May 18, 2002

FREUDIAN SLIP? Better visit this

FREUDIAN SLIP? Better visit this CBS story fast because they'll probably fix this:

The Washington Post said Saturday that a top-secret briefing memo presented to President Bush in 1998 focused on efforts by Osama bin Laden to strike at targets in the U.S.
Um, President who in 1998? I've been pretty hard on the Bush Administration over this -- and especially on the lame spin the Administration is offering -- but this just might suggest that some other people have a bit of an agenda.

UPDATE: Reader Billy Hollis (along with a host of others) writes:

The story with the "Freudian slip" now reads:

The Washington Post reported Saturday that a 1998 top-secret briefing memo to the president was entitled, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S" and focused mainly on past efforts by the alleged terrorist mastermind to infiltrate the U.S. and hit targets here.

Notice that the memo is just "to the president" and refrains from mentioning Clinton.

And to think there are still folks who claim the media is not biased....


ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:

Not only does the CBS "correction" not mention Clinton by name, but it also further excuses him by emphasizing that the report focused on the past efforts of Osama Bin Laden. Clinton, defensive about his own responsibility (as always) and how his lapses may have contributed to September 11th, is surely thankful that CBS so graciously makes the effort here to deny him psychic abilities. Get the picture: Clinton is the quintessential victim blind-sided by the bad guys. Bush is a man of questionable motives, willing to sacrifice what he knows will be thousands of American lives to push forward his agenda--a war that will ensure his popularity. Only a nutcase like Cynthia McKinney is dumb enough to spout such theories publicly. But such ideas are bound to be intoxicating for those who are squeamish with how new realities threaten the old orthodoxies that have served as the bedrock of leftist thought for the past 35 years. And such notions inform the not-so-subtle spins of CBS reporting.

HEADS ROLLING: Josh Marshall says

HEADS ROLLING: Josh Marshall says the 9/11 intelligence problems were more likely systemic than the result of dereliction of duty. Michael Ledeen says that letting Congress investigate is like letting the Madam investigate a brothel and John Ellis more or less agrees, calling for an independent inquiry. Robert Musil has has questions for Sens. Daschle and Clinton about next time. And The Bear says we should focus on the bottom line:

Should Tenet or Rice or Mueller get fired for their respective failures to prevent 9/11? Maybe. I don't have enough information yet to form a judgment. But the criteria I'll apply in making that judgment will not be whether they "deserve" it, or whether a Clinton appointee in their place would be fired -- it will be whether removing them from office will improve, or harm, this country's ability to defend itself.
Yes, that's true. (UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails to point out that Tenet was a Clinton appointee.) On the other hand, defense/intelligence establishments where no one suffers for mistakes don't generally improve a country's ability to defend itself.


CRANKY PROFESSOR MICHAEL TINKLER spots what looks to be another lie by Michael Bellesiles:

What's driving this post is that one of my friends worked as his graduate assistant in 1988-89 (we think). He was good to work for - he had reasonable ideas about how much time a second-year graduate student should devote to someone else?s research, and the work was not too horrible (by the standards of humanities research). She spent all year in the microforms area the basement of the library reading probate records. She was counting guns and entering the numbers into a spreadsheet. . . .

Professor Bellesiles had, like all professors in the history department, access to graduate assistants in (almost) any term he decided he needed one. Emory, like many graduate schools in the humanities, lets students take their first year to become accustomed to graduate work - nothing required of the students in exchange for the fellowship but course work. Then in the second year most departments require an assistantship or internship. My friend was Bellesiles' graduate assistant in 1988.

I emailed her late last month to ask about this - and to point out that he claimed to have done it all alone. She agreed that she had been counting guns. Her instructions were to count anything that might be a misspelled gun as a gun, which she feels this tends to prove that Professor Bellesiles was not intentionally understating the count. She then entered this data on a Lotus spreadsheet.

Crash go two of his claims - no help, and all his work was on yellow legal pads

This is pretty damning stuff, and from a fellow professor of history, no less. Be sure you read the entire post, as the excerpt above telescopes some imporant aspects. Cranky Professor Michael Tinkler promises more, too.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN identifies a serious

JEFF GOLDSTEIN identifies a serious problem with today's young people. At least, he thinks it's a problem.

ANANDA GUPTA says the Empire

ANANDA GUPTA says the Empire could kick Starfleet's ass!

CRIME IN EUROPE: More support

CRIME IN EUROPE: More support for Matt Welch's theory that it's like New York in the 1980s. Or was that Matthew Yglesias's theory?


THIS POST BY VAARA makes a big deal of my saying that "Ashcroft is definitely to blame." It's accurate, and I said it, and I meant it. But, uh, it would have been nice if Vaara had linked to the post where I said it so as to provide a bit of context as to what Ashcroft is to blame for.


HERE'S AN AMUSING REPORT on journalists talking about journalism. The names have been changed to protect the guilty:

A message they endeavored to convey was how hard they work, which they did with the insistent tone of someone who, being acquainted with no other type of employment, has deluded himself into thinking that his work is somehow more taxing than that of other professions. Interestingly, the allusions to difficult work were always adjacent to an anecdote that suggested the opposite. Smug Susan, for example, explained that she came upon a story of which she is proud when an environmentalist called and gave her the information: "So I made a couple of phone calls, and found out it was true. You really have to dig."
Hey, I do that kind of digging.

HEADS ROLLING? Reader Peter Stanley

HEADS ROLLING? Reader Peter Stanley writes: "The CIA's counter-terrorism chief Cofer Black was fired today. Just thought you'd like to know."

Well, the Washington Post didn't put it quite that way. In its report today it says: "In other developments yesterday, CIA officials said Cofer Black, head of the agency's Counterterrorism Center for the past three years, has been assigned to another position. They described the move as part of normal turnover at the agency." Now this might be a punitive transfer with obligatory mealy-mouthedness (though why, exactly, is it obligatory?) but I don't think it counts as a "firing."

UPDATE: Stanley writes: "That's what I get for reading DEBKA." Yeah. Maybe there's a backstory to this that would make Debka right -- but they don't have it on their site. It doesn't look like a firing to me. And if it is a firing, it's one that's being handled so quietly (perhaps with Black being eased out after a decent interval) that it barely counts as one at all. Heads must not merely roll, but must be seen to roll.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Clinton is now discounting the importance of warnings about Al Qaeda planning hijackings that we received during the '90s.

GENA LEWIS thinks Jonathan Last

GENA LEWIS thinks Jonathan Last is all wet about the superiority of The Empire over The Republic. She also discloses that she's a fox-hunting liberal. We need more of those.

THE GUARDIAN is defending its

THE GUARDIAN is defending its Jenin coverage, which it feels is fair and unbiased. But that it's even noticed that its coverage needs defending is progress.

BOYCOTTING FRANCE: Reader Dominique Petitmengin

BOYCOTTING FRANCE: Reader Dominique Petitmengin writes:

Hi Glenn! I don't mind you boycotting France so long you let us not boycotting the United States. If I can shop at Lands'End and Amazon, if I can receive the last Dick's pick from Grateful Dead Records, if you let me visit Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley with my nefews next winter, you can write everything and more about France, I really don't care. I hope one day that France can become the 51st state of the Union, but I don't think you would be really pleased....The United States own many places in France: graveyards. Could we never forget that.
How utterly disarming!

WHAT IS SPAM, that thou

WHAT IS SPAM, that thou art mindful of it? asks Brendan O'Neill. Well, actually he tells the story of some blogger who sent him a nasty email saying "stop spamming" because he sent that person (I don't know who it was) emails about his new postings.

I'm pretty mellow about this -- which is a good thing, since I get a lot of those. I don't want to get an email every time somebody posts something new, unless they post pretty infrequently, but I've never sent anyone a nasty reply. I just kinda quit reading. I like to hear from people who have interesting posts, or new weblogs. There are so many blogs that I can't possibly notice them all anymore, and if someone has something particularly up my alley I like to hear about it. (Two amusing things I find occasionally in visiting weblogs for the first time -- "that bastard Reynolds is ignoring me," from people who've never contacted me, and "so-and-so posted this story 5 minutes after me so they must have stolen my idea," when the link is to a story on Slashdot or in The New York Times or some other obvious source; some people have a rather high opinion of their own originality).

On the other hand, if you're sending me multiple emails a day, well, that's kind of a lot. I get about 300+ a day. And nobody is as impressed with what's obviously a mass self-promotional mailing as with something targeted to them personally that obviously takes account of their interests.


I HAVE A RATHER DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE FROM ATRIOS -- and I think the "Bush Knew" graphic at the top of the page is sleaze worthy of Cynthia McKinney. But he/she is spot on (well, except for a couple of nasty en passant swipes) with this observation:

Since 9/11 I have always wondered why not a single person lost their job over that catastrophe, other than some illegal alien airport workers. I realize that following such a tragedy standing around pointing fingers is not helpful (though someone forgot to tell that to our patriots, and ex-patriates, on the Right.) However, that is not what I'm referring to. I'm talking about someone fairly high up in the leadership choosing to step forward and say "Hey, this happened on my watch. It was my job to prevent this kind of thing, and I failed, and I cannot in good conscience remain in this position. I Will remain around long enough to ensure a smooth transition, and then leave."

Such an act would be largely symbolic, and we could expect to find the noble soul popping up somewhere else [in] government in the not too distant future, but I nonetheless always thought it should have happened. It's called taking responsibility, and it is something people at the top should do more often.

These latest revelations speak volumes about this administration and the media who cover for them. Their inability to admit to a single mistake (at least domestically -- they had little problem apologizing over the spy plane incident) causes them to spin ludicrously and yes, to lie, when it would be oh so easy to say yes, we messed up a little bit. The psychological damage this must be doing to the real victims of 9/11, and yes, to our "Homeland Security" cannot be exaggerated.

Back last fall I said heads should roll, and I got a lot of emails saying that, well, it was a crisis, we were invading Afghanistan, there were lots of Al Qaeda loose, and we couldn't afford the disruption that a proper investigation (and punishment) would entail. Okay, fair enough. But not only have we passed the crisis phase, but there's still no evidence that anyone is going to pay any price for screwing up. Indeed, there's not any evidence that anyone is looking at why the right information wasn't brought to the right people at the right time. Instead, we're getting insultingly false remarks about how utterly unimaginable the attacks were. And I agree: it's important that people take responsibility. Unlike Atrios, I'm not cackling with glee at seeing the Bush Administration look bad here. But should they be acting in a way that lets Atrios cackle with glee?

UPDATE: For a contrary view, see Iain Murray's thoughts.


READER ALEX BENSKY WRITES: "I enjoyed the link to Jonathan Last's column on Star Wars. In the interests of truth I think you should remind your readers that Star Fleet could destroy both the Empire and the Republic and not break a collective sweat." Actually, as Steven den Beste points out, the current-day USMC could defeat 'em single-handed.

Back when I was in high school, some of my friends figured that a good high school rifle team was worth at least a battalion of Imperial Stormtroopers, given that the former actually aimed their weapons and understood the concept of cover and concealment, while the latter showed no sign of doing so. Furthermore, that cumbersome armor doesn't seem to be of any actual protective value.

THE U.N. has asked the

THE U.N. has asked the Saudi regime that currently governs much of Arabia to end its practice of amputating criminals' limbs. The Saudi regime says buzz off.


NOT WHAT THE PRESIDENT KNEW, BUT WHY HE DIDN'T KNOW: Robert Musil has some perspective.

CHORTLE. I knew if I

CHORTLE. I knew if I kept it up I'd finally get a rise out of 'em.

May 17, 2002


NAPSTER MAY BE DEAD, but file-sharing is thriving and music-industry download sites are lame, writes Janelle Brown.


JOEL KOTKIN IS A REALLY SMART GUY. His 1989 (I think) book, The Third Century was a terrific debunking of the Japanese-supremacist hysteria sweeping the American financial and political press at the time, and if you read it now you'll be amazed at its prescience.

Now he says that the newspaper Matt Welch and Ken Layne are starting is likely to succeed. I hope he's prescient there, too.


OKAY, I WASN'T GOING TO POST ANYMORE, but I realized I had forgotten to follow up with some of the additional Rolling Stone suggestions. The winner, however (as my earlier post may have suggested) was something along the lines of "RS can't be saved, it's irretrievably lame." That said, some other suggestions included, in no particular order, Jonah Goldberg (like Jann Wenner's really gonna do that), James Lileks, Steven den Beste, multiple votes for perennial blogosphere fave Rachael Klein, and one each for up-and-comers Dawn Olsen and Jim Treacher. Simon Reynolds (no relation) got mentioned, as did Christopher Buckley. And, unsurprisingly, Mark Steyn got several votes.

All of these people would be better than most of those writing for Rolling Stone today. And none have much of a shot (neither do Welch, Layne, or Blair, mentioned earlier.) That says some pretty bad things about Rolling Stone, but not any that we haven't figured out on our own. To the above I'd add Stacy Osbaum, formerly editor of URB, who's now freelancing, I think.

Personally, I think the Blogosphere is the Rolling Stone of the 21st century anyway.

UPDATE: Eric Olsen writes that he's already written for Rolling Stone.

SFSU UPDATE: SFSU's President copied

SFSU UPDATE: SFSU's President copied me on this email he sent to someone else who had attached a copy of my FoxNews column:

Thank you for writing to express your deep concern about the May 7 rally on this campus. The University is unequivocally committed to maintaining both free speech and civility, and we are taking a great many steps to address issues emerging from that event, as well as to provide clear, factual information about it. We have established a web site, “SFSU’s Response to Pro-Israel Pro-Palestine Tensions on Campus,” which you can reach from the University’s home page. The web site includes information about what is being done, but much more is already in the works. I suggest you check that site periodically, as we will continue to add to it as our plans evolve through meetings and conversations with individuals from both on and off-campus. I have communicated with all SFSU faculty, students, and staff several times in recent weeks around these issues, via e-mail. Two of those messages follow.

-- Robert A. Corrigan, President

You can see the messages by following the link -- they're too long to post here. The "summary of events" makes things sound a bit tamer than more contemporaneous accounts. The University says that it has videotape of the demonstrations. How about making it available on the Web?



I am faithful reader of from Rennes, France and I can't agree more when you hit the French where it hurts: anti-semitism. Still, I cannot believe you would support a boycott on French products based on that. I don't really like my country and plan to move back to the US (where I was a student) next year. France is indeed a deeply ambivalous country and my fellow Frenchmen often take the wrong stance on many issues. Our not supporting Israel, our criticizing of US for being 'simplistic', our unwillingness to join the US in attacking Sadamm and root out terror are positions that disturb me.

And so does the nonchalance of my government when it comes to horrible acts of anti-semitic hatred. These acts are comitted by young Arabs who watch the deeply biased coverage of the Middle East on T! V and feel the need to 'get even' by beating up Jewish teens playing soccer or setting a synaguogue on fire. I know you will tell me that's no excuse since the Socialist government (finally over, thank God) has not done what it should have done about these horrific acts, and you would be right, because that's the core of the problem, no matter who is behind these acts. I have been denouncing the situation on my blog ( for weeks, in French and English, and 90% of the reactions I received were positive. I have been linked to by Asparagirl, Diane E., and LGF who were relieved to see that not all the French were anti-semites or pro-Palestinian. That is why a boycott on French products is a terrible idea. We are not like the Palestinians who all seem to support terror and worship "martyrs". Many pundits here, and most of them were not Jewish, called on the French to not accept this situation and denounced classifying antisemitic acts as part of "insйcuritй", as we call crime here.

Sure there has been pro-Palestinian street demonstrations with hateful messages, but did you notice that the next day, 300.000 French people took to the same streets to express their disapointment with the Government and their support for Israel? These protestors outnumbered the pro-Palestinians 3to1! I happen to work in a field that depends on American tourists coming here and nothing would sadden me more that seeing Americans stop visiting my country. Would you boycott any product that comes from the Bay Area because lots of students at Berkeley and SFSU legitimize Palestinian terror? Would you give up Rice A Roni? I don't think so. Please acknowledge that many Frenchmen are good people who sympathize with Israel even if they are not Jewish (you will not find somebody who is more Breton than me!);and love the US for what it stands for, even more so in these trying times. Please don't make all Americans see France in this way, even though we have a lot of things to improve!

Well, except for minor things like Cannes, I'm not really for an actual boycott of France, much less the campaign to pave France. I have some hope that since the recent election, the French political class is beginning to awaken to reality. I hope I'm right.

Oh, and here's a link to Leo's blog, which is in both French and English.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails:

Tell Leo there were lots of reasons to give up the "San Francisco Treat"
even before all the anti-semitism out there.
And Chris Blanchard likens it to an American boycott of French Fries. "Please," he writes, "don't take it out on the starch." Another reader points out that Berkeley was in fact boycotted last fall by Americans who disagreed with its anti-American stance.




SOME SOBERING THOUGHTS on the future of the Palestinians, from StrategyPage. It doesn't look very bright, but that's mostly their own fault. Here's a somewhat similar take.

IMAGINE: Reader Harry Helms has

IMAGINE: Reader Harry Helms has this useful observation:

Of course the events of 9/11 were beyond the imagination of anyone in the FBI. Why is this so difficult for you to grasp?

Government jobs---and, in particular, government law enforcement jobs---attract people who DON'T want to think creatively or "out of the box." Instead, they want to think INSIDE the box. They don't want to use their imagination; they want a detailed set of procedures and rules to follow. If they haven't seen it before, they can't conceive of it. Asking the FBI to "think creatively" about possible terrorist incidents is---pardon my non-PC analogy----like asking the blind to be architects. They simply lack essential characteristics necessary to adequately perform the task.

It's interesting to note that other posters have cited examples from television ("The Lone Gunmen") and fiction (Tom Clancy) of hijacked airliners used as weapons. And that's why, in all seriousness, the government should be asking creative people to visualize new terrorist scenarios and plots. Screenwriters, novelists, and---yes---terrorists are all imaginative, while the FBI and other government drones aren't. Creativity is just as big a weapon in this new war as missiles and guns---maybe even more so.

I think this is exactly right. To their credit, I think they've done some of this since 9/11.


RON K WAS PRETTY DAMNED PRESCIENT, as this post from Slate's "The Fray" from September 17 illustrates:

Retrospective analysis will disclose a great number of warnings, alerts, leads and tips ... some of them remarkably specific. Big deal.

The real trick, as always, is to distinguish genuine foresight versus the ordinary daily stream of "alerts".

That's why I don't think that the government necessarily could have prevented the attacks. I just think it's ridiculous of them to claim they couldn't have imagined them. Note: Patrick Ruffini has some good thoughts. And Martin Devon raises the real questions. Someone should ask them to George Tenet.

UPDATE: RonK has his own, up-to-date list of questions that should be asked.


THE NEW REPUBLIC'S MICHAEL CROWLEY agrees that the "unimaginable" argument is an insult to our intelligence.


BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: I had missed this John Podhoretz column, but it's not a pretty story:

Since the start of the year, there have been 50 documented cases of anti-Semitic acts in and around the Bay Area. That is more than three times as many as in all of 2001, according to Jonathan Bernstein of the Anti-Defamation League. He also reports that his office is the only one of the ADL's 30 regional bureaus to note an increase in anti-Jewish incidents.

There have been serious arson attempts on two synagogues. One temple, in Berkeley, would have been destroyed had a neighbor not spotted the fire on the roof. Another, in San Francisco, was pelted with Molotov cocktails.

It's worse at the universities. A man wearing a Jewish ritual skullcap was severely beaten on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. Students and faculty attending religious services at the Berkeley Hillel, the Jewish meeting house, were pelted with rotten eggs. The Hillel house itself has been defaced with graffiti.

The worst incident happened last week at San Francisco State University, where there is clearly no division between anti-Israel political sentiment and naked anti-Semitism.

There's more on SFSU, as you'd expect, but I didn't know about the beating, or the molotov cocktails.

One day, I hope, the Bay Area will become as cosmopolitan and tolerant as Knoxville.

TIM NOAH SAYS it's all

TIM NOAH SAYS it's all Robert Mueller's fault.


JONAH GOLDBERG AGREES WITH JOSH MARSHALL that Cynthia McKinney is still an idiot.


DEMOCRACY IN EUROPE: Mark Steyn says it's missing in action:

Trundling around Britain, Europe and the Middle East in recent weeks, I can’t say I detected ‘the spirit of liberty’ anywhere. I felt its absence in many places — in the impotence and fatalism of prosperous English property owners barricaded into their homes behind their window locks and laser alarms because nothing can be done about the yobboes lobbing the bollards through the bus shelter until David Blunkett comes up with a nationally applicable policy on the subject. And even then he’s likely to have filched it from some American police chief — like the ‘broken window’ theory, of which one hears more in Britain than the US these days.

That’s what the ‘democratic deficit’ does: it snuffs out the spirit of liberty. The issue is not how to make the chaps in Brussels more ‘accountable’, but why all that stuff is being dealt with in Brussels in the first place — why so much of the primary-school science can only be entrusted to the laboratory’s men in white coats, like Chris Patten. Eurocrats who spent much of the Eighties mocking President Reagan’s ‘trickle-down economics’ are happy to put their faith in trickle-down nation-building: if you create the institutions of a European state, a European state will somehow take root underneath. . . .

Britain and Europe have ‘free governments’ but they don’t have ‘the spirit of liberty’, and they suffer as a consequence. If you were to apply Tom Ridge’s system of colour-coded security alerts — from blue to red via green, yellow and orange — to the entire planet, you’d wind up with something along these lines: the United States, code green; the Britannic world, code yellow; Europe, code orange; the Middle East, code red. The Arab world has no democracy, and little prospect of any, and so its much-vaunted ‘Arab street’ is, in fact, a symbol of weakness. Folks jump up and down in the street when they’ve nowhere else to go. The Arabs are world leaders at yelling excitedly and shouting ‘Death to the Great Satan!’ and are world losers at everything else.

Western Europe, though, isn’t much healthier. . . . After 215 years, the US Constitution is not only older than the French, German, Italian, Belgian, Spanish and Greek constitutions, it’s older than all of them put together. Whether the forthcoming European constitution will be the one that sticks remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t bet on it. . . . You would think, would you not, that, if Europe were really serious about avoiding the horrors of the last century, it might try and learn from the two most successful and enduring forms of democracy in the world: the Westminster parliamentary system and American federalism. Instead, these are precisely the forms the EU is most determined to avoid.



WANT TO LIVE A LONG TIME? Then you'll be interested in this post by Charles Murtaugh.


MORE ON FORESEEABILITY: Reader Justin Adams writes:

There will always be intelligence failures because people often aren't or don't act intelligently. That inevitability is most dangerous if you maintain a defensive posture and make yourself a static target. The lesson to be learned -- the lesson we seem finally to have learned -- is to attack our enemies and put them on the defensive, let them worry about intelligence failures. On the offense, bad intelligence means a missed opportunity to kill an enemy; on defense, it means 3000 dead citizens.
Meanwhile, reader Allen S. Thorpe comments:
This whole hubbub over unnoticed warnings is really old news. I agree with you that they shouldn't be arguing that they "couldn't" have foreseen this, but it really doesn't matter. The only reason this is raising such a ruckus is that the Democrats are flailing around looking for an issue. If we want to start pointing fingers, how about our free press who are always standing up for the public's right to know. They have names like Sentinel, Guardian, Observer and Herald, but why weren't they campaigning for Clinton to do something about bin Laden and the other terrorists. Apparently, you need more than six deaths at home, and deaths of servicemen and diplomats don't count, to get their attention or make them think beyond the last news cycle.

Sure the government let us down, but so did all of our institutions. We let each other down, but not being mad as hell that the first bombing of the WTC was treated as a mere criminal problem. Or that we didn't get tough after our people were blown up in Beirut, or the Khobar towers, or the two embassies in Africa or in the Cole. I'm just glad that when 9/11 happened somebody started doing the right thing. What I'm worried about is that our indignation will drain away into congressional investigations and peace placards, because if we don't keep our resolve, we'll be ripe for more outrages.

UPDATE: A reader notes, regarding accountability: "Bush was not in office in 1999 but CIA director Tenet was. "

SFSU UPDATE: This story seems

SFSU UPDATE: This story seems to be breaking out into old-line media -- it's mentioned in this Village Voice oped.


HAD A LONG CONVERSATION WITH A JOURNALIST about, among other things, the value of "unique visitor" stats. I have to confess that I'm not that impressed: to me, having a reader who refreshes 10 times a day is pretty much as valuable as having 10 readers who look once a day. It's a question of width vs. depth of interest. He more or less agreed but said that unique visitors is just one of those measures that people like, even though tech-types say that "unique visitors" is usually an undercount because of firewalls, etc.

I think that many of the comparisons going on (MetaFilter is apparently claiming more viewers than the WSJ) are pretty bogus -- not even apples vs. oranges, but one thing that you hope is some kind of fruit with another thing that you hope is some kind of fruit. And I don't think that even well-established metrics are worth much -- note the discrepancy between the NY Times bestseller list and actual book sales. Or look at newspapers: if a million people buy a newspaper, do a million people read every story in it? Probably not.

People measure stuff because it makes them feel better. But the measures are of limited value, especially in the absence of any agreement on what's important. Until you agree on what measures are important, and what you want to know, the measures are mostly bogus. But I'm working on a site redesign, and I'm going to include a counter that measures (however inaccurately) "unique visitors" so as to finally be able to answer the question that journalists ask.


IS CHOMSKY VETTING JOB APPLICANTS? That's what Iberian bloggers John & Antonio wonder:

Is it any surprise that MIT Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Noam Chomsky is a proud signer of the pro-disinvestment petition? No, not really. That's not exactly "Man Bites Dog." What is kind of interesting, though, is that out of the 54 MIT faculty members who signed the anti-Israeli, pro-disinvestment petition, a full 13 are from Chomsky's own department, and a fourteenth is listed only under linguistics. If we look at the 121 MIT faculty members who signed the anti-disinvestment, anti-anti-Israeli petition, a grand total of zero are from Linguistics and Philosophy. Zero. Zip. Nada. Goose egg. Now, could we take these numbers and use them as evidence that the MIT Linguistics and Philosophy Department is politically vetted? We sure think you could. Especially if you note that out of the five signers currently at Israeli institutions, a grand total of four have Ph.D.s from or did a postdoc at MIT's Ling and Phil Department. If you were a student at MIT's Ling and Phil department, knowing that your teachers have unanimously signed one petition and have scorned another, might not you be tempted to follow their example? We think that you just might. The MIT Ling and Phil Department sounds like it enjoys all the freedom of thought and expression of East Germany, with the professorate serving as the Stasi.
Harsh, but not unwarranted.


WHY THE EMPIRE IS GOOD, AND THE REPUBLIC BAD: Jonathan Last is gonna get a lot of flame mail for this.


FORESEEABILITY, REVISITED: Okay, I had a long and (well, maybe) erudite post on all this, which Blogger promptly ate. But those who say that such an attack was unforeseeable need to reflect on the fact that it was already foreseen:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Exactly two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal report warned the executive branch that Osama bin Laden's terrorists might hijack an airliner and dive bomb it into the Pentagon or other government building."Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency or the White House," the September 1999 report said.

The report, entitled the "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?," described the suicide hijacking as one of several possible retribution attacks al-Qaida might seek for the 1998 U.S. airstrike against bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan.

The report noted that an al-Qaida-linked terrorist first arrested in the Philippines in 1995 and later convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing had suggested such a suicide jetliner mission.

Here's a link to the report, which even features a big picture of the World Trade Center.

Now I don't expect that Bush, or Rice, or Rumsfeld, or Ashcroft would have -- or should have -- read this report. But someone should have, and -- knowing that Al Qaeda had actually planned such an attack -- might have considered the possibility that a planned hijacking might be more than "traditional" in nature, so that once the word got out that Al Qaeda might be planning a wave of hijackings, this idea might have occurred to someone.

This isn't the complicity that Cynthia McKinney is bloviating about, but it is an example of a breakdown in thinking about these things. And it's why -- despite TAPPED's pro-Administration spin -- I do think that it's an insult to our intelligence for Administration officials to keep saying that the 9/11 attacks were simply unimaginable.

To some degree, as several correspondents have pointed out, this is beside the point. The way to respond to terrorism is to put an end to nations sponsoring or harboring terrorists. That's absolutely right, but it doesn't excuse silly attempts to avoid responsibility. (Thanks to reader Jim Loan for the link).

UPDATE: Reader Casey Abell thinks I'm too hard on Bush:

Love the blog. But didn't you notice the date on that report? Last time I checked, in 1999 the "executive branch" consisted of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and other people like that. Bush and Ashcroft and Rumsfeld and Rice weren't hanging out at the White House.

I realize that the AP is biased and doesn't want to mention Clinton in their story, though they criticize Bush by name. But there's no reason for you to follow their lousy example. Pile the abuse on both administrations.

Equal-opportunity abuse. It's a wonderful thing.

Well, yeah, and I think there's plenty of evidence that the Clinton Administration didn't take Al Qaeda seriously enough despite plenty of reason to do so. But I was just arguing that the Administration's claims that they couldn't have anticipated that sort of an attack -- or non-"traditional" hijackings in general -- don't hold water.


ANOTHER SFSU UPDATE: Reader Eric Mitchell sends a link to this story from 1997, which includes this interesting quote from SFSU President Tom Corrigan:

"San Francisco State is considered the most anti-Semitic campus in the nation," Corrigan said at his 'State of the University' address to the faculty Aug. 25, when he also openly wondered why faculty did not speak out against a controversial speech made by black speaker Khallid Muhammad on campus last spring.

In SF State recent history, racial and ethnic conflict among students has often focused around complicated conflicts involving the Jewish community here and abroad.

In 1994, members of the Pan Afrikan Student Union tried to stop riot police and university officials from removing a Malcolm X mural that depicted dollar signs over an Israeli flag and a burning U.S. flag.

In 1996, Palestinian-heritage students and other students empathetic to their causes protested against a separate Jewish state and physically disrupted students involved in the Israeli Caravan, a traveling celebration of Jewish culture. There was also a peaceful protest during last spring's Caravan visit that was closely watched by university officials.

Last April, some members of PASU unfurled a banner that depicted an Israeli flag with a swastika in the center of the Star of David. The group was protesting the Israel government's alleged role in training Peruvian troops who eventually stormed the Japanese ambassador's home in Lima, ending a 126-day hostage crisis.

Last May, PASU invited black speaker and founder of the New Black Panther Party, Khallid Muhammad, to make a speech entitled, "Who is Pimping the World?" The group's price of admission was $7 for student and $15 for "Zionist, Uncle Toms and other white supremacist." In response, a handful of student government leaders expressed concern that members of PASU were spreading words of hate and violence.

Sounds like they've had a long-standing problem. So why didn't they do anything?

SFSU UPDATE: Meryl Yourish, who

SFSU UPDATE: Meryl Yourish, who owns this story, has more information at her site, including a response to someone who claims the story was overplayed -- but presents as evidence an article from a newsletter that seems to track the Zoloth email pretty closely, except for a bit of weasel-worded stuff from a University PR guy. She also has SFSU President Tom Corrigan's email address, and another letter from San Francisco Hillel supporting the original account, and saying that SFSU has been a hostile environment for Jewish students for quite some time, and that SFSU failed to follow its own guidelines on how to handle student misbehavior.


READER FRANK NATOLI says I've been too hard on the FBI and the intelligence community:

Has anyone [yet] pointed out that obtaining a piece of intelligence is only step #1? And that separating the "correct" intel from the "incorrect" is not only step #2 but often the tough part?

U.S. military intel knew they had lost track of six Jap carriers in late November 1941, and for days afterward all six maintained scrupulous radio silence. In retrospect, ah-hah, that should have tipped FDR, Kimmel, Short et al that the Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku and Shokaku were crossing the North Pacific enroute to Hawaii and the "Day of Infamy". Right?

Wrong. Because, as Gordon Prange makes very clear in "At Dawn We Slept", there was a relative avalanche of other intel that indicated that Jap objectives were to the south, to the Dutch East Indies and their oil. There was no divine guidance to direct us to ignore the rational intel and focus instead on the irrational.

And so it probably is with the FBI memo on possible WTC attacks. Would Senator Daschle and Representative Gephardt kindly articulate how this one memo was to be separated from the relative infinity of other memos?

Well, maybe. But what offends me -- as I keep repeating -- isn't so much the failure to prevent the attacks. That may well have been impossible, even if they'd had extraordinarily good intelligence. What offends me is the constant repetition (I heard Condi Rice say this just yesterday) that no one could have imagined the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That's not only absurd, it's an insult to our intelligence.


READER PHILIPPE RAMOFF writes from France, and he's very offended by my post (below) about the BoycottFrance.Com website. He also sends a link to this story in which Woody Allen compares the filmmakers' boycott of Cannes to Nazi methods, which he apparently feels bolsters his case. I'm unimpressed. Allen isn't boycotting Cannes because, frankly, his career is not at a point where he can afford to boycott Cannes. He's hoping for a comeback. Allen's odious comparison does him no credit, to put it mildly, nor is Allen generally regarded as a source of moral leadership.

Ramoff also asks: "And, maybe you may explain some day, which collective sin made us, french, mourning for your forgiveness?" Well, there's a topic the Blogosphere could work on all day. But it's the consistent practice of siding with terrorists (at least so long as they don't strike French citizens), the denunciations of American policy, and Americans, as "simplistic," the tolerance of Islamic extremism, synagogue burning, and antisemitism, the description of Israel as a "shitty little country," etc., at least for a start, that have people interested in boycotting France. The BoycottFrance.Com site has more information.

As I mentioned in my post, France may actually be coming around. I'm hopeful, but then I'm a well-known optimist.



But if Jordan were fully to join the effort to topple Saddam, the prize could be tempting -- and could also answer the question of who replaces Saddam. Until his assassination in 1958, the Hashemite King Faisal II was the head of state of Iraq. King Hussein of Jordan, father of the current King Abdullah, was Faisal's cousin, and the heir to the Iraqi throne, Sharif Ali, lives conveniently in London. The return of a constitutional monarchy to Iraq could be a plausible replacement for Saddam Hussein -- and how could the Arab world object to the return of the Hashemite dynasty, direct descendants of the prophet Muhammed?
Oh, I'm sure they'll find something to object to. But this idea has advanced well beyond the blogosphere, where it made its first appearance.

EUGENE VOLOKH asks what people

EUGENE VOLOKH asks what people would say if schools had affirmative action for Catholics and Pentecostals in the name of achieving religious diversity.

MATTHEW YGLESIAS reports on his

MATTHEW YGLESIAS reports on his mugging in Amsterdam. And Matt Welch chimes in on its resemblance to New York in the 1980s. I expect that Europe will see a lot more Giulianization, despite the efforts of aging Dinkinses and Lindsays to hold on.

MICKEY KAUS has more information

MICKEY KAUS has more information on how the welfare reform debate is going. Hillary is a centrist in this debate. Uh oh.

And try to ignore the annoying Qwest ad that takes up half your screen.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has an update

VIRGINIA POSTREL has an update on the Franklin Society petition, and the anti-cloning bill.


READER MIKE HADLEY sends this link to suggest that things are as bad for black students at Harvard as for Jewish students at SFSU. Read it and see if you agree.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Still more problems

BELLESILES UPDATE: Still more problems with the evidence Bellesiles claims to have relied on:

The documents in question are Vermont court records from the late 18th century. The key passage appears on page 353 of "Arming America": "During Vermont's frontier period, from 1760 to 1790, there were five reported murders (excluding those deaths in the American Revolution), and three of those were politically motivated." The endnote for this finding refers the reader to Superior Court records at the county courthouse in Rutland, Vermont. But as Ohio State University historian Randolph Roth has pointed out (and the court clerk in Rutland has confirmed), the volumes for 1782 to 1790 are not in the Rutland court's holdings. Furthermore, the Superior Court did not exist before 1778, when Vermont became a state, so it has no records for the period 1760 to 1777.
UPDATE: This isn't quite right. Vermont became an "independent republic" in 1777, but didn't become an actual state until later. Thanks to reader Steve White for pointing that out. I should have noticed it myself.

May 16, 2002



"WHAT IS it that makes

"WHAT IS it that makes anti-Americanism, alone among ugly political fanaticisms, respectable?" Bret Stephens looks at the roots of anti-Americanism (and observes, shrewdly, that anti-Americanism is most of what passes for Leftist thought these days). Noam Chomsky is mentioned.


PATRICK NIELSEN HAYDEN says Ken Layne is "slightly unhinged." Slightly?


WHAT'S A JEW TO DO? asks Dawn Olsen. Um, lust after Chuck Finley, apparently.


BILL QUICK TAKES ON ALL COMERS in a multidirectional debunking of the claim that Bush only recently made up the "war, recession, or emergency" exception to the balanced-budget goal.

The SpinSanity guys invited me to link to their piece, but I replied that I seemed to remember that he had said this during the campaign. Unless I've just been brainwashed.

BOYCOTTFRANCE.COM is a site devoted

BOYCOTTFRANCE.COM is a site devoted to, well, you know. The French may be in the process of becoming a bit less odious thanks to the recent election and the wake-up call provided by the Pakistani bombing. But I'm not ready to forgive 'em just yet. (Via DodgeBlog).


DR. FRANK'S ALIEN WIFE: Sounds like a series on the WB, but it's for real.


WHY TAP DOESN'T SUCK NOW: I wonder if they'll have a quote from me on their site soon -- "TAP doesn't suck anymore" -- Glenn Reynolds? Well, probably not. But a reader writes with an explanation for the phenomenon I identified below:

There is one reason, and only one reason, for the success of The American Prospect online: Chris Mooney became the editor. It was the approach that he brought to TAP that ushered in the blog and the new non-sleep inducing articles. If I had Bill Moyers' e-mail address, I'd tell ask him to put Mooney in charge of the whole thing.

PS: The old TAP didn't completely suck. The political coverage was... bad and the opinion columns were easily ignored, but the criticism - movie, music, book and otherwise - has always been good.

I almost never even looked at TAP until the past few months, and in fact one of the few articles I'd read before then was one by Chris Mooney. So maybe this is true. Pay him more! Er, or at least don't lay him off. . . .

20/20 HINDSIGHT: Rand Simberg thinks

20/20 HINDSIGHT: Rand Simberg thinks that people -- I guess that would include me have been too hard on the FBI, etc.

UPDATE: Actually, on rereading this, I don't think he really disagrees with what I've been saying:

Was this even avoidable? In theory, yes. I wasn't really surprised when it happened. When the first plane hit, I was wondering if it was deliberate, and if so, how it could be pulled off. I ran through the possibilities in my mind, and the only one that made sense was a hijacking. When the second plane hit, the thought jelled--clearly that was what happened. Was it unthinkable? Not to me. The WTC had already been targeted by these nutballs. We had already seen a plane taken down by a suicidal pilot (in the Egypt Air case). So why not?

But in practice, it probably couldn't have been prevented, even had the dots been properly connected. We were simply culturally unable to deal with it until we had the bucket of ice water splashed in our collective face last September.

He's absolutely right about this last. Even if we'd known, what could we have done? Started questioning suspicious Arab-looking young men at airports? Hell, we're not even doing that now. Get passengers to resist? That would have been a good idea (it was probably always a good idea) but would people have changed their behavior from sheeplike to lionlike without the examples of the WTC and Pentagon on fire -- and of Flight 93? Doubtful. Put sky marshals on the planes? Again, we've barely started to do that now. Invaded Afghanistan? Who would have gone for that?


HERE'S A LINK to a picture of the blood-libel posters displayed at SFSU. Note that this isn't anti-Israeli, or anti-Zionist. It's pure, medieval-style antisemitism, involving children said to be "slaughtered in accordance with Jewish rites."

What would SFSU have already done by now to any group that displayed similarly offensive posters about black people? Or Muslims?

Don't misunderstand me -- I don't think that such posters should be censored, nor that this one should. But I think the people who run universities don't generally share my commitment to free speech. And because they don't, it's fair to call them to account when they display an attitude of selective laissez faire.


FUKUYAMA SHOWS HIS COLORS: I've been reading Bob Zubrin's book Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization and here's a great quote:

In 1997, Scientific American writer James Horgan published a more interesting best-seller entitled The End of Science, in which he held that all the really big discoveries to be made in science already have been made, and thus the enterprise of scientific discovery must soon grind to a halt. (The day after I finished reading Horgan's book in February 1998, a group of astronomers announced that they had found a fifth fundamental force in nature.) In his book, Horgan interviewed Fukuyama and asked him what he thought of those who doubt we have reached the end of human history. "They must be space travel buffs," Fukuyama replied in derision. Indeed.
Yes, that's our Frank.

I'VE NOTICED that I'm linking

I'VE NOTICED that I'm linking to a lot of stuff from The American Prospect lately, which I used to almost never do. Why is this? I think it's because TAP (or at least its online version) doesn't suck anymore. A lot of people have been saying they should keep the blog if the magazine folds. Why not try to keep the online magazine if the print mag folds? Their "online exclusive" articles, in my experience, are the best ones anyway.


THE DUTCH ELECTIONS won't make that big a difference, says this article by Sasha Polakow-Suransky , because the EU runs everything anyway.

ED LAZARUS writes on FindLaw

ED LAZARUS writes on FindLaw that he disagrees with Bush & Ashcroft & Olson on the Second Amendment, but that it was perfectly legitimate for them to change their position and endorse the individual rights view.


VANESSA LEGGETT UPDATE: Lloyd Grove reports on the multiplicity of awards she's won for her ordeal. As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back, this case makes the FBI and the Justice Department look really bad. But then, that's been happening a lot, hasn't it?


WIRELESS BLOGGING: I'm on the laptop in the Student Center, across the street from the Law School. It's deserted (summer school starts next week), but there's Starbucks and a comfy chair. The University finally got the wireless network set up so that it would work with Windows XP (don't ask). I'm delighted to have the mobility.

TURNAROUND in the Nuremburg files

TURNAROUND in the Nuremburg files case. The 9th Circuit, sitting en banc held that the websites were "true threats" and not protected by the First Amendment. I'd be inclined to rule the other way, but on the facts this is a close case. Eugene Volokh has more on this. He says that it should have gone the other way, too, and says that the threats here weren't any worse than those permitted by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware. That's probably true, but this isn't an easy case. I think it's likely bound for the Supremes.

UPDATE: Eugene now has a much longer post that makes a pretty persuasive case that Claiborne Hardware should control here.

SFSU UPDATE: Best of the

SFSU UPDATE: Best of the Web has some additional information about goings-on at SFSU. About the quality of the administration's response it writes:

Political correctness is such an old story as to be a clichй, but perhaps some sort of awakening is under way at SFSU. Will Corrigan be true to his word and deal harshly with his campus's anti-Semitic thugs? The world is watching.
Indeed it is.


AN ORGY OF GRANDSTANDING AND BLOVIATION: That's Ron Bailey's evaluation of yesterday's Congressional hearings on cloning. Meanwhile this analysis of literary and (of course) Star Wars metaphors in the cloning debate suggests that public discourse has been taken over by the Dark Side. And here Chris Mooney looks at the Star Wars / Lord of the Rings worldview and its roots in Luddism.

ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT isn't flying

ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT isn't flying commercial, for what are described as "security reasons." And given the (putative) role of Justice in fighting terrorism, and Ashcroft's own Pim-Fortuyn-like demonization in the press, maybe that makes sense.

On the other hand, I'd prefer if the guys who subject us to all that lousy and pointless security rigamarole at airports had to go through it themselves. Yeah, I know, you may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. . . .

TAPPED leads the charge against

TAPPED leads the charge against political correctness at Berkeley and at the University of South Carolina.


CREATIVE COMMONS seems to be off the ground.

MELANA VICKERS delivers a near-Fisking

MELANA VICKERS delivers a near-Fisking to supporters of the Army's "Crusader" vehicle.

EVE KAYDEN writes on unpopular

EVE KAYDEN writes on unpopular opinions. I'm not surprised at her experience. While political correctness is real, it's not as prevalent as people might think: it's just that the extent to which people disagree is masked by preference falsification, which is of course encouraged by self-appointed thought police. That's breaking down now, partly because the campus left has so thoroughly discredited itself over the past decade, partly because it's just gotten, well, dull.


THE FEELING OF POWER: Sasha Volokh has a great post. If I weren't figuring out grades, I'd like it even more.

SFSU UPDATE: Bay Area denizen

SFSU UPDATE: Bay Area denizen Richard Bennett has some observations and links.


ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER GRAY DAVIS SCANDAL. This one involves the California prison guards' union, about as us unsavory a political influence as you're likely to find. I believe they're big supporters of "three strikes" laws, as you might imagine. Read this L.A. Times piece, too: "Shameless Governor Is a Compulsive Money-Grubber."

TONY ADRAGNA writes on Cuba,

TONY ADRAGNA writes on Cuba, Carter and the Farm Bill. And he has footnotes.

Footnotes. Meanwhile Walter Russell Mead says that Carter's visit to Cuba was a major blow for freedom.

SFSU UPDATE: Here's an editorial

SFSU UPDATE: Here's an editorial in the Washington Times.

BAD NEWS for the Chinese

BAD NEWS for the Chinese economy, reports Brink Lindsey.


BRENDAN O'NEILL REPORTS that it's a Fukuyama-fest in Britain. Somehow, I'm not surprised.


READER GEORGE SPENCER says that you can't fix Rolling Stone because it was never that cool anyway:

By coincidence, a few days I dug out some elderly crumbling copies of RS from the late 1960s and early 1970s. In their own dope-y way (pun intended), they're just as rubbishy as Maxim. If you're in the narrow demographic/psychographic audience that RS wants to attract, you think it's cool. If you're not in that group, RS is uncool. Advertisers would like our 40-something age group to instead read My Generation magazine, a magazine that publishes 1975 era content for mature adults. It's published by something called the AARP. A recent issue ran a feature on the late Ken Kesey in which he bragged about dropping acid every Easter and going to church with his mother. Hmmm...maybe I'll stick with the Wall Street Journal.
What? Next you'll be saying we should make our own coolness instead of getting it from a magazine!


OUBAI SHAHBANDAR says that Bush should get tough on illegal immigrants.

PUNDITREVIEW is calling it "PhotoGate."

PUNDITREVIEW is calling it "PhotoGate." Enough "gates" already.

ROD DREHER says that Holland

ROD DREHER says that Holland is being Giulianized. Will the rest of Europe follow?

JOSH MARSHALL says that Cynthia

JOSH MARSHALL says that Cynthia McKinney is still an idiot.

MATTHEW ENGEL receives a gentle

MATTHEW ENGEL receives a gentle yet savage Fisking at the hands of Clay Waters.

UPDATE: The dreaded Blogger Archive Bug strikes. Just go here until he fixes it.


ROLLING STONE RE-COOLIFICATION UPDATE: I didn't get that many nominees, which is kind of sad. There were a lot of votes for bringing P.J. O'Rourke back (he's almost respectable writing for The Atlantic, one reader complained), many nominations of Matt Welch and Ken Layne, and quite a few in support of Tim Blair.

I like all these guys, but is that it?


WHAT THE FBI SHOULD HAVE KNOWN: Lots of readers have emailed in response to my earlier post (it's neck-and-neck with the one on wrenches!), taking both sides. Here are some samples. Reader Phillipe Richard writes:

Another reason it should have occurred to somebody:

The FBI was concerned because Middle Eastern men were training in flight schools. So obviously they were concerned about planes being hijacked? Does it take flight training to hijack a plane? No. You get the pilot to fly where you want to go. That's a traditional hijacking, as Ari Fleischer puts it. So why would you need pilot training? Because you're planning to kill the pilot. Why?Because you want the plane to go somewhere no pilot, even with a gun to his head, even when you threaten to blow up the plane, would go. And you don't need pilot training to crash a plane just anywhere, just a hand. You might need to crash it into a specific target.

The fact that this went all the way up to the President suggests that somebody was awfully worried. I really fail to understand how nobody along the way could have guessed. Especially when someone all the way at the bottom did.

Howard Owens adds:
Glenn, did you ever watch the first episode of "The Lone Gunmen," the X-Files spinoff.

It will probably never air again.

It was about the Lone Gunmen foiling a plot to hijack a plane and fly it into the WTC. In this episode, it happened at night and the hijackers were using a computer, but it was the first thing I thought of on Sept. 11.

Though personally, I'm willing to cut the FBI a little slack. The mistake was in not having a centralized anti-terrorism squad that could have put the pieces together.

Yeah, there's something to that. What I find upsetting -- and, in a way, insulting, -- is the notion that the 9/11 attacks were utterly beyond imagination. Obviously, they weren't. David Hecht makes the following points:
1. The intelligence business is composed of two major parts: assessing the
adversary's capabilities, and assessing his intentions. Certainly, it is possible that our intelligence services realized that a hijacker had the capability to fly an airliner into a soft target: as you point out, anyone who had read Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honor" could not but have been aware of the possibility. The problem comes in assessing intentions: WHY would anyone do such a thing? You will note that, even in the Clancy scenario, the person who does this is a lone actor, and he succeeds _despite the fact that the US is already in a shooting war_! Given that Mr. Clancy's intel people are undoubtedly smarter and more imaginative than the ones in Real Life, what does this say about the difficulty of determining that this could be a threat?

2. Even within the framework of adversary capabilities, I do not have any doubt but that, on any given day, there are multiple potential threat indications and warnings. This has been rendered far more problematic in a post-Cold War environment where the threat axis can be virtually anywhere, rather than being limited to a few principal sources. It seems likely that, on any given day, the threat estimates emanating from our intel community must rank the threat of a 9/11 type incident as low: especially without
collateral indications and warnings (e.g., that such an effort was part of a decapitating strike complementary to other military action).

3. Let us also not forget that the threats, in this case, came from people who lived and worked in the U.S. (although they were foreign nationals). Given the hypersensitive civil-rights environment that we lived in prior to 9/11, what are the odds of our finding out what was going on and assessing it correctly? The CIA is forbidden by statute from domestic surveillance: the FBI's counter-terrorism units have been starved for funds that have been used to feed the Drug War instead. The other intel agencies are primarily
concerned with military threats of a more traditional type and might not have recognized indications and warnings pertinent to acts of the 9/11 type even if they had received them.

Kierkegaard famously said that "Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward." I think we do ourselves an injustice when we condemn intelligence "failures" until all the facts are in.

Hmm. Well, there's something to this -- but I'd feel better about adopting a "wait until all the facts are in" approach if I didn't have the strong impression that the past few months have been an orgy of bureaucratic ass-covering that will make it hard for the facts to come in. I have no confidence, at this point, that the intelligence system is being given the shakeup it needs to do the job it faces. I'd very much like to be wrong in this, and it's possible that behind the wall of secrecy everything is being done right. It's also possible that we have the same "top men" working on this as were featured at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. And I'm sorry to say that I know which way to bet.

UPDATE: Reader Marty Busse writes: "There was also the attempt, in December of 1994, by members of the Algerian Armed Islamic group, to crash a jetliner into the Eiffel Tower." Also, check out the comments section after this post of Charles Johnson's, particularly the post signed "Enough" about Cynthia McKinney-style conspiracy theorists.

SFSU UPDATE: In case you

SFSU UPDATE: In case you missed my earlier, quasi-illicit reference, my FoxNews column for today is about the SFSU riot, the University's response, and what it means for free speech on campuses nationwide.

ASPARAGIRL has identified a new

ASPARAGIRL has identified a new weapon in the war against Islamofascism.

MATT WELCH has a post

MATT WELCH has a post about people afraid to speak their mind. He asks readers if they've had that problem. I should have that problem -- I mean, I'm in the academic world and all, where most people don't think like me. But I don't.

Part of it is I grew up an academic brat, and I've heard profs spouting the bullshit-of-the-moment all my life, which provides a degree of immunity from groupthink. The guys who were free-love in 1970 were married and coaching soccer in the 1980s, while usually supporting dumb sex-harassment rules aimed at undergraduates, now that their circumstances had changed. I also find that if you act embarrassed about your opinions the sharks circle. If you don't, they find easier prey.

One of the few crusty old guys left at Yale once got visited by some students who complained about something un-PC that he had said or done. He reflected for a moment and said "Well, that might bother me -- if I cared what students thought!" They never bothered him again, but took off after the guilty liberals from then on.

KEN LAYNE posts a lengthy

KEN LAYNE posts a lengthy response to Josh Marshall's comment on the correlation between being Jewish and supporting Israel:

I'm not Jewish -- yet I couldn't be more disgusted by the tidal wave of anti-Jew/anti-Israel crap this year.

In fact, I'm a white-trash Kentucky/Louisiana kid who never even knew what a Jew was outside of Moses in the "Ten Commandments" until I moved to California as a youngster. Hell, Catholics were weird enough for me, back in New Orleans. (Yeah, I knew some priests, but they were just nice old drunks.)

I was going to excerpt more, but Layne's piece is too good to try to summarize. Just go read it.


PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a response to Michaelangelo Signorile's anti-Fortuyn diatribe.


THE FIRST BLOG STAR WARS REVIEW? Well, this one is the first that I've seen, anyway. Summary: He likes it.

KEVIN JAMES analyzes the Dutch

KEVIN JAMES analyzes the Dutch election results.

May 15, 2002

HMM. I went to this

HMM. I went to this site and I noticed it's got the same template as this site, which somehow struck me as very weird. It's especially weird when you toggle between them and forget for a second which one you're reading.


CARTER, IN WISCONSIN, SEES NO EVIDENCE OF CHEESE: Andy Borowitz skewers our peripatetic former Chief Executive:

Fresh from his successful fact-finding trip to Cuba, former President Jimmy Carter visited Wisconsin today and said that he found “no evidence of cheese” anywhere in the state.

“I am confident that there is no cheese anywhere in Wisconsin,” Mr. Carter said after completing his tour of the state’s dairy farms, cheese-making facilities and cheese storage warehouses. . . . In addition, Mr. Carter said, the secret service had recently changed his code name to "Mr. Magoo."

While Mr. Carter said that he was looking forward to briefing President Bush about his visits to Cuba and Wisconsin, White House sources said the President had no intention of meeting with Mr. Carter, and would instead try to trick the former President by having him talk to a hand puppet operated by senior advisor Karl Rove.

Ouch. And this is from a guy who's on NPR!


POSTWATCH IS A NEW BLOG devoted to keeping an eye on, what else, The Washington Post.

TAPPED is too easy on

TAPPED is too easy on Ashcroft -- or at least on the FBI, an organization that is usually -- for better and worse -- only under nominal control from the Department of Justice. But this language is unfairly nice to both:

It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback on this sort of thing. Certainly it would have been hard, before 9/11, to take seriously the idea of terrorists flying a plane into the World Trade Center.
This is the part that makes me mad, and I heard quite a few FBI and antiterrorist folks say this. But it shouldn't have been hard at all to imagine such a thing. First, I've flown into New York many times, and never looked down without noticing how close those buildings were and how easily a plane could crash into them. (And who hasn't played Flight Simulator and done that?)

Second, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two Columbine killers, had planned to hijack a jetliner and crash it into Manhattan -- I don't know if they mentioned the WTC or not, but that hardly matters. Surely the FBI's heard of them? Mightn't that have made the idea just a trifle more imaginable?

Third, the FBI knew there were suspicious people in flight school, and was told by Moussaoui's flight instructor, as part of his extensive lobbying efforts (!) to get the FBI interested in the case, that a loaded airliner was a fearsome weapon. And they had similar, if not quite as explicit, warnings from people at the Phoenix flight school.

Fourth, crashing a plane into a building (the Capitol) is in a friggin' Tom Clancy novel for chrissakes!

Now, the dangers of Monday-morning quarterbacking are real. It might be that the FBI couldn't have stopped these guys no matter what. But if they really couldn't imagine anyone doing anything like crashing a plane into the World Trade Center, then we should fire them and hire someone a little more, um, imaginative.

And for not doing that, Ashcroft is definitely to blame.

UPDATE: Reader Kirk Parker adds: "Don't forget this other should-have-made-it-conceivable: the terrorist ring in the Phillipines that were planning to hijack a bunch of airliners and crash them. When was that exposed? 1995 or 1996, I think?" Oh, yeah. I had forgotten that one. It's hard to keep track of all the reasons they should have imagined this.

ROBERT REICH is getting $80,000

ROBERT REICH is getting $80,000 an hour to speak? How do I get that gig?

And he was only Secretary of Labor. Think how much he'd be getting if he'd gotten Treasury!


I'M PROBABLY NOT SUPPOSED TO TELL YOU THIS UNTIL TOMORROW, but my FoxNews column is up. It's about the SFSU riot.

They changed my title, though. Mine was "Broken Windows" on Campus, which I thought was better. But then, I'm a law professor, not a Professional Headline Writer.


DAVID DUKE UPDATE: Natalie Solent email:

Your "feel the love" link now gives a test message, and the name David Duke is nowhere to be found in their archives.

Boris Kupershmidt can't find it either, and speculates that Arab News have finally got wind that they are making themselves a laughing stock.

Dang. We'll have to send them some more useless idiots from the West. We've already done Chomsky, so . . . is Chris Patten available? There's always the Aryan Nations. Though the Saudis might think that means Iran.

UPDATE: Zach Barbera points out that it's still on Duke's website.


ZACHARY BARBERA links to an analysis of suicide bombings by Jane's that says there are 10 groups using the technique. He also has (scroll down) a quote from a Moroccan Muslim who said Pim Fortuyn was right about immigration.


FINGERPRINT READERS: As effective as I would have thought! Which is to say, not effective at all. Here's the original CounterPane link.

UPDATE: Reader James R. Rummel writes:

I worked for some years as a fingerprint technician for the police in Columbus, Ohio before finding a new career in mainframes. The hot thing back when I was in law enforcement was a brand new AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). This wasn't as glamorous as it sounds. It was a digital imaging system that would take pictures of fingerprints. The operator would then view the picture on a screen and manually place markers to indicate details (such as a bifurcation or ending ridge lines).

When the computer would look for a match, it would ignore the digital picture completely and just compare patterns of markers that it had in it's data base. It would alert the operator to the best matches it had, and then it would be up to the human to dig up the cards from out of filing cabinets and compare the prints using a magnifying glass. Just like it's been done for 100 years.

This isn't to say that AFIS machines aren't useful. They can search a database of millions of individual fingers and indicate possible matches in a few minutes. This can vastly speed up the matching of latent prints (prints found at a crime scene). They streamline the processing of suspects, which means that fewer wanted criminals will slip through the cracks. All of this is a good thing. But it's been my experience that the machines can't do it all by themselves. People trained in fingerprint ID will still be necessary, particularly if only one finger instead of all ten are used as a basis of comparison.

When I first heard that they were going to install AFIS machines in airports to check for terrorists I thought that it was amazing how far the technology had matured in just a few years. Now I realize that all of the hype is just enthusiasm and PR designed to sell the systems. Even if they can't do what they claim.

That, unfortunately, sums up most of the "homeland security" initiatives, as far as I can tell. I hope that things are better than they look.


HERE'S A STORY on the anti-semitic riot at SFSU from the Jerusalem Post.


IT'S SORT OF LIKE A Reader's Digest for the Web.

STEVEN DEN BESTE has discovered

STEVEN DEN BESTE has discovered another front in the war on Islamofascism. And we're doing quite well, thank you. Let's all raise our, er, glasses to a patriotic, yet underappreciated, American industry.


MEMO TO JOSH MARSHALL: I was one until some time in 1993.

PECUNIA NON OLET: Richard Bennett

PECUNIA NON OLET: Richard Bennett writes about money and blogging. I don't mind money -- if I did I wouldn't have the tip jar on the left. I don't want a boss. Give me money without a boss and I'm happy. Come to think of it, that pretty much describes being a professor.


NOW, WHO EXACTLY is the Saudi boycott of American business hurting?

MICHELLE COTTLE is pro-choice on

MICHELLE COTTLE is pro-choice on smallpox vaccination.

SFSU UPDATE: Mac Frazier has

SFSU UPDATE: Mac Frazier has this roundup of coverage. The blogosphere has accounted for most of it. It will be the topic of my FoxNews column tomorrow -- maybe that'll produce a bit more attention.

UPDATE UPDATE: SFSU may not have done anything -- other than issue a letter -- about violent action by antisemitic Palestinians, but Syracuse University is looking at suspending a fraternity, and expelling one of its members, because the member appeared in public in blackface.

That's the current state of priorities in higher education.

ATRIOS is startled to learn

ATRIOS is startled to learn that I'm not a mouth-breathing troglodyte. Uh, thanks! Maybe next he/she will figure out that I'm not a "right-winger." Gena Lewis understands why.

SUMAN PALIT says that Musharraf

SUMAN PALIT says that Musharraf is morphing into Saddam. I'm not so sure about that, but read the post, and then scroll on down.

ERIC OLSEN surveys the pathology

ERIC OLSEN surveys the pathology of suicide bombing.


TODAY'S CLONING HEARINGS are addressed in The New Republic.


SPEAKING OF ANDREW SULLIVAN, here's more proof that he can generate buzz at will. I said in a post quite some time ago that weblogs change the balance of power between authors and editors. I think this is proof. Howell Raines gets bad press all the time -- it goes with the job --but he's gotten more in the past week than in any month I can remember. All because of a couple of things Sullivan put in his weblog.

A BUMMER: InstaPundit got its

A BUMMER: InstaPundit got its start with Slate's "The Fray." That's where I first posted stuff like this. (In fact, here's a link to the first Fray post as "InstaPundit" from about a year ago).

Now Fraymistress Moira Redmond is leaving Slate to go back to Britain. "The Fray" gave rise to an awful lot of the Blogosphere (including both halves of the Quasipundit duo) and one reason is that Moira set the tone. She'll be missed.

Note to Bill Gates: It's not too late to offer her a raise big enough to keep her around!


OKAY, ORDINARILY I'D LEAVE IT TO ANDREW SULLIVAN to point up the viciousness of this column on Pim Fortuyn by Michaelangelo Signorile. But I want to point out this sentence:

In much of Northern Europe, where homosexuality has been far more accepted for far longer and has been met with little political resistance, you can even be gay and be a right-wing fascist (just like Ernst Rohm, Hitler’s SA chief in the Nazi Party, was).
So Pim Fortuyn, you see, is just like Ernst Rohm -- just another murdered Nazi, no loss to anyone. And you know those Nazis -- famously tolerant of homosexuality. Why they gave gay people special symbols to wear, to show how treasured they were.

Signorile says that the Wall Street Journal and the National Review are only talking about Fortuyn because they want to stage mass deportations of Muslims. Yeah, that must be it. It couldn't be that they were upset at seeing him tarred as a virtual Nazi, by people who couldn't bear a threat to the hermetic little political universe they had created and who thus decreed that anyone who fails to toe the line must be caricatured as the extremist. It couldn't be that.

UPDATE: Apparently the Dutch voters don't think Fortuyn was a Nazi.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Media Minded administers a thorough Fisking of Signorile's piece.


OCCIDENTAL INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING, a blog devoted to how Arabs think of the West, has found a pre-9/11 publication saying that the twin towers of the World Trade Center symbolize the global failure of Islam.


INSTA, ER, SOMETHING: My post on water shutoff valves got me an email from Bob Gordon, President of the Gordon Tool Company, which makes The Gordon Wrench, asking if that was the tool I meant. Nope. Never heard of it before. Sounds handy, though. It doesn't look like it would fit my outside shutoff valve, though -- looks more like it's made for those behind toilets and under sinks.

UPDATE: Reader Eric Rapp writes:

I have one of those. It was left behind by the previous owners of my house (along with a leaky roof, terrible plastering, and a nearly fire-inducing wiring fault in the doorbell, not that I'M BITTER!). It was very handy for turning off the toilet valve, but I don't see how it could be used for an
outside water line. On the subject of wrenches, though...

As a public service announcement for your LA readers, you may want to mention that a gas valve wrench is absolutely essential and could be a lifesaver whenever we have our serious earthquake. I'm sure they can be bought somewhere for less than 9 dollars, but even if not, 9 bucks isn't too much to pay to keep one's house from exploding, is it? (This is a serious, no foolin' danger after earthquakes. Broken gas lines pump out a lot of gas and even a tiny spark can make everything go boom fall down.)

Yes. And even in areas outside earthquake-prone California, things like floods, landslides, etc. can cause similar problems.

Several readers emailed that I seem to know a lot about tools for a law professor. Well, as with many of my talents "for a law professor" is the operative phrase there. My younger brother nursed a Sunbeam Rapier with serious fuel-system problems across the Sahara desert. I'm not in his league. (For that matter, my youngest brother has a successful metal band and a girlfriend who has posed in Playboy. I'm not in his league, either). UPDATE: Reader Bill Long writes: "I hope the post about not being in the same league as your brother whose girlfriend posed for Playboy doesn't get you into trouble with your wife. :-)" No, she's more the Penthouse type.

UPDATE: Reader John Bruce warns not to be too quick to shut off the gas:

Your reader Eric Rapp's comment on the need for a gas valve wrench in Los Angeles needs a caveat. If you turn off your gas as a result of an earthquake tremblor (and fairly minor ones can be frightening), you may put yourself in the position of doing without hot water or a stove for an extended period, assuming your hot water heater and appliances run on gas and have old-style pilots.

Based on experience in the 1971 and 1994 quakes, actual breaks in home gas lines are pretty rare, and you can tell if you have one by hissing and a bad smell. If that's the case, definitely turn off the gas outside. But if you panic like many folks in a quake, turn it off unnecessarily, and don't know how to relight your pilots (often takes a very long match or a special dohickey), you may have to wait a week or more for the gas man to make it to your place and do the relight -- as you reflect on the virtues of hot water and hot food.

One problem in the 1994 quake was local "heroes" who quickly ran up and down the block turning off folks' gas FOR them. Dumb guys come in all shapes, sizes, and circumstances.
Yeah, it's a mistake to turn it off unless you have good reason to suspect a leak.

UPDATE: Still more plumbing tales of woe from my Spoonerist alter-ego. And there's even a Gray Davis corruption scandal angle.

WALTER SHAPIRO says we're way

WALTER SHAPIRO says we're way too complacent about the possiblity of terrorist attacks in the United States.

I think he's right. But I also think that most Americans think, as I do, that the best way to protect against terrorism is to kill or (where possible) neutralize terrorists and their supporters before they leave home. And we've made a good start on that road, though we have much more work to do.

UNREMITTING VERSE deserves more links,

UNREMITTING VERSE deserves more links, according to Bill Quick.

BINGE HYSTERIA: Dave Kopel points

BINGE HYSTERIA: Dave Kopel points out that today's Senate hearings on college binge drinking are a waste of time and money. Well, he says it better than that:

Not that Congress has any legitimate constitutional power over the subject -- as the Twenty-first Amendment (repealing the grant of Congressional power over alcohol) makes clear. The witnesses consist exclusively of supporters and instigators of the current moral panic about college drinking. The hearing is obviously a platform for expanding federal pork to pay for more "counselors" and other neo-prohibitionist busybodies on college campuses. The alleged statistics about "college binge drinking" are, as I detailed, in a Rocky Mountain News column, utterly bogus. Among other flaws, these statistics define "binge drinking" in such an absurdly broad way as to encompass people who aren't legally intoxicated or impaired. By the neo-prohibitionist definition, a woman who attends a three-hour Passover Seder and drinks the ritual Four Cups of wine is a "binge drinker." The real binging problem involves power-intoxicated bureaucrats and politicians who can't resist the temptation to intrude themselves into matters which, for federal officials, are none of their business.
I wish I could buy Dave a beer.

BRENDAN O'NEILL says it's not

BRENDAN O'NEILL says it's not a war for oil.

He's right. His reasoning, however, reminds me of when some reporter asked Grant Gilmore if the Yale Law School faculty was factionalized. Oh, not at all, he said. We're not nearly well-organized enough to form factions.


STEVE CHAPMAN -- AKA DADDY WARBLOGS is pretty ticked off at the Blogosphere (including me) for not rising to Robert Fisk's defense. (No, there's no irony here -- read his post and scroll up to read a followup).

I certainly agree with Chapman that it's bad to threaten people for their speech. Perhaps it's because I don't take actors seriously, but I didn't take John Malkovich's statement any more seriously as a threat than I took Alec Baldwin's comments about leaving the United States if Bush were elected seriously as a promise. I'd certainly oppose Fisk's being silenced, but -- leaving aside Malkovich's comments -- he's mostly being ridiculed. It's true, as Chapman says, that my commentary on Fisk's piece didn't go into much detail. But, honestly, can you really accuse the blogosphere of not dissecting Fisk's statements thoroughly enough? At some point, it ceases being worth the trouble. What struck me about Fisk's piece was the whining self-pity, and that's what I was responding to. And I think it's a bit over the top to say that having my family killed would be trivial by comparison to 9/11, so it's wrong for me to suggest that nasty email is trivial. I'm sure that Chapman doesn't mean his language as a threat to silence me. And I don't think the blogosphere's comments about Fisk fall into that category either. Nor, for that matter, do I think that Malkovich's comments qualify as a threat, any more than Jane Fonda's remarks about wishing that she had a B-52 in her sights mean that she planned to come back to America and murder servicemen. He's an actor, for chrissake and they tend to be overdramatic.

UPDATE: Reader Ross Fitzgibbon provides some context on the Malkovich threat:

On a Station in Britain called Five Live, [Fisk] was basically repeating what he said in that column you linked to the other day, ie poor him, nasty John Malkovich, nasty Americans, Brave little Fisky. Anyhow after one of the studio guests whose name escapes me accused malkovich of inciting racial hatred, (Robert Fisk counts as a race?!), and Fisk had left, a student who was at the Cambridge Union address where J.M. made his comments called in with the true story.

Apparently in a Q&A session after [Malkovich's] talk an audience member asked whom he would most like to fight to the death, to which JM replied Fisk or George alloway. This is the death threat that Fisk was blubbing about. The presenters sounded suprised by this as they had only heard the version that Fisk has been pumping out. Still something struck me, [Fisk] made the point that the "Afghan refugees whose families had been killed by US bombing" who attacked him were justified because they thought he was American. Um is that not inciting violence against Americans?

Sounds like it to me, but I don't pretend to be objective where Fisk is concerned. Or at least, my judgment of any statement he makes is colored by my knowledge of the others he's made.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Quick responds to some comments Chapman made about his post. I should stress that I think Chapman's a smart, decent guy. Which is what makes him worth responding to.

H.D. MILLER compares David Duke's

H.D. MILLER compares David Duke's statements about the mideast, etc., with those of Noam Chomsky and Ted Rall. Hmm. You know, you never see those guys photographed together. . . .

DAVID POLAND suggests that the

DAVID POLAND suggests that the solution to Rolling Stone's malaise is to quit working so hard to put T&A on the cover and get some great writers like Andrew Sullivan. Not a bad idea. I'd add my faves Welch & Layne to the list of suggestions. Any other modern gonzo journalism types that RS should hire? Send me your suggestions. Note: Don't bother sending Fisk & Pilger.


YOU DON'T HEAR MUCH about the fact that Pim Fortuyn's successor is black. I wonder why?

UPDATE: Oops. They replaced him with someone else last week. In The Prowler's defense, and mine, Valera still shows as the number 2 guy on the party website. Thanks to Atrios for emailing the correction. Hey, I don't guarantee not to make mistakes -- just to fix 'em when I discover 'em.


I DON'T WANT JAMES LILEKS TO FEEL BAD. SO HERE. But I have to say that I think people are making too much of this stuff. I mean, if Lileks can succumb, who among us is safe?

COLONIZING MARS: What about the

COLONIZING MARS: What about the environmental impact statement? My TechCentralStation column for this week is up.


DANIEL SILLIMAN SAYS that Howell Raines' embargo on Andrew Sullivan is really a tribute to the power of the Blogosphere:

Anybody can take on the Times, many have done it in all sorts of media, the significance is in the violent reaction. The New York Times actually cares what Andrew Sullivan says about it. Sullivan—little Sullivan with his daily ramblings on his funny media and his beagle and his personal life on the page and his strange diversions into circumcision and just weird topics—is a player with enough weight to concern the New York Times.
Interesting point.


FISKING OF THE DAY: Howard Owens identifies another silly, anti-American British journalist. No car companies left in Britain, but they've got a very strong position in the anti-American Twit market.


INSTA-POWER EXTENDS TO HARDWARE: Well, sort of. Reader Mark Cridland writes:

This evening I purchased an emergency gas/water valve shutoff "tool." It's not a $3.99 wrench, but a T-shaped metallic and rubber-encrusted piece with several mysterious extrusions. Here in LA, it cost nine dollars at a Home Depot outlet. Did you ever describe the crisis that compelled you to suggest this? I'm a new homeowner and I trust your judgment about many things, but the triggering anecdote might have been missed in your daily flurry of postings.
You know, I posted the advice to buy one of those but I don't think I ever followed it up. I guess I was just trying to forget.

Well, Mark, as a new homeowner you should know that water where there shouldn't be water is one of the homeowner's bigger nightmares. In my case, it started dripping out of the breakfast nook's ceiling, rather suddenly and accompanied by an ominous bulge in the paint and sheetrock. Because of the location, I was pretty sure it was a leaking supply pipe. So I shut off the water to the house and called Advance Plumbing (yeah, like that helps all of you -- but they're honest and good and fast).

It turned out to be a leaking toilet. The water was running down the back of the tank and into the floor, where you wouldn't see it unless you got a flashlight and looked closely. It then apparently followed the line of the supply pipe for several feet before emerging into (and from) the ceiling above the breakfast nook. So I could have solved the problem by just shutting off the valves at the toilet. But there was wet carpet on the 2d floor directly above the leaky ceiling, which made me assume the leak was in the pipe. I should have known better -- water leaks often appear at some remove from the actual source of the water. Had I checked more thoroughly, I wouldn't have needed to turn off the water to the house.

But on the other hand, there's something to be said for turning off the water fast when it's emerging from your ceiling, rather than poking around in an effort to solve the mystery while it's still flowing.

But if you've got a burst pipe (and a really bad one can collapse a ceiling, or blow out a wall, and do considerable damage in very short order) you'll want to turn off the water to your house yourself, and you won't want to wait an hour for a plumber or some guy from the water company to do it. And that goes triple for gas. Take a few minutes to find out where you do the shutoff, and to be sure your tool fits where you'll actually have to use it. Sooner or later, sad to say, you'll probably need to know this.

Oh, and Home Depot is fine, but that price difference between them and Harbor Freight is pretty much standard. There's a several-acre (and I don't exaggerate) Harbor Freight place here, but they're mostly mail-order. (I think the only other one is in Camarillo). Warning: If you get their catalog, you'll find all sorts of tools you need. And they're so cheap it's easy to convince yourself to buy them.

POOR AL GORE. He's getting

POOR AL GORE. He's getting savaged by both Andrew Sullivan and TAPPED for his remarks about George Bush's use of a presidential photo in fundraising.

Well, actually, "savaged," isn't really the right word. How about "called even lamer than usual." Gore just tries too hard. I mean, too hard.


I THINK THAT JOSH MARSHALL is wrong about this. After all, I'm not Jewish.


THE MAN FROM HOPE: William Sulik has some thoughts on judicial confirmations, racism (well, that's what some people would call it), and the Senate Judiciary Committee.


HOW RECORDS FLOP: even when they're great.

May 14, 2002


ERIC S. RAYMOND now has a weblog of his own. I'll be he didn't hear about Blogger on Vatican radio, though.


THE COLLAPSE OF FREE TRADE: Brink Lindsey is damned unhappy. And he should be.

MICKEY KAUS says that Andrew

MICKEY KAUS says that Andrew Sullivan is winning the PR war with Howell Raines. He then shows his Sullivan-like independence from his employer by dissing Windows XP.


"THE TYRANNY OF THE TWIT," sets out some universal rules for Web interaction. Is the blog world heading that way, too? Maybe. But the good thing about blogs is, you don't have to read the ones by twits.


SOME INTERESTING COMMENTS ON FUKUYAMA from my Libby-the-Kid alter ego. Or something like that.


BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Dawson, whose site used to do weird stuff to my browser but doesn't anymore, has a lovely juxtaposition of photos. Well, maybe "lovely" isn't quite the right word.


HERE'S A NEW BLOG by a Catholic priest in Boston who's sharing his experiences in the middle of a godawful mess. The best thing (scroll all the way down) -- he started it after hearing about Blogger on Vatican radio the night before. (Via Katie Granju).

JOSH TREVINO joins the blogger

JOSH TREVINO joins the blogger chorus Fisking Matthew Engel's Second Amendment piece in The Guardian.

UPDATE: Emily Jones joins in too, and pens a mock-American Journo treatment of Britain, a la Engel, to boot.


LYNN KIESLING WRITES that gas prices are rising, and that's ok: it's just the market at work. She's right, of course, but it's a good thing she's not running for office.

RICH HAILEY observes that Bill

RICH HAILEY observes that Bill Clinton isn't paying his legal bills.

GO VISIT Dr. Frank or

GO VISIT Dr. Frank or Gary Farber and give 'em some money if you're so inclined. Word is that they're kinda short. On cash, I mean. I don't know how tall they are.

TED BARLOW recalls a delightful

TED BARLOW recalls a delightful Larry Niven essay on Superman's sex life, the aptly-titled Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.

CATHY YOUNG says the tide

CATHY YOUNG says the tide is turning on bogus campus sex codes. Personally, I think the Clinton presidency destroyed the credibility of anti-sex feminism -- all that talk about the "inherently coercive nature" of relationships featuring "power imbalances" dried up real fast once the Lewinsky story broke.

This poll by Gena Lewis over at Spinsters certainly supports that. Er, at least it would, if Internet polls meant anything.


JUDGE JAILS WEBSITE PUBLISHER: Judge should be impeached.

UPDATE: And the anti-deep-linking thugs at Rodale Press's Runner's World should, er, trip over their shoelaces or something.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Hobbs writes:

Being that I'm a journalist and my father-in-law is a Pulitzer-winning editor who now is chairman of the Freedom Forum, a leading First Amendment/free press foundation, you'd think I'd have a good grasp of the First Amendment. But apparently I missed the day in my Communications Law class where they discussed the little-known "Seattle Clause" hidden in the Bill of Rights that says the First Amendment's free press rights are only for people who got paid for their writings. Naively, I thought the First Amendment was for everyone, even cantankerous Brits living in Seattle.

So, I have a solution we bloggers can give Mr. Trummel. As soon is his lawyer springs him, he should put a donations box on his website, and we can all donate a buck or two and then he will be a "paid" journalist, covered by even the Seattle version of the First Amendment.
Sounds good to me. Hobbs has the judge's email, too, if you'd like to pass on your thoughts about the First Amendment.


TONY PIERCE REVIEWS the new Weezer album. You won't hear a bad word from me, since Brian Bell's my neighbor. Well, only technically. Actually, it's his mom.


ORDINARY PALESTINIANS may finally be catching on:

In a bid to re-establish his leadership along the war-ravaged West Bank, Mr. Arafat set out to tour three of the areas hardest-hit by a six-week Israeli military offensive.

But instead of adoring crowds, he found people grumbling with discontent and some openly criticizing his leadership. . . .

"Those who count the strokes are different from those who are being beaten," scoffed Abdullah Issaid, a 34-year-old businessman. "All the Arab leaders have abandoned us and now it seems he too is abandoning us."

Karina Bakleezey, a 64-year-old grandmother whose house was demolished last month in the Israeli invasion, wept in frustration.

"Our homes have been destroyed and we have lost our men," she cried. "I want to tell him about my house and how my life has been destroyed. Now, only God can deliver us. I rely only on God.

"I am angry at the whole world," she continued bitterly. "I am angry at the Arab countries more than the Jews. They just watched us while we tried to defend our land."

Abdulla Nasharate, 34, pushed his way through the crowd, demanding to be heard.

"This is absurd," he fumed. "He [Arafat] is responsible. A government that can't protect its own people should not stay in power. Arafat should have come and stayed with us here, when he first got out. But he doesn't come. I think he doesn't care."

I like the spin from an Arafat spokesthug, though:
"Many people came here and there was chaos," Mr. Al Shati said. "If you love somebody, sometimes you can love him to death."
Hmm. Puts a whole new slant on "Love thy enemy," doesn't it?

UPDATE: Hey, and look who's backing Arafat now! Feel the love!


IN RESPONSE TO READER REQUESTS, there's now an email button at the bottom of the new Kausfiles. Hey, maybe Mickey will add his old links back, too.


THE UNBIASED MEDIA: Not hardly. This is likely to give a boost to the Los Angeles Times boycott.

STRATEGYPAGE has a bit of

STRATEGYPAGE has a bit of history that should give America's enemies pause.


MORE SECOND AMENDMENT NEWS: Eugene Volokh dissects a rather dumb piece on the Second Amendment from The Guardian. Volokh deals with the doctrine. I also note that The Guardian puts a (sic) after antigun law professor Carl Bogus's name (which really is "Bogus") and gets his law school wrong to boot. Do these Brit journalists check anything? Virginia Postrel says no, and I'm beginning to believe her.

UPDATE: A couple of readers say I'm wrong about the "sic" -- which is used in an unusual, but correct fashion -- and they're absolutely right. As one reader notes:

"Sic" only means that the passage preceding it correctly reproduces the original. Usually "sic" is used to say "That was his error, not mine." In this
case it was used to say, "That looks funny, but it's correct." Ironically, the point is that the journalist claims to have checked, despite getting the law school wrong.
Yep. My bad.


PHILADELPHIA MAILBOMB UPDATE: Reader Thomas Manning writes:

Here is a report of a second mailbox bomb found in Philadelphia this morning. Also, people seem to have forgotten about the plastic explosives and detonation cord recovered from a bus station in Philadelphia last October. The explosives were apparently abandoned in a locker on September 29. How much more of this stuff, which is far more dangerous than the mailbox bomb, is out there?


NEW YORK TIMES SNOOKERED over Chechnya. Well, anybody could have been fooled. But they should have been quicker to admit the error.


THE SAUDIS ARE BUYING POPUP ADS via Doubleclick. Oh yeah, that'll make people like 'em. Next: telemarketers calling you at dinner time to tell you why you should love the House of Saud. John Malay has a screenshot on his blog.


WHAT TO DO about SFSU's riot by palestinian supporters against peaceful pro-Israel demonstrators? Joe Katzman has a plan of action, which he says is aimed not so much at Jews as at campus conservatives. "This incident is now a test case. That case will either establish real deterrence nationwide... or it won't, and we'll see more incidents like this. That's what's at stake. The question is whether Laurie et. al. will rise to the challenge, and respond effectively. With a little help from their friends, of course, in the Blogosphere and beyond."

UPDATE: Perhaps SFSU should emulate Virginia Tech.

TAPPED IS picking on Debbie

TAPPED IS picking on Debbie Schlussel's punditry credentials because they consist mostly of being on TV. What, you need credentials to be a pundit? Oh, but it's okay: "'O'Reilly' is gold, baby, gold!" Well, thank goodness -- I've been on O'Relly!

But isn't it a bit much to follow that up with an item that basically picks on Rishawn Biddle for not being on TV? Don't worry, Rishawn: your day on O'Reilly will come. Just don't feel bad if you can't get a word in edgewise.


PHILADELPHIA MAIL-BOMB UPDATE: Reader Alan Swanson writes:

So maybe it is the anthrax guy but the NE Philly pipe bomb is much more likely related to the 19 pipe bombs or look-alikes that have been found in suburban Philadelphia over the last two years. I read about it in the local paper when I was visiting my mom a few months ago and couldn't believe that it hadn't gotten any national media exposure. Maybe it's because nobody has been injured or maybe because it started prior to 9/11. Who knows?
It's news to me. And, oddly, comforting news. We'll have to await more information.


HMM. MATT LABASH IS branching out.

IT'S SAD WHEN legends hit

IT'S SAD WHEN legends hit rock bottom.

CHRIS BERTRAM takes on British

CHRIS BERTRAM takes on British philosopher Simon Blackburn and American talking head Francis Fukuyama and finds them both deficient in candor.


ACTIVISTS FOR FOOD POISONING: Nader group Public Citizen is unhappy with a provision in the Farm bill that allows irradiated food to be labeled as "pasteurized." Never mind that food irradiation is well established as harmless, while Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens (which irradiation eliminates) kill surprisingly large numbers of people every year. Yeah, these guys care about consumers.

UPDATE: Okay, a couple of people think this is unfair, noting that irradiation isn't the same as pasteurization. That's true, I suppose -- but since the anti-irradiation folks have been making bogus claims about its dangers for years, they're not really in a position to now claim that "irradiation" is a neutral term.

AARON SCHATZ, who tracks traffic

AARON SCHATZ, who tracks traffic for Lycos emails some interesting observations on Pim Fortuyn:

Hi. I thought it might interest you, and your readers, that Pim Fortuyn came out as the #32 most-searched topic on the Internet this week, according to the Lycos 50. That is quite astonishing, given that our user base is almost entirely English-speaking (mostly American, with a clear amount of Canada, UK, and Australia traffic) and news stories rarely make it onto the Lycos 50 because people go to specific news sites rather than searching for news topics in the search engine.

Fortuyn received as many searches as Daniel Pearl's murder, for example, and Pearl only received that many searches after rumors surfaced that the videotape of his execution was available online (video, particularly video not available elsewhere, drives Internet news searches). Even the Andrea Yates case only peaked at #44 on our list.

In addition, Pim's assassin Volkert van der Graaf received more searches on Lycos last week than popular celebrities like Alyssa Milano and the Dave Matthews Band.

I think this is another demonstration that Fortuyn's murder was a very big story, even outside of Holland.

As the Rainmakers say, it's a little tiny world, just like a little tiny town.




THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT has just upheld the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action policy.

UPDATE: I'm too busy on a major writing project to say more about this, but don't miss Judge Boggs' appendix.


NEW YORK TIMES V. SULLIVAN: That's the very clever title to Nick Schulz's very clever column on the Howell Raines / Andrew Sullivan feud. Charles Murtaugh is less cheerful about the situation, though. Stanley Kurtz writes that Sullivan is more influential than The New Republic and that his success is a vindication of blogging. One thing's for sure: Sullivan's the master of buzz-generation, as all these stories prove.


A MAILBOX BOMB with a note reading "free Palestine" and mentioning Al Qaeda blew up yesterday as it was being defused.

If the palestinians want us to enter this war, well, they'd better be ready for the consequences.

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Campbell offers these thoughts:

I don't know if you're interested in a crackpot theory about this, but here goes anyway: I think it's the same guy as the anthrax guy.

I have actual reasons for thinking this, so hear me out.

The anthrax attacks were through the mail. The anthrax attacks occurred or originated along the US Route 1 corridor between Philadelphia and New York. Yesterday's bomb was also deposited in a mailbox. Yesterday's bomb was deposited just off of Route 1 in a quiet residential neighborhood in Philadelphia. The diction of the note left in yesterday's bomb is very similar (OK, it's sketchy) to that in the letters; from the Philadelphia Inquirer: 'The message attached to the package urged, "Open this now," and demanded, "Free Palestine now. Al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda."' Note the same usage of imperative sentences ending with the word "now" (i.e. the anthrax letters' "you die now").

I really wouldn't be surprised to find out it's the same guy.

Interesting. The geographic angle had occurred to me. The others hadn't. Meanwhile Rand Simberg emails: "I think that there's an excellent chance that this has nothing to do with the Middle East, but is simply an opportunistic bomber, who sees it as a way of deflecting attention from himself with spurious leads." Maybe, though that would be out of character for an "opportunistic bomber," wouldn't it?

HOWARD KURTZ writes on the

HOWARD KURTZ writes on the Andrew Sullivan / Howell Raines feud .


EVERYBODY HATES THE FARM BILL: I'm going to chime in with some words from an song about farm subsidies (no, really) called "Farmin' the Government," by the Nebraska Guitar Militia:

Other folks get welfare,
But we get aid
Don't care what you call it
Long as I get paid

They're just payin' us to live here
Payin' us not to go
Bribin' us to take the place
Of Sioux and Buffalo -- Don't go!

Farmin' the government
Plantin' long green
Welfare for white folks
Keeps us buyin' machines

The forthcoming CD is titled "Four Pickups of the Apocalypse." It's one of the projects I'm supposed to be mastering in my nonexistent spare time (because, unlike blogging, mastering takes big blocks of concentration) but maybe I'll try to put up an MP3 of the unmastered version somewhere.

UPDATE: Okay, there's a somewhat rough version here in several different formats. You may also be able to stream the song directly by clicking here.

DR. WEEVIL wants to set

DR. WEEVIL wants to set up a specialized Chomsky-debunking blog. But what if Chomsky were a one-eyed pirate, and had his own blog? I know you've been wondering that.


LIKE THE SPACE STUFF I WRITE ABOUT HERE? Then -- especially if you live not too far from Denver, or just feel like going to Denver -- you might want to check out the 2002 International Space Development Conference. If nothing else, it's a chance to meet Samizdata blogger Dale Amon. Just don't try to match him drink for drink. Hmm. Maybe I can get Kaus to loan me his Boeing for the trip.

FISK-A-RAMA: Matt Welch is collecting

FISK-A-RAMA: Matt Welch is collecting examples of atrocious errors by blogger fave Robert Fisk. Got a good one? Drop by and contribute it!

BELLESILES UPDATE: George Will's Newsweek

BELLESILES UPDATE: George Will's Newsweek column this week is about the Bellesiles fraud scandal. Excerpt:

Bellesiles’s malfeasance, although startling in its sweep, brazenness and apparently political purpose, actually reveals something heartening—a considerable strength in America’s scholarly community. Its critical apparatus is working. Scholars and their journals are doing their duty, which is to hold works of scholarship up to the bright light of high standards.

As a result, when next the Supreme Court is required to rule on the controversy concerning which Bellesiles’s book was supposed to be so decisively informative, the court’s judgment will not be clouded by Bellesiles’s evident attempt to misrepresent the context in which the Framers wrote the Second Amendment.

A number of readers have emailed me that they're afraid Emory will try to sweep the Bellesiles scandal under the rug. I don't think so.

UPDATE: In other Second Amendment news, Terry Eastland says that Ashcroft's new right-to-bear-arms stance won't make as much difference as either critics or supporters have been saying.


FORGET A WORKABLE REVENUE MODEL FOR WEBLOGS: There seems to be some difficulty in finding one for big media.

PAUL KRUGMAN'S latest column receives

PAUL KRUGMAN'S latest column receives its usual Fisking from Matthew Hoy, who's making something of a career of this.


THE TWO-EDGED SWORD: Lawyers have lodged a complaint for "inciting hatred" against Dutch politicians and press figures who called Pim Fortuyn an extremist, fascist, etc., claiming that those characterizations led to his death. (Via loudmouths).

I don't approve of "hate speech" laws, but if you're going to have them, they must be enforced evenhandedly. Which is why I hope SFSU will enforce its policies as strictly against the palestinian rioters as it would against, say, someone who made anti-black or anti-gay remarks.


LOTS OF GOOD STUFF over at Andrew Sullivan's site today.

CLONING UPDATE: At 10:00 a.m.

CLONING UPDATE: At 10:00 a.m. today, the Diane Rehm show will have a panel talking about cloning. I don't get it here, but if you do you may want to listen.

SCAM ALERT: I've gotten this

SCAM ALERT: I've gotten this message several times now:

Dear eBay member!

Your information in our eBay file, was marked (flagged) as incorrect and/or (fraudulent). To avoid any inconvenience concerning an interruption of your service membership, in future. Please take just a moment and update your eBay billing file. Remember to "doublecheck" all the fields for any possible mistakes.

There's more, with a link to a page where you can enter the information. Except that the page has nothing to do with eBay, and the message (though it appears to come from eBay) actually doesn't if you check the headers.

EUGENE VOLOKH responds to Jack

EUGENE VOLOKH responds to Jack Rakove's New York Times oped on the Second Amendment:

Prof. Rakove's view doesn't even specify what the right would mean. . . . It seems that Prof. Rakove's view must be that the right means nothing, and never meant anything -- certainly his op-ed doesn't say anything about what the right means or once meant. That's a funny way to read the Bill of Rights. Reading the Bill of Rights, as, well, securing to the people -- again, like you and me -- certain rights strikes me as a much more sensible approach.
Yes, it's always startling to me how quick some people are to dismiss one-tenth of the Bill of Rights.


OKAY, NOW THIS IS WEIRD. A rental truck with two "Israeli nationals" in it was found to have residue of explosives. That might not mean anything, as the residues could be from prior renters -- explosives are in much more common use than most people realize, and though you're supposed to have a special license, and execute special rental agreements, to haul explosives even in small quantities, people don't always do that. On the other hand, while the story says that there was residue from TNT (common), it also says there was residue from RDX plastic explosive, which I think is considerably less common. I'd also be interested in knowing whether these Israeli nationals are of Arab extraction, or not. No information on that appears in the story.

I'm also interested that the authorities thought to test the truck for explosives, which I tend to doubt is a routine thing. Am I wrong about that?

There could easily be innocent explanations for this, but it's troubling, and warrants further investigation.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

With regards to this story, I just wanted to mention that anyone familiar with moving business in Boston or New York City knows that it is completely dominated by Israelis (some even might be working their without proper documents). So, it does't strike me as odd to find out about 2 Israeli guys moving furniture in the odd morning hour (for example, my friend used an Israeli company when moving from Boston to Seattle, and I can't imagine that they must have been driving the truck with his stuff only during the day). As far as explosives are concerned, you listed all the possibilities.
Yes, that's why I don't want to make too much of this. This story seems far more worrisome.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader N.D. "Buck" Smith writes: "RDX is pretty commonly used in oil well drilling." Interesting. I know a lot about explosives for a law professor (where knowing that TNT isn't identical to dynamite makes you, well, a rocket scientist) but that's about it.

May 13, 2002

CORSAIR has some Pythonesque observations

CORSAIR has some Pythonesque observations on the Catholic Church's hardball litigation tactics.

MAX POWER points out that

MAX POWER points out that not only is Robert Fisk an idiot, but he's so clueless that he apparently doesn't realize that the "hate mail" he quotes comes from Daniel Pearl's father.

UPDATE: H.D. Miller blogged this point too.



I've been following the mounting hate on the campus of SFSU with alarm. I graduated from SFSU in 1991.

What I read today via you is horrifying.

I'm saddened and repulsed that this campus which provided me and many others with a sterling academic experience should be a home to such vile extremism.

I'd like to concur with your reader Allen Thorpe and here's the place to start perhaps:

This page explicitly defines "Hate Incidents" and makes clear and precise distinctions between Hate Incidents and 1st Amendment protected free speech. By anyone's definition I think, what occurred on campus as described by Laurie Zoloth falls under the former. This page on SFSU's site (and other pages on the SFSU Human Relations department ) clearly says that hate incidents will not be permitted:

1.Speech or actions directed at inciting or producing imminent violence will not be permitted.

2.Speech likely to incite or produce violence will not be permitted.

3.Fighting words-those by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace will not be permitted.

4.Communication, which creates, an immediate danger of uncontrollable violence is not permitted.

5.Threats of violence, assaults, phone harassment and any criminal conduct will not be permitted.

6.Conduct that targets a particular individual and is so disruptive that the behavior interferes with a student’s ability to exercise his/her right to fully participate in the life of the university.

Also, this: "Behaviors which are intolerant, insensitive or discriminatory are deemed unacceptable. As such, they shall be addressed openly, promptly and constructively by the University, its administrators, faculty, staff and students" from the Principles of Conduct for a Multi-Cultural University, contained here.

[At] the very least, this sounds like grounds for immediate expulsion of any student who assailed the Hillel group from the entire Cal State system, were it possible to accurately document who did what when. Arrests might do the trick (big wake-up call to the Department of Public Safety). Would full-blown criminal or at least civil prosecution be an option?

I know next to nothing about law. You of course would have valuable insight into this. Any chance of it working, given that it could be established that it's an actual crime?

Also, as a semi-related correlative, there's this page on their site which is either part of the problem or part of the solution...or is it both? Either way, a terribly muddled affair which helps illustrate how academic environments can be fertile ground for stupidity and hate under the guise of sensitivity.

Check the "First-Aid Skills and Resources" list and I think you'll see what I mean.

Finally, at the bottom of the page are contact phone numbers and email for relevant SFSU authorities that should probably be hearing about this.

Yes, they need to hear from everyone, and especially from alumni.

And I do think that if SFSU fails to enforce its own rules, and if students' civil rights are denied as a result, it's vulnerable to a lawsuit.

UPDATE: Pieter K must be a bigshot alumnus, as well as a cool record producer and DJ. SFSU's President Robert Corrigan has posted a letter promising prosecution of the offenders:

The demonstrators' behavior is not passing unchallenged. The University's code of student discipline and event policy allow for individual and group sanctions ranging from warning to suspension to expulsion for certain violations, and some of what took place on Tuesday may well fall within that area. Our videotaped record of the event is being reviewed now by SFSU Public Safety to note violations and identify violators so that the University's disciplinary procedures can begin. In one instance, that of a protestor who seized and stamped on an Israeli flag, the case has already gone forward. I fully expect to see other cases presented. . . .

It is a very few individuals who are fomenting this discord. Yet, as we see, their impact can be profound -- if we allow it to be. Despite the claims of some, this is not an anti-Semitic campus. But as history shows us, silence and passivity can at times of crisis be very little different from complicity.

He's certainly striking the right notes. But a little pressure should help to keep him on the right track.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has some thoughts, and some suggestions on how to keep the pressure up.


A READER SENDS THIS LINK to a story about Jimmy Carter questioning allegations about Cuban biological warfare research, and urging Cuban critics to think for themselves. Hmm. How about urging Cubans to think for themselves? But that's not allowed, is it?

The reader writes: "This story should be enough to remind anyone not old enough to remember why Carter got run out on a rail."

UPDATE: For something more intelligent (well, duh) try this piece by Matt Welch -- who'd make a much better and cooler ex-President than Carter any day.


MICHAEL PINE comments on TAPPED's post on Israeli "colonialism:"

There is a deeper problem to the throwaway line, one that gets at the heart of how the Left's obsession with race gets in the way of a truly progressive foreign policy. For there to be peace for the Palestinians and all Arabs in the Middle East, the United States and the West has to seriously engage in nation-building. Critics will call such efforts neo-colonial, and invoke the tired refrain of "white man's burden," of Americans "imposing" their values onto "brown" people. But if America's own experience tells us anything, the rule of law, freedom of expression and democracy is desired and enjoyed equally by people of all races. It's time to drop the shackles of post-colonial guilt, built off our advances in racial and gender equality and take up the Free Human's Burden - to export liberty to all.
Yeah, this whole "racism" thing is stupid. Since when did palestinians become a "race?"


ROBERT FISK IS WALLOWING IN SELF PITY. Lots of Americans died on 9/11, and Israelis are killed by terror bombers on a regular basis, but he's getting nasty email. And people are saying mean things about him on websites!

The horror. The horror.

JONATHAN CHAIT says that Israel's

JONATHAN CHAIT says that Israel's war on terrorism is working and that the reason the New York Times hasn't noticed is that "they're in the grip of a theory that helps them to ignore real-world evidence. In this case, the theory is that Palestinians resort to terrorism out of despair."

MICKEY KAUS says that The

MICKEY KAUS says that The American Prospect is like Enron . (But he adds a note to Bill Moyers: "Keep the blog!") He also adds that it's like Vietnam, and Ishtar, too! C'mon, Mickey -- do you like it, or not?


BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: Here's a report of a riot by palestinian supporters attacking pro-Israel demonstrators at San Francisco State University.

Way back in September I looked forward to the day when the benighted Bay Area would be as cosmopolitan and tolerant as Knoxville. It hasn't happened yet.

UPDATE: No sooner did I post it than I found this post from Meryl Yourish with many links and additional information.

Yourish is right to say that no university would support this kind of behavior from white-supremacist students. Why should pro-palestinian students get off easy?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Alex Bensky writes:

I am, alas, unastonished by several results of this little attempt at a pogrom: the administration has said nothing; the faculty as a group has said nothing; the papers seem to have said little, if anything; the Jewish students will never hold another public activity and are thoroughly intimidated; and the savages who run through the streets shrieking, "Kill the Jews" have won this round.

And I have to confess I'm getting a little scared. But I'm just some paranoid Jew, so who cares?

Don't get scared. Get mad. If I were on the SFSU faculty, they'd be hearing from me. Come to think of it, they are anyway. But the proper response is to turn out with a bigger march. And video cameras. And hey, if the Administration won't provide security, provide your own. The iron rule of pogroms is that as long as the victims don't defend themselves it's not a threat to public order. Once they stick up for themselves, it suddenly gets noticed and the pogrom is stopped.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Rod Dreher writes in The Corner: "One thing that strikes me about the account, which was provided by the director of the school's Jewish Studies Program, is that its author (who helped lead the peaceful pro-Israel demonstration) appears to be a garden-variety peace-and-justice multiculturalist who is genuinely shocked and saddened by the hateful display. When will the Pim Fortuyns of the American academic left stand up to this fascism?"

AND ONE MORE: Reader Allen Thorpe writes: "Maybe the school administrators need to be sued for failure to provide safety for 'academic freedom and dialogue.' Schools seem to be hypersensitive to lawsuits, and then there's the bad publicity. Wouldn't the ACLU take this case?"

MATT WELCH has some suggestions

MATT WELCH has some suggestions for how Jimmy Carter should "initiate a dialogue" with Castro on human rights.

AFGHANISTAN UPDATE: Yeah, there's still

AFGHANISTAN UPDATE: Yeah, there's still a war going on there, sort of. This successful raid seems to be fairly typical of the mopping-up operations.


TAPPED IS OFF ITS ROCKER today. First, it's demanding Stephen Ambrose's removal from his Emeritus slot at the University of New Orleans. That seems a bit harsh, since Ambrose, who is dying of lung cancer, isn't supposed to last more than a few months anyway. And Tapped also accuses Ambrose of self-plagiarism. That's an impossible crime. Plagiarism has its roots in the Latin word for "kidnapping," and self-plagiarism, like self-kidnapping, is an impossibility.

Then, in the very next post, Tapped responds to the Likud vote against a Palestinian state by saying: "No one in this country can ignore any longer that the Israeli hard right stands for colonialism, plain and simple." Um, Israel's position on the West Bank isn't that of a colonialist (unless you join with the neo-confederates in regarding the "U.S. occupation" of the former confederacy as neo-colonialism). The West Bank, after all, could be returned to Jordan (of which it was a part prior to Jordan's ill-fated decision to take up arms against Israel in the 1967 war), which would be colonialism only if one believes that the West Bank has an inherent right to independence of any state -- a view which the neoconfederates might very well share, but which seems a bit odd for The American Prospect. After all, another post disagrees with Berkeley's Snehal Shingavi, who states that "the right of Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination is not up for debate."

To Tapped, apparently, it's up for debate -- but you'll be called a "colonialist" if you take the wrong side. This isn't consistent with Tapped's usually reasonable approach. What gives?

UPDATE: A reader notes that Egypt is apparently pro-colonialism, since it doesn't want Gaza back. But, really, who would? I don't think that the Israelis want either the West Bank or Gaza. I think they just don't want people trying to kill them, unmolested, along their borders. Is this so hard to understand without trotting out hoary shibboleths like "colonialism"?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ken Summers writes:

Uh, just thought I'd ask, but if TAPPED wants Ambrose kicked out for self-plagiarism, what is their position on Michael Bellesiles? Oh, yeah - they don't have one. But the post immediately below the two you cited gives some indication of where they stand (as if it weren't already apparent). I checked, and still the only two articles mentioning Bellesiles are the original Bogus review (cheap pun intended) and one by Chris Mooney, which I
believe you have also mentioned before. Not sure if their search function includes the weblog.
Yeah, I don't remember their calling for Bellesiles' ouster either. Am I wrong?


THE DALLAS DEEP-LINKING CONTROVERSY is the subject of a point/counterpoint discussion over at TechCentralStation today.


STEVEN DEN BESTE reports an a successful war against terrorism from a few centuries ago. It may come to this again.

FLIT takes on Canadian correspondent

FLIT takes on Canadian correspondent Eric Margolis and finds him wanting.

BILL QUICK has some thoughts

BILL QUICK has some thoughts on the future of the blogosphere. He's not that persuaded by Richard Bennett's technological approach.



I first debated Chomsky in 1973, several weeks after the Yom Kippur War. Chomsky’s proposal at that time was consistent with the PLO party line. He wanted to abolish the state of Israel, and to substitute a “secular, binational state,” based on the model of binational “brotherhood” that then prevailed in Lebanon. Chomsky repeatedly pointed to Lebanon, where Christians and Muslims “lived side by side,” sharing power in peace and harmony. This was just a few years before Lebanon imploded in fratricidal disaster.
I don't like Dersh all that much, but he sure is right here.
In a subsequent debate at the Harvard Medical School, Chomsky initially denied having advocated a Lebanon-style binational state for Israel, only to have to back down upon being confronted with the evidence. He also tried to dispute the fact that he had authorized an essay he had written in defense of Robert Faurisson to be used as the forward to Faurisson’s book about Holocaust denial, but again had to back down. Chomsky took the position that he had no interest in “revisionist” literature before Faurisson had written the book. When confronted by Robert Nozick, a distinguished philosophy professor who recalled discussing revisionist literature with him well before the Faurisson book, Chomsky first berated Nozick for disclosing a private conversation and then he shoved him contemptuously in front of numerous witnesses.

This then is the man who is leading the campaign for divesture against Israel. He is joined in this ignoble effort by some who would take the money now invested in the Mideast’s only democracy and have it sent to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Cuba, the Palestinian Authority, and others who support and finance terrorism. He is also joined by a motley assortment of knee-jerk anti-Zionists, rabid Anti-Americans, radical leftists (the Spartacist League), people with little knowledge of the history of the Arab-Israeli dispute, and even some of Chomsky’s former students who now teach in Israel.

There is no intellectually or morally defensible case for singling out Israel for divestiture, and I challenge Chomsky to debate me on the morality of this selective attack against an American ally that is defending itself -- and the world -- against terrorism that targets civilians. Universities invest in a wide array of companies that have operations in countries that systematically violate the human rights of millions of people. Nor are these countries defending themselves against those who would destroy them and target their civilians. Yet this petition focused only on the Jewish State, to the exclusion of all others, including those which, by any reasonable standard, are among the worst violators of human rights. This is bigotry pure and simple, and those who signed the petition should be ashamed of themselves and shamed by others.

Chomsky is an America-hating anti-Semite whose sole organizing intellectual principle seems to be siding with genocidal cretins.

UPDATE: Reader Watt Boone writes:

Regarding "Chomsky is an America-hating anti-Semite whose sole organizing intellectual principle seems to be siding with genocidal cretins."

This all may be true. Yet he can't be anti-semitic unless he hates himself, which certainly is a possibility. He's Jewish (at least by birth) and is the son of a Hebrew scholar in NYC.

Yes, I know. But if I were Chomsky, I'd hate myself.

JEFF JARVIS has unveiled his

JEFF JARVIS has unveiled his big idea about weblogs. Check it out.


THE INSTAPUNDIT / ISRAELI ART STUDENT "SPY" CONNECTION: For months people have been asking me why I haven't written about the persistent claim that Israeli art students were travelling around the United States selling paintings -- and that those art students were really spies for Israeli intelligence. There's a pretty good wrap up of the story here. I haven't written about it because I haven't seen anything very compelling -- and because (here's the scoop, hold on to your hats in the unlikely event that you're wearing a hat) I've actually met them and own one of their paintings!

Yes, we were visited by some Israeli art students -- at least that's what they said they were -- who went door to door in our neighborhood. It was something over a year ago. We were almost the only ones in the neighborhood who would even let them in, but they were obviously genuine Israelis based on their accents and general bearing, and they sure seemed like art students to me. We chatted about techno music (they liked it; I gave 'em a Mobius Dick CD), and they sold us a painting at an inflated price, but my wife liked it and them and it went well with the decor in our den.

So what does this prove? Well, nothing, really. Were they art students or spies? Well, they looked and acted like art students, a breed with which I have some familiarity. But of course, really good spies would have, too! There were no short-wave radios or Uzis protruding from their backpacks, they didn't mutter suspicious comments in code, and they didn't ask about sensitive military matters. (The girl left her gloves behind, which a spy probably wouldn't do -- unless they contained sophisticated undetectable listening devices. I didn't detect any, but then I wouldn't detect an undetectable listening device, now would I? ("More proof that they're spies!" shouts Justin Raimondo).)

But of course, there's nobody in my neighborhood with a sensitive government job (unless it's so sensitive I don't know about it!). And there aren't any secret military bases around here that are worth spying on (unless they're so secret I don't know about them!). So the whole thing seems bogus to me. My sense was that it was, well, not a con exactly, but a way to extract too much money for ordinary art work from people disposed to be sympathetic to Israeli art students, a group that they seemed to feel was kind of small here in Knoxville. The girl was very cute, which might be proof that she's a spy sent to entrap vulnerable American men with her feminine wiles, except that most college-age Israeli women I've met were equally cute, and I rather doubt that they were all spies. I can attest to the art-student part of the story, but the whole spy aspect has the feel of an urban legend. I could be wrong, but my impression was that these folks were after money, not secrets. And now you don't really know any more than you did before, which is why I held off posting this story until now.

UPDATE: Reader Kenneth Nunney writes: "You naive man...don't you see that the Israelis who came to see you were real art students, clearly sent here to act as interference for the real spies who were just pretending to be art students. And I thought you were smart." But of course! The fact that the ones who came to see me were real art students proves that there were spies operating in the United States disguised as art students! I see it all now. . . .


THE NEW YORK SUN is gaining subscribers -- and one reason seems to be the boycott of the New York Times by people who don't like the anti-Israel tilt of its mideast reporting and editorializing. It seems to me that a certain in-the-works Los Angeles newspaper is likely to benefit from the same phenomenon. Roni Blau, call your office!


THERE'S A FREE EXCERPT from Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power over at OpinionJournal. I read the book a few weeks ago when it came out, and found it both enjoyable and informative. I think that the future is going to look more like the more distant past that Boot describes than the comparatively aberrational Cold War period.


SPEAKING OF KAUS, he emails that he's afraid that people are going to start taking my tongue-in-cheek remarks about "megabucks" seriously:

I have a laptop, a cable modem, and NEXIS. I pay $100 a month -- high, I suspect -- to a good server (Modern Solutions) in Reno, Nevada. That's about it. No employees. No interns. On cold winter days, I sometimes have to walk 10 miles in the snow just to blog. Try doing that in sandals!
So there. Seriously, Slate is treating him fairly, but they haven't given him unlimited grazing rights in Bill Gates' money-pastures yet. So don't hit him up for money.

MICKEY KAUS says Andrew Cuomo

MICKEY KAUS says Andrew Cuomo is the victim of a "completely bogus identity-politics ambush." It sounds as if Kaus is right, but it's hard for me to feel too sorry for Cuomo. The Democrats have built a whole infrastructure based on identity-politics ambushes. Now it's devouring its own. In fact, that's mostly who it devours these days.


THE RICHARD BENNETT / HILLARY CARTER FEUD is getting ugly; here's the latest installment with links back. Hey, it's only blogging, guys.

UPDATE: Eric Olsen explains the difference between trolling and being a troll.


ANOTHER SAUDI CARVE-UP SCENARIO -- you can decide what you think about this one. I think that, one way or another, the Saudi regime is in its end stage.

May 12, 2002


READER (AND KNOXVILLE EXPATRIATE) KEITH SPURGEON writes from New York with news of a Jon Stewart / Susan Sarandon faceoff over terrorism:

The activist actress urged Americans to try to learn what is behind the hate that leads to terrorist acts.

"When you have a guy who thinks the best act is to blow himself up, along with others, you have to ask, 'What leads to that?'" she asked. "And is the response more violence? A cowboy shoot-'em-up?"

Stewart immediately retorted: "Getting us to understand that is like asking black people to understand why the Klan puts on pointy white hats." He then called Sarandon a "pinko."

Affectionately. We think.

Sarandon, however, pressed on: "America is the greatest country, with a tradition of dissent." Still, Gore Vidal had trouble publishing leftist views in the current superpatriotic climate, she observed.

"He's out walking around," said Stewart. "He's not in jail."

Personally, whenever people use the terms "superpatriotic" and "cowboy" in discussing American policy, I figure they've just stepped out of a time-warp from 1969. Except that some people are the time warp: for them, it'll always be 1969.

And why is it that among the entertainment crew it's the comics who are disproportionately making sense on this stuff? Is it because they're the only ones whose jobs allow them to tell the truth?


FOR THE RECORD, ONE MORE TIME: Bill Quick invented the term "blogosphere."


SPEAKING OF VIRGINIA POSTREL (which I am in the update just below), if you're interested in signing her petition against the anti-cloning legislation click on that link and go for it. Time's a-wastin'.

MARK DB (of Minute Particulars

MARK DB (of Minute Particulars fame) writes about the Newsweek blog article I mentioned earlier:

A two-year old $400 computer? That got me thinking: a free web host with Blogspot, a free blog template, a few bucks for blogger Pro . . . you seem to be the Anti-Kaus in not selling out or putting any monetary investment into InstaPundit. I'm sure that you have the lowest overhead of any of the Blogger Big Guns. Doesn't Sullivan have an intern or two? And NRO must have a gaggle of support folks. I think your financial nonchalance speaks volumes about what blogging was and still can be. Maybe you should put the Blogger banner back and lower the bar even further?
Well, I wouldn't even try to match Kaus's megabucks operation. What makes it even better is that the $400 computer is . . . an eMachine! I may actually upgrade soon, but I have to say that (for me at least) the low-budget DIY esthetic has always had a lot of appeal. One of InstaPundit's roles has been to show that anybody can do this stuff. And I think I've accomplished that. Heck -- I get email with, ahem, variations on that theme all the time!

As one journalist said to me: "Your site's a pure content play, right? I mean, there isn't really anything else to draw people there." Nope, there's not.

UPDATE: Virginia Postrel writes to ask what about the laptop I bought with the tipjar money last fall. I use it, too -- but Levy asked what computer I did the majority of my posts from, and that's this one. It's the one with the DSL connection. I often blog from the laptop upstairs, and of course I post from my office sometimes too, but there's no doubt that the majority of my posts come from this eMachine. It also handles audio processing (mastering, etc.) quite capably -- though it's got a soundcard/breakout box combo from Echo that is worth more than the computer to help with those tasks.

A decade or two ago, of course, they'd have called it a "supercomputer." But it just underscores what Stewart Brand said back in the early 1980s: a personal computer is a communications device, first, second and third.


KNOXVILLE BLOGGER BASH: Well, not much of a "bash," but a nice late lunch today with Knoxville bloggers Rich Hailey and Gena Lewis. Katie Granju was invited, but couldn't make it. Why are bloggers always such nice interesting people?


THE BLOGGER FORMERLY KNOWN AS SARGE writes about being a victim of anti-gay prejudice.


STOP IT, DOCTOR, YOU'RE KILLING ME: The real Patch Adams doesn't sound very funny.


BLACKS, WHITES, AND MIXTURES OF THE TWO are turning up in surprising ways as DNA studies are being done.


MORE EVIDENCE OF FBI INEPTITUDE: Prior warning (well, kind of) of the 9/11 attacks.


ANOTHER GRAY DAVIS FUNDRAISING SCANDAL -- Since this story's in the L.A. Times it may break through into national coverage.

Gov. Gray Davis, whose written policies warn aides against mixing policy and politics, used his Capitol office and had a top government aide with him when he requested a $1-million campaign donation from the California Teachers Assn., people who attended the Valentine's Day meeting said. . . . "We were talking about various kinds of things, legislation and problems," Johnson said. "In the middle of the conversation, sort of out of the blue, he said, 'I need $1 million from you guys.' "
I'm not in a position to judge how much political damage this will do to Davis, but it can't be helping. What I wonder is, why are the union representatives telling people about this?


FROM PLANKTON TO PUNDIT: That's how Steven Levy characterizes my trajectory in the Blogosphere, in this story on weblogs from Newsweek. It's flattering, though as a SpongeBob fan I find it a bit troubling to be compared to plankton. . . .

LAWRENCE HAWS explores what it

LAWRENCE HAWS explores what it means to be a humanitarian organization these days.


YALE PUNDIT FISKS CHOMSKY: It's easy, but fun. The Harvard Crimson is a bit nicer about it but still basically reaches the conclusion that Chomsky is a fool.

PERHAPS the American press will

PERHAPS the American press will be less supportive of the International Criminal Court now that a Washington Post reporter is being subpoenaed. The Post says that's a violation of the First Amendm... oops!

SAMIZDATA wants a U.S. Senator

SAMIZDATA wants a U.S. Senator for Britain. Hmm. Methinks they're taking this Jim Bennett "Anglosphere" stuff too far.

But then again, Disney has a Senator in Fritz Hollings, and it's not even a country. So what the hell.

DAVID TELL writes about the

DAVID TELL writes about the Saudi terror subsidy.


A ROOF COLLAPSE at the Baikonur Cosmodrome has killed quite a few people.

JOHN ELLIS calls Howell Raines'

JOHN ELLIS calls Howell Raines' banishment of Andrew Sullivan from the NYT Magazine "idiotic," but notes:

This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Raines regime. The Rainesian management model resembles a kind of anti-network; in which an ever-smaller number of people are engaged in the guidance and definition of the enterprise. As the network narrows, the center (Raines and his management team) grows in importance. At its worst, this kind of management leads to the Sun God management system, in which The Great Leader is surrounded by adoring sycophants. Raines is a prime candidate to fall into this trap, since his ego needs greatly exceed his management skills.
Ouch! I can't speak to Raines' management skills except to note that the Times seems to be getting steadily smugger, sloppier, and more biased. Of course, it may just be that I'm paying closer attention.


CORNEL WEST UPDATE: Via Bill Quick, I found this Harvard Crimson piece from Friday:

Is Cornel West a bigot? Depends on whose standards you’re using. A professional victimologist would immediately red-pencil a statement like this one: “I think in one sense that Larry Summers is the Ariel Sharon of American higher education.” After all, Summers is Harvard’s first Jewish president, and the metaphor seems to hint at Jewish collusion and conspiracy, a lurid pact by powerful Jews to oppress minorities.

Or, you might just say it was Cornel West mouthing off again. There isn’t a whit of evidence West is an anti-Semite; he even coauthored a book entitled Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin with his good friend Rabbi Michael Lerner. A reasonable person would give him the benefit of the doubt.

The point, of course, is not that the former Fletcher University Professor is a closet racist, but rather that when one goes looking for racism, it seems to pop up everywhere. Better to reserve condemnation for those who truly merit it—“racist” is too serious an epithet to be tossed about offhandedly.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop West from doing just that to his erstwhile boss. When National Public Radio’s Tavis Smiley asked him whether he thought Summers’ criticism was motivated by race, West declared primly, “Of course, I have not invoked this particular factor as an explanatory one”—then immediately added, “But at a certain point you say to yourself, Good God, if it quacks like a duck and it walks like a duck, there’s a very good chance that it is a duck, and so there could be actually some unconscious or conscious elements at work here, and I would leave that up to the soul of Summers himself.” At another point he said, “His attack on me was the wrong person, the wrong professor and the wrong Negro.” While he never outright called Summers a Klansman, the message was perfectly clear.

West is playing an ugly game. He would prefer that the petty bickering of two headstrong academics be seen as a parable about a white power structure uniting to silence a noble black truth-teller. That might satisfy some of his apparently endless penchant for self-pity, but it threatens to poison legitimate racial progress at a university he claims to love.

Yep. The evidence would indicate that West is a selfish, race-baiting narcissist, but of course, I have not invoked this particular factor as an explanatory one. But at a certain point you say to yourself. . . .

May Princeton have joy of his company.


LOOKS LIKE EUROPE IS getting behind the notion of invading Iraq. Yeah, you read that right:

A majority of the European Union's 15 nations are now expected to support President George Bush's plans for "regime change" in Iraq, and many of them are prepared to offer military support, a conference of American and European scholars on transatlantic relations concluded Saturday.

"The mood in France has changed after the dramas of the presidential election campaign and the bombing in Karachi that killed 11 French naval engineers last week," said Jean Haine, who teaches international relations at Paris's prestigious Sciences Po Institute. "Indeed, I expect France to seek to rejoin NATO's unified military command later this year."

It's not all beer and skittles, as you'll see if you read the whole piece, but it's a lot better news than I expected. It certainly illustrates the stupidity of the Karachi bombing.

UPDATE: Den Beste says that the Europeans are just recognizing who they're really dealing with.


MORE HATE IN HOLLAND: A Christian Democrat politican has been attacked in the Netherlands, reports Zachary Barbera. He opposes immigration.


I'M NOT DEAD YET! Matt Welch sent this email in response to the Bennett post:

It's weird; we didn't get all that much from the U.S. News & World Report thing (which had two links to LA Examiner) ... yet you still dominate my referrals list. Wanna know by how much?

Well, here's the (rounded) data from May (minus three days), which is utterly typical as far as your influence:

InstaPundit 8300
Dynamist 900
Volokh (!) 700
Layne 300
Reason/Nader 250
Kausfiles 200 100
Tim Blair 100
Havrilesky 100

In April, you outranked the next biggest referrer 21,000 to 1,500.

Note how rapidly Volokh has risen from nowhere. The blogosphere hasn't yet jelled into immobility; quality posts get you attention.

FEAR OF GUNS: It's addressed

FEAR OF GUNS: It's addressed by Eugene "guns can be fun" Volokh.


NOW THIS ARTICLE IN SALON has what sounds like an interesting blog-related app:

Punch up a URL and if Jason, or Andrew Sullivan, or Sopsy has an opinion about that page, you see their comments in a floating window alongside your main browser window. It's a simple enough trick: Sites like Blogdex are already tracking blog-borne references to different URLs. All your browser would have to do is send an additional request to a database of blogged URLs anytime you pulled up a page: If there's a match -- if one of the bloggers you're following has referenced the URL -- their comments get sent back to your machine and appear in the floating palette.
I'd pay for something like that. Is this what Bennett has in mind? It doesn't sound the same, but he's been sufficiently coy that I can't be sure.