Archive for October, 2002

October 31, 2002

BARNEY FRANK WEIGHS IN on the South Carolina gay-bashing campaign incident:

The comment came during a discussion of which South Carolina candidate — Republican U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham or Democrat Alex Sanders — had more liberal friends and associates. Sanders noted that one of Graham’s endorsements came from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is “ultra-liberal.”

“His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu,” Sanders continued. “Is that South Carolina values? I don’t think so.” . . .

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts, criticized Sanders in a statement on Thursday.

“Mr. Sanders’ pronouncement that it violates South Carolina values to accept an offer of hospitality from a gay couple is a bigoted comment that reflects poorly on Mr. Sanders, not Rudy Giuliani,” Frank said.

I agree. Unless, of course, Sanders was talking about the Shih Tzu, in which case his comments are entirely understandable.

UPDATE: And here’s something I didn’t know about Paul Wellstone on this subject. It’s of only academic interest now, of course — but the fact that nobody was reporting it tells us something that may be more generally relevant.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tony Adragna was on this story first. Advantage: Quasipundit!

October 31, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here’s a story on the Bellesiles affair from my local paper. There’s a quote from me that’s not very exciting, but the one from Boston University law professor Randy Barnett is pretty good:

“To me, the real story is that in the beginning the professional historians closed ranks behind Bellesiles and savaged the professional and amateur researchers who questioned him, and unless those historians are now willing to step forward and admit they were wrong and the critics were right, they run the risk of turning Bellesiles into the Alger Hiss of the history profession.”

The Alger Hiss of the history profession. Or the Lillian Hellman?

October 31, 2002

PRESIDENT’S CASE FOR LINKAGE FAILS TO CONVINCE; This isn’t the way I’ve heard it, but. . . .

October 31, 2002


One of the requirements of a healthy party is that it renews itself. You can’t keep running Walter Mondale for everything.

–Walter Mondale, declining to run for the United States Senate seat from Minnesota (1989)

Heh. And check out this new Mondale radio ad.

UPDATE: Bob Kuttner agrees! “The Democrats will soon run out of 70-year-old issues and 70-year-old ex-senators. They had better start generating more Wellstones.”

October 31, 2002

AUSTIN BAY WRITES THAT Zimbabwe may be near the point of genocide. Naturally the “international community” is doing next to nothing — as it generally does when people warn of a coming genocide.

UPDATE: On Zimbabwe, read this, too. And here’s an InstaPundit post from over a year ago.

October 31, 2002

SO FAR, THIS is the scariest thing I’ve seen today.

UPDATE: This, on the other hand, was kind of cute, in a scary sort of way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: But this is spooky, in a cute sort of way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile this can only be described as “torment.”

October 31, 2002

MUHAMMAD AND MALVO have been linked to another shooting, this one in Louisiana:

Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the investigation was continuing into the possibility that other people may be involved or that the two suspects in custody in Maryland have committed more crimes.

“We will proceed deliberatively, cautiously and not jump to any conclusions,” Ashcroft said. “The facts that the evidence will determine the final outcome and we intend to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

The rifle has now been tied to shootings in four states and the District of Columbia. Earlier Thursday, Alabama authorities said the weapon was linked to the September killing; police are also looking into cases in Washington state, Oregon, California, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee and Connecticut.

In the Baton Rouge slaying, the victim was shot once in the head by a gunman witnesses described as a young black man who fled into a park.

Muhammad, formerly known as John Allen Williams, grew up in Baton Rouge and still has relatives and friends there, including one of his ex-wives. He visited the area this summer, friends said.

This case just gets more curious.

UPDATE: Here’s more on Muhammad, the grenade attack in the Gulf, and a hidden weapon. I think he’s more than a mere “screwball.”

October 31, 2002

ANOTHER BOGUS HATE-CRIME REPORT is debunked by Suman Palit.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

October 31, 2002

THE RUSSIANS ARE GOING TO WRAP THE CHECHEN/ARAB TERRORISTS IN PIGSKIN before burial. Didn’t Pershing do something like this in the Philippines?

(Via LGF).

UPDATE: Apparently, whether Pershing did this or not is undetermined. And Terry Oglesby sends this.

October 31, 2002

THE NEW REPUBLIC is not very impressed with Fritz Mondale’s speech.

October 31, 2002

HERE’S A NEW ANTI-WAR GROUP WEBLOG that looks to be an improvement over some earlier efforts — though they’re surprisingly bellicose about North Korea. I hope they’ll feel the same way in, oh, about 18 months. . . .

October 31, 2002


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Agents with a terrorism task force raided an Iraqi immigrant’s home Thursday, and authorities said other searches were being conducted in the city.

No immediate arrests were made, but FBI, Customs and IRS agents spent about three hours at the home of Fadhil Abbas Al-Sahaf, 34. They were seen leaving with boxes, plastic bags, papers, envelopes, FedEx packages and videotapes. A travel trailer in the back yard also was searched.

Douglas Riggin, an FBI agent in charge of the task force, said the moves were not connected to “any terrorist act which might pose a threat to the city.” As for whether the raid was related to terrorist threats elsewhere, he said: “The task force investigated it. Draw your own conclusions.”

You’ll pretty much have to, because this story doesn’t provide much information.

October 31, 2002

I’VE MENTIONED SOUTH DAKOTA’S PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON JURY NULLIFICATION BEFORE, but here’s an article by Stephanie Simon in the Los Angeles Times on the subject. I think that this is the most telling passage:

Opponents, meanwhile, have been afraid to do much public campaigning. Lawyers have debated the amendment at forums across the state—including one here last week at the University of South Dakota law school. They worry that advertising might backfire. Voters tend to be suspicious of attorneys—so they might reason that if the state bar opposes Amendment A, it must be good.

With all due respect to my own profession, this states a serious problem. The article is pretty balanced overall, but omits the single biggest issue in my opinion: people get exercised at the idea of giving a jury unreviewable discretion to let someone go when they’ve violated the law, but police and prosecutors do that all the time. The question is, is there any reason to trust juries less? I haven’t seen anyone address that, much less answer it satisfactorily. And given that the criminal law has become so complex and unpredictable that prosecutors can almost always find something to charge someone with, there’s a lot of unsupervised discretion on that end, too. It only seems fair to give juries authority to police this exercise of prosecutorial discretion, especially as courts are basically unwilling to do so.

The answer the legal establishment gives to charges that prosecutors might misbehave is basically: “trust us.” But they don’t trust juries, and they haven’t given any very persuasive reasons why they’re more trustworthy than juries are. And there are some good institutional reasons to suggest that they’re less so. For more on this, you can read my review of Clay Conrad’s book, here.

October 31, 2002

HMM. SPEAKING OF CBS, this AP story says that three people protested outside an NRA rally in Tucson featuring Charlton Heston. But the version on the CBS website, which is otherwise the same, raises that number to “a few dozen.”

Wonder what accounts for the difference?

And why are three, or even a few dozen, anti-gun demonstrators more news than hundreds of pro-war Iraqis?

UPDATE: A reader writes to remind me that CBS has trouble with numbers, since a while back it seemed to think that Bush was President back in 1998. Heh. I had forgotten that one.

October 31, 2002

READER JOAQUIM MACHADO sends this unfortunate headline from CBS Marketwatch: “Pitt Seeks Probe of Himself.”

October 31, 2002

JACKASS: THE DOCUMENTARY — Matt Labash gives Michael Moore’s latest effort an unequivocal thumbs-down:

It’s a harrowing tale, one which Moore first takes to Dick Clark in an ambush interview (Clark quickly peels away in a minivan, unfortunately missing Moore), and later to NRA president Charlton Heston. Heston, of course, has announced he has symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s, which is apparent, because when Moore buys a star map and shows up at Heston’s gate unannounced, he lets Moore in for an interview. Starting off slowly, peppering him with chatter about the second amendment, Moore ends up closing in for the kill, asking Heston if he’d apologize for bringing NRA conventions to both Flint and Littleton after their respective shootings. Heston wisely calls it quits, but as he flees his own living room, Moore follows him, hectoring him with a picture of the girl Tamarla Owens’s son shot. “This is her. Please take a look at her, please, this is the girl,” Moore says, before propping the photo against Heston’s house.

It is perhaps the single-most shameful moment ever in a Moore project, which is saying something, since Moore authored an entire chapter on how O.J. Simpson couldn’t have killed his wife (because rich people usually hire lowerlings to do their dirty work). Not only did he ambush a doddering old man who had nothing to do with the shooting, but he related the Owens story in a fashion that was dishonest in nearly every way.

For what Moore didn’t tell us about Tamarla Owens and her family could fill several newspaper and magazine articles, and did. The uncle’s house where Owens left her children was, additionally, a crack house, where guns were often traded for drugs. The gun that the boy stole from a shoebox on a mattress in his uncle’s bedroom had been reported stolen once before. And Owens was hardly a model parent, merely getting squeezed by unfortunate circumstances. According to Time magazine, Owens herself was a drug addict (she denied it). Additionally, reported Newhouse News Service, according to a state Family Independence Agency petition, she admitted holding down her oldest boy so he could be beaten with a belt by two male friends, and she also admitted beating the boy with a belt while sitting on him, after first duct-taping his hands, feet and mouth.

In short, Owens and her clan were to responsible gun ownership what Moore is to responsible journalism. To beat Heston up for her problems is itself an act of violence. It is perhaps understandable why Moore attempted to drop himself from the narrative, and put a less-fortunate type like Owens front-and-center. As he recently told one reporter, he has a sign on his editing-room door that says “when in doubt, cut me out.” The reason he says, is “First of all, I can’t stand the look of myself. Secondly, a little bit of me goes a long way. . . . because it’s just a bit much. That’s how it feels when I watch it.” After watching “Bowling For Columbine,” it’s easy to see how he feels.

Phil Donahue likes it, though.

October 31, 2002

JOHN HAWKINS has an interview with Michelle Malkin focusing chiefly on immigration issues.

October 31, 2002

“WE REALLY STRIVE TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY.” This is what I call a full-service campus health facility, and I’m sure Rachael Klein would approve. But where’s the concern for male students here?

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Speaking of which, what is she [Rachael Klein] doing now? I thought for sure she’d be writing for somebody. She must have graduated from college with more dedicated readers than most journalists ever hope to have.

I had an email from her over the summer — she was working somewhere financially related. I hope she doesn’t let her writing career slide, because I think that’s right about her readership.

October 31, 2002

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Go read this Lileks piece on music. Go ahead — me and Christina Aguilera will still be doing our respective things when you’re done.

October 31, 2002

HOWARD KURTZ CALLS THE WELLSTONE RALLY A “DEBACLE” and has a roundup of the reactions. Excerpt:

How badly can a political party screw up a memorial service?

Just ask Minnesota’s Democrats.

They staged a public farewell for Paul Wellstone that was so over the top, so blatantly partisan, that Jesse Ventura walked out. . . .

In effect, the service was hijacked in a small-minded way that detracted from the memory of Wellstone.

Yep. It was. And it did.

UPDATE: Capitol Hill Blue says it was all part of a big media plan for this week. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan. But since it was reportedly approved by Terry McAuliffe personally, it means that his prospects are even more closely tied to how Democrats do next week.

October 31, 2002

THIS COLUMN IN THE STRAITS TIMES is pessimistic about whether Indonesia will actually start taking Islamic terrorism seriously. Consider the source, but it’s still a bummer.

October 31, 2002

BLOG ROUNDUP: Visit Carnival of the Vanities and follow the links.

October 31, 2002

MY FOXNEWS COLUMN is about nanotechnology. It probably won’t be news to a lot of InstaPundit readers, though it is rather link-rich.

October 31, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: The History News Network has an article arguing that although the Bellesiles affair is, mostly, over, the underlying problem remains:

Unfortunately, it seems that many senior academics still don’t understand that what has happened has happened in some measure to them. They are tainted by this failure to use their antique guild procedures strictly, fairly, and above all, promptly; in this they failed all of us. They don’t seem to grasp how easily it could happen again.

The main obstacle to dealing forthrightly with gross academic misconduct is the reflexive reaction that any disciplinary measure at all will forever destroy academic freedom, which is fully enjoyed only by tenured faculty, by the way. But this defense of academic freedom may simply mask the worship of academic privilege, that is, a remarkably complete freedom from accountability. The exercise of this privilege to commit scholarly fraud — rewarded by prizes, royalties, fellowships — is hard to distinguish from theft by deception. Most fraud, after all, is committed for gain. The long line of Bellesiles’s enablers will not be made to pay. . . .

The editor at Knopf is still in place, doubtless hoping to publish another bombshell soon. There is little cause for rejoicing in this outcome until the system is forced to change. Until then, the moral of this story will remain ‘tell them what they want to hear; lie as much as you dare; cash the checks.’ Doesn’t it sound like the nightly news?

Peer review is supposed to be an adequate protection against fraud, inaccuracy, and other scholarly shortcomings, that being its main reason for existing. There have been studies of how it really works. They do not make encouraging reading. Even if the built-in temptations for reviewers could be taken out of it, the official peer review system can’t possibly work as it needs to within the microscopically subdivided academic research system of today: often there are no true peers to be found. In practice, peer review is a compost that nourishes cronyism, conformism, and other abuses. Bellesiles was reviewed at least twice by Emory: once at hiring, and once for promotion, that time after his 1996 article, a preview of the book to follow, had appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. He passed all of those reviews. By now, the selection and performance of the referees for Bellesiles’ 1996 paper and for Arming America by Knopf, and of the panelists for the Bancroft Prize award, can also be seen to have worked out rather poorly, after all, just like the personnel actions at Emory. These are all examples of normal peer review, which is in effect a system of social promotion. Of course there are no official admissions of fault, few individual retractions, not even many excuses. And above all, there are no consequences for the many panelists. . . . Recent scandals among American historians, including revelations of habitual plagiarism and general sloppiness, underscore an urgent need for a better process than peer review in its current form.

The entire assessment is rather damning.

UPDATE: Some interesting stuff in the comments at the bottom, too.

October 31, 2002


“The term ‘the American left’ is as near to being meaningless or nonsensical as any term could really be in politics,” he says. “It isn’t really a force in politics anymore. And it would do well to ask itself why that is.”

Instead, its chief purpose seems to be avoiding such questions at all costs.

October 31, 2002

GARY HART FLYING TO MINNESOTA? And what do the cops do when they find Mickey sleeping in his car? Kausfiles has the scoop. . . .

October 31, 2002


When Gerhard Schroeder stands up for his country’s interests, he’s called a political pragmatist. When Jacques Chirac does the same for his country, he’s calmly regarded as just another French chauvinist. But when George W. does it, he’s derided as an out-of-control cowboy.

Read the whole post for the amusing context.

October 31, 2002

VIRGINIA POSTREL has some new posts up!

October 30, 2002

I MEANT TO BLOG SOMETHING on the attempted coup in Qatar the other day, but didn’t. Here’s a post from Rantburg. Were the Saudis behind it? He’s also got a good post on a convenient accident in Iran.

October 30, 2002

AN INTERNET DIGITAL CLOCK — but it’s the graphics that I like.

October 30, 2002

ALABAMA POLICE SUSPECT A THIRD PERSON may have been involved in an Alabama shooting by Muhammad and Malvo. The same gun was used as in the D.C. area killings, and witnesses place Muhammad and Malvo at the scene, but not as the shooter. Curious.

October 30, 2002

THE IOWA ELECTRONIC MARKET reflecting House and Senate races has shifted sharply toward the Democrats.

October 30, 2002

A GOOD PLUMBING IDEA, from the Italians. Well, they did give us the aqueducts, you know. And sanitation. And pizza. But what else have they . . . oh, never mind.

October 30, 2002

“ALGERIANS GET LIFE FOR PARIS BOMBINGS” — and I’ll bet the conditions won’t be any better than Guantanamo.

October 30, 2002

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT: An article on life among the internationalistas. I wonder why these guys haven’t brought peace yet? Too hung over, I guess.

Sounds a lot like old-time colonial society.

October 30, 2002

I HAD PLANNED to write something on the Clifford Chance story, which is pretty interesting, but I never got to it. Now Dahlia Lithwick has a piece on it. I especially like the conclusion, though the answer to her question is: you can’t really do that, and make the kind of money these people want to make.

October 30, 2002

INTERESTING STORY suggesting that the FBI may lose its counterintelligence mission to a new, MI5-like organization.

While new bureaucracies don’t thrill me, the FBI has done badly enough at this that the idea has some merit. And new bureaucracies usually do their best in the first five years of their existence, which — I hope — will represent the period when we need this the most.

October 30, 2002

IT TAKES GUTS to write a column like this in Australia. Read it, and admire the guy.

(Via Clayton Cramer).

October 30, 2002

KIM DU TOIT’S National Ammo Day website has received over 4 million hits since it was started three weeks ago, Kim reports. Pretty impressive. By way of comparison, MSNBC’s Rachel Elbaum seems to be impressed that the antiwar ANSWER website gets 100,000 visitors per week — less than a tenth the traffic.

Perhaps MSNBC will do a story on Ammo Day next.

UPDATE: By way of comparison with ANSWER, my sitemeter counter shows 92,180 pageviews and 73,125 visitors so far today (it’s just before 11:00 pm).

October 30, 2002

HERE’S ANOTHER FIRSTHAND BLOG ACCOUNT from the D.C. antiwar marches. It’s a bit different from Jim Henley’s.

October 30, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Federal Lawyer has retracted its positive review of Michael Bellesiles’ Arming America, and Eugene Volokh has copies of the review, and the retraction, up on his site, along with some comments.

Will the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and various other publications follow suit?

October 30, 2002

HERE’S A SPECIAL FOR ALL YOU INSTAPUNDIT PREMIUMTm SUBSCRIBERS: Which is, er, all of you. . . . Tomorrow’s FoxNews column is available now.

October 30, 2002


Its power lies in the simplicity that comes with being completely wrong. The central implication here is that only men who have professionally endured war have the moral standing and the experiential authority to advocate war. That is, in this country at least, a radical and ahistorical view. The Founders, who knew quite well the dangers of a military class supreme, were clear in their conviction that the judgment of professional warmakers must be subordinated to the command of ignorant amateurs — civilian leaders who were in turn subordinated to the command of civilian voters. Such has given us the leadership in war of such notable “chicken hawks” as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Further, the inescapable logic of “chicken hawk”-calling is that only military men have standing to pronounce in any way on war — to advocate it or to advocate against it. The decision not to go to war involves exactly the same issues of experiential and moral authority as does the decision to go to war. If a past of soldiering is required for one, it is required for the other. Chicken doves have no more standing than “chicken hawks.” We must leave all the decisions to the generals and the veterans.

A great piece, though lacking a reference to Starship Troopers.

UPDATE: Matt Wech emails: “Incidentally, one of the core pre-conditions for post-communist countries to join NATO is that they establish *civilian* control over their militaries.”

My reply: “Where the hell is Layne?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus points out that Lincoln did in fact serve, in the militia.

October 30, 2002

TIM CAVANAUGH WRITES on CampusWatch and McCarthyism, and does so quite well. But the most memorable part is the throwaway line about ” Robert Fisk, the war on terror’s Mr. Bill.” It’s even more fun when you follow the links!

October 30, 2002


Don’t miss Warren Zevon on the Letterman Show tonight. 11:30p eastern and pacific on CBS.

Warren will be performing several songs, and the entire show will be dedicated to him.

Watch it or tape it, folks. We won’t have him around for much longer.

October 30, 2002

A REVIEW OF THE GALLERY OF REGRETTABLE FOOD, and an interview with James Lileks. Fun.

October 30, 2002

MINNESOTAN MITCH BERG blogs his impressions of the Wellstone-themed campaign rally.:

If you don’t live here, it’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s like this elsewhere in the country. All I know is, it’s totally on the sleeve of this state, and showed in spades last night. It’s something that started as a vague sense of unease seven years ago, when I first started becoming active in politics in Minnesota. It grew to a more coherent notion in 2000. It whacked me over the head when the mob booed the assembled Republican senators.

Hatred of Republicans is part of the majority, *mainstream* DFL culture in Minnesota.

Not dislike. Not disagreement. Hate.

You see it in bits of day to day life in this state: women theatrically holding their noses when talking about Republican candidates at the coffee shop; people who put “No Republicans Need Apply” at the top of personal ads; a mob of 15,000 mainstream, work-a-daddy, hug-a-mommy Minnesotans baying at the moon at the recognition of Republicans.

This is not the lunatic fringe; it’s not analogous to the rantings of those Republicans who act from hate, the party’s loud but isolated homophobes, anti-immigrants, clinic-bombing-coddlers. This is the mainstream of the Minnesota DFL.

I’m not there, so my objection isn’t quite the same. To me, it was more like this.

UPDATE: TAPPED, by contrast, found the rally “inspiring.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: This piece by Will Saletan captures it well:

But the solemnity of death and the grace of Midwestern humor are overshadowed tonight by the angry piety of populism. Most of the event feels like a rally. The touching recollections are followed by sharply political speeches urging Wellstone’s supporters to channel their grief into electoral victory. The crowd repeatedly stands, stomps, and whoops. The roars escalate each time Walter Mondale, the former vice president who will replace Wellstone on the ballot, appears on the giant screens suspended above the stage. “Fritz! Fritz!” the assembly chants.

“Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning,” Wellstone declares in a videotaped speech shown on the overhead screens. “Politics is about improving people’s lives.” But as the evening’s speakers proceed, it becomes clear that to them, honoring Wellstone’s legacy is all about winning the election. Repeating the words of Wellstone’s son, the assembly shouts, “We will win! We will win!” Rick Kahn, a friend of Wellstone’s, urges everyone to “set aside the partisan bickering,” but in the next breath he challenges several Republican senators in attendance to “honor your friend” by helping to “win this election for Paul Wellstone.” What can he be thinking?

There’s a salutary practicality about many of the liberal clichés repeated and applauded tonight. But there’s a creepy arrogance about them, too. The ceremony’s closing speaker, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, says Wellstone “never took himself too seriously” and “never had to proclaim his decency.” Yet tonight, the men and women who purport to represent Wellstone’s legacy are taking themselves quite seriously and constantly proclaiming their decency. “We can redeem the sacrifice of his life if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone,” Kahn tells the crowd. Somewhere, Wellstone must be turning on his cross.

Nice metaphor.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wellstone’s campaign manager has apologized.

Now Robert Musil wonders if this is in response to overnight polling, and implies that it must be given that the apology pulls the rug out from under those who have been defending the rally.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The Minnesota GOP Chair is demanding equal time.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus emailed that I’ve used the word “tacky” a lot to describe this event. But I just saw DNC spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri use the same word in describing the behavior of people who booed Republicans there. Hey, it fits.

THE LAST UPDATE: John Cole predicts how this will play out over the next days and months.

October 30, 2002

THOSE WHO COMPLAIN THAT BLOGS aren’t up to the high fairness standards of professional journalism should read this.

(Via Romenesko).

UPDATE: Via a comment on Bill Quick’s blog, I note that Media Minded posted on this the other day.

October 30, 2002

DID TED RALL KILL PAUL WELLSTONE? I have not raised this question, but others have. . . .

October 30, 2002


It is instructive to watch Mr. Moore’s film.

He uses Canada, and Canadians, as a constant point of comparison to his own country and fellow citizens. He takes his camera to Sarnia, Ont., and to Windsor, and to Toronto — three cities I know well — and in each, he claims Canada is so safe, so without violence, that he routinely walks into unlocked front doors. He interviews a selection of dullards who burble that, why, of course there’s no need to lock a door! He asks about a slum in Toronto, and offers as the worst one a brief shot of a neat, mixed-income development — the Woodgreen co-op in the east end of the city, I believe, but I saw it only for a few seconds and was so shocked I could barely take it in.

His journalism, in short, on the subject of Canada and Canadians, is nothing short of shoddy, manipulative and untrue. The same can be said for his journalism on his own country, and indeed on the terrible and complicated issue he purports to adjudicate.

Read the whole thing.

October 30, 2002

INTERESTING ARTICLE on Al Qaeda disinformation from The New Republic. Bureaucratic ass-covering is making it more effective.

October 30, 2002

SEXISM AT THE FBI: But then, if they reported the truth all hell would probably break loose.

October 30, 2002

DAVID HALBERSTAM receives a serious Coshing at the hands of, well, who d’you think?

October 30, 2002

OKAY, I’ve gotten various emails pro and con (mostly con) on the Wellstone memorial service campaign rally last night. I responded to some by noting that, to me, it’s as if somebody used a eulogy as an opportunity to pitch life insurance. With a Tupperware Party as the reception. But I think that this says it all: The event was too tacky for former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura.

UPDATE: The PennLive link above isn’t working for some people. Here’s another. And Mike Hendrix and Stephen Green agree with Jesse. And Porphyrogenitus contrasts this with another funeral that got less attention.

Minnesota reader Rich Kaul writes:

As someone up here in MN who’s had a front seat to all this I am bemused by the Wellstone “event.” Earlier in the day the DFL Chair was complaining that the Republicans were inappropriately politicing by issuing a set of debate challenges to whomever the DFL nominated as Wellstone’s replacement. He was howling about how inappropriate it was to discuss politcs at this time. And then they go and have that campaign rally over all the local TV stations last night…

And Democratic reader Nick Foresta sends what I think is the first non-critical email ever:


You guys are absolutely right about this one. Shameless doesn’t begin to describe it. The memorial was slap in the face for everything the man stood for. Who was in charge of this mess?

I don’t know, but whoever it was should be ashamed.

October 30, 2002

ANOTHER REPORT of Saudi efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. And another reason to remove the Saud family from its current rule over Arabia.

October 30, 2002

JESSE JACKSON AND AL SHARPTON are reportedly being sued for racial comments to the tune of $60 million.

October 30, 2002

FOR MOXIE’S BLOGIVERSARY PRESENT, I suggest that you get her, well, a date. She’s cute, she can dance, and she drives a Porsche. How hard can it be? Harder than you’d think, apparently.

October 30, 2002

MORE CAMPAIGN GAY-BASHING, this time in Hawaii. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

October 30, 2002


His team had rolled around the green and mugged for pictures with the state championship trophy in hand. The disappointed runner-ups were on their bus heading home. And then Westborough golf coach Greg Rota noticed that something looked wrong on one of the scorecards.

He could have let it go. He could have just gotten into the van with his team and brought the Division 2 state championship golf trophy home to Westborough. Probably no one would ever know.

But he’d always wonder whether that trophy was really made of fool’s gold. So he went over and asked one of his players about a score on the 18th hole. Rota had seen some of the competition on that hole and the scorecard didn’t look right.

The coach’s instincts were correct. A 9 had been recorded as a 7. An incorrect scorecard had been signed. Rota went directly to the tournament director with the information. The small change meant that the final result was reversed. Woburn won the state championship. Westborough finished second. . . .

”[Rota] disqualified his own player and showed great integrity to do that,” said Doran. ”No one would have ever known. This is part and parcel to what golf is all about. You don’t see many things like this in society today.”

But bravo when you do.

October 30, 2002

IN RESPONSE TO MY REQUEST FOR A CHEERFUL STORY, reader Ken Coltrane sends this one:

Northwest football coach Dave Frantz and Tigers’ coach Derek DeWitt shared a conversation the week leading up to the game.

But the two coaches weren’t discussing strategy, instead they were talking about a mentally-handicapped Northwest player by the name of Jake Porter.

Porter, a senior, has a disorder called “Chromosomal Fragile-X,” which is the most common cause of inherited mental retardation.

Porter still shows up on time for practice every day and dresses in full gear during games, but he has yet to take an official snap in a football game.

Frantz wanted that streak to end last Friday. . . .

At Waverly’s 49-yard line, Porter entered the game at tailback, had his play, “84-iso,” called in the huddle, and when the ball was snapped all 21 players parted ways.

Porter was somewhat surprised when he slowly walked through the huge hole. He initially turned back around to the original line of scrimmage, but everyone on the field — including defensive players from Waverly — pointed and guided Porter toward the Tigers’ end zone.

“When we practiced it, he was supposed to down it, so I think he was a little confused at first,” Northwest tailback Zach Smith said. “But once he figured it out, he took off.”

The 49-yard trek to glory took about 10-12 seconds in all, and was culminated by players from both sidelines cheering and running step-for-step with Porter to the end zone. . . .

“At Waverly, we didn’t do anything special. We were just happy to be a part of that,” a humbled DeWitt said. “That young man was just excited to get the ball. Our guys didn’t care about the shutout, those stats went out the window.

“When you’re involved in a moment like that, you want to make sure you end the game with class, decency and respect.”


October 30, 2002

BOMBINGS IN SOUTH AFRICA: I’m not sure what this is about.

October 30, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN takes on the Wellstone conspiracy theorists, in Salon.

October 30, 2002

AUSTRALIAN POLICE are going after Jemaah Islamiyah cells:

Sydney – Australian police Wednesday swooped on the homes of Moslems thought to be linked to the radical Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiah (JI) movement that is suspected of having a hand in the deadly bombings in Bali.

The raids on two houses in Sydney and two in Perth followed swiftly on the listing of JI as a proscribed organization over the weekend. . . .

The banning of JI over the weekend means anyone belonging to it, recruiting for it, training or offering training, financing it or receiving money from it is breaking the law and could be jailed for up to 25 years, regardless of nationality.

Note that this is tougher than anything under the USA Patriot Act.

October 30, 2002

DAVE KOPEL DEBUNKS a news story suggesting that you can buy “sniper rifles” via the Web.

Doesn’t Amazon carry those yet?

UPDATE: The Comedian points out that you can, in fact, buy muzzle-loading black powder weapons over the Web. True enough, though I don’t think that’s really what the story was about.

October 30, 2002

SOME INTERESTING RESEARCH on antimatter. I want my antimatter-powered spaceships!

October 30, 2002


In a book to be published in January, historians Andrew Gow and Lara Apps say male witches have been marginalized as researchers focus almost exclusively on the persecution of women accused in Europe’s notorious witch trials.

Fully 25% of the estimated 60,000 witches executed between 1450 and 1750 were men, they say in Male Witches in Early Modern Europe, a 220-page text to be published by Manchester University Press.

In some regions, men made up the majority of those prosecuted for crimes ranging from laying curses on crops to causing miscarriages, they note.

So, er, there!

October 30, 2002


UPDATE: Eric Kolchinsky comments on the same event, and the reaction thereto. So does Asparagirl.

October 30, 2002


The former U.N. ambassador, Atlanta mayor and Democratic congressman says if he were still in Congress he would have voted to authorize the president to use force against Iraq.

“One reason is that the only way you can avoid a war is the possibility of being ready for one,” Young said in an interview at his downtown office.

Andrew Young, invoking Vegetius. How about that.

October 30, 2002

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN, which was inspired by Jim Henley’s “pack not a herd” phrase, is up.

October 30, 2002

ANTOINE CLARK lays out the case for war on Chirac. Well, he is an irresponsible guy with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a dubious human rights record. But since Houellebecq got off, I’m not sure that humanitarian intervention is called for yet.

October 30, 2002

PASSIVE VOICE SAID TO BE KEY WEAPON IN JOURNALISTIC SUPPORT FOR ANTIWAR MOVEMENT: Well, that’s my explanation for the headline over this puff piece in the New York Times, headlined “Rally in Washington Is Said to Invigorate the Antiwar Movement.”

As is typical for these pieces in the Times, the quotes are all from demonstrators who say their demonstration was a success. A more accurate headline would be “Rally in Washington is Said by Ralliers to be Success.” Coming soon: “Enron Accounting Said to Be Legitimate, Even Noble,” in a story interviewing only Enron accountants. Of course these people think their rally was a success. And of course the Times swallows it whole, because it wants the rally to look successful. Looks like another case of Creeping Rainesism to me.

Can you imagine the Times giving this treatment to, say, a rally by the Second Amendment Sisters? Of course not. They’d have lots of quotes from people with impressive-sounding credentials saying that the demonstration was a terrible thing for America.

Here, they might at least have quoted one of the pro-war Iraqi-Americans.

UPDATE: Jim Henley gives a better-supported and more objective report than the Times — and he was a participant in the march!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Henley emails:

This may make the march piece the first blog item to be favorably cited by Instapundit and on the same day. I have the e-mail in to Guinness now.

Jim, you should take this as either a sign that you’re doing something right, or that you’re doing something very, very, very wrong. . . .

October 30, 2002

ERIN O’CONNOR REPORTS FROM U. PENN. that it is openly discriminating against men in the form of “disincentives . . . to hire and promote men,” disincentives whose existence was admitted by the Provost.

Nothing really new here — I think most people who have served on faculty hiring committees have been told not to come back with a white male on occasion — but it’s interesting to see it openly admitted. O’Connor tells this story of her own:

When I was up for tenure, for example, I was told by a Penn administrator that based on my vital statistics, my chances looked very good. He told me point blank that if I were black, he would be able to guarantee me promotion, but that as a woman, the odds were very much in my favor. Such comments are often classified as harassment, but I was not being harassed. I was being told the truth, as ugly as it was.

Well, there you are.

October 30, 2002

MICKEY KAUS HAS MORE on the Winona trial. You know, I should pay more attention to this, because it’s the least-depressing news story at the moment.

Plane crashes, deadly hostage rescues, looming war, etc. Plus the national jet-lag produced by the time change. It’s a bummer of a week so far. If you find any cheerful stories, send ’em my way.

October 30, 2002

BOY IS THE BLOGOSPHERE FAST: I just noticed Ted Rall’s column accusing George Bush of having Paul Wellstone killed — and Rand Simberg has already administered a righteous Fisking thereto.

Let’s hear it for that three-hour time difference! And by the time the West Coast Fiskers have gone to bed, the TransAtlantic Fisking Squad is up and on the job — actually Fisking Robert Fisk, in this case, though Fisk has reportedly become so nervous that he’s no longer allowing the text of his speeches to be released, or any recording to take place. I wonder how long before he takes the next logical step and stops allowing people to listen? Probably never. Excerpt: “I was disgusted, but never bored. If you are rich and want to pay for an entertaining clown, Fisk is your man.”

October 30, 2002

MIKE SILVERMAN is deconstructing some political commercials he’s seen lately.

October 29, 2002

TOMORROW’S MOXIE’S two-year bloggiversary. Drop by and tell her congratulations.

October 29, 2002

JOHN COLE WONDERS what the Hell those Haitians were thinking by trying to emigrate to the United States.

Me, I figure anyone willing to make that trip because they want to become Americans ought to be allowed to stay.

October 29, 2002

I WAS BUMMED by Paul Wellstone’s death, but these guys can barely hold back the tears.

UPDATE: Reader J. Michael Neal says that the above post is nasty and inappropriate. I don’t think so — I was struck by the photo, and the caption that went with it. Maybe it’s the caption that does it (follow the link to read it) and that’s not exactly Clinton’s fault, but still, it’s a freakin’ funeral . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, Oliver Willis sends this picture of a glad-handing Trent Lott, and Ted Barlow thinks the post is nasty too. Well, I’m not sure which way the Trent Lott picture cuts (I think it just underscores my sense that politicians don’t actually experience authentic emotions) but you can follow the links and form your own opinions. I still feel that this isn’t how you should act at a memorial remembering how a man, his wife, his daughter, and several other people died in a fiery plane crash.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire says that we’ve seen this before. Here’s Margaret Carlson:

The most pointed moment of Instant Grief Analysis came when NBC did a frame-by-frame deconstruction of the President walking along after Brown’s funeral, laughing at something he was being told–then going all somber when the camera was trained on him.

Meanwhile a bunch of people who watched the ceremonies on CSPAN2 say the whole thing was rather unseemly, more like a fundraiser than a funeral. I didn’t see it, but that would get Clinton, Lott and Mondale off the hook, I guess. It’s perfectly seemly to laugh and gladhand at a fundraiser.

Michele of A Small Victory watched the coverage and found it unseemly. You can read her comments. Local coverage is here and here.

The other day, when I wrote that there were more important things than who took the Senate, I thought I was chastising partisan Republicans. Seems like a lot of Democrats need chastising on this point too. But, hell, at least they’re not claiming that Bush had Wellstone killed, as Ted Rall is in his latest column.

LAST UPDATE: Driving my daughter to school, I heard NPR reporting that the memorial service “turned into a political rally.” So it’s not just my perception, here. NPR didn’t seem to mind, but I think it’s tacky. Rachel Lucas notes: “[I]t wasn’t just Democrats. The problem is, they’re politicians, who more and more make me believe that they just aren’t human.”

October 29, 2002

THE ANGRY WHITE MALE MYTH: A reader sends these links in opposition to the Daily Howler’s claim, which I mentioned earlier, that people didn’t widely portray the sniper as an “angry white male.”

Sniper Facts: “According to former F.B.I. profilers, he’s probably a white man in his 20s or early 30s who lives nearby — and who has a score to settle.”

Star Tribune: “The retired FBI agent from Minneapolis said Thursday that while he didn’t have the specific details of the homicides, he had speculated that the killer was a lone sniper in his late 20s who was white, had military experience and lived near the shooting sites.”

Washington Times: “Mr. Aamodt had predicted the sniper was an angry white man. He said the standard profile of the young white male is often correct, because, ‘if you lump serial killers together this is what we get.'”

Courtland Milloy, Washington Post:

I needed a sniper’s face just to keep it real, and for a while I tried to imagine a white male, a mid-thirtyish, household-handyman sort of guy. After all, that’s who does these kinds of serial killings, right?

Maybe I’d been watching too many weekend cable hunting shows where white men move steathily through the woods, lie in wait for some unsuspecting animal to come along and — with deadly accuracy — drop it.

“When you break down the demographics of the Washington region, there is a statistical probability that the sniper is a white man,” Gregg McCrary, a retired FBI profiler, told me recently.

Male I could understand. But why white? “It could be the backlash effect,” Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston, told the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. “White males belong to a long-advantaged group that is now having to share power and control. But I think it has less to do with race than social class.”

Baltimore Sun:

The gunman “is somebody who is cold, who is calculating, who has the skills and doesn’t care who they hurt,” Van Zandt said.

“Statistically, this is something white males normally do,” he added. “(But) You don’t want to exclude any race, any ethnicity because there is always the aberrant behavior.”

(Points to Van Zandt for the disclaimer at the end, though in fact, as has been pointed out elsewhere, white males are underrepresented in the sniper-murder pool.)

Christian Science Monitor:

“This person is kind of a wallpaper white male, a disenfranchised, disrespected man who’s getting back at society,” theorizes Levin. “That’s one of the reasons he’s kept his distance from inner D.C., where he might loose his cover.”

Not hardly. Well, this isn’t, by itself, proof that the newspapers and airwaves were rife with such speculation — you’d have to do some sort of all-encompassing content analysis for that, I guess — but I think it’s enough to explain why people think so. And, having seen the coverage myself, I have to say that the “angry white male” theory sure seemed to be everywhere. And surely this undercuts the Howler’s statement that “Nonetheless, there was very little speculation about the killer’s race.”

UPDATE: Of course, there’s always this theory from Tacitus, but I think we can all agree that it didn’t exactly reach saturation level in the media. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has comments.

October 29, 2002

YEAH, ME TOO: Stephen Green writes:

I’m a Falwell-tweaking, gay-marriage supporting, drug legalizing, pro-abortion, pro-immigration, anti-trade barrier, wary-of-organized-religion kind of conservative.

You know, one of those conservatives.

UPDATE: SKBubba, meanwhile, is one of those liberals. Maybe we do need a third party.

October 29, 2002

GUESS WHO GOT MARRIED! There are pictures. Well, naturally. Congratulations!

October 29, 2002

HERE’S A WEBSITE that says it’s dedicated to documenting true stories of armed self-defense, which generally don’t get a lot of media play.

October 29, 2002

JOSH CHAFETZ writes about Harvard’s project of documenting Iraqi atrocities.

There are quite a few.

October 29, 2002

SUSANNA CORNETT looks at the different spin CNN and the New York Times are giving to basically the same story about the release of some prisoners from Guantanamo.

October 29, 2002

FINALLY, A DIVESTMENT PETITION I can get behind. Sign it now!

October 29, 2002

BRINK LINDSEY AND JOHN MUELLER are debating the war over at the Reason site.

October 29, 2002


The media lapsed into the same denial mode the last time a forty-year-old radical Muslim called Mohamed opened fire on U.S. soil. July the Fourth, LAX, the El Al counter, two dead. CNN and The Associated Press all but stampeded to report a “witness” who described the shooter as a fat white guy in a ponytail who kept yelling “Artie took my job.” But, alas, it was — surprise! — a Muslim called Hesham Mohamed Modayet.

Broadly speaking, in these interesting times, when something unusual and unprecedented happens, there are those who think on balance it’s more likely to be a fellow called Mohammed than, say, Bud, and there are those who climb into the metaphorical burqa, close up the grille and insist, despite all the evidence, that we should be looking for some angry white male. I’m in the former camp and, apropos the sniper, said as much in The Chicago Sun-Times. I had a bet with both my wife and my assistant that the perp would be an Islamic terrorist. The gals, unfortunately, had made the mistake of reading The New York Times, whose experts concluded it would be a “macho hunter” or an “icy loner.”

Speaking as a macho hunter and an icy loner myself, I’m beginning to think the media would be better off turning their psychological profilers loose on America’s newsrooms.

I think the Hadayet case cost the media, and the authorities, a lot of credibility. I don’t think they’ve gotten it back this time around.

October 29, 2002


We are engaged in a struggle to defeat terrorism. I have no advice on how to win that struggle, but I have some thoughts as to why it exists. It is not, I think, because Islam is at war with the West or because Palestinians are trying to displace Israelis. The struggle exists, I think, because the West has mastered the problem of reconciling religion and freedom, while several Middle Eastern nations have not. The story of that mastery and that failure occupies several centuries of human history, in which one dominant culture, the world of Islam, was displaced by a new culture, that of the West.

Interesting piece. Wilson notes that the West had the same problem, and that its success is a result of successfully addressing it:

Freedom of conscience has made the difference. In an old world where knowledge came from libraries, and scientific experiments were rare, freedom would not be so important. But in the new world, knowledge and all that it can produce come from the sharp challenge of competing ideas tested by standards of objective evidence.

Worth reading. Much of it will be old news for Blogosphere readers, and some of it will be cause for disagreement. But not the conclusion: “If the Middle East is to encounter and not merely resist modernity, it would best if it did this before it runs out of oil.”

UPDATE: Reader Tom Holsinger emails:

IMO we’re at war with the Saudi form of Wahhabism, which is using Saudi oil funding to propagate its particular nastiness. We’ll find out what kind of legs it has after it loses that funding.

Another major question is whether that will happen before the American people get so angry that they run over the Bush Administration to intern or expel (a) non-citizen Arab Muslims or (b) all non-citizen Muslims. My next Strategy Page article will touch on this.

Many different things could happen. The deafening silence of non-Wahhabis means a lot.

Yes. One reason I want a vigorous effort now is that I fear the nastiness of a protracted low-level conflict. The good news is that the non-Wahhabis are starting to speak out.

October 29, 2002

WHERE SERIAL KILLERS UNWIND: Somebody sent me another story on this yesterday, but I couldn’t post it because of the server outage. Now the story’s in the New York Times — about the bar in Bellingham where serial killers hang out. Weird.

Since it’s extremely unlikely that there’s much more than coincidence here, this is a useful warning that, though Occam’s Razor is a handy tool, strange things do happen for no reason. Or almost no reason. The story suggests that the bar’s problem may be that its patrons are too nice:

Despite the guest list, people who drink at the Waterfront described themselves as warm, well-adjusted. Perhaps it was their accepting attitude, they surmised, that let so many notorious characters feel welcome.

Go figure.

October 29, 2002


Early America was vastly different from the handgun-happy images one sees on television, in movies, and in the pages of gun magazines. Serious historians have documented that early Americans had little interest in guns. Until the mid-1800s, owning a gun was surprisingly uncommon. Those who owned firearms almost always owned long guns.

Historian Michael Bellesiles, for example, examined more than a thousand probate records from northern New England and Pennsylvania filed from 1765 to 1790. He found that only 14 percent of household inventories included firearms–and more than half of these were inoperable.22 Colonial settlers got meat mostly from domesticated animals like cows and pigs. When they wanted wild game, they bought it from native Americans or professional hunters, most of whom trapped their prey.


UPDATE: John Rosenberg writes that the Bellesiles dispute is just another round in the culture wars:

At the risk of oversimplification, on one side of the increasingly barbed cultural barricades are those who believe truth is whatever serves justice, i.e., women, minorities, critics of American foreign policy, gun control. . . .

On the other side of the cultural divide are those still dedicated to an older “correspondence theory” of truth as reflecting, however imperfectly, some objective even if not completely knowable reality. They are indifferent to, or at least not transfixed by, the “political implications” of the work and more concerned with whether the book’s basic honesty and whether the history profession relaxes its professed standards for politically correct interpretations.

He has a lengthy discussion of the Bellesiles affair, the Wiener article, and the context in which they appear that’s well worth reading if you’re interested in these sorts of things. He also notes the disparity between the coverage afforded by the Emory Wheel and that contained in publications that one might expect to be more interested:

It is all the more remarkable that the NYT has dropped the ball on Bellesiles because it claims special pre-eminence in covering “culture,” including especially its largely home town publishing industry. Knopf, which published Arming America, is just across town; the New York Review of Books, which gave Bellesiles a glowing review that has not been retracted, is just uptown; Columbia University, which administers the Bancroft Prize Bellesiles won and still has, is farther uptown; and of course the New York Times Book Review, source of another glowing, unretracted review, is right down the hall.

Perhaps these august institutions (well, except for the NYT, which is, after all, a daily) have been waiting for Emory’s decision and will weigh in soon.

October 29, 2002

AMERICAN GRAFFITI: I think we should send people to spraypaint this picture in, well, lots of places.

October 29, 2002

BLACK NATIONALISM, “THIRD POSITION” FASCISM, AND ANTISEMITISM: Chip Berlet discusses the connections. (And follow this link for more specifically on the Nation of Islam.) Berlet’s got a strong ideological position (he’s quite left, leaning toward Marxist, I believe) but his research is generally well-regarded.

One of the things that this illustrates is that too-quick distinctions between “domestic” and “Islamic” terrorism are probably, well, too quick.

October 29, 2002

THE MEXICO GOVERNMENT REPORTER claims that a hostile-to-Mexico editorial in the Wall Street Journal was inspired by the White House as a means of telling Mexico to play ball in the Security Council. I don’t know if it’s true — but the White House certainly ought to be telling Mexico to play ball in the Security Council.

October 29, 2002

JOHN LOTT WRITES THAT BALLISTIC REGISTRATION OF GUNS is likely to backfire. Meanwhile the Fraternal Order of Police is reportedly opposed to it. Eugene Volokh, on the other hand, links to both positive and negative government studies on the subject.

October 29, 2002

DICK MORRIS SAYS THAT BUSH IS BLOWING IT by futzing around with the U.N., thus losing focus and a sense of urgency.

Morris focuses too much on polls, of course, but on the other hand domestic support is the main determinant of whether we win this war.

UPDATE: David Hogberg says that Morris is wrong. Hogberg is persuasive, but arguing with Dick Morris about polls is a serious proposition.

October 29, 2002

THE DAILY HOWLER says that the “angry white male” myth was a myth. He’s got some evidence there, though I’d have to see something a bit broader before I’d take his sweeping statements as true, given that my impression from watching the cable shows was that people did think it was an angry white male.

Meanwhile, John O’Sullivan writes something that’s not quite the same:

Most reporters and editors wanted the sniper to be a white male rather than an African American or a Muslim. For the underlying assumption that colors coverage of race, ethnicity and religion in the typical newsroom is that the great American majority that never went to the Ivy League schools is made up of racists, sexists and homophobes who need to be protected against their own tendency to white racist bigotry.

Thus, when the journalists fear a story might inflame white racism, a Muslim terrorist like the LAX shooter perhaps, they play it down. When a story might challenge white racism, a Tim McVeigh maybe, they play it up. So when the sniper was still an unknown quantity, it was second nature to seize on anything–even racial profiling–to suggest that he was another Tim McVeigh rather than another Muhammad Hadayat.

Perhaps this desire for it to be an angry white male shaped coverage enough to give that impression, even when people didn’t explicitly say “Bob, I think it’s an angry white male.”

At any rate, this Newsweek story says that authorities were telling reporters that that’s what they were looking for:

Not just the cable-TV criminologists but also the government’s own experts were fooled. Until the last couple of days, most top officials at the state-local-federal joint command center in Rockville, Md., thought they were looking for an “intelligent, well-organized white male,” one veteran federal investigator told NEWSWEEK. . . .

Then there was the Good Ole Boy. He was another gun-crazed white man with suspicious habits. The police put him under surveillance. One night in the middle of the siege, he was observed shooting pool and drinking beer with his buddies until 2 a.m. “Not serial-killer behavior,” the cops concluded. . . .

Remarkably, law-enforcement sources tell NEWSWEEK, some investigators continued to cling to the belief that the sniper or snipers were driving a white van or truck. Like the talking heads on TV, they had convinced themselves that the snipers must be white men driving a white truck. They had trouble accepting that they should have been looking for two black men driving a blue car. . . .

What’s more, a passage even supports O’Sullivan’s assertion about vigilantism, as — even when they realized their suspects weren’t angry white males — police were afraid to release information:

The investigators hotly debated whether to release the suspects’ photographs. Some feared that would only tip them off and make them flee. Or worse, provoke them to strike again. Others feared the suspects would be found first by vigilantes. “The concern was that, God forbid, it’s not the people [the real snipers] and someone takes matters into their own hands,” said Duncan.

In light of this, I think that it’s a bit of a stretch to say that the “angry white male” myth is itself mythical. At least, I’d need to see a lot more evidence in support of a proposition so inconsistent with my recollection, and most other people’s impressions. And I think that O’Sullivan’s interpretation of what went on in the reporting is closer to the facts than the Daily Howler’s.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Steele writes:

I think they all miss the mark to some degree…. I think the “desired outcome” was actually a “gun nut” The Anti-gun forces have been reeling since 9/11, they needed a stereotypical redneck gun owner to bolster the cause….”see they’re all nuts!!!!! ban guns!!!!” or something like that.”

Yes, if the Chevy had had an NRA sticker, I’m sure we would have heard about it. Over and over and over. And some people didn’t wait for any evidence to make a connection. Brendan Koerner of Slate certainly remembers it the way I do: “The universal consensus was that the killer was white, despite the fact that just over half of sniper homicides committed between 1976 and 2000 were carried out by whites.” Actually, I remember it a bit less strongly than Koerner — my wife was on a few talk shows opining that it was probably a Muslim who supported Al Qaeda, though she didn’t specifically say it was a non-white. But she was very much the exception, as the producers told her at the time.

October 29, 2002

MORE LATER: Sorry, but I spent the morning with my daughter at the dentist, and now I have to teach Administrative Law (it’s the octane-posting case, which is one of my favorites — no, really).

Between this and being unable to respond to email for much of yesterday, the backlog is big. I’ll try to deal with it later, but no promises. In the meantime, you can amuse yourself by reading this gentle Fisking of antiwar preachers — in the Harvard Crimson.

October 29, 2002

DOCTOR WEEVIL WONDERS at certain anti-war activists’ hostility to fellatio.

I’m for it, personally.

October 29, 2002

RACHEL LUCAS is attempting to perform a clue transplant on Michael Moore.

Trust me, Rachel, it’ll be rejected. But it was kind of you to volunteer as a donor.

UPDATE: Jay Caruso says that Moore is even wronger than Rachel realizes.

October 29, 2002

JAMES LILEKS looks at Avril Lavigne and Walter Mondale — with a nod in passing to Daryl Hannah’s spiritual daughter, and some comments on newspaper delivery that are not for the weak-stomached.