May 31, 2002
EUGENE VOLOKH has a thorough analysis of the District Court decision in which the CIPA ‘s mandatory-internet-filtering requirement was struck down.
He also gently upbraids Andrea See, though not for blogger-stalking.
EUGENE VOLOKH has a thorough analysis of the District Court decision in which the CIPA ‘s mandatory-internet-filtering requirement was struck down.
He also gently upbraids Andrea See, though not for blogger-stalking.
VIETNAM is accusing Sen. Bob Kerrey of war crimes.
KATIE ALLISON GRANJU says that the Iranians just don’t get it when it comes to insulting Americans.
TEENTALK! Okay, I’ve pretty much burned out on the whole teen-sex item now, but IsntaPundit has more to say — particularly on the value (or not) of a high school diploma.
WHY THEY HATE US! In yer face, Osama.
BYRON YORK accusses the FBI of Clintonian lying.
It’s a bad time for the FBI. It’s been getting hammered by civil libertarians. Now it’s getting hammered from people who feel it’s not investigating hard enough.
The cop-out answer is “if we’re getting criticized from both sides we must be doing something right.” It’s also possible, of course, that when you’re being criticized from both sides you’re just doing a lot of things wrong.
ANDREA SEE finally admits that she’s a blogger-stalker. She needs to repeat sex ed, though.
JON GARTHWAITE points out that polls showing a decline in confidence in government are not really bad news for conservatives, since they undermine the public’s willingness to support new big-government initiatives, which conservatives don’t want.
Yeah. Question is, does it help Bush? That depends on whether Bush is a conservative of the sort that Garthwaite means, or a big-government Republican in the Nixon/Kristol mode. As Nixon proved, those folks don’t do well when confidence in government declines while they’re in office.
BUSH MAY BE WOBBLY, but he was apparently right when he said David Gregory was just parroting memorized French — and getting it wrong to boot! I don’t want to get on my high horse for this — since my last visit to Paris there has been a warrant out for my arrest from the Academie Francaise (charge: “Murdering the French language” — also lesser charges for “mutilating the French language,” “abusing the French language,” etc., etc.). But then, I don’t pretend to be a highfalutin’ globe-trottin’ Euro-connected international correspondent, either. I found this via Henry Hanks’ page.
NEVER TRUST RANKINGS. This one is self-refuting.
BILL QUICK HAS demonstrated just how smart he is, by hiring Stacy Tabb to do a site move and redesign. He’s got a new location, and this URL will work until the DNS propagation catches up, after which the old dailypundit.com address will work again.
I must say that it’s quite a handsome site. Will all blogs be this good looking soon?
BLOGGER N.Z. BEAR has a piece in Salon today. It’s his/her first professional sale. Congrats, Bear!
WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: Reader Craig Schamp says that I’ve ruined his day:
You say that “gun rights supporters should be very unhappy with Bush.” Of course, you’re right, but why did you have to go and say that? Bush’s gun rights stance was one of the things I hadn’t yet lost hope in. Now I have nothing, with the war on terrorism looking more and more like the war on drugs (endless and ineffective, full of political posturing), the domestic policy front completely in shambles (steel tariffs, anyone?), and the cabinet full of idiots and clueless political losers.
Unless things change, and PDQ, I think any political capital that would help Republicans in the fall will have been wasted. I also think that Bush is opening himself up for more hawkish challengers. Not that any of this would be bad. It shows the dynamics of our political system. But my concern is that Bush’s loss may turn out to be more than just a political one, if all of his bumbling on the war (at home and abroad) brings more death and destruction to the home front.
— Craig Schamp
P.S. I have voted for a Republican for president since 1980 (voted for Carter in 1976, first time to the pools, I’m ashamed to say). I will gladly cast my vote for a hawkish Democrat next time, given the chance.
Well, a pro-gun Democrat could do pretty well, I think, and Bush is vulnerable to attack from the right on the war unless more hawkish undertakings are forthcoming. Bush did well when he kept a clear vision. He’s been muddled lately, and it’s going to hurt him if it lasts. What’s more, I predict that if his stock falls substantially it will do so very rapidly, as a number of these matters reach critical mass.
To be fair, the prosecution in DC is (I think) only for “carrying” a gun illegally and there’s a respectable argument that laws governing the carrying of weapons don’t implicate Second Amendment rights. There’s no evidence that that’s what’s motivating the Justice Department, though.
UPDATE: Bill Quick says this is a problem for Bush, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Best of the Web is noting the contradiction between the Justice Department’s actions and its Second Amendment position, too.
HMM. Maybe this bellicose women thing isn’t just an American fashion. . . .
BRENDAN O’NEILL offers a firsthand report from the London launch of Francis Fukuyama’s book, where he says Fukuyama was asked a lot of tough questions. O’Neill comments:
But surely Fukuyama is in danger of reducing our common humanity to a shared biology? Surely there is more to tie humans together than just the fact that we share biological features like eyes, ears, legs, arms, hearts and brains? Listening to Fukuyama, it sounded like he was arguing that human equality is a natural thing, based on biology, rather than a human-created political thing, born out of past struggles, the Enlightenment, and industrial and social development. Surely it is those human-created and human-centred values that tie us together and capture our humanity, rather than our biological make-up?
I think this is dead right. The statement that all men are created equal from the Declaration of Independence referred to political and moral standing — not natural endowments, which the Framers of the American Constitution (like Enlightenment thinkers in general) were very much aware came in unequal distributions. There are enormous differences now in people’s intellectual and physical gifts. That doesn’t prevent a polity from giving people equal respect.
GUN RIGHTS SUPPORTERS should be very unhappy with Bush, as the Justice Department punts on the D.C. gun ban.
Apparently Ashcroft’s view of the right to arms is like the beer in a beer commercial: you can pour it, show it brilliantly illuminated, talk about how good it is — in fact, do absolutely anything except actually drink it.
NETWORK HELP REQUEST: Okay, the home wireless network sort of works. About one time in ten the laptop connects fine. The other computer never does. Both can see the network, and report an excellent connection — but when I try to launch Explorer on the laptop, the MSN log-in appears every time; when I make it go away I can access Explorer only in offline mode. The other computer just returns a “page not found” response. I’ve spent a lot of time fiddling with the Windows network settings, to no avail. Any suggestions?
SPIES IN THE FBI? Howard Owens has some thoughts.
I’VE BEEN POINTING UP MUGABE’S MISDEEDS for quite some time here. The current New Yorker has a superb article on what’s going on in Zimbabwe, which is now up on the Web. I highly recommend it, though it’s pretty depressing. Mugabe makes quite clear that he regards Zimbabwe as his personal property, and that he’ll kill anyone who gets in the way, regardless of what it means for the people of Zimbabwe.
What’s worse is that he’s still getting a lot of support from South Africa and from South African political leaders. That bodes poorly for Zimbabwe, but it’s even worse for South Africa, because Zimbabwe has served as a groundbreaker and role-model for South Africa for the past couple of decades.
HENRY COPELAND is interested in seeing bloggers make money, and he’s got some plans.
BIZARRO WORLD, CONT’D: The New Republic is savaging the Pentagon brass for being unwilling to go to war. Okay, this is a longstanding issue, as their editorial points out, but still. . . .
But timidity is one thing; insubordination is another. The military establishment has crossed that line several times over the last decade–when a general named Colin Powell penned op-eds in 1992 cautioning policymakers against intervening in Bosnia; and in 1999, when the Army brazenly dragged its feet in delivering to Albania the Apache helicopters President Bill Clinton had ordered for the Kosovo campaign. And now it appears they are doing so once more.
There’s nothing worse than waging war in a half-assed fashion. Stephen Green said the other day that we’ve lost the initiative. I’m afraid he’s right.
If we lose this war, it’ll be because it was mismanaged. If that happens, we need to be sure that heads roll — from the White House, to the Pentagon, to the CIA. I agree with those who see the mideast turmoil as a distraction play intended to keep us from taking decisive action. Seems to be working.
The absence of rolling heads right now, as evidence of 9/11 screwups emerges in greater and greater quantities, is already worrisome.
EX-NAZI AND EX-U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL Kurt Waldheim (what? he’s still alive?) has been visiting Lebanon to hear complaints about Israel. Hmm. Perhaps there’s an important position awaiting Waldheim at the ICRC or the UNHRC. He seems to have the qualifications.
ANDREW SULLIVAN (whose permalinks are actually working now) weighs in on the Great Web Traffic Debate. Hey guys: all it takes is an open counter. And Mickey Kaus has responded to Sullivan’s “burly beer-buddy” Jonah Goldberg’s remarks on the traffic that Slate gets via MSN and MSNBC: “It’s called leveraging monopoly power, buddy! You got a problem with that?” You tell ’em, Mickey!
IT’S A KUTTNER-A-THON over at Kausfiles. That guy can’t get out from under Kaus’s eagle eye.
Hey, it’s as persuasive as the Wills approach. And I especially like the affirmation (as in “oath or affirmation”) supporting searches and seizures.
IT WAS A LOVELY EVENING: My daughter and I went to a carnival nearby (we’ve gotten a lot of those lately) where several stuffed bears were won (largely at the shooting gallery), unhealthy food was eaten, and a good time was had by all (well, both) as we killed time while my wife finished a late appointment. Then a nice dinner, several chapters of Harry Potter and some involved and difficult for me to follow play scenarios involving a lot of dolls and plastic horses. Not a suicide bomber in sight, either. Too bad that not everyone can say that.
EUGENE VOLOKH has noticed that the expansion of FBI surveillance powers announced today — strictly for terrorism-related investigation — is actually going to be used in drug and child pornography cases. Mission creep? Or misdirection?
KEVIN HOLTSBERRY says that my approach to teen sex is probably unworkable because our culture isn’t capable of demanding responsibility from teens.
ANOTHER NEWS WATCHBLOG: It’s called “ChronWatch” and it’s devoted to the San Francisco Chronicle. That should keep ’em busy.
ERIC OLSEN HAS A TRIBUTE to the National Spelling Bee. I was in the National Spelling Bee in eighth grade, placing number 28th. Sadly, I knew the word that I went out on, and just muffed it. That’s usually how it goes in spelling bees, though.
Though people correlate spelling ability with intelligence, it’s been my experience that there’s not all that much there. Oh, really dumb people usually can’t spell. But there are plenty of smart ones who are lousy spellers, too. I enjoyed the spelling bee, though, and even traded emails a few months ago with one of my fellow contestants whom I hadn’t seen since. She’s an actress now, and probably doesn’t get to make much use of her spelling skills in her work. But it was fun.
TEEN SEX! I got a couple of long letters on the Teen Sex piece that I’ve posted over at InstaPundit EXTRA! for your reading pleasure. A homeschooler liked the piece!
DEMOSTHENES (no, not the dead one) says that lunar environmentalism is dumb, but he disagrees with my Teen Sex article, which he finds, well, too conservative I guess.
TED BARLOW is dissing the Supreme Court for its state sovereign immunity decisions. He’s right to dis them — but wrong to blame the Rehnquist Court in particular, which is just following a long line of stupid decisions in this area. This utterly screwed-up line of cases started with Hans v. Louisiana in 1890, and it’s been continued by every Court since, regardless of political position. I don’t know why, and I’ve asked a lot of law professors, most of whom seem mystified at the Court’s near-religious enthusiasm for extending state sovereign immunity way beyond the letter of the Eleventh Amendment.
It’s true, of course, that the Eleventh Amendment cases are a substantial degree of departure from the text for a Court with many justices who say they’re strict constructionists. (It’s so true, in fact, that I wrote a law review article saying that in 1992, called “Penumbral Reasoning on the Right,” in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review). But in a way this illustrates the meaninglessness of the term “judicial activism.” On the one hand, the Court is way outside the text of the Constitution, which can certainly be characterized as activist. On the other hand, its recent decisions are entirely consistent with a line of cases that’s over a hundred years old, which could be considered respectful of precedent and hence not activist at all.
TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC! The USA Today item below has generated a lot of email, but I noticed this post by Jonah Goldberg over at The Corner about web traffic in which he compares Slate (which gets a lot of traffic via MSN) with USA Today, which gets a lot of readers via hotel placements. Provocative!
MARK ELLIOTT, circulation manager for USA Today, takes great exception to what I said earlier about print media inflating their paid circulation numbers:
As an circulation employee for USA TODAY I wanted to set the record straight regarding “free” papers and their “bundling” with hotels to count as paid. You make it sound as if it were a gimmick. They are counted as paid because they are paid for. They are bought and paid for by the hotel (at a slightly reduced rate for the large chains) for their customers. You can argue that many of those people would not normally buy a paper if one was not presented to them each morning but I don’t accept that. USA TODAY presents a fresh product each morning unique among its competition that is regarded as a must-have by the business traveler. Since the majority of hotels who offer this amenity serve the business community, I don’t feel there would be a significant drop off of circulation numbers should this practice end tomorrow.
Well, I don’t know about that. I appreciate Mr. Elliott’s point, but I’ve also gotten those papers when I stayed in hotels a lot more than I’ve bought them on my own. When you present your product free at someone’s door, they may read it or they may chuck it in the trash. I don’t think that it shows the same degree of reader interest as a subscription or a newsstand purchase. By way of comparison, if I were to spam InstaPundit content out to thousands of people — or have the spam bundled in with some other product or service (“subscribe to this porn site and get InstaPundit absolutely free!“) I don’t think it would demonstrate the same degree of interest as visits to this page.
I’ve got no grudge against USA Today, which I think is a lot better paper than many people realize. But I think this just underscores an important point: people argue about web stats, but older media bring even less information to the table about what people are reading. If I read Walter Shapiro’s column on the USA Today site, they know I’ve read it. If I buy a copy of the print edition to hold over my head because I don’t have an umbrella, I count as a “reader” of the whole thing even if I never open it.
Sadly, I don’t think there’s any leverage in the InstaPundit / Net Porn bundling scheme, either.
MORE ON MARTIAN WATER: The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting wrapup story on the subject here.
I think that — assuming this turns out to be true, as seems highly likely — this will turn out to be the big story of the year in many ways. But that probably won’t be apparent for decades.
BRINK LINDSEY, obviously no suckup, says that Joseph Stiglitz’s new book is very bad. This is a good argument for places like the Cato Institute, where Brink works. Stiglitz is a very famous economist, and dissing his book this way could be a damaging career move for an academic economist at many universities. At a think-tank, though, such considerations don’t exist in the same way. Think tanks, especially non-PC think tanks, thus help to promote intellectual diversity — which to me seems like a good thing.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Matt Moore thinks that efforts to raise consciousness about steroid use may backfire:
The numbers being thrown around are incredible. 50% or even 85% of baseball players are (possibly) spiking it up. If I’m a highschool player, do I watch all these reports and think, “Man, all my heroes are cheating, precancerous scumbags”, or do I think, “Well, if that’s what it takes…”
Yeah. Kind of like when you see these media stories on how much sex teenagers are having. How many say “oh, my, I’m part of a destructive social trend,” versus how many say, “Hey, how come I’m not getting any of that?”
SONIA ARRISON USES THE GRAY DAVIS CASE AS A SPRINGBOARD for an interesting discussion of how technology can promote transparency and hence reduce corruption. I think she’s right — and the success of the OpenSecrets.org website shows how that can work.
But, of course, for it to really do the job there have to be people who care about corruption, and there have to be politicians who sufficiently less corrupt than others to allow people to vote (or shame) their way into more honest government.
RAND SIMBERG writes about ice on Mars, China owning the Moon, and many other interesting topics.
DAVE KOPEL POINTS OUT that the Dervishes are on our side. As they should be.
STEALTH LEGISLATION? Some people are saying that the Brownback anti-cloning bill would also ban abortion from the moment of conception. Of course, such a bill would still be unconstitutional under Roe and Casey — but if you wanted to try putting the issue in front of the Supreme Court without taking political heat for it, this might be a good vehicle. George Annas notes the former, but not the latter, aspect in a statement quoted in the article (though of course he might actually have made both statements to the reporter).
This is an interesting aspect. While it’s true that there are some pro-life people who are opposing the Brownback bill, it’s also true that its supporters are largely made up of people who would like to see Roe overturned.
WEB TRAFFIC SMACKDOWN: Well, not exactly. John Garthwaite, over at the C-LOG (that’s “see-log” as in conservative-log, not “clog” as in plumbing) has criticized TAP’s numbers, and now TAPPED is firing back.
Well, this kind of thing is why I put an open counter on my site. It seems to undercount somewhat compared to my server stats logs (I don’t understand how this can be, but several people told me Extreme Tracker undercounts) but the difference isn’t huge — maybe 10% at most, and given the inherent unreliability of web stats that’s within the noise floor. I did it basically because I was unhappy with John Scalzi’s remark that some bloggers might be padding their numbers. So why not do the same?
I understand why actual commercial sites that sell advertising and stuff might be especially sensitive about such claims of number-padding (and read TAPPED’s response to see that they are), but I don’t understand why anyone would object to an open counter. Advertisers know your traffic — they can look at their own server logs. (Yeah, I know ad-blockers affect that some, but in a well-understood way). So who would you be hiding it from?
Print media are shy about this stuff because they do all sorts of things to inflate their paid circulation figures (like bundling “free” newspapers with hotel stays in a way that lets them be counted as paid) but on the Web advertisers are harder to fool. I recommend transparency.
BTW, Garthwaite seems to have broken his Blogger template. I had the same problem, and could only fix it by restoring my template from a backup file. Hope he’s got one. Another minor but annoying Blogger bug.
Hey John: Hire Stacy Tabb to move you over to Movable Type.
UPDATE: Seems to have fixed the Blogger problem.
TIM BLAIR TAKES ON AN IDENTITY HACKER: Let others beware.
MARTIN DEVON has a response to my FoxNews column on teen sex. He’s right about the drinking, and the rest.
The wonderfully ‘nymed Group Captain Lionel Mandrake shares some experiences, too, as does one of his commenters.
EUGENE VOLOKH has some interesting observations on open-mindedness in the Blogosphere.
KEVIN MCGEHEE says Tom Clancy may be right again. I kind of hope so.
LILEKS NAILS IT, in a discussion of the antiwarbloggers:
To my surprise, the site had an actual graphic. You might recognize the photo – Robert Capa’s famous “Death of a Loyalist Soldier.” It shows a soldier standing on a hill with his arms spread wide; either he’s just been shot or he is preparing to launch into the refrain from “Somewhere.” The site’s authors have written “Avoid This” below.
In other words: if you disagree with those who believe Bush masterminded 9-11, you are a fascist stooge; if you support fighting actual fascists, you are a blood-crazed warmonger. Anyway, lesson noted: avoid getting shot battling fascists. Stand aside and let them in.
POLICE IN ONE PART OF LONDON have been basically ignoring marijuana and putting extra officers to work on street crime. The result: less street crime. Imagine.
VERY COOL DJ REID SPEED has (of course) a weblog. And in grand blogger tradition, she explains what’s wrong with airline security. (Thanks to Pieter K for the link).
ANOTHER COURT has found secret detentions unlawful, at least when used in sweeping fashion. I haven’t read the opinion, but this seems less broad than the headline might suggest.
D.C.’S HANDGUN BAN ordinance is being challenged by public defenders representing two men charged with violating it. They say that it violates the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.
It seems to me that this challenge is likely to succeed — if, indeed, the Justice Department will even defend against it. It is the Justice Department’s position that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms, subject to reasonable regulations. D.C.’s outright ban goes far beyond “reasonable regulation.” Challenges to state gun control laws under the Second Amendment are complicated by the question of “incorporation,” since not all of the Bill of Rights is applicable to the states, and the Supreme Court has never addressed the question of whether the Second Amendment is incorporated. (In fact, it hasn’t taken a relevant Second Amendment case since it developed the doctrine of incorporation).
But the District of Columbia isn’t a state; it’s the federal government. So questions of incorporation don’t matter in this context. And the ban — which amounts to complete gun prohibition — goes far beyond reasonable regulation. (The fact that gun crime in the District skyrocketed after the ban makes it hard to defend on the facts, too.) The Justice Department should simply admit that the D.C. ordinance violates the Second Amendment; if it doesn’t do that, it’s going to have a very hard time explaining how it’s consistent with the views that Ashcroft has expressed.
About the only weakness is that — based on the Post story — the men are charged only with carrying a pistol without a license, rather than with possession of a pistol without a license. The Second Amendment (in my view, and that of most, but not all, scholars) doesn’t necessarily protect a right to wear a gun, only the right to own one. That’s about the only “out” I can see here. Otherwise it presents the question rather squarely. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh, as he is wont to do, has come up with a new angle on this case.
ANDREA HARRIS HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON TEEN SEX and the virtues of unsociability.
KEN LAYNE HAS SOME THOUGHTS on the FBI’s organizational problem. But where’s my copy of his book?
OLIVER WILLIS HAS A NEW MAGAZINE. Check it out: It’s a very interesting idea.
YOU DON’T TUG ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE: Jonah Goldberg reflects on what would happen if the Islamowackos who want an all-out holy war with America got their wishes:
It would be one thing if this relatively small band of fanatics were murdering people in pursuit of something achievable. You know, if their goal were simply to get McDonald’s out of Cairo or our airbases out of the Gulf. But, if you take them at their word, their ultimate goal is to bring about the total destruction of democracy, America, and the Christian and Jewish faiths. As a practical matter, to believe that this can be achieved through an all-out battle between our team and theirs is like believing war will make squares into circles and ducks will crap plutonium.
This doesn’t mean these daft murderers aren’t dangerous. They are. But they are tactically dangerous. Strategically, they’re cuckoo for Coca Puffs. They can blow up things and kill people. But their ultimate goal, victorious jihad against the “infidels,” is no more likely to happen than the Hale-Boppers were likely to get picked up by an intergalactic shuttle bus. So think about this the next time you hear some knee-jerk pundit exclaim that if we do X or Y we will give Osama bin Laden or the Islamo-fascists “exactly what they want.” What they want isn’t going to happen. Period. If they even get close to what they wish for, they will be very, very sorry.
Goldberg can make this kind of thing sound funny — and, looked at the right way, it sort of is. But in fact, I don’t want to see the mass slaughter of Muslims that would be the only result of something close to an all-out war between Islam and America. That’s why I don’t believe in encouraging the wishful-thinkers and the outright deluded by acting weak. It can only lead to worse things down the line.
STILL MORE TEEN SEX: Eric S. Raymond says that adults are jealous and resentful of teens, and want to control teen sex accordingly.
TEEN SEX UPDATE: My FoxNews column is up. It offers a more refined view of my earlier posts on teen sex.
Well, the hardware firewall (yeah, I got one) isn’t stopping everything anymore, and one computer can see the network, anyway. So that’s something!
POSTING IS A BIT SCARCE TODAY because of the various technical issues here, and at home. My air conditioning is out, and I’m doing some computer reconfiguring at home. Thanks for all the advice. I scrapped the WAP-11 in favor of a more secure approach. Of course, then I turned out to have the wrong cable and, well, you get the idea.
In the meantime, here’s a cool project to index NYC bloggers by subway stop.
THE DNS PROBLEMS were the result of a Denial-of-Service attack. HostingMatters has been in touch with law enforcement, as they seem to know where it was coming from.
THE BEAR SAYS I’m wrong about Bill Frist’s HIV/Terrorism speech, and that so is Knoxville media commentator “Bubba Mullet.” I’d say only half wrong — I thought that the meat of the criticism was that Frist was tying AIDS to terrorism via a “root cause” argument, mostly to get more money. I agree with The Bear when he notes:
What I think we can clearly conclude, though, is that he is at least suggesting that there are similarities between the problem of solving the HIV crisis, and the problem of combating bioterrorism. To me, that’s a perfectly sensible argument, although as Bubba points out, Frist may well be drawing that comparison to gain public support for a major funding initiative he’s promoting. But that doesn’t necessarily make it an invalid comparison.
No, it’s not necessarily invalid. And I don’t think the program that Frist is pushing is bad. It’s just an example of how many initiatives that don’t really have a lot to do with terrorism are being relabeled as terrorism-related now. This sort of thing happens all the time in government, but I think it’s worth pointing out when it does.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON arming pilots over at The Corner.
OKAY, NOW MY DNS IS HAVING PROBLEMS — Hostmatters.com’s namehost is down and InstaPundit.Com isn’t working. But the hard IP of http://184.108.40.206/ still works (I guess you know that if you’re here), and it’ll be fixed soon, I hope.
UPDATE: HostingMatters says they’re working on the problem.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Seems to be fixed.
MARS NEEDS GUITARS! Well, that’s not actually the point of my TechCentralStation Mars column today, but I do manage to quote Webb Wilder.
UPDATE: Oh, and don’t miss this Mark Steyn column where he takes a swipe at space environmentalists who want to close the Moon to development. And Virginia Postrel wants to terraform Texas! I’ve been through a Dallas summer, so I know what she means.
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET: Sorry about the brief “Bandwidth Exceeded” outage. I hadn’t actually exceeded bandwidth, which is basically impossible under the deal I’ve got with them. Something was just set wrong. I emailed the techsupport people, got a reply within a few minutes, and it was fixed within a few more minutes.
It’s best not to make mistakes, but since everyone does make mistakes, the real measure is how you deal with them. The good folks at HostingMatters are doing pretty well by that measure.
“THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT HAVE A SECURITY SYSTEM, it has a system for bothering people.” That’s what an Israeli security expert says in this Christian Science Monitor story. It sounds about right to me. And so does this: “The difference between the Israeli and American systems is that we are looking for the terrorist, while the Americans look for the weapons.”
THE FBI’S “CARNIVORE” EMAIL SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM turns out to have been Osama’s best friend:
The FBI mishandled a surveillance operation involving Osama bin Laden’s terror network two years ago because of technical problems with the controversial Carnivore e-mail program, part of a “pattern” indicating that the FBI was unable to manage its intelligence wiretaps, according to an internal bureau memorandum released yesterday.
Hey, but that’s okay. It may not have worked on bin Laden — but it managed to give the FBI warrantless access to innocent people’s email instead:
An attempt in March 2000 to secretly monitor the e-mail of an unidentified suspect went awry when the Carnivore program retrieved communications from other parties as well, according to the memo.
Oh, I’m sleeping better knowing about this.
BOY: I know a lot of people suffering from NIMDA and KLEZ. My firewall apparently stops NIMDA, but as I remarked last week, I get a KLEZ-infested email almost every time I check mail. Is this cyberwar? It certainly seems worse than I’ve ever seen.
Question: I’m about to install the home network. Will my Linksys WAP-11 be sufficient firewalling, or should I put Norton on each computer?
UPDATE: Hey, thanks for all the advice in the comments section (er, except for Richard Bennett’s comments about my daughter. Jeez.) and by email.
LIBYA SEEMS AWFULLY ANXIOUS to get out from under the “terrorist” designation. What does Qaddafi think he knows that makes him so anxious to get on our good side?
JOE KLEIN SAYS that France reminds him of America in the 1970s. Now that’s a bummer.
HERE’S AN INTERESTING PIECE on the growth of anti-semitism, and note the Algerian connection. But here’s the clincher:
The little accidents and odd behaviors do add up. The new wind is definitely blowing. A few months ago no one was chanting for murder. In those days it was pretty unusual to stumble across diatribes against Judaism or anti-Semitic phrases in the intellectual press. But look what has happened. Something has changed.
Actually, there was an attempt to ban the sale of vibrators and dildoes in Tennessee a few years ago, but the morning-drive DJ’s (and a fictitious group named “Well Endowed Tennesseans”) spread the word that it was because the legislators sponsoring the bill were, ahem, insecure in their masculinity. It died a quiet death, and I’m told the sponsor still doesn’t like to talk about it.
READER BARRY MOLEFSKY notes that an unaccustomed ray of common sense is shining across the Arab world.
CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: British solicitor and frequent correspondent Martin Pratt writes:
BTW After nearly a year of reading your site I have come to the conclusion that on firearms ownership at least, you have just about succeeded in changing a long standing opinion of mine. Just thought you may like to know you are doing some good!
I’m amazed. But Eugene Volokh tells a similar tale.
GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: Here’s an article from the Sacramento Bee.
ICE ON MARS GOOD, big NASA management problems bad. This article is mostly on-target, though one passage is a bit unfair: “When the shuttle was being designed in the 1970s, NASA unwisely chose to build a vehicle with high operating costs because it would reduce the expense of initial development.” This was NASA’s “choice” only in the sense that “your money or your life” is a choice — OMB and Congressional budget folks made clear that there wasn’t more money for initial development. It was a bad idea, and NASA maybe should have squawked more, but NASA had no leverage — and the people who did have the leverage didn’t care about the problems they were saddling the nation with down the line.
UPDATE: This Slashdot thread has some interesting observations on human missions to Mars, along with links to a couple of new pieces about the difficulties of such a mission, one from the BBC (which also opines that the U.S. should pay, but that a representative from the poorest nation on Earth should stop onto Mars first) and one from USA Today on NASA’s infrastructural problems.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s an article suggesting that there’s really a lot of ice on Mars, enough to flood much of the planet if it melted. (Which, by the way, would be a good thing). And here’s another. A reader observes that the biggest Mars flood so far is the rate at which this information is leaking out of NASA prior to the scheduled announcement.
FORGET TEEN SEX! You want hate mail, just dis Bono. A bunch of people wrote me to say, in near-identical language, that Bono is not just an ’80s rock star, but a ’90s and ’00s rock star, too, and that he knows more about debt relief than most heads of state.
Well, okay. I still thought the headline was odd.
ERIC ALTERMAN says American Jewish settlers on the West Bank shouldn’t be there.
AMERICAN TROOPS ARE PLANNING TO PULL OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES by July 31, according to this report. That pullout isn’t dependent on whether the missionary couple of Martin and Gracia Burnham are released by Muslim rebels.
I’m of two minds on this. The folks at Christianity Today are understandably unhappy about the missionary angle, but I’m not sure I want to make U.S. presence in the Philippines turn on something that is so thoroughly under the control of the bad guys. On the other hand, July 31 sounds pretty soon to me. Perhaps we feel that we’ve done enough good there — or will have by then — to justify the mission. Or perhaps somebody read too many Nick Kristof columns.
The worst thing we can have is a reputation for bugging out quickly. The United States has fought guerrillas successfully all over the world — including in the Philippines, as Max Boot points out in his new book — but we’ve typically done so by being thorough and patient. Have we been thorough and patient in the Philippines? (Via Amy Welborn).
UPDATE: John Weidner says I’m wrong to attach much significance to this. He’s pretty persuasive.
JOHN TABIN reflects on what China might gain from an Indo-Pak nuclear war. I think China loses more, in terms of regional instability, than it gains. But it’s an interesting observation.
PATRICK RUFFINI says the O’Neill / Bono disagreement winds up a victory for O’Neill.
I’ve never quite understood O’Neill’s unpopularity with the press, since most of his objectionable behavior seems to consist of telling the unvarnished truth. But what struck me most about the coverage of the Bono / O’Neill spat was this Reuters headline: “Uganda Tour Deepens O’Neill, Bono Divisions on Aid.” Now, I’ve got nothing against Bono, but, really, this makes him sound like a head of state or something. He’s a frickin’ ’80s rock star! It’s just funny.
Then again, Reuters also informs us that: “Dr. Seuss was an American author who wrote children’s books.”
SEX, DRUGS & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: Andrew Dodge concludes his series.
“HE’S MORE MACHINE NOW THAN MAN:” Hillary Carter continues her feud with Richard “Darth” Bennett.
Bennett’s a smart guy, but scrolling down his page the other day and seeing attacks on lesbians, breastfeeders, libertarians, etc. it became pretty clear to me that Eric Olsen was right: the man’s trolling. And I fell for it. I’ll be smarter next time.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Patrick Nielsen Hayden fact-checks the Bennett story and discovers some Usenet history: “Those perplexed to find themselves recipients of abuse from Bennett in his latter-day incarnation as a weblog pundit may be consoled to find that, evidently, this behavior is nothing new. Quite the contrary, it appears to be extensively rehearsed.”
BLOGGER N.Z. BEAR has a lengthy post on the latest Amnesty International report on human rights. Here’s a key observation:
But reading through their report, I’m struck not so much by the specific points they raise — some of which I agree with, some of which I do not — [as] by the tone of the document, particularly where it comes to criticism of the United States. . . .
Amnesty, I think, does themselves a severe disservice simply in the way they present their criticisms. I suspect people often react negatively to their complaints on items such as civilian casualties during our bombing of Afghanistan not because they think bombing civilians is a good thing, but because Amnesty takes such a combative and accusatory approach, with seemingly no recognition at all of the contributions the U.S. (or other Western democracies that they place in their sights) have made to the cause of human rights worldwide.
I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not the fact that they criticize U.S. policy that bothers me; it’s the fact that they’re just, well, such jerks about it.
Yeah, that’s about right. I’ve been a big Amnesty supporter over the years, but they’ve seemed extra-eager to find opportunities to criticize the United States, and much more muted about less savory countries. Sadly, I think that’s an indication that their direct-mail base is more interested in hearing criticism of the United States, and the West in general, than in human rights per se.
WOBBLY WATCH: John O’Sullivan says that the Blogosphere is overreacting. He’s strongly in favor of rope-a-dope.
I’ve been wobbly on wobbliness, as readers know. The problem is that a properly executed disinformation campaign prior to an invasion would look just like wobbliness. So the question of what’s going on depends in no small part on how good you think the Bush Administration and the Pentagon are at at staying on message and controlling leaks.
In defense of the Blogosphere, there’s no real reason to feel guilty if wobblyists turn out to be wrong. If Bush is going wobbly, then he needs to be pressured. If he’s not, and it’s all rope-a-dope, then the Blogosphere’s complaints will just help the disinformation campaign look credible.
UPDATE: Reader Howard Litwak thinks I’m reading too much into O’Sullivan’s piece. He says it’s not really an endorsement of rope-a-dope so much as an observation that Bush has done badly enough in domestic politics that he has no choice but to win the war.
There may be something to this, but I’m not sure it matters. If Bush is serious about winning the war, then a lot of what we’re hearing must be disinformation (hence rope-a-dope). If he’s not serious, then it’s wobbliness. Can he be both wobbly and serious about winning the war? Not for long, if at all.
ASK & YE SHALL RECEIVE: There’s a new logo, which hopefully addresses Dr. Weevil’s unfortunate associations with the old one. Archives are fixed so that links go where they’re supposed to. And I have answers to two popular questions sent in response to the autobiographical part of this post: “Why does Garry Wills hate you?” and “What’s this about your dad and the antiwar protests?”
The two are not connected as far as I know, except by the common factor of Garry Wills, but you can read about the antiwar protests (which also involved Billy Graham and Richard Nixon) here, including a mention of Wills’ article in Esquire, which I have never actually read.
Why does Wills hate me? Well, he doesn’t really hate me so much as he hates guns. But he wrote a rather nasty review in The New York Review of Books, reviewing a symposium issue of the Tennessee Law Review on the Second Amendment. Wills called me one of a cabal of nutty law professors who had dreamed up an unfounded interpretation of the Second Amendment, and offered his own (based on Latin etymology) in its place. Wills purported to demonstrate, using this Latin analysis, that James Madison had managed to hornswoggle everyone else into accepting a Second Amendment that did absolutely nothing at all.
Wills’ theory hasn’t caught on (as one colleague put it, “it would be more persuasive, if the Constitution were written in Latin”) but in an exchange of letters published in the New York Review about his piece he more or less accused me of fraud (he called my reliance “plain false”) for interpreting a letter from Tench Coxe to James Madison the way that pretty much every consitutional scholar (except Wills) interprets it, as indicating support for an individual right to arms. (The letters are not available online, but the discussion is accurately summarized here in the introduction and at fn. 15).
Wills has not been as quick to charge fraud where Michael Bellesiles is concerned, I note. In fact, as far as I know, he’s said nothing since his glowing review of September 10, 2000.
A somewhat modified version of Wills’ thesis, minus bogus charges of fraud, appears in Wills’ book A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government, which might have been dedicated, as was a book by Le Corbusier, “To Authority.”
So there you have it.
UPDATE: Reader Don McGregor writes: “A Necessary Evil was a deeply weird book. The Liberals have adopted pre-revolutionary Tory ideology: that the state has a claim to existence above and superior to the wishes and desires of the people it purportedly serves.” Yes. We’re seeing that in Europe with the EU, too. And for similar reasons.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a piece on Garry Wills’ Second Amendment theories that’s more digestible and to the point than the rather long item relating to Tench Coxe that I link above.
JAMES LILEKS has some reflections on a peaceful Memorial Day.
TEEN SEX ON MARS: Nick Schulz challenges me to combine the weekend’s themes into one post on teenage sexual behavior on a newly terraformed Mars. But I don’t have to, because Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, part of his excellent trilogy about a colonized and terraformed Mars, does just that.
THE SITE MOVE seems to have gone pretty well, and most issues have now been dealt with — mostly by Stacy Tabb, who rules (that’s her logo-button on the left, just below the Amazon tip jar.) Speaking of tip jars, I’m now paying for bandwidth on a slick new dedicated server that’s a lot more reliable than BlogSpot, but also more expensive, so your contributions are appreciated.
MICHAEL BARONE looks at gun control and affirmative action and finds a common thread.