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CREDIT CARD NEWS: “A new era in the vexed relationships between colleges, credit cards and students begins Monday, when most of the new provisions of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 take effect. The law provides new protections to students and imposes new requirements on colleges and alumni groups that offer credit cards.”

UPDATE: From the comments: “Why is it OK for students to have thousands of dollars of debt from college, but it is not OK for it to be credit card debt? I guess it is OK for the university system in this country to rape you.”

JULES CRITTENDEN ON Amy Bishop and the Massachusetts justice system. “It all sounds bizarre … the circumstances in this case maybe a little more bizarre than usual, but not by much. That kind of thing actually happens a lot around here. Killers and rapists being let off, and going to to kill or rape again. It’s our special gift to the nation.”

MICHAEL YON SENDS THIS DISPATCH TO INSTAPUNDIT READERS. I don’t usually run things this long on InstaPundit, but although domestic politics have eclipsed war coverage in a lot of places, what’s going on in Afghanistan is still important, and Michael is providing the best coverage out there. Note that he’s supported by reader donations, so if you like his work, hit his tipjar. He needs more support if he is to go back.


Arghandab, Afghanistan

Written 19 December 2009

Published 13 February 2010 (Instapundit)

This is a story of warfighting and technology, and what life is like on the ground for our troops, as they do their best in war.

Last night a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division was killed. The attack occurred just hours before the 82nd was to relieve 1-17th Infantry from duties in portions of the Arghandab River Valley near Kandahar.

Earlier that morning, soldiers from 1st Platoon, B-company (1-17th) had taken me on a short, easy mission out to a micro-base called “Brick 1.” The Platoon leader was 1st Lieutenant Ryan Fadden, while SFC Dimico was the platoon sergeant. The platoon was ready. Despite the filthy environment, weapons were clean, the gear was sorted and the men were in good spirits and a businesslike frame of mind. They seemed confident. It looked like Lieutenant Fadden and SFC Dimico were on their jobs. The battalion had lost 21 men KIA during the first several months of combat—the Brigade lost 31. An article was about to be published in the Army Times which might lead one to believe that the 1-17th is not combat-ready. The author, Sean Naylor, is as highly respected as he is experienced, and so his words are taken seriously. Yet during my first week, despite serious stresses in some places, the men seemed ready.

And so 1st Platoon drove in their Strykers from COP Jelawur, stopping a couple kilometers away from a small ANA (Afghan National Army) base just on the edge of the Green Zone of the Arghandab River near Kandahar. The heavy Stryker ramps hissed and dropped with a dull thump. The soldiers piled from the backs of the four machines. Two white dogs with wagging tails greeted the men, and the men greeted the dogs as if they were old buddies.

Chaplain Gary Lewis said a prayer, then 1st Platoon left the Gate heading to “Brick 1″

The soldiers checked weapons yet again and adjusted gear, and we walked out the gate, keeping intervals so that a single bomb couldn’t get many of us at once. Sometimes enemies “daisy chain” bombs together like a trotline, killing or wounding many soldiers simultaneously.

The morning was cool, bright and dry, and so the fine dust left perfect boot prints. This was to be the final mission for 1st Platoon in the area before the 82nd Airborne would take over responsibilities at around midnight.

As we walked out the gate, the older female dog which, by her looks, apparently had nursed dozens of suckling puppies in her years, decided to stay behind. The younger white dog trotted out the gate with us.

We walked on the road for a short distance under the direct view of a machine gunner on the perimeter. The roads, trails, and any places that are easy to walk are dangerous. Some bombs have been planted for months and the rains and winds have erased visible signs. The enemy will fire rifles or machine guns, trying to use American aggressiveness against our troops by luring young leaders into traps. The enemy has frequently succeeded in planting bombs very close to American and British bases, and so the minute you step out that gate, watch out. Some of the most dangerous places are closest to the bases where movements are most predictable. In Sangin, a guy tried to plant a bomb in clear view of a British guard tower, so close that the sentry could have killed him with a bow and arrow. Some people believe the Taliban are cowards, but in fact they are audacious and brave.

We moved off the road and patrolled across a freshly ploughed field of rich brown soil, soft as cotton. A shovel lay in the field. The brown boots of soldiers ahead raised dust puffs that caught in the gentle breeze. To attempt to mimic steps of the soldier ahead would glue eyes to ground, away from potential firing points. And besides, the bombs often kill someone far back in the patrol, even in places where others clearly have stepped. British and American soldiers have seen men killed after others had walked directly on a bomb maybe twenty times, until finally a friend disappears on what seemed safe ground. The enemy plants bombs at obvious choke points, but also in random places such as the middle of fields. Planting bombs in covered places drives us into the open, making it easier to ambush with rifles and machine guns. In war, this is fair play.

No matter how hard soldiers try to vary their routes, patterns are set that transcend particular units. The 5/2 SBCT is using an interesting method to avoid making patterns called the “Honesty Trace.”

Our vehicles carry various tracking gear, one of which is the “BFT,” or Blue Forces Tracker. We are the Blue Forces. A “blue on blue” incident usually means we accidentally attacked our own people or allies, which we try hard to avoid. The BFT has many functions, but the prime function is to track the friendly vehicles, representing each with a circular blue icon on the screens.

Soldiers in 5/2 also use something called “Land Warrior,” which includes a small backpack with GPS, radio and soldier-worn computer, similar to a BlackBerry but not as sophisticated. The entire system with batteries weighs about nine pounds. The Land Warrior (LW) is potentially an incredible system, but it “breaks a lot,” according to one soldier. Major Doug Copeland, the Assistant Product Manager for Land Warrior, said we have over 800 LW systems in the field, which have experienced a 3% component failure rate during about seven months of combat. Soldiers report the systems are not yet fully waterproofed, and they’re too heavy for comfort. (Infantrymen think in terms of bullets, and nine pounds equals about 270 bullets.) As the system matures, it should greatly increase our effectiveness.

An eyepiece fits on the helmet with a tiny computer screen that replicates a 17” monitor. The soldier uses the display when he needs to view friendly and enemy forces, which can be populated by the user, HQ, or other units. In other words, a Predator or helicopter could spot and report enemy forces and those enemy forces would appear on the “common operating picture.” The user can navigate, and send/receive digital orders and messages. Importantly, the user can send/receive graphics and images. Images are important. I recall a case in Mosul, Iraq in which a key figure was detained and released even though a soldier thought he recognized the man. Had the soldier been able to quickly send an image to HQ, the terrorist would have been arrested. Instead, he was released.

When viewing the display, the soldier wearing Land Warrior looks like a cyborg. The eyepiece displays his exact location, and that of other Land Warrior equipped soldiers and vehicles, including Strykers. Lieutenant Ryan Fadden, leading the patrol, keeps all the previous IED strikes programmed into his Land Warrior, and so he can see the exact location on the screen, and HQ can see the precise location of each Land Warrior-equipped soldier, as can our A-10C and F-16B30 pilots, though most aircraft cannot see the Land Warrior or BFT.

The Land Warrior and BFT can be coupled with current, already-installed communications systems. This is largely the baby of Captain Jared Cox, who as a lieutenant made a connection that aircraft should be able to track the BFT and Land Warrior. Captain Cox had been the unfortunate victim of a U.S. airstrike during a training mission at home. An American jet destroyed the car that he and an NCO were driving in. It’s a wonder they survived with only scratches. Captain Cox and some A-10C pilots answered my questions about this new system. I wondered how Captain Cox, as a young lieutenant, got enough leash to run with such a wild idea without the Pentagon first spending millions on a feasibility study. His answer was simple: Colonel Harry Tunnell, the Brigade Commander at 5/2 SBCT, thought he was on to something, and so let him try, but with specified goals and conditions. Result: we are using it in combat right here, right now.

Why is this important? Many reasons. We frequently use airpower to help level the extreme terrain advantages the enemy enjoys. In addition to trying to avoid civilian casualties, we try to avoid blue on blue, which, despite precautions, still occur. For instance, a British unit that I was with in Helmand was aggressively pursuing the enemy during a firefight. The British soldiers had located the enemy and pinned them, and were assaulting in. Meanwhile, an Apache helicopter strike was called. During the interim minutes, the ground forces had closed on the enemy, and they had gotten so close so quickly that the pilot thought they were the enemy. The British Apache wounded British soldiers while the enemy got away.

Below are the first unclassified images, released to me by the Air Force and Army, of this system at work in combat.

American A-10C spots British vehicles that were not seen by naked eye. In fact, the British probably do not realize that our A-10Cs have spotted them using the British BFT. Result: the British ground commander can bring our A-10C aircraft to bear with less delay.

Again, through the haze and difficulty, British vehicles can be spotted, allowing for faster, safer airstrikes when British call in American aircraft. It’s important to note that the British don’t have to invest a dime. Most British and American forces don’t know about this emerging capability—just make sure to keep your BFT on and the A-10C and F-16B30 can see you. Apaches and other aircraft cannot as of this writing. When soldiers are dismounted and using the Land Warrior (LW) system, the LW can relay through the vehicles to the A-10C/F-16B30, so the pilots can also see our dismounts, and the vehicles, on their HUDs (Heads Up Displays).

In Afghanistan, we continue to have “DUSTWUN” calls. DUSTWUN means Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. These have happened especially near rivers, and in the mountains. We lose soldiers, especially after bombings. If the soldier was wearing a LW, we would either know his location, or his last known location. The LW also has a “call for medic” feature. The soldier can push a button that reports location and need for a medic. If he or she is good to type or talk, details can be transmitted.

American A-10Cs and F-16B30s can now track many vehicles from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

An A-10C commander told me about an instance where American forces had called him in. The man on the ground insisted they were at point “A,” but the A-10C had picked up his LW, and said, “No, that’s not where you are,” and they quickly figured it out and kept working.

Between data from BFT and LW, headquarters can track just about every step soldiers take, and they can see stigmergic “ant patterns” develop. And so the Army hired a civilian expert who creates a pattern analysis to work at 5/2 HQ, and his reports warn unit leaders when they are setting patterns. This applies over time.

Just because 1st Platoon didn’t repeat a certain route doesn’t mean 2nd Platoon or 4th Platoon didn’t already set that same route. A unit that was there two years ago will have already created a pattern, and if the enemy paid attention—this enemy pays very close attention—they don’t need to wait until we draw a map with our boots. The enemy will predict how we move based on previous units. (Emergent patterns transcend particular persons or units.)

Explosives for sale in market in Sangin, Helmand. Ammonium nitrate is used as fertilizer but was recently outlawed in Afghanistan. Ammonium nitrate was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The enemy sets patterns. The primary indicator that an IED is present is that an IED was there before. In this war, lightning strikes the same places repeatedly. Explosives are cheap. To avoid bombs, instead of going through doors, soldiers blast holes. They avoid paths, avoid bridges that are not observed, avoid the obvious. Some choke points are unavoidable, and so often the best course of action is to spend extra effort on nearby families, trying to develop relationships so they will give tips. By far, the number one counter-IED strategy is cultivating local people. If the local people don’t want you to get blown up, there is a strong chance you won’t get blown up, so long as they feel safe in passing the information. We saw this landslide of support occur in Anbar Province, Iraq, in late 2006, then spread through much of Iraq during 2007. As we pushed more troops into neighborhoods and lived with the people, the people flooded us with information.

There were farmers and kids in the immediate area.

This morning, we crossed the first field, and an irrigation canal. “White Dog” stepped daintily stepped across the stones. Our soldiers have been killed at canal crossings. When there are bridges, the explosives often are just off the bridge, apparently because the enemy doesn’t want to blow up the bridge.

Farmers worked close by—and so we kept going through a hole in a wall, but only because there were farmers right there beside it, who smiled as we stepped through.

The next fields were vineyards, but unlike American vineyards where vines often are trained on wires, these vines are trained on low mud walls that would easily stop cannon fire from an Apache or A-10.

When the Soviets attacked in this same area, Mujahedeen recounted hiding under garlands of grapevines. They waited until soldiers got close and shot them. A 5/2 soldier was shot from up close in the area. The bullet nailed his front plate and knocked him flat but he was okay. Later, an IED took him out of the fight, though comrades say he is doing fine. During winter, the vines are dormant and so there is little cover.

Moving through the vineyards, we walked single file on a hump between rows. The soil was hard as cinderblock. A few hundred meters later we came to Brick 1, the patrol base that had been set up in an abandoned farm compound.

At Brick 1, soldiers had cut down the pomegranate trees inside the compound walls, saying the owner was living in Kandahar and he knew we had occupied his compound and that he would be compensated. Nobody knew the price per tree. During 2008, when I was with British 2 Para in Helmand, a farmer was shooting at us nearly every day. SIGINT (voice intercept) was clear that he was shooting because the British cut down his trees but offered meager compensation. Shortly after I left, a soldier was shot in the head but I do not know if the death stemmed from the trees.

The Stryker soldiers said they typically stay at Brick 1 for about two weeks with no showers, though there is a foreign-built well. They didn’t have a Stryker, just an MRAP, and all their supplies get humped in by foot. They tried to drive in resupply but got blown up, they said. They eat MREs, and there is little going on other than attacks and missions. Inside the compound were bullet holes and marks where RPGs had come in.

Soldiers had collected the expended white casings from mortar illumination; the enemy uses the cases for bombs.

Soldiers can be seen in the field moving closer to the IED.

At Brick 1, everything seemed fine; soldiers were cutting up, saying Perez the sniper couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

We walked to the roof of Brick 1 where Perez had his calculator out, doing the math for a long shot, and I wondered who he was going to shoot. Turns out he was only preparing to fire at an IED that had recently been placed within direct sight of patrol base. A patrol had moved out to get a closer look at the bomb.

Though December is dry and brown, the micro-terrain in the valley is like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. The enemy can still sneak around. And so the area immediately outside the perimeter is likely to have a bomb that wasn’t there the day before.

A couple of helicopters could be seen in the far distance, doing who knows what.

A fat puppy slept on the roof near one of the machine guns, while a brown sheep was running around in the courtyard below. Keeping dogs on base has been against regs since at least World War II, yet I have never been to a single base in Afghanistan or Iraq that doesn’t have at least one. It’s highly doubtful that Secretary Gates or Admiral Mullen really cares about the dogs. At these isolated, small posts, dogs have probably saved a lot of American lives, but mostly they just make good pals. Families send puppy chow through the mail and it’s common to see soldiers with bags of dog food and puppy chow.

On the roof were two interpreters. One “terp” wore the nametag “Tarzan,” saying an American captain had given him the name and he liked it. Afghan men tend to be fanatics for professional wrestling, so there was little doubt he tried to live up to his appellation. He seemed very proud to be called Tarzan.

The soldiers and terps were joking, despite the new bomb nearby which indicated that someone in the neighborhood wanted to kill them. Only the lone sheep seemed unhappy in his loneliness. There was an explosion in the far distance. There were no birds in the air, other than helicopters in the distance. The day before, the Dutch had come in with a giant helicopter to FOB Frontenac and picked up one of their helicopters that had come back from a mission with bullet holes. The Dutch took off the rotors, drained fluids, and flew it away.

Roof of Brick 1: Kandahar Airfield, and Pizza Hut is only about 10 minutes away by helicopter, though these soldiers go weeks eating MREs. Everyone’s war is a snowflake; no two wars are the same. One of Mullah Omar’s wives came from just a few minutes away.

Soldiers at Brick 1 said a mortar strike made this hole in their roof but that fight happened before they arrived. There is the saying that war consists of long periods of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Here there’s something pretty much always going on, though often we don’t know what it is. You can hear explosions or firing, or see the helicopters or jets up to something, but you don’t know what.

1st Platoon prepared to depart Brick 1, leaving the current inhabitants nearby.

We moved through fields and four men were searched but mostly the soldiers just smiled and kept moving.

We didn’t see girls or women during this part of the walk.

This soldier noticed that the wall on the left had been patched since the last time he was there. The enemy often plants bombs in walls.

We walked for maybe another half-mile through a small village that Lieutenant Fadden said previously had been abandoned, but after soldiers had moved into Brick 1 and began regular patrols, families starting coming back. This is a good effect of our work. Creating safety for the local population is the basis of an effective counterinsurgency strategy. LT Fadden’s statements are consistent with observations I’ve made elsewhere in Afghanistan, and also what we saw in Iraq in 2007. Despite much grim news from Afghanistan, there is clear progress in some areas.

This same confusion was evident nearly every step of the way in Iraq between 2004 and mid 2007: clear progress in some respects with clear backsliding in others. This is the nature of progress in the face of opposition. It’s like a ship whose engines are pushing one way, while the currents are flowing another, while the changing winds are blowing yet another, and it’s all happening at night, and there is no GPS. You just have to wait for clear nights to check the stars, and, as it has been said, smooth seas never made a successful sailor. This military has weathered ferocious storms over the past eight years, more than even they can remember, often enduring setbacks and tragedies, sometimes blown off course. Over that time, there has been movement toward our goals, but not enough, and the enemy is strengthening.

Along the way, young boys wanted their photos taken, but girls were nowhere to be seen.

This village had water wells similar in form to what can be seen in many villages in Afghanistan.

The base of this water well indicates the Danish installed it back in 2003, when the world seemed to know that the Taliban were whipped and we decided to attack Iraq.

Elsewhere in Arghandab are plentiful signs, apparently erected by us, which today mock our “progress.” People say that Americans, British and others are losing patience with our progress here. It’s reasonable that citizens at home expect demonstrable progress in 2010, after 8 full years. People at home have a right to know how we are spending the lives of our people, and our money.

We walked back to the ANA base without incident. Some 82nd Airborne soldiers were preparing for a mission. They had no way of knowing that an earthquake was brewing in Haiti and other 82nd soldiers would soon be swooping in there to save lives.

Tonight, 18 December 2009, their unit would take command of the area, and the 1-17th would go out to FOB Frontenac to take a different area. Stryker soldiers from the 1-17th talked quietly about the Humvees, sadly predicting the loss of 82nd brethren, and then changed the subject to more lighthearted matters.

A few minutes later, I joined a different Stryker convoy for the several-hour journey back to FOB Frontenac. We would travel through the area where five Canadians—four soldiers and a journalist—would soon be killed. This was shortly before the suicide bombing at a base that attacked CIA officers, killing eight people. The CIA is out here working hard but they don’t get much credit. That’s the way it must be.

As we crossed dangerous terrain, a helicopter from some unknown country swooped over the convoy a couple times. The Strykers are bad about getting stuck in the desert, but are better than the heavy humvees, and so we crossed some wadis at 90 degrees. Over my headset, soldiers talked about the high danger of this area. Later that night, we got back to FOB Frontenac and learned that an 82nd Airborne Convoy had been hit in a wadi that we had crossed. The humvees cannot cross wadis like Strykers can. A ranking soldier explained that the humvee had driven in the wadi and been hit. Two soldiers were wounded. Sergeant Albert Ware, an 82nd Airborne soldier from Chicago, had been killed. Albert was originally from Liberia and on his second tour in Afghanistan. A story in Chicago would say the following:

“Tragically, the war monument in the Pullman neighborhood will soon bear another name, after a 27-year-old father of three was killed this week by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Albert Ware died after his Humvee was blown up while he was on a secret mission…When Ware told his parents he’d joined the military after the Sept 11 terror attacks, they were angry that he voluntarily chose to go to war.

‘I was afraid,’ said his father, Thomas Ware.”

Sergeant Albert Ware died in service to the United States. He is an American hero. Since this mission, the Coalition has lost about a hundred more. The war goes on.


As I mentioned, Michael Yon is supported by reader donations, so if you like his work, please give generously.

RAPE VICTIMS VS. PRISON-RAPE VICTIMS. Bill Lockyer was unavailable for comment.

THOSE GRAPES were sour anyway.

ANN ALTHOUSE DISSECTS THE COAKLEY MESSAGE: Oh, no! It’s men in trucks! Plowing in from Texas! Running down all the women! Rape! “See how that article — by Jonathan Martin in Politico — tried to flip you? First, nonentities were presented as prejudiced against a woman, ready to vote against Coakley because she’s a woman, and then, suddenly, liberals are supposed pushed to feel that they ought to vote for her because she’s a woman.”

COAKLEY CAMPAIGN getting desperate. Also, busing in SEIU folks.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Dan Riehl and William Jacobson. [LATER: From the comments at Jacobson's: "Realistically speaking, though, most 23-month-olds who've been raped with a hot curling iron don't require the morning after pill."]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Busing in those SEIU folks just might backfire. Or maybe this explains why they’ve got to bring ‘em in from out of state, when there ought to be plenty of SEIU folks right there in Massachusetts.

MARTHA AND SCOTT: Was it “Rape-Rape?”

MARTHA COAKLEY: “In deep trouble.”

Related: Does Coakley Oppose Care For Rape Victims?

UPDATE: Pushing around reporters? That’s smart.

ANOTHER UPDATE: MA Union Guy: Sshhhh, Lady! I’m Voting for Brown, OK? Just Doing My Job Here. Now Beat It!.

MORE: Grassroots revolt.

WILL COLLIER has a bone to pick with David Brooks. “What Brooks, with his touching faith in ‘pragmatic federal leaders with professional expertise’ doesn’t want to talk about, of course, is just how badly the Ivy League class has failed over the past couple of decades. All those rows of degrees from Harvard didn’t keep a pack of Brooksian elites–mostly members of the Democratic Party–from running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac straight into the toilet, and taking the private economy with them. Hiring out of the Ivies also didn’t save Lehman Brothers or AIG from doing remarkably stupid things with other people’s money. And as for ‘professional expertise…’ just what profession does the Obama cabinet posses expertise in, other than hardball politics?” And George W. Bush went to Yale and had a graduate degree from Harvard — though, somehow, that didn’t seem to qualify him for membership in the educated classes.

UPDATE: More on Brooks: “Curiously absent from the Brooks column is any sense of what caused all of this. Primarily, it is caused by the real and perceived failures of the educated class, from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill. There has never been much political momentum on the issue of global warming (the Senate pre-emptively rejected the Kyoto treaty on a 95-0 vote) because of economic concerns. Thus, it is not surprising that the public becomes less interested in such action amid a serious recession. If the public has become more pro-life, it may be that the now commonplace technology of sonography has graphically brought the reality of the issue into more and more families, while the supposedly educated class adheres to old dogma. If the public is more concerned about their Second Amendment rights, it may be a reaction to the fact the party in power tends to infringe on them. Indeed, the public reaction on all of these issues may be seen as a reaction against an agenda that lacks a mandate (more on that below).”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, I went and reread that Brooks column. When I posted a link this morning, I didn’t see it as being as objectionable as these responses suggest, and on rereading I still don’t. Yes, there’s the air of Brooksian condescenscion toward the great unwashed, but that’s practically required for the NYT columnist gig, and remember, he’s trying to explain this stuff to the Upper West Side crowd. And I’m not so sure he’s using “educated class” in a positive way. See, e.g., “The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.” So cut Brooks at least a little slack, here.

And reader David Marcus writes: “When Brooks refers to the educated class, which your other commentators equated with Ivy League, I think he really is referring to the New Class as set out by Herman Kahn in the late 1970’s.” Yes, the New Class idea originally appeared as a critique of the Soviet nomenklatura apparatchiks by Milovan Djilas, but Kahn noted that it applies elsewhere, too. I believe that John Kenneth Galbraith noted this, too, only with approval.

MORE: Prof. Kenneth Anderson writes:

New Class analysis needs to be reset into an American context – once place that does that is the great social theory journal Telos. And I try to do that in a law review essay on lawyers, therapeutic authoritarianism, and the New Class, in the Columbia Law Review.

Here’s a bit from the conclusion:

The old elites wanted to be the top of the communities in which they had grown up; whether to lead or dominate, to serve communities or exploit them, at least they understood themselves as having a place in them. The new elites, by contrast, want no connection; they understand that power is elsewhere, money is elsewhere, and mobility is everything; if indeed they have to live somewhere, it will be if at all possible in a wholly private, gated community. Yet simultaneously they want to dominate.

The New Class pushes its mobility to absolute limits, launching itself into what it imagines is a global society conducted in the jet stream, made weightless by the complete mobility of capital, but with devastating consequences for those left behind on the ground. For those who cannot fly, there is first, the administration of life by these same elites and their hirelings, the authoritarian, bureaucratic formations which, to be sure, express themselves alternately in soothingly therapeutic psycho-babble or communitarian slogans of the common good or assertions of new and endless rights and, second, economic insecurity in the midst of being urged to greater self-esteem …

In this unforgiving light, the unhappiness of lawyers looks rather less like professionals experiencing the loss of fulfillment that accompanies losing “ownership” of the social ends of the legal profession and rather more like the unhappiness of experts who, having established to their own satisfaction the certainty of ends not open for argument by non-experts, wonder why they are not also loved.

The issue of the New Class and its lawyers is authoritarianism. In an age when the therapeutic has appropriated rights talk, and with it lawyers, turning it and them into agents of New Class authoritarianism and social control, the real question that needs to be answered is why there exists the continued “hegemony within the public culture of an essentially indeterminate and at the same time absolutist discourse of rights.” It predominates because, far from being merely a language of individual liberty or even unbridled individual license (as, for example, the communitarians would have us believe) it is today a language of state authority, a language of therapeutic paternalism; those who actually dream of being “liberals” will not reclaim rights talk any time soon. Its appropriation is at the core of the process by which the state today controls, as Christopher Lasch wrote, “not merely [the individual's] . . . outer but his inner life as well; not merely the public realm but the darkest corners of private life, formerly inaccessible to political domination.”

Lawyers are deeply complicit in this colonization of the language of rights by the culture of therapy. They participate because it serves the agenda of a class that, unfamiliar with democracy except as an impediment to its social engineering, is incapable of any form of discourse that is not directed from the top to the bottom. Expertise, particularly in the social sciences, is a language of hierarchy and social control, and lawyers today, as a professional formation within the New Class, deploy the language of rights to the end of making the therapeutic coercive in the public sphere.

It is not a glorious profession because it is not a glorious class, and lawyers are right to be unhappy.

Gosh, I feel kinda guilty for enjoying life so much now.

RELATED: Bad sociology.

MORE: Reader Joe Jackson writes: “You’ve probably already posted all of the give and take that you intend to post concerning the David Brooks column. But I can’t resist relating this: Back in the early 90s someone gave me an autobiography by Ben Bradlee. It was a lousy book, poorly written, in fact an embarrassment. But one little anecdote has stayed with me. When he first arrived at the Washington Post, retired Executive Editor Leonard Downie’s nickname, according to Bradlee, was ‘Land Grant Len’. Seems that Downie, unlike most of the other hot-shots at the Post, including Bradlee himself, was not an Ivy Leaguer but rather a graduate of Ohio State, a Land Grant institution. David Brooks fits right into this mind-set.”

AGAIN: DNA Clears Man Of Rape After 35 Years.

STUART TAYLOR: FRESH ROT AT DUKE: “You might think that a university whose students were victims of the most notorious fraudulent rape claim in recent history, and whose professors — 88 of them — signed an ad implicitly presuming guilt, and whose president came close to doing the same would have learned some lessons. The facts are otherwise. They also suggest that Duke University’s ugly abuse in 2006 and 2007 of its now-exonerated lacrosse players — white males accused by a black stripper and hounded by a mob hewing to political correctness — reflects a disregard of due process and a bias against white males that infect much of academia.”

THIS KIND OF THING JUST KEEPS HAPPENING: DNA clears man jailed 25 years for rape, murder.

WHICH IS WORSE? Rape or cuckoldry?

YEARS AGO, the FDA shut down sales of a product called Jogging In A Jug. “By law, the product–a mixture of grape and apple juices and vinegar called Jogging in a Jug–was considered an unapproved new drug due to claims McWilliams, 64, made for it.”

But now we learn that vinegar can affect blood sugar levels, which makes me wonder about triglycerides, too. Maybe McWilliams was just too far ahead of the curve. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Jackson notes that my triglyceride intuition seems to be correct.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Christopher Brandt writes: “I’m curious to see how much vinegar was consumed by people 50-100 years ago, and our ancestors who used it as a primary food preservative. Pickles anyone?” I wonder if the switch to refrigeration led to lower levels of vinegar in the diet, and hence to the midcentury jump in heart disease? Purely speculative, of course, but interesting.

CLOSE CALL: “Although no one noticed at the time, the Earth was almost hit by an asteroid last Friday. The previously undiscovered asteroid came within 8,700miles of Earth but astronomers noticed it only 15 hours before it made its closest approach. Its orbit brought it 30 times nearer than the Moon, which is 250,000 miles away.”

VIDEO: Moby Grape live, on the Mike Douglas show.

ANNIE JACOBSEN: Federal Air Marshal on Trial for Rape in UK.

CHRISTIAN / NEWSOM UPDATE: Lemaricus Davidson gets death for his role in the torture-rape-murder.

ARE DATE-RAPE DRUGS an urban myth?


UPDATE: What do Barack Obama and Yassir Arafat have in common?

Plus, Mickey Kaus: Turn It Down. “Say he’s honored but he hasn’t had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doug Mataconis on Facebook: “Teddy Roosevelt wins Peace Prize for stopping a war. Carter wins Peace Prize for a lifetime of work. Obama wins Peace prize for breathing.”

MORE: Heh.

I say, not bad for a guy who’s been acting like Bambi caught in the headlights of history.

STILL MORE: London Times: Absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize. Oh, it was already a mockery.

Meanwhile, Mataconis is on a roll on Facebook: “How can Obama win the Nobel Peace Prize on the same day that he’s becoming the first POTUS to bomb the Moon?”

It’s Frank J. Fleming’s world. The rest of us just live in it.

MORE STILL: Various reader comments:

“It’s a peace prize, not a peace peace prize.”

“How do you say ‘jumped the shark’ in Norwegian?”

“Today the Nobel Committee announced a posthumous Peace Prize for Neville Chamberlain.”

“Why not the Cy Young Award, too?”

“Let’s be fair . . . he did pull off the Beer Summit.”

Plus, Jacob T. Levy on Facebook: “The US border agent in Toronto– the armed representative of the state who was holding my passport– asked me what I thought of the Nobel, got angry when I was anything less than celebratory, and didn’t want to give my passport back– wanted to keep arguing.”

“Americans want to be loved.”

“The subprime Peace Prize.”

Salena Zito: “Well, this makes his meeting with his war team today awkward.”

HuffPo: Whatever Happened to Awarding For Deeds Actually Done?

Richard Cohen:

In a stunning announcement, Millard Fillmore Senior High School chose Shawn Rabinowitz, an incoming junior, as next year’s valedictorian. The award was made, the valedictorian committee announced from Norway of all places, on the basis of “Mr. Rabinowitz’s intention to ace every course and graduate number one in class.” In a prepared statement, young Shawn called the unprecedented award, “f—ing awesome.”

At the same time, and amazingly enough, the Pulitzer Prize for Literature went to Sarah Palin for her stated intention “to read a book someday.” The former Alaska governor was described as “floored” by the award, announced in Stockholm by nude Swedes beating themselves with birch branches, and insisted that while she was very busy right now, someday she would make good on her vow to read a book. “You’ll see,” she said from her winter home in San Diego.

And again in a stunning coincidence, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar for best picture will be given this year to the Vince Vaughn vehicle “Guys Weekend to Burp,” which is being story-boarded at the moment but looks very good indeed. Mr. Vaughn, speaking through his publicist, said was “touched and moved” by the award and would do everything in his power to see that the picture lives up to expectation and opens big sometime next March.


DON DRAPER: Most influential guy of 2009? And he’s fictional. That must mean something . . . .

RESVERATROL UPDATE: “Resveratrol, a molecule found in red grapes, has been shown to improve diabetes when delivered orally to rodents. Until now, however, little has been known about how these beneficial changes are mediated in the body. A new study accepted for publication in Endocrinology, a journal of The Endocrine Society, shows that the brain plays a key role in mediating resveratrol’s anti-diabetic actions, potentially paving the way for future orally-delivered diabetes medications that target the brain.” Of course, the usual cautions about mice vs. people apply . . . .

NOT “RAPE-RAPE” OF A “NOT KID-KID”: Tom Shales: I’m Shocked To Be Told I Minimized Roman Polanski’s Crime. Here, Let Me Do It Again! “In Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old.”

UPDATE: Shales defends Letterman, too: Let’s Remember That Letterman’s a Clown, Not a Cleric or Congressman. And a Democrat, not a Republican . . . .

Transparent weasels.

MARK STEYN on Hollywood’s Moral Compass.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, Child Advocate.

Well, not an advocate advocate. . . .

YOU DON’T SAY: “Whoopi Goldberg is facing a fierce backlash after saying that film director Roman Polanski didn’t commit ‘rape-rape’ when he had unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.”

NOTING THE HUFFINGTON POST’S DIFFERING TREATMENT of Roman Polanski and Mark Foley. “But unlike Foley, Polanski is not a Republican. He’s simply wanted in L.A. on a child rape charge.”

Related: Applebaum blames the victim for the rape. Plus, an interesting development: “The vast majority of French people feel the same way about Polanski as the vast majority of Americans. In both countries, sympathy for a child rapist seems isolated to the entertainment elite and the media sycophants who love them.” And the tax-and-financial advisors at ACORN, I suppose . . . .

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: From Ann Althouse, a shred of sympathy for dumb celebrities:

I think these people are not really very politically savvy, though they want to look engaged and good. They’re surrounded by people who tell them what views to reflect and they got a clear message that made them think this was another easy one. And now, the backlash comes. Oh, poor celebrities! They just tried to say what their all-encompassing environment made them was good to say. Have a little compassion. It’s not like they raped a kid.

Nope, just excused it. Which tells us a lot about that “all-encompassing environment.”

JIM LINDGREN: Good artists are not necessarily good people and bad people are not necessarily bad artists. “When Orwell says that even a reborn Shakespeare couldn’t get away with ‘raping little girls,’ he was either reflecting the mores of the times (1944) — or he forgot about Hollywood.”

UPDATE: Whoopi Goldberg disgraces herself.

MORE ON THE Anne Applebaum / Roman Polanski conflict. You can tell a lot about a governing class from who it’s willing to cover for.

UPDATE: Col. Douglas Mortimer writes:

Well, let’s remember that in the book “Less than Zero,” the children of the Hollywood elite watch a 12 year old girl be bound, raped, and murdered at a party. That little nugget of joy didn’t make the movie, but the author obviously knew these people.

Our tastemakers.


If Polanski was an ordinary Roman, and not an award-winning film director, we wouldn’t be having this debate. There is sympathy for him because he’s considered a great artiste. The Hollywood elite wouldn’t give Polanski the plumber the time of day if he had sexually assaulted an underage girl. And that suggests to me a stunning double standard.


MEGAN MCARDLE ON ROMAN POLANSKI: “You would think we’d busted him for unpaid parking tickets. The guy drugged a thirteen year old girl in order to rape her. Perhaps the French have some sophisticated, European point of view on these things that I, with my puritan ancestry, simply cannot rise to.”

Or they could just be miserable shitheels. Related item here: “Let’s keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her.” Just remember: If he weren’t a member of the politico-artistic elite, he’d have done hard time already.

But, since he is, we get this: Hollywood Unites To Defend Polanski. “If his unspeakable deed doesn’t meet the standard, what exactly would Roman Polanski have to do in order to become a pariah in this town … I mean, besides vote for Sarah Palin?”

UPDATE: Reader Michael McElwee smells a rat:

Isn’t it obvious this arrest – out of nowhere – is a political move by Obama’s minders?

What better to keep Greta and America distracted for a week or so?

Don’t be silly. That would suggest that the justice system was entirely politicized.

THE HOFSTRA FAKE-RAPE BROUHAHA reminds me of this post from when InstaPundit was young. Also this one.

I THOUGHT THAT OBAMA’S ELECTION WOULD MEAN THEY WOULDN’T HATE US ANYMORE: FBI arrests Jordanian citizen for attempting to bomb skyscraper in downtown Dallas. (Via JWF).

ANN ALTHOUSE AND EMILY BAZELON: Lessons from the Hofstra Gang Rape Hoax.

UPDATE: Had the wrong link before. Fixed now. Sorry!

“A SMALL — IF FAIRLY MEANINGLESS — SHRED OF COMPASSION.” Emily Bazelon responds to me on the Hofstra fake-rape case.

UPDATE: Sort-of-related: One in 20 UK women has never had sex while sober. “Almost half of those questioned said they preferred sex while under the influence of alcohol because it helped them to lose their inhibitions and be more adventurous. Researchers, who surveyed 3,000 women aged between 18 and 50, found the average woman has slept with eight men, but was drunk with at least five of them. On two of these occasions they couldn’t even remember the man’s name the next day.”

EMILY BAZELON: The lesson we’re not learning from the Hofstra date rape that wasn’t. “The weird lesson for men who have group sex in bathrooms: Film it on your cell phone.” And a question: why doesn’t she publish the accuser’s name, now that the rape is admittedly fake? You’re not protecting a victim now, Emily, you’re protecting a perpetrator. Her name is Danmell Ndonye.

How many innocent men are in jail because of similar false accusations? We’re told that such situations are rare, but nobody really knows. And in your piece, Emily, you’re still making excuses for her. I’ll note that — as in this case — many of those innocent men in jail are probably black, and they’re there in part because white feminists have made even the notion of skepticism unacceptable in the discussion of rape allegations.

Ann Althouse adds: “I think, on the whole, women would be better off if they stepped up to the adult work of taking responsibility for themselves. The men in this incident were awful too, but ladies, say no to awful men. Don’t let men define what good sex is. And certainly don’t let them act out their idea of good sex and then decide that you wanted something nicer.” Though apparently what triggered this false charge wasn’t so much regret for an insufficiently nice sexual experience as a desire to keep people from thinking she was a “slut.”

“As I was about to leave, she comes up and she has no shoes on, she is holding them in her hands. She looked like she just finished hot sex,” he said. “I said, ‘Where were you? What were you doing?’ She told me, ‘Nothing.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, nothing?’ ”

Ndonye then dropped a bombshell.

“I said, ‘Don’t lie to me, what’s going on?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I just got raped,’ ” he said.

“It didn’t seem real to me. She was calm,” he continued. “Then she started crying and saying, ‘I was raped.’ She lied to me. I think she was embarrassed. I said to her, ‘You have to call public safety.’ She hesitated. It seemed like she didn’t want to.”

She then tried to backpedal.

“Oh, you know, no, it’s OK,” she told him, but he was incredulous.

“How could it be OK that you just got raped?” the boyfriend said.

So she relented — and a four-day nightmare began for four innocent men. . . . “She probably felt like, ‘They’ll think I’m a slut,’ ” her boyfriend, who asked not to be identified, told The Post.

Nothing wrong with being a slut — it’s one of those personal sexual choices we’re supposed to celebrate, right? — but there’s a lot wrong with making false rape charges.

And shouldn’t Hofstra apologize for suspending these guys and banning them from campus on the strength of an unsubstantiated allegation? It seems to me that there are a lot of lessons to be learned here.

UPDATE: A reader says that false rape allegations are not rare.

AT HOFSTRA, bogus rape charges.

DAVID CORN: How 9/11 Conspiracy Poison Did In Van Jones: “As far as I can tell, the only thing the so-called 9/11 Truth movement has accomplished is this: it’s caused the Obama administration to lose its most prominent expert on green jobs. So well done, Truthers. . . . The 9/11 conspiracy–of which I have not written about in years–was always a load of bunk. You don’t have to be an expert on skyscraper engineering or top-secret government communications to know that the two variants of the theory–the Bush White House orchestrated 9/11 so it could subsequently exploit the tragedy or the Bush White House knew the attack was coming and allowed it to occur so it could exploit the tragedy–make no sense.”

ADMINISTRATORS AT DUKE DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY’RE not smart enough to learn from experience.

Three Duke University students were the victims of the highest-profile fraudulent rape claim in modern American history. That fact alone should make the University particularly sensitive to the dangers of false rape allegations, and the need for a firm commitment to due process in handling any allegation of sexual misconduct.

But Duke administrators seem to worry not about violating the due process of rights of their students but instead about running afoul of politically correct campus ideologues. So, starting this semester, the University has adopted a new “sexual misconduct” policy—a policy that even some Duke administrators fear will lead to an increase in false rape claims against Duke students.

Why would anyone pay a fortune to send their kid to a place that has demonstrated this degree of incompetence — and sheer meanness?

ALTHOUSE ON CLIFT ON why women continued to support Ted Kennedy despite Chappaquiddick, the Palm Beach rape case, etc. “Face it. Liberal politics always came first for the so-called women’s groups, which is why they are not really women’s groups at all.” I think it’s abortion. Abortion gets you a pass as long as you’re useful if you’re a Republican (see., e.g., Robert Packwood), and as long as you live if you’re a Democrat. But maybe we’re saying the same thing here.

SEXISM IN OUR TIME: “‘People see a naked woman and they smile,’ he said. ‘They see a penis and they freak out.’”

UPDATE: Sigh. “This isn’t really a difficult question, is it? After decades of demonization of male sexuality by the feminist movement, a penis is considered practically an assault weapon. It’s a rape waiting to happen.”

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND, if you were out, you know, having a life:

My piece on the hidden cost of national healthcare. With some personal perspective.

Rex Murphy on Where we are.

Only twenty percent? Where do we sign up?

The Card-Check ad they don’t want you to see.

Virginia Postrel on fixing kidney donations. A must-read.

Some Tea Party photo fun with a member of Congress. Plus, outnumbering MoveOn / Acorn protesters again. (And again).

Is it a war against the producers?

Keith Hennessey critiques the Obama op-ed.

And a final goodbye to Billy Mays.

REX MURPHY ON THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY: “We’ve seen him in action for a bit more than six months. What we can say with confidence, now that we have the evidence of his actions, is that had he run on (a) transforming the U.S. economy by massive federal government intervention, (b) taking an owner’s stake in the automobile industry, (c) transforming the rules of America’s energy economy, (d) instituting a national health-care system – all of these simultaneously and in the centre of a financial meltdown – Barack Obama wouldn’t merely have lost the election, he wouldn’t have got as many votes as gnarly old Ross Perot did in an election long past. . . . Mr. Obama has taken the real crisis of the U.S. (and world) economy and used it as the screen and lever for a massive agenda of transformation, a transformation that calls for expenditures on a scale never before seen in the history of government on this planet.”

MORE PORN MEANS LESS RAPE. Hey, as I’ve noted before, porn and violent videogames are good for America’s children!

BILL LOCKYER, CALL YOUR OFFICE! THE NATIONAL PRISON RAPE ELIMINATION COMMISSION has released its report. I hope we’ll see some action here.

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT: Remembering The Rape of Nanking. “I was struck by the similarity between the reaction of the Chinese civilians and soldiers to their fate and that of many Jews during the Holocaust. Despite plenty of obvious evidence to the contrary, they clung to a belief that they would be okay right up until the very end. The Japanese troops carrying out the killings were often outnumbered ten and even a hundred to one by their prisoners yet there were very few instances of any resistance even though the Chinese likely would have been able to overwhelm their captors had they acted together. It’s probably part of human nature at some level to refuse to accept that a horrible fate awaits and to rationalize your way into inaction. I don’t know if there are any lessons that one can take from this (and hopefully they would never need to be applied), but one seems to be that if armed men come to take you away you should assume the worst. Resistance at that point, even if futile, is probably preferable to the alternative. It reminds me of how people are usually advised that if you are getting car jacked or kidnapped, the best chance of escape is in the initial moments of the attack.”

A NON-APOLOGY APOLOGY from David Letterman.

UPDATE: Politico: Sarah Palin smacks down David Letterman again. Plus, Top Ten Possible Letterman Reactions to Fallout Over Willow Palin Rape ‘Joke’.

L.A. TIMES: Aging man, 62, jokes about girl, 14.

DAVE LETTERMAN ON BRISTOL PALIN. See, this is why all that “have you no decency?” stuff from Democrats rings so hollow.

UPDATE: Oops, my mistake. Not Bristol Palin, but 14-year-old Willow Palin. Stay classy, Dave.


FRAUDULENT CRUNCHBERRIES. The failed lawsuit. AND: Did anyone ever sue Grape-Nuts?

ADDED: Eugene Volokh tells us about a 1912 case in which Coca Cola was challenged over the lack of coca leaves.

MASS-MURDER PREVENTED: College Student Shoots, Kills Home Invader:

A group of college students said they are lucky to be alive and they’re thanking the quick-thinking of one of their own. Police said a fellow student shot and killed one of two masked me who burst into an apartment. . . . Bailey said he thought it was the end of his life and the lives of the 10 people inside his apartment for a birthday party after two masked men with guns burst in through a patio door.

“They just came in and separated the men from the women and said, ‘Give me your wallets and cell phones,’” said George Williams of the College Park Police Department.

Bailey said the gunmen started counting bullets. “The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough,” said Bailey.

That’s when one student grabbed a gun out of a backpack and shot at the invader who was watching the men. The gunman ran out of the apartment.

The student then ran to the room where the second gunman, identified by police as 23-year-old Calvin Lavant, was holding the women.

“Apparently the guy was getting ready to rape his girlfriend. So he told the girls to get down and he started shooting. The guy jumped out of the window,” said Bailey.

If more home invaders had this experience, there would be fewer home invasions. Clayton Cramer comments: “If you have any doubt as to whether keeping colleges gun-free zones makes sense, I think this answers the question. This student didn’t draw a gun and start shooting when it looked like a robbery. When the bad guys made it clear that they were going to kill them all, he drew and fired–and probably saved ten lives.”

EUGENE VOLOKH: The University of the Totally Disarmed.

Many universities ban firearms, but some research I’ve been doing reveals that some universities ban firearms and stun guns and chemical defensive sprays, either in dorm rooms or in the university as a whole. This basically leaves students entirely without any defensive weapons, and also has the effect of disarming dorm residents when they go off campus property, since they have no place to store the defensive weapons when they’re back on campus.

This strikes me as quite shocking, especially with regard to women students who are in the age range where the danger of rape is at its highest. The university basically leaves them as sitting ducks, unless they’re willing to violate the university policy. Even if the university tries to compensate by offering a good deal of on-campus policing (some do and some don’t), it surely can’t protect the students when they leave campus.

Seems like grounds for a lawsuit. But perhaps the universities think the indoctrination in defenselessness is worth the risk.


A Queens judge ruled yesterday that subway employees do not have to do anything but pick up their phones if they see a crime — as he threw out a suit against the MTA and two workers who did nothing more to stop a rape.

A conductor saw the rape from the window on his train, and a station agent in the booth witnessed a screaming woman being dragged down a staircase inside the desolate 21st Street station of the G line. But neither one left the safety of their assigned posts to help her.

In a previous day, in a different culture, such men would have been afraid of being called cowards for failing to help a woman under such circumstances. Nowadays, they’re probably proud of acting “sensibly.” (For the record, the story says their names are Harmodio Cruz and John Koort.) And in a different world, Judge Kevin Kerrigan would have been ashamed to describe picking up a phone as “prompt and decisive action.” But he probably thinks it is.

Eric Holder talked about a “nation of cowards.” This is the real thing.

UPDATE: Reader Pierre Honeyman writes:

I agree with you, in principle, about cowardly men not acting to help people who need it, but allowing lawsuits to succeed in cases such as the one cited is a slippery slope. Having a legal principle that requires action, rather than the “Good Samaritan” laws which prevent punishing it, seems to me to be a rather slippery slope. As a law professor you surely know more about what kinds of legal precedents would be set by successful lawsuits of this nature, and I could very well be wrong, but it just seems wrong, somehow, to be able to sue someone who didn’t help you. I don’t think I’m comfortable with forcing people to consider legal hazard over physical hazard. I use that to argue for self-defense, including concealed carry, and the same argument applies here.

Well, actually I believe that traditionally common carriers — which I think the subway system would be — were required to protect against the foreseeable criminal acts of third parties, and I’d say a rape in a subway station is foreseeable. But standards tend to slip when it’s the government, for some reason. My point, however, was not about litigation, but about culture.

AZIZ POONAWALLA IS CRITICAL OF OBAMA over the Afghan “rape bill:”

Let’s not mince words. It’s doubtful that President Obama’s administration was unaware of the rape bill. It’s more likely that they are intent on sticking by Karzai and supportive of whatever he needs to do to get re-elected, Secretary Clinton’s rhetoric about elevating women’s rights in foreign policy during her confirmation hearing aside. This kind of ends-justify-the-means foreign policy is essentially realpolitik revisited – the exact kind of short-term “great game” thinking that created the Taliban itself. It’s a disgrace and an embarassment to Obama’s entire Afghanistan policy, and the domestic economic crisis is no excuse for such a craven failure to stand up for the values we purport to uphold.

Well, the Obama pledge was to replace those idealistic neocons with realists. This is what that looks like.

A DOUBLE STANDARD on teen “rape.”

SHE SENT HIM TO JAIL FOR RAPE: Now they’re friends. But he spent 11 years in prison before DNA evidence cleared him.

WHY THE 21ST CENTURY IS COOL: I’m a Moby Grape fan, and years ago I found the Grape Jam EP in a used record store and thought it was a great find; it was a promotional thing released in relatively small numbers. Now my brother emails that it’s downloadable on Amazon.

UPDATE: Doug Levene writes:

Thanks very much for the tip about the Moby Grape EP. You’ve brought back great memories.
I saw them twice. First time was late 1966 or early 1967 at the East Village Theatre in NYC (which later became the Fillmore East); my brother, sister and I somehow convinced my parents (we were too young) to drive us in during a visit to my grandparents in Scarsdale. We were probably the only living creatures there who weren’t smoking pot. It was a great concert. The second time was my first date, in late 1967 – I had my driver’s license by then and took her to see the Grape at a tiny club in Boston, I can’t remember the name. I do remember the classic light show.

I still listen to the first album (now on my pod) a lot. My son says that it is similar in some respects to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album (Dr. Roberts) and I think he has a point.

I discovered The Grape in the ’80s by prowling used record stores, but yeah, an underappreciated gem.


UPDATE: “Oratorywise, so good. Ideawise, so weak. Combination, so dangerous.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Welch: “There was much to dislike about this speech, most notably (for me anyway) the effortless way in which the new president talked out of both sides of his mouth. We will not govern in anger! No more drapes for you, fatcats! Etc.”

POLITICAL GRAPEVINE: Are the Democrats Having a Hard Time Doing Business By The Book?

“THERAPEUTIC VENTING” on the state of drug research.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: “How does one explain how California is broke, tens of billions of dollars in aggregate debt, despite having among the highest sales and income taxes in the nation?”

GET THE SEX YOU DESERVE. From the comments: “If you’re going to blame it for increasing the general standard of living and wealth to the point that somebody can earn money writing this drivel about sex instead of laboring in the heat (or cold) to scrape up enough food to stay on the topside of the dirt for another 24 hours, Capitalism will take the rap.”

WELL, GOOD: “More than three-quarters of laboratory leukemia cells exposed to an extract from grape seeds died within 24 hours, effectively killing themselves while leaving other cells unharmed, a new study shows. University of Kentucky researchers say they found that the extract activates JNK, a protein that regulates the cell-signaling pathway the leads to cell death, or apoptosis.”

EUGENE VOLOKH on Ann Althouse, Kate Winslet, and Statutory Rape.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, something of a double standard on the subject? “Murray made a similar point in closing arguments in the sentencing phase, telling jurors that if a man impregnated his 13-year-old foster daughter, probation would not be discussed.” (Via Robert Franklin, who notes that statutory rape doesn’t get much serious thought.)

KATE WINSLET IS offended by the term “statutory rape.” Plus, Nixonian feminism.

WELL, RELIGION OR NOT, THIS JUST MAKES GOOD SENSE: “7 straight days of sex. That was the challenge Pastor Ed Young issued to all of the married couples at his Grapevine church. . . . ‘Everybody’s whining about the economy and about the world….let’s move from whining to whoopee!’” All I can say is, amen, brother. And hey, it’s something that Congress probably can’t manage to tax. Probably. . . .

SORRY FOR THAT WHOLE RUINING-YOUR-CAREER THING: Student-sex charges dropped against Halls High teacher.

Prosecutors today dropped charges against a Halls High School teacher accused of having sex with a student.

Corey DeHart, who had been suspended from his post as a math teacher after a student filed a complaint against him in September 2007, had faced six counts of multiple sex acts ranging from statutory rape to sexual battery by an authority figure.

However, those charges were dropped at a brief hearing this morning before Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner.  “Basically our case evaporated,” said John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

Unpaid leave for over a year before an Emily Litella “never mind” in court. No wonder people — especially men, who have more reason to worry about unfounded charges — are increasingly reluctant to go into teaching.

KATIE GRANJU: “I have been very struck by the obvious efforts President Bush is making to set a tone of civility and optimism with regard to his successor’s imminent arrival in The White House. There has been an explicit demonstration on his part of respect for President-elect Obama, and for the change in administration. No hint of sour grapes, or even misgivings on his part are evident. . . . At a time when the nation is so bitterly divided by partisanship, Bush’s leadership in this area is more than just for looks. He is demonstrating to the world how responsible, civil democratic transition should look. It’s pretty inspiring, and makes me proud to be an American.”

DO YOU HAVE A LICENSE to move that chair? “In 22 states, including Arkansas, it is illegal to call yourself an interior designer without going through an arduous and expensive certification process. In Nevada, it’s illegal to do interior design without a license. That’s right, advising someone about drapes could land you in the hoosegow.”

HMM: Google’s growth makes privacy advocates wary. “Perhaps the biggest threat to Google Inc.’s increasing dominance of Internet search and advertising is the rising fear, justified or not, that Google’s broadening reach is giving it unchecked power. . . A bigger long-term concern for Google could be criticisms over something less tangible — privacy. Increasingly, as Google burrows deeper into everyday computing, its product announcements are prompting questions about its ability to gather more potentially sensitive personal information from users.”

UPDATE: Toren Smith writes: “I recommend Scroogle. It ‘scrapes’ Google, allowing you to use Google’s capabilities without giving them any of your personal information. You lose out on a few of Google’s features (most notably cached pages) but it provides a lot more privacy.”

UPDATE: You really want to follow the link above, which goes to If you just type in you get something very different, and not at all safe for work.

A LOOK AT THE health benefits of grapes.

SINCE THE CHANNON CHRISTIAN / CHRISTOPHER NEWSOM TORTURE-MURDER CASE got a lot of blogospheric attention a while back, here’s a followup:

A house where a Knox County couple was tortured and slain was razed today. “It was an evil place,” said Gary Christian, whose 21-year-old daughter was killed inside the 2316 Chipman St. house. “I’m glad it’s gone.”

Waste Connections Inc., which is located next door to the house, bought it with the intent of tearing it down and putting in its place a memorial honoring Channon Christian and 23-year-old Christopher Newsom. Authorities allege they were kidnapped and taken to the house on Chipman Street where they both were raped and tortured. Newsom was shot, his body set on fire and left along railroad tracks on Cherry Street, according to police.

There’s been one conviction so far, in a plea bargain. As for the rest: “Letalvis Cobbins, 25, is the first of the four to face trial in Knox County Criminal Court, scheduled for Jan. 26. His girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, 20. will be tried in April. His brother, Lemaricus Davidson, 27, faces a July trial, while pal George Thomas, 25, will stand trial in August.”

WHY DEMOCRATS REMAIN split over Obama.

NOW IT’S SUSIE BRIGHT repeating the rape kit smear. Plus, fantasies about kidnapping Sarah Palin for sex.

BOOTED IN BOSTON: “A Boston shelter for homeless women has dropped controversial comedian Sandra Bernhard as the marquee speaker at its annual fund-raising event because of her ‘gang rape’ joke about Sarah Palin.”

IN THE TANK? OR DRIVING THE TANK? Michael Graham notes that the Boston Globe continues to peddle the Sarah Palin rape-kit myth, despite the fact that it’s been debunked and re-debunked. Graham comments:

The story is old news in the new media. Left-leaning called it “a nasty and untrue rumor.” National Review’s Jim Geraghty, who has written exhaustively on the story calls it “unsupported by the facts.” But at the Obama-Uber-Alles Boston Globe, they call it “news.”

We have come to the point in the media’s treatment of Gov. Sarah Palin where even the fig leaf of pretense is gone. The press has openly chosen sides and has stopped apologizing for it.

Yes. My thoughts on what to do are here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kay Hymowitz emails:

Thought you might be interested to hear that Jon Stewart repeated the rape kit story last night on The Daily Show. It’s pretty bad when the Boston Globe spreads untruths, but remember no one trusts them – or reads them – anyway. But when the Daily Show repeats the story, that’s another matter. Now the country’s entire population of under 30 year olds KNOWS it’s true.

Well, yeah. And Stewart should apologize for repeating an obvious falsehood. But how embarrassing is it for the Globe that it’s being outranked by Jon Stewart?

IS SARAH PALIN QUALIFIED? A poll at PBS. It’s been running for over three weeks and it’s an even split.

UPDATE: Fred Thompson casts his vote. “Governor Palin’s every comment was scrutinized by the media and judged against what Jefferson or Lincoln might have said. Never mind that her counterpart, the 30-year-Washington-veteran Joe Biden, apparently is unaware that America relies upon coal for a lot of its electricity or that he recently referred to a top level U.S. official’s visit to Iran that never happened. That’s just Joe being Joe – protected by the sheer number of his gaffes and the fact that he is Barack Obama’s running mate.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Re-debunking the rape kit smear.

Heck, even Slate has shot that down.

MORE: Reader Peter Sterne emails:

Democrats are questioning whether Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President while Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker-In-Tongues-of-the-House is two heartbeats (and one with issues) away from the Presidency. Nancy Pelosi is proving herself completely unqualified to lead anything. I wouldn’t trust her to lead a troop of Girl Scouts. At a time when she should have been, umm, actually, leading the House (BTW, that means the entire House … both aisles), she morphed into House Majority Leader Pelosi, made a vicious partisan attack on Republicans, and derailed the $700B bail out.

I’ll leave the parsing of her motivations to more connected observers, but I suspect it was based on partisan calculus, since the only leadership Pelosi has ever shown is in her capacity to attack the opposition.

That’s her.

SLATE: “It looks like the Sarah Palin rape-kit myth is still alive and flourishing. . . . But the fact remains that this is a nasty and untrue rumor about Sarah Palin that’s been circulating for weeks. If you’re an Obama supporter who gets frustrated that people still believe he’s Muslim or won’t put his hand on his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, you should understand the frustration that Palin supporters feel when this slime is taken at face value.”

IS SAYING “IF YOU DON’T HAVE SEX WITH ME, I’LL LEAVE YOU” tantamount to rape? Only if you’re an idiot. Which means, for some people, the answer is “yes.”

IS GRAPE JUICE as good for you as red wine? Possibly.

MORE ON THE UBIQUITOUS JAMIE GORELICK: “It’s not often that one person plays key roles in two — count ‘em, two — trillion-dollar disasters.” Plus the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax case, which was a disaster of the first order too, even if it didn’t have a trillion-dollar price tag.

DAVID HARSANYI ARGUES the libertarian case for Palin:

By now, you’ve probably seen picture or two of Palin sporting a rifle. Apparently, she’s left carcasses strewn across the Alaskan wilderness. In some places — areas where the nation is growing — owning a gun is not yet a sin. And unlike Obama, Palin seems to believe that the Second Amendment means the exact same thing in rural Alaska as it does in the streets of Chicago.

Yes, Palin is without argument a staunch social conservative. She is fervently opposed to abortion – even in cases of rape and incest, which will raise eyebrows, but is certainly more philosophically consistent than the namby pambyism of your average politician. The choice issue, after all, is complicated, even for many libertarians. And, as I was recently reminded, Ron Paul, the Libertarian champion of the 21st century, also opposes abortion.

Even when advocating for “moral” issues, Palin’s approach is a soft sell. Palin does not support gay marriage (neither does Obama, it should be noted). Yet, in 2006, Palin’s first veto as Governor was a bill that sought to block state employee benefits and health insurance for same-sex couples.

Read the whole thing. One can, of course, be a social conservative in philosophy and still support a libertarian approach to government and regulation.

GRAPES THAT SELL for $26 each? No thanks. I like grapes, but I also like dollars.

SAW AN EXCELLENT PANEL THIS EVENING ON THE DUKE LACROSSE RAPE HOAX, featuring K.C. Johnson (author of Until Proven Innocent, with Stuart Taylor), James Coleman, Mike Gerhardt, Lyrissa Lidsky, and Angela Davis (no, not that Angela Davis), author of Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor, which I bought on Kenneth Anderson’s recommendation and which is excellent, especially as a companion to K.C.’s book. The discussion was excellent and very fair. Lots of talk about what Nifong got wrong, plus the important point that the kind of misconduct for which Nifong was disbarred and punished is committed regularly by prosecutors who almost always get off scot-free even when it’s exposed. We really need a better mechanism for policing prosecutorial misconduct, and it’s not clear what that should be — independent audits of cases by a sort of inspector general? I’m not sure.

I disagree, though, with the idea that replacing elected prosecutors with appointed prosecutors would fix the problem. As with elected vs. appointed judges, it doesn’t get rid of the politics, just make it less transparent. And I suspect that situations like that obtaining in Britain, where burglars face little risk of prosecution while homeowners who defend their homes against burglars are targeted by authorities, couldn’t possibly prevail in a system of elected prosecutors.

DON KATES: Gun rights for felons?

UPDATE: Okay, this bit is worth breaking out, and has ramifications going far beyond the gun context:

In sum, the constitutional right to arms simply does not extend to people convicted of serious criminal offenses. By “serious,” I refer to the early common law – under which felonies were real wrongs like rape, robbery and murder.

Unfortunately, modern legislatures have added a host of trivial felonies. For instance, in California an 18-year-old girl who has oral sex with her 17-year-old boyfriend has committed a felony. The courts should rule that conviction of such a trivial felony can’t deprive such a “felon” of her right to arms.

I’ve written about this subject — the promiscuous creation of trivial felonies — in the past. I also would argue, though, that you shouldn’t restore felons’ right to vote unless you’re willing to restore all their rights, including the right to possess arms. Citizenship should be a package deal.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I see that others have made a similar point.

SCOTUSBLOG: “The state of Louisiana on Monday asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling a month ago striking down the death penalty for the crime of child rape. The rehearing petition, citing an omission in the Court’s opinion of any mention of a federal law on that issue, was filed late Monday afternoon.” Some background here.

PINK GUNS as rape prevention devices.

DO WE HAVE A CONSERVATIVE SUPREME COURT? “Sure, conservatives are cheering the Heller decision, but how ‘conservative’ is a Court that invalidates the death penalty for child rape and declares that non-citizen detainees held outside U.S. sovereign territory by the military have a constitutional right to bring habeas actions in federal court, despite federal legislation to the contrary? Viewed as a whole, this term saw a Court that often defied easy ideological characterization.”

CAN A MAN BE RAPED BY A WOMAN? Actually, something very similar happened to a friend of mine in college. He felt he had been raped. In retrospect, I should have been more sympathetic.

UPDATE: Some related thoughts at Chicagoboyz.


Yet the Court shouldn’t talk about following a “national consensus” on an issue on which in 1997 only 31% of the American public agreed with the Court and 65% of the public opposed the Court’s view. The justices should admit that they follow ELITE opinion, not the views and morality of the ordinary public. If they can’t go that far, they should at least stop preaching to us about a “national consensus” that is little more than a fig leaf for their own (often quite reasonable) policy preferences.

Indeed. Or we should go whole-hog and just start electing Supreme Court Justices. Then they’d actually have the democratic legitimacy they’re claiming with talk of consensus.



DUKE RAPE HOAX UPDATE: A look at prosecutor Mike Nifong’s bankruptcy petition.

DUKE PROFESSORS ARE FEELING THE HEAT FOR THEIR PROMOTION OF THE DUKE RAPE HOAX. K.C. Johnson responds to their efforts at self-justification, and Jim Lindgren observes: “Why do these Duke professors bother to write about the Duke lacrosse hoax if they are not going to deal with their own actions honestly? If they can’t simply face the truth, they should put down their shovels and stop digging.”

DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECESSION (CONT’D): Heck, this time it’s Where’s My Depression? “Whatever happened to the Great Depression? Not the real one from 70 years ago, the lost decade of unimagined misery and Steinbeckian angst, the worst period in the history of modern capitalism. I mean the replay we were promised this year. . . . Well, it’s early days, to be fair, but so far the Great Depression 2008 is shaping up to be a Great Disappointment. Not so much The Grapes of Wrath as Raisins of Mild Inconvenience.”

WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE 10% of a watermelon, or 90% of a grape? Depends in part on which you like, and which you’re allergic to . . .

I’D BE SHOCKED, but by now this really isn’t shocking:

The UN has covered up claims that its troops in Democratic Republic of Congo gave arms to militias and smuggled gold and ivory, the BBC has learned. . . . These are not the only allegations to have been brought against peacekeepers in DR Congo.

In December 2006, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Moroccan troops had been involved in widespread sexual abuse.

“There have been crimes such as rape, paedophilia and human trafficking,” he said, shortly before leaving office.

But since there’s no anti-American angle, it won’t be much of a story.


So now, Duke University wants to keep certain people from saying certain things about the disproven rape allegations against the school’s lacrosse players.

Now that lawsuits accuse Duke of having helped inflame campus sentiment against the team, this is a good time to be quiet about the whole thing, it seems.

Well, that is a turn of events.

This is the same school where faculty and students loudly demanded jailing — and worse — for the young men; where administrators canceled the team’s season and fired the coach to try to quell the mob. That same school is now trying to punish players’ lawyers for inviting the news media to write about what the school allegedly did wrong.

In response to a suit filed by 38 current and former lacrosse players at Duke, lawyers for the university accuse the players’ attorneys of ethics violations in speaking publicly about their case.

Merely insuring, of course, that we’re all reminded of how badly Duke behaved. Hey, it’s good for Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson.

EZRA KLEIN ON PRISON RAPE. “Prison rape occupies a fairly odd space in our culture. It is, all at once, a cherished source of humor, a tacitly accepted form of punishment and a broadly understood human rights abuse. . . . Although it would be unthinkable for the government today to institute corporal punishment in prisons, there is little or no outrage when the government interns prisoners in institutions where their fellow inmates will brutally violate them. We won’t touch you, but we can’t be held accountable for the behavior of Spike, now can we?”

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Ed Morrissey.

ED CONE: Bring back Glass-Steagall. Kind of a horse/barn-door thing, but read it.

UPDATE: Dave Price emails:

I know a few other CPAs who shake their heads when the subject is brought up.

Repealing Glass-Steagal may someday be viewed as the most catastrophic mistake of our generation.

Conflict of interest is not why, however. Most everyone has forgotten the primary reason why Glass-Steagal was so important: it separated banks, insurers, and businesses so that a failure in one area could not cascade into a Panic and collapse the entire economy.

After most of a century, people are once again assuming a systemic collapse is impossible, even as they remove the mechanisms that prevented it for so long.

It’s an unnecessary gamble. Pray we never pay the price.

That’s usually how things work. “Who needs these fireproof drapes? — We never have fires!” We see this in all sorts of areas.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Rippey emails:

You and a bunch of other high-minded thinkers are leaning toward the view that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was a mistake. Your thinking is based on . . . well, gee, I don’t know. The idea is just plain dumb.

The Thursday report of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG), available on Treasury’s web site, lists the causes and proposes cures for what has been happening in the financial markets since last summer. Nowhere is it suggested by the regulators that the existence of Glass-Steagall would have ameliorated present market woes, nor does the report suggest that its reenactment would provide relief.

Note that JPMorgan-Chase has been Bear-Stearns banker, in other words JPM-C this month is doing exactly what commercial banks have been doing for decades, i.e., providing short-term credit for investment banks (otherwise known as commercial loans)–an activity always permissible under Glass-Steagall. (Albeit this time, the Fed has stepped in to guarantee the transactions for 28 days.)

If there is a culprit in commercial banking, it is, per usual, lax supervision of national banks (e.g., Citi) by the Comptroller of the Currency (think Franklin National Bank), coupled with counter-productive capital requirements cooked up in Basel.

Are large state member banks experiencing life-threatening problems? No. Significantly, the Comptroller was left off the working group, but the Fed was not. Please, professor, before latching on to platitudes, examine the facts.

Bottom line: I’m wrong. Well, that’s hardly a man-bites-dog event. One of my hedge-fund readers agrees, albeit a bit more politely:

The Bear Stearns crisis du jour is not at all related to the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial from investment banking. Bear has always been an investment bank, and its current fragility is entirely a consequence of bad decisions made in the running of its standard, core businesses.

If one wants to point a finger at regulations for the present mess, look at the green eyeshade boys who decided on mark-to-market asset pricing for items lacking a market, and international capital rules that drive institutions to move stuff off balance sheet while demanding paper be rated AAA whether merited or not.

Stay tuned, as we’ll probably be hearing more about this.