September 12, 2003

THE INSTA-DAD had some surgery, and I'm going out to his house to spend the night and look after him. I don't know if I'll blog from there or not.

OVER AT GLENNREYNOLDS.COM I've got more on cottage industry and self-employment, with an interesting connection to the war on terrorism in the last couple of reader comments.

Arnold Kling emailed to suggest that this discussion (er, except for the terrorism part) has veered into the territory already pioneered by Dan Pink in his book Free Agent Nation, and although it hadn't occurred to me, I think he's right, though -- much after the fashion in which Redbook turned into a virtual sex mag -- the process was so gradual that I didn't notice until someone pointed it out. I just ordered a copy of Pink's book, which I've read about, but have never read. Maybe I'll email him and ask him what he thinks.

IMPOSTOR ALERT: Webmistress Susie of the Alliance Blog emails:

Recently there have been two comments posted to the Alliance blog purporting to be from you. However, after the imposter Dean Esmay incident, I am reluctant to take them at face value. So, if someone is posing as you, I feel you should be made aware of it.

However, if you really DID make those comments, we would be happy to have you join our Alliance against you. You merely need to post one of our logos with a link to HQ on your blog.

After all, as my mentor Pixy Misa of Ambient Irony says: "Consistency is for wimps!"

Good point. And although I didn't post any comments there, joining the Alliance Against Me would be sophisticated -- almost French! Consider it done. Do I get a decoder ring? Or at least a nice mention in Le Monde?

R.I.P., JOHNNY CASH: Blogcritics has a massive, link-filled roundup.

ERROR-CORRECTION UPDATE: Earlier I linked to an OxBlog item suggesting that AP had altered a story. Turns out there were two different stories.

ROBERT KUTTNER HAS LOST IT IN HIS DEBATE WITH JOHANN NORBERG. Here are a few lines from Kuttner's reasoned argumentation:

But you have a very unfortunate habit of just making things up when the facts don't happen to fit your nutty theories.

There's also a rich debate, not resolved by recourse to your kind of fundamentalism

Debating you is like debating a devotee of a fundamentalist religion.

How can an intelligent person who reads the newspapers possibly believe that?

This has been a really depressing exchange, because you are so sophomoric and poorly informed in your extreme views.

You are a utopian and an absolutist. You offer no hypotheses that are falsifiable, which makes you a dogmatist.

Radley Balko has pointed out Kuttner's behavior. So has this post from the Catallarchy blog. Kuttner's not exactly foaming at the mouth here, but Norberg wins the reasonableness battle hands-down.

UPDATE: Julian Sanchez comments on Kuttner's blown fuse.

ERIC MULLER IS MAD AT ME for posting a photo of a WTC jumper for a while yesterday. He wants to know why I posted it, and why I took it down. (He also says it was a "large" photo, but it was only 180 x 200 pixels).

I posted it because I thought people needed to be reminded of the reality of what this is about, in the face of too many efforts to domesticate it. I took it down because I don't generally leave big-media photos up on my blog (in fact, unlike many bloggers, I don't generally put them up on my blog at all unless they're a link to the original source). I made an exception here because I thought it was especially important. Yes, it's not pretty. But that, you know, is the point.

UPDATE: Reader Mike McConnaughey emails:

You were exactly right to post the photo. I'm afraid that too many people
have forgotten the horror of that day.

Thanks. Kevin Murphy emails:

I don't know if you linked to this, but here is an LA Times op-ed from 9/10 by the photographer defending his piece.

No. I would have if I'd known about it. Go there now -- but be warned, the dread photo is present, and in a much larger version.

Amy Denham emails:

I am not glad the photo exists, but I am glad you posted it yesterday. I did not expect to see it on your site; when I did, I felt a moment of shock, sorrow, anger. The type of feeling I like to call visceral. It was a bit of a revelation to discover I haven't become inured to that feeling. Yes, the photo is horrible. But how you could be accused of ˜forcing it into our faces," to paraphrase Mr. Muller, I have no idea. I think that particular feat was achieved spectacularly by our enemies two years ago.

But I am also glad you took it down. I didn't want to see it anymore.

I didn't want to see it the first time. I didn't want it to have happened, either.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has more on this, and links to a picture he thinks you ought to see:

For my part, the photographs that I find most compelling aren't those of people actually falling, but of people leaning out of the windows, facing their deaths... deciding. I think of all those times throughout my life that I've looked out of high windows and the child in me wondered if I could climb down. Look carefully at some of the pictures from that horrible day, and you'll see that some people tried.

I think it's important not to let the memory of that day be sanitized.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Just to be clear, I'm not mad at Eric. But I'm not inclined to apologize for posting the picture, either.

INSIDE THE MIND OF NPR: N.Z. Bear finds an admission by Ann Garrels that, essentially, what I've thought I was picking up from her tone of voice was really there. Sheesh.

Of course, I've never listened to her reports from Baghdad in quite the same way since she said she often filed them in the nude.

HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER ROGER SIMON has some thoughts on the latest bin Laden release, and on the media coverage that it has produced. ("[N]ot exactly a ready for prime time performance.") But Jim Henley offers a useful point:

Old footage makes us, bin Laden's enemies, skeptical. But it won't have that effect on his target audience.

He's right, of course. Or perhaps we should say, "the target audience," since I am, indeed, skeptical that bin Laden is in a position to target anyone.

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION -- I'm about to actually defend Homeland Security. Or, anyway, to link to Clayton Cramer's defense, in which he points out that smuggling depleted uranium past security is no great accomplishment since it's (1) harmless; and (2) possessed of a very different -- and much smaller --radiation signature than weapons-grade uranium.

UPDATE: Jay Manifold has more, and notes that there's really no story here at all. Nice going, ABC!


British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has accused French leaders of suffering from an anti-American "neurosis" leading one tabloid newspaper to warn that Straw had triggered an "astonishing diplomatic row". . . .

Asked why there had been so much friction between London and Paris over the years, Straw reportedly replied:

"A great many of the difficulties that have faced the relationship go back to the profoundly different experiences that we had in the war, with, quotes, Britain standing alone, and quotes, France capitulating and surrendering to the Germans." . . .

"There isn't any question but that a significant part of the way in which the French political diplomatic class defines itself is against America, and this has been a continuing neurosis amongst the French political class for many decades," Straw was quoted as saying.

That pretty well covers it, I think.

UPDATE: Sylvain Galineau says Jack Straw is right.


MADRID — A Spanish judge formally accused a war correspondent for Arabic television station Al Jazeera of terrorist activity Thursday, ordering him jailed for alleged financing, logistical support and recruitment for Al Qaeda. . . .

The court document filed Thursday alleges that Alouni helped Mohamed Baiah, a suspected Al Qaeda courier, by letting him stay with him at his home in Granada and use his address to fraudulently renew his immigration status in 1998. During subsequent trips to Afghanistan, Alouni allegedly acted as a courier for the cell. The judicial order alleges that he brought cash in amounts as large as $4,000 to Baiah, a fugitive from Turkish police.

I'm shocked, shocked.

JEFF JARVIS HAS AN OPED on war, globalization, and PBS smarminess:

If you watched the Ric Burns documentary "The Center of the World" this week, you saw an effort to rewrite the story of 9/11, so it is no longer about murderous fanatics and selfless heroes, not even about life and death.

It is about globalization.

As we watch the jets tear into those buildings, as we watch them collapse, as we watch almost 3,000 neighbors die yet again, the show's narrator says without a trace of emotion:

"In a little less than two hours - with an almost poetically horrifying symmetry - the symbols and instruments of the city's uniquely air-minded culture, and of globalization itself - skyscrapers, jets and the mass media - would be turned back against themselves with a devastatingly lethal impact and effect."

Don't you see: globalization - that's what made this happen. Globalization - the political bogeyman of the age, the American disease.

But the truth is that "globalization" is really just code for "why they don't like us." It's just another way to say that this was our fault. Nothing could be more offensive.

In the two years since 9/11, we have heard small anti-American voices here and there try to turn this crime on us. They say we should ask why they hate us, as if there could be any justification for this act, as if the blame should fall to the victims, not the criminals. That is abhorrent. It is no different from saying that the Jews should ask why Hitler hated them. But, of course, it does not matter.

Yet this is the anti-globalization agenda: to blame us for our success and others' failures.

Yes, it is. And, as with the BBC, here it's done with taxpayer money.

UPDATE: A couple of readers think that Jeff is too hard on the special. I didn't see it, but I tend to trust his judgment in matters of TV criticism. But in questions of interpretation, your results may differ, of course. Reader Scott Harris, meanwhile, emails with a point of fact, not opinion:

PBS is also funded by voluntary individual contributions, private foundations and corporate sponsors. Not dissimilar, in fact, to academics or many successful bloggers. Public money may be essential to PBS, but so it is to the infrastructure of most universities and the backbone of the Internet.

Hmm. Well, fair enough on the private contributions, but the government support that PBS gets is not quite like support for the backbone of the Internet, is it? I'd be happy to see PBS supported entirely by voluntary individual contributions, private foundations, and corporate sponsors. You know, like the Heritage Foundation, an organization that PBS largely resembles in terms of balance and nonpartisanship.

THERE'S A LOT MORE GOING ON IN AFRICA than gets generally reported. Here's an Africa news roundup, courtesy of AfricaPundit.

BRENDAN O'NEILL writes that Tony Blair's critics are the big spinners:

In this sense, it is fitting that the postwar debate, if you can call it that, is over how many minutes it would take Saddam to launch an attack, over questions of time and timing. Ancram, Short and others' concerns about the Iraqi venture were always a question of timing and tactics, rather than anything to do with a principled opposition to war.

Yet now they hide behind the doubts about the 45 minutes, claiming that this 'duped' them into supporting war. We should be grateful that Blair and co didn't include the claim that Saddam could launch weapons within 20 minutes in their dossier, which was apparently an option - otherwise the likes of Ancram and Short might have supported Iraq being nuked off the face of the Earth.

Those bloodthirsty militarists! Fortunately, Bush never would have permitted that.


This is the best they can do? Ha. Dude. We're winning.


WINDS OF CHANGE has a giant roundup of 9/11 related stories. See, I don't have to do this stuff any more: if I take the day off, the blogosphere picks up the load. Woohoo!

Meanwhile Robert Clayton Dean looks at how the war is going. Conclusion: "At this point in history, the Islamists cannot defeat America, but America can certainly lose the war through loss of will and resolution. So far, the will is there." Read the whole thing, which is succinct, and accurate.

JONATHAN SCHELL'S PIECE, which I mentioned earlier, is extra-dumb on second reading. Get this bit:

Vietnam provides an example. Vietnam today enjoys the self-determination it battled to achieve for so long; but it has not become a democracy.

"Self-determination?" Well, after a fashion. It used to be a Soviet client state -- but now there's no Soviet Union, thanks to American cold warriors! Somehow I doubt that this is what Schell means, though.

So what does "self-determination" mean to Schell? It isn't "determination by the Vietnamese people," since he admits Vietnam isn't a democracy. In fact, it's a place that continues to persecute dissidents, though to no great cries of outrage from the left:

2003-09-11 / Associated Press /
Three relatives of dissident Catholic priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly appeared in a Ho Chi Minh City court yesterday to face charges of "abusing democratic freedoms," a court official said.

Nguyen Thi Hoa, 44, and her brothers, Nguyen Vu Viet, 28, and Nguyen Truc Cuong, 36, were charged with "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state," the court official said on condition of anonymity.

So it's self-determination if you're run as a police state by the remnants of a former client regime, under the name of a failed foreign ideology? I guess to Schell, it is.

Meanwhile, though only sort of related to Schell, here's something that Bill Whittle posted in his own comments section:

Criticising the President does not make you, automatically, a defeatist and self-hater. I'm sorry if I gave that impression. Nevertheless, there are indeed armies of defeatists and self-haters out there, and criticising the record of the administration since 9/11/01 has been a full-time job for them. Those are the people I was referring to.

The point is simply this: in the days and weeks after 9/11, many people counseled sanctions, resolutions, and the whole tired bag of appeasement. This President rejected that option, and has been roundly and severely criticised for going after not only the terrorists, but the nations that breed and harbor them.

Disagreements about strategy or approach are one thing. But as soon as you start the "we had it coming," or the "Bush=Hitler" stuff, you've put yourself in a different camp entirely. Still, I want to associate myself completely with this statement. The mere fact that everyone who is anti-American criticizes the war doesn't mean that everyone who criticizes the war is anti-American. But there are definitely quite a few people out there who, to paraphrase Dylan, would rather see us paralyzed.


FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S. soldiers mistakenly opened fire Friday on Iraqi police officers chasing highway bandits near an American checkpoint in a small town west of Fallujah, witnesses said. The U.S. military in Baghdad said it had no information on the incident.

No doubt we'll hear more about this as the situation develops.

UPDATE: James Rummel has more on how this happened -- lack of insignia seems to be a problem. Ship over some police cars!

September 11, 2003

I'M NOT GOING TO POST ANY MORE TONIGHT: But if you haven't seen this 9/11 memorial you might want to check it out. See you tomorrow.

I WON'T BE POSTING MUCH TODAY: Last year on September 11, I commemorated the day by posting nonstop. Today, I think I will take the opposite approach. But I'll leave you this passage from Lee Harris's forthcoming book, Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History:

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. . . . They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn't done enough for -- yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part -- something that we could correct.

And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason -- it is his reason, and not ours.

A lot of people haven't learned that yet. But that's what 9/11 is all about. Stephen Green understands. (And read this, too. And this.) Back later. Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis is blogging from the World Trade Center via Starbucks and wi-fi.

UPDATE: Oh, and go read Lileks' piece -- now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Check out this memorial on SKBubba's page, which will only be there for a few more hours. And Bill Whittle has an essay up, too.

September 10, 2003

THIS RUMSFELD INTERVIEW IS INTERESTING, but here's the bit that popped out to me, where he's talking about terrorists in Iraq:

JIM LEHRER: And they've come to cause trouble and to kill people.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Sure. We've scooped them up and arrested them and killed them. There's something in excess of 100 just from one or two countries. And we've got that many that have been captured and killed. And some of them have in their... they have money that they've been given to do this. They've got leaflets that recruited them.

I wonder which "one or two" countries we're talking about. Well, I don't wonder much. This is good, too:

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think so. I think we've had to face the vulnerabilities that are there for the 21st century. And they weren't there in that way for us. With these two big oceans and friends North and South, we've had a rather protected, safe environment. With terrorists being able to get access to jet airplanes and laptops and wire transfers and all kinds of electronics, with the proliferation of technologies that relate to a chemical and biological and radiation weapons and you look forward and you think, that's going to be a quite different world, there are two or three terrorist states that are potentially going to be nuclear powers in the next three or four, five, eight, ten, twelve years. That creates a different environment that we're going to be living in.

JIM LEHRER: How about here?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think that people have registered that. They're concerned for their safety. We are free people. We don't want to live in fear. We don't want to be terrorized. We know there's no way to defend against it. The only way to deal with it is to go after the terrorists where they are. We're killing, capturing terrorists in Iraq which is a... Baghdad today which is a whale of a lot better than Boise.

Yes, it is.

IF YOU'RE A LAWYER, you'd better be reading Howard Bashman's blog. Because a judge might ask you why, if you don't.

THIS STATE'S ATTORNEY made an honest mistake and tried to board an airplane with a gun he forgot he was carrying.

I hope that people who aren't associated with law enforcement also receive the kind of courteous treatment that he apparently got. But I have some doubts.

In a possibly unrelated development, Alphecca's weekly chart of media gun bias is up.

RON BAILEY REPORTS FROM CANCUN on the damage done to the world's poor by protectionism.


This morning on the Belgian radio news: Fientje Moerman, minister of economic affairs, lamenting about the woes the Kyoto protocol is causing. Either it means very heavy investments in even further (minimal) polution reduction (which causes companies to run away and jobs to be lost) or it means sending large amounts of cash abroad for no good reason ('buying clean air elsewhere'). And some people in the government even want to put a cap on the amount of 'clean air' that can be bought elsewhere, thus forcing the loss of jobs.

Oh, and since there is policy to 'get out of nuclear energy' in Belgium, the pollution reduction forced on the industry has to be more severe than it already was when the protocol was signed: Nuclear plants don't emit greenhouse gasses, but their future replacements surely will.

Freya Van Den Bossche, the minister for the environment, refused to comment.

International diplomacy has consequences? Go figure.


But the special made me ANGRY. ANGRY ANGRY ANGRY. (Here's the transcript)

You could play a drinking game watching it. Actually, that would make the whole thing more watchable. Here's what you do: Take a drink every time you hear the word "hubris". You would be SMASHED before the first hour was out.

The implication was that those buildings were asking for it. They were asking for it even before they were built. We were asking for it. You know what happens to people who have hubris! The Greeks taught us that! Hubris is punished!

It's an odd mindset that sees hubris everywhere, but that cannot recognize evil.

UPDATE: Analog Mouse calls it the "she was asking for it" approach.

ALTERNET HAS A PIECE ENTITLED "THE IMPORTANCE OF LOSING THE WAR," which says about all you need to know regarding the state of the "peace" movement. But then, that was visible before the war, with those who cheered Chrissie Hynde for hoping for defeat then: "she hopes the United States loses if it goes to war with Iraq ('Bring it on! Give us what we deserve!')."

Resurrection song is unimpressed. So am I. What kind of American regards an American victory as the worst of outcomes? Jonathan Schell, who told us that the Cold War was unwinnable. And who, one suspects, regrets that it was won.

UPDATE: Reader Scott Helgeson notes that this piece on Alternet faulted the Bush Administration for not doing enough in Afghanistan, just as the one above faults it for doing too much in Iraq. There's no pleasing some people. Helgeson writes: "One thing I've noticed about this 'pull out of Iraq, quick' talk is that it is the exact opposite of what they were saying re:Afghanistan. Doesn't 'poverty cause terrorism'? Patty Murray is supporting W.'s road-building efforts in Iraq, right?"

And don't forget the day-care centers!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Stacy emails:

I almost threw this away as simply another example of leftist self-loathing, until I caught this whopper.

"But the United States, precisely because it is a single foreign state, which like all states has a highly self-interested agenda of its own, is incapable of providing Iraq with a government that serves its own people. The United States therefore must, to begin with, surrender control of the operation to an international force. "

These two sentences, buried 2/3 of the way into the piece, form the entirety of Schell's actual argument... And yet it is absolutely, completely and 100% conclusory. No evidence, not even any internal logic supports why this is so.

No surprise there.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Ralph Peters writes:

DESPAIR is the preferred narcotic of the intellectual classes. The rest of us must stand up for what we know in our hearts and souls to be right and true. Our cause is just. Our efforts in this great, global war have been admirably successful. Our soldiers have kept us safe and made us proud. We owe them unity, not divisiveness.

No power on this earth can defeat us, unless we defeat ourselves.

Schell's doing his best. . . . And proving that Andrew Sullivan was entirely right when he wrote that a "fifth column" would emerge from within the ranks of the (self-labeled) intelligentsia.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some readers think that I'm being too hard on Schell, and that his piece is mere defeatism, rather than actual rooting for an American defeat. I suppose that, title aside, that's a conceivable reading of the piece, but it's not how I read it.

TIM LAMBERT HAS MORE on the seemingly interminable John Lott coding error question.

I'm inclined to agree with Mark Kleiman that the "con" is always in econometrics, and I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable to opine on the statistical questions. But perhaps Lott will respond on his site.

UPDATE: Lambert has more on Lott today. I am, as I've said before, not competent to assess the accuracy of Lott's work, though at this point I'd be quite reluctant to rely on it. He's wrong, however, to suggest that Lott's accuracy bears on the constitutional right to bear arms, though it may bear on the policy question of whether concealed weapons reduce the crime rate or not.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kleiman emails to clarify a fuzzy memory of mine regarding something he had said earlier: "That why it's so hard to take the 'con' out of econometrics: there are always sample definition, coding, and model-specification decisions to be made, and more often than not they're big enough to matter. That's why judging econometric work, except for the occasional finding of an intra-ocular correlation (i.e., one that hits you right between the eyes), depends so much on knowledge of the character of the person doing it."

I thought I had remembered this post, but I wasn't able to find it until he sent me the link. Sorry.

TWO YEARS ON, a weary nation takes stock. I'd say this piece gets it just about right.

JOHN SCALZI WEIGHS IN on the whole "cottage industry" topic, and notes:

Glenn speculates on some of the consequence of home workers (safer neighborhoods because burglars would never know when people were home, for example), but glosses over one of the primarily sociological aspects of self-employment, which is that those of us who are self-employed tend to become prickly DIYers who largely want to be left alone to do their own thing -- i.e., vaguely libertarian. It's like we all turn into New Hampshire Yankees or something. I don't know if will translate into something perceptible, politically (Glenn leaves the politics aspect for a future column), but I sure know my capacity for BS in its myriad forms has lessened since I started working for myself, and that definitely informs how I vote.

Yes, I think that will be another column.

HANK WILLIAMS, SR. HAS A NEW ALBUM, Elvis is putting out a single -- and Osama has a new release, too.

UPDATE: And Robert Heinlein is publishing a new novel!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Nelson Ascher emails that the difference is that Osama's release is "just a remix." Heh. Indeed.

BEST OF THE WEB IS DEFENDING HOWARD DEAN from a "smear" by Juan Williams, which it calls "shameful."

UPDATE: Reader Mark Miller emails:

I think Best of the Web is going a little overboard. Obviously, Juan Williams did not phrase the question perfectly. But it was obvious to me what he meant, and in fact Taranto rephrased what he said in exactly the way Williams meant it. As Taranto points out in the same edition of best of the web, people do not always speak in perfectly formed sentences (in the piece on Jacob Weisberg's Bushisms of the Day column).

Not having seen the debate, I have no idea of the context.

CELLULAR JAMMERS IN IRAQ: Darren Kaplan has an interesting report.


SUPPORTING THE TROOPS -- It's a small gesture, but a nice one:

NORFOLK, Va. -- The Germans didn't back the U.S. war in Iraq, but a German brewery is treating American sailors and soldiers to beer.

Munich-based Spaten, one of the world's oldest breweries, is donating 600 cases of lager to each branch of the U.S. military for personnel who fought in the war.

Thanks, Spaten! Plus, they demonstrate one area of clear German cultural superiority:

However, there is one small problem that Louis Sieb, president of Spaten North America, did not consider when he came up with the idea. The average sailor is 20. Legal drinking age is 21.

"They give up everything, right? They put their lives on the line, right? And they can't drink beer?"

Nope. Thank Nancy Reagan and Liddy Dole for that one.

AUSTIN BAY'S BOOK, The Wrong Side of Brightness, gets an excellent review from The Weekly Standard. Excerpt: "Austin Bay's plot is alarmingly plausible in the vicious landscape of the past dozen years. His cast varies from the military to investment banking. These characters and their international settings are terrifically convincing. This is a gritty tale with an ethical core, neatly executed."

I read the book a while back, and I liked it very much. (My only complaint was that it was too short).

YOU CAN HEAR SALAM PAX INTERVIEWED ON THE BBC HERE. He's pretty positive, overall, especially by contrast to where the BBC interviewer keeps trying to take him. The subsequent webchat is here. And Randy Barnett summarizes a new poll of Iraqi attitudes, which also seem reasonably positive.


I'm glad to see them take a stand against Davis's immigrant-bashing. (Via Volokh).

UPDATE: But the fight against racial prejudice at the highest levels of the Democratic Party in California is not without its setbacks, as Cruz Bustamante is still refusing to renounce MEChA. Well, we didn't end Jim Crow overnight, either.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And it's not just California, alas. Mark Kleiman writes:

Sharpton is easily the most despicable major figure in either of the two major parties, and yes I do include Trent Lott and Tom DeLay. The fact that no Democrat can run for President without appearing in the same room as Sharpton is the only good reason I can think of for voting Republican. It's not a good enough reason, but it's not chopped liver either.

He takes Slate to task for not being sufficiently critical of Sharpton. On the other hand (scroll up), I think he's probably wrong about a racial angle to the anti-tax sentiments in Alabama. At least, the Tennessee anti-tax movement is all about not trusting the legislature -- or our previous, Republican Governor, Don Sundquist -- to spend the money wisely, or to keep promises about what would happen to tax rates. Tennessee's not Alabama, of course, and I don't follow Alabama state politics, so the extent to which this analogy holds is unclear, but that's my experience.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails that Davis has apologized, but didn't send a link. I couldn't find a story on it, but while looking I found this Letterman joke:

David Letterman: "It's getting ugly out there. The governor, the recall Governor, Gray Davis, was making fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent. He said if you want to be governor of California, you have to be able to pronounce it. And so, this upset Arnold, and Arnold said to be governor of California, you should be able to govern it."


MORE: Bryan Preston isn't impressed with Bustamante's defenders (!) efforts to root the offending MEChA slogan in Cuban communism rather than simple racism.

STILL MORE: Pro-tax Mobile, Alabama reader Jennifer Jones sends a lengthy response to Kleiman's suppositions regarding race and taxes -- click "more" to read it.

EVEN MORE YET: Reader Lucian Truscott thinks that I'm equating MEChA with Jim Crow above. Huh? (Jim Crow was a set of laws; MEChA is an organization). My point was that it's hard to change entrenched racist attitudes in a political leadership -- as it was with Jim Crow. In this case what's hard to change isn't support for racial separatism by the majority, it's the notion that racial separatism is okay when it's by minority groups. Just in case anyone else was similarly confused, though it seems hard to believe that they could be. But heck, after the Ashcroft business, anything's possible. (And believe it or not, I've gotten irate mail from Ashcroft-defenders since that happened. Sheesh.)

Read More ?

HARRY POTTER: Feared by wacky fundamentalists of all stripes. Heh.

AN IRANIAN GIRL ASKED A.N.S.W.E.R. FOR HELP: Spot On reports that the response was, er, disappointing.


NICK GILLESPIE WRITES that last night's Democratic debate is proof of Fox's right-wing bias. Meanwhile, Polipundit has examined the transcript and found the scoop that everyone else missed

UPDATE: Nitin Gopal Julka writes that Howard Dean is losing him with his two-faced Israel policy.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN today has thoughts on self-employment, the growth of "cottage industry," and what it might all mean for economics, politics, and society.

JIM PINKERTON WRITES on Eurolateralism in international trade.

IRAQ: "Old women: going in. NGOs: running away."

DAMNED PRESIDENTIAL WARMONGERING: Read this simplistic and bloody-minded statement:

Our target was terror. Our mission was clear - to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama Bin Laden, perhaps the pre-eminent organiser and financier of international terrorism in the world today.

The groups associated with him come from diverse places, but share a hatred for democracy, a fanatical glorification of violence, and a horrible distortion of their religion to justify the murder of innocents.

They have made the United States their adversary precisely because of what we stand for and what we stand against. . . . We've worked to build an international coalition against terror. But there have been and will be times when law enforcement and diplomatic tools are simply not enough. . . . countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe havens.

Such simplisme.

UPDATE: On a more serious note, read this Austin Bay column about what we knew, and didn't imagine, back in 1998.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Thomas Conway emails:

So why did Bush get so much grief from the press for 16 words in his SOTU address and Clinton got a pass for these 12 words defending a cruise missile attack against a factory in Sudan: "The factory was involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons."

Everyone knows these intelligence estimates can turn out to be wrong, Thomas, so criticizing him for that would have been unpatriotic Monday-morning quarterbacking. Oh, and he was a Democrat.


Bill Sampson, recently released from a Saudi Arabian prison, has been telling his story in the National Post and on Global television, and as horrific as his ordeal was, even more appalling is the Canadian government's behaviour throughout. The Canadian government, first through John Manley as foreign minister and then his successor Bill Graham, was not only reluctant to believe allegations of torture but sided with the Saudis. After Sampson's release, the most conceded by Mr. Graham has been that there was "mistreatment."

Mistreatment! Good Lord!

Sampson's accounts are graphic: Strung upside down and beaten, the soles of his feet whipped, being forced to squat, arms tied around his legs and a bar pushed under his knees and then hung between chairs and spun and beaten, his genitals hit, testicles stamped on, and more.

"No evidence of torture," insisted the Canadian government for 31 months of his imprisonment on trumped up charges.

Funny how so many people who criticize the U.S. criminal justice system take a "what can you expect from the wogs?" approach to this sort of thing. The Saudis, of course, deny everything. But then, they also claim to be our allies in the war on terror. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Brian Dunn emails:

Yet the Canadian government is filled with people who still think Guantanamo Bay is a torture center. I bet Mr. Sampson wishes he faced our tender mercies rather than the Saudis'.

And then the Canadian government would have complained loudly!

HEY, IT'S NOT ANY DUMBER THAN SUING MCDONALD'S: There's talk of suing the New York Times for "journalistic malpractice."

The article introduces the novel legal theory of "journalistic malpractice" whereby, in the Times' case, "the continued publication of Blair's stories, despite the serious doubt about his work entertained and expressed by his direct supervisors, points to reckless disregard for the truth by key personnel at the newspaper."

Maybe Ralph Nader should be worried, after all.

CLAUDIA ROSETT WRITES on William Faulkner and the war on terror.

WISCONSIN IS ONE OF ONLY SIX STATES STILL BANNING CONCEALED WEAPONS permits, but there's talk of changing that, now.

WHAT I'D BE DOING IF MY LIFE WERE VERY, VERY DIFFERENT: Accepting the offered free tickets to go see Reid Speed in Miami this weekend.

JOSH FIELEK WRITES that for-pay wifi providers could learn a lot from cellular companies in terms of interoperability and roaming. I've thought the same thing, though I'm not convinced that for-pay wifi is a workable business model anyway.

INSTAPUNDIT'S SPIES HAVE OBTAINED A COPY of the RIAA's file-sharing "amnesty" form for your perusal.

MICKEY KAUS says that the New York Times is biased -- even in the automotive section!

It's not bias, exactly -- they're just stuck in 1969, as elsewhere. You know, back when there really were a lot of capacious rear-wheel drive sedans on the market.

I think that Kaus is wrong, though, when he calls the Pacifica a flop. At least, I'm seeing quite a few of them in my neighborhood, keeping pace with the steadily appearing Cayennes and Touaregs, and of course the endless numbers of Land Cruisers, Suburbans and Escalades.

LILEKS SPAWNS a pro-Dean meme:

Dean, perversely, might have a freer hand - the right couldn’t complain if he moved against Axis O’ Evil countries, and the editorialists would applaud him until their palms bled, because he was one of them, and had redefined Bush's Whee-Ha- Cowboy Crusade into a struggle for civilization's survival. (Note: fine by me. If American jets take out Iranian enrichment facilities, I don't give a tinker's damn if the man who gave the go-order was a D or an R. I can live with triumphalism from the NYT editorial page writers exhalting President Dean for his farsighted attack.)

This is actually plausible, and suggests a way in which Dean's biggest weakness -- he's a bit of a jerk -- might actually serve him well, by making him look more formidable. Sure the antiwar folks who provided him with his surge would be disappointed (some already are) but hey -- the small-government folks who supported Bush are a bit testy, too. In fact, there's a broader theory here, which is that Presidents always do the opposite of what their supporters want: Clinton reformed welfare (reluctantly) and savaged civil liberties (not so reluctantly), Bush is expanding government and will probably wind up legalizing marijuana or something if he serves two terms.

September 09, 2003

THERE'S A HEARING ON TENNESSEE'S SUPER-DMCA BILL in Nashville tomorrow. Bill Hobbs has the scoop.

It's a terrible bill, and it ought to die -- or be dramatically amended. As Hobbs notes:

This legislation makes it a crime to connect an "unauthorized" device to the cable outlet - but lets the cable company decide what is unauthorized. If the cable company rents digital video recorders, it can simply declare competing models to be "unauthorized" and then encourage you to unplug your TiVo and rent theirs, under the threat of a felony charge. Ditto with a Wi-Fi hub.

It's not about piracy -- er, except by cable companies. It's about control.

SOMETHING SMELLS in the retracted Ecstasy study that I mentioned here earlier. Mark Kleiman has more:

The experiment was purportedly intended to represent in an animal model the consequences of human "recreational" MDMA use, and perhaps of therapeutic use of the drug were it ever approved for that purpose. In the experiment, two out of fifteen animals died. The death rate among human MDMA users is no more than one in a million.

Yet it appears that the researchers failed to investigate the causes of those deaths. Moreover, they went on to draw inferences about the effects of MDMA on humans from the observed damage to the brains of the eight remaining animals. That didn't seem to trouble the reviewers for Science or the administrators at the National Institute on Drug Abuse who trumpeted the findings as evidence of the dangers of MDMA. (Science is published by the AAAS, whose president, Alan Leshner, was the Director of NIDA when the grant in question was awarded; he made MDMA his particular crusade.)

It is hard to escape the thought that many of the people involved were less cautious than they might have been because the results seemed to support their already strongly-held beliefs.

Okay, but that's not misconduct. That can happen to anyone, and happens to pretty much all of us now and then. But there's more:

Even before the retraction, then, Ricaurte's work was under a cloud. One very senior figure in the field had said in an open scientific meeting "I will believe any result George Ricaurte comes up with as soon as it has been independently confirmed."

The other detail not mentioned in the retraction letter is that Peter Jennings had gotten wind of the controversy, and had a special highly critical of Ricaurte's work "in the can" and ready to show. (Ricaurte had refused to be interviewed.) That Ricaurte's group had failed to replicate the now-retracted work is no doubt true; but that the paper would have been retracted had ABC not been ready to make an issue of it is much less clear.

I don't have Kleiman's expertise in this area, but I think this demands further investigation. Read all of Kleiman's post, which contains much more information.


At the domed mausoleum, near his home village of Jangalak in the Panjshir Valley, about 90 miles north of Kabul, more than 2,000 people gathered to offer prayers and wreathes.

Among them were schoolgirls who had walked six miles to see the tomb. They carried banners that read, ``Osama, you martyred our hero!'' and ``Death to Osama!''

(Via Oxblog).


SORRY FOR THE LIGHT BLOGGING -- I've been reading resumes, and I'm nearly done with the first batch of 627. When I'm done, I'm going to read a couple of books that I've gotten advance copies of: Lee Harris's Civilization and Its Enemies : The Next Stage of History, and David Bernstein's You Can't Say That: The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws. (I've actually started the Harris book -- the InstaWife snatched away the Bernstein book before I had a chance to so much as open the cover.) More later.


THE FRENCH HEATWAVE DEATH TOLL IS NOW UP TO 15,000. The death toll is appalling. So is the French government's fecklessness in allowing it to happen.

UPDATE: I wonder if it will get a Newsweek cover?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oxblog observes:

[D]ear God. Those numbers would be horrifying coming from a third-world country. Coming from France, they're just astounding. So far, the only political fallout has been the resignation of a single civil servant, France's equivalent of the surgeon-general. The fact that there has not been a more serious political fallout from what is, after all, a massive failure of France's healthcare system, is astonishing.

Astonishing, to say the very least.

MICKEY KAUS has more on Cruz Bustamante's latest proposal -- a permanent rolling amnesty for illegal immigrants?

UPDATE: Meanwhile Brian Linse is still defending MEChA -- it turns out, he says, that the slogan was inspired by Castro! Well, then.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Luis Alegria emails:

I am also a native Spanish speaker, and if you note the message from Professor Diaz quoted by Mr. Linse, he also agrees that "For the Race..." is a better literal translation than "United we stand".

As for context, the rest of the "Plan Espiritual de Atzlan" provides plenty to support the idea of ethnic separatism as embodied in this slogan.

"La Raza" is not a strictly racial concept, but it is a very specific ethnic one - i.e., Mexican mestizos.

Mr. Linse is pretty much torturing the translation.

The whole thing does sound like what your typical radical would have dreamed up in 1969.

Yes, Linse is working this one pretty hard, but that's half the fun of a blog. And it does sound curiously dated, which makes Bustamante's unwillingness to renounce it, as so many other Latino politicians have done, seem odd.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Moynihan emails:

MEChA may have stolen its motto from Mussolini, not Castro. According to Joshua Muravchik's book Heaven on Earth, Il Duce "put forth the motto "Everything inside the state, nothing outside the state." (p. 157).

Hmm. Well, if nothing else, we've certainly established a style.


JOE CONASON: Not as dishonest as Michael Moore and Ann Coulter! That's the ringing praise from Spinsanity.

CHIEF WIGGLES SAYS THAT WE'RE DROPPING THE BALL on an important item in Iraq -- a bunch of generals who surrendered without firing a shot, and are still in custody:

In their minds they would have been better off had they just ran to their homes like the other 9,000 plus brigadier generals in the Iraqi military. They regret having trusted us enough to turn over their bases, their ships and aircraft, and their men, in hopes that we would reward them for doing so. They just want to see their families and do their part in reconstructing their country.

I don't know the merits of this at all, but somebody should look into this.

FFM HAS A DEPRESSING ENTRY about how Digital Rights Management will destroy the Internet:

It's perfectly possible to force people into using only regulated computers, and to compel them to only perform permitted actions with them. All it takes is the eager cooperation of computer hardware manufacturers, and tough federal laws that impose penalties on ISPs who do not comply.

Either that, or bankrupt the computer and software industries by increasing people's already growing reluctance to buy new computers.

BAD NEWS FOR THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: Apparently we're buying more beans than bullets.

VIRGINIA POSTREL'S BOOK gets excerpted in Men's Journal. Who says men don't care about style?

WINDS OF CHANGE has an Iran news roundup that's worth your time, with lots of useful links.

TIM BLAIR has identified another smarmily pretentious Britjourno sneer-piece,. It calls for another James Lileks Olive Garden Fisking. Except that, really, it's just too dumb to be worth it. Instead, let's just marvel that people still get paid to write this sort of thing, and that others pay to read it. Like the "porcelain collector-plate" industry, it's proof that tastes differ.


The PDF description invites us to think of the internet as a highway for ideas! And, we are told, the creators of the HelloWorld project believe that "The power of words can overcome dissent." and "Information technology can strengthen the voice of every person, worldwide." (Working out the byplay between those two ideas is evidently left as an excercise for the reader.)

I used to have to deal with clients who talked like this all the time:

Client: We want community.
Me: That means letting people talk to one another.
Client: Oooh, that's bad. Can't we just have them send testimonials in, and we'll post the ones we like?
Me: I thought you said something about communi...
Client: I know! We'll call it the "ACME® RocketSled Testimonial Community!"

I used to think I had to have these conversations because advertisers were stupid, but now I recognize that most organizations work this way. Faced with the idea that they could end up hosting unfiltered conversation, they will instinctively opt for "Letters to the Editor"-style control, and then label it community (and themselves progressive.)

So here we have a governmental organization and an artist collaborating on something they call dialogue, but is in fact just the 1996 Joe Boxer billboard, now with new laser beams!

And no underwear models.

UPDATE: Michele Catalano says that IndyMedia has a similar problem:

Indymedia has the potential and the reader base to be something important and powerful for the left. By moderating it down to specific ideologies (which not all on the left follow) and dismissing anyone who does not fall in line with ANSWER type activism, IMC is doing a great disservice to those it purports to serve.

My suggestion is to open it up a little more, let people speak their minds and stop making room for every conspiracy theory in the world while censoring posts that are just reporting facts - even if these facts are not ones that you want to hear.

And some underwear models would be nice.

PAUL BOUTIN WRITES that the RIAA's amnesty deal is bogus. No surprise.

As Ken Layne wrote last year:

What happens when an industry mistreats its customers and its suppliers? When 8,999 of 9,000 audits show shoddy accounting practices? When a core business is bungled and the marketplace shrugs and moves on? When scandals and greed lead to massive layoffs and massive disgust?

The answer: it sues its customers.

REMEMBERING 9/11: Michele Catalano's Voices project continues to be updated. Jeff Jarvis has a remarkable story, too. And don't miss Christopher Hitchens' take on the subject.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis: "This war didn't start yesterday. This war is not over yet. This war is bigger than we are admitting. " He also calls Ric Burns' PBS documentary on 9/11 "damnably wrong-headed."

MATT WELCH IDENTIFIES "THE LAST GASP OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" in a new National Post column on the California recall. "So has political correctness run amok once again? Rather, it is still sputtering, ever less influential, at a few last bastions: touchy-feely monopolist newspapers and identity-politics groups."

In what's probably not a coincidence, touchy-feely monopolist newspapers and identity-politics groups are ever less influential, too.

MERDE IN FRANCE NOTES an interesting bit from the French press:

We are very interested in American deaths in Iraq. If we were as passionate about our own elderly, we would have had fewer victims. If the Americans are as moved by our deaths as we are by their deaths, they'll soon make a landing in France to stop the massacre. It's just that, and we will never admit it, every American soldier killed in Iraq causes, if not happiness, at least a certain satisfaction.

I'd already kind of figured that out, but it's nice to see it admitted in print.

RADLEY BALKO has set up an online symposium on globalization and free trade, with particpation from everyone from CATO to The Nation.

Here's a page featuring a debate between Robert Kuttner of lefty mag The American Prospect (the stuffy-looking one) and Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism (the radical-looking one). Ah, the times they are a-changin'!

DANIEL DREZNER LOOKS at the current world trade talks and notes:

Beyond the economic commitment to freer trade, there's a political bonus to the U.S. for supporting agricultural liberalization. Many Europeans try to paint the U.S. as a global bully in world politics. In the global economy, however, the big bad wolf is the EU. The growing assertiveness of developing countries in the WTO represents an opportunity for the United States. If the Bush administration is smart, they can get what they want in the Doha round and look like a hero to the developing world in the process.

I think he's right.

SALAM PAX WRITES on how he became a blogger, and how it has changed his life. I won't excerpt it -- just go read it.

HERE'S ANOTHER STORY THAT WE MISSED (at least, I did), which came to me via the multiply-forwarded email that makes up military samizdat. I don't know the original source -- if you do, please drop me a line.

Click for the full-sized image. The caption reads: "July 4, 2003, Saddam's Mosul Palace 158 troopers from the 101st Airborne Division re-enlist for another tour in the army. Wonder why the media didn't make a big deal of it? You suppose it's because it didn't fit the whining, bad morale profile they've been trying to portray. Naw, that can't be the reason. Not Katie Collic, Dan Blather and crew."

The media seem to have lost the battle for hearts and minds in Iraq. On a related theme, don't miss this post on flypaper by Andrew Sullivan, and, in particular, this report from Iraq by Max Boot.

UPDATE: This piece by Jim Dunnigan on the media's role in asymmetric warfare is worth reading, too. Excerpt:

In Somalia, the Somalis took over 30 casualties for every American killed or wounded. That was done through the use of superior American training, firepower (on the ground, and in helicopters overhead) and situational awareness (helicopters and more radios.) The battle in Mogadishu is only considered an American defeat because the American government considered 18 dead G.I.’s a defeat, even if over 500 Somali fighters died as well. At the time, the Somalis considered themselves defeated, and feared the return of the Army Rangers the next day to finish off the Somali militia that was terrorizing Mogadishu. The media declared the battle an American defeat, and that’s how it became known. Asymmetric warfare includes having the media in your corner, for that can easily turn a military defeat into a media victory.

The same thing almost happened in Iraq in 2003. During the first two weeks of the American advance into Iraq, any real, apparent or imagined delay of the coalition forces was instantly declared the beginning of a coalition defeat. Even as American troops moved within sight of Baghdad, the pundits were still gravely talking about bloody house to house fighting. There was much talk of asymmetric warfare by the Iraqis, and there was a lot of guerilla type attacks. But the American troops came up with new tactics faster than the Iraqis could think of ways to get around the American advantages.

Using the media as an asymmetric warfare weapon is pretty common, and sometimes it works. It worked in Somalia. It worked several times in the Balkans during the 1990s. Islamic fundamentalists use the media as one of their more potent weapons. The use of imbedded reporters during the Iraq war is seen by the Department of Defense as a use of asymmetric warfare against potentially dangerous media. Indeed, many media pundits have said as much, and darkly warn that the media cannot tolerate more such "defeats" in the future.

Worth reading in its entirety. You would think that media people would reexamine a general bias that makes them feel that they're doing their job when they're harming the forces of civilization, and being "used" when they're not.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Col. Michael M. Smith of the Southern Command emails:

The reenlistment photo was at the entry site of the quasi-official US Army website,

It was certainly available for any/every one to use.

Curious that it got so little attention. I suspect that the "official" version didn't contain the caption. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Not really related, but here are more pictures.

BUSTAMANTE HAS PICKED UP AN ENDORSEMENT from, er, racial-identity-awareness activist Tom Metzger.

LONEWACKO IS BLOGGING ACROSS AMERICA: Think of it as Jack Kerouac, only, er, mostly different.

September 08, 2003


THE reputation of Andrew Gilligan, the controversial BBC journalist at the centre of the Hutton Inquiry, has suffered another blow after previously unpublished documents reveal he misled MPs investigating the case for war with Iraq.

The BBC reporter has already been criticised by corporation executives after he e-mailed two members of the foreign affairs select committee (FAC) revealing that Dr David Kelly was the source of a report by the BBC Newsnight journalist Susan Watts.

It has since emerged that three days after sending the e-mail, Mr Gilligan told the committee he had no knowledge of the MoD scientists’ dealings with other journalists, including Ms Watts.

The contradictory statements have infuriated Labour MPs on the committee and will raise further doubts about the credibility of Mr Gilligan as Lord Hutton prepares for the second stage of his inquiry.

Committee member and Labour MP Gisela Stuart said she would be asking her colleagues to consider referring Mr Gilligan to the appropriate Commons authority for his alleged contempt of Parliament.

It's the coverup that gets you, they say.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph is starting "BeebWatch!"

And here is the much-respected BBC world affairs editor, John Simpson, analysing American policy towards Libya last week as moves to end sanctions approached culmination:

John Humphrys: "Has there been a real fear in Libya that the Americans would attack them?"

John Simpson: "Very strong indeed. You see, they really suit the pattern that George W Bush has established - it's a weak country with a bad reputation. Now, most people don't realise it's weak; it's a bit like Iraq in that sense, [an] easy target to hit if you know what's really going on, but it looks big if you just watch the morning television programmes in the United States: built up as something terrible, whereas in fact it's small, weak, and it can't do anything very much to defend itself. That's why President Reagan hit it so hard in 1986, because he knew he could get away with it, and I don't believe that even the Americans thought that it was a major sponsor of state terrorism..."

Note a) the assumption of the stupidity of the American public; b) the assumption of the dishonesty of US Republican administrations; c) the instrusion of an extraneous point about Iraq; d) the condescension of the phrase "even the Americans"; e) the failure to spend time on the behaviour of Libya itself, the country responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. In short, a locus classicus of BBC bias. You can find one virtually every day.

This is what our Beebwatch sets out to do.

I think they're learning from bloggers. I hope they'll drop by the Biased BBC blog regularly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan notes that even NPR isn't defending The Beeb anymore.

JIM BENNETT WRITES ON the way we war.

Meanwhile Max Boot has a new piece on reconstructing Iraq. It's a firsthand report that's a must-read.

UPDATE: Here, by the way, is a link to a PDF copy of the Marine Corps' Small Wars Manual. I've meant to post it several times and forgotten. So here it is!

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Army and Marines are sticking around, but some other people are putting the "go" in NGO.

THE DADDY TAX: You don't hear much about this.

CALL IT "GREGG'S BLOGG:" Gregg Easterbrook now has a blog hosted by The New Republic. He's looking for a name. Something easier than "&c," please.

TACITUS HAS A LENGTHY POST ON NORTH KOREA, and on the denial and appeasement that are rampant in the South.

ROGER SIMON DISTINGUISHES sports and politics.


For the seventh day in a row, the U.S. military reported no combat deaths Monday - a rare period of calm.

I'm betting that they'll open with it.


Iraq is the only Arab country today where all political parties, from communist to conservative, operate freely. Visitors will be impressed by the openness of the political debate there, something not found anywhere else in the Arab world. Also, for the first time, Iraq has no political prisoners.

Almost 150 newspapers and magazine are now published there, offering a diversity not found in any other Arab country. One theme of these new publications is the need for democratization in the Arab world. This may be putting the cart before the horse. What Arabs, and Muslims in general, most urgently need is basic freedom, without which democracy cannot be built.

The impact of Iraq's liberation is already felt throughout the region.

There are some interesting examples and quotes. Read this, too.


Bustamante is no wild-eyed radical. But he has had as much trouble renouncing his connection to MEChA as Trent Lott did in retracting his admiring comment on the Dixiecrats. Bustamante joined MEChA in his college years in the 1970s and has reportedly addressed MEChA groups since. Under heavy prodding at Fox News, he said he would be governor of all the people, but he has offered no direct disavowal of the group.

Now, it's safe to say that if a leading Republican candidate for governor had any ties at all to a MEChA-like group of white supremacists, past or present, 20 or so reporters would charge out of every California newsroom, eager to commit journalism. . . .

Defenders of MEChA portray it as a benign social group now distant from its radical roots. But that portrait is hard to square with the information put out on MEChA sites today. Those sites tell Chicanos not to work outside the bronze race and to condemn "multinational" alliances. And there are hints of violence. El Plan calls for "self-defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors" and mentions "the utilization of our bodies for war."

If this is leftover '60s bluster, why don't MEChA and Bustamante simply disavow it? The group may be harmless on some campuses, but it clearly positions itself as a virulent identity group with no interest in pluralism or tolerance. Why are the press and the Democrats giving a candidate with this kind of background a pass?

Read the whole thing.

PAUL BREMER offers Iraq's path to sovereignty, in a Washington Post oped. No mention of the "oil trust" idea, sadly.



Living in one of the most "progressive" Islamic countries, Jordanian women who hope for the right to divorce their husbands have another wait ahead of them, as the country's parliament held off voting on the bill for yet more debate. The likely outcome of that debate can be inferred from today's decision by parliament to forgo harsher punishments for men who kill women as a matter of upholding their "honor."

Why can't we interest the UN Human Rights Commission in this stuff. . . .?

PROTESTS IN SEATTLE? Yawn. Anti-tax protests in Seattle? Hmm. Now that's not a snoozer -- especially since it's a coffee tax. . . .

TELL THEM WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR -- THAT'S INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM! German mediablogger David Kaspar emails with this bit about the Associated Press's coverage of reactions to Bush's speech:

AP distributed a release of US citizens reactions to the "Address of the President to the Nation" of Sunday night.

The US version of AP's release is presented by Fox News. AP quotes five US citizens with positive reactions to President Bush's speech, and four with negative reactions.

The same release is distributed by AP in a German version. In this version, some quotes of the US version are omitted, others were added. Result: two US citizens are quoted with positive reactions to President Bush's speech, and five with negative reactions.

Title of the US version: "Americans React to Bush Speech"

Title of the German version: "Hurra-Rede statt Substanz" ("Hurray-Speech Instead of Substance")

I can hardly blame my fellow German citizens for their antiamerican feelings -they are nurtured by the distortions of international news agencies.

And it's not even Reuters! (Here's the original post, in German.)

CANADA -- SANCTUARY FOR TERRORISTS? Sixty Minutes thinks so.

JEFF JARVIS responds to Jonathan Alter with a post on what the "new patriotism" means to him:

: Alter misses the point by a century.

Patriotism is much bigger than politics. And the definition of patriotism is no longer in the hands of the politicians and pundits. After 9.11, it is in our hands, for we are all Americans and we are all targets on this new battlefield. We know what it means to be patriotic and it has very little to do with partisanship or politics. We know the price of patriotism.

Patriotism means defending the principles of America over politics. Patriotism means being willing to protect those principles where and when its necessary. Patriotism means defending your children and your neighbors against those who would attack us because we are American. Patriotism means being willing to go it alone even when your former friends (read: Europeans) snipe at you. Try that on as a new definition.

Read the whole thing. Especially if your name is Jonathan Alter!

STEPHEN MOORE warns that Howard Dean may be a bigger threat to Bush than most Republicans realize. I think he's right.

I've said all along that Bush is vulnerable -- and there's new evidence that he's losing his base.

UPDATE: Lileks thinks that this doesn't matter:

I think that’s overrated, and also somewhat irrelevant; what are they going to do in 04, write in “Tom McClintock”? Yes, they could stay home, but I have a hard time imagining large numbers of GOPers thinking “I trust him more on national security than that Dean fellow, but I just can’t vote for a guy who co-authored an education bill with Ted Kennedy."

The question is who has a better sense of the rationality of the Republican base. Stay tuned. Lileks also notes:

As for the Iraq situation? I’m stunned that a country whose face was held mouth-down in the mud for 30 years hasn’t spontaneously produced a civil society in six months. I don’t think they’ve even started thinking about a new national anthem. Let’s give it all to the French.

He's obviously been reading Dowd again.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Miller figures the odds on Bush's reelection at about 60/40. Meanwhile John Edwards has declared for Vice President according to QandO. I actually think that Edwards' prospects are better than most people are allowing for at the moment.

HE'S RESTING NOW, MAY IT BE IN PEACE. Warren Zevon died yesterday. BlogCritics has a link-rich roundup post focusing more on his life than his death, as is appropriate.

TECHCENTRALSTATION JOINS THE GUARDIAN in putting up a special site relating to the Cancun trade talks.

IT'S FROM LAST WEEK, but this UPI report on terrorists and Venezuela is worth noting:

Intelligence agencies are investigating links between Islamic terrorist networks and the Venezuelan government. While U.S. counter terrorist efforts in Latin America have until now tended to concentrate on the "tri border area" of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, it's believed that al-Qaida suicide bombers could also be hiding in Venezuela.

Investigators name two Venezuelan based al-Qaida suspects: Hakim Mamad Al Diab Fatah who was deported from the U.S. on suspicion of involvement with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and Rahaman Hazil Mohammed Alan who is jailed in the U.K. for smuggling an explosive device onto a British Airways flight. American and British officials complain that their investigations are stymied because the government of President Hugo Chavez has dismantled U.S.-trained intelligence units which tracked terrorist connections among the half-million strong Venezuelan Arab community.

Chavez has instead brought in Cuban and Libyan advisors to run his security services according to American, British and other European diplomatic officials in Caracas.

That's comforting.

CARLOS BALL has more on Cancun, trade liberalization, and State Department fecklessness. Though, to be fair, the State Department isn't the biggest problem here.


The irony is that when Western men accepted that rape isn't the victim's fault, women started covering themselves less, and men got nicer things to look at. When Western men allowed women to own their own sexuality, they started getting more and better sex from enthusiastic partners. This is win-win here. Does anyone really want to return to the days when women were supposed to lie back and think of England and men hadn't heard of the clitoris?

Sex is what is going to free the Arab world, the men as well as the women. And if the men really knew what life is like on this side, they might help the women come out from under the hijab.

Sadly, I'm not sure this is true. It's certainly not true for the fanatics, though I don't know what would win them over. Then again, maybe they're just afraid of the work involved.

I DON'T KNOW HOW ACCURATE IT IS, but here's a warning that SoBig's latest version will be worse. It's a bit alarmist, and I don't know much about the site where it appears, but it's largely consistent with this:

The "F" in the latest Sobig worm's name indicates that it is the sixth version of the virus since Sobig.A appeared in January, and its creator is refining it with each new version. Sobig.F is set to expire Sept. 10, and security experts say they expect a Sobig.G to show up soon thereafter.

"The author seems to be experimenting," Sunner said. "He's introducing the worm on different days of the week, seeding the virus in different locations. He's looking for the ideal conditions for release." . . .

"A superworm is definitely possible," said Joe Stewart, senior security researcher at Lurhq Corp., a computer-security company. "Unfortunately, it's not even necessary right now. With the current level of user education out there, it's just as easy to write something pretty dumb that still works great."

Just freaking great.

UPDATE: A reader says that this is "utter nonsense," but offers no details. Hope he's right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Patrick McKenzie emails:

A couple of points :

a) The likelihood that there is one SoBig author approaches zero. Internet viruses are usually copycat affairs that link unique payloads (which are easy to write) to infection vectors (which are harder -- that is why everyone bandwagons on to the hot exploit of the minute).

b) The threat of a new and improved SoBig is less than that of a new exploit tied to a nasty payload. SoBig had two really nice features from the security point of view -- it hit almost everyone and did almost no permanent damage. This means that the majority of machines have been patched to avoid the buffer overrun that enabled the bug. My university immunized over 8,000 computers, for example.

c) The "wormnet" idea is beyond fantastic. For starters, any worm with a sufficiently robust protocol for communicating with itself would, umm, have a protocol for communicating with itself. Every corporate firewall and ISP would key in on the sequence in a matter of hours and shut it down. "Random viral mutations" are a sci-fi idea that have NEVER been used to effectively keep a worm from having a fixed character sequence to search against -- its impossible to write code to reliably disguise the signature of the polymorphing code itself. This behavior is also nigh-upon unknown in legitimate software, which means that writing a polymorphic worm is a big "hit me! I'm over here!" sign to virus scanners.

So, in short, your less verbose reader earlier was completely right.


THE GUARDIAN'S SUBSIDY BLOG is deeply pessimistic:

Even before the talks have got underway plans are in place for another unscheduled ministerial meeting early next year. If this is a meeting to build on what is agreed at Cancun no one would argue. But if, as reporter Nick Mathiason suggests it is because ministers have already accepted that agreement won’t be reached this week then it is absolutely shameful. . . .

The progress of the negotiations hasn’t been helped by the astonishing remarks last week of Franz Fischler, the EU agriculture commissioner who dismissed calls by developing countries for big cuts in subsidies as cheap propaganda and said that Brussels would strongly defend its farmers. Isn’t there anyone out there big enough to rescue these talks from the trough into which they are falling?

I don't think it will be Bush, who -- partly because folks like The Guardian have been demanding it -- is likely to have to give the French et al., something (like continued agricultural protection) in order to get a UN imprimatur for the rebuilding of Iraq whose chief value is to impress people who listen to The Guardian about such things.

September 07, 2003


Is Meacher a CIA plant to discredit anti-Americanism? Or is their talent pool that thin?

WATCHED BUSH'S SPEECH: It was an outright challenge to the neo-McGovernites, and even more of a challenge to those wafflers (and several are beginning to appear) among the Democratic presidential candidates, specifically mentioning Somalia and Beirut (bipartisan bugout history there), and noting that lessening our commitment would be a disaster, and play into the terrorists' hands. ("They want to shake the will of the civilized world.") Not bad, but the Administration will have to keep on the ball. The best point was his direct reference to what he said after 9/11, to the effect that this would be a long and multifaceted war. This isn't a time to go wobbly, and Bush made that clear. If he sticks to it, we'll win, and so will he.

UPDATE: Here's the text of the speech.

WORLD WAR FOUR: An interesting story on the less-reported part of the war on terror, from the Globe and Mail. I'm glad that folks at the CIA are paying attention to Mauritania, which is in a part of the world that I think deserves some attention (hence my repeated stories on the missing tourists). I'm also happy that they're calling it "World War IV" among themselves, for that is a more accurate description, in some ways, than "war on terror."

The article also contains some useful cautionary notes about unsavory and untrustworthy allies, though, of course, one always has those in war. In World War Two, you know, we had De Gaulle.

IT'S THE SEX ISSUE over at Legal Affairs, with articles by Jeff Rosen, Heidi Fleiss, and others with expertise to offer.


I have a big wait-and-see attitude toward the President's comments tonight. But I must say that if it weren't for the war on terrorism, I'd be a bit at a loss these days to say something nice about him given his performance of the last six months. Yes, yes, tax cuts: good. And a few other things: Good. But, I'm really fighting this feeling that when he said earlier this week that whenever someone's "hurting," the "government has to move", he essentially jumped the shark.

I keep seeing more comments along these lines from staunch Republicans.

UPDATE: Reader Jared Phillips emails:

What I find most striking in my group of friends who all voted for bush (10) is that many are rapidly becoming disillusioned with the results. Most specifically, the out of control spending increases.

So if you combine a possible disaster among gun-rights supporters extending 'assault weapon' ban) and the fiscal conservatives, who supports Bush?

As for the Rove outlook "where will you go?" - at this point to anyone else, because I am no longer going to punch the party line.

It pains me to say it but things were better when the GOP jammed up Clinton in the 90's.

Like I say, I keep hearing this.

I MISSED THE GRAY DAVIS IMMIGRANT-BASHING STORY, but So Cal Lawblog has it. Put that together with the Bustamante / MEChA story, and it seems that there's a real problem with prejudice among California politicians, at least those associated with Gray Davis.

UPDATE: Robert Tagorda has much more on this, and wonders if Bill Lockyer will keep his word.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mickey Kaus points out more pro-MEChA disingenuousness. They're not radicals, they just don't recognize national borders!

THIS is interesting:

It’s now nightime in Iraq on Sunday, September 7. If no US soldier is killed in Iraq today, this will mark the longest stretch of Operation Iraqi Freedom without a US military death – five days – since the war began in March. Based on the chronolgical listing at Faces of Valor, previously the longest period without a US military death was April 18-21. (The death on April 17 occurred in Kuwait, but like other casualties in Kuwait, it is included in the numbers we hear for the Iraq war.) I’ll be interested to see whether the news outlets that have kept up the daily drumbeat of war deaths will take note of this milestone.

I haven't followed these numbers myself, but I wonder if we'll hear people point this out in the coverage of President Bush's speech. I rather doubt that day-to-day or week-to-week casualty figures are much of a metric, but certainly war opponents have tried to make them that.

UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails "The press will wait until the pause, inevitably, is over, and frame it as a failure of - of something."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Thomas Nicholson emails:

Just heard a NPR new report about an attack in Baghdad that wounded a couple of U.S. soldiers. The report noted that there hadn't been such a bold attack in Baghdad for a while, but then went out of its way to note that out in the countryside there were an average of 10 or 11 attacks on US troops a day, and then quoted some important-sounding officer as saying the average had gone up recently to 12 or 13.

No mention there hadn't been any deaths for almost a week now, for the first time since the war began. Nor any word on exactly what these countryside "attacks" amount to. Accentuating the negative? A reporter? Nah!!

Say it ain't so.

ANDREW SULLIVAN WRITES that the flypaper strategy is working.

UPDATE: Read this for links to more discussion, pro and con.

JEFF JARVIS WRITES on the new holocaust deniers in Europe.

UPDATE: Tom Paine, meanwhile, says that Michael Meacher is a provable liar. On the other hand, it's possible that Meacher's grip on reality is sufficiently tenuous that he believes what he's saying even though the evidence he refers to actually shows the contrary.

Such is the character, and intellect, of the anti-American crowd in Europe these days. Well, not just these days.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Ralph Luker notes that a new edition of Arming America, the discredited work of former Emory historian Michael Bellesiles, will soon be published by an outfit called Soft Skull Press. And no, I'm not making that up.

It would be nice, of course, if this second edition rigorously addressed the systematic errors of its predecessor (some of which are spelled out at length in this Yale Law Journal article by James Lindgren) but I suspect that such hopes are in vain. Were this book an answer to Bellesiles' critics, and the charges of fraud that ultimately led to Bellesiles' dismissal and the withdrawal of his book from the market, I suspect that his original publisher, Knopf, would have been happy to bring it out.

UPDATE: Several readers sent me more information on Soft Skull Press, which apparently has some experience with discredited authors.

WHY DOES THE EUROPEAN UNION HATE THE WORLD'S POOR SO MUCH? Samizdata summarizes the latest report on what E.U. trade policy does to poor nations:

6,600 people die every day in the world because of the trading rules of the EU. That is 275 people every hour.

In other words, one person dies every 13 seconds somewhere in the world - mainly in Africa - because the European Union does not act on trade as it talks.

If Africa could increase its share of world trade by just one per cent, it would earn an additional £49 billion a year. This would be enough to lift 128 million people out of extreme poverty. The EU's trade barriers are directly responsible for Africa's inability to increase its trade and thus for keeping Africa in poverty.

If the poorest countries as a whole could increase their share of world exports by five per cent, that would generate £248 billion or $350 billion, raising millions more out of extreme poverty.

I'm surprised that you don't hear more about this.

UPDATE: Was a previous post along these lines "overreaching?" Daniel Drezner says no, but not everyone agrees. Now there's a shock! But I'm not afraid of the flak -- I'm standing shoulder-to-shoulder with The Guardian on this protectionism thing.

BIDEN LIED, FREEDOM DIED: A study relied on by proponents of Joe Biden's dumb "RAVE Act" has been retracted under circumstances that look a bit dodgy to me:

A leading scientific journal yesterday retracted a paper it published last year saying that one night's typical dose of the drug Ecstasy might cause permanent brain damage.

The monkeys and baboons in the study were not injected with Ecstasy but with a powerful amphetamine, said the journal, Science magazine.

The retraction was submitted by the team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that did the study.

A medical school spokesman called the mistake "unfortunate" but said that Dr. George A. Ricaurte, the researcher who made it, was "still a faculty member in good standing whose research is solid and respected."

The study, released last Sept. 27, concluded that a dose of Ecstasy a partygoer would take in a single night could lead to symptoms resembling Parkinson's disease.

Sheesh. I'll really trust what these guys report in the future. There's more on the story here.

UPDATE: Andrew Stuttaford writes:

Fair enough, mistakes can be made – and one negative finding is not enough to call a drug safe - but can we now expect the drug warriors to publicize the fact that this particular risk has been massively overstated – or would that be expecting too much?

I suspect it would. Perhaps we should run a commercial showing people injecting monkeys with the wrong substance, and featuring the caption: "This is what it looks like when you have drugs on the brain."


Every U.S. officer I talked to said that the 150,000 soldiers we have in Iraq now are sufficient. What's required is not more troops, they said, but better policing methods. Both the 101st Airborne and the Marines are disdainful of some of the heavy-handed tactics, such as large-scale "cordon and search" operations, employed by Army units in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. They argue that the focus should be on getting better intelligence and training Iraqi security forces to police their own country. That process is now underway, but it will take time to create a new army and police force.

The biggest problem I saw in Iraq was not with the U.S. military but with the civilian arm of the occupation — the Coalition Provisional Authority run by L. Paul Bremer III. One well-intentioned CPA project, to hire agricultural laborers to clear canals, caused a riot in the southern city of Diwaniyah when the ditch diggers weren't paid for three weeks. More often, the CPA is guilty of sins of omission. Its television station, the Iraqi Media Network, is not received in the north, thus ceding the information war to anti-American satellite channels like Al Jazeera.

The problem is that the CPA lacks both personnel and money. In the north, the 101st Airborne deploys 21,000 soldiers; the CPA has no more than a couple dozen employees there. And what few people the CPA has don't last long. Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police chief, arrived in Iraq at the beginning of the summer to run the Justice Ministry, and already he's going home.

Instead of sending more troops, the administration needs to beef up the CPA and decentralize its operations. Congress needs to provide more funding because, as Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne, told me, "Money is ammunition." But neither the CPA's woes nor the well-publicized terror attacks should distract us from the substantial progress that's been made in the four months since the war ended. As long as we keep our nerve, we will prevail.

Read the whole thing.

MICKEY KAUS notes that the Cruz Bustamante / MEChA story has depth, links to this piece on Bustamante by Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times, and asks:

Rutten notes that other California Latino pols (Xavier Becerra, Antonio Villaraigosa) have no problem renouncing MEChA's offensive slogans. Why can't Bustamante?

Meanwhile, Rutten observes:

There are few rules in life that admit no exceptions. Here is one: The pursuit of identity politics ends in an intellectual swamp that inevitably drains into a moral sewer.

That's why Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is wrong not to speak more clearly to the issues raised by his one-time membership in a Chicano student organization whose founding credo is a mind-numbing amalgam of quaint revolutionary rhetoric and pseudo-mystical racialism. It's also why the mainstream media's off-handed treatment of this issue is one of the avoidable shortcomings in their coverage of the recall campaign. . . .

Ideas matter, and words have consequences. No matter how inclusive California's political vocabulary becomes, it should not accommodate the language of identity politics.

I agree. And I think it's odd -- and embarrassing -- that so many people in Bustamante's media camp have chosen to deny the problem, or to try to explain it away in fashions that they would heap scorn on if employed by the defenders of a Pat Buchanan or a David Duke.

UPDATE: Brian Linse still says that the MEChA slogan is badly translated (and via email notes that it got a minor, but misleading, revision in Rutten's column). I took several years of Spanish, but I'm far too rusty, even if I did serve as Faculty Advisor to the Hispanic Law Students Association on campus some years ago. If MEChA is harmless, though, then why are these other Latino politicians -- some, I think, to the left of Bustamante -- so willing to renounce it?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Thomas Williams emails:

Mr Linse is just wrong. 'Por' and 'para' are both translated often translated 'for', and indeed one of the standard lessons for English-speakers learning Spanish is when to translate 'for' with 'para' and when with 'por'. 'Fuera de' is perfectly good Spanish for the preposition 'outside'; 'afuera de' is a Latin American variant. The standard translation being given in the media is in fact the correct one, as a look at any decent Spanish dictionary would show.

Beats me -- it's been too long since I did that stuff. My Spanish is now as bad as my French, both of which are worse than my Latin, which itself would get me caned and sent to stand in the corner wearing a "dunce" cap if I presumed to speak it in Dr. Weevil's presence.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more from Roger Simon.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: And now we're seeing Hispanic counterorganizing. Or something like that.