May 04, 2002

BLOGGING WILL BE somewhere between

BLOGGING WILL BE somewhere between intermittent and nonexistent for the rest of the weekend. Enjoy the many fine weblogs linked over there on the left. And scroll down for the NRA / Pink Pistols stuff.

CHARLES JOHNSON says that cracks

CHARLES JOHNSON says that cracks are appearing in the Palestinian ranks, as they start to figure out that they're doing a lot of dying, and not getting anything for it except photo-ops for Arafat. This has been a theme of Fred Pruitt's for a while.

HULKISM: a multi-cultural approach.

HULKISM: a multi-cultural approach.


UN INVESTIGATION BEGINS: Well, sort of. Mark Steyn writes:

Anyway, as Kofi's commission isn't going ahead, I'm pleased to announce my own fact-finding investigation into - drumroll, please - the UN. Ex-ambassadors, European Foreign Ministers and former presidents of humanitarian organisations are welcome to apply to join my commission, but, if they're too busy, we'll make do with jes' regular folks. Among the issues we'll be examining: UN participation in the sex-slave trade in Bosnia; the UN refugee extortion racket in Kenya; UN involvement in massive embezzlement in Kosovo; the UN's cover-up of the sex-for-food scandal in West Africa involving aid workers demanding sexual favours from children as young as four; the UN-fuelled explosion of drugs, Aids and prostitution in Cambodia; the UN's complicity in massacres in pre-liberated Afghanistan; and, if we've any time left, the UN's collusion in terrorism in the Jenin refugee camp. As the organisation's own internal investigations usually put it, UN seen nothin' yet!
I think there's a lot of investigating that should go on here.


OSAMA'S PLANE FOUND: At the Jeddah airport.


GRAY DAVIS SCANDALS: Joanne Jacobs has links to several stories in one convenient location.




FUKUYAMA PILE-ON LATE HITS: Brink Lindsey has good comments; so do Christopher Pellerito and Perry de Havilland over at Samizdata, while Eric Olsen (despite an atrocious attraction to awful alliteration) digs up some history. And over at Oxblog Anand Giridharadas discusses the difference between patriotism and statism, which appears to have eluded Fukuyama.



Hi Glenn, this is David Rostcheck from the Pink Pistols. Someone posted your instapundit discussion on the [email protected] list. Here's some more info for you:

- The reporter, Steve Freiss, had actually contacted us before the convention to ask about whether any of us were going and what we thought about the NRA (the net net being generally that the NRA is generally quite welcoming, but, contrary to its rabid image, not nearly pro-gun-rights enough for many of us, which makes sense if you know more about the NRA). Few of us were. He was apparently looking to write some kind of article, the panel (stupidly) gave him he wrong kind.

- At that session, very late in the conf, Schlussel and some others apparently said some fairly anti-gay things that many NRA members (all of them straight so far) thought were very inappropriate. She went on Stern and spun it as a big smear campaign and downplayed her remarks. However, NRA members who were there report that she was quite out of line and that she's lying about the extent of her remarks. Check out the online discussion at The Firing Line. [Note -- interesting link; read the discussion]

Steve Freiss defended his article on the Pink Pistols list. He says he wrote what happened, and the attendees on The Firing Line back him up. I'm inclined not to shoot the messenger.

- That being said, the NRA and its members are, generally speaking, very welcoming to the Pink Pistols and to gay shooters in general. Now, there are 4.5mil NRA members and 50k+ at a convention, and there are all points of view and people from a wide generation range, so you have to have a reasonably thick skin and not expect everyone to agree w/ you or not offend you at those things, but I have no fear showing up at an NRA event w/ a Pink Pistols pin.

- I do think there is media bias on this issue, but it's not at the reporter level, it's at the editor level. More below from a post I made to [email protected] about it.

- Schlussel doesn't necessarily speak for the NRA, but they should have more control over their message and if they were competent at handling them media (which, with the NRA, is not certain), they would just release a statement reiterating that regardless of who said what on what panel at their convention, they do not discriminate and have plenty of gay members and they don't see that as a core NRA issue. But we'll see if that happens...

That's it. More than you wanted to know!

Here's the message excerpt he mentions:
Let me say first that I think it's excellent to see a reporter willing to defend and discuss his story in an online forum. I love the internet for making media more of a two-way street...

Now, let me tell you what bothers me about media coverage of events like this. I don't think there's anything wrong with Steve holding Schlussel accountable for what she says; that's his job and he's doing what he should do. In the larger picture, I think articles that imply that the "NRA is bad on gays" (*) are, in the long run, bad for the GLBT cause and groups like the Pink Pistols are good for it, which I'll explain in more detail.

(*) Note, that's not what Steve wrote, his delination about speakers at the NRA event is very careful, but it's what a reading of headlines will imply, which is all about the editors.

I would say there is a consistent bias in the media, both gay and straight but particularly gay, in the way that gun owners and their views on GLBT people are represented. But I don't think it's so much a reporting bias as an editorial bias. Now Steve writes an article on the NRA convention. It says what happened, calls out a speaker who was inappropriate, and talks about the Pink Pistols, giving fair coverage to the point that most gun owners are not homophobic. Steve has done his job. But PlanetOut has never before covered the Pink Pistols in any other context. We've been the fastest growing gay sporting organization in the country, probably the fastest growing gay group, and we've had a pitched legislative battle with a lesbian senator whose most notable achievement was to amend gun-control legislation to allow arbitrary discrimination against anyone, including gay people, and particularly women and the poor (and who was subsequently endorsed by HRC). During that time, news media from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Blade covered the Pink Pistols, but PlanetOut was nowhere to be seen. Hmm.

Continuing along that line, I note that I never read an article in the gay media like "Gay gun owners say NRA members pretty friendly to them". We got positive coverage in Gun Week and Guns & Ammo. Does PlanetOut report that? "Gay gun group praised in Guns & Ammo" is just as important a headline as "At NRA gathering, speakers ridicule gays", isn't it? Everyone expects Schlussel to mouth off, so is that really bigger news than a gay-friendly gun group getting great coverage in gun media and being invited to speak at lots of pro-gun events, which many gay people claim is impossible?

I'm not blaming Steve for this. He's a freelance reporter and he writes what the editors will buy and he writes it carefully and fairly. But if Steve were to write "Pink Pistols Break Barriers", is PlanetOut going to buy it? [Steve: hey, I dare you to find out, it's a good story...]

Now, here are a few factual happenings in my experience over almost 2 years as a Civil Rights Activist with the Pink Pistols. We've dealt with all sorts of pro-gun activists and leaders, from conservative Christians to NRA leaders. Once in a while, we find someone who's not comfortable with us or is just a hardcore hater, but I honestly can't say that I come across them with any greater frequency than I would in overall society, and most gun owners are really happy to see us involved politically. Usually when some hater pops up, the other gun owners shut him or her down pretty quick. Overall, the pro-gun community is very accepting of the Pink Pistols.

Now prior to working with the Pink Pistols, I was the President of the Bisexual Resource Center, so I regularly worked with activists from NGLTF, GLAAD, and occasionally HRC. I attended Creating Change and was on many panel discussions. Then I started working with the Pink Pistols. All of my Creating Change workshop proposals were rejected and NGLTF then refused to refund my conference fee or answer calls anymore. Reporters from major media [Theresa Gubbins, Dallas Morning News, cough] told me that they couldn't cover me positively any more while I was working on gun rights. Hmm. Do many gay leaders have an anti-gun bias? Yes. Does the gay media often have an anti-gun bias? Yes. Now it's not monolithic - we did get good articles in the Washington/New York Blade, Bay Windows, In Newsweekly, etc. but we still don't see articles like "Pro-gun leaders say gay gun group is welcome", even though they often do say those things.

And that's very unfortunate, because the coverage pattern often implies that gun owners are generally homophobic, which totally isn't true and makes many gays unwilling to associate with pro-gun groups because of bias that's often not even there.

Moreover, the Pink Pistols have done more to advance equal treatment of GLBT people among gun owners and conservatives than a thousand PlanetOut articles ever will. There's no substitute for being able to walk up to the podium after a Schlussel and say "Hi, I'm from the Pink Pistols,a gay-friendly pro-gun-rights group, and before I get started I just want to say that I think Debbie is painting with a brush that may be too broad, if you know what I mean. I hope we all realize that for every Rosie O'Donnell, there are many more GLBT gun owners fighting to preserve our natural rights for all of us, gay and straight. Now let me tell you some of the things we're doing..."

The Pink Pistols win respect by actually doing the work to earn it and being worthy of it. And that sort of work does actually change people'sminds. We get some amazing emails from people who considered themselves anti-gay but have rethought their positions after seeing the Pink Pistols stand up for everyone's Second Amendment rights, including theirs. Those people would never change their mind because of a PlanetOut article or the snooty "Oh, the NRA" sneer that many GLBT leaders like to use. So who's really serious about working for social change, then?

I say it's us.

Indeed. Well, that's probably more than anyone wants to know about this event, but if there's one thing a weblog is good for, it's relentless coverage of an issue that the blogger thinks needs to be covered. By the way, here's a link to David Rostcheck's webpage.

Now the only question is, why is he doing a better job of responding to this than the NRA, with its presumably big PR budget? The reason I stayed after this and didn't just join certain other bloggers in instant condemnation based on the PlanetOut article is that everything I've seen of gun rights folks indicates that they're very happy that the Pink Pistols exist, and very glad to welcome them as allies. Now I'm not a big gun-rights activist myself: the only time I go to those meetings is when somebody asks me to speak on the Second Amendment. But I thought that the story gave an impression so entirely at odds with my own experience that it was worth looking into. (Scroll down for more on this).

May 03, 2002


BILL QUICK HAS IDENTIFIED a program I can really get behind. Let's call it "Pork for Pundits!"




HATE MAIL OF THE WEEK: I think that this one is in relation to the posts on interracial marriage earlier in the week, since it comes from a reader named Lou Zurr who has sent me several emails on that topic. But here's the email in its entirety -- you figure it out:

I'm always amazed by whigged-out guys like you who think we can fill America up with Guatemalans and Chinese and various Islamotrash and still have a republic. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that overpaid academics have a lot of exciting new restaurants to go to even in Knoxville. But the first thing that will happen when white folks become a minority in the U.S. is that we will get a de facto dictator running things; and the second thing is that they'll start killing all the Jews...and when they run out of Jews they'll start in on constitutional-law professors, even if they find them savoring the tasty dishes in exotic restaurants....
It is, of course, definitionally impossible for me to be overpaid. But I think that people from anywhere can make good Americans if they buy into American ideals. And I think that people born here who don't buy into American ideals are just as much a threat as the foreign-born people who don't.

UPDATE & CORRECTION: It's Louis, not Lou. And he writes: "Technically, however, it wasn't hate mail. It was vexed and snarly mail."


ACTUAL REPORTING AT INSTAPUNDIT: Yeah, it happens now and then. I finally managed to speak with Tom Boyer of the San Francisco area Pink Pistols, who was at the NRA Convention, though he didn't actually attend the speeches reported in this PlanetOut article by Steve Friess. But, he said, "I think it [the article] was probably accurate." Boyer said that Friess was unfamiliar with the Rosie O'Donnell / Tom Selleck on-air confrontation over gun control, and probably just couldn't grasp the depth of hostility against O'Donnell among gun owners, which has more to do with her position on gun control than anything else. He also said that "in my own experience with the NRA I've had nothing but support," and that many NRA officials had offered to help the Pink Pistols in any way they can.

On the other hand, Boyer said that there were homophobic remarks made by individual members around Friess that Friess didn't report, because he didn't think it was fair to saddle the organization with the views of a few random members out of the 40,000 attending -- but that speeches are a different matter. He's right about this and -- subject to the fact that one of the speakers, Debbie Schlussel, has denied that she said anything anti-gay -- the remarks are a real problem for the organization.

As far as I'm concerned, no organization ought to have speakers making nasty anti-gay remarks at its annual meeting, and the NRA needs to get the word out to its speakers. Those who want to make such remarks should be invited to go elsewhere, and those who honestly don't realize that certain remarks are offensive need to learn a bit more. Boyer says that he thinks the NRA is responding to this pretty well, and is trying to address this sort of thing in the future. They'd better, because the NRA has a big enough image problem as it is, and a lot of gun-rights supporters are libertarian types who have no sympathy for anti-gay slurs -- or simply people with good manners who have no sympathy for slurs of that sort anyway. (On the other hand, though I'm okay with gay marriage and gay adoption, I think that opposing those isn't, in itself, a "slur" -- but it's not really part of the NRA's mission either, now is it?)

My conversation with Boyer, which ran over a half an hour, gave me a pretty nuanced view of an organization trying to deal with a real culture clash (or maybe mutual cultural ignorance would be a better description), with mixed results. It's a lot more nuanced view than I got from Friess's report, but of course he didn't have half an hour, he had something like 800 words. I hope that the NRA leadership will have a lot of similar conversations in the near future.

UPDATE: A reader says that Grover Norquist is big on getting gays involved in the Republican Party, and suggests that his remarks contrasting "Gay Pride" parades with the absence of "Gun Pride" parades were probably meant to hold the former up as a positive example to emulate.

EUGENE VOLOKH has posted an

EUGENE VOLOKH has posted an interesting piece on terrorism and the middle east by Robert Turner, of the center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia Law School.

MEDIA ETHICS: Oxymoron? Or just

MEDIA ETHICS: Oxymoron? Or just moron? Matt Welch reports -- you decide.

As with professional ethicists in most areas, media ethicists exist to pretend to do what competition would actually do if it were allowed to exist.



I received my Instapundit hat in the mail yesterday, and boy do I look good
in it! I've already had to flee from a horde of beautiful women. Thanks for the style!
I just don't understand why he decided to "flee."

Coming soon: An all-new InstaPundit Store with a snazzy, James Lileks-designed InstaPundit Logo! Hold on to your, er, hats!

BELLESILES UPDATE: Military historian Kevin

BELLESILES UPDATE: Military historian Kevin Hurst writes:

I am a historian employed by the Navy at the Naval Historical Center and I have been slavishly following the Bellesiles controversy for nearly two years. Bellesiles, and his defenders, are fond of pointing out that the probate records represent only a small fraction of Arming America. I guess I forgot the part in Grad school where they said it was OK to make things up as long as most of your footnotes are accurate. Regardless, Bellesiles' errors and misrepresentations extend into every area of his book where I feel qualified to pass judgement, particularly military history and weaponry. For instance, he strongly implies that bayonets were much more effective than muskets on the battlefield of the late 18th century, a ridiculous notion, and misleading[ly] refers to the Paoli Massacre as a battle to confuse ignorant readers on this point. (At Paoli, the British suprised Anthony Wayne's troops in the middle of the night and used bayonets to avoid alerting the Americans before they entered the camp) Given that he also sees bows as vastly superior to muskets, one is left to ponder why the musket and bayonet ever superceded archery and the pike? One could go on for quite some time with regard to Bellesiles' apparent ignorance of military history.

Unfortunately, few of the academic reviewers of the book were even minimally competent to discuss military history, so they accepted his version at face value. Most of the reviewers I read took Bellesiles to task for mistakes he committed in their respective areas of expertise. However, all seemed to think these mistakes isolated incidents in an otherwise persuasive book. I think Bellesiles correctly judged that academics loathe military and diplomatic history by and large and that he could get away with almost anything he said in that area ("In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king"). The probate records ended up tripping him up because they could not be spun as a "difference of interpretation" as Knopf is fond of saying about the controversy. In any case, no one can say that the book is solid if the probate records are ignored. Bellesiles brings the same level of mendacity to his discussions of military topics in the book.

SLATE has picked up on

SLATE has picked up on the Reason / Corner feud. Say, you don't think this whole thing was just a publicity stunt, do you? Naah, couldn't be.

H.D. MILLER says the Saudis

H.D. MILLER says the Saudis are going nowhere. You can say that again! -- but that isn't what he means

READER RICHARD ROARK isn't persuaded

READER RICHARD ROARK isn't persuaded by James Taranto's anti-cloning post today:

Maybe being raised on a literary diet of R. A. Heinlein results in different thought patterns, BUT I thought incest was taboo because of the heightened possibility of birthing defectives and Royal Families.

Also, the ranting that a clone would be a carbon copy discredits human intelligence, freewill and everything we've been led to believe about environmental influences on human development. Genetic copies would be unlikely to develop in exactly the same way. Or do we now believe in genetic predetermination? If so, maybe the eugenics crowd were right and society could use some pruning by not letting genes for (name your favorite pet peeve) be passed along. Oh ! I forgot we shouldn't do the research to identify those genes.

To counter the meeting of a man with his younger cloned wife may I suggest that James Taranto contact his local PBS station and get them to replay "The Cloning
of Joanna May".




LETTER FROM GOTHAM says there are no 1967 borders.

THE UNITED STATES: Secret colony

THE UNITED STATES: Secret colony of Australia, with help from Canadian fifth-columnists.


FUKUYAMA, YO MAMA! Well, James Taranto doesn't actually say that, but there's a response to "Libertarian Blogvillians" (a term I kind of like) in today's Best of the Web. I'm not, to put it mildly, persuaded by Taranto's cloning/incest equivalence, but like everything he writes it's thoughtful and well-written.

QUESTION: Why doesn't Reason just

QUESTION: Why doesn't Reason just start a group blog of its own? (Charles Oliver's Brickbats gets them halfway there anyway). They've got plenty of interesting people, and interesting things to say.

SPIKED! The Stanford Law Review

SPIKED! The Stanford Law Review pulled articles giving the wrong side from a gay rights symposium issue, according to this report from Stanley Kurtz. I likely disagree with the spiked articles and agree with the ones they kept in -- I'm pretty pro-gay-rights, as InstaPundit readers know -- but that's no excuse. This is just plain tacky behavior, and has the effect of making what's left of the issue less credible.

UPDATE: A several readers write to say that it's the Stanford Law & Policy Review, not the Stanford Law Review that's involved. That's a different journal. Reader Marty Lederman adds: "Don't know whether the behavior was "tacky" or not -- what if the anti-gay articles were miserably bad and/or horrifyingly hostile and bigoted? (Not saying they were -- I haven't read them; but if they were, what would be wrong with spiking them?)." Well, nothing. Though presumably they were solicited by the review in question (which is how symposium issues work) meaning that such is rather unlikely. And how likely is it that all such articles would just happen to be miserably bad or horrifyingly bigoted?

CHRIS SUELLENTROP offers a surprisingly

CHRIS SUELLENTROP offers a surprisingly positive assessment of Crown Prince Abdullah in Slate.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's an interesting

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's an interesting discussion thread on H-Net, a historians' email list. Bellesiles, consistent with his agenda of showing that only the government, and professional soldiers, were possessed of, and competent in the use of guns, frequently dismisses the Revolutionary militias as ineffective. In this post Bellesiles is taken to task at great length for misrepresenting the Battle of Cowpens, where revolutionary militias defeated the British. (Note the British letter quoted at the very end). Another post by the same author suggests that Bellesiles misrepresents the effectiveness of the militia more generally.

A Bellesiles defender responds here to the effect that Bellesiles' views on the militia may be biased but are consistent with other sources, but this reply indicates that those "other sources" are rather old and have been discredited by more recent work that Bellesiles (and his defender) ignore.

Particularly interesting in the last item are links to the US Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army's Center for Military History, whose studies support the effectiveness of the militia. (This is all the more impressive because for over a century professional military men had a policy of deriding the effectiveness of the militia, and of citizen-soldiers generally). Academic historians -- like academics specializing in international law -- often forget that they do not have a monopoly on the field, and that an awful lot of expertise resides elsewhere. I suspect that there are more accomplished scholars of military history, and working lawyers in the field of international law, than there are academic experts at the top 50 research universities. I've met some of these people, and they're pretty damned smart.

Most university people are smart, but most smart people aren't at universities.


CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: Andrew Sullivan has something nice to say about John Derbyshire!


I'VE ALWAYS BEEN PROUD OF OUR ARMED FORCES, but this article shows their superlative performance in a whole new light.



"From boxes to boxes" is the chilling slogan of a fundamentalist Algerian underground organization known as the Armed Islamic Group that has stepped up its attacks against civilians recently to discourage people from voting in the May 30 general elections.

Their graphically conveyed message is: Anyone who is tempted to drop a vote in the electoral boxes is likely to end up in another kind of box -- a coffin.



OKAY, nobody from the Pink

OKAY, nobody from the Pink Pistols who was at the NRA conference has answered my call. I'm still trying to scare someone up and get their version, since the PlanetOut piece I referenced earlier seemed to be trying pretty hard to gin up a scandal. I did get this email, though, from a reader who asks to remain anonymous but who I know and regard as entirely credible:

A few months ago I founded a chapter of Pink Pistols in San Francisco, of all places. This led to an appearance on the BBC tv show "That Gay Show" (we taught their spokesguy how to shoot - and here's a direct quote when he fired my Taurus PT145 for the first time [into the ten ring, I might add]: "Cut! (stop cameras) Holy...fucking...shit!!!" I think we made a convert...) as well as a meeting with Carol Migden, the local (lesbian) state rep for SF district, and other interesting conflations - including a *lot* of interaction with the local NRA chapter.

I must confess to initial trepidation. I mean, the NRA? But I was wrong. What a great bunch of people. They were far, *far* more interested in how people felt about RKBA than what they did with each other in bed. Several of the local officers told me how glad they were to see PP get started, because they'd been trying gay outreach for years with no luck.

Even the (extremely) straight guys who own and run our only local urban shooting range not only were tolerant, they were positively welcoming, and even offered us a place to hold our meeting before our monthly shoots, rent free.

As things stand now, I'd quicker turn to the NRA for help in a pinch than I would to the local gay establishment here. Yes, I imagine there are troglodytes here and there in the NRA (as anywhere) but I can't stand Rosie either, the fat freakazoid. So does that make me anti-gay too?

I think after decades in the wilderness, the NRA people may have more sympathy for "outsiders" than most people realize. Their issue is guns -- and that is going to have more to do with how they view people than almost anything else. Or so it seems to me.

Well, that doesn't specifically answer the question of what Debbie Schlussel, etc., said at the NRA Convention, but I suspect that it's at least as representative.


THE MIDDLE EAST: More like Monty Python every day.


REASON HAS POSTED THIS "PARODY" OF THE CORNER by Tim Cavanaugh. I don't think it's funny -- just kind of mean and lame. It's not Mad Magazine-level parody, which is what it's shooting for. I don't think it's even Cracked-level parody. Cavanaugh wrote a pretty good piece on "message" pictures in this month's Reason, but I find that his efforts to be humorous just come across as , well, mean and lame. I'm kind of surprised that Reason went with this.

UPDATE: But The American Prospect's "Tapped" likes it.


KNOW YOUR ENEMY -- AND YOUR ALLY: Reader Gloria Chase writes:

This is a page of pictures from the lame UC Berkeley pro-Palestine rally. If you go down to the bottom you'll see a group called QUIT: Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism. Then check below in the comments area. A fellow named Sallah has written: "As a Palestinian, I must protest the inclusion of a homosexual group in this afternoon's rally. Gay people have no place in society, whether in Palestine or in the US."

The Left sure is mixed up these days.
Isn't it, though? Salah's response to some critical comments is this: "We are fighting for self-determination. That means that we wish to live according to our own societal values, not your Western ones. You are a cultural imperialist. I appreciate your concern for our struggle, but WE will decide for ourselves." That reminds me of this quote, from some French Communist or other (this is from memory): "When you are in power, you give me freedom because that is according to your principles. When I am in power, I will take away your freedom, because that is according to my principles."


CLONING, DRUGS, LIBERTARIANS, AND FOXY BROWN: All on Stephen Green's page this morning.

TO MY MIND, this is

TO MY MIND, this is a bigger disgrace than the arrest of Father Shanley. And harder for the Church to disassociate itself from -- not that it appears to want to. As reader Eric Timmons, who sent the link, says: "This photograph says something about the French and the Vatican. You didn't see Colin Powell doing this with Arafat, nor will you, I imagine. I also doubt you will see the good Cardinal doing this with Sharon."

UPDATE: Reader Michael Gaddis writes:

I have a suggested caption for the picture you just posted of Arafat arm-in-arm with the Vatican cardinal:

"But is he a 'NOTORIOUS' terrorist?"


RICHARD BROOKHISER says we're all Jews to the islamists.

CARTERPALOOZA is what Jay Nordlinger

CARTERPALOOZA is what Jay Nordlinger calls his festival of negative commentary on Jimmy Carter. Nordlinger's thesis is that Carter's wildly overrated even as an ex-President.

I still think my headline of "Fukuyama-a-rama" is better, though.

TOUR O' THE BLOGS continues

TOUR O' THE BLOGS continues with a profile of Bill Quick. Quick rules, and the Tour o' the blogs feature, which I was a bit skeptical of at first, is actually pretty cool.

SOME FACULTY at Harvard and

SOME FACULTY at Harvard and MIT are calling for divestment from Israel. Naturally, Noam Chomsky is among them.

If I were a student, or a faculty member, at these institutions, I'd be calling for Chomsky's resignation. Maybe someone should start a petition drive.



To tie two recent Instapundit threads together, I don't see much difference
between anti-cloning and anti-genetic engineering laws on one hand and the old anti-miscegenation laws on the other. In both cases the Law declares that certain types of families and certain types of offspring are Officially Undesirable.

An anti-genetic engineering law is itself a eugenics measure, as much if not more so than as the old anti-miscegenation were. It's a eugenic measure of the old style, where the State decides what genes and genetic combinations are "good" or "bad" and imposes its decisions with the force of law. An anti-genetic engineering law and an anti-miscegenation law differ only in that the later declares "genetic purity" to be "good" (socially desirable and required by law), while the former declares "genetic naturalness" to be "good."

This bears repeating: Anti-genetic engineering laws would be no different, in style or motivation, from the eugenics laws of the '30s. All that would change is the definition of "socially desirable" genetic combinations - "pure" genes in the case of the old laws, and "natural" (or "wild type") genes in the case of the new ones.

MICKEY KAUS has some sage

MICKEY KAUS has some sage advice for anti-Le Pen demonstrators.


WEST BANK WAR CRIME: Ralph Peters writes:

A TERRIBLE war crime has been committed in the West Bank. It will have far-reaching and heartbreaking consequences. But it has nothing to do with lies about an imaginary massacre in Jenin. The war crime - committed brazenly before a global audience - is the occupation of the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, by Palestinian terrorists.

Where is the outcry? International law forbids the parties to armed conflict from using churches, as well as hospitals, museums and monuments, for military activities. The Laws of Land Warfare are even stricter.

The United Nations, which is ever quick to condemn Israel, has been silent about this violation, even though the Palestinian actions violate the UN's own rules. The church is even under UNESCO designation as a protected site.

Yes, Ralph, but don't you understand? Only Jews and Americans can commit war crimes nowadays. For everyone else, such acts are merely signs of understandable frustration.

ROBERT MUSIL is rather critical

ROBERT MUSIL is rather critical of Will Hutton's book on Europe's economic superiority vis a vis the United States. So is Howard Owens.

JONATHAN ADLER, writing in The

JONATHAN ADLER, writing in The Corner, makes a point about the difference between eugenics and reproductive technologies that's somewhat different from the one that I make below, but still significant:

Webster's Collegiate defines eugenics as "a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed." I think that last phrase is key. Eugenics may not require control of human mating, but it seems to me that the term -- and the revulsion it rightly engenders -- does require broader racial ambitions (and, I should note, does not require government control). This is not to say that genetic engineering of children by their parents is a good thing -- I am not sure whether I accept Bailey's arguments -- only that making decision about one's own children is fundamentally different from trying to engineer an entire race.
I would agree that eugenics may not necessarily require government control in the abstract -- but it always has in the concrete, unless you want to include such things as genetic counseling for Tay-Sachs carriers under the label eugenics, in which case calling something "eugenics" is a long way from proving that it's evil.

May 02, 2002



How is genetically engineering humans to be smarter/stronger/prettier different from eugenics?

There's the obvious difference, in that we're fabricating humans instead of breeding them, but what's the moral/socio-political difference? Is eugenics bad simply because fascists used it the last time?

And, if there is none, then please outline your argument defending eugenics, for if genetic engineering and eugenics are equivalent, and you approve of genetic engineering, then you must also approve of eugenics.
Uh, no. Eugenics wasn't bad because it involved improving the species (though the genetic theories -- and applications -- of eugenicists were lame enough that it probably wouldn't have done that anyway). Nor was eugenics bad "because fascists used it the last time." (At any rate, the fascists got their own ideas from American eugenicists, vigorously supported by Oliver Wendell Holmes).

What was bad about eugenics was that it involved overriding people's reproductive choices, typically by sterilizing them so that they wouldn't pass on genes deemed defective. Conflating forced sterilization with voluntary use of reproductive technologies -- a common move among opponents of genetic science -- is either ignorant, or dishonest.


THE NRA CONVENTION AND GAYS: A kind reader sends the link to this piece from PlanetOut.Com on anti-gay remarks at the NRA convention. That's the piece I remembered, and now I remember why I waited to post -- it wasn't that compelling and I wanted to see what else came out.

Calling Rosie O'Donnell a "freak" -- given gun owners' general antipathy toward her hysterical antigun views -- hardly counts as an anti-lesbian slur, and most of the other reports are equally vague and suspicious. Anyone got anything else on this?

My own experience has been that gun-rights folks, even hardened good-ole-boys types, are tickled, er, pink at groups like the Pink Pistols. And I've heard far more race-and-gender-and-sexual preferences from liberal academics than I've heard from gun folks.

UPDATE: Reader Eddie Brown writes:

Schlussel addressed this on Howard Stern's radio show Tuesday.

Schlussel said she called O'Donnell a "freak" not because O'Donnell is gay, but because O'Donnell does "weird" things. Such as telling Diane Sawyer that she has e-mail conversations with people's multiple personalities, or attacking Tom Selleck for his NRA membership on her show, or stating that gay adoption is advantageous to black children, while she herself adopts white children.

I consider Schlussel to be a very intelligent columnist and at this point am willing to take her at her word. Also, like you, I found the ambiguity of the PlantOut article to be suspect. However, Schlussel has often struck me as someone who makes "edgy", politically incorrect statements simply for the sake of being politically incorrect. (Even as she was defending herself on Stern's show, she referred to O'Donnell as a "fat ugly blob" for no reason.)

I think the situation needs either a more objective witness from the convention, or a tape or transcript of the panel Schlussel appeared on, to fully clarify matters.

If you want to hear her interview on Stern, you can play or download an MP3 of it from here...

I agree that I'd like to here more. I'd really like to hear someone from the Pink Pistols who was there address it.

FUKUYAMA-A-RAMA: Now it's Virginia Postrel

FUKUYAMA-A-RAMA: Now it's Virginia Postrel raking him over the coals.


BRIAN LINSE WANTS TO KNOW WHEN I'll criticize Wayne LaPierre for comparing gun-controllers to Osama bin Laden. Right now.

Comparing gun controllers to bin Laden is just silly. He wants to blow Jews up, not disarm them. Here's a more apt comparison, from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

I meant to post a more serious criticism of some anti-gay comments made by some people attending the NRA conference, but now I can't find the story I read yesterday, and there's nothing about it on the Pink Pistols website as far as I can tell, even though I know they had representatives there.


IT'S A FUKUYAMA FEEDING-FRENZY! Take that, Jonah! Josh Chafetz at OxBlog says this:

On foreign policy, he says that September 11 "was a reminder to Americans of why government exists, and why it has to tax citizens and spend money to promote collective interests. It was only the government, and not the market or individuals, that could be depended on to send firemen into buildings, or to fight terrorists, or to screen passengers at airports." Well, yes. But most libertarians recognize the need for limited government, which includes things like police and the military. Virginia Postrel and Brink Lindsey -- two libertarian luminaries -- have been relentless in their attacks on anti-war libertarians. And the problem with airport security was not that the screeners weren't government officials, but rather that federal guidelines about what was okay to take aboard flights didn't prohibit box cutters. No one ever thought that box cutters would be used to hijack a plane. So government screeners wouldn't have made a bit of difference.

But what Fukuyama is really interested in is cloning. He's not even interested in talking about therapeutic cloning. No, he goes right for the big one: reproductive cloning. He tries to present a non-theological argument against reproductive cloning. Here it is: "Children do not ask to be born, of course, but it is a stretch to assume the informed consent of a child to be born deaf, or a clone, or genetically redesigned in a risky experiment." This is a cheap rhetorical trick: he sandwiches being born "a clone" in between being born deaf and having risky procedures carried out on you. Let's put aside the risk involved in reproductive cloning because Fukuyama's argument isn't that cloning is too risky right now -- it's that it should never be allowed, ever, regardless of any advances in medical technology. In other words, for Fukuyama, being born a healthy clone is the equivalent of being born deaf or forcibly undergoing a risky experiment.

What? Why on earth would this possibly be? Because you'd know that there was someone else wandering around out there with the same DNA as you? Does Fukuyama think that identical twins suffer from a disability akin to deafness?

It gets even better.

EUGENE VOLOKH has a reply

EUGENE VOLOKH has a reply to Fukuyama's piece, too. It's characteristically polite, and destructive.


EURO-ANTISEMITISM UPDATE: George Will has a good column on the subject today. Also check out this piece in The Times, which warns Europeans that they really don't grasp just how bad they look to Americans.

FUKUYAMA PILE-ON: Brink Lindsey calls

FUKUYAMA PILE-ON: Brink Lindsey calls Fukuyama's oped a "smear," dissects its bogus logic, and concludes:

So if opposition to the cloning ban is a libertarian-left plot, how does Fukuyama explain Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter? Furthermore, Fukuyama sneakily conflates the cloning controversy and the broader issue of genetic engineering. But on that broader issue, the political alignment is totally different from what Fukuyama suggests. The fact is that most conservatives oppose cloning strictly on pro-life grounds; they have none of Fukuyama's general hostility to medical progress.

In reality, it's Fukuyama -- not libertarian opponents of the proposed cloning ban -- who is in the grips of a "radical dogma." Fukuyama, having proclaimed the end of history, wants to keep history under arrest by throttling scientific and medical progress. He speaks for an emerging coalition of neocon and Luddite left intellectuals – but are such views really in line with the broad currents of conservative or liberal opinion? I don't think so. I was speaking recently with someone very prominent in conservative circles, and I asked him if he would oppose genetic engineering to improve intelligence, looks, etc. if it didn't involve destroying embryos any more than current in vitro fertilization techniques. "Of course not," he replied. "The essence of human nature is the desire to improve your condition. You can't oppose that." But Fukuyama does -- in the name of defending an imaginary, static "human nature," he sets himself against the essential dynamism that defines our humanity.


JONAH GOLDBERG wants to know

JONAH GOLDBERG wants to know why libertarian bloggers are ignoring Frank Fukuyama's piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Well, I can't speak for others, some of whom have taken on Fukuyama (see below). But I guess the reason I didn't respond is that I've never taken Fukuyama all that seriously. His most famous book, The End of History, seesawed between being embarrassingly obvious and obviously wrong, his Trust was just embarrassingly obvious, and his latest comments on biotechnology have seemed both naive and ill-informed.

But since Jonah asked: The Journal item is of a piece with his other comments, except that it's also intellectually dishonest. Even Bob Shrum has given up arguing that September 11 brought back an uncritical faith in Big Government: the Democrats tried that, it polled badly, and they quit. Now some of the big-government rightists are taking sloppy seconds on this bogus issue, and it looks even stupider.

September 11 brought back faith in Big Government? Like the INS -- which was issuing Mohammed Atta a visa extension months after September 11? Like the FAA, which recently turned around a U.S. Air flight full of suspicious Arab men who bought one-way tickets an hour after the plane took off? Like the cowardly Great Washington Bugout that took place in October's anthrax incidents?

I'd say the opposite. The reason polls show a majority of Americans supporting armed airline pilots is that they don't trust Big Government to protect them.

And as for Fukuyama's effort to tie this nonexistent trend to an enthusiasm for anti-cloning regulation and the like, well, that's a pathetic non sequitur. Back in Sixth Grade, my class used Layman Allen's Wff'n'Proof logic games, including one module called "The Propaganda Game." A non sequitur exactly like Fukuyama's was one of the standard moves there; we all learned to spot it pretty quickly. So I guess in ignoring his piece I was assuming that most people function at better than a sixth-grade level. Fukuyama, by writing his piece, apparently feels differently, which probably tells you all you need to know about his faith in individuals' ability to make their own choices. But enough of what I think about Fukuyama's work. Here's what blogger Stephen Green wrote about Fukuyama last night at 12:05 a.m. (I'm a parent, with Daddy hours, so he usually takes the first swing at this stuff when it appears at midnight):

Somehow, Fukuyama’s fear that parents might want to engineer their children to be smarter and better looking, has morphed into a fear of us breeding a race of Gamma sub-humans to work for sub-minimum wages in the DNA-polluted soap mines of West New Dakota.

If we do someday have the power to breed “lesser” people for backbreaking labor (today we call them “illegal immigrants’), only the government can deprive them of their liberty. The Constitution is pretty clear that everyone breathing here gets his USRDA of the Bill of Rights, no matter what his wife says. If Alpha Individuals or Evil Corporations, or, hell, Senator Palpatine attempted to enslave their clone armies, they’d face the biggest stack of criminal and civil charges since OJ and Baretta killed their transgender hooker boyfriends in a suicide-pact bombing plot to start a race war in LA.

Then the rest of us would have to put up with thousands of tiny, griping, clone ex-soap miners, all suffering from bubblelung, sitting on piles of punitive damages and trying to get their 15 minutes on O’Reilly. Without government intervention, there can be no loss of rights, no evil profits, and no motive to breed mutant Gamma workers to iron my shorts. Damn.

So lighten up, Francis.

And blogger John Tabin writes:
He plays so fast and loose with his rhetoric, setting up straw men and resorting to the always unconvincing slippery-slope argument, that it's hard to know exactly how he does it, but he seems to roll research with embyros, research with cloned embryos, reproductive cloning, genetic engineering, and Hitlerian eugenics into one big ball. Apparantly, we shouldn't attempt to cure cancer, because someone might some time in the future change his child's eye color.
Follow these links -- each post is longer than this one.

Fukuyama is not a serious person. But I suppose that's no reason to ignore him. After all, bloggers do pay attention to Cornel West and Noam Chomsky -- whom Fukuyama, with his intellectual sloppiness and rash pronouncements, is coming to resemble.


CATHOLIC SEX SCANDAL: Who says those guys can't enforce the rules? The book has been thrown in this case. Of course, it's not a pedophile priest abusing kids. It's two adult college students having sex. Can this be true? It's on the Notre Dame Observer's website, and it appears genuine. I called the Observer's office and they verified it.

So how does the Church justify covering for child abusers while punishing adult consensual sex?

UPDATE: Some people think this post is unfair to Notre Dame. Rich Cook writes:

Your unspoken statement was that the University should
lay(!) off two adults having consentual sex. I know the situation reeks of hypocrisy but the students were wrong and they know it.....and the Church knows it is
Well, what I was complaining about was the covering-for-pedophiles thing, really.

NEW RESOURCE: Check out the

NEW RESOURCE: Check out the Copyfight page from Corante, which features lots of info on IP disputes.


INTERNET HOAX ALERT: Several people suggested that my post on The Bachelor was based on a hoax, but Alex Rubalcava, who sent me the emails, said they were genuine. Well, both were right: Apparently the emails were genuine in origin, but altered by someone who passed them on. Read about it here. You can go to Alex Rubalcava's site -- which is what I linked to originally -- and scroll down from here to find out more.


JONAH GOLDBERG REPORTS that NRO got 10 million pageviews last month. By way of contrast, in the past month InstaPundit has had 1,175,429. This isn't as big as it sounds, since a lot of those were people hitting "refresh" to see if there was something new (of course, people do that at NRO to see if the G-File has appeared yet, too . . .) And NRO had one million unique visitors. I don't track those, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't have a proportional 100,000 unique visitors last month.

Still, when you consider the big bucks they're spending over there -- Slim Jims for the underpaid Goldberg, fancy ocean cruises for the overpaid Lowry, and so on -- I feel pretty good about InstaPundit's performance. And I don't have annoying popup ads asking you to subscribe. Just a little, tiny tip jar over there on the left. . .


DAHLIA LITHWICK HAS IT EXACTLY WRONG. She says that the Moussaoui trial is a no-win proposition for the United States. Actually, it's a no-lose proposition. She writes:

If we really do believe in the freedoms and rights that represent the warp and woof of this democracy, it's absurd to argue that they stop at U.S. borders or that we can just put them on pause during wartime. If we really believe in the free marketplace of ideas, we'll have to allow Mr. Moussaoui to put his own asinine convictions on the block. Be warned: It will be ugly. Be warned: Our enemies will hoot with joy. But what's the alternative? If 200 years of constitutional ideals can't withstand the taunts of one angry little lunatic, we shouldn't be fighting a war to defend them. Moussaoui can go ahead and trash this trial, trash U.S. morale, giggle with his terrorist buddies, and embarrass the court.
It won't be "ugly," it'll be beautiful. By doing that, he'll be playing into our hands. We should be encouraging him to rave, and we should put it on TV. His "terrorist buddies" can't be persuaded, only killed. But everyone else will realize what we're dealing with -- which will build support for harsher measures against terrorists and the nations (*cough* Saudi-controlled Arabia! *cough*) that fund them and provide them with ideological, logistical, and diplomatic support.

And it will embarrass the French. Win/win!


IF YOU'RE IN NEW YORK, I'm supposed to have a piece in The Sun today, on intellectual property and Big Media. Naturally, you should buy every available copy.


WAR CRIMES IN JENIN? Well, yes. By the Palestinians, who as Chas Rich notes, brag about having used civilians as shields and decoys -- which is, by the way, a war crime.


GOT A PROBLEM? Stan Lee has the solution! After last night's West Wing episode, even liberals are starting to sound like this.



Well, sure enough, the crude, xenophobic rednecks did assert themselves. But not in America — in Europe. Muslims kill thousands of Americans in America, and there’s a big anti-Muslim backlash France! Oh, and also Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal and those other provinces of the land of sophistication where explicitly Islamophobic parties are now a significant part of the political calculus. What d’you reckon Le Pen’ll get this weekend? Just his 17 per cent base? Maybe 20? And how many voters will stay home? France’s domestic intelligence agency has apparently advised the government that Le Pen will pull at least 30 per cent. That seems rather high for a chap BBC announcers, demonstrating their famous impartiality, describe as ‘virulent’. There can’t, surely, be that many French electors willing to vote for M. Le Virulent, can there? I mean, this isn’t Mississippi, is it?

For the Europhiles in the US media, the events of recent weeks are bewildering. It’s barely two months since they were reporting approvingly every snotty crack by Chris Patten and Hubert Vedrine and regretting that Washington was so out of step with Europe. But then the synagogue attacks became too frequent to ignore, and M. Le Pen whupped Jospin’s sorry ass, and frankly, if you can pick only one place to be out of step with, Europe’s an excellent choice. Like the man almost said, I do smell destabilising violence in the wings. In fear, the Continent, to my mind, has always proved mean-spirited and violent.

It certainly has. And, frankly, it's been pretty mean-spirited even without the fear.


BELLESILES UPDATE: Now it's the Feds investigating him:

The National Endowment for the Humanities has taken the unusual step of demanding a review of a federally funded fellowship awarded to Emory University history Professor Michael Bellesiles.

"The NEH request is unprecedented," said James Grossman, vice president for research and education at the Newberry Library in Chicago, which gave Bellesiles $30,000 for a project to research American gun laws. "They're asking questions that they're entitled to ask, and we're answering them as best we can." . . .

In its 37-year history, the National Endowment for the Humanities has revoked its backing of a project only once, Turner said.

I'd be interested in knowing what that other occasion was, but the story doesn't say.



It was so in the Cold War, when I was always admonished to see things from the Soviet perspective. Why, they’d lost so many in WW2! How this gave them license to put Czech dissidents in psychiatric hospitals and give them turpentine injections was never made clear, and eyes rolled when I brought that up.

Nowadays I am admonished to look at things from the Arab perspective. Well, I do. I read their papers as much as I can, as well nuggets gleaned from the MEMRI site. I see a legitimate cause long lost to a collective spasm of romantic insanity. I see a pathological hatred of the Jews that seems both delusional and self-destructive. The problems of the Arab states are the fault of the Arab states, but this cannot be discussed, so all anger must be directed at the Jews. It’s interesting to note after the 50s, the American culture never objectified and demonized Russians - on the contrary, we indulged ourselves with notions of the curmudgeonly Bear who, in the end, could be brought around with some good clear likker. If there is one remarkable and unnoticed aspect of the Cold War, it is the way in which the Americans eventually wanted to love the Russian people. Screw the Kremlin, fine, but we had no beef with Rooskie workin’ stiffs. You got your system, we got ours, but hell, it ain’t worth blowing up the planet over.

If Saudi Arabia had a Star Trek, do you think they’d put a Jewish Chekov at the helm?

Indeed. Of course the phrase "If Saudi Arabia had a Star Trek," captures much of the problem all by itself, doesn't it?

May 01, 2002


HERE'S A GOOD COLUMN on the new newspaper that Matt Welch, Ken Layne, and some guy named Riordan are starting in Los Angeles.

WILLIAM SAFIRE savages Bush on

WILLIAM SAFIRE savages Bush on privacy policies, saying that he's surrendered to the "intrusion lobby."


BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: Go here, and look at the pictures.


SOME MAYDAY CHEER from Stephen Green:

Actually, May Day never really caught on in the US. Know why? We're too busy getting rich to bother.

Marx was right about one thing, though -- the State did, indeed, wither away. Too bad it was the Marxist states that all withered away, so that people might enjoy enough freedom to make a little money and enjoy themselves a bit.

Yep. Was it Eugene O'Neill who said the American working class was the only one working to become so rich that it didn't have to work?

SEVERAL READERS doubted the veracity

SEVERAL READERS doubted the veracity of the Emory Wheel story about Michael Bellesiles' bartending career that I link to below, noting that the only source is Bellesiles. Well, yeah, that's not exactly ironclad sourcing these days, I guess, though it's not as if I actually care about the underlying truth. I just thought it was amusing in light of my earlier remark that violence studies types should be tending bar.

Reader Andres Magnusson, writing from Iceland, however, does care:

Am I the only one finding the veracity of Bellesiles statements on his bartending suspect? Or should we just believe he singlehandedly saved England from the barbarous habits of quaffing mead and barring women from public houses?

"There, he introduced the English to a more international style of bartending -- the traditional English pub culture centers around ale and beer, so bartenders have little knowledge of mixed drinks such as piсa colada. Bellesiles also was one of the first managers to hire waitresses, prohibited by pub tradition until 1973."

While it is true that most pubs lack that cosmopolitan touch, the drinking classes are by no means confined to ale and beer. Or pubs for that matter. And never have been.

Perhaps Bellesiles was the first to call his female staff waitresses, but barmaids have been there forever, not forgetting the landladies. . . . [Chaucer quote omitted] There is an unbroken chain of literary evidence -- from Elizabethan taverns, through Victorian ginhouses, to the clubs of the 60s -- of person of the female persuasion plying the drinks. Plus зa change...

Well, there you have it -- though to be fair, my own experience suggests that it would be unfair to blame anyone interviewed by a student newspaper too much for what comes out of the process. I've been the subject of some real howlers.

SOME THOUGHTS on what exactly

SOME THOUGHTS on what exactly all those French people are protesting.


EVERYBODY IS DISSING THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS over on Romenesko's letters page for its asinine effort to ban deep-linking.

And well they should. It's legally bogus, technically stupid, economically insane, and utterly offensive. But then, they are owned by the people who gave us the CueCat, so I guess that's par for the course.


IT'S AN INTELLIGENCE-A-THON over at Gary Farber's site: What the CIA is doing, what Senators had for lunch, and the Chinese Communist Party's message problems -- plus a lengthy essay on why Ashcroft's priorites are misplaced, and a report on Freemasons conspiring in Cuba. (Well, I made up the "conspiring" part, actually).


"THE SURVEILLANCE VALUE OF FREE SPEECH" -- I've been vaguely uncomfortable with James Taranto's campaign, over at Best of the Web, to drive hate groups off the Yahoo and MSN discussion services. Now Justin Adams explains why: It's better to have these groups out in the open than hiding underground where we don't know what they're talking about.


HERE'S A LINK to Dan Gillmor's column on the Foresight Conference this past weekend. Domestic issues kept me from going, and now I regret it. But family's first when the chips are down.

JONAH GOLDBERG wonders why OxBlog

JONAH GOLDBERG wonders why OxBlog looks like InstaPundit. The short answer is that they're using the same template (designed by Alex-Beam-bamboozler Bjorn Staerk) that I do. I've thought of changing mine, since a lot of people are using Bjorn's template now, but I like it.


PALESTINIANS ARE UPSET OVER THE JENIN "MASSACRE," according to this report, because not enough Palestinians were killed. But they're trying to increase the body count. . . .


ARMED BUS DRIVERS: In response to my post about arming pilots, below, reader Mark Draughn writes:

So Tom Ridge says, "Where do you stop? If pilots carry guns [then] railroad engineers and bus drivers could ask to do the same." He makes it sound like that would be a bad thing.

My alma mater, the Illinois Institute of Technology, operated a shuttle bus between the main campus and the downtown rail hub. The bus drivers were usually campus cops, who were real cops with real guns. Even when the bus broke down in a bad neighborhood, I never felt safer.

So there, Tom.

Of course, you start arming pilots, and bus drivers, and such, and pretty soon ordinary Americans might wonder why they can't be armed. And we couldn't have that.

UPDATE: No sooner did I post this than I saw Craig Schamp's take on the subject.


HUMAN RIGHTS AT THE U.N. turn out to have a rather specialized definition.


THE CLONING BATTLE MAY ALREADY BE OVER, says this MSNBC story, with the pro-therapeutic cloning forces having won. I think that's rather optimistic, at least from my standpoint.

By the way, in a response to an earlier post of mine Christian blogger Phillip Winn takes issue with the idea that Christian bloggers are necessarily anti-cloning. "I am on that list myself, and I certainly don't support any government-imposed limits on cloning, therapeutic, reproductive, or otherwise."

Well, yes. The notion that Christian bloggers must be anti-cloning wasn't mine, but Minute Particulars' -- I certainly don't think that Christianity necessitates opposition to cloning. Orrin Judd on the other hand, disagrees -- and thinks that Christianity should trump Constitutional principles where the President is concerned. (At least I believe that's what he's saying.) Such a belief isn't exactly unreasonable, of course, but it doesn't seem all that different from the claims of anti-Christians who say that you can't appoint or elect a Christian conservative (which is how Judd characterizes Bush) to high office because they'll ignore the Constitution in favor of their Biblical interpretations. Judd seems to think that's their moral duty, which is fine -- but if you think that way, then you can hardly call it anti-Christian bigotry when those who don't share those interpretations feel that being a "Christian conservative" makes you untrustworthy where the Constitution is concerned. You've already admitted it. In fact, based on Judd's post, he's not just admitting it, but celebrating it.


PINK FLOYD'S THE WALL: Paean to libertarian individualism? That's what Aaron Page says.


DAMIAN PENNY IS Fox's guest weblog today. He leads off with a discussion of a new world trend, which I think should be named "PanIdiotarianism" -- in which all the world's dumb beliefs, from antisemitism to anticapitalism, are merging into one colossal black hole of stupidity. Or as Penny puts it: "the individual idiocies of the world are morphing into a collective force."

He's got evidence.


BELLESILES UPDATE: I said a while back that the "public health" folks who are studying violence instead of anthrax should either change their focus or start doing something productive, like tending bar.

Lo and behold, a reader sends me this article from the 1997 Emory Wheel that informs us that Michael Bellesiles, founder of Emory's Violence Studies program, used to tend bar.

Okay, that's not exactly the same as having some CDC folks move from studying whether guns are related to shootings to learning how to tap a keg, but it's close.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS deep-linking fiasco is thoroughly examined on Slashdot. Conclusions in brief: (1) It's easy to set up a website so as to prevent deep linking if you want to; and (2) If you do that, you're a complete blithering idiot, since you destroy most of its appeal.

Sounds about right to me. So apparently the Dallas Morning News folks are technically incompetent idiots, rather than greedy, selfish assholes. Whatever.



THE SARGE looks at old

THE SARGE looks at old training photos and sees the future: his own. Dilbert isn't just in the corporate world.

I must've re-watched that particular module 3 or 4 times, trying to catch everyone else I knew. It was amazing to see these guys when they were fresh-faced youngsters just out of high school. You could see actual hints of happiness in their eyes coupled with the intense look of determination in their sharp, toned faces. I was being given a rare gift: The chance to see my supervisors before too much beer and bullshit took their toll on them. The young men in the pictures weren't the scared, dreary and doughy men that I knew and worked for. I could relate to the men in the pictures, but not the guys I saw everyday that had been broken down by the system.

What I didn't realize at the time was that I was also being given a glimpse of my own future. I was too busy making fun of the old pictures to realize that my future was staring me right in the face when I looked at them in the flesh 12 years later. The happiness and life in their eyes was replaced with resignation and defeat. They were eyes that had seen too much shit and just didn't give a damn anymore. There was no hope, no zeal. Just a look of wanting to get shit done with a minimal amount of BS so they could go home, spend time with their families and look forward to retirement. It's a face I'm all too familiar with nowadays. I see it every day in the mirror.

On the other hand, I remember once when I was a pretty new professor, asking another guy about some of our nearly-retired "deadwood" colleagues. "Do you think they expected to end up that way?" I asked. "Are you kidding?" was the response. "They planned to end up that way."

JOHN WEIDNER weighs in in

JOHN WEIDNER weighs in in favor of space colonization. That's going to be the topic (well, sort of) of my next FoxNews column, too.


"ARE YOU AN AMERICAN, OR A JOURNALIST?" That's the question asked by journalists and examined over at Media Minded.


HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON BIOTERRORISM, focusing on deterrence, not just amelioration.


AIRLINE PILOTS WANT PILOTS ARMED. The public wants pilots armed. Norm Mineta doesn't want pilots armed. The Wall Street Journal asks why not:

The objections expressed by the Administration are weak. "I don't feel we should have lethal weapons in the cockpit," says Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who also insists that grandmothers be screened at airports with the same intensity as suspicious-looking young men. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge adds, "Where do you stop? If pilots carry guns [then] railroad engineers and bus drivers could ask to do the same."

The response seems obvious: Control of a cockpit can turn an airliner into a lethal weapon. Hijacked trains and buses can't be flown into the Pentagon or a nuclear plant.

I trust airline pilots -- and for that matter airline passengers -- to protect me far more than I do underperformin' Norman Mineta, or Tom Ridge.

Politically, of course, this is a very risky move for Mineta. If another airplane is hijacked -- or even if there's an attempt in which passengers or crew are killed before the meticulously-disarmed passengers are able to subdue the hijackers -- Mineta and Ridge will be crucified on this. At least figuratively -- and there'll be some folks who'll want to make the figurative literal.

RON BAILEY reports from this

RON BAILEY reports from this past weekend's Foresight Institute conference on nanotechnology. I agree with Ray Kurzweil in terms of hopes, but with Leon Fuerth in terms of fears.

JONAH GOLDBERG has some unkind

JONAH GOLDBERG has some unkind words for the European Street:

Indeed, Europe's problems with Israel and America can be boiled down to these two attributes: guilt and arrogance.

The Europeans, as we all know, are now the backseat drivers of history. They had their hands on the wheel for a very long time, and the world is better off for it — an assertion which is, sadly, politically incorrect on both sides of the Atlantic, but no less obviously true for being so. Were it not for European civilization leading the way for much of the last thousand years, humanity would be in a ditch. To suggest otherwise is to dabble in fantasy.

But, around the middle of the last century, the Europeans got lost and America had to get into the driver's seat. This was very embarrassing for the Euros because, after all, they'd driven us around for years, treating us like we were a little brother they'd gotten stuck chauffeuring to Little League games. (The fact that the driver traditionally gets to decide which radio stations everyone listens to and which drive-thrus to stop at particularly rankles with Europeans who hate American culture.)

Read the whole thing. It's excellent.


JOURNALISTS WITHOUT A CLUE: An apparently endlessly continuing series. The Dallas Morning News is threatening to sue a site called unless it quits linking to individual articles and starts linking only to the paper's front page.

First, this sort of linking has been upheld repeatedly, and it's key to the operation of the web.

Second, have you seen the lame, hard-to-navigate front page of the Dallas Morning News site? What do they think they'd be accomplishing -- except to turn people off -- by forcing everyone to go there first and then hunt for the story? Do they think that most readers will read the headline story "Plant Fire Near Houston Forces Evacuations" when they've actually come to the site to read "Church Takes the Lead in Head Start Projects"?

Next they'll want to force you to read all the ads in section one before you're allowed to turn to the sports page.

UPDATE: Reader D.F. Hawbaker writes from Dallas:

As a Dallas resident, you are so right about the DMN's website. As with everything else in this city, they think they are God's gift to journalism, the web, the world! It's made worse by being the only newspaper in town. DMN has always had one of the lamest websites, but their egos refuse to get out of the way of improvement.
Write 'em and tell 'em. Personally, I think the commenter on Alice's page is right: this hurts them more than it hurts us, since it costs them pageviews.


THE NEW YORK SUN GETS A MIXED REVIEW from Joe Bob Briggs, forwarded by reader Eric Akawie. Since when did Briggs leave his double-wide outside Dallas and move to Manhattan?

KASS COUNCIL KAPUT? My TechCentralStation

KASS COUNCIL KAPUT? My TechCentralStation column is up.


RABBIS ARE CALLING FOR A BOYCOTT OF THE NEW YORK TIMES because of its biased Israel coverage. Hmm. What a convenient time for a new New York daily paper to appear on the scene.

Say, the L.A. Times is facing similar complaints, and there's a new Los Angeles daily paper in the works, too, with heavy involvement by anti-Idiotarians Matt Welch, Ken Layne, and Tim Blair.


DRIVE FARMERS OFF THEIR LAND and hand it over to your inept, corrupt political cronies. What do you get? Food shortages, growing into famine. Perhaps Kofi Annan should turn his attention to actual human rights abuses.

UPDATE: Amartya Sen wrote that famines don't occur when you have a free press. Uh oh.

MINUTE PARTICULARS calls me magnanimous

MINUTE PARTICULARS calls me magnanimous for linking to a list of Christian bloggers even though most of them disagree with me on cloning. I'll take the praise, I guess, but it's not like you have to agree with me to get a link.

I link to anything I find interesting. The growth of Christian blogging is interesting to me. So there.

NADER MATH: Dan Lewis responds

NADER MATH: Dan Lewis responds to some figures by Ralph Nader in Slate's "Breakfast Table" feature.

MICKEY KAUS wonders why everyone

MICKEY KAUS wonders why everyone is still getting McCain/Feingold wrong.

CLONING UPDATE: Virginia Postrel has

CLONING UPDATE: Virginia Postrel has much more debunking material on the Kristol/Shrum ad campaign, and the subject of stem cell research and cloning in general. She also has a rare Camille Paglia sighting!

April 30, 2002


LAMAR ALEXANDER'S POLITICAL CAREER may be in trouble now that someone has pointed out his resemblance to Pat Boone.


THE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH-- a cultural universal?


HERE'S A HOMESCHOOL BLOG with an, er, insider's view of the process.

DAVID NIEPORENT points out that

DAVID NIEPORENT points out that Eugene Volokh has yet another accurate Supreme Court prediction to add to his record. Advantage: Volokh! And Nieropent, for pointing this out.


"VELVET CONSERVATISM" -- An article on New York Sun and New Republic owner Roger Hertog from The American Prospect. I don't know how accurate it is, since I know nothing about the guy, but it certainly seems fair.

The best quote in the piece, though, is from Sun Editor-in-Chief Seth Lipsky:

"The right wing of the Democratic Party," Lipsky told me recently, "is a depressed stock."
That's certainly true, and God knows I hear it from Tennessee Democrats all the time.


WAS THE BACHELOR RIGGED? Alex Rubalcava says it was, and it looks like he's got the goods.


THAT'S MISTER YUPPIE SCUM, TO YOU: According to this article, gentrification may be good for neighborhoods, and even for the poor people who live in them. The reduction in crime and improvement in amenities have something to do with it:

"Low-income households actually seem less likely to move from gentrifying neighborhoods than from other communities," said a recent report by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a New York nonprofit organization that analyzed demographic shifts in the city over the last few years.

If low-income residents remain in gentrifying areas, then they can enjoy the community improvement that gentrification generally brings. . . . "I really didn't find any evidence that it did push poor people out," Vigdor says of his study of demographic changes in gentrifying neighborhoods in Boston. "In fact I found a good amount of evidence that they're more likely to stick around."

Even though rents go up in gentrifying neighborhoods, Vigdor found long-term residents wanted to stay to enjoy the better environment for children, the increased local services, and the possibility of new jobs in the area.

"Basically you've got two factors," says Braconi. "You've got rents maybe increasing — that makes it harder for poor people to stay — by the same token gentrification brings with it a lot of community improvement."

Wow. Who'd've thought that poor people might actually benefit when their neighborhoods get better?




THIS POST BY RAMESH PONNURU over at The Corner is, as far as I know, the first use of the term "Idiotarian" by a professional journalist.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Hankamer writes: "Now if only there was an Idiotarian Party. I can see it now: 'Vote Idiotarian - It's Easier Than Thinking.'"

Actually, Mike, sometimes I think we have two of those.

CLONING UPDATE: Reader James Taranto

CLONING UPDATE: Reader James Taranto sends a link to this Slate article on Hatch, LDS theology, and stem cells.


THE MULLAHS' GRIP IS LOOSENING in Iran, in this very interesting story from ABC. (Via Clueless). Keep those Britney Spears videos on the air -- they're obviously weakening:

The 15-year-old girl trying out her new in-line skates in central Tehran also was making a bold fashion statement: jeans, a bulky sweater rolled up to her elbows and a bright orange head scarf barely hanging on to her hair.

Yet her outfit drew no special attention part of a quiet, but potentially momentous, test under way in Iran.

Almost daily, new boundaries are being defined for the "hijab," the Muslim dress code for women enforced since the Islamic revolution 23 years ago.

Coming soon: a Barbie airdrop!

STEVE at HappyFunPundit has the

STEVE at HappyFunPundit has the email address for the PR firm behind the Saudis' TV ads. He's suggesting that people express their sentiments about making pro-Saudi advertisements.


READER ALEX BENSKY writes about the epidemic of "public health" studies relating to guns:

Why wouldn't medical people have special insight into gun control, given that misuse of guns leads to health problems?

As a baseball fan, therefore, I have special insight into nuclear weapons programs, because an all-out nuclear attack on the U.S. might lead to an interruption in the American League schedule. As a matter of fact, I have direct insight, because I've got tickets to a Red Sox game in June.

And my friend the realtor has special insight into nuclear warfare because nuclear war would, after all, destroy real estate and reduce the value of what's left. Maybe he could form a group called Realtors for Social Responsibility.

Why the hell not?

EMILY JONES is unimpressed by

EMILY JONES is unimpressed by peace protesters.

STEPHEN GREEN says he doesn't

STEPHEN GREEN says he doesn't trust Bill Kristol.

MARTIN ROTH now has a

MARTIN ROTH now has a more comprehensive list of Christian blogs.


LOS ANGELES IS THE ROME OF THE 21ST CENTURY, according to Ken Layne. So what's the Athens?

Knoxville, of course, is the Sybaris of the 21st century.

ANOTHER major public-health study will

ANOTHER major public-health study will be released tomorrow.


MORE ON CLONING: I've said it before, but it's worth pointing out again that Congress's enumerated powers don't extend to a ban on cloning anyway. Such matters don't concern big-government conservatives (if that's a meaningful term) like Kristol, but this ought to give pause to more principled conservatives who believe that the Constitution actually means something.

CLONING UPDATE: Orrin Hatch is

CLONING UPDATE: Orrin Hatch is supporting cloning. Well, therapeutic cloning -- he wants to outlaw human cloning. Still, that puts him on the opposite side of this legislative from Kristol, who supports the Brownback/Landrieu bill that would ban therapeutic cloning, too. I didn't notice it at the time, but Gerald Ford took the same position last week.

CHARLES JOHNSON comments on David

CHARLES JOHNSON comments on David Tell's article about the U.N.'s obsession with Israel. Johnson hits the nail on the head: "In a sane world, the United Nations itself would be investigated."


JUST HEARD A REALLY TERRIFIC STORY on space tourism on NPR. It was first-rate, with interviews from people in the space community who really get it, and who did a good job of explaining why it's important.


BILL KRISTOL'S ANTI-CLONING GANG has its own commercial in response to the Harry and Louise pro-cloning ads. Too bad it's basically full of lies.

Too harsh? Well, it says that the anti-cloning bill won't ban life-saving research. But it will.

It says "some biotech companies will do anything to make a buck" -- a faux-populism worthy of John Edwards and the Trial Lawyers.

It portrays real, human clones as walking around now because of cloning research (they're not) -- and suggests that if they existed they'd be patented, and hence owned, by big pharmaceutical companies, presumably leading to armies of subhuman cloned slaves. That's not true.

This is Shrum-like in its dishonesty.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Murray writes:

Of course, the deeper hypocrisy of the Kristol ad is its explicit claim that those rascally corporations need to be reined in, or God only knows what they'll do in their mad pursuit of profit, coming as it does from a right wing that has for years preached free market economics. I guess this means that I should expect to see Kristol at the next anti-globo rally, carrying a disfigured papier-mache puppet and condemning corporate greed, huh?
Well, that's where they're headed, based on this commercial. Though Kristol has never been much of a fan of free market economics. He likes big government -- he just wants it to be his kind of big government.


HEY, THE CAIR WEBSITE IS DOWN. The reader who calls my attention to it asks: Could it have anything to do with this story on FoxNews?

Probably not. But stay tuned.

UPDATE: It's back. Hey, it's not like my site ever goes down. . . .


HEY, I ALMOST FORGOT: InstaPundit is site of the month over at Enter Stage Right, though they correctly report that I am not a conservative, but a Whig.

Does that count as right-wing? Who knows, anymore?

UPDATE: Reader Tyler Boswell writes: "The Whig party, huh? So that explains your hair in the pic." Ouch. No, for better or worse, that's all mine.

MICKEY KAUS is ahead of

MICKEY KAUS is ahead of the curve on the John-Edward-backlash front. ("Who?" you may ask. "I am asking!" And well you may.) Kaus has the skinny in a piece long enough that I'm surprised it didn't run in Slate. Maybe Jacob Weisberg's a closet Edwards fan?

TAPPED, the American Prospect's in-house

TAPPED, the American Prospect's in-house blog, now has a stable URL so that you don't have to go hunting around for it. Check it out -- and scroll down to note TAPPED's response to the Max Power porn-star incident.


SALON SEXWATCH -- SPECIAL NOSTALGIA EDITION: Okay, I quit doing this feature a few months back because (1) I got sick of reading the lame Salon sex-advice column in search of actual sex; and (2) everyone knew about Rachael Klein's column anyway, and I figured interested parties could go there on their own.

But a reader wrote to say that there's actual sex in today's Salon column. Well, kinda: there's some advice how to kiss a woman, anyway, and later on some advice on how to avoid losing your erection. For the Salon column, that's big progress. But it doesn't really hold an, er, candle to Rachael Klein's column on how to bring a woman to orgasm. Advantage: Klein. Some things never change.

CHRIS BERTRAM suggests that it's

CHRIS BERTRAM suggests that it's kind of hard to be an anti-globalization, anti-bourgeois Marxist. If, that is, you've actually read Marx.

The problem isn't that the far right is adopting leftist themes, but that the left, still as hostile to capitalism as ever but lacking a clearly articulated modernist alternative of its own since the failure of the Soviet experience and the Hayekian critique of central planning, has been drawn into adopting traditionally reactionary and conservative positions and a celebration of the very "idiocy of rural life" that Marx condemned. That doesn't mean that we should be passive in the face of environmental destruction, but it does mean that we should think harder about how to combine a modern urban and diverse civilisation with greater social justice.
Yeah. But "thinking harder" isn't a hallmark of the antiglobalization movement, is it?


MORE ON BELLESILES: There was actually another letter in the Emory Wheel today defending Bellesiles, also from a psychology professor who is affiliated with the Violence Studies program that Bellesiles founded. (Here's a link to the Violence Studies faculty page). Unlike the letter from Patricia Brennan, mentioned below, this letter is entirely sensible: it doesn't compare Bellesiles to an anti-lynching activist from 1902, and it doesn't attempt to defend his work; it merely says that Bellesiles is entitled to keep his job until the University has investigated and come to a conclusion about whether he's guilty of fraud.

JUST A THOUGHT: Maybe Israel

JUST A THOUGHT: Maybe Israel should send some investigators to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone to investigate claims of rape and child abuse by U.N. empoyees.


BELLESILES UPDATE: A letter in the Emory Wheel from Emory psychology professor Patricia Brennan suggests that Michael Bellesiles is the victim of a political witchhunt (she actually compares Bellesiles to an anti-lynching campaigner in the Old South), and says that Emory should be supporting him. Brennan asks some questions: "Exactly how many errors were found in Bellesiles' work? Is this a large number of errors in light of the number of data points that he has provided? How many other books and research projects would fare better than Bellesiles' when met with the same level of scrutiny? Where, and from whom, did this campaign against Bellesiles originate? Could this attack have been politically motivated?"

A response from Clayton Cramer (scroll down and click on the link) answers these questions: (1) Hundreds and hundreds; (2) Yes; (3) Nearly all of them; (4) from Clayton Cramer. The best part of Cramer's response is this:

If this isn't fraud, then it is presents an interesting opportunity for the psychology department to examine Professor Bellesiles, and explain about how someone with such a severe reading disability managed to earn a Ph.D. in History from University of California, Irvine, then become a full professor at Emory, without this serious reading disability being noticed.
Another reader, Don Williams, writes:
If Brennan is looking for a covert agent of the NRA, she might look at Bellesiles --he has made fools of our country's gun control intelligentsia. The NRA could never have accomplished so much.
And he's got a point. Note that Cramer and Williams both provide numerous links to support their positions -- Cramer even links to a page showing actual copies of the original documents that Bellesiles misrepresents. Bellesiles' defender Brennan does not provide any similar support, but merely spins conspiracy theories. Typical, I'm afraid.

UPDATE: Judging by this webpage, Prof. Brennan appears to be affiliated with the Violence Studies program that Bellesiles founded with the help of anti-gun scholar Arthur Kellerman. Her call for support is thus not exactly selfless.

HOWARD ANGLIN reports on the

HOWARD ANGLIN reports on the New York Sun's front page today. Since you can't get the Sun on the web yet, his regular posts are as close as you can come.

THOR VS. SPIDERMAN: With auxiliary

THOR VS. SPIDERMAN: With auxiliary insights into the worlds of religion, journalism, law, and politics. All courtesy of James Lileks.


SPEAKING OF WOMEN AND GUNS, Wendy McElroy takes on another bogus public-health study on guns. I'm sorry, but these guys should either start looking at actual public health issues, like anthrax, AIDS, or smallpox, or they should just go out of business. The junk science coming out of the public health community has gotten more and more atrocious, and more and more obvious in its political biases, over the past couple of decades -- and the result is that these guys won't have credibility even when they're telling the truth, and when we need to hear what they're saying. Er, if such a time ever comes.

UPDATE: Say, it's worth noting that one of the stars of "violence studies" is none other than Michael Bellesiles, who, as this article in Salon reports,

came up with the idea of violence studies four years ago, "over a bottle of wine" with Arthur Kellerman, head of emergency medicine at Emory's medical school. As Bellesiles recalls, "We were having dinner one night and fantasizing about what a perfect program for undergraduates would look like." . . . The 3-year-old Emory curriculum has become a model for other universities.
Bellesiles, it appears, has an active fantasy life. Kellerman, it's worth noting, is the author of what might be regarded as the seminal fatuous and misleading public-health study on guns, a long-debunked piece that gave rise to to the oft repeated (but false) factoid that “a gun owner is 43 times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder.” Steven Milloy has a recent FoxNews piece that brings readers up to date on the many abuses of "public health research" in pursuit of a gun-control agenda.

UPDATE: Turns out Fritz Schranck was ahead of the curve in criticizing this study. I hadn't seen his post until someone pointed it out -- I don't actually read all the weblogs every day, despite what it seems like (even, sometimes, to me).


ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, a lot more women are taking up shooting. Couple this with the growth of women interested in the militiary (which the Washington Post has covered recently) and I think you've got the beginnings of a major cultural shift. Hmm. Where have I heard that before?


SET THE WAYBACK MACHINE FOR SEPTEMBER: You can see the posts via my archives, of course, but if you go here you can see InstaPundit in all its pre-redesign, uh, splendor.

OKAY, as a parent I

OKAY, as a parent I understand -- better in some ways than non-parents -- why deciding not to have kids is a reasonable thing. But those "childfree" list folks just seem like a bunch of wackos. As Katie Granju writes: "Please note that these people are not just folks who have decided not to have kids. They are also not people who simply prefer adult company and become annoyed when parents allow their children to bother other people in public places. They are people who HATE children and amuse themselves by spending their time posting disgusting, often-violent fantasies of what they would like to do to babies and kids on their newsgroup." Well, that's free speech. But so is calling them wackos.


THE POWER OF INSTAPUNDIT: Forget all the linkage stuff from Eric Olsen and Max Power. One permalink and Media Minded has to come out of retirement. Yes, it was part of the Vast Blogging Conspiracy. Buwhahaha!

BLAME AMERICA! Naturally, that's been

BLAME AMERICA! Naturally, that's been the first instinct of a lot of people writing about last week's school shooting in Germany. But here's a particularly dumb example by an American who used to live in East Germany. The problem, you see, is the absence of the "cradle to grave care and oversight" that the communist East German government provided.

Well, it was comprehensive. They even helped you along with the "grave" part, if you caused them any trouble, or tried to leave. And say what you will, the Stasi was damned good at "oversight."

ANDREW HOFER has a bunch

ANDREW HOFER has a bunch of links for those interested in the Scientific American / Bjorn Lomborg debate.


TV COMMERCIALS ARE OLD HAT: Now it's campaign videogames. Jesse Ventura's the pioneer, but I like the Al Gore one the best.

UPDATE: Oliver Willis has some political videogames of his own, though the Ari Fleischer game sounds a bit familiar.


NEWSPAPER EXCEPTIONALISM: They got an exemption from campaign-finance laws, now they want an exemption from telemarketing regulations. Newspapers: They think they're better than you.


DESMOND TUTU UPDATE: Alex Bensky writes from Detroit:

Desmond Tutu was here some years ago. His speech was abundantly and fawningly covered by the local media. A substantial portion of it was the usual Israel-bashing, which I'm sorry to say went down well with the mostly black audience.

At the press conference following the speech a reporter did something quite outrageous and asked Tutu a hard question, namely why he was holding the Israelis to such a high standard. His response was that, "We expect more from the Jews because they have been opporessed."

I did not notice, then or later, that he asked higher standards of his own people, even though Bishop Tutu's stock in trade is that he represents oppressed people. I can't imagine why he would take this approach.

Ah yes, the moral superiority that comes from oppression. It has not been empirically demonstrated, in South Africa or elsewhere.


STEVEN DEN BESTE has an interesting series of posts (it starts here) on the transition from non-zero-sum to zero-sum competitions. He manages to tie together everything from the Burgess Shales to World War III, but unaccountably fails to discuss the implications for weblogs, which are currently still in the non-zero-sum phase but which will transition out of it soon enough.

MICHAEL BARONE says it's rope-a-dope,

MICHAEL BARONE says it's rope-a-dope, and it's working:

But these predictions ring hollow. The complaints show the weakness, not the strength, of the Saudis and of the Near East Bureau of the State Department, which so often takes up their cause. The accounts of the Bush-Abdullah meeting are very strong evidence that the president ignored the leakers' counsel and kept to his course of opposing Palestinian terrorism and supporting Israeli resistance to it. . . .

Also, Abdullah did not leave Texas in a huff, and it doesn't seem likely he'll call an Islamic summit. Militarily the Saudis have little leverage. Their own armed forces are derisory, and the United States has shown in its campaign against Afghanistan that it can proceed without using its bases in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. can do the same against Iraq. We have forces in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Turkey, and evidently have been transferring troops and facilities out of Saudi Arabia and into other countries. The bitterness of the Saudis' complaints in the Times shows not that they are strong and we are at their mercy but that they are weak and we are positioned to do what we wish.

You hear from the State Department and various Arab sources that Israel's attempts to stamp out the terrorist network in the West Bank will just produce more terrorism. But the real fear, among the Arabs at least, is that Israel's tough response will prove as effective in the medium and long term as it has in the short term. The Arabs are afraid that the Palestinians are losing their terror war and that Israel will be able to go along living in peace, without pressure to make concessions to Palestinians.

One disturbing -- though not surprising -- quote in Barone's column comes from a State Department Arabist who says "we're getting hammered" by the Arabs over our policies. What he means by this is that Arab diplomats are acting unhappy. This suggests that the State Department thinks its role is to get people to say nice things to State Department officials.

The State Department's role, of course, is to get other countries to do what we want, without the need for going to war. At least, not usually: the Marines, after all, used to be called "State Department Troops." Would that we had a State Department that understood its role similarly today.


NOW THIS IS JUST PATHETIC. Get a grip on yourself, man!

MATTHEW HOY has, ahem, "obtained"

MATTHEW HOY has, ahem, "obtained" an advance copy of the CAIR report on Muslim civil rights in America. He has his comments and excerpts on his site.

PRIORITIES: Okay, while some people

PRIORITIES: Okay, while some people are whinging about the color of other people's husbands and wives, something far more serious has happened. Ur-blogger Robert X. Cringely says he has lost a son to SIDS. He has a post on it, and a request for help. Go there.

UPDATE: Reader Katherine Snyder sends this link to the SIDS Alliance homepage. She adds: "I lost my son Jamie to SIDS 16 years ago, and if it weren't for the wonderful people at the SIDS Alliance here in my hometown, I would never have gotten through that terrible time."

OKAY, OKAY: A couple more

OKAY, OKAY: A couple more on the interracial marriage thing and then I'm quits with it for a while -- it's taking over the page! Reader Kevin Maguire quotes an earlier reader who wrote that interracial marriages are becoming the norm in Hawaii and California:

He's right about California.

I'm an American with Irish roots married to a Mexican. My wife's sister is married to a white Jewish guy. Among our friends we have:

- Mexican guy married to a Chinese woman

- Indian woman married to a white guy

- Filipina woman married to a Portugese white guy. One of her
sisters is married to a white guy with Irish roots; the other
is married to a Irish/American Indian dude.

- Filipina dating a white guy and a black guy. Her previous
boyfriend was Moroccan.

- Irish guy married to a Hawaiian woman

- an Italian guy married to a black woman

- a Puerto Rican guy married to a white woman

Reaching out to coworkers I find:

- white guy, Chinese wife

- Hawaiian girl partnered to a white girl

- black girl partnered to a white girl

- white guy, Japanese wife

- Japanese guy, white wife

Written down like that it sounds like a mini UN, but it's just everyday life in Los Angeles. Finally, a friend of a friend is the future of the California Republican party. Check out the picture.

But it's not just California: my sister is married to a Filipino guy (whose brother is married to another white girl), and my grad school roommate is a white Spaniard whose wife is a black lawyer soon to enter Jersey City politics.

Yes, you see rather a lot of it here in Knoxville, which is far from L.A. or Honolulu. Knoxville is much-beloved of market researchers because its demographics approximate those of the nation as a whole, and interracial couples are everywhere -- not, as a previous writer suggested, just around the University campus. Reader Timothy Sheridon writes:
The comment "Intelligent people seldom marry outside their race because it makes very little sense to do so." from your e-mailer, is one of the most bizarre statements I've seen in a while. My experience from working and living in the Citadel of Geekdom, Silicon Valley, is that interracial marriage of smart people is becoming, if not the norm, a norm. The last six marriage ceremonies I've been a guest at involved mixed couples. Most of the newlyweds had at least one spouse who was a engineer. The next marriage I'm scheduled to attend is for an interracial couple that are both engineers. Of all the typical attributes engineers may have, high intelligence is one that is rarely absent.

As an aside, I must give you credit from even touching this issue. I sure your e-mail firestorm has been interesting.

Yeah, interesting -- and voluminous. I'm frankly surprised that this is such a hot-button issue.

Of course, one thing that changes are people's definitions of what's white and what's not. Irish/Italian marriages were considered mixed marriages not long ago, and not long before that Irish and Italians weren't really considered "white" at all. I wouldn't count as "white" under the Virginia anti-miscegenation statute struck down by the Supreme Court in the wonderfully-named case of Loving v. Virginia, since I'm one-eighth Native American (there was an exception, I seem to recall, for "descendants of Pocahontas," who were honorary white people by law, but that wouldn't apply to me). Personally, it's just no big deal to me.

The most disturbing email I've gotten -- of which I haven't posted any -- suggests that people only marry across racial lines for exotic sex kicks. Having engaged in my share of miscegenation when I was single, I have to say that that was neither the motive nor (any more than usual) the result, and I have to worry deeply about the psyches of people who think otherwise. Interestingly, most of that email came from people who identified themselves (since it's the Internet, I can't tell, of course) as minority women. I'm not sure what's going on there, but I don't think it's anything good. I suppose that such a motivation wouldn't make for an especially good marriage. But, heck, people who marry purely for exotic sex kicks -- and people do in all sorts of ways -- aren't likely to have a successful long-term relationship regardless.

One thing that is clear about interracial marriage, and even dating to a lesser degree, is that it totally screws up the worldview of those who want to divide things into an us-vs.-them dynamic. To me, that's a good thing. But then I don't obtain my living, or my self-esteem, by fomenting racial division.

Okay, enough on this. Back to our regularly scheduled program of snide remarks about Fritz Hollings and Michael Moore.


INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE UPDATE: Boy, the email's just pouring in on this one. Charles Oliver responds to an earlier emailer:

The writer who said he can't think of any famous couples consisting of a white man and a black woman has to be blind or he just refuses to see things that don't fit his worldview.: David Bowie-Iman, Diahann Carroll-Vic Damone, Lena Horne-Lennie Hayton, William Cohen-Janet Langhart, Mariah Carey-Tommy Mottola, Robert DeNiro and every woman he's has every dated, Naomi Campbell and most of the men she has dated. Matthew McCougnehey-Janet Jackson, Robin Givens-Svetozar Marinkovic, Roxie Roker-sy Krazitz (she was on The Jeffersons and they are the parents of Lenny Kravitz), Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson and Frank Langella, Diana Ross-Gene Simmons (I believe both of her husbands were white as well), Traci (first black on Baywatch) Bingham and her husband.

There's certainly a lot more. Those are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head.

Yeah, though I have a few quibbles: David Bowie (as another reader noted) might plausibly be considered a "white alien" -- and as for Mariah Carey, well, she's black only by courtesy of a rather strict application of the "one drop" rule. Which brings me to a story:

My brother, who looks like a taller, skinnier version of me, was once asked by a Nigerian on a bus in Nigeria if he was black. Uh, no, my brother replied, looking surprised. Well, the Nigerian replied, we can't tell -- all these Americans come over here and say they're black, but they look white to us.

April 29, 2002

MAX POWER tries to demonstrate

MAX POWER tries to demonstrate the linkage-clout of InstaPundit with a comparison of traffic referred to him by mentions here, on Kausfiles, and at The American Prospect. InstaPundit wins overwhelmingly: 2000, to 30, to 15.

But what "Max" doesn't mention is that my link said that his pseudonym "sounds like a porn star." I'm willing to bet that neither Kaus nor TAP said anything quite so likely to make people click through.


THEY'RE NOT PEACE ACTIVISTS -- they just want the Israelis to lose. That's the gist of Chris Seamans' post on an oped from a self-described peace activist.

MEGAN MCARDLE looks at number

MEGAN MCARDLE looks at number of guns versus amount of crime and even has cool graphics.


HERE COME THE CHRISTIAN BLOGGERS. I think he's left out some, but I don't tend to sort people that way so I'll have to think a bit to see if I can remember who it is.

UPDATE: Well, there's Amy Wellborn, for one.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH says that Desmond

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH says that Desmond Tutu is an idiot for characterizing Israel's positions as apartheid-like.

Tutu, in all honesty, was always overrated. What I see here is not so much idiocy, but the desperate desire of a guy who hasn't gotten a lot of public approbation in a while, and wants it back. He'll get it, too -- though mostly from people whose approbation is nothing to wear with pride.


I'VE ALWAYS SAID that all the twaddle about "journalistic ethics" was just that. Now here's proof.


I'M NOT A TEASE, any more than Richard Nixon was a crook. Hey, wait a minute. . . . Anyway, reader Steve Carroll sends this plaintive request on the topic of interracial marriage:

I'm anxious to see a selection of what your readers had to say about that interracial marriage post. You nailed it exactly, in my opinion. It especially drives me crazy to see references to "our women" from racial groups. Anyways, you teased that you would post more about the topic later. Just add my vote to those interested in seeing that.
Okay. Here are some samples of the email I got -- not as much as I got about Scientific American, but far more than I've gotten defending Yasser Arafat. Reader John Chang wrote:
I don't think there's any sort of racist assumption on the part of Raspberry.

I think the dynamics of marriage between black women and men reflect the other dynamics that are currently in play in society. I won't try to go into all the details here, but while black men are much more likely to marry non-blacks (and are often more desired by non-black women), black women are more likely to indicate a desire to marry black men. Conversely, non-black men will often place black women lower on their choice of dating prospects. I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, but this sort of stuff does take place. It's very similar to the dynamics that take place within the Asian-American community, where the women are much more likely to marry whites than the
men (for whatever personal or cultural reason, which I choose not to delve into at this time).

Another reader who prefers to remain anonymous writes:
Intelligent people seldom marry outside their race because it makes very little sense to do so. The fact of the matter is that only a tiny minority of the population as a whole is in favor of interracial marriage and as a result discrimination is a big problem. Marrying someone who is obviously not of your race is like making the decision to devote your life to becoming a world renowned concert pianist and then taking a hatchet and hacking off your left pinky --- it makes no sense given the current prevailing attitudes of all races.

The majority of people who marry outside their race do so, unfortunately, to make a statement; "look at me, I'm colorblind and I'm putting my marriage where my mouth is". Most of these people are nitwits employed by universities who see racism everywhere.

The first part -- about prejudice -- may be true. But if this sort of consideration really determined matters of the heart, would anyone be gay? The second part, about "making a statement," is just wrong. There were some marriages like this back when I was a kid, but the shock-value, or the PC-value, of interracial marriages is largely nil. Indeed, my experience is that as a white guy you're as likely to get flak as praise for dating nonwhites -- especially from nonwhites. Stuart Buck writes:
Maybe Raspberry's is neither racist nor implying that black women are racist. He may just be realistic about the prospects of black women marrying white men. In my experience, black-white couples are overwhelmingly likely to involve a black man marrying a white woman. One web article claims that in 1990, black-white couples featured a white husband only 28% of the time. Think of famous couples or black men who date/marry white women: Clarence and Virginia Thomas, Sidney Poitier and his wife, Halle Berry's parents, Mariah Carey's parents, Edwin Moses, Kobe Bryant, Montel Williams, Wesley Snipes, O.J. Simpson -- the list goes on and on. Whereas I simply can't think of any famous white men married to or dating black women. There may be a few, but none come to mind.

As an empirical matter, this may be true. But if black women are failing to marry -- and if, as William Raspberry says, this is a terrible thing for society -- then should we simply accept these prejudices (for that's what they are, really)? I'm not saying that we should force people to marry, of course, but Raspberry might tell these women that it's better to marry a good man who's not black than to stay single. Or maybe he doesn't believe that. Which takes us back to my original question.

UPDATE: Reader Tom Gates writes:

The comment from the anonymous person who said that people marry outside their race doesn't make sense, or to make a statement made me laugh because the person is displaying profound ignorance and/or stupidity.

I grew up in Hawaii, and the MAJORITY of marriages are inter-racial. I married my Japanese-American wife because she was beautiful, and I fell in love plain and simple. Pick your combo among the major ethnic groups (AJA, "haole" or Caucasian, Chinese, Hawaiian, other Pacific Islanders, etc.), and you'll find most marry out their ethnic group. The only exception is the Chinese, and I can't remember the University of Hawaii study which examined this. In California, the trend is like Hawaii.

Some practical problems that arise are when the Feds or your local school district attempt to pigeon-hole your child based on ethnicity, and the kids get to alternate ethnicity every year or so! I speak from experience, and it can lead to some funny discussions.

Yeah, if anything I would say there's probably a mild built-in preference for "exoticity" (that is, difference) among a lot of people, which makes good evolutionary sense of course.



As a 30+ year subscriber to Scientific American, I think the decline can be explained in one sentence: The main articles used to be exclusively written by scientists about their field of expertise, but now most are written by journalists. They have gone from being a journal where scientists exchanged information on the state of the art to just another glossy magazine about science. In addition, the editorial slant has gotten more and more pronounced as they evolved from written by scientists to written by journalists. In the 70s, an article in SciAm was considered a major publication event in the career of an academic - an acknowledgement that you were at the top of the heap in your field.
And reader Larry Thacker serves up this historical nugget:
Your Scientific American post jogged my memory about a TV show I recently watched about airplanes or Boeing. The show mentioned the folks at Scientific American Magazine and their thoughts about the future of the airplane back in the early 1900's. I can not remember the shows name, the cable channel, or the exact quote, but thanks to google I was able too find this small quote: "To affirm that the airplane is going to revolutionize the future is to be guilty of the wildest exaggeration ..." --Scientific American Magazine, 1910
Yeah, that's of a piece with their nanotech article from a few years back. To be fair, they've backtracked considerably on their nano-ridicule since then, in light of the response they got. I expect they'll do the same thing here, though probably without admitting any errors along the way.

Reader Carl Raymond Crites was one of many noting that John Rennie (who responded to Lomborg and questioned his credentials) doesn't have much in the way of scientific credentials himself. According to this interview in The Moment, "Mr. Rennie has a background in biology. He has worked in biological research, but he decided that he enjoyed explaining science more than doing research. Since then, he has worked in scientific publications, and he became editor-in- chief of Scientific American last year." His sole degree appears to be a bachelor's degree in biology from Yale. Crites notes:

My seventeen year old daughter is graduating from high school this month at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas at Denton TX. For two years part, of her curriculum has including working as a laboratory assistant to her physics professor, Dr. Duncan Weathers . Dr. Winters uses Resonance Ionization Spectroscopy for sputtering analysis. John Wong, of The Moment, could honestly say that Abigail has a background in mathematics and science and that she has worked in physics research.

As to the degeneration of Scientific American over the years, the comments of your readers Andy Freeman, Kevin Thompson, and George Zachar are absolutely on point. Interesting to me is that the decay began about two decades ago when John Rennie and some of his like-minded colleagues came on board the editorial staff. They included Timothy M. Beardsley, Marguerite Holloway, John Horgan, and Gary Stix. It was at about this time that the magazine began to feature fewer reports of research by bona fide scientists and engineers (e.g., Roman Aqueducts and the North Atlantic Current and the Ice Age) and instead the readers were treated to the distilled wisdom of the "science writers" such as Rennie, Stix, Holloway, et al. As your readers correctly point out, the magazine developed a "green" agenda and a markedly left wing bias to almost all the reporting. I can add little to the comments that your readers have made. For more than twenty years I read and saved every issue. I finally bailed out about ten years ago.

I would mention an interesting point made by Wong in the 1995 article in The Moment that I cited above. In response to Wong's question as to who are the main readers of Scientific American, Rennie answered, "Surprisingly, only about 4% of the readers are research scientists." It might be surprising to Rennie and his journalistic colleagues but it should not be to any of your readers who had formerly looked to the publication for objective information on scientific matters presented by credentialed scientists and engineers.

Not very impressive.


MIKE GODWIN EXPLAINS why Hollywood wants to hack your computer.


CAIR IS ATTACKING DANIEL PIPES, and you can read Daniel Pipes' response here. I've got to say, after CAIR's dishonest poll -- and its even more dishonest explanations of what it did with the poll -- I don't believe much of anything I hear from these guys, and I don't think they have much credibility generally.

MICHAEL MOORE has lost it,

MICHAEL MOORE has lost it, writes former Moore fan Michael Mallon in The Vancouver Sun:

You are invited far too frequently, in Moore's recent books and films and TV shows, to cheer the man on. Once again, good marketing -- a working-class hero is something to be -- but often, queasy viewing or reading. In all his work, the blue-collar act often shades over into dangerous anti-intellectual class warfare, especially repugnant coming from someone who lives in a $1.27-million US apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and sends his kid to private school. . . .

Isn't that what the other side is supposed to be doing? Generalizing, simplifying, pretending to be jes' one of the common folks? You might argue that when you fight with wolves like General Motors and the Republican Party you must use all tools at your disposal. After all, by any means necessary, said Malcolm X, and the left needs as many strong, charismatic voices as it can get in these days of Bush and Campbell and Le Pen. But Moore's failings undermine his credibility, and end up undermining the credibility of all voices of protest.

Gee, undermining the credibility of all voices of protest? I thought that was Chomsky's job. I guess the CIA's disinformation budget must have gone up, if Moore can afford that apartment. . . .

LOMBORG UPDATE: I'm still getting

LOMBORG UPDATE: I'm still getting email but one point that someone made is worth noting now: Lomborg's critics show the same concern with credentials as Michael Bellesiles' defenders did.

INSTAPUNDIT makes the Japan Times!

INSTAPUNDIT makes the Japan Times!

NOT SO FAST: Martin Sieff

NOT SO FAST: Martin Sieff writes that a Le Pen victory, while unlikely, is not as near-impossible as most pundits are making it sound.


THE SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN POSTS have generated a lot of email. (So did the interracial marriage post, but more on that later). It was about 90% unfavorable to Scientific American. Here are a couple of examples. Reader Ross Nordeen writes:

To clearly see how bad Scientific American has become, one only has to look at the disparity in the treatment of two people, Paul Ehrlich and Bjorn Lomborg. Ehrlich, who has been wildly wrong about so much, received a fawning profile in the October 2000 issue while Lomborg is subject to repeated attacks for the sin of writing a balanced book on the environment.
Yeah, Ehrlich has a track record that puts him squarely among the "creation scientists" in terms of his legitimate ability to claim the title of "science" for his work, but he does continue to get respect from a lot of people who should -- and I suspect, do -- know better. Reader Kevin Thompson says:
I agree with Andy Freeman about the decline of this once-great publication. I received a gift subscription as a young boy in the late 1960s, and devoured every issue. I learned a lot of fascinating things. I still remember a neat drawing of how rapidly-rotating neutron stars can produce radio waves.

Alas, over the subsequent decades, Scientific American has become less and less about science. I remember one issue in the last year which had only one (1!) article about real science. The rest were about specific technologies or social issues. During this same period, the non-science content has not only grown (why does an article about injuries due to small arms in war-torn countries belong here?), but displayed an increasingly liberal bent.

The liberal bent started with the steady beat of nuclear disarmament. It has expanded to regurgitate liberal dogma on global warming, anti-religious bias, reasons why missile defense technology won't work or is a bad idea, the joys of conservation, and, of course, the twin catastrophes of ecological destruction and overpopulation. I distinctly remember one editorial responding to a complaining letter with the statement that Scientific American should serve as a vehicle to promote social issues. After more than thirty years as a subscriber, I reluctantly decided not to renew my subscription this year. The content I loved is gone, and the new content does not do justice to the title.
Reader George Zachar writes:
I'm a longtime SciAm subscriber. They've gone whole hog for global warming, as highlighted by their pitched battle with Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjшrn Lomborg. They also do a lot of cultural relativist stuff, root cause-y sociology, articles blaring "the [fill in the blank] is threatened with extinction", predictable-outcome gun control pieces, etc. etc. Sciam is also a willing outlet for press releases by politically correct programs (AIDS research, eg) looking for funding.

My non-cancellation is clearly the triumph of hope over experience.

On the other hand, reader Aaron Bergman writes:
"Churlish"? How would you like it if someone from a field completely unrelated to yours tells you you're full of crap based on doing some internet research? The sheer hubris of Lomborg is amazing. What's depressing is that so few recognize it. You cannot make an informed critique of science based solely on secondary sources.

Why are people so surprised when someone who hasn't gone through any education in a field proceeds to call the vast majority of its practitioners corrupt or naive? Do you dispute the completely thorough refutation of pretty much everything Lomborg has written, or would you rather keep attacking the messenger?

Well, the piece didn't look like a thorough refutation of Lomborg to me. And I don't think this is a very fair characterization of Lomborg's work: since he's a statistician, examining statistical data, I don't really see that he's out of his field, nor is his work any more riddled with citations to secondary literature and websites than, say, Stuart Pimm's latest book. And Scientific American's attitude throughout -- including its rather nasty demand that he remove its criticisms from his website response -- has not been the attitude of a disinterested seeker of truth.

But hell, I'm a lawyer. Everybody offers their opinion on what the law is or ought to be. And I can deal with that. And as a lawyer, I'm pretty good at telling when people are blowing smoke. I'm an agnostic on global warming; I had a lengthy airplane conversation with a pretty famous atmospheric chemist from Berkeley (I'm blanking on his name at the moment) who made a convincing case, but I've heard some convincing refutations, too. What I can say with certainty is that the public argument over global warming has long since become one of orthodoxy treating its critics with disdain. That doesn't prove that the orthodox are wrong, of course. But such a degree of defensiveness bespeaks a lack of confidence in the data.


SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Not only a sucky magazine, but one that's cruel to children! Reader Andy Freeman writes:

I stopped subscribing to Scientific American in the early 70s when I noticed that one of the most common topics was nuclear disarmament.

I was a young lad then and I didn't have much opinion either way, but I wanted science for my science dollar, even though I didn't understand much of it.

I occasionally pick up a copy at a news stand, leaf through it, and put it down because it hasn't changed.

I suppose that someone could go through their off-topic stuff and look at how things have turned out. I suspect that they've lent their veneer to a lot of dodgy things. However, that's not the problem.

I still really want to like Scientific American. I still want to subscribe. They still don't want anyone who wants a Scientific American full of real science. That's a crappy thing to do to a kid.

Yeah, a content analysis of Scientific American over the past couple of decades would be interesting, and I wouldn't be surprised if it showed exactly what Freeman says -- that's certainly my impression. Has anybody done anything like that?

INSTAPUNDIT: Vastly more profitable than

INSTAPUNDIT: Vastly more profitable than AOL/Time Warner! Maybe I should buy them instead of the other way around. [Hasn't Kaus already done this schtick, with that press release crowing about his $300 in profits or whatever it was? -- Ed. Yeah, but he's already done the whole "phantom editor dialogue" schtick, too, and that's not stopping you, er, us, er, me, now is it?]


STILL MORE ON THE BLAME-AMERICA MENTALITY, from Ibero-bloggers John and Antonio:

And guess whose fault it is, according to psychologist Andrйs Gonzбlez Bellido in the Vanguardia? You guessed it. America's. "These episodes that once seemed only to occur in the US can be explained (in Europe), says this psychologist, because European society is becoming more similar to American society. 'Loneliness, individual frustration, and greater and greater social inequalities lead to extreme situations,' he adds." These people took Death of a Salesman much too seriously. Interestingly enough, the exact same sort of commentary was made after 16 were killed in Hungerford, England, in 1987, after 14 were killed in Luxiol, France, in 1989, after 17 were killed in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, after 14 were killed in Zug, Switzerland, in 2001, and after 8 were killed just recently in Nanterre, France.
Go figure.


AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: H.D. Miller has a good item on the European blame-America mentality and how it backfires.

MATT WELCH says that there

MATT WELCH says that there are few things that turn you off of journalism more than listening to journalists talk about what a great job they do.

Boy, I agree. One of the most offensive things on C-SPAN is the way panels of journalists will take calls, often calls featuring intelligent criticism, and then look at each other and agree that, actually, journalists do an excellent job, and the critics don't know what they're talking about.

UPDATE: You can stream RealAudio of Welch here if you want. And if you've got RealPlayer on your computer. I don't have it on this one, so I'm passing along this link blind. Er, deaf? Whatever.

RACIAL ASSUMPTIONS: William Raspberry writes

RACIAL ASSUMPTIONS: William Raspberry writes that there is a shortage of educated black men and that as a result, successful black women aren't getting married. This, he says, is a tragedy.

And I suppose it is. But, you know, buried in Raspberry's piece -- and no doubt in the minds of the women he describes -- is the assumption that black women should only marry black men. Isn't that kind of, you know, racist?


THIS CHURLISH REPLY to Bjorn Lomborg in Scientific American -- which misstates his qualifications knowingly -- is more proof that that once-proud magazine has become a miserable sham.

I first noticed its slide downhill several years ago when it published a hit-piece on nanotechnologist Eric Drexler (stunning, idea-refuting revelation: he puts milk in his iced tea!), then was very weaselly about responding to the storm of refutations it received from well-known scientists. Scientific American is now biased, nasty, and unreliable. Too bad. I used to like it.


MICHAEL LEDEEN -- who to the disgrace of just about everyone else who ought to be covering it, owns this story -- has another interesting article on what's going on in Iran. Here's his conclusion:

Our leaders need to say, over and over again, that it is time for the mullahs to submit to the just desires of their own people. As the Iranian people have been chanting for many months in the streets of the country, there should be a referendum on the Iranian government. Let the people decide if they want to continue the Islamic republic, or if they prefer a secular republic or a constitutional monarchy. We have no horse in that race, and our leaders must stress that we are not supporting any individual or any group; we support an Iranian government chosen in a free and fair election.

The stakes are very high. The fall of the mullahs in Tehran would send a devastating message to the entire Islamic world: Theocracy has been tried, and it has failed. Osama bin Laden's vision has been rejected by the people of Afghanistan and the people of Iran, by Sunnis and Shia alike. We must help the Iranian democrats. We must give money, urgently and immediately, to Iranian National TV, now struggling to stay afloat in Los Angeles. We must assist the student and labor leaders, who are often forced to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes. We must help them communicate with one another. Can't we provide some wireless PCs to the Iranian opposition?

The most important thing is our leaders' words to the Iranians. We want the fall of the regime. That is what the war on terrorism is all about. To remain silent is to be complicit in the repression of Iran. There is no diplomatic "solution." We want a free Iran. Don't we?

Yes, we do.

GEORGE W. BUSH: The "first

GEORGE W. BUSH: The "first Hispanic President!" It's in Salon, natch.



"The problem with America," a college professor told me recently, "is that it can't get over the idea that it is somehow special among nations." His name is Robert Jensen and he teaches journalism at the University of Texas, Austin. He's flat wrong. The problem with America and Western civilization in general is that it lost confidence in itself and started accepting relativist arguments.

Today, we launch a new Monday column on OpinionJournal, "The Western Front." Many readers will recognize the reference to the Erich Maria Remarque novel about the Western world tearing itself to pieces in World War I. It was that war that accelerated Western civilization down into a dangerous pit from which it may now be emerging. The main purpose of this column will be to argue for rebuilding confidence in the West's ideal of human freedom--spiritual, political and economic liberty.



THE BOSTON GLOBE has done some actual reporting on Jenin -- instead of just recycling Palestinian statements uncritically as most reporters seem to have done -- and reports that there wasn't a massacre:

Palestinian Authority allegations that a large-scale massacre of civilians was committed by Israeli troops during their invasion of the refugee camp here appear to be crumbling under the weight of eyewitness accounts from Palestinian fighters who participated in the battle and camp residents who remained in their homes until the final hours of the fighting.

In interviews yesterday with teenage fighters, a leader of Islamic Jihad, an elderly man whose home was at the center of the fighting, and other Palestinian residents, all of whom were in the camp during the battle, none reported seeing large numbers of civilians killed. All said they were allowed to surrender or evacuate when they were ready to do so, though some reported being mistreated while in Israeli detention. . . .

Meanwhile, a British military adviser to Amnesty, Reserve Major David Holley, was quoted yesterday by Reuters news service as dismissing the Palestinian allegations of a massacre and predicting that no evidence would be found to substantiate them.

Of course, almost as lame as the Western reporting on the subject is the Israeli PR operation, which hasn't done very well at getting this story out.

On the other hand, this should discredit a lot of critics -- or it would, if anyone paid attention to the critics' track records.


HOLLYWOOD'S UNITED FRONT IS CRACKING, reports the Los Angeles Times. Well, heck: why not? There are splits in the Saudi regime and splits among the Palestinian terror groups. It's not easy holding an Empire of Evil together, you know.


A REPORT FROM BROOKINGS says we need to focus more on preventing high-casualty terrorist attacks like those involving nuclear or biological weapons. This is probably true -- but I think the best way to prevent these isn't to add security, but to kill the terrorists before they can strike.


THIS COLUMN BY NEAL POLLACK has almost Lileks-like moments, and there's no higher praise:

A young man approached me on the quad. He wore a Leonard Peltier for President t-shirt, and a lovely pair of acid-washed Che Guevara for Men jeans.

"Hey," he said. "Are you Noam Chomsky?"

"No," I said. "I just look like him."

"Oh, that’s cool. Well, do you support Palestinian liberation?"

"I dunno," I said. "What’s in it for me?"

"Nothing. You just should."


"Because Israel," he said, "is stupid."

I thought about his penetrating statement. The last time I’d visited Israel, Amos Oz and I had taken ecstasy at a disco in Haifa and had met these three Spanish architecture students and we had a crazy gang-bang on the beach until dawn. The next day, I interviewed Yitzak Rabin, which also went pretty well. But that was nearly 10 years ago. What if Israel had become stupid since then? What a story!

I whipped out my cell and called The New Yorker.

The adventure continues well beyond this point.


AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON THE TUNISIAN BOMBING says that Islamist terrorists are more interested in "taking back their homelands" than in war on the West. Er, well, except that the "homelands" they want to "take back" include places like, you know, Spain.


CRACKS IN THE FACADE OF PALESTINIAN UNITY: This article from Ha'aretz says that there's a growing split between religious and nationalist Palestinians. It also suggests that some United States efforts there are bearing fruit.

RALPH PETERS, who wrote the

RALPH PETERS, who wrote the excellent essay on stability in Parameters that I linked to a while back, has an piece today in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the Arab world is hopeless, though the Islamic world is not. I think he's absolutely right, and it's important not to conflate the two. The Arabs were hopeless before Islam, they were hopeless at Islam's peak, and they're hopeless today. They're the target of considerable resentment within the non-Arab Islamic world, which views them at times as colonizers who make mockery of Islam's claims of equality. We should understand that, and take advantage of it.

Send a copy of Peters' essay to your Senator.

MICKEY KAUS is defending the

MICKEY KAUS is defending the Los Angeles Times' Sebastian Rotella against assaults from Andrew Sullivan and many other parts of the Blogosphere. But I think Kaus himself is wrong when he says, "Europe's only just begun to deal with the problem of welfare-subsidized ghettos." A fairer statement would be that Europe has only just begun to acknowledge the problem of welfare-subsidized ghettos. Actual dealing will come later, if at all.

SALON FINANCIALS: Bottom line is,

SALON FINANCIALS: Bottom line is, they're still hemorrhaging cash according to John Scalzi.

April 28, 2002


PUBLISHER JIM BAEN has been putting up his books for free on the Web. Now author Eric Flint explains what happened: it sold a lot more books. And he's got the numbers to prove it.


PUNDITWATCH IS UP! Don't miss it.

UTHANT.COM unveils a new Middle

UTHANT.COM unveils a new Middle East Peace PlanTM that, well, is as likely to work as any of the others!

Perhaps the international community wouldn't be so stumped by the conflict had it bothered to ask Uthant for advice. [It's not like we weren't Secretary General of the United Nations for ten years for fuck's sake.] That being said, here at last is the long un-awaited Uthant Peace Plan:

The Palestinians formally get control of all 2,165 square miles of the West Bank, with full autonomy, open borders, and if it turns out that there are any civil rights that come with being citizens of an Arab nation, they can have those too. It's up to them. No questions asked.

In return, the Israelis get to take back 20 square miles of land every time an Israeli dies at the hands of a Palestinian. No questions asked.

Christiane Amanpour also comes in for some gratuitous abuse, as do many other major mideast political figures.


MORE CRACKS IN THE GLOBAL GUN-CONTROL FACADE: This article from the Los Angeles Times says that the global gun-control movement is in trouble, and gives a lot of reasons. But here's the part that struck me -- er, well, once reader John Thacker pointed it out, anyway:

Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino suggested in a radio interview Monday that the country's gun laws should be loosened. Martino cited the U.S. Bill of Rights' 2nd Amendment, protecting the right of citizens to bear arms, as a model.

Critics said the minister's comments reflected a rising sense of insecurity as the population ages and the number of immigrants rises. Unlike in other European countries, fear in Italy has increased even as the number of violent crimes has gone down slightly.

If the "critics" are right about the concerns motivating this position, then such views are likely to spread to other European countries, despite cultural resistance among the elites.


I'VE BEEN PROPERLY CHASTENED BY READERS for my remarks about Le Pen, below. A French reader writes:

"A Le Pen administration might provide a salutary and much-needed wake-up call to the corrupt and intellectually bankrupt Europolitical crowd. The ideal outcome for me, I guess, would be for Le Pen to lose, but by a tiny margin."

I do not know if you have read the guy's proposals, apart from his populist formulas like "the euro is an occupation money" that you seem to enjoy, but a Le Pen victory would not just be a "wake up call". It would most likely mean a civil war in our country, not to mention the prospect of a commercial war between France and about the rest of the world (the guy wants to "protect our national industry" by all means).

In addition, I'm quite surprised and saddened that you see it as just another thing to laugh at about us damn Frogs. This event certainly shows that we are indeed the "sick man of Europe", but I don't quite see what's so great about it, and I certainly do not feel that a Chirac victory by a quick margin would bring about what you seem to envision. At best, I could only send the wrong message to our politicians who would feel obliged to be even more nationalist and protectionist. Finally, Le Pen is, for the record, a great admirer and supporter of Sadam Hussein (his wife his president of an association that raises money for the Iraki regime)...would you really feel delighted if such a guy was close to winning the French presidency ?

Meanwhile reader Adam Felber notes:
As much as I enjoy watching the French squirm, I can't say I'd like to see Le Pen win. It's worth remembering that France is a nuclear nation with more warheads than China. I know Cold War H-bomb fears are long out of vogue, but a Le Pen government might be just crazy enough...
Both are quite right, and I shouldn't have been so flippant. I suppose it's been too hard for me to really imagine Le Pen winning to take the threat seriously, but of course that doesn't mean that his victory would be a good thing.

I guess I was just responding to the unwillingness of Eurocrats in general and the French political system in particular to accept any less dramatic correctives. But I agree that a Le Pen victory would very likely be disastrous, even if (as I expect) it never led to nuclear war.

UPDATE: Reader David Shulman writes in response:

I think you were right about Le Pen the first time. Although he is frequently called an "anti-semite" by the Left, I think that he would be "good for the Jews." He would not put up with the violent crimes being committed on a daily basis by Arab hooligans. I'm Jewish, and if I lived in France, I'd probably vote for him.
Interesting. Maybe he has got a shot. . . .

DJ Pieter K created this

DJ Pieter K created this image of North & South Korea. Advantage: Capitalism!

BRETT THOMAS wonders why there

BRETT THOMAS wonders why there isn't more of an outcry about gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia.

DAN HARTUNG'S LakeFX blog is

DAN HARTUNG'S LakeFX blog is back after a long absence. I like his post on how Harper's has gone downhill.


DON'T WRITE OFF LE PEN YET, writes David Carr. I'm torn. On the one hand, I don't actually like Le Pen, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, it's delightful to see the French so upset and embarrassed, and that happy state would no doubt continue for quite some time if Le Pen actually won. I mean, this is a guy who calls the Euro "occupation money". And while I don't like Le Pen, it's not like I like the other French politicians all that much, either. A Le Pen administration might provide a salutary and much-needed wake-up call to the corrupt and intellectually bankrupt Europolitical crowd.

The ideal outcome for me, I guess, would be for Le Pen to lose, but by a tiny margin.

This photo, if you haven't

This photo, if you haven't seen it, is way cool. It's the earth from space, at night. But for a real contrast, look at the difference between North and South Korea -- and remember that the North used to be the industrialized part.

(Note -- if you flunked Geography, find Japan (if you can't do that, skip this -- you're hopeless) then look due west. What looks like an island of light is South Korea -- if you look closely you can see just enough points of light to realize that North Korea is actually there, but just barely.)

The always visible difference between capitalism and communism couldn't be much more visible than that.

JOHN ELLIS says that Karen

JOHN ELLIS says that Karen Hughes is part of a growing exodus from the high-stress corporate/political lifestyle.

NORAH VINCENT says that Arab

NORAH VINCENT says that Arab terrorists don't measure up in the masculinity department.


VIA BILL QUICK I found this story about Putin rival Alexander Lebed dying in a helicopter crash. Quick connects it with the highly suspicious Venezuelan crash that killed a lot of anti-Chavez brass.

Of course, nobody was trying to rub out Stevie Ray Vaughan or Bill Graham: helicopters are dangerous, and if you fly in them a lot you have a nontrivial chance of being killed. But it is a bit suspicious.

A READER sends this Iranian

A READER sends this Iranian cartoon. Quite a self-image, eh?

UPDATE: Reader Philippe Richards says that this is a self-critical image, not a celebratory one.


SEN. BILL FRIST AND CLONING: I can't find it on their website, but the Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that Bill Frist abandoned his support for therapeutic cloning because he is under consideration for the slot as Bush's running mate in 2004. Cloning and Condi Rice supporters are likely to be disappointed to hear this -- and those, like me (and, for different reasons, Asparagirl) who would like to see Condi Rice cloned are doubly unhappy, of course.


KATIE ALLISON GRANJU is a freelance writer (a book on parenting for Simon & Schuster, and articles for everything from Salon to Hipmama to Cooking Light) and she now has a weblog, too. She's also written a terrific essay on why she lets her kids play with guns. Excerpt:

They’re toys made of plastic, wood, and metal. Some shoot caps, some shoot clothespins, and one shoots ping pong balls. Of course, lots of them squirt water. But they still look like guns and are played with as weaponry by the boys who race around my yard making shooting noises and ducking behind trees.

There was a time, at the beginning of my parenting journey nine years ago, when I would have shuddered at the thought of this scene playing itself out at our house. While still pregnant with my now nine year old son, Henry, I announced to anyone who would listen that my child would never engage in violent play with toy weapons. With the perfect confidence born of never having actually parented a child myself, I lectured friends and relatives on the dangers to society of raising boys on a diet of toy guns, swords, and soldiers. My comeuppance began almost immediately.

Read the whole thing; it's very good.



A great article today in the Opinion Journal by WSJ by Peter Worthington describing the current Canadian situation with regards to our military.

I am not surprised that you receive a lot of e-mail from frustrated Canadians living in a socialized utopia. I look at the current strife in Argentina and unfortunately see Canada's future. The sad reality is that Canada, like the European sophisticates that we seem to follow on most issues, is a has been country heading nowhere fast.

The right of centre party, the Canadian Alliance, has a new leader, Stephen Harper, that gives me some hope for the future. Living under a corrupt quasi dictator like Jean Chretien and his governing liberals is enough to drive any reasonable person insane.

THE ISRAELIS have apparently foiled

THE ISRAELIS have apparently foiled some WTC-type skyscraper bombing attacks. Had such an attack succeeded, the West Bank would look like Tokyo in 1945, writes the reader who sent this link.

Do the Palestinians know this? They must. Do they care? They must not.


THIS ONLINE POLL FROM NETSCAPE shows 71% of respondents doubting that gun controls can prevent mass shootings. Will they pull a CAIR and disappear it?

JIM BENNETT contrasts "Le Penism"

JIM BENNETT contrasts "Le Penism" with its counterpart "Euro-Le Penism." Both turn out to be rather stupid, insular, and xenophobic. The latter variety is widely held among Euro-politicians:

But Patten was using a newer and different definition. His "European civilization" is a synthetic construct floated by the European Union and certain sets of Europhile intellectuals. What is absurd is the way in which this new "European civilization" is defined to fit geographical coincidence and political convenience. This new "European civilization" extends to those nations that are in the European Union, and those which the consensus of Europhile opinion thinks ought to be. . . .

In short, this definition of "European civilization" defies any logic of cultural or civilizational taxonomy. It is as absurd a category as the "Moldavian" language invented by Stalin's linguists to justify stealing Bessarabia from Romania, and just as blatantly political a construct.

The political purpose of the synthetic concept of "European civilization" is obvious. It is a response to the failure of the Eurocratic elite to find any kind of socio-political glue to hold their creation together. . . .

Once the Euro-elites recognize they have a problem, it is likely they will search for stronger social glue to hold together their Union. They could, of course, resolve their structural problems and loosen their centralist grip, opening themselves to the world and balancing their Continental ties with the external ties many of their members have had to sacrifice for Europeanism. But that would contradict 50 years of centralizing ideology.

Rather, having have found the pull of economic rationalism insufficient, they will start looking for pushes. The most readily available push is fear of enemies, internal and external.

The greatest danger with Europe is not from the little Le Pens seeking to return to inward-looking national protectionism and hatred of foreigners. It is from Eurocrats seeking to construct a grand Euro-Lepenisme of inward-looking continental protectionism and contempt for non-"Europeans," in the sense of the "European civilization" Patten and others seem to be trying to define.

In the search for enemies, it's pretty obvious who will be Candidate Number One. America, already a favorite whipping boy economically, politically, and culturally, will be further elevated as Europe's main rival. As for internal enemies, the European Union is defining a class of "xenophobes" whose xenophobia is evidently exhibited primarily by opposition to the European Union. Ironically, openly Zionist Jews may soon find themselves categorized as "xenophobes."

I think that Bennett's hit the nail on the head with this one. It's why I've been worried for some time about where Europe is headed. Corrupt and intellectually bankrupt elites -- which the EU has in spades -- generally turn to hatred in an effort to maintain their power.

MATT WELCH has some observations

MATT WELCH has some observations about the L.A. Times that make me think his new newspaper is going to be damn good.

MICKEY KAUS asks if People

MICKEY KAUS asks if People for the American Way and the Children's Defense Fund are financial flypaper, soaking up donations that might otherwise go to effective groups. No doubt the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy will have him silenced for revealing this clever plan.

HARVEY GOLDSTEIN writes about the

HARVEY GOLDSTEIN writes about the idiocy of airport security. He's right, of course. My big question is, given that the powers-that-be have screwed up airport security so obviously, how much faith can we have in their ability to handle the things that we can't see?


THE HASHEMITE OPTION is endorsed in this Washington Post oped by Yossi Klein Halevi:

As a first step, the Palestinian Authority must go the way of the Taliban. Arafat should be placed on a plane to Baghdad and his terrorist "police" apparatus dismantled. Israel would then cede most of the territories to Jordan, concentrating the settlements in areas close to the 1967 borders. Until the situation stabilizes, Israel would remain in control of a united Jerusalem, though it would cede the Temple Mount to the Hashemites who, as descendants of the Prophet Muhammad's family, have a compelling claim as custodians of the site. Finally, Israel would retain a military presence along the Jordan River.

Jordan is the only Arab country that has entered into a strategic relationship with the Jewish state. The Hashemites fear a PLO state no less than the Israelis do. Ironically, Ariel Sharon, who once advocated transforming Jordan into Palestine, has become one of the stalwarts of the Israeli-Jordanian relationship. Perhaps Sharon is the man to help transform Palestine back into Jordan.

Note the passing reference to the Hashemites' "compelling claim" as custodians of Muslim holy places.

I'll bet Prince Abdullah just loves hearing about that.


SOME THOUGHTS ON GERMAN GUNS: Germany has strict gun control. Most of the stories I've seen say there are about 10 million legally-owned guns in a country of 82 million. The estimates on illegal guns tend to be about double that, or 20 million guns. That means with strict gun control -- far stricter than one could reasonably expect in the United States, where owning guns is a deeper-rooted tradition, and where obedience to authority is not -- there are about 3/8 as many firearms as there are people. In the United States the ration of guns to people is approximately one to one.

It's thus probably fair to take the 3/8 ratio as an upper bound for the effectiveness of gun control were it enacted in the United States. 3/8 of the U.S. population would be something over 90 million. So the most gun-controllers could hope for would be to reduce the number of guns in America to 90 million, which still sounds like a lot to me. And it could be accomplished only via a program that would be enormously polarizing politically, and sure to do immense damage to civil liberties -- if it didn't set off something like a civil war, which it very well might. All to produce a society that is not exactly disarmed, in which criminals (as in Germany) can still get guns easily.

Sounds like a dumb idea to me.

MEDPUNDIT has a post about

MEDPUNDIT has a post about antisemitism among European doctors and the threat to kick Israel out of the World Medical Association.

Are there any international organizations that aren't full of antisemites, anti-americans, anti-capitalists, and the like?

NON-HATE MAIL: A reader writes:...well

NON-HATE MAIL: A reader writes:

...well this isn't hate mail. I appreciate your reporting on gun-rights issues and lying historians. I'm one of those rare weird folk; a conservative gay "gun nut." In fact I'm twice elected president of the local gun club, all by "red-neck" straight guys, mostly vets.

I find you much more up to date then the NRA website.

Thank God I live in Vermont where I can be both gay and a gun-nut.

I've always liked Vermont.