October 12, 2002

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE doesn't seem to be enhancing Norway's reputation the way it once did.

UPDATE: This editorial from the Sunday Telegraph underscores the point.

STEFAN SHARKANSKY ISN'T PLEASED with Helen Caldicott's latest.

HERE'S A WEBLOG ACCCOUNT OF THE MICHIGAN DIVESTMENT CONFERENCE by an Israeli who attended. Needless to say, he wasn't impressed.

UPDATE: Here's a story from the Washington Post, and here's a story from yesterday's Michigan Daily.

MAX POWER responds to charges that a U.S. occupation government in Iraq would be "colonialism:"

What's wrong with a little colonialism? Are people saying that the brown peoples of Iraq aren't worthy of Western-style democracy and freedoms?

And I would love to see any of these so-called opponents to colonialism speak out against Wahhabist colonialism in Europe or Afghanistan (or the repeated Arab desire to colonize Israel by force and commit genocide in the process). The failure to do so shows that the objection is not to colonialism but to the West and to democracy. It's frankly appalling and close to racist to see people complaining that a repressive and murderous dictatorship might get replaced by a democracy because the people leading the transition aren't the same skin color as the victims of the totalitarian regime.


PSYCHOLOGIST HARVEY GOLDSTEIN WRITES that press and politicians are encouraging the D.C. sniper. Excerpt:

The frequent news conferences themselves seem to be a big part of the problem, mostly because they impart so little actual news. At some of these events, politicians seem to dominate. They thank the police, they thank each other and they praise the spirit of teamwork and cooperation. Are they really doing anything constructive? We are treating the sniper to a political rally on his behalf.

The news media contribute to the situation simply by paying it too much attention. Ever since the O.J. Simpson trial, competition among media outlets has created an obsession with finding "experts" to theorize about every facet of a crime. This current crisis features not attorneys but an endless stream of criminal profilers jockeying for attention, further gratifying the killer. Those experts appearing on TV and radio during the crisis, speculating on every aspect of the criminal's life and behavior patterns, need to ask themselves whether there is any utility in bolstering his arrogance.


JIM BENNETT'S COLUMBUS DAY COLUMN argues that we're celebrating the wrong Italian.

SOMEONE IS SERIOUSLY UPSET WITH CHARLES JOHNSON, but they're not up to the task of crossing swords with him.

SOME THOUGHTS ON BLOGGING AS A PROFESSOR, from Daniel Drezner. I think he's got a pretty good take on it.

ANOTHER FLORIDA ELECTION SCANDAL -- this time involving a "community relations" coordinator who wrote antisemitic and anti-American emails from his Broward County computer. Some other writings by the worker include the following:

"How dare the Jews ask or have the nerve to demand an apology or compensation from their oppressors."

"The Jews must turn that money over to blacks because they accumulated their wealth through the slave trade."

"It is difficult for me to find sympathy for what the Jews are calling a holocaust."

I don't want this guy counting votes.

(Via Gregory Hlatky).

DAVE TROWBRIDGE offers an interesting perspective on claims that Bush is becoming a "dictator."

ANOTHER TERROR BLAST, this time in Indonesia. And the tanker attack is now confirmed as terrorism. Saddam's calling in all his chits -- not that it'll do any good.

UPDATE: James Morrow reports on whitewashing the Indonesia bombing, or at least the Islamic terror connection thereto.

AZIZ POONAWALLA is having an interesting back-and-forth with Steven Den Beste on Islam and the world. Highly recommended.

THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER has been trying to cash in on the D.C. sniper by nattering on about "sniper rifles" and the "sniper subculture." This argument is pretty thoroughly demolished -- by a Washington Post movie critic, no less -- in this article. Excerpt:

How much does he know about guns? Is he a "gun person," who reads the shooter's magazines and goes to gun shows and orders sniper manuals from the reprint houses? No credible evidence exists to prove this. . . .

For one thing, he's chosen quite a prosaic, low-cost system. It so happens we are in a period of remarkable advances in long-distance shooting, not merely with those laser range finders, but also with a whole batch of ultra magnum cartridges of very recent vintage, that make shots at heretofore undreamed-of distances possible for the common man as opposed to the skilled professional or heavily committed amateur shooter. He doesn't appear to be using any cutting-edge technology.

His choice of weapon reveals something as well. It's notable that he hasn't selected a firearm or a cartridge that's linked to sniping as it's practiced professionally.

"No credible evidence" -- just PR from an advocacy group with a bad record for trustworthiness.

NAT HENTOFF wonders why Robert Mugabe's depredations aren't generating more outrage:

While a critical mass of anger and indignation in this country helped end South African apartheid, there is scarcely any awareness here of the facts on the bloody ground. . . .

Why, in this country, are there only whispers, if that, from most civil rights activists and organizations, the clergy of all colors that finally awoke to the slavery and mass rapes in Sudan, editorial writers, women's rights groups, and such trombones of the people as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? . . .

By the way, Zimbabwe is a proud member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission—along with Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Sudan.

Like the Nobel Peace Prize, the Human Rights Commission is losing its lustre.

(Via Orrin Judd, who has a lot of other observations on the subject.)

UPDATE: Here, forwarded by a British reader, is a report on an attempted "citizens' arrest" of Mugabe by gay human rights activists in Britain. I had never heard of this, but it shows that someone was on the job.

BELLICOSE WOMEN OF THE FUTURE: Went to a kid's birthday party with my daughter this morning. It was at a laser-tag place, so the kids all suited up and ran around darkened mazes happily shooting at each other. They were pretty good, and the girls seemed to like it as much as the boys. My daughter had never done it before, and she loved it. She wants to go back, and has decided to have her next party there.

It's funny because (as you may guess from the frequent Barbie references) she's a girly-girl in most of her play activities. "But this is fun," she said, by way of explaining the difference.

RALPH PETERS ISN'T BUYING the "Chickenhawk" argument:

THERE are few things more repugnant to a soldier than a coward who claims to speak on his behalf. At present, there seems no end of politicians and pundits claiming we dare not strike Saddam because of the danger of friendly casualties. Self-appointed voices of conscience warn of tens of thousands of American dead.

That's nonsense. And when those who despise the men and women in uniform invoke the welfare of our troops to further their failing agendas, they transcend the commonplace cynicism of Washington. This is hypocrisy as a moral disease. . . .

Make no mistake: The anti-war voices long for us to lose any war they cannot prevent.

Don't mince words, Ralph. You're a columnist now -- say what you really mean.

I think that Peters is right about certain sectors of the antiwar movement, who really do see the United States as the evil empire. On the other hand, I think that there are other people who are antiwar out of concerns distinct from anti-Americanism. Unfortunately, the former category has gotten most of the attention, because it includes a lot of people who are vocal and good at getting publicity. Here's a response to those in Category Two.

Heh. I've never seen anyone use this title before, though it seems so obvious.

EUGENE VOLOKH has a characteristically thorough and thoughtful discussion of the Washington University affair. And scroll up from this item for still more discussion.

BAN CHEVY ASTROS! It was only a matter of time before someone made this proposal. Scroll down for a very gentlemanly admission of error in response to Eugene Volokh, too.

October 11, 2002

"VISHNU SENDS A LETTER OF GRATITUDE TO AMIRI BARAKA FOR CLEARING HIS NAME." This makes sense, but only if you read Vegard Valberg's latest "Misting." And you should.

WHEN PEOPLE ASK how I'm able to post so often, I always credit the fact that I'm usually close to a high-speed always-on Internet connection. Whenever I'm not, like now, I realize just how true that is. Dialup sucks.

MAJOR BOMBING (?) AT A MALL IN HELSINKI. There was also a car bombing there last summer. What gives? The news coverage offers no suggestion of a motive, or even of the nature of the perpetrators -- the story about today's explosion even suggests it was an accident, though other information casts doubt on that. Very curious.

UPDATE: Several Finnish readers (I've got Finnish readers? Yep.) emailed in response to the above. The earlier car bombing was inept, (which hardly rules out the terrorist crowd) and appears to have been about drugs. The most recent explosion is still unexplained, and is looking somewhat less likely to be an accident. Finnish blogger Teemu Lehtonen is keeping an eye on things.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jaako Haapasolo emails from Finland:

An interior ministry press conference was given at 9:15 local time, that's about 45 minutes ago. They (including the interior minister and the national police chief) confirmed that they now suspect a crime in the mall bombing. They reported that traces of an explosive were found at the scene. At least 7 people died, at least one of them a child. The number of wounded is reported varyingly from 50 to over 80, ten of whom are wounded seriously.

No one at the press conference (including the reporters) uttered the word 'terrorism', I would guess by some sort of consensus decision, to avoid panic or whatever... that may change of course. I'm sure it is one of the most pressing questions on everyone's mind here.

The shopping mall, one of the largest in the region, is located in Vantaa, a suburb of Helsinki, some 12 km north of Helsinki city centre. The blast happened at Friday night when there were around 1000-2000 people shopping there.

It is a sickening feeling. As a regular reader of Ha'aretz, I am all too familiar with the 'drill': Friday night, a report of an explosion, initial confusion, then the steadily rising numbers of dead and wounded...

The car bombing last summer was definitely established as criminal on criminal, a debt collection gone bad if I remember correctly. This time I fear it could be very, very different.

This is all that I know so far. I can't find any good links in English beyond what Reuters has.

I can't confirm this report at the moment, but there seems no reason to doubt it. Vantaa, I believe, is near an area where immigrants tend to cluster.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Looks like it was definitely a bombing. Oh, and I just noticed that Teemu says so too.

A DISTURBING ARTICLE on nuclear proliferation, from Technology Review. And here's a scenario that we've heard elsewhere, too:

Unlike weapons-grade plutonium, (which is typically contaminated with Pu-240, a spontaneous neutron emitter), U-235 is difficult to detect without active probing, as with a thermal neutron source). It emits alpha particles and some energetic gamma rays, but these can be shielded with lead. This makes HEU relatively easy to smuggle. The easiest way to get a bomb into the US is probably in a shipping container. We wouldn’t detect it unless we were tipped off about where to look.

Let’s imagine a bad case. Saddam sets off a bomb in Washington D.C. Unlike the designers of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, he derives great pleasure from mass death. Unlike bin Laden, he takes credit immediately for his terrorism. He announces that he has additional weapons, and that if the U.S. retaliates, he will start setting them off in major U.S. cities.

The only response to such a threat, of course, would be the nuclear obliteration of Iraq -- and I mean obliteration, using scores, or even hundreds of nuclear weapons. Because, even in the face of such a threat, you don't want anyone else to think they can get away with this. As for the countries downwind, well, that will give other countries' neighbors an incentive to ensure that no one threatens the United States. Lots of people will die, and the only consolation is that, maybe, it will prevent worse in the future.

A grim scenario? Yes. Which is why Saddam can't be allowed to get that far. It's nice to see that Congress understood that.

BACK LATER. Maybe the DSL will be back up, though the BellSouth guy wasn't too hopeful when I talked to him.

THE READER WHO SENT THIS CARTOON from the Durham paper says the signs are verbatim from a "peace" rally held at Duke yesterday. The sweatshirt, I suspect, is entirely the cartoonist's idea.

UPDATE: Dr. Manhattan has some observations on a related topic.


The Constitution says that Congress may authorize copyrights only for "limited times." It is always difficult for a court to determine the precise meaning of broad constitutional phrases like "limited times" or "cruel and unusual punishment," or "a speedy trial." But at some point the Constitution's words are violated. The court should hold that the latest extension goes too far.

There is clearly a correlation between copyright and creativity. No one but a blockhead writes except for money, Samuel Johnson said, and those who subscribe to that view would be unlikely to write if, the minute they completed their work, others could copy it with impunity. But it is a highly reluctant artist — and one with extraordinary concern for his heirs — who will not create unless his work is protected for a full 70 years after his death.

The purpose of the 1998 Congressional extension was not protecting artists, but enriching media companies that hold property rights in their creations, virtually in perpetuity. The founders did not envision copyright being put to this use, and the Supreme Court should not allow it.

The Times is right, even though I think they just called me a blockhead.


If you're going to do it, then you should make sure your opponent ends up as a grease spot on the wall, and that his country is reformulated so that it never ever bothers you again.

There's more, and it's worth reading.

JERRY FALWELL may be a prototype Idiotarian, but Clayton Cramer explains how his dumb comments can cause deaths in India.

Hey, nobody said idiocy was harmless.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh gently takes me to task for the above. He says that Falwell isn't morally at fault because a bunch of idiots riot in response to his remarks.

This is true, more or less. But nasty remarks concerning religion have a historical tendency to cause violence that no one in Falwell's business should be able to miss. That's particularly so at present when the situation is tense to begin with. That's what made Falwell's remarks "dumb." (Well, it's one of the things that made them dumb).

When Falwell made his remarks, he didn't "cause" the riots in the sense that Eugene seems to think is important. But, in wartime (to quote the oft-maligned Ari Fleischer), people should pay attention to what they say. Falwell didn't, and he should have.

Please note -- and some readers who sent me angry email on Falwell's behalf seemed to have trouble with this, though Volokh does not -- that I did not advocate censoring Falwell. It's not just those on the Left, apparently, who associate criticism with censorship.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Stuart Buck is chiding me too, somewhat less gently. Hey, I was nicer to Falwell than Stephen Green was. A lot nicer!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: It's Sunday and I'm watching This Week, and Fareed Zakaria is, basically, agreeing with me. He says that the comments made by Falwell, Robertson, et al., are hurting efforts to portray the war as being not a war against Israel. George Will is also blaming CBS for magnifying Falwell into a bigger figure than he really is. There's an interesting back-and-forth between Zakaria and Will about the significance of Falwell, and I think Zakaria has it right here.

Zakaria calls for "American moderates" to condemn Falwell's statements. But, Fareed, I have!

ALABAMA'S SEX TOY BAN has been declared unconstitutional. And how many DJ's in Birmingham honored this decision by playing "Good Vibrations," I wonder?

DSL IS DOWN: BellSouth is having some sort of major problem. I'm posting this via the backup dialup connection. Blogging will remain limited for a while.

I'M KIND OF BUSY, and will be for another hour or two. In the meantime, you can read this piece by John Lott on guns and the election. You might also want to look at BlogStreet's top 100 weblogs ranking, just updated, and Eugene Volokh's prediction that the Supreme Court will strike down the law in Eldred v. Ashcroft. I hope he's right. Also, this post on OxBlog about Vaclav Havel's support for the war on terror.

I AM NOT PRO-LIFE, as any regular InstaPundit reader knows. But what Washington University is doing to a pro-life student group is embarrassing.

THINGS SEEM TO BE GOING TO HELL IN NORTHERN IRELAND. Here's a post that rounds up recent events, which haven't gotten a lot of attention over here.

MEGAN MCARDLE on the Montana hairdresser commercial:

I have to agree; it reeks homophobic to me. . . . They couldn't have made their message any clearer without, say, a shockwave of him prancing around in a maribou robe, singing excerpts from Judy Garland's greatest hits while waving a sign that says "Queer as a $3 bill!"

Andrew Sullivan agrees. (And if you missed this yesterday, you can read much, much more here).

UPDATE: Adam Bonin, who is quoted in the earlier post as saying he didn't see the gay angle, has watched the commercial again and emails:

I didn't catch the little reach-down at the end of the ad the first time I saw it. Yeah, they're insinuating. Please scrap what I said before.

Sorry -- it'll live forever in the Google Archive! Er, and mine. But the correction is noted. It sure looked that way to me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Howard Kurtz thinks the ad just makes Taylor look "goofy."

I DON'T THINK THESE TWO SCENES ARE EQUIVALENT. And I think it's monstrous that some people do.

HYPOCRISY AT THE FCC: Jesse Walker is on the case.

READING THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE TEA LEAVES: William Sjostrom spots an agenda. Meanwhile ScrappleFace is hailing the Committee's success.

Personally, I think it's just another shameful year in which Arthur C. Clarke's contribution was overlooked.

And if you're looking for something a bit more recent, these guys did more for peace than Jimmy Carter has done. Here's some perspective on Carter's commitment to human rights. And here's what another Peace Prize winner is doing.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has posted this defense of Carter, which you should read to get the best possible case for Carter getting the prize. Me, I've never liked the guy. I thought he was phony and inept when he was President, and whenever he's opened his mouth on public issues afterward he's reminded me why I thought that.

ARLEN SPECTER is calling for a probe into a possible Iraqi connection to the Oklahoma City bombing.

77-23: ANOTHER BIG WIN FOR BUSH in the Senate. Here's the text of the resolution. Meanwhile, the Administration has a plan for the postwar occupation of Iraq. And Stephen Green has already redrawn the map.

Of course, we do have to win the war, first.

October 10, 2002

MICHAEL MOORE'S BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE may have been flacked on CNBC tonight, but it sure gets panned by John Powers in the L.A. Weekly:

ONE OF THE MOSQUITO-BITE IRRITAtions of being on the left is finding your ideals represented in public by Michael Moore, whose ball cap, burgeoning belly and self-promoting populism have made him an international brand name. When his documentary Bowling for Columbine played at Cannes this May, it was received with wild enthusiasm -- predictably so, for it seems to have been made to delight European intellectuals and anyone else who believes that America is a land of bloodthirsty yet comical barbarians. . . .

Although he'd have made a crackerjack ad man, he's a slipshod filmmaker, and the movie quickly collapses, burying its subject beneath bumper-sticker rehashes of received ideas: the demonizing of black men, fear-mongering TV news, Canada's progressive health-care system and the Bush administration's partisan use of scare tactics. At once punchy and incoherent -- Moore contradicts himself vividly every few minutes -- the film has the scattershot shapelessness of a concept album made by a singles band. . . .

Does Moore really think that Osama bin Laden ever gave a damn what happened to Salvadoran campesinos? Does he really think U.S. foreign policy caused those two high school kids to gun down their schoolmates? Moore never says, but he does emphasize, that on the same day as Columbine, U.S. bombers dropped an especially heavy payload on Kosovo. So what? Absent any serious historical analysis, his implication seems to be that this country is incorrigibly murderous. You don't know whether to be outraged or yawn.

Oh, I know.

(Via Matt Welch).

INTERESTING COMMENTS ON FRENCH INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENTS, from Innocents Abroad. (Scroll up from this link for more). Excerpt:

I referred earlier to French intellectual arrogance and the perennial French view that Americans are dim-witted. This too may be changing. It’s long been the case that Americans have neglected more cerebral studies in favor of pragmatic pursuits. As a result, accusations of boorishness coming from the vast parade of French philosophic and revolutionary thinkers has often gone unanswered by the practical Americans. So it was a bit of a surprise when intelligent Americans, especially intelligent conservatives, hit back this time around. What may be even more surprising to Americans is that the French themselves were not entirely impressed by the knee-jerk anti-Americanism in their midst. . . .

That some of the best French intellectuals are now liberals in the classical sense and no longer slaves to the Marxist vulgate, suggests things may be changing. Just as the rise of an educated and philosophically conversant conservative movement had a lasting impact on the United States in recent decades, a similarly well-educated and thoughtful liberal tradition seems to be growing in France. It’s unfortunate that Germany seems unable to follow the French lead.

Yes, it is.

I PRETTY MUCH AGREE WITH TED BARLOW on what I hope will come next. War isn't something to be entered into lightly, nor are we.

JUAN GATO DOESN'T MUCH LIKE Robert Byrd's take on the war.

BLOCKED! A reader writes:

I try to keep up on the latest from the bloggers each day at work, but I've encountered a problem when trying to access Your site is the only one that is categorized by WebSense (our network filter software) as an 'Advocacy Group', preventing me from viewing it. Doesn't make sense to [email protected]#$

Well, first I'd have to be a "group."

LARRY MILLER ISSUES A VERY GRACEFUL CORRECTION in the Weekly Standard. Turns out the story was true, but the band was wrong -- it wasn't the Buzzcocks, it was Blink 182 that cursed Bush and was booed. Apparently, it's even in Rolling Stone this month.

NICK DENTON is pooh-poohing claims that the D.C. sniper is a terrorist, which he attributes to gun-rights folks' wishful thinking. He thinks it's a typical nutjob, but argues that even if guns create more murders it's worth it to have an armed citizenry:

[T]here is still an honest case to be made for the Second Amendment. It goes something like this. Guns do result in more fatal murders, but that is a small price to pay to guarantee freedom. The balance between the individual and government is ultimately determined by force. All the rights -- to privacy, a fair trial, of free speech, to property -- are underpinned by the power of individuals to organize against overmighty government, demonstrate, and ultimately take up arms. At a time when we are giving central government more powers, the counterweight of a people's militia is more important than ever. Even as a madman runs amok in the DC suburbs.

Well, the criminological evidence on guns causing crime is, at best, mixed -- even the opponents of widespread concealed-carry have been reduced to arguing that it doesn't reduce crime, having largely abandoned claims that it will produce rivers of blood in the streets. But Nick makes an important point: rights can have costs, and still be worth it. That's true of all rights, but many people seem less willing to admit this in the gun area. Antigun folks refuse to admit that the costs might be worth it, while many gun rights advocates deny that the costs exist. I tend to think that the costs, to the extent that they exist, are minor -- but I don't really care. Just as I'd support First Amendment protection for pornography even if someone could prove it led to more sex crime, I would support Second Amendment rights even if someone could prove they produced more gun crime. In both cases the alternative -- an overpowerful government -- is worse.

At the moment, Bush's stance on the Second Amendment eases my mind somewhat over fears of tyranny. No tyrant, or would-be tyrant, champions an armed populace, the number-one antidote to tyranny -- and the American public is growing better-armed all the time.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Andrew Stuttaford notes anti-gun-rights advocates trying to cash in, and calls them "vultures."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails:

I'd be a little more sanguine if the actions actually matched the words. I haven't seen Ashcroft's Justice Department actually do anything to support their stated interpretation. None of the Clinton-holdover Justice positions in ongoing court cases have been changed, as would be required if they really believed what they said.

Meanwhile, I'm watching a CNBC story by Pat Dawson which is, ahem, asking, whether the sniper will "reignite" the gun control debate. The story itself didn't suck, but the presentation made clear that some folks at CNBC are doing more "hoping" than "asking" in this department.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, hell, now they're shilling for Michael Moore's movie, and interviewing him. And as the interview progresses, the bias is pretty obvious. So I guess I knew where that was going. My wife, who knows a lot about Columbine, thinks Michael Moore is an idiot.

Later: Well, Brian Williams is still sucking up. Moore's off on a riff about how "we armed Saddam Hussein" and it's all our fault. This is pathetic.


WHAT THE DEMOCRATS SHOULD HAVE DONE: The House just voted overwhelmingly in favor of the war resolution. The Senate is expected to follow suit. The upshot of this is that the Democrats have angered their core NPR/Nation constituency by supporting the war, but done so slowly enough that (1) they look unpatriotic after shows like those put on by Reps. Bonior, McDermott and Thompson; and (2) they've let the campaign season turn on Iraq-related issues. This seems to be hurting them in a number of ways.

This problem probably could have been avoided had Daschle and Gephardt said in August that they didn't think Congress needed to do anything. "We believe the President has authority under previous resolutions." This would also facilitate weaselly second-guessing if the war goes badly. (That will happen anyway, of course, should circumstances allow, but it'll be made more difficult for those who voted in favor of the war).

So why didn't they do this? Beats me. There are several possibilities. One is that they favored a vote because they believed that Congress has a constitutional responsibility to address important issues like this. Another is that they were bluffing, and Bush called their bluff by going to Congress. Still another is that they lacked the party discipline to pursue the foreclosure strategy, since important Democrats (especially in the Senate) would make that impossible anyway. I'm guessing the reason is number two. But I think that Daschle and Gephardt will wish that they had made this go away in August.

UPDATE: This poll tends to explain why the vote is going this way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader thinks I shouldn't be lumping Daschle and Gephardt together, and he's right:

Daschle has obviously been acting with a view to politics first and policy a very distant second. That, I think, has become obvious to voters (look at his lousy favs/unfavs in national polls). His great skill as Democratic Leader has been to keep his Caucus together. On this issue, on which his Caucus is divided down the middle, he has played caucus politics with little regard to the national

A pretty pathetic performance. The best way to handle things, when your caucus is divided, is to play it straight, as Gephardt has done. To try to bounce things around to achieve the best partisan result, as Daschle has done, is to lose all around.

Yes, I think that Gephardt has been motivated by what he sees as the national interest. Daschle, I agree, seems more opportunistic.

ALL THE HOSTESS COMIC BOOK ADS on one page -- it doesn't get cooler than this.

FEDERALISM, AND WHY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS WRONG on medical marijuana. Good piece by Dave Kopel and Mike Krause from a while back, worth noting again in light of California's lawsuit on the subject.

THE MYSTERY OF SPONGEBOB'S SEXUALITY HAS BEEN SOLVED! Rand Simberg emails a link explaining that he can't help it:

Sponges reproduce by both asexual and sexual means. Most poriferans that reproduce by sexual means are hermaphroditic and produce eggs and sperm at different times.

Well, that settles it. I guess this won't shed any light on the Montana election, though.

WE'VE DISCOVERED THE EQUIVALENT: An Act of Congress is roughly equal to three Mexicans with shovels. And I've got proof:

The Rio Grande is flowing all the way to the Gulf of Mexico again, thanks to three men from Mexico who skipped the red tape and put their backs into it.

Armed only with shovels, the trio dug a 400-foot ditch in two days to free up the Rio Grande at Boca Chica Beach and send the water on its way for the first time in almost a year. The ditch is designed to relieve residual flooding caused by the clogged river.

"It almost takes an act of Congress to do something like that," Xavier Rios, supervisory Border Patrol agent in McAllen, said in the Brownsville Herald Wednesday. An official dredging project failed after four months because the flow wasn't enough to prevent sediment from rebuilding.


MEDIA MINDED says Harry Belafonte is an honorable man.


"Seventeen" has ranked the 100 "coolest" colleges. Apparently the first 50 were worthy enough to be investigated. I guess they didn't look too closely at numbers 51-100. I'm proud to say that my alma mater - Wabash College - made the list at number 76. Unfortunately the editors forgot to check and see that Wabash is one of only three colleges exclusively for men still left out there. Has been since 1832. I guess this is further proof that rankings don't mean too much. Although given their criteria and the enriching experiences that women have had while visiting Wabash - I'm not too surprised.

Well, to be fair, Seventeen says it was looking at the "coolest schools where girls can get the best college experience." It didn't say "as a student."

VENEZUELA UPDATE: Jorge Schmidt emails:

Venezuelan media report that more than a million people are marching against the Chavez government. They call for his resignation and early elections. If the date for new elections is not announced in the next ten days, there will be a general strike beginning on October 21st. There has been sporadic violence, mainly outside Caracas, as Chavez supporters blocked roads leading to the city.

But the political opposition to Chavez remains fragmented. Unless they field but one candidate, it's possible Chavez could win another election on the strength of his hard-core base.

The BBC has a report here. And here is a post from El Sur with links to many photos. Scroll up and down for more information.


Apparently this slipped under the blogosphere's radar. Since it's not the linkable media, I partially understand. On her Oct 9 show Oprah made a strong case for the invasion of Iraq - sooner rather than later. She had the author of the Threatening Storm, Kenneth M. Pollack on to make his case and hawk his book - it climbed to number 3 from the mid 40's on Amazon within hours. . . .

A lady in the audience made a comment to the effect that there were Iraq problems with Bush 1, then no problems with Clinton, and now Bush again and more problems. OPRAH SAID..."So you think it's a Bush thing? Don't you think that the problems were there with Clinton, he just looked the other way?"

This German woman really began tearing up when she spoke of the fact that Germans - and the world -- looked the other way while Hitler built his empire and committed genocide. It took a world war to take him out.

She also had on a Hussein survivor, a guy who gave first hand experience with the brutal regime. He said Iraq is the only government in the world who has rapists on their payroll. Saddam pays to have dissident women raped.

This is news to me. There are reports of this on both Free Republic and Democratic Underground, and Oprah's page indicates the topic, but doesn't indicate what was said. Anybody out there see this?

UPDATE: Reader Tom Williams emails:

I saw a fair bit of the show yesterday. It seemed quite clear to me that Oprah supported military action against Hussein. In addition to the exchange your other reader mentioned, I was especially impressed by Oprah's response to an audience member who said that we were just being fed Bush-administration propaganda about Saddam. The look on Oprah's face was priceless. She paused a bit, and then said, in an almost brutally dismissive tone, "Well, you're entitled to your opinion." The addition "even though it's idiotic" was as clear as if she had uttered it aloud.

And reader Eric Kolchinsky emails a transcript. I've skimmed it and it's consistent with the above, right down to the dismissal. I may post an excerpt later.

HENRY COPELAND REPORTS that the New York Times is now more of a web publication than a DeadTree publication: "The jump in daily users puts the site’s daily readership solidly beyond the newspaper’s 1.2 million weekday circulation. An average of 1.3 million unique daily users is projected for October."

Why if the New York Times can just make as much per Web reader as I do, they'll be as profitable as InstaPundit! . . . Uh oh.

Actually, it's not that bad:

Cannibalization is not an issue, says Calder. On the contrary, the site is “critical to newspaper's growth in national markets and younger user groups,” he said.

“As a whole, the newspaper industry is challenged by fact that readers are getting older and aren’t reaching a whole generation brought up on AOL and CNN. We've been extremely successful in offsetting this,” Calder said.

That makes sense to me.

LOOKS LIKE A BIG WIN FOR BUSH on the war. The Democrats may wonder, when this is done, why they didn't get this over with in August. Their base is unhappy with their support for the war, but the delay and kvetching has probably cost them votes with people who favor war.

UPDATE: The resolution has passed the House 296-133.

ANOTHER UPDATE: My Congressman, "Baghdad John" Duncan, voted against the resolution. No explanation given. I called his office, and they said that they didn't know why he voted that way. Weird, as he's said nothing that I've seen to suggest that he was opposed to the President's position on this.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails me a statement of Duncan's from July, saying that we shouldn't turn the "Department of Defense" into the "Department of War." Boy, this hasn't gotten any local coverage that I've seen. And no, nobody's actually calling him "Baghdad John" -- though I imagine that he'll get some criticism over this one.

MONTANA HOMOPHOBIA ALERT: Poryhrogenitus asks: "When Is Playing on Homophobia OK? when it's done by Democrats."

Here's a link to the story from the Billings Gazette, which reports:

State Sen. Mike Taylor, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will withdraw from the race this afternoon, saying a Montana Democratic Party television ad has destroyed his campaign.

Taylor, who has scheduled a press conference in Helena for 2 p.m., said the ad, which he said insinuated that he was a gay hairdresser, had pushed his poll numbers through the floor.

Unconfirmed rumors have Taylor being replaced by former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who is now chairman of the Republican National Committee.

That seems fair, though I think that Taylor should just call in SpongeBob for an endorsement. Here's the report of Taylor's withdrawal. MTPOLITICS.NET is posting regular updates.

UPDATE: Here's more from Sean Hackbarth.

ANOTHER UPDATE: John Cole has the Democratic response drafted.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Adam Bonin sends this link to the commercial (streaming video, courtesy of The Smoking Gun) and remarks: "I don't see the 'gay' thing at all. Just cheesy '70s stuff."

The confusion there is understandable. . . . I looked at the commercial and I'd say that the gay thing is there. They maintain plausible deniability, but the shots of Taylor massaging around the guy's eyes, etc., look to me like they're going for gay. It's certainly gayer than SpongeBob. You can watch the video and decide for yourself.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:

The commercial is indeed implying that Taylor is gay. I work in the film and television industry and every clip, every moment that you see on television, with few exceptions, is heavily scrutinized. I know that they intended the shot to imply that Taylor is gay for the following reasons:

1) Taylor made several television appearances on this show, over a long period of time. All or many of which deal with hair and skin maintenance It is not a mistake that the clip of him massaging another man's face was the one chosen for this commercial.

2) The commercial talks about Taylor owning and operating a school and a beauty salon, yet the clip shows him giving a facial. Now, while this may be a service offered at many salons, the overall teaching curriculum and services in beauty schools and salons focuses on hair cutting and style, the commercial does not show him at any time cutting hair, they chose to focus in on his skin to skin contact with another man.

3) Facials by nature are relaxing, pampering, and indulgent, now while some would say that this clip was used to highlight his "indulgent and corrupt business practices," I would say that the clip plain and simple showcases one man pleasuring another.

Yeah, I saw it the same way.

ONE MORE UPDATE: Josh Marshall has looked at it, and says his reaction is "equivocal." Meanwhile Kathryn Jean Lopez asks what people would be saying if a Republican had run this ad about a Democrat.

REALLY, THIS IS THE LAST UPDATE: Ted Barlow has posted a lengthy analysis.

AN INTERESTING REPORT ON WHAT AL QAEDA HAS LEARNED about fighting Americans, from StrategyPage.

THIS CASE LOOKS LIKE A LOSER TO ME. California is suing the federal government over its prosecution of users of medical marijuana, which is legal under California law. As a staunch advocate of states' rights, I naturally tend to look on this with favor, but I think the real function is to embarrass the advocates of federalism within the Bush Administration. Which seems fair to me.


MORE EVIDENCE in support of the "cut their pay and send them home" approach. Obviously, there's not enough work to do to justify a full-time position.

CATHERINE SEIPP writes that "Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton just played the race card against Hollywood and lost."

Yeah, I think that Harry Belafonte is in the process of doing the same thing with Colin Powell. That stuff has been overused to the point that it just doesn't work anymore. Big question: will Trent Lott still share star billing with Belafonte at this fundraiser?

UPDATE: Vinod Valloppillil draws some lessons from development economics and asks: "What this incident also calls into question is the continuing legitimacy of "group leaders" in an environment of (generally) rising political enfranchisement."

THE GOOD NEWS is that there are promising developments in protecting troops from chemical weapons. The bad news is that they won't be ready in time to help us with Iraq.


A senior Kremlin official indicated yesterday that Russia would demand a high price for its support in the campaign against Iraq but that it would not ultimately stand in America's way.

With Tony Blair due in Moscow this afternoon, the Kremlin's senior spokesman said Russia would adopt a "pragmatic" position over Iraq, shorthand for a demand that it must receive substantial financial compensation.

See, Russia is worried that the price of oil might fall -- which would be bad for Russia, though good for a lot of poor countries elsewhere -- and wants guarantees that that won't happen.

Yeah, good thing we're not going about this in a self-interested, unilateral manner. Because then it would be, you know, all about oil.

RAVE ACT UPDATE: Talkleft reports that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced a House version of this dumb bill. And it may move fast.

Don't they have anything better to do? If Congress thinks it should be focusing on this crap in wartime, I say, "Cut their pay, and send them home."

IS IT 1984 IN AMERICA? Some people will say so in response to this indictment. But as a reader points out: "Check the photo." It's got to have his defense lawyers worried.

UPDATE: Another Airbrush Award Nominee? The photo -- which showed the defendant in traditional garb brandishing an AK-47, no longer accompanies the story. In fact, there's no record that it was ever there, or explanation of why it was removed. I've emailed the Post to ask why.

AN0THER UPDATE: Still no word from the post, but reader Michael Kuhl forwards this link to Yahoo, where the picture is still available at the moment. It seems to have disappeared from quite a few places, but there's no explanation of why. If there were an obvious reason -- say, if it weren't actually him -- shouldn't there be a correction to that effect?

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner reports (at the end of an interesting post on terrorist financing) that the Defense position is that the person on the photo isn't the same guy. With that in mind, here's a link to a slideshow from a German newspaper that also identifies the picture (it's #5) as the defendant Enaam Arnaout. There are quite a few photos showing him in compromising positions (one with Osama bin Laden). Presumably, the Defense will argue that none of these are Arnaout, and of course I can't possibly say. In some cases, maybe nobody will be able to -- some of the pictures are pretty indistinct. Others are pretty clear, so presumably there will be a definitive answer forthcoming.


Shortly thereafter Internet access went out for the entire building.

I felt cut off from the world. It was as if my window had been bricked up. I needed to know what was going on out there.

Keep in mind that I had this feeling in a newspaper, where I had access to every wire service on the planet.

That’s actually rather telling. I’ve come to depend on the krill-filtering mechanisms of blogs and news sites, because they’re far more interesting than the wire feeds. I read a wire story, and that’s that. A wire story consists of one voice pitched low and calm and full of institutional gravitas, blissfully unaware of its own biases or the gaping lacunae in its knowledge. Whereas blogs have a different format:

Clever teaser headline that has little to do with the actual story, but sets the tone for this blog post.

Breezy ad hominem slur containing the link to the entire story.

Excerpt of said story, demonstrating its idiocy (or brilliance)

Blogauthor’s remarks, varying from dismissive sniffs to a Tolstoi-length rebuttal.

Seven comments from people piling on, disagreeing, adding a link, acting stupid, preaching to the choir, accusing choir of being Nazis, etc.

I’d say it’s a throwback to the old newspapers, the days when partisan slants covered everything from the play story to the radio listings, but this is different. The link changes everything. When someone derides or exalts a piece, the link lets you examine the thing itself without interference. TV can’t do that. Radio can’t do that. Newspapers and magazines don’t have the space. My time on the internet resembles eight hours at a coffeeshop stocked with every periodical in the world - if someone says “I read something stupid” or “there was this wonderful piece in the Atlantic” then conversation stops while you read the piece and make up your own mind.

I’m serious. I was sitting at a terminal at a major American daily, and I thought: I feel so uninformed!

I know what he means. And I think the point about how the link changes everything is key. I get the occasional complaint from old-line journalists about my "bias" in the way I characterize something I link to. But that's the difference: unlike old media, I link to it. Readers don't have to take my word. They can make up their own minds. My comments are like the chatter of the guy at the newsstand as he hands you the paper: "Those bums are gonna blow the pennant again, looks like."

Okay, actually that mostly happens in old movies. But, like his comments, mine are at no extra charge ("extra" charge?). They may send you to a different newsstand where you like the comments better, or they may bring you back. Your call. The story's the same regardless. And you can make up your own mind who's going to win the pennant.

HERE'S A STORY FROM TIME EUROPE on the trial of the 1995 subway bombers in Paris:

Boualem Bensaпd was standing just meters away from people whose lives he is accused of tearing asunder in a 1995 bombing campaign in the Paris Mйtro. He showed no feeling save contempt. The alleged Islamist terrorist from Algeria — on trial last week with co-defendant Smaпn Aпt Ali Belkacem for three blasts in which eight people died and more than 200 were injured — dismissed both the charges against him and those in court who "claim to be victims of an attack." Insisting that "We are not the extremists here," Bensaпd, 35, refused to explain his illegal entry to France just before the bombing spree began. "That's none of your business," he told the court. "I do as I please."

Hey, where are the critics of "unilateralism" now?

UPDATE: Hey, criticism of unilateralism in the terror world has gotten results!

MERYL YOURISH RESPONDS to a Harvard Crimson piece in favor of divestment from Israel. She's not impressed.

BORDERS IS RETURNING TO LOWER MANHATTAN, according to this report on Blogcritics. My local Borders still has a picture of the World Trade Center store up on the wall, marked R.I.P.

HERE'S A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT of a brush with the DC Sniper investigation.

FBI AGENTS ACCUSED OF THEFT FROM WTC INVESTIGATION. Boy, this fills me with confidence. I know you find bad apples everywhere, but once again this seems to suggest that Homeland Security isn't exactly a well-oiled machine.

October 09, 2002


NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I was going to say that the issue was settled by the fact that Spongebob wears tighty-whities, but a quick Google search demonstrated that those weren't quite as stereotypically straight as I'd assumed. Live and learn.

I CONFESS that I haven't followed the Tom White / Paul Krugman / Jason Leopold story very closely at all. But for those who have, Leopold has posted his side of what went on. That it's on a site operated out of New Zealand may indicate that he's having trouble getting his message out -- or, in this age of transglobal communication, may not. At any rate, though I don't know enough about this matter to make a judgment, those who have been following it more closely may find this interesting.

UPDATE: Brian Carnell -- who's no Leopold fan -- posts what he calls a condensed version of the history on this matter, with links.

MAIL: Jeez, I post that I'm going to be offline a while, and you folks send more mail than usual. It was, er, rather a lot more than the measly 65 unread emails that Eugene Volokh was complaining about the other day. Sorry if responses are slow or nonexistent; I'll do my best.

UPDATE: At least I was missed.

THE ANTIWAR EFFORT isn't getting off to much of a start at Williams College. Worse yet, the Chaplain seems to be, well, lying:

For his part, Spalding said his intention was never to advance his partisan goal, but rather to help Williams students get in contact with key Senators to express their opinions on the war with Iraq – whatever those opinions might be.

Gundersen, however, questions why Spalding only contacted the SSJ if he was truly interested in opening the event to both sides of the discussion. “It seems to reveal the true purpose that only one organization with a predictable point of view was contacted,” Gundersen said.

That's real moral leadership. This seems to tie in with what Donald Sensing says about the moral seriousness of antiwar religious efforts.

CLAYTON CRAMER WILL BE ON THE AIR in Minneapolis tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 7:20 CST on FM 107. Call and ask him a question.

ORRIN JUDD says that Gray Davis is right, and I agree with Orrin. . . .

STUDENT READERS: If you buy used textbooks, read this.

STEPHEN GREEN IS BACK, AND OBSERVES: "Most civil libertarians fear what will happen to us if we attack Saddam. I fear what will happen if we don’t." I think his analysis on this point is exactly right.

RON ROSENBAUM has explicitly joined the anti-Idiotarian cause. And he's done it, of course, in response to what he's heard from the anti-war movement, such as it is:

The point is, all empires commit crimes; in the past century, ours were by far the lesser of evils. But this sedulous denial of even the possibility of misjudgment in the hierarchy of evils protects and insulates this wing of the Left from an inconvenient reconsideration of whether America actually is the worst force on the planet. This blind spot, this stunning lack of historical perspective, robs much of the American Left of intellectual credibility. And makes it easy for idiocies large and small to be uttered reflexively. (Perhaps the suggestion I recently saw on the Web site calling for an "Anti-Idiotarian" party might be appropriate.)

Being anti-War, as I've said repeatedly, doesn't make you an idiot. But the antiwar movement certainly has taken a strong position in the idiocy market, as Rosenbaum's report makes clear.

UPDATE: Read this report too. And Donald Sensing has some observations.

I DIDN'T GET A CHANCE to write much about Eldred v. Ashcroft. Here's a firsthand account of the oral argument from Erik Jaffe at the ever-expanding Volokh Conspiracy. (Soon to be renamed "A Volokh Conspiracy So Vast. . .").

I was sorry to hear that he felt the notion of internal limits on the patent and copyright power got little play. Obviously the Supremes didn't find the article that I coauthored with Berkeley law professor and intellectual property god Rob Merges, arguing that the Court should police Congressional intellectual property power just as it does the commerce power, dispositive. Dang.

UPDATE: Slashdot has more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a roundup of other blogospheric commentary from the Jurist site. And, of course, there's lots of good stuff at CopyFight.

ONE MORE: Check out Freeside and scroll freely for more.

I'M BACK. We took a family trip to Nashville. My wife is on a state psychological board, and while she attended her meeting this morning my daughter and I went to the Cumberland Science Museum (very disappointing -- many of the exhibits were lame, and PC-preachy -- and many more were either broken or closed) and the Parthenon (great!). For those who don't know, Nashville has an exactly (un-blown-up-by-the-Turks) replica of the Parthenon. My daughter really liked that, and we also spent some enjoyable time feeding the ducks at the pond outside and discussing the Greeks. She read a kids' version of Bulfinch in the car on the way home.

October 08, 2002

I'LL BE ON TRAVEL this evening, so blogging will be limited if it happens at all. Back later. Enjoy the many fine links on the left in my absence. And you can even amuse yourself with Eugene Volokh's song of consolation for a poor, put-upon planet. (This musical item is heartening, too.) Find out that Get Smart predicted everything at ParaPundit. And, as always, there's lots of interesting news here.

Also, my TechCentralStation column should be up Wednesday morning as usual. Have fun!

CORRECTION UPDATE: Best of the Web reports that the Buzzcocks story, linked above as "heartening," isn't true. Dang.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Weisblogg has more on the Buzzcocks, and scroll down for interesting, though largely unrelated, comments on many other entertainment-type stories.

THE INDEPUNDIT has continuing updates on the Maryland sniper situation. He also links to this report suggesting terrorism was behind the French tanker explosion. Meanwhile, the attack on U.S. Marines in Kuwait by a pair of gunmen is now being called terrorism. I'm sure that Iraq had nothing to do with it. . . .

ANDREA HARRIS has found someone who worships Oliver North. He's not a warblogger, though.

As for the mention of G. Gordon Liddy in her comments, well, all I can say is that it's better to light a single candle. . . .

I always wanted to write that about Liddy.

MORE REPORTS that Saddam's inner circle is defecting. I don't know how reliable they are, but their simple existence makes defections more likely in the future.

Then there's this report of a recent assassination attempt aimed at Saddam. I don't vouch for these stories being true. But I hope they are.

UPDATE: Reader Gary Haubold writes:

The Instapundit just observes that:

MORE REPORTS that Saddam's inner circle is defecting. I don't know how reliable they are, but their simple existence makes defections more likely in the future . . . . . . .

. . . . . but that's only half the story. In terms of game theory: (1) it's certain that IF the United States goes after Saddam that he's finished, but (2) given the problems with the United Nations and anti-war Democrats, it's not certain that the United States will go after Saddam full-bore. If (2) did not exist and everyone knew for certain the United States was going after Saddam full-bore, then odds are WE WOULDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO ANYTHING because it would be so much likelier that either Saddam would run for his life or else one of his closest friends would kill him.

I'm all for open debate and intellectual honesty and I wouldn't question the patriotism of anyone opposing the war - but I do think that we should all recognize the damage that war protestors are doing to the war effort simply by protesting - they're not operating in a vacuum, and the more that the Iraqi government appreciates and fears our seriousness of purpose, the less likely we are to have to actually have to engage in hard-core fighting.

That's my thought for the day.

Yes, it's this sort of calculation that adds irony to Vegetius' statement that "If you want peace, prepare for war." Or maybe it's not irony at all.

UPDATE: Reader Matt Sitar disagrees:

I think the war effort has actually benefitted from much of the balking from Congress and the UN. Had the US been given free rein from the outset, there still would have been a period of time where the US and its allies would have prepared for the war. This would have given Saddam a similar amount of time, during which he could move whatever biological and chemical (and perhaps even nuclear) weaponry he has to strategic locations.

As it is, though, with the possibility of resumed inspections, any biological or chemical weapons need to stay hidden. Meanwhile, the US is free to continue preparations for war. So when the time comes, the US will be ready.

The outcome of all the debating, in the UN, in Congress, in the US, is uncertain. This can be a good thing. If Saddam knows he is a dead man, he will try to inflict as much damage as possible, both to the US and to Iraq (he strikes me as the "if I can't have it, no one can" sort of person). Uncertainty forces him to consider many other options and many other outcomes.

This is an interesting theory, and I'd like to believe it, not least because it meshes with a theory I've written on, that the unpredictability of democratic decision-making is inherently advantageous. But I'm not sure I'm convinced. Since Vietnam, every adversary of the United States has felt that it could neutralize American military power so long as it could get people marching against the war in America. That has led them to do things they wouldn't have tried otherwise.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Austin Bay agrees with Gary Haubold's approach, more or less. So, pretty much, does Tom Friedman, though his final paragraph proves that he doesn't understand his own argument fully.

WILLIAM BURTON has a rather long post on guns and the Maryland shootings.

THE MISSING GUANTANAMO GUARD is still missing. They've quit looking for him. The report says that "Detainee involvement was not suspected in his disappearance."

Maybe he went for a swim and got a cramp?


An op-ed writer at the Detroit News asked, "When did antisemitism lose its seat on the bus of political correctness?" He meant, why doesn't the PC culture protect Jews? The answer is that seats on the PC bus are reserved for certified victim groups, but Jews don't count. They have been historic victims for centuries but are doing too well in America to qualify as officially aggrieved. And as Muslims have been welcomed into the grievance culture, the status of Jews on campus, the stronghold of PC, has become problematic.

Israel itself is often seen as an intolerable colonial outpost, planted in the historically victimized Third World by the West. The thing that most Americans admire about Israel, that it has many of the same features as the United States–free speech, an open society, democratic institutions–makes it a natural target of America-hating campus sentiment. Hostility to Israel was a strong feature of the New Left in the Sixties as it is of the campus left today. And as Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young pointed out last week, sympathy for the Palestinians, even when they are blowing up Israel's women and children, "stems largely from the knee- jerk instinct to romanticize the 'wretched of the Earth.' "

Anti-Israel activism on campus is mostly the work of Muslim students and the far left. Some of the ugliest incidents have occurred in the San Francisco Bay area, where the left is unusually strong. At Berkeley, Silver says, "Instead of rallying behind Iraq, the hard left here tends to keep focusing on Israel."

Well, they do some of the rallying-behind-Iraq stuff, too. Leo has some comments on the University of Michigan's upcoming conference on Israel, but readers should be aware that some some statements attributed to the organizers of that conference seem to be a hoax. I don't think that the passages that Leo quotes are from the faked email announcement (which I haven't seen in its entirety, but only in excerpted form in news stories), but in reading coverage of that conference it's worth keeping in mind that some false statements may still be in circulation.

PLAY MST3K FOR ME: VEGARD VALBERG DOES IT AGAIN, this time to a dumb article from CounterPunch entitled Diagnosing Dubya.

I guess "Misting" is a sort of kinder and gentler "Fisking." Meanwhile Steven Chapman emails to tell me that what he did to Chris Patten is actually a sort of "post-Fisking."

Sociologists of the blogosphere, take note of this date.

THE THIRD CIRCUIT HAS RULED that deportation hearings need not be open, thus creating a conflict with the Sixth Circuit. (Via Howard Bashman).


Perhaps Democrats are just naturally drawn to teaching, and colleges can't do much about it. But if political diversity is as important to higher education as ethnic or racial diversity, colleges should look at their criteria for hiring teachers beyond just academic qualifications. Once teachers are hired, their freedom of speech must be defended. But colleges can also defend the need of students to hear a diversity of views from teachers.

In the meantime, U.S. News magazine might consider adding a new category – faculty political diversity – to its yearly college rankings.

Interesting piece.

DICK MORRIS says that the New York Times' recent poll on attitudes about the war and the economy is irredeemably slanted. Excerpt:

But take a close look at the poll: The phrasing of the questions is so slanted and biased that it amounts to journalistic "push polling" - the use of "objective" polling to generate a predetermined result, and so vindicate a specific point of view.

It was just such polling that led the Democratic Party astray over the summer and played an important role in catalyzing their (politically suicidal) criticism of Bush over Iraq. Now the Times returns with another poll, on the verge of Congress' vote on a use-of-force resolution, to suggest that voters see the economy as a bigger issue than Iraq. . . .

For decades, responsible journalists refused even to cover public-opinion polls. Then, in a turnaround, they began to conduct them and treat their findings as hard news. Now the process has come full circle: Journalists appear to be using polls to generate the conclusions they want and to validate their own pre-existing theses and hypotheses.

I don't think this phenomenon is as new as Morris makes it sound.

UPDATE: Here's another piece on the same topic, putting it in the context of The Times' more general problem of "editorial creep." (". And those numbers, it turns out, say the New York Times has . . . well, lied about its own public opinion research. Three particular subsets of data make this harsh verdict especially hard to avoid.") There's a link to the actual survey data, too. And Joshua Trevino has more.

MEDPUNDIT SYDNEY SMITH has a piece in TechCentralStation arguing that bioterrorism preparedness is being undermined by bureaucratic opportunism.

I think there are some real opportunities for investigative journalism here.


P.E.T.A.B. is People for the Ethical Treatment of Alec Baldwin.

I AM NOT WORTHY. But I'm flattered.

LINDGREN / BELLESILES UPDATE: Just checked the stats for the first time in a while and James Lindgren's Yale Law Journal article on problems with Michael Bellesiles' Arming America has now passed the 100,000-download mark. The total at the moment is 100,585.

Especially given that it's also available elsewhere, this surely has to be the most widely read law review article of all time.

You'd think that book publishers would be interested in this story. Heck, maybe they are.


As a servicemember, I'm continually amazed by the lengths that some will go to "use me" as a prop for their point of view. To wit, the quote from Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, commenting on the President's speech last night:

"If the quality of his evidence matched the quality of his oratory, I'd be 'ready to roll.' But his repeated references to 9/11, despite his advisers' admission that no such link to this terrorism exists, show how very weak the case for war now really is. My concern is that a near-unilateral land invasion of Iraq will endanger thousands of young Americans now while exposing our families to terrorism for years to come in what will be perceived by too many as a new crusade against Islam."

My primary beef, aside from the usual "weak case" rhetoric, is with this rather shameless use of the "young Americans" scare tactic. It pains me to be seen as a pawn in this game, especially since the servicemembers that I know are not really interested in how much danger we might face -- as long as we can go in with the right tools, support and mission, we don't mind danger. After all, isn't that what we're trained for?

However, Rep. Scaremonger has no interest whatsoever in my well-being, or else he'd have complained more vociferously about the last president's little escapades. The rhetoric is not matched by any sign of real concern, such as seeing to it that my ships get the gear they need or my men get the support they need. Guess that wasn't on his "to do" list.

Bottom line: The Armed Forces of the United States are ready, willing and able to take out the targets directed by the President. No amount of armchair QB'ing by the donks will change that, nor will their shameless use of the "danger" that I may face affect my readiness.

I get a fair amount of email from military people along these lines. I don't usually reprint it, but I think this makes an important point. I should also note that I have yet to get a single letter from a serving military reader using the term "chickenhawk."

[Note: Another reader with JAG experience advised me to remove the name from this email, so I have done so even though the author did not request anonymity.]

UPDATE: Reader Dick Aubrey writes:

As a general rule, it is probably easier for people to make a decision in this case than in other cases. For, now, we are in horrible danger if we do nothing. So the decision is not whether American soldiers die or nobody dies. Soldiers will die if we move. But if we do nothing, American soldiers will die, as will a great many civilians One need not be a veteran to make a choice there.

The "chickenhawk" argument has as its basis a planted axiom that to choose to go to war means American soldiers die while to choose to refrain means nobody dies. This does not describe the present situation.

Well said.

STERLING'S JOURNAL points out that the DC/Maryland shootings may have started earlier than originally realized -- there's a suspicious shooting from September 14 that's being re-examined. He has a link to video, though it wouldn't play for me.

SOMETHING INTERESTING: The recently released national strategy paper has been treated like some sort of Protocols of American Imperialism, prepared under cover of darkness by power-hungry neocons. But here's what Leon Fuerth, Al Gore's former national security adviser, says:

I was rereading the newly issued statement of national strategy. In many ways, it reads as if we had written it.

Fuerth goes on to say: "And in a way, it’s a pity that this whole question of pre-emption has been allowed to distort the reception of it." Fuerth is skeptical about an Iraq invasion but because he's not an idiot (in fact, based on having known him somewhat for many years, I'd say he's pretty damned smart), he's skeptical for actual reasons -- not simply because it represents an exercise of American power.

I think he's wrong about the risks of invading Iraq -- or, more accurately, I think he's wrong in the way he weighs the risks of acting against the risks of not acting. But if you read his comments in this transcript, they show that (1) he's not that far from the Administration, really; and (2) he's living in the world of reality, not fantasy. Here's another excerpt, discussing preemption -- which, you'll notice, Fuerth is against as a doctrine, but not necessarily as an occasional practice:

In many ways, I think Dick and I are agreed about this. The point is that it is a commonsense matter, for the most part, and, therefore, regrettable that somebody has decided to make it into a doctrine for the administration. And specifically where Iraq is concerned, they are exactly where you say they are. They are in breach. But what they’re in breach of is a resolution that also said something about restoring security to the area.

We could do anything we like about resuming combat against Iraq underneath that resolution. We don’t need this new wrinkle. Where this new wrinkle gets really interesting is after Iraq, how about Iran? What about Iran’s ballistic missile program? What about their nuclear weapons program? Would a president decide that he’s not going to wait until there is a ballistic missile rolled out with a nuclear warhead on it, but is going instead to attack the first surface elements of this thing years before anything really hard materializes? That’s pre-emption. Where do we stand on this matter? Does the president trigger an attack against another country on suspicion of where it’s going or on imminent display of threat?

(Richard Perle answers "probably not," by the way.) So why am I mentioning this? Because it's a useful example of actual, substantive discussion on the merits of going to war, in which someone -- for rational and expressed reasons -- is against it. There aren't a lot of those.

JAMES LILEKS has this observation:

News: the sniper is still at large. It reminds me of the serial slayer at work in the early 90s, when I lived in DC; he was known as the Shotgun Slayer, because he would roll up, point a shotgun out the window, and kaboom. How this happened in a city where shotguns were banned we never did figure out.

His comments on Jerry Brown's "warmongering" are amusing, too.

HERE'S A REPORT of a First Monday program at UCLA Law School. Eugene Volokh plays a major role.

I THINK DAVE BARRY REPORTED SOMETHING LIKE THIS ONCE, but this development involving Aziz Poonawalla is still astounding.

I'M NOT SURE THIS'LL WORK, but Aimee Deep has an idea about how record giant Bertelsmann can give back some of its Nazi blood money.

October 07, 2002

JOHN BONO HAS FOUND an editorial from the Independent denouncing Bush's speech -- except that it was posted hours before Bush's speech aired. That's in addition to the news story reporting the speech as a near-failure (Americans care more about the economy, you know), which was also posted before it was even delivered.

Yeah, I realize they write this stuff from the advance text but still -- it does give the impression that they just can't wait to attack, doesn't it? Or that they're just inept. Not that those are mutually exclusive, by any means.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus writes, about the news story: "(In truth, only about half the Independent piece pretends the speech has been given. It's a hopeless muddle of tenses )." Yeah, but that part's normal for The Independent.

MORE ON THE "why Nazis get worse press than the Soviets" question.

SAN FRANCISCO D.A. TERRENCE HALLINAN has an apparent non-enforcement policy for hate crimes -- where they're against Jews, and by well-connected lawyers, at least. Given San Francisco's usual policy against hate crimes, and the lax responses to antisemitic violence at SFSU and Berkeley, this troubles me. It's starting to look like a pattern.

UPDATE: This doesn't make them look much better. Neither does this. Solidarity with America's enemies, in the cause of peace. Typical.

Read this, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Beato has sent me a querulous email (he does that regularly) on this entry. He thinks that I shouldn't assume, based on a single uncontradicted statement by a San Francisco law school dean in a San Francisco paper, that San Francisco really has a tough policy regarding hate crimes. I think that Beato, as usual, is trying to make a mountain out of a nonexistent molehill. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel pretty sure that if a guy with right-wing political connections shouted abuse at a Muslim and then hit him, this case would be treated differently. I note that Joanne Jacobs, who lives in that area, sees the case similarly.

A MARINE GUNNERY SERGEANT writes on how Washington is mishandling the run-up to war.

A NORWEGIAN BLOGGER CHANNELS an American cable TV show (MST3K!) to "Fisk" (a term named after a British journalist writer) an article in an Australian paper. You can't get much more multilateral than that. I love the Blogosphere!


A few days ago, CIA chief George Tenet threw a hissy fit and fired off a letter to the four leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees. What had angered him was that the staff of the committees’ joint investigation of Sept. 11 had noted in a briefing book that Cofer Black, the past chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, would "probably dissemble" -- that is, not tell the full truth -- during his public testimony before the panels. "This suggestion is an affront not only to him," Tenet huffed, "but to every man and woman in the CIA." Tenet decried congressional investigators for harboring "bias" and "apparent animus" against the spies.

The nation’s top spy-bureaucrat was playing by an old rule: The best defense is a strong offense -- and his letter, for at least a day, displaced the negative press the CIA had been receiving.

Which just proves how dumb people in Congress and the media must be. Spymasters are supposed to dissemble; the problem is, these guys do it so badly that even Congressmen can see through it.

I'm not unhappy with the CIA because it's a big bad bunch of spies who topple foreign governments againstthewilloftheirpeople. I'm unhappy with the CIA because it seems to be displaying the kind of flexibility and innovation usually associated with the United States Postal Service.

In Afghanistan, the Agency's paramilitary arm did excellent work by all accounts. But there's no sign that the rest of the Agency has gotten its act together, and no sign that the dropped balls of Summer, 2001 are being addressed.

JOHN WEIDNER WONDERS about the source of anti-war sentiment:

I've encountered various anti-invasion of Iraq arguments lately, and taken swipes at some of them, such as the previous post. But what's starting to keep me awake at night is the question of why. Why exactly are so many so opposed? Why does this one square on the chessboard seem to have an invisible field that repels so many people?.

Because it really feels like there is some unseen something going on. Why do seemingly decent, thoughtful kind-hearted people, as they approach that square, suddenly find the need to pen 99 coldly logical reasons why going there would surely turn out badly? Why are they so cold?

It would be one thing if they first felt tender-hearted towards the horrible suffering of Iraq, and then later began to have qualms about the wisdom of an invasion. But that doesn't appear to be what's happening. It looks to me like a lot of people, mostly on the left, made an instant and visceral decision to oppose an invasion, and only afterwards began to scrape up actual arguments to support this.

And these are the very people who like to label themselves as the good-guys; progressives, anti-fascists, liberals. It's weird.

I've been tending to blame reflexive anti-Americanism, or a political desire not to yield advantages to Republicans; but now I think there's more going on than that. I'm thinking that when people approach that square and suddenly have a vision "of the whole Middle-East being de-stabilized," it is really their own world-view that they sense is in danger of dissolving. . . .

But I'm thinking of a new sort of Rorschach Test, with pictures of happy Afghans alongside US soldiers. The test is, do you smile, or look queasy?

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Junkyard Blog has a related observation.


O it’s Torchy this, and Torchy that, and "Torchy, pack it in."
It was "Robert, you’re a wizard" when the money helped
‘em win—
The money helped ‘em win, my boys, the money helped
‘em win,
It was "Robert, you’re a wizard" when the money helped
‘em win.

The whole thing is pretty damned funny.

STEVEN CHAPMAN IS Fisking Chris Patten.

JEFF JARVIS says homeland security is still a joke.


I'm a high school student at a private school in Baltimore and am following the Montgomery County shootings closely...What I've seen all over the news is newscasters and commentators hypothesize a possible "terrorist connection" with the shooter. They are missing a basic point.

The shooting spree is terrorism, with or without an associated political manifesto or "swarthy-looking" male. In Baltimore, entire conferences have cancelled their games, all off-campus privilieges have been repealed, and schools are on a state of "lockdown." Remember, this is in Baltimore, 50 miles away. The only time they locked down the schools like that was last September 11, and sometime during the anthrax attacks (when they hysterically closed all the windows, thinking it would do any good), both which were most definitely terrorist attacks.

So, even if we don't have an Al Qaeda or Separatist Militia, we should still call the calculated, paramilitary, random shootings outside D.C. as we feel them: actions that terrorize the community, make people feel uncomfortable about going outside, and senseless, scary violence. Which, as it happens, is also known as terrorism.


UPDATE: Avedon Carol is an example of this phenomenon at work.

Diane E. feels the same way.

I'M WATCHING BUSH. No surprises so far. I read all about how it went already in tomorrow's Independent.

UPDATE: But here's an interesting question.

NICE PIECE BY STEVEN LEVY on the forthcoming Eldred v. Reno case, and on Big Entertainment and the law generally.

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THEY EVER FOUND THIS MISSING GUARD FROM GUANTANAMO? I missed this story when it first came out, but this AP story says he's still missing:

Officials have no explanation for the disappearance of one of the more than 1,000 guards who watch the detainees in nine-hour shifts.

Ryan Foraker of Logan, Ohio, disappeared last month on his day off. His shorts, T-shirt and wallet were found near the ocean, but officials say the weather was calm the day he vanished.

That's as of yesterday. Very weird.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Today's shooting is linked to the others. No surprise there.

THIS IS FUN: Tim Russert trips Tom Daschle up with Daschle's own bellicose rhetoric about the need for military action in Iraq, circa 1998. (Streaming video -- go to about 2:40). Worth seeing just for Daschle's taut "you got me" grin.

The language is on screen. Why would Daschle have been more bellicose in support of Clinton in 1998 than of Bush now, post 9/11?

UPDATE: Here's a transcript.

TIME TRAVEL AT THE INDEPENDENT! Reader Balaji Srinivasan notes that although Bush hasn't delivered his speech yet, the Independent already has a story up that makes it seem as if he has:

Bush addresses nation to explain why he won't back down over Iraq
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington and John Lichfield in Paris
08 October 2002

President Bush took his case against Saddam Hussein directly to the American people last night, explaining why he believes the Iraqi leader to be such an immediate threat to US security and to world peace that he must be dealt with now.

In his speech in Cincinnati, the President's first primetime address devoted exclusively to Iraq, Mr Bush sought to meet the complaints of critics that he is rushing his country into conflict, making war the firstresort, and riding roughshod over every misgiving.

Mr Bush's 20-minute address kicked off what was likely to be a decisive few days for his policy on Iraq. In New York the UN Security Council is struggling to agree on a resolution enabling the return of weapons inspectors to Baghdad, while on Capitol Hill the Senate and House of Representatives are preparing to vote wide powers for the President to go to war with Iraq.

Hours before Mr Bush spoke, Senator John Edwards – the North Carolina Democrat who may run against him in 2004 – delivered a speech accusing the White House of "gratuitous unilateralism" and of "frequently sending the message that others don't matter". The House is likely to vote through a resolution before the end of the week.

In the Senate, where resistance is greater, a vote may not come until next week, but a handsome victory for the President is all but certain there too.

But his key target last night was the wider American public. He spoke in a heartland city, at a museum complex featuring an exhibit on the Second World War entitled Rallying the Home Front – exactly what the President sought to do last night.

The speech did not contain any major new disclosures, but Mr Bush was expected to set out the latest public evidence – much of it cited by Tony Blair to Parliament a fortnight ago – about the state of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes.

There was no sign that he would provide evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida that the administration has failed to come up with so far.

Signs are growing that, in the absence of proof that Saddam's chemical and biological weapons represent an immediate threat, the public is tiring of the issue. A New York Times/CBS poll yesterday found that 70 per cent of the public felt there was too much talk about Iraq, and that almost 60 per cent considered the faltering economy a more important issue for the upcoming midterm elections.

Note that unlike the Samizdata parody of The Guardian, this is a real article from The Independent! I always figured that they wrote these things without bothering to hear Bush's speeches, but it's nice to see proof that they really do write him off in advance.

UPDATE: Ken Layne comments on journalistic sloppiness:

Journalism is a total scam. Even in an era of 24-hour news channels and raw wires on the Internet, there's still no shame at daily newspapers. Whole sections are prepared days or even weeks before they arrive in your "news" paper, and you'd be surprised how much of the "A" section for today's paper was done while you were having breakfast yesterday. Or earlier.

Uh oh. Nobody tell Daniel Schorr.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Erin Blockley emails: "Have you ever considered calling yourself a War Propheteer?"

A ROYAL FISKING: Tim Blair unpacks a sociologist's book about September 11 that says it was all the West's fault.

I read an article recently on the death of Sociology as a discipline. This book may be the reason for its demise.

UNSURPRISINGLY, THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WON'T HEAR the New Jersey case. That's probably for the best.

BLOGCRITICS HAS A BEHIND-THE-SCENES REPORT on negotiations between the RIAA and small webcasters. Could the RIAA be guilty of dirty dealing?

MILITARY ATTITUDES ON WAR: BILL HERBERT has some interesting polling data.

I'M BACK. The panel went well, lots of good questions. My main point: civil liberties haven't suffered as much since 9/11 as a lot of people (including me) thought they would -- but that's partly because they weren't in such great shape before.

My National Security Law seminar meets in a little while, so I'm unlikely to post much more. But visit The Indepundit for a lot of information and links on today's shooting in Maryland. Note the report that Secret Service agents will be helping to protect schools. Put that together with the recent revelation of Al Qaeda plans to attack schools, and it's another suggestion that terrorism may be involved here.

IN A FEW MINUTES, I'll be speaking at the law school's "First Monday" program. This is done every year on the day the Supreme Court term starts, and it's sponsored by the Alliance for Justice. Last year's topic was gun control, and featured a ham-handed and intellectually dishonest film and handouts.

This year's topic is the Patriot Act, and, well, the film and handouts don't seem a whole lot better. I'm no fan of the Patriot Act, as InstaPundit readers know, and I was quick to warn against hysterical abandonment of civil liberties in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

But reading the Alliance for Justice's manual for organizers is almost enough to turn me into a fan of the Act, or at least to alleviate my fears. The litany of "abuses" under the Patriot Act is laughably thin, and full of weasel words. Examples:

[Describing airport security abuses] At least two young Muslim women who cover their heads have been singled out for improper treatment at airport security checkpoints. One Muslim high school student was forced at gunpoint to take off her headscarf in public, violating her religious beliefs. The other was subjected to an unlawful strip search when she insisted on being taken to a provate room before removing her head scarf.

Well, I'm no fan of airport security, but if these two incidents are the worst they can come up with -- actually, they're the only incidents they mention (and they're no worse than many non-Muslims have endured in the travesty that is airport security) -- we're not exactly talking the Fourth Reich here, are we? We're also informed that "In addition, universities have received increased requests for information about their Arab and Muslim students." As SKBubba writes: "What's the problem with that? If they are here on a visa that says they are attending classes and don't show up, why should they be allowed to stay and why shouldn't this raise suspicions?"

We're also supposed to be alarmed that FBI agents might attend public rallies without evidence of criminal activity -- but I think the key word here is "public." And the discussion of military tribunals admits that there aren't any, but notes that "some speculate that they will be used to try prisoners from Afghanistan currently held in Guantanamo Bay." We're not told why the speculations of those "some" should worry us.

There's also the usual stuff about critics being silence by being criticized, and Ashcroft's remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee are invoked. But, really, you're supposed to have some backbone, and Ashcroft's remarks were all bark and no bite. If a Committee member had stood up to him, he would have wilted. Again, not exactly the Fourth Reich here.

Honestly, either the Alliance for Justice has just totally dropped the ball, or the civil-liberties toll of the post-9/11 world just isn't that bad. Given their ability to make a lot out of a little in other contexts, I'm going to guess that things aren't so bad. And that's good news.

MICKEY KAUS WONDERS what the FBI is keeping under wraps where the San Diego hijackers are concerned. "One suspects there is a layer of intrigue and incompetence here that we're not being told about -- for example, did the F.B.I. actually know the two men were up to no good and engage in some fatefully-hamhanded attempt to string them along or protect them in exchange for other information?"

As Kaus suggests, it wouldn't be the first time this has happened, if so.

MORE ON FRANCE: Reader Peter Ingemi sends these thoughts on why France is likely to be targeted for terrorism in the near future:

The French are the natural target of Al Qaeda at this point. The UN is the one place where they can deter the US diplomatically and France is the one to do it.

It is very clear to them by now that attacks on the US are not going to deter them, (although they will be done if practicable) in fact any attack on a scale less than an airline disaster will be seen as a weak response.

There is also no point in attacking England which is solidly behind us. Given the character of the British it is more likely, not less likely to drive them into our arms.

Russia has a history, and that history says they have no compunction about attacking and slaughtering Al Qaeda and any of their friends in ways much more troubling than Americans can think of.

China is even more likely than Russia to retaliate, (and I suspect they have much more knowledge of Al Qaeda then they let on) in fact a public attack on Al Qaeda might be a diplomatic coup for China. Don't be surprised to see one with a lot of press for small potatoes.

France is a totally different matter, it has a veto in the UN, Its ability to project military power is less than all of the others by far, it has a large Arab population, huge economic ties to the Arab world, and a history of appeasement, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. I personally think France never recovered psychologically from in succession being conquered by Germany, driven out of Indochina, and driven out of Algeria.

Truly or falsely Al Qaeda will figure that France is the target that can be pressured by terror and the attack on the mayor and the Cole style strike are in my opinion aimed in that direction.

Interesting observation.

UPDATE: It's a France-a-thon at InstaPundit! Reader Thomas Briggs monitors French media regularly and offers this observation:

I listen to the French evening news just about every day (amazingly three networks are streamed free later in the same day at; at; and at, and so I can report that there's no punch pulling whatever on the Arab nut-job who stabbed the mayor of Paris. The evening news on Channel Three interviewed the guy's Arab-surnamed neighbors, filmed his building in one of those Stalinist/Robert Moses-looking tower complexes that the French do so well, and mentioned his views on homosexuals in politics. The news also reported that he's got ten arrests already on his rap sheet!

Your readers are also wrong, I think, about how the French will react to terror attacks against them. The lead story in Le Monde this morning is "French Tanker on Fire: Terrorism's Shadow." (The second lead is "Homophobic Aggression against Delanoe," by the way.) I understand the spirit of Vichy as well as any of your readers, but I believe that the real danger today comes from the thought that Qaida is the Hyperpower's problem and that maybe France can stay off the target list. But the latest Cole-type attack changes everything. The practical effect of the tanker attack will likely be to dump the French into the same boat with us: we'll then all sink or float together. French efforts to find a third way have been undermined.

Well, in fairness to Mr. Ingemi, he suggested that peeling the French off was the plan -- not necessarily that it would work. Judging Western reactions has not been a strong point of the Ladenites, or of Saddam Hussein for that matter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Gordon has some thoughts on this, inspired by the latest "bin Laden" tape.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The France-a-thon continues, with this from Claire Berlinski:

Thomas Briggs is right on both points. Peter Ingemi rightly observes that France is something of a swing voter where the Islamic world is concerned. But the conclusion he draws from this premise is wrong. The key to the French psyche is the word "bribery." Whether explicitly or by tacit agreement, the French now have something of a deal going with the terrorists -- leave France alone, and France will do a few favors for their sponsors in the UN and from time to time instruct a foreign minister to say something handsome about the dangers of American military hegemony. If the bombs start going off in Paris, this will change faster than you can say "seven years without a trial" -- which is the length of time the putative 1995 subway bombers have been rotting in French prisons, under conditions that have no doubt been immensely less attractive than those at Camp X-ray. While it's true that neither al Qaeda nor the heavies of the Ba'ath regime have been terrific at gauging probable Western reactions to their actions, it doesn't take profound insight into France and its history to see that this is the deal, and that it's in their favor. I doubt they'll want to screw up something that is, from their point of view, a very good thing. One can't be sure when dealing with lunatics, but that's my instinct, anyway.

Reader Phillipe Richard adds:

If this is what Al Qaeda intended, it was pretty silly. I mean, France once bombed a ship owned and operated by Greenpeace because it being used to protest nuclear tests.

Stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rod Dreher says that if the stabber had been a fundamentalist Christian people would be making a bigger deal of his religion, which seems right to me.

THE FRANCE-A-THON CONTINUES! Nelson Ascher writes from Paris:

As far as I can tell, in Israel, those who distrust the Arabs most deeply are the Sephardic Jews, who have lived among them for generations. The Jewish left that is in any way sympathetic to the Palestinians is usually recruited among the Ashkenazis. Thus, here in France, you'll find, among those who were driven out of North Africa, a hatred of Arabs and Muslims for which there is no correspondence in the US. They know them, their habits and frequently speak their language. An anti-Arab backlash in France is not exactly a remote hypothesis. And I am sure their cops and secret services know much more about the local Muslims than they would publicly admit. The sudden end or at least interruption of most anti-semitic acts immediately after the elections is proof enough of it: they knew the culprits, their addresses and phone numbers. The French were also quick in getting to the guys behind the 95 bombings and they also captured their own Osama, Carlos the Jackal. Besides, if the government turns against the Arabs and Muslims, I believe that most of the French intellectuals, who are now so vociferously their allies, will soon fall in line, because almost all French intellectual activity is, at least partly, state-sponsored, and the boss here is not fond of too much criticism. Let's wait and see.

Indeed we shall.


The French media don't seem to me to be ignoring the fact that the assailant was a Moslem. It's been mentioned fairly prominently (and indeed with some exuberance) in every news account I've read. Anyway, this guy seems to be a complete nutball, more John Hinckley or Daniel White than Mohammed Atta. According to Le Monde, (link), the cops had at least 15 files on him, half concerning drugs, the others, theft. He's been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. He lives with his parents; he's evidently spent time in prison. So at first blush, the fact that he's a Moslem appears to be irrelevant. However, the article continues -- his is just my own crude translation -- "At the foot of his building, about twenty young adults described their neighbor's personality ... Daniel remembered above all that this childless bachelor "didn't much like homosexuals," and that "he made this clear to everyone he hung out with." On that matter, opinions among the group were unanimous. "He was a bit like us," continued Abdel. "We're all homophobic here, because it's not natural," or because "it's against Islam," adds Samir, for whom "gay Moslems, they don't exist."

So perhaps the assailant's ethnic and cultural background is worth a bit of reflection after all.

In any event, Delanoл is recovering nicely, and I'm pleased to report that the rest of the city loves having an openly gay mayor. Ever since he came into office, the whole city has just been so festive. Readers may recall that he turned the Seine into a scene from beach blanket Babylon, complete with cute little cafe tables under parasols and a special beach for dogs. What other mayor would encourage the whole city to forget about work and party all night long?Free croissants for everyone who makes it to sunrise! (I'm not kidding.) City-wide scavenger hunts! Outdoor movies on a huge screen by Notre Dame, free to everyone! More rollerblading along the freeways by the Seine! Sound-and-light shows at Montmartre! Trapeze artists in City Hall! The ancien rйgime was more security conscious, to be sure, but having Delanoл in office is like having sex without a condom: It's not so safe, but it's a hell of a lot more fun.

Vive Delanoл!

Claire Berlinski

Interesting. The English language reports that I saw focused on the drug and mental illness angles, but didn't even mention that he was a Muslim. As for the fun-loving character of the Delanoe mayoralty, well, I'm glad Claire's enjoying it.

NEW SHOOTING IN MARYLAND: A 13-year-old boy has been shot outside a middle school in Bowie, Maryland and is in critical condition.

UPDATE: Another reader writes that there are unconfirmed reports of another shooting outside a Bowie Wal-Mart. (Later: That turns out to be false -- see below). And Richard Aubrey writes:

If you were a parent of a Bowie, MD, middle school student, would you feel better knowing that half a dozen of the teachers and staff were armed and trained?

Would you feel worse?

Better. Several readers also suggest that this makes terrorism seem more likely as the motivation. I think so, too, though I can't say exactly why. This just doesn't seem to fit the pattern for your typical serial killer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Sky Blog has a post on this.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has some more thoughts. And several readers speculate that the bogus call regarding a shooting at Wal-Mart was a diversion.

LOOK OUT! There's a new breed of South Park Republicans on the loose.

That's kind of scary, actually.

AIMEE DEEP CLAIMS TO KNOW THAT Bin Laden is dead. I hope she's shared this information with the appropriate authorities.


THE ARMED-PILOTS ISSUE isn't over. Here's an alert from the Airline Pilots' Security Alliance saying that Congress may let the issue drop, and calling for action. Check it out if you're following this issue.

THE CLAIM THAT "WARBLOGGERS" IDOLIZE OLIVER NORTH has been checked into and, unsurprisingly, turns out to be false. North, after all, was an inept grandstander who sold weapons to America's enemies. Such qualities tend not to do well in the Blogosphere.

UPDATE: Reader David Walser emails this correction:

"North, after all, was an inept grandstander who sold weapons to America's enemies." I disagree. North was very good at grandstanding. He did it so well he made the professional grandstanders questioning him look like rank amateurs.

Heh. Point taken. Though just to be clear, it wasn't the grandstanding that I was calling inept.

FRENCH READER PHILIPPE RAMOFF wonders why the ongoing Paris trial of the 1995 subway bombers is not getting more attention in the United States, and particularly in the Blogosphere. Good question. Here's another story on the trial. There's also an Al Qaeda connection (article in French; here's a Google translation). And here is a story from June about British reluctance to extradite one of the subjects.

As I've said before, I think that the Algerian connection to Al Qaeda may turn out to be more important than is generally appreciated. I also wonder if there's a connection with the stabbing of Bertrand Delanoe.

UPDATE: Here's an article from the Washington Times that's interesting because it shows French unhappiness with the British refusal to extradite -- and includes claims similar to those that American officials are making about France:

Indeed, Ramda's fate has become a thorn in British-French relations.

"I profoundly regret that Great Britain hasn't taken the decision to extradite one of the suspected accomplices in this affair," French Foreign Minister Dominique Perben said last week. "I hope we won't have to wait indefinitely."

"If London doesn't want to send us Ramda, it's because they want to avoid problems on their own soil with radical Islamists," one anti-terrorist judge told Le Monde. "All the files handled in France lead, at one point or another, to London."

Takes one to know one, perhaps, but the French have a point about the centrality of London in global Islamic extremism.

October 06, 2002

DANIEL SCHORR IS BEMOANING the rise of Internet journalism. (Click here for audio.) Oddly his chief example is a case where Internet journalism got the story right.

UPDATE: Brian Carnell writes that Daniel Schorr should know something first-hand about scandalous yellow journalism -- though in the case in question, Schorr didn't have it right.

MARK KLEIMAN has a post on the Second Amendment in which he argues essentially that (1) the Second Amendment should probably be read to protect only military guns; which means (2) rifles rather than handguns. This actually isn't all that far from my position, which you can read here. (A much shorter explication can be found in this piece.) And if you follow this link and click on #3, "Original Meanings," you can hear me (and see me in streaming video) say somewhere that the purposes of the Second Amendment would be largely satisfied by universal ownership of bolt-action 1898 Mausers, though my views on what the Second Amendment actually protects are somewhat more expansive.

Kleiman is on solid ground in suggesting that there isn't, under this view, a Second Amendment right to carry concealed handguns, and -- as the two articles linked above illustrate -- state case law, even when very protective of the right to arms, tends to support that position. In Tennessee (where a court, ironically enough, recently stressed that the enumerated fundamental right to bear arms is so strong that it's on a par with the unenumerated right of privacy, which in Tennessee protects abortion independently of federal law) the legislature has the right to regulate the carrying of arms, but keeping and bearing them -- including such incidentals as buying and selling guns and ammunition, taking them for repair and target practice, etc. -- are fundamental rights beyond ordinary regulation.

However, in interpreting the Tennessee right to arms -- which both Tennessee courts and, interestingly, the United States Supreme Court, say is essentially synonymous with the Second Amendment -- Tennessee courts have not gone as far as Kleiman where handguns are concerned. Instead, they distinguish between weapons suitable only for crime (like derringers, etc.) and handguns that are military in character, such as revolvers and automatic pistols. The latter are held protected.

UPDATE: I just went back to Kleiman's page and he's posted an update with a link to a long post by Dwight Meredith (whose blog I hadn't seen before) arguing that: "The best thing that could happen to gun control advocates is for the NRA to win the debate over whether or not the Second Amendment provides an individual right to keep and bear arms. Irony can be sweet."

Well, I've been making this point for some time (I think the first place was in an L.A. Times oped in 1994, but I'm not sure and it doesn't seem to be on Google (or, to be more accurate, if it's there it's buried under so many other links that I can't find it). But this piece of mine from Legal Affairs makes the point similarly:

The gun issue is divisive in American politics largely because it is falsely treated as an all-or-nothing choice: Either homicidal maniacs will carry howitzers on Main Street, or jackbooted government thugs will confiscate revolvers at midnight. As the Emerson decision shows, however, the individual-right theory allows for neither of these extremes.

The right does bar efforts to disarm Americans as a whole and create a British-style society in which guns are limited to the military and police. But it wouldn’t stop the government from passing laws to protect the safety of Americans. Regulations aimed at prohibiting criminals and people with histories of violence from owning guns will face no problems under the individual-right theory. If that view were generally adopted by the courts, a lot of political wrangling would come to an end. Gun owners confident that their rights would be protected would be less likely to oppose minor gun control as a step down a slippery slope.

Having said this, the above doesn't make it paranoid or foolish for gun-rights activists to oppose regulations that the Second Amendment might permit -- any more than it's paranoid or foolish for First Amendment advocates to oppose regulations that the First Amendment permits, but that they see as a step down the slippery slope. And, in both cases, such opposition may be justified by reference to the relevant amendment and the interests it protects even if its letter might not reach the conduct in question. (For a lengthy and erudite explanation of why such behavior is appropriate in both cases, see this article on "slippery slopes" in general by Eugene Volokh. You might also read this article on slippery slopes and gun regulation in specific, by Dave Kopel and Joseph Olson.)

Well, there you are. More than you probably wanted to know. (Later: But just in case it's not, here's a link to an article that discusses the Tennessee cases at more length.)

UPDATE: My Mauser remark is about 1:14 into the video, which is about 1:20 long, though for context you may want to go a couple of minutes earlier than that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Clayton Cramer weighs in on the handgun issue. And reader Richard Riley writes:

I'm as pro-gun as you can get - NRA life member, instructor, CCW in Orange County, CA. But I absolutely agree with you. The second amendment is military weapons, not dirks and daggars and derringers. Citizens carrying concealed are good policy and help society, but so are lots of things not covered by the Constitution.

I think most gun owners would be happy with all kinds of reasonable restrictions, so long as they knew that those restrictions weren't the next slice of salami. But, I think most gun control advocates ARE using the incremental approach. All the laws they wanted 20 years ago are on the books in California now - long waiting periods, education and tests, trigger locks, banning "unsafe" guns and "assault" weapons, universal registration. Yet they want more, and more. In their own literature they say they'll go after guns category by category till we live in an unarmed utopia.

Yes. It's rational to fear the slippery slope when people are consciously pursuing a strategy of incrementalism in depriving you of your rights.

UPDATE: Toren Smith has more.

JOE USER asks why so many blogs are pro-war.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Orrin Judd writes that if the anti-war folks have lost Eleanor Clift, they've lost the nation.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sabertooth Journal is fact-checking Eleanor Clift.

REID STOTT SAYS that The New York Times has gotten America's mood right. No, really, that's what he says.

EUGENE VOLOKH SAYS THE REPUBLICANS LOOK TO BE shooting themselves in the foot over New Jersey. He's probably right about this. Legally, they may have a case, though -- as I said on Hugh Hewitt's show last week -- I'd be very surprised if the Supreme Court heard it. Politically, though. . . .

STEFAN SHARKANSKY WONDERS if the Portland Al Qaeda cell was composed of people who are "desperate and oppressed."

VEGARD VALBERG HAS some fearless predictions. And they're about the future!

STEVEN DEN BESTE has a detailed essay on the European vs. the American experience with cell phone standards -- and says that the American approach has turned out to work better.

ROBERT GENE BAKER OF NORTH CAROLINA is in custody, but not a suspect. Meanwhile, Kim du Toit has advice for the Maryland cops.

CONDI IN 2004?

I WAS GOING TO BLOG ABOUT THIS, BUT NOW I DON'T HAVE TO. SKBubba responds to a piece in my local paper in which a UT instructor compares increased surveillance of foreign students to Nazi efforts to round up the Jews.

PARIS STABBING UPDATE: Reader George Beckwith forwards this story, in which it is noted that the stabber was: "a 39-year-old practising Muslim born near Paris, who told interrogators he acted 'out of animosity towards politicians and homosexuals.'" The headline, of course, mentions only that the Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, was stabbed by a "homophobe." Most stories seem to be omitting all of this information.

One can, of course, be a homophobe and -- especially -- a hater of politicians without being a Muslim, but there do seem to be rather extensive efforts to downplay any Islamic connections. Beckwith adds:

Most of the elite media and nearly all governments are concealing the extent and nature of Islamist terrorism, because they are terrified of public reaction. The FBI treatment of the Egyptian who killed the Jews at LAX is a prime example. This is certain to fail in the information age, destroying the believability of governments the dominant media alike.

Yes, I think that efforts to gloss over this sort of thing are as likely to feed prejudice as to reduce it -- and the lost credibility that results will make it far harder to contain any backlashes that appear.

JIM BENNETT WRITES that the United Nations is an idea whose time has gone.

THE SUPREME COURT TERM STARTS TOMORROW, and there's a cool Jurist roundup-of-the-roundups for those who are interested.


The first thing to know is that none of the five governments are in any doubt that the U.S. intends to change the regime of Saddam Hussein. And neither Paris, nor Moscow, nor Beijing is in a position to stop it, through the U.N. or otherwise. The question from each is, "At what price will we allow the Americans to escape from the appearance of unilateralism?"

Quite a few interesting observations follow.

I, AHEM, WON'T BE PARTICIPATING -- but for those who feel otherwise than I do, there's an antiwar blogburst scheduled for tomorrow.

Here's one post that's up early. And here's some sound advice for participants.

I FOUND THIS POST BY ATRIOS on nastiness in the blogosphere almost compelling. Until I read this post by Atrios telling William Saletan to "suck it." Twice.

DEMOCRATS WHO OPPOSED WAR IN 1991 ARE LINING UP BEHIND BUSH TODAY, according to this article in the Washington Post.

I guess this answers Tom Friedman's question.

JEAN BETHKE ELSHTAIN writes in the Boston Globe that an attack on Iraq would satisfy the demands of just war theory:

There are many puzzling features to the current debate. We hear a lot, and rightly, about not going it alone. But in fact we are not. The Bush administration is seeking congressional authorization (''legitimate authority,'' as the just war tradition calls it) to use US military might. It is urging the Security Council to adopt a strong resolution that basically calls upon the Iraqi regime to abide by all the other resolutions the UN has passed and Iraq has ignored.

When critics bemoan the current administration's alleged unilateralism, they seem to be operating under a peculiar double standard. The United States, working around the clock to secure support for the preventive use of force to disarm the Iraqi regime, is accused of egregious unilateralism. But a state -Iraq - that has behaved and continues to behave unilaterally in defiance of the international community's various and repeated resolutions is let off the hook. Why? . . .

Justice falls by the wayside in such preachments. The Iraqi victims of Saddam Hussein are not considered worthy of serious consideration. But just war theory demands that we consider them, as well as Saddam's potential victims outside Iraq.

Worth reading in its entirety.

RICHARD POE responds to questions about why the Blogosphere tilts rightward. His commentary on the Crabtree piece in the New Statesman is worth excerpting:

Take Crabtree’s own article. Crabtree violated blog etiquette by failing to link to the "right-wing" blogs he condemned. But his conservative rivals did the opposite. They gleefully linked to Crabtree’s Bolshevik rant, the better to ridicule it.

Each "right-wing" blogger courteously provided links, not only to Crabtree’s piece, but to the blog where he found Crabtree’s piece. Thus bloggers can backtrack through a chain of commentary from one blog to the next, and comment on each others’ comments. A hot debate can girdle the globe within hours.

Instead of suppressing Crabtree, conservative bloggers helped publicize him. Not that it will do him any good. Only a handful of fellow leftists will take Crabtree’s polemic seriously. The rest of us will roll on the floor, convulsed by paroxysms of side-splitting, rib-cracking – and, to borrow a phrase from – "pant-wetting" laughter.

I think that's the part that really hurts, though "Bolshevik rant" may be a bit of an overstatement. And I think the blogosphere is less rightist than anti-idiotarian, though where the New Statesman is concerned the distinction may be of little consequence.

UPDATE: Paul Musgrave doesn't like Poe's piece much. My favorite bit of Paul's post, though, is this link to the Tom Tomorrow cartoon on blogging that people were talking about last week. I will note, though, that unlike Crabtree, Musgrave links to the object of his criticism.

COWERING IN MARYLAND: Reader Tod Weinberg reports from Frederick:

Frederick, Maryland, fifteen miles from Montgomery County, held its annual In The Streets festival yesterday. 20,000 men, women, and children came to the blocked off center of the city for music, food and fun. Good time had by all. No cowering.


A FRENCH TANKER was attacked off Yemen, today, in U.S.S. Cole fashion. Yemen is a problem that needs to be sorted out.

UPDATE: This BBC story says that Yemen denies that it was an act of sabotage, though the French say it was a boat full of explosives. I think Yemen doesn't want to be viewed as a problem in need of sorting out. Too bad, guys. Nothing you guys couldn't sort out yourselves, of course. . . .

THE COSTS OF COALITION: Matt Welch has a column in the National Post. He's also got a long blog post on Saudi apologist Wyche Fowler.