September 07, 2002

MATT WELCH, writing in the National Post, surveys the crushing of dissent in America post 9/11.

STILL MORE ON SWEDEN: A Swedish reader informs me that the position of Sweden vis a vis the United States has occupied not only the Blogosphere, but the Swedish press. He sends a precis of the debate:

Congratulations to your interesting weblog community.

Today, with four days to go until the Swedish parliamentary elections on September 15, I'd like to contribute to the recent debate about the Swedish Economy versus the American one. I will do this, not by stating my own layman opinion, but rather referring you to three Swedish articles written about this in the biggest Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The 1st article, which initiated this debate, and was written by two critical researchers at a Swedish Trade Research Institute, is called "Swedes are Poorer than Blacks in the US". A 2nd article wished to debunk the first one with a couple of counter-arguments: "Impossible Comparison Sweden-USA" and the third one takes a position between the two: "When Differences Become Apparent".

Arguments, methods and conclusions of the study in the 1st article:

- It is the gross median income (money income before taxes), excluding capital income in the two countries that have been compared in order to avoid comparison of differences in government and welfare services. It does however include gross welfare payments from the government.

- Median income US: approx $40,000; Sw: $27,000. GDP/capita US: $31,000; Sw: $22,000

- Private consumption US: $20,000; Sw:$11,000 (explained by the fact that school/medicare payed privately in the US)

- Average Retail Sales is twice as big in the US than in Sweden, meaning an American can buy two pair of pants when a Swede can buy one pair.

- A low economic growth rate has caused Sweden to lose wealth when compared to the US

- The median (not average) American household, has a yearly income before taxes which is 50% higher than the Swedish one. The median Black household in the US is better off than the median Swedish one

- If Sweden had been an American state, we would have been the poorest one, together with Hispanics and Blacks, and there would have been a debate about the "Swedish Problem"

- In the US, the biggest income is earned by 'Asians' and second by 'Whites and non-Hispanics'. The poorest are the 'Blacks'. The Swedish median income is lower than that of all those groups.

- Between 1993-1999, income increased for all US groups by 15%, but mostly for Blacks (25%). In Sweden, the median income has remained almost unchanged during that period.

- While the income of the richest 20% segment of the US population have risen the most (30%) and widened the income differences between rich and poor, the most humble segment of Americans has seen its income increased as well. The poorest households in Sweden increased their income by merely 6% during those years, which is 12 percentage points less than for the poorest in the US. Swedish middle and high income households had an increase of between 12 and 20%.

- Low growth rate has a devastating effect on all segments of the population. If Swedish income had developed at the same rate as American income, Swedes would have an additional $1,500 gross income on a yearly basis.

- Politicians need to focus on growth stimulation, which would in turn authorize a positive income development for the Swedish population from all income segments.

The second article tries to debunk these findings using American studies and statistics:

- Yes, the median income in the US is bigger than the Swedish one, but so is the cost of life in America, as well as the differences of income between large segments of the population

- Median income says nothing about working conditions, living conditions or the quality of the Medicare system, and nothing about the economic development of the country.

- The "differences in government and welfare services" are precisely the factors which the above studies failed to take into account. If you live in a country earning $100,000, but paying $99,000 in rent and health insurance, are you really better off than in Sweden?

Cost of life in America is way higher than in Sweden. The smallest apartment costs $500-600/month.

- In order to live decently in the US for a family of one adult and two children, an income of $30,000/year is needed, to be able to pay for medicare and health insurance. Most Americans work in service or restauration industries, where salaries are $22,900 on average. 47 million households in America earn less than $35,000. Percentage of poor: 26,1% of Blacks, 25,6% of Hispanics and 10,5% of Whites.

- Median income fails to explain the quality of the living conditions. 5,4 million Americans live in squalor conditions. Government subsidized apartments are scarce (36 available for every 100 needed). Average working time was 40 hours/week, 52 week/year! (In Sweden, you are intitled to 5 weeks of vacation).

Minimum wages in the US are $1,000/month and many poor need two jobs to survive.

- 31 million Americans, including 12 million children don't have access to sufficient or healthy food. 8 out of 1000 children die preliminary deaths excluding the child birth death rate). Among Blacks, the percentage is 15.8 out of a 1000. In Sweden, only 1 child out of 1000 die under those circumstances.

- 40% of American families say they would only be able to sustain for 3 days in case they suddenly lost their job or got sick for a long (and expensive) time, before their money runs out.

- In 1999, a sixth of the population (43 million) did not have health insurance, which is up from 32 million ten years earlier.

- Net Capital Wealth (money on bank + stock + retirement pension + apartment / house minus debts) compensated for inflation decreased in the US from $54,600 in 1989 to $49,900 in 1997.

- Net Capital Wealth per Race in 1998 in the US: Whites $81,700, Blacks $10,000, Hispanics $3,000. If you exclude capital in real estate house/apartment) you get: Whites $37,600; Blacks $1,200; Hispanics $0.

- Conclusion: 40% of the population earns just 1% of what the remaining 60% is earning! No wonder the median income is high. This is why, the author argues, it's not correct to say that the poorest segments in Sweden have lost out compared to their American counterparts.

- It is true to say that the American income has increased, but a huge portion of the population in the US is living under conditions which couldn't possible serve as an ideal for most Swedes. And the Americans are paying for it with their health and spare time.

The third article (editorial) argues:

- A shortage of growth can be catastrophical to the Swedish economy.

- The normal Swedish family earns less than the normal American family in the traditionally ethnically Swedish parts of America, which should be food for thought

- Sweden is a rich country (GDP/capita higher than the UK or France), but Sweden should radically lower taxes, reform and liberalize the labour market and promote growth.

- Sweden doesn't have to become like America but we should try to promote and emulate the kind of dynamic that exists there, which allows people to change "classes" rapidly, through hard work, and which allows regions to attract investment.

- There ARE reasons to why the American dream motivates people around the world alot more than does the Swedish or European models. It's only our own myths and misconceptions that prevent us from taking impression of our neighbour across the pond.

I personally tend to agree with the third article. I hope these summaries could share some light to this debate of some interest to both Swedes and Americans, and if you like, you may post it on your excellent weblog. The links (in Swedish) are merely given as reference for any Swedish-speaking readers you might have.

Best regards,

"The Viking" /

Swedish national living elsewhere in Europe (but not because of any problems with the Swedish tax authorities...)

Thanks very much. Whether the Blogosphere will (or will even care to) go beyond the degree of debate that's going on in Sweden is unclear. But this certainly makes clear that that, far from being mere anti-Swedish carping, the issues that have been raised about Sweden's economy in the Blogosphere are genuine, since they're obviously of vital interest to the Swedish electorate.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Hurst writes:

I am sceptical of the notion that the cost-of-living is higher in US as a whole than Sweden. I rather think that it is the opposite. If I am reading the attached OECD figures correctly (it is late and I am in a hurry), they list the Swedish price level as HIGHER than US (by a ratio of 105 to 100). That fits what I would expect. Most of the arguments of the "pro-Sweden" article point back to the dubious fact that it costs more to live in US. Most of the rest of the points you list are either false or misleading. For instance, very few poor head-of-households earn the minimum wage. Even McDonalds gives people raises after you've been there for 6-months. Very few people in the US who work full-time are poor! Also, they significantly overestimate US outlays for rent and health insurance. I would like to know what figures they are using.

I don't open attachments, so I wasn't able to read Kevin's figures. I'll see if I can get a link. But from what I know about comparative cost-of-living in Sweden vs. the United States (back when I practiced law, my Swedish clients regarded D.C. as cheaper than Stockholm) I would expect to find Sweden somewhat more expensive than America.

UPDATE: Here's the link. Thanks, Kevin.

JOURNALISTS WHO CAN'T USE A DICTIONARY: Pulp Commentary says that Roland Watson and Chris Caldwell prove that they don't know what they're doing by doubting the existence of "crawfishing" as a verb. And he's got links. It's a lexicographical Fisking.

MARK KLEIMAN thinks the U.S. / Swedish crime comparisons make Sweden look worse than it really is.

Well, you can argue about this stuff, and cross-border crime comparisons are always iffy, but I think the sources I linked to look pretty good -- and they're certainly not from sources with a vested interest in boosting the U.S.A.

In an email, Kleiman notes that his analysis doesn't demonstrate that Sweden is a "light unto the gentiles." I keep waiting for that demonstration, but what I keep getting are arguments that it's not as bad, compared to Mississippi, as I said.

THE PATRIOT ACT ACTUALLY PROTECTS PRIVACY MORE than preexisting law, argues George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr. He's got a law review article (which I haven't yet read) but the link is to a story in the New York Times. I think it's fair to describe this as a "contrarian" view.

TO MY SURPRISE, my local paper has been running these Mallard Fillmore cartoons on the editorial page next to Doonesbury.

HENRY HANKS says that TAPPED is spinning the NEA story itself.

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY has an interview with Nick Cook, author of a recent book on antigravity. Cook, who isn't a nut, thinks that there's real progress on antigravity and reactionless thrusters in the classified "black" research world. I'm skeptical, but I hope he's right.


We may even have to thank France for helping to ease the tensions. America's oldest ally has come to the rescue — however inadvertently. Though it had kept it a secret, the French government had much the same objection to the court as the American government — that its peacekeepers could be hauled before the court.

As the European nations met last Friday to discuss their common position at the EU meeting — for the EU is supposed to have a common foreign and defense policy these days — it was revealed, much to the surprise of other EU members, that the French government had secretly negotiated a seven-year exemption for its own peacekeepers back in 1998.

"I was somewhat surprised that France, despite signing the ICC, had been granted this exemption," noted Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. Interestingly, demanding exceptions is exactly what Europeans have attacked the Americans for doing.

I guess I should be surprised, but I'm not.

MISHA IS JEALOUS of Michael Ledeen. Well, sure.

DAVID TELL has a sum-up of the Hatfill affair.

THIS ARTICLE IN EDITOR AND PUBLISHER asks "Why do they hate us?" -- the press, that is:

The newest polls about the press are discouraging enough to make even H.L. Mencken weep. The public, which had admired us in the months after Sept. 11, has turned against us again. Nearly half those responding in the most recent Pew Research Center poll seem to think that we "don't stand up for America," and a majority believe we "don't care about the people we report on." Generally, polling numbers have gone back to pre-9/11 levels.

And why could this be? Here's a clue:

The public loved us most in November, when flags rippled on the corners of TV screens and from on-camera lapels.

Then the story seems to drift into a discussion of how the public doesn't like the press to ask "tough questions." But I think that misses the point. The public doesn't like the press asking dumb-but-slanted questions and pretending that they're tough questions. Adversarialism for the sake of adversarialism, Reuters-style moral equivalence or bias, and petty kvetching give people the sense that the press sees itself as apart from, and somehow better than, the society that it is in fact a part of, and that readers and viewers are a part of. And people don't like that. Go figure.

My advice to those who read this article and want to know how to improve the press's image: read a lot of weblogs. Because webloggers don't hate the press as such. Heck, if we did, we'd spend our time watching The Simpsons on DVD (I've got seasons 1 & 2!).

But you become a weblogger because, fundamentally, you think the press is important, and you love what it does enough to hate to see sloppy and biased work -- which unfortunately, you see a lot of even in the elite media. And, yes, people besides webloggers and media watchdogs notice that . Everyone notices it. Maybe when I was a kid people were too unsophisticated to pick up on media bias -- or maybe they just lacked the right vocabulary to talk about it -- but everyone's a media critic now. Yet, fundamentally, the big media are still playing double-A ball, in front of major league umpires.

Where the article is dead-on is in recognizing that press freedom is threatened when the public doesn't respect the press. But here's a message to journalists: the public doesn't disrespect you because you're "too tough" and raise troubling questions they don't want to think about. The public disrespects you because you are, far too often, sloppy, superficial, and biased. You want more respect, do something about that.

UPDATE: Justin Katz has some similar observations, and notes that the press's enthusiasm for "campaign finance reform" may account for some of this -- he suggests that maybe people just aren't enthusiastic about free speech for the press when the press has shown itself unenthusiastic about free speech for everyone else.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, maybe stuff like this explains why people don't like the press.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Howard Owens says I'm wrong -- bloggers care about news, not the press. Fair enough, though I think actually we care about both. His comments on the difference between the stories that bloggers think important and those that are beaten to death by Big Media are right on.

OKAY, ONE MORE: Laurence Simon responds, and has links to many other posts responding to this piece.

OKAY, I LIED: A.C. Douglas emails that I should have mentioned Susanna Cornett's piece on this. I looked at it, and he's right. And she mentions this post by Toren Smith as the definitive wrapup.

September 06, 2002

WIN FITZPATRICK REPORTS a poll showing that most Palestinians support nonviolent action. Problem is, they support violent action, too, in the same proportion. So if this is progress, it's not because Palestinians are getting less enthusiastic about violence, but only because they're willing to at least consider nonviolence to some degree.

Of course, if they'd run a Gandhian campaign they would have won decades ago. But how long would they have to forego bombing bar mitzvahs and seders before that kind of approach would have credibility now?

VIA RAM AHLUWALIA, I notice that the federal government has approved commercial development of the Moon. Ahluwalia's comment: "[M]aybe there will be a round of 'neo-colonization' protestors lamenting 'solar imperialism' and the unfettered search for new markets."

They're already out there, believe it or not, dismissing space colonization as "white male ideology of conquest."

THE SHROPSHIRE CHALLENGE IS, well, it's funny, that's what it is.

THIS SPINSANITY CRITIQUE OF MICHAEL MOORE might interest those who still follow his doings. Excerpt:

This pattern -- the very sources Moore cites proving him wrong -- continues throughout the book. . . .

Most baffling of Moore's misstatements may come in a listing of categories that the U.S. tops, such as per capita energy use and births to teenagers. In a blatant misrepresentation, he states: "We're number one in budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP)." When Moore wrote his book last year, the United States was running a budget surplus, as it had for the previous three years.



SOMEHOW I MISSED THIS PIECE on the Iraqi / McVeigh connection yesterday. This stuff has been rattling around the blogosphere for a while; it's good to see it getting more attention. I'd call this case not proven, but worthy of further investigation.

THESE SATELLITE IMAGES suggest that Saddam is working on nuclear weapons. Of course, these could be part of a new civilian nuclear program. And there are probably people who would believe that.


NORMAN MAILER is denouncing America. But then he has a history of siding with murderers.

THE DAILY CALIFORNIAN SEEMS TO SAY that U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl is misrepresenting the truth:

At a press conference last night, Chancellor Berdahl said he had informed ASUC President Jesse Gabriel that red, white and blue ribbons—not white—would be distributed.

He added the student leaders had initially chosen white ribbons because multicolored ribbons were too costly.

But student leaders said the decision was not based on financial concerns.

"It's true that (white ribbons) are cheaper," said Graduate Assembly President Jessica Quindel. "But I was at the meetings, and the decisions had nothing to do with the prices."

Red-white-and-blue will be permitted, and the "Star Spangled Banner" may even be sung.

SHARIA HURTS: Contestants for Miss World are boycotting Nigeria to protest Sharia law and the harsh sentences imposed on women for adultery.

SWEDEN ON THE ROPES? One of that country's biggest advantages has been its reputation for wild, freewheeling sex. But if that's true, then why do they need to broadcast porn to combat a national nookie shortage?

A candidate in Sweden's general election has called for pornography to be broadcast on television every Saturday to encourage people to have more sex.
Teres Kirpikli says she wants to help boost the Swedish economy by encouraging people to have more children.

Then there's this observation: "Sweden has a negative natural growth rate, with more deaths than births now registered every year."

UPDATE: Gee, could this eugenics program involving the sterilization of tens of thousands of women as recently as the 1970s, have anything to do with that?

MORE TERROR ARRESTS: This time it's a Turkish man and his fiancee, in Germany, suspected of planning to bomb American military facilities on September 11. Meanwhile, here is a report of what may be an Arab-on-Arab suicide bombing in Yemen.

SADDAMA BIN LADEN: The Indepundit continues his link-rich series on the danger posed by Saddam, with this installment on Iraq/Al Qaeda connections.

SPINSANITY AGREES with Cathy Young and others that the NEA is getting a bum rap. I'm persuaded now, but I can't help observing that the NEA hurt its case by acting guilty. As SpinSanity itself says:

After repeated attempts to contain the controversy, the NEA issued an indirectly worded statement on Aug. 27. Rather than directly refuting the charges, it vaguely asserts that critics "have taken the material out of context" and are "using this national tragedy to attempt to score political points," giving little indication that the entire controversy has essentially been fabricated. It also at some point apparently removed links to Lippincott's lesson.

Now that doesn't make misrepresentations of its views any less misleading, but on the other hand, people watch an organization's behavior for cues as to whether to take charges against it seriously. If NEA had said "this is a made-up controversy" and "we never said that" people would have been less inclined to believe the critics. So why didn't it?

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus says "I told you so." And, indeed, as I noted here on August 19, he did. He also has some cautionary advice.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Holmgren writes over in Romenesko's letters section that Nyhan is spinning too:

Brendan Nyhan's Spinsanity piece concerning a Washington Times story on NEA suggested lesson plans blames Ellen Sorokin for misleading readers into thinking that the NEA wished to avoid blaming Al-Qaeda for the attacks on 9/11. Since the Washington Times article never mentions Al-Qaeda we may want to consider the ways in which Nyhan is spinning this story as well. It suggests that what Nyhan preceives is equal to what is written.

The blogosphere (and yes, I think Romenesko is a blog) chugs on.

MICHAEL MOORE says his movie "Bowling for Columbine" is being censored:

It challenges the traditional kind of New York liberals in their attitudes towards guns and violence and terrorism. The exclusion of our film probably says more about what's happened to the NYFF than it does about anything else.

Yeah, you know those New York liberals and their gun-loving ways. The response is a gem:

The gun lobby is not a major supporter of Lincoln Center, so I don't know whose politics we're supposed to be worried about.

Moore says it's about Bush, not guns. I haven't seen the movie, but, um, didn't Columbine happen when, ahem, someone else was President?

GO READ LILEKS. Today's. Now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

HEY, MAYBE ALTERMAN'S ONTO SOMETHING with his suggestion of Holland as a role model:

The Dutch cabinet has backed a possible United States attack on Iraq, even without a mandate from the UN Security Council. Parliament convened in emergency session on Thursday night to discuss the matter.

Gotta love those Dutch.

UPDATE: Hmm. This story isn't on that site anymore, and I can't find it elsewhere. Given the lame nature of the Radio Netherlands site, which just features a few brief "news highlight" items, that may not mean anything, but it's odd.

TALKLEFT has a lot of new information about efforts to protest Joe Biden's dumb "RAVE Act," including a call-your-Senator campaign that's going on today.

ERIC ALTERMAN is unhappy with my Wednesday post in which I disagreed with his characterization of Sweden as a "beacon of light" after which the United States should model itself. I made three points: (1) Sweden collaborated with the Nazis in World War Two, and with various unsavory types afterward; (2) Sweden has more crime than America; and (3) Sweden is poorer than Mississippi.

There was no response to (1), which I'll regard as a concession of the point, and rightly so. Similarly, point (2) is pretty much conceded as well (as one of Eric's readers says: "Sweden has way more murders than I thought it would!"). So that leaves the Mississippi point. I had posted on this a while back, with a link to a Swedish study that said exactly that. The link doesn't work any more, but Alterman points to this "debunking" in The American Prospect, which doesn't actually say the study's wrong, but says that its methodology is flawed because it should include the value of government services that Swedes get. Well, okay, but if you're taking such extrinsic factors into account, you should probably also take into account that it's a lot cheaper to live in Mississippi. However, Stephen Green, using different -- and probably better -- methodology says that Sweden is actually slightly richer than Mississippi, but still poorer than Alabama. And he notes that Mississippians are more likely to have jobs. (Note, too, that the gap between Sweden and the U.S. as a whole, as opposed to just a couple of its poorest states, is colossal. As for the comparision of poverty rates invoked by one of Alterman's readers, that's not a comparison of wealth, but of income distribution.)

But, okay: In a spirit of generosity I'll concede the Mississippi point, though I do think I'm being generous to do so. That still leaves me with the high ground on two out of three, which seems to me to undercut the notion that Sweden is or should be a "beacon of light" to the world.

However, the intensity of Alterman's response, and of some of his readers' letters on the subject, suggests that Sweden does remain a beacon of light to the American left. But then, we knew that already.

As for Alterman's invocation of Amsterdam, with its legalized prostitution and hash bars, all I can say is: I've got no problem with that. Why would I?

UPDATE: Here's someone who wants Sweden to be more of a beacon.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eric emails that he concedes on the Nazi issue, but that he's going to have another go at the crime issue on Monday. Fine with me -- I'm happy to keep this volley going -- but remember: it's not enough to quibble about numbers, the results have to support the original statement that Sweden is a "beacon of light." And I'm not sure that any crime stats will help that. We've already done the "somewhat better than Mississippi" thing on money. If you're just somewhat better than Mississippi on crime and money, but still have the Nazi thing hanging around your neck, well, the "beacon of light" award is going to elude you. In the meantime, Floyd McWilliams says the wealth question is still open.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, above I blame an Alterman reader for subsituting "poverty rate" for "wealth." But actually Alterman pulled this switcheroo yesterday, which I hadn't noticed. Poverty rates aren't a measure of wealth, but of wealth distribution: the United States could be a lot poorer, and still have less poverty (in which case it would look like, well, Sweden). But it would be poorer, and per-capita income would be lower. I haven't heard a lot of lefties saying that they want to make America 30% poorer in order to achieve a halving of poverty rates, but that's what emulating Sweden would involve. And, heck, maybe that's what they do want, but if so you don't hear it advertised much. Thanks to reader Kevin Hurst, who pointed out the error and added a few observations:

For some reason Eric Alterman misquoted you as claiming that the poverty rate in Sweden is higher than in Mississippi when you claimed that Sweden as a whole is poorer than Mississippi. Sweden is clearly poorer than the United States by a very wide margin, as is every other country save maybe Luxembourg. Sweden may be ever so slightly more wealthy, as a whole, than Mississippi, but so what?

As for the flaw identified by TAP, the value of government spending is already included in GDP per capita, so I find their objection to the study unpersuasive. As a matter of fact, GDP, in my opinion tends to overstate the wealth of high tax, high government spending countries because I think GDP measures overstate the value of government services relative to the private sector. Sweden has been an economic basket case for two decades and it's is a testament to the delusional nature of many on the left that they still cling to illusions of the "Third Way" so popular in the 1970's and early '80's. Sweden will continue to fall farther behind the US in terms of material wealth in the future, but they have their righteousness to keep them warm. But one should never forget how "wealthy" the USSR was according to GDP statistics and I will never forget John Kenneth Galbraith praising the Soviet economic performance as late as 1984. Some will believe anything.

Interesting. Stay tuned.

THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER continues its ongoing effort to shred what little credibility it has left, with its "Alexander Hamilton essay contest," in which students are invited to write essays explaining why the Second Amendment doesn't actually give people any rights. But while there is -- to me at least -- something inherently suspect in an essay contest that's explicitly anti-constitutional-rights, that's not the credibility shredder. It's the name: VPC says it named the contest after Alexander Hamilton because (by dying in a duel with Aaron Burr) he was a "victim of handgun violence."

Eugene Volokh observes:

Wow, a victim of handgun violence. In some sense, I suppose, it's true -- he was killed in a violent act with a handgun. But surely if the NRA wanted to have a poster child for its "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" campaign, Hamilton would be top of the list! First, what Hamilton did was already illegal -- dueling was and is attempted murder (or, in Burr's case, actual murder). Can you imagine the scenario? "Mr. Burr, I would fight a duel with you, notwithstanding that dueling is a crime -- but because handguns are illegal, I cannot."

Second, surely dueling (especially in the early 1800s) was one situation where if people didn't have guns, they'd use something else instead, and pretty much as effectively. I haven't seen the statistics, but my sense is that a wound from a sword in 1804 would have been about as deadly as a wound from a pistol. (Pistols may be more lethal than bladed weapons, then as well as today, because it's easier to run away from a bladed weapon -- but that factor, which might be relevant to modern gun control debates, is surely completely irrelevant to a duel.)

Whatever one may say about Hamilton's death, it most assuredly provides zero support for gun control proposals. Blaming the gun -- as opposed to blaming Hamilton himself, blaming Burr, blaming social attitudes that tolerated or encouraged dueling, or whatever else -- in this case is almost self-parody. If the NRA were trying to mock the anti-gun forces by putting ridiculous words in their mouths, it would be hard for them to beat "Hamilton was himself a victim of handgun violence."

Yes, but the VPC's descent into self-parody (there's no "almost" about it) has become so steep that it has undoubtedly gone beyond anything the NRA could think up.


Statement of Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl
Press Conference
September 5, 2002

I have called this press conference to set the record straight in response to the outrageous allegations published by The California Patriot, a student journal, and picked up by the wire services around the country. The central allegation of The California Patriot is that the University of California, Berkeley is unpatriotic in commemorating the events of September 11. This allegation is wrong. This allegation is an insult to everyone at this University. More importantly, this allegation is disrespectful to the thousands who lost their lives and disrespectful to the countless heroes who worked valiantly to save lives on that day. These American heroes inspired all of us and renewed our faith in the American spirit.

We planned next week's memorial service to be consistent with the spirit and substance of the memorial service we organized last year on September 17. At that service 15,000 people joined in thoughtful reflection. No one suggested that that event was unpatriotic or un-American. In fact, quite the opposite was true.
The noon events planned for this September 11 are to be a memorial, also marked by contemplative music and prayerful thought to honor those murdered a year ago. We believe it would be a disservice to those who died to allow this memorial to become a political rally of any kind, for any purpose. This is where we differ with The California Patriot. The California Patriot, not the University, is trying to turn this into a political event.

I will not allow the quiet moments from noon until 12:30 PM -- moments of prayer, grief, mourning, and reflection -- I will not allow these sacred moments to be misused for political purposes. And I deeply resent the implication that by planning this service in this way, we are unpatriotic. There is nothing more patriotic and American than honoring those lost in this horror.

After the memorial service is completed, at 12:30 PM, the microphone on Sproul Plaza will be open to people who wish to express their thoughts. An open microphone will also be available on Sproul Plaza for two hours later that afternoon. There will be ample opportunity for all to express their grief, their mourning, or their political sentiments, as was the case on Sproul Plaza a year ago.

So, does this mean that flags and the national anthem are no longer considered "offensive?" He doesn't say that, nor does he actually say that any facts in the earlier reports are wrong.

Is waving an American flag "political?" At Berkeley, it's a statement.

UPDATE: Here is the Cal Patriot's response, and here's a link to Chancellor Berdahl's statement on the Web. I responded to him to ask if (1) flags and the national anthem counted as "political," and (2) what facts, exactly the Patriot got wrong, since none are mentioned in the statement. If I get a response, I'll post it. (Here is the original Cal Patriot story). Oh, and here's a story from today's San Francisco Examiner.

DOUG BANDOW writes about arming pilots and, er, shoots down a number of lame objections. My favorite:

Another contention is that pilots need to concentrate on their job. John Magaw said pilots were to maintain "positive control of that aircraft ... get it on the ground as quickly as you can, regardless of what's happening back there." But doing so might be tough if armed terrorists smash down the door, roust the pilots from their seats, and murder them.

Yeah. As I said earlier, I think Magaw was a scapegoat for a lot of air security issues, but comments like this are a reminder that he was a deserving scapegoat.

IF YOU'RE NOT CHECKING IN at Geitner Simmons' weblog on a daily basis, well, you should be.

BRAD DE LONG has some delightful reflections on democracy inspired by the game Civilization II. The lessons it imparts are not accidental -- in fact, I remember reading an essay by a wargame writer back in the 1970s (I think it may even have been one of the creators of Civilization) about the teaching role that wargames (and "peacegames") could play. As Dave Kopel and I wrote last year, the teaching role of wargames is a fascinating example of non-academic, private-sector education, and of a way in which knowledge and cultural values scorned by the academy were preserved elsewhere. There's a good book (or at least an article in the Atlantic Monthly) in this for somebody.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has more observations on GSWBs, small-town intellectuals, and more. I'm so glad that she's back. Andrew Sullivan has more, including this comment on the ultimate guilty southern white boy, Jimmy Carter, and his views on the war: "The great thing about Carter is his consistency. He may well be an admirable man, but he's also been consistently wrong about everything since the day he took office."

AIMEE DEEP UNCOVERS Big Media's plan for an assault on its customers.

Oh, yeah, that's really smart.

If this stuff irritates you like it does me, go to MP3.Com, or IUMA, or Vitaminic or PeopleSound, browse around the different genres, listen to stuff you like, and download it or order the CDs. There's a lot of great music out there by independent artists, and there's no reason to go to big record companies to hear good music.

ADVICE ON RECEIVING A DIVINE VISITATION: I don't care what he says, I'm asking for the lawn thing.

September 05, 2002

EUGENE VOLOKH says that Robert Wright is wrong about the value of popularity in preventing terrorism. In fact, he suggests, the harder you try to be popular, the worse things will become.

TIM BLAIR REPORTS ON AN anti-Muslim hate crime in California.

MORE EVIDENCE in support of the popular "the war has already started" theory.

WINNING "AMERICAN IDOL" ISN'T THE SAME as selling yourself into slavery. Slaves don't have to sign this contract.

THE RIAA'S NIGHTMARE: Now people have figured out how to extract digital audio from vinyl, using a scanner.

SAVING ISLAM FROM BIN LADEN: Christopher Hitchens writes:

I repeat what I said at the beginning: the objective of al Qaeda is not the emancipation of the Palestinians but the establishment of tyranny in the Muslim world by means of indiscriminate violence in the non-Muslim world, and those who confuse the two issues are idiots who don't always have the excuse of stupidity.


My Corporations prof. informed us that she might show the class Moore's "Roger and Me" as a springboard for our discussion on "social responsibilty of corporations." Can you recommend any materials that dissect the movie or Moore generally.

I don't have any especially good suggestions, not having seen the movie. Anybody else?

UPDATE: Here's a Lileks Screed on Moore.

DAHLIA LITHWICK has an interesting, if somewhat depressing take on civil liberties and the terror war. Here's the "money graf" as Welch and the other journos call it:

In a recent Gallup Poll, 60 percent of Americans said that the president is "about right" in restricting our civil liberties to fight terrorism, and 25 percent say he hasn't gone far enough. Why is the public willing to accept this secrecy and arrogation of power? Well, because we're terrified, for one thing, but also because we have come to believe that increased security usually requires sacrificing civil liberties. While this is true, the converse is not. Giving up civil liberties—any and all of them, indiscriminately—does not necessarily bring security. We will not be safer from terrorism if the government restricts our right to vote. And we are not necessarily safer because the state has done away with the right to judicial review.

This is absolutely right, as far as it goes, but it's not clear that Lithwick is being hard enough on the authorities. Dumb press coverage on the "tradeoffs" between security and civil liberties has given the impression that somehow civil liberties are the coin with which you purchase security. But it doesn't work that way. Some security measures may limit civil liberties. (Most effective ones -- such as killing terrorists overseas -- won't.) But most sacrifices of civil liberties won't produce security -- they'll just represent bureaucratic opportunism that does nothing to make us safer. I said this in a column on September 14 and subsequent events have proven it true.

GENOCIDE IN ZIMBABWE: This press release on Mugabe's "selective starvation" policy seems not to have gotten much attention. I wonder why? Excerpt:

The ZANU-PF government of President Robert Mugabe is carrying out a policy of selective starvation against its political enemies. The denial of food to opposition strongholds has replaced overt violence as the government’s principal tool of repression in Zimbabwe. Mortality and morbidity rates will continue to accelerate if this policy is not reversed.

The most vulnerable sub-group is Zimbabwe’s black farm workers, who have been displaced by ZANU-PF land-grabs. The media, especially in the UK, has concentrated on the plight of hundreds of white farmers forced off the land, but more than 1.5 million black farm workers and family members are at risk of acute hunger. . . .

Deliberately creating food shortages in opposition areas not only punishes MDC supporters but also provides ruling party officials with further opportunities for profitable food re-sale rackets, said Prendergast. The system is controlled and corrupted from the top by key ZANU-PF and military officials straight down to the local retailers at the village level. When people die of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition, it is as a result of this political control and corruption.

But Mbeki will support him.

READER JOE HRUTKA EMAILS TO ASK "How come nobody's trying to appease the United States?"

It's because they know that we won't do anything awful to them. If the United States were more like the old Soviet Union, we'd have plenty of supporters in Europe, hoping to buy us off. Just like the Soviets did.

Holly Watson, meanwhile, sends this V.S. Naipaul quote, which seems to go nicely with this topic:

...the people who substitute doctrine for knowledge and irritation for concern, the revolutionaries who visit centers of revolution with return air tickets, the hippies, the people who wish themselves on societies more fragile than their own, all those people who in the end do no more than celebrate their own security.

Indeed. It should have been printed on every nametag in Johannesburg.

MARK STEYN ON the triumph of American values:

Unlike those on the earlier flights, the hostages on 93 understood they were aboard a flying bomb intended to kill thousands of their fellow citizens. They knew there would be no happy ending. So they gave us the next best thing, a hopeful ending. Todd Beamer couldn’t get through to anyone except a telephone company operator, Lisa Jefferson. She told him about the planes that had smashed into the World Trade Center. Mr Beamer said they had a plan to jump the guys and asked her if she would pray with him, so they recited the 23rd Psalm: ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me....’

Then he and the others rushed the hijackers. At 9.58 a.m., the plane crashed, not into the White House, but in some pasture outside Pittsburgh. As UPI’s James Robbins wrote, ‘The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty.’

Exactly. The most significant development of 11 September is that it marks the day America began to fight back: 9/11 is not just Pearl Harbor but also the Doolittle Raid, all wrapped up in 90 minutes. No one will ever again hijack an American airliner with boxcutters, or, I’ll bet, with anything else — not because of predictably idiotic new Federal regulations, but because of the example of Todd Beamer’s ad hoc platoon. Faced with a novel and unprecedented form of terror, American technology (cellphones) combined with the oldest American virtue (self-reliance) to stop it cold in little more than an hour.

Yep. And that still bothers a lot of people, who as Steyn points out have spent the last year trying to return to September 10.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON is unimpressed with British bishops who think "evil" is synonymous with "possibly in violation of the U.N. charter."

I've never cared much what bishops have to say about, well, anything. This isn't encouraging me to change my mind. Though I guess the whole covering-up-for-pederasty thing is still worse.

UPDATE: Hey, and my reaction's mild compared to Fred Pruitt, who's ready to convert: "If I were to become religious, I'd probably become a Zoroastrian. They believe in good and evil, light and dark. Christians — especially those of the Archbishops' stripe — don't believe in that anymore. Protestantism arose when Luther got cheezed at the Church for selling indulgences; these suckers give them away for free, without even being asked."

Well, his page is called "Rantburg" for a reason. . . .

THE FALUN GONG are hacking Chinese satellites. I love it.

MY FOXNEWS COLUMN today is kind of hard on the Justice Department in light of the Hatfill case. But no harder than they deserve, as this report that Justice pressured LSU to fire Hatfill makes clear.

They need to put up, or shut up. And the more they engage in this sort of petty harassment, the less credible their case will be if he's finally charged.

NOT-SO-GUILTY SOUTHERN WHITE GALS: Anne Creed sends this email in response to the post below:

A comment about the Guilty Southern White Boys discussion: I lived in West Philly (went to Wharton), straight out of a women’s college in the South. I remember walking down the streets of Philadelphia with my new Yankee friends and having them want to cross the street to avoid some perfectly normal looking black people on the sidewalk up ahead. I wouldn’t cross the street and we all lived to tell about it. (And I thought to myself: And they think I’m prejudiced because I’m from the South!)

I also remember that a Northern white friend of mine told me about the first time her sister had ever seen a black infant. It occurred on their family’s only ride on public transportation, taken while their car was in the shop. Her sister, who was obviously just a child, pointed at the infant and said, “Look, Mother. A baby maid!”

I stayed on in Philadelphia after graduation to work with Turner Construction in Center City, where I had lots of opportunities to get to know Northern blacks. It feels audacious to say this, but I found that I had a much better connection with them that your basic white Yankee. Not only did I not find them frightening, but a great many of the Northern blacks I worked with had South Carolina connections. We had a lot of fun talking about the hot weather and snakes “back home.” I even had a black guy on a bicycle pursue me through Philadelphia, which I will admit made me a little anxious. Turns out he saw the S.C. plates on my car and was homesick.

I've gotten a few emails like this one.

UPDATE: Ted Barlow suspects that this story is an urban legend. Well, it's a reader email, so I can't possibly say. Perhaps Ms. Creed will reply.

THE GUARDROOM IS A law-enforcement weblog, but non-LEO types are likely to find it interesting, too.

GOVERNMENT BY OP-ED: Michael Kinsley takes Colin Powell to task for disloyalty and indirection:

It must be hell to disagree with Colin Powell. Powell and Vice President Cheney apparently disagree about Iraq. Cheney thinks that Saddam Hussein must be toppled and any further diddling is pointless. Powell thinks … well, something else. Cheney made his opinion known by articulating and defending it in a speech. Powell's view, if you read the papers literally, has spread by a mysterious process akin to osmosis. The secretary of state is "known to believe" or is pigeonholed by unnamed "associates" or (my favorite) has made his opinion known "quietly."

Yes, he's the champion of the passive voice. I think that Secretary Rice will do a better job.

AIRPORT SECURITY AND SPONTANEOUS ORDER: Sara Rimensnyder reports that passengers are taking matters in their own hands -- and doing a better job than the bozos who draw a salary.

AIMEE MANN is making all the songs from her new CD available for free on the Web. Funny, the RIAA says that artists will lose money doing this. What can she be thinking? Maybe that the RIAA doesn't know what it's doing?

GASOLINE ENGINES CAN BE VIRTUALLY POLLUTION-FREE according to an engineering study done by the University of California, Riverside.

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS NOW WRITING FOR SALON. To no one's surprise, Eric Alterman doesn't approve. I think it's a good idea for both, though.

Sullivan will bring Salon some intellectual diversity, some buzz, and -- via his weblog -- a nontrivial amount of additional traffic. It seems to me that it's a logical step in Salon's apparent plan to integrate itself with the Blogosphere.

DISGRACED HISTORIAN JOSEPH ELLIS is back teaching at Mt. Holyoke. Ellis's sins -- inflating his Vietnam War record in class (he served in the military, but not in Vietnam) -- never went to his scholarship. Amusingly, in this story he's being criticized by Emory historian David Garrow, who says the college should not be putting ``someone with this track record back in front of its students.''

To be fair, I think that Garrow has been pretty critical of Michael Bellesiles, too.

BARBARA LERNER writes that Brent Scowcroft is parroting the Saudi line -- and that he mistakes the Saudis for the whole of the Muslim world.

HOW MANY STRINGS DID KARL ROVE HAVE TO PULL to get Jimmy Carter to write this anti-war oped?

Because it's a masterstroke. With Carter's abject record of humiliating failure in dealing with middle-eastern rogue states, there's only upside for Bush in having Carter on the other side. This op-ed will produce no new opposition to the war, as everyone capable of being convinced by Jimmy Carter on this issue is already against the war anyway. For everyone else, it's a reminder of what the politics of appeasement look like, and where they lead.

UPDATE: And don't miss Eliot Cohen's flaying of the "chickenhawk" slur:

There is no evidence that generals as a class make wiser national security policymakers than civilians. George C. Marshall, our greatest soldier statesman after George Washington, opposed shipping arms to Britain in 1940. His boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, with nary a day in uniform, thought otherwise. Whose judgment looks better? A few soldiers become great diplomats or great politicians; others are abject failures. Most avoid the field altogether. Military careers spent in hierarchical, rule-bound, tightly controlled organizations are not necessarily the best preparation for accurately judging the fluid world of politics at home and abroad.

There's more, and it's good. He even mentions Starship Troopers.

DAVE KOPEL looks at the University of Wisconsin's fear of diversity.

MICKEY KAUS sums up, and weighs in on, an interesting discussion of "Guilty Southern White Boys" in the media (Kaus has all the links). The notion (originally suggested by one of Andrew Sullivan's readers) is that southerners -- always the target of jibes and discrimination -- try to out-left the left in order to be accepted in the media crowd. Postrel and Kaus disagree, and call it the lingering influence of the civil rights era when -- in the South -- the left really was on the side of the angels.

I think it's a bit of both, and this discussion makes me realize what I didn't like about Richard Marius's generally excellent novel, An Affair of Honor, which I mentioned earlier. Marius appreciates many things about the South, but there's something vaguely patronizing about his treatment, and it comes out in a gratuitous scene at the end of the novel, when the protagonist is sitting on an airplane next to a man in a "Georgia Bulldogs" shirt:

Charles took out a book and began to read. The Georgia Bulldog seemed miffed. "You going to read?" he said.

"Yes, I have to finish this book," Charles said.

"Why?" the Georgia Bulldog asked.

"Because I'm dying to know how it comes out."

"Is it a mystery?"

"No, not really."

The Georgia Bulldog leaned cumbersomely over and stared at what Charles was reading.

"My God, it's in a foreign language!" he said. "And I thought you was an American."

Now overall this is a very good novel, but it's telling, I think, that this scene -- which rings horribly false and serves no purpose in the narrative -- takes place in the present day, rather than in the racially-charged early 1950s where the rest of the book is set. (Interestingly, elsewhere in the book another character -- a Columbia alumnus -- is offended at being patronized by a Harvard professor who assumes he's an ignoramus simply because he's from the South. He fairly bristles at being lumped with those other Southerners).

I see this as a generational thing. Not every Southern white boy from that period suffered from this neurosis -- my old law-school mentor Charles Black, though well-known for his racial liberalism (he and Thurgood Marshall wrote the brief in Brown together) never succumbed to the notion that the South was defined by Bull Connor. But he was in this way, as in many others, an exception. For too many others, it was always Birmingham in 1963. (One of my professors even had a huge blowup of the firehose photo from Life magazine on his office wall).

Those of us who are younger know that the myth of northern racial liberalism was mostly just that -- a myth. (If I recall correctly, the professor with the firehose picture sent his kids to all-white private schools rather than to the New Haven public schools, and when I was a kid I spent time in Roxbury, where my dad was doing community work, and where things were not noticeably better than Birmingham). So while Howell Raines, Tom Wicker, and similar examples of GSWBs may still rule the roost, I think that the phenomenon is on the way out. Which is probably just as well.

UPDATE: Geitner Simmons has more on this (and scroll up for additional posts), along with the observation that Nicholas Kristof doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to the Great Plains.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:

I grew up in suburban Philadelphia and almost everyone I came into contact with acted as though the South and Southern white people were some kind of throwbacks.

In the last five years, I've had occasion to work for short periods of time in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas -- in rural areas as well as urban. Everyone in the South may hate each other. I don't know what is in their hearts. But I do know what comes out of their mouths, and there is far more civility in the South than anywhere in the Northeast. People are superficially nicer and kinder to each other. Whites and blacks towards whites and blacks. In the broad scheme of things, it seems better to me that everyone act in a polite way no matter what they believe, than profess to be ideologically pure, like in the Northeast, and be rude to just about everyone in some way or other.

Also, Philadelphia and the metropolitan area are just as segregated if not more so than most cities in the South. Should anyone not believe me tell them to take the 42 bus the entire route -- I know you don't know the bus routes -- it goes from the richest neighborhoods to the poorest and some middleclass ones in between. If your eyes are open, you will see the race and residency patterns.

Meanwhile Allison Alvarez knows who to blame:

I blame people's misconceptions about the south on 'Hee Haw'. Think about it; other than the southern lawyer dramas most shows about the south are still in love with that slow southern comfort, Gone With the Wind stereotype. Even 'Designing Women' was obsessed with southern charm. So, I can't blame most people who live outside of the south for their cultural ignorance when all they see is Colonel Sanders and Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.

I spent my entire life in Georgia before moving to Washington, DC and I'm completely astounded at the way people react when I say I'm from the south. I always get comments of my lack of southern accent or my fast way of speaking. Sometimes I'm tempted to give trolley tours in an affected southern accent just to please the tourists.

Blame "Hee Haw?" Why the hell not?

UPDATE: Rod Dreher weighs in and says it's all about race. And Media Minded offers some views, too.

NE0-PTOLEMISM: Rand Simberg says the enviro-crowd is too earth-centered.

THE 1972 MUNICH MASSACRE will be the focus of a coordinated weblog effort. Read more at Yourish.Com.

HOMELAND SECURITY: After a year, mixed results. My FoxNews column is up. The watchword: maximizing inconvenience while minimizing actual security.

UPDATE: Reid Stott, a photographer who travels a lot, has a year-end review too.

AIRLINE SECURITY: Another small sign of progress. I think it's all the fruit of Gary Leff's Impeach Norm Mineta campaign.

HITLER'S ARTWORK is on display at Williams College. Here's a link to the brochure. Here's an earlier item from InstaPundit on the art/totalitarian connection.

BAD NEWS IN THE BAY AREA: Nick Denton reports high techie-unemployment rates. This is consistent with what I know, too.

WHENEVER I HAVE A COMPUTER PROBLEM, I receive a lot of email saying "get a Mac." Well, read this.

September 04, 2002

ANDREA HARRIS has delivered herself of a memorable rant, and somehow had enough energy left for a small but well-appointed Fisking.

EUGENE VOLOKH, unmasked.

CATHY YOUNG WRITES that the NEA got a bum rap over its proposed 9/11 lesson plans. But the response to the criticism seemed to me to reinforce its correctness. Geitner Simmons has the story well-blogged.

COLUMNIST DEROY MURDOCK emails to ask for your help:

by Deroy Murdock

Have you seen this man?

I would like your help in identifying and locating the short-haired young man whose face the Associated Press beamed worldwide last September 11.

(See photo at link or link. )

In an award-winning picture, AP photographer Suzanne Plunkett captured this gentleman running like hell as Two World Trade Center collapsed. Clad in a white shirt and dark tie with his backpack's straps over his shoulders, he races east on Lower Manhattan's Fulton Street with a look of sheer horror on his face as a menacing, white debris cloud races up Church Street, one block to the west.

I have wondered since I saw this world-famous image who this guy is, where he was that awful day, what he saw and how he has recovered from that trauma (if he has). Unfortunately, Ms. Plunkett knows neither his name nor whereabouts, nor has either of us ever seen him interviewed.

If you have any contact information or other details on this man, would you please pass along whatever you know? You may e-mail me at [email protected]

Feel free to forward my request to anyone else who might be able to help. I will write about whatever I learn from this eyewitness to the horror of 9-11.

Best wishes,

Deroy Murdock
Syndicated columnist,
Scripps Howard News Service

Help him out, if you can.

THE MAYOR OF LONDON FEELS SAFER IN NEW YORK. Hey, just be glad it's not Stockholm.

SADDAM AND THE BOMB: The Indepundit is on the case.

VIRGINIA POSTREL IS BACK and blogging up a storm. We missed you, Virginia!

BERKELEY DOESN'T WANT RED, WHITE AND BLUE at September 11 memorials, because it's "offensive," according to the Angry Clam.


55% of Europeans think that America was "partly to blame" for the Al Quaeda attacks.

In related news, 100% of Americans think that Europe was "entirely to blame" for World Wars I, II, the Holocaust, and Communist atrocities in the former Soviet Union and associated territories. 99.8% of Americans think that "The next time Europeans get themselves in any kind of trouble that requires US intervention, they can k*** my a**". And 89% of Americans think that "If those same Europeans are against invading Iraq, then it's time to put Sadaam in a whole world of hurt."


Those who fetishize "stability in the region" really mean the stability of cruelty and tyranny (and those who blame Israel for the attitudes of the Arab street are arguing, in effect, that it would be better to abandon one friendly democracy than to establish 50 of them). A stable, Nazi-run Europe would have been no friend and an unstable but democratizing Middle East would be no foe. After the Gulf War, the signs were there for a U.S.-led transformation of the region, but we turned our backs on those we had encouraged to rise up and embraced, once again, those committed to keeping their subjects down. Until that status quo is crushed and flushed clean by the tide of history, there will always be bin Ladens. Indeed, that is where the moral and realpolitik cases for war intertwine.

The biggest favor the United States ever did to militaristic Japan was to crush it militarily. Our victory ushered in prosperity, democracy, and a productive peace. The Iraqi people would be lucky if we did them the same favor.

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW AT 7:30 EASTERN: Here's the link for streaming audio.

AIMEE DEEP IS UNDER AN INJUNCTION. The full text is on her blog.



Hmmmm... very interesting. I don't have time to give it the attention it deserves, but here are some stream-of-consciousness comments:

Peters is spot-on when he speaks of the American tendency to over-privilege Arab-centrism in Islam, and he is right that the real center of Islamic thought need not be Arab. But, he seems to discount the role of Arabia and parts of the Middle East as the "holy land" -- and this privileges whoever lives in these regions vis-a-vis the wider tenor of the religion. The hajj is a critical example. It has served the Saudis every bit as well as has their oil wealth.

Peters also is a bit quick to over-simplify "Arab" Islam. There are many and significant divisions within the faith amongst Arabs, and these are every bit as important for the future of the religion as are divisions in the wider world. He is too quick to "write off" the region as "lost." I think the current discontent in Iran is symptomatic of a growing disillusionment with "fundamentalism" elsewhere -- but this tendency is squashed by the characteristic lack of civil liberties in the region. I am confident that many mellow or progressive Muslims wish the radicals would shut up, but are just terrified to say so. Often the tensions are between older generations and the archetypical "angry youth."

This said, I agree with Peters' basic argument that it is critical not to ignore the wider Islamic world. His description of Indonesia reminds me very much of the dynamics of Islam in West Africa, complete with tensions between nouveau-Wahabis and mellow sufis. Oh, and MTV, since al-Jazira currently competes with "Yo MTV Raps!" in much of West Africa. This reality is representative of a wider theme. To Muslims beyond the Middle East, Arab society, despite Peter's ondemnations of backwardness, still represents an image of "modernity" -- even if that modernity is something of an artificial creation of oil wealth.

Forgive me for sounding overly academic, but Fundamentalists don't really call as much for a return to the past as they are re-creating the past in the image of their own modernity. The past they describe never existed... Islam often WAS what Peters says it needs to be. This is a struggle over defining the past as well as the future (said the historian).

Indeed, my main beef with Peters is the generally ahistorical bent of his article. His characterization of Islam as "young" seems to miss the point that Christianity is only a few hundred years older. Further, his claim that the West has ignored Islam is only correct from an American standpoint. Goodness knows that the Europeans have been deeply engaged in things Islamic (often from a 'social engineering' perspective) for over 100 years. Heck, chopping up the Ottoman Empire and backing the Saudis after WWI was seen as a means of restructuring Islam... and look where that led! The colonial legacy is critical here, in that for most of the world colonialism represents (and delegitimated) much of what is thought of as "Western."

The critical question, and here I really agree with what I think was Peters' central point, is that somehow the "West" has to offer the world's Muslims an alternative to fundamentalism which is both realistic and palatable. Shoring up anti-Muslim dictators is just the sort of temporary fix Peters warns against, and I agree that that is not productive in the long run. Sure didn't work with the Shah. Indeed, as I have said before, one of the most effective strategies is to let the Fundamentalists have their way. Thirty years of "revolution" in Iran have left the population with a very nasty taste in their mouths. Now they want their MTV.

Yet tempting folks with Britney Spears is only that -- temptation. In the long run the West has to help insure that REAL rewards come from westernization. Quasi-colonial style "globalization," which seeks to maintain most of the world as producers of raw materials and consumers of finished goods simply breeds political corruption and popular anger. Just look at what oil has done to Nigeria (and, heck, the whole Middle East). Some can say "what governments do with the money isn't our problem -- but that would fly in the face of the current evidence, now wouldn't it? The West really needs to find a way to engage countries economically without engendering massive corruption and inequalities of wealth. This means REAL globalization where the West drops the barriers to products produced elsewhere and stops dumping products like subsidized rice on the rest of the world. Yes, that would mean losing US jobs, at least in the short run. But do we or don't we believe in free trade and competition?

Here is a thought. There are many types of "capital". Most people prefer the cash variety, but in its absence they will seize upon other varieties... such as raw power or piety. Fundamentalism (Islamic or otherwise) combines both these elements and thrives where they are more attainable than economic advancement. This is why poverty and corruption are very real contributing factors to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Obviously the bin Ladens of the world already have financial capital, but they are preying upon the absence of it to spread their ideology and hence their power. Indeed, these guys NEED poverty in order to peddle their wares. To "win" the West has to help spread real economic development -- which will both show the advantages of being more Western and also diffuse one of the contributing factors to the spread of fanaticism.

Perhaps one reason Indonesia has so successfully resisted fundamentalism is because the country was on an up swing economically for much of the previous century. If the country continues to face economic decay, however, we might see a change for the worse.

How's this for a slogan? "Fight Terrorism: Buy Indonesian." But to work, it has to extend far beyond Indonesia.

So there you are. Any comments?

NO OFFENSE TO ERIC ALTERMAN, but Sweden has not been a "beacon of light" to the world. It collaborated with the Nazis in World War Two, and despite its moralistic posturing in the postWar era was not especially admirable then, either.

Nor, being poorer than Mississippi, but with more crime than America, are they much of a model domestically.

If Sweden is a role model to the United States in anything, it's how to get good PR despite bad facts. But the way to do that is no secret -- just be leftist, which journalists tend to love. Just ask Fidel Castro, who gets astonishingly good press considering that he runs a murderous dictatorship that keeps his people in poverty while he lives in splendor unmatched by any Victorian robber-baron industrialist.

UPDATE: Jason McCullough says that the study is biased against the Swedes. That's odd, since it was a Swedish study, and I don't find his argument on the merits persuasive. But read his analysis and decide for yourself.

I HAVEN'T WRITTEN ABOUT Jim Webb's oped this morning because I've been busy with actual work. (Yeah, believe it or not). But thanks to the beauty of the blogosphere, my dilatoriness just means I can link to responses by Tony Adragna and Stephen Green and one of Stephen Green's readers who have already been discussing this.

And only in a weblog would you hear someone sound even faintly guilty about not responding to an oped by the afternoon of the day it was published!

KAUS TO CRITICS: Neener, neener!

DAVE KOPEL WRITES that the big dailies are ignoring Zimbabwe's genocide. And Andrew Stuttaford notes at The Corner that reports of Powell being heckled at the Johannesburg summit fail to mention that he was heckled in response to his criticism of Mugabe's forced-starvation policies. According to this report, "Dissent filled the hall when Mr Powell criticised the government of Zimbabwe for exacerbating the food crisis in that country and pushing 'millions of people to the brink of starvation.'"

As Stuttaford puts it: "Poor Colin Powell. No one had told him that he was addressing a gathering of fascists."

PIM FORTUYN'S KILLING is starting to look like more than just the work of a single crazed gunman.

HERE'S THE STORY of how one of SpinSanity's founders was encouraged to leave his union job for criticizing an article in The Nation by Robert Borosage. Excerpt:

Would Keefer feel free to criticize Wellstone's political rhetoric? Yes, Keefer answered. Well, that's a problem, Anderson replied, because that would be a fireable offense. "By that logic," Keefer complained, "I can't criticize most or all of the political left." According to Keefer, Anderson answered, "Yes, that's true."

I'm sure that Michael Moore will be all over this example of post-9/11 censorship in America.

AIRLINE SECURITY IS STILL A JOKE. Good thing they weren't smuggling anything really dangerous, like breast milk or tweezers.

JAMES WOOLSEY WRITES in The New Republic that it's entirely possible that Saddam is behind Osama bin Laden:

Does it not seem curious that bin Laden issues fatwas, pushes videotapes, quotes poems, and orders his followers to talk loudly and often about his role in attacks on us? Does someone want our focus to be solely on bin Laden's hard-to-reach self, and not on a senior partner?

Compare Woolsey's observation with this post from InstaPundit, September 17,2001:

When we discussed this in one of my classes, many students pointed out that the evidence pointing toward Osama bin Laden seemed almost too good, too pat. Boasts in bars the night before, IDs and literature left behind in hotel rooms, etc., etc. Of course, it could be possible that bin Laden is either stupid, or just doesn't care whether we connect it to him. But consider these other two possibilities: (1) Somebody else is fingering him -- perhaps as an involved-but-not-central "cut out" or as a complete bit of misdirection -- so that we won't look past him to the real mastermind; or (2) this is disinformation being fed to the media by our own government to put the real culprits (Iraq or whoever) off guard. Keep your eye on this one.

I think there's little doubt now that Osama was involved. But that doesn't mean that he was the sole, or even the prime, mover, and there's plenty of reason to suspect that he's not.

UPDATE: From the I'm-an-idiot department. I found this via Lileks, and didn't notice that the Woolsey piece is from last year, before mine.

The analysis still holds, though.

AIMEE DEEP writes an obituary for Napster. As I said at the time of the decision, I think it was unfair to judge Napster based on its early history -- in time, it probably would have become a major distribution tool for independent artists. Which I think is what worried the RIAA most.

And, as I predicted at the time, the suppression of Napster (which with a centralized architecture was something the record industry could have taken over and controlled) has produced many new music-sharing systems with bigger traffic, which are far harder to control.

But, of course, this isn't really about the well-being even of record companies, but about protecting jobs for people in the record industry who contribute very little to their shareholders, their artists, or their customers. And, so far, the RIAA has done a pretty good job of that. Er, except for the steadily declining CD sales as people boycott them and turn to independent artists and lables, that is.

GETTING A CLUE AT LAST: The FBI has decided that the LAX shooting (two months ago) was an act of terrorism after all. How about that!

(Via The Corner.)

FELICITY BARRINGER is reporting that Lingua Franca may be coming back. I hope so.

THERE'S NOT MUCH SIGN THAT HOMELAND-SECURITY TYPES are trying innovative approaches (or even obvious ones), but Donald Rumsfeld recognizes that we're fighting a new kind of war and is trying to do something about it. According to this report, he's doing so successfully.

FBI HIRING: Suman Palit shares a personal experience.

Reader Patrick Hoffman adds:

Read the post about the FBI and its language woes, and the response regarding using DLI as a source of linguists.

Having attended DLI and having learned Persian/Farsi for the Army, I can tell you that the number of persian linguists that DLI educated was small but not insubstantial.

Equally interesting, however, is the fact that given all the government knows about me and my service record, that I doubt any serious attempts to reach me have been made. (Not that I think I'd be much help, since my skills have degraded through lack of practice, and I have a job that pays more than they're likely to pay.)

Just a thought, but the FBI seems to be rather passive in this regard. Or perhaps just passive/aggressive.

Reader Stan Brown, meanwhile, suggests that the FBI should have a reserve system analogous to the military's, with retired law enforcement officers, lawyers, etc., that it can call on either for specialized skills (e.g., languages) or to fill chairs doing routine tasks like background checks in an emergency so that ordinary agents can take language lessons, etc.

THE TWO-CULTURES SPLIT IS HEALING: My TechCentralStation column is up.


TONY BLAIR has it right:

"Some of what I read -- I mean, let's not beat around the bush -- a lot of it is just straightforward anti-Americanism."

Bravo to Blair for knowing what his opposition is all about.

September 03, 2002

MORE FBI RECRUITMENT PROBLEMS: I mentioned below that the FBI is having problems recruiting people with foreign-language skills. It's also having trouble recruiting people with computer skills, for somewhat similar reasons. This has troubling implications for the FBI's future as a lead antiterrorism agency.

Either the FBI needs to address its hiring and retention problems, or we need to find (or create) another agency to handle antiterrorism.

UPDATE: In response to this post and the earlier one, a reader from the intelligence community writes:

Agree that the minor drug usage you and others cite is a silly reason to dismiss an FBI applicant during a national emergency.

Their narrow-mindedness may not, however, totally explain the shortage. I'd think the largest source of language-trained young (under 37) for the FBI (and other govt agencies) is former military linguists. With the intelligence organizations (biggest users) having been largely pared down to about half their former size since 1991, we don't produce near the number of linguists that we once did therefore the pool of available trained linguists (with security background checks) for the FBI would also be smaller. Even those who got out during the draw-down would have been out long enough now that they'd need new security checks to get back to work in the classified world if the FBI comes calling. That's forced them to go public with recruiting but with their moral standards, are coming up short on numbers.

A solution, however, would be to language train existing FBI agents. When I attended Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, CA, I went through Russian with 5 FBI officers (concern then was Russian mafia). If the FBI is really interested in getting more agents up to speed linguistically, they could increase the flow of already-hired (and security-cleared) agents through DLI. If counter-terrorism is indeed their #1 priority and arab-speakers are the #1 threat, shouldn't we be able to pull some trained agents away from former #1 efforts to focus on Middle East language study?

Yes, that's a bit of a long pipeline (12-13 months for arabic) but if they had gotten started in Oct 01, they'd almost be there by now!

Excellent point. And maybe they're doing that, but if they are it hasn't gotten any coverage that I've seen.

HUMAN SHIELDS FOR SADDAM? I rather doubt that's how the Iraq Peace Team would view itself, but . . . .

HENRY COPELAND IS evangelizing for professional blogging at Blogads.Org. Bill Quick is the pioneer, which is fitting since he's the guy who coined the term "Blogosphere" to begin with.


TAPPED SAYS that Bush may be better off without control of Congress:

And even worse, unless the GOP won a working majority in the Senate (about 55 votes), he would have the expectations accompanying a unified government without a real ability to move legislation through the Senate. Smart Republicans remember the lesson of Bill Clinton's first two years in office -- the worst years of his presidency, despite his party's control of Congress.

Here, meanwhile, is InstaPundit in May of 2001 (before the Blog, in Slate's "The Fray"):

With Jeffords a Dem, Bush will be able to blame any legislative failures on the Democratic Senate. Also, the partisan atmosphere that results will -- if the White House spins it right -- look like it's the Democrats' fault. Since Americans (at the moment) hate partisan rancor, that will be to Bush's advantage.

On the other hand, failing to produce lots of big wins with control of the House and Senate would have been unforgivable for Bush, even though his control of the Senate was always notional.

Advantage: InstaPundit!

SUMAN PALIT HAS SOME THOUGHTS on the causes and cures of government corruption in India.

ARGENTINA: A steady stream of bad news.

SOUNDS LIKE Nicholas Kristof has been listening to the Militia again.

THE ISLAMISTS ARE HOLDING SEMINARS to figure out why we hate them, and what to do about it, according to Bill Herbert. No, really.

EUGENE VOLOKH IS DEBUNKING GARRY WILLS' rather odd view of the Second Amendment. Eugene says that he hasn't read Wills' entire book A Necessary Evil, just the Second Amendment section.

I have read the entire thing, and I have to say that Wills could have dedicated his book as Le Corbusier once did: "To Authority." As Volokh puts it, with masterful understatement: "Quite remarkable."

ANOTHER ONE BACK FROM HIATUS: Best of the Web has returned, tanned, rested, and, well, blogging up a storm. And Virginia Postrel says she'll be back tonight or tomorrow. Pretty much the whole gang's back in the saddle now, so I guess it's okay to start the war. . . .

TALKLEFT NOTES FBI PROBLEMS operating overseas and adds:

But we also wonder what is taking the FBI so long to hire and train new multi-lingual agents. Surely there is a pool of young men and women in this country with these skills. We'd bet large numbers of them have applied. We wonder how many of their applications are being held up in red tape and why it takes so long for applications to be approved. Does anyone have a good answer?

Well, here's one answer, anyway.

STRATEGYPAGE HAS A ROUNDUP of published scuttlebutt concerning U.S. war (and post-war) plans in Iraq. Interesting stuff, though its reliability is, er, uncertain.

FAREED ZAKARIA argues that Islamic fundamentalism is on the ropes:

The youth of the 1970s and 1980s, who came from villages into cities and took up Islam as a security blanket, are passing into middle age. The new generation is just as angry, rebellious and bitter. But today's youth grew up in cities and towns, watch Western television shows, buy consumer products and have relatives living in the West. The Taliban holds no allure for them. Most ordinary people have realized that Islamic fundamentalism has no real answers to the problems of the modern world; it has only fantasies. They don't want to replace Western modernity; they want to combine it with Islam.

It sounds like what the Islamic world needs is someone who can present the scary new stuff in a way that's not too threatening -- sort of the function served by Norman Vincent Peale-style Christianity in the mid-20th Century. Or, heck, maybe what we need is an Arab Elvis.

UPDATE: More support for the Elvis theory can be found here:

Not that many young Iranians were there to hear the Ayatollah's words. Less than 1.4 % of the population ever bothers to attend Friday prayers, according to Iran's ministry of culture and guidance.

"No one wants the mullahs, not even Khatami, who no longer seems to have any power," said Farideh, a medical student at the university, as she tottered down Val-i-Asr street in a pair of platform heels.

Clearly taking delicious delight in displaying as much hair as possible from beneath her headscarf, she added: "A lot of us dream of moving to the USA". . . .

"In Iran," said one British-educated businessmen, as we sipped cocktails and danced to Hotel California at his home, "we do everything - sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. It's just that we do it behind closed doors." . . .

"No one is saying it out loud, but the secret hope of many Iranians is that if the US army takes neighbouring Iraq, it will come and straighten out this place as well." For young Iranians, he said, the prospect of a US invasion was "nothing short of liberating".

More support for the theory that the cure for fundamentalism is to put the fundamentalists in charge. It's a case of how are you going to keep 'em on the farm -- after they've seen the farm.

AIMEE DEEP SAYS DRUDGE HAS BEEN DUPED by reports that the next Lord of the Rings movie is being traded online.

PROBLEMS WITH THE SECRET SERVICE have been a long-term InstaPundit theme. More recently, U.S. News has been on this story, too, with a series of reports outlining various failings of personnel and management. Here's the latest. Excerpt:

Morale in the service is plummeting, many agents say, in part because of a widely perceived double standard. Agents who enjoy close relationships with Secret Service executives in Washington are given more favorable assignments and other treatment than those who don't, many in the service say. In the sometimes arcane parlance of the Secret Service, these agents have what is known as a "hook" with headquarters. The Secret Service has also had long-standing management difficulties with its Uniformed Division, the officers and technicians who are at the front line of defense at the White House and at foreign missions. They include members of the elite Counter Sniper teams, the Emergency Response Team, and the K-9 bomb squad units. Many of these officers complain of being treated as second-class citizens. . . .

The story is sobering. Question: If the Secret Service can't protect the White House adequately, why should we think a Department of Homeland Security can protect the whole nation? And if, as earlier incidents suggest, the Secret Service can't do its job with a proper attitude regarding individual rights, how can we trust less-elite entities?

A WEBSITE BROUGHT DOWN by a DOS attack brings a plea for help, and some good advice for bloggers about bandwidth limits and charges from MeanDean.

NORWEGIAN BLOGGER VEGARD VALBERG is bearish on the European Union's future.

THIS WASHINGTON POST PIECE on the Transportation Security Administration lays most of the blame for its problems on departed head John Magaw. I'm no fan of Magaw's, but blaming him seems awfully, well, convenient. Gary Leff agrees, and has a lot more to say on the subject.

THIS AMERICAN LAWYER profile of yours truly is pretty good. But -- and this isn't the fault of Jeffery Knight, who wrote it -- it also shows how journalistic conventions can give the wrong impression.

The piece says that I'm "blogger royalty." That's an obvious takeoff from the term "rock royalty," but, um, there are differences. My youngest brother, who is only a part of the rock minor nobility (his band, Copper, just opened for Blues Traveler in D.C.) gets rather a lot more perks than I do. Heck, he even makes more money at it.

Nobody surpasses me in thinking that weblogs are cool, but they're a pretty small part of the world, all things considered. When bloggers can turn out thousands of screaming fans in a strange town, well, that'll be . . . . never, probably.

ANDREW SULLIVAN is back from hiatus, with posts on everything from Administration disarray to an extensive list of new bloggers he likes (he's praising Alterman -- no, really!). Yeah, I know this is two Sullivan posts in a row -- but the other one's a column and it occurred to me that people might not notice his blog's being updated.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg says that Sullivan is overly blogophilic. Or is it not blogophilic enough? Speaking as a true "maverick blogger," with absolutely no big-bucks big-media affiliation, I guess I have to endorse Jonah's distinction between blogging and maverickdom. Maverickhood?

ANDREW SULLIVAN writes that The New York Times has taken over the Democrats' role as the organized opposition.

JUAN NON-VOLOKH says that charges of plagiarism levelled at Norah Vincent by lefty bloggers are bogus. Wait -- didn't Bill & Ted use that word?

UPDATE: The MinuteMan says Jason Rylander is "hyperventilating" on this one.

MARK STEYN REPORTS from Johannesburg on Robert Mugabe's hilarious speech. Mugabe was just slaying them. . . .

DailySummit.Net has the end-of-summit wrapup.

UPDATE: Here's more on Mugabe and his supporters at the summit.

September 02, 2002


GARY FARBER has all your Hugo Award links in one convenient place. I'd gotten out of the habit of visiting his blog when he quit posting for a while. He's back, and it's nice to see.

THIS BOOK is a must-read in light of what's going on right now.

IS IT LIVE, OR IS IT MEMOREX? Statistically, it's probably Memorex. Er, and so are you, actually.

ORIGINS OF THE TERM "IDIOTARIAN" -- Charles Johnson reveals the secret.

BLOGOPHOBIA: These worries worry me, but I'm not sure what I can do about the problem:

And I think there's a trend growing in the Blogosphere, as the truly talented bloggers build brand recognition and market share, they start getting too much mail to respond to it all and picking to which mail they'll reply or post about, much more carefully than in the humble beginnings. They've started turning inward, to each other.

They will become the Establishment, The Big Wheels as the Fat Guy called them, instead of the Young Turks, the Outside Looking In. They will slowly cut themselves off from the flow of esoteric/unusual incoming content that gave them their starts as bloggers. Content that they don't read is content they don't post, which is content that We Wonder What They Did With when we hear about it from another source, instead of from them.

Well, I sure get a lot of email. I do read it all, usually -- unless a bunch backs up when I'm offline for a while. And I try to get to new corners of the Blogosphere when I can. (Like blogs about foot-washings.) I make a point of trying to link to new or different blogs, in fact.

But, yeah, the Blogosphere's too big for anybody to really know, and now that InstaPundit's over a year old it's not bright and shiny and new anymore, and I get a lot of email. That's life. If I get in a rut, and it's no fun anymore, I'll quit. (It's not like I'll miss the income, after all.) But it's still fun for me so far.

BREAKING RANKS: Kuwait supports invasion, saying that it considers the war with Iraq to have never ended. Have you noticed the steady trickle of new diplomatic support over the past week? The ducks are forming a row.

DAVE TROWBRIDGE has a long post on Just War theory and Iraq.

DAN HANSON EXPLAINS why Big Entertainment hates the web. Hint: it's not about piracy, but about control:

This new distribution and marketing model is a huge threat to the record companies. After all, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot only cost $85,000 to produce, and distribution was free. With low-cost production and a new distribution network that connects artists directly with their fans, there is little room for a giant plodding record label to insinuate itself into the picture and skim off the money. This is the real reason why the RIAA is spending millions of dollars to buy politicians and use the heavy hand of government to try to shut these networks down.


ROBERT MUGABE was the first head of state to get applause from journalists in Johannesburg, reports, but not Big Media -- I guess the applauding journalists were too embarrassed, or too unwilling to admit their biases, to include that in their reports. Good thing there's a blogger there to keep them honest. Or, anyway, to expose them when they're not.

OVER THE WEEKEND, I finished Richard Marius's An Affair of Honor, which I found quite gripping, though also somewhat disturbing, if probably in a different way than he intended. Unlike Marius -- and whole generations of southern authors -- I never grew up on a farm, and though I spent part of my youth in the small town of Maryville, Tennessee, it's a college town just outside Knoxville and doesn't count. As a result, I don't have the love/hate relationship -- born in no small part of tortured religious introspection, which the other part of my childhood spent hanging around Harvard Divinity School and observing its denizens immunized me against -- necessary to identify with some of the characters' angst.

Still, a great posthumous book, by a very thoughtful and talented man who was very generous with his time -- and even more so, retrospectively, since he turned out to have so little.

AZIZ POONAWALLA IS ENCOURAGING Blogger users to upgrade to Blogger Pro. I'm technically still a Blogger Pro subscriber, but I don't use it anymore. But Pyra deserves support for kicking off the blogosphere explosion over the past year, and if you're so inclined I encourage you to upgrade to Pro as a way of supporting Pyra -- which, by the way, has provided an outlet for a lot of Iranian bloggers who are managing to bypass the mullahs' censorship.

BACK FROM THE LAKE. MORE BLOGGING LATER. In the meantime, read this.

September 01, 2002

I'M HEADING OFF TO THE LAKE this afternoon. But don't miss PunditWatch, which I expect will be up later.

IN RESPONSE TO MY POST BELOW on Europe, Martin Pratt remarks that the United States is losing support because "Countries don't have friends, they have allies, allies only remain so when there is something in it for them."

Perhaps what many other countries perceive as "unilateralism" is just the result of the United States finally figuring out, and acting upon, what those other countries have always known and acted upon.

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, the Johannesburg summit is turning out to be much better than expected. Well, even a flatworm is smart enough to avoid pain, so maybe the UN is capable of learning, eventually.

BLOGCRITICS RULES: The Supreme Beings of Leisure are quoting the BlogCritics review of their forthcoming CD "Divine Operating System" on their site. (Scroll down in the "news" window.) Somebody is paying attention!

But where the hell is my review copy?

TIMES VS. TIMES -- it never stops at Kausfiles.

GEITNER SIMMONS writes about the NEA's cries of racism over criticism of its 9/11 curriculum. Excerpt:

Remarkable. Teachers, she claims, can’t talk about the Islamic hatred and evil that fueled the 9/11 attacks because hatred and evil once manifested themselves, undeniably, in this country through the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow.

On the contrary, this situation presents teachers with an opportunity to make vital distinctions.

American society, students should be told, now openly acknowledges the injustices and horrors of slavery and Jim Crow. Indeed, powerful legal mechanisms, embedded in the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, have been put in place to prevent their reappearance. America, in other words, have striven mightily, after a civil war in the 19th century and social tumult in the 20th, to move beyond the moral blindness of the past. . . .

These are the real nuances that teachers ought to sharing with their students. How revealing that the NEA and like-minded thinkers want to pre-empt such needed discussions in the nation’s classrooms.

Indeed. I suppose it's also worth noting that the NEA's response (which Simmons calls "demagogic") to criticisms of the 9/11 curriculum gives the lie to claims that the curriculum did not really reflect the views of the NEA.

HERE'S ANOTHER ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS, this one by Gregory Boyd Bell in the Hamilton Spectator.