (no free link available) reports that Emory University will be conducting a "formal investigation" of Bellesiles' research. Bellesiles, it is reported, "welcomes" this investigation.
UPDATE: There's a story here on the ABC News website. (The claim by Bellesiles' editor at Knopf that this is all a question of interpretation is, I think, absurd.) Also, Bellesiles critic Clayton Cramer sends this link to a critique of Arming America (one of many) that is available on his website.
And, if you're new to this whole issue, you may want to read this paper by Northwestern University legal historian James Lindgren and Justin Heather. You might also want to read this item from a history email list on problems with Bellesiles' work, as well as this one. Finally, here's an earlier InstaPundit item on the subject. And here's another.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another story on the Emory investigation, this one by David Mehegan in the Boston Globe.
PAUL O'NEILL TAKES ON ROBERT BYRD: I've often felt that O'Neill gets a bum rap. His chief offense is telling the truth. This story of his encounter with Robert Byrd is another example.
NPR COVERED PUNDITGATE just now, but in a labelling fest worthy of Andrew Sullivan's list called Noonan, Kristol, and Kudlow "conservatives," and noted their links to the Reagan and Bush administrations, while just calling Paul Krugman a Princeton economist who writes for the New York Times. From that you'd never know that Krugman is a Democrat who bashes Bush more than just about any other columnist in a major newspaper.
UPDATE: In an email to an InstaPundit reader, NPR denies that they "labeled" people. You can stream the audio yourself here and see if you don't think it's the kind of labelling Andrew complains about. And here's the description from that page:
NPR's Juan Williams reports on Enron's payments of tens of thousands of dollars in fees to Washington opinion makers. The recipients of Enron's largesse include several conservative pundits, who were paid large sums to serve on Enron advisory panels or to make speeches. Even though Enron made no direct attempt to influence the pundits, the payments raise questions about the propriety of accepting money from corporations that they were discussing on the air and in periodicals.
"Conservative pundits?" Like, say, Paul Krugman? No wonder this stuff drives Sullivan crazy.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, compare it to this item. NPR, you've got an image problem.
ENRON IS A DISASTER, and probably a number of people should go to jail. But listening to excerpts from the hearing on NPR yesterday, I just wished that one of the executives would have shot back at the members of Congress who were -- it seemed -- exulting in the failure and in their chance to wax moralistic. A few suggested rejoinders:
"Today you're saying no, no, no, but last night at campaign-contribution time you were saying yes, yes, yes!"
"Perhaps we should compare the honesty of the federal government's accounting procedures with Enron's, congressman?"
"Have you ever met a payroll -- where you couldn't extract the money at gunpoint?"
You get the idea. Sorry, but I just don't think members of Congress have enough moral stature to wax righteously indignant over this affair -- especially since most of them were jostling at the trough for Enron money just a few months ago. I found their posturing offensive. The Enron execs deserve to be raked over the coals, but not by these guys.
UPDATE: Here are some examples of what I mean, from the Washington Post's story today:
Committee Chairman James Greenwood (R-Pa.) referred to "avarice" and "appetite." Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.) darkly intoned that the men were "going to have to live with yourselves" in what he described as the "the dark night of your own souls." Billy Tauzin (R-La.) threw out the word "crooks."
Richard Burr (R-N.C.) used the word "sick" and talked about "greed with no regard for the American lives affected by it." Bass used "nauseating," "cruelty" and "inhumanity."
Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) both referred to the men as "terrorists."
"Was it worth it?" Rush asked. "Was the selling of your morals worth it? Was the selling of your souls worth it? I suspect some of you may answer yes."
Perhaps we should get some of the couple of hundred members of Congress who got Enron contributions on the stand and ask them the same thing?
Also rich is the presence of Jesse Jackson (recipient of undisclosed amounts of money from Enron) at the hearings with laid-off Enron employees. Perhaps he should donate those funds for their use?
A STRING OF DISASTERS for J.P. Morgan. Good thing they're not financing InstaPundit!
THIS RESPONSE TO ANGRY EMAIL is the best I've seen in Blogdom.
MARK BYRON reports another reappearance of the "Q-word" -- this time from a rather delusional Revolutionary Guards commander in Iran. Well, I guess it was too much to hope for its permanent disappearance.
What the Iranian rulers don't seem to understand is that they're already in a quagmire of their own making. Well, actually I think they do understand it. They just don't want to admit it. Even to themselves.
PERRY DEHAVILLAND doubts my theory on Israel/Jordan cooperation. I still think I'm right -- though this statement by King Abdullah could cut either way.
JUST FINISHED READING Walter Berns' Making Patriots, which I read along with Robert Kaplan's Warrior Politics. I may post something on both tomorrow, if I can figure a way to do it without horning in on Andrew Sullivan's book club treatment of the latter.
Speaking of book clubs, Wendy McElroy's ifeminists.com is starting a book club discussion of Daphne Patai's excellent book, Heterophobia. I think this idea may be catching on.
A MYSTERY EXPLAINED: I wondered yesterday (see quote below) where Ted Kennedy's dumb remark about "facing down individualism" came from. Reader Rose Mauro has the explanation:
"'our entire country is banding together and facing down individualism.' You've just got to wonder -- who in Kennedy's office wrote that?"
Well, the obvious answer is one of those 91% of Harvard kids who graduated with honors ...
SAUDI ARABIA IS IN A "SUFFOCATING" ECONOMIC CRISIS, according to Crown Prince Abdullah. They're certainly not benefiting economically from bin Laden's behavior, while I'm seeing dirt-cheap gas everywhere.
SEVERAL TIMES I'VE SAID TO KEEP AN EYE ON ALGERIA. Here's a story on the not-very-good situation there. It's not getting much press coverage.
STEVE CHAPMAN -- unlike David Gergen, who he quotes -- has some sensible and non-hysterical thoughts about preventing another Enron-like failure.
Verne Gay of Newsday and Don Wycliff (well, sort of) agree that American media dropped the ball by not covering -- and barely even noticing -- the explosions that killed hundreds in Lagos, Nigeria.
InstaPundit, of course, did cover the topic, repeatedly. So did SgtStryker.Com.
SUMAN PALIT has a useful and interesting roundup of stories on the terror-money war, with particular focus on hawala.
READER JESSE WALKER writes that the Cuban American National Foundation item that Jay Nordlinger quotes in the item I link to below seriously misrepresents its sources. I've followed the links, and I think he's right.
GOTTA LOVE THOSE Hashemites: Jordan's King Abdullah apparently prevented Iranian-backed rocket attacks on Israel.
I still say that what's going on right now is that the Israelis are dismembering the Palestinian Authority and all the various terror groups there so that there won't be any significant resistance when the Jordanians move in and take over. I'll bet they're getting a lot of intelligence from the Jordanians, and maybe more than that.
CHARLES MURTAUGH is best known around these parts for his blog, but he's got an excellent piece on why Barry Commoner is clueless in TechCentralStation.
HERE'S A LINK to a captured Al Qaeda training manual.
I KNEW IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME until someone wrote this piece.
JAY NORDLINGER links to this item on female lefty journalists speaking cheerily about Cuban prostitution. He sees it as appalling pro-communism.
But it's also a sign that the anti-sex PC feminism of the early 1990s is dead. Sure, it's Cuban commercial sex they're approving. But anytime you can get one of these women to approve of free enterprise and sex in a single statement, you've marked a major social change.
BILL QUICK COINS A NEW TERM, "blackraking," to describe what's being done to Judge Charles Pickering. This does look like a case of overselling a rather weak argument. It doesn't help the critics that Pickering has Medgar Evers' brother defending him in the Wall Street Journal today. (There's a summary of the criticisms and responses on Best of the Web, too).
It seems to me that there's a better case to be made against MSNBC.
MICHAEL KINSLEY is using the "Q" word today, which represents its first appearance in major American punditry in 2002, as far as I know.
His real criticism is of Bush's rather vague war aims. There's something to this: a war against "terrorism" is pretty vague, and a war against "terrorism plus countries we don't like with weapons of mass destruction" is too.
But I think there's a real diplomatic/military advantage to keeping the war aims vague in such public statements, and I think that's what's going on. I don't think Bush's public statements demonstrate any confusion as to who our real enemies are -- I think they represent an effort to keep as many hostile nations off-base and nervous as possible. And it's working.
ANOTHER CONFLICT OF INTEREST at the New York Times. What are these guys, the Arthur Andersen of journalism? (Via Best of the Web).
ON FEBRUARY 6, 1989, the last person was shot trying to cross the Berlin Wall. He's remembered here.
RICH LOWRY SAYS dump the Saudis. I think we should deliver firm, honest, democratic government to Arabia. Oh, wait, that's the same . . .
INSTAPUNDIT: HIT-REFERRER SMACKDOWN CHAMPION!
JESSE JACKSON'S "own little Enron scandal" is reported in The New Republic.
RICK REILLY POINTS OUT A racist double standard in sports. Meanwhile, NPR's ombudsman issues a non-apology for using Yiddish remarks to belittle listeners who complained about pro-Palestinian bias.
These media folks just don't get it, do they?
PICKERING UPDATE: It isn't just Andrew Sullivan who thinks he's being smeared. Law professor reader Jonathan Adler sends this link to a Legal Times story that debunks the attacks on him as some sort of racist:
As a young lawyer in Jones County, Miss., in the 1960s, Charles Pickering Sr. helped put Klansmen in jail.
In the early 1990s, when preservationists and black activists clashed over a "colored only" sign in a county courthouse, Pickering helped craft a compromise that the black community applauded.
And as a federal trial judge, Pickering has tried to keep young African-Americans out of the criminal justice system, convening a group of local civic leaders to try to solve the problem.
When the Senate Judiciary Committee meets Feb. 7 to consider Pickering's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, his liberal opponents won't be focusing on these aspects of the nominee's record. . . .
The campaign against Pickering's nomination has been led by women's rights, civil rights, and abortion rights groups. They have focused on the judge's consistently conservative record on employment discrimination, voting rights, abortion, and criminal law.
According to his opponents, Pickering often "injects his personal opinions" and "bias" into cases he handles. On civil rights, the groups regard him, in the words of Alliance for Justice leader Marcia Kuntz, as "a throwback to the days of the segregated South."
But a look at the 64-year-oldPickering's record shows that although he has often ruled against civil rights claims, the facts of the cases have often tilted strongly against the litigants claiming discrimination.
Sounds like we have another case of overclaiming here.
A PASSENGER who stormed into a cockpit and assaulted the crew of a United Airlines flight was subdued by crew members and passengers. No obvious terrorism link here; sounds like just another wacko.
SOME RELIGIOUS AND CONSERVATIVE GROUPS want the FCC to investigate the Fox show Boston Public for excessive sex. Seems to me that right now the sex investigations need to be focusing on Boston Private.
IN RESPONSE TO MY FOXNEWS COLUMN ON THE OVERSELLING OF INTERNATIONAL LAW A READER (who prefers, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous) writes:
As an employee of [an international relief agency], I wanted to
commend you on your Feb. 7 article on Foxnews.com regarding overselling international law. During the recent uproar over the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, the almost universal sentiment here was that the Conventions obviously apply and the Americans were undermining international law. In order to get a better handle on the problem, I contacted four professors at Harvard, Yale, Cornell and the University of Illinois to get their reactions. All four said they felt the Conventions did not apply. The common concern was that the prisoners had contravened the Conventions and could not be treated as POWs. More importantly, they noted that if POW status was extended to the prisoners, this would undermine the Conventions themselves, endangering the protections for civilians and real combatants.
When I presented this argument to my colleagues, they unanimously were unable to understand the point being made. I found this a bit disturbing, but after five years living in Europe, working with the UN and EU in addition to [my relief agency], I have found this inability to draw distinctions to be the norm here.
That's really sad, but not surprising.
ROD DREHER thinks it's bad that the Justice Department cut back on pornography prosecutions under Clinton. Personally, I think it's fine. Too bad they just put those guys to work on other victimless crimes, though, instead of investigating, say, terrorists or crooked accounting practices.
THAT ONCE-OBSCURE but now famous web publication, The Idler, has an item on bias against Israel at NPR.
UPDATE: Jeff Jacoby has a column on this subject today, too.
IRANIAN DEATH SQUADS KILLING DISSIDENTS? Looks like it. But God forbid we should call the mullahs' government "evil." That would be simplistic unilateralism, typical American cowboy culture, etc., etc. The French appreciate the complexities involved.
A TALL AL QAEDA LEADER has apparently been killed by a Hellfire missile from a CIA Predator drone. No word yet on whether it was Osama, but one can hope. There's something poetic in the idea of him perishing from Hellfire, isn't there?
THE FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER displays France's simplistic policy toward terrorism: blaming the U.S., and Israel, while doing its best to suck up to the terrorists.
This guy's supposed to be a diplomat, right? When our diplomats say things like this, we're told it's because Americans are too stupid and insensitive for diplomacy.
HERE'S ANOTHER STORY of a kid with a gun saving a life. If he'd shot his grandmother, it would be all over the news as a cautionary tale. Since he shot a knife-wielding drug dealer and thus saved her life, it barely makes the South Bend Tribune. Happily, the boy isn't plagued by guilt. He feels proud of himself. And he should.
UPDATE: Er, and his gun-handling skills are certainly superior to those of this "5-year-veteran" Philadelphia police officer who accidentally shot a student after passing her (loaded!) gun around for show-and-tell at an elementary school. Apparently, she removed the magazine but didn't clear the chamber.
READER JAYADEV SUBASH WRITES FROM BRITAIN that antisemitism is mostly an issue among a small set of the chattering classes:
Living in Britain I can honestly say that I have come across almost no anti-Semitic behaviour in the media. In a country with two million Asians don't you think that racism on a skin colour basis in a much bigger problem as it is far more evident to the prejudiced. Britain is a place where numerous racist beatings are ignored in the media and the beating of one white man by a bunch of fourteen year old Asian thugs is given blanket media coverage, therefore to see the main racial problem in Europe as anti-Semitism is nonsense. The so-called "underlying current of tension" towards Jews is non-existent.
The chattering classes about whom you speak are generally people desperately trying to be seen as ultra-liberal left wingers when they probably work in the London Stock Exchange and are not as educated as they would have you believe. Jews are seen as a prosperous and innovative people and while an article may appear in "The New Statesman" I find it very hard to believe that the rest of the British media follow this pattern. From my experience every Palestinian suicide bomber is treated with revulsion. I'm sorry if people feel British newspapers give too much coverage to dead Palestinians but the killing is not completely one way and equal, nay much more coverage is given to dead Israelis. I also feel certain articles that I read from bloggers are blurring the line between being a Jew and the State of Israel (of which I support, but I shouldn't really have to point that out). The opinion of one does not necessarily correspond to the opinion of the other as you have pointed out.
Well, I'm always glad to have firsthand accounts. Of course, the reports of antisemitic violence
(as opposed to remarks) come from France
, not Britain.
UPDATE: Reader Robert Crawford writes:
I don't feel all that reassured by the letter from Jayadev Subash. As you pointed out, he's talking about Britain, not France, and, besides, there's also the rash of anti-American sentiment in the British press. While only the "New Statesmen" may print an article about Jewish conspiracies, it seemed like every paper in Britain jumped onto the accusations of abuse at Gitmo.
European governments (and their supporting elite in the press) appear to have hostile attitudes towards the targets of Islamic fascism and a tendency to pander to Islamic fascists, especially those within their own borders. That worries me.
NORAH VINCENT hates Fear Factor. Well, who doesn't?
But I think she may be missing something. Like The Chair, this show is -- in its own, unutterably stupid way -- a tribute to changed values. Instead of mastering trivia, or weeping, Oprah-like, about trivialities, the shows are about keeping your head while things go bad around you, about staying cool. Yeah, they bear the same resemblance to real war that Who Wants to be a Millionaire? bears to a Ph.D program, but that's not the point -- game shows have to be stupid, as a requirement of the genre. But in their own way, they're harbingers of a different kind of national mood. Sympathizing with whiny wimps is out. We want people who can take it.
UPDATE: Reader Mike Hammer writes with something I should have thought of -- most of those dumb shows came from Europe to begin with:
I spent the summer of 2000 in Madrid doing research. I remember being amazed at the time at the inanity of Spanish television, especially their summer fluff game shows that featured contestants (or celebrity guests) eating disgusting things and performing stunts. At the time I remember thinking it was indicative of a wide gulf separating American from Euro taste. Now, of course, that sort of programming is thriving here.
So when Norah Vincent points out this sort of programming as an example of "why they hate us" we can at least take comfort in knowing that in this case we're the followers, not the leaders. Europe fell for Survivor long before we did; the Spanish versio of Big Brother was the highest rated show in that country in the summer of 2000. So rather than look at reality programming
as an example of American decadence, maybe we should be pointing the finger elsewhere.
I blame the French.
JIM HOAGLAND defends the "axis of evil" language, and says European critics are wrong. This convinces me, as much as any polling data, that Bush is on solid political ground.
TIM BLAIR says that Michael Moore has sold out to the multinationals.
SPEAKING OF "PUBLIC INTEREST" GROUPS, my FoxNews column for today is about how human rights groups are destroying the credibility of international law by trying to turn it into an all-purpose wish-fulfillment and advocacy tool.
I HAVEN'T FOLLOWED THE PICKERING NOMINATION, but Andrew Sullivan says that People for the American Way is smearing Pickering dishonestly.
Sadly, the many lies I've heard from similar groups on the war, and on Enron, and on so many other hot-button political issues, make this assertion believable.
I DON'T HAVE TO WATCH BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, since I have Melissa Schwartz to keep me posted on all the raw sex I'm missing.
WILL VEHRS says that Maureen Dowd's all-the-good-guys-are-women take on Enron will probably generate lots of comparative gender stuff.
I think he' s wrong. That stuff -- much like Dowd herself -- seems so very dated and early-90s to me. And, of course, there's the inconvenience of the facts brought up by Rand Simberg in response.
VIRGINIA POSTREL has several interesting posts (start at the top and just keep scrolling down) on the secrets of retail success that seem to elude sophisticated commentators -- things like low prices, good service, and a nice selection of merchandise. She's dead right on this, but cites numerous commentators who seem to think these issues unimportant, which makes me wonder: why is this so hard to figure out?
AMATEURS 2, PROFESSIONALS 0: Just as it was amateur historians who first caught onto Michael Bellesiles, it appears that amateur historians were noting problems with Stephen Ambrose's work back in 2000, long before professional historians or mainstream media caught on. Is it only non-professionals who read footnotes anymore?
THIS IS YOUR GRANDFATHER'S EUROPE: In response to the various postings on resurgent European antisemitism, a reader from Britain writes:
I'm always amazed by the number of books, TV shows and articles devoted to unravelling the mystery of Hitler's Mind: What Was Wrong With It?
Everyone knows what was wrong with Hitler -- he was a dangerous criminal lunatic. End of. The real question here is Hitler's Many Voters: What Was Wrong With Them?
This brings me to my point. What the hell is the matter with our governments? Why are they deliberately turning a blind eye to this filth? What's wrong with the press? Why do mainstream broadsheets feel no compunctions about running stories that presuppose international Jewish conspiracies? Why is violence against Jewish people or their property largely ignored? And why are "public intellectuals" expressing virulently anti-semitic sentiments with a rather disconcerting lack of inhibition? I think there must be a number of rather obvious factors at work (cheap political opportunism, institutional idleness and incompetence, and faddy notions -- your "individualistic" brainy type is in fact a herd animal at heart). But there is something worryingly inadequate about this sort of analysis.
For the simplest of reasons. Jew-hating is totally irrational. It's visceral and atavistic and as such not readily amenable to analytic deconstruction. I can't say for sure because I'm not a sympathiser but I imagine that it's more akin to getting a catchy jingle stuck in your head than any form of ratiocination [word choice!] like deriving a logical conclusion from argument. I don't think anybody looks at the evidence and decides on balance he doesn't like Jews; I believe it works exactly the other way round. You feel an inexplicable hatred or dislike and then set about finding rationalisations for it. There's something very primitive about the process. That's why it's so frightening and such an intractable curse.
It's an extraordinary popular delusion. The madness of crowds. And just at the moment Europe is suffering from another one of its
Victor Davis Hanson has got it just right: It's your grandfather's Europe.
Well, I'm deeply worried about where Europe is headed. I hope I'm wrong, of course, but I fear otherwise. I suppose the only safe thing to do is to get the French running as much of Europe as possible, so that whatever delusion sets in will be ineptly managed.
RICH GALEN says the Democrats are getting a free pass on lobbying conflicts-of-interest, especially those involving spouses.
RAND SIMBERG says that the Space Transportation Association (see, there's a trade association for everything) still doesn't get it.
MICKEY KAUS joins the crowd piling on Ted Kennedy for his dumb remarks about how "our entire country is banding together and facing down individualism." You've just got to wonder -- who in Kennedy's office wrote that? And why didn't somebody realize just how incredibly stupid it was?
We're fighting people who are willing to die and sacrifice family in the name of a religious ideology that tells everyone exactly how they should live, and Kennedy thinks we're fighting individualism? (Or does he think at all?)
I'm blaming that statement on a Republican mole in Kennedy's office. It's the only explanation that makes sense, besides sheer, unadulterated imbecility.
JAMES LILEKS HAS SOME MOVING REFLECTIONS on the difference between coverage of casualties in earlier wars and those today.
HERE'S A WHOLE SURVEY of antisemitism in Europe, from Haaretz.
IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN USING OPERA, you can find instructions on how to fix things here, thanks to a collaboration between Opera user Rand Simberg and the TCS folks.
ACTIVATING THE MILITIA: FEMA wants 400,000 trained citizens available to respond to terrorist attacks.
TERRY GROSS VS. GENE SIMMONS: Another example of real life being just plain weird.
I HAVEN'T WEIGHED IN on this whole Olympic flag debate because, frankly, I don't care about the Olympics. I never have. They're fake (amateur, my ass), they're dishonest (the IOC makes Enron look like Boy Scouts), and they contribute zilch to world peace, understanding, etc. Basically, they're a bunch of weenies. Other than Jimmy Carter's brilliant use of an Olympic boycott to destroy the Soviet Union, the Olympics have been a big waste of time. It looks as if attendance is likely to be lousy. I'll bet their TV viewership drops this time, too -- especially as the story of IOC America-bashing spreads. (Turns out the IOC is kind of like the war -- American money, European demands for control). It's time to put the Olympics out of our misery. I mean, they're even censoring the ice-skating routines to make them less sexual. What reason to watch is there now?
A BOGUS STUDY EXPLODED, as an intrepid investigative journalist spills the beans of the sisterhood.
TOURISM APARTHEID in Cuba may be Fidel's downfall, according to Damien Cave.
IF IT'S WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, it's time for Print Punditwatch!
THE POWER OF THE BLOGOSPHERE! Half an hour after the post below on French anti-Jewish violence, the fine folks at the Weekly Standard have put the entire Michel Gurfinkiel article on their website. Here's the link. Read it.
I'd like to see more reporting on this phenomenon, which I think has gotten far too little attention.
ISLAMIC BLOWBACK? According to this article, Muslims are converting to Christianity in Algeria, in response to Ladenism. Make of this what you will. (Via Rantburg).
RICHARD STARR of The Weekly Standard writes to note that they did a story by Michel Gurfinkiel on pogroms in France way back on October 30, 2000. It's just not on their website. He sent me a copy; here are some excerpts:
ON THE RICHTER SCALE of anti-Semitism, France has just registered a major quake. From October 1 to October 18, in the space of just two and a half weeks, 6 synagogues were burned down and another 24 synagogues and Jewish schools were targets of attempted arson. Stones were thrown at people outside synagogues, and Jewish kids were hounded or molested on their way to school. There was even a rare shooting: On October 9, a sniper fired an M-16 automatic rifle into the Paris Great Synagogue during the Yom Kippur service. Fortunately, nobody was hit. The police quickly sealed off the Rue de la Victoire and searched the building from which the shot had come, but the sniper was gone, leaving behind only some shell casings. . . .
Most French Muslims are neither fanatics nor Jew-haters. . . . That said, there is also a fundamentalist element in French Islam, with links to organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan Taliban, and Usama bin Laden's group, and for this element, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are articles of faith. Moreover, its influence is growing. The radicals virtually rule the cites, the public-housing complexes where most low-income Muslims live. They manage most of the mosques. And they maintain symbiotic relations with an under-class of delinquent or semi-delinquent immigrant teenagers. . . .
For all their antipathy toward Jews, however, the radical Muslims of France probably would not have unleashed a pogrom without what they saw as the backing of the powers that be. . . . There were many reasons for this sentiment. The French of every political stripe are broadly anti-American and have long resented Israel's special relationship with the United States. Also, ironically, some public officials and citizens who might otherwise have been supportive of Israel were persuaded to look kindly on the Palestinians by "peace-loving" and Likud-hating left-wing Israelis. As for the media, many of them mistook self-righteous agitprop for responsible reporting. . . .
But even more shocking than the violence itself has been the slow and embarrassed official reaction. It took the president and prime minister 12 days to issue statements. And even then, they refrained from the customary symbolic gestures, such as a visit to a burned synagogue or an address to the nation. This was a sharp departure from past practice. . . . A common approach was to call the trouble "interethnic" or "interfaith" and to urge "both communities," Jewish and Islamic, to rein in their extremists, as if the incitement and assaults were evenly distributed.
I very much hope that they'll make this entire article available on the Web. In the meantime, you can easily get it on NEXIS if you have access. This illustrates a long-standing problem, and an Osama bin Laden connection -- as well as shocking (well, okay, not that
shocking) moral cowardice on the part of French journalists and politicians. Note, once again, the implicit support for Mickey Kaus's welfare-causes-terrorism argument.
I AGREE WITH EUGENE VOLOKH (see below) that it's odd just how many people in the West are offended when you call evil people evil. The Soviet Union was an Evil Empire. Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are all evil, too. Those who can't see this, but who call, say, McDonald's or WalMart evil, don't do much to demonstrate their capacity for sound moral judgment.
Anyway, Jonah Goldberg has a nice column on how delighted the Soviet dissidents were with Reagan's Evil Empire phrase, and suggests that there are a lot of people in Iran, Iraq, and North Korea who feel the same way, and who will appreciate that Bush was willing to tell the truth about the regimes governing their countries now.
A WHILE BACK, Virginia Postrel challenged me to prove the power of the Blogosphere by making Brink Lindsey's Against the Dead Hand a bestseller. Well, I never tried that. But Andrew Sullivan has overwhelmed Amazon.Com with his book group's demand for Robert Kaplan's Warrior Politics.
WALTER SHAPIRO poses an important question about the war -- how will we know when we've won?
Back when I was a wargamer, this was never a problem. The games all specified "victory conditions" that let you know who won -- e.g., "Germans occupy Paris for at least two turns and can trace supply back to German border = German victory." Real life isn't that simple.
I also think that the Administration, for political reasons, doesn't want to say what a real victory will look like. Not suffering from political constraints myself (as you may have noticed) I'm willing to do so. Here's what a victory looks like.
1. Iranian mullahs, Saudi royals, Saddam Hussein out of power, replaced by nonhostile, preferably democratic regimes. Islamic fundamentalist leaders around the world neutralized or dead.
2. Friendly, more-or-less democratic regimes in place in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asian republics. ("More or less" means better than at present, though not necessarily up to standards of U.S., India, etc.)
3. Leaders of remaining hostile nations, if any, thoroughly cowed. New conventional wisdom is "don't piss off the Americans."
There. That's not so hard, is it? But you can see why Bush -- who has been savaged by Europeans for his much more moderate language in the State of the Union address, isn't anxious to be too explicit. I suspect, however, that (except for the Saudis, who appear to constitute a dangerous blind spot for the Administration) this is pretty much the definition we're working from.
MEGAN MCARDLE has an interesting link to a story on the biggest bank swindle in history: $750 million! It's believed that the swindler had inside help.
I JUST RAN ACROSS THIS PIECE on the record labels' new problems with copyright misuse law. Sweet. (Via Lou Dolinar).
MORE ON "ANTI-JEWISH VIOLENCE" in France, something noted here, but not many other places, several months ago.
I'VE NOW SEEN GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, and I think she had more than an "eye job." Looks to me like she got an entire facelift, or something close. I'm not complaining -- she looks a lot better -- but why play cute about this?
FOOTBALL, HIPHOP & LARRY LESSIG: MY LATEST TechCentralStation column is up.
MATT WELCH cracks the Kinsley code, and the results aren't pretty. He also observes -- correctly -- that The Atlantic is a terrific magazine these days.
Unlike Harper's, which continues to read like something from 1977. And not something good from 1977, either.
SALON IS IN REAL TROUBLE NOW: A reader sends this item as proof that even The Economist can produce a sex column with more sex in it than Salon's.
EUROPEANS hate Bush's "Axis of Evil" phrase. But it seems to be going over well with. . . Iranians!
"President Bush has spoken to our hearts, which yearn for freedom. He will be remembered as another Abraham Lincoln by the freedom-loving people of Iran." These are words of support from within Iran, in reaction to last week's State of the Union address, uttered by an Iranian calling the Voice of America's Persian service. As a guest at the station that night, I witnessed hundreds of calls, faxes and e-mails from inside Iran praising Mr. Bush. For the first time since the establishment of the theocracy, a U.S. president had chosen to speak to, and for, Iran's downtrodden.
An outpouring of support from within Iran for Mr. Bush would surprise those who have heard loud criticism of aspects of his address, particularly his attack on the "axis of evil," in which he included the Iranian regime. European officials, having begun to cozy up to the Tehran mullahs, are loath to do a turnaround. Besides, the more sophisticated dislike all this talk of "evil."
But not those who suffer under the mullahs' rule, and know evil when they see it up close. An overwhelming majority of the people of Iran welcomed President Bush's comments. Here was an American president who had separated the nation of Iran from its oppressive government.
UPDATE: Here's another piece with the same theme.
UPDATE: And another one!
IF YOU'D LIKE TO READ THE JOHN WALKER LINDH INDICTMENT, here it is.
"I WAS AN ANTIGLOBALIZATION PROTESTER FOR THE NEW YORK POST:" The account is here.
"LET THEM EAT PHILOSOPHERS" -- While this is a sentiment that might have appealed to Michel Foucault, it is also sadly reflective of what France is doing for Afghanistan:
PARIS (Reuters) - Leading intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy will travel to Afghanistan shortly on behalf of the French government to evaluate the needs and expectations of the Afghan population, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.
The dashing philosopher has traveled to the region several times in the past in support of the late Afghan anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Masood, assassinated shortly before the September 11 attacks on the United States.
The 53-year-old Levy rose to fame as part of the generation of new philosophers in the 1970s. He is also celebrated in France as the thinking woman's sex symbol.
You know, it really is getting harder to tell real life from The Onion
ANTI-GLOBALIZATION CONSPIRACY UPDATE: Hmm. A reader sent this link to a New Republic piece from a couple of years ago on right-wing corporate support for the anti-globalization movement.
Also, Brink Lindsey argues that although the antiglobalization protest movement is dying, the vested interests behind it are still there, and pose a greater threat to free trade and global prosperity.
MORE ON THE RETURN OF ANTISEMITISM in Europe, including an antisemitic cartoon in the International Herald Tribune, in this piece by Hillel Halkin in the OpinionJournal.
UPDATE: Reader Eugene Volokh writes:
I'm also worried about some of the anti-Semitic stuff coming out of Europe; and my parents certainly suffered enough from anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union that I'm somewhat sensitive to that.
Still, this whole "To be against Israel is to be against the Jews" thing is old and wrong -- an attempt to shut off legitimate discussion of important public policy questions by accusing your enemies of bigotry. It's the Jewish equivalent of the way the Sharptons in America play the race card.
Consider the following paragraphs
The supporters themselves, of course, insisted they were not anti-Semitic. They were merely anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. But one cannot be against Israel or Zionism, as opposed to this or that Israeli policy or Zionist position, without being anti-Semitic. Israel is the state of the Jews. Zionism is the belief that the Jews should have a state. To defame Israel is to defame the Jews. To wish it never existed, or would cease to exist, is to wish to destroy the Jews. Can this be really right? Are people who oppose the existence of a specific state for West Bank Palestinians therefore bigoted against
This is not something that is as obvious to as many people as it should be. Yet only an anti-Semite can think the world would be
better off without Israel, just as only a Francophobe can think the world would be better off without France. . . .
Palestinians? Are people who oppose a Basque state anti-Basque? Are people who oppose a separate state for American blacks in the Deep South anti-African-American?
Surely not: Not every group of people is entitled to their own state, especially in a place where there are, or not long ago used to be, other people who think they're entitled to their state there. Actually, I *do* think that Israel is entitled to exist, and I do not "wish [that] it never existed" -- but this is a claim that needs to be defended and supported, not just asserted with an "if you disagree with me, I'll call you an anti-Semite." Of course, some criticisms of Israel are anti-Semitic, and the author's points about double standards are effective on that score. But simply asserting that hostility to Israel is *as such* anti-Semitic -- itself a double standard, as the examples I mention above suggest -- only weakens those important arguments.
Eugene is entirely right here. I was focusing on the accounts of events in this piece, but I should have made this point myself. (But, heck, this way Eugene did the work, and probably did it better!) As Poe's Inspector Dupin observed, merely because all fools are poets one should not conclude that all poets are fools. Likewise merely because all antisemites are anti-Israel, it doesn't follow that those who criticize Israel are antisemitic, any more than it follows that all those who criticize Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson are racists.
But in Europe, right now, a lot of people seem to be doing their best to blur this crucial distinction, or at least to render it less relevant.
THERE'S A NEW Argentina-focused blog that may be worth keeping an eye on. So let's keep an eye on it. As one American has said, "I have cried for Argentina."
Well, I haven't cried, but I do feel awfully bad. They've tried pretty hard in recent years -- at least by comparison to the past -- and I hate to see them having more problems. I think their capital-flight problem is only going to get worse now.
THE BLOGGER EXPLOSION: I mean the explosion of articles about Blogger.com, that is. There have been a bunch, and this one, from Newsday is another -- it features quotes from me and Andrew Sullivan, but it's really about Evan Williams and his company. Hope it helps him attract investors, or foundation money, or something.
Oh, and I don't have 20,000 "unique" visitors. (Though, of course, all my visitors are unique in their own way). My guess is that InstaPundit has between 5-10,000 readers who refresh several times a day. Or maybe 500-1000 who refresh constantly.
MORE ON THE CORPORATE / ANTI-GLOBO CONNECTION: I was just kind of kidding when I suggested such a connection, but here's an email on Jerry Pournelle's website that states the case seriously:
The "anti-corporate" movement receives millions in funding from the likes of the Ford Foundation and Ted Turner. I've said before that the anarchist blackshirts are essentially the commando arm of the Hollywood/Madison Avenue Cultural Axis, incited by mass market products like Che posters and the rock band, Rage Against the Machine. This corporate fifth columnism in New York is just more evidence that the whole "anti-globalization" movement is a fraud, designed to serve the interests of the most powerful corporations at the expense of real people, real progress, and the civilized world in general. Look at who they target: the timber industry, the nuclear industry, and the whaling industry. Yessiree, some big players there, especially in advertising. Politically, they champion the Islamic world ($trillion+ market, and notably susceptible to propaganda) against Israel (smaller market than Chicago and riddled with skeptics). They don't often target the SUV industry, the advertising and propaganda industry, or (Allah forbid) the entertainment industry.
Maybe Oliver Stone will make a movie. No, wait, he's one of. . . .
WHY A NATIONAL ID CARD IS A DUMB IDEA: I wrote something on this a while back, but Linda Gorman and Dave Kopel have done a much better job today. Read it.
APPARENTLY, there has been a lot of Israel-bashing (and American-help-for-Israel-bashing) at the WEF. They're right: we should "do more" for Muslim countries.
Let's start by demanding that they be as democratic and free as Israel.
SWEN SWENSON has happy memories of trading gunshots at with a Tennessee Volunteer. But it's all in good fun: the Volunteer was shooting back.
SALON SEXWATCH UPDATE: Nope. No sex today. One passage (about a writer's suicidal fantasies) is almost up to "Mr. Blue" standards, but sex it ain't. Once again, though, Rachael Klein is covering all the bases with an item on erogenous zones. And it sounds like she's got a friend who really, really should meet Dick Morris.
I told you he was ubiquitous today.
HOWARD KURTZ quotes my take on the Ken Lay nontestimony issue today, amid many harsh words for Congress.
ISRAEL AND EUROPE: Bill Quick's observations are almost too good to excerpt, but here's a bit. Read the whole thing, though.
If there is any debt in the world that can be said to be a moral one, then it is the one Europe as a whole owes to the survivors and descendants of the people one part of Europe wantonly massacred, while other parts of Europe pretended that the butchery wasn't happening. But of course Europe, being older, wiser, and more "civilized" than American "cowboys" who pursue such foolishness as supporting the underdog and succoring the weak, acknowledges no debt to an Israel built on those enormous stacks of helpless, innocent corpses. . . .
If agenda-driven leftist European ideologues can hold all America responsible today for crimes committed against black slaves a century and a half ago, or against the armed fighting men (and yes, innocent women and children) of the native American tribes, then how should there be no levy of the same responsibilities against those whose parents, grandparents, and governments either murdered, or collaborated in the murder of six million innocent men, women, and children? And this not in the dead, dusty past, but in nightmares of yet-living memory?
America supports Israel because we must, because we would not be America if we didn't. There will be no repeat of the Holocaust on our watch. That any European could, or would question the source of our determination indicates the sort of moral blindness that has traditionally fortified American distrust of (and disgust with) the old countries.
Now, there are some (partial) answers to what Bill says, but in Europe, as best I can tell, nobody's even bothering to try to deal with this. Instead, they're uttering, or tittering at
, antisemitic remarks.
EVERYONE IS PILING ON SHEILA JACKSON LEE in response to this article that discloses -- among many similar incidents -- that she handles the single-block commute to her office via a government limo. Not exactly earthshaking war-related news here, but it does kinda undercut her stance as a friend of the downtrodden. So do the many incidents of rudeness and intimidation aimed at airline ticket clerks, staffers, etc.
READER DOUG LEVENE has this Enron-related observation:
Forgive me for venting, but here it is: Leftists claim that they are for "people before profits." For Ford to save $10.00/car at the cost of one life/million cars/year is an unacceptable tradeoff. There is no acceptable tradeoff of lives, of personal safety, against mere money, in the Naderite/Anarchist/Socialist weltanschauung. That's OK, I guess, but why then do leftists get so exercised at white collar crimes, such as apparently took place at Enron, which threaten no lives, no one's personal safety, while weeping copious tears for the muggers and other violent offenders who fill our prisons? Logically, if you believe in "people before profits" shouldn't you be more upset at the mugger who steals $5.00 at gunpoint than at the corporate executive who pumps and dumps and walks
away with millions?
Beats me. But I'm sure that Nader has a well-thought-out answer that he's eager to share.
KEN LAYNE has a list of Dan Pearl's stories and concludes:
It's time to forget Hotmailed nonsense about some Pakistanis For The Death Of Wall Street Journal CIA Goons nonsense and realize that Daniel Pearl has been writing damning stories from the Muslim world for seven years. He has written about bin Laden, Iran's fundamentalist government, the movement to topple Saddam and the various pipelines of money to the terrorists.
He was set up. And he was targeted because of his history of covering the most criminal states of the Middle East and Central Asia.
MICKEY KAUS points out that the hidden-messages-in-Osama-videos theory turns out to be true, and asks why Peter Beinart of The New Republic isn't demanding that Charles Schumer be hounded out of office along with Billy Tauzin, given that Schumer took a lot more "tainted" money than Tauzin did.
A TALE OF CLUELESS AIRPORT SECURITY ends with the reason why you should sell your airline stock, if you are still foolish enough to own any:
They drove straight back to Orlando from Milwaukee, arriving two hours quicker in an 1987 Chevy station wagon than the trip north had taken in a Boeing 727.
WANT TO DISCREDIT ISLAM? Let the mullahs take over, writes Mark Krikorian, using the restiveness and anticlericalism of young Iranians as an example. Not such a bad idea, except that it takes a generation.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ isn't overjoyed at the handing out of condoms to Olympic athletes. She's not a big fan of condoms in general, in fact.
Well, who is, compared to -- er, but her reasons are different from those. This is where I just don't understand a lot of conservative writers, for whom passing out condoms is a hot-button issue. I guess they don't like it because they feel it sends a signal that non-marital sex is OK. Since I think non-marital sex is OK, I guess it's not surprising that their concerns don't resonate with me. But, really, if my big problem were with people sending messages that sex is OK, I think I'd be more upset at all the condom-less sex being pushed on TV shows, in movies, etc. Condoms at least send the message that sex can have consequences, and that you'd better think about them first, a message that, you'd think, conservatives uncomfortable with free love would find congenial.
That's why I'm not terribly persuaded by all the arguments that condoms are less-than-perfect at preventing STDs. Oh, the arguments may be true -- but I can't help but feel that the people pushing them wouldn't change their tune if somebody developed a 100% effective contraceptive that also prevented all STDs with perfect reliability. Am I wrong about this? I don't think so. I think that to people opposed to free love, perfectly safe free love would be a step backward.
UPDATE: Reader Charles Murtaugh (who has a swell blog of his own) writes:
I liked your suggestion that the "safe sex isn't safe, ergo no sex is best" line would quickly change if a truly 100% safe method were found. This doesn't mean that "safe free love" isn't an impossible dream -- there are still the emotional aspects, which I wish conservatives would actually talk about (although it might force them to admit that -- gack! -- sometimes premaritial sex isn't the worst thing since the French Revolution), rather than sabotaging themselves with silly (and empirically so!) worrying about stray spermatids.
This is, by the way, exactly parallel to the Leon Kass stem cell thing. As long as stem cell research involves embryos, and therefore carries some sort of ethical burden, he can take cheap shots at it to his heart's content. He will have to change his tune once it really does become possible to get good stem cells from adults.
Last point: this also parallels the debate over one of my bogeymen (or as you might say, my straw man), reproductive cloning. Right now, conservatives are relying inordinately on the embryos-are-people-too argument. But what if we could clone an adult _without_ killing any embryos along the way? They would be left without a leg to stand on, which frankly pisses me off, since I think there are other more suitable legs to use right now. But then, I think pro-lifers are just using the cloning debate as cover to advance their arguments on abortion.
DUANE FREESE says it's an Enron witch hunt in the making. My favorite quote is from Sen. Fritz Hollings (D - Disney) calling the Bush Administration a "cash and carry government" for Enron.
Hey, Fritz: how much did your Big Entertainment pals pay you for the SSSCA? (According to OpenSecrets.Org it was $260, 034 from TV/Movie/Music industry contributors in 2000.)
BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: The ubiquitous Dick Morris has another column today, this one on the unusually strong support of women for the war. Morris says that this is part of Bush's high approval, and warns that listening to European doubts is likely to be politically disastrous for Bush.
BUSH AND BLAIR have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian politician. There's an online poll on the page this link leads to -- at the moment it's pretty much evenly divided.
MY DINNER WITH CLINTON: Okay, not my dinner, but that of a bunch of people at the Waldorf who got to hear Clinton say that if he were still in office, North Korea wouldn't have a nuclear program and we'd have peace in the Middle East. (Requests for specifics on how this might have happened from a member of the press were angrily rejected. Meanwhile Dick Morris is telling a different story today.) Oh, and he said, "I have cried for Argentina."
For a guy who's so concerned about his legacy, Clinton just can't seem to do the one thing that would help most -- keep his mouth shut.
PAUL KRUGMAN is now writing that the Bush Administration is Enron writ large. I think he's just hoping for another fifty grand.
GUARDIAN COLUMNIST CHARLOTTE RAVEN wishes she had been there to savor Muhammad Ali's "poetics" as he opened a speech with an anti-semitic joke that she gleefully repeats. Glenn Kinen has some not-very-flattering thoughts about her easy acceptance of such things: "You won't find many fans of Der Stürmer among the European left; but you will find an environment where making light of the Jews is chic--and where demonizing the Jewish state is a badge of intellectual integrity."
THE LATEST GALLUP POLL RESULTS show that Americans prefer to fight terrorism using peaceful (economic and diplomatic) means where feasible -- but are overwhelmingly willing to use military force if necessary.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS, as written by various other authors. This is pretty funny. Here's the Ian Fleming version:
Aragorn placed his hand on the cool, ivory hilt of his 6.38 Anduril sword, half-holding it in as casual manner as possible. His eyes swept the room of the Prancing Pony, eyeing up the potential threats. He took out his pipe, made from the warmed heartwood of a mature oak. In the palm of his left hand, he unwrapped his leather tobacco pouch filled, as he preferred, with Gondorian Silk Cut. Aragorn preferred it to the harsher, stronger Numenorian blend...
The Hemingway is good, too. (Via Rebecca Blood
MATT WELCH demonstrates his subtle tip-jar-whoring skills with this headline: "Brand New Way To Give Me Money! Help him out: he's a growing boy, and needs to eat regularly.
THE IDLER'S report of a Hamid Karzai meeting with the press has enraged New York Times reporter Michael Gordon. Gordon seems to think that the Idler account is all about him, though his role is small enough that I hadn't particularly noticed his place in the story (silly me, I thought it was about Karzai) when I linked to it the other day. But just to be sure that everyone noticed his behavior, Gordon has called attention to it with a long and rather full-of-himself letter to Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, in which he proudly says that he hadn't heard of The Idler before, and calls it "deservedly obscure." Well, Michael, it's not as obscure as it was before you wrote that letter! (Gordon also never denies the accuracy of the Idler passage, which makes him sound rather arrogant, an impression that his letter doesn't dispel).
Ah, the old-vs-new media wars are definitely heating up.
THIS LETTER ON THE DANGERS OF CLONING from the "Center for Genetics and Society" inspired this hilarious reply from the "Alliance of Concerned Shamans," about advances in fire:
From: Alliance of Concerned Shamans
To:Chief Who Sits on Big Rock and has Mighty Club
Fire bad. Maybe fire good, but no one know. Since no one know, best not to make fire. That way, we not find out, which is good. Fire anger gods. Angry gods mean bad hunts and no babies. We no want no babies. Repeat: Fire bad.
People make fire too fast. Only five year ago, no fire. Last year, sparks. Now, fire. No one consult us first. No one ask gods. People just bang rocks, make sparks. We upset. We know gods upset, because gods talk to us -- not to people. So no more make fire!
Fire bad. People burned. What if someone make big-big fire, burn down woods? Then animals die, we no eat animals, we die. Fire bad.
Some say fire good. They stupid. If fire good, gods would have given us fire. Gods no give us fire, so, fire bad. D'uh! Stupid people who say fire good should be burned with fire! Hah! That will teach them.
We shamans all say:Fire bad. You mess with fire, you make gods angry. Fire bad for women and babies and cute little bunnies.
So, Chief, please: Hit people who mess with fire with big club.
Some things, apparently, never change.
WHAT THE WEF CROWD is doing in the evenings courtesy of Eve Tushnet. Looks like a Tom Wolfe parody. But then, what doesn't, these days?
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU COULDN'T BE SURPRISED: Someone has written a programming language for Klingons, called Vara'aq. Don't bother trying to follow the link to the actual language page -- it's been slashdotted and is down.
UPDATE: Reader Louis Nick sends this link to the Google cache of the page.
JOURNALISTS HATE PRESSBLASTER, a press-release-spam generating program. I don't blame them, though part of me says it's only fair given the huge amounts of magazine-subscription junk mail I've gotten over the years -- and those damned blow-in cards falling out of magazines everywhere!
IS OSAMA IN IRAN? Here's a column by George Jonas arguing that possibility. Axis of evil, indeed.
IN PRAISE OF MARC HEROLD: Canadian blogger Brian Silverman says we should be grateful for Herold's bogus Afghan civilian-casualty figures. His reasoning is that they've been so thoroughly debunked that now whenever you see someone using them, their agenda is immediately laid bare.
Given the wide diffusion of both Herold's initial death count and the subsequent discrediting of his work, any current article or editorial that cites the Herold figures immediately identifies the author as more concerned with anti-U.S. rhetoric than with truth. It's as if the author were to jump up in a clown suit wearing an Uncle-Sam-with-skull-face Halloween mask. . . . As a fellow economist, I wish to thank Herold for helping me to economize on my search and information costs during this very busy time!
Let us now praise bogus men!
SCHUMER / ENRON UPDATE: A reader sends this link to the OpenSecrets.org website, showing that Charles Schumer was the number-one recipient of contributions from accountants. Very interesting.
I'm beginning to think that OpenSecrets, all by itself, is reshaping the way this scandal is developing. It's Ken Layne's "fact-check your ass" approach applied to politicians.
DON'T DUMP EUROPE, says Anne Applebaum. She's mostly right, but Europeans should be worried by her piece for several reasons. First, she spends a lot of time demonstrating that large segments of the populace, the press, the military, and the lower reaches of the federal government regard Europe as selfish, self-righteous, and inept. (Or as Victor Davis Hanson says in this piece: "Europeans rarely these days do anything that is not calibrated in terms of gaining money or avoiding trouble.") This is a serious PR problem that European governments need to take seriously. Second, Applebaum assumes that we need Europe in order to mount an intellectual defense of "the West." But it's not clear that European leaders are loyal, anymore, to the values and traditions of the West anyway. And if that sinks in, America may very well choose a go-it-alone strategy calculated to be as uncomfortable for Europe as possible. Finally, Europe has spent decades railing against American "isolationism." Now that it has become necessary for folks like Applebaum to start arguing against dumping Europe, perhaps it's time to give the causes of isolationism more thought.
UPDATE: Reader Philippe Richards asks why I think European leaders aren't loyal to the values and traditions of the West. Well, to start with there's the way they piled on Silvio Berlusconi for suggesting -- rightly, I think -- that those values and traditions are superior.
Another reader sends this link to Slate's "Fray" section, and some excellent responses to Applebaum's piece.
SAUDI ARABIA, AND THE GULF ARABS, are the "real targets" we need to be focusing on, according to former CIA agent Bob Baer. (Via Charles Johnson).
"I LOVE SCIENCE!" writes reader Gary Pulsinelli, who sent this link to a story about what gave the Oracles at Delphi their, ahem, buzz.
SALMAN RUSHDIE has some great observations:
In fact, the effectiveness of the American campaign may have made some parts of the world hate America more than they did before. Critics of the Afghan campaign in the West are enraged because they have been shown to be wrong at every step: no, American forces weren't humiliated the way the Russians had been; and yes, the air strikes did work; and no, the Northern Alliance didn't massacre people in Kabul; and yes, the Taliban did crumble away like the hated tyrants they were, even in their southern strongholds; and no, it wasn't that difficult to get the militants out of their cave fortresses; and yes, the various factions succeeded in putting together a new government that seems to have broad support among the people. . . .
America-hating has become a badge of identity, making possible a chest- beating, flag-burning rhetoric of word and deed that makes men feel good. It contains a strong streak of hypocrisy, hating most what it desires most, and elements of self- loathing. ("We hate America because it has made of itself what we cannot make of ourselves.") What America is accused of — closed- mindedness, stereotyping, ignorance — is also what its accusers would see if they looked into a mirror.
These days there seem to be as many of these accusers outside the Muslim world as inside it. Anybody who has visited Britain and Europe, or followed the public conversation there during the past five months, will have been struck, even shocked, by the depth of anti-American feeling among large segments of the population.
I think that Rushdie may exaggerate the extent of anti-Americanism in Europe based on the Euro-elites (it's not as if he can mingle with ordinary people) -- at least, the polls seem to show quite a disconnect between the anti-Americanism of the chattering classes and the larger population. But it's a good piece. Read the whole thing.
CHUCK SCHUMER GOT THE MOST ENRON MONEY OF ANY DEMOCRAT: This story from the New York Daily News talks about why he got it.
Two months after Kenneth Lay, then the boss of Enron, held a Texas fund-raiser for Chuck Schumer, the senator-elect asked for a review of federal power contracts that eat into utility company profits.
A Schumer spokesman denied any quid pro quo, but Enron officials praised the senator's action in 1998 and said his letter asking for the review was a signal he was keeping a campaign promise to push for energy deregulation.
I can't help but think that this would be getting more play if it were about, say, Trent Lott or Dick Cheney.
YALE LAW PROFESSOR BRUCE ACKERMAN -- whom one would expect to be hoping, like his Harvard Law counterpart Roger Fisher, that people had forgotten his defeatist and silly oped from last Fall, is back. Basically, says Ackerman, we've won the war, so Bush should shut up and go back to being a punching-bag for Democrats. And whatever he does, he shouldn't widen the war by going after, say, Iraq. An irritated InstaPundit reader has the following comments:
A few items that the op-ed regrettably does not discuss:
(1) Might it be that we have *not* won even the very limited war "against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11," given that we haven't captured or killed Bin Laden and most of his top lieutenants, haven't untangled much of the rest of the al-Qaeda organization, and perhaps haven't even adequately interrogated everyone who might know what other nations, organizations, or persons were involved in the attacks? Given that this is so, the victory over the Taliban as such -- the victory in the "war in Afghanistan" to which Ackerman refers -- is not exactly an adequate basis on which to just "declare victory" and say that the "war . . . has ended," both as a military matter and as a "legal" matter (the supposed focus of Ackerman's op-ed). It seems to me that "declar[ing] victory" at this point -- even in the limited war that Congress authorized -- would be just plain dishonest.
(2) I'm not sure that Bush legally needs Congress's authorization to fight even a shooting war against Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; but I agree that it would be really good for him to get Congress on board. How can he more effectively -- and more honestly -- do this: (a) By "declar[ing] victory," saying that the "war . . has ended," and then going back to Congress for more support? Or (b) by pointing out that Iraq and North Korea are developing weapons of mass destruction, that at least Iran is funding terrorist organizations of international reach, and that these countries -- even if they weren't at all involved with al-Qaeda, which I'm far from certain of -- are threats to us in the same way that the Taliban proved to be a threat, and that the war needs to be extended to include them?
(3) What, pray tell, was FDR's "appropriate exit strateg[y] in case of misadventure" in the war against Japan and Germany? What was Churchill's? Might it be that when one is trying to defend the country against threats to the lives of millions of citizens, the focus should be more on fighting a war that needs to be fought than on assuring everyone that one has an "appropriate exit strateg[y]"?
(4) Finally, exactly which "talk of war" is "mindless" here?
Er, I think that last would be Ackerman's oped from last November? I'm reminded of another eminent law professor's response
to that column: "I would actually be interested in hearing Ackerman's views on modern endodontics, a subject of great importance to all and on which his knowledge is equally as deep."
READER RICK JAHNKE SENDS THIS ANTI-EUROPEAN SCREED:
At home this weekend ruminating on European criticism of us, which seems to be picking up, I decided that our cat is a European. He is taken care of, cradle to grave. He gets all he can eat, including treats. He gets a warm house. He gets petted. We clean up his messes, especially that cat box. He even gets free health insurance, in the form of trips to the Vet paid by us--not that he appreciates it. He just meows for what he wants. And to get all these things, all he had to do was give up his claws and his balls. Yes, a good European.
Perhaps someone at The Guardian
, Le Monde
or even The Mirror
will take time out from telling Americans that we should worry more on what they think of us, to wonder why they have come across so badly here. But I doubt it
PATRIOTISM VS. NATIONALISM: Jim Bennetts' column for this week is on the distinction between the two, and why this leads to misunderstanding between Europeans, and Americans -- and on why Continental rightists like Silvio Berlusconi, despite their well-founded Euroskepticism, aren't really our friends.
"A MICHAEL MOORE EROTIC DREAM:" This deeply disturbing imagery comes from Rod Dreher's front-line report on the WEF protests in New York City.
A knot of grim-faced women, including a young one with a ribbonless Christmas wreath on her head, marched by holding up a green banner reading, "Patriarchal States Are Either Preparing For War or Recovering From War."
I wondered what would they make of the new Palestinian feminist icon, the chick suicide bomber. Every fifth person seemed to sport a badge reading, "We are all Palestinians," and one group chanted, "Red, Green, Black, White, Palestine is gonna fight." The self-described "Radical Women" sauntered past carrying a sign reading, "Peace Cannot Be Kept By Force. It Can Only Be Secured By Understanding.
Oh, yeah, that's
going to sell.
ALISTAIR COOKE dresses down the British media for their ignorance regarding the Geneva Conventions and their sloppiness regarding Guantanamo. Excerpt:
And as for the gusher of pious rage that sprang up from the dumb release of that wretched photograph of detainees shackled for a hazardous moment or two, I can only offer the first-hand testimony of a serious and respected British correspondent who's just been done there.
He says, frankly, that what he saw for years in the prisons of Northern Ireland made Guantanamo look like a Holiday Inn.
He found the men well-fed, with hot Muslim meals apart from various snacks and candy bars. They enjoy hot showers, they write home, they have room to jump around in. Perhaps the Pentagon would make up for its dumb blunder by releasing a new, true photograph of the whole 158 detainees standing alongside the 161 surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses assigned to them - 161 for 158 patients, a ration of personal medical care unknown I should think to prisoners anywhere or even I daresay to the English newspaper editors who are so outraged by the barbarity of American treatment.
I would disagree only in the characterization of the photo release as a "blunder." I think that it was released on purpose, in the sure and certain knowledge that it would cause the British and Euro press to go berserk, thus accomplishing two things: discrediting anti-Americans there, while simultaneously throwing a scare into would-be terrorists.
And they fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.
BACKUP: As you may have noticed, the backup InstaPundit site is the mostly-dormant GlennReynolds.Com site now. I'm working (in my oh-so-copious "spare" time) on a full-featured GlennReynolds.Com page that will feature archived versions of all my writing, etc., the way cool academics like Randy Barnett and Tom W. Bell have -- though hopefully it won't be like Cornel West's page. In the meantime, however, if anything goes down here for any significant period, the GlennReynolds.com site will have information (the "newsletter" feature, which supports blogs like The Bloviator will even allow for temporary blogging, though I doubt it would be satisfactory for long).
I hope not to need that, but with all the hackattacks affecting so many blog-friendly sites (including CornerHost, where I've already bought space for the new site) a well-publicized backup facility seems worthwhile.
TWO MILLION! Yep, sometime yesterday, InstaPundit had its two millionth visit and I didn't even notice! It just kind of snuck up on me. If I got just one dollar per visit. . . .
Seriously, I still can't believe how many people read this thing -- even though I suspect that what I really have is a few thousand readers who hit "refresh" a lot. I'll try to keep it worth what you pay for it, and then some.
UPDATE: Just did a "resolve to IP" on my last 50 hits, which I haven't done in a while. Interesting. Lots of .mil, .edu and law-firm domains, time.com, and what looks like a Fujitsu facility in the PRC. And somebody from Enron.Com -- you mean they still have Internet service?
ARLYNN NELLHAUS says that the International Committee of the Red Cross is guilty of an anti-semitic double standard -- it allows muslim countries to affiliate their national organizations using the symbol of the "red crescent" (a muslim symbol) but forbids Israel from using the star of David.
Yeah, and they're not very good at telling the difference between an extermination camp (which they stayed away from in World War Two) and a humane prison camp like Guantanamo, either.
EGYPT HAS FINALLY HAD ENOUGH, AND IT'S CRACKING DOWN -- HARD. On gays. Well, that's helpful.
ROBERT FISK TELLS DANIEL PEARL KIDNAPPERS: I agree with you -- but let my friend go. He also asks Osama bin Laden to intercede.
He still doesn't get it, does he?
JONATHAN YARDLEY sings the praises of chain bookstores and Amazon.com. He's right, of course.
MEGAN MCARDLE explains the whole gun-licensing vs. car-licensing thing. Brian Linse, take note.
JOHN WEIDNER notes that terrorists like soft targets, and predicts that this will lead to attacks in Europe.
This is possible, though not obviously true. Americans are less soft in some ways -- you're much safer going on a shooting spree in Europe, for example, than in the United States, where you're (at least) as likely to be stopped by an armed civilian as by law enforcement -- but I think Europe retains the edge, such as it is, in guarding against car bombs, etc.
MICKEY KAUS rips the bogus anti-drug commercials from the Super Bowl.
UPDATE: And he's joined by Ramesh Ponnuru in NRO.
EVERYBODY IS SAVAGING KEN LAY for deciding not to testify. But what's going on here is a game. Congress wants to investigate, but what it really wants is PR. Lay wants . . . well, at this point he'll probably settle for avoiding indictment. But the Congressional investigators got too far ahead of themselves and were savaging Lay in public everywhere. Retaliation: Lay cut off the big newshook for the week by deciding not to show. This isn't "cowardice" but the usual negotiating strategy.
The problem is, with so many Congressional committees investigating (10? 12? I've lost count) nobody in Congress is in a position to make a deal here -- except for immunity, which is what Lay probably wants. And the more members of Congress go on the air saying Lay is a crook, the stronger his legal case for refusing subpoenas without immunity. But there's nobody with the authority to shut them up. I said that having so many cooks would spoil the investigative broth, and it's happening.
"IT'S AMAZING," writes Virginia Postrel, "how often opponents of international trade voice a hatred for fresh produce."
INS EFFORTS TO TRACK FOREIGN STUDENTS are a mess. Now the inevitable is happening: one of my state senators is introducing a bill that would require foreign students to register with local law enforcement.
I think that such legislation is probably preempted by federal law, but the way in which the thoroughly dysfunctional INS has screwed this matter up despite Congressional mandates is going to encourage such things. Perhaps one of the umpteen Congressional committees planning to hold Enron hearings could spare a couple of days for this?
HOW CENSORSHIP PROMOTES FREE SPEECH: Some thoughts by Jeremy Lott.
WELL, SUPER BOWLS ARE USUALLY BORING, but not this one.
CORNEL WEST UPDATE: An extensive treatment of the affair in The New Criterion.
THE STAR WARS / ENRON CONNECTION: Some frightening stuff.
SOME INTERESTING INSIGHT into the Guantanamo captives.
THE SAUDIS AND THE PALESTINIANS:
The Saudi ruling family does a lot of public worrying about the Palestinians--last weekend in the Times and The Washington Post it once again berated the United States for not sufficiently bowing to their needs and demands (which it usually conflates). So how many Palestinians has it taken in? I asked my princely hosts. Fifteen thousand, said one. Twenty-five thousand, said another sternly. (This, in a country with several million foreign workers.) Why so few? I asked. "Because," said a third, "we don't want too many Palestinians here. They are troublemakers. We accept only those who have married Saudi men and, of course, those we need--mostly teachers and doctors." It was a disturbing revelation, and an important one. And don't expect to hear it on NPR.
OPEN-SOURCE INTELLIGENCE: James Fallows has this interesting article on a new movement in intelligence that emphasizes wide distribution of unclassified but useful information:
Open-source intelligence "frequently appears less valuable than classified information because it does not carry the classification mystique," Wilson wrote in 1995. "Because it appears less valuable, it is shared more freely and used more. The irony is by sharing it more the information's value and usefulness increases." Within the Pentagon, Wilson told me, reports that were posted on AI have been stamped with classified markings and used in briefings. An old trick of John Boyd's, Wilson said, was to get data into circulation by leaving it in "the head."
Still, the AI network doesn't get respect. "It's not popular with the intelligence community, because it doesn't cost anything," Wilson told me. (Forno and Bill Feinbloom, a former Green Beret, run it as volunteers, and it is free to all users.) "But you've got about three hundred people acting as individual sensors, from a whole variety of backgrounds. I may say something that seems commonsensical to a Marine, but someone who's a physicist will come back and say no, it can't have worked that way."
There's much more here, going beyond open-source intelligence to a commercial-tech approach to government projects in general. Read it -- and note the similarity to the blogosphere.
I'M OFF TO (OTHER) WORK -- but have no fear. PunditWatch is up!
LUGGAGE-SHIPPING UPDATE: A reader sends this link to something called "Virtual Bellhop" that offers "luggage free travel solutions." Sounds like a company that's likely to do well in this market.
ROBERT ALTMAN IS NO ROBERT ALTMAN, and Nashville is no Nashville, writes Jesse Fox Mayshark. What's more, it never was.
If you revisit Robert Altman's epic satire after a visit to modern-day Nashville, as I did recently, you can't help noting how dated the 1975 movie feels. It's not just that the city is very different now (the film's glimpses of old, grimy lower Broadway are a nice historical document), but that the whole sour tone of Altman's treatise seems off.
The movie uses Nashville as a gaudy pincushion for Altman and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury's sharp jabs at American sentimentality and hypocrisy. . . . Altman set up Nashville the city as a straw man, the last bastion of callow, self-congratulatory Americanism. (Too bad he never made it to Pigeon Forge...) The movie isn't so much unfair as it is cruelly unforgiving.
One major difference between the city Altman imagined in 1975 and the one you can visit in 2002 is that you're now more likely to see a movie like Nashville there than to find yourself in anything that resembles it.
Interestingly, Mayshark reports that corporate megatheaters are now playing an important role in bringing in non-mainstream films: with 27 (yes, 27) screens, they can afford to spare a couple for non-Harry Potter
HAMID KARZAI'S fashion influence is taking hold in unexpected places.
VEGETARIANISM -- an evolutionary dead end?
I SAW AL GORE briefly on This Week -- they showed a clip from his speech last night. He looks good with the beard, but he doesn't look Presidential. And he did this weird head-shaking thing that reminded me of Richard Nixon.
I just don't see it happening for him. But hey -- a few of years ago I thought he would be a shoo-in in 2000, so what do I know?
SERGEANT STRYKER HAS WORDS FOR OUR ENEMIES:
Long after I have returned to dust and the cities of my country are known only in dusty manuscripts, our idea will yet live. Our principles and ideals will survive us because they speak to every man and woman who wish to live their lives the way they see fit, free from tyrants who would control them. Your idea will be but a distant memory; a cautionary tale used to frighten children.
We are the builders. You can only destroy. You are no better than an angry toddler who irrationally strikes out and knocks over a pile of blocks because he is angry and frustrated. We have built mighty cities, buildings, aircraft, spacecraft, computers and networks. We've built vast communications networks, lengthened the human lifespan, cured diseases and decoded the actual blueprint of life itself. You can fly a couple of aircraft into some buildings and bring them down, but they will be rebuilt. You can send your men to blow themselves up along with a handful of us, but we will continue. You cheer your “mighty warriors”. You are great and powerful. People fear you.
You are merely a speed bump on the road to universal human freedom and liberty.
You tell 'em, Sarge.
MORE ON BUCKRAKING AND PUNDITGATE from TomPaine.Com. One important aspect mentioned here is the desire of journalists to live as well as the corporate types they cover, which I think has become more pronounced in recent years.
BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE:
Two sisters thwarted a kidnapper when one of the girls jumped from a car and her older sister stabbed their attacker with a pocket knife. . . . Hope was unable to escape because the man held her arm and hair.
“As we went down the road, I acted like I was going to cooperate with him,” she said.
Hope then lashed out, stabbing him several times in the head and upper torso, deputies said. The attack caused him to pull over, and she got out of the car.
That's in this article
sent by reader Robert Racansky, who contrasts it with the following advice:
For two decades, Handgun Control, Inc. (now the Brady Center) has been offering this advice to victims confronted by criminals:
"As police officers have said for years, the best defense against injury is to put up no defense -- give them what they want, or run."
[Pete Shields. then-Chairman of HCI. GUNS DON'T DIE -- PEOPLE DO. Priam Books, 1981. p. 125.]
As the research of John Lott and Gary Kleck has demonstrated, this approach is in fact dangerous. As Racansky notes, "Fortunately, Hope and Nicole Frame didn't heed this advice."
MORE ON BLOOD: A reader writes with the following:
When I was with the local sheriff's office we competed annually with the city PD re: which agency donated the most blood. The local Red Cross bus came to each of us several times a year, we got publicity, management involvement, etc. And a lot of blood got donated, which Central Florida always needs.
This past year was different. It took me two and a half hours to get through the process (I'm at the county courthouse now, and the RC set up shop in the jury assembly room because it was Friday and no jurors are called on Friday).
There seemed to be no particular reason for the delays, other than a lot of confusion on the RC side. When it became my turn to bleed I noticed that the technician (I checked - she wasn't a nurse) wasn't using gloves. I asked, and she told me gloves were now optional; the technicians would use then if requested. I said, I'm requesting - you're currently handling three givers, who knows how many before I got here, and BTW, I want fresh gloves every time you come near me since there are no washing or disinfectant facilities in the jury room. She said OK and did as I wished. But why did I have to request what should be pretty basic infection-prevention measures?
That was two weeks before Christmas. This week I got my thank you card in the mail, the one that lists my cholesterol and blood type. Almost two months.
I'm also having trouble with the RC jumping on the Gitmo thing quickly, but dragging its feet on WTC victims. I don't see a sinister plot here, but I suspect that the glove thing is a combination of both "we don't think it's that important" and "gloves cost money", and the four day/four month thing that's been mentioned in Instapundit - and the wasting of large quantities of blood donated after 9/11 - is just institutional sloppiness. Are we seeing the beginnings of institutional decline with the Red Cross?
I think that the American Red Cross is suffering from very serious management problems, and has been for a while. (This may become a big issue if Liddy Dole ever runs for President; there are a lot of skeletons there, I suspect). But to be fair I believe that all the Guantanamo noise has been made by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is not the same as the American Red Cross.
HASHEMITE UPDATE: Here's an oped urging that the West Bank be turned over to Jordan. I think that's actually the plan. More specifically, I think the plan is for the Israelis (bad cop) to kill most of the Intifada leadership and destroy the Palestinian Authority's infrastructure, then for the Jordanians (good cop) to move in and take over once there's no very potent opposition left. This certainly would explain what's been going on.
ROD DREHER REPORTS ON THE NEW YORK PROTESTS in NRO's very cool Samizdata-knockoff multiplayer blog. Excerpt:
I don't want to spoil all the color from the day's events, which I'll recount in Monday's NRO, but I gotta say that the thing that stuck with me most about the crowd was how white, young and sanctimonious it was, and how completely unhinged it was from anything approaching the lives 99.9 percent of us in America live. These kids were absolutely sure of themselves and their causes (socialism, Maoism, environmentalism, pro-pot-ism, lesbianism, free Mumia, etc.) You could no more have argued with them about the relative merits of globalization -- the ostensible reason for the gathering --than you could have disputed a hungry Labrador retriever over the goodness of Alpo. As long as the anti-globalization movement remains the province of grizzled old hippies and tattooed young tofu-brains who revel in I-hate-America burlesque, multinational capitalism doesn't have a thing to worry about.
Yep. Exactly as planned, no doubt, by the Evil Multinational Corporations who secretly fund the protesters to delegitimize any more effective opposition. Oliver Stone probably has a film in the works.
HOUSEKEEPING: A bunch of people wrote to savage the idea of shipping luggage separately from passenger flights. You say it won't work, it's too expensive, etc. But I know a number of people who fedex their bags separately, directly to their hotel. It's easy, and not terribly expensive. So why not?
UPDATE: Reader Darryl Boyd writes:
My 83 year old dad flew to see my sister over Christmas. We shipped his luggage (one huge box) the 1000 miles to her home because he couldn't physically deal with lugging it around. In addition to solving the practical physical problems of his traveling he got; no long check-in lines, no searching for baggage claim, no rented carts, no screening and no carrying heavy bags. Total cost $10.83. This might not work for a family vacation, but for the majority of travelers shipping luggage looks to be an attractive option to me.
FROM THE STUPID-ACADEMIC-TRICKS DEPARTMENT: Does anybody remember Harvard Law Professor Roger Fisher's Op-Ed from October 5 entitled "Getting to Yes with the Taliban"? It contained a lot of expert negotiating tips, but left out the all-important Daisy-Cutter Maneuver.
If I were one of his students, and had a mischievous streak, I'd keep tacking up copies around the law school every few days for the rest of the semester.
UPDATE: The link in the archives is dead, but this one still works.
BACK IN INSTAPUNDIT'S YOUTH (you know, way back in August) I reported (twice!) on how new limits on blood donations were going to constrict supply, and how that was going to have a disproportionate effect on New York, which for some reason relies heavily on imported European blood. Apparently, that's still true, despite the massive turnout of blood donors immediately after 9/11. I'd be interested in seeing how blood donations are going. I give regularly (and will give again at the UT blood drive Valentine's week) but I wonder if some first-time donors weren't turned off when they found that their blood wasn't needed, or even used. I haven't seen much reporting on this, and I'd like to.
STATING THE OBVIOUS AWARD: Goes to the Enron headline on the front page of the Washington Post: "For Lay, Bright Career Now Dimmed."
BLATANT VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS where terrorists are concerned -- only it's Sweden, not the United States, that's involved.
GINGER STAMPLEY savages Salon for its Houston/Enron coverage, (and does it again here!) which she says focuses on dumb cowboy-stereotyping while missing the actual sleazy realities of Houston business culture. Sadly, that sounds like the Salon we've all come to know.
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