August 17, 2002

DANIEL TAYLOR is still in the ICU, though doing a bit better. There are daily reports on his blog from his wife, Oreta. Leave a get-well message in the comments if you like -- she's reading them to him in the hospital.

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY UPDATE: Reader Martin Grace lives in Atlanta, and has this report about Robert Redford campaigning for Cynthia McKinney:

My wife just got a phone call from Mr. Redford (one of those prerecorded campaign phone calls) plugging Ms. McKinney for next week's primary election here in De Kalb County. Louis Farrakhan and Robert Redford. Who'd of thunk it?

Well, I've never seen them photographed together. . . .

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has an observation on Marxism and the Gore campaign.

IT'S A LESSIG-O-RAMA over at Brad De Long's page, with links and info on copyright from Larry Lessig.

TALKLEFT has a new URL. Set your bookmarks accordingly.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO ATTACK BUSH for going too easy on Saudi Arabia, predicts Silflay Hraka, whose case looks pretty strong in light of today's Frank Rich column, Rich being a near-infallible conventional-wisdom weathervane where the Democratic establishment is concerned.

If so, well, Bush was warned. Repeatedly.

HOLY SH*T! As of 7:32 this morning, 6837 people had downloaded the Lindgren piece on Bellesiles.

And I thought the 1600 or so who downloaded the two articles of mine that I put up earlier was a lot. The Web seems to be an underappreciated tool for the dissemination of legal scholarship.

WE HAD AN ANTIWAR PROTEST IN KNOXVILLE YESTERDAY, right across from the law school. It was one rather overweight and unkempt guy with a handwritten sign that said "U.S. OUT OF" followed by an illegible list of scrawled country names. There was also a "honk for peace" sign. I didn't hear anybody honk, and I didn't see anyone give him the finger, either. It was like he wasn't even there.

The law school, I should note, has been displaying an enormous American flag since September 11.

MY DAUGHTER IS WATCHING CINDERELLA II on video as I write this. Like most of the Disney remakes, it's not a patch on the original. But the theme is relevant to the times: Cinderella is now the Princess, scandalizing the very European-accented aristocrats (Cinderella, of course, sounds quite American) with her egalitarian approach to the commoners, her choice of banjo-and-fiddle music in place of waltzes, etc., etc. The aristocrats huff and puff about how crass this is, and how such things aren't done, but their huffing and puffing is, of course, impotent, and they are left to fume on the sidelines.

Sounds familiar.

MUGABE UPDATE: His financial mismanagement (er, and corruption) has reached the point that he's deeded over his embassy in London to Qaddafi to cover bad oil debts. The good news is, Libya's own state oil enterprise is close to bankruptcy, in part from covering for Mugabe's profligacy. I also learned something I didn't know: the land seized from white farmers has been deeded over to Tripoli to cover bad debts. New slogan for Zimbabwe: "No land for oil!"

THE MORAL BANKRUPTCY OF SUBURBAN MAHATMAS: That's the subject line in an email directing me to this post about those who want moral superiority on the cheap.

August 16, 2002

THIS PIECE ON FANTASY IDEOLOGY AND AL QAEDA has been linked by a lot of blogs, but people keep emailing me asking why I haven't linked it. So here it is.

HERE'S A NASTY LITTLE BIT OF HATE from Juan Andrade in the Chicago Sun-Times. Mr. Andrade is not only hateful -- he's ignorant. Here's what he says about Charlton Heston:

In his taped remarks, Heston compared himself and his own resolve to John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan: three of the most revered names in America. He has nothing in common with any of them, save for Reagan, with Alzheimer's.

No, nothing in common at all -- except that Heston marched with King. (Here is a photo of Heston with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte during the 1963 March on Washington).

As the antigun folks get more desperate, they get nastier. And this is pretty nasty. (Thanks, I guess, to reader Zachary Barbera for pointing it out).

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has a much lengthier post on this piece, which he characterizes as "blind hatred."

And just to make Mr. Andrade's day, I'll link to the Charlton Heston Online Shrine and to Heston's speech at Harvard Law School on culture wars. I usually don't like the "war" metaphor there, but Mr. Andrade's piece certainly sounds like something coming from the bunker, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Some people have been sending polite letters to the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, with which Andrade is affiliated, suggesting that this piece reflects badly on the Institute.

I'VE JUST DELETED ABOUT A THOUSAND unread emails as part of the effort to clear out the mess in my inbox. If you've sent me mail and I haven't replied, well. . . sorry. I really do try to read them all, and reply to as many as I can. There's just so much email. And as Newman said "the mail never stops!"

UPDATE: Um, several people have resent emails "in case I deleted them." This defeats the purpose. Unless your email was earthshatteringly important, please don't do that.

SO MANY ISLANDS, SO LITTLE TIME, is an Indonesian blog with lots of interesting links, many of them related to Islamist terror. (Found via Sassafrass).

UPDATE: Joe writes that the terror information is just because of recent events, and not really the intended focus of his blog.

Of course, I could say that, too.

I DON'T GENERALLY LIKE FLASH INTROS, but this one, on the website for Canadian breakbeat/house/jazz-funk band The New Deal is pretty cool.

HMM. MAYBE THE EUROPEAN UNION SHOULD BE ADDED to the lawsuit against entities supporting terrorism.

JOSH MARSHALL UPDATE: He's got the latest on his blog.

AIRPORT SECURITY HASSLES are causing flyers to drive wherever possible instead. No surprise there. And anything less than 500 miles is short enough to make driving faster. And often less frustrating.

ACCORDING TO THE GOODBYECYNTHIA.COM WEBSITE, four of the named defendants in the just-filed lawsuit against 9/11 terrorists and backers are also on Cynthia McKinney's donor list. Expect to hear more about this one.

DAN FARBER has more on the NSF converging technologies report that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

WE'RE AT WAR, and the press just hasn't noticed, writes Mark Ericson in The Asia Times. I guess somebody forgot to send out a press release.

UPDATE: And I'm beginning to thing that more obvious hostilities may come sooner rather than later.

GEDANKENPUNDIT has some more thoughts inspired by maps, and wonders why breaking Iraq up is supposed to be a bad idea given that it's an artificial country composed of people who hate each other, and who apparently can be held together only by a brutal dictatorship. Why, indeed?

DC STATEHOOD PROPONENTS have sent me a lot of email with the slogan "no taxation without representation." Ben Domenech has heard that one too, and he's got the answer.

SHIRI NEGARI UPDATE: Reader S.E. Brenner was moved by the memorial page to terror-bomb victim Shiri Negari that I linked to the other day. She now sends this link to a BBC story on the human cost of terror, revolving around the Shiri Negari story, and adds this comment:

This was a five-minute piece on the 5:00 pm news. You can click on the link to hear it. Not only did it make me (a right bitch and total non-cryer) cry in the middle of the crowded book store caff, it had a marked effect on the announcers, who are normally quite unsympathetic to all things Israeli alive or dead. They were subdued and gulping too after it played. So, warning: Do not listen if in a fragile mood.

She's right.

UPDATE: Here are some more victims of "Islamic militants," who aren't getting as much attention as they deserve.

JOHN HAWKINS has found a more murderous and misogynistic stuff over on the ClearGuidance bulletin board for Islamic youth.

MURDERERS ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU AND ME: Eugene Volokh responds to the claim that murders result from ordinary people who get angry, and happen to have a gun around. Most murderers, he points out, have rather lengthy and serious criminal histories. And though they may murder "acquaintances," those acquaintances tend to be other criminals.

BELLESILES UPDATE: James Lindgren has a devastating dissection of the many errors in Michael Bellesiles' Arming America in the Yale Law Journal. Unfortunately, it's not available on the Web, and they haven't sent him the final PDF file necessary to put it online. However, he's given me permission to put a copy of the galley proofs online here until the final version becomes available. The differences are minor; I believe the final version is available on Westlaw and Lexis for those with access to those services. For everyone else, click here.


You are absolutely right on DC statehood. As a resident of the District since 1976 (and also in 1973-74), I am absolutely opposed to statehood. The Framers of the Constitution were aware of what happened to London during the Gordon riots of 1780 and didn't want the federal government to be intimidated by mobs uncontrolled by local government. It's sort of like they anticipated Marion Barry.

When statehood advocates first started making noises in the 1950s, the District, with 802,178 people in the 1950 Census, was larger than eight states. Today it is larger than just one state, Wyoming. It is one-sixth of a metropolitan area. Why should one-sixth of a metropolitan area be a separate state? (OK, you could say that Delaware is a smaller proportion of the Philadelphia Consolidated
Metropolitan Statistical Area; but who would create Delaware anew today?) . . .

No one is forced to live in the District of Columbia. Every adult who lives there knows they don't live in a state. In the 1950s it could be argued that a lot of black people were forced to live in the District because they couldn't buy houses in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs. Today they can. A majority of blacks in the Washington CSMSA live outside the District of Columbia.

Sorry for venting, but--please, please, don't make me part of a state. I can move to Maryland or Virginia any time I want to. (Or better yet, establish a 183-day-a-year residence [elsewhere], in which case I would not have to pay the District's 9 percent income tax.)

Yeah, I remember that income tax. But the sales tax was high, too!

BELLESILES UPDATE: A reader from Emory writes:

As for the investigation into Bellesiles' scholarship, expect an announcement from the University on that any day now. That's what the PR folks have indicated. Last week, a faculty member was told by an Emory media relations officer that the University would have a new announcement in the next 7 to 10 days.

I've been told that the independent panel charged with evaluating Bellesiles' work reported back to the university on July 1. It's not clear why it's taken so long to release the results from that panel, but the dean of Emory College-- Robert Paul, who's handling the investigation-- was on vacation most of last month. It's likely that they waited for Paul to return to campus before they made their new announcement. Far from a deliberate attempt to delay and obstruct, this may simply be a slow process made even slower by Paul's summer vacation.

One hopes. Many rumors have suggested that Bellesiles was going to be bought out, with no formal finding of wrongdoing. But they're just rumors.

TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: Turner has surrendered his claim to the land on St. Helena Island, owned by descendants of Gullah slaves, that he was attempting to claim. Good move, Ted. But then, when InstaPundit and Michael Moore unite in a good cause, the result is well-nigh irresistible.

UPDATE: Here, courtesy of reader Simon Ashton, is another story on the subject.

HOWARD OWENS has the first review I've seen of the new Supreme Beings of Leisure CD, Divine Operating System, due out next month. I'm insanely jealous that he got a review copy. Where's mine, dammit?

MATTHEW HOY SAYS THAT Eric Alterman is wrong about the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades, Marwan Barghouti, and the prospects for negotiated peace with the Palestinians any time soon.

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY has Louis Farrakhan stumping for her.


"I'm worried that just as dryers have a knack of making socks disappear, the federal government has discovered a core competency of losing computers," Grassley wrote White House budget chief Mitch Daniels.

This time it's the IRS. And the computers may hold private taxpayer data that would be valuable to hackers and identity thieves.

MORE EVIDENCE that Richard Clarke is right about the need for folks to sniff out computer security holes. This is kind of sad -- but not as sad as if nobody were doing this sort of test.

'WE ARE ASKING GOD FOR THE U.S. TO ATTACK SADDAM:" Some prayers do come true.

AFTER A LONG HIATUS DURING WHICH SHE WAS SORELY MISSED, Virginia Postrel is back with a lot of new posts. Woohoo!

August 15, 2002

THERE'S NOW A "CHRISTIAN BLOGGER MANIFESTO." Josh Claybourn doesn't like it.

THE RICH GET RICHER AND THE POOR GET . . . RICHER, TOO! That's what Virginia Postrel says in this New York Times column on global capitalism that's getting a lot of attention today. The exception is found in places like Nigeria, where bad government makes sure that the poor stay poor. The Nigerian members of my extended family would agree, I think.

BRAD DE LONG OFFERS advice that you should follow.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Disgraced Emory Historian Michael Bellesiles has said for some time that his life was threatened by rabid gun nuts after the publication of his now-discredited book Arming America. This article on History News Network expresses skepticism at that claim:

Threats of violence are indeed despicable. Moreover, such threats are felonies in themselves, each punishable by a substantial fine, imprisonment, or both, as prescribed by the codes of Georgia (16-11-37)1 and the United States (see for example 18 U.S.C. Part 1 Ch. 41 Sec 875b). As a first step toward an investigation, credible threats must be reported to local authorities.

Bellesiles did not do this. Such complaints are in the public record. The police departments of Emory University, the city of Atlanta, DeKalb County, and Fulton County report no complaints from Bellesiles about harassment or threats. Of course, that doesn't mean he received no abusive messages, but it does suggest that he didn't really feel very threatened by them if he did -- not even enough to seek help from law enforcement. It seems too that he was right in this judgment: I know of no mention of actual attempts to physically harm him or his family, and I think he would have mentioned it, if any such attempt had been made. So, we are left wondering if he really did move his family out of their home over something he openly talked about but didn't feel a need to report. Based on his record so far, I'm not ready to take his word on this.

It is a fact, and not a new one, that in America, public discourse about strongly held opinions often leads to strong language. When the continuing attention given to these alleged threats and abusive messages is set alongside the almost nonexistent coverage of similar threats made against John Lott Jr., author of More Guns, Less Crime (1998, 2000), we can see that it is threats presumably made by 'gun-nuts' that are deemed newsworthy.

Indeed. There's more discussion in the comments, after the article.

And when are we going to hear from Emory about the results of its Bellesiles investigation? It's safe to say, I think, that if there were evidence exonerating Bellesiles (though it's hard to imagine what that could be at this point) the report would have been released. Emory's slow response on this scandal makes a mockery of its press release about business ethics issued last week.

Bad scholarship is as corrupt as bad accounting. Emory -- and the profession of history generally -- are in no position to point fingers. Perhaps they need to listen to these words from an Emory business ethicist:

"One of the messages I convey in class is how strong corporate culture is; the culture either reinforces or doesn’t reinforce the company’s formal messages on ethical conduct," says Robertson. In the case of Enron and Arthur Andersen, for example, the pressure to serve the client overcame any kind of formal ethics program. "If the culture doesn’t support ethics, you can throw policies out the window," she says.

What sort of culture is Emory reinforcing?

H.D. MILLER SAYS NOT TO GET TOO EXCITED: The House of Saud isn't going anywhere. I'm not convinced, but he argues the point well.

STARTING LAW SCHOOL THIS FALL? Dahlia Lithwick offers helpful advice, "pre-outlined for your convenience."

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS STILL ON VACATION -- but he's brought Camille Paglia in as a special guest blogger.

SECOND AMENDMENT UPDATE: There's a nice, clear primer on the Second Amendment from George Mason University law professor Nelson Lund available at the link just above.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING about the E.U.'s bullying unilateralism. Russia seems to be getting a pass too. What if the United States wanted to do this with Mexico?

NICK DENTON says we should really humiliate Iraq with an all-female invasion force. Matthew Yglesias thinks that idea is "cool."

CARLA PASSINO AT POYNTER.ORG WRITES about InstaPundit's traffic: "Call it the revenge of editorial over marketing."

Yeah, the InstaPundit Marketing Department is running on a pretty lean budget. Uh, do T-shirts and such count as "marketing?" If so, the Marketing Department is actually running at a (tiny) profit. And the InstaPundit Lunchbox ("what all the cool blogger kids carry their lunches in!") is even on sale for back-to-school!

STILL MORE BAD NEWS FOR THE SAUDIS, courtesy of George Will:

The House of Saud almost certainly is a dead regime walking. Saudi Arabia's male unemployment rate is 30 percent. Its population growth -- birth control is disapproved -- is among the most rapid in the world (3 percent per year). Eric Rouleau, a French diplomat, writing in Foreign Affairs ("Trouble in the Kingdom"), says that since the overthrow of the Taliban, Saudi Arabia is the Islamic world's most rigorous theocracy: "Universities require male professors teaching women's classes to give their lectures through a closed-circuit one-way television system . . . 30 to 40 percent of the course hours in schools are devoted to studying scripture." Furthermore, the marriage rate is dropping sharply:

"Unable to afford the traditional dowry, many young Saudi men are now doomed to a prolonged celibacy. At the same time, growing numbers of young women are refusing to marry men chosen for them by their families, men whom their would-be brides are not allowed to meet before their wedding night. As a result, an estimated two-thirds of Saudi women now between 16 and 30 years of age cannot, or will not, marry."

As Will notes, "Sooner or later, and probably sooner, all this will meet its match in modernity."

The most dangerous thing to the House of Saud is the notion that its continued existence is something short of inevitable. And that notion is widespread.


LONDON — The United States has warned Arab leaders to prepare public opinion for a change in the Iraqi regime.

Diplomatic sources said the Bush administration has sent letters to the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the Middle East. The letters, said to be nearly identical, assert that Washington is determined to topple the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials did not confirm the message, Middle East Newsline reported. But in Washington, U.S. National Security Council Adviser Condoleezza Rice stressed in an interview on Thursday with the British Broadcasting Corp. that the Bush administration has presented a powerful case for toppling Saddam.

"We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing," Ms. Rice said. "We believe the case for regime change is very powerful."

The Saudis don't like talk of regimes changing.


Relatives of victims of the 11 September attacks have filed a trillion dollar lawsuit against various parties accusing them of financing Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network and Afghanistan's former Taleban regime. . . .

Those accused include the country of Sudan, three members of the Saudi royal family - including the Saudi foreign minister - and various Islamic charities, in addition to seven financial institutions and the Bin Laden family's Saudi construction firm.

More than 600 family members, firefighters and rescue workers, calling themselves the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, are seeking the money "to force the sponsors of terror into the light and subject them to the rule of law", according to the suit. . . .

Lawyer Allan Gerson, who also worked on a lawsuit for families of victims of the 1988 Pan Am airline Lockerbie bombing, said that the suit was aimed at uncovering the complicated financial transactions which funded the 11 September attacks.

"We're trying to expose the extent, the depth, the orchestration, the financial support that terrorist organisations have received for perhaps a decade from various Saudi interests."

Mao used the term "paper tiger" to refer to things that need not be feared. But Mao never got hit with a discovery request. And the Saudis are the ultimate "deep pocket" defendants.

ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS against the right to keep and bear arms is that it is absurd to believe that the Constitution is meant to protect people's ability to revolt against a tyrannical government. Eugene Volokh responds to this. David Williams has also done so, in an excellent article on what he calls "conservative revolution" -- which means not revolution by conservatives, but rather revolution in the name of constitutional principles against those who would violate them. Unfortunately, the piece isn't on the web as far as I can tell.

You may also want to see this article, coauthored by Volokh, me, and some other folks, on teaching the Second Amendment as part of a constitutional law class.

HERE'S THE LATEST on flooding in Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. My sympathies to the victims of what looks to be a pretty major catastrophe. I hope that the U.S. military forces in the region are offering assistance.

MUTANTS ARE TAKING OVER THE WORLD, using a weird ability to communicate thoughts to coordinate their actions. Okay, so it's old news now. . . .

LAST WEEK, I wrote about a group of American intellectuals administering a sort of "heavyweight group-Fisking" to a group of German intellectuals who accused the United States of mass murder in Afghanistan, etc. Now the Weekly Standard's Claudia Winkler reports that it's made quite a splash in Germany.

NORM MINETA IMPEACHMENT UPDATE: Here's more grist for the mill:

For years, the government touted federal air marshals as the best of the best — an "elite corps" of undercover officers trained to stop hijackings on commercial flights.

But today, after rushing to hire thousands of new marshals, the program is so beset with problems that sources say at least 80 marshals have quit, and other marshals say they are considering a class-action lawsuit over working conditions that they fear put travelers at risk.

Documents obtained by USA TODAY and interviews with more than a dozen current and former marshals from around the nation suggest many have grown disillusioned with a program that one says has become "like security-guard training for the mall."

Hiring standards for marshals added since Sept. 11 have been lowered dramatically, sources say. No longer must applicants pass a difficult marksmanship course that used to be the make-or-break test for the program. In addition, many new hires were given guns and badges and put aboard flights before extensive background checks were completed.

Yeah, but arming pilots would be too risky. Read the whole thing: it actually gets even worse.


WHY THEY HATE US: Because, notes Steven Den Beste, we're the chief obstacle to their plans for world domination. And no, I'm not talking about the Arabs. This piece by Steven Chapman is worth reading, too, along with this one. And so is this.

CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: Hesiod Theogeny praises the Bush Administration. And rightly so.

LEFTY SURVIVALISM? Rebecca Blood links to an article predicting the end of global civilization in 2030. The article looks rather crackpottish to me (and its invocation of Joseph Tainter is so out of context as to be deceptive), but I'll leave its merits to others. It's Rebecca's comments about sustainability that interest me. Yes, an "agrarian" society is "sustainable." But for the world to shift to a non-industrial mode, several billion people would have to die off.

The resulting mass of traumatized survivors, perhaps a billion or two people, would then, after this unparalleled catastrophe, be "sustainable" in the sense that human society was "sustainable" at the time of the Pharaohs, with most people living hand-to-mouth existences with most of their time spent at backbreaking drudgery. Another word for this kind of sustainability is "stagnation," and the biggest risk of such an event would be that we would return to the metastable state that marked most of settled human history: barbarous despotisms run by a thin layer of exploitive priests, soldiers, etc., above a huge mass of near-starving peasantry and slaves.

I prefer the "sustainability" of the high-technology path, in which nanotechnology, biotechnology, and space resources permit an environmentally friendly life that doesn't involve reducing humanity to the kind of misery that prevailed in preindustrial society. People find the idea of self-reliance in a post-apocalyptic world romantic (and if I find myself in a post-apocalyptic world, I'll certainly do my best to be self-reliant) but the truth is, it would suck. Big time.

While the "Olduvai Theory" that Rebecca links to seems dubious, it's certainly true that our current global economy is unsustainable. Like being halfway up a ladder, it makes sense only as a step toward something else. And "lifestyle management" approaches like traveling less, or using less electricity at home, won't make any real difference beyond stretching things out a bit. Human society is probably "sustainable" only in a very low-tech mode, or a very high-tech mode. Anything in between is necessarily transitional, in one direction or the other. We must either move forward, or die in large numbers, and face miserable stagnation afterward. Personally, I'm against the latter.

SOME USEFUL OBSERVATIONS from Frank Fukuyama on the American / European divide:

The ostensible issues raised in the US-European disputes since the ‘axis of evil’ speech for the most part revolve around alleged American unilateralism and international law. There is by now a familiar list of European complaints about American policy, including but not limited to the Bush Administration’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, its failure to ratify the Rio Pact on biodiversity, its withdrawal from the ABM treaty and pursuit of missile defence, its opposition to the ban on land mines, its treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, its opposition to new provisions of the biological warfare convention, and most recently its opposition to the International Criminal Court.

The most serious act of US unilateralism in European eyes concerns the Bush Administration’s announced intention to bring about regime change in Iraq, if necessary through a go-it-alone invasion. . . .

In the realm of economics, the Europeans don’t have all that great a record with regard to respect for multilateral rules when compared to the United States. They have been on their high horse this year because of American actions with regard to steel and agricultural subsidies, and they are right to complain about American hypocrisy with regard to free trade. But this I regard as kind of normal hypocrisy: all countries act in contradiction of declared free trade principles, and the Europeans have been notorious for, among other things, agricultural subsidies maintained at higher levels and over longer periods of time than American ones. America is guilty only of the most recent outbreak of hypocrisy.

There are a number of areas where the Europeans have acted unilaterally in economic matters, and in ways that at times contravene the existing legal order. The EU resisted unfavourable decisions against them on bananas for nine years, and beef hormones for even longer. They have announced a precautionary principle with regard to genetically modified foods, which is very difficult to reconcile with the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary rules. Indeed, the Europeans have been violating their own rules with regard to GM foods, with certain member states setting standards different from those of the community itself. The European Competition Commission under Mario Monti successfully blocked the merger of GE and Honeywell, when the deal had been approved by American and Canadian regulators, in ways that promoted suspicions that the EU was simply acting to protect specific European interests. Finally, the EU has succeeded in exporting its data privacy rules to the United States through its safe harbour arrangements.

For all their talk of wanting to establish a rule-based international order, the Europeans haven’t done that well within the EU itself. As John van Oudenaren has argued, the Europeans have developed a decision-making system of Byzantine complexity, with overlapping and inconsistent rules and weak enforcement powers. The European Commission often doesn’t have the power even to monitor compliance of member states with its own directives, much less the ability to make them conform. This fits with an attitude towards law in certain parts of Europe that sees declarative intent often of greater importance than actual implementation, and which Americans tend to see instead as undermining the very rule of law.

Not much here that the blogosphere hasn't said, but it's interestingly put together.

MICKEY KAUS FACT-CHECKS THE NEW YORK TIMES --AGAIN! It's almost like having SmarterTimes back, only with more font changes!

SPINSANITY delivers a brutal takedown of MediaWhores Online. Excerpt:

MWO's tactics simply pollute the public discourse. While many intelligent people read the site and are not seduced by its methods, the overall effect is to build a self-reinforcing community of aggrieved partisans and to help break down taboos among liberals against the rhetorical viciousness promoted. . . . The reality is that, with liberals increasingly agitated, both sides will continue to escalate their rhetoric to the point of hysteria, all the while pointing wildly at each other to rationalize their actions. In the end, these tactics are unacceptable no matter who uses them.

They'll get some hatemail for this one.

August 14, 2002

SAUDIS ARE BUYING GOLD in quantity, reports Cato the Youngest, who suggests that this means they're worried. Reading the article, though, I'm not so sure he's right.


THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK IN THE BLOGOSPHERE about the perfidy (or not) of Delaware. I've kind of ignored it, because I learned in law school that the Delaware-screws-shareholders argument doesn't hold water. Now WyethWire points to a new law review article on this subject that says (echoing Ralph Winter, my old Corporations professor) that rather than a race to the bottom among the states, we have a leisurely walk to the top. You may find it interesting. I haven't read the Jonathan Chait article that started all this, but if Chait doesn't address this thinking, then he didn't do enough research.

UPDATE: I just looked. Chait mentions it in passing, but dismisses it rather blithely. The whole piece appears less serious than the Blogosphere attention it got would suggest.

CHARLES JOHNSON reports an interesting historical connection for the Saud family. These guys were never our friends.

"IT USED TO BE A RELIGIOUS MIRACLE, but now it's a scientific miracle." Very cool story. (Via Faisal.Com).

ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE in The Times, the U.S. government no longer considers the Saudis allies and is getting better cooperation from Syria than from Saudi-controlled Arabia:

The final “stab in the back” for Washington was the decision to ban American bombers from attacking Iraq from Saudi airbases. That has soured relations to such an extent that the country from which America launched its 1991 invasion of Iraq is now being excluded from discussions about a post-Saddam era.

Even Syria, which in public is opposed to an attack on Iraq and has been engaged in trade and arms deals with Baghdad, is talking secretly to the Americans and the British about the role that Damascus may play in the region if Saddam is overthrown. A Syrian delegation is understood to have had discussions with British officials in London this week. . . .British diplomatic sources said that the Saudi ruling elite was immersed in a “dynastic battle” and was so concerned about survival that the key figures were afraid of taking any decision that would be interpreted by the people as being pro-Western and anti-Arab.

Free advice for the House of Saud: Screw the dynastic battle, and find yourself a nice safe place to live abroad. I don't think the Saudi monarchy is going to last long enough to be worth battling over.

Either that, or this is the best disinformation operation of all time.

UPDATE: Robert Crawford asks: "Would a severe dynastic battle in Saudi Arabia warrant western (US, really) intervention?" We may find out.

SPEAKING OF EMAIL: When InstaPundit was new, I tried a feature called "From the Mailbag." But that was stupid, since there was no mailbag -- and "From the Mail Subdirectory on the Hard Drive" just didn't have the same ring to it. But while I'm replying to email, I should note that I've gotten a number of emails from people who think Max Sawicky is wrong (see below) but that I shouldn't have said the District of Columbia isn't ready for self-government.

Well, whether I should have said it or not is somebody else's problem. But it's true. At least, the District isn't ready to be a state, and it's not clear that it's even capable of being a self-governing city with any expectation of success. And this shouldn't be a surprise because it's inherent in the character of a federal district that serves as the seat of government.

The dysfunctional character of recent DC government is beyond dispute. City services are dreadful. (When I lived there, ambulances routinely took 12 hours to arrive -- the joke was that if you had a heart attack you should call Domino's. They'd have a guy there in 30 minutes, and you could ask him to drive you to the hospital.) The homicide clearance rate by the DC police is rotten, and even in a high-profile case like Chandra Levy's they're notably inept, as Josh Marshall has pointed out. (I once got a ticket for "driving through a flashing yellow light," though, which necessitated an afternoon at the DMV before I pointed out to a judge that that wasn't against the law. And the parking enforcement people had a tendency to ticket legally parked cars with out-of-state plates. I saw this myself.) City officials have gold-plated staffs and offices, but citizens -- many of whom are poor and depend heavily on city services -- go unserved, or badly served. Roads are potholed and crappy, but taxes are high. Things are somewhat better, I think, than when I lived there -- and I lived in the heart of the District, just off of Logan Circle -- under Marion Barry, but not all that much.

The statehood issue is a bit silly, and mostly pushed by people hoping to pick up a couple of Senate seats on the cheap. DC has a smaller population (by better than 100,000 people) than metropolitan Knoxville. There are probably a couple of existing states with smaller populations, but that's not an argument for creating more unpopulous states. What's more, the Constitution specificially makes the seat of the federal government a district that's not a part of any state, for reasons of structure and federalism that make sense to me -- and that, even if they didn't, are in the Constitution.

More importantly -- and this is why it doesn't work well as a city, either -- DC has a captive main industry and a huge transient population in proportion to its size. One check on lousy government is when business threatens to move away; that won't happen here. The other is close attention by voters who feel they have a stake, and who have the political skills and interests to pay attention and make a difference. But a lot of the population that in most areas would be most active in civic affairs is transient -- officeholders and staff and other people who won't be there for a long time, and know it. And there's no tax base. DC, even if it were a state, couldn't constitutionally tax its main industry, the federal government, and would depend on in-lieu-of-taxes federal largesse, making its financial independence notional regardless.

I don't think that these problems exist because people in DC are stupid. I think they're the consequence of the way the place is set up. The voters (and people there do vote, though the Financial Control Board and other structures set up to clean up the financial mess -- slightly -- undercut that, but the problems certainly arose during a time when the voters were electing who they wanted) don't pay the city's bills. Bad government won't leave voters unemployed, or forced to follow their employers elsewhere. DC is comparatively small and insular, and small and insular places are usually badly governed. The fact that the city government will get less scrutiny than it would most other places because the federal government sucks up most of the press attention doesn't help either.

DC would be better run, I suspect, under the old Congressional system. It's true that people would be denied the vote in municipal elections then, but judging by the miserable turnout rates in municipal elections generally, that's not a right that Americans hold especially dear. And for those who do, the opportunity for residence in a bona fide state is just a couple of miles away.

JOSH MARSHALL UPDATE: I got an email asking if I was going wobbly on the Talking Points question, in light of this post below. No. I'll try to be clear about this: it's not that the term "Talking Points Memo" is dreadfully unique. It's that they're using it for, basically, the very same thing for which Marshall has already established a reputation.

Thought experiment: "Post" is a pretty generic term as applied to newspapers, far predating a certain DC paper. If I published, say, the Knoxville Post it would just join a long line of papers named after mail. The identical name wouldn't matter because it would be in a different market (kind of like Bill O'Reilly's feature, which is on TV instead of the Web, isn't competing with Marshall). But try publishing your very own "Washington Post" in Washington, and arguing that, well, there's nothing distinctive about "Post" and, well, naturally it's the "Washington Post" if you're publishing it in Washington. Go ahead, try it. I dare you.

The Washington Post won't sit still for that, trust me. But that's basically what they're doing: publishing the same kind of thing, with the same title, in the same neighborhood. I don't blame Marshall for being P.O.'ed. If they don't know about Marshall's use of the term, then they don't deserve to be publishing a political weblog. If they do know, then they're just trying to muscle in (and they'd never try to do the same thing to a traditional media feature with the same name). Either way, they ought to be embarrassed.

UPDATE: Shouting 'Cross the Potomac notes that Terry Neal's column ran today and isn't called "Talking Points." Could this be victory for Marshall? I'm not sure. I'm not even sure it's the same feature, though it looks kind of bloglike.

ANOTHER UPDATE: No such luck. The feature referred to above is from the print edition. A separate online feature is still called Talking Points.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Steve Hendry writes:

I seem to recall that sometime in the last 20 years, the Post sued a restaurant in the west for calling itself the Washington Post (hitching post, that is). The menus used the same fonts as the newspaper. I also recall that the Post succeeded in forcing the restaurant to change its name.

Wouldn't surprise me.

PROBABLY THE LAST UPDATE: Reader Tim Hartin writes:

Yup. Happened here in Madison, Wisconsin, I think around 6 years ago. I don't know about the menus, but the restaurant was on Washington street, and used a "newspapery" Olde Englishe font for its name (don't know if it was the same font as the Post uses, but it was similar).

And this was for a frickin' restaurant.

Also, another reader writes that O'Reilly's TV feature is reprinted (repixeled?) on the Web under the "Talking Points" rubric. That's news to me (hey, I just write for the Fox website, why should I know anything?). But, while I admit that makes it closer, the O'Reilly feature is still basically a TV feature that happens to be echoed on the website. It's not nearly as much of a direct competitor as the Post's feature.

But not to worry. In case Marshall doesn't like the Post using his site's name, he can always change it. Maybe to "The Federal Page."

GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: According to this AP report he's getting unusually large donations from Citigroup. The article suggests that Citi's motivation is to get Davis to oppose financial-privacy legislation that would keep banks and other big businesses from selling personal information.

But Davis is a Democrat. They're against that sort of conduct by big business. Right?

READER GARY HUDSON SAYS I'M WRONG to think that the grounding of aircraft on 9/11 did any good:

I have to register an exception to the oft-heard comments that Mineta (or whomever was responsible) "saved the day" ordering aircraft to land on 9/11. This action saved nothing and help to bring the commercial and general aviation communities to the point of collapse.

My reasoning is simple. Let's say there were "threats" in the air. Is there any way that ordering an aircraft to land (vs. letting it continue on flight path) would have any effect on what a hostile aircraft might do? A hostile won't obey the order to land. Hostile aircraft move towards their targets.

They don't respond properly to radio calls. The FAA Tracon (and certainly later the AWACS that were airborne) can discriminate between threat/hostil aircraft and vector interceptors to identified threats. We know they had 11 "threats" and 10 of those were false; the other was UA Flight 93. Anyone think to call them up? Maybe ask who the chief pilot of the airline is? If the answer comes back "Allah akbar" you know you have a problem. Otherwise you check it off.

Given that it took three hours to bring down all the aircraft in the system, the order did nothing whatever to help identify threats. It was a classic case of ass-covering by bureaucrats.

I seem to recall press coverage last Fall suggesting that the grounding did prevent some attacks (including one in London) but those reports could be wrong I suppose. Anyway, here's an alternative view.

UPDATE: But Norm Mineta thinks it's a big deal -- so big that, according to this piece in Slate from last April, forwarded by an alert reader -- he went out of his way to take credit for the decision when it was really made by someone else.

WHAT PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS COULD LEARN FROM BUFFY: Dave Tepper has the answer. Take it away, Orchid and Missy!

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: I've actually pretty much given up on this feature, now that Larry Summers has successfully maneuvered him out of Harvard and he's nestled in amongst the Ivy League's champion computer hackers at Princeton. But Ed Driscoll has brought together some information that supports the notion that West was the provoker, rather than the provokee.

EUGENE VOLOKH FACT-CHECKS HANDGUN CONTROL, INC. with some pretty devastating results.

MINETA UPDATE: I've given Mineta credit for deciding to land the planes on 9/11. But according to this USA Today story (scroll down to "9:45 a.m.") Mineta merely ratified a decision already made by the FAA. He still deserves some credit for not screwing this up (I believe there was pressure from some quarters in the Administration not to ground the planes) but that's not quite the same.

JONATHAN TURLEY, who can hardly be dismissed as a shill for the Democrats, issues a warning about the Hamdi case and Attorney General Ashcroft's reported plans for the future.

As I said earlier, there's a good reason for a firewall between the treatment of Americans and of noncitizens. Locking up noncitizens can't pervert the political process. But once you lock up citizens without due process, the temptation to target political enemies -- and, even if you don't give in to that temptation, the suspicion or fear that you plan to do so -- is deeply corrupting.

It's possible that Turley's fears are overdrawn -- reports of "prison camps" being prepared for American dissidents have been a staple paranoid fantasy since the 1960s -- but reassurance on this front doesn't seem to be forthcoming, and the government's rather broad claims in the Hamdi case certainly don't provide any.

UPDATE: TAPPED has more on this.

THE AMERICAN PROWLER says that Josh Marshall should lighten up and be more like me. Well, yeah -- oh, wait, no. I remember a Twilight Zone episode in which a guy wished for that, and wound up in a world where everyone else was just a copy of him. When, obviously, he should have wished for everyone else to be a copy of the (pre-cosmetic surgery) Jennifer Connelly.

A COLLEAGUE was just commenting on law school applications being up. We figured it was the economy, but I suppose there could be something else attracting people to the profession.

GUN CONTROL UPDATE: NYU law professor Jim Jacobs has a book entitled Can Gun Control Work? coming out from Oxford University Press. I haven't read the book (it's not out yet) but I've skimmed the preface and first chapter, which are available online. Looks interesting.

SCOTT ROSENBERG says that Paul Krugman is wrong about Cisco. He likes Cisco's hardware, too.

DECLAN MCCULLAGH says it's open war. (Via Aimee Deep).

STILL MORE ON AIRLINE SECURITY STUPIDITY from Lauren Schulz. And Kathryn Jean Lopez is calling for Mineta to resign. I think the dump-Mineta movement is gathering steam.

DIANE E. is a bit taken aback to find herself called a "men's rights advocate." Scroll and follow the links to see an interesting discussion on parenthood, marriage, child support, abortion, and traditional sexual morality.

THE NEW SUPREME BEINGS OF LEISURE CD will be out September 10, according to their website. I've been waiting: I got a promo email back in the winter promising it for May. Their comment: "This leisure business is hard work."

ISNTAPUNDIT says old people are ruining America, and he's kind of bitter about it. Meanwhile Dan Hanson thinks the youth vote is a waste of time. And don't miss the automatic caption generator either. It had me laughing out loud, which made the electrician look at me kind of funny.

CHRIS BERTRAM reviewed Brink Lindsey's book on his blog. Brink Lindsey responded. Bertram has responded to the response. Scroll and follow the links on this one; there's a lot of meat there.

ERIC OLSEN is jealous of my free John Fogerty tickets. I probably shouldn't mention the great show I saw -- for five bucks! -- that same year. It was a double-bill of The Rainmakers and Steve Earle at the 930 Club in DC. And it was only five bucks. For both! That's almost as good as free.

THE PRIVATE CYBERWAR ON TERROR: My TechCentralStation column is up.

MAX SAWICKY calls me a racial name, then gets the TennCare issue all wrong. This guy claims to know something about health care, or economics? It doesn't show here. In truth, TennCare is riddled with corruption, and inept at providing care. There are tens of thousands of dead people on the rolls, providers don't get paid while big corporate "provider organizations" that Max would otherwise savage (if, that is, they weren't sucking off the public tit) disappear with the cash. Fraud isn't prosecuted, because the state government doesn't want the bad publicity. His solution: raise taxes to fund it.

The income tax was wildly unpopular in Tennessee, which is why it didn't pass. Now the insiders who tried to sneak it past -- but who lacked the guts to make a political case for it in an actual election -- are complaining that they were defeated by "mob rule," a claim that Max uncritically endorses. He also seems to think he's scoring points by noting that Tennessee's pro-tax governor is a Republican. Well, duh. (I'm not one, you know.) A pathetic effort, Max..

And yes, I know, you shouldn't respond to trolling like this. But Sawicky unaccountably enjoys a reputation among lefty bloggers as a thinker. Read the post, and draw your own conclusions about that.

UPDATE: Reader Stephen Hill suggests a double standard here:

Political protest at the capital (be it [Nashville] or Washington D.C.) is acceptable, and a hallmark of free speech - as long as you are protesting for liberal ideas. But if you protest for Libertarian or Conservative ideas, especially successfully (Gasp!), then you are exercising mob rule and inciting a riot.

Yes. It's unAmerican to protest about taxes, after all. What would the founding fathers say?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yeah, I knew he was trolling. Enjoy the traffic Max. You'd get more of it if you had something interesting to say.

HUGH HEWITT HAS MY CAREER all planned out.

DRUGS MAKE PEOPLE STUPID, writes Joanne Jacobs. And not necessarily the people taking them.

AIR TRAVEL UPDATE: Despite being worn out from filling orders for "Impeach Norm Mineta" bumperstickers, Gary Leff is all over the issue of airline security's impact on the airline industry.

Even if the airlines were going out of their way to make flying a pleasant experience -- which no one suggests is the case -- the long delays required while people confiscate G.I. Joe guns would change people's economic calculus: a trip that's worth doing if it can be done there-and-back in a day may not be worth it if you have to spread the travel over two days. That's going to cost the airlines business, and it has. At the high end, everything I hear indicates that people are shifting to charters and fractional-ownership arrangements. Elsewhere, people are driving, or just not going. And teleconferencing seems to be more popular.

And the problem for the airlines is that this business won't come back. People who get used to flying charters won't hurry back to commercial service. People who teleconference won't rush to fly in the future.

All of this might be worth it if it were making us safer. But it isn't. Screeners are still missing a huge percentage of guns, knives, etc.

The point of the whole exercise isn't even to prevent terrorism, really. It's to fool us into feeling safer. I don't think it's working, but it's taking the airline industry down in the process. I think my next Fox column will expand on these themes.

Meanwhile, if you feel the same way, well, you can get your Impeach Norm Mineta bumpersticker here. Buy a few and send 'em to your Senators and Congresscritter.

UPDATE: Jay Caruso has weighed in with more.

August 13, 2002

THEY SENT MOHAMMED ATTA A VISA after 9/11, but they were all over this woman.

I'd be more willing to spot the INS a few embarrassing failures with unthreatening people if I had confidence that they were at least doing a good job with the dangerous ones. But they're planning to fingerprint people from some Arab countries -- but leaving out visitors from Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 hijackers came from. Note to the INS: When you do stuff like that, it's hard to cut you slack for jumping all over a woman from . . . New Zealand.

UPDATE: Spoons has the best take on the non-Saudi fingerprinting issue: "Just think, if these measures had been in effect last September 11, the terrorists would have been four short!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's even worse than that. Brian Erst points out something that I should have noticed but didn't: none of the countries from which the 9/11 hijackers came is on the list for fingerprinting.

A WORD OF ADVICE: "Whatever you do, stay away from the brown ones." It's sort of a public service announcement, I guess.

CORSAIR has identified Osama's worst nightmare.

DAN GILLMOR SAYS that "digital rights management" should be called "digital restrictions management." Well put. It's your rights that are being restricted.


LEX GIBSON emails this Georgia General Assembly resolution renaming "Cynthia McKinney Parkway" as "Memorial Drive," "in honor and memory of all of those United States citizens who died on or after September 11, 2001, as a result of attacks on this nation by foreign enemies and in defense of this nation against further such attacks as part of Operation Enduring Freedom." Appropriate signs are to be erected, recognizing the change.

UPDATE: I've received some emails saying that this resolution didn't pass before the Ga. Leg. adjourned. Maybe next year.

I POSTED ON THE DC FORCED-ABORTION STORY almost a year ago, but the drama continues to unfold.

I'm pro-choice, which means that, you know, I think it should be, well, a choice. A lot of people in DC say that the District is essentially a colony. Well, if so I think it's a colony that's not ready for self-government. It certainly wasn't when I lived there, and there's no sign that it's gotten better.

UPDATE: Think I'm exaggerating? One post above my year-old post on the abortion issue is this one about a man who was kept in a DC jail for two years without any charges, while jailers ignored his protests and notes. I wonder if there are any new developments on that case.

Even more pathetically, the apparatchiks who run the District's government call their critics racist, even as they demonstrate their continuing contempt for the many black people who live there.

TIM BLAIR takes on Neville Chamberlain's heir (well, one of them, anyway). And Henry Hanks identifies the compassionate spirits of the modern Left.

MY DAUGHTER'S SCHOOLDAY IS OVER, though since I'm at the office I don't know how things were. But since I'm in the office, I know how my preparation for the start of classes here next week is going. Ugh. I've gone through a huge amount of "buffered" mail (that sounds better than "piled up" doesn't it?) and filled a couple of trashcans with it. Why do people get so upset about spam? The real junk mail is much worse: you can't make it go away with the click of a mouse.

UPDATE: Jeff Cooper is in the same boat.

I don't really mind once classes are underway. It's the transition I hate.

AN INTERESTING STORY about the Muslim doorkeeper at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

TED BARLOW points out that Bruce Springsteen's organization denies that Tipper Gore asked for free tickets, though Fox's Roger Friedman -- who reports this -- says that his anonymous source stands by the story.

Meanwhile, I have a confession to make. And it'll make Alterman jealous as hell. I got free tickets to see John Fogerty's 1986 comeback concert in Memphis, which was his first public appearance in over a decade, I believe -- and I got them through a favor from a prominent Tennessee politician. I won't mention his name, though. He might be embarrassed.

It was a great show. And I don't feel at all guilty about the free tickets.

THERE'S PLENTY OF REASON to think that the D.A.R.E. program is a waste of taxpayer money, or worse. Now Dave Kopel has more reasons to consider it "worse."

ERIC ALTERMAN wants to revamp his links, and he's looking for volunteers to help him out.

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY's latest emails inspire another response from Bill Herbert.

ANOTHER BLOW to the terrorism / poverty connection? Arafat is reported to be worth over a billion dollars.

THE SPACE ELEVATOR: Not quite science fiction any more.

UPDATE: Courtesy of reader Nigel Richardson, here's the space elevator homepage at NASA.

NEAL STEPHENSON AGAIN: Here's a quote worth remembering:

The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir. . . . We Americans are the only ones who didn't get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals.

I thought of it while reading this comment by Steven Chapman on the U.S. / European divide:

In fact, the "basic values and interests" of Europe and America diverged as long ago as the 18th century, and revolve around a fairly profound disagreement over the notion of liberty. I'm not going to go into that here (read Isaiah Berlin if you want the low-down on this), but this disagreement is at the root of the fact that neither fascism or socialism has been attractive to Americans (nor to a lesser extent the British), for example.

The Stephenson quote is from In the Beginning Was the Command Line, p. 53.

UPDATE: Here's more on the European left and the war, consistent with the points above.

IAIN MURRAY demurs regarding my post on Ares and Athena. He suggests a different deity.

But where's Doctor Weevil on this?

JOHN CHIPMAN WRITES in the Financial Times that existing Security Council resolutions give the United States legal authority to invade Iraq.

I HAVE A NEW BLOGCHILD. She's been known by her middle name, Aimee, though she's now using her first name (Madeleine) for trademark reasons. Some of you will recognize her.

UPDATE: I should have noted that this is yet another Sekimori Designs site. They're taking over the Blogosphere! Er, and making it prettier.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeez, and here's another one! When do these people sleep?

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: They're breeding like rabbits out there!

BLOGCRITICS.COM is now up and running. Check it out.

RACHEL LUCAS has some advice on social interaction that shouldn't be needed. But in my experience, it often is.

STEPHEN GREEN IS BACK! Sort of. I'm sure he'll be up to his old rate of posting soon.

JOE KATZMAN has an article on invading Iraq, and what beliefs might make such an invasion seem undesirable. It might profitably be compared with this post by Steven Chapman, which takes a contrary position.

THE IMPEACH NORM MINETA MOVEMENT looks to have found some more support.

They're not laughing with you, Norm. They're laughing at you.

JUST CHECKED THE AMAZON HONORS BALANCE: Thanks to all the people who donated yesterday!

MATT WELCH makes a Yahoo! list of the world's leading journalists. But of course! (Layne's there too!)

TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: WyethWire notes that Ted Turner's PR offensive isn't working, as witnessed by yet another hostile editorial.

Wyeth also wonders why Ted Turner is suddenly trying to gain control of this land. The obvious answer: he needs to sell the adjoining parcel and can't get enough money for it without this one, too.

Does he have big development plans? Is he short of cash? Or both? WyethWire is on top of the story.

GREG GREENE shares a Cynthia McKinney attack email with the Blogosphere.

UPDATE: Well behind the Blogosphere -- but better late than never -- the Washington Post's Thomas Edsall is onto the Cynthia McKinney donation story.

UPDATE: Reid Stott, who along with the IndePundit is McKinney-central, has more.

IS MAUREEN DOWD GHOSTING EDITORIALS FOR THE NEW YORK SUN? Read the introduction to this editorial:

It feels a bit like Los Angeles here in New York these days. It was bad enough when people started getting Botox injections. Then Monica Lewinsky moved here. Lawyers and bankers stopped wearing neckties to work. The next thing you know, Mayor Bloomberg made a pitch for the Big Apple to host the Academy Awards, a symbol if ever there was one of the star-obsessed culture of the City of Angels. He’s also trying to lure the Democratic National Convention, which was in Los Angeles the last time around. Now, our mayor is trying to import L.A.’s health fanaticism to the city that never sleeps by outlawing smoking in our bars and restaurants.

Hmm. Does Howell Raines know about this?

STRATFOR has a lengthy analysis of the Administration's reasons for invading Iraq. Excerpt:

From Washington's point of view, the problem of al Qaeda has become the problem of U.S. relations with the Islamic world in general and with al Qaeda in particular. The Bush people also see this as unsolvable. The creation of a Palestinian state simply will be the preface for the next generation of the war. Repudiation of Israel might satisfy some -- while destabilizing Jordan and Egypt -- but it still would not solve the core problem, which is the desire to expel the United States from the region.

That leaves abandoning the region altogether, which is seen as impossible. First, there is oil. Although the development of Russian oil reserves is underway, the fact is that Persian Gulf oil is a foundation of the Western economic system, and abandoning direct and indirect (through client regimes) access to that oil would be unacceptable.

Second, al Qaeda's dream is the creation of an integrated Islamic world in confrontation with the non-Islamic world. This is a distant threat, but were the United States to leave the region, it would not be unthinkable. That itself makes withdrawal unthinkable.

The al Qaeda problem cannot be confined simply to al Qaeda or even to allied groups. It is a problem of a massive movement in the Islamic world that must be contained and controlled. Placating this movement is impossible. The manner in which the movement has evolved makes finding a stable modus vivendi impossible.

What may be possible is reshaping the movement, which would mean changing the psychological structure of the Islamic world. Five events have shaped that psychology:

1. The 1973 oil embargo
2. The survival of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
3. The defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan
4. The perceived defeat of the United States in Somalia
5. Sept. 11, 2001

Each of these events served to reverse an Islamic sense of impotence. From 1973 until Sept. 11, the Islamic world has been undergoing a dual process. On the one side, there has been a growing sense of the ability of the Islamic and Arab worlds to resist Western power. On the other side, there has been an ongoing sense of victimization, a sense predating the United States by centuries.

The center of gravity of Washington's problem is psychological. There is no certain military or covert means to destroy al Qaeda or any of its murky allied organizations. They can be harassed, they can be disrupted, but there is no clear and certain way to destroy them. There may, however, be a way to undermine their psychological foundations, by reversing what radical Islamists portray as the inherent inevitability of their cause. Sacrifice toward victory is the ground of their movement. Therefore, if the sense of manifest destiny can be destroyed, then the foundations of the movement can be disrupted.

While invading Iraq has important military and strategic implications, the psychological angle is important, too.

A MAILBOX IN NEW JERSEY HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR ANTHRAX: Which seems to undermine the Steven Hatfill theory somewhat, given the well-established presence of Islamic extremists in New Jersey.

Yeah, sure, he could have travelled to New Jersey to mail the stuff. But Occam's razor suggests otherwise.

JAMES LILEKS reflects on nuking Iraq (tragic and unnecessary) and Jennifer Connelly's plastic surgery (tragic and unnecessary).

ELIZABETH BUMILLER'S ECONOMIC-SUMMIT PIECE in the New York Times is translated thus: "Clinton's team had 'political skills' because they didn't give reporters like me an opening to take the dumb cheap shots I just took at Bush."

UGH. SCHOOL STARTS TODAY. Up at the crack of dawn.

I miss summer already.

August 12, 2002

ALLISON responds to my Athena / Ares post. The answer to your questions, Allison, is that no, war isn't nice, but many necessary things are not nice. In this case, I don't think that it's hard to tell which side is which -- but that the other side thinks it's right too is no reason not to act. The Nazis thought they were right. So did Stalin. But they weren't, and we're lucky that the people who opposed them didn't throw up their hands in response to that.

And, sure, humans are fallible. But imperfect knowledge is a condition of human existence. It's not an excuse not to act. Because even a decision not to act is based on imperfect knowledge. You have to do the best you can. People who go on for too long about the complex nature of problems either (1) just want to sound profound without taking responsibility for choosing a position; or (2) don't really think the problems are problems.

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS: Randy Smith notes that there appears to be a vaccine against botulinum toxin -- a potential terrorist bioweapon -- in the works. The bad news: "Does this mean I'll get my wrinkles back if I'm inoculated?"

BEAUTIFYING THE BLOGOSPHERE: Radley Balko has a new, Sekimori-designed blog. So does David Kenner, who has a nifty "Across the Web" feature in the upper left corner.

INTERESTING OBSERVATION from Gedankenpundit. The map is very informative.

DANIEL TAYLOR is back in the hospital again, with brain hemorrhages that are worrisome but reportedly not life-threatening. Maybe they've got his blood-thinners dosed too high? Anyway, you may want to drop by and leave a "get well" in the comments.

I JUST REALIZED I NEVER LINKED TO this New York Times piece by Emily Eakin on weblogs and Internet journalism. So now I have.

JASON RUBINSTEIN writes about his experiences with the music industry. They care a lot about protecting the rights of artists.

UPDATE: And here's more on the subject.


I BLOG BECAUSE I CARE: Eugene Volokh says the Volokh Conspiracy doesn't blog much on weekends because, er, my stats are a lot lower on weekends. By this, I feel sure, he means that overall blog readership is down -- which is undoubtedly true. But is that a reason not to blog? Not at InstaPundit!

WHAT MARY ROBINSON IS UP TO: No good, as you might expect. Innocents Abroad has the scoop.

HMM. HARVEY PITT seems to be the Norm Mineta of securities regulation.

Hey, Harvey: Got that raise yet?

RICHARD BENNETT REPORTS that "the CIA sees blogware as an important defense technology."

Well, yeah.

THE BLOGCRITICS ROLLOUT is scheduled for tomorrow. Follow the link for more information.

JOANNE JACOBS (whose permalink isn't working, so you'll have to scroll down) wants to know where the evidence is on Steven Hatfill. Good question. There's some circumstantial evidence here and there, but there's obviously not very much or he'd have been arrested. But there's a steady flow of news stories that more or less convict him. Is he guilty or innocent? I don't know. But perhaps he should go have a beer with Richard Jewell and Wen Ho Lee.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

It's just amazing how it's gone completely down the memory hole that one of the 9/11 hijackers turned up at a Florida ER with the loathsome pustulence of skin anthrax. Everyone's so eager to find that the guy behind the bugs is an angry white male from Hollywood central casting that mere facts just go poof.

Indeed. I don't remember the ER story, but I remember quite a few stories indicating that some of the hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, had signs of anthrax infection.

THE ECONOMIST says that the gap between Europe and America is widening. And that's without reading Megan McArdle's response to Adrian Hamilton's "Invade America" piece.

What's conspicuously missing is any evidence that Europe is undergoing the kind of soul-searching it has counseled for the United States. Shouldn't Europeans be wondering why Americans have such a negative reaction to their statements and positions?

COMBUSTIBLE BOY is putting together a pro-war site for liberals and is soliciting suggestions for what materials he should include.

Diane E., meanwhile, having attempted dialogue with the warblogger-watch crowd, says they're beyond reason. I don't think they're CB's target audience, though.

MEG HOURIHAN says that bloggers should be paid. I agree. The tipjar's there on the left. . . .

ANONYMOUS BLOGGING: My reference to Steven Den Beste's piece on anonymous blogging has generated some email from other anonymous (or pseudonymous) bloggers. Half-Bakered writes:

My reason for anonymity is simple: fear. My blog is akin to and others that go after bias and misrepresentation in the local paper. I do this for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Flyer. While I have no illusions of being on their level, I take my self-appointed job seriously and I do aspire.

Nor am I under any delusions that the CA has noticed me or my little blog. Not yet, anyway. But I worry about the day when they do.

The paper has treated some critics dismissively, letting columnists swipe at them. But they may also treat me as they did Heidi Schafer or Duncan Ragsdale--two people who spearheaded citizen campaigns against using public funds to back a basketball arena, a proposal that the CA backed whole-heartedly. The CA went after those two mercilessly and relentlessly, in Ms. Schafer's case going so far as to print her home address and explore her personal life.

I have made my mistakes in life and couldn't survive such public scrutiny. But I don't think that disqualifies my observations and opinions. It does mean that if they decide to 'do something' about me, I have ample weaknesses to exploit.

And that scares me, frankly. Which is why I'm anonymous. Were circumstances otherwise, I'd proudly put my name to Half-Bakered, believe me.

Fair enough -- though no doubt a more public criticism would have more effect. The Comedian writes about the distinction between pseudonymous and anonymous blogging. (In a curious coincidence, the post below this one involves his efforts to find the true identity of investor-babe Elsie Lee, who may or may not be pseudonymous.) Porphyrogenitus has a reply -- linked to a bio -- too. And Demosthenes has a long response to Den Beste, which was picked up by TAPPED, though (in a move that some bloggers seem to regard as improper), TAPPED links to the response but not to the post that occasioned it. I think that's okay, but I assume that people know how to follow links.

UPDATE: Hesiod Theogeny adds this observation: "I think this discussion is an intellectually dishonest one, because most "le[f]t-wing" bloggers just happen to be pseudonymous." But -- and I'm not being snarky here, I really want to know -- why is this? I mean, there are right-wing pseudonybloggers (like Robert Musil.) But I think he's right that there are a lot more pseudonymous lefties. That seems odd to me, because it's not as if the lefties are in danger of having the Gestapo show up at their door. (A few melodramatically claim otherwise, but that's just for atmosphere.) And Jeff Goldstein, an untenured professor of the humanities, is a right-blogger who probably ought to be pseudonymous, but isn't. So what gives?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Moxie weighs in, and points out that not every blogger is a "warblogger." Good point.

BEST OF THE WEB (scroll down) says that Josh Marshall shouldn't be complaining about the Washington Post's use of the name "Talking Points Memo" for a new web feature, because Bill O'Reilly has used it on his show for a few years.

Yeah, but while the term "Talking Points Memo" predates both Marshall and O'Reilly (quaintly, it was once actually used to refer to actual memos containing talking points), Marshall has used it in the context of a web-based political site for quite some time, and it's certainly become identified with his particular product. As a matter of trademark law, that may be enough for Marshall to win.

But regardless of the law (and I'm not a trademark lawyer) what the Washington Post did was downright sleazy, and they deserve to suffer the sanction of social opprobrium. Visit Marshall's long-established weblog (it's even older than InstaPundit!) for his side.

UPDATE: Several readers have written to ask how I can reconcile my "opposition to intellectual property" with my position here. Oh, please. I'm not opposed to intellectual property -- just to the misuse of intellectual property laws to protect industry structure from technological change. That's hardly what's going on here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Will Vehrs tried to ask about this during Howard Kurtz's online chat today, but for some reason they didn't take his question.

READER GARY PULSINELLI forwards this link to a story in the Washington Post about authorities cracking down on "small scams" that may be sending money to terrorists, and adds these comments:

First, it shows that Customs is doing something in the war on terror, and it seems to have caught on to something subtle but important. It also shows that, while the agency was concerned with accusations of "profiling," it didn't let that stop the operation. And as an added bonus, it's diverting funds from the war on drugs! As big a failure as that war is overall, parts of it can work effectively, and I suspect this may be one of them. However, I think the most interesting is
the tone of the coverage. The Post seems to have no problem with this type of investigation. Beyond the obligatory quote from CAIR (and even that quote seems selected to appear faintly ridiculous), the article focuses on how effective the method has been and the large numbers of Middle Easterners who were actually caught doing something wrong.

You don't have to work all that hard to find a CAIR quote that sounds at least faintly ridiculous. But I do think that CAIR has squandered its credibility. I hope that this is working as well as the story makes it sound.

DONALD SENSING IS BOLDLY PREDICTING no attack on Iraq until next year. I wonder how much of his analysis applies to other potential targets.

MINETA UPDATE: Hesiod Theogeny points out some more damning information on air security.

It's not that Homeland Security (chiefly embodied in air security at the moment) is intrusive. And it's not that it's ineffective. It's that it's both at the same time, that everybody knows that, and that the bureaucracy persists in making it worse anyway that is generating the anger. And there's a lot of it out there.

BILL MAULDIN IS IN A BAD WAY. He's 80, suffered some serious burns, and is now in a nursing home. The thing that cheers him up the most, according to this report from Bob Greene, is hearing from World War II veterans. If you're someone who falls into that category, Greene tells you how to get in touch.

(Thanks to Dan Perkins for the headsup).

STEVEN DEN BESTE is rather critical of anonymous bloggers. Personally, I'm not opposed to anonymous blogging, but I admit that I am quicker to accept representations by real people, with preexisting reputations. Sure, anonymity can play an important role in protecting people's ability to speak out. But it comes with a price, as Den Beste points out: "He is standing up to be counted, but he's wearing a bag over his head."

Anonybloggers have their role, and they can be quite good. And it's fun to speculate about who they are: Is Atrios really Bob Shrum? Is Robert Musil really Alan Greenspan? (Almost certainly not, in both cases, but the fun doesn't end there. Which anonybloggers are sock puppets for the opposition, designed to discredit the very positions they propound? I have my suspicions. . . . But I digress.)

If you want to blog anonymously, fine. That's your privilege. Responding to your anonymity differently than they would respond to your True Name is other people's privilege. You pays your money, and you takes your choice.

WHAT YOU MISSED: If you weren't reading InstaPundit over the weekend (and my counter suggests that most of you surf from work) you may have missed the "Impeach Norm Mineta" bumper stickers and the story of how the Washington Post has sleazily appropriated Josh Marshall's blog title for a similar feature of its own.

Unlike yours truly, Josh isn't a law professor who could turn suing Big Media organizations into a lucrative hobby, so any copyright and trademark lawyers out there who are interested in helping him out should pop on over to his site and drop him an email. There must be a few of you with a strong sense of justice, or a grudge against the Post,.

TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: WyethWire reports that Turner is planting favorable articles in the South Carolina press, in response to the bad publicity he's gotten over his effort to seize land belonging to the descendants of slaves.

It's gonna take more than that, Ted.

READER TRENT TELENKO takes exception to the Ralph Peters article that I link to below, and offers this competing analysis:

Thanks to demographic changes, the Saudis can no longer credibly threaten Western economies with an oil embargo. The real Saudi oil weapon amounts to a scene from the Mel Brooks movie “Blazing Saddles.” They are playing the part of the black sheriff who faces down a lynch mob trying to kill him by putting a gun to his own head and saying “Stop right there, or I shoot the Nigger.” The Saudis are counting on the fact that anyone replacing them will be worse than they are and thus the outside world needs the Al-Saud clan in charge of the Arabian oil fields.

The Bush policy initiatives with Russia, its plans to invade and overthrow Saddam, and encouragement of the Iranian resistance amount to a plan to eliminate the Saudi oil weapon. If the Iraqi oil fields are fully operational and in the hands of American oil companies, the Iranian state is in the hands of a rational non-mullah western aligned regime and Russia is maximizing its oil production. The Saudi oil weapon is eliminated.

At that point, all it will take to over throw the Saudis is to remove our troops rom Saudi bases and state publicly that the fate of the Al-Saud clan is irrelevant to US interests. The lack of foreign hard currency from crashed oil prices means that the Saudi princes cannot buy off the Wahhabi masses and they will get eaten.

After the Wahhabi revolution and subsequent American blockade, the Western Europeans and 3rd worlders will be screaming for an American occupation of Saudi oil fields.

This is an interesting analysis. It is, of course, inconsistent with what we're hearing from the White House, but that hardly proves that it's not true.

RUSS SMITH WRITES that things aren't back to normal in New York, and he's kind of tired of people elsewhere (he singles out California) telling him to get over it.

MICKEY KAUS wonders why Doris Kearns Goodwin isn't toast after a recent Los Angeles Times story that, he says, includes some seriously incriminating nuggets in a froth of Goodwin-friendly generality.

I don't know. It was always hard for me to get excited about the various plagiarism scandals that ruffled the ether earlier this year, and as we move closer to a shooting war against a country somewhat more formidable than Afghanistan these things seem less pressing. But to other people it was a big deal once. I don't know why it isn't now.

August 11, 2002


SFSU HAS COME UP with what it seems to think is an appropriate response to the riot against Jewish students: create a program of Islamic studies.

Yeah, that'll teach 'em what rioting gets you.

Blogger e Moo is not impressed with this strategy, or with SFSU President Robert Corrigan.

INTERESTING DISPUTE between Jordan and Qatar over Al Jazeera TV.

ARES AND ATHENA AND THE WAR: I've been blogging less lately, trying to rest the tortured ligaments and tendons that were already flirting with RSI nearly a year ago. But I've been watching the "warblogger" / "techblogger" debate on the war (well, some of them, anyway), and I think that Eric Olsen is onto something when he calls it a cultural divide.

But part of the reason for different views on the war may stem from different views of war in general. I thought of this in connection with a passage in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, where the character Enoch Root is talking about two kinds of war as personified by the two very different Greek gods with jurisdiction over warfare, Ares and Athena (this starts at page 804 in my hardcover edition):

"She was the goddess of metis, which means cunning and craftiness. . . . The word that we use today to mean the same thing, is really technology. . . . Instead of calling Athena the goddess of war, wisdom and macrame, then, we should say war and technology. And here again we have the problem of an overlap with the jurisdiction of Ares, who's supposed to be the god of war. And let's just say that Ares is a complete asshole. His personal aides are Fear and Terror and sometimes Strife. He is constantly at odds with Athena even though -- maybe because -- they are nominally the god and goddess of the same thing -- war. Heracles, who is one of Athena's human proteges, physically wounds Ares on two occasions, and even strips him of his weapons at one point! You see, the fascinating thing about Ares is that he's completely incompetent. . . .

"So insofar as Athena is a goddess of war, what really do we mean by that? Note that her most famous weapon is not her sword but her shield Aegis, and Aegis has a gorgon's head on it, so that anyone who attacks her is in serious danger of being turned to stone. She's always described as being calm and majestic, neither of which adjectives anyone ever applied to Ares. . . ."

"Let's face it, Randy, we've all known guys like Ares. The pattern of human behavior that caused the internal mental representation of Ares to appear in the minds of the ancient Greeks is very much alive today, in the form of terrorists, serial killers, riots, pogroms, and aggressive tinhorn dictators who turn out to be military incompetents. And yet for all their stupidity and incompetence, people like that can conquer and control large chunks of the world if they are not resisted. . . . Who is going to fight them off, Randy?

"I'm afraid you're going to say we are."

"Sometimes it might be other Ares-worshippers, as when Iran and Iraq went to war and no one cared who won. But if Ares-worshippers aren't going to end up running the whole world, somebody needs to do violence to them. This isn't very nice, but it's a fact: civilization requires an Aegis. And the only way to fight the bastards off in the end is through intelligence. Cunning. Metis. . . . Do you kow why we won the Second World War, Randy?"

"Because we built better stuff than the Germans?"

"But why did we build better stuff, Randy? . . . Well, the short answer is that we won because the Germans worshipped Ares and we worshipped Athena."

In Stephenson's characterization of Ares as representing war in terms of mindless destruction and the practice of glorying in that destruction (with additional measures of macho posturing and egotism blended with ineptitude thrown in) it's easy to see why someone would be against it. And if you think that the Ares version is the sum total of what war's all about, then it's easy to reject any claim that war might be called for, and to brand people who think it's time to resort to war as, well, Ares-like. Which seems to me to be the essence of the antiwar position among many of the techbloggers.

But, of course, there's more to it than that. (And, if you look at the other side in this war, it's pretty easy to see who's glorying in mindless destruction and engaging in macho posturing.) As Stephenson points out, there's another archetype of war -- one that is defensive, and that is based on cunning and technology. (And it's pretty easy to see which side fits the Athenean archetype, too).

And, finally, if you don't like the Ares style of war, and don't want Ares-worshippers to wind up running the world,then it's not enough to reject your inner Ares and think peaceful thoughts. You've got to unsling Aegis, and do something about it.

Here's the end of the dialogue, after Root argues that the Nazis failed because their ideology was all about proving things that they already believed true, not about finding truth:

"Ares always reemerges from the chaos. It will never go away. Athenian civilization defends itself from the forces of Ares with metis, or technology. . . ."

"Sounds teleological, Enoch. Free countries get better science, hence superior military power, hence get to defend their freedoms. You're proclaiming a sort of Manifest Destiny here."

"Well, someone's got to do it."

"Aren't we beyond that sort of thing now?"

"I know you're just saying that to infuriate me. Sometimes, Randy, Ares gets chained up in a barrel for a few years, but he never goes away. The next time he emerges, Randy, the conflict is going to revolve around bio-, micro-, and nanotechnology. Who's going to win?"

It would be a bummer if crazed ideologues who want to bring back the 12th century wound up winning that war, just because those who should be forging the latest version of Athena's shield think that any effort to defend oneself smacks of Ares.

UPDATE: Hmm. I wish I'd seen this line from an anti-war blog site when I wrote the post above:

I have found that sensuality and war don't mix. Sensuality and politics don't mix. Sensuality and warbloggers don't mix.

Warbloggers are from Athena, anti-war bloggers are from Venus? Maybe it's a good thing I didn't read that before, or I might have come up with a lame, John Gray-inspired title for this post. Anyhow, it seems unfair to me: Athena looks pretty hot in this picture.

But God forbid that the defense of civilization should be, you know, unsensual. I wonder what Bill Mauldin would have to say about that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now BurningBird is mad about the link above, saying that it's out of context, and that I should have linked her other posts directly in an earlier post, rather than via Eric Olsen's sum-up. (Though as I've noted elsewhere, people do that all the time.) I don't think I took the earlier item out of context at all; I think it was consistent with what Brendan O'Neill (who not even BurningBird can call a right-winger) writes about the antiwar movement today:

'Fuck democracy, fuck communism', says one of the characters who is sick of the war. 'I just want a life and a girl.' This sentiment captures what is behind much of today's anti-war mood - the notion that nothing is worth fighting, dying or killing for, and that it is better to live in peace and put up with your lot in life than to struggle. Really?

Today's prevailing anti-war mood reflects a serious lack of stomach for fighting, rather than a positive assertion of the right of third world states to run their own affairs without Western interference. Indeed, almost everyone now accepts that the West has the right to invade/impose sanctions/nation-build (delete according to how 'radical' you are) wherever it pleases. Rather than indicating a real opposition to Western intervention, our dislike of war seems to capture our fear of doing anything too decisive or forceful. . . . Surely there's more to being anti-war than just not liking bloodshed...?

Follow the link above and read the whole post. BurningBird seems to have made a career out of complaining that my blog is "unfair" but her idea of "fairness" seems to involve me doing what she wants. Which is also sadly typical.

ANOTHER UPDATE: BurningBird has posted again, apologizing for seeming petty on the linking issue. As for the rest, well, as I've said repeatedly I think that there are reasonable arguments to be made against invading Iraq, though I don't find them persuasive. (And they've been noted, and responded to, here and elsewhere over the past eleven months, which is what I meant when I said that Dave Winer came late to the debate. I should post a bunch of links, but I'm not doing it here. That's the project that Combustible Boy is working on, more or less). As for Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia -- if it were up to me, I'd invade Saudi Arabia first, then let the dominoes fall (and give them a healthy push if needed). It's not up to me (which is probably just as well). But all of these countries are ruled by people fundamentally hostile to us, who will hurt us if they can, and who are happy to see those who want to kill Americans flourish.

I don't pretend to offer guarantees that American intervention in the region will make life better for the people who live there. I think it will, I hope it will, and I think we should do our best to make that so. But those are secondary objectives. The primary objective is to make clear to leaders that if their country threatens America, they, the rulers, will be out of power at best, and dead along with all their family and friends at worst. Is that "nice?" No. I don't care.

BRAD DE LONG points out some amazing news on economic productivity. At least it's amazing to me.


THE spectacle of President Bush groveling to Saudi bigots is a disgrace. The Saudis sponsor terror, export hatred, undercut American interests and kill Americans. They are our enemies. Period. History will marvel at this administration's insistence that they remain our friends. . . .

The trigger for the latest orgy of kissing Saudi feet was an article in The Washington Post by one of our nation's finest reporters, Thomas E. Ricks, revealing that a Pentagon briefing to top insiders dared to question Saudi virtue and perfection.

President Bush & Co. immediately got on the phone to Prince Bunkum bin Bigot to insist we didn't really mean it, like a spineless husband caught cheating on camera. In this grotesque case, our president clearly forgot who he works for. Bush family friends or not, the Saudis are murderers. And their preferred victims are Americans.

The royal family doesn't do its own dirty work, of course - no more than they fight their own wars. Like mafia dons, they put out contracts. Some of those contracts are for oil deals or public-relations blitzes, or to buy influence-packing lobbyists inside the Beltway. Others involve money handed to terrorists to spread the cruelest imaginable perversion of a great world religion - in the end, the Saudis are even greater enemies to the future of the Islamic world than they are to the United States.

You know, if the Democrats start saying this kind of thing, Bush will be in big trouble.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh characterizes Peters as "overwrought."

NORM MINETA IMPEACHMENT UPDATE: Gary Leff has made up bumperstickers calling for Mineta's impeachment, with the slogan, "IMPEACH NORM MINETA: Liberty & Security . . . Not Bureaucracy!" You can see one, and buy one, via Leff's popular air-travel blog.

UPDATE: History will record that, although Norm Mineta has been unpopular in the Blogosphere for a long time, it was the Laura Crane breast-touching incident that was the final straw leading to open calls for his impeachment. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: U.S. Airways has filed for bankruptcy, and reader Adam Roberts blames Mineta for endorsing security policies that are chasing away passengers:

As you may know, the airline industry's one that's traditionally operated on very low profit margins. Generally just a few percent. Thus a 5% or 10% drop in air travel (and thus air travel revenues) can have a much larger effect on a company's bottom line. And it's no secret that the needless hassles instituted by the TSA have compelled many would-be fliers to look for alternate modes of transportation, especially those living within a day's travel for their intended destination. Perhaps the investment losses of US Airways shareholders have at least some of their roots in the policies of Underperformin' Norman.

Yep. And who wouldn't cancel trips whenever possible, given the hassles involved with security? And given that those hassles don't do any good anyway?

PUNDITWATCH IS UP! Don't miss it -- and note how Sam Donaldson's failure to take Terry McAuliffe seriously underscores the point I made below.

ICH BIN EIN SLACKER: Jeffrey Gedmin says the German work ethic is dead.

UPDATE: Wesley Dabney says that Gedmin is wrong. On the other hand, Germans show great dedication to the work of lecturing Americans, who apparently forced Germans to live on the "killing fields" of "our" Cold War. This guy also apparently thinks that the U.S. goal is to kill every single person in Iraq. Yeah, mass slaughter of the entire population of every nation we've fought has certainly been the United States' method of warmaking -- just look at the millions, er hundreds of thousands, er, tens of thousands, er, thousands, er hundreds killed in Afghanistan. What do you say to someone so out of touch with reality? Jeez.

And, no, I'm serious: What do you say to somebody like that? Here's the best I can do: "You're wrong. But if you make it too difficult to deal with genocidal religious nuts now, things may escalate to the point at which your current fears become reality. And you'll be partly responsible for that, just as the people who temporized when Hitler invaded the Rhineland were partly responsible for the horrors of World War Two."

DON'T MISS THIS PHOTO over at Susanna Cornett's.

POT & KETTLE DEPARTMENT: Terry McAuliffe says Bush can't condemn corporate misdeeds because he's part of the problem. Matthew Hoy isn't impressed. But I don't think Hoy's lengthy and impassioned response was necessary. All it takes are two words: "Global Crossing." (Though Marc Racicot was defending McAuliffe not long ago, which must surely be bittersweet to the Dems.)

As I've said before the Democrats are in a poor position to cash in on the financial scandals, because they're in just as deep as the Republicans. Terry McAuliffe is another example of that phenomenon.

UPDATE: Fritz Schranck sends this link to a post of his own on the subject. I love the notion of the "Claude rating."