November 02, 2002

ERIC S. RAYMOND writes about the "capsaicinization of American food." He's basically right, though southern food was never as bland and lame as the pre-1970s American diet he invokes. There was always barbecue, and tamales (a staple at Knoxville diners for a century, often dunked in chili to become a "full house") and pepper sauces.

But it's not just spiciness. It's variety. There was a time when pizza and spaghetti were considered exotic. Now I live within a mile or two of more sushi places than I can count, and they're good. Of course, I do live in the Greater East Tennessee Co-Prosperity Sphere.

UPDATE: Russell Leslie emails from Australia:

have spent maybe ten months in the US over the last ten years in two to four week slices. It took me a while to figure out why I always spent the entire trip
with heart-burn and stomache aches. On my last trip I discovered it was because I had developed an "intolerance" for chilis and peppers.

It doesn't help that I have spent most of my time in New Mexico (Santa Fe, Alburquerque and Los Alamos) - where "red or green" is a question that accompanies all meals - even breakfast!!!

When I am in the States, I live on Tums and Pepto-Bismol. I have to bring some of my own emergency food for when I just can't take the heartburn any more.

Have pity on us poor foreigners!!

A cheeseburger is usually safe, Russell. And you can get Tagamet over the counter here now.

MARC HEROLD, AUTHOR OF BOGUS CIVILIAN-CASUALTY STATISTICS, HAS FALLEN INTO THE TRAP. And Matt Welch has noticed. I'm unimpressed by Herold's inability to spell Iain Murray's name. Er, and by this phrase of Herold's: "But since my way of being has been to be a 'grand seigneur' overlooking the little attempted stings, I will do just exactly what you requested."

A "grand seigneur"? Get a grip, Herold: you're a freakin' professor. I wrote something a while back about the tendency of academics to take this sort of line:

Today's academia is descended from the clerical scholars and courtier intellectuals of the middle ages. Those folks naturally identified with the princes and potentates who provided their funding. Today's academics affect to identify with the working classes, but many of their attitudes — a contempt for popular culture, a low regard for business and commerce and a desire to set themselves apart from the common herd — are leftovers from a bygone era. There's a reason why kings and princes are no longer found in our society; emulating them isn't going to make you popular.

This is the kind of thing I was talking about. "Grand seigneur?" Sheesh.

THE ARMY IS FIRING ARAB LINGUISTS FOR BEING GAY? As Stefan Sharkansky puts it: "Hey guys! We're in the middle of a war."

ARTHUR SILBER HAS ISSUED A CHALLENGE to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. And scroll up for Maureen Dowd's voting record.

WHIGGING OUT, back from a hiatus, has election predictions up. Culpepper Log has more election-related stuff, too -- and scroll up and down for tributes to Larry Flynt, Michaelangelo, and Kinky Friedman. Now that's an eclectic group. Meanwhile Martin Devon is ahead of the pack, already figuring out the post-election moves.

I'm not sure, though, that the world is ready for MoxiePundit.


(Via JillMatrix).

HE'S BAAACK! After a long absence, the Unablogger has returned. Don't follow this link unless you're prepared.

MR. CRANKY HATES GUNS AND THE NRA: But he doesn't like Michael Moore or Bowling for Columbine either:

So, given my modest leanings, you'd think I'd enjoy Michael Moore's politically correct take on the issue. Alas, no. In fact, the issue is part of the problem, as Moore seems to delight in finding a moral point of view he can pound into his audience over and over again with an increasingly heavy hand. It's all spelled out as he tells you what he's going to tell you (guns are bad), tells it to you (guns are bad -- watch these people get shot), then tells you what he just told you (guns are bad). Letting the audience draw its own conclusions is apparently far too dangerous.

Additionally, Moore seems to have caught some sort of left-wing attention deficit disorder as the topic runs from guns to racism to American foreign policy to media bias to class division to nationalized health care to killer bees. He also seems to be losing his timing for when to be funny and when to be sober.

Phil Donahue likes the movie, though.

UPDATE: A Canadian reader emails:

I just wanted to mention one of the reactions I've heard in Canada to "Bowling for Columbine." A Montreal journalist friend of mine, who otherwise loves the film and generally agrees with Moore's ideas on gun control, nonetheless found the Canadian segment of the film to be inexcusably dishonest. The reason: Moore fails to make any mention of our own homegrown Columbine, the Dec 6, 1989 massacre of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique by a deranged gunman named Marc Lepine.

But that might have undermined his thesis about us peace-loving, gun-controlling Canadians.


Gregory Gransden
Montreal, Canada

Well, there's no place for inconvenient facts in this film, that's for sure.

JEEZ. I'm procrastinating when I should be working on my TCS column for next week, which is a followup on the one from last week. Now I notice that N.Z. Bear has already written a followup to my TCS column from last week.

Okay, it's not quite what I'm writing, but it's close. The speed of the blogosphere is frightening!

UPDATE: I should mention that his piece is part of the Weblog Action Center, a "massively collaborative weblog" aimed at, well, making society better.

THIS IS MEANER than anything Josh Chafetz has written:

If Annie Sprinkle provides one sort of counter-cultural entertainment, The New York Times’s op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd provides another, less sexual but not necessarily less obscene. Dispassionate readers, encountering Dowd’s hysterical outbursts, might be forgiven for wondering if she were quite sane. (They might also, we suppose, wonder about the sanity of her employers.) Dowd was already out of control in the Clinton years, when she first came to prominence. But since George W. Bush took office, she has left mere stridency for a form of editorial hectoring that is partly irresponsible, partly surreal.

Yes, and most damning of all, it just isn't funny. You needn't be both funny and profound, a combination reserved for such giants as Mark Twain, Dave Barry, and James Lileks. But if you're a columnist for the New York Times you ought to be one or the other. At least some of the time.

UPDATE: Juan Gato, on the other hand, is funny.

ANOTHER NON-STORY REVEALED: Three Mile Island produced no increase in cancer deaths. That's not really a surprise, or shouldn't be. But given the way it was played at the time, I'm glad this study is getting attention.

I even heard it on NPR yesterday.

(Link via the increasingly commercial DailyPundit.Com).

PERRY DE HAVILLAND AND SAMIZDATA are featured in Wired News today. Happy Blogiversary!

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: (Wow, it's been a long time since I've done one of these). Judging by the crowd at Toys R Us today, and the mall parking lot, predictions of a disappointing Christmas season may turn out to be premature. There was a whole lot of shoppin' going on. And Christmas is a long way off.

SOME SHIFTY "ALLIES" in Afghanistan. This guy needs to be made an example of.


ANTHRAX SCARE IN KNOXVILLE! Rich Hailey has the scoop.

THE NEW REPUBLIC SAYS that it's time to boot France from the Security Council:

In truth, France's fantasies of grandeur--fantasies that are decades, if not centuries, out of date--would be laughable, except that they are taken seriously in Turtle Bay. And so the Bush administration must endlessly negotiate with a country whose Iraq policy is motivated by petro-dollars and anti-American resentment, particularly the anti-American (and anti-Western) resentment of its Muslim immigrant masses. Why not stop the charade and let France veto the Iraq resolution? The United States and its allies could, on their own, eliminate the unconventional weapons of that most unconventional tyrant, Saddam Hussein. And, as a side benefit, the United Nations would suffer a humiliation so profound that it might force some long-overdue reconsideration of the Security Council's anachronistic composition. For international organizations to be relevant, privilege must follow power, and for them to be admirable, privilege must follow decency. Nothing would more dramatically further both goals than dethroning France.

Yep. As I said before, crossing the United States in matters like this should be expensive. Sadly, there's every reason to think that Foggy Bottom is as behind the times in this matter as Turtle Bay.

I MEANT TO LINK TO THIS YESTERDAY, but as some of you have noticed it was a reduced-blogging day (I spent some quality time with my wife, took a nap, stuff like that) so I didn't. But this piece says it better than I did when I tried earlier:

Politics is the biggest, easiest way in all of America to avoid looking at yourself, and who you are, and what fence needs fixing on your own homestead.

A lot of you are in politics not because you want to lead, but because you want to run. From yourselves.

When you're in politics not to live life but avoid it, you become especially susceptible to a kind of polar thinking. You become convinced you're with the good team and the good people over here. You become convinced anyone who doesn't want the same policies you want must be bad. After all, you're good, so if they disagree they must be bad. When you're polar like that you dehumanize the people on the other side. And when you dehumanize them--well, then you wind up booing them at a funeral. And worse.

I don't mean you can't be tough and honest in your judgments. There are some bad folks on the other side, it's fair to say it. But most of them? All of them? They're all the enemy? How could that be? . . .

This embittered sense of constant war with a wicked foe, and anything you can do to defeat the wicked is justified, and a corpse will do as a podium. And we have to stop it, both because we're better than that and because it isn't good for democracy. And democracy is still what Churchill said: the worst form of government except for all the others.

So please ponder what I say. And if it applies to you, or you think it might, stop, sit down and figure out a plan to do something about it.

Read the whole thing.

WILL WARREN, the Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, has a new one.

DAVID BROOKS WRITES about Baathism, a rather repellent ideology that has gotten less attention than it deserves. (Funny that the left is so uninterested in this variant of fascism.) Excerpt:

Aflaq's writings were vague and pathetic whenever he tried to address concrete situations, but he did apparently have a gift for painting glorious pictures of future triumph, which appealed to those with a nagging sense of national humiliation. Like a lot of intellectuals of the middle of the twentieth century, Aflaq also spent time theorizing about the revolutionary process. The Baath saw themselves as strugglers, as people engaged in a permanent revolution aimed at uniting them with the inner perfection that is Arabism. The Baath party, Aflaq felt, embodying the transcendent Arab spirit, needed to be ruthless against those who did not share its beliefs. Moreover, it was through this combat, or struggle, that the Baath could achieve Arab perfection. As Aflaq wrote:

"In this struggle we retain our love for all. When we are cruel to others, we know that our cruelty is in order to bring them back to their true selves, of which they are ignorant. Their potential will, which has not been clarified yet, is with us, even when their swords are drawn against us."

Struggle necessarily involves sacrifice, he emphasized, but amidst fiery conflict and bloodshed, each person "is forced to return to himself, to sink into his depths, to discover himself anew after experience and pain. At that point the true unity will be realized, and this is a new kind of unity different from political unity; it creates the unity of spirit among the individuals of the nation."

Ah, yes, we've heard this sort of thing before. Interestingly, any warblogger who suggested that the current struggle, and the behavior of Iraq and its allies therein, represents the "perfection" of the Arab character would be denounced as a racist. Or, worse, an "Orientalist."

UPDATE: Innocents Abroad has some comments.

NOW RICHARD SHELBY IS ALL OVER HARVEY PITT. I'm not a businessblogger, or an econoblogger, so I haven't followed this very closely. But the SEC is supposed to be all about disclosure. And he seems to have failed to disclose some pretty material facts. That's reason enough for him to go, isn't it?

I'M NO EXPERT on Minnesota politics, or even on political campaigns. But it seems to me that when you're named as a candidate a week before the election, and then you don't show up for the debate, well, that's bad.

On a related note, I've been deluged with emails reporting that Lileks' piece on Mondale was quoted on various political TV shows yesterday. Lileks rules!

UPDATE: Oh, now the reasons are clear. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails:

When Ventura said he was looking for a "regular citizen" to appoint to Wellstone's seat, it occurred to me that we all know of one who'd make an excellent choice: If enough peopled called Ventura's office to suggest it, it might just be possible to persuade him to appoint Lileks. Lileks probably wouldn't want the job, of course, but that just proves he's perfect for it.

I think this is a great idea. Senator Lileks!


UPDATE: And Natalie Solent too!

ANOTHER UPDATE: And Missy! (Plus, scroll down for her dating rules, which aren't half bad as those things go.)

November 01, 2002

TOTAL BANDWIDTH FOR OCTOBER: 261.45 gigs. The server, however, is handling it just fine. I've been very happy with HostingMatters. They also have a stripped-down, but still very generous and reasonably priced, service aimed specifically at blog-hosting. Visit Bloggerzone if that interests you.

APPARENTLY some people are delinking Michele of A Small Victory because they're uncomfortable with bellicose women. So go visit her site and let her know that not everyone feels that way. Then view StacyTabb's comments on the subject.

UPDATE: Heh. There's the spirit.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH HAS FINALLY come out with the amazing notion that suicide bombings are wrong. Congratulations. Here's the link to the report.

DANIEL TAYLOR on the "sniper subculture:"

Reminds me of my days working retail bookselling. We carried a handful of those stupid "how to be a ninja" books, but to my knowledge we never actually sold one. They kept getting shoplifted. I now recognize I should have been blaming the "ninja subculture" instead of the pimply-faced adolescent guys that appeared to be responsible.

This has numerous applications, now that I think about it. Now, instead of blaming the Violence Policy Center for rampant dishonesty, I'll blame the "opportunistic nonprofit-fundraising subculture."

But they've still got the item citing Bellesiles on their website:

Early America was vastly different from the handgun-happy images one sees on television, in movies, and in the pages of gun magazines. Serious historians have documented that early Americans had little interest in guns. Until the mid-1800s, owning a gun was surprisingly uncommon. Those who owned firearms almost always owned long guns.

Historian Michael Bellesiles, for example, examined more than a thousand probate records from northern New England and Pennsylvania filed from 1765 to 1790. He found that only 14 percent of household inventories included firearms–and more than half of these were inoperable.22 Colonial settlers got meat mostly from domesticated animals like cows and pigs. When they wanted wild game, they bought it from native Americans or professional hunters, most of whom trapped their prey.23 Prior to 1850, at most only a tenth of the nation's population individually owned guns of any kind.24

Sure, it's only been a week since he resigned in disgrace. I blame the subculture of -- oh, hell, never mind.

DUELLING PREDICTIONS: Daniel Drezner and Jacob T. Levy have posted their predictions for next week's elections.

THE WICKED FLEE WHEN NO MAN PURSUETH: On BlogCritics, Eric Olsen put up a post about a Fox show on arranged marriages and his comments filled up with angry blasts from outraged defenders of Islam. He replies here.

MISHA performs another Imperial Misting, directed at the Not In Our Name crowd.

Gore Vidal, of course, will hate the constant Caligula appearances.

RACHEL LUCAS delivers yet another well-deserved Fisking to Michael Moore. I think that she should show up unannounced with a video camera and deliver it face-to-face.

He wouldn't mind something like that, would he?

UPDATE: Here's more on the same dumb Moore letter.

MICROSOFT CONSENT DECREE APPROVED with only minor changes. The opinion is here.

A ROMAN-THEMED MAUREEN DOWD PARODY, from (who else?) BitchPundit.

I'VE LARGELY IGNORED THE FUSS OVER THIS DEMOCRATIC AD, but now that Jason Rylander is calling it despicable, I guess I can't put the fuss down to last-minute election-related hype.

CHRIS MOONEY, formerly the main voice at TAPPED, now has his own weblog, offering Harry Potter-themed observations on spycraft (er, well, sort of), among other things.

UPDATE: Chris Mooney corrects me on the "main voice" line: "Nick Confessore was (and in his case still is) just as instrumental as myself."

ANDREW BREITBART WRITES on the Winona Ryder trial. He's not impressed.

"EUROPE ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE:" That's the headline of this article, which observes:

While this battle rages, the Euro-zone economy is going from bad to worse. It was hardly surprising that many missed the devastating one-word summary of the German economy by the country’s equivalent of the CBI last week: "catastrophic".

From the bottom to the top, but especially at the top, Europe is in a deepening mess. The international economic downturn has contributed to continental woes. But that downturn is not the cause, or the proximate cause, of Europe’s stunning reversal of fortune.

The cause is a self-destruction wrought by a political elite that has wrapped itself in fantastical self-delusion about the superiority of its economic system, the coming ascendancy of the single currency over the dollar, and the tide of wealth and prosperity that would inevitably flow from the relentless pursuit of "ever closer union". Here, on an epic scale, has been a procession of naked emperors who cannot begin to grasp why the world has stopped applauding.

For the Euro-zone, the applause stopped long ago. In the cacophony that passes for policy coherence there has come an absurd but utterly predictable result: far from the euro providing greater stability and a platform for better performance as its apologists claimed, the economies inside the Euro-zone are now faring worse than those outside.

It sounds like Enron, only with tax money. And, naturally, with less moral outrage.

UPDATE: Chris Bertram emails that he thinks the piece quoted above overstates the problems of Europe in general, but not those of France.

FELLOW TENNESSEE BLOGGER DONALD SENSING has a post on an election issue that I didn't mention in my post below: the lottery battle. I'm not very interested in that, really. I don't think that gambling is immoral, though I'm not especially thrilled with the idea of the government being in the gambling business especially on a more-or-less monopolistic basis. And the way the lottery is set up, it won't actually solve any of the problems that we keep hearing about in terms of state revenue.

LILEKS IS DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED WITH FRITZ MONDALE'S CAMPAIGN. And he's got reasons. Lots of 'em. And tough questions for Mondale. Lots of 'em.

I wonder if the press will ask Mondale any of those questions in the next few days?

TACITUS HAS A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF AN ANTI-SAUDI RALLY ON CAPITOL HILL, by the families of 9/11 victims. Interesting; I wonder if it'll get much press.

MORE ON JOHN MUHAMMAD from Jim Henley, including the question of why Muhammad, with his rather, ahem, checkered military record, received an honorable discharge.

TRAFFIC: For October, Extreme Tracker reports 943,166 unique visitors to the main page. SiteMeter reports just shy of 1.6 million for the site as a whole (including archives, etc.). Hope the server doesn't melt!

HERE'S THE PROGRAM FOR THE YALE LAW SCHOOL CONFERENCE ON WEBLOGS that's three weeks from today. I'll be the "keynote" speaker and Mickey Kaus will be the "featured" speaker. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the difference is. Josh Marshall, Jeff Jarvis, John Hiler, and a host of other interesting people will be there, too.

TENNESSEE ELECTIONS: People are asking me what I think. The reason I haven't posted is that I don't have really strong opinions or predictions.

The governor's race, between Phil Bredesen and Van Hilleary, could still go either way. I've had dinner with both of them recently, and my impression is that they're both decent guys. (Interestingly, both stressed their strong Second Amendment positions -- there's just no real support for anti-gun positions in Tennessee nowadays). Bredesen's ahead in the polls, but not by a lot. The most interesting thing is that the Republican, Van Hilleary, is running commercials calling Bredesen "BredeSundquist" -- invoking the name of the state's wildly unpopular Republican governor, who somehow managed to offend almost everyone with his various stances on the state income tax.

In the Senate race, Alexander is ahead, though the gap is closing. I have some students working for Clement who seem depressed about the race -- if there's secret good news in the polling (which some suggest there may be because Alexander has gone very negative in his ads, which is unusual for someone ahead at this stage of a campaign) they don't know about it. I haven't seen people this depressed since the final stages of the 1988 Dukakis campaign.

My local congressman, who voted against the Iraq war resolution, is running more commercials than usual. The Libertarian challenger is on the radio a lot too. Interestingly, their commercials are very similar.

People are predicting a low turnout, but the turnout at the early-voting sites is huge. I don't know what that means.

So there you are.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Kimberly Strassel has a piece in the Wall Street Journal, calling it a conditional victory for scholarly integrity. That seems about right.

UPDATE: And here is a comment on History News Network debunking Jon Wiener's Nation account of "unusually large men" shadowing Bellesiles.

For what it's worth, when I spoke at the Stanford program on the Second Amendment where Bellesiles was the keynoter, there were people passing out leaflets, too. They were, as I recall, distinctly non-threatening.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's a story from the National Post that I found via HNN's index of media coverage. I hadn't noticed this page until just now. Here's an excerpt from the Post story:

From the start, Bellesiles' assertions were highly implausible. No guns in 18th-century America? Nobody who has looked at an 18th-century painting or read an 18th-century book could believe it. How could such an assertion get past a publisher or the Bancroft prize-givers? We know the answer. They believed it because they wanted to believe. The ideological bias of the modern university can blind academics to the truth as utterly as ever did the theological biases of the past. They could not have been so easily lead astray had they not first shut their eyes.

True enough.

THE BLOGOSPHERE IN ACTION: I have to go to The Volokh Conspiracy to find out what's going on at my own campus.

The University of Tennessee's Administration should be ashamed of itself. Not that the fraternity in question has a lot to be proud of. But free speech isn't only for things that you should be proud of, something that universities certainly seem able to appreciate in many other contexts. As Eugene Volokh writes:

Uh, administrators, sorry to distress you even further, but the First Amendment gives people the right to be uncivil, unharmonious, and not terribly respectful of racial harmony. What's more, it means that when you sanction people, you are violating the Constitution, and can be and should be sued and held financially liable.

The funny thing is that this very issue -- people's right to wear blackface -- has come up before, and has actually led to a U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Iota Xi v. George Mason University (4th Cir., some time in the early 1990s) that made perfectly clear that public universities may not punish students for wearing blackface. But even without the Iota Xi decision, the right First Amendment result would be obvious.

You needn't be the author of a First Amendment text, like Volokh, to see the principle here. One might almost say you need to be a university administrator to miss it. As I said, the University -- and specifically Provost Loren Crabtree and whoever advised him on this -- should be ashamed. And such tactics in the name of political correctness make a mockery of claims regarding academic freedom at universities, which, as I've said before, are in fact some of the most hostile environments in America where free speech is concerned. I'm embarrassed to see my own institution fall prey to such thinking.

UPDATE: On looking at the story again, this passage leaps out at me:

"We will require the leaders and members of Kappa Sigma to demonstrate a commitment to uphold our expectations for civility, ethnic diversity and racial harmony," Crabtree said.

This sounds suspiciously like a demand for a loyalty oath, pledging fealty to the University's positions on "ethnic diversity" and "racial harmony." That, too, is a violation of the First Amendment.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And people are already making fun of UT for this. Sigh.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has another post on the "blackface" issue.

ONE MORE UPDATE: Great. The story's on Drudge, and Neal Boortz has a link on his program notes page, which means it was on his show today. Presumably, the reason for the University's response was fear of bad publicity, but the response has so far produced nothing but bad publicity. I wonder if they'll take the appropriate lesson from that.

A SUICIDE BOMBER'S FATHER has figured something out:

"The Israelis are armed with democracy, knowledge and order," he said. "We need these weapons. Blowing up 100 buses and restaurants will neither destroy Israel nor bring us victory."


October 31, 2002

BARNEY FRANK WEIGHS IN on the South Carolina gay-bashing campaign incident:

The comment came during a discussion of which South Carolina candidate -- Republican U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham or Democrat Alex Sanders -- had more liberal friends and associates. Sanders noted that one of Graham's endorsements came from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is "ultra-liberal."

"His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu," Sanders continued. "Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so." . . .

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts, criticized Sanders in a statement on Thursday.

"Mr. Sanders' pronouncement that it violates South Carolina values to accept an offer of hospitality from a gay couple is a bigoted comment that reflects poorly on Mr. Sanders, not Rudy Giuliani," Frank said.

I agree. Unless, of course, Sanders was talking about the Shih Tzu, in which case his comments are entirely understandable.

UPDATE: And here's something I didn't know about Paul Wellstone on this subject. It's of only academic interest now, of course -- but the fact that nobody was reporting it tells us something that may be more generally relevant.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tony Adragna was on this story first. Advantage: Quasipundit!

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's a story on the Bellesiles affair from my local paper. There's a quote from me that's not very exciting, but the one from Boston University law professor Randy Barnett is pretty good:

"To me, the real story is that in the beginning the professional historians closed ranks behind Bellesiles and savaged the professional and amateur researchers who questioned him, and unless those historians are now willing to step forward and admit they were wrong and the critics were right, they run the risk of turning Bellesiles into the Alger Hiss of the history profession."

The Alger Hiss of the history profession. Or the Lillian Hellman?

PRESIDENT'S CASE FOR LINKAGE FAILS TO CONVINCE; This isn't the way I've heard it, but. . . .


One of the requirements of a healthy party is that it renews itself. You can't keep running Walter Mondale for everything.

--Walter Mondale, declining to run for the United States Senate seat from Minnesota (1989)

Heh. And check out this new Mondale radio ad.

UPDATE: Bob Kuttner agrees! "The Democrats will soon run out of 70-year-old issues and 70-year-old ex-senators. They had better start generating more Wellstones."

AUSTIN BAY WRITES THAT Zimbabwe may be near the point of genocide. Naturally the "international community" is doing next to nothing -- as it generally does when people warn of a coming genocide.

UPDATE: On Zimbabwe, read this, too. And here's an InstaPundit post from over a year ago.

SO FAR, THIS is the scariest thing I've seen today.

UPDATE: This, on the other hand, was kind of cute, in a scary sort of way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: But this is spooky, in a cute sort of way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile this can only be described as "torment."

MUHAMMAD AND MALVO have been linked to another shooting, this one in Louisiana:

Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the investigation was continuing into the possibility that other people may be involved or that the two suspects in custody in Maryland have committed more crimes.

"We will proceed deliberatively, cautiously and not jump to any conclusions," Ashcroft said. "The facts that the evidence will determine the final outcome and we intend to follow the facts wherever they may lead."

The rifle has now been tied to shootings in four states and the District of Columbia. Earlier Thursday, Alabama authorities said the weapon was linked to the September killing; police are also looking into cases in Washington state, Oregon, California, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee and Connecticut.

In the Baton Rouge slaying, the victim was shot once in the head by a gunman witnesses described as a young black man who fled into a park.

Muhammad, formerly known as John Allen Williams, grew up in Baton Rouge and still has relatives and friends there, including one of his ex-wives. He visited the area this summer, friends said.

This case just gets more curious.

UPDATE: Here's more on Muhammad, the grenade attack in the Gulf, and a hidden weapon. I think he's more than a mere "screwball."

ANOTHER BOGUS HATE-CRIME REPORT is debunked by Suman Palit.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

THE RUSSIANS ARE GOING TO WRAP THE CHECHEN/ARAB TERRORISTS IN PIGSKIN before burial. Didn't Pershing do something like this in the Philippines?

(Via LGF).

UPDATE: Apparently, whether Pershing did this or not is undetermined. And Terry Oglesby sends this.

THE NEW REPUBLIC is not very impressed with Fritz Mondale's speech.

HERE'S A NEW ANTI-WAR GROUP WEBLOG that looks to be an improvement over some earlier efforts -- though they're surprisingly bellicose about North Korea. I hope they'll feel the same way in, oh, about 18 months. . . .


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Agents with a terrorism task force raided an Iraqi immigrant's home Thursday, and authorities said other searches were being conducted in the city.

No immediate arrests were made, but FBI, Customs and IRS agents spent about three hours at the home of Fadhil Abbas Al-Sahaf, 34. They were seen leaving with boxes, plastic bags, papers, envelopes, FedEx packages and videotapes. A travel trailer in the back yard also was searched.

Douglas Riggin, an FBI agent in charge of the task force, said the moves were not connected to "any terrorist act which might pose a threat to the city." As for whether the raid was related to terrorist threats elsewhere, he said: "The task force investigated it. Draw your own conclusions."

You'll pretty much have to, because this story doesn't provide much information.

I'VE MENTIONED SOUTH DAKOTA'S PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON JURY NULLIFICATION BEFORE, but here's an article by Stephanie Simon in the Los Angeles Times on the subject. I think that this is the most telling passage:

Opponents, meanwhile, have been afraid to do much public campaigning. Lawyers have debated the amendment at forums across the state—including one here last week at the University of South Dakota law school. They worry that advertising might backfire. Voters tend to be suspicious of attorneys—so they might reason that if the state bar opposes Amendment A, it must be good.

With all due respect to my own profession, this states a serious problem. The article is pretty balanced overall, but omits the single biggest issue in my opinion: people get exercised at the idea of giving a jury unreviewable discretion to let someone go when they've violated the law, but police and prosecutors do that all the time. The question is, is there any reason to trust juries less? I haven't seen anyone address that, much less answer it satisfactorily. And given that the criminal law has become so complex and unpredictable that prosecutors can almost always find something to charge someone with, there's a lot of unsupervised discretion on that end, too. It only seems fair to give juries authority to police this exercise of prosecutorial discretion, especially as courts are basically unwilling to do so.

The answer the legal establishment gives to charges that prosecutors might misbehave is basically: "trust us." But they don't trust juries, and they haven't given any very persuasive reasons why they're more trustworthy than juries are. And there are some good institutional reasons to suggest that they're less so. For more on this, you can read my review of Clay Conrad's book, here.

HMM. SPEAKING OF CBS, this AP story says that three people protested outside an NRA rally in Tucson featuring Charlton Heston. But the version on the CBS website, which is otherwise the same, raises that number to "a few dozen."

Wonder what accounts for the difference?

And why are three, or even a few dozen, anti-gun demonstrators more news than hundreds of pro-war Iraqis?

UPDATE: A reader writes to remind me that CBS has trouble with numbers, since a while back it seemed to think that Bush was President back in 1998. Heh. I had forgotten that one.

READER JOAQUIM MACHADO sends this unfortunate headline from CBS Marketwatch: "Pitt Seeks Probe of Himself."

JACKASS: THE DOCUMENTARY -- Matt Labash gives Michael Moore's latest effort an unequivocal thumbs-down:

It's a harrowing tale, one which Moore first takes to Dick Clark in an ambush interview (Clark quickly peels away in a minivan, unfortunately missing Moore), and later to NRA president Charlton Heston. Heston, of course, has announced he has symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's, which is apparent, because when Moore buys a star map and shows up at Heston's gate unannounced, he lets Moore in for an interview. Starting off slowly, peppering him with chatter about the second amendment, Moore ends up closing in for the kill, asking Heston if he'd apologize for bringing NRA conventions to both Flint and Littleton after their respective shootings. Heston wisely calls it quits, but as he flees his own living room, Moore follows him, hectoring him with a picture of the girl Tamarla Owens's son shot. "This is her. Please take a look at her, please, this is the girl," Moore says, before propping the photo against Heston's house.

It is perhaps the single-most shameful moment ever in a Moore project, which is saying something, since Moore authored an entire chapter on how O.J. Simpson couldn't have killed his wife (because rich people usually hire lowerlings to do their dirty work). Not only did he ambush a doddering old man who had nothing to do with the shooting, but he related the Owens story in a fashion that was dishonest in nearly every way.

For what Moore didn't tell us about Tamarla Owens and her family could fill several newspaper and magazine articles, and did. The uncle's house where Owens left her children was, additionally, a crack house, where guns were often traded for drugs. The gun that the boy stole from a shoebox on a mattress in his uncle's bedroom had been reported stolen once before. And Owens was hardly a model parent, merely getting squeezed by unfortunate circumstances. According to Time magazine, Owens herself was a drug addict (she denied it). Additionally, reported Newhouse News Service, according to a state Family Independence Agency petition, she admitted holding down her oldest boy so he could be beaten with a belt by two male friends, and she also admitted beating the boy with a belt while sitting on him, after first duct-taping his hands, feet and mouth.

In short, Owens and her clan were to responsible gun ownership what Moore is to responsible journalism. To beat Heston up for her problems is itself an act of violence. It is perhaps understandable why Moore attempted to drop himself from the narrative, and put a less-fortunate type like Owens front-and-center. As he recently told one reporter, he has a sign on his editing-room door that says "when in doubt, cut me out." The reason he says, is "First of all, I can't stand the look of myself. Secondly, a little bit of me goes a long way. . . . because it's just a bit much. That's how it feels when I watch it." After watching "Bowling For Columbine," it's easy to see how he feels.

Phil Donahue likes it, though.

JOHN HAWKINS has an interview with Michelle Malkin focusing chiefly on immigration issues.

"WE REALLY STRIVE TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY." This is what I call a full-service campus health facility, and I'm sure Rachael Klein would approve. But where's the concern for male students here?

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Speaking of which, what is she [Rachael Klein] doing now? I thought for sure she'd be writing for somebody. She must have graduated from college with more dedicated readers than most journalists ever hope to have.

I had an email from her over the summer -- she was working somewhere financially related. I hope she doesn't let her writing career slide, because I think that's right about her readership.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Go read this Lileks piece on music. Go ahead -- me and Christina Aguilera will still be doing our respective things when you're done.

HOWARD KURTZ CALLS THE WELLSTONE RALLY A "DEBACLE" and has a roundup of the reactions. Excerpt:

How badly can a political party screw up a memorial service?

Just ask Minnesota's Democrats.

They staged a public farewell for Paul Wellstone that was so over the top, so blatantly partisan, that Jesse Ventura walked out. . . .

In effect, the service was hijacked in a small-minded way that detracted from the memory of Wellstone.

Yep. It was. And it did.

UPDATE: Capitol Hill Blue says it was all part of a big media plan for this week. Hey, I didn't say it was a good plan. But since it was reportedly approved by Terry McAuliffe personally, it means that his prospects are even more closely tied to how Democrats do next week.

THIS COLUMN IN THE STRAITS TIMES is pessimistic about whether Indonesia will actually start taking Islamic terrorism seriously. Consider the source, but it's still a bummer.

BLOG ROUNDUP: Visit Carnival of the Vanities and follow the links.

MY FOXNEWS COLUMN is about nanotechnology. It probably won't be news to a lot of InstaPundit readers, though it is rather link-rich.

BELLESILES UPDATE: The History News Network has an article arguing that although the Bellesiles affair is, mostly, over, the underlying problem remains:

Unfortunately, it seems that many senior academics still don't understand that what has happened has happened in some measure to them. They are tainted by this failure to use their antique guild procedures strictly, fairly, and above all, promptly; in this they failed all of us. They don't seem to grasp how easily it could happen again.

The main obstacle to dealing forthrightly with gross academic misconduct is the reflexive reaction that any disciplinary measure at all will forever destroy academic freedom, which is fully enjoyed only by tenured faculty, by the way. But this defense of academic freedom may simply mask the worship of academic privilege, that is, a remarkably complete freedom from accountability. The exercise of this privilege to commit scholarly fraud -- rewarded by prizes, royalties, fellowships -- is hard to distinguish from theft by deception. Most fraud, after all, is committed for gain. The long line of Bellesiles's enablers will not be made to pay. . . .

The editor at Knopf is still in place, doubtless hoping to publish another bombshell soon. There is little cause for rejoicing in this outcome until the system is forced to change. Until then, the moral of this story will remain 'tell them what they want to hear; lie as much as you dare; cash the checks.' Doesn't it sound like the nightly news?

Peer review is supposed to be an adequate protection against fraud, inaccuracy, and other scholarly shortcomings, that being its main reason for existing. There have been studies of how it really works. They do not make encouraging reading. Even if the built-in temptations for reviewers could be taken out of it, the official peer review system can't possibly work as it needs to within the microscopically subdivided academic research system of today: often there are no true peers to be found. In practice, peer review is a compost that nourishes cronyism, conformism, and other abuses. Bellesiles was reviewed at least twice by Emory: once at hiring, and once for promotion, that time after his 1996 article, a preview of the book to follow, had appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. He passed all of those reviews. By now, the selection and performance of the referees for Bellesiles' 1996 paper and for Arming America by Knopf, and of the panelists for the Bancroft Prize award, can also be seen to have worked out rather poorly, after all, just like the personnel actions at Emory. These are all examples of normal peer review, which is in effect a system of social promotion. Of course there are no official admissions of fault, few individual retractions, not even many excuses. And above all, there are no consequences for the many panelists. . . . Recent scandals among American historians, including revelations of habitual plagiarism and general sloppiness, underscore an urgent need for a better process than peer review in its current form.

The entire assessment is rather damning.

UPDATE: Some interesting stuff in the comments at the bottom, too.


"The term 'the American left' is as near to being meaningless or nonsensical as any term could really be in politics," he says. "It isn't really a force in politics anymore. And it would do well to ask itself why that is."

Instead, its chief purpose seems to be avoiding such questions at all costs.

GARY HART FLYING TO MINNESOTA? And what do the cops do when they find Mickey sleeping in his car? Kausfiles has the scoop. . . .


When Gerhard Schroeder stands up for his country's interests, he's called a political pragmatist. When Jacques Chirac does the same for his country, he's calmly regarded as just another French chauvinist. But when George W. does it, he's derided as an out-of-control cowboy.

Read the whole post for the amusing context.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has some new posts up!

October 30, 2002

I MEANT TO BLOG SOMETHING on the attempted coup in Qatar the other day, but didn't. Here's a post from Rantburg. Were the Saudis behind it? He's also got a good post on a convenient accident in Iran.

AN INTERNET DIGITAL CLOCK -- but it's the graphics that I like.

ALABAMA POLICE SUSPECT A THIRD PERSON may have been involved in an Alabama shooting by Muhammad and Malvo. The same gun was used as in the D.C. area killings, and witnesses place Muhammad and Malvo at the scene, but not as the shooter. Curious.

THE IOWA ELECTRONIC MARKET reflecting House and Senate races has shifted sharply toward the Democrats.

A GOOD PLUMBING IDEA, from the Italians. Well, they did give us the aqueducts, you know. And sanitation. And pizza. But what else have they . . . oh, never mind.

"ALGERIANS GET LIFE FOR PARIS BOMBINGS" -- and I'll bet the conditions won't be any better than Guantanamo.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT: An article on life among the internationalistas. I wonder why these guys haven't brought peace yet? Too hung over, I guess.

Sounds a lot like old-time colonial society.

I HAD PLANNED to write something on the Clifford Chance story, which is pretty interesting, but I never got to it. Now Dahlia Lithwick has a piece on it. I especially like the conclusion, though the answer to her question is: you can't really do that, and make the kind of money these people want to make.

INTERESTING STORY suggesting that the FBI may lose its counterintelligence mission to a new, MI5-like organization.

While new bureaucracies don't thrill me, the FBI has done badly enough at this that the idea has some merit. And new bureaucracies usually do their best in the first five years of their existence, which -- I hope -- will represent the period when we need this the most.

IT TAKES GUTS to write a column like this in Australia. Read it, and admire the guy.

(Via Clayton Cramer).

KIM DU TOIT'S National Ammo Day website has received over 4 million hits since it was started three weeks ago, Kim reports. Pretty impressive. By way of comparison, MSNBC's Rachel Elbaum seems to be impressed that the antiwar ANSWER website gets 100,000 visitors per week -- less than a tenth the traffic.

Perhaps MSNBC will do a story on Ammo Day next.

UPDATE: By way of comparison with ANSWER, my sitemeter counter shows 92,180 pageviews and 73,125 visitors so far today (it's just before 11:00 pm).

HERE'S ANOTHER FIRSTHAND BLOG ACCOUNT from the D.C. antiwar marches. It's a bit different from Jim Henley's.

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Federal Lawyer has retracted its positive review of Michael Bellesiles' Arming America, and Eugene Volokh has copies of the review, and the retraction, up on his site, along with some comments.

Will the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and various other publications follow suit?

HERE'S A SPECIAL FOR ALL YOU INSTAPUNDIT PREMIUMTm SUBSCRIBERS: Which is, er, all of you. . . . Tomorrow's FoxNews column is available now.


Its power lies in the simplicity that comes with being completely wrong. The central implication here is that only men who have professionally endured war have the moral standing and the experiential authority to advocate war. That is, in this country at least, a radical and ahistorical view. The Founders, who knew quite well the dangers of a military class supreme, were clear in their conviction that the judgment of professional warmakers must be subordinated to the command of ignorant amateurs -- civilian leaders who were in turn subordinated to the command of civilian voters. Such has given us the leadership in war of such notable "chicken hawks" as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Further, the inescapable logic of "chicken hawk"-calling is that only military men have standing to pronounce in any way on war -- to advocate it or to advocate against it. The decision not to go to war involves exactly the same issues of experiential and moral authority as does the decision to go to war. If a past of soldiering is required for one, it is required for the other. Chicken doves have no more standing than "chicken hawks." We must leave all the decisions to the generals and the veterans.

A great piece, though lacking a reference to Starship Troopers.

UPDATE: Matt Wech emails: "Incidentally, one of the core pre-conditions for post-communist countries to join NATO is that they establish *civilian* control over their militaries."

My reply: "Where the hell is Layne?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus points out that Lincoln did in fact serve, in the militia.

TIM CAVANAUGH WRITES on CampusWatch and McCarthyism, and does so quite well. But the most memorable part is the throwaway line about " Robert Fisk, the war on terror's Mr. Bill." It's even more fun when you follow the links!


Don't miss Warren Zevon on the Letterman Show tonight. 11:30p eastern and pacific on CBS.

Warren will be performing several songs, and the entire show will be dedicated to him.

Watch it or tape it, folks. We won't have him around for much longer.

A REVIEW OF THE GALLERY OF REGRETTABLE FOOD, and an interview with James Lileks. Fun.

MINNESOTAN MITCH BERG blogs his impressions of the Wellstone-themed campaign rally.:

If you don't live here, it's hard to describe. Maybe it's like this elsewhere in the country. All I know is, it's totally on the sleeve of this state, and showed in spades last night. It's something that started as a vague sense of unease seven years ago, when I first started becoming active in politics in Minnesota. It grew to a more coherent notion in 2000. It whacked me over the head when the mob booed the assembled Republican senators.

Hatred of Republicans is part of the majority, *mainstream* DFL culture in Minnesota.

Not dislike. Not disagreement. Hate.

You see it in bits of day to day life in this state: women theatrically holding their noses when talking about Republican candidates at the coffee shop; people who put "No Republicans Need Apply" at the top of personal ads; a mob of 15,000 mainstream, work-a-daddy, hug-a-mommy Minnesotans baying at the moon at the recognition of Republicans.

This is not the lunatic fringe; it's not analogous to the rantings of those Republicans who act from hate, the party's loud but isolated homophobes, anti-immigrants, clinic-bombing-coddlers. This is the mainstream of the Minnesota DFL.

I'm not there, so my objection isn't quite the same. To me, it was more like this.

UPDATE: TAPPED, by contrast, found the rally "inspiring."

ANOTHER UPDATE: This piece by Will Saletan captures it well:

But the solemnity of death and the grace of Midwestern humor are overshadowed tonight by the angry piety of populism. Most of the event feels like a rally. The touching recollections are followed by sharply political speeches urging Wellstone's supporters to channel their grief into electoral victory. The crowd repeatedly stands, stomps, and whoops. The roars escalate each time Walter Mondale, the former vice president who will replace Wellstone on the ballot, appears on the giant screens suspended above the stage. "Fritz! Fritz!" the assembly chants.

"Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning," Wellstone declares in a videotaped speech shown on the overhead screens. "Politics is about improving people's lives." But as the evening's speakers proceed, it becomes clear that to them, honoring Wellstone's legacy is all about winning the election. Repeating the words of Wellstone's son, the assembly shouts, "We will win! We will win!" Rick Kahn, a friend of Wellstone's, urges everyone to "set aside the partisan bickering," but in the next breath he challenges several Republican senators in attendance to "honor your friend" by helping to "win this election for Paul Wellstone." What can he be thinking?

There's a salutary practicality about many of the liberal clichР№s repeated and applauded tonight. But there's a creepy arrogance about them, too. The ceremony's closing speaker, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, says Wellstone "never took himself too seriously" and "never had to proclaim his decency." Yet tonight, the men and women who purport to represent Wellstone's legacy are taking themselves quite seriously and constantly proclaiming their decency. "We can redeem the sacrifice of his life if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone," Kahn tells the crowd. Somewhere, Wellstone must be turning on his cross.

Nice metaphor.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wellstone's campaign manager has apologized.

Now Robert Musil wonders if this is in response to overnight polling, and implies that it must be given that the apology pulls the rug out from under those who have been defending the rally.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The Minnesota GOP Chair is demanding equal time.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus emailed that I've used the word "tacky" a lot to describe this event. But I just saw DNC spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri use the same word in describing the behavior of people who booed Republicans there. Hey, it fits.

THE LAST UPDATE: John Cole predicts how this will play out over the next days and months.

THOSE WHO COMPLAIN THAT BLOGS aren't up to the high fairness standards of professional journalism should read this.

(Via Romenesko).

UPDATE: Via a comment on Bill Quick's blog, I note that Media Minded posted on this the other day.

DID TED RALL KILL PAUL WELLSTONE? I have not raised this question, but others have. . . .


It is instructive to watch Mr. Moore's film.

He uses Canada, and Canadians, as a constant point of comparison to his own country and fellow citizens. He takes his camera to Sarnia, Ont., and to Windsor, and to Toronto -- three cities I know well -- and in each, he claims Canada is so safe, so without violence, that he routinely walks into unlocked front doors. He interviews a selection of dullards who burble that, why, of course there's no need to lock a door! He asks about a slum in Toronto, and offers as the worst one a brief shot of a neat, mixed-income development -- the Woodgreen co-op in the east end of the city, I believe, but I saw it only for a few seconds and was so shocked I could barely take it in.

His journalism, in short, on the subject of Canada and Canadians, is nothing short of shoddy, manipulative and untrue. The same can be said for his journalism on his own country, and indeed on the terrible and complicated issue he purports to adjudicate.

Read the whole thing.

INTERESTING ARTICLE on Al Qaeda disinformation from The New Republic. Bureaucratic ass-covering is making it more effective.

SEXISM AT THE FBI: But then, if they reported the truth all hell would probably break loose.

DAVID HALBERSTAM receives a serious Coshing at the hands of, well, who d'you think?

OKAY, I've gotten various emails pro and con (mostly con) on the Wellstone memorial service campaign rally last night. I responded to some by noting that, to me, it's as if somebody used a eulogy as an opportunity to pitch life insurance. With a Tupperware Party as the reception. But I think that this says it all: The event was too tacky for former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura.

UPDATE: The PennLive link above isn't working for some people. Here's another. And Mike Hendrix and Stephen Green agree with Jesse. And Porphyrogenitus contrasts this with another funeral that got less attention.

Minnesota reader Rich Kaul writes:

As someone up here in MN who's had a front seat to all this I am bemused by the Wellstone "event." Earlier in the day the DFL Chair was complaining that the Republicans were inappropriately politicing by issuing a set of debate challenges to whomever the DFL nominated as Wellstone's replacement. He was howling about how inappropriate it was to discuss politcs at this time. And then they go and have that campaign rally over all the local TV stations last night...

And Democratic reader Nick Foresta sends what I think is the first non-critical email ever:


You guys are absolutely right about this one. Shameless doesn't begin to describe it. The memorial was slap in the face for everything the man stood for. Who was in charge of this mess?

I don't know, but whoever it was should be ashamed.

ANOTHER REPORT of Saudi efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. And another reason to remove the Saud family from its current rule over Arabia.

JESSE JACKSON AND AL SHARPTON are reportedly being sued for racial comments to the tune of $60 million.

FOR MOXIE'S BLOGIVERSARY PRESENT, I suggest that you get her, well, a date. She's cute, she can dance, and she drives a Porsche. How hard can it be? Harder than you'd think, apparently.

MORE CAMPAIGN GAY-BASHING, this time in Hawaii. Tacky, tacky, tacky.


His team had rolled around the green and mugged for pictures with the state championship trophy in hand. The disappointed runner-ups were on their bus heading home. And then Westborough golf coach Greg Rota noticed that something looked wrong on one of the scorecards.

He could have let it go. He could have just gotten into the van with his team and brought the Division 2 state championship golf trophy home to Westborough. Probably no one would ever know.

But he'd always wonder whether that trophy was really made of fool's gold. So he went over and asked one of his players about a score on the 18th hole. Rota had seen some of the competition on that hole and the scorecard didn't look right.

The coach's instincts were correct. A 9 had been recorded as a 7. An incorrect scorecard had been signed. Rota went directly to the tournament director with the information. The small change meant that the final result was reversed. Woburn won the state championship. Westborough finished second. . . .

''[Rota] disqualified his own player and showed great integrity to do that,'' said Doran. ''No one would have ever known. This is part and parcel to what golf is all about. You don't see many things like this in society today.''

But bravo when you do.

IN RESPONSE TO MY REQUEST FOR A CHEERFUL STORY, reader Ken Coltrane sends this one:

Northwest football coach Dave Frantz and Tigers’ coach Derek DeWitt shared a conversation the week leading up to the game.

But the two coaches weren’t discussing strategy, instead they were talking about a mentally-handicapped Northwest player by the name of Jake Porter.

Porter, a senior, has a disorder called "Chromosomal Fragile-X," which is the most common cause of inherited mental retardation.

Porter still shows up on time for practice every day and dresses in full gear during games, but he has yet to take an official snap in a football game.

Frantz wanted that streak to end last Friday. . . .

At Waverly’s 49-yard line, Porter entered the game at tailback, had his play, "84-iso," called in the huddle, and when the ball was snapped all 21 players parted ways.

Porter was somewhat surprised when he slowly walked through the huge hole. He initially turned back around to the original line of scrimmage, but everyone on the field -- including defensive players from Waverly -- pointed and guided Porter toward the Tigers’ end zone.

"When we practiced it, he was supposed to down it, so I think he was a little confused at first," Northwest tailback Zach Smith said. "But once he figured it out, he took off."

The 49-yard trek to glory took about 10-12 seconds in all, and was culminated by players from both sidelines cheering and running step-for-step with Porter to the end zone. . . .

"At Waverly, we didn’t do anything special. We were just happy to be a part of that," a humbled DeWitt said. "That young man was just excited to get the ball. Our guys didn’t care about the shutout, those stats went out the window.

"When you’re involved in a moment like that, you want to make sure you end the game with class, decency and respect."


BOMBINGS IN SOUTH AFRICA: I'm not sure what this is about.

ANDREW SULLIVAN takes on the Wellstone conspiracy theorists, in Salon.

AUSTRALIAN POLICE are going after Jemaah Islamiyah cells:

Sydney - Australian police Wednesday swooped on the homes of Moslems thought to be linked to the radical Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiah (JI) movement that is suspected of having a hand in the deadly bombings in Bali.

The raids on two houses in Sydney and two in Perth followed swiftly on the listing of JI as a proscribed organization over the weekend. . . .

The banning of JI over the weekend means anyone belonging to it, recruiting for it, training or offering training, financing it or receiving money from it is breaking the law and could be jailed for up to 25 years, regardless of nationality.

Note that this is tougher than anything under the USA Patriot Act.

DAVE KOPEL DEBUNKS a news story suggesting that you can buy "sniper rifles" via the Web.

Doesn't Amazon carry those yet?

UPDATE: The Comedian points out that you can, in fact, buy muzzle-loading black powder weapons over the Web. True enough, though I don't think that's really what the story was about.

SOME INTERESTING RESEARCH on antimatter. I want my antimatter-powered spaceships!


In a book to be published in January, historians Andrew Gow and Lara Apps say male witches have been marginalized as researchers focus almost exclusively on the persecution of women accused in Europe's notorious witch trials.

Fully 25% of the estimated 60,000 witches executed between 1450 and 1750 were men, they say in Male Witches in Early Modern Europe, a 220-page text to be published by Manchester University Press.

In some regions, men made up the majority of those prosecuted for crimes ranging from laying curses on crops to causing miscarriages, they note.

So, er, there!


UPDATE: Eric Kolchinsky comments on the same event, and the reaction thereto. So does Asparagirl.


The former U.N. ambassador, Atlanta mayor and Democratic congressman says if he were still in Congress he would have voted to authorize the president to use force against Iraq.

"One reason is that the only way you can avoid a war is the possibility of being ready for one," Young said in an interview at his downtown office.

Andrew Young, invoking Vegetius. How about that.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN, which was inspired by Jim Henley's "pack not a herd" phrase, is up.

ANTOINE CLARK lays out the case for war on Chirac. Well, he is an irresponsible guy with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a dubious human rights record. But since Houellebecq got off, I'm not sure that humanitarian intervention is called for yet.

PASSIVE VOICE SAID TO BE KEY WEAPON IN JOURNALISTIC SUPPORT FOR ANTIWAR MOVEMENT: Well, that's my explanation for the headline over this puff piece in the New York Times, headlined "Rally in Washington Is Said to Invigorate the Antiwar Movement."

As is typical for these pieces in the Times, the quotes are all from demonstrators who say their demonstration was a success. A more accurate headline would be "Rally in Washington is Said by Ralliers to be Success." Coming soon: "Enron Accounting Said to Be Legitimate, Even Noble," in a story interviewing only Enron accountants. Of course these people think their rally was a success. And of course the Times swallows it whole, because it wants the rally to look successful. Looks like another case of Creeping Rainesism to me.

Can you imagine the Times giving this treatment to, say, a rally by the Second Amendment Sisters? Of course not. They'd have lots of quotes from people with impressive-sounding credentials saying that the demonstration was a terrible thing for America.

Here, they might at least have quoted one of the pro-war Iraqi-Americans.

UPDATE: Jim Henley gives a better-supported and more objective report than the Times -- and he was a participant in the march!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Henley emails:

This may make the march piece the first blog item to be favorably cited by Instapundit and on the same day. I have the e-mail in to Guinness now.

Jim, you should take this as either a sign that you're doing something right, or that you're doing something very, very, very wrong. . . .

ERIN O'CONNOR REPORTS FROM U. PENN. that it is openly discriminating against men in the form of "disincentives . . . to hire and promote men," disincentives whose existence was admitted by the Provost.

Nothing really new here -- I think most people who have served on faculty hiring committees have been told not to come back with a white male on occasion -- but it's interesting to see it openly admitted. O'Connor tells this story of her own:

When I was up for tenure, for example, I was told by a Penn administrator that based on my vital statistics, my chances looked very good. He told me point blank that if I were black, he would be able to guarantee me promotion, but that as a woman, the odds were very much in my favor. Such comments are often classified as harassment, but I was not being harassed. I was being told the truth, as ugly as it was.

Well, there you are.

MICKEY KAUS HAS MORE on the Winona trial. You know, I should pay more attention to this, because it's the least-depressing news story at the moment.

Plane crashes, deadly hostage rescues, looming war, etc. Plus the national jet-lag produced by the time change. It's a bummer of a week so far. If you find any cheerful stories, send 'em my way.

BOY IS THE BLOGOSPHERE FAST: I just noticed Ted Rall's column accusing George Bush of having Paul Wellstone killed -- and Rand Simberg has already administered a righteous Fisking thereto.

Let's hear it for that three-hour time difference! And by the time the West Coast Fiskers have gone to bed, the TransAtlantic Fisking Squad is up and on the job -- actually Fisking Robert Fisk, in this case, though Fisk has reportedly become so nervous that he's no longer allowing the text of his speeches to be released, or any recording to take place. I wonder how long before he takes the next logical step and stops allowing people to listen? Probably never. Excerpt: "I was disgusted, but never bored. If you are rich and want to pay for an entertaining clown, Fisk is your man."

MIKE SILVERMAN is deconstructing some political commercials he's seen lately.

October 29, 2002

TOMORROW'S MOXIE'S two-year bloggiversary. Drop by and tell her congratulations.

JOHN COLE WONDERS what the Hell those Haitians were thinking by trying to emigrate to the United States.

Me, I figure anyone willing to make that trip because they want to become Americans ought to be allowed to stay.

I WAS BUMMED by Paul Wellstone's death, but these guys can barely hold back the tears.

UPDATE: Reader J. Michael Neal says that the above post is nasty and inappropriate. I don't think so -- I was struck by the photo, and the caption that went with it. Maybe it's the caption that does it (follow the link to read it) and that's not exactly Clinton's fault, but still, it's a freakin' funeral . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, Oliver Willis sends this picture of a glad-handing Trent Lott, and Ted Barlow thinks the post is nasty too. Well, I'm not sure which way the Trent Lott picture cuts (I think it just underscores my sense that politicians don't actually experience authentic emotions) but you can follow the links and form your own opinions. I still feel that this isn't how you should act at a memorial remembering how a man, his wife, his daughter, and several other people died in a fiery plane crash.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire says that we've seen this before. Here's Margaret Carlson:

The most pointed moment of Instant Grief Analysis came when NBC did a frame-by-frame deconstruction of the President walking along after Brown's funeral, laughing at something he was being told--then going all somber when the camera was trained on him.

Meanwhile a bunch of people who watched the ceremonies on CSPAN2 say the whole thing was rather unseemly, more like a fundraiser than a funeral. I didn't see it, but that would get Clinton, Lott and Mondale off the hook, I guess. It's perfectly seemly to laugh and gladhand at a fundraiser.

Michele of A Small Victory watched the coverage and found it unseemly. You can read her comments. Local coverage is here and here.

The other day, when I wrote that there were more important things than who took the Senate, I thought I was chastising partisan Republicans. Seems like a lot of Democrats need chastising on this point too. But, hell, at least they're not claiming that Bush had Wellstone killed, as Ted Rall is in his latest column.

LAST UPDATE: Driving my daughter to school, I heard NPR reporting that the memorial service "turned into a political rally." So it's not just my perception, here. NPR didn't seem to mind, but I think it's tacky. Rachel Lucas notes: "[I]t wasn't just Democrats. The problem is, they're politicians, who more and more make me believe that they just aren't human."

THE ANGRY WHITE MALE MYTH: A reader sends these links in opposition to the Daily Howler's claim, which I mentioned earlier, that people didn't widely portray the sniper as an "angry white male."

Sniper Facts: "According to former F.B.I. profilers, he's probably a white man in his 20s or early 30s who lives nearby -- and who has a score to settle."

Star Tribune: "The retired FBI agent from Minneapolis said Thursday that while he didn't have the specific details of the homicides, he had speculated that the killer was a lone sniper in his late 20s who was white, had military experience and lived near the shooting sites."

Washington Times: "Mr. Aamodt had predicted the sniper was an angry white man. He said the standard profile of the young white male is often correct, because, 'if you lump serial killers together this is what we get.'"

Courtland Milloy, Washington Post:

I needed a sniper's face just to keep it real, and for a while I tried to imagine a white male, a mid-thirtyish, household-handyman sort of guy. After all, that's who does these kinds of serial killings, right?

Maybe I'd been watching too many weekend cable hunting shows where white men move steathily through the woods, lie in wait for some unsuspecting animal to come along and -- with deadly accuracy -- drop it.

"When you break down the demographics of the Washington region, there is a statistical probability that the sniper is a white man," Gregg McCrary, a retired FBI profiler, told me recently.

Male I could understand. But why white? "It could be the backlash effect," Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston, told the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. "White males belong to a long-advantaged group that is now having to share power and control. But I think it has less to do with race than social class."

Baltimore Sun:

The gunman "is somebody who is cold, who is calculating, who has the skills and doesn't care who they hurt," Van Zandt said.

"Statistically, this is something white males normally do," he added. "(But) You don't want to exclude any race, any ethnicity because there is always the aberrant behavior."

(Points to Van Zandt for the disclaimer at the end, though in fact, as has been pointed out elsewhere, white males are underrepresented in the sniper-murder pool.)

Christian Science Monitor:

"This person is kind of a wallpaper white male, a disenfranchised, disrespected man who's getting back at society," theorizes Levin. "That's one of the reasons he's kept his distance from inner D.C., where he might loose his cover."

Not hardly. Well, this isn't, by itself, proof that the newspapers and airwaves were rife with such speculation -- you'd have to do some sort of all-encompassing content analysis for that, I guess -- but I think it's enough to explain why people think so. And, having seen the coverage myself, I have to say that the "angry white male" theory sure seemed to be everywhere. And surely this undercuts the Howler's statement that "Nonetheless, there was very little speculation about the killer’s race."

UPDATE: Of course, there's always this theory from Tacitus, but I think we can all agree that it didn't exactly reach saturation level in the media. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has comments.

YEAH, ME TOO: Stephen Green writes:

I’m a Falwell-tweaking, gay-marriage supporting, drug legalizing, pro-abortion, pro-immigration, anti-trade barrier, wary-of-organized-religion kind of conservative.

You know, one of those conservatives.

UPDATE: SKBubba, meanwhile, is one of those liberals. Maybe we do need a third party.

GUESS WHO GOT MARRIED! There are pictures. Well, naturally. Congratulations!

HERE'S A WEBSITE that says it's dedicated to documenting true stories of armed self-defense, which generally don't get a lot of media play.

JOSH CHAFETZ writes about Harvard's project of documenting Iraqi atrocities.

There are quite a few.

SUSANNA CORNETT looks at the different spin CNN and the New York Times are giving to basically the same story about the release of some prisoners from Guantanamo.

FINALLY, A DIVESTMENT PETITION I can get behind. Sign it now!

BRINK LINDSEY AND JOHN MUELLER are debating the war over at the Reason site.


The media lapsed into the same denial mode the last time a forty-year-old radical Muslim called Mohamed opened fire on U.S. soil. July the Fourth, LAX, the El Al counter, two dead. CNN and The Associated Press all but stampeded to report a "witness" who described the shooter as a fat white guy in a ponytail who kept yelling "Artie took my job." But, alas, it was -- surprise! -- a Muslim called Hesham Mohamed Modayet.

Broadly speaking, in these interesting times, when something unusual and unprecedented happens, there are those who think on balance it's more likely to be a fellow called Mohammed than, say, Bud, and there are those who climb into the metaphorical burqa, close up the grille and insist, despite all the evidence, that we should be looking for some angry white male. I'm in the former camp and, apropos the sniper, said as much in The Chicago Sun-Times. I had a bet with both my wife and my assistant that the perp would be an Islamic terrorist. The gals, unfortunately, had made the mistake of reading The New York Times, whose experts concluded it would be a "macho hunter" or an "icy loner."

Speaking as a macho hunter and an icy loner myself, I'm beginning to think the media would be better off turning their psychological profilers loose on America's newsrooms.

I think the Hadayet case cost the media, and the authorities, a lot of credibility. I don't think they've gotten it back this time around.


We are engaged in a struggle to defeat terrorism. I have no advice on how to win that struggle, but I have some thoughts as to why it exists. It is not, I think, because Islam is at war with the West or because Palestinians are trying to displace Israelis. The struggle exists, I think, because the West has mastered the problem of reconciling religion and freedom, while several Middle Eastern nations have not. The story of that mastery and that failure occupies several centuries of human history, in which one dominant culture, the world of Islam, was displaced by a new culture, that of the West.

Interesting piece. Wilson notes that the West had the same problem, and that its success is a result of successfully addressing it:

Freedom of conscience has made the difference. In an old world where knowledge came from libraries, and scientific experiments were rare, freedom would not be so important. But in the new world, knowledge and all that it can produce come from the sharp challenge of competing ideas tested by standards of objective evidence.

Worth reading. Much of it will be old news for Blogosphere readers, and some of it will be cause for disagreement. But not the conclusion: "If the Middle East is to encounter and not merely resist modernity, it would best if it did this before it runs out of oil."

UPDATE: Reader Tom Holsinger emails:

IMO we're at war with the Saudi form of Wahhabism, which is using Saudi oil funding to propagate its particular nastiness. We'll find out what kind of legs it has after it loses that funding.

Another major question is whether that will happen before the American people get so angry that they run over the Bush Administration to intern or expel (a) non-citizen Arab Muslims or (b) all non-citizen Muslims. My next Strategy Page article will touch on this.

Many different things could happen. The deafening silence of non-Wahhabis means a lot.

Yes. One reason I want a vigorous effort now is that I fear the nastiness of a protracted low-level conflict. The good news is that the non-Wahhabis are starting to speak out.

WHERE SERIAL KILLERS UNWIND: Somebody sent me another story on this yesterday, but I couldn't post it because of the server outage. Now the story's in the New York Times -- about the bar in Bellingham where serial killers hang out. Weird.

Since it's extremely unlikely that there's much more than coincidence here, this is a useful warning that, though Occam's Razor is a handy tool, strange things do happen for no reason. Or almost no reason. The story suggests that the bar's problem may be that its patrons are too nice:

Despite the guest list, people who drink at the Waterfront described themselves as warm, well-adjusted. Perhaps it was their accepting attitude, they surmised, that let so many notorious characters feel welcome.

Go figure.


Early America was vastly different from the handgun-happy images one sees on television, in movies, and in the pages of gun magazines. Serious historians have documented that early Americans had little interest in guns. Until the mid-1800s, owning a gun was surprisingly uncommon. Those who owned firearms almost always owned long guns.

Historian Michael Bellesiles, for example, examined more than a thousand probate records from northern New England and Pennsylvania filed from 1765 to 1790. He found that only 14 percent of household inventories included firearms–and more than half of these were inoperable.22 Colonial settlers got meat mostly from domesticated animals like cows and pigs. When they wanted wild game, they bought it from native Americans or professional hunters, most of whom trapped their prey.


UPDATE: John Rosenberg writes that the Bellesiles dispute is just another round in the culture wars:

At the risk of oversimplification, on one side of the increasingly barbed cultural barricades are those who believe truth is whatever serves justice, i.e., women, minorities, critics of American foreign policy, gun control. . . .

On the other side of the cultural divide are those still dedicated to an older "correspondence theory" of truth as reflecting, however imperfectly, some objective even if not completely knowable reality. They are indifferent to, or at least not transfixed by, the "political implications" of the work and more concerned with whether the book's basic honesty and whether the history profession relaxes its professed standards for politically correct interpretations.

He has a lengthy discussion of the Bellesiles affair, the Wiener article, and the context in which they appear that's well worth reading if you're interested in these sorts of things. He also notes the disparity between the coverage afforded by the Emory Wheel and that contained in publications that one might expect to be more interested:

It is all the more remarkable that the NYT has dropped the ball on Bellesiles because it claims special pre-eminence in covering "culture," including especially its largely home town publishing industry. Knopf, which published Arming America, is just across town; the New York Review of Books, which gave Bellesiles a glowing review that has not been retracted, is just uptown; Columbia University, which administers the Bancroft Prize Bellesiles won and still has, is farther uptown; and of course the New York Times Book Review, source of another glowing, unretracted review, is right down the hall.

Perhaps these august institutions (well, except for the NYT, which is, after all, a daily) have been waiting for Emory's decision and will weigh in soon.

AMERICAN GRAFFITI: I think we should send people to spraypaint this picture in, well, lots of places.

BLACK NATIONALISM, "THIRD POSITION" FASCISM, AND ANTISEMITISM: Chip Berlet discusses the connections. (And follow this link for more specifically on the Nation of Islam.) Berlet's got a strong ideological position (he's quite left, leaning toward Marxist, I believe) but his research is generally well-regarded.

One of the things that this illustrates is that too-quick distinctions between "domestic" and "Islamic" terrorism are probably, well, too quick.

THE MEXICO GOVERNMENT REPORTER claims that a hostile-to-Mexico editorial in the Wall Street Journal was inspired by the White House as a means of telling Mexico to play ball in the Security Council. I don't know if it's true -- but the White House certainly ought to be telling Mexico to play ball in the Security Council.

JOHN LOTT WRITES THAT BALLISTIC REGISTRATION OF GUNS is likely to backfire. Meanwhile the Fraternal Order of Police is reportedly opposed to it. Eugene Volokh, on the other hand, links to both positive and negative government studies on the subject.

DICK MORRIS SAYS THAT BUSH IS BLOWING IT by futzing around with the U.N., thus losing focus and a sense of urgency.

Morris focuses too much on polls, of course, but on the other hand domestic support is the main determinant of whether we win this war.

UPDATE: David Hogberg says that Morris is wrong. Hogberg is persuasive, but arguing with Dick Morris about polls is a serious proposition.

THE DAILY HOWLER says that the "angry white male" myth was a myth. He's got some evidence there, though I'd have to see something a bit broader before I'd take his sweeping statements as true, given that my impression from watching the cable shows was that people did think it was an angry white male.

Meanwhile, John O'Sullivan writes something that's not quite the same:

Most reporters and editors wanted the sniper to be a white male rather than an African American or a Muslim. For the underlying assumption that colors coverage of race, ethnicity and religion in the typical newsroom is that the great American majority that never went to the Ivy League schools is made up of racists, sexists and homophobes who need to be protected against their own tendency to white racist bigotry.

Thus, when the journalists fear a story might inflame white racism, a Muslim terrorist like the LAX shooter perhaps, they play it down. When a story might challenge white racism, a Tim McVeigh maybe, they play it up. So when the sniper was still an unknown quantity, it was second nature to seize on anything--even racial profiling--to suggest that he was another Tim McVeigh rather than another Muhammad Hadayat.

Perhaps this desire for it to be an angry white male shaped coverage enough to give that impression, even when people didn't explicitly say "Bob, I think it's an angry white male."

At any rate, this Newsweek story says that authorities were telling reporters that that's what they were looking for:

Not just the cable-TV criminologists but also the government’s own experts were fooled. Until the last couple of days, most top officials at the state-local-federal joint command center in Rockville, Md., thought they were looking for an “intelligent, well-organized white male,” one veteran federal investigator told NEWSWEEK. . . .

Then there was the Good Ole Boy. He was another gun-crazed white man with suspicious habits. The police put him under surveillance. One night in the middle of the siege, he was observed shooting pool and drinking beer with his buddies until 2 a.m. “Not serial-killer behavior,” the cops concluded. . . .

Remarkably, law-enforcement sources tell NEWSWEEK, some investigators continued to cling to the belief that the sniper or snipers were driving a white van or truck. Like the talking heads on TV, they had convinced themselves that the snipers must be white men driving a white truck. They had trouble accepting that they should have been looking for two black men driving a blue car. . . .

What's more, a passage even supports O'Sullivan's assertion about vigilantism, as -- even when they realized their suspects weren't angry white males -- police were afraid to release information:

The investigators hotly debated whether to release the suspects’ photographs. Some feared that would only tip them off and make them flee. Or worse, provoke them to strike again. Others feared the suspects would be found first by vigilantes. “The concern was that, God forbid, it’s not the people [the real snipers] and someone takes matters into their own hands,” said Duncan.

In light of this, I think that it's a bit of a stretch to say that the "angry white male" myth is itself mythical. At least, I'd need to see a lot more evidence in support of a proposition so inconsistent with my recollection, and most other people's impressions. And I think that O'Sullivan's interpretation of what went on in the reporting is closer to the facts than the Daily Howler's.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Steele writes:

I think they all miss the mark to some degree.... I think the "desired outcome" was actually a "gun nut" The Anti-gun forces have been reeling since 9/11, they needed a stereotypical redneck gun owner to bolster the cause...."see they're all nuts!!!!! ban guns!!!!" or something like that."

Yes, if the Chevy had had an NRA sticker, I'm sure we would have heard about it. Over and over and over. And some people didn't wait for any evidence to make a connection. Brendan Koerner of Slate certainly remembers it the way I do: "The universal consensus was that the killer was white, despite the fact that just over half of sniper homicides committed between 1976 and 2000 were carried out by whites." Actually, I remember it a bit less strongly than Koerner -- my wife was on a few talk shows opining that it was probably a Muslim who supported Al Qaeda, though she didn't specifically say it was a non-white. But she was very much the exception, as the producers told her at the time.

MORE LATER: Sorry, but I spent the morning with my daughter at the dentist, and now I have to teach Administrative Law (it's the octane-posting case, which is one of my favorites -- no, really).

Between this and being unable to respond to email for much of yesterday, the backlog is big. I'll try to deal with it later, but no promises. In the meantime, you can amuse yourself by reading this gentle Fisking of antiwar preachers -- in the Harvard Crimson.

DOCTOR WEEVIL WONDERS at certain anti-war activists' hostility to fellatio.

I'm for it, personally.

RACHEL LUCAS is attempting to perform a clue transplant on Michael Moore.

Trust me, Rachel, it'll be rejected. But it was kind of you to volunteer as a donor.

UPDATE: Jay Caruso says that Moore is even wronger than Rachel realizes.

JAMES LILEKS looks at Avril Lavigne and Walter Mondale -- with a nod in passing to Daryl Hannah's spiritual daughter, and some comments on newspaper delivery that are not for the weak-stomached.

THE MOTIVATION ISN'T ENTIRELY CLEAR, but the Iranian Navy is helping to enforce the blockade of Iraq.

DANIEL PIPES writes that John Muhammad isn't an exception, but is in fact acting according to type -- and suggests that media treatments of him as crazy merely indicate how little most press people know.

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Emory Wheel (which is doing a lot better job of covering this than the New York Times) has a long story on Bellesiles' resignation with numerous quotes from historians. There's also an editorial in The Wheel that concludes:

If Bellesiles did find the environment at Emory hostile, he has only himself to blame. Throughout the controversy, Bellesiles repeatedly made conflicting and misleading claims to the media, as well as to those who openly criticized him. His defenses and evidence were consistently erratic, and only furthered the skepticism of those following the case.

He also claims the scope of the committee's investigation was too narrow, and that his main thesis still holds true despite the errors found in a minor part of his research.

By making this claim, Bellesiles is skirting the real issue. It doesn't matter now if the argument in Arming America is valid -- it matters that he has lied numerous times in defending his book. It's unfortunate that Bellesiles, who is a talented, brilliant writer and scholar, will have his reputation marred by his evasive statements.

Emory has no reason to apologize to Bellesiles. Should a similar situation arise in the future, Emory should consider acting more quickly in response to public outcry, but not at the expense of fairness and accuracy.

The investigation, and Bellesiles' subsequent resignation, should be a reminder to the Emory community that academic research is, above all, about searching for the absolute truth. That's what our professors teach students every day. We should expect the same from them.

Well said.

UPDATE: Tightly Wound blames critical theory:

Now back to Bellesiles. He's guilty, and I'm not trying to exculpate him, but to me it seems like he was just continuing to do what he was trained to do by the system--look at a subject, determine the conclusion you want to reach, and manipulate the data accordingly. After all, he was just "opening the facts up to new interpretation and exploration." And it would have worked, too, if not for those pesky kids at the NRA! His politics were correct, thus no one reviewing his work looked at his research, source material, or thought processes. But here's the kicker: the fact that he continues to insist that he's going to keep researching probate materials when half of the ones he said he looked at DON'T EVEN EXIST! Bellesiles has completely surpassed me and my fellow students in shaping reality to his own ends. In the current academic envrionment, Mr. Bellesiles gets a gold star.

Read the whole post. I wasn't familiar with this blog before, but its slogan "Making fun of academics -- because it's easy!" should give you an idea of its focus. Also Jacob T. Levy (noted in the post below, too -- he's on a roll!) suggests that the committee that Emory brought in to investigate Bellesiles can hardly be called tools of the NRA.

MICKEY KAUS thinks that a 50/50 split may become the new equilibrium state in American politics. He also warns Bush that there's plenty of time left to lose before the elections.

UPDATE: Jacob T. Levy says that Kaus has rediscovered a classic theorem of political science. Way to go Mickey!

TOM HOLSINGER says that the Bush Administration is getting it all wrong on homeland security because it's neglecting an important tradition.

TIM NOAH writes about why conservatives seem to miss Paul Wellstone more than liberals. But does this mean there will be lots of sad farewell columns written by the left when Jesse Helms expires?

UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is just plain mean.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Just noticed that Oliver Willis seems to have missed the point -- or perhaps commented without reading Tim Noah's piece. Noah's point was that conservatives liked Wellstone because, being to the left of most Democrats, he made them look more extreme than they were. Hence the Helms point.

October 28, 2002

TONY ADRAGNA reflects on dysphemisms.

Is "warblogger" one?

THE BAGHDAD VIEW of American "peace" protesters in Iraq. It's not a very flattering one: "Dear american friends, please stop sending her over here, she is not helping. Some people might think that this sort of thing I like to see happening. It is NOT. Kelly baby you have been used. They have put you on show for the westerners."

ONE OF MY MOLES says the AP wire is about to produce a story saying that John Muhammad has been linked to a killing / synagogue shooting in Tacoma from last February.

UPDATE: It's not up yet, but this backgrounder is interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link to the story, which says Muhammad is now linked to the shooting of a 21-year-old woman and to a shooting incident at a synagogue. And go to page 17 of this synagogue newsletter for a contemporaneous description: "A more serious incident occurred in May when it was discovered that a bullet was fired into the west side of the Temple by the Biblical garden. It eventually ended up in the ark in the small chapel."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan: "So he was a terrorist, a Muslim, a member of the fanatical anti-Semitic group the Nation of Islam and someone who shot up a synagogue. Who'd have thought it?" Yeah, go figure. Who'd have thought those things would go together? Not the "angry white male" profiler crew. . . .

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: Fredrik Norman identifies a reasonable facsimile.

LILEKS ON WELLSTONE: There's a reason we worship Lileks. His on-the-scene reporting from Minnesota is hard on some of Wellstone's detractors -- and on some of his friends.

CLAYTON CRAMER points out that the University of Arizona is a gun-free zone, something that -- as usual -- did nothing to prevent a mass shooing. Indeed, as John Lott and William Landes have demonstrated, mass shootings appear to be more common in places where guns are prohibited.

More poignantly, this policy was criticized in a sadly prophetic piece by Rachel Alexander in the University of Arizona student newspaper several years ago:

The U.S. government surveyed 1,874 felons, and found that 40 percent said they had at one time decided not to commit a crime because they were afraid the victim was carrying a firearm. Too bad the signs prominently displayed around campus let the criminals know we're all defenseless.

The consequences, sadly, are all too predictable.

UPDATE: I thought the Rachel Alexander column was interesting, so I googled her to see what she's up to nowadays -- and discovered she's quite accomplished. Who knew?

AMERICANS LESS COMFORTABLE WITH ISLAM: According to this ABC News poll, Americans remained sympathetic to Islam after the 9/11 attacks, but have grown steadily more uncomfortable with it over time:

The percentage of Americans having an unfavorable view of Islam has jumped from 24 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent now.

The portion of Americans who say that Islam "doesn't teach respect for other faiths" rose from 22 percent to 35 percent.

The article treats this mostly as a failure of tolerance, but at the end it presents this alternative explanation:

Muslim leaders maintained that Osama bin Laden was an aberration, a single twisted soul distorting Islam. But the reality is something more disturbing — that Islam is now being used as a justification for violence — not by a few, but by many. Though many Muslim leaders criticized the terrorists, few stated that the problems with Islam's misuse were dangerously widespread. As a result, Muslim leaders may have lost some of their credibility. . . .

American University professor Akbar Ahmed admitted as much: "For the first time in history, Muslim civilization is on a direct collision course with all the world religions."

Ahmed said that at this point, he is aggravated that many Muslims won't acknowledge this. "After Sept. 11, there was this mantra, 'We are peaceful, we are peaceful.' After Muslims killed 3,000 people, it makes no sense to me."

Yes, Muslims who are unsympathetic to the views of the Islamofascists need to get out front on this issue.

UPDATE: This post by Damian Penny is worth reading.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve at HappyFunPundit wonders why this article is so dumb, attributing most of the change in attitude to people like Jerry Falwell instead of to Islamic terrorists. Personally, I think the glass is half full. What impresses me is that the story at least entertains the possibility that Islamic terror might have something to do with American attitudes.

It's all a function of how high your expectations are, I guess. Mine aren't very high, so I'm easily pleased.

WELL, HOTDAMN! We're back in business. There were serious server issues, and mine was the last to be put back in operation. Blogging was ongoing at the GlennReynolds.Com backup site but I'm happy to be back up for real. More to come.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Well, actually it's a Jon Wiener update, but here's a withering response to Wiener's Bellesiles defense from The Nation last week:

What is also particularly notable is that Wiener, a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, apparently refuses to examine actual documentary evidence in making his case. Equally striking in this day and age when oral history and interviewing participants to events is all the rage among historians, he failed to interview the critics he attacked -- Roth, Lindgren, Cramer, and myself -- which, I think, is why he has made so many errors. It also accounts for the reason why Wiener's contribution to the debate over Arming America compares unfavorably with that of such reporters as David Mehegan of the Boston Globe, Robert Worth of the New York Times, Melissa Seckora of National Review, Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, David Skinner of the Weekly Standard, and Ron Grossman of the Chicago Tribune, who, like Wiener, holds a Ph.D. in history.

Contrary to Wiener's approach to the subject, all of these reporters carefully examined and reported on substantial amounts of documentary evidence themselves in their desire to get to the bottom of the controversy. They also tried to interview scholars on both sides of the issue, which is apparently why their reportage has held up so well to scrutiny, with both Mehegan and Strassel winning prizes for their work on Arming America.

On the other hand, Wiener, whose command of the evidence presented by Arming America's critics is thin at best, chose to rely heavily on Bellesiles's preposterous stories and inventions, never bothering to check them out with those scholars who know the material best. While this might be standard procedure when writing a polemic, it is certainly not good reporting and it is clearly very bad history. But it is apparently in keeping with the accusatory style of commentary Wiener has honed and perfected over the years at the Nation.

The author, Prof. Jerome Sternstein, also reports that Garry Wills, who gave Arming America an embarrassingly positive review in the New York Times, has since pronounced Bellesiles' book a "fraud," somewhat undercutting The Nation's thesis that Bellesiles is the victim of an NRA-inspired witch hunt.

Emory, the Newberry Library, Columbia University, the Bancroft Prize, and now The Nation: It looks as if Bellesiles has managed to embarrass one more long-established American institution.

JIANGISM OF THE DAY? Eugene Volokh has castigated Slate's "Bushism of the Day" feature for sloppiness and out-of-context quotes before, but today Best of the Web says that Slate is charging Bush with fractured English that came, in fact, from Jiang Zemin.

I know that some journalists regard Texan English as something like a foreign language, but it seems unfair to confuse Bush with a native speaker of Chinese.

UPDATE: Slate has run a correction, which says that the error was originally the AP's. I wonder, though: If you're going to try to find an example of sloppiness every day (for the "Bushism of the Day" feature) you're inevitably going to have a problem with uneven material, which means you're going to make boners like this on a regular basis. Slate's feature has been uneven at best, and has started to make Slate look worse than Bush. And this is something that should have been predictable from the outset. So why'd they do this? And why are they still doing it?

LEONARD DAVID REPORTS that China is moving closer to human spaceflight.

THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER IS STILL TRYING TO FLOG ITS "SNIPER SUBCULTURE" THEORY, even though that was exploded before John Muhammad was even caught. But facts don't stand in the way of those guys (have they taken the Bellesiles quotes off their website yet?) as this Boston Globe article demonstrates:

Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said the subculture is fueled in part by gun manufacturers that market high-powered, military-style weapons to nonmilitary people. Certain training schools that teach people how to hunt a person, what part of their body to target, and how to take down a helicopter, and publications like Plaster's wildly popular and highly detailed book, also contribute to the subculture, he said. Other critics say the glorification of powerful military weapons and rock star-like admiration of military snipers, as well as video games and movies about lonesome but brilliant long-range killers, all lead to the possibility of more incidents like that in Washington and the chilling shootings at Columbine High School.

''This is clearly a hot trend and, yes, there is a subculture out there,'' said Diaz. ''Somebody is buying all these books, videos, and going to these schools. They are not Martians. They are human beings from this country and perhaps from some other places, too.''

So even though it had nothing to do with the D.C. sniper (much less Columbine), this "subculture" is being blamed. Makes sense. After all, these guys pushed gun control as a remedy for the Oklahoma City bombing, too.

It reminds me of one of my law professors who said, quoting a movie I don't recall: "I use gin for colds. But then, I use it for everything."

What's interesting is that this time the Globe isn't swallowing the VPC's line whole, but is actually presenting the issue as one with two sides:

Weapons experts have said they do not consider the person who terrorized the Washington suburbs a trained sniper. Professional shooters such as Rodney Ryan, owner of Storm Mountain Training Center, a sniper training school in West Virginia, takes issue with the public perception that the killers have been linked to his profession.

''This guy wasn't really a trained marksman. He was no more qualified than I am 16,'' said Plaster, who is 53. ''He was no more trained than anybody who goes to basic training,'' he added.

And here's the real non sequitur in the VPC's position: Muhammad is a military veteran, an expert says his shooting skills come from basic training, and the VPC is trying to cash in on the publicity brought about by his acts, but:

Diaz said his organization is not criticizing military snipers or even schools that only teach military and law enforcement sniper techniques, but he insists too many people are teaching dangerous lessons to regular people.

So Diaz is only against the "sniper subculture" in circumstances that are entirely inapplicable to the case he's relying on for publicity.

Sorry, but this is just pathetic.

UPDATE: Reader Byron Matthews writes:

CBS Evening News tonight had sniper story: How easy it is to get sniper training in the U.S.

Highlight was interview with "Gun Policy Analyst" who said he was "shocked" when he went to the Internet to find how many sites offered training and info about sniping.

The "analyst" was Tom Diaz.

Can you imagine an NRA rep being identified only as a "gun policy analyst"?

Nope. I can't.

GUT RUMBLES has a slick new website designed by you-know-who -- I especially like the warning label!

MEAT MARKETS AND STUD BOOKS: Eugene Volokh lifts the covers on some insider aspects of the law-professor biz.

MELISSA SECKORA has a story on the Bellesiles resignation that's worth reading. Excerpt:

The committee's investigation focused on Bellesiles's use of probate records, which the New York Times has called "Mr. Bellesiles's principal evidence." Of particular interest was a key table on which the author's thesis is grounded. "Evaluating Table One is an exercise in frustration because it is almost impossible to tell where Bellesiles got his information. His source note lists the names of 40 counties, but supplies no indication of the exact records used or their distribution over time. After reviewing his skimpy documentation, we had the same question as [one reviewer] Gloria Main: 'Did no editors or referees ever ask that he supply this basic information?' … The best that can be said about his work with the probate and militia records is that he is guilty of unprofessional and misleading work."

The committee also agreed with Professor James Lindgren of Northwestern University that the entire scandal could have been avoided with "more conventional editing" by The Journal of American History and with Ohio State's Randolph Roth, who determined that Bellesiles's numbers were "mathematically improbable or impossible." Additionally, the committee found that "no one has been able to replicate Bellesiles's results [on low percentage of guns] for the places or dates he lists"; that he conflated wills and inventories which "greatly reduced the percentage of guns in estates"; took a "casual approach" to gathering data; "[raised] doubts about his veracity" in claiming to have worked with records in California; and raised questions about his use of microfilm at the National Archives Record Center in East Point, Ga. They also called implausible Bellesiles's claim that false data on his website was put there by a hacker, and his disavowal of e-mails that he wrote to researchers, giving the wrong location for almost all of his probate research.

This is a good one-stop summary for those who haven't been following the case, and it has links to many useful documents. The big news: "And now that the Emory report is out, scholars expect Columbia to investigate the possibility of revoking Bellesiles's Bancroft Prize."

UPDATE: The History News Network has a list of questions that remain unanswered after Bellesiles' resignation. And this comment thread is amusing, in a nauseous kind of way.

FLIT says the Russian response to the Arab/Chechen terrorists gives nerve gas a PR boost. No, really. He regards the use as a success of sorts, as do I. The bigger problem was being unprepared to deal with the aftermath, and unable or unwilling to give the doctors sufficient information to treat the victims.

Have you noticed, by the way, that nobody much is complaining about the fact that the Russians seem to have shot the terrorists in the head while they were unconscious from the gas?

UDPATE: James Robbins comments on the shootings in this generally supportive piece.

CNN IS NOW CALLING THE ARAB/CHECHEN 'HOSTAGE TAKERS" terrorists, in what seems to be a change from its earlier approach.

THE WHITE HOUSE IS DEFENDING PUTIN with some well-chosen words:

"The Russian government and the Russian people are victims of this tragedy, and the tragedy was caused as a result of the terrorists who took hostages and booby-trapped the building and created dire circumstances," Fleischer said.

Asked directly about the use of the knockout gas, Fleischer wouldn't say whether the administration believed it was appropriate. "We don't know what all the facts are," he said.

But, he said, "Given the fact that the terrorists were clearly serious and had already killed people, and apparently had the theater booby-trapped so all would die, it's important to know what the full circumstances are before venturing further."

I'm prepared to be convinced that using the gas was a mistake. But those who take that position ought to suggest what else Putin should have done under the circumstances. For more on this subject, look here.

ROBERT PRATHER sends advance warning of an online invasion. Ugh. Why do people think this will work?

CATHY YOUNG WRITES about the D.C. sniper and gun control in the Boston Globe:

Since 1996, Australia has implemented some of the world's toughest gun laws and a sweeping buyback program. Yet just this month, it has witnessed two shocking incidents. On Oct. 14, South Australia's mental health chief, Margaret Tobin, was shot dead by an assailant outside her office in Adelaide. A few days later, a gunman opened fire in a classroom at Monash University in Melbourne, killing two.

Editorials in the Australian press responded by calling for even more gun restrictions. Yet they offered little evidence that such measures would have prevented these tragedies, and conceded that criminals were finding ways to circumvent the laws such as smuggling in gun parts from Southeast Asia and assembling them into lethal weapons.

The overall homicide rate in Australia has declined by 10 percent since 1996. But any link between this trend and the antigun policies is hardly clear: In the same period, the United States has achieved an even greater drop in the murder rate. And while the percentage of armed robberies committed with firearms in Australia has decreased markedly, armed robberies overall are up.

Let's not forget, too, that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens can actually stop those who prey on the innocent. A largely ignored incident in Pittsburgh, which happened at the same time as the sniper shootings, provides a convincing demonstration. A man who committed a half-dozen sexual assaults in the city's East End, eluding police and terrorizing women - not as lethally as the sniper, perhaps, but seriously enough - was captured when his intended seventh victim shot and wounded him with the gun she was licensed to carry.

To me the big news is that something like this is appearing in The Globe. And here's a point that Globe readers might actually appreciate:

Yet the National Rifle Association opposes a national gun registry, fearing a slippery slope toward confiscation of firearms. An extreme position? Maybe. But the extremism of gun-rights supporters is akin to the extremism of abortion-rights proponents who oppose even minimal abortion restrictions. In both cases, they know that there are powerful activist groups that really do see modest restrictions as a first step toward a total ban.

And in both cases, they're right.

MICKEY KAUS has a shocking tale of the Winona Ryder jury selection.

CRANKY PROFESSOR MICHAEL TINKLER is disgusted with this Washington Post article on angry young white males, which he suspects was assigned back when the editors of the Post thought that was the profile of the D.C. sniper. Excerpt:

And where does Ms. Stepp find the nerve to quote some professor of workforce education at Penn State “No one’s interested in the Bubbas”? Public voices, people, public voices. If you’ve got a P.C. monitor about referring to the Tyrones and Julios, apply it to the Bubbas, too.

Gosh, newspaper P.C. language is selective and sloppy. No wonder icy loners shoot suburban persons of color. Oh, wait! That’s not what happened!

Scroll down for Tinkler's take on the Bellesiles report, too:

Folks, this is as damning as one group of humanists can be. . . .

Anyone (like several of my friends) who thinks that 'gun nuts' brought Michael Bellesiles down should have to read this. Michael Bellesiles brought himself down. He did sloppy work (at the most charitable) and has been caught.

These professor-bloggers sure are smart. . . .

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Bellesiles story is on the front page of the Chronicle of Higher Education's website, though you'll need a subscription to read it. I don't subscribe to the Chronicle online, and the story's not on NEXIS yet, so I can only report that they're covering the story prominently -- though that in itself is news.

UPDATE: This link to the Chronicle story seems to work. The story is mildly favorable to Bellesiles, in that it closes with a quote from the Nation's Bellesiles defense of last week.

Bellesiles is certainly playing the martyr -- this story from the Washington Times quotes him as saying: "I believe that if we begin investigating every scholar who challenges received truth, it will not be long before no challenging scholarly books are published." While it's easy to understand why Bellesiles might choose to make such a claim, absurd as it is, I'm surprised that his remaining defenders are echoing it. Surely the claim that anyone who dares challenge the NRA will be crushed is a claim that is unlikely to promote more scholarship along the lines they find congenial. I conclude that either (1) they're too foolish to think this through; or (2) they don't intend such claims to be taken seriously. Or perhaps a bit of both.

JACQUES CHIRAC: THREAT TO WORLD ORDER, according to Tim Hames in The Times:

The evidence that rogue governments can inflict so much more chaos than rogue gunmen or groups does not seem to be concentrating minds much at the United Nations. . . .

It is has been widely claimed that Mr Putin will, after the horrors of Moscow, feel compelled to co-operate with the Americans over Saddam. This is to assume that the Russians are the real problem at the United Nations. They are not. Mr Putin has legitimate commercial and strategic interests in the region and is entitled to drive a hard bargain with Washington. That is what he is doing and it is not resented. The grotesque recent grandstanding by Jacques Chirac is an entirely different matter.

It is he who in the next few days will make or break a meaningful international stance against a menace far more awesome than snipers or Chechens. It is why, ironically, despite the bloodshed elsewhere, it is the President of France who is today the most serious obstacle to world order.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

JAMES MORROW wonders if the failure of the "angry white man" scenario where the sniper is concerned will cause the FBI to revisit its Anthrax theory. This Washington Post story casts more doubt on that always-dubious conception of the crime. Sounds like another case (see below) of saying "we're looking for a white truck."

TIDBITS: This story has a couple of interesting items:

Remarkably, law-enforcement sources tell NEWSWEEK, some investigators continued to cling to the belief that the sniper or snipers were driving a white van or truck. Like the talking heads on TV, they had convinced themselves that the snipers must be white men driving a white truck. They had trouble accepting that they should have been looking for two black men driving a blue car. They were fixated on cars fleeing the scene. It does not seem to have really occurred to them that the shooters would hang around—as they almost surely did. As it turned out, a witness had reported seeing a Caprice driving slowly with its lights off near the scene of the Oct. 3 shooting in northeast D.C. But in the dark, the witness remembered the car’s color as burgundy, not blue, and the lead was lost in the chatter over white vehicles. A witness outside the Fredericksburg, Va., Michaels craft store, scene of a shooting on Oct. 4, reported a “dark-colored vehicle with New Jersey tags” leaving the scene. A woman calling the tip line on Oct. 7 said she had spotted a black man crouching beneath the dashboard in a dark Chevy Caprice. The woman was struck by the intensity of the man’s stare. The agent on the tip line brushed her off. “We’re looking for a white truck,” she said.

(Emphasis added). And it turns out that Muhammad seems to have attacked the U.S. Army in wartime:

His sergeant, however, says he was “trouble from day one. You’d give him an order and you’d get a certain glare,” retired Sgt. Kip Berentson told NEWSWEEK. “He loved being in charge and he had a warped sense of humor.” Williams’s unit was sent to Operation Desert Storm to clear mines and bulldoze holes in enemy lines. A few nights before the invasion of Iraq, Sergeant Berentson awoke in the early hours to find his tent, with 16 sleeping men inside, on fire. Someone had tossed in a thermite grenade. Berentson, who was fed up with Williams’s insubordination, immediately suspected Williams and told the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. Berentson says he last saw Williams being led away in handcuffs. Williams’s military records make no mention of the incident; indeed, they suggest Williams had a distinguished gulf-war stint. But Berentson always kept Williams’s name and dog-tag number in his wallet. He says he was not surprised to see Williams’s face on television.

Hmm. Thanks to reader Chris Regan for spotting these items. Meanwhile, Robin Goodfellow writes that people misconceive Al Qaeda, but that Muhammad's actions are consistent with its actual organization: basically, more like a grant-making institution than a centralized hierarchy. And another reader says that Muhammad reminds him of someone else who seemed like a well-traveled ne'er-do-well: Richard Reid.

We'll see. It appears that the definition of "terrorism" favored by many in the government is a narrow one, requiring a decoder ring and an autographed picture of Osama bin Laden. The model here may be more akin to that in Bruce Sterling's novel Distraction, where ideology and propaganda were used to direct whatever susceptible individuals were available toward a chosen target.

October 27, 2002

WHY I LOVE COOL EDIT PRO: Cool Edit Pro is an audio editing program. There are others that are bigger sellers (WaveLab and Sound Forge, for example, both of which I also have, and which are perfectly fine). But Cool Edit Pro is the geek's favorite, and here's an example of why. I was reading the manual the other day. I hadn't bothered before because Cool Edit is very intuitive, and if you know your way around a recording studio most of its functions are quite obvious and easy to use. But the manual's actually very good, and in the midst of a multi-page section on different types of filters I ran across this:

Cool Edit Pro attempts to give as much flexibility as possible when designing filters. You can specify pass and stop band frequencies and an attenuation dB, and Cool Edit Pro will do the rest. However, advanced users may want to set the order of the filter for a number of reasons. . . . There is also an option 2 for this type. For this you specify everything but passband ripple, and Cool Edit Pro picks that. This can lead to some pretty strange-looking filters, but is good to give you an idea of the tradeoffs involved if nothing else. This is a holdover from the bad old days when filters were expensive and one was always trying to push what could be done with a low order filter. Now it's just there as a learning tool.

"Now it's just there as a learning tool." I love that philosophy, and the whole program is that way. It's easy to use, but it's designed to teach you things as you use it. Not coincidentally, it began its life as shareware.

THE VILLE has comments on the weekend's "peace" protests. Cato is unimpressed too, though he's addressing a slightly different group of antiwar activists. Meanwhile, reader Paul Music says that this incident reflects anti-war protesters' ability to foresee and respond to threats.

UPDATE: Reader Howard Veit emails:

Saw one in Eugene OR this weekend. Several hundred on two street corners. I was only impressed at the lack of young people demonstrating in this college town. I saw none. This was like an old time 60's or 70's bunch of wandering demonstrators. Old time peace signs, scraggly looking guys and dumpy looking women (no makeup, no hair, and serape like dresses), and no organized shouting.

This is clearly the old Anti-Vietnam crowd having their alumni moment.

Could be.

NATALIE SOLENT says Putin did the right thing, in spite of the casualties. I think she's right. The gas thing seems to have been handled in a less-than-optimal fashion, and people died.

But people would have died anyway -- probably in greater numbers. And this was done in an emergency, with hostages already being killed by terrorists who were ready to die themselves.

I can't help but feel that some of the criticism of Putin is a weird and particularly despicable form of schadenfreude, which has been echoed in a few emails that I've gotten, along the lines of "Your get-tough approach didn't work too well, did it?"

It seems to me that this attitude -- that it's preferable to do nothing and let people be killed than to do something and perhaps cause people, even in smaller numbers, to be killed -- is an example of the pathological fear of effectuality that I was discussing earlier.

I think that -- as Natalie writes -- it's better to do something like this than to pay the Danegeld and encourage more such behavior. It's possible that Putin's decision will turn out to be wrong, but I don't think so. Letting a mixture of Arab and Chechen terrorists kill over 700 citizens unobstructed would have been wrong.

UPDATE: Ron Campbell agrees. So does Cato.

SOME GUY WHO DOESN'T AGREE WITH STEVEN DEN BESTE has decided that arguing with him is too unpleasant. Instead, he thinks that Den Beste should be sealed off by some sort of Saudi-Arabian-style Internet firewall. Bruce R. of Flit isn't having any of it.

SECURE BENEATH THE WATCHFUL EYES: I meant to link to this post on surveillance in Britain the other day, but forgot. Check it out, and be appalled.

RADLEY BALKO OFFERS ONE OF THE MOST THOUGHTFUL ANTI-WAR POSTS that I've seen lately. I'm still not convinced, but it's better than anything you'll hear from Susan Sarandon, Al Sharpton, or any of the other famous demonstrators from this weekend.

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT FROM THE ABC, Jemaah Islamiyah has plans to create an Islamic superstate including Indonesia, Australia, and apparently parts of Asia.

Kind of ambitious for a bunch of guys who just blew up a disco, but insufficient ambition has never been these guys' problem. This may serve as a further wakeup call for Australia, though.


The more you know about the rancid methodology of Michael Moore, who wants you to see him as an honest documentarian, the less appealing he becomes.

This is, I think, the most favorable statement in the review.

COLBY COSH has an extended rant on the terrorists-are-idiots theme. I think he's basically right. Osama and his ideological soulmates were doing pretty well as of 9/10/2001, and they'd be doing better if they'd just left well enough alone.

UPDATE: This post by Nick Denton is, sort of, along the same lines.


INSTA-POWER, BABY! I don't know if it was in response to the comments at the end of this post or -- more likely -- in response to comments from Doris Kearns Goodwin's lawyers, but the AP has issued this clarification to yesterday's Bellesiles story:

ATLANTA (AP) -- An Oct. 26 Associated Press story about the resignation of Emory University professor Michael Bellesiles amid questions about his research for a book on the history of guns in America mentioned three other historians or academics recently caught up in controversy over their work.

The story misleadingly suggested that the three had been accused of academic fraud of a kind similar to that alleged against Bellesiles, who was found by an academic panel to be ``guilty of unprofessional and misleading work'' in his research. Bellesiles has denied the allegations.

In fact, the three others are not accused of fraudulent research, but of actions ranging from inadequate attribution of source material to plagiarism.

Whatever, I'm glad to see them make the point clear. (Thanks to reader Mike Daley for the headsup).

UPDATE: Fritz Schranck has criticisms of the original story and the correction. I like the Nixon comparison.


Mukhlis is one of 5 million Iraqi expatriates wandering the world like so many Gypsies. Unlike many of his countrymen, he's a leader in a group looking to bring democracy to Iraq. The Iraqi National Movement has U.S. State Department support and advice from the CIA, but Mukhlis points out that if Iraq wants democracy, it's going to have to rely on itself.

"What we are advocating is Iraqis getting rid of Saddam with American help," he said.

What the Iraqi National Movement suggests is turning Iraq's army against Saddam. "They have family and friends. And every family has suffered," Mukhlis said. "The opposition has to be a broad spectrum where there's representation for everybody."

I wonder why anti-Saddam Iraqis in America don't get as much attention as the much smaller number of anti-American Americans who go to Iraq?


NPR ran a story this morning on this weekend's 'peace' demonstrations in the US. The reporter noted that many of those demonstrating were veterans of Vietnam war era protest. In a revealing slip of the tongue, one woman recalled how those protests had "ended Vietnam". Indeed they did. Within two years of the US withdrawal, South Vietnam had fallen to communist rule. Thousands were murdered by the new regime, an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 people (out of a population of twenty million) were incarcerated in concentration (oh sorry, 're-education' ) camps for periods of up to ten years, and hundreds of thousands of boat people took the dangerous and often fatal route into exile. Quarter of a century later Vietnam remains a communist dictatorship. Doubtless the Vietnamese are most grateful to the peace campaigners of yesteryear.

And the campaigners remain proud of their success.

I'VE BEEN WORKING on my TechCentralStation column for this week (inspired by Jim Henley's "a pack, not a herd" phrase) and ran across this post from September. I think that as people fight over the Homeland Security department, it's worth remembering that so far on-the-spot responses from ordinary non-law-enforcement people -- the passengers on Flight 93, the folks on hand at LAX when Mohammed Hadayet started shooting, the passengers who subdued "shoebomber" Richard Reid, and now the truck driver who spotted Muhammad and Malvo's Caprice -- have been responsible for pretty much all of our domestic victories against terrorism.

BELLESILES UPDATE: The New York Times has finally run a story on Bellesiles' resignation in disgrace -- but it's just the AP story from yesterday. Given all the attention that the Times gave Bellesiles' book when it came out (and even the big story it ran early on attacking Bellesiles' critics) it's rather surprising that it's giving this denouement so little attention.

Or maybe it's not so surprising, after all.

UPDATE: When I blogged the above I was working from memory. The Times story in question is pretty pro-Bellesiles and paints his critics in a fairly negative light, but "attacking Bellesiles' critics" probably gives an overly harsh view of the story. Unfortunately, I don't have a web link for it.

DIANA HSIEH is a proud alumna of the Front Sight Institute. She's thus rather unhappy to discover a connection between the Institute's head and the Church of Scientology.

JIM BENNETT'S ADVICE TO EUROPE: Be careful what you wish for -- you might get it. "Americans must stop equating 'Europe' with the European Union. Europeans often complain about the failure of Americans to discern fine yet significant nuances in local situations. Thinking of Europe and the European Union as the same thing is precisely a failure to discern an important difference, although it is probably not the nuance European intellectuals had in mind."

I also like his suggestion for moving NATO headquarters to Warsaw or Budapest. (I'll bet Nick Denton would agree with him).

UPDATE: Reader Matt Crandall writes: "How about the Europeans stop equating all 'Americans' with cowboys? Perhaps the Europeans would also like to discover the significant nuances in our fifty states." Heh. I don't know -- moving NATO HQ is one thing, but Crandall's proposal seems a bit unrealistic to me. . . .

IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN: Michele at A Small Victory responds to Susan Sarandon.

MY DOUBTS ABOUT THE "SLEEPING GAS" appear to be correct:

The doctors in the footage described the gas as being a neuro-paralyzing agent, one that disables the body's nervous system. The description contrasts with other reports that described it as a sleeping gas.

Several readers point out that it seems to have killed an awful lot of the terrorists in proportion to the hostages. I'm reminded of the "Vee-Two nerve gas" from E.E. Smith's vintage science fiction stories: disabling, but fatal after a while without the antidote. This seems quite similar.

(Link via Shoutin' Across the Pacific).

MORAL EQUIVALENCE is hitting a new high in Germany. One wonders if this was the agenda all along.

WILLIAM SJOSTROM takes on Professor Diana Abu Jabr, who seems to think that people aren't agreeing with her because they're afraid to speak out. Sjostrom suggests that perhaps it's just that not that many people agree with her.

(Blogger problems, link broken, scroll down, blah blah).

UPDATE: Hmm. Or maybe she just can't read them because they've adopted the mind-boggling new lefty approach to debate identified by Nick Denton.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Maybe there are just a lot more Grandpa Jones types out there than Professor Abu Jabr realizes. (And no, he's not the father of Mother Jones, though that would make a kind of sense, wouldn't it?)

Meanwhile Josh Chafetz says that Abu Jabr confuses epistemology and ontology. "Please don't confuse losing a debate with having your opinions silenced."


The documents contain a handwritten statement by Zawahiri in which he signs himself Amin Abdulah Aman Mohammed, a businessman. “We entered Dagestan to study the local market and to build contacts for our business,” he wrote.

There is little doubt of the captive’s real identity, however — files stored on an Al-Qaeda laptop computer which later surfaced in Kabul contain extensive notes written by Zawahiri about his failed mission.

He came to the Caucasus in search of a new base: like Bin Laden he had found a safe haven in Sudan, but in 1996 both men were among militants who were expelled.

Chechnya seemed ideal — Muslim rebels had defeated the Russian army and gained de facto independence in their first war which had just ended in humiliating defeat for Moscow.

Zawahiri is not the only possible link between Chechnya and Al-Qaeda. A court in Hamburg heard last week that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11 hijackers, planned to travel to Chechnya to fight there.

The Times story expects Putin to make much of this. Will he make enough of it to start supporting the United States in the Security Council?

GORE VIDAL probably isn't out of bed yet, but his column in the Observer today has already been Fisked.

UPDATE: Damian Penny has a roundup of responses, and observes:

Vidal's pathetic conspiracy theorizing is yet another example of the moral quandary in which the ultra-left finds itself. The one and only guiding principle for the fringe left is that the United States is the most evil, oppressive country the world has ever known, period. And when an "alternative" like Islamofascism - a movement completely opposed to every stated goal of the far left, including women's rights and acceptance of homosexuality - comes along, the left is left with three choices: acknowledge that the Yanks and their allies are the lesser of two evils (as Christopher Hitchens has done); pretend to be "neutral" in the conflict, on the basis that (American) military action can never, ever be justified; or, in the case of Vidal and the IndyMidiots, assume that the Americans - especially the Republican president and his inner circle - must be in the wrong, because they simply cannot comprehend them ever being right. When the third option is chosen, wild conspiracy theorizing is what you get.

Yep. On a related front, the Angry Clam has a collection of links to Wellstone-related conspiracy theories.

EGYPT AND ANTISEMITISM: Geitner Simmons has a long post. Excerpt:

And so, with the new Egyptian TV series on the Protocols, the lies of anti-Semitism march into a new century. The ancient anti-Semite Manetho surely would be delighted.

Egyptians ought to be ashamed that such ignorance is about to be displayed so rapturously in their country. That they are not should give Americans great pause about the depths of prejudice and gullibility in the Muslim-Arab world.

Or no pause at all.

FLASHBUNNY has a hilarious post on why Hollywood has an unrealistic attitude toward guns and gun control:

Of course, we can see where they're coming from. A lot of movies would be pretty short when practical, real-world gun usage came into play. Consider the lack of suspense and drama if proper gun usage was depicted in the following movies:

Cujo: "Oh no, I'm trapped in my car by a large, rabid dog. Where did I put my Glock?"
The Birds:
"Boy, the air is so thick with birds, you don't even have to aim."
"Unarmed aliens are trying to kill us? Grab the AK's boys, we're going a-huntin'."
"Some psycho is trying to force me to eat until I die. I think I'll shoot him instead."
"Oh no, two men have broken into my house and are trying to kidnap me. How will I get their bloodstains out of my carpet???"
"If I can't actually kill Jason, he's going to look pretty damn funny walking around after I blow his head off with a 12 gauge."

And my abolute favorite:

The Fugitive: "Good thing my wife was able to shoot her one-armed attacker. He was trying to murder her and frame me for it."

There's more. Read it all. As Flashbunny points out, realistic use of firearms would blow the contrived suspense that keeps most dumb thriller movies (which is most thriller movies) going.

UPDATE: Check this out, too.

NO WAR FOR OIL: More like anti-war, for oil. This article in the New York Times points out, Hussein is favoring non-American companies from countries that are currently opposing war. So they're against war because it might interfere with their cozy contracts with a murderous dictator. Nice to see them taking a strong moral position.

A stronger moral case exists -- as Steven Den Beste has pointed out -- in favor of repudiating these contracts, and Iraq's existing debts, where countries like France, Russia and Germany are concerned. There should be consequences for supporting murderous dictators, and new countries, freed of dictators, should start out free of ruinous debts, too.

And, as Bush said in a different but related context, there have to be consequences. Crossing the United States should be expensive.

UPDATE: Reader Brian O'Connor writes:

This raises an interesting point about our friends & allies, the
French and Russians ...

France and Russia indeed do have heavy financial interests in
Iraq. But I doubt that this alone accounts for the strength
of their opposition to our UN resolution. After all, we could
simply guarantee that their investments and deals with Saddam
would be honored by whatever government succeeds his. Or
we ourselves could cover Iraq's outstanding debts in exchange
for French and Russian votes in the UN.

No ... it's not just about money. And it certainly isn't principle.

There is almost desperation in their opposition, and I'm betting
that they are scared to death that if we enter Baghdad, we'll find
records detailing exactly what those two countries (and others
as well) have been up to with Iraq over the past 10 years.

I'm betting that there are some documents there that would prove
to be immensely embarrassing to Paris and Moscow (and perhaps
others as well), and that Saddam is simply reminding them of that
fact in exchange for their support in the UN. I think it's a case of
international blackmail.



One month after Muhammad arrived on Antigua with Gianquinto, he flew into Miami International Airport. He entered the country on April 14, 2001, with two Jamaican women and a young girl. Muhammad presented a false birth certificate, and the women and the child also presented false documents, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service interrogated Muhammad, unsure whether he was a U.S. citizen. The INS contacted the U.S. attorney's office in Miami, but prosecutors there declined to charge Muhammad, the sources said. A conviction for presenting false identification documents carries a 15-year prison sentence.

Jeez, this guy is like the old joke: he couldn't get arrested! No wonder he was so confident in his actually rather limited criminal skills.

Here's more on the Antigua connection. And note that the April 23, 2001 date on this document doesn't match the story Muhammad apparently told the feds on April 14 about having just changed his name: "One source close to the case said Muhammad told INS agents that he had changed his last name after converting to Islam and that he received the phony certificate to match his driver's license, which listed his last name as Muhammad." Kind of embarrassing that they fell for that.

BIG STORY ON THE PATRIOT ACT in tomorrow's Washington Post, setting it up almost as a battle between Viet Dinh and Pat Leahy. One apparent error:

In the year since the Patriot Act was approved, the government has moved quickly to take full advantage of new and existing powers.

More than a thousand noncitizens were detained without being charged last fall, and their identities were kept secret.

If I'm not mistaken, those detentions were pretty much a done deal by the time the Patriot Act took effect, and were not based on its authority.