November 23, 2003
A FINE WHINE: N.Z. Bear weighs in, a bit late, on the Salam Pax / Lileks discussion.
A FINE WHINE: N.Z. Bear weighs in, a bit late, on the Salam Pax / Lileks discussion.
IS CHINA’S ECONOMY OVERHEATED? Greg Burch has a lengthy post.
SHEVARDNADZE HAS RESIGNED IN GEORGIA: This has the potential to be a good thing. Let’s hope that the potential becomes actuality. Given the United States’ nontrivial investment in Georgia, it’s particularly important that we play this well.
UPDATE: Wrong link earlier. Fixed now.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Argus has a tremendously link-rich wrapup on affairs in Georgia. This appears to be a substantial defeat for Russia. And Georgians are thanking America. Hmm. . . .
I HAVEN’T BEEN BLOGGING THAT MUCH this weekend. But Jeff Jarvis has lots of posts.
MORE RETAIL UPDATES: My local mall is also replacing some of its hard wooden benches with comfy chairs like these (I actually took this picture on Wednesday, when it was a lot emptier), which seem to be very popular. The comfy-chair revolution continues apace!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Frank Lynch emails:
Some years ago I read “Why We Buy,” by Paco Underhill. Underhill is a market researcher who emphasizes behavioral observations in retail settings; he and his crew will descend on a store and watch how people behave, and make recommendations on layout, etc.
One observation is that the longer you are in a store, the more likely you are to buy something. Now, couple that with this: women shop longest in a store when they are with a female friend, second longest when alone, and least longest when with their husband/boyfriend. We seem to give off body language which indicates impatience (go figure!). So, Underhill recommends making men as comfortable as possible — not just providing comfortable seating, but also magazines they’re comfortable reading, such as Sports Illustrated.
Glad to see your mall is doing this; consumer confidence hasn’t turned around yet, and retailers need to try this.
I’d rather have Wi-Fi than SI, but fair enough. I wasn’t familiar with Underhill, but via the miracle of Google found this article. He seems like a smart guy.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ronnie Schreiber emails:
You would think that the malls would want to encourage men to shop, not sit. Underhill’s suggestions assume that women do all the shopping in malls. They may be the majority of mall shoppers and it does make sense to maximize revenue from your core market, but I’d think that making sure that the mall has specialty stores that appeal to men wouldn’t hurt. An upscale tool store or auto memorabilia shop might make more sense than La-Z-Boy recliners and a few issues of SI scattered around.
Yes, though I doubt Underhill would disagree. My local mall seems to have an endless array of teenagers’ clothing stores and jewelry stores. I wouldn’t mind a few more places that appealed to me. Of course, that requires the mall to think holistically about luring in shoppers — and I suspect that a lot of stores that I’d like couldn’t pay the very steep rents that mall stores have to pay.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: At the mall yesterday I noticed huge crowds (even though the Christmas shopping season doesn’t officially start until next week). Judging by the numbers of bags and parcels people were carrying, they were buying, not just looking. I hope that’s good news for this year’s retail season.
In a related development, the landscaper at my sister-in-law’s new house said that they’re working their fingers to the bone with new home construction.
Anecdotage: make of it what you will.
UPDATE: Reader Jeff Strunk emails:
My wife and I had the same ‘revelation’ yesterday here in Erie, Pa. The traffic was unbelievable.
Let’s hope this is reflective of the general situation.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Krause reports from the trenches:
I’ve had a kiosk (retail merchandise unit as the mall prefers they be called) since Sept.1 at a mall in Omaha (a really nice, newer mall out West, where the city is rapidly expanding into what was farmland only a few years ago). No employees, just me and my girlfriend.
The first three weeks of November it was like a tomb around here (in fact I could hear the echo as I laughed at myself for coming up with this idea). Our sales were actually down about 35% from the first three weeks of September, and October was a bust, we just paid the rent.
Saturday rocked. It was our best day so far. Santa showed up and opened shop and the mall was solidly packed, despite cold temperatures and drizzle, from 9:00 am (milk and cookies with Santa in the food court) until about 5:00 pm. Now it’s Sunday afternoon and the foot traffic is strong despite the snow (or maybe because of it) but slow sales all around me.
The lady with the customized tree ornament kiosk (it’s her fourth year here)says she is off about 50% from this time last year and the cell phone service and accessory guy (who is here year round) reports about the same.
I think it’s fair to say that reports are “mixed,” then.
OKAY, I DON’T AGREE WITH THIS:
Anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide. He or she is ripping the veil from all that is private and delicate in oneself, and pulverizing it in an assembly line of selfish sensations.
Actually, I had quite a few years like that before I was married, and I consider it a good thing, though I’m quite happy to be married now and wouldn’t have wanted to live that way forever. (But I think that one reason that I’m happily married now is that I did live that way for quite a while first). But I agree with David Brooks that gay marriage is a good thing, and actually strengthens traditional values rather than harming them.
UPDATE: Got a few emails like this one:
So you are saying promiscuity is OK? That indiscriminate sex is OK? That degrading your self for sexual gratification is OK? Is this what you teach your children? I don’t agree with you at all! Gay sex is not natural nor normal and cannot strengthen our decaying traditional moral values!
Hmm. I didn’t say anything about “indiscriminate sex,” now did I? Funny that some people can’t conceive of anything else. Nor was my pre-marital love life “Hefneresque,” as another reader puts it. These strike me as rather revealing reactions — much like those who, on another topic, assume that all war is equivalent to “carpet bombing” or that owning a gun guarantees mass slaughter. Moderation, apparently, is inconceivable to some people.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bruce Bridges emails:
As a single man that has not found the right girl even at this late date, I am one of those that has been pulverising all that is private and delicate blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blaaaaaaaaah.
The problem with those that need to point out my failings is of course that they can’t stop themselves. First it was gays, then single sinners and of course eventually, married people that are corrupt enough to venture beyond the missionary position.
The republicans would do well to recognize that this way of thinking is what most of us think of as “fringe”.
Given a choice, I’ll hang with the sodomites thank you.
Yeah. But my point was that to arrive at what is, in fact, the kind of marriage that Brooks describes (except perhaps for the “I am you” angle, which seems a bit creepy to me), I had to pass through the kind of conduct he deplores. Only I think that I couldn’t have the one without the other. I’m deeply suspicious, frankly, of people who assume that all sex outside marriage is somehow depraved or corrupt or instrumental. Perhaps they are projecting, or perhaps they are just ignorant. It certainly seems to me — as I indicate above — that sex is to some on the right what violence is to some on the left: something seen as so dangerous, and so powerful, that if it is not kept entirely in check, it is sure to go completely out of control. I regard both kinds of thinking as misguided.
And, at any rate, the one kind of lust that appears to be incapable of satiety is the lust to control others’ lives. . . .
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Green isn’t ashamed to admit that he likes sex.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Beth Mauldin isn’t either.
DANIEL DREZNER HAS AN OPUS-THE-PENGUIN ROUNDUP that’s a must read. Er, if you care about Opus, that is.
INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS in Georgia. I think this may turn out to be a positive development, but I’m not at all sure.
EVERYBODY’S EMAILING to ask what I think about this scandal involving the UT Issues Committee, political bias, death threats, and so on. Actually, I don’t know anything that hasn’t been in the papers — I don’t have a lot to do with undergraduate activities. Though I haven’t done much recently, I used to deal with them fairly often and found them OK. It’s probably true that their offerings lean left — though the only one I’ve noticed lately involved Tucker Carlson — but I don’t know the extent to which that reflects the offerings. But they do seem to have rejected reasonable requests for non-lefty speakers. Surely they could bring Jonah Goldberg or Andrew Sullivan to campus. And I’d like that.
The death threats and racial slurs aimed at conservative students, if true, are obviously beyond the pale. But I don’t know any more about that stuff than you do, once you read the stories. In general, Tennessee has been largely free from the kind of political correctness that marked other campuses. When our recent — and now fired and under criminal investigation — President came in, we seemed to see more of that (read this post for an example, and an update here — but read this too). President Shumaker is gone now, and not much lamented, and perhaps the University will ensure that political correctness is not part of his legacy.
Here’s the UT College Republicans’ website, where they’re posting regularly on the story.
SORT OF COMFORTING news:
London-based terrorists tried last year to buy half a tonne of toxic chemicals with the aim of killing thousands.
Their plot came to light when the supplier became suspicious about the quantities of chemicals involved. . . .
The effort to buy the saponin was in some ways inept. Apart from the quantities that were ordered – 500 to 1,000 times the normal order from a university laboratory – the explanation for the planned use of the product was also incredible.
The group described its intended use as “a fire retardant on rice intended for human consumption”.
Traces of ricin were found in a police raid on a north London flat in January.
Seven people were arrested and four of them later charged with possession of articles of value to terrorists and with being concerned with the production and development of a chemical weapon.
The ineptitude is comforting. The effort isn’t.
UPDATE: A couple of readers correctly note that the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was inept, too. That’s right. These guys aren’t especially bright, but they’re persistent, and they learn from their mistakes, which is enough to make them dangerous.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Draughn notes this story from USA Today about the way in which the inept 1993 attack led to improvements in safety and evacuation that sharply cut the death toll in 2001. Scroll down to the “lessons learned from terrorists” section. Yes, learning is a two-way street — or it had better be. I wrote something on that subject here.
THIS STORY is less than surprising, from several angles:
The European Union’s racism watchdog has shelved a report on anti-semitism because the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined.
Do tell. Er, or don’t tell, as the case may be.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has comments.
AN AMUSING MEMO:
From: Sgt. Mom
To: Assorted European Intellectuals and Those Americans
Who Wish They Were Also
Re: On Being Snookered by an Archetype
Read the whole thing.
ROBERT FISK CAN SLEEP SOUNDLY: Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer won’t be revoked. The penalty for obfuscating tyrants’ murders seems a small one, which perhaps explains why there’s so much of that going on.
ELECTRONIC VOTING isn’t playing well in Los Alamos, a place with a high geek population. It’s regarded as insecure. Numerous links and comments, at Slashdot. The line in the post about right wing conspiracy theories is amusing, in light of the numerous left-wing conspiracy theories in the comments. But conspiracy theories aside, it’s a real issue.
JOHN FITZGERALD BUSH? This weekend, in particular, George W. must hope that the parallels aren’t too close. I keep getting emails about the zero-year curse, but unsurprisingly I regard it as twaddle. But various people seem to be taking it seriously.
UPDATE: William Sulik has two undelivered JFK speeches that he says could be delivered by Bush today.
GERARD VAN DER LEUN SUGGESTS an online Committee for a Free World.
DONALD SENSING WRITES: “Al Qaeda’s primary war is against other Muslims.”
RECIPEBLOGGING: Some other bloggers are always posting recipes. Here’s one that I like because it’s quick, and good. It’s sort of a default option around here in the winter:
Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Chevre sauce
1 lb. pasta, any kind; 1 or 2 large ripe tomatoes; 1/4 cup (good) extra-virgin olive oil; fresh basil leaves (dried will work, but it’s not as good); 2 cloves garlic, minced (dried will work, but it’s not as good); 4-5 ounces fresh chevre cheese; sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Put the pasta in to boil (I told you this was quick). Then chop the tomatoes into small bits. Combine in the bowl with the other ingredients. Use lots of pepper. The chevre cheese will melt and combine with the ingredients into a wonderful creamy sauce when you add the hot, drained pasta to the bowl. Just toss it a bit and serve. You can substitute or add a lot of ingredients — I often add some crumbled Feta, for example, and you can use mushrooms or peppers in place of the tomatoes — and it’ll still come out good. The chevre and the basil are the key.
This is from a great cook book called While The Pasta Cooks, which is full of quick and easy pasta recipes that are awfully good. I’ve changed their recipe just a bit, but it works fine the way they have it, too.
Coming soon: my recipe for Thanksgiving Leg of Lamb.
UPDATE: Where do I get ripe tomatoes in winter, someone asks. At the store! The Fresh Market gets ’em flown in from Chile, I think. The beauty of globalization. . . .
GREG DJEREJIAN says that the problem with London is that there aren’t enough protests.
NEWS FLASH: BRITISH VIEWERS think British media should take pro-British stance in war.
JEFF JARVIS has been blogging about the WTC memorial plans. Just scroll, and scroll some more.
BUT TRUMAN SAID MAJOR COMBAT WAS OVER:
A TEAM of negotiators and former soldiers from Tokyo has been sent to the jungles of the Philippines to try to bring home soldiers of Japan’s Imperial Army who are still fighting the Second World War.
The team is to investigate reports of former soldiers living in the mountains and jungles of Luzon nearly 60 years after the war ended.
Three negotiators from Japan’s health and welfare ministry and two veterans, who themselves opted to stay behind in the Philippines after it fell in 1945 rather than face the shame of surrender, travelled to Manila yesterday.
It’s a quagmire.
[Anachronism corrected. D’oh!]
RIOTS IN KOREA — not getting the kind of news coverage that Michael Jackson is, but there’s blog-coverage, with photos and analysis, here.
UPDATE: And be sure to see this post with photos, too. Is South Korea unravelling?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Things look bad in Georgia too. That has considerable war-on-terror implications. Unlike Michael Jackson.
“SO DEEPLY WRONG:” KEN LAYNE COMMENTS on my songwriting skills.
WHAT YEAR IS IT? Ed Cone suggests not 1943, or 1946, but 1815. Let’s hope.
JAMES LILEKS IS SLAMMING SALAM PAX for his snarky comments in The Guardian, which thanked Bush for toppling Saddam but complained about poor service afterward:
Hey, Salam? Fuck you. I know you’re the famous giggly blogger who gave us all a riveting view of the inner circle before the war, and thus know more about the situation than I do. Granted. But there’s a picture on the front page of my local paper today: third Minnesotan killed in Iraq. He died doing what you never had the stones to do: pick up a rifle and face the Ba’athists. You owe him.
Indeed he does. Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Daniel Drezner says that Lileks is wrong. I don’t think he is, though I do think Bush I was wrong to leave Saddam in power in 1991, and I would add on my own part that Salam showed real courage in his blogging, if not the kind of courage that would (directly) overthrow the tyrant. But I just think that Salam has lost a bit of perspective hanging out with Guardian types in London. And so, I think, does Salam’s friend G, back in Baghdad, who writes to Salam:
tell your friends in London that G in Baghdad would have appreciated them much more if they had demonstrated against the atrocities of saddam.
And if you could ask them when will be the next demonstration to support the people of north Korea, the democratic republic of Congo and Iran?
(Emphasis in original). I agree with G.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon agrees with Lileks. Robert Tagorda agrees with Drezner. For what it’s worth, what I think Lileks objects to about Salam Pax’s letter is not that it’s criticizing the reconstruction, but its snarkish, Dowdesque tone. One Fine Jay observes: “It is understood, that we — all of us living in this nation — freed him and his ilk from Saddam, but we do not demand praise, adulation, nor a hive mind from Iraqis. . . . Maybe we as a nation can ask for a little bit of class, certainly a bit more than what Salam Pax has shown so far.” The Fat Guy agrees, and John Weidner responds to Salam’s point about Bush cleaning up the mess: “What we are doing is not “cleaning up the mess.” It’s more like getting you into good enough shape to start cleaning up your own nasty mess. Sort of like taking in hand someone who’s been on a drunken binge. Get ’em a shower, clean clothes, pep-talk, a lot of coffee…so that maybe they can make it into work and not get fired. What you would call ‘cleaned-up’ is just a starting-point for what we call a clean-up. The best day Iraq ever had is still squalor by our standards.”
Call it “tough love.”
MORE: Useful Fools has an, er, useful roundup of Iraqi bloggers who aren’t Salam Pax.
STILL MORE: Bryan Preston is saying “I told you so.”
Bo Cowgill weighs in with this observation: “James Lileks was unrealistic to expect Pax to take up arms against Saddam as American soldiers did. But that doesn’t mean that Salam Pax’s screed was praiseworthy in the slightest. It was disrespectful and self-promoting. Stop defending Salam Pax on this one.”
THE U.N.’S “OIL FOR FOOD” PROGRAM in Iraq (memorably named the “Oil For Palaces progam” by Tommy Franks) is officially ending.
Let’s find out where the money went, now.
POLIPUNDIT says that the Al Qaeda attacks in Turkey are reinforcing Bush’s message that there’s no real neutrality in this war.
A READER WHO IS NEW TO THE BLOGOSPHERE WRITES:
I must have missed the incident that caused the term “fisking” to be coined. I’m sure it was an approach to “analysis” of something news, policy, etc. performed by Mr. Fisk–whose first name escapes me–who was (a lawyer?) in the Clinton administration. Your help would be appreciated.
Wrong Fisk. I like this definition:
[blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment. See also MiSTing, anti-idiotarianism.
There’s also this one:
verb. To deconstruct an article on a point by point basis in a highly critical manner. Derived from the name of journalist Robert Fisk, a frequent target of such critical articles in the blogosphere (qv).
So there you are. A recent article in The Spectator misused the term, suggesting that “Fisking” is something that Robert Fisk does. That’s not the standard usage, though.
A CONFUSED ENEMY IS A VULNERABLE ENEMY: Actually, I think there’s something to this. . . .
100,000 PEOPLE MARCHED — against Gerhard Schroeder. How come this got ignored?
MARSHALL LIED — people died.
UPDATE: An irony-impaired reader thinks I’m “slandering” George Marshall here. Uh, no. You see, the point is that Marshall was wrong about the extent of the German nuclear weapons system, but he didn’t lie. The anti-Bush meme now turns any error into a “lie.” Hence the value of this historical example.
MORE PATENT OVERREACH — this time from AT&T, which claims to have invented, well, pretty much everything.
IAIN MURRAY HAS A PROTEST ROUNDUP — he says he was wrong about the turnout, which was in line with predictions. So was I. Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Iraqi blogger The Mesopotamian has his own comments:
Today, the terrorists in Istanbul answered the “peace” demonstrators in London. Those who have eyes can see, and those who have ears can hear, but there are those whom “God has sealed their hearts for them with a mask, so that they are deaf, dumb and blind and thus can hardly comprehend anything” (Verses to this effect recur frequently in the Holy Quran ) .
These London demonstrations, I know too well, Oh! Youth, and the Pint of Bitter later in the nearest Pub. All you peace lovers and humanitarians of trendy London town, spare a thought or two for the coalition soldier out there in the dark and wilderness guarding our hospitals, primary schools and orphanages from the bombers and assassins, and the Iraqi Police reporting everyday for duty under constant danger of death and mutilation with their poor equipment and meager $50 or so a month pay package. They number almost 100 000 by now and if enlistment is really opened up they would quadruple in number immediately. Why do you think they come? Saddamists pay anybody ten thousand dollars per explosion, and they are going around trying to recruit, and this is a fact that all people in Baghdad know. So why do they come, you think? But only those who have eyes can see, and ears can hear. Why do you think the crackle of celebratory gunfire ululated till dawn, on that sultry Baghdad summer night when the death of Uday and Qusay the monster brats of the tyrant was announced? This, the media did not dwell upon, although quite newsworthy and dramatic. That was the real Opinion Poll of the vast majority of the inhabitants of Baghdad.
I hope they read this in London.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Some historical perspective, from Powerline.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: William Sjostrom has a roundup, too — he’s less charitable, and notes: “Do you notice something about the arithmetic? 70,000 show up, but the last march they say was over a million. This is a growing political movement?” Or a moving target of hype, anyway. . . .
If you want to watch the march via webcam, go here and click “24 hr. archive,” then page forward hour by hour.
RON BAILEY IS NO ETHANOL FAN. Well, neither am I.
CATHY SEIPP ASKS: “Has capitalism failed — or have you?”
TIM BLAIR is back and blogging up a storm.
DAVID BERNSTEIN has an oped on the Solomon Amendment and freedom of association in the Harvard Law Record.
DAVID CARR OFFERS FIRSTHAND REPORTING from the anti-Bush protests in London — with photos! — and observes:
Some literary wag (and I think it was Gore Vidal but I am sure I will corrected in short order if it wasn’t) once quipped that politics is showbusiness for ugly people. Regardless of the provenance of the quote, I am quite sure that it must have been coined in honour of the Stop the War Coalition. Never in all my days have I cast my gaze upon such a motley collection of bedraggled, unsightly, grotseque and snaggle-toothed specimens as gathered today in Central London.
And he’s got the pictures to prove it.
UPDATE: And don’t miss this photo of a sympathizer flashing the peace sign!
ANOTHER UPDATE: More photo-reaction.
BILL HOBBS IS RENDERING ME IRRELEVANT — and not a moment too soon.
LT SMASH thinks that Al Qaeda has made a strategic blunder by turning its attacks on Muslims. That’s my feeling, too. Let’s hope we’re both right.
WILL MICHAEL MOORE DEFEND COL. ALLEN B. WEST? I’m sure he will.
EUGENE VOLOKH IS FISKING THE NINTH CIRCUIT — just keep scrolling.
THE MICHAEL JACKSON CHARGES: A deliberate distraction from the London protests? I link, you decide. . . .
PEOPLE KEEP SENDING ME LINKS to Brian Anderson’s City Journal piece on the culture wars, which indicates to me that (1) there’s a lot of interest in that topic; and (2) people don’t scroll down a lot. Anyway, the Slate/NPR program “Day to Day” has an interesting interview with Anderson and Tim Noah, which you can hear here.
WAGNER JAMES AU sends this story with the headline “Former Axis of Evil Soccer Team Beats Current Axis of Evil Soccer Team:”
But nothing equaled having to answer to Iraq’s former National Olympic Committee president, Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam who kept a jail and torture center at the national sport headquarters and often beat and humiliated athletes who performed poorly.
“It’s no longer a secret: We played every match with the fear of punishment, an intense psychological pressure,” says Mowafak Nuri, a defender for the national side and top Iraqi club Al Zawra, who retired last year. “The Olympic Committee chairman destroyed the performances of the national team.” . . .
Last weekend, the country’s Olympic team – for players under 23 – moved on to the next round of qualifying with a 4-1 defeat of North Korea. In a measure of Iraqi soccer mania, that relatively minor victory set off burst after burst of celebratory gunfire around Baghdad on Saturday night.
They seem quite happy. Also about the not-being-tortured part.
PHIL CARTER WRITES that Al Qaeda is evolving in troubling ways.
JONAH GOLDBERG SAYS I’m not a conservative. True enough. I’m not sure that Andrew Sullivan meant otherwise, though.
MORE ON THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT’S FAILURE:
A new poll shows support for the war in Iraq has slightly risen in the past two weeks, with 56 percent of Americans now saying the situation there was worth going to war over. Fifty-four percent of Americans said that at the beginning of the month.
Similarly, the Gallup poll shows a majority of Americans say the decision to go to war was the right thing to do, compared with 31 percent who disagree. Seventeen percent say it’s too soon to tell.
What’s more, 48 percent of Americans now say the war in Iraq has made the U.S. safer from terrorism, up from 45 percent last month.
On the other hand, right after it we hear this:
All this as polls show the President’s current approval rating — 50 percent — is tied for the lowest of his presidency.
Hmm. So Bush isn’t that popular, but support for the war is up, despite protests, “Bush lied,” quagmire-talk, etc. I think it’s because the antiwar protesters have turned people off. And there’s evidence for that in the same story:
American and British Journalists in London have infiltrated the groups preparing to protest against the President there.
They report that the London Action Resource Center — describing itself as non-violent — has taught demonstrators how to charge police lines and has discussed whether or not the hurling of petrol bombs constitutes an act of violence.
This sort of thing doesn’t sell.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader sends this link to a story about tens of thousands at the Toys ‘R’ Us parade and adds:
The protesters in London (and their leftist supporters in the media) are just pathetic. I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, and saw a much bigger crowd for the Toys `R’ Us Holiday Parade in Times Square, early on a cold Saturday morning. My wife and I could barely push through the crowd to get to the subway as we set out for a day of sightseeing. It says something when a crowd of five-year-olds with their mommies is more intimidating than your crowd of protesters.
As someone who’s spent a lot of time with five-year-olds, I’m not so sure. . .
But Iain Murray is covering this and says that the turnout is looking bigger than he thought, though still nowhere near 100,000. And Kris Murray wonders: “Were there protests like this during the height of the IRA terrorist attacks in London against the British government’s military intervention in Northern Ireland?” I don’t think so.
MORE: Zach Barbera emails: “Forget the 100,000/30-40,000 question. I just want to know where are all the [email protected] puppets?!? I thought we were promised puppets! Can’t these people do anything right?”
If there aren’t puppets, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.
MORE STILL: This story from the Times says official numbers are 70,000. I gather that the Mirror is claiming 200,000 — but, then, they claim that John Pilger is a journalist. . . .
UPDATE: This BBC story still says 100,000 are “expected” — but if you scroll down you’ll see that it’s really more like 30-40,000. That’s about 10% of the number who showed up to protest the fox-hunting ban. And yeah, I know these numbers don’t mean much in themselves. But the downward trend seems pretty clear.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Email from London suggests that protesters aren’t exactly overrunning the place. And here’s a photo from a London blogger’s office window that makes the turnout seem less than overwhelming, too. Reader Rick Bradley emails:
Is it just me, or are this week’s British protests strikingly reminiscent of the Martha Burk protests at the Augusta National this spring?
Yes, like the New York Times with Augusta, the BBC has been doing everything it could to pump turnout — only, it appears, to produce a rather disappointing number of actual protesters. Do you think the media are paper tigers?
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Henry Hanks emails that CBS Radio just now was
describing the numbers in London as “tens of thousands.” This morning an ITV reporter asked Bush why they hate him “in such numbers.” So will we be seeing a concession from the mainstream media that this turnout is far below expectations?
Oh, any minute, I’m sure.
STILL MORE: Here are some questions asked of Bush, presumably by the ITV guy:
Q What do you say to people who today conclude that British people have died and been maimed as a result of you appearing here today, shoulder-to-shoulder with a controversial American President?
And, Mr. President, if I could ask you, with thousands on the street — with thousands marching on the streets today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?
Q Why do they hate you, Mr. President? Why do they hate you in such numbers?
I wonder how many people hate this guy after hearing that performance? The Group Captain, meanwhile, is sniggering.
STILL MORE: Reader Ken Zeitung accuses me of lying, because the BBC story linked above says 60-70,000 now. No, Ken. The BBC just revises its stories on the fly without indicating that it has done so. I don’t get as up in arms about that as some people do, but it does cause problems.
FLESHBOT IDENTIFIES chicks and guns as the new porn trend. (Work safe? Depends on where you work, I guess.)
CONGRATULATIONS TO DR. DAVID HOGBERG, who’s the second person I know — after Dr. Joshua Marshall — to get his Ph.D. while blogging. Proof, anyway, that blogging doesn’t have to destroy a person’s productivity in other arenas. . . .
BOY, A DOZEN AARP MEMBERS BURN THEIR MEMBERSHIP CARDS and it’s national news. I wonder if a dozen ACLU members burning their membership cards over the ACLU’s hypocrisy on the Second Amendment would get the same kind of media attention?
Okay, actually I don’t wonder at all. I don’t know enough about the prescription drug bill to have an opinion, though if the AARP likes it I’m inclined to be deeply suspicious, whatever its members think. But the AARP’s willingness to ally with Republicans suggests to me that its leadership thinks that GOP dominance isn’t a passing thing, and that it had better cease being so closely identified with the Claude Pepper wing of the Democratic Party. I think that’s probably bigger news than the card-burning.
ANDREW SULLIVAN is deeply, deeply unhappy with the energy bill. I haven’t followed it, but I don’t think that there has ever been an energy bill that was cause for joy, and given that the one thing I do know is that Tom Daschle is endorsing it because of a hike in ethanol subsidies I doubt this will prove any exception to that rule.
Ethanol does not help clean the air and it is not a renewable energy source. In fact, ethanol used for fuel generates formaldehyde, a toxic chemical. Our environment doesn’t need that kind of “preservation.” Ethanol mandates do nothing but benefit special interests at a very high cost to all Americans.
I prefer my ethanol in a nice Shiraz. Why aren’t we subsidizing that?
WRITING ON STEPHEN HAYES’ ARTICLE on the Saddam / Al Qaeda connection, Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball are skeptical, saying that the case for such a connection is “decidedly not closed.”
Er, okay guys. How about treating it as open, then?
Meanwhile Tony Blankley wonders if the sudden increase in media skepticism toward leaked stories displayed in recent weeks has anything to do with the fact that all the leaks make Bush look good, or his critics look bad. Surely not.
And Pejman Yousefzadeh responds to the Hayes article by calling for more public disclosure of what’s known on the subject.
UPDATE: Hayes responds to Newsweek.
MY BROTHER’S BOOK ON AFRICA IN WORLD HISTORY is out. He’d be relieved, if he weren’t already deep in the throes of working on the next book.
He’s the smart one. I’m the good-looking one.
IRANFILTER is a collaborative Iranian blog set up by Hossein Derakshan.
WESLEY CLARK has a rather bloggish site going now. Or maybe it’s Slashdot-ish.
DAVID FRUM IN THE TELEGRAPH:
The anti-Bush demonstration in Lincoln’s Inn Fields was called for six o’clock, but at the appointed hour, journalists and camera crews substantially outnumbered protesters. . . .
The sharp-faced man answered with a superior air. “When you have a mass movement like this, it’s impossible for it to be captured by a small group.”
I looked up and down the south side of the square. The “mass movement” extended barely half the length of the railing. I’d seen larger crowds at poetry readings.
I’m not sure, but I think this must have been the Judean People’s Front. But here’s my favorite bit:
Mike (the name he gave) shrugged me off. “People in the Middle East are fighting because their own governments are repressing them. They come to feel that they have no alternative – and the mosque is always open.
“But I can’t help thinking that it’s just not very realistic that people are going to kill each other because they say my God is better than your God. Give people freedom and an opportunity for something better: that’s what they really want.”
I said: “You know, you sound exactly like Paul Wolfowitz.” He flinched.
And well he might.
MAYBE THIS IS WHERE THE PROTESTERS HAVE BEEN: It’s World Toilet Day.
MY REQUIEM FOR MP3.COM produced an interesting email from reader Kelly Robinson:
As an avid user of MP3.com for the last several years – I was chagrined to learn of its demise.
While I don’t terribly care what CNET does with the brand – I DO care about a) preserving the vast storehouse of excellent INDEPENDENT music and b) providing a viable means by which unsigned artists can promote and distribute their music.
To that end, we’re forming a consortium to see if we can’t save the archive and then create a “new” MP3.com of sorts that returns to it’s roots – the centralized and simple distribution of original, independent music.
We’re chasing down the folks at CNET and I have a message into Mr. Roberson, in the hopes of leveraging his passion for his “baby”.
That’s a great point. I’ll keep you posted if I find out more. I don’t think that there’s anything in the MP3.com Artist Agreement to prevent this.
Failing that, they should at least give a copy of the archive to the Smithsonian or something. It’s quite a comprehensive document of music history.
UPDATE: In a sort-of related note, Magnatune is an internet-based record label whose slogan is “we’re not evil.”
ELIOT COHEN WRITES ON THE COSTS OF CUTTING AND RUNNING IN IRAQ: He’s right, of course, which is why I’m not too worried that we’ll do it.
XENI JARDIN calls our attention to an example of, er, PC run amok in Los Angeles County:
One such recent example included the manufacturer’s labeling of equipment where the words ”Master/Slave” appeared to identify the primary and secondary sources. Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label.
You can’t make this stuff up.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh: “It’s funny, but it’s also a bit scary.”
UPDATE: Bill Quick: “I now anticipate watching with wry pleasure as various conservative supporters of federalism jump through hoops as they try to explain why they hate this example of federalism so much, and why they hope desperately that it can somehow be overturned.”
FROM THE BBC REPORTERS’ WEBLOG:
I think President Bush will see it as quite a satisfactory day. Just as the pictures of the demonstrations overemphasised their importance, as there was only a small amount of demonstrators, so the pictures of him with the Queen will overemphasise the strength of his welcome. There was hardly anybody in the streets to see him, because he wasn’t in the streets himself. . . .
The mayor Ken Livingstone has just got up on his feet. There are about 200 people here at City Hall. He said this is just how he envisaged it. . . . [More on Livingstone here.]
A relatively small number of protesters have made their way down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace where they have effectively been cut of by the substantial police numbers who have been visible all day today.
Several hundred people would perhaps be a generous assessment of how many people made it there.
They’re promising 100,000 for tomorrow. We’ll see.
SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT BUSH, he’s no Scrooge. That’s not a good thing, though.
FRASER NELSON WRITES IN THE SCOTSMAN:
Today, sober critics of America will be marching – fuelled by concern over what they see as an ill- educated cowboy visiting war on parts of the world previously at peace. The key to their mindset is their definition of war and peace.
There was, of course, no peace in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was using starvation as a weapon to kill hundreds of thousands of Shia infants and his goons were throwing enemies into torture chambers, en route to mass graves.
But these atrocities featured little on our television screens, thus making little impact on the public consciousness. To protesters, victims of dictatorship do not count in the way that the casualties of war count. They are blind to Arab-on-Arab oppression.
Using the crude mathematics of lives, the war in Iraq has already saved more than it has lost. Aid sent by Mr Bush, funded by the US taxpayer, has vaccinated four million Iraqis and fed 100,000 undernourished mothers.
In a country where one child in eight did not survive their fifth birthday, America is intervening. Aid replaces UN sanctions, which protesters say they preferred in place of war.
Saving lives by vaccination and healthcare can only hope to become as glamorous as the anti-war movement. In Britain, the wars against drugs, disease and poverty can only dream of arousing protests equivalent to today’s display in London.
Those callous protesters, so uncaring toward the poor and the sick.
LEVY LAUNCH OF “LIBERTARIANS FOR LIEBERMAN” LOOMS: Sorry, I couldn’t resist the alliteration.
ED CONE SUMS UP Howard Dean’s Internet strategy, calling it “one of the most effective marketing efforts in the history of national politics, and the most sophisticated online campaign to date.”
That seems about right to me. The other Democrats are way behind, and so is the Bush campaign.
A READER EMAILS:
So, it will be interesting to see whether big media cover the absence of protesters after drumming up expectations, change the subject, film it so that it looks like a big crowd or just interview Harold Pinter.
The NPR story that I just heard didn’t mention any numbers — it just interviewed protesters. From that alone, anyone used to reading Pravda could have figured out that the numbers were small. . . .
The BBC has numbers, though:
Police estimate that about 1,200 people staged a protest through Oxford city centre on Wednesday night against the war in Iraq and President Bush’s visit to Britain.
A US flag was burned during that demonstration and an effigy of the American president was toppled and set on fire.
About 500 people took part in a march in Manchester against the president’s visit.
Interestingly, though, there are no numbers for London, making me suspect that other reports of 200-350 protesters are about right. Not very impressive, really. I suppose a quarter-million might suddenly show up tomorrow, but I rather doubt it.
But even if they do, they won’t match the much greater number who showed up to protest the hunting ban. . . .
UPDATE: Charles Austin emails:
Maybe I’m just hypersensitive too it, but what I found most striking was how much time NPR devoted to some truly pathetic protestors compared to the time they spent on the President’s speech. You can almost imagine that they laid out their schedule much earlier in the day and then had to really struggle to fill those 2 minutes with something, anything, that sounded like a protest.
Yes, I don’t think the protester interviews helped the cause.
LT SMASH has more on the Saddam / Al Qaeda connection. “While I’m not an intelligence analyst, I have read literally hundreds of intelligence summaries in the course of my military career.” He thinks the case is pretty strong.
I ALMOST FORGOT! It’s National Ammo Day.
It’s not too late to go out and pick up a case of 12-gauge.
LAME ANTIWAR PROTEST UPDATE: Here’s another British blog report:
England’s Sword has some reports of the rather pitiful showing by the ‘peace’-protestors in London today. It wasn’t just London.
There was a peacenik demonstration next to the war memorial in the centre of Swindon this lunchtime: all of a dozen middle-aged protestors. So far, so normal. After all today was a work day. The amusing thing was that the demonstrators were outnumbered two to one by an ad hoc crowd of teenagers and young people who were jeering and heckling them, along with shouting out pro-war slogans. In fact the protestors chanting was drowned out despite their having a loud hailer.
Ah, the world turned upside down.
SADDAM AND OSAMA: Stephen Hayes has more.
GAY MARRIAGE: So what do I think about a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? I’m against it. And I disagree with Jim Miller that allowing gay marriage constitutes an “endorsement” of gay marriage, any more than allowing Anna Nicole Smith to marry constitutes state endorsement of marrying for money.
I suspect that proponents of the Amendment think that they need to lock in a bar against gay marriage while they still have the votes (though I rather doubt that they, in fact, do). I think that lock-in is a bad idea on that sort of thing. That’s also why I’m not crazy about this being done by judicial action. I would prefer to see gay marriage legalized via legislation, which I think will happen anyway in the not-too-distant future. But it’s easy for me to take the long view on this, since I’m not a gay person who wants to get married. (Eugene Volokh has a, typically, more refined take on this).
Perhaps it’s a blind spot on my part, but I just don’t see how gay marriage threatens heterosexual marriage. It seems to me that it’s the opposite, and that gay marriage will strengthen marriage overall. And I do think that the Massachusetts opinion is entirely defensible, as I said yesterday. Indeed, had I been on that Court I might have voted that way — though I probably would have written the opinion in terms of limitations on governmental power, rather than expansive notions of equality — had the case been before me. [There goes your shot at a judicial position! — Ed. Like it was there to begin with. . . .]
Predictions: The (federal) constitutional amendment project will fizzle. A more interesting question is whether Massachusetts voters will amend their state Constitution to overrule the decision. It’s fairly hard to amend the Massachusetts Constitution, but not that hard. Should they succed, it will be a major blow to gay marriage efforts, since a gay-rights opinion that can’t survive in Massachusetts isn’t likely to fly nationwide. I predict that the decision will stand, though it may well be close.
More general punditry — this helps Bush, and hurts Democrats. Democrats are divided on gay marriage (black voters are, I believe, among the most hostile to it, and so are older voters), but they have a powerful gay-rights constituency. I don’t think the effect will be big, though. To me this seems like the kind of issue that would be bigger in a non-Presidential election year. With a war on, and bigger issues on the table, I don’t think it’s going to drive the elections.
That’s my take, anyway.
WINDS OF CHANGE offers a Central Asia survey with all sorts of links and information about goings-on in the region. That stuff tends not to be very well-covered, so if you want to keep up, be sure to check it out.
NICK CONFESSORE IS picking on TechCentralStation (well, really in the process of picking on James Glassman) over in the Washington Monthly.
It’s hard to know exactly what he doesn’t like about TCS — other than, you know, the fact that a lot of its authors disagree with his politics — but it seems to have something to do with the fact that it’s not a non-profit, instead relying on some sort of new innovation called “sponsors”(cleverly concealed <a href=”here on the TCS website!) to pay the bills. But he doesn’t really critique any actual articles, or supply much in the way of specifics.
All I’ll say is that I’ve written for TCS for nearly two years, and they’ve never told me what to write. Occasionally the editor, Nick Schulz, will suggest a topic — last week he suggested that I write something about the Federal Marriage Amendment, and I stupidly declined, not realizing what a big issue it would be this week — but it’s certainly hard for me to discern any Subtle Corporate Agenda in those suggestions.
Of course, if it were a really subtle corporate agenda, I might not notice. In fact, I might write articles that I thought were my own idea, but that really advanced the Subtle Corporate Agenda. But let’s not get paranoid, here. If that were true, I would have written a nonspecific article in some other publication, pretending at criticism but actually announcing that TCS was really good at advancing the agendas of its paying sponsors, thus encouraging more companies to become paying sponsors. Hmm. Hey, you don’t think. . . . ?
UPDATE: Daniel Drezner, who writes for TCS from time to time, wonders if he’s a paid lobbyist (not paid much, if he gets what I’m getting!) and observes:
One surprise for me, given that Confessore contributes to Tapped, is that he failed to mention Tech Central Station’s willingness to recruit its contributors from the blogosphere. Flipping through the authors, I saw a fair number of bloggers that are TCS contributors — Radley Balko, Joe Katzman, Lynne Kiesling, Arnold Kling, Megan McArdle, Charles Murtaugh, Virginia Postrel, Glenn Reynolds, Rand Simberg, Eugene Volokh, and Matthew Yglesias. I’d like to think that explains part of Tech Central Station’s success.
[Oh no! Drezner’s outed Yglesias, the TCS mole at TAPPED! –Ed. It’s a policy mag — with an ideology! I’m selling this story to Oliver Stone. . . .] And, as with Drezner, my only real interaction — except for an occasional email with the graphics guy — has been with Nick Schulz. I’ve never even gotten an email from Glassman, much less anyone else.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sasha Volokh notes an ad from TomPaine.com sounding the same theme [TomPaine.com? Aren’t they funded by Bill Moyers, and doesn’t he “lavishly” fund The American Prospect which funds Confessore? — Ed. Shh. Leave the conspiracy theories to those guys. I’m sure it’s perfectly innocent.] and he’s thinking of suing them — for not using his name when they quoted his piece. Yes, “be sure you spell my name right” only works if you mention the name.
Megan McArdle weighs in, too. But the best line is from her comments section: “This is probably a sign that TCS is having a real impact: the ad hominems have started.” Heh. Indeed.
Michael Totten has comments, too.
Pejman Yousefzadah responds with a Fisking. Unlike Confessore, Pejman points to actual articles, and everything.
Personally, I think the whole affair looks like what my ethics book calls Petty Blifil. And thanks to the coolness of Amazon, you can follow that link and read what that means.
WAR AND RECONCILIATION: My Civil War post from yesterday produced this response by Donald Sensing.
THE “THINKING MAN’S CRUZ BUSTAMANTE” — Ouch.
BROADEN YOUR BLOG HORIZONS SOME MORE by visiting this week’s Blog Mela, hosted by Suman Palit. It’s a festival of Indian blogging!
MORE ON THE FLAGGING AND OBSOLESCENT ANTIWAR MOVEMENT: Iain Murray reports that London protests are pretty small.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh posts an email from the scene:
We are living in the heart of things — in Trafalgar Square — and, for what it’s worth, can report that there is nothing of any substance going on at all. It’s quite quiet — people are going about their business, but the usual buzz of tourist activity has slackened a bit. The first round of scheduled protest events involved a big talk by prominent left-leaning activists, and drew about 2,000 people. Then, about 1,000 marched through Oxford Street to protest the Bush Administration’s environmental policies. The thousands who were supposed to greet him at Buckingham did not materialize — there were maybe 100. Right now (Wednesday afternoon), just after the President’s big talk, there are a few hundred people milling around Trafalgar Square, a women’s prayer circle, and some people congratulating themselves for putting red-dye in the fountains (get it?). The crowd is a little bigger than the crowd two days ago, who were protesting the ban on feeding the pigeons, but certainly smaller than the crowd last month, who were protesting tuition hikes at universities. The cops were cracking up. There was supposed to be a big “alternative state parade” of cyclists and other folks, but it seems to have fizzled.
Hmm. What if they had an anti-war and nobody showed up?
There are the occasional anti-American slogans, some in misspelled English – like “Dawn USA” – but mostly President George W. Bush is hailed as a liberator, especially in the neighborhoods of the Shia majority historically brutalized by Hussein.
Samplings of the Arabic slogans include: “Down Saddam the infidel and long live Bush the believer!” “A thousand Americans but not one Tikriti,” referring to residents of Hussein’s hometown.
Many taunt the deposed dictator: “Saddam the dirty, the son of the dirty, in which septic tank are you hiding now?”
Hussein’s family also comes in for abuse: “Where are your wife and daughters, Saddam? Are you pimping them in Jordan?”
“I like what I read,” said Karal Nadji, a Shia street vendor who sells shoes. “We appreciate Mr. Bush. We’re all waiting for the fruits of change.”
And there’s a slight variation on “Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!”
A popular slogan comparing the politician with an Iraqi chickpea dish declares: “Neither Bush we want, nor Chalabi; we want beer and lablabee.”
UPDATE: Regarding “Dawn USA,” above, reader Dave Schipani emails:
Hell, that’s not misspelled. It’s an echo of the Gipper – “It’s morning
You know, that actually makes sense.
NOT YOUR FATHER’S WAR PROTESTS — I’ve got a post on the flagging and obsolescent antiwar movement — and the potent pro-war protests — up over at GlennReynolds.com.
CREAMY, BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week’s Carnival of the Vanities is up. Expand your blog-horizons!
Evanston police arrested a Communication freshman Monday and charged him with felony disorderly conduct, alleging he lied about two hate crimes to bring attention to race relations on campus. . . .
Saide “made up” both incidents, Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis wrote in a press release issued Tuesday morning. Police charged Saide late Monday with two counts of felony disorderly conduct in connection with fabricating police reports about the incidents.
Saide confessed he falsified reports about the racist acts to initiate dialogue about racial relations on campus, said Chief Frank Kaminski of Evanston Police Department. Saide could not be reached for comment.
“Certainly his motivation was to bring attention to himself and his cause,” Kaminski said Tuesday at a press conference.
Well, he certainly achieved that. Of course, crying “wolf!” has its downsides, too.
MOURNING THE DEATH OF MP3.COM — my TechCentralStation column is up.
THE SENATE HAS PASSED A COMPROMISE NANOTECHNOLOGY BILL, and Howard Lovy has some information on it; I can’t find any more yet.
Meanwhile, StrategyPage reports that nanotech armor is being used in Iraq:
The nanofiber in the Humvee turrets looks like fiberboard, but it is 17 times stronger than Kevlar (which is itself six times stronger than steel). However, it’s going to be several years before the cost of the new fiber gets anywhere near Kevlar’s levels (about $50 per square yard of fiber). The experimental turrets are being used to see how the material stands up to field conditions (heat, cold, moisture, vibration and so on.)
Materials science is a lot more important than it is sexy, but this stuff is only sort of nanotechnology. It’s nothing akin to the molecular-manufacturing technology that people like Eric Drexler are championing. I’m afraid that too much of the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s funding is going to these short-term issues, and not enough is going to assembler technology and other things with longer-term payoffs. I don’t know if this is addressed in the bill as it passed.
UPDATE: Some comments from a nanotechnology researcher.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Managed to get a copy of the bill as passed in PDF form — it’s here. There’ll probably be some tweaking in conference, but no major changes are expected.
It’s 2003, and the president is George W. Bush, but the teeth-gnashing rhetoric is right of out 1983 and the “Euro-missile protests” against Ronald Reagan.
This month is the 20th anniversary of the Great Euromissile Crisis. Oh, the accusations! Reagan was stupid. Reagan was dangerous, a warmonger seeking the nuclear destruction of the USSR. Reagan was — good heavens — a unilateralist. Today, the mayor of London calls Bush “the greatest threat to life on the planet.”
Read the whole thing for more historical perspective.
JACK SHAFER ASKS: Why is the press avoiding the Weekly Standard’s intelligence scoop?
UPDATE: Another article in Slate notes that the Mohammed Atta Prague connection hasn’t gone away.
THOUGHTS ON TONY BLAIR AND BRITAIN:
“The U.K. matters,” says one senior administration official. “In the 1950s, British power appeared to be ebbing. Now British power seems to be growing. The Europeans who have sided with us have managed to put their countries on the map as global powers. I question the whole basis that Blair hasn’t gained anything. He’s gained a tremendous amount.”
Hmm. The protesters don’t get that, but apparently lots of other people do: “Protests begin but majority backs Bush visit as support for war surges.”
JEFF JARVIS, on caring people, and why they matter.
I’LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT’S SHOW at 8 Eastern, with Eugene Volokh, talking about the Massachusetts gay marriage case. Go here and click “listen online” if it’s not on the air in your area.
Interestingly, Democrats seem to be running away from the decision. Why, I wonder?
Here is a poll on the subject, finding that young people are split, but old people are heavily against it.
UPDATE: SKBubba is wondering why it’s such a big deal.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots of posts, not all of them cheerful, on this subject over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Here are some earlier thoughts on the subject. And don’t miss this column by Radley Balko on getting the state out of the marriage business entirely.
FREDERICK FORSYTH’S LETTER TO GEORGE W. BUSH:
Today you arrive in my country for the first state visit by an American president for many decades, and I bid you welcome.
You will find yourself assailed on every hand by some pretty pretentious characters collectively known as the British left. They traditionally believe they have a monopoly on morality and that your recent actions preclude you from the club. You opposed and destroyed the world’s most blood-encrusted dictator. This is quite unforgivable.
I beg you to take no notice. The British left intermittently erupts like a pustule upon the buttock of a rather good country. Seventy years ago it opposed mobilisation against Adolf Hitler and worshipped the other genocide, Josef Stalin.
It has marched for Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov. It has slobbered over Ceausescu and Mugabe. It has demonstrated against everything and everyone American for a century. Broadly speaking, it hates your country first, mine second.
Eleven years ago something dreadful happened. Maggie was ousted, Ronald retired, the Berlin wall fell and Gorby abolished communism. All the left’s idols fell and its demons retired. For a decade there was nothing really to hate. But thank the Lord for his limitless mercy. Now they can applaud Saddam, Bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il… and hate a God-fearing Texan. So hallelujah and have a good time.
Somehow, I think W. will follow that advice. . . .
The showpiece of antiliberal humor is one that appalls a good many conservatives: South Park, Comedy Central’s wildly popular cartoon saga of four crude and incredibly foul-mouthed little boys. . . . This is a new paradigm in pop culture: Conventional liberalism is the old, rigid establishment. The antiliberals are brash, funny, and cool. Who would have thought?
UPDATE: Well, this guy, I guess. . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this, too.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ed Paul thinks there’s more going on culturally than just South Park:
Saturday night, I had a real feeling that maybe conservatives are doing even better than they think in the culture wars. I was walking out of Master and Commander which is a compendium of what used to be called the manly virtues. Courage, honor, tenacity, loyalty and tolerance are all on display without a whiff of irony. Even an appreciation of the arts and education are included without any astonishment that warriors could value those things. Master is not an anomaly. Black Hawk Down and They were Soldiers Once and Young were both straightforward depictions of heroism unaccompanied by knowing smirks.
At the moment it is almost impossible to imagine Hollywood producing a Mash or Catch 22 or Doctor Strangelove ( Although I hasten to add Strangelove will always be in my top five movies.) It wouldn’t dare. They may still smile knowingly over their designer water at home but not in their films.
Are things really going as well as all that?