Archive for June, 2002

June 27, 2002


You might want to read this editorial from the NYT, which has been complaining for a couple of weeks that the Federal Election Commission has voted on regs that distort the intent of McCain-Feingold, and how horrible that is.

Can you imagine? A regulatory agency uses its regulatory power to distort the will of Congress?? A scandal! So we can expect a strong editorial position in favor of a robust nondelegation doctrine next? . . . . Riiiiiiiiight.

Hey, this guy should get a blog!

June 27, 2002

TAPPED IS BACK, after some pretty minimal posting lately. They couldn’t resist the lure of a new Ann Coulter book, I guess.

June 27, 2002


I think we’re well past the point at which the patent system promotes innovation. It’s now encouraging a lot of unproductive activity designed to secure a monopoly, more than it’s encouraging new knowledge.

June 27, 2002

DAILYHEADWORK isn’t exactly a blog — it’s more like an op-ed a day. I’ll bet a lot of people surfing for porn are disappointed, though.

June 27, 2002

I’M NOT MUCH OF A FINANCIAL BLOGGER, and I have no investment tips to offer. My personal investment strategy — which is “buy and hold” based on a combination of ignorance, sloth, procrastination, and, er, strategy, yeah, that’s it — has done surprisingly well, but there’s not much to emulate.

However, if you’re interested in following the increasingly disastrous WorldCom affair, DotCom Scoop has a blog devoted to WorldCom. And Bob Hiler has a piece on WorldCom as a pyramid scheme that everyone keeps emailing me about.

UPDATE: Go to Google, search “worldcom” and see the sponsored links that pop up. Some people are quick off the mark! (Thanks to no-relation reader Tom Reynolds for noticing).

June 27, 2002

HOWARD OWENS Fisks Charley Reese, though Owens calls Reese a lefty. I think Reese is more of an isolationist, antisemitic paleo-rightie, though I admit that it gets harder and harder to tell the difference.

June 27, 2002

HOW TO AIR BIN LADEN TAPES: Reader Craig Demel has some advice:

Since the last couple tapes have been devoid of any references to

post-December events, bin Laden is probably dead, and what we’re

seeing is greatest-hits footage, in a transparent attempt to convince

us he’s not.

So my idea for news organizations trying to decide how or whether

to air new tapes which surface is, air them, then say, “Oh, we’ve

also got a _new_ videotape from the Three Stooges”, then show

Larry, Moe, and Curly slapping each other and yelping and growling.

Ah, a wise guy, eh? Why I oughta. . .

June 27, 2002


June 27, 2002

STEPHEN GREEN says that there’s no escaping religious discord, but that the Pledge isn’t important when we’ve got a war on. He’s right.

June 26, 2002

RED SKELTON’S COMMENTARY ON THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE lacks the words “under God,” but he has a prescient observation.

June 26, 2002

MEN AND WOMEN AND COLLEGE: Okay, this is going to be shorter than I had planned, because I’m working on a major writing project, and I’ve got to be able to type full speed tomorrow. But here are some comments I’ve gotten in response to my earlier post about colleges being hostile environments to males, and that perhaps accounting for the newly-controversial gender imbalance in favor of women. A few correspondents simply denied that there’s any sort of P.C. or anti-male environment on campuses, a sort of flat-earthery that is readily refuted by a reference to Daphne Patai’s Heterophobia or any of a hundred examples of kangaroo-court sexual-harassment policies.

Or just read this lengthy post by Eduardo Goldstein, sharing firsthand experience of being falsely accused of sexual harassment. (“The written rules are stacked against men. If a female reports anything, the college has to believe her. Even if the person receiving the complaint (RA, etc.) knows the complaint is bullshit, they can’t say ‘you’re lying’ – they have to write it down and pass it on. Otherwise the university will have to deal with the charges of ignoring complaints, and no one wants that. ” Read the whole thing.) Who can seriously deny that this phenomenon exists? Not recent college graduate and InstaPundit reader Jennifer Fuller, who describes the kind of situation I alluded to. And we assume in civil-rights law generally that a “hostile environment” discourages people from seeking employment or education in hostile settings, so it seems a reasonable assumption here, too.

There were alternative explanations. Reader Brian Ledford was one of several who said that the increase in lucrative jobs not requiring a college degree, particularly in computer-related fields, may be a partial explanation:

Are you sure the disparity isn’t simply due to computer science type programs moving to technical schools? If your ideal job is IT related, you’re probably better off with a two year degree and two years of experience than a four year degree. The technical colleges will be more market oreinted as well, I’d imagine. And computers overwhelmingly attract men. Schools without engineering programs “suffer” the same gender inequity. As an example, UNC-Chapel Hill (my alma mater) has approximately the same gender breakdown that is being regarded as a crisis in your post. Why? No engineering school.

Reader John Kluge offered a different explanation:

I would be very curious to see what the gender breakdown is among whites and Asians in college versus blacks and Hispanics. Just a guess but I bet the ratio is pretty close to fifty fifty among whites and Asians and much more disproportionately female among blacks and Hispanics. Its an important statistic that was left out of the Washington Post article. Is the problem in colleges a problem with men in general or a problem with black and Hispanic men going to lousy schools, living in a lousy culture that doesn’t value education and consequently increasingly falling behind the rest of society? Its an important distinction and no one seems to be picking up.

Reader John Vecchione agrees, but says that men should just suck it up and be macho about it:

I agree that colleges and universities are hostile to the very idea of men and that the administrations do as much as possible to alienate them. The misinterpretation of Title IX has axed programs that kept many men only marginally interested in higher education in school. The attack on fraternities has been disastrous, as has the P.C. feminist onslaught. On the other hand, I can’t stand whining about this. Its unseemly.

Unseemly whining, John, is the key to power in today’s society. Eschew it at your peril.

Reader Andrew Colocotronis blames drugs:

I think it is a statistical fact that boys are diagnosed as ADD more than girls. My mother has mentioned numerous parent teacher conferences she attended were the teacher would unilaterally suggest to the parents that they look into Ritalin for their son. In some of the high schools where she was an administrator upwards of 30% of the students were labeled as ADD. Not surprising, the article you linked mentioned that boys are disproportionately likely to be in Special Ed programs. ADD is by its very name a disability that earns a child Special Ed status. Some parents actually want that stigma for their son or daughter because it guarantees extra school help for their child and special consideration during college admission. I do not mean to enter into the larger Ritalin debate, but to point out that an educational system that promotes labeling children as disabled probably lowers self-esteem and retards academic performance. Raising the self-esteem of girls and overcoming second class citizenship status are seen as important components in furthering female academic success. So why is the converse not also be true– lowering the self-esteem of boys and referring to many as disabled erodes male academic success.

Noah Millman sent a link to this long and thoughtful post on his own blog, from which I will take an unfairly brief excerpt:

But I wanted to touch on another assumption of Glenn’s (the blogosphere seems to be on a first-name basis with itself, so I guess I will be, too): that the insanity of contemporary sexual harrassment policy has somehow discriminated against men. The implicit notion is that the proper code of conduct in college is: let the partygoer beware. Boys will be boys, and if girls want to play with the boys they should be free to do so and shouldn’t go crying to the Administration (or their lawyers) if they wake up in the wrong bed with very little on. I strongly reject this premise.

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that the folks who are angry about the biases in our current sexual code of conduct – and they are biased against men – are apologists for date rape. Indeed, they correctly assert that the radical feminist notion that all men are rapists shields the real rapists and thereby harms more women than it helps. Moreover, it gives power to precisely those women who are least responsible and provides the least protection to those women who are most likely to be truly victimized: the naive, the shy, the insecure.

Well, that’s pretty much my point — that and the thought that knowing that there are a lot of people on campus who say and think that all men are rapists and that all heterosexual sex is rape (as Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and numerous acolytes have said) might discourage a few men from going to begin with.

Fritz Schranck sent a link to his post on the subject, too, which includes the following, along with much more:

It’s also unfortunately true that the College of Correction, or the prison system as it is commonly known, also experiences a gender gap going in the opposite direction, especially among the age cohorts commonly associated with attendance at universities.

Well, there are a lot of folks in prison, and the vast majority of them are young males, though I don’t know if it’s enough to account for the difference, and rather doubt that it is. I think that prisons and colleges tend not to draw from the same pool of individuals.

Reader Monica Roman blames Hollywood:

Today, I was running the reservoir at Central Park and thought I was being sexually harassed by a young man running behind me. He was making loud, pornographic statements about my anatomy and what he wanted to do to it. When I turned around to look at him, I realized that he was merely singing along to the song being played by his CD player! Perhaps the thug culture perpetuated by the big recording companies is discouraging males of all races from pursuing the disciplined behavior required to complete college (unless you happen to be a star athlete and are not required to attend classes in order to receive your diploma).

Well, luckily you won’t find any of that star-athlete stuff going on at the University of Tennessee, where we prize academics over athletics at all times. . . .

Carl Janiski, meanwhile, emails me a link to a blog post that takes the radical position that I’m right, but that it’s a good thing:

He’s entirely right. Colleges have become more hostile to men, but I wonder how much of that is a bad thing. Perhaps the modern trend in higher education has become an effort to root out and refine some of that male hostility and agressiveness, traits which are far less adaptive in our sophisticated, twenty-first century civilization than they were in the environment of our evolutionary adaptation. The recent shifts in graduation could simply reflect this modern emphasis.

More broadly, it does seem to be a trend for men to become more like women and vice versa. I’ve heard women refered to as the “civilizing gender” for their greater natural endowment of social skills. Much of the effort of feminism in the past thirty years has been directed towards making women more like men in the equally important areas of assertiveness and individual expression. Men and traditional maleness are now taking a hit in the name of further progress away from our animal natures.

My biggest regret is that the process has to be so hard on the individual men who will suffer the shame traditionally associated with failure at endeavors such as college. I’d be most interested in figuring out how we can “evolve ourselves” without so much trampling on the most unfit and least adapted — which, after all, is the rule of the game as written by mother nature, not by us.

Being a guy who didn’t play sports (unless you count karate and the rifle team, which you shouldn’t) and who did well in school, I should approve of this social-Darwinist approach, but I have to note that it’s an approach that’s rather at odds with the one generally taken by civil rights law. And that was my original point: a shortage in any other group generates a lot of “what’s wrong with us?” soul-searching at universities. This generated mostly a “what’s wrong with them?” reaction.

Lots of interesting stuff. That’s part of the fun of having a blog, especially one that gets a lot of email. Post one paragraph of commentary, and get all this back! I love the Internet.

UPDATE: Reader Joe Davidson writes:

I think that the problem starts in kindergarden. Every time a student (almost always a boy) is disciplined for “shooting” someone with his index finger, every time a game of dodge ball or tag is stopped because it is not “nice”, all the boys involved or witnessing this are turned off on education.

We have made boyhood a medical condition to be cured for the middle class students, and a criminal problem to be punished for the lower classes. School mischief has become criminalized.

Is it any wonder that boys are turned off?

June 26, 2002

WHILE WE WORRY ABOUT THE PLEDGE, Charles Johnson reports that some folks who are less worried about church/state overlap (and who are probably Saudi-funded) are preaching jihad in Greensboro.

June 26, 2002


June 26, 2002

GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: I would have missed this one if I hadn’t seen it on Athena Runner’s site. Excerpt:

Gov. Gray Davis this spring blocked efforts to impose a new $22-million tax on the timber industry, three months after leading timber interests donated $105,000 to his reelection campaign.

The legislative analyst’s office suggested the timber tax hike, and several Democratic lawmakers embraced it as a way to help close the state’s $23.6-billion budget deficit. But the governor successfully opposed it during budget talks, according to legislators who participated in those discussions.

I’m no expert on California politics, but it’s a new story like this every day. That can’t be good.

June 26, 2002

SPEAKING OF DISSING COLUMNISTS FOR BLOG-BASHING, read this letter by Mark Friesen in Romenesko’s MediaNews, dissing the Mercury News’s Mike Cassidy for his dumb blog article. Excerpt:

Oh, yippee! Another newspaper columnist sucking up newsprint by taking shots at blogs! How brilliant! What is it with these guys? Did everyone get the same E-Z COLUMN TOPICS spam? And why is it they make fun of people that blather on endlessly about trivial and boring topics? Afraid of competition? If the only blogs Cassidy can find are people “talking off the tops of their heads,” then he needs to give his browser a bit more of a workout.

There’s more, too. Even journos are making fun of this stuff now.

June 26, 2002

MORE ON THE PLEDGE: Volokh — who unlike me isn’t suffering from RSI, as his post-length indicates — has a typically detailed and thorough analysis. And the Rev. Tony Pierce has an also long and detailed analysis that’s, er, rather different: “at least now bloggers can write about something other than calling newspaper columnists asswipes for dissing blogging.” There’s a lot more, though, calling upon Tony’s, um, expertise, as an ordained Christian minister.

UPDATE: Juan Gato weighs in, too. So does Charles Murtaugh. And Megan McArdle, too.

Oh, and Dahlia Lithwick thinks the Ninth Circuit panel was rather slippery, and will be reversed. Meanwhile Spoons says it was right.

Pejman has a post, too. So does Dan Perkins. But several readers want to know “what would Hank say?” Which, by the way, is also a song.

June 26, 2002

IT’S REALLY FOR TOMORROW, BUT my FoxNews column is up. It’s about trust, law enforcement, and the war on terror.

UPDATE: Oh, and read Kevin Holtsberry’s post on what we ought to be doing about Homeland Defense.

June 26, 2002

BOTH JONATHAN ADLER AND ROBERT GEORGE SAY that the Pledge issue is a political gift to Bush, letting him wage culture-war and stereotype the Dems as namby-pamby leftists. Probably true.

June 26, 2002

MORE THOUGHTS ON CHRISTIANITY AND PACIFISM from the Rev. Donald Sensing can be found here. Also this post saying that the problem with pacifism is pacifists.

June 26, 2002

THE INDEPUNDIT has psychically determined the next decision of the Ninth Circuit regarding establishments of religion.

I wish I could get excited about the Pledge thing, but I can’t. I thought the Pledge was better before “under God” was added — it did just fine throughout World War Two and much of the Cold War with no God references — but on the other hand, like a lot of these kind of challenges, it seems like much ado about nearly nothing to me. To quote an atheist reader who emailed that he thought the decision was dumb: “big whoop.”

UPDATE: Boy, reader Ed Totty didn’t like that, though I’m not entirely sure on what grounds: “Much ado about nothing? You reveal your true self. You are now deleted from my list of favorites. Get in touch with your audience while you still have one.”

Okay, is he mad because I was disrespectful to the Pledge, or to atheists? Beats me. As for the audience point, I guess that would bother me if I were, you know, paid for this or something. — LATER: Totty has emailed back to say that the fact that I have to ask proves my iniquity. Ooo. . . kay. I had a girlfriend once who said stuff like that, but she was at least good looking. Don’t let the monitor hit you on the way out, Ed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ben Domenech agrees that “under God” should go.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Jason Skiles writes: “I’m an atheist. ‘Under God’ doesn’t bother me. I wish the 9th had left well enough alone. This’ll just rally the enemy troops. Feh.”

June 26, 2002

JUDGE PATTERSON UPDATE: NZ Bear has turned up some more information. Susanna Cornett has stepped on Will Warren’s turf — and Dr. Seuss’s — with this poem. And Dave Kopel emails this link to a report of the trial that supports the original account. Kopel says he trusts the reporter, Ari Armstrong.

Some people have emailed to say that it’s okay for a judge to order a lawyer not to talk about the Constitution to the jury. I think that’s rather a broad statement, especially as applied to closing arguments — and at any rate it’s rather odd for the judge to tell the lawyer that he doesn’t want to hear any constitutional arguments. Pretty lame, if you ask me.

June 26, 2002

THE HAUERWAS / AL QAEDA CONNECTION: Blogged by Kieran Lyons. Hint: Both of ’em don’t like secularism very much. Or America’s embodiment of secular values.

June 26, 2002


June 26, 2002

WORLDCOM QUESTIONS: Prof. John Ayer, who has books on this kind of thing, writes:

The following is not a rhetorical question, though obviously I have my suspicions. Anyway —

Observers of the unfolding WorldCom collapse are invited to ask: how much, in principle, does Worldcomm’s strategy (of capitalizing expenses) differ from AOL’s strategy in 1995-96 — of taking cash inflows into “income” before they were earned (i.e., of /not/ capitalizing inflows)? Both have the effect of artificially inflating income. One obvious difference: AOL fiddled its books in a rising market, where all is forgiven.

Separate WorldCom point: early stories are saying that the improper capitalizations were left off the cash flow statement. Almost certainly not so. It appears they were left off the statement of cash flow /from operations/. But the cash flow statement has three parts: operations, investment, finance. Presumably the capitalized expenses, though removed from operations, did show up in investment. Of course the point is right in principle, considering that cash flow /from operations/ is the only portion of the statement the market seems to consider.

These seem like reasonable questions to me, though I don’t have books, or even articles, on accounting issues.

June 26, 2002


June 26, 2002

TELFORD WORK (who is a professor of Religious Studies) has a lengthy and thoughtful commentary on Stanley Hauerwas’ antiwar remarks. Excerpt:

In the form bloggers are reading them, Stanley’s remarks are just going to make it harder than ever for both Christians and non-Christians to see that. He went and pulled a Jerry Falwell, a Barbara Kingsolver. Now liberals, conservatives, and libertarians alike will be all the more likely to confuse Church pacifism (which Stanley champions) with sixties-style new left national pacifism (which he doesn’t). Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr will look even more like the sober, responsible public theologians, and their detractors will look even more like wackos. First Things will feel all the more vindicated. . . .

But explanations are not excuses. It is irresponsible to lob rhetorical grenades into a social discourse already this volatile. I know Stanley, O’Neill, and the NCR are just trying to get people to examine their commitments in light of the unqualified lordship of Jesus Christ. That is already essential – and all the more essential in times of emergency. There are better ways to do it. People are now listening who weren’t listening before. If speakers don’t show them extra consideration, they are going to stop listening.

There’s much more to this than my excerpt captures. Read the whole thing.

June 26, 2002

DAVE TEPPER REPORTS that spammers are using blog domains. So if you get an email from my domain offering to enlarge your penis or sell you discount toner cartridges, you can disregard it. It’s not from me.

He’s also tracked down at least one of the offenders, and is promising vengeance. It’s happened to Avedon Carol and Mac Thomason as well, apparently.

UPDATE: Reader Steven Skubinna writes:

All I gotta say is, thanks for the heads up. Because I would have trusted you. A guaranteed Instapundit enhanced penis would have got my credit card number, for sure. Good thing you were proactive in safeguarding your credibility.

I suppose you aren’t going to be recommending barnyard sex sites as well, huh? And if your wife e-mails me about Nigerian bank accounts I can disregard that too?

Well, the size of my penis is a major topic of discussion on certain websites, but I’m not into peddling products. As for my wife — I advise you to do whatever she says, without any backtalk. It’s safer that way.

June 26, 2002

IS A COMPANY SCREWING YOU OVER ON YOUR BILL? Could mean it’s on the verge of bankruptcy!

June 26, 2002

STRATFOR agrees that Bush is throwing down the gauntlet with the Saudis:

Bush in effect is washing his hands of trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Washington’s challenge, however, is not aimed at the Palestinians but at the country that pushed for greater U.S. involvement in the peace process: Saudi Arabia. Riyadh tried to shift U.S. attention from its war against al Qaeda by making resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key prerequisite for Saudi cooperation on hunting Osama bin Laden’s associates and financiers. Bush’s speech warns the Saudis that Israel and the Palestinians will no longer serve as a distraction.

This means that a Saudi-U.S. confrontation may be on the horizon. By no longer taking responsibility for the Palestinians, Washington is affirming its goal of destroying al Qaeda. To do this, it must strike at the network’s center of gravity: Saudi Arabia. In response, the oil-rich kingdom will now seek to create alliances to resist American pressure. Worried about U.S. military deployments in Yemen and the surrounding Gulf states and unable to trust U.S. ally Jordan, Riyadh likely will move to strengthen ties with the two countries bent on resisting U.S. dominance: Iran and Iraq.

That seems like a loser’s game, but since the Sauds are constitutionally unable to quit backing Islamist terror, they don’t have any other cards to play.

Also, if you believe (as many bloggers do) that the Administration was using the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation as a distraction tool while the military buildup took place, this probably means that the buildup is more or less over and that more serious action is imminent.

June 26, 2002

JIM HENLEY WRITES that he’d rather see the occasional American city nuked than give up on freedom and establish a police state.

I agree with this, actually: if you’re willing to make sacrifices for freedom, then it follows logically once you set up the choice. But I don’t really see this as the choice. (Henley also quotes another writer as saying that democracy won’t last out the century — but that’s a pretty presumptuous statement to make in the year ’02). If you buy the whole unstoppable-slippery-slope-to-tyranny worldview then, sure, you’ve got a problem. But if that worldview were true, the Alien and Sedition Acts would never have been repealed, slavery never would have ended — and for that matter, neither would Prohibition, or the draft.

That doesn’t mean that Henley’s worries are entirely misplaced, only that I don’t see things as being quite that grim. My nightmare scenario, in fact, is one in which the “war on terror” starts looking like the “war on drugs.” Which is why I’m in favor of invading Iraq, giving the al-Sauds the boot, and in general fighting a genuine war rather than settling into long-term chronic-illness mode. The bureaucrats naturally favor the latter, as it involves less accountability (you can’t really “lose” a “war on” as opposed to a “war” — you just need more money!) and long-term funding. But in opposing honest-to-goodness war in favor of law-enforcement techniques, you make the police-state aspects of a “war on” (like the War On Drugs) far more likely to materialize.

June 26, 2002

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN is up. I swear I didn’t know about Microsoft’s “Palladium” initiative when I wrote it, but Palladium seems to be pretty close to what I was warning about. The Register seems to agree.

June 26, 2002

TODAY’S JIM DOERTY AWARD FOR CONSTITUTIONALLY CLUELESS JUDGING GOES TO Denver municipal judge Robert L. Patterson for this statement to a lawyer in a civil rights case:

You are not to reference the Constitution in these proceedings. You will not address it in voir dire, you will not address it in your opening remarks, you will not ask any questions about the Constitution when you summon your witnesses, and you will not talk about the Constitution when you give your closing arguments.


UPDATE: NZ Bear emails that he’s not sure the quote from the judge is accurate: he says he seems to recall the judge denies saying this, but he can’t find the source. I’ll look into it, but until then you should regard this as unverified.

June 26, 2002

TRIFECTA UPDATE: RonK has the explanation. At least, I think he’s right here.

June 26, 2002

SYRIA IS FEELING THE PRESSURE and launching a new diplomatic initiative.

June 26, 2002

EURO-WEENIE UPDATE: Academics fired for being Israeli.

June 26, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN has his reader survey results so far online, continuously updated. Pretty interesting. As I suspected, blog readers have pretty impressive demographics.

June 26, 2002

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, a Palestinian suicide attack on Israeli nuclear-weapons facilities was thwarted.

June 26, 2002

MORE BAD NEWS FROM ALGERIA. The reader who sent it notes: “If this was Atlanta this would be huge. but its Algeria, and nobody cares.

Maybe Algeria, Sudan, and Yemen can form the ‘axis of I-dont-care’.”

June 26, 2002

SOUTER / BELLESILES UPDATE: The Tom Davies article on Souter’s historical dishonesty that I mentioned yesterday is now available on the web in PDF form.

June 25, 2002

SORRY: The post on women, men and college will have to wait until tomorrow. I’ve just sent my Fox column off, and my RSI is acting up. I’m giving my tendons a break. See you tomorrow.

June 25, 2002


Yes, blogging’s more popular than ever. Yes, some of you are getting lots and lots of attention (even me, for a brief period).

But everyone needs to calm down, take a step back, and realize that we are all just typing words into a computer. We’re not saving the world. We’re not fighting off the Middle Eastern scum. We’re not even donning gear and protecting our families. We’re just writing. I’m sorry, it’s no more than that, whether you’re getting 30 hits per day or 30,000.

Yep. Don’t get me wrong — I love the Blogosphere, and I love writing. But that’s what it is, for better and for worse. Writing. Not even words on paper. Pixels on a screen.

UPDATE: Reader Barnaby Pape says I’m being overly reductionist: “Yep, just words. And ideas are just millions of electro-chemical reactions navigating synapses. Yep, can’t much come of those, nothin’ significant there….wonder what’s in the fridge?” Heh. But I think my meaning was clear.

June 25, 2002

NOT GRASSROOTS, BUT ASTROTURF: Bill Quick has identified some near-identical letters to the editor opposing an invasion of Iraq. So who’s behind this? Some sleazeball PR firm in the pay of Saddam Hussein? Or a domestic political outfit?

UPDATE: As the comments below Bill’s post show, the source seems to be a Usenet posting sent to a lot of green and Democratic groups, from someone named Eli Pariser at

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Quick has more information on his page, including a list of donors.

Who says bloggers don’t do original reporting?

June 25, 2002

MATT WELCH takes on another lame newspaper piece on blogging, this one by Mike Cassidy of the Mercury News. Be sure to read the comments, too. Summary: “This type of column — the ‘I turned my back on a not-very-new trend of specific interest to my readers, so now, instead of catching up, I’m going to make fun of it’ piece — is a sub-category just dominated by monopolist daily newspapers.”

June 25, 2002

HERE’S A CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR story on the Nigerian video industry, which is going great guns. (Actually, a member of my extended family, which includes Nigerians in Lagos, is working in that industry now). Best quote:

“In the old days, traveling theaters used to put on shows about the God of Thunder, Ogun – that was nice,” says Iyabo Olowokande, head of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Film Cooperation. “But then we discovered the movies.”

The story says that Nigeria is nipping at Hollywood’s heels. It would be more accurate, though, would to say that it’s nipping at Bollywood’s heels. Indian films, which — by volume at least — ruled the Nigerian market are now facing a lot of domestic competition.

June 25, 2002

WILLIAM JEFFERSON ASHCROFT: Eugene Volokh says that what Ashcroft told Congress about dissent aiding terrorists isn’t that different from what Clinton said in 1996 — but the reaction is.

June 25, 2002

YES, I know I’ve just linked to IsntaPundit, InstaPandit, and IndePundit. I’m just as bemused by this as you are.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll says I should also mention PoohPundit here. I think I already did a month or so ago, but okay. It is an InstaPundit parody site, though the name isn’t as close as those others. On the other hand, it does claim to be “The New York Times of the Bearbloggers,” which is pretty cool.

June 25, 2002

INSTAPANDIT says I’m wrong about colleges being unfriendly to males. His comments appear to have been posted before I added the comments from reader Jennifer Fuller, below.

UPDATE: Oh, and I just noticed this post by Kevin Deenihan criticizing those who stereotype Greeks. (He means frat-Greeks, not Greece-Greeks).

June 25, 2002

ISNTAPUNDIT isn’t happy with WTC replacement plans.

June 25, 2002

THE INDEPUNDIT says we’re winning and Al Qaeda is losing.

June 25, 2002

AARON BERGMAN has been sending me email telling me I’m wrong for months. Now he’s got his own blog so he can do it wholesale instead of retail.

June 25, 2002

TRIFECTA UPDATE: Reader Lucy Stone says it really matters:

Hi Instapundit. You mention that the “trifecta” issue just won’t go away. And you know, it shouldn’t. Here’s why: it’s so Clintonian, so average slimy politician of Bush. If you bill yourself as a straight shooter and not your average politician, than be a straight shooter otherwise you have no credibility. The “I hit the trifecta” remark –aside from being in terribly bad taste in my opinion– is so obviously CYA and disingenuous. Why can’t Bush just say, look, circumstances have changed and therefore my criteria have changed. Americans have shown they will give him the benefit of the doubt when they believe he’s being straight. The continued trifecta remark, which he makes surely because he thinks it’s witty, is shamelessly political and in context of the 9/11 deaths, again, in terribly bad taste. (I can’t believe people actually laugh at this remark.) Sometimes he says things in jest that completely take me aback, because they seem to be his most honest moments. And I’m not sure I like what I see in those moments –things would be so much easier if I were a dictator being one of the more disturbing comments he’s made.

Bush has said he’s different from other politicians and every time he acts like just another politician he breaks faith, and in the end that will seriously injure his chances at re-election, because once he’s seen as just another politician he looses his strongest selling point.

I agree with all of this. Especially under the current circumstances, it’s enormously important that Bush — and his whole administration — be exceptionally honest and trustworthy. (In fact, that’s my FoxNews column topic). I think the “trifecta” thing has had so little resonance with me because (as I’ve mentioned before) I sure thought I remembered Bush saying that. Apparently I’m wrong, though.

June 25, 2002

MCCLUHLESS is a blog about blogging and the thoughts of Marshall McCluhan. Check it out.

June 25, 2002

COLLEGES AND MEN: Adam Magazine says I’m wrong about anti-male bias at colleges. Some of his points are right, but I don’t think they refute my position, which is that colleges have — quite deliberately — been made a hostile environment for the typical (or stereotypical) male student.

Magazine’s point is that not all male students are typical, which is true, but I don’t think it matters: it’s the typical students who are being deterred. (In fact, I’d almost say that Magazine is, like many oppressed individuals, identifying with his oppressors and saying “I’m different from those other men.” Would that make him an “Uncle Tim?” No, too Pythonesque.) I’m hardly a typical male either, but so what? That doesn’t change the effect — or motivation — of many of these policies. Sure, some men will be more comfortable in a feminized environment, just as some women are more comfortable in a masculinized environment. The latter is considered sex discrimination, though, so why not the former?

I got a bunch of email on this subject — I’m going to post a roundup tonight.

UPDATE: Reader Jennifer Fuller says Magazine is wrong, too:

I have to agree with you, that Magazine totally misses the point. It’s not that less date rape is a bad thing, it’s that most colleges (and I just got out of college, Texas A & M in College Station) don’t just teach that rape is bad and to be nice to minorities. They tell you flat out that ALL men are potential rapists and lynchers, and that only much, much education and many, many workshops will prevent this. Most men are neither rapists or lynchers, and don’t think that they need to be re-educated on this point. Magazine’s cluelessness about other men is striking – he really seems to think that either you’re a sensitive theater major or a hulking brute, with nothing in between.

And don’t discount the absolute disconnect that the anti date-rape movement has wrought over the last 15 years. Men are now being told that they can go out drinking with women, flirt with them, offer to take them home, both voluntarily get undressed, make out, kiss, touch, fondle and have sex – and yet if the next day, the woman regrets it, then the man is the one who is fully responsible for that terrible mistake and must pay for it. Many, many women’s advocates on campus consider the described scenario to be an actual rape, and that the man must be punished as a rapist. It’s asinine, and stupid, and utterly counterproductive, since the legitimate victims of a true date rape come across as identical to the brainless irresponsible sex-regretters, and men in general get sick of the whole game. I went to one of the more conservative colleges in Texas, if not the United States, and if that was the situation there, I can only imagine what it’s like everywhere else.

Jenn Fuller

Austin, Texas

Yes, the bureaucratic imperative that has led womens-center types at many colleges to push the envelope of sex-harassment farther and farther has done a great deal of damage. Say — now that men are a minority on college campuses, where are the men’s centers and men’s-rights-advocates in paid fulltime campus positions?

June 25, 2002

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: He’s like Jesus. He’s like Martin Luther King. He’s like Gandhi. But, apparently, he can’t fill a room.

June 25, 2002


Here’s my favorite comment: “What gets me is that on one hand, the labels are whining that the radio stations WON’T play their music, and on the other hand bitching that webcasters ARE playing their music.”

June 25, 2002

WOW. When I wrote tomorrow’s TechCentralStation column, I hadn’t heard about this. But it’s pretty close to what I warn against.

June 25, 2002

THE SOUTER-BELLESILES CONNECTION? Well, not quite. But my colleague Tom Davies has published an article in the Wake Forest Law Review that accuses Souter of pretty serious historical falsification in his opinion in Atwater v. Lago Vista. Here’s an excerpt:

In this article I present a detailed critique of hte historical analysis that Souter offered in the Atwater majority opinion and of the larger assertions associated with law-and-order originalism. I argue that Souter’s claims bear little resemblance to authentic framing-era arrest doctrine. Indeed, I conclude that his supposed historical analysis consisted almost entirely of rhetorical ploys and distortions of the historical sources. The historical authorities regarding arrest authority actually show that warrantless misdemeanor arrests for minor offenses were usually unlawful, except in some categories of minor offenses that gave rise to an unusual need for a prompt arrest — the position advocated by Gail Atwater’s counsel and endorsed by the four dissenting justices in Atwater.

Davies is extremely thorough and well-regarded — his last article, on the original understanding of the Fourth Amendment, in the Michigan Law Review, has been very well-received and was cited favorably by the Supreme Court last term, which this article really won’t be. But he makes a pretty damning case for historical dishonesty on Souter’s part, which court-watchers should pay close attention to. Furthermore, this may have some relevance for cases of “proactive law enforcement” as in the Padilla / Al Muhajir case.

For those lawyers out there (and who else would care?) the cite is 37 Wake Forest L. Rev. 239 (2002).

June 25, 2002

WHY THEY HATE US: Ran into my former neighbor, a lovely Saudi woman I’ve mentioned here before a time or two. She’s started a new business of her own, and when I ran into her she was looking quite chic in jeans and a cropped baby-doll t-shirt. One can only imagine how stuff like this plays in Riyadh.

Well, actually, there’s no need to imagine: we know.

June 25, 2002

GYONGYI GAAL, who publishes the excellent “Neuroprosthesis News” weblog, says that I’m wrong about the dangers of neuroscience. Well, sort of. I certainly find nothing to disagree with in this conclusion:

Fortunately the science of mind control is still in rudimentary stages, giving the public more than enough time to become educated about developments and potential problems. Professor Reynolds is correct that the real ultimate danger is not of the science itself but from potential totalitarian involvement by the government. Neuroscientists alone cannot avoid such a development, either by refusing to contribute to progress or by delivering their results with conditions and restrictions attached to start with.

June 25, 2002

LOOKING BACK ON THE WAR: Hmm. Stanley Hauerwas might like this future, but I don’t.

June 25, 2002

RIGHT WING NEWS has a piece on the best unknown political blogs. Er, except that once you win, aren’t you disqualified?

June 25, 2002

SAUDIS OFFENDED by seeing members of Congress wearing yarmulkes, Rich Lowry reports:

In unprecedented fashion, Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz accused Jews of leading attack on Saudi Arabia in US congress and British media.

On Saturday he told reporters after attending a military graduation in Al-Kharaj that you can see Jewish member of congress wearing their Jewish hats in congressional meetings. He said “we watch them on television wearing their yamaka in congress and that is enough evidence.”

Saud delenda est.

June 25, 2002

LOS ANGELES TIMES UPDATE: A reader points out that the L.A. Times did actually cover the COPS endorsement story on 6/18, only one day after InstaPundit, Simberg, etc. and not a week later as my earlier post suggested.

June 25, 2002

VIRGINIA POSTREL is off hiatus and back in the saddle.

June 25, 2002


Mariam Farahat interrupted the somber greetings offered by a visitor. “I don’t want condolences, I want congratulations,” she said. “I encouraged my son to sacrifice himself. It is a victory.” . . .

The mother makes no apologies. She said she believes armed attacks and suicide bombings are bringing the goal of Palestinian independence closer, because they have made Israelis feel insecure. “We love martyrdom as much as Israel loves the fantasy life it is leading,” she said, weeping.

Wusam said he would like to imitate his older brother. Hearing this, Farahat’s composure returned. “I love all my children,” she said, “but my feelings for them can never match the feelings I have for my martyred son.”

June 25, 2002


A search of a Sarajevo office of the Saudi High Commission for Relief turned up anti-Semitic and anti-American videotapes and children’s pamphlets as well as maps of Washington and photos of U.S. military installations. A raid this month on the offices of Al-Haramain netted tapes calling for attacks on foreign peacekeepers, said Sylvester. One recurring theme: the tale of the “poison roast,” in which Jews invite Islamic children to a deadly feast. “Why are they teaching Bosnian children to hate America?” he asked. (Saudi officials denied knowledge of this material.) Raids on Benevolence, where another of the suspects worked, turned up correspondence between Enaam Arnaout and Osama bin Laden dating back to the 1980s, as well as photos of the two men.

These guys need to listen to Bush’s speech again.

June 25, 2002

IF THIS WEREN’T THE ARAB NEWS I’D SUSPECT IT WAS SATIRE: A warning about shrewd pyschological warfare operatives who infiltrate the Kingdom in the guise of clueless reporters.

Sorry folks: it’s no disguise.

June 25, 2002

GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: This column by Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee says that Davis’s loss of the COPS endorsement to Simon (see below) isn’t as big a deal as it seems to be. Weintraub has some interesting points on these endorsements in general:

The Davis campaign reacted to the endorsement by bashing COPS as a fraud. “Even when they were with us,” sneered campaign spokesman Roger Salazar, “they’ve never been more than what they are today, which is a telemarketing organization.”

But that never stopped Davis from using the group for his own political cover, or from scrambling furiously to try to keep their endorsement from going to his rival. His campaign manager, Garry South, tried to have Holden fired after hearing that he was agitating for Simon.

The furor over COPS shows that endorsements are often more about the goals of the backers than the performance of the candidate. In this case those goals were petty and personal in the extreme. But the lesson probably applies across the board.

Thanks to Insta-reader Mike Daley.

June 25, 2002

SEX DISCRIMINATION IN COLLEGE: 57 percent of degrees are going to women. There’s a lot of hand-wringing about why, but they miss the obvious: over the past 20 years there has been a concerted effort to make colleges male-unfriendly environments, with attacks on fraternities, with anti-male attitudes in many classes, with intrusive sexual-harassment rules that start with the assumption that men are evil predators, and so forth. Now men don’t find college as congenial a place. It’s a hostile environment, quite literally.

How come none of the experts quoted in this article has noticed that?

June 25, 2002

LET THEM SWEAT: Nick Kristof is defending sweatshops, pointing out that the working conditions and pay in the third-world factories that campus activists love to hate are actually big improvements for many of their workers:

Ahmed, who dropped out of school in the second grade, earns $2 a day hunched over the loom, laboring over a rug that will adorn some American’s living room. It is a pittance, but the American campaign against sweatshops could make his life much more wretched by inadvertently encouraging mechanization that could cost him his job.

“Carpet-making is much better than farm work,” Ahmed said, mulling alternatives if he loses his job as hundreds of others have over the last year. “This makes much more money and is more comfortable.”

Indeed, talk to third world factory workers and the whole idea of “sweatshops” seems a misnomer. It is farmers and brick-makers who really sweat under the broiling sun, while sweatshop workers merely glow.

Such bracing realism is not encouraged on the New York Times op-3d page. Mr. Kristof can expect a short career if he continues in this vein.

June 24, 2002

OKAY, THIS IS BAD NEWS FOR GRAY DAVIS. But it’s also bad news for the Los Angeles Times, because this story is dated June 24, but the press release announcing it came out on June 17 — as noted here that very day — and I got it from Rand Simberg. Advantage: Blogosphere!

June 24, 2002

JASON STEORTS says that Larry Summers has had a good first year at Harvard.

June 24, 2002

THE “TRIFECTA” ISSUE JUST WON’T DIE: Here’s the latest from SpinSanity for those who are still following this. (Scroll down for the very latest update).

June 24, 2002

WILL WARREN RIDES AGAIN! And Susan Sontag is pissed.

June 24, 2002

READER JOHN MONASCH WRITES to compliment me on InstaPunditWatch:

This is great! Instapundit-Watch is hilarious! I enjoy a well-done spoof. You are right on the money with your satire of the absurd misreadings and ridiculous whining of blog-critics like that Boston Globe writer, Warlogger Watch (a troll himself?), and this week’s L.A. Times article. If this site is actually you Glenn, trying to deflect/discredit any would-be critics, touche; a skillfully conducted charade and pretending not to have a sense of humor is [a] masterstroke!

I’m looking forward to the appearance of a Lileks-Watch blog and a U.S.S.Clueless-Watch blog and many other good humor sites. Mediacritics-critics-spoofs ad nauseum: the rate at which this medium is spawning new variations and new themes is truly astounding.

What can I say, John? You’ve got me dead to rights. . . .

June 24, 2002

STEVEN DEN BESTE has an interesting analysis of the Bush speech. He reads it pretty much as I do — but he’s longer, and clearer, than I was. He agrees with me that it’s about more than just the Palestinians.

June 24, 2002

JOE KATZMAN has some observations concerning Arafat’s likely strategy in the coming months.

I think that the United States’ strategy will be to let the Israelis run wild, while telling other Arab nations that this is what happens to people who take the wrong side in the terror war — and while pointing out that the Israelis are constrained in ways that the United States is not.

June 24, 2002

LILEKS IN CONGRESS! A reader just emailed that Rep. Tom Tancredo was reading from Lileks’ latest Screed on the House floor a few minutes ago.

June 24, 2002

CRAIG SCHAMP says the Chronicle has been wallowing in Nixon-era nostalgia while missing the true free speech-and-repression story right under its nose.

June 24, 2002

READER TRENT TELENKO notes this part of the speech, aimed at Syria:

“I’ve said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel — including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. ****And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.**** “

Yes, Bush is throwing down the gauntlet to a lot of folks in terms that they must surely understand. This presumably explains the sudden increase in cooperation we’ve seen in the last week or two.

UPDATE: Reader Dick Aubrey analyzes the speech:

When Bush was making his speech in the fall, laying out, among other things, what he expected the Taliban to do, I said to my wife (gleefully), “They can’t do it. They’re screwed. We win.” Which is to say there was no way the Taliban could even pretend to meet the requirements. The really good part is that in that case, and this, the requirements were eminently reasonable, desirable, and beyond quibble.

I love it.

June 24, 2002

THE BOSTON GLOBE’S OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINS that people can’t tell the difference between opinion pieces and news reports nowadays. I wonder why?

June 24, 2002

JOHN SCALZI ASKS “What do they teach them in schools these days?”

June 24, 2002

NOT SO WOBBLY NOW: Bush says become a Western-style democracy and then we’ll talk peace. And no more Arafat — we’re tired of that terrorism shit, dudes, and we’re not fooled.

This isn’t just an Israel / PLO thing, it’s a signal to some other people. (Look at the passage following the reference to “people of Muslim countries” in the text).

Reader S.E. Brenner says the BBC was so miffed it dropped the speech suddenly halfway through. “No dancing in the streets of Soho tonight.”

June 24, 2002

ERIC ALTERMAN — becoming a warblogger? Read this:

I am pleased to be able to fob the job of addressing the current US version of the problem on my friend Todd Gitlin, whose smart piece on anti-Semitism is in Mother Jones online. [NOTE: Gitlin opens with SFSU — GR]

Todd writes, “Wicked anti-Semitism is back. The worst crackpot notions that circulate through the violent Middle East are also roaming around America, and if that wasn’t bad enough, students are spreading the gibberish. Students! As if the bloc to which we have long looked for intelligent dissent has decided to junk any pretense of standards.” He has a great deal more faith in students than I do, however. . . .

Also, a brief digression to France: Why do so few people wish to notice that all this anti-Semitic violence in France is being carried out by Arabs? Doesn’t that make a difference? The French are no more or less anti-Semitic than they have always been. French anti-Semitism is not exactly news. Hello: Ever see “The Sorrow and the Pity?”

Eric, you are being assimilated into the blogosphere. Resistance is futile.

(The Gitlin piece, by the way, is excellent.)

June 24, 2002

A SAD FATHER’S DAY STORY regarding BET’s website and viewer email.

June 24, 2002

REBECCA BLOOD joins the crowd savaging the Los Angeles Times’ web registration process.

I don’t get it. They irritate a lot of people, ensure that their site is read and linked to less often, and get a lot of forms on which people lie about all the information they ask about anyway. How many of these registrants are named “Elmer Fudd” and list “[email protected]” or something similar as their email address? A lot, I’ll bet. Then there are the more sophisticated folks, who just report that they’re 97 year-old Eskimo women with household incomes in excess of $250,000 per annum. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Lee Kane writes:

Regarding the LA Times required registration, I always make sure to put in the most wildly incorrect and mismatched data that I can when confronted with such “surveys”. (For example, I might say that I work as a clerk and make over 150K per year and live in Alaska. I was born in 1999, etc.)

What better way to force sites to stop the surveys than to make their data useless? The more people who engage in this fake data practice the more useless the data will become.

Yes, I expect that a lot of people do this, and I imagine their numbers are steadily growing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers wrote that “cypherpunk” works as both ID and password at the LA Times. I wonder how many other sites that’s true for. . . .

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Emily Jones writes:

I think a lot of the online papers have realized this and set up their registration so that you cannot log in until you check your e-mail and follow the link that they leave you. I’ve set up an account on Yahoo! specifically because of this. I only ever check it when I’m forced to register for a news site.

Inbox: 1

Bulkmail: 357

Every time.



June 24, 2002

SFSU UPDATE: Erin O’Connor is happy that the anti-semitic GUPS website is down, but unhappy that the University’s action in taking it down looks like censorship.

As I said earlier, I’d rather see them punished for their violent actions, which they appear to be. It’s a somewhat more complicated question whether taking down their website, hosted on the University server, is censorship, or at least censorship that violates the First Amendment. My own feeling is that campus speech codes are wrong, and they’re usually held unconstitutional. But when you’re an accredited student organization, and your site is hosted by the University, it’s arguably not just your speech, but theirs — at least enough that they can make you abide by a “no hate speech” rule for what’s there. And it gives them a colorable claim that they should be able to limit what you say on that site. That’s a distinct matter from punishing you for things you say elsewhere. (And it’s one reason why I don’t have InstaPundit on the University of Tennessee’s servers, where I could host it for free if I wanted. I don’t want any confusion about who’ in charge of this site.)

I believe in punishing actions, not speech, and that’s what was really called for with regard to GUPS. The website was more illustrative (as Glenn Frazier points out) of what GUPS was like than it was a problem in itself.

And that’s one reason why the University’s action is more troubling than it might otherwise be. While the website was up, it was obvious to the world what kind of a group this was. Now it’s not. Which coincidentally (?) makes life easier for the University as it faces charges of not being hard enough on the group for its actions.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has a post on this too.

June 24, 2002

LET THE FLAMEWARS BEGIN! Arnold Kling is weighing in on the “Version fatigue” debate, and he’s dissing Unix and Linux something fierce.

Send the hatemail to Kling, not me. I’ve already put in my two cents’ worth. One minor correction, though. Kling says that I don’t have the patience to study manuals. I do have the patience. After all, I’m a law professor who reads and writes thousand-footnote articles — it’s just that I’ve recognized that studying manuals is often wasted, since most of the knowledge contained in them will be obsolete with the next version. Not all software is that way — Sonic Foundry (which not coincidentally, keeps the same programmers working on the same things in successive versions) avoids that problem quite well. But more software should be like Sonic Foundry’s.

I do notice that the term “version fatigue” seems to be catching on. Cool.

June 24, 2002

I ASK, Ranting Screeds answers. With a Simpsons reference, no less.

June 24, 2002

LILEKS DISSES THE LA TIMES ANTIBLOGGER PIECE — without reading it! But that’s the point:

I hadn’t registered, so I couldn’t get the story. The LA Times required my name, address, phone number, AND my income level. All required fields. Click on the privacy policy, and of course it’s the usual thicket of prickly conditions, concluding with the assertion that the policy may change at any time, and continued use of the site will be construed as agreement to the policy, even if it’s changed since last I read it. In other words, they could change it tomorrow to allow for the LA Times to send my personal info to Gobsmacking Wombat Porn, Inc, which would send me a torrent of full-color come-ons, and I’d have nothing to say about it.

All to read some crummy story in a bloated paper? I learned more reading the commentary about it on other sites. Which were free. Which asked nothing. Which did what I want before I knew I wanted it, and which have built up so much good will I’d subscribe to each if the price was right. And if any of the people who ran these sites asked for my phone number because they wanted to talk about something, I’d tell them.

Never trust a company that calls you a guest. Trust the ones who know you’re a customer and call you just that. Or treat you like a customer on the small chance you may be one some day.

Truth. (Yeah, I know there’s another link to Lileks below — but that’s to a Screed. This is a Bleat.)

June 24, 2002

H.D. MILLER has been cruising Islamist websites, reading about the “martyrs” of Afghanistan, and has some thoughts:

What makes Suraqah’s death count for anything more than the flowery rhetoric that was expended in describing it?

Beyond offering first aid, there’s no hint that his actions were ever especially heroic. He didn’t fling himself on a grenade, or charge a machinegun nest full of Special Forces troops, or hold off a battalion of Rangers. There’s no indication that his actions prolonged the Islamic theocracy of Afghanistan one minute, or delayed the establishment of a secular Afghan republic one second. The sequence of events is this: an American pilot, flying at 25,000 feet, with little risk to himself and his machine, punched a button, and Suraqah al-Andalusi was blown in half. Then the pilot flew back to the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in time to have a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and catch the Steelers game on satellite television.

That’s how it was, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

As sorry as I am for Suraqah al-Andalusi’s widow and two children, I have to say that I’m glad his death was as impersonal and as sudden as it was. The only way I’d be happier if we could have arranged it so a minor Pentagon functionary could punch a big red button that activated a death ray on the same satallite that broadcast the NFL; a death ray that would have instantly vaporized Suraqah al-Andalusi, leaving behind a pile of ashes and a semi-molten AK-47.

We need to make the death of every terrorist and every terrorist supporter as impersonal, as inconsequential, and as unheroic as possible. Make all jihadi martyrdoms as pointless and as inevitable as Suraqah al-Andalusi’s. Take away the glamour and the heroism and the mysticism, and leave the corpse and a deep and abiding sense of hopelessness. For us it should be like the extermination of vermin, the stomping of a roach. And for them, they should made to know that the reaper is coming; they should be made to fear the shadow seconds before the darkness.

Miller was inspired to these thoughts by the viewing of the Daniel Pearl murder tape — which can be chalked up as of a piece with most everything else those guys do: brutal, evil, and ultimately ineffective. They deserve to die ingloriously, and they will, and we should rub the noses of their supporters in this fact mercilessly.

June 24, 2002

MALAISE? A while back, Steven Chapman noted a certain lassitude around the Blogosphere. Now Andrew Sullivan is saying more or less the same thing, only with regard to society at large.

Well, there’s less happening on a day-to-day basis than there was in the fall, which translates into less adrenaline and more cortisol, I suppose. My guess is that things will pick up again soon enough. Instead of worrying about the current pace of events, I’d advise taking advantage of it. It’s not likely to last.

June 24, 2002

ROSS SILVERMAN BLOGS an interesting item regarding smallpox vaccinations.

June 24, 2002

ADD THIS TO YOUR WORRY LIST: Mike Silverman has a potential terrorist target: the upcoming Gay Pride parades.

Pride parades in large cities (NY, SF, etc) usually draw half a million to a million participants and spectators, and security is usually very light, limited to police who engage in traffic and crowd control. Given the massed number of people, I really hope parade organizers in the big cities are extra-vigilant with security this year. In the past I have worried about attacks from militia types and other right-wing loons, but the masses of people at a parade must be attractive to Islamic terrorists as well.

Hmm. Sadly, this makes sense to me.

June 24, 2002

STILL MORE EVIDENCE that Mars was once warm and wet:

“Imagine more than five times the volume of water in the Great Lakes being released in a single flood, and you’ll have a sense of the scale of this event,” said Ross Irwin, a geologist in the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS) and the paper’s lead author.

How much of that water still remains locked in the martian soil is unclear, but this is certainly a positive sign: at least we know that the water was there at one point.

June 24, 2002

WELL, it’s easy to find the most admirable crew in this quote from a Washington Post article on racial troubles at a Maryland high school:

“The cheerleaders hang with the cheerleaders, the jocks with the jocks, the bangers with the bangers, the blacks with the blacks, and the Indians go to class,” said Tristen Bryant, an African American. “You stay with your race. That’s where you feel comfortable.”

Jeez. Maybe if more students were going to class there’d be less time for ethnic tensions.

June 24, 2002

BRENDAN O’NEILL hates human rights, as well as the antiwar movement, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and anticapitalism. But he’s a lefty!

June 24, 2002

A CAREFUL CONTENT ANALYSIS OF AL QAEDA THREATS has convinced Tim Blair that the organization is on the ropes.

UPDATE: On a more serious note, Jay Caruso points out a contradiction, and steers us to this article suggesting that Al Qaeda really is on the ropes, but that the publicity it’s getting will inspire copycats who will inflate its apparent importance.

June 24, 2002

CHARLES COLSON writes about the threat of Islamofascist recruitment in prisons. He’s right that it’s an issue, but his solution — which seems basically that Christianity is better — doesn’t fly.

First, it’s got First Amendment problems. Under current Supreme Court law you could probably get rid of all prison ministries if you chose, but you can’t favor one religion over another. Second, his view of Christianity in prison is a bit rosy-eyed: Christian Identity types have been recruiting there for years.

Finally, one way to reduce this threat would be to stop putting people in prison for short, revolving-door sentences. If people aren’t going to get out of prison until they’re 70, I don’t care who recruits ’em. And if they’re not in prison at all, they’re not subject to prison recruiting.

What has produced such a large and vulnerable population for Islamists to exploit is the locking up of lots of people for nonviolent drug crimes. Get rid of them, and keep the people guilty of real crimes like rape, robbery and murder in there for a long time, and you’ll solve this problem. And a lot of others. And without violating the First Amendment.

June 24, 2002

JAMES LILEKS needs a position in higher education, as this piece proves. Perhaps he could be President of SFSU — there may be a vacancy there soon.