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September 20, 2003

HEADING OUT TO SOMEWHERE, WON'T BE BACK FOR A WHILE: Just out to the lake. See you tomorrow.

THIS is disturbing:

An Army Islamic chaplain, who counseled al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, has been charged with espionage, aiding the enemy and spying, The Washington Times has learned. . . .

Capt. Yee, of Chinese-American descent, was raised in New Jersey as a Christian. He studied Islam at West Point and converted to Islam and left the Army in the mid-1990s. He moved to Syria, where he underwent further religious training in traditional Islamic beliefs. He returned to the United States and re-entered the Army as an Islamic chaplain. He is said to be married to a Syrian woman.

Sounds almost as if he were planted. Sadly, this will only produce more suspicion toward loyal Muslims.

UPDATE: Phil Carter looks at the military law involved and has some links.

GO VOLS! Gator tastes like chicken. . . .

RICHARD BUTLER:

He said the United States and its allies had no choice but to invade Iraq and overthrow Sadaam Hussein's government.

Butler likened Saddam to Adolf Hitler and said the evil dictator used the weapons on live people.

"I want to be plain about this," Butler's voice heightened. "The overthrow of Sadaam Hussein was justified whether or not there was reluctance to authorize it. ... No one could say it is wrong to overthrow a homicidal maniac. The Security Council sat on its hands for 10 years."

As for not finding these weapons allegedly in Iraq, Butler said he is sure Saddam had them. He said Saddam was addicted to the deadly weapons, and whether they are still in Iraq but hidden, moved or destroyed, they did exist.

"Don't believe those who say they aren't there just because we haven't found them. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Butler told the crowd. "Iraq certainly did have weapons of mass destruction. Trust me. I held some in my own hands."

Nonsense, it's all a Zionist-Republican plot.

IT'S A KLEIMAN VS. NON-VOLOKH SMACKDOWN! Er, or as close as you can get while discussing the intricacies of New Source Review and the Clean Air Act.

[Why isn't it a Kleiman vs. Non-Volokh "Cage Match?" -- Ed. Because it's not all on the same blog. Weirdly, that makes sense. -- Ed.]

DO THESE GUYS LOOK LIKE ROCK STARS? OR WHAT? Here, too. And don't miss this rave review from a wholly disinterested party!

BILLY BECK IS blogging while on tour in Japan.

THIS MICHAEL BARONE COLUMN notes a lack of media perspective on Iraq:

Those inclined to make straight-line extrapolations from the events of a few news cycles should read some history. Margaret Mac- Millan's Paris 1919 shows how the Allied leaders who gathered at the peace conference in Paris were largely clueless about how to reconstruct the defeated nations after World War I. Jean Edward Smith's biography of Gen. Lucius Clay reveals that the first time he read the government's plans for post-World War II Germany was on the flight over there to take charge. William Manchester's American Caesar shows that Douglas MacArthur, however knowledgeable about the Far East, did not have clear ideas on how to rule postwar Japan. Clay and MacArthur improvised, learned from experience, made mistakes, and corrected them, adjusted to circumstances. It took time: West Germany did not have federal elections until 1949, four years after surrender; the peace treaty with Japan was not signed until 1951. . . .

Reports from soldiers on the ground, circulating widely on the Internet but seldom if ever appearing in old media, indicate that the large majority of Iraqis are friendly and helpful and glad that American troops are there. Those may be anecdotes; data come from a poll conducted in August by American Enterprise in four major cities, including one in the so-called Sunni triangle. No one should dwell on the precise percentages, which are subject to error, but by wide margins the results show that Iraqis are optimistic about the future and unfavorably disposed to Osama bin Laden, the Iranian mullahs, and, especially, the Baathist remnants. We cannot be sure exactly how Iraqis' minds are changing. But the evidence suggests they are receptive to representative democracy and hostile to Palestinians and other Arabs who supported their oppressor.

As Barone notes, the media have a "zero-defect standard" regarding operations in Iraq. Would that they applied such a critical view to their own reporting.

USEFUL FOOLS WRITES that the media were hyping the wrong thing on Isabel:

Contrary to popular opinion and media hype, the majority of hurricane deaths are not caused by wind, but rather by storm surge flooding (which is related to the wind strength, wind area, distance from the eye, and especially topography) or inland rains, or both. These are not necessarily closely tied to the Saffir-Simpson rating (category), which is based only on the maximum sustained winds (normally found in the eye wall).

In modern times. most deaths are caused by inland flooding from the storm's rains.

Good point. Meanwhile, to those who accuse me of downplaying the event because I'm "safely behind the Tennessee mountains," I 'll suggest that if an event of similar scale happened on this side of the Appalachians, it would barely get noticed. Look at the storm in Memphis that left over a million people without power, and several dead, and got basically no notice at all by the national media, except in the form of an oped wondering why it got no attention. One suspects that it's because it didn't affect the lives of Big Media types. Similarly, the D.C. sniper got a lot more attention than the West Virginia sniper because, God forbid, he might have killed East Coast journalists!

UPDATE: Here's a roundup of blog-coverage of the hurricane, from Michael Silence of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

RICH HAILEY accuses George Will of Dowdification. That might be a bit strong, but this does call for a correction or clarification.

September 19, 2003

DOES TERRORISM MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY? Boy, this study must be bummin' the Al Qaeda dudes out.

I GOT THE LATEST BT ALBUM, EMOTIONAL TECHNOLOGY, TODAY. The cover photo, which shows BT in a rather Elton-Johnish white suit, made me wonder if he was going to go in a discoish -- or at least Deep Dish Collective-ish -- direction. But no. Overall, the new CD sounds a lot like its predecessor album, Movement in Still Life, especially cuts like "Smart Bomb" or "Madskillz." My favorite tracks (based on listening to it once in the car) are "Knowledge of Self" and "Superfabulous." BT sings on quite a few of the tunes, including the Boss Hitbound Single "Somnambulist." Sadly, Kirsty Hawkshaw doesn't appear on this album.

The production is classic BT, as are the liner notes: "This track is constructed with Logic Audio synths, EXS24, and Absynth only, and features two swing templated variants of sample accurate, time-corrected loops." One departure from earlier albums is that several songs have vocal harmonies reminscent of Jon Brion. (You can stream some samples at the links above).

It's somewhat more pop than Movement, and I'll have to listen to it a few more times, but I think it's a winner. BT's website, by the way, is here.

DAVID ADESNIK COMMENTS on some of my news-from-Iraq posts:

While it's nice to read these stories, I still wonder whether the frustrated and disappointed GIs are holding back out of deference to their superiors. I know for sure that officers critical of the Administration are extremely reluctant to say anything at all.

Perhaps the truth will come out only after the troops have come home and are able to speak their minds.

Uh, yeah. Like in one of the posts that David links to, which is about returning troops who say things are a lot better there than the news media make them sound. Or maybe like in this post about a report from a returning soldier that things are a lot better than. . . well, you know.

Then there are posts like this one from a Federal judge and this one from a touring musician, neither of whom would seem to suffer under the constraints that Adesnik identifies.

A more valid criticism of my posts would be that they're anecdotal, and don't show the big picture. That's true -- and as Daniel Drezner has noted, there may not be a coherent single narrative on Iraq right now.

But that, of course, is my point. The Big Media have created a coherent single narrative (call it Vietnam II: Reloaded) and they're engaged in selective reporting to maintain that narrative, for reasons I explore here. I'm just trying to let a little air in, by pointing out what they're not reporting.

REMEMBER: Music piracy hurts the artists. Heh. (Via Something Awful).

WESLEY CLARK, JR. is defending his dad in the comments section over at DailyKos. There are a lot of comments, so search "Wesley" on the page.

Thanks to reader Ali Karim Bey for the link.

PORPHYROGENITUS has a global war roundup with lots of links.

THIS DESERVES MORE ATTENTION than it will probably get: Vaclav Havel, Arpad Gцncz, and Lech Walesa take on Castro:

Europe ought to make it unambiguously clear that Castro is a dictator, and that for democratic countries a dictatorship cannot become a partner until it commences a process of political liberalisation.

At the same time, European countries should establish a "Cuban Democracy Fund" to support the emergence of a civil society in Cuba. Such a fund would be ready for instant use in the case of political changes on the island.

Europe's peaceful transitions from dictatorship to democracy, first in Spain and later in the East, have been an inspiration for the Cuban opposition, so Europe should not hesitate now. Its own history obliges it to act.

All I can say is, hurray for the New Europe.

RAND SIMBERG -- who's covering space so I don't have to -- has a column on Columbia, proposals for an orbital spaceplane, and what's wrong with the NASA approach.

I DON'T HAVE A LINK, but AP is reporting that the 9th Circuit will review the recall decision en banc.

SEVERAL READERS SAY I WAS WRONG to link Gregg Easterbrook below regarding media hype and Isabel -- but only Pyrojection did it while observing Talk Like a Pirate Day, a date that I have sadly neglected. [Well, it's not Blog Like a Pirate Day, now is it? -- Ed. Yeah, that's my excuse. . . .] And it's true that lots of people are without power, etc., and some people have died. But it's not as if Isabel wasn't a hurricane -- it's just that, once again, it was overhyped.

UPDATE: Okay, maybe I'm wrong. The Smarter Cop points out that hurricanes are unpredictable, and often strengthen or veer at the last minute. But I have to say, the sight of all those correspondents standing on the beach, yammering, makes me wish -- as Dave Barry pointed out -- for a tidal wave or something.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hurricane losses may be less than thought. Which doesn't mean there weren't losses, of course. It just wasn't the Mother of Storms that the coverage suggested. Rich Galen has some unflattering observations on the coverage.

MEDIA LIES, AND THE LYING MEDIA LIARS WHO TELL THEM: I've got a lengthy post on media distortions regarding Iraq, over at GlennReynolds.com.

THE LATEST BLOG MELA IS UP! Branch out your blog-reading and check out the various blogs listed.

JIM LINDGREN HAS COMMENTS ON THE JOHN LOTT ISSUE that are quoted over at Tim Lambert's site:

I fairly quickly returned to being highly uncertain whether Lott ever did the survey he claimed to have done in 1997. I have told the couple of reporters who called me since February 1 (including a few weeks ago, Chris Mooney for a forthcoming story) that I still have substantial doubts whether John Lott ever did the supposed 1997 study.

I also agree with almost every point in Ayres and Donohue’s two critiques of Lott’s work in the Stanford Law Review, which I find absolutely devastating to the primary thesis of John Lott’s work. The findings of Ayres and Donohue tend to support the conclusion that more open gun laws either have no effect or lead to slightly higher rates for some crimes, a result that I find plausible even beyond the high quality of their work in that exchange.

As I wrote a while back, Lott has been the subject of so many bogus attacks that I've been skeptical of this one. But I trust Jim Lindgren as a neutral arbiter with expertise in the area, and it seems to me that this time Lott's critics have him dead to rights, and he's failed to mount a convincing response.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh, while noting that Lambert's site is basically dedicated to criticism of Lott, comments: "Lindgren is a very smart guy who knows a lot about quantative scholarship, and who to my knowledge has no axe to grind on this; remember that he was the most prominent critic of Michael Bellesiles."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are some posts by John Lott, responding to criticisms. And here is his main website.

Now I'm getting email from Lott supporters, complaining that I'm picking on him. I guess you can't please everyone. What I'd like is to see an authoritative look at this by a disinterested party. I'm not qualified to provide that. I'd like to see someone who is come forward and sort all of this out.

RAND SIMBERG WRITES on why satellites are so expensive.

He also had his own Virginia Postrel moment, although unlike mine it involved lingerie and two women aged 19 and 20.

But then, that's Rand.

PEOPLE KEEP ASKING WHAT I THINK OF WESLEY CLARK: I don't know. People I know who were associated with operations in Bosnia tend not to like him, for reasons expressed rather pungently here. On the other hand, his aggressive response to the Russians -- which some characterize, unfairly, as "nearly starting World War III" -- at least bespeaks a degree of, well, aggressiveness otherwise lacking in the Democratic field.

John Ellis states the general view that Clark's candidacy is just an effort by the Clinton/McAuliffe forces to stop the Dean insurgency. Noah Shachtman, on the other hand, says that Clark is responsible for much of today's high-tech approach to combat.

I find myself actually sort of liking Dean, though at lunch with a (way to the left of me) colleague earlier this week we found ourselves agreeing that it's surprising that John Edwards hasn't gotten much traction. We both had heard him on NPR, and thought he sounded like a guy who ought to be doing better. And, of course, anything could happen between now and next summer -- I don't think Clinton had even announced his candidacy at this point in the 1992 election cycle.

THE HYPING OF ISABEL: Okay, on a preparedness basis, I believe in treating all incoming hurricanes as serious. Better safe than sorry, ounce of prevention, and all that. But when it comes to media coverage, I think Gregg Easterbrook has it right: "CATEGORY 2 STORM, CATEGORY 5 HYPE." And as he notes, lots of bogus, inflated statistics about property damage, etc., will appear in an effort to make it sound worse than it was. Meanwhile, a reader in DC who would rather remain anonymous emails that the closing of the Metro system, etc., has drastically expanded the economic impact of what was, basically, a rainstorm with 40-mile-an-hour winds, and suggests that it's the result of having too many underemployed disaster-agency bureaucrats around. Worth looking at, if you're assigned to do an Isabel restrospective story.

DAVISISM OF THE DAY:

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," he said.

Perhaps Slate will start a feature devoted to these.

IRAQI EXILES RETURNED TO IRAQ are reporting good things, and say that the biggest fear is that Americans will leave too soon.

September 18, 2003

JOSH CHAFETZ says that things look even worse for the BBC as more information comes out.

ANOTHER REPORT FROM IRAQ sounding a common theme:

Both men said they are glad to be home visiting their families - and feel honored and grateful for all the support they received from the community while they were in the Middle East. Both of them also said things are going well for the U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Ninety-nine percent of what is going on over there is a good story," said Callanan.

"There were a lot of reporters over there who overlooked the good stories, which may have been the only frustrating part of being there," he said. "From media reports, it may not seem as though things are going well there but they are. There are a lot of changes taking place which will eventually pay big dividends."

Cheung agreed that the media reports he read while in Iraq seemed so much different from what he was seeing for himself. One of the things he read that goaded him the most was that the Iraqis did not want the troops over there.

"I talked to so many Iraqis - adults and children - and they thanked me, invited me to their house, asked if they can cook a meal for me and offered me everything they have," he said. "Because we were there, they have the freedom we enjoy in this country every day. They waved to us and a lot of times they worked with us."

The discrepancy between what the media reports say, and what reports like this say, is starting to look like a scandal.

UPDATE: Chief Wiggles is unhappy with media bias too. And a reader notes that it's funny how once the embedded reporters left, and we once again got our news through the usual media filters, the reports turned negative.

IS RUSSIA REGRESSING TO A "KGB STATE?" I hope not, but I've worried.

CHINABLOGGING: Here's a list of China blogs, most of them unfamiliar to me.

And for more posts from an exotic region, the Volunteer Tailgate Party is up!

LILEKS:

In short: the same people who chide America for its short-attention span think we should have stopped military operations after the Taliban was routed. (And they quite probably opposed that, for the usual reasons.) The people who think it’s all about oil like to snark that we should go after Saudi Arabia. The people who complain that the current administration is unable to act with nuance and diplomacy cannot admit that we have completely different approaches for Iraq, for Iran, for North Korea. The same people who insist we need the UN deride the Administration when it gives the UN a chance to do something other than throw rotten fruit.

The same people who accuse America of coddling dictators are sputtering with bilious fury because we actually deposed one.

Read the whole thing.

OVER AT GLENNREYNOLDS.COM, I'm calling for people to appreciate the power workers who'll be out fixing the storm damage before the storm has even passed.

Tobacco Road Fogey is blogging from the hurricane zone, at least as long as he has power and Internet access.

IT'S 1798 ALL OVER AGAIN: Tom Friedman writes that we're at war with France. I've used the term "Proxy War" to describe the French strategy, and a lot of the blogosphere has been saying the same thing. It's interesting to see it break onto the oped page of the New York Times, though.

Friedman takes the mild tone that the French should recognize that it's not in their interest to have America do badly in the Middle East:

What is so amazing to me about the French campaign — "Operation America Must Fail" — is that France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France. Let me spell it out in simple English: if America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups — from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris — will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run. To think that France, with its large Muslim minority, where radicals are already gaining strength, would not see its own social fabric affected by this is fanciful.

That's true, of course, and the French political class is in the grips of something between neurosis and psychosis to think otherwise, as some French intellectuals have been noting. But the French need to think beyond this point. Sooner or later, the United States will decide that "you're for us or against us" applies to France, too. Proxy war can go both ways, and the French have more enemies, and fewer resources, than we do.

For a start, we should start encouraging pro-democracy movements in Francophone Africa. And arming them. But that's just a start.

UPDATE: Sylvain Galineau writes:

France wants to get back to business as usual. For TotalFinaElf, Alcatel and the scores of French companies who coined money working for the Hussein regime for decades. As long as Paul Bremer is in charge, it won't happen. France needs someone it can bribe and sign dodgy deals with. The UN can deliver that. The US won't.

Read the whole thing. And then wonder why CNN, et al., have been ignoring this aspect.

I'M NOT A KRUGMANBLOGGER, but Ambit has an interesting comparison of things that Krugman said in the Kevin Drum interview I mentioned below with things said about Krugman in an Economist article that he excerpts. Meanwhile Krugman bete noire Donald Luskin reports that Krugman's publisher misquotes him in a misleading way.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING FIRSTHAND REPORT FROM SYRIA and surrounding regions via a musician friend of Eric Olsen's who's touring there. Excerpt:

Another thing that she said is that ALL the Iraqis are done with the idea of Arab Unity. They hate all the other states except for Syria. They believe Saddam gave so much money to these other states, and none of them offered any support. They are particularly hateful now to the Palestinians; ordinary Iraqis were sometimes moved out of their own homes to house them, and they got jobs and pensions-- and she said that the new Arabic graffiti on the walls of Baghdad University is "Palestinians go home. The free ride is over."

In any case, this tour was a lovefest compared to the last one, so god only knows what the reporters are all going on about. Another thing I heard is that 90% of all the attacks have happened in the Sunni Triangle, which if you look on a map represents all of about 1/8 of Iraq maybe (Ramadi, Fallujah, Baghdad-- I don't have a good map to do the math with), so you have a country 7/8 calm. This guy's Iraqi mom (from Mosul) also said that the power is now on regularly in Baghdad but no one is reporting that.

If CNN hasn't gotten it, it appears that Assad in Syria has. The cabinet change was a big thing even though many hoped/expected that Assad would choose a non-Baathist over Otri. Still, they think a few of the new guys will be non-Baathists which would have been unthinkable before.

They sure need it-- the country is a beautiful basket case full of intelligent, kind people who could do something good if given a chance. On a more superficial, but probably important level as well, the kids military uniforms we saw last year are all gone, and a lot of the militarization you used to see in posters and monuments, etc. seems to have been toned down. The Lebanese paper, The Star, attributes this directly albeit grudgingly to the US being right next door.

Read the whole thing. And wonder, once again, why the firsthand reports we're getting are so much more positive than those from the likes of Christiane Amanpour. But it's been that way for a while.

COURTBLOGGING: Larry Solum's Legal Theory Blog has a firsthand report on Prof. Randy Barnett's oral argument before the Ninth Circuit in the medical-marijuana case. And here's a blog entry by Barnett on the subject.

Meanwhile, both Howard Bashman and Eugene Volokh have blog entries that are cited in briefs to the Ninth Circuit on the recall case. Volokh observes: "Hope the judges don't figure out just how little authority blog posts ought to have."

METRO PULSE HAS A STORY on Tennesseans in Iraq. And follow the links for stories on Knoxville firms central to the war on terror: cleaning up the WTC site, and clearing oilfields of explosives.

But Knoxvillians have a special stake in the war against Islamic fundamentalists. If those guys ever get in charge, they'll outlaw the Pigburger!

WIZBANG has some pretty good advice on how to get your blog noticed by higher-traffic bloggers. I try hard to find new and interesting blogs, but there are now far more than I can read. I do the best I can. I can't read all my email, and sometimes people will send me an interesting link, but it doesn't fit with the flow at the time. My advice is keep blogging, get noticed by other bloggers at varying traffic levels, and you'll build an audience. The vaunted "Instalanche" looks impressive on your counter for a day, but most of those readers won't stick around. Readers you build on your own will.

UPDATE: Here's more that's worth reading.

September 17, 2003

MICKEY KAUS notes that the Paper Ballots idea has legs!

MORE BAD NEWS FOR THE BBC: They've left Gilligan out in the cold. Meanwhile, The Independent compares Gilligan's original story with what we know now in fairly devastating fashion.

On this side of The Pond, Justin Katz writes that the "Bush lied" claim is looking about as weak as the "Blair lied" claim has turned out to be. Is it a case of "lies about lying, and the lying liars who tell them?"

UPDATE: Read this, too:

The current complaint is that Bush is a deceiver, misleading the country into a war, after which there turned out to be no weapons of mass destruction. But it is hard to credit the deception charge when every intelligence agency on the planet thought Iraq had these weapons and, indeed, when the weapons there still remain unaccounted for. Moreover, this is a post-facto rationale. Sure, the aftermath of the Iraq war has made it easier to frontally attack Bush. But the loathing long predates it.

In that regard, it's like the Right's self-defeating Clinton hatred, of course.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Grey sees (possibly constructive) irony in all the Bush-lied talk.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis observes:

In the meantime, Kelly is dead. The government has been weakened. The BBC's credibility has been permanently damaged. I said the blood was on the BBC's hands.

Indeed.

STILL MORE: The Iraq looting story has turned out to be an embarrassment for Big Media, too. Not that they are embarrassed, of course.

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY, so I took the day off and went to the mountains. I can be there in 30 minutes from my door, but I do it less often than I should. I'm trying to do better that way, and not just because of Andrew Sullivan's call for an intervention by Bloggers Anonymous.

I took the RX-8 of course, and had a great time. Had lunch at The Burning Bush in Gatlinburg (no revelation appeared, but the chicken club sandwich was good), went up to Clingman's Dome and Newfound Gap, and just drove around and had fun.

The park was less empty than I expected -- a mix of senior citizens and foreign tourists (mostly German and English, judging by the accents I overheard). The weather was perfect, 80 and sunny at the park entrance, 50 and mostly foggy at the top of Clingman's Dome, but that was the only place not drenched in sunshine.

I should do this sort of thing more often. Maybe I will!

UPDATE: Some people wondered about the dead trees in the top photo. I've heard various things blamed for the large number of dead Fraser firs up on Clingman's dome -- ozone pollution, acid rain, even the horrific coldsnap of 1984, where it was 24 below in Knoxville and probably 50 below up on Clingman's dome. But the actual culprit, according to the Forest Service, is an imported insect called the wooly adelgid. They've contained the infestation, more or less, by spraying a soap solution that kills them, but it wiped out a bunch of trees some years ago, and the skeletons are still standing. I think they're also using biological predators to try to control them.

All part of nature's cycle, I suppose, and it does improve the view -- in the old days, that photo would have shown nothing but up-close trees. On the other hand, I liked the feel of the trail to the summit better back when there were big tall fir trees all around.

I'VE BEEN GONE -- I'm back now, but cooking dinner. More blogging later, but in the meantime check out Operation Find Don, in which a woman seeks to find a man who helped her on 9/11/01 and buy him a beer. Drop by and see if you can help!

HAVING A POSTREL MOMENT: My TechCentralStation column is up. And speaking of Virginia, she has an interesting post on how regulators hassle small business.

UPDATE: Advantage, Drezner!

BRUCE ACKERMAN WRITES that the 9th Circuit panel decision on the recall should be reversed. I think it will be. He also says that comparisons to Bush v. Gore are misplaced.

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up, and full of rich, bloggy goodness from a lot of bloggers you may not have checked out yet. Why not check 'em out now?

MORE ON THE WAHHABI / TERROR CONNECTION, in this article from the Christian Science Monitor.

THANKS to the folks who donated, via Amazon and Paypal!

September 16, 2003

ANOTHER RECALL, AGAINST HUGO CHAVEZ IN VENEZUELA, but it might be blocked on a technicality.

LIVING THE BLOG LIFE: So I post this piece on Hurricane Isabel, which quotes Michele Catalano saying that the stores on Long Island are all out of flashlights. Then, at about 8:00 tonight we get a call from my sister-in-law in Maryland, saying that she can't get flashlights or batteries. What do I do? I pack up a flashlight and batteries and take 'em to the last-ditch FedEx place, getting there by nine. (This surely makes me a better-than-average brother-in-law.)

Today I was reading Dan Pink's Free Agent Nation, where he says that freelancers have a second home at FedEx, and often form pretty close relationships with their FedEx people. When I got there, there was one of my former students, who now has a solo food-and-drug law practice of some sort (he was a pharm rep before law school), fedexing some kind of document. Judging by his familiarity with the counter folks ("this is early for you!" one told him, "you still have 20 minutes!"), he does it a lot. It's funny to see all that stuff come together in real life.

FedEx promised they'd deliver it tomorrow. Er, but next time I hope my sister-in-law will just keep extra flashlights and batteries around. Which she would, if she read my columns!

UPDATE: At least I'm not part of the Axis of Isabel.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's Dave Barry's advice on hurricane preparedness, from his blog. Meanwhile Pat Robertson is trying to pray the Hurricane away. If it winds up hitting someone else, like the last time he tried this, should they sue him?

JUST ORDERED THE NEW NEAL STEPHENSON BOOK, Quicksilver, which will be out next week. I'm not counting the days like Eugene Volokh, but I'm pretty excited. Expect reduced productivity once it's out. . . .

BEN, JERRY AND HOWARD: Gregg Easterbrook demands the butterfat version of equal time.

MICKEY KAUS ASKS:

Has the Ninth Circuit 3-judge panel inadvertently screwed Gray Davis the same way the Florida Supreme Court inadvertently screwed Al Gore? . . .

In California, the three-judge panel's ruling has interrupted the Davis campaign just when it seemed to be getting some traction in its effort to overcome the recall's lead.

Interesting take. He's got lots more on the recall.

ROGER SIMON COMPARES Christiane Amanpour and John Burns.

UPDATE: And here's a list of the top ten ways Fox News intimidated CNN. My favorite: "4. Laurie Dhue's makeup tips caused Christiane Amanpour's skin to break out."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has more on Amanpour. "I once respected her as a reporter, but that has all drained away in the last year." And this observation by Dan Drezner may explain why.

ANOTHER BUSH SUPPORTER is bailing over Homeland Security.

I HAVEN'T BEEN PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION to space-related issues lately. Sorry -- I can only keep so many balls in the air, even virtual ones. But check out Spacecraft, by a professor-blogger in the aerospace field.

VIRGINIA POSTREL thinks that Edward Teller's death deserved more attention.

I WONDERED WHY I WAS GETTING MORE SPAM today. Apparently, it's Verisign's fault.

WINDS OF CHANGE has an extensive Korea briefing up.

QUITE A FEW PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED ME LINKS TO this speech by Judge Don Walter, one of the federal judges who was in Iraq this summer on a judicial-assistance mission. I wasn't sure if I could rely on it, so I phoned his chambers and verified that it was genuine. It's worth reading. Here's an excerpt:

Despite my initial opposition to the war, I am now convinced, whether we find any weapons of mass destruction or prove Saddam sheltered and financed terrorists, absolutely, we should have overthrown the Baathists, indeed, we should have done it sooner.

What changed my mind?

When we left mid June, 57 mass graves had been found, one with the bodies of 1200 children. There have been credible reports of murder, brutality and torture of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqi citizens. There is poverty on a monumental scale and fear on a larger one. That fear is still palpable.

I have seen the machines and places of torture. I will tell you one story told to me by the Chief of Pediatrics at the Medical College in Basra. It was one of the most shocking to me, but I heard worse. One of Saddam's security agents was sent to question a Shiite in his home. The interrogation took place in the living room in the presence of the man's wife, who held their three month old child. A question was asked and the thug did not like the answer; he asked it again, same answer. He grabbed the baby from its mother and plucked its eye out. And then repeated his question. Worse things happened with the knowledge, indeed with the participation, of Saddam, his family and the Baathist regime.

Thousands suffered while we were messing about with France and Russia and Germany and the UN. Every one of them knew what was going on there, but France and the UN were making millions administering the food for oil program. We cannot, I know, remake the world, nor do I believe we should. We cannot stamp out evil, I know. But this time we were morally right and our economic and strategic interests were involved. I submit that just because we can't do everything doesn't mean that we should do nothing. . . .

We must have the moral courage to see this through, to do whatever it takes to secure responsible government for the Iraqi people. Having decided to topple Saddam, we cannot abandon those who trust us. I fear we will quit as the horrors of war come into our living rooms. Look at the stories you are getting from the media today. The steady drip, drip, drip of bad news may destroy our will to fulfill the obligations we have assumed. WE ARE NOT GETTING THE WHOLE TRUTH FROM THE NEWS MEDIA. The news you watch, listen to and read is highly selective. Good news doesn't sell.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Judge Walter's secretary was kind enough to email me the prepared text of his speech, which differs in a few minor points from the transcription above. I've posted it here.

I'VE BEEN IGNORING THE YALE STRIKE, but if you're interested, Josh Chafetz has a roundup.

VIA EMAIL I've just heard that the 9th Circuit has granted en banc review of the recall case. I'm predicting (as I did earlier) that the panel will be reversed. That prediction is, of course, of limited value, as such predictions generally are.

UPDATE: Hasen says it's a request for briefs on whether to go en banc, not an order for en banc review. That's not what the AP story I was mailed said, but I suppose it's conceivable that a wire service would make a mistake.

SOME THOUGHTS INSPIRED BY HURRICANE ISABEL, over at GlennReynolds.com.

THE FINANCING OF TERROR:

We knew that the Saudis were funding bin Laden, that the Pakistanis had helped bin Laden and facilitated al Qaeda's training camps; that the European community had — and continues to this day — funneled money to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and that Iran and Syria are behind the activities of Hezbollah.

Yet, we did little to stop the flow of money, and this willful blindness was interpreted by the terrorists as weakness, and only encouraged them to pursue their goal of destroying the U.S. . . .'

The next speaker, a high-ranking French official, began by saying: "I identify with bin Laden and understand his agenda!" He went on to say that, "the U.S. deserve this attack." In fact, he declared: "the U.S. brought it upon herself with her unjust attitude towards the Palestinians." But at that time bin Laden had not mentioned the Palestinians; instead, he had called for the killing of all Americans, Jews, and other infidels — including Christians — and for destroying the U.S. economy. Yet, the French official, who might have been expected to be an ally, repeated his statement while the audience encouraged him to go on. When he finished his diatribe against "America and the Jews," they cheered him. The contempt towards my country only a few weeks after thousands of people lost their lives in terror attacks was so palpable that I left before the conclusion of the conference.

As I tried to understand this French enmity, it occurred to me that the speaker might have had a personal reason to be so openly venomous. It did not take long to discover that, indeed, this French official was seated on the board of a Saudi bank that the U.S. Treasury Department had listed as supporting terrorism.

But Bush doesn't get off the hook here:

It was hard not to conclude that despite President Bush's repeated demands to stop the funding of terrorists worldwide, we are far from identifying all the sources that fund terrorism and the methods employed in raising those funds. Even when we know that the Saudis, for example, have paid for schools, mosques, and Islamic centers that are used to recruit the foot soldiers for the global Islamist terror movement, it is really political — and possibly, oil — considerations that are preventing the administration from fully practicing what it is preaching.

The author, Rachel Ehrenfeld, has a book entitled Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed — and How to Stop It out today.

EXTREME MEASURES: Randall Parker and Phil Bowermaster have some interesting -- if disturbing -- thoughts on what future terrorism might lead to.

WENDY MCELROY HAS A COLUMN ON PRISON RAPE that's worth reading. Excerpt:

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, on Dec. 31, 2002, there were 2,033,331 people incarcerated in the United States. (Approximately 7 percent of those in state and federal prisons are female.) . . .

Estimates on the rate of prison rape vary. In 2001, Human Rights Watch released a comprehensive report that estimated between 250,000 to 600,000 prisoners, overwhelmingly male, are raped each year.

Prison rape seems to be rising as well. Several academic studies in the '80s estimated that 7 to 15 percent of inmates were raped: a rate of 10 percent amounting to approximately 200,000 people. The apparent increase may be due to the current practice of double bunking and using dorm rooms to compensate for overcrowding.

Read the whole thing. There's finally a bit of progress on this subject, but not so much that it should be back-burnered.

UPDATE: Via reader Robert Racansky, this bit from Popular Science's piece on the worst jobs in science:

University of South Dakota psychologist Cindy Struckman- Johnson was one of the first to seek anonymous written narrative testimonies from prisoners about the realities of prison life, and she employed a handful of students to help process the returned surveys. What she got stunned them all: One in ten inmates in the survey had been the victim of a sexual assault, many repeatedly. But it wasn't the numbers alone that made the impact, it was the vividness of the accounts and the desperation expressed. To read page after first- person page of sexual torture—"This happens every day. Please, please, can you do something about it"—well, says Struckman- Johnson, "some of my students almost couldn't handle it."

I can imagine.

KEVIN DRUM HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL KRUGMAN: And Daniel Drezner calls it a "must read" and offers some comments.

UPDATE: Tom Grey has some comments, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And John Hawkins has an interview with Milton Friedman -- is this a new blogosphere fad? Dibs on Ben Stein.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has comments.

INSTAPUNDIT HAS PASSED ITS 25 MILLIONTH PAGEVIEW and will see its 20 millionth "visitor" today or tomorrow. This is pretty arbitrary, since the counter started shortly after the move off Blogspot, but it stills seems kinda cool. Thanks to reader Drew Lee for pointing it out -- I hadn't even noticed.

If I just had a dollar for each one of those. . . . Er, well, I'd probably be blogging from here.

JOINING THE EUROPEAN UNION IS NO PROTECTION FROM FRENCH PERFIDY:

A Corsair Airbus A330 was chartered to fly troops of the Royal Green Jackets from Brize Norton, Oxon, but at the last moment the French transport ministry grounded the aircraft citing safety concerns.

Transport ministry officials were reported yesterday as saying the move had nothing to do with safety but was a result of the intervention of the foreign ministry.

The foreign ministry denied the report, saying there was "no political motive". But British defence officials appeared to confirm that the ban was political and not technical.

Hmm. Petty? Yes. Ineffectual? Yes. Infuriating and off-putting? Yes. Counterproductive? Yes. It's got to be a product of the French Foreign Ministry.

ANOTHER LESS-THAN-STELLAR PERFORMANCE by Homeland Security:

One of Canada's most moderate and respected Muslim clerics was pulled off a plane Thursday and thrown in jail by U.S. immigration officials in Fort Lauderdale without any charges being laid.

Ahamad Kutty, who has preached tolerance and peace throughout North America for more than two decades, was ordered off his Orlando-bound flight from Toronto and interrogated in an airport holding cell and a local jail for 16 hours as the U.S. marked the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. . . .

An FBI spokesperson in their Miami office said two officers were called to the airport to question the men on the request of immigration officials.

"We were there for a couple of hours but didn't see any reason to have them detained further," the FBI's Judy Orihuela said yesterday. . . .

In the wake of 9/11, Kutty became a beacon of reason and calm within the city's Muslim community. In an October, 2001 column, the Star's Jim Coyle quoted one of the imam's sermons at the Jami Mosque in which he cautioned his congregation against Islamic extremism:

"Let us make no mistake about it: Today, Muslims have no enemy greater than fanatics in their midst.

"Let us know that fanaticism is ignorance; it is nothing but sickness and bigotry; let us know that fanaticism is opposed to both scripture and reason."

Reader Faisal Jawdat emails: "What, are we trying to make sure only radical violent muslim leaders get in, because the moderates might encourage people to be, well, moderate?"

Well, anyone can make a mistake, I suppose, but this seems to have been based on the fact that (1) these were Muslim clerics; and (2) they were traveling on 9/11. Perhaps a (justified) lack of faith in Canadian security played a part, too, but that doesn't excuse it. And it's stupid. As I said right after 9/11, non-fanatical Muslims (which is most of 'em, of course) are the best defense against fanatical Muslims. It's true, of course, that many "moderate" Muslim clerics have in fact been rather slow to denounce the kooks -- I blame the influence of Saudi money -- but here's a guy who wasn't. If things are as this story makes them appear, the White House should call him and invite him to meet with Bush, by way of recompense. And they should send a plane.

UPDATE: Don't warm that plane up just yet. Reader Mark Fox sends this story from the Globe and Mail:

A Canadian imam who was detained in the United States last week once wrote that Muslims in Iraq should rise up to "force the occupiers to leave their lands" and called U.S. President George W. Bush's administration a "cabal of Zionists and new conservatives."

Ahmad Kutty said in an interview yesterday that he does not believe such statements represent the bulk of his teachings and do not explain why U.S. authorities detained him on suspicion of terrorism when he arrived in Florida from Toronto on Sept. 11. . . .

Though I suppose means matter as well as ends here, if this is what passes for a "moderate" Muslim cleric, then the whole notion of moderate Islam may have to be reexamined. I'm not sure that this gets the Homeland Security folks off the hook, though, since it doesn't appear to have anything to do with their decision.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, these guys aren't moderates, though they certainly seem to be trying to follow Kutty's advice:

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq (AP) - The United States is holding in Iraq six prisoners who claim to be Americans and two who say they are Britons, the general in charge of detention centers said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, said the eight were considered security detainees - those who attacked or helped carry out attacks against coalition troops - and were being interrogated by military intelligence.

Hey, keep this up guys and you'll prove me wrong, and Ann Coulter right. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: But hey, it's not all bad news!

September 15, 2003

WHY THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION IS INCREASINGLY A DISAPPOINTMENT:

Remarkably, the international section of the ABA didn't see any reason to rush to condemn the idea of European courts trying American servicemen and women based on legal theories that would make every errant tank round a war crime. They asked that the resolution be delayed for more consideration.

You might have thought the individual rights and criminal defense sections would have worried about political justice in hostile jurisdictions (if you thought the Washington snipers faced bad pretrial publicity, well, you should have seen what European papers said about our armed forces). You'd have thought they'd be concerned about the idea that our soldiers would be tried as criminals for act that aren't even crimes under US law -- use of depleted uranium shells, say, or dropping cluster bombs on troops. You might have thought they'd be concerned about things like a lack of crossexamination or the "inquisitorial" system of justice our GIs would face.

And, predictably, you'd be wrong. Those sections fell into line, urging that the resolution be delayed. They had some important resolutions of their own, mainly designed to make sure that al-Qaeda members get a full measure of due process. Due process for American soldiers just wasn't on the agenda. Maybe later, they said, but first things first.

I'm deeply disappointed with the ABA, which more and more seems to be doing its best to live up to the worst caricatures offered by its critics.

MICKEY KAUS has hit upon the obvious solution to the California recall case. He's a genius!

UPDATE: Iain Murray writes:

The answer is not postponement, but an eradication of the cause of the discrepancy. Let the election go ahead, as required by the State Constitution, but have it done with good old paper and pencil. If the paper and pencil system works for a larger electorate in the UK, why can't it work here, even with the longer ballot paper (see my 2000 Denver Post article here)?

Why, indeed?

A NEW HIGH POINT in the politics of victimization. Or is that low point? Well, it's a point, anyway.

VIA ANDREW SULLIVAN, here's a piece on Big Media corruption in Saddam Hussein's Iraq by the New York Times' John Burns in Editor and Publisher that's a must-read. This isn't journalism's Enron. It's journalism's Nuremberg. Or ought to be:

There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.

In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories -- mine included -- specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper. . . .

We now know that this place was a lot more terrible than even people like me had thought. There is such a thing as absolute evil. I think people just simply didn't recognize it.

This sort of stuff is justified as "getting the story." But it's really "going along to get along." Or being an accomplice to torture and murder.

UPDATE: Reader Kate Steffes emails:

What I don't understand about this mindset is exactly what kind of "news" are you selling your soul for if once you've sold it, you still can't print any truth? What kind of good is "access" if all you get is lies. I mean, you could get access to lies by just making stuff up in the comfort of your own livingroom and not run the risk of death or disease -- with the same effect.

But no Pulitzer.

I'VE GOT SOME COMMENTS OVER AT GLENNREYNOLDS.COM ON MARK STEYN and the "culture of passivity" he addresses in his latest column. Excerpt:

Why is it that people who are quick to believe that “it takes a village to raise a child” find it hard to believe that it takes a village — or at least a few bystanders willing to take a hand — to control crime?

Well, why is it?

WHY ISN'T THE IRAQ BODY COUNT METER RUNNING IN REVERSE? Um, because then it wouldn't have propaganda value?

So if the UN's estimate was accurate - and if it wasn't where's the outcry that those who opposed the sanctions on humanitarian grounds were lying - and there is no evidence that Iraqis continue to die of privation, then, by my calculations, the war has already resulted in a net savings of over 15,000 Iraqi lives since the war's end using the war casualty figures compiled by Iraq Body Count. By rights the odometer style counters should be running in reverse subtracting 5,000 Iraqi deaths per month.

I think, though, that it should be "thanatometer," not "odometer." Maybe I should ask Dr. Weevil. . . .

THE NINTH CIRCUIT HAS POSTPONED THE CALIFORNIA RECALL until March. Punch-card voting, apparently, is a violation of civil rights.

Is this a victory for Davis? Maybe. Maybe it'll just extend the agony. Here's a link to the opinion, via Election Law. I haven't read it yet -- it's 66 pages.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Carstairs emails:

Since I moved to LA County 6 years ago, I have voted with punch cards. I voted for Bush in 2000 with a punch card. I voted against Davis in 2002 with a punch card. Please tell me why they suddenly care so much that they have to postpone this election by 5 months.

Hmm. Well, Calblog observes: "Not coincidentally, March is the Democratic primary, expected to increase Democratic turnout." Porphyrogenitus comments: "Regular readers know I'm against the Recall on general principles. Still, three judges have decided that the voting machines which were good enough to elect and re-elect Grey Davis are too error prone to recall him. No partisan agenda there, I'm sure."

Unless there's some awfully compelling legal principle that's not making it into the press accounts, I predict a reversal on this one. It's just too explosive.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Tagorda has lots more. And visit PrestoPundit, too. And Mickey Kaus is all over it, of course.

IT'S ABOUT AS SOUND AS FOX'S SUIT AGAINST AL FRANKEN: Former Senator James Abourezk is suing a website that called him a "traitor." Roll Call reports:

Legal experts are in seemingly universal agreement that Abourezk’s case will not succeed. Law professor and First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh, who has joined an amicus brief filed on Marino’s behalf, calls it “one of the 99 percent of all cases that will never be assigned a precedent,” arguing that the case covers “settled law” on free speech.

Broadly speaking, politicians are among the last public figures protected from even the most baseless charges. Abourezk, nevertheless, has cast himself as the champion of free speech in this matter. “You can’t use the First Amendment to club someone else over the head so they can’t speak,” said Abourezk’s lawyer, Todd Epp, who likened the charge of “traitor” to that of “child molester” and other such criminal ilk.

Calling people names isn't "silencing" them. Abourezk is a traitor to the First Amendment, at the very least. Here's my earlier post on his suit. Meanwhile the South Dakota Politics blog has an update, with links to the briefs.

WORLD TRADE TALKS FAIL, poor hardest hit, reports Ron Bailey:

The only winners at Cancun are the vested interests such as moribund protected industries, highly subsidized rich country farmers, and anti-globalization ideologues. The real losers are hundreds of millions of poor people who would have benefited from the jobs, the higher incomes and lower prices that liberalized trade brings.

Richard Tren, meanwhile, comments:

The failure of the Cancun meeting means that progress towards trade liberalisation is even further away than it was. If African countries want to escape poverty they have to embrace open markets and free trade. Unfortunately among the negotiators there seems to be an almost unanimous attitude that trade is a zero -- or even negative -- sum game and that liberalisation only ever incurs costs, never benefits.

It's a very unfortunate day.

SOME REPORTS FROM IRAQ via families of the Fourth Infantry Division.

TOM MAGUIRE has a spiffy new TypePad blog with a new URL. Check it out!

Meanwhile Daniel Drezner offers advice to new bloggers.

ADAM NAGOURNEY AND PIRANDELLO: "Today there is much more to learn from the great Italian playwright than on the front page of the New York Times."

Not just today.

IAN BURUMA HAS A POWERFUL ESSAY on the hypocrisy of the chattering classes:

Strengthening civil society. Well, that would indeed be a fine thing. Perhaps more could have been done to strengthen civil society in Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, or perhaps in Kim Jong-Il's North Korea too. What is astonishing here is not the naivety, but the off-handed way well-heeled commentators in London, California, or New Delhi, talk about the suffering of the very people they pretend to stand up for. Vidal dismisses it as "not my problem". Tariq Ali calls for more violence. And Arundathi Roy prattles about civil society.

That's because these people are poseurs, who aren't worthy of the (steadily diminishing) attention they receive. But they're also, as Buruma notes, the latest example of an old trend -- members of the nobility and the haut-bourgeoisie heaping scorn on those willing to work harder than them, and insufficiently respectful of their assumed authority. I wrote a bit about this here, and linked to this essay by David Levy and Sandra Peart that seems more relevant all the time.

Read this essay on anti-Americanism by Fouad Ajami, too.

UPDATE: Tim Blair on Gore Vidal: "I’d argue with him, but he’s not my problem."

PREMATURE IRAQIFICATION: Reuel Marc Gerecht warns against getting out of Iraq too soon. I think he's right. So do both Oxblog and Colin Powell. And, in a not-entirely-cheerful take on the Iraq situation, Jim Dunnigan observes that the Ba'ath remnants are counting on us giving up too soon:

What is going on in Iraq is a continuation of the civil war between the Sunni Arabs and the other groups (who are 80 percent of the population), with coalition troops doing most of the fighting. The coalition prefers it that way, for the alternative is Shia, Kurd and Sunni Arab militias fighting it out.

Defeating the Sunni Arabs and its Baath Party organization won't be easy, for many Sunni Arabs have a major incentive to resist. They realize that once a democratic vote is held, the Shia will be in charge and they will proceed to insure that Shia get the economic benefits long monopolized by the Sunni Arabs. By attacking rebuilding efforts and oil production, Baath believes it can trigger an uprising by Shia militias, increased fighting throughout the country and eventual withdrawal of coalition forces. In a civil war, Baath could take over again. Now if this sounds far fetched, it's not much different than any of the other schemes Baath has gotten behind over the past half century.

Dunnigan goes on to suggest that a year of this sort of effort will reduce the Ba'ath holdouts to the level of other criminal gangs in the area. I'd say that if Baghdad in 2004 looks like Chicago in 1934, that'll be a success.

UPDATE: A reader suggests organizing Shia militias under U.S. supervision and "quartering them" upon the Sunni population. Such an approach would likely end Sunni resistance, along with a lot of Sunnis, but in fact the situation isn't nearly bad enough to require such strong methods, nor is it likely to be. But the classic approach would be to do just that -- organize a big and not-terribly-restrained force of hostile ethnic or religious groups and turn them loose. It works, but it's not pretty.

THE AXIS OF NAUGHTY RULES. (If you're wondering what all this silliness is about, read this. Or, if you're smart, ignore the whole thing!)

UPDATE: And whatever you do, don't go here and click on the link.

ANOTHER UPDATE: D'oh! Now the Alliance has won! Oh, wait -- I foresightfully joined the Alliance on Friday, so I'm still on the winning side! Say, maybe there's something to this whole French approach after all. . . .

MICKEY KAUS ON ECONOMIC JOURNALISM: "Up-bad. Down-bad. Capitalism can't win with this guy." Not with a Republican in the White House, it can't!

WINDS OF CHANGE IS MOVING HOSTS, and in case the DNS isn't working for you yet, here's a set of links to their roundups of war news, Iraq news, etc.

MATTHEW HOY doesn't think that Dick Gephardt is serious about national security. I actually tend to like Gephardt, which is why I find his current, rather inept, posturing particularly disappointing.

"THEY DO NOT WANT THE WATER TO FLOW, IF THE TAP IS TURNED BY PAUL BREMER:" Martin Peretz writes on how the international relief agencies -- putting politics ahead of principle, again -- are bugging out of Iraq. He notes:

One more telling irony: While the idealistic abandoners of Iraq move on to their safe-haven podiums in Kuwait City and Amman, the entrepreneurial corporations Bechtel and Fluor, drawn to the country by contract for massive construction and oil-field projects, have plans to evacuate no one.

Imagine that.

September 14, 2003

IT'S THE 28TH BLOG MELA, presented in a very cool, newspaper-like layout.

Meanwhile Pontifex is back from Iraq. Drop by and tell him thanks, and welcome home.

A PACK, NOT A HERD -- and more evidence of the value of duct tape!

A Texas man who disrupted a United Airlines flight from Hawaii was subdued with the help of passengers and duct tape, authorities said Sunday.

No one was reported injured, said Sgt. Carl Sansbury of the Los Angeles International Airport police. . . .

"They let him wander back and forth in the plane until he started to move forward," Gugerty said. "Then they surrounded him and pushed him to the floor."

About a half-dozen passengers were involved, he said.

Remember: if it can't be fixed with tape, it can't be fixed. . . .

UPDATE: You can read another interesting pack-not-a-herd story here, with an update here. This would make an interesting story for a major-media outfit, I think.

IN A MAJOR DEFEAT TO TRANSNATIONAL BUREAUCRACY, Sweden has decisively rejected the Euro.

UPDATE: David Carr writes:

On any reading this is a blow for the EU project and the coming weeks will see a deluge of federast seething, threatening and whining. . . . I quite like the idea of a 'Euro-Watch' sweepstake: who will be the first to bail out of the Euro?

For the record, my money (sterling!) is on the French. The Germans will stick with it because they have always had an emotional investment in the European project. It enables them to be 'Europeans' and thus serves to expiate their guilt about being German. They will endure a lot more economic pain before they begin to think the unthinkable.

But not the French. For them, the EU has always been about advancing their national interests.

Maybe some other people are figuring that out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Polipundit points out that five out of six Swedes in this BBC on-the-street interview supported the Euro. He suspects bias. At the BBC?

A MADE-FOR-THE-MEDIA MOMENT: Scores of photo-journalists surrounding a rock-thrower, and photographing him from angles that don't make the context clear. I wonder how many of the resulting images were as accurate as this one in reflecting what's really going on? This photo -- like one from the West Bank that I saw a few years back -- provides a context that is sorely lacking in most news coverage. It certainly seems consistent with Kevin Hassett's observation from Cancun that the media are glorifying protesters who are, in fact, utterly irrelevant to what is going on.

Question: If it's dishonest to boost the contrast in a photograph to make the sky look better -- and some news agencies say that it is -- then why isn't it dishonest to show protesters without the wide shot, like this one, that shows the manufactured nature of the protest? Or to report on a protest without providing the context that illustrates the unimportance -- and, often, viciousness and ignorance -- of the protesters?

But at least this photo shows giant puppet heads used for good and not evil, for a change.

UPDATE: Good grief -- check out the caption to this AP photo:

From left, Samir Shakir Mahmoud, Abdel-Karim Mahoud al-Mohammedawi, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum, Jalal Talabani, Ahmad Chalabi, and Mouwafak al-Rabii sit in the hall for a news conference after their inaugural meeting in this July 13, 2003 file photo in Baghdad, Iraq (news - web sites). In the five months since U.S. forces rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s rule, the country's ethnically and religiously diverse people have, in one giant leap, overturned decades of social and political injustice, replaced a brutal one-party system with a multitude of groups advocating a rich range of ideologies and created a free press. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel, File)

(Emphasis added.) It's like a wave of honesty has broken out! Will Reuters be next?

DOUG SANDERS in the Globe and Mail:

Six months before, the world had cheered as the statues of the dictator came crashing down. The Americans had seemed heroic. But now things were going very badly. The occupation was chaotic, the American soldiers were hated and they were facing threats from the surviving supporters of the dictator, whose whereabouts were uncertain.

Washington seemed unwilling to pay the enormous bill for reconstruction, and the president didn't appear to have any kind of workable plan to manage the transition to democracy. European allies, distrustful of the arrogant American outlook, were wary of co-operating. To many, it looked like the victory had been betrayed, since the American values of democracy, equality and well-being seemed unlikely ever to emerge.

That's how it looked in Germany in November, 1945. In our memories, history tends to become compressed: There was V-E Day, then the American soldiers were cheered by the people of Berlin, then the president announced that hundreds of millions would be spent on the Marshall Plan, then Germany became the prosperous and democratic place it is today.

That is not how things unfolded. The United States has always been good at removing dictators from power, but the tedious, dirty work we now call "nation building" has never come naturally, or quickly. . . .

Meanwhile, the world was outraged by the scenes of suffering and disorder coming from Germany. The people were going hungry: A report conducted in November,1945, indicated that 60 per cent of them weren't getting the bare ration of 1,550 calories per day (2,000 calories is generally considered a healthy minimum). The world waited for the president of the United States to announce a plan.

Read the whole thing.

THAT'S NO WAY TO WIN ME OVER: Went into the office this afternoon and got phone spam:

Volunteer Fans -- come out and show your Tennessee pride in welcoming General Wesley Clark, America's next President, to Knoxville at the Knoxville Convention Center. . . .

Even more lamely, there was no date given in the message.

MY DAD'S FINE -- the main nursing service I provided was offering to refill his drink -- but the main therapeutic benefit from my blog hiatus has been the drastic improvement of computer-related pains on my part. Maybe I should start taking weekends off.

Thanks for the many nice emails, though to be honest so far I've only looked at the subject lines on most of them. Back later. In the meantime read this, and be sure to scroll through the comments, too. And don't miss this roundup on Iraq by Den Beste.