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ARTHUR SILBER: “In periods of general social dislocation, upheaval and turmoil, possibilities for coalition-building appear that may not exist in other times. We are living through such a period today in many ways.”

UPDATE: “Anger is an energy.”

ARTHUR SILBER IS CREEPED OUT by the messianic zeal of Obama fans.

Hey, it’s not as if they’re taking his name or anything!

GLENN GREENWALD IS UNHAPPY WITH OBAMA’S FISA FLIP-FLOP, and even less happy with the way the leftosphere has given Obama a pass:

In the past 24 hours, specifically beginning with the moment Barack Obama announced that he now supports the Cheney/Rockefeller/Hoyer House bill, there have magically arisen — in places where one would never have expected to find them — all sorts of claims about why this FISA “compromise” isn’t really so bad after all. People who spent the week railing against Steny Hoyer as an evil, craven enabler of the Bush administration — or who spent the last several months identically railing against Jay Rockefeller — suddenly changed their minds completely when Barack Obama announced that he would do the same thing as they did. What had been a vicious assault on our Constitution, and corrupt complicity to conceal Bush lawbreaking, magically and instantaneously transformed into a perfectly understandable position, even a shrewd and commendable decision, that we should not only accept, but be grateful for as undertaken by Obama for our Own Good.

Accompanying those claims are a whole array of factually false statements about the bill, deployed in service of defending Obama’s indefensible — and deeply unprincipled — support for this “compromise.”

Everything’s for your own good: It’s the magic of the Messiah. Get with the program, Glenn! Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias is spotted hoping that an Obama Administration will engage in “massive abuses so the right can get what they’ve been asking for.”

Arthur Silber, meanwhile, says that no one is safe.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, a reverse flipflop from Obama on immunity. And, actually, I should give Greenwald credit for not being in the tank on this as so many are.

MORE: Reader Phil Dean emails: “Thanks for linking to Greenwald’s critique of Obama’s FISA
support and the left’s reaction to it. What I think this shows is that all the Bush-is-shredding-the-Constitution rhetoric was, at its core, fundamentally unserious. Greenwald seems surprised by this.” Yes, he does, and yes, it was.

ARTHUR SILBER: “The comedy of a significant portion of the progressive blogosphere’s reaction to the Eliot Spitzer revelations is…oh, hell, it’s transcendent!

UPDATE: More Spitzer comedy, with links to Spitzer jokes from Letterman, Colbert, et al. Don’t you think he wishes the writers’ strike were still on?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Unintentional comedy from Alan Dershowitz: “America only? I’m assuming Dershowitz has been living in a cave somewhere for the last six months and missed the entire French nation getting in a twist over Sarkozy’s affair and then marriage to Carla Bruni – and that was completely legal and aboveboard. Only someone truly square (like a lawyer?) still believes that canard about sophisticated Europe/naive US. Moreover, the outcry against Spitzer was not because he was some man seeing a prostitute, but because he was a guy who puts prostitutes in jail seeing a prostitute.”

Okay, the lawyer thing hurts a bit. . . .

GREG DJEREJIAN chides me on the torture issue, and I have to say that he makes a strong case. As my uncharacteristically heated response to Andrew Sullivan the other day illustrated, Sullivan’s needling long ago got my back up, and has led me, consciously and unconsciously, to affirmatively avoid writing about this topic in response, as Djerejian suggests. That no doubt represents a flaw in my character, but then, I am not without flaws.

UPDATE: I somehow thought that Arthur Silber had stoppped blogging, but he emails this rather lengthy post.


I’m being warned about the dangers of capitalism from a man who made perhaps more money from merchandising than any other man in history. I’m getting lectured about the dangers of greed from man who authorized, “C-3POs” breakfast cereal, “The Star Wars Christmas Special” featuring Bea Arthur’s musical number, and not one but two Ewoks made-for-TV movies.

I’m being warned about the dangers of technology, and the glory of primitive cultures like the Ewoks, who are able to defeat the ‘technological terror’ of the Empire, in what is supposedly an allegory of Vietnam. Technology is bad, soulless, dangerous, and dehumanizing. Mmm-hmm. This from a man who replaced a tall man in a hairy suit, a projecting the human-eyed loyalty and sadness of Chewbacca, with the CGI cinematic war crime that is Jar-Jar Binks. A man who tossed aside the Yoda puppet, the spaceship models, the stop-motion animation of the Imperial walkers to go all-computer-animation-and-green-screen, all-the-time.

I’m being warned about the dangers of a “you’re either with me or against me” attitude, and the viewing of the world in a black and white morality, from a filmmaker who has his villain dress entirely in black, choke the life out of helpless pilots, and blows up entire planets. This from a man whose nuanced moral view required an edit to make Greedo shoot first.


UPDATE: Steve Silberman thinks that Geraghty is being unfair to Lucas:

Ouch, indeed. But what is strangely missing from Geraghty’s ostensible bitch-slapping of Lucas is any link to Lucas’ statements along these lines, which I assume were extrapolated from my cover article in the May issue of Wired, “Life After Darth” (Link ) and an accompanying online only Q&A (Link) . Instead, Geraghty links to Jason Appuzo’s post on Libertas, which excoriates Lucas for not condemning Michael Moore strongly enough. What’s unnerving is that Lucas was certainly drawing a line between his own storytelling methods and Moore’s in my interview — Lucas’ statements were critical, not praising of Moore, as you can see — but apparently because Lucas doesn’t share Apuzzo’s opinion of Moore as a modern-day Goebbels (that’s Appuzo’s word), the readers of Libertas quickly branded Lucas a “Moore-loving liberal.” They were way offbase, but such overheated rhetoric is *so* much easier to maintain when Lucas’ actual statements are absent from the debate.

I don’t have an ewok in this fight. I haven’t even seen the last two Star Wars movies (and I own Phantom Menace on DVD, still unopened) because, I don’t know, I just felt that the first trilogy was too good to equal.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Blanchard emails:

know this is a little late, but I thought it only fair to note that Jim Geraghty’s discussion of George Lucas is a comparison of the messages in the Star Wars
films and Lucas’s own life, not a critique of Lucas’s statements in the Wired story or Q&A. Geraghty need not bring up statements Lucas made about Michael Moore (which I agree were over-interpreted), because that
wasn’t really the substance of the critique – although it probably informed the underlying motivation for writing it.

Good point.


Oh sure, it will add a magnetic identification strip and identifying photo to your existing Social Security card, and you’ll be required to present the new card for identification any time you want to apply for a new job. At that point, your prospective employer would then check the identification listed on your card against a national database which identifies eligible employees.

But Rep. Dreier’s bill will not create a national identification card.

(Via Arthur Silber).

KEN SILBER WRITES that Arthurian legend still matters.

MORE ON GAVIN NEWSOM and the San Francisco gay marriage issue: Larry Solum has a post on some of the issues raised, and Jacob Levy has a piece in The New Republic on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber points to (and summarizes) this brief in support of the San Francisco position. I’m off to a faculty meeting and haven’t had time to read it, but you may find it interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a link to the brief for the other side.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz disagrees with Levy.

ARTHUR SILBER wonders what John Kerry has against gay people.

WINDS OF CHANGE has a Korea roundup that’s chock-full of interesting (and disturbing) information. Also, here’s a new Korea blog that’s worth checking out.

In a non-Korea-related development, blogger Arthur Silber is in a spot of trouble, and Armed Liberal, among several other L.A.-based bloggers, is trying to help him out. If you’ve enjoyed Silber’s blog, you may want to join in. You can read more about it here.

ARTHUR SILBER points to another reason why the powers-that-be hated the recall — it proved that voters could handle a ballot with lots of candidates, proving that ballot-barrier laws are unjustified.

BLOGS I SHOULD LINK MORE OFTEN: Howard Lovy’s Nanobot, Donald Sensing’s One Hand Clapping, Arthur Silber’s Light of Reason,, AngryLeft, Silent Running, Silflay Hraka, VikingPundit, John Cole’s Balloon Juice, David Hogberg’s Cornfield Commentary, HeadHeeb, SayUncle, Kathy Kinsley’s On The Third Hand, PrairiePundit, FuturePundit, QuasiPundit, ParaPundit, isntapundit, and, no doubt, a whole lot of others.

I try to get around, honest. But there are so many blogs, and so little time.


Actually, it’s more than that: the old Kinsley column that Silber has dredged up is mindbogglingly embarrassing on its own — even before you notice the double standard.

UPDATE: Some people say that Silber is misreading Kinsley’s column, and missing his sarcasm. I followed the link from Silber’s post initially and it didn’t seem that way, but I went back and read it again, and I think they’re probably right. This quote is the tipoff, to me: “Is rape a worse crime than using drugs? Well, many might think so, but you wouldn’t know it from the way most politicians talk about drugs.”

It’s not entirely clear, though I should have assumed that any time Dan Quayle is quoted, Kinsley is being sarcastic. My fault.

BLOG PHOTOJOURNALISM: John Daley sends this:

If you’re interested, here are some blog entries posted from Bryant Park (using a verizon hotspot, not the park’s) during the blackout. There are also photos.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Very cool stuff. Somebody tell Mark Glaser!

UPDATE: Here’s another firsthand report, from Chris Sciabarra, who’s guest-posting at Arthur Silber’s blog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brendan Loy has more cool photos. And here’s a link to blog video of the lights coming on in Chelsea.

JEFF JARVIS IS RUBBING IT IN where Mike Hawash is concerned, and links to a column in the Oregonian calling on Hawash’s supporters to admit that they were wrong.

Hawash has said that he was guilty, very explicitly:

“You and the others in the group were prepared to take up arms, and die as martyrs if necessary, to defend the Taliban. Is this true?” U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones asked Hawash during the hearing.

“Yes, your honor,” Hawash replied.

Hawash has also agreed to provide testimony against accomplices. As someone who was skeptical of this case, I have to say that it looks as if they’ve got the goods on him. On the other hand, heavyhanded tactics in obtaining plea bargains in other cases do produce a bit of a shadow on other plea bargains, perhaps including this one.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Heddleson thinks I’m wrong:

To a devoted reader and fan, you are starting to sound a tad defensive:

“On the other hand, heavyhanded tactics in obtaining plea bargains in other cases do produce a bit of a shadow on other plea bargains, perhaps including this one. ”

In the Lackawana case, the Feds may have been a bit heavy handed but not wrong. In war, decisions on the bubble go against the guilty/stupid and the sooner everybody floating near that bubble figures that out the better. In peace, we can be a bit more charitable. I feel for these fellows and their families, but they should never have made the trip.

Unfortunately, getting over excited about these less than clear cut cases takes the winds out of one’s sails for when the really bad one goes down. Here I am referring to Padilla. I strongly suspect he is a bad man. He is an American citizen. If he is treated as a belligerent and denied habeus corpus (or has this already happened?), I believe we’ll have a real problem, especially as I expect this “state of war” to last for at least 10 and maybe 20 years. For the next two decades the President will be able to jail any American indefinitely and potentially secretly in Gitmo with no recourse? This is a problem.

Throwing the book too hard at people who broke the law and were stupid, and perhaps not in that order, is no where as big a problem. Consistent suspicion of wrongdoing/incompetence by DOJ produces a bit of a shadow on protests when true outrages do occur.

Well, I take the point, and I’ve tried not to cry wolf. But the Lackawanna defendants were threatened with detention without trial unless they pled guilty. Once you make that kind of a threat, it’s just no longer as easy to say “he pled guilty, so he must be guilty.”

I absolutely oppose holding any U.S. citizen without trial. If you can do that, you can — and, history suggests, will — abuse that power against political opponents. There is no sign that the Justice Department is doing that now. But I don’t want to see temptation placed in their path, because I don’t believe that they can be trusted to resist it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber has more on the Padilla case.

ARTHUR SILBER thinks Justice Scalia is really Rick Santorum:

SANTORUM=SCALIA??!!: I think they’re the same person. Santorum said:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything,” Santorum, R-Pa., said in the interview, published Monday.

And in his dissent, Scalia says:

State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.

Has anyone ever seen them together at the same time?

But James Taranto thinks Scalia is really Jerry Seinfeld:

Scalia Imitates Seinfeld

” ‘The court has taken sides in the culture war,’ Scalia said, adding that he has ‘nothing against homosexuals.’ “–, June 26, 2003

“We’re not gay! Not that there’s anything wrong with that . . .”–Jerry Seinfeld, “Seinfeld,” Feb. 11 1993

He looks a bit like George Costanza. But only a bit.

ARTHUR SILBER NOTES THAT ORRIN HATCH HAS ANOTHER CONNECTION to the world of computers and communications.

THIS LOOKS LIKE A PHONY EFFORT BY ORRIN HATCH to back away from his inflammatory remarks about destroying people’s computers — only without actually doing so. I’m unimpressed. Meanwhile Arthur Silber is reading the tea leaves in various statements and wonders if we’ll see attempts at Internet censorship in the name of homeland security.

Probably. And Hatch’s comments make clear that even if that’s the justification that’s offered, it will really be Big Media companies calling the shots.

UPDATE: Ed Cone has some reporting on Congressional responses to Hatch’s statement.

THERE ARE 20,000 IRANIAN WEBLOGS. Jeff Jarvis has links to some of them. One of the most popular is by a former prostitute. Here’s more:

Iranian youths have launched 20,000 active Web logs, or “blogs,” — online diaries which range in topic from simple musings on life to political discussions to sports.

In April, Sina Motallebi became the first blogger to be arrested in Iran where dozens of reformist journalists have been charged by hardline courts. He was freed on bail three weeks later but still faces undisclosed charges.

Women have been especially active bloggers, seizing the opportunity to speak out freely and anonymously on subjects such as dating and romance.

Besides popular political and news sites, half of the 10 most visited Persian blogs are about sex, according to figures from a service providing statistics on Web usage.

“Blogs show us a new generation . . . that is self-expressive, tolerant and individualistic,” said Hossein Derakhshan, a Toronto-based veteran Iranian blogger.

“Many are lonely and hopeless to the point of depression. They seem to be frustrated and have a problem with sex,” said Derakhshan, who presented a study on Iranian blogs at a conference in Vienna in late May.

Azadi, Arak, Eshgh!

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has more thoughts on blogging ex-prostitutes and revolution.

HOWELL RAINES AND GERALD BOYD HAVE RESIGNED from the New York Times. Joseph Lelyveld will take over on an interim basis.

UPDATE: I wonder if this had anything to do with it? Probably not. Meanwhile Roger Simon says that there will probably be more journalistic scandals.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Noemie Emery says the Times’ problem isn’t diversity, but dynasty.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s the Times story on Raines’ and Boyd’s resignations.

MORE: Howard Veit says it’s a revolution in journalism.

STILL MORE: Matt Welch and Arthur Silber have noticed some funny things about the New York Times press release on the subject.

DAVID APPELL wants you to hire him as your freelance journalist! This is actually a pretty cool idea, which I came to a bit late — he’s already raised enough money to pay himself to do the story.

In an unrelated development that I just happened to notice on his site, he’s skeptical of the recent secondhand-smoke study.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has more on the smoking study.

THERE’S AN INTERESTING CROSS-BLOG DEBATE between Arthur Silber and Billy Beck over the meaning of Rick Santorum’s remarks. Though Santorum isn’t getting much love from either side.

SAAD AL-FAGIH WRITES IN THE GUARDIAN that Osama is winning. But wait — who’s Al-Fagih? Oh, right:

Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, has connections to a leading Saudi dissident based in London, BBC Radio’s Five Live Report has revealed.

The programme provides evidence that Saad Al-Fagih, a key figure in the London-based campaign opposed to the Saudi regime, bought a satellite phone that was later used by Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organisation.

On 30 July 1998 one of the suicide bombers who blew up the US embassy in Nairobi telephoned the satellite phone number: 00 873 682 505 331.

Eight days later the suicide bombers struck in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam killing 247 people.

The satellite phone was the very same one that had been bought by Saad Al-Fagih in November 1996.

Why is this guy writing for The Guardian instead of warming a cell somewhere? And why is the Guardian (and the BBC) just calling him a “dissident” instead of a “terrorist sympathizer or worse?”

Even more damning, the BBC story has Al-Fagih being defended by George Galloway.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber says the real target was Vinnell Corp., which provides military support services (which a cynic might say are mercenary in nature) to the Saudi government. Officially, though, it involves training and support contracts for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Here’s a recruiting presentation by Vinnell. It’s not terribly informative. Here’s a more informative piece from John Pike’s, an outfit I generally regard as reliable. Excerpt:

Three independent Saudi bodies are charged with security duties. The Ministry of Defense and Aviation uses four uniformed services to protect against external military threats. The Saudi Arabian National Guard [SANG] is responsible for defending vital internal resources (oil fields and refineries), internal security, and supporting the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, as required. The Ministry of Interior is charged with internal security, police functions, and border protection. . . .

A small but highly skilled and diverse group, the US soldiers and Department of the Army civilians who make up OPM-SANG execute this multi-billion-dollar program throughout Saudi Arabia. Training is the backbone of this program. At the National Guard military schools, OPM-SANG advisors and contractor trainers help develop programs of instruction and specialty skill training courses.

In addition to OPM-SANG’s military and civilian contractor advisors and trainers, tailored training packages are arranged through the U.S. Army Security Assistance and Training Management Office. One such recently concluded training program was a three-month Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Course.



ARTHUR SILBER WRITES THAT CAPITALISM IS THE SOLUTION TO ETHNIC ANTAGONISM — and that welfare states encourage it. The example of France, I’d say, supports his position.

OF TRACTORS AND TERROR CZARS: Arthur Silber is unimpressed with the current state of homeland security.

ARTHUR SILBER thinks that Bush is being stupid to push the partial-birth abortion ban. I’m inclined to agree. Yeah, I know, shore up the base, etc. But is it really doing that? Maybe.

FIFTH COLUMN ALERT: Andrew Sullivan writes:

What, after all, is the difference between this and the 1990s? Nothing. But somehow we all knew it would come to this, didn’t we? The Times has been campaigning for appeasement of Saddam for over a year. The hawkish pirouettes in between were diversions. What this editorial is really about is the first shot in the coming domestic war – to undermine this military campaign once it begins, to bring down this administration, and to advocate the long-term delegation of American power to an internationalist contraption whose record has been to facilitate inaction and tyranny. The Times, in campaigning against war, has actually fired the opening shot in the coming domestic war. Hostilities have begun.

I guess this would matter more, if the editorial positions of the Times mattered more.

UPDATE: I guess it wasn’t clear, but the post above was supposed to be archly indicating that I think Andrew is a bit over the top with this point. “Domestic war?” And against the Times? I guess it was a little too arch, though, since neither Josh Chafetz nor Arthur Silber read it that way.

I think we’re quite a ways from “domestic war.” I do think that there are people in positions of influence who would rather see us lose this war. Some are honest about it, like Chrissie Hynde, and some aren’t. And some are just positioning themselves to take advantage if things go badly, but don’t otherwise care. Is that a “fifth column?” It’s enough of one that I think Andrew has won that point over the people who said he was over the top when he originally used the term.

But it’s not “domestic war.” And I don’t know whether the editors of The New York Times fall into this category. While they clearly have an irrational dislike for President Bush, my sense is that they want what’s best for America — however misguided their views on that subject might be — and aren’t calling, after the fashion of Chrissie Hynde, for America to be given “what it deserves.”

With regard to the latter group, though, I tend to agree with Susanna Cornett.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew responds, noting that:

By domestic war, I simply mean a deep domestic fight over the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. That’s a wrenching experience I hope won’t happen. But in many ways, it already has. To take one simple example: has there ever been a case when a former president has actually publicly undermined a sitting president at a critical time in U.N. diplomacy, essentially advising critical foreign governments to balk at America’s requests on the eve of a war? If someone knows of a precedent for Jimmy Carter’s op-ed, please let me know.

Good point. Imagine if Gerald Ford had been writing op-eds criticizing Carter’s handling of the hostage crisis, even as the negotiations were going on.

Then again, it could hardly have turned out worse. In fact, much of our problem with radical Islamism today is because of Carter’s weakness and ineptitude nearly twenty-five years ago.

ARTHUR SILBER is fact-checking Jim Henley — or, more accurately, an article about our allies that Henley relies on.

I SUSPECT THAT THIS JONAH GOLDBERG PIECE on McCarthyism will generate a lot of, er, discussion.

Kevin Drum has already responded.

UPDATE: Apparently, by linking this piece I’ve produced a flood of hatemail to Jonah Goldberg. I guess more of my readers are civil libertarian types.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve Verdon says that now Kevin Drum is subjecting me to neo-McCarthyism. Or something like that.

There are also replies up from Silent Running and Arthur Silber.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I read Kevin Drum’s post again and — though it really didn’t register with me the first time — I think it is kind of a cheap shot.

But I want to be clear where I stand here. I don’t hold any brief for McCarthy. He was a buffoon and a thug. But if McCarthyism was bad, it was because he accused innocent people, not because he pursued Communists. Communists were — and are — comparable to Nazis. Being one is as bad as being a Nazi. Supporting Communism is as bad as supporting Nazism. And calling Communists Communists isn’t McCarthyism — as Kevin Drum himself agrees.

And if you disagree, and think that Communists aren’t as bad as Nazis, well, that’s your opinion. But don’t expect me to be impressed, or to think that you hold any sort of moral high ground. So what part of my position is different from this passage in Kevin’s post?

I can’t pretend to speak for the entire liberal community, and certainly not for liberals of a generation before me, but I’m not sure anyone really denies that there were indeed communist spies in the United States back in the 50s. The problem with McCarthy — and McCarthyism — wasn’t that he uncovered lots of communist spies, but that he didn’t uncover many communist spies. While other, more careful investigators had some success, McCarthy himself was extraordinarily unproductive.

What McCarthy did do was accuse everyone under the sun of being a communist. If you had belonged to the communist party as a student in the 30s, you were a communist. If you belonged to the ACLU, you were a communist. If, like Fred Fischer, you belonged to the Lawyer’s Guild for a few months after you graduated from law school, you were tarred as a communist on national TV.

It’s not McCarthyism to accuse a communist of being a communist. It is McCarthyism to accuse someone of being a communist who has only a vague association with communist friends, groups, or ideas.

As I said in this post about A.N.S.W.E.R. that Kevin links disapprovingly:

It’s not McCarthyism to call people who are communists, communists. Communists, as devoted followers of murderous totalitarianism, deserve to be called to account every bit as much as their Nazi colleagues. And in the 21st century, they can hardly pretend to be ignorant of their ideology’s true nature.

Sounds to me like Kevin and I are on the same page — except that, somehow, he’s accusing me of McCarthyism. I guess it’s not McCarthyism to accurately charge 1950s Communists with Communism. It’s just McCarthyism to accurately charge 2003 Communists, like A.N.S.W.E.R., with Communism. That doesn’t make much sense to me.

STEVEN DEN BESTE WRITES that the U.N. has rendered itself irrelevant by not following through on its threats of action.

He warns the Bush Administration not to let itself suffer the same fate.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber agrees, and adds some additional observations.

JOHN LOTT will be on the Larry Elder show at 7pm eastern time. It says you can listen live by clicking this link, once the show’s on.

UPDATE: The link didn’t work, but Arthur Silber blogged the show. Conclusion: “Lott sounds very, very weak. He knows he was wrong — and I guess he just thought he could get away with it. And he knows Larry has been a great champion of his, so he’s obviously very uncomfortable.”

ROBERT SAWYER confirms the story of a Canadian Broadcasting Company interviewer who asked him about American “arrogance,” but says that we shouldn’t be too hard on her:

The interviewer (I’m sorry, but I don’t know her name, or even

what city she was in — Newsworld does production across Canada;

I’ve been on Newsworld many times, but never had been interviewed

by this woman) did indeed ask me a question related to whether

this was a terrorist attack, and whether it had been arrogant of

the Americans to launch a shuttle now. The idea that it was

terrorism hadn’t even occurred to me — it looked like a tragic

accident, and I was reliving my memories of when CHALLENGER had

blown up all those years ago. So, the question took me by


In any event, I told her no, it wasn’t arrogance, and added that

the Bush administration had very much had a business-as-usual

policy post-September 11; I can’t remember exactly how I phrased

it, but my thought was that if you let terrorists freeze you into

doing nothing out of fear, they’ve won. I wish I remembered her

exact words better, and my own, but, like everyone else I was in


I’m sure she didn’t mean to be offensive, and it was quite clear

during our brief interview that she was being distracted by all

sorts of chatter in her earpiece (she first introduced me as

Robert Fischer, who is a staff reporter the CBC).

Well, I don’t know if that lets her off the hook, or just means that her guard was down and her prejudices were showing. You can decide that for yourself.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has some thoughts on charges of “arrogance.”

ARTHUR SILBER is mad as hell about Bush’s AIDS proposal.

ARTHUR SILBER saw Lott on Hannity and has decided he’s a paid Democratic operative.

Heh. Well, it would explain a lot. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Justene Adamec writes:

I listened with half an ear. I figure he’s done and I’m not interested in watching the train wreck play out. But in the coverage of the interview, I have not seen anyone mention that he did explain what he meant. He was referring to limited govt and support for defense.

Interesting, but not very plausible on Lott’s part. At least, you wonder why he didn’t say that on Saturday.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus is calling for Republican Senators to say they won’t support Lott for Majority Leader.

LOTT IS DAMAGED GOODS. Everybody knows it, except maybe him. If he serves as Majority Leader, the GOP will have to deal with TV commercials like this. Many otherwise-likely Republican voters will stay home, or vote Libertarian, something that is already hurting the GOP.

And Lott’s been a lousy Majority Leader anyway. Somebody needs to suck it up and have The Conversation with him. Not serving as the Majority Leader is hardly a fate worse than death.

UPDATE: The American Prowler says Lott’s people know it, even if Lott doesn’t:

According to a knowledgeable Republican source, GOP members of both houses are extremely concerned that Lott’s comments have so derailed the momentum gained from the 2002 elections that it would be impossible to come in in January, make numerous political confirmations for the executive branch, and begin planning a legislative agenda that would include accelerating the Bush tax cuts and pushing through a prescription drug plan for seniors. . . .

“Even Lott’s people understand how serious this has become,” says the Republican source, who added that while there is no discussion in Lott’s office of his stepping aside, Lott’s people are steeling themselves for a growing drumbeat from their side of the aisle for Lott to give way to a noncontroversial leader who can get the Republican agenda back on track.

Rip the band-aid off fast.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber agrees that Lott should go, but says Democrats shouldn’t get a pass on their racists, either:

But everyone, including many Democrats, is now all too eager to conclude that Lott must have intended only a racist meaning by those comments: that what Lott truly and sincerely wants is a return to a segregationist era. Lott’s remarks are obviously subject to that interpretation (which may even be the most likely one, particularly in light of his stunningly inept “apology”), which is part of what renders them so irredeemably stupid. But if one wants to cast them as unquestionably racist, then what is one to do with Donna Brazile’s comment during the 2000 campaign, that she was determined not to “let the white boys win”? Or then California State Senator Diane Watson’s comment in 1995 about Ward Connerly’s interracial marriage?

“He’s married to a white woman,” Watson said. “He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn’t want to be black.”

Aren’t those statements just as racist as Lott’s? I submit that they are. But the Democrats will never admit that, and the largely Democratic-leaning mainstream press has given these remarks, and many other similar ones, a completely free pass — when, that is, they are uttered by Democrats. . . .

So the Republicans had better make absolutely clear that they are letting Lott go for all the other reasons that apply, and that have applied for much too long a time: he is not a genuine friend of limited government (witness the pork he is proud to carry to his home state in many, many bills passed under his watch); it is impossible to determine exactly what his basic political principles are (do you know what they are?) — and as best I can determine, he is only for the status quo, which means a vastly overintrusive federal government in every conceivable area; whenever he has had the opportunity to lead, he has done so in a stunningly lackluster and uninspiring manner; and he has also repeatedly demonstrated the same tin ear and vacuous mind that led to this latest debacle.

Let him go for those reasons — and not because he is a “racist.” As I said, if the Republicans do let him go for that reason, or if it even appears that that is the reason, it will only be like throwing red meat to rabid dogs, the dogs being the Democrats and their friends in the mainstream press.

Charles Murtaugh also points this out:

I think the most egregious example of campaign race-baiting in recent memory was the NAACP’s James Byrd ad of 2000, which tried valiantly to link George W. Bush to Byrd’s racist dragging murder. And today, Al Sharpton remains a viable political figure. None of this is to make any excuse for Trent Lott, who ought to be dusting off a comfy seat on the back bench ASAP. I’m just pointing out that there are still more fingers yet to be pointed.

Indeed there are.

SUCCINCT: Arthur Silber says that Trent Lott is an Idiotarian, too.

ARTHUR SILBER has a lengthy post on speech codes and postmodernism.


THEIR TEAM DOESN’T LOSE MANY PLAYERS, but Arthur Silber is thinking of converting to heterosexuality in protest to the latest from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

WELL, I’M OFF TO THE YALE BLOG CONFERENCE. Posting will be intermittent at best. But Yale Law bloggers at The Kitchen Cabinet have promised to provide updates on the conference, and I imagine I’ll get some time at a computer in somehow. In the meantime, visit the fine links at the left. And in particular, be sure to visit Arthur Silber’s blog, where he’s been running an interesting series of posts (here’s the latest, with links to the earlier ones) on gay / straight interactions. And Sofia Sideshow has reports on dumb American actors, Apache helicopters that aren’t there, and the alleged anti-American cast of Tolkien.

And Lileks is a must-read again today. Excerpt:

A conservative religious women’s organization and the NOW have finally found common ground – at least according to a radio show I heard in the car this afternoon. A spokeswoman from the former group was on, decrying a new assault on American values, and I was rather surprised to discover the object of her ire: The Victoria’s Secret TV special. . . .

Bothered by Victoria’s Secret, eh. These people need to roam around the Internet until they encounter the goatse.x picture somewhere in a message board. (I may have the name wrong, but you may have seen the picture – you don’t know if it’s about proctology or spelunking.) And I hear the critics sing: Oh, so you criticize them for criticizing the VS show, but you feel PERFECTLY free to criticize the suicide bomber painter, eh? Sure. They have every right to protest; I’m not telling them to shut up. I’m suggesting they stop thinking of Tyra Banks as one of the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse. More to the point, there’s a difference between getting alarmed over healthy, giggly women prancing around in bras and heels, and getting alarmed over paintings that romanticize the violent death of healthy giggly women, and anyone else in the immediate zone. If this distinction is unclear, I’m here to help:

To see the help that Lileks offers, and to read his views on the consensus anti-idiotarian position on sexuality, you’ll have to follow the link and read the whole thing.

And, finally, Aziz Poonawalla has posted a condemnation of the latest Jerusalem bombing, supported by quotes from the Koran. I can only hope that his distinction between Jihad and Harabah gains more ground.

ARTHUR SILBER HAS MOVED HIS “LIGHT OF REASON” BLOG off of Blogspot. Check out the new site, especially the very cool photo that sits on top.

ARTHUR SILBER HAS UPDATES on the dumb Front Sight lawsuit against Diana Hsieh. Start here and scroll up for more.

It’s obvious that Front Sight’s lawsuit has so far bought it far more bad publicity than Diana Hsieh’s blogging ever did. Front Sight should go sue itself. Or, er, something.

LIVING BY PERMISSION: Arthur Silber agrees with William Safire that the homeland security bill is a bad idea. And reader Howard Veit has this to say about the Poindexter plan:

I don’t think there is even a remote chance the Republicans would have carried the day last week if people knew this guy was still in government AND working for the Bush Administration. I am stunned by this. He almost wrecked Reagan, and Bush sure ain’t no Ronnie.

Bad news. Worse news is that the Democrats are so stupid they didn’t think to make an issue of this. I guess “stupid” is the wrong word here, but so self absorbed in their PC petty agenda politics it didn’t seem important.

Yeah. Here’s what I wrote a while back. Here’s another item on the subject. Also here, and, well, here. Meanwhile, here is the sort of thing we ought to be doing instead.

UPDATE: TalkLeft has picked up on my Homeland Security proposal, though some of the commentators there seem mired in rather silly concerns about “vigilantism.” But SKBubba likes the idea! But scroll down for his rather negative take on the Homeland Security bill.

ARTHUR SILBER thinks you should donate money to bloggers like me. I think Arthur Silber is a very insightful and persuasive fellow. . . .

ADD THIS STORY to my earlier comments about racism on the left: racist attacks on Condi Rice:

“Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza? Or the way you wash and park the whitey’s cars.”

The Greaseman got fired. What’ll happen to this guy? Answer:

Niger Innis, spokesperson the Congress on Racial Equality, said he sees a double standard at play.

“If Rogers, instead of being a white liberal, were a white conservative like Rush Limbaugh using the type of language that Rogers was using, he’d be kicked off the air,” Innis said.

It’s a controversy that’s been brewing on radio for a while now.

Or is Dale Amon right that it’s all a question of who does the talking, not of what is said?

UPDATE: A reader points out this piece by Dinesh D’Souza, which I hadn’t read, but which has already been savaged by Arthur Silber and Michele of A Small Victory. I think his point — though it was hard to be sure — was that the Right says dumb things, too. Yeah, well, you don’t see me defending the “social conservative” crowd very much.

D’Souza’s piece is just dumb, revolving as it does around this statement: “The Democrats should stop hiding behind ‘freedom of choice’ and become blatant advocates for divorce, illegitimacy, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and pornography.” Actually, I’ve got nothing against these things, so long they’re consensual — “adultery” can be taken different ways, I guess. (I don’t share Peter Singer’s enthusiasm for bestiality, but since I’m happy to eat animals it’s hard for me to consider people having sex with them to be, you know, more exploitative.)

If the Republicans buy into this social-conservative line, they’ll lose. I think they know it. But this doesn’t get the Left off the hook. See, the Left has already shown itself utterly wrong with regard to communism, national defense, the economy and — by the Clinton era — worthless on civil liberties except to the extent they’re important to core Democratic constituencies. So the only real claim to moral legitimacy that the Left has, well, left is the claim that it’s tolerant. But it’s not anymore. Remarks like the one aimed at Condi Rice above are just the icing on the cake. The trend has been obvious for years.

The reader asks me to name one major leftist commentator who has made comments at D’Souza’s level. Well, I guess Neil Rogers, the DJ above, isn’t really major, though he’s probably bigger than D’Souza. And what about the many folks on the Left implying that Bush engineered 9/11? Does that count? Or Barbra Streisand’s suggestion that Bush engineered Paul Wellstone’s plane crash? Or the widespread claims (and political cartoons) during the DC sniper affair to the effect that the NRA favors the murder of small children? I could go on, but frankly anyone who really thinks that there’s nothing on the left worse than D’Souza’s remarks above is beyond rational discourse.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jason Soon says D’Souza’s column is silly.

JOHN HILER OF MICROCONTENT NEWS HAS PICKED UP ON the story of Diana Hsieh being sued by the Front Sight folks, and the possible Scientology connection. (It’s not entirely clear that Scientology is involved directly, though it would be consistent with stuff reported here.)

Regardless of whether the Church of Scientology is formally involved, as I said in my earlier post, I’ve always had a high opinion of Front Sight in the past, but this lawsuit is changing that. And judging by Arthur Silber’s reports, it’s changing it for a lot of people in the gun community.

ARTHUR SILBER HAS ISSUED A CHALLENGE to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. And scroll up for Maureen Dowd’s voting record.

ARTHUR SILBER has a long and very personal post on homophobia, left and right.

CHARLES MURTAUGH takes on left-wing homophobia.

UPDATE: Tony Adragna responds, and draws a fine distinction: “But let’s not confuse this with homophobia born of an irrational intolerance of homosexuals. The attacks on Andrew Sullivan are something different — a calculated attempt by a cabal of ideologues who share an intense hatred of Andrew Sullivan.” Arthur Silber, meanwhile, is less charitable. Meanwhile, Atrios calls me a “noted queer theorist!” (thanks!) and says that they’re worse at Free Republic, which seems to me to be a pretty lame defense.

I have to say that I’ve visited a couple of lefty blogs that invited me to link to them, and seen posts calling Sullivan the “blog queen” or whatever, and thought better of it. I don’t generally link to blogs that call people n*ggers either. Well, that’s just me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber has another post, and he says it is homophobia.

ONE MORE: A reader emails that I linked to “BitchPundit,” who uses the term “butt pirates” to refer to Islamic hackers. Uh, okay. I didn’t really read that as being of the same order (nothing with “pirate” in it seems that bad to me) but okay. It’s not really the same as wishing that someone with HIV would die soon, though, is it?

BELLESILES UPDATE: An article by Jon Weiner in The Nation portrays Michael Bellesiles as the victim of a gun-lobby witch hunt, concluding:

But the campaign against Bellesiles has demonstrated one indisputable fact: Historians whose work challenges powerful political interests like the NRA better make sure all their footnotes are correct before they go to press.

Unfortunately, the article also serves to illustrate that those who challenge politically powerful anti-gun interests will get slimed even if their footnotes are correct. The article is quite nasty to NWU legal historian James Lindgren, though it doesn’t seem to identify a single inaccuracy in his Yale Law Journal article on the problems with Bellesiles’ Arming America.

This is itself a problem, as I’ve written elsewhere:

When fraud is discovered, it is usually by another researcher whose skepticism is aroused. Yet uncovering fraud usually isn’t considered as valuable to an academic career as original research is; worse yet, some scholars who expose their colleagues as frauds face resentment from those who dislike seeing their field’s dirty laundry aired. But the absence of consequences for fraud can only make the problem worse. If we want to discourage fraud, we need to ensure that the people who discover it are recognized for their contributions – which, after all, spare other members of the field years or even decades of wasted effort based on fraudulent work – and properly rewarded. And, of course, we need to ensure that those who commit fraud are properly punished.

Those who complain that academics don’t do enough about fraud in their midst need to recognize that attack pieces like this one are one reason why that is so.

Some of the statements about Lindgren in this piece ring false to me. I’m going to see if I can get an email from him. If so, I’ll post what he sends. In the meantime, I invite readers to follow the link to the Yale Law Journal piece and to compare it with The Nation’s article and decide for themselves.

Meanwhile, there’s no word yet on what Emory plans to do about Bellesiles.

UPDATE: Lindgren sends the following via email:

As anyone familiar with the Bellesiles matter can plainly see, the Nation article has a large number of errors. Since the Nation was unable to find any factual errors in my scholarship, it instead attempted some rather crude ad hominems. Among them, it says that I urged people to retract their reviews of Arming America. If I had done so, that would indeed have been unusual, though not improper. But what I did was urge two authors to correct or retract one statement in their reviews merely by an online post to H-Net lists, which eventually they both did, because the particular statements were indeed factually wrong. I never said the words that one of those authors, Matthew Warshauer, attributes to me in the Nation article.

Referring to me, the Nation also says, “He accuses Bellesiles of bias . . . .” I have never accused Professor Bellesiles of bias (nor of prejudice). To the contrary, I have repeatedly argued that such claims of bias are incoherent in this matter.

In addition, Clayton Cramer has blogged some comments. (Eugene Volokh calls it “a very good response to The Nation’s rather weak defense of Bellesiles.”) I should note, too, that the Nation piece fails to mention that the big explosion in publicity over Bellesiles’ work came after the Boston Globe — hardly an NRA mouthpiece — published an investigative piece on Bellesiles’ work. And how come it links to Bellesiles’ website, but not to the Lindgren article — freely available on the Web in several places — or to any of the other criticisms on Bellesiles?

As Volokh says, rather weak. Even for The Nation. As that other NRA mouthpiece, The New York Times noted:

Without doubt, Mr. Bellesiles’s research would not have received such careful scrutiny if he had not stepped into the politically and ideologically charged struggle over guns. Yet the scholars who have documented serious errors in Mr. Bellesiles’s book — many of them gun-control advocates — do not appear to have any sort of political agenda.

They were struck by his claim to have studied more than 11,000 probate records in 40 counties around the country. He found that between 1765 and 1790, only 14 percent of estate inventories listed guns, and “over half (53 percent) of these guns were listed as broken or otherwise defective.” Those claims are featured prominently in the book and were cited in many positive reviews as the core of its argument.

But those who tried to examine the research soon found that they could not, because most of Mr. Bellesiles’s records, he said, had been destroyed in a flood. The records they could check showed an astonishing number of serious errors, almost all of them seemingly intended to support his thesis. In some cases his numbers were off by a factor of two, three or more, said Randolph Roth, a history professor at Ohio State University.

To use one example: in his book, Mr. Bellesiles writes that of 186 probate inventories from Providence, R.I., recorded between 1680 and 1730, “all for property-owning adult males,” only 90 mention some form of gun, and more than half the guns were “evaluated as old and of poor quality.”

At least three scholars have independently examined the same archive and found that 17 of the estates in question were owned by women; that some estates lacked inventories, and that of those that had them, a much higher percentage than Mr. Bellesiles reported contained guns; and that only 9 percent of the guns were evaluated as old and of poor quality.

“The number and scope of the errors in Bellesiles’s work are extraordinary,” Mr. Roth said. They go well beyond the probate record data, he added, affecting Mr. Bellesiles’s interpretation of militia returns, literary documents and many other sources. . . .

Those who have pressed him hardest for details say they have been led on a bizarre scholarly car chase, with Mr. Bellesiles offering new memories about where he got his records as soon as the old ones were discredited. (Emphasis added).

What, the folks at The Nation don’t read The New York Times?

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has a long post on Jon Wiener’s article, which segues into a lengthy discussion of bias on both left and right. But here’s an on-topic excerpt:

I hope you will read both Wiener’s Nation article and the Lindgren Yale Law Journal piece — and I think the difference in tone and approach will strike you as forcefully as it did me. (I also point out that the Lindgren piece contains an Appendix which discusses over 200 documents which Bellesiles misread or misinterpreted in basic ways in the first edition of his book.) But with regard to the Nation article, I will note two aspects of it: first, approximately the first third of the article is devoted to a personal reminiscence concerning a lecture by Bellesiles that Wiener attended — and he takes every opportunity to describe the pro-gun individuals who also attended (and who challenged Bellesiles’ findings) as “unusually large men” — in other words, and in Wiener’s view, pro-gun, NRA-type thugs. And this is apparently seriously offered as some sort of legitimate argument which, by implication and for “right-thinking” kinds of people, ought to make us question the legitimacy of a scholar such as Lindgren. Second, the entire article is remarkably, and inappropriately, “personal” in tone. It is, as Reynolds also notes, quite nasty to Lindgren — although, very significantly, Wiener does not offer even one substantive argument challenging even one of Lindgren’s conclusions.

Indeed. And he’s right that you should read the two pieces and compare their tone.