June 21, 2003


IT'S TOO EARLY TO MAKE MUCH of this WMD story, but a British reader emails that the folks at the BBC "radio PM" are "utterly prostrate at this development." So stay, er, tuned.

Then again, it wouldn't be the first time the BBC has gone overboard with bogus early reports that didn't pan out.

OPEN LETTERS TO KOFI ANNAN AND PRESIDENT BUSH ON IRAN: Well, don't just sit there, go read 'em. (I'm pretty sure which one of the Bush letters I'd pick. How about you?)

STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT -- and it's dissent about the crushing of dissent!

A cold war has broken out at a librarians' conference in downtown Toronto as accusations fly that pro-Castro elements within the American Library Association are trying to silence debate over Cuba's crackdown on independent libraries.

The battle has laid the groundwork for the improbable scenario of a shouting match among librarians at a meeting tomorrow.

The ALA has "secretly manoeuvered to have only pro-Cuban voices" on a discussion panel, said Robert Kent, a co-founder of the Friends of Cuban Libraries and a librarian with the New York Public Library. "And the extremists within the ALA are going to try to pack the meeting to exclude people who might be critical of the Cuban government."

I blame John Ashcroft.

UPDATE: Here's more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Librarian-blogger Alan Powell writes: "librarians who profess a foundational commitment to a non-negotiable "Freedom to Read" have no business ignoring the plight of Cubans taking a stand to do the same."

INNOCENTS ABROAD points to an example of ethnic hate speech by Matthew Parris, in the London Times.

MCDONALD'S -- a force for good, even in France:

In order to counter the strike by its school canteen staff, the management of the Robespierre middle school in Epinay-sur-Seine ordered 160 meals from McDonalds to feed its students taken hostage (nutritionally speaking) by the strikers. The manoeuvre stunned the strikers who were counting on hungry protestations of the students to amplify their demands. One student declared, 'When can we do that again?'. The strike was called off this Friday.

Some teachers tried to block delivery of the meals. That'll win friends. The French strikes in general seem to be fizzling, which suggests that good sense may be breaking out.

POTTERBLOGGING: Fritz Schranck was on the scene at midnight and has recorded the results, with photos. The InstaDaughter and I went to the local bookstore at 10, but she pronounced the scene boring and we came home by 11. We'll get the book this morning.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn wonders how much life the series has left in it.

PRIVATE LYNCH UPDATE: BBC Correspondent John Kampfner's version continues to unravel: and what Kampfner reported as an attempt by Iraqi doctors to return Lynch to American custody in an ambulance turns out, according to Nicholas Kristof's report, to actually have been something rather different indeed. Here's the key bit:

The hospital staff also said that on the night of March 27, military officials prepared to kill Ms. Lynch by putting her in an ambulance and blowing it up with its occupants — blaming the atrocity on the Americans. The ambulance drivers balked at that idea. Eventually, the plan was changed so that a military officer would shoot Ms. Lynch and burn the ambulance. So Sabah Khazal, an ambulance driver, loaded her in the vehicle and drove off with a military officer assigned to execute her.

"I asked him not to shoot Jessica," Mr. Khazal said, "and he was afraid of God and didn't kill her." Instead, the executioner ran away and deserted the army, and Mr. Khazal said that he then thought about delivering Ms. Lynch to an American checkpoint. But there were firefights on the streets, so he returned to the hospital. (Ms. Lynch apparently never knew how close she had come to execution.)

Kampfner has never fully explained the many problems with his report, and this only makes it worse.

UPDATE: Wilbur's Blog notes that the usual conspiracists at Indymedia are still peddling the old BBC story.

ERIC OLSEN has a very nice piece about Warren Zevon up over at MSNBC. My favorite bit:

Last October, after the news of his cancer was out, Zevon appeared on television as the only guest of David Letterman (a huge fan) in a special episode of the show. Zevon was witty, charming, even profound. Besides his musical performances, the highlight of the show was this exchange:

Letterman: “Do you now know something I don’t know?”

Zevon: “I know how much you are supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

June 20, 2003

RIGHT THOUGHTS (formerly "Right Thinking from the Left Coast") has moved. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

UPDATE: Ooops. I was confused. Right Thinking from the Left Coast is a different blog, and it's here now. There are too many blogs for me to keep straight nowadays. I'm blog-saturated!

HIGH SCHOOL BLOGGERS will be the bane of officious principals I suspect. Certainly this story, if accurate, reflects poorly on one high school's administration.


VIENNA, Austria - Experts from the U.N. atomic agency have accounted for tons of uranium feared looted from Iraq (news - web sites)'s largest nuclear research facility, diplomats said Friday. . . .

The diplomats did not detail how much uranium had been looted and where it was found, but it appeared much of it was on or near the site.

U.S. military officials who accompanied the IAEA team said last week that initial assessments indicated most of the uranium that had been stored at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center was accounted for.

Although at least 20 percent of the containers which stored the uranium were taken from the site, it appeared that looters had dumped the uranium before taking the barrels.

Well, that's a relief. As the fog of war lifts, lots of stories will no doubt be revised.

PLAYING THE GAME -- DISHONESTLY: Tapped makes a big deal of the Christian Science Monitor's report (noted here last night) that documents found by the Monitor implicating British antiwar MP George Galloway as a collaborator with Iraq appear to be forged. Tapped thinks that Andrew Sullivan owes Galloway an apology, and adds rather snippily: "It's Sullivan's game. We're just playing it."

Playing it rather dishonestly, though. Because what the Tapped post doesn't mention is that the same expert who found the Monitor's documents probably fraudulent also said that the Telegraph documents were probably genuine:

After examining copies of two pages of the Daily Telegraph's documents linking Galloway with the Hussein regime, Mneimneh pronounces them consistent, unlike their Monitor counterparts, with authentic Iraqi documents he has seen.

Moreover, a direct comparison of the language in the Monitor and Daily Telegraph document sets shows that they are somewhat contradictory.

The trouble is, you can't read this directly from their post because Tapped doesn't link to the Monitor's story. Instead, it links to this AP story about the Monitor's findings, which doesn't include that discussion. That's funny, since Tapped's post is timestamped 12:40 p.m. today, and the Monitor story has been available since last night. So why link to the AP story?

Unless, of course, you're playing games. I think that it's Tapped who owes an apology here. To Sullivan, and to its readers.

UPDATE: Okay, on reading this again maybe I'm a bit too hard on Tapped. It's certainly possible that this was an honest, if careless, mistake. But since I'm revisiting this, I should also point out Galloway admits he was in Iraq when the Telegraph documents say that he was.

Tapped should either have been more careful, or less snippy. And I suppose it might turn out, eventually, that Galloway is altogether innocent -- and that he supported Saddam out of conviction, rather than desire for lucre, if that's better. But Tapped certainly didn't prove that, and didn't present even the evidence in existence in a complete or forthright manner.

I wonder if anonymous blogging encourages that sort of thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Mosier emails "Anonymous blogging is like the KKK hiding behind sheets." I don't agree with this, and I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with anonymous blogging per se. But an anonyblogger like, say, Atrios is still taking personal -- if pseudonymous -- responsibility. The anonymity of house blogs like Tapped encourages a sort of diffusion of responsibility, I think. However, I suspect that the real motivation for anonymous house blogs is that the people who run these publications don't want their staff making a name for themselves via blogging. They might *shudder* ask for more money, or something.

Meanwhile, Horologium sees this as evidence of Tapped's decline. Well, it was better back when Chris Mooney was doing it. Now it's been Kuttnerized! (Take it away, Mickey Kaus. . . )


Tony Blair conceded today that a European Union donation to help fight Aids, TB and malaria would fall short of the $1bn (Ј600m) pledged by the United States.

The prime minister had made a joint call with French president Jacques Chirac for the EU to match America's commitment to the UN's Global Health Fund, set up to fight the three killer diseases.

But speaking at the EU summit in Greece, he said the smaller of the 15 existing EU members and 10 countries joining next year were not prepared to commit the money for 2004 because of "budget problems".

The reader sending the link notes:

Bush promised the money, and he's put up the money. The E.U. promised to match Bush's money, and they haven't.

But Europeans still think the U.S. is a bigger threat to safety in the world than Al Qaeda.

The E.U. is much, much bigger on making promises than on fulfilling them.

DUE TO BLOGGER PROBLEMS, Daniel Drezner has moved his blog here.

I'VE GOT MORE ON SENATOR HATCH'S UNFORTUNATE ENCOUNTER with the Internet over at Meanwhile Howard Kurtz has the last word on the O'Reilly / Internet war. ("O'Reilly loves to stir up trouble, of course, but many of his targets don't have a megaphone to shout back. That's hardly the case online, where almost anyone can crank up the volume.")

Both Hatch and O'Reilly seem to have come off the worse for dissing the Internet. Is there a lesson in that?

UPDATE: More on Hatch here, where we also learn that the story has made the Salt Lake Tribune.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This whole affair is restoring one blogger's faith in the blogosphere. Well, good!

THE SHRILL ANTI-BUSH TONE of this Salon piece by Eric Boehlert is unfortunate, because the issue it covers is too important to be buried in the "maybe this will be the silver bullet the Democrats have been waiting for" drooling.

Leaving all that aside, Boehlert has a point. The Bush Administration has been far too resistant to probes of what was done before the 9/11 attacks. I've repeatedly noted here that nobody lost their job over this, despite some pretty obvious dropped balls. We haven't seen the kind of accountability that we should, and the Bush Administration does itself no credit by its near-stonewalling on this subject.

Karl Rove should be thankful, though, for the screechily partisan note of these calls for an investigation, which have so far made them easier to ignore. But my advice to Karl is not to depend too much on the shrillness of his enemies, and to remember that if you act like you're hiding something, people will sooner or later conclude that you've got something to hide.

I SAID EARLIER that local blogs would have a lot of impact. Bill Hobbs points to one that's fact-checking newspaper bias in South Dakota at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Hobbs writes: "The reports, written by University of South Dakota law student Jason Van Beek, are blog-journalism at its finest." Judging by the reaction from the journalists he's covering, I think he's having an impact already.

I think we'll see a lot more local-blogging. In part that's because local newspapers, almost always monopolists and often with too-comfortable relations with local politicos, are ripe targets.


With no government to turn to, Ali and his neighbors decided to make their own, forming a neighborhood council and taking responsibility for getting power and water up and running, cleaning up the sewage, arranging delivery of cooking gas canisters, clearing the schoolyards and every other detail of municipal life.

And the headache of it all -- the nitty-gritty, unsolvable, hair-tearing frustration of trying to run a city neighborhood with no money, office, phone or car -- fills Ali with pure elation.

"We are appreciating this opportunity," Ali, a slight, carefully dressed man with neat salt-and-pepper hair, said on a recent sweltering evening as the council gathered in the courtyard of the al-Ahud primary school. "We have suffered for a long period. This is the first time we are taking responsibility for ourselves."

Today, representatives of neighborhood councils all over Baghdad will gather for the first time. The plan is to have them elect members to a district council, which in turn will choose representatives to serve on a Baghdad city council scheduled to be operational by the end of June.

But read the whole thing.


BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 20 — Belgium's government itself became the target Friday of a law that has damaged the country's relations with the United States by allowing war crimes complaints against President Bush and other prominent Americans.

A small opposition party said it had filed a suit against Foreign Minister Louis Michel for authorizing a Belgian company to sell arms to Nepal. The New Flemish Alliance, a nationalist party from Belgium's Dutch-speaking north, alleged the sale made Michel an accomplice in human rights abuses by the Nepalese armed forces.

''The law says every collaboration with these crimes is a crime itself and should be punished in the same way,'' party spokesman Ben Weyts said. ''The sentence for this crime is life in prison.''

Or complete irrelevance, whichever comes first.

MERYL YOURISH REPORTS an astonishing lack of support for the Iranian freedom protests, over at IndyMedia.

IndyMedia was never about freedom.

TALKSHOW HOST AND BLOGGER Kevin McCullough writes that GoreTV will be outdone by the blogosphere.

I wish someone would give me ten million dollars.

THE GAY VICTORY: Jonah Goldberg writes:

The gays have won. The problem is no one will admit it.

The biggest and latest news is that Canada is poised to legalize same-sex marriage. But the signs of the gay victory have been all around for us for years.

He's right, of course. Which is fine with me, even though it still irritates some people.

UPDATE: Stanley Kurtz writes that "Reynolds also acknowledges that there is at least a good argument to be made that gay marriage will end up undermining, rather than reinforcing, marriage." Uh, no, I don't. And I don't see where he got that out of this post.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kurtz responds that he was referring to this phrase from my earlier post:

There are some conservatives who say that the advocacy of gay marriage is part of a campaign by some liberals to undermine marriage in general -- and I think there probably are some people on the left (or in whatever la-la land the MacKinnon / Dworkin types and their near-kin inhabit) who think that it will do that. But I rather suspect it will have the opposite effect.

Well, I guess I can see reading that the way he does, though the mention of MacKinnon / Dworkin la-la land should suggest how unfounded I believe such thinking is.

Meanwhile I'll let Kurtz, and anyone else who is interested, make whatever they can of this new study. I'm not going there.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: "The bitter truth is that the Middle East wants the West far more than the West the Middle East." He goes on to say:

For all the doom and gloom we are making amazing progress. If on the evening of September 11th, an outside observer had predicted that the following would transpire in two years, he would have been considered unhinged: Saddam Hussein gone with the wind; democratic birth pangs in Iraq; the Taliban finished and Mr. Karzai attempting to create constitutional government; Yasser Arafat ostracized by the American government and lord of a dilapidated compound; bin Laden either dead or leading a troglodyte existence; all troops slated to leave Saudi Arabia — and by our own volition, not theirs; Iran and Syria apprehensive rather than boastful about their own promotion of terror; and the Middle East worried that the United States is both unpredictable in its righteous anger and masterful in its use of arms, rather than customarily irresolute and reactive.

Finally, do not expect to read headlines like "85% of Baghdad's Power Restored," "Afghan Women Enroll in Schools by the Millions," or "Americans Put an End to Secret Police and Arbitrary Executions in Iraq." It is not the nature of the present generation of our elites — so unlike our own forefathers in postwar Japan or Germany — to express confidence in our culture, much less in the moral nature of our struggle to end the conditions that caused this war.

Yes, and if we lose this war, that will be why. Fortunately, however, what Andrew Sullivan correctly called a "fifth column" back in 2001 is limited in numbers and influence, despite its broad representation in media.

HOW RELIABLE IS THIS POLL? Beats me. But it's interesting:

Iraq’s first opinion poll since the war, indeed in decades, showed that 73 per cent of Baghdad residents think the army has failed to enforce security in the city, which is still plagued by shootings, car-jackings and armed looters.

But in a candid acknowledgement that there is as yet no alternative, only 17 per cent of those polled by the independent Iraqi Institute of Strategic Studies said that the coalition should leave now. Half wanted the US forces to stay until a permanent government had been elected, a process that could take up to two years.

The rest of the article, however, is far more troubling, with emphasis on the persistence of disorder in and around Baghdad. It fits uncomfortably well with this report by Salam Pax.

Things seem to be considerably better elsewhere in Iraq, which is no surprise -- the "Sunni belt" retains the most Ba'ath holdovers and is probably where Saudi Wahabbists are focusing their efforts to destabilize the country.

UPDATE: Reader Jody Leavell expresses irritation with Salam's passivity and notes:

The American problem may be too few troops in place to adequately secure the city. The residents of Baghdad's problem isn't the Americans, nor the militants, it is their own apathy and failure to take responsibility for their plight and build a better future.

Yes. I spoke to a friend of mind in the defense establishment, who doesn't have direct responsibility for Iraq but who is interested and perceptive. He remarked that the big intelligence failure was in underestimating just how badly Saddam had wrecked civil society in Iraq. But he also remarked that the Iraqis want to get back to civil society really badly, and he thinks they're starting to overcome their shell-shock.

AN IRANIAN BLOGGER offers some cautionary advice about Iranian revolution. Read this.

ORRIN HATCH: Software Pirate and porno magnate?

HERE'S AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT KAPLAN on how America should operate around the world. Excerpt:

In fact, one of the stories that got some attention, but perhaps not as much as it should have, is the number of visits by high-level Pentagon officials to Dearborn, Michigan, which is kind of the center of the Iraqi-American community. People in the U.S. government have been increasingly reaching out to Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles, to Iraqi-Americans in Dearborn, hopefully to Palestinians in northern New Jersey. They recognize that we aren't tapping the "hyphenated Americans," and increasingly we're making progress. But just think about it. We have the most international country in the world. Large communities of Armenians, of Iranians, of Laotians, of Vietnamese, and of Arabs. Given this population base, there is no excuse for us not having a diplomatic and military corps that is the most erudite and linguistically sophisticated in the world. And we do, to an extent. But we have to get a lot better at it.

Yes. In an interestingly related post, Trent Telenko says that Rumsfeld and Shinseki are both wrong about the number of troops needed to rebuild Iraq.

MILLIONS VS. BILLIONS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Apparently, the new, improved fact-checking system hasn't been rolled out quite yet.

HERE'S A NICE PIECE BY ANGELINA SCIOLLA on the relationship between blogs and Big Media. (Via Virginia Postrel).

June 19, 2003

I MENTIONED THE INDIAN TRUST FUND DEBACLE below. Jacob T. Levy has more here, here. and here.

ANOTHER Greg Packer?


Here's another, better reason:

In a telling anecdote, it is said that Condoleezza Rice, the White House's national security adviser, asked a Korean government official if he knew the names of the two middle school girls killed last year by a U.S. armored vehicle. He answered yes right away. Then she asked if he knew any of the names of the sailors killed [by North Koreans last year] in the West Sea battle. The official stuttered, unable to answer the question. This embarrassing incident shows us how ridiculous our country may seem to the world.

You go, girl! (Via The Marmot's Hole).


Gay marriage opens the doors to a series of changes in the law of marriage. Not the law of marriage for gays - the law of marriage for everybody. The whole point to gay marriage is to make the rules for gays the same as the rules for straights. Logically, then, the rules for straights will have to be the same as the rules for gays.

It's a good guess, for example, that we will see an end to the concepts of “motherhood” and “fatherhood” in our legal practice. The law will increasingly see couples as interchangeable “parents.” This reinterpretation of motherhood as parenthood will have large impacts on, for example, custody decisions during divorce. Right now, the courts still tend to award custody to mothers, even if they work, even if they work more hours than their husbands do. (Some years ago, a Florida court awarded custody to an at-home dad over his working wife, and feminists raised a huge fuss against the sexist court that extinguished maternal rights just because the mother worked 70 hours a week.) But as the courts have to make new law to cope with gay divorces, look for the old idea of maternal preference to disappear. You can’t have maternal preferences when both parents claim to be the mother.

Rob Smith on gay marriage:

Having been through two divorces and seen first-hand how a man fares against a woman (although I DID get custody of my daughter, but NO Child Support because I was profiled as a man)), I have a couple of questions. If gay parents adopt, how does the court award custody? How is Child Support figured? How is alimony decided?

The more I think about those questions, the more I favor gay marriage. Maybe the courts will stop "profiling" ex-husbands as the scum of the earth, guilty of whatever went wrong in the marriage and due a richly-deserved financial enema for that evil. Maybe the woman doesn't have a stacked deck in her favor anymore.

That would be a damned good thing.

Personally, I'm in favor of legalizing gay marriage. I don't see that gay marriage diminishes marriage, any more than the many Jerry-Springer types who are allowed to get married now diminish marriage. I have gay friends who are, for all practical purposes, married. I don't see why barring them from going to the courthouse benefits anyone.

There are some conservatives who say that the advocacy of gay marriage is part of a campaign by some liberals to undermine marriage in general -- and I think there probably are some people on the left (or in whatever la-la land the MacKinnon / Dworkin types and their near-kin inhabit) who think that it will do that. But I rather suspect it will have the opposite effect. Let gays get married and they'll become a bulwark of the bourgeoisie. That's my prediction, anyway.

I also recommend this column by Radley Balko, which advocates getting the state out of the marriage business entirely.

MARY ROBINSON IS immune to irony. But we knew that.

MEDIA BIAS? Transnational Progressives who hate Bush? That's crazy-talk!

GALLOWAY DOCUMENTS ARE FORGERIES -- at least some of them, anyway, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Note, however, that the Monitor's expert seems to regard different Galloway documents, found by The Telegraph, as authentic.

BLOGGERS RATE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BLOGS: Hmm. I'm not sure that this chart is an accurate reflection, but you can decide for yourself.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis reports that Andrew Sullivan and I both send far more referrals than The New York Times. Whatever that means. NYT readers don't follow links, I guess.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile Bill Gates outlines the future of online newspapers, as he sees it.

SMART MOBS IN NEW YORK: This is interesting stuff.

MORE IRANIANS ARRESTED IN PARIS -- though these, reportedly, were protesting peacefully.

JEFF JARVIS has more on Iran, and on the BBC's anti-Americanism.

Meanwhile, here's an Italian journalist who wants to hear from Iranians.

UPDATE: And here's the war news roundup from Winds of Change -- which also has an Iran news roundup because, well, they're just all over this stuff.

STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: This time in France, where a book on the ELF scandal is being suppressed.

Amnesty International? Reporters Without Borders? Go to it.


I'VE BEEN PRETTY HARD ON HOMELAND SECURITY -- and with good reason -- but this suggests that we're doing something right somewhere:

WASHINGTON, June 19 — A suspected al-Qaida operative has pleaded guilty to two terrorism-related charges after he was identified by a top leader of Osama bin Laden’s terror network, NBC News has learned.

THE MAN, Iyman Faris, a U.S. citizen from Columbus, Ohio, also known as Mohammed Rauf, was personally identified by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is believed to have been al-Qaida’s top terrorist planner, U.S. officials told NBC News’ Pete Williams.

The officials said Mohammed, who was captured March 1 in Pakistan, told U.S. authorities that Faris, 34, had been assigned to look into ways to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge and derail trains, among other potential attacks.

What's upsetting -- and should be even more upsetting for American Muslims -- is that he was a naturalized citizen of long residence in America.

UPDATE: Here's a link-filled report on Al Qaeda in the USA, from Winds of Change -- which is really on a roll today.

THE TRUE FATHER of neoconservatism -- Jimmy Carter?

BEST OF THE WEB has picked up on the Hatch copyright-infringement story, but the best bit is the email from a reader, doing Hatch one better by advocating mattresses that burst into flame if you remove the tag. (Meanwhile Laurence Simon emails to say that the offending code has mysteriously vanished from Hatch's site. It's a coverup! Call in the press!) Ernie the Attorney isn't very happy with Hatch, and suspects a bogus national-security angle to anti-filesharing legislation.

Okay, enough on Hatch and O'Reilly for a while.

UPDATE: Well, almost enough. Wired News has the scoop on Hatch's unlicensed software:

On Wednesday, Hatch clarified his comments, but stuck by the original idea. "I do not favor extreme remedies -- unless no moderate remedies can be found," he said in a statement. "I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies."

Just as well. Because if Hatch's terminator system embraced software as well as music, his servers would be targeted for destruction.

Milonic Solutions' JavaScript code used on Hatch's website costs $900 for a site-wide license. It is free for personal or nonprofit use, which the senator likely qualifies for.

However, the software's license stipulates that the user must register the software to receive a licensing code, and provide a link in the source code to Milonic's website.

The senator's site meets neither of Milonic's licensing terms. The site's source code (which can be seen by selecting "Source" under the "View" menu in Internet Explorer) has neither a link to Milonic's site nor a registration code.

"They're using our code," said Woolley. "We've had no contact with them. They are in breach of our licensing terms."

The source code on Hatch's site contains the line: "* i am the license for the menu (duh) *"

Woolley said he had no idea where the line came from -- it has nothing to do with him, and he hadn't seen it on other websites that use his menu system.

"It looks like it's trying to cover something up, as though they got a license," he said.

Best bit:

A spokesman in Hatch's office responded, "That's ironic" before declining to put Wired News in contact with the site's webmaster.

Why yes. Yes, it is.

STILL MORE ON BILL O'REILLY AND THE INTERNET, over at On the way to the gym this morning, I heard Neal Boortz talking about what he called O'Reilly's "hissy fit" about blogs. Boortz announced that his program notes page is a blog and offered these rules reproduced there:

Make sure you spell my name right. It’s Neal, not Neil, and the letter “o” appears twice in my last name. Oh .. and I would appreciate it if you would tell people where they can go and listen to me. That’s it. That’s all I ask. Now get out there and knock yourselves out. I’m fair game, and I can take it.

Me, too -- and I'll bet nobody has accused O'Reilly of putting puppies in blenders. But, as I suggest in my post, he seems to have learned from his encounter with the Internet, and that speaks well of him.

RAND SIMBERG HAS RESPONDED TO BILL O'REILLY -- and the response is in a column on the FoxNews site! He also apologizes to John Pike. See, Bill -- the Internet is full of corrections . . .

WHY DOES ORRIN HATCH WANT TO BLOW UP YOUR COMPUTER? Juan Paxety has looked at the campaign contribution listings and says it's pretty obvious -- he's being paid to.

No word about the charges of Hatch's own copyright violations.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Eugene Volokh reports on efforts to silence a professor because his research is deemed politically unacceptable and contrary to national policy. It's shocking, and I hope that the academic community will weigh in with its support.

Meanwhile this guy isn't having any problems.

HERE'S MORE ON THAT MISSING 727: Interestingly, the name of the guy who stole it is Benjamin Padilla, and he's from Florida. No indication that he's any relation to accused "dirtybomber" Jose Padilla, who also had a Florida connection, and Padilla isn't exactly an uncommon name, but it's still something to wonder about. I will say that the photo of Benjamin Padilla isn't calculated to inspire confidence in his piloting abilities.

NICK SCHULZ writes in the Los Angeles Times that the Internet is behind Gray Davis's troubles, by making it easy for people to organize and promote the recall campaign. I think that's probably right. A lot of the informational/organizational advantages of Industrial Age entities like political parties are now available on an ad hoc basis via the Internet. That's changing things to a degree that still isn't fully appreciated.

I HAVEN'T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO THE INDIAN TRUST FUND SCANDAL. But neither has anyone else, except for Indian Country Today.

GORE TV? Time is excited about this, but Sofia Sideshow had 'em scooped with this story six months ago.

JEFF JARVIS has an Iran news roundup with lots of links to Iranian blog reports. And here's a CBS story on Iranian National TV.

KERRY SAYS HE WAS BRAINWASHED ON THE WAR! Boy, Kaus knows how to slide in the knife. (For those of you who don't get this reference, about a similar statement that ended the career of some guy named Romney, click here).

UPDATE: Hey, maybe Bush just believed the stuff Kerry wrote back when Clinton was President.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

The Money quote about
Romney, of course, came from Gene McCarthy. Why Romney said that he "must have been brainwashed" about Vietnam, McCarthy was said to have replied that a light rinse probably would have been sufficient.

Gene knew how to slide the knife in as well. ;-)

Yes, he was the Howard Dean of the '68 election.

JAMES LILEKS on Hatch and computers:

As for Orrin Hatch and his remarks about blowing up the computers of people who download pirated files: I’ll just say that I think he’s made mostly of molded plastic, there’s a pullstring in his back, and the RIAA fingerprints are all over the big white ring. I won’t listen to any of these guys blather about computers or the Internet until they have demonstrated on film that they can install some RAM, burn a CD (“shiny side down, you say?”), tell me what HTTP and URL stand for, prove they know how to get the source code for a webpage, and know better than to click “Yes” when asked if the computer should always trust data from Gator Corporation.

His remarks about remotely destroying computers that download copyrighted material is just grampa blather. The computers are stealing music! The cars are frightening the horses! The Kaiser took my dog! It would be amusing if these people didn’t have the power to pass thick stupid laws crafted by aides, lobbyists and other gnomes hauling up heavy buckets from the deep sooty mines of legalese. Of course the people who vote them up or down don’t actually read them; they get the gist from the title.

“What’s this Copyright Enhancement Act of 2003 all about, young underpaid aide?”

“It’s about enhancing copyright, sir.”

“Very good then. . . .

I know, I know - he was just talking off the top of his head. But if someone is talking about, oh, women’s pay relative to men, and they say off the top of their head “can’t the girls just stay home and put up preserves?” - well, it shows what they really think. Off the top of one’s head means when I reach for an idea, this one is the closest. For a reason.

At least he'll have Mary Bono pulling his string soon, instead of Hillary Rosen. That's got to be more pleasant.

June 18, 2003


WOMEN FOR A FREE IRAN will be demonstrating in Washington Friday morning:

Friday June 20th
9:00 AM
In front of the State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, who's all over this issue.)

PHIL CARTER REPORTS on some good things that France and Germany are doing.

A BIG DEVELOPMENT at The New York Times?

CHEAP HOSTING FOR BLOGSPOT REFUGEES -- at Kathy Kinsley's Home For Wayward Blogs.

JUST SAW ORIN KERR ON O'REILLY talking about Internet issues and the Hatch "destroy your computer" proposal. Kerr was good, but that's no surprise. O'Reilly was unusually humble, admitting that he's "an idiot where computers are concerned" and asking a lot of questions that he actually let the guests answer. It was a rather good segment.

RACHEL BELTON ON THE NEXT PHASE of the war on terror:

What we must do is help enable the war of ideas. Our strategy should not be for the West to win hearts and minds--but for an Arab alternative to pan-Arabism and Islamism to arise and win the hearts of their own people.

After World War II, the U.S. engaged in such a strategy quite effectively. We provided assistance in the hot wars Greece and Turkey fought against Communism, while donating funds for local governments to develop. But we also provided a viable alternative, through the covert funding of pro-Europe parties who eventually brought about the Treaty of Rome and the growth of the EU. Such an intelligent strategy for winning hearts and minds has not yet begun. Until it does, we have not yet begun to fight.

Interesting. Of course, the EU thing is producing a little blowback. . . .

THE LOVELY AND TALENTED SHANTI MANGALA is hosting this week's Carnival of the Vanities. Check it out, and follow the links for some bloggers you might not have read before, but might want to read again.

SLATE has a roundup of news about Iran. Here's an interesting bit about the raids on Iranian opposition forces:

French daily Aujord'hui en France offered two conflicting explanations: It quoted the former head of France's national anti-terrorist division as saying the raid was a move to please Iranian authorities so as to maintain French influence in the Middle East. On the same page, another expert said the crackdown is a sign that France is realigning its Middle East policy to be more in line with Washington's.

Take your pick! One reader suggests that (1) Washington expects the mullahs' government to fall; and (2) this roundup is designed to keep thousands of Islamist opposition figures from converging in Tehran in the aftermath. I hope that's right, but it seems a bit too pat for me. And given French behavior in the past, "maintaining French influence in the Middle East" seems the safer bet.

This article from Le Monde is also a bit coy about what's going on, saying that both Washington and Tehran are pleased.

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Briggs emails:

Today's evening news on French TV station TF1 explained that France indeed does hope to have it both ways, as you say. (streaming video at "News" page, and there's a text article there, too). France has shown the US that it is its most reliable anti-terrorism ally; France has shown Iran that it is willing to crack down on those troublesome exiled dissidents; and now France has positioned itself to play a "mediator" role. The piece also emphasized that the operation, ostensibly a security operation conducted by the French equivalent of the FBI, had actually been cleared at the highest levels of French diplomacy. France can't lose. But all this was ruined by the story's lead-in: live, close-up footage of three separate human self-immolations, and one of the women concerned may die. I'm horrified, truly.

I don't like to watch people burn to death.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH WONDERS why Western media are paying so little attention to the demonstrations in Iran, when those demonstrations might topple the mullahs and demonstrate the effectiveness of the Bush Administration's strategy in . . . Oh, hell, never mind. Some questions answer themselves.

UPDATE: From the comments to Pejman's article:

The reason for the lack of press coverage is simple, if you remember back to CNN and Iraq: covering these protests would mean making the mullahs mad, and the press would then lose their access to Iran. It's more important to have access than to have the story.

It's the Eason Jordan effect!

AUSTIN BAY offers this interesting observation:

There's a case to be made -- by no means totally facile -- that the War on Terror is a Saudi civil war diverted to the rest of the globe. The Saud regime's petro-princes were always an Al Qaeda target, but as long as Al Qaeda was off in Afghanistan with the Taliban or in East Africa blowing up American embassies, the princes could pretend the Islamists were no threat to them.

He also thinks that the mullahs in Iran are in trouble:

Don't underestimate the strategic effects on Iran of Saddam's demise. Saddam presented Iran with a long-term threat, one the ayatollahs could use to legitimate a degree of internal militarization. Now, the Butcher of Baghdad's gone. Iranians have seen Iraqis dancing in the streets. Is it time for the Theocrats of Tehran to take a hike? In the past two weeks, street demonstrations have spread to every major city. Demonstrators no longer call for the political reform of the mullah's regime, they demand replacement.

Will Iran slide into all-out civil war or follow the 1989 path of Eastern Europe's decayed communist dictatorships? We may know that answer by July.

He suggests, in fact, that much of the middle east is really engaged in civil war.

MORE ON IRAN: David Warren says the mullahs' days are numbered.

IT LOOKS AS IF Ohio is going to get a liberalized concealed-carry law:

The bill would allow Ohioans who are at least 21 years old, complete 12 hours of firearm training, and pass criminal and mental-health background checks to receive four-year permits to carry handguns on themselves or in their cars.

The issue has crossed party lines and has instead divided lawmakers along urban and suburban-rural lines.

The measure is supported by the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, whose members would process permit applications. The highway patrol and Fraternal Order of Police have adopted positions of neutrality. The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police remains opposed.

The bill seems to retain some dumb minor restrictions, but I expect those will be removed in future years, when the (inevitable, and inevitably wrong) predictions of a bloodbath made by anti-rights forces don't play out.

LAURENCE SIMON HAS LOOKED AT ORRIN HATCH'S WEBSITE and says that the Senator appears to be violating copyright law regarding some unlicensed code thereon. Laurence has notified both the software author, and Senator Hatch, of the violation. Somebody pull the plug!

ANOTHER BOGUS GUN STUDY fools The New York Times. Not that the Times puts up much resistance where bogus gun studies are concerned, so long as they reach the desired result.

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY MEDIA GUN-BIAS CHART IS UP -- now with improved graphics!

In an utterly unrelated post -- er, except that it has fancy graphics, too -- Jason Kottke offers a rumination on leadership, love and war.

SOUNDS LIKE THE DUMB DICTATORS CLUB had another initiation ceremony:

Two US radio DJs who fooled the president of Venezuela into speaking to them by pretending to be Fidel Castro have reversed the prank.

This time, Miami radio hosts Enrique Santos and Joe Ferrero got Castro on the line by pretending to be Hugo Chavez.

Heh. I hope it really was Castro.

TRENT TELENKO WONDERS if France is setting itself up as the ally of tyranny everywhere. Well, he doesn't exactly wonder.

UPDATE: Yes, I've been picking on the French a bit today. But it is the anniversary of Waterloo.

JOHN PILGER said that we were killing the children of Iraq via sanctions. Now that the war is over, the evidence suggests that he was a liar or a fool. And so were a lot of others:

And intellectuals here -- too eager as always to believe the worst of us -- believed this, too.

The sanctions caused "the deaths of children on a scale far exceeding that caused by any military weapon in history," wrote Malcolm Fraser in a letter co-signed by Chris Sidoti and Peter Garrett -- people happy to think we're so evil that we also stole Aboriginal children, keep refugees in "concentration camps" and rape Mother Earth.

And the prominent Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, a regular ABC guest, not only claimed perhaps "a million" Iraqi children were dying from our "madness", but said "mass funerals for babies -- 70 in one cortege on the last count -- made their way through Baghdad".

B UT now for the truth -- because the peddlers of such corrosive hate-speech must be exposed and shamed, if not into silence then into moderation.

Iraqi doctors now say what our intellectuals and our reporters should have felt in their bones. Iraq's children were dying not because of us, but because of Saddam. And even the parades of dead children were part of a monstrous hoax.

Dr Amer Abdul a-Jalil, the deputy resident at Baghdad's Ibn al-Baladi Hospital, has told the London Telegraph that "sanctions did not kill these children -- Saddam killed them".

Why does anyone listen to these people? Well, increasingly, we don't.

UPDATE: Reader Dick Aubrey raises some interesting moral issues:

I am not surprised, although the idea of keeping some babies on ice for use as exhibits for the peace-freak trade did not occur to me.

I once observed, while in Central America with such a bunch, that if dead civilians were necessary to discredit US policy, dead civilians would be provided. Part--I speak as one with some formal training in hearts-and-minds--of the lefty war manuals deal with how to deke the government into killing their own people. The lefties always knew that if they killed civilians, all would be forgiven, if it were even noticed.

I have made a similar observation to my own church (PCUSA), modifying it to, "If dead babies are useful to Saddaam, dead babies will be provided." The point is that the folks who made such a big deal about the sanctions are directly responsible for making dead babies so valuable to Saddaam. Blood is on their hands. The blood of innocents.

Yes, if you're a useful idiot, people will find way to take advantage of that, even if it requires innocents to die.

MICHAEL COSTELLO SUGGESTS that since nobody can find the missing 727, it obviously never existed in the first place. But of course!

THIS LOOKS LIKE A PHONY EFFORT BY ORRIN HATCH to back away from his inflammatory remarks about destroying people's computers -- only without actually doing so. I'm unimpressed. Meanwhile Arthur Silber is reading the tea leaves in various statements and wonders if we'll see attempts at Internet censorship in the name of homeland security.

Probably. And Hatch's comments make clear that even if that's the justification that's offered, it will really be Big Media companies calling the shots.

UPDATE: Ed Cone has some reporting on Congressional responses to Hatch's statement.


Protesters chanted slogans against the detentions, accusing the French authorities of a "shameful deal with the mullahs".

Tehran has been pressing the French authorities to take action against the group.

Demonstrators believe those being held include Maryam Rajavi, wife of the People's Mujahideen leader, Massoud Rajavi.

Well over $3m in cash as well as computers and communications equipment were also seized in the raids.

I don't think this group is one that we should shed tears for, necessarily, but it seems pretty likely that the French are doing this largely to suck up to the mullahs.

JAMES LILEKS ON FRANCE -- in his syndicated column:

To woo Americans back, the French government decided to hire a celeb to speak on France's behalf. Did they get Arnold Schwarzenegger? ("Ahl be bach -- for de crepes!") Did they get Paula Abdul? ("I don't care what Simon says, France is incredibly talented.")

No, they got Woody Allen. Most Americans regard Woody as a wrinkly creep who makes movies you no longer regret missing. Even on video. "I don't want to have to freedom-kiss my wife," Allen says in the ads, "when what I really want to do is French-kiss her."

Eewww. You might recall that Allen is 391 years older than his wife, and that his wife was his previous girlfriend's adopted daughter. Why him? Roman Polanski wasn't available?

They also got George Plimpton to appear in an ad, making it official: French understanding of American culture is taken entirely from a 1968 issue of Playboy.

Hmm. I wonder if it was August, 1968. My 7th-grade biology teacher was in that one. Lileks continues:

If France pulls through, it'll be important again. And if it doesn't, which seems increasingly likely, it will tear itself apart with strikes. Its economy will be consumed by the rapacious demands of its welfare state. Its restive, unassimilated Muslim population might demand a parallel legal system based on Sharia law. These possibilities should please no one.

We wish the French the best. But their days as the moral avatar, the champion of humanity, are long gone. That reputation -- unearned for decades -- will die in the Congo, where French troops are behaving as effectively as, well, French troops. The painful fact is that no one expects much of them anymore beyond good food, bribery and honeyed hypocrisy.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Speaking of teachers posing nude, there's a nude calendar featuring British high school teachers. It's selling well.

HERE'S MORE ON SABINE HEROLD, who's leading popular resistance to French strikers:

Shouting into a microphone to loud applause, Ms Herold delivered a stirring message to the tens of thousands of followers who gathered in the Place du Chatelet in the centre of Paris at the weekend, to hear her speak on behalf of her association, Libertй, j’йcris ton nom.

"How numerous we are today. More than I would ever have dared hope for just a month ago, when the strike was all around us," she said.

"We have put a full stop to decades of silent submission. This time, for the first time, we have told them no," she added, referring to the strikers she calls "reactionary egotists".

France, she said lacks dynamism - and needs a good dose of Margaret Thatcher.

"France needs someone capable who would mobilise people and smash the unions. Well, I don’t know if we can put it like that, but someone who could give a reforming spirit. I think the French at the moment are lacking in desire, they don’t have a ‘French dream’ like the American dream," she said.

She is unimpressed with the president, Jacques Chirac, part of what she calls the "spineless centre" of French politics.

Spineless, but, ahem, well-compensated.


Orrin Hatch isn't a stupid politician, in the sense that he rarely (never, to my recollection) speaks extemporaneously. He's no Clinton, thinking aloud in front of the nation then relying on his spinmeisters to clean up the mess. Hatch is as carefully measured as a soufflй.

And now he wants to explore giving the government -- or is it the record companies? -- the power to destroy or damage your computer.

Be wary of any politician who would give to the government (or favored businesses) powers he would deny to you and me. . . .

Indeed, Hatch has given this issue quite some thought. So here we have the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee eager to have (or give away) the power to destroy personal property without due process. Unless, that is, you consider a couple of emails or IM popups to be due process. . . .

I'm a copyright owner -- look down there on my blogroll somewhere and you'll see the All-Powerful ©. Does this mean I should have the legal power to send someone a couple IMs, then destroy their computer because they lifted some of my prose?

No. Just Big Media -- -you know, the Bill O'Reilly-approved kind. Here's a roundup of the extremely negative Blogosphere reaction.

Have the Republicans sold out to Big Media? Rumor has it that Mary Bono is the candidate to take over the RIAA's lobbying operation.

FRENCH TOURISM IS SUFFERING, and the French are worried that Americans are staying away because we're mad at them. Yeah, who could have seen that coming?

PEOPLE ARE STILL UNHAPPY WITH BILL O'REILLY: Is it free speech for Big Media only? Sounds like it to me. And Jeremy Lott is pretty hard on O'Reilly in The American Prowler:

It had been some time since I last checked in on O'Reilly, so this was a bit of a letdown. He at least used to be an interesting crank. For people who actually take the time to gain a working knowledge of the Internet, these charges are so easily rebutted that I fear bloggers and other tech savvy types won't realize how many people who listened to this screed were nodding their heads in agreement.

This is especially dangerous because some of these people write laws. The Council of Europe is putting the final screws on a proposal recommending that countries pass legislation to mandate a "right of reply," which would force all "online media" (including bloggers) to give equal time to those people whom they criticize. In the U.S. broadcast media, this was known by the Orwellian moniker the Fairness Doctrine. If employed today, it would put half of the cable news channels out of business, but, hey, as long as it's not O'Reilly's ox being gored …

It's too bad non-sentient networks can't sue for defamation, because the Internet would have a pretty strong case.

I love that last line.

THE MISSING-727 STORY, covered here and on StrategyPage for the last couple of weeks, has now made the Washington Post:

But losing a 153-foot, 200,000-pound aircraft is no common occurrence.

"I haven't come across this before in 22 years in this business," said Chris Yates, a civil aviation security analyst for the private Jane's Aviation service. "It is not a stretch to think this plane could end up in the hands of terrorists. A number of companies involved in gun running [and other crimes] in Africa have indirect ties to various terrorist groups."

On the bright side, the plane's history is checkered enough that there are plenty of plausible non-terror scenarios, too.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BLOGLY: The editors at TechCentralStation asked me to write a bit about what makes a good blog. This column is the result.


Euro MPs accused the European Commission yesterday of trying to cover up a "vast enterprise of looting" by top officials in Luxembourg.

Three European commissioners, including the vice-president, Neil Kinnock, were hauled up by the European Parliament's budget control committee, accused of ignoring warnings dating back to the 1990s of widespread corruption in Eurostat, the European Union's data office.

Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory MEP, said millions of pounds of public money had vanished into the hands of a clique of officals serving as directors of related companies.

"I'm convinced this has been a huge cover-up and the commission never had any intention of solving any of these problems until forced to by allegations in the press," he said.

Obviously, there aren't enough American troops to keep order over there.


George Galloway confirmed for the first time yesterday that he was in Iraq on the day that documents found by The Telegraph allege he met an Iraqi intelligence officer there to discuss "continuous financial support".

The suspended Labour MP also admitted that he was "not yet" in a position to disprove the documents, which he claimed were forgeries and which were discovered in the looted foreign ministry in Baghdad.

The papers purport to show that Mr Galloway received money from Saddam Hussein's regime - a slice of oil earnings worth at least Ј375,000 a year.

It's always the money with these people.

SILFLAY HRAKA HAS MOVED to a spiffy Movable Type setup.

June 17, 2003

DONALD SENSING has a bunch of good stuff. Just keep scrolling.

ORRIN HATCH must be smoking some of whatever Bill O'Reilly had, because now he's making an idiot of himself:

"I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

In the spirit of the Framers, I'm tempted to endorse a more traditional remedy: twice warning a politician about threatening people's rights and property, and then running him out of town on a rail.

That's one, Orrin.

And if I were the DNC, I'd already have started shooting the attack ad: Orrin Hatch and the Republicans want to wreck your computer so that Big Business can get rich!

UPDATE: Ryan Macri emails: "...what's next? Can copyright holders legally break into your home and destroy your music collection and stereo system if you shoplift CDs?"

Don't give 'em ideas.


The UN could have gone on passing resolutions and sending in inspectors and rapporteurs for the next 50 years, but in the end there was no realistic alternative to war. Those who bleat about weapons of mass destruction or question the legality of war should talk to the Iraqi people. They are irritated. They ask, “Don’t they care about us? About mass graves? About torture?” Stand at the mass grave at al-Hillah where up to 15,000 people are buried, hands tied behind their backs, bullets through their brains. Examine the pitiful possessions found so far: a watch, a faded ID card, a comb, a ring, a clump of black hair. Watch the old woman in her black chador, tattoos on her gnarled hands, looking through the plastic bags on top of unidentified, reburied bodies, for something that will help her to find her son, who disappeared in 1991.

Stand at the mass grave near Kirkuk, where huge mechanised trucks churn the earth in clouds of dust. Look at the skeletons now tenderly reburied in simple wooden coffins. Talk to Nasir al-Hussein, who was only 12 at the time of the 1991 mass arrests. He, his mother, uncle and cousins were piled on buses. They turned off on to a farm road and the executions started. People were thrown into a pit, machinegunned and then buried with a bulldozer. Nasir crawled out of the mass grave, leaving his dead relatives behind.

The director of this self-help centre, Ibrahim al-Idrissi, was in prison eight times. Once they took off all his toenails. He shows me photographs of executions and the bloodied, battered body of a university lecturer from Basra, still alive, his sawn-off arm lying by his side.

On the streets of Baghdad, WMD is not an issue. “Thanks to Bush and Blair,” they cry. I ask what would have happened if they had spoken to me like this in the past on the streets of Baghdad. One man slowly drew his hand, palm down, across his throat.

I wonder if they mentioned that on the BBC's program about America tonight?

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT, this time at Yale.

UPDATE: Apparently, the Yale I.T. people say the email in question was a hoax.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Or maybe not. Eliana Johnson emails:

Ithought you might be interested to know, though, that the e-mail was not a hoax. I'm not sure where the message you posted came from, but professor Qumsiyeh admitted he sent the e-mail, sent a number of inadequate retractions and apologies, and was interviewed about the incident in a story for the NY Sun written a couple weeks ago. The administration initially told me that it may be a hoax the day after it went out--I guess somebody'd sent inflammatory e-mails from Qumsiyeh's e-mail account earlier in the year--but there's no question he wrote this one. Not even he denies it!

I've asked her for links.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. The "hoax" link is to an email dated June of 2002, not 2003 -- something I missed because the date was so close and, well, I'm an idiot. So all it proves is that his email was spoofed in the past. Other readers also say that Qumsiyeh admits sending this one. Here's a link to a story in which he admits sending the email.

See, O'Reilly: here in the blogosphere we run corrections pretty damn fast -- even when we were right to begin with!

IAIN MURRAY HAS MOVED. Adjust your blogrolls accordingly.

RAND SIMBERG SAYS THAT BILL O'REILLY IS RIGHT -- Free Speech should be a collective right!

Make this your next FoxNews column, Rand. I double-dog dare you.


Watching this BBC thing? It's bloody remarkable. We're more dangerous than the N. Koreans. And we were assholes EVEN under Clinton. A truly sad spectacle.

I missed it, but that sounds typical.

UPDATE: David Carr saw it, and reports:

What amused me most was general agreement that the USA was rich because of its economic model and, at the same time, a complete rejection of the idea of copying it.

In fact, it was rather dull, equivocal and not quite sure of itself. The underlying theme was largely one of self-pity and petty jealousy culminating it a morose admission that America was the unchallengable world superpower and there isn't much the likes of France can do about it except whine and bitch. They may as well have called it 'Inferiority Complex - The Movie'.

Carr's final suggestion:

Perhaps some Americans might waggishly suggest an US TV special called 'What Americans Think of the EU'. Now that I would pay to see.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers think that the latter special would resemble Humphrey Bogart's remarks to Peter Lorre: "I might despise you, if I gave you any thought."

Group Captain Mandrake live-blogged the program.

THERE ARE 20,000 IRANIAN WEBLOGS. Jeff Jarvis has links to some of them. One of the most popular is by a former prostitute. Here's more:

Iranian youths have launched 20,000 active Web logs, or "blogs," -- online diaries which range in topic from simple musings on life to political discussions to sports.

In April, Sina Motallebi became the first blogger to be arrested in Iran where dozens of reformist journalists have been charged by hardline courts. He was freed on bail three weeks later but still faces undisclosed charges.

Women have been especially active bloggers, seizing the opportunity to speak out freely and anonymously on subjects such as dating and romance.

Besides popular political and news sites, half of the 10 most visited Persian blogs are about sex, according to figures from a service providing statistics on Web usage.

"Blogs show us a new generation . . . that is self-expressive, tolerant and individualistic," said Hossein Derakhshan, a Toronto-based veteran Iranian blogger.

"Many are lonely and hopeless to the point of depression. They seem to be frustrated and have a problem with sex," said Derakhshan, who presented a study on Iranian blogs at a conference in Vienna in late May.

Azadi, Arak, Eshgh!

UPDATE: Arthur Silber has more thoughts on blogging ex-prostitutes and revolution.

EUGENE VOLOKH IS Fisking a gun study from the University of Pennsylvania, which he calls biased and inaccurate:

The study, however, completely failed to control for what might well be the most important factors: whether the household contained violent criminals, gang members, drug dealers, and the like. These are the very factors that might cause both gun ownership and gun death. And because the study didn't control for them, it says nothing about whether gun ownership really "increases the odds" that a law-abiding citizen will be killed. The study's results could easily flow simply from the huge set of homicide victims who are themselves criminals.

He's got more on his weblog.

BILL O'REILLY DOESN'T LIKE BEING CRITICIZED BY INDEPENDENT INTERNET SITES -- so I've written about him over on my MSNBC site just to be accommodating. We aim to please. . . .

UPDATE: Michele has a nice compilation of links to commentary on O'Reilly's screed.

IRANIAN EXILES ARE vandalizing Iranian consulates. What? Iranians violate diplomatic sanctity?

Of course, I guess it's not really a violation of diplomatic immunity when it's your own consulate. . . .

(Via Zach Barbera -- who is also deeply, and I think rightly, suspicious of the French for choosing this particular moment to crack down on Iranian exiles they've tolerated for 20 years. I don't think this particular group is especially savory, but as Barbera points out, France didn't mind them before, and doesn't mind Hamas now. And didn't mind sheltering Khomeini, back in the day. Why, it's almost as if they're waging a proxy war to undermine Anglo-Saxon influence in the mideast. . . .)

ANDREW SULLIVAN is calling for bloggers to focus on Iran on July 9. I think that's a great idea, though I don't think we should skip coverage in the meantime.

Meanwhile Pejman Yousefzadeh and Matthew Yglesias wonder why the story of Iranians' struggle for freedom is seen by some as a "right wing" issue. And Don Watkins observes:

I mean, shouldn't this be the story for anti-war liberals? Here are a bunch of brave souls fighting a tyrannical regime through the old liberal favorite of massive protests. Here's the chance for them to get behind the cause of freedom without having to support war. Here's the chance for liberals to support the potentially most important win in the war against terrorism and they are hesitant to do it. Why? Because the "right wingers" (of which I am not one, by the way) were there first.

Which raises a number of questions: Why were they there first? And what does it say about liberals when differentiating and distancing themselves from conservatives becomes more important than the cause of human freedom? And why the hell is it that conservatives are having to explain to liberals that there are times when we must put our differences aside in the name of higher values? I mean, Jesus, since when did this become Bizzaro World?

Good questions, all. But I hope they won't discourage lefty bloggers from standing up for freedom against fundamentalist theocrats.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs predicts that Noam Chomsky, et al., will soon be saying that the Iranian protests are all about oil. Meanwhile, Oxblog counts the ways in which Iran has been interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and NRO runs an Iranian student's account of the protests.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meryl Yourish wonders why the Iranian protests aren't getting play on IndyMedia.

THE BAD NEWS: John Hawkins had a nasty automobile accident. The good news: He lived to blog about it.


Yeah, that unrestrained free speech is dangerous, it ought to be eliminated from the Constitution. And it's especially suspect when someone is doing it for free. Even more so when they claim they do it ... for fun. Clearly, any act lacking financial motivation is Libel and/or Insurrection. So just shut your lowly peasant mouth, and believe what you're told by the people on TV who know better. . . .

Bill, in this case, when you rattle the cage, the cage rattles back.


UPDATE: Phelps thinks that O'Reilly wants attention to shore up sagging ratings, but suggests that he's misunderstood the Internet badly:

Unfortunately for him, he is still stuck in the TV mentality of "any press is good press." Bill has decided to apply that philosophy to the blogosphere, and I think it is going to bite him in the ass. . . .

I think that Bill has missed the effect of reputation on the Internet. Reputation is important. The people on the internet are not TV drones. They don't remember just that a name is familiar and watch what is familiar; they remember why that person is familiar, and if they don't there is a link there to remind them. He complains that you don't get corrections on the internet; he is right. What you get is immediate editing or withdrawl of incorrect facts. If you don't, then the person screwing up gets fisked and everyone laughs at him.

Pay attention to that word. When you screw up on the internet, people remember. Robert Fisk screwed up, and he did it often enough that he has a word named after him that embodies incompetence. He's gaining company. Maureen Dowd has her own word now (Dowdification), and I'm sure that there will be more. If O'Reilly wants to keep tugging this chain, he might be the next one.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Kevin Drum writes: "Jeez, what's the point of even mocking him over this when he's practically engaging in auto-mockery these days?"

Yeah, as Lileks put it: "The minute you act as though you’ve earned the listeners' ears, you start to lose them."

But so that O'Reilly won't be mocked solely by Little Media, I've got a post on his remarks coming later today over at too!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: You want Big Media standards of excellence? Okay -- now O'Reilly's rant has been Dowdified!

CAN A BLOG ENTRY COUNT AS SCHOLARSHIP? I think that this post by Lawrence Solum should count.

GOOD GRIEF: Last week it was Andrew Sullivan. This week National Review Online is rattling the tipjar. And with some success -- scroll up from this entry. I think we're seeing the growth of a new revenue model for the Internet before our very eyes.

BILL O'REILLY'S SCREECHY SCREED AGAINST THE INTERNET (discussed below) isn't impressing many people. After saying that O'Reilly is coming to resemble Dr. Laura (ouch!) James Lileks notes: "Oh, get a grip."

Eugene Volokh, meanwhile, administers a polite Fisking, pointing out, well, just how dumb O'Reilly's criticism of "the Internet" really is.

And Matt Welch drives in the stake:

Among Bungalow Bill's more confident assertions is that "you can bet you won't be seeing many corrections on the net." This is true, narrowly -- O'Reilly's June 7 column misidentifying Los Angeles Times Editor John Carroll as John "Roberts" has yet to be corrected on the Web sites of either Creators Syndicate or AOL's Intellivu.

Ouch, again.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And "ouch" one more time.

UPDATE ON THE HOUSTON K-MART RAID SCREWUP: The captain involved -- who some think was put forward as a sacrificial lamb -- has been acquitted of "official oppression" charges. Civil suits are still pending.


Iraq's national museum, home to many priceless artefacts which were thought to have been looted after the fall of Baghdad, has been plunged into a new crisis because of a revolt by staff.

More than 130 of the 185 staff of Iraq's state board of antiquities office in Baghdad, which runs the museum, have signed a petition demanding the resignation of its directors.

Staff said they believed that some of the thefts from the museum were an inside job. They also accused Dony George, the board's head of research, of arming them and ordering them to fight US forces.

Funny, all the early press reports identified him as a selfless lover of knowledge.

NOTE TO ERIC ALTERMAN: Don't get those truck-driver types riled -- they're killers!

HERE'S MORE ON PFC JESSICA LYNCH: Still no blanks. But guess where the "Hollywood extravaganza" came from. . . .

UPDATE: My, here's a novel approach. "Your story is so compelling, it deserves more than a movie, an MTV special, and a line of action figures with combat gear and strapless evening wear. Your story deserves factual coverage like you would get from old-fashioned journalists."

It'll never fly.

STEPHEN GREEN IS BACK, with an explanation.

June 16, 2003

WHAT'S THE WAR ABOUT? Here's what I said back in August.

BILL O'REILLY DOESN'T LIKE THE INTERNET because people say bad things about him.

Grow up, Bill. Or get out of the kitchen.

UPDATE: Cam Edwards writes:

Do you think Bill would accuse me of telling lies if I said he's a big ol' weenie? Because in my book, whining and making excuses about your radio show being dropped is a weenie thing to do.

The Blogosphere is a no-weenie zone.

NOAH SHACHTMAN REPORTS on the way scientists are re-labeling their work as "nanotechnology" in order to cash in on the enthusiasm.

MICKEY KAUS IS STILL SILENT regarding his former career plans in the trucking industry. He's ducking that earthshattering issue in favor of trivial stuff like the Supreme Court's possibly hidden agenda on campaign finance law and a major post regarding the New York Times' real reason for firing Howell Raines.


A defiant Frank Keating took another swipe at some Roman Catholic bishops Monday, defending his comments that compared church leaders to the mafia as he officially resigned as head of a panel keeping tabs on the prelates' sex abuse reforms.

"My remarks, which some bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology," the former Oklahoma governor wrote in his resignation letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. hierarchy.

"To resist grand jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church."

And speaking of a "culture of impunity," there's this:

The bishop of Phoenix, who was granted immunity this month from prosecution in the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, was questioned on Monday in connection with a fatal hit-and-run accident over the weekend, police said on Monday.

They said Bishop Thomas O'Brien, 67, was co-operating with investigations into the death of a man hit by two cars in the city on Saturday night.

Police said witnesses identified the first car and that checks led them to the bishop's car, whose windshield showed signs of damage.

I think the Church has a serious personnel problem.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Brooks sends this link to a story featuring a picture of the Bishop's windshield. Ouch! There's no way he didn't notice that when it happened.



DUBAI - Tensions were running high in Ras Al-Khaimah, a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), yesterday after the crown prince was ousted reportedly for being too sympathetic to women's rights.

'Sheikh Khaled was told, at a meeting with his father and six of his brothers, that he had to banish his wife from the emirate and demolish the ladies' club that helps women here if they have problems,' the employee was reported to have said.

'She has done a lot to bring the country forward, but Sheikh Saud does not feel there is a place for women in today's Arab society.'

The Arab world is overdue for a shakeup -- so maybe the point of emphasis in the above should be the word "today's." (Via Kathy Kinsley).

TRIGGER HIPPIES: Dave Weigel looks at Weather Undergound reminiscences and concludes that a lot of people still aren't facing up to the reality of their actions.

CONGO UPDATE: THE UNITED NATIONS can't -- or won't -- even protect its own people.


ANOTHER BLOW TO THE BANCROFT PRIZE? Ralph Luker charges more counting problems by a winner of the Bancroft Prize in Early American History. Once again, the charge is manipulation of data to support a thesis. There's a response here.

WHITHER THE BLOGOSPHERE? John Scalzi has some thoughts and suggests that blogging is simultaneously becoming more and less professional.

IRANIAN FACULTY ARE ACTUALLY DOING what some American academics delude themselves into thinking they're doing -- standing up for freedom against a fundamentalist dictatorship:

TEHRAN, Iran — More than 250 university lecturers and writers in Iran signed a statement calling on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search) to abandon the idea that he is God's representative on Earth.

In a statement made available to The Associated Press on Monday, the intellectuals say they stand behind liberal legislators' call last month for democratic reform.

The statement comes after a week of protests and riots in Tehran that saw pro-democracy demonstrators clash with police and vigilantes who support the hard-line clerical regime. Protesters said Khamenei should be hanged, an unprecedented call in a land where criticism of the supreme leader is punishable by imprisonment.

Khamenei has the final say on all matters. The ruling clerics regard him as God's representative and say his word cannot be challenged.

"Considering individuals to be in the position of a divinity and absolute power ... is open polytheism [in contradiction to] almighty God and blatant oppression of the dignity of human being," the statement said.

"People [and their elected lawmakers] have the right to fully supervise their rulers, criticize them, and remove them from power if they are not satisfied," said the statement, which was published in the reformist newspaper Yas-e-nou on Monday.

Sadly, you could probably get 250 faculty in America to demonstrate in favor of the Iranian government, so long as you could cast it as an anti-Bush event.

IN 1972, MICKEY KAUS WROTE: "After the Revolution, I want to be a truck driver." Now he writes a column for Slate, called Gearbox.

Surely there's something profound in that, somewhere.

MORE PEOPLE ARE ASKING ABOUT the color of Howell Raines' parachute. But The New York Times isn't talking. Funny, they're happy to talk about compensation at other big corporations.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, David Frum is accusing Maureen Dowd of stealing from his wife. Stealing? Well, I'd call it "heavy lifting," to use a Safire phrase, at most.

OKAY, I LIKE IT THAT HOWARD DEAN IS USING BLOGS in his campaign effort. But fundraising via popup ads seems a bit much.


The front page of the NY Times had a picture on Saturday, and one of the soldiers in the picture, being comforted, is my brother, Sgt. David Borell (misspelled as Borello). There was a corresponding article in the local paper, The Toledo Blade, (Link) and it discusses his disgust with the Army doctors for not treating wounded Iraqis.

I am a big supporter of the president, and of our actions in Iraq. However, I want to win the peace, and believe it is important to speak up when things drift away. We want to win the hearts of the Iraqi people, and providing them with aid, when possible, is key to that.

One of the beautiful things about out country, is that a soldier can speak up, and it may even prompt change (our congresswoman, whom I disagree with on most things, but agree with on this narrow issue, wants to establish hospitals for the Iraqis. Not a bad idea, as I doubt they have much of their own. Link).

We are Americans. We help people in need. Not always, but we do what we can. We decided to help Iraq, not just by ridding the world of Saddam, but by rebuilding. Hopefully, there are people in Washington who pay attention to such things, and make course corrections as needed.

Mr. Borell also forwarded an email from his brother, which I'm not reprinting here as it's very long -- but it's clearly heartfelt and expresses a profound sense that we're getting this particular matter very wrong. Somebody needs to look into this story.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Cecil Turner (Major, USMC, ret.) sends this:

Concur we need to help in any way possible in Iraq. However, this stuff is getting silly. We currently have ~150,000 troops in country, with presumably appropriate levels of medical support. (And it isn't like they don't have any cases to treat.) There are 5 million people in Baghdad alone (many of whom are doctors). Looks to me like 97% of the requirement is going to go unfilled if we rely on the military.

There are many people who believe the military can provide endless support to a population, and it's just not practicable. Mountains of supplies? No problem. Technical support? By all means. But there is no way the Army support groups are geared up for this sort of thing, nor should they be. The last thing we want is for every Iraqi to sit on his duff and wait for the US Army to do stuff for him. It's past time to get Iraqis back to work rebuilding their own country . . . including hospitals.

And while we should help them do that, providing medical staff out of the few military personnel available isn't the right kind of help.

Fair enough.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chuck Simmins thinks I've made too much of this story, too:

Glenn - the most telling thing about the article you linked was that "The local hospital already had refused to treat the children."

Most of the hospital that existed in Iraq are open for business and treating Iraqis. The Central Command news releases, on a daily basis, talk about those
hospitals, supplying them, paying for them, improving them. We're doing a hell of a lot for these hospitals.

Perhaps the Sgt. should have asked why they were turned away from their local hospital. The Army docs were correct. A base hospital is no place for long
term care. If these injuries were not life threatening, these Iraqis should have been treated at an appropriate facility, i.e. the local hospital.

Well, okay -- but why was Sgt. Borell so upset? Wouldn't he know all this stuff?

ARE AMERICANS BEHIND THE PROTESTS IN IRAN? Jay Manifold says yes, and he's got pictures.

THE WSJ'S MATTHEW ROSE HAS THE SCOOP ON GREG PACKER and this cautionary observation:

News organizations often aren't choosy about how they get "man on the street" material, in part because it's often decorative and sometimes contrived. It's also easy to trick reporters who rarely if ever check up on the "men on the street" they randomly quote. That's fertile ground for Mr. Packer to exploit. "For some venues, it didn't matter what you were getting as long as it was lively," says Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, a journalism research center in St. Petersburg, Fla.

James Barron, a reporter for the New York Times, featured Mr. Packer prominently in his story about Ms. Clinton's book signing without knowing Mr. Packer's reputation. Mr. Barron, who conducted the interview after Mr. Packer was done chatting with MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield, says he "would have liked to have told our readers this is something he does . . .[but] if this is his place in the world, when he's not repairing the roads, so be it." Since 1996, the Times has quoted Mr. Packer three times.

The New York Daily News, which counts about a dozen Packer references, is less sanguine. "Had we known he was Mr. First-in-Line, we would, of course, have identified him as such," says spokesman Ken Frydman.

Something to keep in mind when you see those "random, representative" folks quoted. Does Barron's statement mean that he knew that Packer was a quote-o-mat, and "would have liked" to tell the readers, but didn't? It's not quite clear. (Via Romenesko).

HIAWATHA BRAY WRITES that businesses are getting interested in blogs.

RADLEY BALKO REPORTS that in Maryland they're actually making roads more dangerous in order to increase traffic-camera revenues by shortening yellow lights at intersections equipped with traffic cameras.

Tar and feathers. No, really, I'm serious. . . .

RAMBO VS. RIMBAUD: The Rumsfeld / de Villepin poetry slam. Worth it just for the title.

On a more serious note, there's this suggestion that Rumsfeld is a bit more sophisticated than the "Rambo" characterization suggests:

A lot of people in Europe misunderstand Rumsfeld, not to mention underestimating him. There's a power in frankness and straight talk; it's a way of cutting through bullshit and getting straight to the issues. It may be viewed by some as being unsophisticated or uncouth but it also tends to work really well, when it's needed. And Rumsfeld is really, really good at it.

In this case, however, I think they have completely misunderstood what Rumsfeld wants. He isn't attempting to get the law repealed. He's attempting to get NATO HQ moved out of Belgium. If his blunt talk makes it politically impossible for Belgian politicians to rescind the law, Rumsfeld wins.

Of course, if the Belgians back down and rescind the law, Rumsfeld also wins. It makes the point, forcefully, that we're not going to put up with international busybodies second-guessing our politicians and military people by filing charges against them in kangaroo courts, and indirectly would help in our efforts to make clear that we won't tolerate having the ICC used maliciously against our people.



UPDATE: Jonah emails: "Retromingent, Damn it!"

ANOTHER CORPORATE MANAGER EARNING BIG BUCKS AND BONUSES while leading his corporation to disaster! (Via Kaus).


The firefight on the outskirts of Bunia, from which the French special forces emerged unscathed, occurred amid growing concern that the force's mandate is too limited and does not include the demilitarization of the town that six weeks ago boasted a university, a brand-new mobile phone network and a thriving trade in gold.

''I don't know why they are here,'' said Jan Mol, a Dutch priest who has lived in Bunia for 15 years. ''It's just show.''

Sounds like he does know why they're there. . . .

THE HUNT FOR AL QAEDA IN FLORIDA keeps running across the same folks:

Tracking suspected Muslim terrorists in South Florida, a U.S. investigator there says, can seem like a parlor game in which the subjects are linked by only a few degrees of separation.

Other U.S. cities — namely San Diego, Buffalo and Seattle — have been home to small groups of al-Qaeda sympathizers. But the activity in South Florida, which has a Muslim community of about 70,000, has been unusually intense. And it has raised troubling questions for FBI agents who are trying to determine where the next attack on the United States might come from, and what support networks al-Qaeda operatives might have in America.

Read the whole thing, which I find it impossible to characterize as clearly hopeful or clearly troubling.

DR. MANHATTAN IS CALLING an unintentional irony alert. Heh. I noticed the same thing.

June 15, 2003

IN THE COURSE OF FACT-CHECKING something I said in a post below, I spent a bit of time in the Slate Fray archives, and it reminded me how much I enjoyed The Fray, and how much I owe to it. Here's a post I had forgotten, about McCain-Feingold.

OLIVER WILLIS IS DOING TV. I think he's made for the medium.


After almost a week of protest, the violent demonstrations rocking the Iranian capital each night are limited in size and confined to less than a square mile. And they remain a leaderless expression of anger.

But what started out as a paltry student demonstration is now loaded with significance for the future of the Islamic Republic.

Unlike the student demonstrations four years ago, say analysts in Tehran, these protests are tapping into an unexpectedly fierce determination by thousands of ordinary Iranians - many of them young, and some families with children in tow - who are frustrated with the slow pace of political change in Iran.

In the past, unelected clerics led by Iran's conservative supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, were the target of protests. That's true again, with the first-ever public chants calling for the ayatollah's hanging. But now the reform-minded President Mohamed Khatami - whose widespread popularity during six years in office is ebbing, as reforms are systematically blocked - is also a target.

"It's scary talking to these people [the protesters]," says a seasoned political analyst reached by phone in Tehran, who asked not to be named. "There is such a determination in their eyes and their behavior. They are fearless; they are ready for combat. It's like [urban] warfare."

"They say: 'This is just the beginning, we have started it, and we are going all the way to the end,' " the analyst says. "But if you carry on the conversation, they have no idea about what the end should look like.... It is very dangerous."

The last part is troubling, I suppose, though typical for revolutions. And I rather suspect that they have some idea. How do you say "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy!" in Farsi? Here's a report of gunshots. This story from the Daily Times of Pakistan wonders if the United States is behind all of this. I don't know -- and I suppose there are upsides, as well as downsides, to having people think we are. Here's the interesting bit, though, in answer to the concerns expressed above:

The main reason for the dearth of attractive leaders outside Iran is their abundance inside it. Many, even if they acknowledge the failure of Mr Khatami’s movement, describe themselves as reformists and lean towards a version of democracy that the Bush administration would endorse.

But then there's this:

To the frustration of expatriates living in America, few of them are inclined to use violent methods, or to lay down their lives, to end the stalemate. In this, they typify the vast majority of Iranians.

That's usually how it is with revolutions, though, at least before the endstage.

UPDATE: Here's more.

JAMES LILEKS is looking for a CD printer. I just ordered the Epson Sylus Photo 900, which prints on CDs and DVDs and costs $199. It's gotten good reviews; I'll report on how it works. (And check your email, James -- I've sent you a question of my own.)

ROGER SIMON LOVED THE DOCUMENTARY SPELLBOUND, about the National Spelling Bee. Slate's movie critic David Edelstein loved it, too. I wish I could see it.

UPDATE: Simon has updated his post with some inside dirt on Academy voting procedures.


[T]he French are beginning to get worried about business relations with the US. French sales to the US seem to be collapsing. In March they had a Ђ97 million trade surplus with the US, but in April that became a Ђ202 million trade deficit. A change that massive means either a dramatic rise in American sales to France, which seems unlikely, or a dramatic decline in French sales to the US, and it's got to be a lot more than just wine and cheese. There isn't any official boycott or trade sanctions, but there seems to be something big going on.

Yep. I hear that tourism is down dramatically, too.

UPDATE: A reader points out something that I should have thought of -- the Euro has been rising against the dollar. On the other hand, the article notes that France's trade position vis-a-vis Japan has improved, and the Euro has also been strong against the Yen. That suggests that there's more going on than simple exchange-rate pressure.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Eric Thorpe emails:

$100 to $200 million isn't that much money, especially when items like Airbus and Boeing aircraft can go for up to $180 million a pop. Maybe Boeing had more deliveries to France in April than Airbus had to the U.S. Anyway, the vagaries of aircraft deliveries, which are ordered years in advance and wouldn't be affected by a short-term boycott, could have a lot to do with the numbers.

Good point. I'll be interested in seeing what other people come up with. I think that the reports of a decline in tourism, however, are pretty solid.

MORE: Tom Maguire isn't sure about those trade figures, but notes that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the French are worried about a decline in trade with the United States, especially in light of France's other economic troubles.


The white-collar crowd was concerned, but they knew that those three forces would also help get the American economy humming. And they did. Now that trust has come back to haunt them. Technology has allowed companies to handle rising sales without adding manpower. Gains in productivity mean one white-collar worker can do the work that would have taken two or three of his peers to do ten years ago. All that has led to slower wage growth. Back in 2000 wages for professional and technical workers were growing by nearly 5% annually--today they're rising by less than 2% a year.

The scariest blue-collar parallel, however, is only just beginning to be felt in the white-collar world: overseas competition. Like automakers that moved production from Michigan to Mexico or textile firms that abandoned the Southeast for the Far East, service firms are now shifting jobs to cheaper locales like India and the Philippines. It's not just call centers anymore. Indian radiologists now analyze CT scans and chest X-rays for American patients in an office park in Bangalore, not far from where Ernst & Young has 200 accountants processing U.S. tax returns. E&Y's tax prep center in India is only 18 months old, but the company already has plans to double its size. Corporate America is quickly learning that a cubicle can be replicated overseas as easily as a shop floor can.

None of this bodes well for the jobless white-collar workers who are hoping that a more robust recovery will bring the next paycheck. The numbers of those who are searching are staggering. Of the nine million Americans out of a job, 17.4% are managers or specialty workers, according to a study of Labor Department data by Hofstra University economist Irwin Kellner. During the 1990-91 recession only 10% of that group was unemployed. Even after the much deeper recession of the early 1980s, just under 8% of unemployed workers were white collar. Sure, there are more white-collar workers today, but joblessness among them has risen faster than their share of the overall job market.

"White-collar workers and college graduates are in a state of shock," says Kellner. "It appears these job losses are permanent. They're not necessarily coming back when the economy does."

At the bleeding edge of the blue-collarization trend are techies--not just the twentysomethings who jumped on dot-com jobs either, but people like Jim Klinck, a 52-year-old IT exec out of West Windsor, N.J. . . . This phenomenon is still in its infancy, but it's already sending ripples through the service economy. E&Y's Bangalore tax-preparation center has been operating full-time for only 18 months. Yet already it's paying off. "There's no question [the office] has allowed us to lower prices in the U.S. and capture market share," says Alan Kline, E&Y's Americas director of tax operations. "We're not H&R Block. Each return we do is a custom job. But this has allowed us to lower prices and be much more competitive. We're getting new jobs because of India." E&Y's Bangalore office is the mirror image of a similar center in Indianapolis, says Kline, and the firm uses the same metrics to evaluate the performance of the 200 chartered accountants (the local equivalent of a CPA) in Bangalore as it does with the 200 CPAs in Indiana. "The work product is almost identical," raves Kline. "You cannot underestimate the quality of the people. It's amazing how good they are."

And how cheap

Read the whole thing. And I don't care how safe you think your job is -- it isn't. Even if you're a tenured professor like me -- at least, I can't help but feel that higher education is in line for a shakeup in the not too distant future. What's funny is that it's lefties -- who are supposed to be in favor of helping people in poorer countries, at the expense of better-off people in richer countries -- who seem most upset by this job-export stuff. Could it be because the phenomenon is just now hitting the kinds of jobs lefty opinion leaders, or at least NPR donors, tend to hold? At any rate, I think the politics of this stuff are likely to play out in interesting and unpredictable ways.

I wrote a bit more on this subject here. I don't claim to really understand this phenomenon, though, and I don't think that anyone really does.


The Iranian people have shown their urgent tendency for freedom. Now the US must start to support the demonstration by warning the Iran government not to act against the people. This enforcement from the outside and people's demonstration inside, will finally down the Iran regime. We are waiting for immediate support of the US.

Of course, some people aren't with the program:

I absolutely reject the concept of "democracy" and "freedom" as nakedly false phantoms of the west. Who would ever want to be "free" when they could instead live in the glorious order and sanctified grace of Sharia? Why does anyone need to have an opinion for himself?

Or are they?

UPDATE: Unfogged notices that the BBC doesn't seem to understand sarcasm.

DR. FRANK has abandoned blogspot and has a spiffy, new Movable Type-powered blog.

So has Jessica's Well!

UPDATE: Blaster's Blog has moved, too.

JOURNALISTS AND LIES: Sarah Baxter writes in the (London) Times:

A powerful editor of The New York Times just lost his job over the fabrications of Jayson Blair, a young newsroom protйgй. Admittedly Blair lied deliberately, pretending to be all over America when he was actually at home in Brooklyn, but his little flights of fancy look trivial next to the casual anti-American distortions of so many newspapers.

The Wolfowitz story was too good to be true and too good to check. A freelance at The Guardian was so delighted with it that he went to the trouble of translating Wolfowitz from German into English, when he had spoken in English in the first place. And the German story was wrong anyway. No matter: another journalist turned it into the splash.

Bloggers, and in particular The Belgravia Dispatch, (who unlike many journalists appear to have mastered Google) come in for praise and attention.

PROF. STEPHEN ANTLER has taken over the EconoPundit blog. There's a lot there that's worth reading.

UPDATE: Speaking of econoblogging, Steve Verdon notes that claims that Bush caused the recession credit Bush with the power to travel in time, since the recession started in the winter of 2000, nearly a year before Bush took office.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Verdon emails that he said we were "heading toward" recession a year before Bush took office. I recall posting in Slate's The Fray in March of that year, though, that I thought we were in recession, and I think we were. Blaming Bush for the recession is more revisionism, engaged in by people who certainly won't give him any credit for the recovery.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops. I misremembered. At least this Fray post says it was May of 2000. I can't find the original one, though -- it seems to have vanished into the Slate maw.

REMEMBERING GARETH JONES, the man who wasn't Walter Duranty:

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- What can you expect if you fearlessly expose the systematic, genocidal murder of 10 million people?

You can expect to be branded as a liar in the most prestigious newspaper in the United States. You can expect to be murdered yourself by bandits probably in the pay of conspirators perpetrating equally colossal, monstrous crimes against humanity. And you can even to be betrayed after your death and airbrushed out of existence by one of your closest professional colleagues and friends.

That was the fate of Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones, a brilliant, idealistic and utterly fearless young journalist who published the first major expose in the United States and the first signed articles in Britain of Josef Stalin's deliberately imposed famine in the Ukraine in 1933. . . .

Duranty, an 11-year veteran of Moscow who had won the Pulitzer Prize the previous year, disparaged Jones as having made a "somewhat hasty" judgment on the basis of "a 40-mile walk through villages near Kharkov" where he "had found conditions sad."

Having dismissed the conditions that in fact led to the deaths of 10 million men, women and children as merely "sad," Duranty went on to explained that "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." He explicitly stated "there is no famine."

On May 13, The New York Times published Jones' rebuttal of Duranty's article. He had visited, he said, many villages in the Moscow area as well as the Ukraine and also in the rich "black earth" lands of the North Caucasus. He had amassed evidence from "between 20 to 30 consuls and diplomatic representatives of various nations and ... their evidence supported my point of view." And he had talked with hundreds of peasants in those regions. The Soviet propaganda machine in Moscow meanwhile worked overtime to brand Jones a liar.

The Soviet propaganda machine, of which the Pulitzer-winning Duranty was a part.

DEAN ESMAY HAS THE SECRET TRANSCRIPT of Colin Powell's meeting in Damascus. I sure hope it's accurate.