Archive for December, 2002

December 25, 2002

I GOT A LOT OF COOL PRESENTS, but in a few minutes I’m going to enjoy what may be the coolest of them: the complete Monty Python DVD collection. (I think there are 14 disks — something like that, anyway.) Beer will be involved.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2002

CHRISTMAS SACRIFICES WEARING A UNIFORM: Austin Bay writes on servicepeoples’ Christmases:

There are many people who will say — with callous accuracy — that for servicemen and servicewomen hard duty is their job. They signed up to go whenever and wherever they are sent.

That’s true. But consider the persistent demands we have made on service members and their families over the last 13 years, the baker’s dozen since the end of the Cold War.

Christmas 1989: Operation Just Cause in Panama. Christmas 1990: Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield, prelude to Operation Desert Storm. Christmas 1992: Somalia is on the horizon. Christmas 1993: Somalia, again, and new worries about North Korea. Christmas 1994: The pace of air and naval deployments to the Balkans increases. USAF, Marine and Army reservists reinforce regulars in Panama and Guantanamo to work the Cuban migrant camps. Troops deploy to Kuwait, responding to saber-rattling by Saddam. U.S. troops are also assigned to Macedonia.

Christmas 1995: the Bosnia occupation, which was to last a year but still remains an American duty post. In the background, the Navy continues to enforce the U.N. embargo against Iraq and patrol the Persian Gulf. Fall 1998, the Hurricane Mitch relief operation in Central America, with U.S. forces playing a major role in the relief and recovery effort. Spring 1999, the Kosovo War, which by Christmas 1999 becomes occupation duty. Fall 2001, Afghanistan, the duty station in December 2002 for the 82nd Airborne Division. December 2002, uncertainty on the Korean DMZ as the ramp up for action against Saddam continues.

This list, though incomplete, makes the point.

Indeed it does.

December 25, 2002

KAUS IS TRYING TO INTRODUCE THE TERM “FRISTING” to describe hair-trigger unsubstantiated charges of racism.

It’s looking like we might have a white Christmas here after all, as the snow is coming down fast and furious. My daughter loves her new digital camera, so maybe I’ll post some of her pics. More later!

December 25, 2002

CHRISTMAS BLOGGING: Virginia Postrel has new stuff up. Observations on traffic, PayPal, and more.

December 25, 2002


December 24, 2002

FLOOD THE ZONE! Mickey Kaus points out that an anti-Frist quote reported by David Firestone in the New York Times actually came from fomer Rep. Harold Ford, Sr., not his son, current Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. Kaus adds: “Inspires confidence in Firestone’s deep understanding of Tennessee politics, doesn’t it?”

Forget Firestone. If you want the scoop on Tennessee politics, check out bloggers Frank Cagle and Bill Hobbs. As Firestone should have.

This Frist piece by Ron Brownstein is Hobbs-approved.

December 24, 2002

JIM BENNETT puts the Lott affair in global context.

December 24, 2002

IT’S A CHRISTMAS ROUNDUP at Best of the Web.

December 24, 2002

PATTY MURRAY’S REMARKS ON BIN LADEN are reportedly causing a “groundswell of anger” on talk radio and the Internet, while being ignored by major media.

I wonder why? Of course, the Trent Lott story started out that way, too.

December 24, 2002

HELPING AFRICA WITHOUT BENEFIT CONCERTS: My FoxNews Column, which usually runs on Thursdays, is up now.

December 24, 2002

I ALWAYS APPRECIATE THE PEOPLE who work on holidays. I just ran out to pick up a missing ingredient for the green bean casserole I’m making tomorrow (Christmas isn’t at our house this year, so I’m not doing the usual turkey-and-lamb routine). The store was packed, and it reminded me of one Christmas several years ago where I had to run out and get something on Christmas Day. The quickie-mart cashier was very surprised when I thanked her for being there — apparently, nobody does that much. But to everybody who’s working today, or who will be working tomorrow: thanks for keeping the world going while the rest of us celebrate.

December 24, 2002

ALSO NON-P.C.: Lily Malcolm of the Kitchen Cabinet is spending her holidays baking. When I was at Yale Law School, most women there wouldn’t have admitted to knowing how to bake, even in the unlikely event that they did.

December 24, 2002

THE NON-P.C. JOE STRUMMER is recalled by Mickey Kaus and by Jim Robbins, who notes:

[I]n November 2001, Strummer came out strongly against the 9/11 terrorists, stating: “I think you have to grow up and realize that we’re facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn’t do what they say. The more time you give them the more bombs they’ll get.”

Should this really be a surprise? I mean “Punks for Peace” is just a silly idea.

December 24, 2002

THE INTREPID TIM BLAIR is already blogging on Christmas! It’s a date-line thing.

December 24, 2002


Two men wearing belts laden with explosives were arrested Tuesday in southwest Moscow, Russian news agencies reported.

How long before someone tries it here?

UPDATE: Actually, that would be better than most of the predicted attacks mentioned in this Washington Post story.

I commend to you the Joe Strummer advice listed above.

December 24, 2002

THE YEAR IN WEBLOGS — and what’s coming in 2003. My TechCentralStation column is up.

December 23, 2002

SEGREGATION IS DISGRACED, but when will this ideology of brutality and degradation meet the same fate? Not quite yet, apparently.

December 23, 2002

FLOOD THE ZONE! Sullivan may be off partying, but Mickey Kaus has yet another post on sharpened pencils. George Costanza plays a role.

December 23, 2002

IN MY INBOX: Two messages, side-by-side, with the subjects, “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” and “Stop being such a picky doofus.”

Okay. Barbecue time.

December 23, 2002

IAIN MURRAY IS GUEST-BLOGGING at the Volokh Conspiracy, and has an interesting post (and, being Iain, a statistics-laden one) on differences and similarities between the United States and Britain. The results aren’t what you’d expect. Excerpt:

The picture you’d get from these stats is of an America where the working man is less likely than his British counterpart to be out of work, better compensated, and less likely to be a victim of violence, while the American state as a whole is not much tougher on crime than Britain, spends little more proportionately on defense and finances its public spending much more by debt than by taxes. More right-wing? Not from these stats. Less committed to social justice? Hardly — the American is much more likely to have a job, a good wage and to live free from the fear of crime (and to get decent, quick medical care).

Interesting stuff. Of course, I can’t help noting that Sullivan’s on vacation, the Volokh Horde is bringing in guest bloggers, and yet I, sniff, am here holding down the fort all alone. I’d feel sorry for myself if I werent’ about to go out to an all-you-can-eat barbecue joint. There’s just no room for self-pity when you’re contemplating vast quantities of seasoned pork.

UPDATE: Kaus is still on the job! So is Justin Katz! And Charles Austin emails:

Mmm, vast quantities of seasoned pork. The best reason I’ve heard in weeks to fight against Islamic hegemony!

Yep. They’d probably also try to ban life-saving stuff like this. Those bastards!

December 23, 2002

OCCAM’S TOOTHBRUSH says that OxBlog is wrong about the VOA’s broadcasts to Iran.

December 23, 2002

EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON calls Bill Clinton a hypocrite for his remarks on Trent Lott and the Republicans: “Clinton rejected the crude, racial appeals of Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, and Strom Thurmond. But his Southern Strategy was jammed with enough racial code speak, and indifference to black voters to make him a poor choice to call the Republican’s hypocrites on Lott.”

December 23, 2002

BRITNEY VS. THE AYATOLLAHS: OxBlog looks at the rather confusing situation regarding the Voice of America’s Iranian programming.

December 23, 2002

HOLIDAY BLOGGING SCHEDULE: Andrew Sullivan may be taking the week off, but I’ll be blogging throughout, though at a reduced pace. (And with no $80K paycheck. . . .) And I’ll have columns at TechCentralStation and FoxNews this week, too.

InstaPundit: Where we go Yule Loggin’ and keep on bloggin’. Er, or something like that.

December 23, 2002

MICKEY KAUS VS. JOSH MARSHALL: Tom Maguire declares a winner.

December 23, 2002

JAY CARUSO points to this Wired News story on blogs and observes:

No offense to Glenn Reynolds, but it’s high time that other blogs besides his (along with Andrew Sullivan) get mentioned in some news articles about blogs. He’s in this one from Wired, but this time, he shares the spotlight with Meryl Yourish!

And some other people, but Jay’s right. Note to any journalists thinking of writing a story on weblogs: check out the ones in the links to the left, as there’s an interesting story in every one, and (unlike the story of InstaPundit) most of them haven’t been covered. If the size of that list is too daunting, email me and I’ll give you some suggestions.

Jay’s also on target in dissing the professor of journalism who calls bloggers “navel-gazers.” Has she actually read many blogs? It seems doubtful, based on her remarks.

UPDATE: Here’s an interesting piece on weblogs from WNYC’s “On the Media” program. It’s streamable in RealAudio. And here’s a story on blogs that doesn’t even mention InstaPundit! Woohoo!

December 23, 2002

SARAH MCCARTHY WRITES THAT Michael Moore is phobic. Hmm. You think he’ll call this “McCarthyism?”

December 23, 2002

CATHY YOUNG has some interesting observations on the Trent Lott aftermath.

My own prediction: Bush / Rice in 2004! Howard Owens agrees, more or less.

December 23, 2002

IT WASN’T JUST STROM: Howard Kurtz points out the rather sympathetic coverage that Thurmond’s Dixiecrats got from the New York Times and the Washington Post back in the day. In Kurtz’s words: “Let’s just say that this was well before the media began to lead the charge on civil rights.”

But I think that those papers have put their kind words for segregation behind them now, and we ought to praise them for that, just as we should forgive the Times its endorsement of the Sullivan Act as a remedy for “low-browed foreigners'” propensity for violence. Though, sadly, the Times hasn’t entirely reversed its stance on this last.

December 23, 2002

JOE STRUMMER, of The Clash and The Mescaleros, has died.

December 23, 2002

MERRY CHRISTMAS. Here’s a card from Andrea See. I plan to follow its advice, more or less.

Here are some more. (Links on upper right). I especially like this one, which has mega-geek appeal. Kind of like Andrea herself!

UPDATE: It seems that the ever-chic Andrea is part of a trend:

Throughout Asia, in fact, Western holidays have become chic, both for their commercial potential and because new generations think the act of decorating and celebrating is fun and different. Not only Christmas, but Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween, are finding a Pacific niche – where five years ago there was none. . . .

At a Beijing noodle shop bedecked with silver and gold plastic bells, cook Yin Li pauses over a beef stew when asked if all the decorations seem like a foreign cultural invasion. “Honestly, no,” she says. “I like it. It makes everything feel more like a holiday.”

Deck the halls.

December 23, 2002

MICKEY KAUS has analyzed the various claims of racial bias against Bill Frist, and finds them wanting.

December 23, 2002

COULD YOU GET INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN under its affirmative action program? The Michigan Review offers an online calculator that graphically illustrates the impact of Michigan’s differing standards according to race.

December 22, 2002

LAURENCE SIMON is deeply unimpressed with Time’s “Person of the Year” picks.

December 22, 2002

AFTER A HIATUS OF SORTS, Gary Farber is back, and blogging up a storm. Who knew that marijuana legalization was a big electoral issue in Israel?

December 22, 2002

I’VE GOTTEN A LOT OF EMAIL about the WTC Baseball stadium idea. I wasn’t really serious about it, but then it’s hard to believe that people were serious about some of the other offerings. A lot of people seem to like the concept, to my surprise, though the idea of the “Manhattan Dodgers” seems to upset some folks. Hey, it’s better than L.A., isn’t it? Maybe not.

UPDATE: Ack — Alec Baldwin already suggested this! Well, I did say it was “dumb.”

December 22, 2002

THANKS FOR HITTING THE PAYPAL BUTTON. I just used some of the money to order the video-blogging software that Jeff Jarvis is experimenting with, so stay tuned. But I just noticed a couple of contributions from fellow bloggers. I admit I’ve hit a few people’s tipjars when they seemed hard up, but I’m not hard up — and bloggers donating to bloggers seems like taking in each other’s wash or something. So keep it, or give it to a Santa with a kettle, or something. (Or follow these suggestions.)

Also, here’s a note for anyone seeking anonymity: Amazon doesn’t tell me who donates. Paypal does.

December 22, 2002

WISHFUL THINKING at the New York Times. I think that Phillippe de Croy is right about this.

December 22, 2002

INNOCENTS ABROAD has multiple posts, mostly critical, of the New York Times’ coverage of Frist’s elevation.

December 22, 2002

EVERYBODY ELSE IS WEIGHING IN on the World Trade Center site plans. Jeff Jarvis even weighed in by videoblog. So here’s my thought:

Build a baseball stadium. What’s more American than a baseball park? And what’s cooler than one right by Wall Street? That’s double-barrelled Americanism. And it would help bring people to Lower Manhattan at night.

If only you could get the Dodgers to play there, it would be perfect.

Okay, it’s a dumb idea — but no dumber than a lot of ideas I’ve heard. And it would be cheaper, and you could get hot dogs there.

UPDATE: Baseball blogger David Pinto loves the idea.

Say, if every fantasy sports discussion board starts pushing this, it could happen.

December 22, 2002

PHIL CARTER HAS MORE ON SMALLPOX. I sure hope that I, and all the people who agree with me, are wrong about the threat here.

UPDATE: Reader Bill Rudersdorf forwards this link to a lengthy analysis of smallpox as a bioweapon, from 1999.

December 22, 2002

AL QAEDA IN EDINBURGH: Joel Rosenberg has a report from Ken MacLeod.

December 22, 2002

PUNDITWATCH is up! Trent Lott and Patty Murray are the big stories, but there’s more.

I can’t find a transcript yet, but I caught part of Wolf Blitzer’s rather ingratiating interview with Saudi Prince al Faisal and was surprised to hear the Prince say that in the event of combat “the gods of war” will determine the outcome.

The “gods of war?” I thought there was, you know, supposed to be only one God, Allah, with Mohammed as his prophet. Isn’t the Koran kind of hard on polytheists?

I also caught George Stephanopoulos grilling Howard Dean, and thought that Stephanopoulos did pretty well, while Dean was visibly waffling in response to some rather pointed questions.

UPDATE: Here’s the transcript, and here’s the key passage:

BLITZER: Relatively speaking. They refer to the liberation of Kuwait, which was done 40 days of air war, four days of a ground war. Kuwait was liberated with a relatively modest number of casualties.

S. AL-FAISAL: And that was because of the unanimity in the international community and the joining of the battle of so many countries in the world that affected even the Iraqi soldiers who were fighting the war.

BLITZER: So you don’t believe that they can repeat that?

S. AL-FAISAL: Who knows? Once you start war, it’s in the hand of the gods of war.

The “gods of war.” Hmm. That doesn’t sound very Wahhabist to me.

December 22, 2002

DR. MANHATTAN HAS more on Thimerosal.

December 22, 2002


The list includes:

* “Bowling for Columbine” director Michael Moore (No. 42), who “wears his dissident credentials not on his sleeve, but on his head and his waistline: his mesh baseball cap and fat body are now the leading brand-ID marker for political discontent among the narrow, incestuous ‘enlightened left’ demographic.”


UPDATE: Here’s the full list, courtesy of reader Damon Chetson. I went to the site and couldn’t find it — apparently they’re having archive troubles.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Treacher blogged this first. And he’s been amused to see it get more attention.

December 22, 2002

HERE’S A GOOD IDEA: President Bush’s Message to the Iranian People seems to set the right tone. Excerpt:

For many years, the United States has helped bring news and cultural broadcasts for a few hours every day to the Iranian people via Radio Freedom. Yet the Iranian people tell us that more broadcasting is needed, because the unelected few who control the Iranian government continue to place severe restrictions on access to uncensored information. So we are now making our broadcast available to more Iranians by airing news and music and cultural programs nearly 24 hours a day, and we are pleased to continue Voice of America and VOA TV services to Iran.

The people of Iran want to build a freer, more prosperous country for their children, and live in a country that is a full partner in the international community. Iranians also deserve a free press to express themselves to help build an open, democratic and free society.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Iranian people, particularly the families of the many Iranians who are in prison today for daring to express their hopes and dreams for a better future. We continue to stand with the people of Iran in your quest for freedom, prosperity, honest and effective government, judicial due process and the rule of law. And we continue to call on the government of Iran to respect the will of its people and be accountable to them.

As I have said before, if Iran respects its international obligations and embraces freedom and tolerance, it will have no better friend than the United States of America.

I think that this supports the speculation around the Blogosphere that the Administration is pursuing a broader strategy than all the Iraq-chatter suggests. In fact, it may be that the Iraq-chatter is, in part, designed to keep people from noticing just how broad the strategy really is.

December 22, 2002

NOW IT’S MICHAEL BARONE crediting the blogosphere for Trent Lott’s ouster. I do think that weblogs — particularly Josh Marshall’s — played an important role in getting the story noticed. But I think that the anger of black Republicans, which started the instant Lott made his remarks, would have ensured that the issue broke through eventually.

December 22, 2002

IF HE’S SO SMART, WHY ISN’T AOL RICH? Jeff Jarvis writes:

Imagine if AOL had actually sent out some Warner Bros. songs or movie trailers on all those CD-roms over the years; people might have actually welcomed them instead of ridiculed them.

The answer is that Jarvis doesn’t work for AOL. Nor, apparently, does anyone as smart as Jeff. They should hire him (at an appropriately huge salary, of course) to turn their business around with insights like this.

December 21, 2002

DOES MAUREEN DOWD MEAN to call President Bush and Karl Rove “Butcher Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?” That seems rather nasty, and it’s a rather insensitively loaded term in wartime, isn’t it?

Speaking of insensitivity, note that although Dowd is careful to slip in that Bill Frist has been “scolded for racial insensitivity,” she doesn’t bother to say by whom, or for what. (A classic New York Times use of passive voice — Bill Hobbs explains this canard.) But that’s the folks at Old Media: presented with real “racial insensitivity” — as in Trent Lott’s case — they don’t even recognize it until someone else points it out. That’s because they’re too used to it as an invented item to even think about the real thing.

This is a lame effort, even by the standards of Maureen Dowd’s recent work.

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Berke suggests that I have it backward, and that the “butcher” point is aimed at Rove, not Bush — though he rather spoils it by then suggesting that nobody who’s massing troops for war should mind being called a butcher. (Is there anyone more bloody-minded than an antiwar liberal? They all seem to think the goal of war is killing, rather than winning. But that’s a topic for another post.) Berke’s snippiness notwithstanding, he’s probably right here — at least, it’s hard to imagine Dowd passing up an opportunity to call Bush a “kid,” in the apparent hope that if she says it often enough people will suddenly confuse him with Dan Quayle. How much better this makes Dowd look is a matter of opinion.

UPDATE: Reader and movie critic Bob Patterson offers this explanation of what Dowd was about:

The new film “Gangs of New York” contains a character Bill “the Butcher” Cutting (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) and “the Butcher” is (according to the NY Times review) a “swaggering monster.”

The film is a leading contender for Oscar consideration, but it is only being shown at theaters in Los Angeles and New York City.

Perhaps Ms. Dowd was overly anxious to display her command of the culture vulture hip/chic contemporary scene by making a comparison to this new film.

Folks who do not have ready access to this bit of cinema will not get the (possible) allusion.

[I, for one have issues with this “elitism” aspect of the Oscar season and will be writing a column about that in the near future. (On Friday, December 20, 2002 the USA Today newspaper listed the five leading contenders for Best Picture. Of the five, one “The Two Towers” had been out for about two days. Two, “Gangs of New York” and “Antwone Fisher” were coming out that day (at least in New York and L. A. as far as “Gangs” is concerned. The other two will be out in a few days. Is that elitism or what?)]

It would seem that Ms. Dowd is writing of/for/about/ and “to” an audience that is up on the latest “Oscar buzz.”

Again from the New York Times review of “Gangs” New York is “a city full of tribes and war chiefs.” “The Butcher has formed an alliance of convenience with Boss Tweed ([played by] Jim Broadbent), the kingpin of Tammany Hall and together they administer an empire of graft, extortion and larceny.”

It seems likely that Ms. Dowd was hoping that her readers would connect her words with this latest installment of Oscar elitism. Now that you’ve been updated on all the latest inside “Oscar” information, don’t you suddenly feel “groovy” or some such latest term for up to date and hip?

Yeah. Now Dowd’s column seems really “boss.” But an excessive effort to seem “hep” does seem to mark Dowd’s work, so this explanation makes sense.

December 21, 2002

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE UPDATE: Bill Hobbs is blogging from the Comcast kiosk at the mall near Nashville and reports that business seems slow there, too.

I have to say, that sort of on-the-scene reportage is kind of cool.

UPDATE: Reader Frank Martin writes:

I don’t know where these malls are that are empty, but out here in northern California, our Mall ( roseville galleria ) has been closed twice this week by the fire marshalls due to overcrowding. ( not closed “per se”, but they limited access at the doors to make sure that the crowds stayed limited to within the structures limit)

Today, the “best buy’ had every register open, yet the lines extended past the back of the store. Link.

This is happening while we are in the midst of a series of very large storms.

Keep buying folks, the economy depends on you.

December 21, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN’S $80,000 PLEDGE WEEK has gotten a lot of other bloggers begging for cash. The Acidman is not amused:

Ever since ANDREW SULLIVAN conducted his “Pledge Week” and made damned near $80,000, bloggers everywhere have become panhandlers and squeegie-guys, telling their heart-rending stories of brokeness while pointing to their Pay Pal buttons and tip jars. When hookers do that on the street, they get arrested for the crime of “solicitation.” And the hookers usually offer a more valuable commodity than most blogs do.

This is followed by a stirring tribute to amateurism in the blogosphere. (Uh, yeahhh, that’s exactly what it is. . . .)

I’m all for amateurism. Despite numerous suggestions that I institute a pledge week of my own (my favorite involved a thermometer-like graphic with a 350Z at the top), I won’t be emulating Andrew. I have a dayjob. It pays pretty well — by normal standards, not compared to the obscene amounts of money I’d be making now if I had stayed at the bigshot law firm where I used to work. (And I know exactly how obscene because one of my friends there who stayed and made partner helpfully informs me of what I would be making had I done so. Thanks!) I appreciate the donations — particularly because a nice note with money attached outweighs any number of nasty emails from people who aren’t putting their money where their mouths are. (Message to hatemailers — if you want me to take your hatemail seriously, attach it to a $100 Paypal donation! I promise, I’ll read it.)

But this is a labor of love. It’s free. And it’ll stay that way.

December 21, 2002

THE “FISKIE AWARD” VOTING is fast-and-furious, with Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter neck-and-neck for first place, followed by such, er, worthies as Ted Rall, Noam Chomsky, the United Nations, and, of course, Jean Chretien. Vote now!

December 21, 2002

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: Reader (and merchant) Woody Emanuel emails:

I am in retail (classic clothing) and the Saturday before Christmas is traditionally THE busiest shopping day before Christmas. Having just closed for the day, I can report that it was perhaps the slowest Saturday before Xmas I have seen in well over a decade or more.

Well, I was just at the grocery store (bought paper towels; didn’t need Saran wrap) and the parking lot at the big mall across the street was pretty full — but definitely not as full as last year. Woody reports that his business has been slow since November; we’ll see if that reflects the national situation or not soon enough.

UPDATE: SKBUBBA emails that I was there too early today:

We went to West Town today around 11:00 AM. Found easy parking, stores not too crowded. By the time we left around 6:30 it was totally jammed.

You literally couldn’t even walk around in Williams Sonoma. Abercrombie and Fitch had lines four and five deep at every register.

Department stores weren’t quite as crowded, but seemed to be doing brisk business and didn’t seem to have enough people to handle it. They were discounting just about everything.

They were also sold out of a lot of popular stuff. (My favorite Polo shirts were in short supply, and there is not one Calphalon Commercial Non-Stick 10″ omelet skillet in Knoxville except as part of a set. There may be one at Proffitts in Maryville because I returned it yesterday when I saw one $20 cheaper at Bed Bath and Beyond, but by the time I got back there today they were sold out. Moral of the story: bird in hand, etc.).

By the time we left the mall around 6:30 it took us 20 minutes just to get out of the parking lot and more were coming in.

Even Ruby Tuesday was SRO around 3:30 when we took a break. West Town Mall shopping tip: Ruby Tuesday has happy hour all day. Two people can get an appetizer and hammered for about $20 plus tip. After four hours of power shopping it is a welcome respite and good for getting your second wind.

So anyway, I think maybe you left before the masses arrived. It was chaotic by 4:00 or 5:00 PM.

Well, as someone whose salary is paid largely by the sales tax, I hope SKBubba’s right. He’s certainly right about Ruby’s — I had lunch there the other day and noted that, Gawker notwithstanding, “drunk shopping” seems to be more than just a New York thing.

December 21, 2002

TERRORISM IN LATIN AMERICA: Now this is upsetting.

December 21, 2002

HMMM. A lot of people will be making something out of this:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. President George W. Bush has delayed his January trip to Africa in part because of the Iraqi situation, and sources say he is ready to sign off on deploying 50,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf early next month.

Of course, there are lots of things it could mean.

December 21, 2002

SPEAKING OF BLOGCRITICS, here’s a story on BlogCritics’ request for a DMCA exemption, featuring a photo of Eric Olsen.

December 21, 2002

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT: BlogCritics reports on when we can expect the next Harry Potter book.

December 21, 2002

THE DOGS THAT AREN’T BARKING: Interesting observation regarding the Iraq inspections, from OxBlog.

December 21, 2002

NASHVILLE BLOGGER and former Tennessean journalist Bill Hobbs writes that the New York Times is recycling lies about Bill Frist:

Frist would be holding a handful of pencils to distribute and didn’t want to prick himself on one of the sharp points – but his innocuous comment was seized on by the anti-Frist reporters for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal and the Nashville Tennessean as “evidence” that Frist had been racially insensitive.

It was absurd then – a lie propagated by two newspapers that had already endorsed Frist’s opponent, the incumbent Sen. Jim Sasser – and most everyone in the newsroom at The Tennessean, where I worked at the time, knew it and was embarrassed by the story. It is even more absurd now for the NYT to recycle it in an attempt to undercut Frist as he ascends to the post of Senate Majority Leader.

Perhaps the Times will issue a correction, in due course.

December 21, 2002


December 21, 2002

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: Frankly, the situation doesn’t look that great. I was at the mall this morning and it seemed no busier than an ordinary Saturday — not like the last Saturday before Christmas. Maybe people have already done their shopping, or maybe they’re doing more of it online (I certainly did) but it certainly wasn’t as busy as it usually is just before Christmas.

Or maybe, as Mike Straka observes, customers are staying away because of bad service. But I have to say, I’ve found the service to be better than usual this Christmas season. The Kaybee toys folks were passing out free cookies, the Williams-Sonoma people were doing superfast free giftwrap, and everyone in every store I visited was pleasant and helpful. Which, now that I think about it, may just be another sign that the Christmas season is going badly.

It’ll be interesting to see if the stats match my impressions.

December 21, 2002


It’s amazing to think that in the United States in the 21st century, you can get arrested for something you do in your bedroom with a willing adult partner. But 13 states still criminalize some types of sexual acts; in four of them, “deviate sexual intercourse” is prohibited only between people of the same sex. . . .

Many conservatives who oppose gay marriage, the inclusion of gays in the Boy Scouts, or school programs promoting gay acceptance argue that they are all for tolerance—just against the public recognition of homosexuality as equal in moral stature to the union of man and woman. Whatever one thinks of such a position, sodomy laws would seem to provide these conservatives with the perfect occasion to demonstrate the sincerity of their pro-tolerance stance. For the most part, however, conservative commentators have remained disappointingly silent on Lawrence v. Texas.

Conservatives have long said that they want to get the government off our backs. If that’s a principled stance, they should certainly want to get it out of our beds.

Well, I certainly agree.

December 21, 2002

I’VE BEEN, WELL, NOT EXACTLY CRITICAL of the claims that the Bush Administration is politicizing government science, but quick to point out that this is a problem that’s been around, well, forever. (Insert obligatory reference to CDC gun-violence studies here.) Nonetheless, I’m disturbed at this report that the CDC is no longer promoting condom use as a response to STDs, even though condoms are highly effective against AIDS. Sure, they’re not perfect protection against everything. But then, seatbelts aren’t perfect protection either, and they promote those.

The problem, of course, is that once the science is politicized and the public health community forfeits much of its public trust, well, the door’s open. I’d like to see the public health establishment focus more on science and less on politics. But then, I wanted that five years ago, too.

UPDATE: Reader Dick Dalfiume emails that concern over the guidelines is overstated, and sends this link to the actual CDC page on the subject. I have to say that I agree with him that the story exaggerates the degree of the change.

December 21, 2002

DWIGHT MEREDITH has another post on Thimerosal. Ross at The Bloviator has a response. Both of these links go to their main pages because of the usual Blogger problems.

I don’t really have much to add to what I said before, really. The Thimerosal/autism connection is, perhaps, not ruled out, but it’s certainly not ruled in. As Dwight says:

The best scientific evidence to date neither proves nor disproves that thimerosal included in childhood vaccines causes autism. The causal relationship, if any, between thimerosal and autism remains an open question. It is a question we should answer though science and not through politics.

I certainly have no argument with that. But that being the case, it seems, ahem, premature for some people (not Dwight, who explicitly disclaims it) to claim that Eli Lilly caused autism and then paid off the GOP to protect it — given that neither part of this statement is supported by, well, any actual evidence.

And TomPaine.Com’s rather slippery efforts to blow this up into a scandal reflect poorly on it, and on the left, which seems nowadays to be recycling black-helicopter theories from the nutty right willy-nilly. Next we’ll be hearing that Bush has millions of Chinese troops stationed just across the border in Mexico, ready to support a coup in which he’ll be installed as dictator.

December 21, 2002

PATRICK RUFFINI liked The Two Towers better than The Fellowship of the Ring. That puts him in the minority. Then again, he also calls the movie “Rumsfeldian,” which is a description that probably didn’t occur to anyone else.

December 21, 2002

PATTY MURRAY IS TAKING IT ON THE CHIN regarding her remarks about Osama’s generosity:

Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., a potential Senate opponent in 2004, called Murray’s comments “bizarre” and uninformed. “You have to wonder what country Sen. Murray has been living in since September 11th,” he said.

Murray “seems to know more about Osama bin Laden’s generosity and kindness than she does his hatred for America and his vow to destroy our country,” Nethercutt said.

Nethercutt, who is also talked about as a possible candidate for governor, said he welcomed a chance to debate Murray on bin Laden and other topics.

“I’m sure Washington state voters would like to hear more of Sen. Murray’s very strange view of America and the world,” Nethercutt said.

I’ll bet he does welcome the chance.

December 21, 2002

ERIN O’CONNOR has been all over the Boalt sexual harassment story. Here’s the latest installment, which features this observation:

Interesting at Boalt how fast it has all moved past the guilt or innocence of a single faculty member (who was never actually charged with anything) to the collective guilt of the entire male faculty, none of whom have (presumably) done anything. Nevertheless, in true Stalinist fashion, this is going to be used as a pretext for punitive measures against them as a group, including the now-usual re-reducation and a de facto hiring and promotion freeze of male faculty. What’s even worse is the supine way this is all being accepted as inevitable.

Stefan Sharkansky has been doing, er, Useful Work, too. Here’s his latest post demonstrating how one-sided and agenda-driven the news coverage of this event has been. And scroll down on his page (and Erin’s) for much, much more on this topic.

My advice to male faculty at Boalt — go somewhere more civilized. You won’t regret it.

December 21, 2002

THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS AN INTERESTING ARTICLE on the problems facing today’s liberalism in an age of terrorism.

I have to say, though, that while today’s liberalism may be inadequate to current events, I think that the more muscular liberalism of previous decades — the kind favored by the anticommunist Cold War liberals, for example — would have been up to the task. One of the problems facing liberalism is that it has made lefty academics and journalists into its party theoreticians, and they’re not up to the job.

December 20, 2002

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH does a Bill Frist / Patty Murray comparison that seems, well, a bit cruel.

December 20, 2002

THE PAYPAL DONATIONS KEEP POURING IN: Thanks, folks. It’s not Andrew-Sullivan-league, but it’s much appreciated.

That people will voluntarily, and pretty much spontaneously, donate money to support something they can get for free says something profound, and probably positive, about human nature. I certainly feel positive about it!

December 20, 2002


Sen. Robert Byrd still is looking forward to his big screen debut.

Byrd said he is eagerly awaiting the Feb. 21 premiere of the Civil War movie “Gods and Generals,” which will include his cameo as Confederate Gen. Paul J. Semmes.

Fitting, somehow.

December 20, 2002

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS have held their own “alternative” Miss World pageant in northern Nigeria.

December 20, 2002

SORRY, GEORGE: But this isn’t nearly as funny as this.

December 20, 2002


Until last October I worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. My job was fundraising. I wrote funding requests and financial reports for one donor: the European Union. My division was one of six that secured funding for ICRC activities. Each year our divisions tallied the total amount of donations coming from the various nations and organizations. We then produced a bar graph that listed the largest donors beginning with the most generous. And each year, first place in donations went to one nation: the United States. Indeed, in terms of the bar graph, American contributions towered above all others. Before working for the ICRC, I also worked for the United Nations. The case there was similar to the Red Cross. The US alone stood out ahead of all other donors.

Of course, Murray is correct to note that Osama bin Laden has used his vast family fortune (one he did absolutely nothing to earn) to win converts to his cause. By comparison, the money provided by the American government comes from taxpayers of various degrees of wealth, from American billionaires to the guy selling hot dogs on the street.

And Murray is also correct to point out that America did drop bombs on Afghanistan. But perhaps in her smug wisdom she might go further and ask another question. What were the results of bin Laden’s stewardship in comparison to those American bombs? Again I can refer to my work at the Red Cross. During my time with the ICRC I wrote funding requests and reports on Afghanistan both prior to September 11 and after. Prior to September 11, Afghanistan had experienced periods of sustained drought especially in Ghor province and Herat. This situation was complicated by an interminable civil war. After September 11 and the eventual attack on Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to talk with people who worked directly in Afghanistan. All told me about the incredible change in Afghanistan. Almost overnight, the country went from a land living in fear of the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives to one where children were playing in the streets, often kicking around soccer balls given them by American, British or French soldiers. And what about the activities of the Red Cross? Well, as my source in the field told me, the Red Cross now had access to areas previously prohibited by the Taliban. The humanitarian activities of the Red Cross were ultimately aided by those American bombs. . . .

Incidentally, my source in the field quipped, half jokingly half seriously, “I wish the US would invade a few more countries, it would make our job a hell of a lot easier.” He wasn’t an American by the way.

He may get his wish.

UPDATE: Here’s Murray’s response to her critics, which is just about as lame as Lott’s. I don’t think Michele is convinced.

December 20, 2002

MARK KLEIMAN says the current policy of vaccinating only health and emergency workers makes no sense. I think he’s right. Also read the update to his post, with which I obviously agree, too.

December 20, 2002

HAS THE INVASION OF IRAQ ALREADY BEGUN? Donald Sensing has some interesting comments in response to the Tom Holsinger column from StrategyPage that I linked last night.

December 20, 2002

THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTS that Frist has it sewn up for the Majority Leader slot.

To all the other stuff people are writing about him, I’ll only add that I ambushed him with a question about nanotechnology on a radio show a few years ago and he fielded it with ease, demonstrating considerable knowledge of both the technology and the policy issues. That impressed me.

December 20, 2002


If it’s true that that Republican cross-over votes defeated Cynthia McKinney, then the GOP has shown that not only can it clean up its own bigots: it can also clean up the Democrats’!

Heh. You won’t be hearing this line from Carville, I’ll bet.

December 20, 2002

FRATERS LIBERTAS DOES A BIAS TEST on AP’s description of Bill Frist. It comes back positive.

December 20, 2002

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON is crediting the blogosphere with Lott’s decision to step down.

December 20, 2002

HERE’S YOUR FINAL EXAM ON 20TH CENTURY RACIAL HISTORY: Bill Clinton would flunk, based on his recent statements.

December 20, 2002

DAVE KOPEL writes on Frist’s Second Amendment voting record, which he characterizes as slightly weaker than Lott’s.

December 20, 2002

WATCHING THE TALKING-HEAD SHOWS on Lott’s resignation, I notice that the new Democratic theme is that the Republicans should “prove that they’ve left racism behind” by supporting appropriate legislation next year.

I agree. I think the Republicans should demonstrate that they’re taking the country beyond the legacy of segregation by passing the “End to Racism and Segregation Act of 2003,” which would provide that neither the federal government, nor the states, nor any entity receiving federal funds may take race into account in any manner in the making of hiring, firing, promotion, or benefits decisions.

What better way to show we’ve moved beyond racism than to put an end to official racism by statute?

UPDATE: Nick Gillespie offers a similar proposal.

December 20, 2002

JEFF JARVIS IS EXPERIMENTING with video blogging. Very interesting.

December 20, 2002

PIETER K EMAILS that although there are no clips from his CD available on Amazon, you can hear samples here on the Breakbeat Science page. My favorite cut is “Numina,” but you should also check out “Stars from Aircraft.” I actually like ’em all.

December 20, 2002

THE LOTT CONTRAST: Reader Tom Wright emails:

This may not be a widely held view but I think the Trent Lott episode is a huge plus for the Republican Party. It may gain them nothing at the polls but at least they have proved that they are capable of embarrassment and shame when on of their number demonstrates an unfitness for his office.

Tardy though it may have been, the disgust and outrage shown by Republicans over Sen. Lott’s remarks contrasted with the Democrats’ studied indifference to the past comments by Sen. Byrd or the vileness spewed by Rep. McKinney shows that while both parties may have bigots, at least the Republicans are ashamed or theirs.

Yes, I think that’s how it will play. And I wonder, now, if more will be made of the Bonior/McDermott trip to Baghdad?

UPDATE: Eric Alterman sort of agrees:

Actually, this is the worst possible solution for the Democrats, who won’t have Trent Lott to kick around anymore as leader, but also won’t be getting a Democratic replacement in his seat.

I think that’s right, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia Postrel compares Trent Lott and Mary Landrieu. It’s a comparision to which a lot of other members of the Senate are subject.

And Daniel Drezner congratulates Josh Marshall — who I think really started the ball rolling — and says this will be good for the Republicans in the long term.

December 20, 2002

NOW THAT TRENT LOTT has paid for his stupid remarks, perhaps Senator Patty Murray should be next:

“We’ve got to ask, why is this man (Osama bin Laden) so popular around the world?,” said Murray, who faces re-election in 2004. “Why are people so supportive of him in many countries … that are riddled with poverty?

“He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that.

“How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?”

Yeah, it’s not as if she’s ever voted on a foreign aid bill or anything. Actually, many of the roads in Afghanistan were built by Americans. I have an uncle who did that, and also trained Afghans in construction and equipment maintenance, back during the 1970s. Didn’t seem to make much of a difference. But I guess I shouldn’t expect Murray to know about that stuff — she’s only a Senator, after all.

UPDATE: Reader Brandon Bigelow writes:

Does Patty Murray read the federal budgets she’s been voting on? The United States may not contribute a large amount of money to foreign aid as a percentage of GDP, but the amounts are significant in real dollars. Did she just miss the $2.4 billion we spent in the Middle East and North Africa in FY00, the $1.8 billion in FY01, or the estimated $1.7 billion in FY02? I am guessing Osama bin Laden, with all the hospital, orphanages, schoolhouses and shelters he built didn’t come close. See for summaries of expenditures.

How much is enough for Patty Murray and her fellow travelers? Will people stop flying jets into the side of our buildings if only we give them $5 billion in foreign aid annually? Or could the conflict between the West and the Middle East be about a little bit more than total cash expenditures?

I honestly think that for some people — and Murray is probably one — it’s hard to imagine that anything matters more than federal expenditures.

December 20, 2002

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: What should have happened last week has happened today — Trent Lott has stepped down as Majority Leader.

Bill Frist is the favorite to succeed him, which is a good deal for everyone involved except Frist — and the Democrats, who would have rather kept Lott around. Lame efforts to tar all Republicans as Klansmen-in-disguise will continue for a while, but will peter out over the holidays with no effect. And they should, because it wasn’t the Democrats who got Lott removed.

Unlike the Democrats with Clinton, the Republicans have purged themselves of someone who didn’t belong in the office he held. The failure to do so cost the Democrats greatly. I think that the Republicans, meanwhile, will reap benefits from their action.

December 20, 2002

MASS ARRESTS? Bigwig writes:

Lets be generous with the numbers and assume that all the Muslims in SoCal are part of that 600,000. That means that out of the entire population, 0.16% of them are being held. For every 100,000 Muslims in Southern California, about 116 got arrested. That number is….shockingly low. For the year 2000, the average rate of arrests per 100,000 total population was 3,427.5

So, in reality, SoCal Muslims are exemplary citizens, or the INS is shockingly inept. I’ll take both choices, thank you. What I do expect, frankly, is for Muslim spokesman to quote these numbers with pride, pointing out that the American Muslim community is among the most law-abiding in the nation.

Bigwig expects a lot. . . .

He’s not that happy with the INS, either.

UPDATE: Chad Seltzer says Bigwig’s math is based on erroneous assumptions.

December 20, 2002


Revelations of the brutal torture and murder of a teenager in eastern Germany blamed on neo-Nazis has sent shock-waves through the country.

Marius Schoeberl, who was 16, was killed apparently because he looked like a Jew.

His severely mutilated body was discovered in a farm silage pit in the remote village of Potzlow this summer.

Two brothers aged 17 and 23 and another 17-year-old from the village were recently found guilty of the murder.

The court was told that the boys were listening to neo-Nazi music, with its angry lyrics and furious sound, as well as drinking alcohol, before they set off into the night in search of a victim. . . .

They called him ‘un-German’, ‘a pest’ and ‘a Jew’. They dragged him to a deserted farmhouse, tortured and killed him – and then they went home to sleep.

The story paints this as a problem of the “extreme right,” but given the rise of antisemitism in polite European society, I think that’s a bit misleading.

December 20, 2002

WEAPONS OF MASS ANNOYANCE: An article in Wired News argues that cyberterrorism is a distinctly overrated threat.

Yeah, most computer-related stuff doesn’t work well enough for terrorism to register anyway. Kind of like threatening to cause traffic jams in L.A.

December 20, 2002

MICKEY KAUS writes on why — and how — Lott must go:

Lott, in his flailing, destructive attempt at self-preservation, didn’t quite equate opposition to race preferences with racism. But he did equate support of race preferences with opposition to racism. That’s why, as someone who thinks race preferences do far more harm than good, I worry that it’s not quite enough for the Republican Senate to simply vote Lott out of his leadership positon with “a brief statement explaining what they did and why they did it.” A brief statement would have sufficed if Lott’s only sin were his Thurmond tribute. But his subsequent compensatory embrace of preferences needs to be repudiated also, in memorably strong terms. The most reliable way for that to be done is for President Bush to do it himself.

Yep. I understand why Bush has been reluctant to tread on the Senate’s toes. But it’s time for him to provide some adult supervision.

December 19, 2002

I WAS GOING TO BLOG on the immigration-related arrests of Arab men in California, but I haven’t had time to give it the treatment it deserves. Eugene Volokh has some thoughts, though.

In brief, my observations are: (1) This is hardly the Japanese-American internment revisited. First, they’re not citizens, or even legal residents as best I can tell. And there are only a few hundred to perhaps a thousand of them. (2) These guys are all charged with being in violation of some immigration rule or another — in short, they’ve been arrested because they’re believed to be breaking the law. You may think it’s a stupid law, and a bad idea to arrest people for breaking it — as some might think with regard to arresting someone for having a shotgun with a barrel 1/4″ shorter than the legal minimum, and yes, such arrests do happen. But it hardly represents a fascistic breakdown in the rule of law. At least, if such a breakdown has occurred, it occurred when complicated and often contradictory laws were passed and then not generally enforced, not when these guys were arrested. (3) Inviting people to show up voluntarily for fingerprinting and then arresting a bunch of them seems to me to be a strategy that only works once. If the Feds knew that, then do they have some unstated reason for cracking down on illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern countries in these places and at this time? Possibly. This may be yet another small sign of coming war, and a preemption effort aimed at catching terrorist sleepers. (The other possibility, of course, is that the Feds are idiots, and that’s one never to be discounted, especially where the INS is concerned.)

Beyond that, I don’t know enough to have a clear opinion. More later, perhaps.

December 19, 2002

TOM HOLSINGER WRITES: “America’s conquest of Iraq will be a gradual process, not an event, and has probably begun.” Very interesting column.

December 19, 2002

READER PAUL STINCHFIELD sends another hate crime story.

December 19, 2002

HOLY SH*T: Andrew Sullivan raised nearly $80,000 in his “pledge week” campaign. And I was happy with a few hits to the paypal button!

Well, this should prove that it’s possible for someone to make a living at blogging, anyway.

December 19, 2002

RANDY PAUL has been emailing me for months with constructive criticism. Now he’s got his own blog focusing (mostly) on Latin America.

December 19, 2002

I’VE BEEN READING TONY PIERCE’S BOOK, which came in the mail today. I got copy 49/125, and it’s autographed, so my retirement is taken care of. I figure it’ll fetch a cool million quatlus at Sotheby’s by the time I’m ready to quit my day job and travel the galaxy.

I also popped Pieter K’s CD in the car today and listened to most of it. It’s quite cool — vaguely like Thievery Corporation, but somehow both funkier and more cerebral, even though that sounds like a contradiction. I like it very much. Between the two, it was an all-blogger-entertainment day.

I like the CD player, too. The old CD player died — the Passat’s cupholder is perilously close to the dash, and a bad pothole splashed my daughter’s Sprite into the tape-player opening, which produced irreversible death. That was, in a way, a good thing. I replaced the original — which had the changer in the back — with a new one that still has the changer but also has a slot in the dash. The rear-mounted CD changer is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but that leaves you listening to the same CDs over and over.

Anyway, I had planned to finish grading papers from my National Security Law seminar this afternoon, and I still have a couple to go, and it’s all Tony’s fault. Bloggers are good at occupying your spare moments even when you’re offline, apparently.

December 19, 2002


But it’s also more damning evidence of Washington’s tin ear. People can and will disagree on all sorts of things, but something like this Trent Lott outrage pretty much puts everybody on the same page, from Atrios to Andrew Sullivan, Krugman to Kaus. Yet Lott is still in power. (He’ll probably be gone by the weekend, but it should’ve happened last week. Or 22 years ago.)

There’s much, much more.

December 19, 2002

MAX POWER HAS MOVED to — adjust your bookmarks accordingly.