October 19, 2002


UPDATE: Meryl Yourish comments. And Jim Henley and The Guardroom have more.

REID STOTT ON COPY PROTECTION: "It's not really about copyright at all. It's about total control over distribution, for up to a century. Copyright is just the bludgeon they use to try and get it. They don't 'create' anything. They just control it."

UH OH. This new legislation could be bad news for warbloggers. . . .

MAUREEN DOWD'S LATEST is up, in which she calls President Bush the "Boy Emperor," suggests he's stupid, and closes with a reference to a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. (A Juicy Juice box plays a role, too.) I leave it as an exercise for the reader to compare this effort with Josh Chafetz's The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd.

UPDATE: For those readers inclined to cheat on this exercise, Josh Chafetz has his own post on the piece. Excerpt:

I just read Maureen Dowd's column for Sunday, and I just don't know what to say. She's gone way beyond the Immutable Laws and made a precipitous plunge into utter incoherence. Can anyone, for instance, tell me what the hell is going on in this paragraph?

Not me.

GARETH PARKER points out what we're fighting.

UPDATE: Then there's this from Andrea Harris.

DID ABC NEWS GET AN IRAQI VOTER KILLED? A reader asks that very question, and sends this from an ABC story:

However, we did find one man who voted "no." We followed him outside to ask why. "You are mistaken, I voted 'yes' for our great leader Saddam Hussein," he told the government minder who is our translator.

Did he lie to use? Was he scared of the minder? Did he mistakenly vote "no?" We'll never know. But he was the nearest thing to a dissenting voice that we found in Kerbala; a city that rebelled against Saddam in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.

That rebellion was brutally crushed and, if appearances are to be believed, none of its spirit remains.

But why did our dissenting voter's ballot not show up in the tally announced this morning? The 100 percent result was not 99.9 recurring that was rounded up for ease. Iraq claims that every single person eligible to vote voted for Saddam.

I'd be interested in a followup. . . .

I CAME TO IT A BIT LATE, but this Iraqi presidential ballot is pretty funny.

IT'S SKBUBBA'S 6-MONTH BLOGGIVERSARY! Drop in and wish him well.

BRIAN DOHERTY says that Michael Moore represents the impotence of the American Left:

The documentary is, on its surface, a meditation on American gun violence. But it functions in effect as a general summation of lefty complaints about America. In its feckless collection of sad plaints with only the barest glimmer of a hope of solution, it is also a good summation of the progressive left's intellectual impotence. . . .

In the end, Moore, like the progressive left he stands for, has no valid solutions. Gun control laws won't stop gun crimes; Canadians also have plenty of guns and not many gun deaths. No one thinks that a life on welfare is a better option in the long term than trying to work for a living. Grander socialist dreams died with the Soviet Union. All the progressive left has are laments, tears, and tragedies. That suffices to sell movie tickets—moviegoers have always loved tragedy. It isn't enough for a lively and effective political movement.

No, but it's enough to help Moore, and his fans, feel morally and intellectually superior to other Americans, at least until the credits roll. And that, it seems, is what it's all about nowadays.

MADONNA BEATEN BY ANIMATED ASPARAGUS: And there's a bit of un-Christian gloating about it.

UPDATE: Reader Scott Helgeson writes:

Not only is Madonna being beaten by asparagus, so is Michael Moore. Madonna's movie made half a million in a week. Moore's movie has grossed $200,000 in the 3 days its been out. If it continues at that rate, in 4 days Madonna and Moore will be neck and neck. (I apologize for the visual image that conjures up.) Now the box office over the weekend will probably be higher, but this seems like a story worth watching. Moore vs. Asparagus! Who will win?

If the asparagus has cheese sauce, I'm betting on Moore. More seriously, this is probably an unfair comparison to Moore -- documentaries don't usually do as well as feature films -- but on the other hand he's gotten an extraordinary amount of coverage.

THE IMMUTABLE LAWS OF MAUREEN DOWD look to be getting a workout tomorrow.

NICE HITCHENS COLUMN in the Washington Post:

Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him.

But some don't even bother to make this disavowal. In the United States, the main organizer of anti-war propaganda is Ramsey Clark, who perhaps understandably can't forgive himself for having been Lyndon Johnson's attorney general. However, he fails to live down this early disgrace by acting as a front man for a sinister sect -- the International Action Center, cover name for the Workers World Party -- which refuses to make any criticism of the Saddam regime. It is this quasi-Stalinist group, co-organized by a man with the wondrous name of Clark Kissinger, which has recruited such figures as Ed Asner and Marisa Tomei to sign the "Not In Our Name" petition. Funny as this may be in some ways (I don't think the administration is going to war in the name of Ed Asner or Marisa Tomei, let alone Gore Vidal), it is based on a surreptitious political agenda. In Britain, the chief spokesman of the "anti-war" faction is a Labour MP named George Galloway, who is never happier than when writing moist profiles of Saddam and who says that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst moment of his life.

For the democratic and libertarian Left, that same moment was a high point and not a low one. But there were three ruling parties in the world that greeted the liberation of Eastern Europe with unreserved gloom. These were the Socialist Party of Serbia, the Ba'ath Party of Iraq and the Workers' Party of North Korea, guided by their lugubrious yet megalomaniacal leaders.

Who, sadly, can still find useful idiots in the West. Read the whole thing.

CHOMSKY WILL BE SPEAKING IN AUSTIN TOMORROW -- where he'll reportedly face protesters.

Funny, isn't it? The first time around, it was the government speakers who garnered protests. Now it's the antiwar speakers. Maybe Shiloh Bucher will give us a report.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's a response on History news Network to Jon Wiener's attack on Jim Lindgren. For more, including a link to the Nation piece in question (if you somehow missed this yesterday) read this post and this post.

CHARLES MURTAUGH takes on left-wing homophobia.

UPDATE: Tony Adragna responds, and draws a fine distinction: "But let's not confuse this with homophobia born of an irrational intolerance of homosexuals. The attacks on Andrew Sullivan are something different — a calculated attempt by a cabal of ideologues who share an intense hatred of Andrew Sullivan." Arthur Silber, meanwhile, is less charitable. Meanwhile, Atrios calls me a "noted queer theorist!" (thanks!) and says that they're worse at Free Republic, which seems to me to be a pretty lame defense.

I have to say that I've visited a couple of lefty blogs that invited me to link to them, and seen posts calling Sullivan the "blog queen" or whatever, and thought better of it. I don't generally link to blogs that call people niggers either. Well, that's just me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber has another post, and he says it is homophobia.

ONE MORE: A reader emails that I linked to "BitchPundit," who uses the term "butt pirates" to refer to Islamic hackers. Uh, okay. I didn't really read that as being of the same order (nothing with "pirate" in it seems that bad to me) but okay. It's not really the same as wishing that someone with HIV would die soon, though, is it?

BLOGFORMS IN EVOLUTION: This is kind of like a "Misting" -- except with Roman Emperors instead of robots -- and it's directed at another blog's commentary section.

Blogosphere sociologists take note. The judges give this one an 8.7, adjusted up to 9.9 for originality and degree of difficulty.

TOREN SMITH says we should be calling him the Maryland Assassin, rather than the "Maryland Sniper." Good point.

UPDATE: Mr. Mustard, meanwhile, argues that the Assassin is largely irrelevant, and should be treated as such.

MATT WELCH has an interesting column on the apparent necessity -- and inevitable vices -- of America providing "adult supervision" to the rest of the world. I recommend reading it together with this Jonah Goldberg column and this post by Stephen Green. (Welch has more on his weblog, too.)

To oversimplify, Welch's worry -- supported by the other items -- is that by assuming so much global responsibility, the United States is keeping other countries in a state of arrested development. This is a very real issue. Unfortunately, the rise of weapons of mass destruction has made intermediate stages of responsibility dangerous. But U.S. planners, when they look past the next couple of years, need to think about Welch's point. Long-term, we need to be encouraging responsibility, not dependence.

I hope Matt's next column contains some suggestions on how to do that.

DOES AN N.R.A. STICKER provide "reasonable suspicion" to search a car for a gun? Eugene Volokh has the answer.

IS IT JUST ME? The New York Times Magazine contents page features an article by Paul Krugman that is described thusly:

How the permissive capitalism of the boom destroyed American equality.

• Forum: Is America becoming a society for the rich, by the rich?

But scroll down and you'll see:

Clothes Made the Man
In his Hawaiian hideaway, Geoffrey Beene muses on his first love: fashion.
• Slide Show: Beene's Hawaiian Hideaway

Regime Change
The secret of one spa's success is not its rules; it's the owner.

The ads don't exactly worship Wal-Mart, either. The Times evinces lots of support for the idea of a middle-class -- just not its politics, values, or lifestyle.

UPDATE: Hey, I only just now noticed (via Atrios) that Krugman mentions me in the piece -- to say I was right about the stats on Sweden, and then to say it doesn't matter because the stats aren't important. Only in Krugmanworld am I a "conservative," though. (Happy now, Atrios?) Or maybe he's just trying to pigeonhole me because we occupy the same ecological niche? Somehow I doubt it.

I will note that Krugman's comments about Sweden remind me of the standard cry of economic fall-behinds: "we're poor, but we're rich in the things you can't count." Such statements may be true, of course, but they're awfully convenient.

UPDATE: I should do a longer post on this, but I don't have time right now. Let me just note that it's okay to say that per-capita GDP has its flaws as a measure of societal wealth -- but I seem only to hear this when the comparison is between the United States and Sweden.

BITCHPUNDIT has some advice for Islamic hackers:

One of my other sites is more serious than this one; it's a science-education outreach portal, and about six months ago there were several hacking attempts that were traced back to middle-eastern countries. This hacking was carried on in sync with a bunch of viruses which were also emailed to me damn near constantly, and when I had them traced down, they were affiliated with a radical Islamic fundamentalist group. But, nothing as exciting as what Rex had, alas.

Buncha script kiddies, that's all these butt pirates are. They can't wage real war, so they are sending Hi-Tek Teenage Mutant Ninja Muslims from Bloggerstan, instead.

733t HaXX0r 4 A77AH! A77AH 0wZ J00!

Yeah. Whatever. I've got yer blog right here, Osama. I double-dog dare you.

And scroll down for a nice graphic dedicated to North Korea.

UPDATE: Hey, she's done a graphic just for me, too. Cool!

MICKEY KAUS'S E-MAIL PLEA: "Note: I am also very interested in a pill or herb that will make my penis grow 3-4 inches. Please send information. ..."

MARK STEYN has a piece on celebrities in politics that's too good to excerpt. He doesn't mention Woody Harrelson or Sean Penn (actually, nobody seems to mention Sean Penn -- which seems extraordinarily charitable, but then he is still trying to live down the whole Madonna thing). Maybe they'll be fodder for next week's column.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear has taken up the Sean Penn challenge.

LOTS OF INTERESTING POLITICAL NEWS at Taegan Goddard's Political Wire. My favorite quote: "When the voters of Hawaii awake the morning after the Nov. 5 election, they are likely to find they have done two extraordinary things: elect a live Republican to the governor's office and a dead Democrat to Congress. Such is the state of politics in Hawaii this year."

October 18, 2002

SOME HAPLESS "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" PROTESTERS AT THE U.N. had the misfortune to encounter Tim Blair. The poor bastards.

But where the Hell is Ken Layne?

WISH ORCHID A happy blogday!

VEGARD VALBERG shows Woody Harrelson the error of his ways.

SLUGGER O'TOOLE has blogged Tony Blair's speech on Northern Ireland, along with some other interesting developments. Just keep scrolling.

I DON'T LINK TO ANDREW SULLIVAN THAT MUCH, since I figure most people who read me probably read him anyway. But this post on North Korea -- and on who got it right -- is a must-read.

HERE'S THE FULL TEXT of a post of mine from yesterday:

ED LAZARUS IS DEEPLY CONFUSED according to this post at the Volokh Conspiracy. In fact, it is reported, he has the import of Nobel Economist Vernon Smith's work exactly backwards.

Now here's how Brad DeLong abbreviated it on his page:

According to Instapundit,

"ED LAZARUS IS DEEPLY CONFUSED... has the import of Nobel Economist Vernon Smith's work exactly backwards."

Now, to be fair, DeLong links to me, so that anyone who followed the link wouldn't be confused. But anyone who didn't would be inclined to think that Eugene Volokh's ideas were mine. That probably works to my benefit, of course, since Eugene Volokh is sufficiently smart that any association with him is likely to add lustre to my reputation, but it's still a bit odd, especially given how brief the original post was. (In fact, the ideas in question, which DeLong attributes to Eugene, are actually from another poster at The Volokh Conspiracy, but to figure that out you'd have to follow a second link. I presume that this is merely an oversight on DeLong's part).

Or was DeLong just trying to troll me into linking his page? D'oh!

UPDATE: DeLong's corrected the post. Thanks!

GOOD GRIEF. I've got a new Blogchild, but she's a bit, er, naughty.

JONAH GOLDBERG on foreign policy and food stamps:

If you have a fairly limitless supply of food stamps but a very small amount of cash on hand, over time you will not only grow to believe, but will actually become quite self-righteous about, your conviction that food stamps should be as good as cash everywhere — including car dealerships, movie theaters, and casinos. In fact, it won't be too long before you see food stamps as the only legitimate form of currency. . . .

The point here is that the Europeans, the Japanese, and — to a somewhat lesser extent — the South Koreans argue for talking through their problems because, like a thick wad of food stamps burning a hole in their pockets, talk is pretty much the only currency they have to spend. For nearly five decades, Europe and Japan have been, in effect, living off the military credit card we gave them. We subsidized their defense and, money being fungible, they took their savings and poured it into bloated welfare states. This policy was certainly in America's interests during the Cold War, and I'm not suggesting our system of alliances is totally obsolete. But there are huge negative consequences to it.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: And read this by Stephen Green, too.

ANOTHER DENIED ENTRY: This time the maid who was beaten by a Saudi Princess. Result:

Suryono left the United States to attend her mother's funeral in Indonesia. However, she was denied a visa to return to Florida because immigration authorities feared she might try to stay in the country illegally. The Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994, allows non-citizens to be granted visas to attend criminal trials.

Without Suryono as a witness, Assistant State Attorney Mike Saunders went ahead with negotiating a no contest plea for misdemeanor battery charges. The Florida Circuit Court judge accepted the plea--which allows the defendant to accept punishment without admitting or denying guilt--and placed al-Saud, currently in Saudi Arabia, on unsupervised probation. The princess was also fined $1,000 and court fees. The probation will most likely not affect al-Saud's ability to get a visa to re-enter the United States. . . .

Suryono's attorney, Russell Troutman, expressed concern about the fairness of the immigration department's action. "Why in the world wouldn't they give her a visa?" Troutman asked. "I'm speculating that it was an attempt on the part of the administration to do a favor for the royal family."


HOWARD JACOBSON renounces Western self-hatred -- in the Independent!

If we are the responsibility of those who beget us, then they must be our responsibility in turn. The past flows through us as certainly as the future. A genetic no less than a theological truth. But that's not the same as taking blame when there is no blame to be taken. An obscene act of arrogation, I now realise, making one's culpability the heart of everything. Unjust to one's immortal soul, which wants no part of it. And unjust even to the Nazis and their like, who must be allowed to sin egregiously on their own behalf and go to hell unmolested.

Ditto those who blew apart the however many hundreds of kids dancing the last of their lives away in Bali. It behoves us to stay out of their motives. Utterly obscene, the narrative of guilty causation which now waits on every fresh atrocity – "What else are the dissatisfied to do but kill?" etc – as though dissatisfaction were an automatic detonator, as though Cain were the creation of Abel's will. Obscene in its haste. Obscene in its self-righteousness, mentally permitting others to pay the price of our self-loathing. Obscene in its ignorance – for we should know now how Selbsthass operates, encouraging those who hate us only to hate us more, since we concur in their conviction of our detestableness.

Here is our decadence: not the nightclubs, not the beaches and the sex and the drugs, but our incapacity to believe we have been wronged. Our lack of self-worth.

Why do they hate us? In part because so many Western intellectuals tell them they should.

UPDATE: Reid Reynolds (who's no relation) emails:

"Western intellectuals tell them they should." Truer words were ne'er spoken. Every time I check into these foreign websites it's Noam Chomsky said this and Robert Fisk said that, and all these lesser demons like Mark Crispin Miller et al. are regularly cited, too.

These guys are literally killing us. I wish someone would publicize these guys and their evil scribblings. Most Americans, I think, don't even know who they are.

Well, we of the Blogosphere are doing our best!

ADVANTAGE: INSTAPUNDIT! This Nick Kristof column is unexceptional, except for the following revelation near the end: "As Kuwait sees it, the possibilities range from a Tommy Franks viceroyalty to the installation of a Sunni Hashemite king, some relative of Jordan's King Abdullah II. Jordan already seems to be quietly lobbying for this outcome." Of course, when I raised the idea of a Hashemite Restoration a year ago, I was talking about a post-Saudi Arabia, not a post-Saddam Iraq. I imagine, though, that a Hashemite transitional regime, along the lines of Juan Carlos' post-Franco role, could work out.

BELLESILES UPDATE UPDATE: If you haven't checked, my original post about Jon Weiner's attempted defense of Bellesiles in The Nation has been updated a lot and you should check the new material out.

In general, since I often update posts, it's a good idea to scroll back down the page from time to time, and not assume that the only new stuff is at the top. But you probably knew that.

Given that Emory is surely going to have to come out with a decision in the Bellesiles case soon, several readers have wondered if the Wiener piece represents a last-ditch effort to generate some favorable publicity so as to justify a slap-on-the-wrist penalty like demotion or suspension. I don't know. I'm inclined to think it's probably a waste of time if so, given that (since we know Bellesiles is appealing an adverse decision) there seems to be pretty solid evidence against him. I certainly agree with Jerome Sternstein that a whitewash would be a major mistake for Emory:

So far, the investigation into allegations of research misconduct by Bellesiles appears to cover only the evidentiary problems publicly revealed before last February. But researchers are continuing to unearth errors which are just as serious and resonant of academic fraud as those that have already been brought to light, including new evidence tending to show that Bellesiles never, ever used some of the records he claimed to have employed; never, ever spent a moment in some of the archives holding records that he claimed to have read; and never, ever read hundreds of records that existed only in his own imagination (far more non-existent records than have been revealed publicly so far). When this new scholarship is published, which it most surely will be, Emory would again find itself entwined in a scandal, this time of its own making and with a "smell" emanating from the inner sanctum of the administration. If Bellesiles continues to teach at Emory, it is almost certain that Emory will again be consumed by another investigation of Bellesiles -- an investigation demanded simply by its own guidelines and the pervasiveness of the alleged fabrications in Arming America.

Given that University administrators dislike scandal, and given that Bellesiles has been a one-man bad-publicity squad for Emory for over a year, it's hard for me to believe that they'd want to keep this alive, especially when the evidence seems so strong. But I could be wrong.

UPDATE: Wiener's article doesn't seem to be getting much of a reception over at the History News Network site. And this HNN post by Don Williams suggests that the decision is due next week.

ANOTHER UPDATE TO THE UPDATE UPDATE: Or something like that. Here's another post by Don Williams with some interesting links and commentary relating to the Nation piece.

FLOYD MCWILLIAMS is unimpressed with the UNCLE oSAMa cartoon from TomPaine.Com.

STEVEN MILLOY OF JUNKSCIENCE.COM WRITES THAT Ballistic Fingerprinting is junk science. Excerpt:

Maryland and New York already require ballistic fingerprinting. So far it hasn't helped convict a single criminal in Maryland despite "fingerprinting" 17,000 guns sold since January 2000. New York hasn't had success either.

And there isn't likely to be success any time soon, according to the study.

The report included the test firing of more than 2,000 rounds from 790 pistols.

When cartridges from the same manufacturer were test-fired and compared, computer matching failed 38 percent of the time. With cartridges from different manufacturers, computer matching failed 62 percent of the time.

"Automated computer matching systems do not provide conclusive results" requiring that "potential candidates be manually reviewed," said the experts.

There's more. Read it all.

UPDATE: Similar considerations have led Doug Turnbull, who I mentioned below, to change his mind on this subject.

HOW LONG UNTIL THIS is blamed on America?

UPDATE: Not long, as several readers emailed to note that the story was updated with an entirely un-germane reference to the D.C. sniper. I don't know if that's exactly what I meant, but. . . .

THEY LET THE 9/11 HIJACKERS IN, but they're denying Dmitry Sklyarov a visa. Seems the State Department is better at protecting media interests than American citizens.

Well, I guess that's not exactly news.

JOE KATZMAN HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON NORTH KOREA, and why the Administration isn't seeming too worried. And scroll up for his "moral obligation to blog" post.

UPDATE: Stephen Gordon has managed to bring Jack Nicholson in.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner responds to people who say the Bush Administration is being hypocritical by treating North Korea differently by saying, basically, "so what?" And there's a similar observation over at Sgt. Stryker's.


We moan the passing of what we look fondly back on as an “Islamic Golden Age” and indeed we should regret its end and study the reasons for its decline. Though we may not be able to recreate it, we could certainly emulate it in various ways. An important one would be to strive for that age’s tolerance, intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness when it comes to education and learning. Those early Muslims were quick to absorb what other cultures and civilizations had to offer and at the same time, neither their language nor their culture suffered. Are we so very different? Knowledge, after all, is power and it is only the intolerant and bigoted who refuse to understand this.

If there were more Saudi Arabs who felt this way, maybe they would actually be our allies.

KILLER APPS: Reader Erik D'Amato has these observations based on my TechCentralStation column on weblogs and Big Media:

But re Big Media's big chance to again be dominant in reporting and spot news, there are three other words that need to be remembered: cheap streaming video. Being fans of the written word, bloggers and blogger-types always make the mistake of equating news with words. But we are not the majority... to say the least. For most people, news is primarily about sights and sounds: 9/11, men walking on the moon, the white Bronco inching down the freeway, the white van circling DC. And in the background, a bit of yakking, a lot of it unscripted.

Why should we think Big Video Media will be able to compete with cheap video over the wire any better than Big Print Media have have been able to keep up with cheap written oped over the wire? Put it this way: If they actually find the White Van and properly Dillinger the sniper, what are the odds it will be caught on tape by CNN or Action News 5, as opposed to some guy with a Canon SUX-6000 (or whatever)? At this point, I'd give Mr. Canon the odds. Meanwhile, BVM, unlike the videoblogland of the future, will be expected to pay for the Van video or not show it without getting the rights first, and then might not be able to show it at all, because of griping from the standards or legal depts. Add in the liklihood that the resulting news conference (supplying all the necessary quotes and details) will be open to all comers, and its hard to see what BVM adds, besides sports and the weather. Oh, but they lost that, too.

Hmm. Interesting.

BELLESILES UPDATE: An article by Jon Weiner in The Nation portrays Michael Bellesiles as the victim of a gun-lobby witch hunt, concluding:

But the campaign against Bellesiles has demonstrated one indisputable fact: Historians whose work challenges powerful political interests like the NRA better make sure all their footnotes are correct before they go to press.

Unfortunately, the article also serves to illustrate that those who challenge politically powerful anti-gun interests will get slimed even if their footnotes are correct. The article is quite nasty to NWU legal historian James Lindgren, though it doesn't seem to identify a single inaccuracy in his Yale Law Journal article on the problems with Bellesiles' Arming America.

This is itself a problem, as I've written elsewhere:

When fraud is discovered, it is usually by another researcher whose skepticism is aroused. Yet uncovering fraud usually isn't considered as valuable to an academic career as original research is; worse yet, some scholars who expose their colleagues as frauds face resentment from those who dislike seeing their field's dirty laundry aired. But the absence of consequences for fraud can only make the problem worse. If we want to discourage fraud, we need to ensure that the people who discover it are recognized for their contributions - which, after all, spare other members of the field years or even decades of wasted effort based on fraudulent work - and properly rewarded. And, of course, we need to ensure that those who commit fraud are properly punished.

Those who complain that academics don't do enough about fraud in their midst need to recognize that attack pieces like this one are one reason why that is so.

Some of the statements about Lindgren in this piece ring false to me. I'm going to see if I can get an email from him. If so, I'll post what he sends. In the meantime, I invite readers to follow the link to the Yale Law Journal piece and to compare it with The Nation's article and decide for themselves.

Meanwhile, there's no word yet on what Emory plans to do about Bellesiles.

UPDATE: Lindgren sends the following via email:

As anyone familiar with the Bellesiles matter can plainly see, the Nation article has a large number of errors. Since the Nation was unable to find any factual errors in my scholarship, it instead attempted some rather crude ad hominems. Among them, it says that I urged people to retract their reviews of Arming America. If I had done so, that would indeed have been unusual, though not improper. But what I did was urge two authors to correct or retract one statement in their reviews merely by an online post to H-Net lists, which eventually they both did, because the particular statements were indeed factually wrong. I never said the words that one of those authors, Matthew Warshauer, attributes to me in the Nation article.

Referring to me, the Nation also says, "He accuses Bellesiles of bias . . . ." I have never accused Professor Bellesiles of bias (nor of prejudice). To the contrary, I have repeatedly argued that such claims of bias are incoherent in this matter.

In addition, Clayton Cramer has blogged some comments. (Eugene Volokh calls it "a very good response to The Nation's rather weak defense of Bellesiles.") I should note, too, that the Nation piece fails to mention that the big explosion in publicity over Bellesiles' work came after the Boston Globe -- hardly an NRA mouthpiece -- published an investigative piece on Bellesiles' work. And how come it links to Bellesiles' website, but not to the Lindgren article -- freely available on the Web in several places -- or to any of the other criticisms on Bellesiles?

As Volokh says, rather weak. Even for The Nation. As that other NRA mouthpiece, The New York Times noted:

Without doubt, Mr. Bellesiles's research would not have received such careful scrutiny if he had not stepped into the politically and ideologically charged struggle over guns. Yet the scholars who have documented serious errors in Mr. Bellesiles's book — many of them gun-control advocates — do not appear to have any sort of political agenda.

They were struck by his claim to have studied more than 11,000 probate records in 40 counties around the country. He found that between 1765 and 1790, only 14 percent of estate inventories listed guns, and "over half (53 percent) of these guns were listed as broken or otherwise defective." Those claims are featured prominently in the book and were cited in many positive reviews as the core of its argument.

But those who tried to examine the research soon found that they could not, because most of Mr. Bellesiles's records, he said, had been destroyed in a flood. The records they could check showed an astonishing number of serious errors, almost all of them seemingly intended to support his thesis. In some cases his numbers were off by a factor of two, three or more, said Randolph Roth, a history professor at Ohio State University.

To use one example: in his book, Mr. Bellesiles writes that of 186 probate inventories from Providence, R.I., recorded between 1680 and 1730, "all for property-owning adult males," only 90 mention some form of gun, and more than half the guns were "evaluated as old and of poor quality."

At least three scholars have independently examined the same archive and found that 17 of the estates in question were owned by women; that some estates lacked inventories, and that of those that had them, a much higher percentage than Mr. Bellesiles reported contained guns; and that only 9 percent of the guns were evaluated as old and of poor quality.

"The number and scope of the errors in Bellesiles's work are extraordinary," Mr. Roth said. They go well beyond the probate record data, he added, affecting Mr. Bellesiles's interpretation of militia returns, literary documents and many other sources. . . .

Those who have pressed him hardest for details say they have been led on a bizarre scholarly car chase, with Mr. Bellesiles offering new memories about where he got his records as soon as the old ones were discredited. (Emphasis added).

What, the folks at The Nation don't read The New York Times?

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has a long post on Jon Wiener's article, which segues into a lengthy discussion of bias on both left and right. But here's an on-topic excerpt:

I hope you will read both Wiener's Nation article and the Lindgren Yale Law Journal piece -- and I think the difference in tone and approach will strike you as forcefully as it did me. (I also point out that the Lindgren piece contains an Appendix which discusses over 200 documents which Bellesiles misread or misinterpreted in basic ways in the first edition of his book.) But with regard to the Nation article, I will note two aspects of it: first, approximately the first third of the article is devoted to a personal reminiscence concerning a lecture by Bellesiles that Wiener attended -- and he takes every opportunity to describe the pro-gun individuals who also attended (and who challenged Bellesiles' findings) as "unusually large men" -- in other words, and in Wiener's view, pro-gun, NRA-type thugs. And this is apparently seriously offered as some sort of legitimate argument which, by implication and for "right-thinking" kinds of people, ought to make us question the legitimacy of a scholar such as Lindgren. Second, the entire article is remarkably, and inappropriately, "personal" in tone. It is, as Reynolds also notes, quite nasty to Lindgren -- although, very significantly, Wiener does not offer even one substantive argument challenging even one of Lindgren's conclusions.

Indeed. And he's right that you should read the two pieces and compare their tone.

ARABS ARE PROTESTING THE OCCUPATION FORCES that have stood astride their quasi-nation for too long.


After September 11, many American liberals pointed out that, no matter how enraged you felt, it was an especially good time for Americans to underline their unshakable belief in religious toleration and their acceptance of Muslim Americans. The liberals were right; many Americans duly sounded off. The unsolved D.C.-area murder spree is another fine opportunity for principled people to put themselves on record.

Anyone who has read John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime"--a cool, calm, collected, unanswerable proof that widespread gun ownership leads to lower crime rates--please stand up. Owning a gun is no help whatsoever in fending off a hidden sniper. It is plenty of help if a criminal breaks into your bedroom, and in certain other unpleasant situations.

Last January, a lone gunman on a killing spree at a Virginia law school was stopped by three brave students--two of whom had run for their cars, grabbed their guns and rushed back to point their weapons at the killer. (Mr. Lott himself points out that of the 280 news stories he had turned up on this law school shootings, all but four had somehow forgot to mention that the heroic students had been armed with guns.)

All you rational, honorable, facts-not-emotions Americans who spoke up for Islam last September--and more power to you!--how about a big rousing cheer for gun ownership right now?

Well, I was one of those Americans. (Here's an example). But I note the hypocrisy that Gelernter points out, and I doubt that many of the people he refers to will answer this particular call. As Peter McWilliams said in his fine book Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, it seems that after a shooting spree they want to pass laws punishing everyone but the actual shooter. If liberals would begin displaying some of that vaunted "tolerance" toward gun owners, perhaps gun owners would quit being so "paranoid." After all, it's not paranoia when people really do want to get rid of guns through means fair or foul.

WHY HAVE COFFEE PRICES FALLEN to the point that coffee growers are suffering, while the latte you buy remains hideously overpriced? This piece explains it. I found it via William Sjostrom who tartly observes: "This is the sort of writing Paul Krugman used to be able to do well, before he started to do non-stop 'I hate Bush' tantrums."

ANDREW SULLIVAN has a long list of people who should be eating crow over North Korea's admission that it has a nuclear weapons program. "Should be" being the operative phrase, apparently.

October 17, 2002

JIM HENLEY reflects on the old it's-a-bug/it's-a-feature conundrum in the context of, well, a lot of stuff that involves Iraq.

SO THE "NOT IN OUR NAME PROTEST" WAS LED BY THE REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST PARTY, according to this on Max Sawicky's weblog. Hmm. If there were pro-war rallies led by the Nazis, that would get more attention, I think. Er, except that the Nazis are anti-war, too. Seems like the antiwar movement has a way to go if it's going to be taken seriously. No wonder Todd Gitlin is unhappy.

I DISAGREE with the assumption behind the campaign to restore felons' right to vote. I think the real problem is that there are too many felonies. Felonies used to be serious crimes, involving a likelihood of capital punishment. Now pretty much any crime is likely to be a felony. I'm inclined to think that there ought to be sharp limits on making victimless crimes like simple drug possession felonies. We've experienced inflation in the criminal-law area, and the currency -- including the moral currency -- of the criminal law has been debased thereby.

SEVERAL PEOPLE EMAILED to ask why my column today didn't mention the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. The answer is that it was going to, but it was already too long (it came in at well over 1200 words as is). But here's a link to a piece that Dave Kopel and I wrote on that subject last year. Consider it incorporated by reference.

UPDATE: Nick Denton calls the piece "superficially shocking but ultimately compelling."

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:

I am writing in response to your article on I couldn’t agree with you more. As a former Special Forces officer, I have traveled to a few troubled parts of the world where various thugs, hoodlums and other paramilitary pseudo-governmental “bad guys” were generally shaking down an unarmed, defenseless civilian population. In every case I couldn’t help thinking “What if all of these people had guns?” Many of my colleagues who saw a lot more action than I did made similar observations.

Invariably, there are never enough police, peacekeepers, or soldiers to protect everyone. When you deny criminals a pool of victims, you deny them their ability to commit crime. I believe this is true of robbery, murder, terrorism and especially genocide. I do feel professionally obligated to point out that when arming civilians you must ensure that the people who get the guns are also trained to properly use them. This includes not just basic marksmanship but discipline and civic responsibility. Recently armed, untrained people can be a great danger to themselves and others. However, with the proper training and support, democracy can often flourish among a population that is trained and equipped to defend itself.

I’m sure you will get a lot of very negative responses to your position. I’m also sure that very few of those who attack you will have ever been in a country virtually consuming itself under the boots of tyrants. Thank you for having the courage to propose a practical idea that is not politically correct.

Actually, I've gotten less abuse so far than I expected, even though predictably enough this piece has generated a lot of email. Maybe this is an idea whose time has come. And no one has tried to argue that the current approach works.

Heck, Neal Stephenson had something along these lines as a plot device in Cryptonomicon.

NORTH KOREA: One of the interesting questions is why North Korea chose to come clean. Here's a thought: North Korea, whatever its other faults, has both an excellent intelligence service and close ties to Iraq. Maybe they have some idea what's going to happen, and don't want to be associated with Iraq when it does.

UPDATE: Tacitus has a response.

MAJOR BOMBING IN THE PHILLIPINES, which looks to be more of the same terrorist stuff.

It seems to me that the fact that this stuff is accelerating as we get closer to an attack on Saddam suggests that there's a connection between him and Al Qaeda nowadays.

WHO'S TO BLAME for the Bali bombing? James Lileks rounds up the usual suspects in his Newhouse column -- which is nice since he's been Bleating so little this week.

IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING. But Emily Bazelon writes that it's nearly as good to be Sandra Day O'Connor. I think that Bazelon's take on federalism is rather superficial, though: "If we care about fighting the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which men and women are treated differently in the workplace, it seems more important to set a uniform standard than to worry about insulting the states."

"Insulting the states?" Federalism isn't a dignitary right of the states. It's a structural feature of the Constitution that's supposed to protect individual freedom -- and that the Framers thought was more significant in that role than the Bill of Rights.

ED LAZARUS IS DEEPLY CONFUSED according to this post at the Volokh Conspiracy. In fact, it is reported, he has the import of Nobel Economist Vernon Smith's work exactly backwards.


When journalists are accused of being unpatriotic for reporting from enemy countries, their excuse is that they're delivering the truth. But they're not, as Foer makes clear. So what's the excuse for delivering untruths from an enemy country in wartime?

The same media-ethics types who get their panties in a wad over journalists accepting free t-shirts from corporations seem much less exercised over this far more serious question. Excerpt:

It's not because American reporters have an ideological sympathy for Saddam Hussein; broadcasting his propaganda is simply the only way they can continue to work in Iraq. "There's a quid pro quo for being there," says Peter Arnett, who worked the Iraq beat for CNN for a decade. "You go in and they control what you do. ... So you have no option other than to report the opinion of the government of Iraq." In other words, the Western media's presence in the Ministry of Information describes more than just a physical reality.

If you'd rather report propaganda than not report at all, is what you're doing journalism? And people say weblogs aren't objective?

UPDATE: This piece says that American journalists are just as bad where Iran is concerned: "So often, we hear self-described Iran experts on CNN and reporters in America's leading newspapers explain away the dictatorship under which we suffer. We hear them talk about how young people and women still support President Khatami! No. We do not!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Gillies writes from Costa Rica:

Franklin Foer's piece in TNR was an eye-opener. It of course raises the possibility that the surreal coverage of the recent Iraqi 'referendum' in the
mainstream press is simply a reaction to the whip hand Saddam's regime has over the foreign news corps. It might explain the tenor of the coverage; it certainly does not justify it.

No, it doesn't.

MORE THOUGHTS ON "BALLISTIC FINGERPRINTING," from Tabula Rasa. Doug Turnbull, meanwhile, starts out more positive, but then sees some issues, while openly admitting that maybe it'll lead to gun registration, but he's all in favor of gun registration anyway. This is more honest than the Mercury News, -- which, as Tabula Rasa points out, claims that ballistic fingerprinting won't lead to gun registration but notes that gun registration is a fine thing and "long overdue."

However, Turnbull's reference to "paranoid fantasies of imminent tyranny starting with national gun seizures," and his claim that "a national gun registry will be no more of an invasion of privacy than registering your car, which is already required," are out of place. In fact, gun registration has consistently led to confiscation; car registration has not. It's not "paranoid" to fear real dangers.

I don't think that the Second Amendment bars registration. But only an idiot would fail to notice this pattern, and I think that "ballistic fingerprinting" is, in fact, being pushed as a backdoor way of getting gun registration, by people who would favor confiscation if they thought they had the votes. I recommend this article for some concrete examples.

UPDATE: Suman Palit is already worried by what the FBI is doing in Maryland.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more, from Juan Gato.

ONE MORE: Tabula Rasa responds to my Second Amendment comments above.

LOTS OF UPDATES ON VENEZUELA, which is getting less attention than it should, over at El Sur.

DANIEL POLSBY (a law professor at George Mason University, in the Virginia suburbs) writes in response to my "panic in DC" post:

I haven't seen anybody walking zigzag patterns, for what that's worth.

I'm right in the middle of these incidents and have actually patronized both the Manassas Sunoco station where one murder and the Falls Church Home Depot where the latest murder occurred. What is the level of fear around here? People talk a lot about the sniper, but I haven't seen much of anything beyond that. There has been a jump, apparently, in carry concealed applications, or so the Fairfax County court clerk told my wife. The cops are working longer shifts, more surveillance and less traffic enforcement (a lot of which has nothing to do with public safety). On net, though the world may feel less safe, it is probably

I believe the "market research" hypothesis, not the "lone nut" hypothesis. I suspect a crew, not a soloist.

What to do? There is no defense from a long gun fired from ambush; you have to get on offense and stay there. There is a spider web, that is mostly just "out there," but that plainly couldn't exist without anchor points in a number of conventional nation-states. If you want to get rid of the spiders you need to tear the anchor points up. This, and not that Saddam is a mean guy, is the real argument for the war against Iraq. The reason it is difficult for the government to lean too heavily on this justification is that other nation-states are anchor points also, and well known to be. Nurturing international acceptance for the use of arms, we don't necessarily want to make a public commitment to dealing
with Syria -- a member of the Security Council for God's sake! -- after dealing with Iraq.

If we do the Iraq thing right, though, a lot of those other anchor points will just sort themselves out.


A CONSPIRACY SO VAST: Lots of good stuff over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Erik Jaffe writes:

First, why do we fetishize life and death to the point of virtually excluding -- or grossly minimizing -- all other values? Given that everybody dies eventually, what is really at stake is longevity, and we routinely sacrifice potential longevity for other interests. (Easy examples include driving small cars or motorcycles, drinking, smoking, skydiving, mountain climbing, and volunteering for the armed services.) But in many public policy debates I am noticing a tendency to treat the loss or shortening of life as an overarching value that trumps virtually all others, especially liberty. Once upon a time "Live Free or Die" might have seemed a perfectly natural motto for a state. Today it is hard to imagine any government seriously espousing that view. Rather, any slight threat to health or safety is routinely touted as a reason for government compel, command, restrict, or tax in order to combat the threat.

Scroll down, and see an interesting post by Eugene on yet another campus free speech issue, this time at UNLV.


Liberals Against Liberation

"No to War! No to Oppression!"

The above anti-war message was delivered to me via a sad-looking pink poster. I pulled the poster off a light pole and hung it in my office over my desk. I look at the poster every day when I sit down to work, and every day I wonder how and when the American left lost its moral compass.

You see, lefties, there are times when saying "no" to war means saying "yes" to oppression. Don't believe me? Go ask a Czech or a European Jew about the British and French saying "no" to war with Germany in 1938. War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times. . . .

After 9/11, the left argued that our support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East helped create anti-American hatred. Apparently the Bush administration now agrees--so why isn't the American left claiming this victory?

Because claiming this victory means backing this war, and the American left refuses to back this or any war--which makes the left completely irrelevant in any conversation about the advisability or necessity of a particular war. (Pacifism is faith, not politics.) What's worse, the left argues that our past support for regimes like Saddam's prevents us from doing anything about Saddam now. We supported (and in some cases installed) tyrants, who in turn created despair, which in turn created terrorists, who came over here and blew shit up... so now what do we do? According to the left, we do nothing. It's all our fault, so we're just going to have to sit back and wait for New York City or D.C. or a big port city (like, say, Seattle or Portland) to disappear.

Read the whole thing. He's right about the Saudis, too.

MUSLIM CONDEMNATION OF TERROR: Samizdata has links and excerpts.

PLEASE: Send all your D.C. Sniper conspiracy theories to Jim Henley. He's handling that portfolio, and doing it very well.


I've just returned from signing the book of condolences at the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue here in Washington, D.C. and it was good to see multiple floral sympathy displays in the lobby. Good work. Unfortunately there was not a line of people waiting to sign the book.

The Embassy web site expresses gratitude for the expressions of sympathy. They also provide a link for those interested in making contributions to relief efforts.

Take note.

UPDATE: Tim Dunlop notes:

The Australian Ambassador to the US has invited Australians living in the Washington DC area to join him and Mrs Thawley at the Residence (3120 Cleveland Ave NW Washington DC) for a cup of tea or coffee at 11.30 am this Sunday 20th October. A minute's silence will be observed at 12 noon.

So if you're an Australian in DC, take note. I used to live quite close to the Australian Embassy, which makes me feel closer to this than I otherwise might.


A Kuwaiti man with petrol bombs in his car was arrested Thursday near a housing complex in Kuwait where scores of U.S. military officers live, a senior security source said.

Fortunately, he appears to be another not-ready-for-primetime terrorist.

A RELIABLE READER emails that an Indonesian court has ordered the arrest of Abu Bakr Bashir. Via the BBC -- no link yet. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here's the story, which says he's been called in for questioning -- perhaps not quite the same as arrested.

PAUL JOHNSON WRITES ON what's wrong with Europe. Worth reading.


The idea that the shooter has some relationship to al Qaeda is not proven by any means, but it is not preposterous either, at least at this point.

The intelligence is that the lives of many people around Washington have been deeply effected by these shootings, and that a subterranean fear now is surfacing, and not entirely irrationally. This points to an interesting phenomenon: So long as it is not demonstrated that al Qaeda is disabled -- a difficult thing to demonstrate even if it were true -- the American public will, given time and some speculative evidence, construe potentially unrelated criminal actions as being planned attacks by al Qaeda. This gives al Qaeda an interesting and powerful edge in the psychological war it is waging with the United States. Al Qaeda does not have to act to create a sense of terror that transcends the mere lunacy of a serial killer. Over time, this could be a significant tool in its arsenal. . . .

A quiet day, except that if the police do capture or kill the Washington sniper, and he does turn out to be of Middle Eastern origin, the likelihood of an orgy of panic in Washington and the United States is extremely high -- and U.S. behavior will become quickly unpredictable at that point.

Hmm. An "orgy of panic?" I've been talking to my friends in DC. Some are more scared than others (most typical: it's ten people out of 2-3 million, so what are the odds?) but it's hard to see "panic" as the main reaction, except among the excitable media crowd, which has a demonstrated tendency to panic at relatively minor threats to its own safety. And by doing so, the media is doing as much -- especially in Stratfor's analysis -- to promote terror as Al Qaeda is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers have sent me emails along these lines, but this one is the most concise:

Looked at schematically, tactically, the sniper attacks in the areas surrounding Washington, D.C., seem to be intended to draw the attention of law-enforcement away from D.C. itself.

Five will get you ten these guys are Iraqis.

I hope he's wrong. I fear he may be right. Another reader suggests, for reasons too involved to go into here, that it's an effort specifically to draw attention away from non-white trucks that might be travelling on I-70. The only encouraging note is that so far the terrorists haven't shown themselves to be that smart.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith writes:

As a DC resident I disagree completely that there will be an orgy of panic.

The DC sniper will either stop or be caught. If caught, he will either be a lone nut or an islamofascist. Either way people will be relieved not panicked.

If the shooter is an islamofascist, anger and determination will be the most predictable reaction. I suspect that there will be pressure on the police to infiltrate and monitor the radical mosques and emigre communities that harbor such terrorists. Maybe Robert Meuller (and the rest of the top FBI people who just dont get it) will be a bit panicked but the rest of us will be glad that the killer has been caught and profiled so that we can root out any others.

BTW, my guess is that the perp is an islamist duo, though I'll bet they are freelancing rather than acting on orders from above.

We'll see, won't we?

ACCORDING TO THE FBI, being shot by a .223 rifle is no big deal. Yeah, I followed the link and it's really as bad as it sounds. Worse, even.

READER CHRIS FOUNTAIN WRITES: "Five bucks says we won't see any full page ads or campus demonstrations demanding that the UN send inspectors into North Korea. 'Duck and Cover.'"

Sure we will -- but only if the United States threatens to do something.

N.Z. BEAR has posted a response to Eric S. Raymond's manifesto.

TALKLEFT is taking a surprisingly favorable line on my FoxNews column about genocide and the right to arms. But there is this quibble: "Our conception of a 'right' is an entitlement we choose to exercise, rather than a duty we feel obligated to perform."

Actually, of course, in the Anglo-American tradition the right to arms has traditionally been conceived as both. It's a right, in the sense that the state can't take it away. But it's also a duty, because the social benefits of an armed citizenry (the "positive externalities" in econospeak) in terms of both crime- and tyranny-prevention are sufficient to justify requiring people to be armed.

UPDATE: Here's a related post from the Lefty Libertarian.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a list of quotes from Gandhi, et al., on arms bearing, from Robin Goodfellow. As far as I know they're genuine, but there aren't any links.

AND ANOTHER ONE FROM THE I-TOLD-YOU-SO DEPARTMENT: Brock Yates has a great column on how luxury bus service is killing the airlines on short hauls. The reason? Delays, security hassles, and bad service. No surprise there.

The bus is nice because it lets you relax or work, unlike driving yourself. I can see the appeal, though I tend to find driving myself relaxing, too.

FROM THE I-TOLD-YOU-SO DEPARTMENT: The American Automobile Association has pulled its support for traffic-enforcement cameras after concluding that they're a scam run for revenue purposes.

Say it ain't so!

THE BATF HAS MADE LOTS OF ARRESTS for illegal rifles, but none of them is the sniper. Well, that's encouraging.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has a lot of new stuff up. Go read it. You won't be sorry.

STEVE DUNLEAVY WRITES that the D.C. shooter is no native. More troublingly, this article argues that what's going on is terrorist "market research," with the tactic likely to spread given its success in tying up hundreds of law-enforcement types to no use and engendering widespread panic.

Nobody really knows, of course. But I get the strong impression that the authorities are trying to avoid thinking about terrorism. Or at least talking about terrorism. And it's troubling to me that you have to read news reports on these incidents (and you do) the way you'd read old Soviet newspapers, focusing on what's not mentioned.

UPDATE: Caleb Carr writes:

Should the killings be the work of international terrorists, on the other hand, they will fit a textbook pattern that has been on ample display during recent years in every part of the world.

Yep. Which is why it's so frustrating to see so little attention paid to this possibility.

UPDATE: Here's another article from the New York Post suggesting that someone, at least, is taking the terrorist angle seriously.

GEITNER SIMMONS WRITES ABOUT EVIL -- and concludes that Ellen Goodman is a better writer than Michael Kinsley. No, really.

JAMES MORROW responds to the Iraqi Ambassador's New York Times op-ed, which he calls a "self-Fisking."

THE OTHER BELTWAY SHOOTER: The M.O. is somewhat different, but it's worth remembering.

HENRY COPELAND THINKS I'M WRONG about the advantages of Big Media where actual hard-news reporting is concerned, and he's got a plan that involves the Blogosphere.

October 16, 2002

POLITICAL INSIDERS, note Patrick Ruffini's take on John Zogby. I don't know enough to have an opinion, but it's kind of interesting.

JIHAD CAMPS in Indonesia.


IT MAY TAKE ME A WHILE TO WIN MARY ROBINSON OVER: It's not official until tomorrow, but my FoxNews column is up. It's on why the right to bear arms should be recognized as an international human right.


Nicole Shounder of Lynnwood is an out and proud, post-operative transsexual lesbian who voted for George W. Bush. The former Air Force sergeant, now a nurse, heads a regional group called Cease Fear. It promotes firearms education and training for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered (GLBT). Her story is part of the upcoming documentary, "Guns and Roses," by Seattle filmmakers Soyon Im and Jhett Bond.

Shounder says, "I'm in sync with Democratic Party values, but their gun-control stance doesn't work. We stand out as possible targets, and we are not going to let harm come to ourselves or our loved ones."

Shounder owns a Smith and Wesson .45, a discreet Kel-Tec .32 for formal dress, and a non-lethal Taser. Unlike the heinous sniper terrorizing suburban Washington, D.C., Shounder vows never to use her weapons on another person unless for defense.

Cease Fear is part of a nationwide network of GLBT firearms education and training groups usually called Pink Pistols. Ex-Microsoftie and Puget Sound refugee Joe Huffman assisted in the formation this summer of a Pink Pistols group in the Palouse, straddling the Washington-Idaho border.

Call me crazy, but this documentary sounds a lot more interesting than Michael Moore's.


The Saudi regime is digging its own grave.

JONAH GOLDBERG WRITES THAT SADDAM IS NO HITLER, -- and that's what should worry us.

REALCLEARPOLITICS HAS A WEBLOG NOW. I thought I'd mentioned it before, but I was wrong.

TELFORD WORK is, well, not defending Jerry Falwell exactly, but complaining about people who criticized him being too quick to respect Muslim sensitivities. It's the best thing I've read on the subject so far, and I feel that I should write a long post about this, but at the moment I just don't have it in me. So read it yourself.

(Via Stuart Buck).

ERIC S. RAYMOND has penned a draft "Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto," and is soliciting comments.

CLAYTON CRAMER says ballistic fingerprinting can't work. And he's got math. But how many people will understand it?

UPDATE: Freeside has more on this, here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more on why this won't work. I'm inclined to agree. Oh, and read this, too.

APPARENTLY, the promised image of the D.C. Sniper hasn't appeared, and comments about his "middle eastern" look have vanished from official accounts. But a loyal InstaPundit reader has forwarded a copy of the image. Here it is. Looks believable to me. . . .

JEFF ROSEN WRITES: THANK GOODNESS FOR DICK ARMEY, stalwart protector of civil liberties.

Funny thing is, he's right.

UPDATE: Jeralyn Merritt agrees, and says that pro-civil-liberties Democrats need to pay more attention to libertarians.


HEARD anything from Italy's Red Brigades lately? What about Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang? Where has Japan's Red Army been hiding? Whatever happened to the Weather Underground?

All of these terrorist organisations have more or less vanished. According to the anti-war lobby, which holds that a violent reaction to terrorism only breeds more terrorism, they should be thriving. Andreas Baader's suicide in Stammheim Prison in 1977 should have inspired an army of followers.

Instead, they're gone. Killing and jailing terrorists wipes out terror. The only major European terrorist group from that era to survive in any significant way is the IRA, which tells us something: attacking terrorists doesn't breed terror. Negotiating with them does.

Read the whole thing.

THIS gives the gun issue in the Maryland elections a new twist:

Hundreds of people with criminal records in Maryland may have been allowed to purchase guns illegally this year because the state temporarily stopped conducting background checks for the FBI, state and federal officials disclosed yesterday. . . .

Maryland's state archivists notified the FBI in March that they would no longer perform criminal background checks of people who had applied to buy firearms because budget cuts had left the agency shorthanded, documents show.

"We just didn't have the staff to do it," said Edward C. Papenfuse, the head state archivist. "We had been doing it quietly for free but we got to the point where everyone's budgets were being cut, and we couldn't do it anymore."

Papenfuse said his agency did not received any of the $6.7 million in federal funds allocated to Maryland since 1995 to modernize its criminal record-keeping and comply with federal gun control laws.

He said he wrote to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) in March to ask for money to pay a staff member to perform the background checks for the FBI, but was told that no funds were available until July 1.

How do you think this story would be being played if the Governor of Maryland were a Republican? "NRA-backed Governor skipped background checks?"

I wonder what the money was spent on?

TED BARLOW THINKS I WAS WRONG to link approvingly yesterday to a story about two PETA activists, one in a cow costume, whose anti-milk protest went sour and resulted in them being drenched in milk by a crowd of schoolchildren until they were rescued by police. I don't know -- Barlow makes it sound as if this were something out of Lord of the Flies, but to me it reads more like something out of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The only injury these guys suffered was to their dignity, which was already suffering from the cow suit. Er, and their involvement with PETA.

And aren't these the folks who think it's okay to throw paint on women wearing fur? Didn't Ingrid Newkirk express the wish that hoof-and-mouth disease would be brought to the United States because it would hurt the meat industry? (And maybe even encourage vegetarianism!) Then there's this, from an article in HealthSpan dated February 1994 (no link, but it's on Westlaw):

Another instance labeled as "domestic terrorism" by the FBI and documented in the Report to Congress occurred in 1989 at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. John Orem's research on sleeping disorders, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), was using cats for experimentation. A group of activists from ALF entered the facility and damaged equipment, spray-painted slogans on walls, and stole several research cats.

Orem's research was then subjected to a campaign of "intense propaganda and harassment," including a statement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) justifying what had taken place at the laboratory. Officials later estimated that "after the direct, collateral, and indirect consequences of the incident were considered, the total cost to the targeted institution was estimated as just over $1 million."

The Justice/Agriculture Department report makes a very cogent statement concerning the indirect effects of violent acts and threats against research facilities: "The loss or diversion of resources inevitably has intangible consequences, especially for the biomedical community and other non-revenue generating industries. These costs often include: the loss, disruption, or delay of ongoing research; higher research costs; scheduled research projects postponed or cancelled; and research grants withheld. Another disruptive, albeit less resource dependent effect of animal rights extremism is the apprehension and fear that this activity can instill in an employee of any victimized animal enterprise."

So I'm supposed to feel sorry for these guys because they got a (rather mild) taste of their own medicine instead of a debate on the philosophical deficiencies of the animal rights movement? When you choose to operate by a combination of street theater and intimidation, you can't complain when others respond in the same way. This is like a well-deserved pie in the face.

UPDATE: Hey, you can buy cool t-shirts with statements from PETA people endorsing terrorism, too!

ANOTHER UPDATE: This is good, too. (Warning: big image).

A FIRSTHAND WEBLOG ACCOUNT from the Iraqi election. Diane E. has been in email communication, and says this blog is real.


AS I READ THIS ARTICLE, Rumsfeld is reasserting civilian control over the military, and the brass doesn't like it:

His disputes with parts of the top brass involve style, the conduct of military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and sharply different views about how and whether to "transform" today's armed forces. But what the fights boil down to is civilian control of a defense establishment that Rumsfeld is said to believe had become too independent and risk-averse during eight years under President Bill Clinton. . . .

Rumsfeld, say people who have dealt with him over the last two years, saw the Joint Staff as sometimes unresponsive to civilian leadership, even asserting its own policy positions at interagency meetings. He wasn't alone in that feeling, recalled one officer at the Pentagon, who said that Joint Staff officers sometimes seemed to have the attitude that "the suits don't need to know this, they stay in our lane, we stay in ours."

Under Rumsfeld, the civilians are no longer cut out.

It would be foolish of Rumsfeld to ignore the advice of military professionals, notwithstanding his own considerable expertise. It would be equally foolish for military professionals to forget who they actually work for.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE has an interesting poll on gun control, though it is of course unscientific.

UPDATE: Oops. The link above either casts a vote, or says you've cast a vote, I'm not sure which. I just followed the results-link that a reader sent me and didn't notice. Anyway, use this link instead.

BIN LADEN IS DEAD, says this report citing unnamed Israeli intelligence sources, but Al Qaeda has decided to go ahead.

GWEILO DIARIES HAS SOME ADVICE on how to help the Balinese.

MORE FROM ROBERT FISK, dealt with in the traditional fashion.

NYU CAN'T FIND A SINGLE PROFESSOR willing to defend its policy against military recruitment on campus. Unlike Stanley Kurtz, I see this not as a problem of bias, but as an admission.

UPDATE: Lane McFadden, who graduated from NYU Law School last year, has more information and background on this.

MORE REPORTS that the FBI is calling gun owners in the DC area. The behavior described here doesn't sound as objectionable as the threats and bluster in the report I linked to earlier, though I wouldn't surrender a gun to a law enforcement official who requested it for "testing" without a warrant. They often fail to return them, regardless of the circumstances, and getting anything done about it is very difficult.

At any rate, this all seems idiotic to me. If you contact someone and ask him a lot of "tough" questions or get his gun for "testing," then there are two possibilities: He's the sniper, or he's not. If he is the sniper, won't he bolt at the first contact? And he certainly won't surrender the murder weapon. If he's not the sniper, you're wasting time and resources, and irritating people unnecessarily, thus impeding the investigation. Am I missing something here? Because this seems like bureaucratic ass-covering designed to let someone say they've interviewed X number of people, rather than anything that might actually lead to the killer.

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Peterson is skeptical, too, adding:

Ditto on the assessment of law enforcement tactics in the sniper investigation. The announcement that military surveillance planes are being employed seems of a piece with this; if the paramount concern were apprehending the sniper instead of PR, you would 1) request the military's assistance without announcing this to the press; 2) nab the bad guy; and only then 3) thank the DOD, "whose technology proved crucial in apprehending the sniper," etc.

Doesn't the public announcement that the technology is in use raise the likelihood that the sniper will move his/their operation out of the DC vicinity or go dormant to evade capture and then strike again when public attention has turned elsewhere? A PR strategy increases the risk of further killing rather than decreasing it.

Yeah, if I were this guy I'd quit, take a couple of weeks off, and then start up somewhere else when people have started to relax. Of course, if I were this guy, I wouldn't be out there shooting people to begin with, so. . . .

A LETTER OF SYMPATHY -- and something rather more than sympathy -- to Australia.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING COMMENT to my TechCentralStation column today -- interesting enough to reproduce here, as it seems to address a question that has perplexed many:

The main symbiosis that I see is that the bloggers serve as a negative feedback loop for the bias, incompetence and dishonesty of an agenda driven mainstream news media. The monopoly of punditry by the mainstream media has been broken by first talk radio and second by the Internet and bloggers in particular.

Successful talk radio and Internet bloggers are conservative/libertarian because they represent the error signal in a negative feedback loop, correcting left wing bias.

The feedback loop idea makes sense to me.

GARETH PARKER POINTS OUT THAT THE BALINESE ARE VICTIMS TOO -- and Kathy Kinsley has a suggestion on what to do about it, which I heartily endorse.

THIS COLUMN IN THE GUARDIAN says that among the casualties of the Bali bombing were self-blaming Australian intellectuals:

According to the prepared text, the attack was really America's fault because of its bad behaviour elsewhere in the world. For insular Americans, the attack was a salutary illustration of what the Australian pundit Janet McCalman called their "lowly place in the affections of the poor and struggling".

Australia, unashamedly America's ally, was effectively an oppressor, too. If you took into account the behaviour of the Australian government when faced with the crisis engendered by the arrival, or non-arrival, of a Norwegian container ship full of Afghan refugees, Australia was even more guilty than America. Australia (perennially a racist country, as John Pilger's historical researches have incontrovertibly proved) was a flagrant provocation to the wretched of the earth. Imperialist America was not only treating the helpless Middle East as its personal property, it had racist Australia for its lackey. No wonder al-Qaida was angry. . . .

Such was the consensus before the nightclub in Bali turned into a nightmare. . . . Not just the majority of the intellectuals, academics and schoolteachers, but most of the face-workers in the media, share the view that international terrorism is to be explained by the vices of the liberal democracies. Or, at any rate, they shared it until a few days ago. It will be interesting, in the shattering light of an explosive event, to see if that easy view continues now to be quite so widespread.

There's much more. Well worth reading.

SPINSANITY IS ALL OVER REP. JIM MORAN (D-VA) for saying that opponents of ballistic fingerprinting just want to protect murderers.

This, sadly, is the sort of blood libel that one typically hears from advocates of gun control. I'm glad to see Spinsanity describing Jim Moran has having "taken the debate to a shameful low."

UPDATE: The same kind of thing is often done to hunters, and Dave Kopel has an example that's worth reading about.

ROCKING THE HOUSE OF PEACE: Tim Cavanagh writes:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell's new career as an international insult comic creates an easy target for Islam's self-appointed defenders; but the bromides of anti-discrimination are no substitute for actual discussion of some pretty important ideological questions. Not every Cold War leftist was a closet Stalinite, and I'd certainly like to believe that not every Imam is a secret jihadist. Unfortunately, the people who should be persuading me are too busy changing the subject.

Meanwhile The American Prospect is actually defending Jerry Falwell -- though not against charges of idiocy.

UPDATE: Good, er, Lord -- now it's Dan Savage defending the American religious right:

I'd like to offer an uncharacteristic (for me) defense of America's religious jackasses. While their tireless efforts to remove porn from hotel rooms, ban abortion, and pick on homos are annoying in the extreme, their actions seem positively benign when compared to, say, the actions of Saudi Arabia's religious jackasses. At least our jackasses are only pressuring hotel chains to stop making porn available to horny businessmen. They're not crashing airplanes into Marriott and Hilton hotel towers.

Hmm. I'm pretty sure that one of Kaus's Rules of Punditry states that two examples make a trend, so let's all recognize the new trend of lefties defending the American religious right!

PETE DUPONT writes that Iraq is only the first step to liberating the mideast. Leon Fuerth more or less agrees, but thinks that's a bad thing. He sees it as the birth of an empire.

But American hegemony in the region is already extensive, and there seems little alternative -- certainly Fuerth doesn't provide one -- to an increase of American influence. A U.N. figleaf might be diplomatically desirable (Fuerth thinks is is) but it would still be just that, a figleaf. Fuerth is, as I've said before, a smart guy. But I'd very much like to see a column as long as this one that spelled out exactly what we should be doing differently, and compared the costs (including the costs of failure) between that approach and the one the Bush Administration is pursuing.

FIRST THE MIRROR, NOW REUTERS. Maybe vapid anti-Americanism doesn't sell as well as some people think.

ISRAEL AND THE ARABS: It's hard to imagine this happening in any Arab country:

A 62-year-old chemistry professor and retired army officer, Mr. Even is soon to be sworn in as the first openly gay member of the Israeli Parliament, moving from the quiet confines of his laboratory at Tel Aviv University to the tumult of legislative politics.

So why are "progressives" siding with the Arabs against Israel?


UPDATE: Via Nick Denton, I ran across this piece by Andrew Sullivan from Sunday's Times that's on a similar topic. (He even mentions me). He envisions symbiosis, too, though of a different sort.


But here's a thought experiment: Suppose the Republicans were to pick up three Senate seats in the coming election, giving them a majority of two. Is there the slightest chance that Chafee would then bolt and become a Democrat -- which would involve leaving the majority party to join the minority? No, there is not a chance. What does that say about how principled Chafee's chafing is?

He's got a new campaign slogan, too.

BRITISH SUPPORT FOR THE WAR HAS JUMPED TEN PERCENT SINCE THE BALI ATTACK according to this poll. This would seem to support Nick Denton's terrorist-idiocy theory.

UPDATE: Apparently they've caught the Bali bomber.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rachel Cunliffe, a New Zealand blogger, thinks people have been too quick to blame Islamists: "It is naive to quickly assume that all terrorism is the result of one particular group of people: 'them.'" Yeah -- except that it usually is "them," isn't it?

CONDITION RED: William Sjostrom has issued an "Urgent Fisking Alert" inspired by dumb Germaine Greer column on the Bali bombing. We should have known this was coming.

UPDATE: Hmm. Self-Fisking? Here's a report of Germaine Greer telling women to veil themselves to protest the clothing industry, and characterizing pap smears as a patriarchal conspiracy.

Of such is the antiwar movement made, these days.

MICHIEL VISSER REPORTS ON THE FALL OF THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT, apparently brought about by infighting within Pim Fortuyn's party.

HERE'S A LENGTHY story suggesting that the government is taking the possibility of terrorism in the D.C. sniper case more seriously than it appears. I certainly hope so. But I'm kind of tired of this pattern of treating terrorism as almost unthinkable. That sounds like what's at work here, and it's irritating, as Matt Welch wrote after the Hadayet/LAX shooting, to be treated as "children who need to be lied to."

October 15, 2002

BARRELFISKING: Eugene Volokh describes Mary McGrory's column as "nonsense of the most nonsensical sort," which would usually be redundant -- but not in this case, as his analysis makes clear.

RAND SIMBERG has some observations on the D.C. sniper.

Meanwhile the suspect is being described by three witnesses as an olive-skinned man.

INTERESTING ARTICLES ON SCIENCE FRAUD here, and here in the New York Times. Here's a piece on the subject that I wrote a couple of weeks back, too.

YOU PDA TYPES should notice the "InstaPundit for PDA" link over on the left, courtesy of the redoubtable Stacy Tabb.. It'll take you to an AvantGo configuration setup so you can get InstaPundit on your PDA, which some people have been asking for.

NICK DENTON IDENTIFIES new frontiers in porn.

UPDATE: Here's a post from LawMeme that's worth reading, too.

VINOD VALLOPILLIL writes that the coverage of Iraqi elections that he's seeing in Europe at the moment omits any mention of the coercion involved.

NZPUNDIT.COM is another good source for information on the Bali bombing and reaction thereto. So is The Gweilo Diaries, which observes:

THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT is directly culpable for this weekend's outrage in Bali. They refused to take action against Abu Bakar Bashir and Jemaah Islamiah, the most likely culprits, thinking they could reach an accomodation with Islamic extremists. The result is the devastation of its tourist industry, which employs 8 million Indonesians, and an effective embargo of future outside investment. The already troubled Indonesian economy will grow even worse. Has everyone learned their lesson now?

Perhaps not, but we should do our best to drive the lesson home.

PROBLEMS AT THE TIMES -- Dave Kopel's media analysis column says there's still good reporting there, but that it's gone downhill under Howell Raines.

I DON'T KNOW IF THIS DISCUSSION BOARD POST about the FBI is true or not (scroll down to the post marked 6:25 AM, 10-14). But if it is true, it's a troubling example of the FBI once again substituting thuggery for competence, and sadly, the record of the FBI is not such that I can dismiss the possibility out of hand. Perhaps someone in a position to do so will care to look into the matter.

And while I think reasonable people should always cooperate, the minute a law enforcement agent begins to make threats and tell you you'd better not get a lawyer, you should get a lawyer. And you should demand to speak to his superior, with that lawyer present.

UPDATE: TalkLeft has picked up on this and offers some general advice for people who are contacted by the police in this fashion.


HIGH-RANKING French pols whisper over their Moet et Chandon that they support Bush and his c'est la guerre with Iraq. They support zapping that damn Saddam. But they will never say anything openly other than a polite, soft-spoken "merci" after it's all done. Reason? Eight million Arabs float around France and the government wants no trouble. So, simply put, they don't want their asses on the line but they're pleased if ours are there.

It's still funny to see it in a column that opens with Tony Orlando.

READER KEITH HIATT SUGGESTS sending flowers to the Australian Embassy in commemoration of the victims of the Bali bombing. It's a good idea -- in fact, I just did. 1800FLOWERS wanted a person, so I used the Ambassador, Michael Thawley's name. The note read: "As a reader of Tim Blair's website I wish to express my sincere condolences in response to the Bali bombing."

UPDATE: Here's an additional suggestion from Tim Blair.


Sean Gifford of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and an unidentified man in a cow-suit had planned a peaceful protest at the gates of the Grammar School to let pupils know about the claimed hazards in milk.

But they had to be rescued by two female police officers when the teenage pupils launched a violent protest of their own.

About 100 children, shouting "milk for the masses" and carrying banners, surrounded Mr Gifford and his "cow" partner and drenched them both in milk for about ten minutes. The police eventually intervened and escorted the PETA members back to their car.

(Via Iain Murray).

MCKINNEY UPDATE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney believes it was Republicans who defeated her in the August Democratic primary. But an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows they weren't the decisive factor.

In fact, it wasn't even close.

Of the 68,612 voters who cast ballots for Democratic challenger Denise Majette, no more than 3,118 of them were voters who can be clearly identified as Republicans, based on their voting histories in state primaries. Majette's margin of victory, in winning 58 percent of the votes cast in the primary, was six times that amount.

I think it was the Anti-Idiotarian Party that did her in.


A pistol-packing woman accomplished with two bullets what Pittsburgh police had been attempting to do for days: to stop the man suspected of a string of sexual assaults in the city's East End. . . .

Police said Charmaine Dunbar, 42, fired her licensed .357-caliber revolver in self-defense on a Homewood street when Wesley came at her with a rifle, possibly intending, they said, for her to become a seventh victim.

The gun the rapist used was stolen. Read the whole story.


Vandals torched two military vehicles and defaced a recruiting center in San Jose on Monday, spray-painting an ominous warning across the building: ``Pre-emptive Attack.''

San Jose fire officials said the targeted vehicle was a minivan wrapped in military slogans and patriotic advertisements. Flames also spread to a second government car parked next to it.

Officials say they don't have a motive, but I think it's pretty obvious what this is about. Expect more such doings, interspersed with loud cries of outrage whenever the "antiwar" movement is characterized as unpatriotic.

I HAVE A FEELING THAT THIS REPORT about a foiled Saudi hijacking leaves out some important details.

ORIGINAL INTENT: Mark Kleiman has contacted Michael Moore (no, not that Michael Moore), the cartoonist behind a cartoon that I didn't like, and has posted his views on what the cartoon means. Kleiman seems to think the cartoon isn't about moral equivalence, but (and this is where differences in perception perhaps reflect differences in starting points) the response doesn't seem to me to support Kleiman's position as much as he suggests. Then there's this:

At any rate, I saw a lot of equivalency: as civillians, as victims of war, as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, as workers, as human beings. Events soon proved me, sadly, prophetic: roughly the same number of Afghani civillians were killed by U.S. bombing as civillians killed on 9/11.

No, actually not. The "roughly the same" estimate appears to be from the multiply-debunked Marc Herold "study" finding 3,800 civilian deaths in Afghanistan, which I last mentioned in this post. (Follow the links for some of the many Marc Herold debunkings). Interestingly, Eric Schmitt, the New York Times reporter I criticize there, emailed me later to say that he thinks Afghan civilian deaths were more likely in the hundreds than the thousands.

UPDATE: The cartoonist is Kevin Moore, not Michael Moore -- the (Freudian?) slip is Kleiman's not mine. Looking at the post again, I think that what Kleiman thought was significant about the cartoon was its recognition that innocent civilian deaths go with military action. This strikes me -- and will no doubt strike many so-called "warbloggers" -- as rather obvious, and certainly not profound. I support war in full recognition that innocents will die; I simply believe that more are likely to die if we do nothing.

GARETH PARKER has a great post on the logical contradictions displayed among some antiwar critics who simultaneously argue that (1) there's no Al Qaeda / Iraq connection; and (2) Australia got what it deserved for supporting the United States against Iraq: "If there is no Al Qaeda link to Iraq, then why were Australians attacked by Al Qaeda for supporting the US in the expected war with Iraq?"

D.C. SNIPER UPDATE: Clayton Cramer notices something odd in this report:

Authorities in Baltimore, meanwhile, seized a white van and found an assault rifle, sniper manual and ammunition similar to the .223 bullets used in attacks that have killed eight people and wounded two others, WBAL-TV reported.

MSNBC reported that a tarot card was found in the van and a sign on the dashboard read "Gihad in America." A tarot card was also found at one of the shootings.

The van's owner was being questioned by police Monday night.

"At this time, the task force believes this is not related to our sniper incidents," said Louise Marthens, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.

Uh, okay. Sure sounds related to me, but then I'm not a law-enforcement professional.

UPDATE: BTW, visit Jim Henley's site for a lot more information. He's all over this story.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Tarot card is apparently a mis-report, and the rest of this story seems to have been explained:

A Baltimore shooting was investigated by the sniper task force but police later discounted any link. In the Baltimore case, a former Marine was shot over the weekend by his girlfriend in a domestic dispute. Members of the sniper task force went to Baltimore to examine the man’s white Astro van.
A book about snipers reportedly was found in his apartment and a sign on the van’s dashboard read “Gihad in America.” But police said initial reports that a tarot card was found in the van were incorrect.
The man was not charged, and was released Monday night shortly after the Falls Church shooting.

Huh. A former Marine with a pro-Jihad sign on his car. I wonder if it's this guy, who really was a Marine, and very well may be "former" by now.

N.Z. BEAR has some pointers on what to do about spam and telemarketers.

MICKEY KAUS has some thoughts on political correctness and genocide. I've got a piece on that coming out shortly, and though it won't say the same thing as Kaus's post, it does suggest that the human rights crowd needs to think more flexibly in the future. Or just think more, period.

I WASN'T GOING TO POST ANYTHING MORE on this subject, but Richard Cohen has this brutal takedown that's worth quoting:

In honoring Carter, the committee evoked the smugness of little powers -- the many nations whose role is to carp from the sidelines while America does the necessary business of protecting them from their own folly. In this regard, it will be a minor miracle if next year's prize does not go to French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who criticized the United States last week for its "simplistic vision of the war of good against evil."

"Young countries," Raffarin told the National Assembly, "have the tendency to underestimate the history of old countries." Oui! But old countries are sometimes world-weary and cynical, urging a "realism" that is sometimes a misnomer for the moral corruption they know so very well. I will take the idealism of the young any day.

I think even Charles Austin is going to have trouble criticizing this piece.

WILLIAM SJOSTROM writes that today's Rick Perlstein op-ed in the New York Times reads like damage-control for yesterday's Evelyn Nieves piece on antiwar protesters in the Post:

Nieves told us the protesters were out; since she couldn't back up her claim with real evidence, the New York Times tells us that the protesters are really there, they just look different than they usually do. The rest of the article ranges from silly to petty.

Sjostrom is using the timezone difference in his transatlantic perch to good advantage. Sloppy reporters -- and editors -- beware!

RALPH PETERS SAYS that the Bali attack is actually more evidence that Islamist terror is on the ropes. Excerpt:

After suffering devastating losses around the world, Islamic terror networks are attempting to return to the offensive, to prove they are still viable. But the half-dozen targets they recently struck in Asia illuminate their weakness and rage, not an intelligent global strategy. Far from striking major governmental or military targets, the terrorists have been reduced to sloven assassinations and, now, the calculated mass murder of young people. Once again, the terrorists have chosen targets that strengthen the hands of their enemies. . . .

The Megawati government has been reluctant to antagonize fundamentalists by taking on domestic organizations associated with terror, such as the Jemaah Islamiyah. Now the government will have the motivation, the evidence, and the anger necessary to take action at last. Jakarta needed a good excuse to crack down hard. The terrorists themselves just provided it.
Part of a desperate, world-wide attempt by Islamic terrorists to resume the offensive after the beating they've taken for the past year, these bombings brought global terrorism on a grand scale to Indonesia. A combined effort between the home team and foreign terrorists, the Bali massacre is doubtless being greeted as a triumph by terror's fugitive overlords. But the provocation was too great. This is a moment of truth for Indonesia, but its ultimate result is going to be the further destruction of terrorist networks and their active exclusion from one more significant country. For the human devils who planned the slaughter and placed the explosives, these truly were suicide attacks.

Another crack suicide squad from the Judean People's Front. Last words: "That'll show 'em!"

TIM BLAIR'S PAGE remains a must-read source on the Bali bombing. And check out the emails he's received from Americans.

UPDATE: Jen Taliaferro has a picture and a sad story. Actually, it makes me more mad than sad.

DC SNIPER UPDATE: Rod Dreher reports that police are looking for an "olive-skinned man." Meanwhile this roundup from the Washington Post reports that authorities are saying there's no evidence that it's terrorism.

HERE'S THE LATEST on the Bali bombing. Indonesian authorities are openly blaming Al Qaeda, and have a couple of men in custody.

October 14, 2002

DAVID CARR AND PERRY DE HAVILLAND are rounding up the more idiotic responses to the Bali bombing.

BLOGALATERALISM: Nelson Ascher tells Australians how the rest of the world feels.

HERE'S MORE ON THE ALABAMA DILDO CASE. And if sex toys are your thing, there's always the antique vibrator museum.

MICKEY KAUS WRITES THAT TAPPED IS DOOMED, "the victim of editor Robert Kuttner's instinctive urge to squash anything interesting." But the real sin, according to Kaus, was giving favorable attention to Josh Marshall.

I think that TAPPED's crew should start a blog of their own. My guess is that it'll outdraw -- and outlast -- the magazine.


THIS OPINION-EDITORIAL in the Sydney Morning Herald slams moral equivalency:

Bleeding hearts left exposed as fools
October 15 2002

Perhaps those who blamed the US for September 11 will now realise they have been deluded.

Who will be on Michael Leunig's Christmas card list this time? Last year, in the aftermath of the terrorist murders in the United States, the Melbourne-based cartoonist declared that it was time to extend "mercy, forgiveness, compassion" to, wait for it, the leader of al-Qaeda.

Writing in The Age on Christmas Eve, the intellectual guru of Down Under's leftist luvvies declared: "Might we, can we, find a place in our heart for the humanity of Osama bin Laden and those others? On Christmas Day, can we consider their suffering, their children and the possibility that they too have their goodness? It is a family day, and Osama is our relative." It remains to be seen whether Leunig will exhibit similar sentiments this Christmas with respect to the weekend's massacre of the innocents. . . .

Bush's stance on the coalition against terrorism and/or Iraq may, or may not, be correct. It is driven by an assessment of the threat to US lives rather than by the availability and price of imported fuel. Those who do not recognise this fail to understand contemporary America. It is this lack of comprehension which has dated the views of such well-known leftists as John Pilger in Britain, Noam Chomsky in the US, Scott Burchill and Michael McKinley in Australia, among others. . . .

Whatever personal positions are held about Bush, Blair and John Howard, contemporary terrorism amounts to an attack on Western civilisation. The sooner this is understood, the sooner the likes of Leunig will recognise that bin Laden is one of those brothers who, if given the chance, commits fratricide; before, during or after Christmas.


HERE'S THE ISLAMIST PRESS RELEASE on the Bali attack. It's only sort of a parody.

CONGRESSMAN LAMAR SMITH (R-TX) is getting savaged in his own district over his introduction of new anti-rave legislation:

This is the second time that Congressman Smith has attempted to run rough-shod over the idea of presumed innocence. The first is his siding with the big media conglomerates and the RIAA on the so-called "anti-piracy" law that would allow these media conglomerates to unilaterally hack your computer. . . . Gee thanks, Lamar.

There's contact information. And with an election coming up, I hope that his constituents thank him properly.

I'M NOT BELIEVING THIS until I see live video of him reading aloud from the New York Times.

UPDATE: A reader emails: "It's 'False Dmitri' without even a Dmitri!"

MICHAEL MOORE IS BEING SAVAGED in this story that quotes Scott Rosenberg of Salon and Ben Fritz of SpinSanity:

"Regardless of whether Michael Moore is right or wrong in his philosophy, he advances his points through lies and distortions," says Ben Fritz, a co-editor of the nonpartisan Fritz admits no animosity toward Moore -- when he was a student at Swarthmore, he brought the director to speak there -- but insists "it's not a fair way to argue."

"I think Michael is a great showman and propagandist for political causes that I support, and I'm delighted at his success," e-mails Salon editor-in-chief David Talbot, whose Web site also runs Spinsanity's articles. "I just don't think people should confuse him with being a journalist."

Don't worry. We don't. Moore also says that everybody's out to get him. But there's at least one point where I agree with Moore: "'I tell you what I cringe at,' Moore says. 'I cringe when I see me up there, because I think this is disgusting.'"

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Chas Rich says Moore has sold out.

NICK DENTON WRITES ON "THE STUPIDITY OF RADICAL ISLAM" -- as evidenced in the Bali nightclub attacks: "Like fascists of an earlier era, Islam has a deluded notion of its own power, and a dangerously indiscriminate hostility to the outside world."

CLAYTON CRAMER looks at Islamofascism.

"They are all infidels." Liberals had better face up to this. It isn't about Israel. It's about Islamofascism. Until American courts are stoning women to death for having children out of wedlock; until French courts are amputating hands for theft; until Britain abolishes television (which, after all, shows images of living things, a violation of the Koran); until Sweden requires women to wear burkhas; until Italy prohibits the making of wine; until Denmark stops making pornography; until Canada makes homosexuality a capital offense--there will be no peace.

Or until we squash this movement like a bug.

WILLIAM SJOSTROM seems to have identified an instance of "Rainesism" at the Washington Post, in the form of a puff-piece by Evelyn Nieves on the peace movement that lacks much support for the reporter's key assertions.

Well, there are some key assertions attributed only to "veteran peace organizers," and "some say," and the tone is pretty friendly. Creeping Rainesism? Say it ain't so!

UPDATE: Reader Charles Beatty writes:

I subscribe to the Washington Post and I was also struck by the Evelyn Nieves article yesterday. The Post is usually a decent paper and I thought that piece stuck out as very Howell Raines like. It had an agenda, quoted no real sources, passed opinion as fact, etc.

Well, a brief googling of "Evelyn Nieves" explains why. Ms. Nieves is
apparently the San Franscisco bureau chief for the, yes, New York Times.
She also has written at least once for Mother Jones. I am pretty
disappointed that the Post would pick this up and run it.

Great Scott, he's right -- though she's apparently left the Times for the Washington Post. And sympathetic stories about protesters seem to be a specialty! Creeping Rainesism, indeed.

PAUL MCCORD HAS THOUGHTS on post-Saddam Iraq, and a poignant comment about what might have been where Bush and Hussein are concerned.

October 13, 2002

TERRORISM IS HITTING HOME in Australia. And in Singapore.

SORRY POSTING HAS BEEN SO LIGHT. The DSL came back yesterday, but I've been busy with lots of real work. I'm an outside reviewer for quite a few people at other universities who are up for tenure or promotion and I've had to read a mountain of scholarly articles and write nuanced critiques of them.

I was in the office today, and -- as usual -- so were quite a few colleagues, including one who was back from serving on the Board of Inquiry in the California port strike. "When they saw my fierce visage," he reported, "they ran for cover." Well, not really.

It is astonishing how many people I see at the office on Sundays. Just another way in which my experience of law teaching fails to live up to the fantasies of my friends who practice law.

READER GREG BEATO sends this article from FrontPageMag saying that San Francisco is moving to the right. Could it be true?

UPDATE: Alex Frantz says the answer is no. But there's more to his post than that one word.

INTERESTING ITEM on European views of America and international law, from Tacitus. No, not that Tacitus.


YEAH, I'VE LINKED A LOT OF TIM BLAIR'S STUFF TODAY. What can I say? He's on a roll. Go to his page and scroll freely.

A DEFENSE OF PURE FISKING: Bill Herbert isn't impressed with CalPundit's "Fisking" of the Gettysburg Address. He points out that just because it's possible to do a bad Fisking hardly discredits the form itself. (Any more, I might add, than Madonna's latest cinematic effort discredits the entire art of film.) The same holds for a number of other allegedly-hilarious parodies that I've seen on other lefty blogs.

Herbert points to a recent effort of Tim Blair's as an example of Fisking done right. I also like this one, where Blair unpacks a lot of dumb hidden assumptions and exposes some rather creative use of quotations, which perhaps explains why so many lefty journalists dislike the very idea of a Fisking. Er, and of Tim Blair, it sometimes seems.

UPDATE: I just got home and fired up the laptop after dinner. On rereading this post it seems a little mean to CalPundit Kevin Drum, which wasn't what I intended at all. I think that Fisking is a very valuable blogging technique when done well. I also think that it's fairly hard to do well -- and that the harsher it is, the harder it is to do it well (i.e., in a fashion that will convince people who don't already agree with the Fisker 100%). I don't know whether Kevin meant for his post to be a critique of all Fisking, or just bad Fisking. I can agree with him on #2, though I read it as #1. What I will say is that Tim Blair can get away with things that I probably wouldn't try, because, well, he's Tim Blair and he's a better writer than I am.


Australians abroad are obvious targets for Islamic terrorists in the region. The Australian government has staunchly supported President George Bush’s war on terrorism, and Australian troops were sent to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Americans. Furthermore, some Muslims are angry at the military role that Australia played in helping East Timor to obtain independence from Indonesia.

Me, I'm blaming John Pilger.

THE STRAIGHT DOPE ON THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS: Just ran across this post from Cecil Adams in 1995. Concise and accurate. Excerpt:

In almost every other aspect of law the Bill of Rights has been broadly construed to restrain the states as well as the federal government. Few today would argue that states can abrogate the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Yet many are prepared to let them gut the second, on the grounds that the framers did not foresee urban violence on the scale we face now. Maybe they didn't, but so what? Civil-liberties advocates don't accept urban violence as an excuse to curtail other constitutional rights, such as the protection against unlawful search and seizure.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Jim Henley has a long post on the Stephen Hunter / sniper column from the Washington Post that's worth reading for the comments he interjects amid snatches of Hunter's piece. It's a sort of reverse-Fisking.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Britain. . . .

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Clayton Cramer has more on Britain. Gun crime is the highest in a century, despite a ban so comprehensive that the British shooting team can't practice in Britain. Law enforcement blames "easy availability of guns" to criminals. What -- you mean criminals will break gun control laws, too?

THE U.S. AMBASSADOR apparently warned Indonesia a month before the Bali attacks.

READER KEN BARNES, who edits the talk.politics.guns mailing list, writes:

I've seen it twice so far on the Sunday talk shows, so it must be in the official talking points for today: "ballistic fingerprinting" has been put forward as a new law that would help catch the D.C.-area sniper. I hope you have an opportunity to debunk this idea. It's first of all a back door means of gun registration, and secondly, the comment made on NBC's Meet Tim Russert that it is a proven forensic technique "like DNA for guns" is just not true. The ballistic characteristics of a gun barrel change over time, and they can be altered, unlike a person's DNA.

Yes, I just this minute heard George Stephanopoulos raise the issue, and I'll bet it's featured in faxes from the VPC and the Brady Campaign. I've always wondered how this would work -- it seems to me that anyone with a file could get around this, and I heard Parris Glendening talking about identifying shell casings which seems dubious to me -- what are you going to do, put a barcode on them?

Anyway, I'll leave the technical issues to someone else, but here's what I've noticed from the anti-gun crowd:

"Saturday Night Specials" (cheap handguns) = Bad, must be banned

"Military Style Handguns" (expensive handguns) = Bad, must be banned

"Assault Weapons" (inaccurate, short-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned

"Sniper Rifles" (accurate, long-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned

I think I'm starting to see a pattern here.

THE STANDARD RAP ON THE INTERNET is that it's the home of paranoid ranting. Like many raps on the Internet, this turns out to be dubious at best, as it appears that the Internet is favored by people who tend to trust others.

TIM BLAIR THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET to the Australian press. I expect someone will pick it up.

VARIOUS READERS have sent this link to a speech by Teddy Roosevelt about the Nobel Peace Prize:

We must ever bear in mind that the great end in view is righteousness, justice as between man and man, nation and nation, the chance to lead our lives on a somewhat higher level, with a broader spirit of brotherly goodwill one for another. Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy. We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.

Moreover, and above all, let us remember that words count only when they give expression to deeds, or are to be translated into them. The leaders of the Red Terror prattled of peace while they steeped their hands in the blood of the innocent; and many a tyrant has called it peace when he has scourged honest protest into silence. Our words must be judged by our deeds; and in striving for a lofty ideal we must use practical methods; and if we cannot attain all at one leap, we must advance towards it step by step, reasonably content so long as we do actually make some progress in the right direction.

It's styled as an "Acceptance Speech," but Roosevelt actually got the prize in 1906, and didn't accept in person. It's good, though I don't agree with the way some "national greatness" conservatives make use of TR. I'm all for national greatness, but I don't believe that the greatness of a nation is determined by government programs and jobs for political apparatchiks administering and flacking for them. But TR is right that peace is only one virtue among others, and right to note that neglecting certain virtues, which until recently had become unstylish, is likely to have bad consequences.

UPDATE: Et tu, Teddy? A couple of readers saw the term "Red Terror" and wondered if this was another phony quote like the Julius Caesar passage that ensnared Barbra Streisand. No. At least, it's also on the official Nobel site and -- unlike the phony Caesar quote -- is in character. A footnote there says -- as I assumed without even thinking -- that the "Red Terror" TR is referring to is the French Revolution, not the later Red Terrors that succeeded it.

CLAYTON CRAMER has a SpinSanity-like analysis of how the D.C. sniper is being used by pro- and anti-gun partisans, and why those uses are largely beside the point. Interesting reading.

WHY AM I AWAKE SO EARLY ON A SUNDAY? Beats the hell out of me. Woke up at 6:30 wide awake. Maybe it was the nap I took yesterday afternoon.

DEDICATED FOLLOWERS OF FASHION: David Carr suggests that the Helsinki bombing may be an example of the world's nutcases converging on a model pioneered by Palestinians, for reasons of style more than substance.

CHRIS SEAMANS, of The Unilateral Commission, writes about Afghanistan: "While many Americans wouldn't trust the United Nations to watch their worst enemy's dog, that's exactly who we've turned the difficult and important task of rebuilding the country over to. Is this wise?" That's from this post on nation-building. Also read this earlier one on the same topic.

Something to think about. In a way, of course, the most important thing about Afghanistan is that bin Laden's supporters (or maybe it was his tools) aren't in power there any more, as this is the lesson most likely to be taken home by our target audience. On the other hand, there are real benefits to seeing our enemies transformed into friends, or at least not-enemies, over the long term.

I think it's premature to call the Afghanistan efforts a failure. People forget that the Marshall Plan wasn't applied to liberated territories while World War Two was still on -- in fact, it wasn't applied until some time after World War Two was over. This war is still on, and what's happening in Afghanistan is, at the moment, less important than what's about to happen in Iraq.

UPDATE: This New York Times article by Eric Schmitt is worth reading too, though the item on civilian casualties notes that "estimates" "range from several hundred to a few thousand." The "few thousand" is, apparently, an oblique reference to the discredited Marc Herold study from last year. To read more about the problems with Herold's numbers, read this summary by Bill Herbert, and this piece on Herold by the Statistical Assessment Service.

He's no doubt sharpening his pencils to inflate Iraqi civilian casualties from the coming invasion, too. Heck, he may already have started adding up numbers, and you can be sure that his inflated estimates will be used by opponents of the war, who have already shown a blithe disregard for the truth in such matters. But as Chris Bertram noted:

Who said that only the "bad guys" would get killed? Who believed them if they did? I can't recall anyone who said or believed any such thing. Those of us who thought (and think) that the Afghan war was just did so in the full knowledge that in any war innocents get killed.


ANOTHER UPDATE: David Warren has some thoughts, too.