January 25, 2003

AXIS OF WEASELS UPDATE: This article reports a sign at the antiwar protests last weekend reading "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield – Axis of Weasel" -- meaning that Scott Ott didn't come up with the term first. But, of course, that makes the Scrappleface use of the term all the more impressive: not just creating a meme, but turning the opposition's term against it, to the point where only geeky bloggers such as myself note the prior usage.

UPDATE: "Axis of Weasels" has made Maureen Dowd's column for tomorrow. She also has a kind-of retraction of the Jefferson Davis wreath story. I'm calling that two triumphs for the blogosphere, with extra points for degree-of-difficulty.

NEW YORKISH is sort of like the offspring of a drunken roll in the hay involving Gawker and The Onion.

MICKEY KAUS ARGUES that if you're anti-war, you should support Medicare reform!

I'm not sure I'm buying this, but it's amusing.

JOHN COLE's Balloon Juice has moved. Drop by, say hello, and adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

And via Balloon Juice, I noted that this Norman Borlaug oped -- which appeared in the for-pay Wall Street Journal earlier this week -- is now online at OpinionJournal. It's a must-read on the subject of genetic engineering and third-world hunger. Borlaug won a Nobel Peace Prize -- and, unlike some more recent recipients, actually deserved it.


The rally - intended to last 24 hours - was called in protest against a court decision to block a referendum on President Chavez's rule, which opponents say is dictatorial.

Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, has been gripped by the eight-week strike, which has caused severe fuel and some food shortages.

President Chavez is refusing to step down, saying his opponents are being manipulated by Venezuela's wealthy elite. . . .

The protesters have accused Mr Chavez of behaving like a dictator and mismanaging the economy and have called on him to resign or call early elections.

They flooded a four-kilometre stretch (2.5 miles) of the major highway, chanting Until he goes! and waving the national colours of the Venezuelan flag.

There are blog-pictures here.

THE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY has formed. There's even a branch in Tennessee.

I was tempted to make the usual Stoner joke, but, actually, I wish them success. The "War on Drugs" is a horrible disaster that will, I think, be looked back on as an episode ranking somewhere between Prohibition and slavery on the scale of institutionalized evil.

LOTT UPDATE: So is the Lott affair over, or not? A few days ago, it looked as if it had been laid to rest, but people are still talking. I've been waiting for Jim Lindgren to do a wrapup on this, which he was going to do last week but which he's now promising for sometime next week. Lott critic-in-chief Tim Lambert summarizes the whole affair here, and while his dislike of, and distrust of, Lott is quite evident, he's got all the links pro and con. There is now substantial evidence that Lott did in fact conduct a survey in 1997 -- some factual corroboration and one person who says he was surveyed, which seems to be enough to satisfy most people, if not all. And certainly there's no evidence presented, beyond inference and questions, that Lott didn't conduct the survey. If that changes, I'll certainly let you know.

But for now, the surest sign that this issue is largely settled is that Lambert is now arguing a different question -- not whether the survey was conducted, but whether the 98% figure is accurate. I have no opinion on this at all. I'm not qualified to judge the statistical merit of this stuff, and at any rate, the question originally presented wasn't whether Lott is a poor scholar, but whether he's an honest one.

I've been uncomfortable blogging on this subject because I've been involved in trying to get to the bottom of it, though chiefly in the form of repeated and forceful admonitions to Lott to make as much information public as possible, as soon as possible. Lott has released his income tax data and all of the information on his forthcoming survey replicating the 1997 study to scholars for examination. They seem satisfied. (Interestingly, Lott, like Lambert, seems to think that the real question is whether his figure is ultimately right. They're both wrong, in my opinion). Unlike the Bellesiles affair, where I was on the outside wondering why it was getting no attention, here I was (somewhat) on the inside -- enough, at any rate, that blow-by-blow blogging felt wrong, especially on side issues like email pseudonyms.

I've been a bit annoyed by the efforts on behalf of many to make this into a Bellesiles-payback case. First, the Bellesiles case was in the email-list and scholarly inquiry phase for over two years. When I first blogged it, on October 3, 2001, the Bellesiles case had already been the subject of extensive detective work by Clayton Cramer, investigative reports in the Boston Globe and National Review Online, and over a year of back-and-forth on the same email list where people have been discussing Lott. My first post was, in fact, occasioned by Emory University's demand to Bellesiles that he explain himself. I hadn't blogged the issue earlier because it seemed premature; people were still looking into the matter.

As I said in my first post on this subject, even Lambert stated up front that this question didn't call Lott's main argument into question. Bellesiles was accused of, and eventually shown to have engaged in, outright fabrication of major data crucial to the essential argument of a major published work. Lott was accused, and not shown to have engaged in, false reports of conducting a study that was never published anywhere. The Bellesiles process went on for two years. The Lott process, by that standard, has taken place in an eyeblink. It's also notable that Tim Lambert wasn't ignored or dismissed in the way that Clayton Cramer was for years, and that some of those (including me) who have leaned hardest on Lott to explain himself are those who generally favor the results that his work shows. That's in notable contrast to the Bellesiles case, too.

Greg Beato, who sometimes takes it upon himself to lecture me on fairness and decorum, has demonstrated his commitment to fairness and decorum by photoshopping Lott in drag and conflating Bellesiles' false claims that a critic had forged emails attributed to him, with Lott's use of a pseudonym in chat groups, two rather different things, on the dubious basis that both were "Internet-related."

Lott has not covered himself with glory in this matter, and the pseudonymous-posting thing is kind of weird (though, um, certain bloggers are not in a position to criticize pseudonymous argument too much, and raising it after the main claim seemed to have been laid to rest seemed a bit cheesy to me). And I think that Lott's reputation will suffer from all of this, and it probably should. But the desire of many people to have a Bellesiles-payback-on-the-cheap has done them no credit either. Accusing an academic of fraud is a serious matter, best done by those who -- like Clayton Cramer, or Jim Lindgren -- have done actual work, and have actual evidence relevant to the matter at hand. That's one reason why I've waited on Lindgren, since everyone seems to agree that he's honest, and he can hardly be accused of wanting a Bellesiles payback. And when Lindgren posts his findings, I'll report those, of course.

UPDATE: David Levy, an economist at GMU, emails:

I've known John Lott for a long time and he's been really good about data sharing. I require students to replicate published worked in my econometrics classes and one of them had the guts to get data from John. "Guts" only
because the data set is huge. It came on a zip disk (if I remember correctly) and probably in Stata format. No one at George Mason was using Stata then so it was a mild pain to get it converted.

People reviewing their own work and neglecting to sign their name has a long, wonderful tradition. One of the best reviews of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass is by ... yup ... WW himself.

Levy also edits the excellent Library of Economics website.



next week is the crunch. I expect we will come to look back on this as we do now upon the League of Nations in its last moments -- the League's failure to act on Abyssinia, and so forth, in the gathering clouds of World War II.

The U.N. has manoeuvred Mr. Bush into a position where he cannot advance towards Baghdad without pushing them over. It follows he will push them over -- and let the world know why. As I see it, we have reached the end of the road, either for Mr. Bush or for the United Nations. I expect Mr. Bush to prevail; but if he doesn't, I'll tell you. I expect Mr. Bush to be blamed for the convulsion that then seizes the U.N., but in the longer run I think it will be seen that the U.N. killed itself.

The North American media are if possible overplaying the soap operatic performances of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, as they strew thumbtacks along the road to Baghdad. If you turn to the European media, you see that the French and Germans themselves hardly take their leaders so seriously. They are used to this kind of cynical posturing, and it doesn't make the front page. What scares them is rather the American earnestness, the possibility that Mr. Bush means what he says. They expect politicians to lie to them -- it is part of the "social contract" as in Canada -- and when one of them starts putting his money where his mouth is, they are naturally alarmed. . . .

Here, in microcosm, is the real battle, the one reflected in macrocosm in the contest between Mr. Bush and the United Nations. It could be summed in one sentence:

"Do we think that what we ARE is worth defending?"


HERE'S A RATHER UNDER-COVERED DEMONSTRATION: 40,000 Koreans demonstrating in favor of the United States, and getting next to no coverage in the United States.

ELECTRONIC BALLOT-BOX STUFFING isn't very hard in Canada's NDP elections, according to David Artemiw. More proof of the general superiority of paper ballots.

MORE ALGERIANS: This just keeps happening:

Four Algerians are being investigated over possible terrorist links after being stopped leaving a bureau de change with thousands of pounds in cash.

The men held outside a London bureau by Customs officers were carrying more than Ј16,000 in US dollars.

Security services were alerted and are investigating where the money came from, what it was for and the possibility it was linked to terrorist funding in the UK or abroad.

The cash, which Customs believed to be linked to criminal activity, was seized on January 9 following an intelligence operation.

When stopped, the men claimed the money had been withdrawn from a bank account in Algeria and that it was going to be used for clothes shopping in the UK and US.

They produced copies of bank slips and invoices but investigators established through officials in Algeria that the account did not exist.

"I'm shopping for clothes. My size? I wear a 'C-4' -- see, that's why it's on my shopping list for the Semtex mall. . . . It's somewhere in New Jersey, I think."

THE NEW YORK TIMES IS WAY BEHIND THE BLOGOSPHERE, but it's finally onto the International A.N.S.W.E.R. story:

Answer, whose name stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, was formed a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, by activists who had already begun coming together to protest policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Some of the group's chief organizers are active in the Workers World Party, a radical Socialist group with roots in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The party has taken positions that include defense of the Iraqi and North Korean governments and support for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugolav president being tried on war crimes charges.

The positions of some of Answer's members have caused rifts in past antiwar movements as well. In January 1991, at the onset of the Persian Gulf war, two coalitions of protesters marched separately, on consecutive weekends, because one refused to align itself with the other, whose members included current Answer officers who would not criticize the Iraqi government or support economic sanctions against it.

In an interview today, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a spokeswoman for Answer, said questions raised about the group's role were "classic McCarthy-era Red-baiting."

It's not McCarthyism to call people who are communists, communists. Communists, as devoted followers of murderous totalitarianism, deserve to be called to account every bit as much as their Nazi colleagues. And in the 21st century, they can hardly pretend to be ignorant of their ideology's true nature.

I think it's interesting, though, that today's antiwar movement hasn't maintained the separation from the communists that it maintained before. Some people are catching on, though:

The next national rally is scheduled for Feb. 15 in New York, and it is being sponsored by United for Peace, a coalition of more than 120 groups, most of them less radical than Answer.

It's pretty hard to be more radical than a group whose key members think that the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, are both just fine. These guys don't seem to have gotten the word, though.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll notes that the Times story has proved James Lileks right: "McCarthyism" today doesn't mean false accusations of communism; it apparently means calling self-identified communists by their proper name.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Adesnik criticizes my blanket condemnation of communism, and there's an interesting debate going on over on Oxblog. Nelson Ascher, who informed me of the debate, sends this answer to Adesnik:

A communist in America today who in his way endorses the Gulag is every bit as much an apologist for totalitarianism and genocide as any rightwing nut who denies the Holocaust. In a way, we could say he/she is even worse, because there is no Nazi extermination camp in activity anywhere, but there are Gulags in places like Cuba, North Korea or China. Thus, while a German neo-Nazi, for instance, is directly responsible at most for some immigrants killed in Europe, a communist is backing exisiting regimes that keep exterminating hundreds of thousands as we discuss.

Then, his idea that they or some of them may have been justified because of "their passionate commitment to social justice" is rather hard to defend. We could even say that at least the Nazis were sincere (though nobody would take them at their word in time) while the communists gave even hypocrisy a bad name. Murdering in the name of lofty ideals is, for me, an extra perversion once, besides the human corpses, they littered the discourse with the corpses of the ideas and ideals they've instrumentalised and debased. That, by the way, is exactly what many in the left are doing nowadays when they use terms like "peace" and "human rights" to promote Saddam's dictatorship or the cold blooded massacre of Israelis. And what was exactly the kind of social justice they actually preached? Hunger for all, except for party members.

It's because there are people trying to show that, well, the worst the left did wasn't as bad as the worst the right did, that our European friends keep denying that leftist synagogue burning is anti-Semitic. What's the next step? Looking for the righteous roots of Islamicist anger? The Muslims too have their own ideas about social justice, right?

When, during the Russian civil war, the Finnish whites were threatening to intervene against the Bolsheviks, Lenin warned Mannenheim that the distance from Henlsinki to Petrograd was the same as the distance from Petrograd to Helsinki. Thus, "the gulf that separates America from Europe" because of "simplistic" American anti-Communism isn't smaller than the gulf that separates Europe from America because of simplistic European apology of communist crimes.

The Western European communists backed their Eastern European, Cuban, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese counterparts until the bitter end and even after that. For God's sake: the Trotskyites nowadays do back lunatic Stalinist/Maoist regimes such as that in North Korea! They've also backed the fascistic military in Argentine during the Falklands war as well as the Talibans.

Yes, the only unifying thread I can find is opposition to America if possible, and, failing that, opposition to Western ideas of freedom. To call such an ideology evil is no exaggeration. To defend it is to defend, well, evil.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meryl Yourish responds to the defenders of A.N.S.W.E.R.'s role in the protests.

I'VE HAD TROUBLE REACHING A LOT OF SITES TODAY, and Oliver Willis emails that this fast-spreading Internet worm may be the reason. He says he can't even reach his own site. I hope the first-class tech people at HostingMatters are on the ball; so far, InstaPundit seems fine.

If it goes down, don't forget the backup at And those of you who run your own servers, well, be careful.

UPDATE: Dave Winer notes that blogs beat Big Media on this one.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Of course, if I'd bothered to check the support forum I would have seen that the geniuses at HostingMatters were already on top of it.

U.N. INSPECTORS MURDER IRAQI DEFECTOR, FAMILY: How bad is this story? Bad enough to get Chris Kanis to come out of retirement. Excerpt from the CNN Report:

Appearing agitated and frightened, the young man, with a closely trimmed beard and mustache, sat inside the white U.N.-marked utility vehicle for 10 minutes, AP reported. At first, an inspection team leader sought help from nearby Iraqi soldiers, but the man refused to leave the vehicle as the uniformed men pulled on his sleeve and collar.

"I am unjustly treated!" he shouted.

Then U.N. security men arrived, and they and Iraqi police carried the man by his feet and arms into the fenced compound, journalists said. The man was turned over to Iraqi authorities at a government office adjacent to the compound, U.N. officials said.

I guess the U.N. wouldn't want to give would-be Iraqi defectors the idea that doing so might be, you know, safe. The guy had a notebook. I wonder what was in it?

I suppose he could be just a common garden-variety nut, but he doesn't look like one in the picture, and we'll certainly never know. But the message was undoubtedly received by any potential defectors: approach us, and we'll hand you over.

Can we charge the inspectors with "material breach?"

A PACK, NOT A HERD: I reported last week on the two heroic teenagers who subdued an armed and dangerous classmate in Arroyo Grande, California. Sadly, I was about the only one outside the local media in Arroyo Grande who did. Here's a local column on the subject:

It’s not often that students jump a gun-toting, teenage nut-ball who’s taken a classroom hostage at gunpoint, then wrestle him to the floor so their high school won’t become synonymous with Columbine and grape Kool-Aid.

Arroyo Grande High students Clay Gheza and Jonathan Griswold did. The kid who’d walked into their sophomore English class on Friday waving a 9 mm pistol with murder in mind was more interested in having a bloody good time than conjugating verbs. If Gheza and Griswold hadn’t grabbed him, we’d probably be attending a lot of funerals this week and I’d be so despairing that you wouldn’t be able to read this column because I wouldn’t be able to write it, and it’d be hard for you to read it anyway, blinking away all those tears.

Everybody in SLO County knows about it, and that’s the problem: Nobody else does. That’s what makes me more annoyed than usual. . . .

I flipped the channels incessantly, endlessly, annoyingly on Friday and Saturday and all this week, hoping to see Gheza and Griswold being interviewed by Connie Chung and Wolf Blitzer about their amazing act of selfless regard on that Friday morning, how they leapt and struggled the kid to the ground, holding the his arm down, the gun waving, struggling more, it might go off, the students screaming, the bullet, the bullet, it might go off, we could all be killed, hold him, hold him–

And the inevitable lame question from our irrepressible, ubiquitous, and oh-so-coifed national news models: "And how did you feel?" Headlines across the nation, "Student Heroics Avert Classroom Murder," a phone call from the president, "Boys, your braveness and heroicking makes me proud–could sure use your help with that Baghdad bozo," and the talking heads nodding and blabbing, "McLaughlin," "McNeil," "The Capitol Gang," all bursting with amazed approval, astonishment, and praise, "Gosh, Jim, can you believe it? Amazing, simply amazing, why if they’d been on board those planes, there’d have been no Twin Towers disaster–we’ll be right back with an exclusive interview right after the break … "

Nope. Nothing. Zippola-nada-noodle. If there was a mention, I missed it, and so did everyone I know who has a TV remote and a national newspaper subscription and the sense to know that this is the stuff journalists stumble out of bed each morning nursing their hangovers over, hoping to find that big old dog with that big old bite for that big old Pulitzer, maybe today, maybe, maybe–Arroyo Grande? Where’s that? How many kids got killed? None? Bummer. Hey, I know! We could go make some ice cubes on the sidewalk!"

"I just thought, ‘I’m going to take him down,’" Jonathan Griswold told the Tribune. "We didn’t want him to hurt anyone," said Clay Gheza, with humble modesty that makes me feel like a jerk. I could learn from him.

So could Dan Rather, as soon as he pulls his head out of his butt.

I don't actually believe that there's a conspiracy among Big Media to constantly present an image of the American public as a bunch of bumbling, helpless boobs in need of constant supervision by the Nanny State, while suppressing all evidence to the contrary. But, you have to admit, its easy to see why some people do think that.

UPDATE: As far as I can tell, the story only got covered in the item I link above, and in these ""news brief" treatments in the Mercury News and the Fresno Bee, where it sat next to stories about community fund-raising dances and too-tall Santa statues. Pretty damned lame.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Scott Boone reports that it got some coverage:

I DID see a national news story on these guys...I think it was on 20/20 the other night (Thursday). I say "I think" because it could have been Dateline, etc (sorry, I was flipping channels, being a "pirate" and not watching the commercials--please don't rat on me ;)

Anyhow, the one thing about the interview that really caught me was the fact that the interviewer never really tied this act with the acts on Flight 93...that they really are in the same vein. And more importantly, nothing was even HINTED at that it is THIS kind of vigilance and courage that we, as a country, need to promote in order to vanquish our savage enemies and their idiotarian allies. They wryly made more hay out of the fact that the "jocks" did nothing, and that the "rocker" and the "surfer" saved the day...geez, nice time to solidify the foundations of class warfare.

Just wanted to pass along that it was at least news-magazined, if underreported.

Well, sorry, you're busted on the commercial-skipping thing, you "thief." Funny that a local writer didn't know about this (and neither did the Arroyo Grande local who sent me the link), but not actually shocking. Did anyone else see any coverage?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire has found some other coverage, though far less than the story deserves.

He thinks the story should be all over talk radio. I agree.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, here's a transcript of a CNN story. Maybe nobody in Arroyo Grande actually watches TV?

And reader Fred Butzen emails:

Many thanks for the posting on Gheza and Griswold. Having a couple of teenagers myself, one of whom has just signed up with the Marines, I appreciate hearing stories like this. There's a lot of troubled kids out there, but there's also a lot of kids whose heads are screwed on straight as well.

Their action, though, simply underscores what a woman friend said to me after 9/11:

"It takes balls to live free."

I can't think of a better summary of why we fight the Islamofascists - and why we'll win.

And why the French aren't interested. . . .

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND THE INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM: An interesting perspective from someone who has seen both.

A READER SENDS THIS LINK to an Iraq Daily column and asks "Isn't Tupac Shakur dead?"

Ah, but that's what they want you to think. Actually he became disgusted with American imperialism and defected to Iraq, where he's producing propaganda to educate the masses.

Coming soon: An explanation of why the American people really don't support Bush, despite the recent election and Congressional declaration of war, by Notorious B.I.G.

Oh, wait -- my mistake: it's already out!

HERE'S A WHITE HOUSE PAPER on what genuine disarmament looks like. Not surprisingly, it's rather different from the shell game that Iraq has been running. Put it together with this oped by Condi Rice from earlier in the week, and the White House has made pretty clear what it's demanding, and what it's not getting, from Iraq.

I'VE HINTED AT POSSIBLE UNTOWARD FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS involving North Korea and South Korean politicians. This story isn't quite what I had in mind, but it's fascinating.

MORE ON THE PRIVACY FRONT: I'm deeply skeptical about this program:

Last week, the Transportation Security Agency announced its intent to create a new passenger-screening database that will be the centerpiece of a system to scan for potential terrorists by instantly checking every domestic traveler's credit history, arrest record and property tax data.

Property tax data? Hmm. I suppose that could be a legitimate way of checking addresses -- but only for people who own property. Seems dubious. Or will we -- along the lines of other programs -- start saying that people who owe property taxes, or child support, will lose the "privilege" of travel by airplane?

There's this, though, which is comforting as long as you believe it:

Unlike the controversial Total Information Awareness research project, the central database of the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Program II, or CAPPS II, will contain permanent financial records, intelligence reports and law enforcement records only on those suspected of posing a national security risk, according to the Jan. 15 Privacy Act notice.

But how many of these assurances do I believe? Sadly, based on past performance, not very many.

FRANCE AND IRAQ? Trent Telenko says that France has lost it. A reader calls the current self-destructive stand the diplomatic equivalent of WaterWorld (Ouch!) -- an expensive bit of self-indulgence that's effectively going to end France's position as a Bankable Star.

January 24, 2003

"IF YOU DON'T REMEMBER HIM, Gary Hart is the Democrat who cheated on his wife with a skinny girl." Jay Leno, just now. The joke didn't get a very big laugh.

THE NEW SMARTER HARPER'S INDEX is up! Don't miss it.

TONY ADRAGNA is fact-checking TAPPED.

UPDATE: Well, it appears to be more complex than Adragna thought, though apparently it's more complex than TAPPED thought, too. Does anybody know what's going on there?

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT! No, really, that's what it is.

HEY! There might be hope for Robert Fisk yet! Okay, cuteness aside, this story about a reattached head (yes, that's what I said) is pretty cool.


The Al Qaeda arrests here in Barcelona (see below) are significant news. They are solid proof that Al Qaeda is a threat to the civilized world. They planned to commit acts of terrorism, apparently using chemicals, right here. And in London, Paris, and Strasbourg. If this doesn't convince Europeans, including those in France, for God's sake, that it's time to draw a line in the sand and say "Take your stand. You're either with us and against the terrorists, and we mean all the terrorists; you're neutral and will enjoy the advantages and also suffer the drawbacks of having been a fence-sitter; or you're on their side. Which is it?"--then I don't know what will. And if anyone doesn't see by now that Al Qaeda is in cahoots with Hezbollah, Al Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and all those other flaming bags of shit, you are willfully ignoring the obvious. And where do those people get their money, weapons, and support? Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, Algeria. AND certain people, some highly placed, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and everywhere else in the Arab / Muslim world and a lot of places outside it.

What I find amazing are all the educated, intelligent people who are perfectly willing to believe that mobile phones fry their brains, that Monsanto is trying to take over the world, that the CIA or the Mafia or the Teamsters killed Kennedy, that there's a conspiracy between the government, the referees, and some obscure figures with "muchos intereses" to screw FC Barcelona out of the League again this year, that opening the window when it's hot outside is bad for you, that you can catch a cold if the wind blows on you, that crystals have a lot of power and so do pyramids and that everyone has an energy field (and that mine is negative), that feng fuckin' shui is something more than a millenarian superstition, that electric power lines give off radiation, that there are people out there who pay untold sums of money to watch snuff movies, that there are Satanic cults sacrificing babies infiltrating our nursery schools, that it's possible to lose weight without eating less, exercising more, or both, that AIDS is a plot by the federal government to exterminate blacks or gays or both, that the CIA was running drugs from Nicaragua into the USA to fund the contras, that you can learn a foreign language by paying thousands of dollars and sitting at a computer terminal, that the US Army had hit squads to kill deserters in Vietnam, that O.J.'s son was the one who really did it, or that this whole war thing is a devilish plot cooked up between the oil companies, the Pentagon, the arms manufacturers, Dick Cheney, and the Bavarian Fuckin' Illuminati, yet they are unwilling to believe that there are governments and organizations out there that are working together with the goal of destroying everything that we all cherish about our Western society and that maybe we ought to take action against them now while we still can rather than wait until we can't anymore.

Indeed. Scroll down for quite a lot of detailed information on who these Algerian Al Qaeda sympathizers are.

LAW PROFESSOR BLOGGER ERIC MULLER has more thoughts on Korematsu.

GOOD GRIEF! Traffic's already over 100K, again! Hmm. I blame the cold weather, keeping people close to their nice, warm computers. . . .

UPDATE: At 11:45, it's 111, 449 -- a new record by a mile. Must be damn cold out there.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Adam Woolcock emails: "Don't credit the cold weather for all your hits! Here in Melbourne, Australia it was 43d celcius here today (109 fahrenheit). If any of your readers want to swap and come live in this inferno i'll be happy to take offers."

Er, well, in your case maybe it's the nice, air-conditioned computer room. . . .


TONY ADRAGNA OBSERVES: "Problem with the French is that they need a reminder 'bout how everytime the Germans exert influence on the Continent things invariably end up worse."

You'd think they'd have learned by now.

A MAJOR DROPPED BALL in Defense Department computer security. Jeez.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC will be doing a swimsuit issue, next month. Hmm. Maybe I should do an InstaPundit swimsuit issue!

Maybe I shouldn't.


UPDATE: John Scalzi is dissing Salon's business model and also points out that InstaPundit gets as many daily uniques as Salon has subscribers. On the one hand, well, that's true, but I don't charge people thirty bucks a year. On the other hand, I haven't burned though tens of millions of dollars of other people's money by funding lavish offices, wild parties, and absurd vanity ventures.

Hmm. And too bad -- it sounds like it would have been fun!


The Anglo-American conquest of Iraq will be seen in history as what historians like to call a turning point. It will mean the end of the UN as anything even remotely resembling a meaningful international body. It will also mean the practical end of NATO, which just refused a request that it move forces to protect its member Turkey from any Iraqi punishing attack north. It will totally alter the world diplomatic situation, with many bilateral relationships becoming stronger and others becoming much more cool and the reputations of some nations rising and those of others dropping through the floor. And it's going to end up changing the political dynamic inside Europe which has until now fed the process of formation and expansion of the EU.

The conquest of Iraq will wipe away any remaining traces of the international diplomatic order left over from the Cold War.

And it's going to happen and no amount of vocal opposition and diplomatic grandstanding is capable now of forcing Bush to involuntarily refrain from ordering the attack.

I think he's probably right. And I think that a reformed Iraq has the potential to lead to regime change throughout the region -- something that the various leaders have been worried about, as have their patrons (and clients?) elsewhere.

UPDATE: The Pontificator says I'm wrong to want regime change throughout the region, since it might be bloody and chaotic.

Bloody might be okay, if it's the right people. I'm perfectly happy to see the last emir strangled with the entrails of the last mullah, if it comes to that. But it probably won't, or at least it need not. After all, you could have made (and people did make) the same kind of predictions about the fall of the Soviet Union, and it didn't turn out that way.

At any rate, regime change will come anyway, sooner or later, because it's a region of weak states, unhappy citizens, and strong outside interest. I think this is a better context for regime change than we're likely to find otherwise. And, as I said earlier:

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

This is also why I prefer a Mussolini-style ending in which Saddam is lynched by his own people to exile, or even a trial. I think that would provide a valuable lesson.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ann Haker emails:

If Saudi subjects now see that their neighbor, Iraq, is using its oil wealth to build a dynamic and vibrant economy, while their own leaders have lavished most of the oil revenues on themselves and their Swiss bank accounts, they wil begin to demand that the oil wealth of the Arabian Peninsula be used for their benefit, not the benefit of the al Saud family.

That's what the Saudi family must fear most.

Well, maybe not most, but yes, I think the "trust" move was a diplomatic stroke that hit several targets at once.

BOY, THE U.S. / EUROPE DIVIDE HAS GOTTEN BAD: Rand Simberg has found contingency planning for a U.S. invasion.

A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEMED TO LIKE my Neal Stephenson-inspired post on Athena, Ares and war. So quite a few may also be interested in this review by Lynne Kiesling of Joel Mokyr's The Gifts of Athena.


A Far North Dallas man who shot and killed two would-be burglars Thursday morning probably will not face charges, according to Dallas police and legal experts.

About 9 a.m. Thursday, the 29-year-old man was at home with his wife and three young children when a man knocked on the side door and asked for someone the resident did not know, police said.

One or both suspects then forced their way into the apartment, shooting the resident once in the arm, police said. The resident retreated to his bedroom, retrieved a gun, and a shootout ensued in the living room on Knoll Trail Drive near the Dallas North Tollway, police said. . . .

"In Texas, we maximize the idea of your home is your castle, and if intruders break in, they do so at their own peril," said Jerry Dowling, a criminal law professor at Sam Houston State University.

Somebody send this guy to Britain. Or Brooklyn.

SOME FOLKS ARE ANGRY about the whole "Axis of Weasel" thing, and are demanding to be called something else.

UPDATE: Then, in the mean-but-funny category, we find this, and this.

STEPHEN GREEN is back and blogging. He poses this question:

French soldiers and ships helped bring us victory in our Revolution. French farmers gave us brie and crиme fraоche and the wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux. French thinkers gave us Voltaire and Victor Hugo. France stands second to only the United Kingdom as the European nation contributing most to Western Civilization.

But after WWI, France went as bad as potato salad left out at a sunny summer picnic.

From victory at the Marne to occupation after Ardennes in ’40. Defeat in Vietnam. Defeat in Algeria. From confidence against rising German power to subsuming to it under the EU. From a muscular foreign policy to carping from the sidelines.

What the hell went wrong?

I blame an insufficiency of healthy lycopene, but Stephen has a different explanation.

AXIS OF WEASELS UPDATE: Reader Scott Hanson emails from Germany that it's being reported there:

The Axis of Weasels is getting coverage even in the German media. NDRInfo, the regional news radio station, was interviewing their Washington correspondent about the 'old Europe' flap. When asked how Americans were reacting, he pointed out the 'Axis of Weasel' headline from the NY Post. Of course, he had to explain what 'weasel' meant in this context, since 'Axis of Small Mammals' doesn't exactly convey the correct meaning.


It's been a good week for ScrappleFace, as this Best of the Web item notes:

ScrappleFace: Tomorrow's News Today

"U.N. Tells Blix 'Stop Looking for Smoking Guns' "--headline,, Jan. 9

"US Tells Blix Not to Look for 'Smoking Gun' "--headline, Australian Broadcasting Corp. Web site, Jan. 24

"Rumsfeld Sorry for 'Axis of Weasels' Remark"--headline,, Jan. 22

"AXIS OF WEASELS: Germany and France Wimp Out on Iraq"--front-page headline, New York Post, Jan. 24

If I were Scott Ott, I'd be saying "Buwahahaha!" Something he wrote on his computer yesterday is giving French and German diplomats heartburn today. If that's not the American Dream come true, I don't know what is.

HMM: This must be the "New Europe:"

Czech soldiers who accepted an offer to return home from Kuwait if they "did not feel ready" for a US-led war against Iraq have come in for huge public criticism.

Nobody expected any of the 250-strong Nuclear, Biological and Chemical unit to take up the offer from a defence minister hoping to illustrate his soldiers' dedication. But when 27 of them did - with seven of them flying straight home - national pride was severely dented.

Such was the opprobrium that the remaining 20 are thinking of staying on. The army reports that soldiers, stung by the reaction, are volunteering by the dozen and another 130 will be on their way to Kuwait this weekend.

"I don't want to be called a coward, that's why I've stayed," said one soldier. "We've already stayed two months over our time."

"I don't want to be called a coward." And a public willing to do it. It's hard to imagine this happening with, say, French troops. . ..

(Via Porphyrogenitus, who notes that the New York Times needs to get around a bit more and move beyond the sclerotic Eurocracy when it reports on European attitudes and events.)

SO WHO'S RIGHT ABOUT WHAT'S RUINING AMERICA? Walter Olson, or Arianna Huffington? I address this question over at

MORE ALGERIANS arrested in Spain.

UPDATE: Here's more.


Just heard "axis of weasel" comment on MSNBC. This was in their top of the hour 'straight news' segment, not a commentator.

Heh. Fox is one thing, but this proves that it's really spreading. Why, it's even been picked up in France. And then, of course, there's this headline from the New York Post. Heh.

Forget the "heh." This is a full-scale "chortle!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Mattehews emails:

Just before 9 AM EST CNN reported that a viewer had responded via e-mail to its Axes of Weasels story.

The viewer suggested Saddam be forced into exile in Germany; allowed to take it over; and then invade France.

Yeah, well, don't call us when it happens, guys. That account is way overdrawn. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Juan Gato links to this New York Times article on European attitudes and observes:

Notice, carefully there, what the US was supposed to learn from September 11th. Not that we were at war. Not that there are a bunch of toedick fuckwads who want to kill us. No, the US was supposed to learn humility. All that supposed European sympathy was a front for a smug, "That'll learn 'em. Sad it had to be like that, but that'll learn 'em."

Well, we learned something, all right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Havemann emails:

It's kind of amusing to see the French and the Germans go into high-dudgeon mode over the "insult" of being labelled as "old Europe." The axis of weasels has never hesitated to malign the US as "cowboys" and worse -- but boil with simulated outrage when *we* call 'em as we see 'em.

They can dish it out, but they can't take it. Weasels *and* wimps.

Yes, and the "cowboy" thing is kind of old. What's funny is, when you read the Times story you see a lot of nasty comments about Bush's "culture" and "religion" that European leaders would be far too P.C. to make in talking about, say, radical Islamists.

STILL MORE: A reader emails:

You're right. And the NY Times itself is too PC to make such references to Islamists.

Also, the Times treats all Bush bashing or America blaming from Germany or France as worthy of enshrinement at the National Archives.

Rand Simberg meanwhile, notes via email that when the French call us "cowboys," most Americans (though, um, not those resident at the New York Times), respond "damn straight!" He suspects that the French won't feel the same about the term "weasel."

NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION HERE! And we'll use them if you attack!

UPDATE: And here it is from Uday Hussein.

TOM RIDGE has some special events planned to celebrate the launch of the Homeland Security department. Fun for the whole family!

THE OLD ALLIANCE IS BROKEN, reports the Agonist. I think he's right.

THE QUESTION IS, IF RUMSFELD ACTUALLY DID THIS, how many people would pick up the reference?

SPEAKING OF THE PROBLEMS OF BIG MEDIA (well, we usually are, here in the blogosphere, aren't we?) Josh Marshall notes that Time has retracted the White House / Jefferson-Davis-wreath-laying story. The problems with that story were noted in the blogosphere some time ago, but it's good to see Time admitting its error so quickly. Here's a link to the retraction.

UPDATE: Justin Katz is waiting for retractions from the people who made a big deal out of this story.

ANOTHER ISSUE OF VIRGINIA POSTREL MAGAZINE has hit the stands. Er, monitors. Um, servers?

WHY DO AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS SUCK? Nick Denton asks, and answers, that question in a lengthy essay.

January 23, 2003

THE ECONOMIST is calling for a fourteen-year copyright term, renewable once:

Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right. Its sole purpose was to encourage the circulation of ideas by giving creators and publishers a short-term incentive to disseminate their work. Over the past 50 years, as a result of heavy lobbying by content industries, copyright has grown to such ludicrous proportions that it now often inhibits rather than promotes the circulation of ideas, leaving thousands of old movies, records and books languishing behind a legal barrier. Starting from scratch today, no rational, disinterested lawmaker would agree to copyrights that extend to 70 years after an author's death, now the norm in the developed world.

It's okay with me, and I have more copyrighted stuff than most people.

(Via Lessig, who also has this).


If you went into a lab and tried to create a state that would be perfectly suited for producing successful national politicians, you would create Tennessee. It is southern, which is important because the South is both the largest and the fastest growing region of the country. But it is not too southern. It is rich, and has that huge fundraising base, but it is not culturally elitist, like New York and California. Most important, it is heterodox. If you are going to live in Tennessee and thrive there, you cannot live in an insular cultural enclave, the way Trent Lott can in Mississippi, or the way Nancy Pelosi can in the Bay Area. In Tennessee you have to travel to the eastern part of the state, where they supported the Union, you have to travel to the western part, where they supported the Confederacy, and you have to travel to West Nashville, where they support Cadillac dealerships. If you travel and campaign throughout Tennessee, you are apt to acquire an instinctive feel for how different types of people think and react.

I've had some thoughts along these lines myself. Tennessee does seem to produce more than its share of good (or at least successful) politicians, and it is so diverse that it used to call itself "the three states of Tennessee" -- and the state constitution still has vestiges of internal federalism, like the requirement that no more than two of the five justices be from the same Grand Division (East, West, or Middle). That probably does tend to winnow (or at least educate) statewide officeholders in a way that a more unitary state wouldn't. (Not that we don't still produce world-class losers from time to time).

It probably helps that the media markets are fragmented, too. I wonder if anyone has researched this sort of thing?

HERE'S MORE on terrorist plans for a bombing campaign in London. And Drudge is reporting that the ricin raid may have prevented a plot to poison food at U.K. military bases.

It's a war. And while some people are arguing about whether to start it, it's already underway.

RUSSELL WARDLOW has made a shocking discovery at Berkeley. And I mean shocking!

PLUS he has a picture from the San Francisco antiwar protest that you haven't seen anywere else.

IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN this Supervillain / Linux parody of those Apple "switch" ads, well, watch it. It's funny.

In a related development, I love my HP, but I hope I don't have to depend on it for a new kidney.

(Both via Jack Burton).

READER ALI KARIM BEY, who has been emailing me for a while with evidence supporting his contention that John Kerry will be our next President, sends this piece from The New Republic. I'm not convinced that this makes the case, as these excerpts indicate:

Just as Dean is inheriting the Bradley machine, John Kerry is inheriting the Al Gore operation. "They have the Gore staff of 2004," says Brazile, who, as Gore's campaign manager, ought to know. . . . Indeed, if there is one candidate who might really benefit from a Sister Souljah moment, it's Kerry. "Kerry's in danger of being the pander-bear of the race," says an adviser to a rival campaign.

I find Kerry deeply unimpressive. I can articulate some of the reasons, but a lot of it is just the gut reaction I have when I see him on TV. That reaction seems like it might be widely shared, and it's a big problem for Kerry if it is.

Of course, all the Democratic candidates look unimpressive at the moment. By the time one of them is the nominee, he will likely seem to have a lot more stature. But, really, if the war goes well, and the economy doesn't tank, Bush should win. And if the war goes badly, and the economy tanks, he probably won't. Which makes handicapping the Democratic field a pretty unrewarding endeavor at the moment.

UPDATE: You know if Democrats keep calling for a return to the draft, it just might have an effect on the election. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Of course, I could be totally wrong about the war and the economy. By that kind of logic, Gore should have trounced Bush easily. I'm not sure which way this cuts.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who is free from the self-doubt I express above emails:

Oh, get real! How can anyone take seriously a candidate whose campaign depends on the sale of Heinz ketchup? Not to mention his appearance: the Knight of the Woeful Countenance look has been out for over a century. You might have to go back even beyond Lincoln to find a face more expressive of depression. If Kerry won as president there would be more suicides in the US than in the Socialist Utopia of Sweden. Imagine having to look at that face day after day on television. And that droning voice...

Well, let's stop right there, buddy. Kerry's one thing, but don't come around here dissing Heinz Ketchup. We're talking America in a bottle. Heinz Ketchup is a quintessentially American food, which I'll put up against any of yer sissified Frenchy sauces. Any candidate should be proud to have his campaign funded by Heinz Ketchup -- it's like having your campaign funded by baseball!

(In a John Barnes alternate-history novel where the Germans won World War Two, American expats huddle in New Zealand, comforting themselves with Heinz Ketchup. Like Proust's madeleines, only with healthy lycopene!)

FINAL KETCHUP-RELATED UPDATE: In the interest of nauseating full disclosure, I once served as an adviser to the Heinz Family Foundation. They didn't give me any money. Or even any free ketchup.

WOW! My score was about 1,200. I didn't think I'd do nearly that well. . . .


BY GEORGE, I THINK HE'S GOT IT: The secret behind "Joe Millionaire."

TODAY IS THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF DANNY PEARL'S KIDNAPPING: His mistake? He believed the assurances of Islamic radicals. He thought they wanted a dialogue, but all they really wanted was to kill an American, and a Jew.

BLOGGING FROM MUNICH, Eamonn Fitzgerald explains that for the French, stabbing America in the back is all about oil. Meanwhile, Porphyrogenitus notes that the Holy Roman Empire is back!

I HEREBY AWARD "BLOG POST OF THE DAY" to the ScrappleFace "Axis of Weasel" item that I mentioned below. Not only is it circulating in email throughout the corridors of power, it inspired this powerful graphic, and made Best of the Web, Even more inspiring, it's apparently spreading into more general currency, at least according to this comment posted on the site:

I am watching "The Big Story with John Gibson" on FOX News... and their lead in was on France and Germany... and they said "Axis of Weasels"... I spit out my Coke all over the place!

The Blog-Force is strong in this one.

UPDATE: More proof: there's already a lefty backlash -- though one that loses credibility because the author apparently hasn't heard of the "Axis of Weevil." Newbie. Oh well, he'll learn. . .

RACHEL LUCAS HAS AN INSPIRED RANT growing out of the Thacker affair. It's too good to excerpt, really, but I can't resist quoting this sentence: "That's like putting Barbra Streisand on the War Council."

But, really, it's the sort of thing that deserves to be read in its entirety.

COLLIN MAY AT INNOCENTS ABROAD has a number of very interesting posts about France, Germany, and the "death blow" that France has administered to the traditional Western alliance. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And check out this graphic. Somebody stick some up on telephone poles near the German and French embassies. . . .


France has confirmed that it is inviting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to take part in a summit of African Heads of State next month.

Mr Mugabe is currently banned from entering the European Union because of doubts about the legitimacy of his re-election last year.

But French President Jacques Chirac was convinced that the Zimbabwean leader's presence at the summit would help promote justice, human rights and democracy in his country, foreign ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau told journalists.

Then there's this explanation for France's abstention when Qadafi was elected to the Human Rights Commission:

If France chose to abstain in the vote, which saw Libyan ambassador to Geneva Najat al-Hajjaji elected head of the UN commission on human rights, it was done in such a way that France could send two different messages to Libya, a French spokesman said.

He noted that if the vote had been taken a year or two ago, France would undoubtedly have joined the United States and Canada in voting against Libya _ to protest Libya's alleged involvement in the bombing of a French aircraft over Niger in 1989.

However, Paris also wanted to respect the memory of a large number of Africans who died in the plane crash and so thought it best to neither support nor oppose Tripoli's elevation at the world body, the spokesman said.

"Axis of Weasel," indeed.

UPDATE: I just noted that Zach Barbera has already blogged this on his blog. Note to bloggers -- when you send me links to stories, let me know if you've already blogged them. I'd rather send the traffic to you than to Reuters! But if you don't mention it, I don't always think to check.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus is denouncing French unilateralism in abandoning E.U. sanctions.

TODD GITLIN is criticizing A.N.S.W.E.R. on Fresh Air. Follow the link and click to hear the audio.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Parents of more than 100 Danish scouts were outraged over a game of tag at a scout camp in which children acted as Jews wearing yellow Stars of David and tried to escape from adults pretending to be Nazis.

The group of about 160 scouts, aged 11-14, included a dozen teenagers from the Danish-speaking minority in northern Germany. The school yard was turned into a concentration camp with swastikas on the windows. . . .

Jes Imer of the local FDF chapter told the tabloid B.T. that they "may have crossed the line this time with a night game where Nazis chase Jews."

The school yard included a sign with the German words "Arbeit macht frei," or "Work will set you free," the infamous inscription over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

"I don't know whether I should apologize," Imer told B.T.

Oh, I know. You couldn't make stuff like this up. Sadly, you don't have to. At least the parents were shocked.

UPDATE: Reader David Rosenberg says not so fast with the antisemitism charges:

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the people who organized this game were anti-semites.

I was a counselor at a Jewish day camp in California where we once concocted a similar game although without the props like Jewish stars etc. I think we had the kids trying to escape from Europe past the Nazi border guards.

Later on, the other counselors and I agreed that the game was too scary and totally inappropriate. But I don't think we would have thought that it could be interpreted as anti-semitic, even if it had been a non-Jewish day camp and even if we had been non-Jews.

Sure, let's hold the Germans (even Danish-speaking ones) to a higher standard, but I'd like to see more facts before I call it the A word.

Meanwhile Ben Dolfin writes:

This sounds similar to a game we play at our church in the youth group. We have persecution Sunday where Youth Group members pretend to be Christians located in a country that doesn't allow the freedom of religion. Roman Empire, Russia during communism, China, etc. The kids are all dropped off outside town at night in groups of 2-3 and they need to all assemble and meet at a location in town and hold a bible study. Meanwhile the counselors and friendly volunteers drive around with spotlights and attempt to run down and capture the Christians. The point of the exercise is to who people that in some areas people can't freely assemble and worship, but in reality it turns into a big hide and go seek game for adults with 500,000 candlepower deer spotlights, full camo outfits, and running through cornfields at midnight. If you got caught we even loaded people into a "prison truck" which was basically a big van. It's very similiar sounding to what they appeared to be doing.

So although it may sound bad, I think there was a moral lesson that they were teaching in there somewhere. Instead of giving the groups labels of Nazi and Jew they should have called them "evil tyrants" and "free people". I think that was their biggest error. It sounds bad, but I think it was probably harmless in it's intent. That's my guess at this time anyways.

Um, okay. But if that's true, there's no hint of it in the story. Which would make the story very bad reporting, though that's certainly not out of the question.

MORE THOUGHTS on the Iraq / Al Qaeda connection.

GOD BLESS AMERICA -- but not, reports Tongue Tied, at military funerals.

RAND SIMBERG has some thoughts on space and Presidential announcements -- past, present, and future -- over at FoxNews.


I'VE POSTED A LOT ABOUT NANOTECHNOLOGY today (and other days). My interest is sufficient that I'm on the Board of the Foresight Institute, a foundation dedicated to seeing that the introduction of nanotechnology goes well, and not badly (no oceans of human-devouring slime, omnipotent world police states, or malevolent artificial intelligences -- you know, that sort of thing). If you're interested in helping with that, you might want to go here and donate some money -- right now your donation will be matched by another donor, so it's twice as good.

Like all nonprofits, and even moreso since it's in Silicon Valley, Foresight has seen its donations drop as a result of the tech bubble bursting. That's another reason why now is a good time to donate, if you're so inclined.

IN RESPONSE TO CATHY SEIPP'S PLAINTIVE CRIES, Lane McFadden has made some prowar yard signs.

BILL MAULDIN HAS DIED. Who will take his place? Not Ted Rall.

LIKE CHESS? Here's a chess weblog by Mig Greengard. (Via Colby Cosh).

THE FRENCH ARE OUTRAGED at Rumsfeld's remark about their representing "Old Europe." The truth hurts.

Meanwhile, Max Boot writes about the French diplomatic betrayal of Colin Powell. As Boot observes, even Powell's patience with French posturing has worn thin, and with good reason.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus thinks NATO just died, at the hands of France and Germany.

They'll come to regret that, I predict.

UPDATE: Because a couple of people have emailed me copies, I happen to know that this ScrappleFace item on the "Axis of Weasel" is getting forwarded around the Pentagon and White House. Excerpt:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized today for referring to France and Germany as an "Axis of Weasels."

"I'm sorry about that Axis of Weasels remark," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "I didn't mean to dredge up the history France and Germany share of pathetic compliance with ruthless dictators."

If the notion that our policymakers are reading and enjoying ScrappleFace doesn't strike fear into friend and foe alike, well, then, friend and foe aren't reading Scrappleface themselves. Yet.

CALL ME CRAZY, but this guy sounds like a bad pick:

The Bush administration has chosen Jerry Thacker, a Pennsylvania marketing consultant who has characterized AIDS as the “gay plague,” to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS. . . .

In his speeches and writings on his Web site and elsewhere, Thacker has described homosexuality as a “deathstyle” rather than a lifestyle and asserted that “Christ can rescue the homosexual.” After word of his selection spread among gays in recent days, some material disappeared from the Web site. Earlier versions located by The Washington Post that referred to the “gay plague,” for instance, were changed as of yesterday to “plague.”

I don't know this guy, and I suppose it's conceivable that this is a bit of outrageous character assassination -- but there's a notable absence of Administration voices saying that's the case. Instead, the spin seems to be that Thacker is HIV-positive and that his appointment furthers diversity on the Commission. Well, it certainly does that. But I thought this Administration was against diversity for diversity's sake, and it's not clear to me just what else Thacker brings to the table.

UPDATE: Justin Katz says I am crazy! Well, not really. What he says is that although he's "ambivalent" about Thacker's appointment, he thinks that ideological diversity is important, and that having Thacker as one member of a large commission promotes that without doing any real harm.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reportedly, Thacker is withdrawing.

CATCHING UP WITH RIGHT-WING OUTLETS like The Nation, MSNBC,and the Washington Post, the pinkish National Review Online finally addresses A.N.S.W.E.R.'s communist connections.

Disgusted Liberal, meanwhile, is disgusted with A.N.S.W.E.R., and with those who give it a free pass:

Why did antiwar liberals allow a bunch of thugs, nitwits, and Stalinists to take charge of the demonstrations? Are you all too busy billing hours? Drinking lattes?

Good for him.

WHERE MACCHIAVELLI MEETS OCCAM? Well, something like that. I'm surprised that Shick didn't already buy up this domain name, though.

MATT WELCH reports on Noam Chomsky being fact-checked from the left.

JAMES LILEKS is instructing Ed Harris on masculinity.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE on nanotechnology safety concerns from U.S. News & World Report. And here's the abstract for non-subscribers of an article from Jane's on the prospects for nanotechnology as a weapon of mass destruction. Interest in this subject seems to be picking up.


The government denied that Soriano had been mistreated. A thorough medical examination by a civil surgeon reveals that, beyond lacerations, severe bruising, and cracked ribs, Soriano had been repeatedly raped while in custody. His right arm shows that he has been injected. Nails are missing from his left hand. Soriano's internal organs have been crushed to the point that he urinates blood, and he cannot walk without assistance.

Once the medical report was made public, the secret police immediately began saying that Soriano was a member of a "right-wing paramilitary organization." This tactic, engineered by Chaderton, is used frequently to disqualify and discount opponents of the regime. All enemies of the "revolution" are coup plotters and fascists. The government now circulates a photo of Soriano in military fatigues. Carlos Roa, Soriano's attorney, showed me that the picture is a yearbook photo from when he was a schoolboy in military academy.

Although it was obvious that Soriano had been tortured, Iris Varela, a Chavez congressional representative, offered no apologies: "I am glad they did this to him. He deserved it." That such savage treatment is what greets government supporters who seek a peaceful resolution to the current crisis speaks volumes about Chavez's ultimate intentions. Soriano, now recuperating at home, must wonder why he ever supported the Chavez regime.

If Chavez were a right-wing dictator, A.N.S.W.E.R. would be organizing marches against him. But there are, of course, no enemies on the left.

Then again, that was probably what Soriano thought, once.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE on military nanotechnology research that's worth reading.

T.J. BUTTRICK IS A BLOGGER. He's on his way to Basic Training next week. He's also a Columbia University alumnus. And he's unhappy with Columbia President Lee Bollinger because, well, he thinks Columbia is on the other side.

THE BLIZZARD OF '03! Well, it did snow here, and school is closed -- both my daughter's and mine. My wife's still trying to figure out if any of her clients will show up or not. Blogging frequency will be determined, to some degree, by the outcome.

January 22, 2003

COLOMBIAN GUERRILLAS HAVE CONFIRMED that they are holding Robert Young Pelton, but say they haven't kidnapped him.

ERIC MULLER reports on a dubious antiwar petition circulating among academics. Strangely, it hasn't shown up in my inbox yet.

HAS DONALD RUMSFELD been reading Den Beste?

Michael Demmons is happy about it.


KIERAN LYONS is charging a coverup in California. Surely not.

HUH. Just checked traffic for the day, and it's shockingly above 100,000 pageviews already today. This could be a new record.

But why? It's not like there's an election, or the 9/11 anniversary, which is what it took to break 100K before.

TOMORROW IS Blog Day for Venezuela.


FOUAD AJAMI writes on post-Saddam policy in Foreign Affairs.


HE'S DISGUSTED! HE'S LIBERAL! He's (They're?)! He's pretty funny, too, and sometimes he's even right.


The reader who sends the link says: "I think Bush's overall strategy has become: 'Everyone is gonna call me a crazy/dumb/cowboy no matter what the Hell I do, so we may as actually do some ambitious stuff.'"

Heh. I hope so.

LILY MALCOLM RESPONDS TO JACK BALKIN about the difference between undergraduate admissions and Supreme Court appointments.

THE HITHERTO-UNKNOWN CONNECTION between Harold Pinter and The Monkees.

Yeah, but The Monkees were artists. I saw their biopic.

IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE IN LOS ANGELES, AND YOU'RE INTERESTED IN BLOGS, you should attend this blog event put together by Susannah Breslin of "Reverse Cowgirl" fame. Hey -- Breslin and Heather Havrilesky will be there. And Tony Pierce! And Doc Searls!

MICKEY KAUS wonders if Hillary Clinton was channeling Strom Thurmond when she added this gloss to Martin Luther King:

Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character?" she said, quoting from Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. "If we don't take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves."


UPDATE: Eugene Volokh, who's on a roll, today, observes:

So let's see if I understand this: The King quote is "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their characters." But according to Hillary Clinton, "the content of [their] characters" must include race as part of "character." Therefore, the quote really means "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their characters, including the color of their skin, which it is proper to consider as part of our character." A pretty modest dream, it seems to me.

The way today's multiculti left is channeling yesterday's segregationist right would be amusing, if it weren't so disturbing.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails that Hillary may have been misquoted. At least, in this account the quote is somewhat less objectionable:

Noting that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of "revolution," Clinton said before a gathering hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton that affirmative action foes focus only on his urging that people be judged by their character.

"Well, of course," she said. "But what is character? The sum total of who you are. The color of your skin and how you deal with it is part of your character."

Somewhat. So which of these versions is the correct one? Beats me. I'll let you know if I find out.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire fact-checks his own ass -- there were two speeches.

SET THEORY PROVES IT! Proves what? That if you're opposed to Total Information Awareness, then you should also be opposed to gun control.

Well, at least I'm consistent!

HUGO CHAVEZ'S SUPPORTERS: Compare this picture of rent-a-thugs with these pictures of the anti-Chavez demonstrators.

RACHEL LUCAS HAS ADVICE on how you can pressure the authorities on behalf of a political prisoner.

WE'VE HEARD A LOT OF BLOGOSPHERE CHATTER about underreported polls. But I haven't seen much reporting about this one, which has at least as much relevance to politics as do Bush's approval ratings.


The security services (via the number ten press office) are starting to brief the press that defectors and asylum seekers are reporting "a sudden increase" in anti-Saddam graffiti and leaflets and other "opposition activity" in Iraq.

Maybe that's where all the anti-Saddam yard signs have gone. . . .


Matt, here's what's been on my mind about that, and if anyone can help I'd be very grateful. Have you noticed how here in Silverlake there are many "No War" yard signs but not one sign expressing support for the other side? Here's the thing: You can't buy one! I've tried and can't find any. Of course, "No War" is a brilliant and succinct (despite specious) piece of propaganda because no one wants war. It's like the anti-abortion crowd using the term "Pro-Life." As if everyone else is against life. Sometimes you need to be willing to fight small wars in order to avoid larger ones. Except "Yes War" is ungrammatical and "No Appeasement" is too long and most people probably wouldn't know what it means anyway. What I'd like is a sign that says "Give War a Chance" (a la P.J. O'Rourke) to paste on my garage but I don't see any for sale via the Internet and you know I'm not techy enough to design one and print it out at Kinko's etc....I had to call a friend over to figure out how to change the toner cartridge on my new plain paper fax. And then yesterday I went over to her house and saw a big "No War" sign in her yard. Help!

Can anyone help her out? (From the comments thread to this post on Matt Welch's site.)

And, yeah, I know you can get a DISARM SADDAM bumper sticker here. But we're talking yard signs.

UPDATE: Reader Eric Kolchinsky writes:

The best sign for the pro-war side should be "Free Iraq!" Alas, I don't
know where to buy it either....

If anyone does know, email me.


Police in northern Pakistan say unidentified attackers have shot dead a writer whose work was viewed as critical of fundamentalist Islam.

The 40-year-old writer, Fazal Wahab, was shot at a local shop.

Fatwas, or religious edicts, declaring his work un-Islamic had been issued by senior clerical figures after the publication of two books challenging the role of mullahs.

Perhaps Harold Pinter will be moved to write a poem.


WHY CONGRESS SHOULDN'T PASS ABORTION LAWS: My obligatory Roe-anniversary comments are posted over at for your enjoyment or infuriation.

ZACHARY BARBERA has another reason why the Australians are cool.

I MOVED THE INSTAPUNDIT BACKUP SITE off of BellSouth for various technical reasons. It's now at Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

Hey, I paid for Blogger Pro, so I might as well get some use out of it. . . .

WHEN YOU GUYS GET RICH, ENDOW ME A CHAIR: Here's a law firm that is establishing a practice in nanotechnology law.

OKAY, by now the weekend protests are old news, and I'm tired of them -- as, no doubt, are you. But I love pics on the web, and this gallery is especially good.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that ANSWER's views are finally getting some major media attention.

ARMED LIBERAL has coined a new term for what he doesn't like about today's politics: "skybox liberalism."

I prefer the armed variety to the skybox variety, myself.

JOURNALIST ROBERT YOUNG PELTON appears to have been kidnapped.

WHY THE GERMANS AND FRENCH DON'T WANT WAR: Den Beste wonders if they're afraid of what we'll find out about them once Iraqi records become available.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has some further thoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mike Campbell takes on the French: "for them, it's all about the oil."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Quick just had an Aha! moment.

KEVIN DRUM SAYS THAT Europeans aren't anti-American -- just anti-Bush. There's something to that, as I recall a story in which a couple of European diplomats said that, sure, they'd back the U.S. against Iraq if Clinton were President, but not with Bush. . . .

But then I read stuff like Harold Pinter's latest -- which Chris Bertram rightly describes as scraping the bottom of the barrel, and what I see is the impotent seething of an entire failed intellectual tradition.

Let's be honest here: there's a whole crowd in Europe that can't get over its disappointment that the wrong side won the Cold War, and that even lesser-path communism (that is, Euro-socialism) has been shown up as a failure. That's what this is all about, really. And it's contemptible -- and morally indistinguishable from a bunch of fat Germans sitting around nostalgically singing the "Horst Wessel."

Certain European political and intellectual leaders think that, because it's militarily impotent, Europe should be a "moral superpower." But unfortunately, they've committed unilateral moral disarmament, too.

For more, see this post by Eugene Volokh.

UPDATE: Reader Warren Ball sends this response to Pinter's poem:

God Bless! Pinter?!?

Here he goes again,
The Crank in his angry tirade.
Chanting his ballads of hate
As he gallops across the world press
Appeasing the Enemy's God.

The gutters are filled with his friends
The ones who couldn't admit
The others refusing to see
The ones who are wasting their voices
The ones who've forgotten the past.

Their poems have couplets which suck.
Your head rolls into your hands
Your brain is a pool of mush
Your mind is stained with disgust.
Your eyes roll up and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of bad prose.
And all this foul air derives
From appeasing the Enemy's God.

Well, it's as good as the poem it's parodying!

ANOTHER UPDATE: More poesy at Letter from Gotham.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader sends this one:

He wrote his poem, and see, he never learns
The use of meter, rhyme (and God knows what he earns).
Motion pens this crap, though not as bad,
As pundits clearly both are raving mad.

Heh. Of course, this all just makes me miss Will Warren.

STILL MORE: Tim Blair weighs in.

A FEDERAL COURT HAS ORDERED VERIZON to release the names of subscribers to the RIAA.

What's most troubling is that the RIAA (and MPAA) people are executing legal documents -- swearing under oath that they have investigated these matters -- when their actions are really based on software that's about as accurate as the direct-mail software that sends Army enlistment offers to my cats. I wrote about that problem in this article, which noted that evidence in the case indicated that the "copyright 'bots" were identifying obvious non-infringing works as infringing, and human beings were signing off on subpoenas "under penalty of perjury" to get these taken down.

If I had a "Harry Potter book report" and the RIAA or MPAA came after me with claims that I had an illegal copy of the Harry Potter movie, I think I'd pursue an abuse of process action, and seek prosecution for perjury. And if lawyers were involved, I'd consider filing a disciplinary complaint with the appropriate state bar.

THE GARY HART JUGGERNAUT is gathering steam.

MORE REPORTS of an increase in North Korean refugees.

NUKES IN SPACE? My TechCentralStation column is up.

UPDATE: This post by Jay Manifold relates, too.

LAZY JOURNALISTS, CON'TD: Tom Maguire reports that the wreath-laying-on-Jefferson-Davis's-Birthday story is bogus, but it's in Dowd's column. Meanwhile, Charles Johnson's parody Arab-News network is getting continued play for its parody story complaining that the last space shuttle mission was the first step in "Israeli occupation of outer space."

Don't these guys check anything? Stay in Big Media, Mo -- you'd never make it in the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Orrin Judd asks, "does anyone edit the Post?" What's a paltry $1.8 trillion error among friends?

INDONESIA has charged Abu Bakar Bashir with treason for plotting to kill Prime Minister Megawati, and for involvement in the bombings of 38 Christian churches. Meanwhile, Abu Hamza is charged with trying to set up terrorist cells in the United States.


Do reporters suppress the nature of ANSWER / ACTION because they don’t want to embarrass the movement? No. Do they secretly admire the ANSWER / ACTION / WWP positions on China, North Korea, and other dictatorships? Of course not. (Cuba is another story.) Are they inclined to wonder who’s behind the rallies? No. NeoNazis, Klansmen, Separatists, Militias, the Promise Keepers - these words make reporters’ antennae quiver. “Communist” does not. It’s an institutional blindspot, and if you doubt it, consider this:

A fashion designer premiers a line of clothes emblazoned with the hammer-and-sickle. The story runs in the variety section; there are quotes from fashionistas about retro iconography, the kitschy appeal of Socialist Realist art, and nostalgia for the stability of a binary, pre-terrorist world. The story would have the tone of a worldly cultured person peering through a monocle at a butterfly whose wings were amusingly deformed.

Now imagine that a fashion designer splatters swastikas all over the Spring Line. Would the items be reviewed with the same bemused detachment?

The hammer and sickle don’t evoke the same reaction in the average journalist as the swastika - and that’s the problem. Bias isn’t a sin, if you ask me. But indifference is.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh, who had the, er, advantage of living part of his life in a communist country, has comments, too.

OKAY, the liberties taken with the plot in The Two Towers were bad enough, but this ought to be a hanging offense. Has Peter Jackson no shame. . . .?

January 21, 2003

RAND SIMBERG just saw Gary Hart on TV and thinks he could beat Bush, "particularly given the lame home security policies of the Administration, which are extremely vulnerable to attack from, well, a non-idiotarian perspective."

TED BARLOW offers a brief explanation of why radio sucks.

TERRORIST RAIDS IN SOUTH FLORIDA? Seems likely. (Via World Wide Rant).

HATE SPEECH LAWS IN ACTION: If the government doesn't like you, they advertise for people who are offended by what you say.

Feh. Tarring and feathering is a traditional remedy for such governmental overreaching. Much more of this and I'll be calling for the custom to be revived.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARGUE ABOUT THE DESIGN OF SURVEY INSTRUMENTS. But this one seems about perfect to me. . . .



SIGNAL TO NOISE: As I mentioned here yesterday, I was kind of unhappy with the way my interview played in a local TV spot on the antiwar protests. I was unhappy because the story juxtaposed me saying that International A.N.S.W.E.R. was an unsavory outfit that supports North Korea (as it is) with interviews featuring local protesters in a way that seemed to give the impression that I was accusing the local protesters of supporting North Korea -- even though I had been at some pains with the TV people to make the distinction clear.

And, sure enough, some people who spoke to me today had seen the story and gotten that impression. Just about as many other folks, however, saw me on a program about antiwar protests, paid no attention at all to what I was saying, and assumed that I had organized the local contingent. I might as well have been reading from the phone book. So much for nuance.

Then, just now, I got a phone call from a pleasant older-sounding fellow from Powell, Tennessee who had seen the spot, drawn the same conclusion, and wanted me to sign him up as an antiwar protester for my next trip to Washington!

He seemed a bit disappointed when I told him that I wasn't in the business of doing that. But he cheered up when I gave him my Dad's number. "He'll know who to put you in touch with," I remarked.

The media coverage may be confusing, and people may not pay attention anyway, but my family has all bases covered. . . .

A HART / MCCAIN TICKET? It's a pundit-show dream come true. . . .


AZIZ POONAWALLA'S DEAN2004 BLOG has a link to video of a speech by Howard Dean that he calls "fantastic." Aziz emails: "In this speech, and in Kerry and Gephardt's speeches afterwards, you really get a sense for how lost the Democrats are in terms of how poorly they have communicated their message (any message). Dean stands out in contrast to the others by being clear as to what he stands for. You mentioned that the Dems need to regroup - Dean is the only one who seems to be following your advice."

I don't have time to stream the video at the moment -- this is a busy day for me -- but if you do, follow the link.

UPDATE: Arnold Kling emails that he's unimpressed with Dean, who he says flunks Oil Econ 101.

TIM BLAIR HAS INFORMATION on how to help victims of the Canberra fires.

THE "SUCKIFICATION OF REASON" -- as told by Cynthia Cotts in The Village Voice.

UPDATE: Jeremy Lott has a chronological correction to Cotts' piece.


JOSH CHAFETZ calls on President Bush to denounce French unilateralism on the Security Council.

HEY, WAIT! I keep hearing that it will be minority soldiers who disproportionately die in a "white man's war for oil," but here's more evidence that, well, it's not that way:

WASHINGTON — The American troops likeliest to fight and die in a war against Iraq are disproportionately white, not black, military statistics show — contradicting a belief widely held since the early days of the Vietnam War.

In a little-publicized trend, black recruits have gravitated toward non-combat jobs that provide marketable skills for post-military careers, while white soldiers are over-represented in front-line combat forces.

The tilt toward white combat troops is recognized by many senior commanders and a small group of scholars who study the military.

"If anybody should be complaining about battlefield deaths, it is poor, rural whites," says Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University in Illinois.

I wonder if the Pentagon will institute an affirmative action program to remedy this disparity.

UPDATE: Here's a post saying that the claim of disproportionate minority deaths wasn't even true in Vietnam.

TRENT TELENKO has found something interesting regarding Pakistan, North Korea, and nuclear weapons. As well as evidence of a dropped ball.

DANG, AND I MISSED IT: Neal Boortz walked off Phil Donahue's show last night. Of course, since it was Donahue's show, I imagine a lot of people missed it. . . .

SOME PRETTY STRONG EVIDENCE has emerged vindicating John Lott: Someone who was interviewed for his 1997 survey. Julian Sanchez has more.

I should say, by the way, that I've seen the email Sanchez excerpts, and other discussion about it, on an email list to which I subscribe. I don't blog directly from that list, because of list etiquette, but I can vouch for Sanchez's post.

UPDATE: Steve Verdon has some further comments on a Lott-related issue. And I should note that Lott has shared his income tax forms for 1997 (which show money paid for research) and the data from his forthcoming study replicating the 1997 study (which produces a result consistent with his claims for the earlier study) with other scholars, including Jim Lindgren.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more from Clayton Cramer, Megan McArdle, and Tim Lambert.


Drag racers make tracks around Kremlin

I love it.

THE RULE OF LAW: Some reporting from Bjorn Staerk. And scroll down for a link to his weekly Internet radio show.

I PUT RALPH WIGGUM ON THE PHONE for this interview. Next time, my cat.

IS ALEX BEAM working for Ha'aretz now? I guess I missed the memo. . . .

ARMS FOUND IN MOSQUE TERROR RAID: And, surprise, a lot of Algerians are involved:

One of the three was said to be a “hugely significant figure” in the ricin poison plot uncovered two weeks ago. His arrest is said to be one of the most important made since police began tracking down members of the ricin network.

Police also removed computer equipment. M15 is reported to have asked the GCHQ listening station at Cheltenham to intercept thousands of coded e-mails sent and received by the mosque.

The raid, codenamed Operation Mermant, was mounted after police analysed material seized during a series of arrests following the discovery of the makeshift laboratory in North London. Senior officers now suspect that they have uncovered a major supply base for Islamic terrorists.

The mosque has been a focal point for Islamic fundamentalism for more than six years under the influence of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the one-armed, one-eyed Egyptian-born cleric.

A lot of people have wondered why the Brits haven't shut Hamza down. I suspect it's because they wanted to see who he was associating with.

UPDATE: Charles Murtaugh emails that this headline is misleading, since the arms found were pretty puny (by American standards, anyway), and the big find was lots of forged documents, etc. He's right -- but that's the Times' headline, not mine. Guess I should have used my own, which would have been "Another Algerian Connection," or some such.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Miller has more on the subject.

I'M NOT SURE THAT THIS NEWS lowers my confidence in Scott Ritter any more, but, well, it does make me wonder about some things.

PENISES have enormously high bandwidth. Well, yeah.

ON THE ROAD: A new vlog by Justin Katz.

January 20, 2003

LAW PROFESSOR ERIC MULLER has been assimilated into the blogosphere. Buwahahaha!

WELL HERE'S SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T READ INSTAPUNDIT MUCH or he'd realize how dumb this "challenge" is:

But as I condemn ANSWER will you of the Right condemn people like Falwell and others of his religious extremist ilk who say that the United States' immorality made us deserve 9/11?

Especially I challenge Tacitus and Instapundit to do this. Will you condemn them as loudly as I do those in ANSWER? Will you do what ever you can to minimize their power in your political party, as I try to minimize those from ANSWER in my own?

If you do not, and if you don't do it as loudly as I do, you are no better than those from ANSWER and the Radical Religious Right.

Heh. It's already answered in his comments, but I should note that the original post of mine leading to the term idiotarian specifically mentioned Falwell and Robertson.

Next time, read the blog first. Or at least use Google. Jeez.

Coming soon: "Professor Reynolds, I challenge you to abandon your teetotaling and drink a nice glass of Chilean Merlot!"

I think I'll go ahead and accept that challenge right now, just to be safe.

UPDATE: Here's a reverse-Falwell point though. Or something like that.

BEN FISCHER reports that the number of North Korean refugees appears to be climbing dramatically.

If true, that's probably a sign that the regime is near collapse.

"GLENN YOU *SS," Andrea See emailed. Apparently, the traffic from my last link killed her site. She's now moved to a new, and presumably more robust, hosting setup. The old address will work once the DNS change kicks in but for the moment she's here.

And despite the frustration, she hasn't started smoking again. Bravo.

DECLAN MCCULLAGH has posted a photo gallery from Saturday's march and emails:

There were certainly tens of thousands of people there and just as certainly not hundreds of thousands. I cover marches in DC pretty frequently, and I'd say Saturday's march was perhaps 50,000 to 70,000 people. That is, it was a little larger -- though not that much larger -- than the October 2002 protests in DC.

That seems about right.

TRENT TELENKO says the trap is sprung.

KEN SMITH sent a long report from the Portland protest. I've posted it over at InstaPundit EXTRA! because of the length, but don't let that stop you from reading it. It's only a mouse-click away!

CROWD SIZES: Several people have sent emails like this one:

I'm always bothered how we don't know how many people really go to these
protests. What about satellite photos?

Those would be interesting. In fact, I contacted someone I know at SpaceImaging to see if they'd done that. Mostly they only take pictures in response to orders from cash customers (it's cheaper than it used to be, but still expensive) but they sometimes shoot stuff like that and make it available on their site. Not this time, alas.

Even then, it's hard. You either have to count a few samples and extrapolate (which is iffy, since crowds aren't uniformly dense, though that's addressable to some degree) or count everyone, which requires, well, counting everyone.

Heck, even counting website traffic gives people fits.

I WAS JUST ON LOCAL TV in response to this piece of mine criticizing the media for not reporting the background of A.N.S.W.E.R. It wasn't bad, though I stressed that my beef was with A.N.S.W.E.R., not with people protesting and that only sort of came through in the coverage -- the sound bite they chose might have given the impression that I thought the local protesters supported Saddam and Kim Jong Il, when I was really talking about A.N.S.W.E.R. Oh, well. I think the TV folks tried not to muddy my message, but it's hard in a three minute piece. That's the trouble with talking to the media. They didn't use my best soundbite, which really sums up my take on the issue: "You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."

One interesting thing is that they ran video supplied by the local protesters, who took a camera with them. This whole guerrilla media thing is really taking off.

EUGENE VOLOKH writes on Martin Luther King's birthday:

The message of July 4 is "What a great country!" The message of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday is at least in large part "What great crimes our country has committed, but what a great thing it is that we have largely overcome them."

I think that it's not bad for the nation to have at least few holidays that are occasion for self-criticism or even self-doubt, mixed with confidence in a better future. Self-congratulations are important, too, but they should be mixed with some official and repeated acknowledgements of past wrongs. But it's important to recognize that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday is a different sort of holiday, which is supposed to create a different mood and contribute something different to the national psyche than other holidays do.

True enough. Both messages are important ones.

IT'S A BLOGOSPHERE PILE-ON! Even Eric Alterman is denouncing A.N.S.W.E.R. and the protests:

But radical rhetoric denouncing America and everything it stands for — which is what I heard from the A.N.S.W.E.R.-chosen speakers in D.C. over the weekend — does more harm than good. They harden the other side’s resolve and turn away “normal” non-political people from a cause they might otherwise support. . . .

In other words, by allowing A.N.S.W.E.R. to take over the peace movement, protesters are focusing America on their worst features, and almost daring them to side with Bush and company. It’s a tough quandary because the left needs bodies and these Stalinist types are the best demonstration organizers — just as they were in the sixties. And the Left has never solved it.

I couldn't have said it better myself. And I think that when you're getting slagged by Alterman and me, you're not launching a viable mass movement.

UPDATE: Michelle Dulak has this comment on Megan McArdle's post:

I think the most pathetic aspect of this is that the supposedly vast grassroots anti-war movement hadn't the means even to organize its own protest. How hard would it have been for a large, legitimate left-of-center organization to put something of its own together? That reasonable opponents of war consented to sign on with the ANSWER lot because they they were such good organizers is shameful. (Slightly stronger statement deleted as I thought I'd better not pollute this blog.)

I think there hasn't been enough attention given to how the notice of the protest spread from ANSWER to the non-Stalinist groups who must presumably have done most of the serious work of getting the word out and persuading ordinary citizens to show up. ANSWER must have sent press releases to other antiwar groups, leftist organizations, leftist media, &c. I don't think an ordinary citizen who has never heard of ANSWER is at fault for attending an ANSWER-sponsored rally, but the more mainstream organizations that must have first gotten the word out to their members damn well had a duty to know who ANSWER is (or, if they didn't, to find out, which would take about a minute online) and I think they bear a good deal of the responsibility here.

I'm guessing that Karl Rove is ordering up footage for the '04 Presidential race.

UPDATE: Alterman emails to clarify that he was referring to the speakers at the protests: "Speakers, please, not protests. We don't know what the protesters thought and it's my belief/hope that the speakers did not represent them." Fair enough.

DAVID HOGBERG points out that A.N.S.W.E.R. is now claiming a half million protesters in Washington yesterday. A German reader emails that the German media are uncritically repeating this claim.

Do these photos show a protest with a half-million people?

The photo on A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website is suspiciously tight in its framing. (In fact, all their crowd shots are). Note the absence of a panoramic view, and note that reports from the scene yesterday noted that a block from the mall you couldn't tell anything was going on. Of course, they're not exaggerating their crowd size any more than they'll exaggerate Iraqi civilian casualties in the event of war. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on crowd sizes: maybe bigger in San Francisco than the official estimates, but nothing like a half million in DC. Some interesting photographs of other marches are included.

JONATHAN ADLER has an interesting report of a San Francisco anti-Chavez demonstration.

JAMES LILEKS writes that things are looking up:

One of the few virtues of growing up in the 70s is the constant realization that everything is better. I mean, everything. Food. Architecture. Shampoo. Politics. Coffee. Music. Magazines. Television. Cars. Industrial design. Consumer electronics. Video games. (When I was a kid our version of a deathmatch was Pong; tonight I hooked up the Xbox to the large TV and played Jedi Knight in widescreen mode.) Beer is better.

Beer is better. I started to make a classic, self-deprecating American-beer joke in an email to a Canadian friend and then stopped: it's not true anymore that all American beer tastes like water. And he's enough younger that he might not even remember a time when it was true. Who would have predicted that, twenty years ago?

A BAY AREA READER who for professional reasons wishes to remain anonymous says that the pictures that I show below aren't fully representative of the San Francisco protests, and sends the following links to IndyMedia photos (though to me they don't seem to make the protests look better, as he seems to think they do):


Also, in response to a photo posted below, he sends this cautionary observation:

A little comment on the "U.S. out of Middle East and San Francisco" photo you posted: it's more representative than you might think. There's a definite feeling of alienation in the S.F. Bay Area. The folks on the right like to attack the region's patriotism, intelligence, morals, politics and anything else that comes up. "Californian" is an epithet in the rest of the country, or so we're led to believe by Conservatives. (It's true in my experience.) In the meantime we know (it's a legal fact) that the energy crunch was a conspiracy of the Veep's buddies and the Whitehouse refused to help. It will be common sense that the Dept of the Interior is turning off the water on L.A. for political reasons (when it goes into effect). We know we aren't part of the "Red Country" that won the last election and we believe we're being victimized because we voted Blue.

Let's see: 1/8th to 1/6th of the country lives in a geographically contigious territory. The population feels alientated and hated by the rest of the country (and gets slandered daily). Said region is one of the largest economies in the world (between 5th and 8th) and has numerous secessionist movements within it (e.g. in LA and Jefferson). And you're encouraging a psychological divide. That's just fucking great. Consider whether national unity should really be assumed. Then don't try so hard to divide the house against itself. k?

Now, there's something to be said for this point -- though I can't help but note that I was issuing similar warnings about much larger parts of the United States during the Clinton years, when things like gun control were inspiring similar alienation there, without it having much resonance. And trust me -- the secession thing has been tried. It's a bad idea.

But it's easy to overdo regional bashing. Southerners know this, of course, because we've been on the receiving end for a long time, but that doesn't make it right.

Then again, perhaps the folks in California should take this opportunity to examine how their arrogance may have engendered resentments elsewhere, and to ask themselves "why do they hate us?" Or at least make fun.

UPDATE: Reader David Nishimura responds:

It is absolutely true to form that those in the SF Bay Area who feel alienated from the rest of the country should blame the rest of the country and not themselves. I grew up in the Bay Area, and I can think of no other part of this country where outsiders were regarded with such open scorn. Anyone living more than an hour or two from the Pacific was considered a redneck; Southerners were considered racist trash by definition, and even the most PC were happy to mock a Deep South accent.

When I moved to New York City for graduate school, I was repeatedly asked, by everyone from my college friends to the telephone company clerk, "Why are you leaving?" It was simply unfathomable to a broad cross-section of Californians that anyone would actually choose to live somewhere else for any reason. Interestingly enough, when driving cross-country then, and again a few years later, I talked to people wherever I stopped who would ask where I was from. When I responded "New York" or "Manhattan", the non-Californians were uniformly polite and understanding, even if they had no desire to live anywhere else themselves. Typical was a roadside rock-shop employee in New Mexico, who explained he could never give up the wide open spaces, but that he'd like to visit New York, since there was so much there to see.

Your Bay Area correspondent also suffers from another characteristic regional myopia, in being unable to see that his California is not monolithically left-liberal. And I really shouldn't even bothert rying to address his paranoid rants about water policy in the Southland and energy policy statewide (though I'll note that environmentalists have been calling for a stricter water policy for
decades, and that while Enron & friends did take advantage of California's energy problems, it was only possible thanks to the state's own fundamentally flawed skin-of-the-teeth energy policy).

Reader Scott Breffle has a similar response:

I've lived in San Francisco for 5 years, but grew up in Southern California (Orange County), and have spent several years living on the East Coast. My point is basically that the Bay Area lives in a political and cultural bubble, and it is on strong need of some fresh air. Your reader proves the point himself when he translates the "alienation" of the Bay Area into the whole state. Has this reader been to Orange Country or San Diego recently?

Or how about the burgeoning Central Valley? Even parts of LA?! There are great swaths of California that are decidedly more conservative that the Bay Area. As someone who travels south often, I don't sense this great "alienation", except for here in San Francisco. I'm all for thinking outside the box, but the Bay Area's supposedly progressive bent, by not incorporating anything that changed in the world since perhaps 1978, seems increasingly stale and unreflective.

I received quite a lot of email along these lines, interestingly all from Californians.

NOW THAT THE U.N. HAS SOME DIRT ON SADDAM HUSSEIN, lefties are souring on the U.N. Susanna Cornett is unsurprised, but not displeased.

SORRY FOR THE LATE START: Both my daughter and I are out of school today for the MLK holiday, but my wife is working, so I'm on solo child-care duty and a playroom clean-up has interfered with blogging. More later.

YOUR, ER, TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: The Internal Revenue Service has been found to be guilty of fraud and deception. Follow the link for more, and a link to the decision.

January 19, 2003

HUH. Over 53,000 pageviews today. That's a lot for a Sunday. Must be the protests.

Does this make me a tacit supporter of A.N.S.W.E.R.?


ANTIWAR PROTESTS: A pale shadow of what we saw 12 years ago?

DESTINATION: BRITAIN! Adil Farooq, who lives there, is horrified by Britain's asylum policies.




WATCH THOSE HARD DRIVES: They're harder to clean than you think. The last sentence in this story makes me think that there's an interesting story behind the story.

(Via Ray Garraud).

PROTEST NUMBERS from around the world. There's more, including the attendance at the Detroit Auto Show (where people showed up Saturday to look at SUVs in numbers dwarfing the entire American protest turnout) here. And some questions for protesters, and answers, linked here. Also, photos and firsthand reports from the protests here.

UPDATE: Environment-friendly marchers? Well. . . . In a weird kind of way, these pictures make sense.


DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ? Robert Musil looks at history.

History? Hey, Saddam just had an election!

A PACK, NOT A HERD: I got an email saying that the story about two high school students downing a would-be school shooter (or at least a would-be "Jeremy") that I posted on Friday night will be reported on CNN tomorrow.

WE'RE ALL JUST PUPPETS, and Cathy Seipp is pulling the strings. Well, yeah. But we don't mind.

JUST SAW THE MEDIA MATTERS BLOGGING EPISODE, which was quite different from the rough cut that I had seen earlier. I liked the old music better (techno vs. the Bobby McFerrin -- I think -- in the new cut), but overall I thought it was pretty good. And I still think that Oliver Willis should have a TV show.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a review up (two key points: Megan McArdle is "hot" -- and why not a sequel focusing on Iranian-Jewish webloggers?) And Anil Dash has comments focusing on the, um, "opportunities" he hopes the appearance will produce. . . .

A WHILE BACK, I linked to a story from the Los Angeles Times pronouncing Milwaukee the "most segregated" city in America. Angry Milwaukee reader Rob Burg sends this story and this story reporting a study that pronounces the Census Bureau data leading to that conclusion wrong.

TACITUS is issuing a challenge to anti-war bloggers: Disavow A.N.S.W.E.R. and what it stands for. And he's got some pretty graphic stuff on what it stands for.

UPDATE: Radley Balko responds. Oliver Willis has a response, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Megan McArdle comments:

I've seen a number of people say that it doesn't matter that A.N.S.W.E.R. organized the anti-war marches -- they may be quasi-marxist apologists for Stalin using the anti-war rallies to advance a hard-left statist agenda, but why should we let that stop us from marching in a good cause?

Come again? Would you go to a fundraiser for abandoned puppies organized by the Klan? Please do not bother trying to convince me; of course you wouldn't. You'd donate money to a shelter, or adopt a puppy, but no matter how good the cause was, you wouldn't stand up to be counted alongside the guys in sheets.

She's also designed some nifty t-shirts. Where do I order one? (LATER: Why here, of course!)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots of comments on Tacitus's original post. My favorite, however, is not precisely on point, but it is funny:

hmmm connecting dots.
Stalin: big mustache, vicious dictator
Saddam : big mustache, vicious dictator
A.N.S.W.E.R.: Stalinist organisation opposes move to unseat Saddam.

question, if Bush had a big mustache would they be ambivalent over their support of Saddam?

Hmm. Big mustache. Cowboy hat. . . . All I can say is, Tom Selleck for President! Let's bring America back together. . . .


Meanwhile, Steven Jens asks, "What is it with evil men and mustaches?"

JUSTIN KATZ WRITES on conservatism and change in the Islamic world.

ELECTROMAGNETIC WEAPONS? DefenseTech has some links and information. And scroll down for more on the unfolding Los Alamos scandals, which are getting less attention than they deserve.

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste, who knows about this kind of thing, has comments here, and here.


I've written about neuroscience, too, but while I was worried about how other people might use it to control us, Fukuyama is more worried about how we might use it to control ourselves. Which sums up the difference between my position and Fukuyama's on a number of subjects.

STUFF I MEANT TO LINK THIS WEEK, but never got around to:

This article by Buzz Aldrin and Ron Jones on space tourism;

This magisterial post by Lynxx Pherrett on human trafficking worldwide (it's not just the UN peacekeepers!);

This column by Rand Simberg on space commercialization;

Reality Carnival -- the whole blog, which as you'll see lives up to its name;

This post on why I was wrong, and this post on why I wasn't, in my discussion of Eldred (LATER: Larry Lessig says I was "sensible"); and

This post from the Bitch Girls, commenting on the C-SPAN coverage of the protests yesterday.

I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch -- when I find this stuff I leave the screen open meaning to go back to it, and sometimes I just don't get there.

DOES THIS ELECTION mean I'm not supposed to call Castro a "dictator" any more? I'm with Josh Chafetz on this one:

This just goes to show that, in addition to being brutal and oppressive, the Cuban regime is also incompetent. All 609 ran unopposed? Which genius in Fidel's inner circle was in charge of this? Couldn't they at least scare up two Communists to run against each other, so they could at least plausibly claim to be holding free elections? As it is, why even bother with the election? -- it's not fooling much of anyone ...

But there are those who will point to it, just as there are those who think that Saddam just won a democratic election.

DAMIAN PENNY is running a contest for the dumbest protest sign seen yesterday. Get your entries in!

ATRIOS IS RUNNING THIS QUOTE from an article in the Knoxville alt-weekly Metro Pulse:

In late 1969, a group of about 25 demonstrators marched from campus down Alcoa Highway to the airport. The intent was to symbolically greet the soldiers who weren't coming home. "The only thing that really hurt," recalls organizer Charlie Reynolds, "is that one of the students insisted on carrying a North Vietnamese flag."

Reynolds was UT's ranking expert on demonstrating. An ordained Methodist minister and still a professor of religious studies at UT, he was new to campus. Born in Alabama, Reynolds had been involved in civil rights demonstrations there as early as '61. Since then, he'd been pelted with eggs in Boston and faced firehoses in Heidelberg. When Nixon came to town in 1970, Reynolds, finishing his first year at UT, would lead the opposition.

Yeah, that's my dad. I've linked to this piece a couple of times myself (here's one mention, from last June), as a matter of fact. There's also an article from 1971, I think, that Garry Wills wrote for Esquire, though it's not online as far as I can tell.

To Atrios, it's funny that my father protested a different war. To me, of course, the most important line is this one:

"The only thing that really hurt," recalls organizer Charlie Reynolds, "is that one of the students insisted on carrying a North Vietnamese flag."

My father and I disagree on the current (projected) war, but we don't disagree about how unfortunate it is that that peace movement -- and this one -- have been ruined by jackholes who are really just posturing, or actively rooting for the other side.

And I actually marched with my Dad in Boston, but that was protesting Louise Day Hicks.

WELL, THEY'RE CALLED ANARCHISTS FOR A REASON: An amusing story from yesterday's protests.


GARY HART HAS LAUNCHED HIS 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN WEBSITE. I think he's the strongest Democrat in the field.

Here is the Hart website, which can also be reached at

POWER LINE POINTS OUT that an anti-Hugo Chavez rally in Miami drew 50,000 people -- about as many as the largest credible estimates for the D.C. antiwar rally yesterday. In the words of Power Line:

[T]he anti-Chavez, pro-freedom rally by Cuban-Americans and others in Miami was likely larger than any of yesterday's antiwar rallies. How much coverage did it get in your local newspaper?

That says something about the limited appeal of the antiwar movement. And about what the mainstream press considers news, and what it doesn't.

UPDATE: ToneCluster points out that 100,000 people protested against Chavez in Caracas yesterday.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus notes that more people will be showing up for the NFC and AFC championship games than showed up at any of the protests. (Heck, based on official figures more people showed up to see the lame Tennessee Vols lose to Florida last fall than showed up at all the American antiwar protests combined.)

He also notes that the ESPN coverage -- unlike coverage of the antiwar protesters -- includes detailed analysis of the records and backgrounds of the participants, and concludes: "I wonder why 'pure news' reporters look down on sports reporters?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Charles Austin emails:

More people didn't just show up to see the Vols lose to Florida, they paid for the privilege! I would have said that unlike the pro-Saddam demonstrators, they did not regard their opponent's supporters as feckless, hygenically challenged, evil morons, but we are talking about Gator fans after all.

Meanwhile, Oliver Willis emails this link to a page with video that purports to show 350,000 people at the San Francisco rally. I couldn't get the video to play, but I regard that claim as absurdly inflated.

And reader Ronnie Schreiber sends this observation:

A couple of the reports on the various anti-war protests said that a number of the protesters' signs mentioned SUVs. Today is the last day of the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Last year there were 759,907 people who paid to get into the nine day show and crowds so far have exceeded last year's attendance. The last Saturday of the show is typically the day with the highest attendance which means that yesterday there may have been more people attending the Detroit auto show to look at the latest SUVs than there were anti-war protesters in both SF and DC.

Sure enough, thanks to the wonder of Google News, I found this story, reporting that:

Event organizers predicted the final turnout by Monday evening could approach the 2000 record of 802,300. Saturday's attendance alone was projected to top 120,000 people.

So, using official numbers, it seems that there were certainly more people looking at SUVs in Detroit yesterday than were protesting the war across America. You may, of course, doubt the truth of the official numbers -- and crowd estimation, especially with large crowds where people don't have to pass through turnstiles to get there is hard -- but it seems rather unlikely to me that the Washington, D.C. and San Francisco municipal governments are such hotbeds of warhawkery that they would be deliberately under-reporting the numbers by a factor of ten, as the organizers are claiming. (LATER: Schreiber emails to point out that the Auto Show charges admission, and so probably has a very reliable count compared to what you get with open-air events. True enough.) (STILL LATER: A reader emails that yesterday's attendance was 142,865. I can't find that anywhere on the Web, but if so, well, the outcome's pretty clear.)

Meanwhile, Charles Johnson reports that press accounts are whitewashing the presence of radical Islamists at the protests.

UPDATE: And James Hudnall has a pop quiz for protesters. Read it.

KEITH RICHARDS isn't scared of terrorists:

"I say to Osama and the boys bring it on, evaporate me," Richards said on the eve of the band's Australian tour. "If it gets to the stage where these guys are dictating if we rock or not, then forget about it."

Paul McCartney, on the other hand, is less defiant.

WILL WILKINSON is unimpressed by the invocation of Martin Luther King at yesterday's protests:

I have no idea what the man would have thought of our present situation, and I doubt others are in a much better position. I guess when you do such an awful job making a moral case against the war, you'll take whatever associations of moral authority you can muster. (And this from someone who is by no means in favor of the war.)

But his picture is an icon, and these protests seem to be mostly about the parading of icons. What the antiwar left needs, however, is some iconoclasm.

UPDATE: A reader points out that King's views on Zionism probably wouldn't be very popular with many of these protesters.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The King letter linked above appears to be a hoax. I actually checked on Google, found it in a number of places that looked reputable, and went with it. But another reader sends this link to a post explaining that it is probably bogus, though it goes on to note: "the message of the letter (Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism) was one Martin Luther King, Jr. had indeed articulated."