WHY DO THEY HATE AMERICA? asks Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times. An excellent discussion of anti-Americanism, from the middle east to London -- don't just read this excerpt, read the whole, wonderful, impassioned thing. But here's a quote:
I am sick of my generation's whining ingratitude, its wilful, infantile loathing of the great, tumultuous, witty and infinitely clever nation that has so often saved us from ourselves. But I am heartened by something my 19-year-old daughter said: "America has always been magic to us, we don't understand why you lot hate it so much."
Anti-Americanism has never been right and I hope it never will be. Of course there are times for criticism, lampoons, even abuse. But this is not one of them. This is a time when we are being asked a question so simple that it is almost embarrassing - a question that should silence the Question Time morons, the sneering chatterers and the cold warriors, a question so elemental, so fundamental, so pristine that, luxuriating in our salons, we had forgotten it could even be asked. So face it, answer it, stand up and be counted.
Whose side are you really on?
THE VOICE OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT: Here's an email I got from someone who thinks I was too hard on the peace protesters in New York. Read it, and decide for yourselves. Mr. Ferguson wants a debate. I think we just had one. He loses. Here's his email, in full:
(Read the bottom if you don't care about my remarks at least) I wanna debate you. I'm your guy. You want this. Don't be a pussy. Bring it on. lets see if your so called arguments hold.
Ya know Glenn I thought you had logic and rationality in you. Your degradation of people asking for peace is sickening to me. So then you've got me to debate now. I doubt you'll hold. I guess your part of the mega-majority that thinks the only solution ever is killing to solve killing. Congratulations. How courageous of you. Those demonstrators are simply asking to stop the cycle of killing in this world and the best you can do is agree with the morons that booed them that they look funny. Duhuhuhu they look funny duhuhuhuh. Fucking WOW. What a conjecture. Did you get tenure for that? Attempts at peace has no dignity in war I guess is what you basically said. As these people seem to be the only ones saying that I have to assume that they have some mega courage to go out there and face the retards. Logically killing begets more killing relative to human nature correct??? The attack on wtc was not an attack on freedom, they could care less about our freakin freedom. It was a retaliation for a retaliation for a retaliation. For killing DUH!!! FREAKIN DUHH! You want revenge now, just like they wanted revenge on us. Whether individually we deserve it or not, I doubt the previous deaths were deserved either. I
seem to remember a group of Christian militia led by one Ariel Sharon in 1982 who marched in and wiped out 1800 innocent lives, how many children were left behind here?(if I am wrong please correct and I'll dig up the full references). Did they deserve that. Hell no. Did they deserve Justice? Hell yeah! Why didn't Sharon go on trial as a terrorist? Why wasn't it even called a terrorist action Would you call that a strategic military target? So now I gotta wonder if those people are anything like us in their thirst for revenge and blood, that this is possibly a reason for hating the Israelis, wouldn't you think. Did anyone try an attempt at Justice here. No of course not. Why? We don't care that's why. Our so called war now will result in further retaliation and so on and so forth??? Your a logical guy so you say. Compute the end fucking result. What does that tell you about the future of the human race. Its doomed by that logic. I get the feeling that people just want war in general. Why don't you have the balls to say that? Why don't you admit it? I'll say I want the killing to stop everywhere(guess I'm unAmerican and silly for that too). I'll side with the peace mongers any freaking day. Not to try if death in the end for all. Down deep,the animal stupid part of me wants war too. I won't let it win. And I won't sit by as people ridicule a noble effort to end killing. If your argument now is that there will be no end to the killing then and we
won't be brave enough to even try then as Einstein said, the 4th World War will be fought with sticks and stones
Justice is cold and blind. Its built like that for a reason. To stop killings. It has to be fair across the board. Like it or not, our government has been far from fair(let me know where we are perfect angels).
People recognize hypocrisy and that is (whether you like it or not) how they view us. We have the power and when we kill, its viewed by us as somehow a noble cause for Justice. Fucking bullshit and you'll agree with that I think. You know deep down that from their point of view in the middle east that when we kill its no better than when they kill from our point of view. So unless we are willing to wipe them out in genocide I suggest you adhere to logic and press for solutions other than killing. Anything less is as
cowardly as their solution for tryng to kill us, and if you've got the freaking balls, I'll debate you on this on your site in front of your own little sycophantic audience. And I'll bet I get more death threats than you
over my views of not killing than you will. And I'll bet my cause is more noble and honorable. In the end I will only be unfortunately proven current by further deaths, while we sit proudly and bravely unleashing our
destructive forces across the globe. It seems there is only consensus in war and never in peace. This is not bravery, this is not honor, this is animal stupidity and although I don't have the solutions I do know one thing 100%, the killing must END or we all will end! To this I will debate you as you have thrown down the gauntlet by continuing ridiculing peace opinions in a pseudo-intellectual fashion so that you can look politically balanced between war mongers and peace mongers. However in the end with the war crowd you will only have war. The statement I will prove ridiculous and illogical:
"Few countries, of course, would tolerate such marches in a time of war.
Ours does. This serves two purposes. It underscores our commitment to free
speech, and it does more to undercut the marchers than suppression would.
Suppressing them would give their speech a spurious dignity. This way, it
has none. "
- Glenn Reynolds, 9/22/2001 05:27:58 PM
(you have made your position clear, there is no alternative to war and I will champion the peace protestors, if indeed you have the courage of your convictions you will alow this debate, if not I assume you are scared)
So lets get it on. Open up a message board give me a password on your site and let debate rule the day and let killing be as archaic as the cold war. Lets see if you can make me look silly and funny and meaningless like you claim these demonstrators are. I'll bet I rule your ass. Your probably
afraid to let me debate in full frontal truth so I doubt I'll get the chance. Your kind is pseudo intellectual. You appeal to logic when it suits your emotions. If this is true I'm sure you won't debate. If it is
not then vanquish me in front of the world. This email I consider private between us two men, but if you feel the need to show it off I can't stop you. I care not what you do with it. I only want the honorable thing, the open debate. My views will be open as will yours. Anything less is true cowardess.:(You may post this as the starting volley)
The debate starts here: I say: Our Simple Minded Animal solutions to killing is not more killing.
Only a few have ever seriously considered peace an option, they are not silly but courageous.
Killing begets more killing and logically dooms the human race. Let real Justice be done in fullness and fairness and maybe we have a chance at survival. Nothing less than the survival of the human race is at stake. Let ignorant Nationalistic cries for revenge rule and that's all you'll have is revenge and death except 10 fold as time moves on. By logical induction the human race is doomed from this point on to
destruction. I can name many more than a few countries that allow peace marches.
You goal to undercut and undermine peace ideas is akin to supporting more war and more killings.
Your "toleration" of peace attempts is cowardly and corrupt as it takes more than tolerance to have peace. It takes great strength and courage to not kill.
I suppose you would oppose this. so go ahead and try. I can't wait.
Please don't do me any favors and just "tolerate" me, take me on, show me my foolishness in debate. Oh yeah thats part of your cowardly ideals. Just igore them and they will go away.
Computer Science and Engineering
REPLY: Mr. Ferguson, I don't have to show your foolishness. You've done it yourself with this piece of email. But here's a thought: I don't know what makes me a warmonger (did you read my posts on why we shouldn't try to conquer Afghanistan?) But your remarks are, sadly, typical of what passes for a peace movement in this country. We certainly could have a peace movement that was disciplined, intellectually honest, and consistent. But any shot we might have at such a movement would be ruined by the same flood of preening near-adolescents that ruined the last one. You seem -- very much like the warmongers you affect to despise -- to be more concerned with posturing and proving your manhood than with persuading anyone. That's how it was with the peace movement in the 1960s, whose script so many today, including you, seem to be mindlessly rerunning. I know. I was there.
I won't post stuff like this again; once is enough to prove the point. This is my damn blog -- if you want one, get your own.
THE SUNDAY (LONDON) TIMES IS REPORTING that SAS troops are clashing with Taliban forces deep within Afghanistan. Not much more news available, but it sounds like something's starting.
1500 CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND: That's just from one brokerage firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, in the WTC. The total number isn't known, but it's huge. I hope this is getting a lot of play in Europe. If it does, I think that the point made Wednesday by reader Steve Sailer will come to pass: this will swing European women firmly into a pro-alliance position. And it should. The full impact of this atrocity goes well beyond the actual acts.
FIGHTING THE LAST WAR: New York's peace march last night drew jeers and bemusement. Best comment (from Lexie Rouse, a student from Los Angeles): ' "It's like they think they're in the Sixties or something," she said. "They look kind of funny."'
Few countries, of course, would tolerate such marches in a time of war. Ours does. This serves two purposes. It underscores our commitment to free speech, and it does more to undercut the marchers than suppression would. Suppressing them would give their speech a spurious dignity. This way, it has none.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: My mall is crowded again. People seem to be buying things. I know I did.
I also got my car washed by a detachment of the University of Tennessee's Army ROTC. They were raising money for the Red Cross. It was the fastest, highest-quality, best-organized car wash I've ever had: about eight of them swarmed my car, all tasks divided, specialized equipment (wheel brushes, wash mitts, squeegees) properly in use. In less than five minutes my car shone like new. I gave 'em a $20 donation.
Okay, washing cars is hardly combat. But they certainly displayed teamwork and elan.
DICK ARMEY, CIVIL RIGHTS HERO: No, really. For some time I've been noting the new and unsung role of the right as leading champions of civil liberties. This article from the Washington Times explains why the wiretapping and surveillance parts of the proposed "antiterrorism" bill are being slow-walked in Congress, and it features great, civil-liberties-conscious quotes from Bob Barr, Dick Armey, and J.C. Watts, among others. "We are a democracy," Armey is quoted as saying. "What we are trying to save is our civil liberties." Amen.
Of course, it's not just people on the right: Pat Leahy and Carl Levin have been very good on this, too. But it's very interesting, and gratifying, to see a bipartisan civil liberties consensus developing. Especially in wartime.
SIX OPTIONS: Jesse Walker lays out six options for dealing with terrorists. Personally, I've always been a Bugs Bunny fan, meaning that I tend to favor the "Bugs Bunny" option he lays out (you'll have read it; I won't explain). I note, however, that Bugs is extremely clever, and has a good sense of humor, as well as the ability to use his opponents' anger, self-absorption, and single-mindedness against them. As a result, Bugs, in many ways the quintessential American figure, might actually be a pretty good role model.
ASSASSINATION AS A POLICY: Jacob Sullum asks some interesting questions about assassination and our attitudes toward it. Assassination has much to recommend it, of course: it doesn't involved killing lots of innocents, as war inevitably does, and it has a tit-for-tat quality that seems fair.
WHAT I've never seen mentioned, though, is the corrosive political effect it might have. Imagine that the United States maintains an elite corps of assassins. Now whenever anyone critical of the US -- perhaps even controversial Americans -- dies, they'll be blamed. How would we deal with that?
AN OBSERVATION FROM READER TODD FLETCHER: "If so many Islamic clerics have condemned the 9/11 attacks as contrary to the Muslim religion, why don't they call for a fatwa against those who perpetrated it? Time to put your money where your mouth is, I say." Hmm. That would be a test of seriousness, wouldn't it. Perhaps our "friends" the Saudis could get behind this idea.
A DISTURBING DISPATCH from Beirut, where even Christians celebrated the attacks on America. Ann Coulter, call your office.
INVESTMENT STRATEGY ADVICE: One reader writes with the following observation:
If you bought $1000 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $72.
If you bought $1000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, and traded in the cans for the nickel deposit, you would have $79.
My advice is to start drinking heavily.
My first thought was that this had to be wrong. But I checked
and it looks about right.
Of course, what this really shows is that you shouldn't pick stocks after drinking heavily....
A READER WRITES:
A little bit ago Scott Simon on NPR lit into Falwell, Robertson, Inc., with a vengeance. He replayed the clip where Falwell attributed the attack to God smiting feminists, et al, for their participation in "secular America." He then asked which person we'd rather be sitting with in an airplane hijacked by terrorists--one of these "reverends" or a gay rugby player ready to lay down his life for his fellow citizens--and which of the two is closer to God's will.
I don't want to live in a theocracy like that espoused by Falwell or bin Laden. Long live secular America, that is, America under the Bill of Rights.
True. Though I do think that Falwell has come in for far more public criticism than the equally appalling (and surprisingly similar in tone) "blame the victim" critics on the left. Falwell has been criticized across the spectrum. The leftists have been criticized mostly from the right. For example, this oped
in the Los Angeles Times
says that we're in no position to complain after Hiroshima and My Lai. This conveniently forgets that Hiroshima was in the course of a declared war that started with a sneak attack (and probably saved Japanese lives in the end) and My Lai, though certainly a war crime, was prosecuted as such. Overall, this leftish moral equivalence approach has enjoyed far more mainstream media support than Falwell's always-marginalized views. Why?
THE SAUDIS ARE DRAGGING THEIR FEET. Given the involvement of Saudi nationals in the terrorist acts against the United States, the Saudis ought to be bending over backwards to accommodate the U.S. response. I hope that the appropriate people are looking into replacing the Saudi royal family with a more cooperative regime, if necessary. It would be no loss, and if handled well would be welcomed in much of the Arab world. The Saudis are regarded by many as craven and untrustworthy. I wonder why?
THE NEW ALASKAN SPACEPORT will attempt its first launch today weather permitting. Apparently, weather probably won't permit. But it's a little-known fact that commercial space activity now substantially exceeds governmental space activity worldwide. Expect to see more of this sort of thing.
There are a number of attractions to Alaska as a launch site -- but weather isn't one of them. This launch was delayed from August 31, (late fall there) to now (early winter). I love Alaska in the summer -- it's one of the very best places on earth in late June and July. The rest of the year is, er, less appealing, as even the natives freely admit. There's an Inuit word for clinical unhappiness over the weather, which basically translates into "mad as hell because the goddamn winter doesn't seem to EVER want to go away, and it's April, and it should be spring, dammit!"
THE END OF MULTI-CULTI CHIC? This oped by an English professor suggests that the past thirty years' experiment in deliberate ethnic fragmentation is coming to an end. Good.
A "NATION OF SHEEP?" NO LONGER: This article on self-defense and counterterrorism makes some good points. But I think that one expert's statement that we have become a "nation of sheep" isn't true. After all, self-defense stopped one planeload of hijackers, which is more than any other counterterrorism technique did. And after that experience, I think that people will be much more aggressive if confronted with terrorists in the future. Which is good.
SUPERB LETTER BY STEPHEN BUDIANSKY TODAY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES:
At this moment, when hundreds of firefighters lie dead after rushing into the very teeth of danger to save others, when tens of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are heading off ready to lay down their lives in our defense, is it too much to ask that average Americans summon their courage and start flying again?
There is not a lot that most of us can do, but showing that we will not be cowed and will not allow our economy to be shaken any further is one small thing we all can do.
COCKPIT VOICE RECORDERS from United Airlines Flight 93 reveal what the New York Times calls a "desperate, wild struggle," with sounds of fighting and shouts in English and Arabic. So far, interpreters haven't pieced together exactly what happened, and they may never. But we now know enough to demonstrate that the passengers really did prevent a much worse tragedy. It's still not clear whether the terrorists intended to crash the plain into the White House or the Capitol, but either one would have been devastating.
PAT ROBERTSON isn't just an idiot because he endorsed Jerry Falwell's dumb remarks. As Colbert King points out, Robertson is partners in a gold-mining venture with Liberia's Charles Taylor, a murderous thug who ought to be standing next to Slobodan Milosevic in a war crimes tribunal. Come to think of it, "idiot" is too kind a word, isn't it?
Pat, you're worse than the money changers in the temple. Whatever you say about them, they weren't partners in slavery and murder.
PRAISE FOR BUSH IN THE Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
Whatever the future brings, this much is certain now: It is the U.S. government and not, as European fantasy would have it, concerned world opinion that is urging patience. The U.S. president is not dealing with the crisis sitting in a bunker, as Tom Clancy and Hollywood played it, but by visiting a mosque a few days after the assault. The United States is not forcing conspiracy theories upon the world, taking the big powers into a world war -- another stereotype -- instead, it is trying to forge an alliance with Russia and China.
In other words, until the destruction of the World Trade Center, that is to say, for as long as the Islamist terrorists had the initiative, everything was running according to a Hollywood script. But only until that point. The Americans are putting an end to the movie. And they are also putting an end to any form of predictability, even by the notoriously anti-American groups in Europe. For the Islamic terrorists, nothing could be more disruptive to strategic planning than this change of script.
"It will be a showdown." These words were spoken yesterday not by Bush but by the Taleban's ambassador to Pakistan. This was the moment when the ambassador, deliberately speaking not in any Afghan language but in Arabic, used a piece of Wild West terminology in a renewed attempt to focus the Arab world on the comic-book version of America, which yesterday became history
This is very perceptive. Bush's rope-a-dope strategy was working brilliantly for him on the budget before the attacks; now he's using a different version of it on the terrorists. Bush doesn't follow the script. Where the enemy is hard, he is soft. Where the enemy is soft, he is hard. Has this man studied Aikido?
Note, too, that Bush is getting this perceptive praise from Europe, where just a few weeks ago he was being treated as a cretin who obviously wasn't up to the job. It's not just Bush whose learning curve has been steep. Read the whole thing. The excerpt doesn't do it justice.
BENAZIR BHUTTO, former Prime Minister of Pakistan and a woman ousted from office by Taliban sympathizers (among others), shares her thoughts on the situation. She stresses that the United States should not give ground on its demands for free and fair elections in Pakistan. She's right. As President Bush reminded us, this is a struggle for freedom and democracy.
SEN. FRITZ HOLLINGS (D-DISNEY): Hollings is the sponsor of the horrible SSCA, a sort of DMCA-made-even-more-evil. Turns out it's basically payback for -- you guessed it -- huge donations from the entertainment industry. This story reports that Big Entertainment companies make up 5 of his top 20 donors.
The SSCA hasn't actually been introduced. Now that the motivation is clear, Hollings should apologize, and send it to the shredder. Will he? Or will he try to take advantage of the distraction of war by slipping it into something else as an amendment? Keep an eye on him.
ANTITERRORISM BILL BOGS DOWN: According to this article, the Antiterrorism bill is bogging down in the face of complaints from civil rights groups, civil liberartarians, and just plain libertarians. (No doubt InstaPundit's fierce warnings were a major factor -- say about 1/1000 or so). Good news, but don't slack off.
VIRGINIA POSTREL POINTS OUT that Mexicans are mad as hell about last week's atrocities. According to research by Univision, the spanish-language network, several hundred Mexican immigrants were killed in the World Trade Center. Here's a quote from Jorge Ramos of Univision:
"Immigrants are reacting with such a fervor and patriotism and it would be difficult to match in the mainstream population," Mr. Ramos said. "Immigrants are so outraged at what happened in the United States that they would be willing to die for this country."
And some of them already have.
WHY THEY HATE US: Josh Marshall has a good take on this question. Note the conclusion, especially.
JERRY POURNELLE WANTS WAR: Well, actually he wants a declaration of war. In fact, we have that: it didn't have the words "Declaration of War" at the top, but that's what it was. But his point is still good:
What we do not want to see is the effect of that writ's suspension without a formal declaration of war. I do not want to see continued invasions of privacy in the name of security without some notion of when those invasions will cease. Sacrifices can be asked in the name of the war effort precisely because wars end and normalcy returns. I fear that this psuedo-war against terrorism will simply transform us all into imperial subjects without even the contemplation of a return to citizenship.
Bush made a noble speech, and there is much in it to admire. The war begins. But in the name of the Republic, in the name of God, call it a war! Declare war now.
His legal analysis is iffy, but his sentiments are dead on.
READER MATT SMITH points out from Brazil that the Taliban may well be unable to "hand over" Osama bin Laden. Their grip is already fraying, with Kabul basically going crazy as a result of the United States ultimatum. And the Taliban, though fierce, don't really operate with ruthless Germanic efficiency.
This may well be true. On the other hand, the declaration of war (and I repeat, that's what it was) allows action against people who support terrorists, which the Taliban did. If their regime collapses under the stress, that's all to the good. As the RAWA women's site illustrates, they're no loss. The rather hysterical reaction reported above suggests that the Taliban aren't quite the iron-disciplined men of the mountains that some portrayals indicate. A lot of their people in Kabul are basically looting whatever they can find and then bugging out.
JONAH GOLDBERG RIGHTLY SLAMS THE MORAL EQUIVALENCE approach to terrorism and the Taliban. Especially because, as he notes, it's often not really moral equivalence: in fact, Western democracies (especially the United States and Israel) are in fact judged by much harsher standards than are applied to people who are actually barbaric and evil.
The good news is that it's not just people like Jonah who are making this point now. See, for example, this column by Michael Kelly. Quote:
I don't think the Times will ever print another story celebrating political bombings as "daring acts." I don't think Robertson and Falwell will ever again be regarded by most Americans with anything other than the deepest contempt. I think that the perverted values of those on the left and the right who hate this country for being what it is -- a liberal democracy -- are now seen for what they are, in the terrible light of Sept. 11. We have recovered who we are. . . .
Yes, we remember that now. We remember that it is not creatures like Bill Ayers that we treasure but those who protect us from creatures like Bill Ayers. We remember that love of country is a wonderful thing; that it is not incompatible with a liberal society but rather the great force that binds together that society. We are reminded that our values are not the values that the civilization-trashers of Hollywood join the civilization-haters of the Taliban in ascribing to us, the values of "Fear Factor." We remind ourselves, as David Letterman did, that our real values are the ones that led hundreds of firefighters and police officers to risk and lose their lives. We are, we learn again, brave and compassionate and strong. We are good people and we have built what is in fact "a just and fair and decent place," and we will preserve this place from those who would destroy it.
The anti-Enlightenment Left is discrediting itself rapidly. If the rest of the Left isn't as quick to denounce it as, say, Baptist preachers (see below) have been to denounce Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, it will be discredited too.
MICROSOFT'S FRONT PAGE LICENSE AGREEMENT means that if you buy it, you're forbidden to use it to create sites that criticize Microsoft or its products. (I wrote about this yesterday, but now the story is out in a big way). This is pathetic: provisions like this shouldn't just be unenforceable -- they should cause a loss of all IP protection on the product. Yeah, a "death penalty" like that is drastic, but it would ensure that things like this don't happen. And they shouldn't. Ever.
As this slashdot post points out, every time this happens it's excused as an accident. But it keeps happening. And, really, how could something like this be an accident?
This is another reason why shrink-wrap licensing deserves very close judicial scrutiny. If it exceeds what a reasonable user would expect, it shouldn't just be void -- it should fail in a way that seriously harms the overreaching licensor.
BAPTIST MINISTER SLAMS JERRY FALWELL: It's in the OpinionJournal today.
TOM SHALES RIPS PETER JENNINGS for his coverage of Bush's speech in light of his "personal predilections." Read it and see what I mean.
KNOXVILLE RULES! UPDATE: In contrast to the moral and political squalor of certain other college towns, Knoxville's tolerance and openness has been a shining example (see my post from yesterday morning), which I hope Berkeley will strive to emulate. And maybe some other places. This from Jay Nordlinger, in NRO:
Last, I thought I’d share part of a note I received from an old friend and high-school classmate: “I’m here to confirm for you that people who didn’t grow up in a fever swamp like ours do not believe our stories. My wife insists that I’m fixated on a few isolated incidents when I tell her what growing up in Ann Arbor was like. She doesn’t understand that, while she was in Knoxville diagramming sentences and dividing fractions, I was hearing about the glory of health care in Cuba and the amazing productivity of Soviet farmers.”
I'm proud to note that our schools still teach diagramming sentences and fractional division. And very little about Cuban health care and Soviet farming. Though I suspect those subjects get less attention in Ann Arbor these days.
BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: Fearing anti-American violence, Berkeley has ordered that no flags may appear on fire trucks in that city. '"If we roll into an emergency situation in the area where the demonstrations are being held, we feel it is a possibility that some of the demonstrators might attack the flag and or the firefighters that are flying the flags," said Michael Migliori, Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief.'
So the American flag is banned, for fear that it will inspire hate crimes. (Hate crimes, after all, are based on "national origin" and I'm sure that most folks in Berkeley would consider it a hate crime if someone were attacked for flying, say, the Afghan flag). I would certainly oppose banning, say, head scarfs for fear that they would inspire hate crimes. And I'll bet a lot of Berkeleyites would, too. Jeez.
A few people emailed me to suggest that I was being too hard on Berkeley, and I wondered if maybe they were right. Well, now I know they were wrong.
A READER COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED ANTITERRORISM ACT:
Case in point, "The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001" (http://www.eff.org/sc/ashcroft_proposal.html). This document scares me. It violates so much of the Constitution that it should be tossed out completely. right now. Of particular note is section 202 and 203. Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists. That part doesn't sound too bad. Grab the bad guys and toss them in jail. Except a terrorist is whomever they say is a terrorist. You disagree with them defining you or someone you know as a terrorist? Tough. There's nothing you can do about it because of section 203. They can keep you in jail for as long as they want and the courts are FORBIDDEN from interfering. The only court allowed to intervene is the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (clearly in opposition to Article VI of the Constitution).
Whenever I see any law, the first thing I ask is, "how can this be abused." That question must be asked because all laws are abused sooner or later.
I'm an American Citizen. My wife and step-daughter, however, are not. Conceivably, I could annoy the government, perhaps by denouncing an unjust law, and the government could grab my family and toss them in jail. Simply by saying the magic word "terrorist", they can do just that, not prove a thing, and blackmail me into submission.
"The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001" is a tool of tyrants, plain and simple. It must be stopped.
I'm leaving this anonymous because of the concerns he's expressed. If you share his concerns, you can reach your Senators and Representative at 202.224.3121.
UPDATE: The author of the email above, Ross Wentworth, writes: "The only way to stop tyrants is to stand up to them. I do not wish to be anonymous." Bravo.
AN ABSOLUTE MUST-READ COLUMN BY DAVE KOPEL on the proposed "antiterrorist" legislation, which is trying to go through congress like a bad taco through a three-year-old. There's no reason to rush this through in a weekend. At least, no good reason. As Kopel points out, much of it -- like expanded drug forfeitures -- has nothing to do with terrorism. I warned about this over a week ago, and now it's happened.
How are we supposed to trust our leaders to manage a war competently, if they can't keep bureaucratic opportunism and hysteria under control? The public seems willing to take a deliberate approach. Why don't the politicians have their patience and resolve?
HAS THE MOOD CHANGED? It has if people will stop a hockey game for a Presidential speech.
WAR, SAYS MICHAEL WALZER, IS A METAPHOR FOR WHAT WE MUST DO: No, it's not. The "war on poverty," was a metaphor. So was the "war on drugs." This isn't war as metaphor. It's war, period. I think it may be hard for some people to grasp the idea of things, not as metaphors, but as themselves. It'll sink in, given time.
AIRLINE SAFETY: The Washington Post letters page features several letters saying that the new airport security procedures are more intrusive, but no more effective, than the old ones. Note in particular the lengthy item from American Airlines pilot Brad Rohdenburg. He also notes that federal agents of all sorts -- even those from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (I didn't know they had agents!) -- are allowed to carry guns on airplanes. Why not the crew? He concludes: 'As Benjamin Franklin said, "Make yourself sheep, and the wolves will eat you." '
TOM FRIEDMAN LOOKS AT ROOT CAUSES: No, not the alleged complicity of the United States in the death of the Ottoman Empire, but the crushing, by states like Syria, of Islamist movements there twenty years ago. Pretty interesting piece. Quote:
And while the Arab states have crushed their Islamic terrorists, they have never confronted them ideologically and delegitimized their behavior as un-Islamic. Arab and Muslim Americans are not part of this problem. But they could be an important part of the solution by engaging in the debate back in the Arab world, and presenting another vision of America.
He's right: this is primarily a cultural and intellectual war over the long term, one in which bombs and bullets will play a necessary, but not sufficient, role. In a way, this is good: PR and marketing are America's standout strengths in the world. Hire somebody from Coca-Cola, fast!
ACCORDING TO THIS INSTA-POLL Bush has 91% support for his handling of events.
THE DOG THAT DIDN'T BARK: Virginia Postrel points out that in Bush's litany of failed ideologies, the term "totalitarianism" (certainly an accurate one) stands in for the term "communism." Why? She suggests that it's to avoid waving an, er, red flag in front of the Chinese, with whom we're now (on this front) allied. Might also be a way of not sounding like he's attacking the American left, consistent with his role as a uniter, not a divider.
Heck, we're pretty united these days, you gotta give him that.
RICK REILLY OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED HAS a great column on the United Airlines Flight 93 heroes. And here's another.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL GEORGE BUSH? Or is it the real Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, etc., etc. Whatever, Howard Kurtz reports that Bush's speech is getting rave reviews from the pundits (hey -- he doesn't mention InstaPundit!). It was a good speech, and while Bush is no Churchill, his delivery was so much better than his usual that he might as well have been. (Note: go back in the archives a couple of weeks and read the several Bush-isn't-as-dumb-as-you-think posts. Well, he's not.). I saw David Gergen suggesting that the speech was too bellicose, to an incredulous Chris Matthews who exclaimed that of course he was -- and shouldn't he be after thousands of American deaths?
Was Bush's speech too bellicose? I don't think so. It hit the right notes of tolerance for things that should be tolerated, like religious diversity, and intolerance for things that shouldn't be, like murderous ideologies. Those who can't tell the difference wouldn't be won over by anything Bush said anyway
ANOTHER GOOD PROPOSAL for airline safety from Slate. It would be cheap, threaten no one's freedoms, and require very little bureaucracy to implement. Oops, I think I just spotted the flaw.
SOMEBODY DESERVES A BONUS for Bush's speech. Some choice lines:
We have seen their kind before. They're the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.
The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.
The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.
There are some other good ones -- the "why do they hate us?" section is so good that, er, it could've come from InstaPundit. And only one line about increasing law enforcement powers.
This will play well, I think, at home and abroad. I hope VOA bothered to broadcast it.
BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: Gay hero Mark Bingham's memorial service was hijacked for political purposes by antiwar activists, to the horror and dismay of Bingham's partner. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders notes:
To live in the Bay Area, is to hear countless love songs extolling the Special City, the tolerant Bay Area, home of culture and education. We are, locals imply, superior people.
You wish. The Day of Remembrance shows that the special region is more interested in leftist issues than real people. When it comes time to honor men and women who died horribly and wrongly, the special city can't even do a simple memorial service justice.
The politics and culture of the Bay Area -- outside the vibrant high-tech community -- have been unmistakably pathological for over twenty years. At a time when the rest of the country overwhelmingly understands the need for compassion, self-restraint, and resolve, the Bay Area seems to have more than its share of haters and self-indulgent political narcissists. Grow up, people.
For a less-restrained take on this, see Andrew Sullivan's page, where I first saw this story reported. I'll be updating the "Bay Area Hatewatch" feature as events dictate.
ANDREW SULLIVAN ISN'T WRITING TRB: But this one by Peter Beinart sounds almost Sullivanian. (Is that a word? It is now.) Beinart is, er, viciously attacking the anti-Western left for its hypocritical and inconsistent stands (my personal favorite such stand: that the U.S. is really to blame for the WTC and Pentagon attacks because we killed the Ottoman Empire!) The anti-Western, anti-Enlightenment parts of the Left are unmasking their own stupidity to a degree not equalled since 1969. And more people are noticing, this time.
MY BROTHER WRITES FROM NKU: "Today on campus the Students Against Racism are handing out green armbands as a show of support for American Muslims (and non-fanatical Muslims everywhere). I have seen a few students sporting both US flags AND the armbands."
Perhaps both Knoxville and Northern Kentucky can stand as shining beacons of hope for the benighted hills of Berkeley.
JOSH MARSHALL writes that he thinks I may have taken his post about Andrew Sullivan out of context. I've reread it, and I'm not sure, but I think that Josh is upset about the juxtaposition of remarks about the "blue states" and a "fifth column." (I've gotten some email suggesting the same thing, so that's not just me.) I didn't read the Sullivan passage that way, so maybe it's Marshall who's taking Sullivan out of context? I thought that by "fifth column"Sullivan was referrring to the small number of intellectuals (to whom I'd add Charlie Daniels) who prefer to blame America, capitalism, or pretty much anything other than the actual source of the evil. Sullivan, I thought, was correctly noting that a lot of people who formerly would have fit that description are in New York, and don't feel that way now. I didn't see it as a reflection on the states that voted for Gore beyond that.
Obviously, some other people read it differently. OK. But I don't really think that Sullivan's remarks are especially "vicious." Sometimes, I think they're too mild.
STOCKS ARE DOWN BELOW 8,400 ON THE DOW: Other indexes have taken a beating, too. I'm not looking forward to my next quarterly statement, but so what? Like most people my age, I'm really a stock buyer more than a stockholder, and so these lower prices are actually helping my long-term portfolio prospects.
My own feeling is that the markets were already headed down this far anyway, just more slowly, and that this has just accelerated the process. I feel sorry for the panicked fools who are bailing out (some of whom no doubt bought into the market in an enthusiastic rush when it hit 10,000), since they're practicing "buy high, sell low" and that's not the way to make money. (My investment idol is Gomez Addams: "Sell! Sell! -- what? everyone's selling? Then BUY, man! Buy!")
For long term investors, the only reason to get out of stocks because of the attacks is if you think that makes a long-term difference in the viability of the industry. (Like airlines, or maybe resort properties). Even there it's unclear: some people are talking about reregulation of the airlines, and if we get that they'll probably be more profitable -- at least they were before they were deregulated.
Of course, if you really expect things to go to hell, I recommend a portfolio consisting of MREs, guns & ammo, and -- as trade goods -- a sizable stockpile of condoms, cigarettes, and pure grain alcohol. (For advice on dealing with apocalyptic scenarios, delivered in a folksy way, visit Captain Dave's Survival Center which seems to be experiencing an uptick in business after a long post-Y2K drought -- hey, maybe there's an investment....) But if you're not going that far, then the stock market is likely to rise again, and panicking will only cost you money. Of course, I'm not seeing much panic among individual investors -- at least, not among any I know. I think the drop is mostly a short-term, fund-manager-driven phenomenon. Which makes me wonder why these guys are getting paid the big bucks.
A MODEST VICTORY FOR PRIVACY: The New York Times is carrying this Reuters story about the federal courts and workplace Internet usage. The draconian policy imposed by Leonidas Ralph Mecham, head of the Administrative Office of the U.S. courts, has been replaced by a milder one, though the details are unclear. STILL UNKNOWN: Whether Mecham will be disciplined for his unprofessional comments about Judge Alex Kozinski's supposed fondness for gay pornography. Mecham should have been canned the day those comments appeared in print.
ON SATURDAY I POSTED AN ITEM FROM A READER ON THE SAUDI/WAHHABI ROLE in Islamic fundamentalism. This article explores the subject in considerably more depth. It's worth reading, and a reminder that the Saudi connection to last week's terrorism is no accident.
If I were the Saudis I'd be wondering what I could do to make President Bush, and America happy. Because, you see, under the terms of Congress's declaration of war last week (and that's what it was), Saudi Arabia is at risk. The connection between the hijackers and a leading Saudi diplomat is no accident. But is it policy? If I were them, I'd want to give every assurance that it isn't.
AMERICANS IN GENERAL DON'T HATE ARAB-AMERICANS, or even non-American Arabs. According to this Zogby Poll, Americans have a positive opinion of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans by overwhelming margins. Even non-American Arabs are thought of positively by 45%, as opposed to 33% with a negative image. I guess Zogby must have missed those hotbeds of hate in the Bay Area.
AND YOU THOUGHT I WAS JOKING: Earlier today, I expressed my hope that Berkeley would one day become as tolerant and cosmopolitan as Knoxville. But apparently, things really are a lot worse in the Bay Area than they are here. According to this story in the Mercury-News they're setting up a voluntary bodyguard service to protect mosques from being vandalized and muslim women in headscarves from being assaulted.
I admire the volunteer spirit that some of these Bay Area residents are showing, but I'm appalled that it's needed. I've been asking my muslim friends and acquaintances here if they've encountered this sort of behavior and so far all of them have said no. Certainly I see women in scarves walking around campus, and in the grocery stores in my neighborhood, without any sign of being assaulted, or of their being worried about it.
Perhaps it's all that Bay Area "identity politics" stuff backfiring. If you're constantly telling people to be conscious of ethnicity, they're going to be.
STORY IDEA: Okay journalists, here's an easy one. Go to NEXIS and find what experts said about the Gulf War before (e.g., "it'll be another Vietnam") and compare it with what the same experts are saying now. Extra points if the experts you nail appeared on your own network or in your own publication.
WAR AND THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT: President Bush continues to push for smaller government. Michael Lynch in Reason explores why that's going to be hard. However, I'm not sure the lessons from history are as clear as they might seem. We've never before had a wartime President who had wanted to shrink government during peacetime. And this is a decentralized war, not a mass-production war. It will emphasize quality, not quantity, of forces. And the best way to fight terrorism at home -- as Flight 93 demonstrates -- is by empowering and relying on ordinary citizens, not by relying on a surveillance state approach that, in fact, failed to stop even one of the hijacking attempts.
DEWORMING: There's a cool new open-source tool called La Brea that turns unused network addresses into "tarpits" -- virtual computers that hackers and worms like Code Red can waste their time attacking. This is a breakthrough of sorts, but I should note that here at the University of Tennessee College of Law we have anticipated this strategy, by using an email program so lame that it has no functions that viruses can exploit -- because, basically, it has no functions. It's like a virtual roach motel: viruses come in, but they don't go out. Clever, eh?
VEXILLOPHOBIA: That's "fear of flags." There seems to be a lot of it going around in some quarters -- ironically, mostly government offices and universities. Neal Boortz lists some examples on his webpage, and I keep hearing and reading about more. Officials are banning the flags in a surprisingly large number of places -- something unprecedented even in the Vietnam era.
The usual justification is that foreign students might be "offended" or "made uncomfortable" by the flags. But imagine this thought experiment: an American student in Country X, now at war, emails back to these same officials at his home university and says: "I'm offended and uncomfortable by the widespread display of Country X's flags." Don't you think that the officials' reply would stress the importance of the student's being sensitive to the feelings of his host country, and surmounting his own feelings of discomfort? Why doesn't this work both ways?
THINGS I'M PROUD OF: I'm not originally from Knoxville (I'm an academic brat, the way some people are army brats, so I'm not originally from anywhere except maybe Harvard married student housing). But I love this place, and the response to last week's attacks has only underscored that.
First, of course, in keeping with the "Volunteer State" reputation, people have turned out in droves to donate blood, bottled water, etc. to rescue workers in Washington and New York. Enlistment centers are full of people volunteering for military service, or if they can't get in there, the Tennessee State Guard (a state force, not to be confused with the Tennessee National Guard), which will take people older than the limits for federal forces.
But what has really impressed me is the spirit of resolve mixed with tolerance. Local talk radio host Hallerin Hill is always great, but he's outdone himself. He's had representatives from Knoxville's Muslim and Sikh communities on the air and has spoken out against mindless hostility to Americans of middle eastern descent. He's been angry, and admits it, but he's also been a voice of calm and reason.
The local newspaper, the Knoxville News-Sentinel ran an entire section on Islam the weekend after the attacks, explaining core beliefs of muslims and calling for tolerance. And, lastly, one of my former students who is now running for City Council pulled his radio commercials last week and replaced them with new ones calling for donations to the Red Cross and reminding people that American Muslims and people of middle eastern descent are Americans just like everyone else, and deserve our love and support in these difficult times.
I guess this is why I'm so bemused by all the comments out of places like Berkeley, decrying the jingoism and intolerance of America's reaction. It's not what I see, but maybe things are different there.
I hope that, one day, Berkeley will be as cosmopolitan and tolerant as Knoxville.
TERRIFIC PIECE BY CLAUDIA ROSETT on the non-loss of American innocence. Read it.
CHARLIE DANIELS is taking the Jerry Falwell line, blaming the terrorist attacks on the ACLU and the supposed moral decadence of our society. Hey, Charlie: take it from me, and some people here in Tennessee -- you're making an ass of yourself. Shut up.
AN NPR REPORT A FEW MINUTES AGO ILLUSTRATES AGAIN THE INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER: It was on the restaurant "Windows on the World" and featured an Egyptian waiter describing how heartsick he felt at the restaurant's demise, and how many people from various countries worked there. "It was like a little United Nations," he said.
This is the sort of thing that the Voice of America ought to be broadcasting, worldwide.
YESTERDAY I said we should have muslim clerics broadcasting to Afghanistan. William Safire reports that Voice of America officials are resisting such efforts.
JOSH MARSHALL IS unhappy with what he calls Andrew Sullivan's " vicious attacks on anyone who is even slightly off-message" regarding the terrorist attacks. But I don't think the people Sullivan has been attacking are "slightly off-message." They're people who have actually applauded the attacks, or said America had it coming, or (in one case) regard the attacks as unfortunate, but as great works of art whose artistry overwhelms their horror. Sullivan's not exactly seizing on minor missteps here, and his response has been quite moderate under the circumstances.
Merely compare Sullivan's criticisms to the much wider criticism that, say, Republicans get if someone is even slightly off-message on matters of race and gender, and you'll see the point.
Speaking of that last, I saw Bill O'Reilly on FoxNews last night, ripping into a Republican Congressman from Louisiana who had given a speech attacking "people with diapers on their heads." Overall, I'd say that the right has been much better about policing its own than the left has. Which gives people like Andrew the standing to rip into the people he's been ripping into. Who pretty much all deserve what they've gotten, and more.
ANDREW SULLIVAN reports that the military has lifted its ban on openly gay soldiers. Could this have anything to do with the item below?
VIRGINIA POSTREL IS BACK and posting. She has an interesting observation regarding the heroes of United Flight 93:
The entire passenger rebellion challenges every assumption of the neoconservative view of American decadence. First, it happened. Regular guys on business trips overpowered hijackers and saved their fellow Americans from a fourth disastrous hit. And not only were these men of action technology executives—and a high-tech p.r. guy!—but Bingham was gay. As Jeff Taylor wrote in Reason Express, zapping the Jerry Falwell view of the world, "Turns out that Washington's 'veil of protection' included a big, gay rugby player."
A site honoring the heroes of Flight 93 is now up and taking donations for a memorial.
READER STEVE SAILER THINKS that Europe will be more thoroughly cemented to the U.S. position in the coming weeks:
My prediction is that Europe will come down heavily on America's side and that the momentum is in our favor. Here's why: Compared to more typical recent tragedies, there has been relatively little human interest coverage so far of the 6,000 victims and their grieving families. In large part that's because the great majority are still listed as "missing" rather than "dead."
A huge amount of the Barbara Walters-People Magazine style coverage of the human cost of the attacks will flood out for the next few weeks. These stories of mothers and fathers who went off to work in the morning and never came back to their homes and families will profoundly move the women voters of Europe. They will identify intimately with their middle class counterparts in the New York area. . . .
Male European politicians and pundits will eventually realize that female opinon in Europe is in total sympathy with Americans. Fearing a backlash at the polls, they'll sign on with America.
We'll know in a month or so if he's right. Interesting point, anyway. Take it away, Oprah. . . .
MORE THAN 1000 BRITISH CITIZENS ARE AMONG THE MISSING and presumed dead from last week's attacks. An attack on America that leaves 20% of the dead British. That's why it was called a World Trade Center. With dead in 62 countries, this wasn't just an attack on the United States.
ANOTHER IDEA: We need to get American Muslim clerics on shortwave, broadcasting into the middle east. There's a well-established school of liberal islam, eclipsed in the Arab world since the humiliation of the '67 war, that we should be encouraging. We should promote women's rights this way, too. The Taliban, bin Laden, et al., would hate this.
THE REVERSE HAJJ: The Saudis spread the influence of their fundamentalist Wahabi islam by sponsoring muslims from around the world to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. For many of them, it's their only experience of significant travel. This has had a significant role in promoting the growth of still wackier brands of Islam.
Perhaps the United States should do something similar, and bring poor people (not just muslims) from around the world to our own shrines. Say, Disneyworld.
EXCELLENT ANALYSIS BY WILL SALETAN: Worries about why terrorists hate us and what we can do to make them like us get things backward. We should be ensuring that they worry about how we feel about them. And they will. In fact, as the refugees streaming to the Afghan borders and the bluster of the Taliban prove, they already are.
UPDATE: But if you're still worried, Joanne Jacobs has it spelled out: "They hate us because we're big, powerful and rich, while they're small, weak and poor. Our culture is dynamic, confident, global and free. Their culture is rigid, defensive, parochial and tyrannical. We're winners. They're losers, and they resent it. U.S. support for Israel is a detail. We could let our foreign policy be dictated by Yasir Arafat, and they'd still hate us." Yep. As Joanne points out, Osama bin Laden hated us even when we were on the same side, helping the Afghans against the Soviets. It's not what we do, it's who, and what, we are, which is inconsistent with who, and what, they are. Which is tough for them, because we're not going to change. And they're afraid to.
QUICK QUIZ: Who wrote the following (no peeking down to the bottom):
In the midst of rightful sorrow and anger that accompany such events, we ought to struggle to understand why this has happened to us. The logical question with which to begin is a simple one: Why does the United States have so many enemies abroad? Could it be that since the War Between the States, America has become an empire with its tentacles-both military and financial-squeezing the entire globe? The U.S. Establishment elite has committed itself to a thoroughgoing reconstruction of the world in its own image. Such policies have thus alienated many peoples who don't wish to live in the mold Uncle Sam foists upon them. Now, innocent Americans are paying the price--in blood--for their leaders’ arrogance, hubris, and megalomania.
Was it NOAM CHOMSKY? Nope. SADDAM HUSSEIN? Nope. ONE OF THOSE ANNOYING LEFTY BRITS? Nope. It was (drum roll please)....
(I'm spacing down to reduce the temptation to peek).
The Neo-Confederate League of the South. Strange bedfellows, indeed. (The position has already caused at least one officer of that organization to resign).
WHO'S TO BLAME? Ted Rall satirizes the "anyone except those who actually did it" school of thought in this cartoon.
THIS DEFIANT HAIKU BY CLAUDE SCALES shows that poets, contrary to modern stereotype, needn't be wimps:
A shriek rips the sky.
Towers fall. "Abandon hope!"
Poets shout back: "No!"
NPR IS RETURNING TO NORMAL: Just heard a couple of sympathetic treatments of antiwar protesters and palestinians who support bombings. In both cases, it is thought very important that Americans understand the anger of non-Americans. When will they do a story on the reverse?
The antiwar people say that they are organizing against the threat of indiscriminate bombing of civilians -- a threat that, as far as I can tell, does not exist. No one is talking about that, and in fact the Administration seems to have been at pains to make clear that it won't be doing that. Others are readying a fight against the draft -- which also doesn't exist, and shows no sign of reappearing.
I've criticized some people for playing the World War II script mindlessly. Others seem to be playing the Vietnam script, equally mindlessly.
A READER WRITES a letter that captures it all:
I was finishing up an email to my Palestinian friend who lives in New York, to tell her about my Hmong girlfriend--I myself am Jewish, nonpracticing division, obviously--and I realized that the people mentioned by Anne Applebaum [see yesterday's post] would be pleased to make a world in which such an email would be impossible. That's bad enough. But they do it in the name of multiculturalism and freedom! My god...all these people who claim to have read Nietzsche and Foucault would never think of scrutinizing their OWN utopian claims...
Yes, the anti-globalists are all for multiculturalism, so long as it is imposed by force. Otherwise it's globalization, and hence bad. Sigh. This item
by Janet Daley is also excellent.
SOVIET VETERANS SAY WE CAN'T WIN IN AFGHANISTAN: And they're right, if we try to do what they did. Of course, we don't have any need to occupy and pacify a border country, as they did. Whatever we do there, I don't think we'll be dumb enough to try to occupy and control the place. Why would we? The Soviets had reasons to want that. We don't.
REALTIME UPDATE: At the Colin Powell press conference right now, a Russian reporter just asked Powell about Chechnya. There's a clear Russian strategy to use their alliance with us on this to neutralize the Chechnya issue. The Russians are rattling sabers about the need to use force to crush terrorists. I'm not sure they're talking so much about Osama bin Laden.
TUNKU VARADARAJAN argues that the United States' three most reliable allies are going to be Israel, Turkey, and India. Israel, for obvious reasons. India for reasons that are less obvious, but similar. And Turkey because, although it is a nation of Muslims, it is not a Muslim nation. (Much as, pace Falwell, the U.S. is a nation mostly of Christians, but not a Christian nation). Quote:
Turkey, for its part, would be an almost indispensable member of this alliance. Indeed, if the military and strategic assault on Islamic terrorists is to be accompanied by an intellectual and cultural offensive, what better example than Turkey's to demonstrate that a distinction can be made between an Islam that is secular and one that is intolerant, aggressive and terroristic. The threat of the spread of such militant Islam into Central Asia can be checked by an India-Turkey alliance, and with the secular "Turkification" of the old Silk Road countries.
This recognition of the need for an "intellectual and cultural offensive" is the most important observation here. BTW, if you're curious about the history of this area, a good site is here
JUST A NOTE: I haven't sold any stocks. I'm still buying. Of course, I never owned airline stocks. But remember: "When the blood runs in the streets, buy, buy, buy!"
DREAMWEAVER IS LOOKING BETTER: My geek friends disparage Front Page so much I've never used it. This language from the Front Page 2002 license agreement was noted yesterday on Jerry Pournelle's webpage.
You may not use the Software in connection with any site that disparages Microsoft, MSN, MSNBC, Expedia, or their products or services...
And people wonder why there's so much hostility toward Microsoft?
WANT TO HURT THE TALIBAN? Visit this site by Afghan women opposing the Taliban. You can make a donation here.
UH-OH: They're talking about creating an Antiterrorism Czar. Now, I don't understand this impulse: we're a democracy, so why should we want czars?
Worse than this, every "Czar" we've created to solve a national problem has failed. Remember the "Energy Czar"? Didn't solve the energy crisis. "Inflation Czar?" It was Paul Volcker and the Federal Reserve who whipped inflation, not any Inflation Czar. "Drug Czar"? Enough said. We have an antiterrorism czar -- he's called the President.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE ALERT: A reader suggests that a good "second wave" target would be shopping malls, since that would scare ordinary Americans and hurt the economy.
Well, OK. But there are lots of places like that. We can't cower in our homes, or it won't matter -- they won't have to strike. Do your shopping. Just keep your eyes open for suspicious people, packages, or vehicles. And if it's legal for you to carry concealed, consider it.
GREAT COLUMN BY WALTER SHAPIRO, who is one of those who have really risen to the occasion. Main points: despite fears of hysterical overreaction, the American public is actually showing plenty of patience and resolve. (He has great poll numbers on this). If anyone is being stampeded, it's the folks in Congress who are rushing to pass dusted-off proposals into law so they can say they've done something about terrorism. Shapiro's conclusion might best be aimed at them:
But there is a risk in trampling congressional due process in the understandable stampede to act in the face of the most gruesome attack in American history. Morton Halperin, who served on the National Security Council under Clinton and is now at the Council on Foreign Relations, describes Washington "as a town full of solutions looking for a problem." Now in the face of a wrenching crisis, everyone in both parties is dusting off old remedies as weapons against terrorism.
"Nobody has time to think things through," Halperin cautions, "so they go for anything that's been on the shelf."
In the aftermath of horror, it is vital to cling to the strategic wisdom of Leo Tolstoy, who declared in the midst of War and Peace, "The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience."
The American people seem to understand this. Maybe their leaders will catch up with them.
MORE ON THE PROPOSED ANTITERRORISM LEGISLATION in in this report by Declan McCullagh -- er, except that nobody really knows what's in the "bill" yet because it hasn't been written. Expect the usual suspects.
A few key things to watch: audit provision for use of surveillance: the only way to be sure that surveillance powers aren't abused is to have somebody outside the agencies that do surveillance watching. Carnivore doesn't generate audit trails, according to most reports, and it works without the ISP knowing what's going on. That means no outside supervision. Abuse is a felony -- but how often does the government prosecute its own agents for felonies? Not nearly as often as they commit them. Also warrant requirements for wiretaps. Bear in mind that despite thousands of requests, these are almost never turned down. Is that meaningful judicial supervision? Even if warrants are kept secret, the number of cases, and how often the courts disapprove them, should be made public. It's a very important metric.
And what's really missing is any clear explanation of exactly how these changes will actually help fight terrorism. Also likely to be missing is any statutory language limiting their use to terrorism investigations. PREDICTION: They'll ask for them in the name of terrorism, then use them in drug and porn cases. You can take this one to the bank, unless the bill prevents this.
THE AIRLINE BAILOUT: SOME CONDITIONS -- suggested by Neal Boortz. Boortz points out that we taxpayers will never see that money again, and suggests that airlines -- who haven't exactly been working overtime to get public goodwill in recent years -- should show their gratitude by doing things like eliminating nonrefundable tickets, requiring courtesy, and honesty about flight departure times, from their employees, etc. Sounds good to me.
ARE WE SERIOUS ABOUT AIRPORT SECURITY YET? Apparently not. According to this story from the Seattle Times, a screener at Seattle-Tacoma airport who spoke out about security problems has been kicked off the job. Question: Why should we agree to more onerous security, if the authorities are so unserious that they punish those who complain about problems? If this is their attitude, then airport security will be what it has always been: inconvenient enough to persuade the rubes that they're being protected, but incompetent enough to ensure that any serious evildoer can still get through. Why bother with a charade like that?
INSTEAD, they're confiscating nail clippers and other harmless objects, in an approach that is disgracefully similar to the schools' pathetic zero tolerance policies. If they want support for real security measures, they shouldn't be earning the public's contempt with obvious stupidity.
NPR REPORTS THAT THE FLORIDA ACLU is supporting the rights of workers to display flags at work, despite the efforts of a few private employers, and a greater (though still small) number of government agencies, to prevent it. Jerry Falwell take note.
I disagree with the ACLU on some of their positions (I'd like to see them defend the entire Bill of Rights) but their consistency is admirable, come good times or bad. They've also allied rather closely on many issues with groups generally considered right-wing -- like the NRA and the Gun Owners of America, along with Americans For Tax Reform and some others -- which is admirable both on their part and on the part of the groups they're allying with. One reason, I think, that Falwell's attacks went over so badly with many on the right is that the right (except for Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Pat Buchanan) has become far more sensitive to civil liberties, and far more appreciative of the ACLU, than it was ten or fifteen years ago. Of course, some of this is because the left has become far less reliable and principled on civil liberties than it was ten or fifteen years ago.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON writes trenchantly in National Review Online: "The Taliban sound ferocious, but that is because the most dangerous place in the world in the next few weeks will be Kabul not Manhattan." He's right about this bluster: it's because they're scared, not because they're confident.
InstaPundit readers know that I'm not burning with enthusiasm over a war in Afghanistan. But it's also true that we heard similar dire threats -- and similar credulous endorsement of them by many Western commentators -- before the Gulf War, only to see Saddam Hussein's army proved a paper tiger. The Taliban are no Saddam Hussein. The real question isn't whether we can beat them. Of course we can. The real question is, how do we get what we actually want out of this whole thing? If beating the Taliban will prevent future threats and produce appropriate punishment for this one, fine. If it won't, then it's a sideshow.
LOCAL GUN STORES REPORT A HUGE UPSURGE IN SALES. Also, local shooting ranges are packed with people practicing their skills. (There's a brisk trade, pace the sensitivities of Cafepress, in targets featuring Osama bin Laden). I pity the fool who tries to shoot up a public place around here -- or worse yet just pulls a knife. According to a cop I know, about one in three East Tennesseeans packs. Some of them even have permits to do it.
Some years ago two people in Newport, a neighboring community in the mountains, got the not-so-bright idea of trying to rob a cockfight. Apparently, everyone in the place pulled a gun. The robbers were shot so many times it took forensic work to identify the bodies. But nobody saw anything.
I think that some of this spirit may now be spreading beyond the Volunteer State. That's probably a good thing, in these times.
NPR featured three clergymen: Christian, Jewish, & Muslim. Interestingly, the first two went on about forgiveness. The Muslim said that forgiveness is important, but that the Koran recognizes that if you always forgive evildoers good can't flourish. (Hillel (I think) said this, too: If you reward cruelty with kindness, he asked, then with what will you reward kindness?)
BIOTERRORISM: The Centers for Disease Control were originally set up mostly for biowar defense purposes. Since then, in the usual bureaucratic mission-creep, they've shifted their mission to worrying about fatty foods, smoking, and firearms. Time for them to take the money they're spending on that stuff and go back to their original mission: protecting us from nasty bugs, spread by people who don't like us.
WE DONT' NEED NEW LAWS trading freedom for security. In part that's because we have so many old laws that do that, as this article in the New York TImes by William Glaberson explains. The article also notes that courts tend to get swept up in wartime atmospheres of fear and hysteria, and approve things that later look like mistakes.
LESSON: Don't count on the courts to save us from nasty laws. Oppose 'em and keep 'em from being passed.
DAVID MCCULLOUGH REDEEMED: Last week, in the aftermath of horror, he was talking about giving up freedom, and the evisceration of our open society. But tonight, just now on ABC, he was talking about the spirit of freedom, about a renewed patriotism, about preserving the open society. Things are difficult, he said, but we will survive, and prevail. Yes.
VIOLENTLY OPPOSED TO VIOLENCE: A group of protestors in San Francisco says they're protesting for peace because violence doesn't change anything. They're also worried about "hysterical overreaction."
Well, I was worried about that a week ago. I'm not so worried now. It's clear that adults are in charge. Brent Scowcroft says a response is likely to come in weeks, not days. People seem to be being pretty mature about the whole thing. I have no doubt that there will be a major effort on the United States' part, and that a lot of people who deserve to suffer will suffer. But there's no sign of hysterical overreaction anywhere. There are even diplomatic efforts underway to get Osama bin Laden out of Afghanistan without violence.
Kinda takes the fun out of being a peace protestor, doesn't it?
SLATE'S ANN APPLEBAUM makes clear that even in Europe, there are those who, while not exactly partisans of Osama bin Laden, nonetheless are basically against the idea of Western civilization as a good thing. Her collection of stories and quotes is, really, stomach-turning.
BUT at least the anti-progress Left, which has been around in various guises for my whole lifetime, is coming fully into the open about what it opposes, and what it believes in. Let everyone else judge for themselves what is worthy of support.
RICH LOWRY REMINDS US that while some things may be hard, hard is not the same as impossible, or even unwise. I'm all for getting Osama bin Laden (though I don't want to make him such a poster boy that we think he's the only one that matters), but I still don't see how invading Afghanistan is the solution to that. (Though one reader points out that "liberating" Afghanistan is what it's really all about, and we'd have thousands (he says "millions" but there aren't that many) of Afghanis in Kabul waving American flags, which would probably be good for our image.)
READER ROBERT SCHROEDER makes the excellent point that fear of the "next wave" -- with leaks of phony dates, etc. -- could be part of the campaign too. Psychological warfare. Which is a reason to keep your eyes open, but also to not get too panicked.
READER GREG BROOKS REPORTS A NEW AND NASTY WORM IS LOOSE ON THE INTERNET -- there's more on it at this Slashdot thread. Seems like Norton, at least, is catching it. Advice: if you have a choice, run Netscape and not Explorer (or run a pre-5 version of Explorer) and avoid "readme.eml" files (I said 'readme.exe' earlier, which was what an email I had gotten said -- basically, DON'T OPEN STRANGE ATTACHMENTS: you don't know where they've been).
Could this be the second wave? Who knows? You can read more about it at this Symantec site.
ADDITION TO THE BELOW: How many bridges cross the Mississippi? Major ones, I mean?
A SECOND WAVE OF ATTACKS? I said earlier that if I were the mastermind, I'd plan another set of strikes for just about the time people seemed to be adjusting. That would be around now -- say through this time next week. I'd also make the attacks completely different. Perhaps I'd hit some critical infrastructure items, like oil refineries or important electrical distribution centers. What would it take to send California back to rolling blackouts? Or send gas up above $2 a gallon? Or make it hard to have enough heating oil for the winter?
Are there still fiber optic choke points that would cripple the telephone or Internet services?
On a worse note, they might try poisoning -- or biologically contaminating -- food. Given the centralized nature of food processing, the right meat-processing plant, cheese-making facility, or whatever could reach millions of people.
Keep your eyes open. And I hope the people who run places like this are keeping their eyes open. But remember what Douglas MacArthur said: defensive warfare is a synonym for losing. Ultimately, we can't just parry their thrusts. We have to kill them.
INTERNET TROUBLE: Don't open any files labeled "Readme.exe" -- I don't know if this is part of why so many sites are having problems or not, but there's a new worm, apparently Chinese, circulating.
ON THE SENATE'S ANTITERRORISM LEGISLATION:
Whenever I hear about a bill that passes like that, I think of the TV show Yes, Minister, where the bureaucrats met crises by dusting off an old agenda and serving it up to their bosses with the following unanswerable logic:
1. We must do something.
2. This is something.
3. Therefore, we must do this.
In fact, though, the Senate bill does little damage to civil liberties; the real question is whether it does much to address the threat.
Bear in mind, this is the guy who's defending the bill
INTERESTING AND GOOD PIECE BY PROF. RANDY BARNETT of Boston University, on reconstituting the notion (still alive in the statute books) of the entire adult citizenry as a defense for the country. Makes sense. In this war, every line is a front line. Might as well be ready everywhere.
EXCELLENT COLUMN BY PAUL CAMPOS on the kinds of things that really cause -- and win -- wars.
THE NFL & REFEREES appear close to a deal. Apparently, last week's attacks put things into perspective. Good. UPDATE: Overlawyered.Com reports on the settlement of a fee-fight involving tobacco litigation on this basis, too. Settle a case for America today!
A FRIEND WRITES FROM WASHINGTON, DC: "A sad commentary that I was immensely pleased yesterday morning to get off the subway and see that there were no humvees and troops in the streets."
NOT-SO-NORMALCY: I took a walk around campus after lunch. The cicadas are still buzzing in the trees, the sky is clear, blue, and eerily reminiscent of last Tuesday. A lot fewer contrails in the sky than usual. There are still students walking around, giving rise to overheard scraps of conversation about Chaucer, valence electrons, and parents' reactions to phone bills. Some things are missing. I saw almost no one in school colors (orange-and-white is hard to miss). Instead, I saw a lot of red, white and blue: t-shirts, coeds in American flag handkerchief tops, baseball caps with small flags taped to the top. From dorm windows hung American flags, instead of signs announcing our intent to win at football next weekend. And everywhere, the ROTC students in uniform -- a huge proportion of them women -- getting looked at in a new way.
Apparently, great numbers of students are volunteering for the military, not just here, but nationwide. No big surprise, I guess, except that it is. At least, it would have been a surprise a week or two ago.
THE CATO INSTITUTE has this page of resources on terrorism that has many useful items.
NICE INTERVIEW WITH STEPHEN SLOAN on terrorism and counterterrorism in Wired. In particular, he notes the importance of human intelligence -- despite the current focus on increased wiretap authority, bans on encryption, etc. Best quote:
There is no question in terms of our technological capabilities in regards to electronic intercept and sensing. It is a remarkable ability we have to collect out of the air. But increasingly, you are dealing with small free floating independent (terrorist) cells that do not deal with electronic networks. Therefore, how does one collect information on a network that is discussing plans to bomb a building in a safe house in Milan? In that case it's important to have human intelligence to collect information on that level. When you need to know their capability and targets, you can't get that out of the airspace or out of cyberspace.
BIOTERRORISM: Michael Crowley reports on fears about bioterrorism. Personally, I think that chemical warfare terrorism is more likely because it's easier. But people are right to worry about this stuff, within reason. Better disease-surveillance techniques, better stockpiles of antibiotics and vaccines, and better public hygiene techniques would help. But once again, the best defense is a good offense.
I'M HAVING TROUBLE reaching a lot of Internet sites this morning. Are you?
I DIDN'T KNOW THIS: According to this letter by David Shulman in Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, Peter Jennings once dated Hamas frontwoman Hanan Ashrawi. If true -- and so far no one has disputed it on that disputatious and well-informed site -- this would explain a lot.
SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS by computer security expert Matt Blaze.
CLINT BOLICK WRITES: "America never has effectively protected its interests by suspending individual liberties." It's hard to think of an example that proves him wrong.
FREEDOM & SAFETY: A false tradeoff? This Slashdot post makes an interesting point:
Okay, so the UK have CCTV cameras all over the country. Net result ? they can squelch pretty thefts in high streets and issue speeding tickets automatically. Yet the IRA still strike. Gee, I wonder why the camera didn't pick them up.
British citizens have "chosen" to give up their freedom for nothing.
That's only one example. In France, there is a law that forbids people to use any kind of encryption. Net result ? Algerian terrorists, the ETA, the FLNC still plant bombs in the country. French people too have given up their freedom for nothing.
I'm all for giving up things that make it possible to catch terrorists, but freedom is not one of them. Watching people is not the solution.
LOOKING FOR THE JONATHAN TURLEY ITEM? Scroll down.
SADDAM: Earlier I suggested that Osama might be a frontman or cut-out, with someone else, like Saddam, being the real party. Now former CIA director James Woolsey makes the same point. Advantage: Instapundit. UPDATE: Michael Barone points out that I'm wrong here. Woolsey's piece was dated 9/24/01 for the issue, but was actually posted on 9/13. Advantage: Woolsey!
RICHARD M. STALLMAN has a provocative essay about responses to terrorism on Slashdot. (You can read the hundreds of responses, pro and con, too).
EARLIER I SAID THAT WE SHOULD KEEP OUR EYES OPEN for a followup. I still mean it.
THIS IS NOT 1979 & WE ARE NOT THE SOVIETS: Here's a more optimistic take on military action. It's certainly true that the Taliban are now a conventional force, and can't turn into dispersed guerrillas while maintaining control of the country. If they head for the hills, the opposition, such as it is, takes over. (I understand we're grooming the former King, still in exile -- or at least he's trying to convince people that we are). I'd like to believe that improved sensor technology, etc. means that we can easily do what the Soviets failed at. I'm skeptical that it's that easy, though. And the question remains: what, exactly, do we get out of this? How is a major war in Afghanistan doing to advance our efforts to put the terrorists out of business. Sure, it may deny them a sanctuary, but there are lots of other places they can go (Sudan, Somalia, etc.). Most of those governments are now nominally on our side, but that may not be worth much. And they often don't really control what goes on within their borders anyway.
NEW ZEALAND is now saying that its special forces, as well as its intelligence service, will support the United States. I don't know much about the New Zealand intelligence service, but their special forces are supposed to be quite good. And better suited to the current situation than regular troops, as I suggest below.
It's not clear if this is a reversal of policy (which it seems like) or if the earlier story I cited simply gave the wrong impression. Whatever, it's good news.
TRAFFIC REPORT: Yesterday was the second-highest ever, just behind last Thursday. Thanks.
READER STEVE WORBOYS WRITES: "Your point about a long and ugly expedition in Afghanistan has ruined my evening. Like many people I want a savage and decisive military demonstration, yet when actually looked at for what it is, an Afghan campaign does seem to offer only unsavory prospects. . . How I long for the glittering, corrupt, sex-crazed, mindlessly happy America of a week ago."
Don't we all. With the exception of a few, like Frank Fukuyama, who apparently think that American society will somehow be "purified" by this crisis.
THE FBI IS ADVERTISING for volunteers to help its investigation. It wants translators with skill in Arabic, Farsi, Pashto and, interestingly, Mandarin Chinese.
A CHEERFUL OBSERVATON: When I was doing my "research" at the mall earlier today, they were selling lots of American flag T-shirts (proceeds going to the Red Cross). The shirts had a huge flag, with one word. What was the word? Vengeance? Tragedy? Nope. It was "Liberty."
YOU CAN'T CATCH A MAN WITH AN ARMORED DIVISION, or even a division of light infantry. Or three. Armies aren't designed to catch individuals, and they throw up so much confusion they probably facilitate escape. So if we invade Afghanistan, it has to be for reasons other than catching Osama bin Laden. What were those again?
If we want to punish the Taliban, of course, we don't have to "conquer" Afghanistan. We just have to wreck them enough to let the Northern Alliance take over. Then get out, and -- since all we want is to punish the Taliban -- we don't care what comes next. Which is probably a good thing, since what comes next will probably be lousy, one way or another.
Do we care that much, though? How important to our main agenda is punishing the Taliban? Important enough to tie up a bunch of troops in a nasty place for a year or three? And how likely is it that the Taliban are the authors of our misfortunes? Or that punishing them to that extent would have a salutary effect on others?
NOTE: It is certainly possible to conquer Afghanistan. We simply kill everyone we see (without being too fussy about how), except those who go in "protected zones" (sounds better than Concentration Camps) where we strip everyone of arms and kill anyone who looks like Taliban. Eventually, we turn the country over to the people we like. They won't have any trouble holding it, since we will have killed most of the people who disagree with them. This is the Boer War with better sanitation and a worse climate, and this technique always works if you don't mind being fairly murderous. It would be a massive undertaking, though I imagine the Russians would be more than happy to help. And certainly it's within our abilities if we care enough. But, again, what exactly do we get out of this?
A PROMISING "DIALOGUE" IN SLATE BETWEEN EUGENE VOLOKH AND STEWART BAKER on civil liberties and antiterrorism. I expect I'll side with Volokh more than Baker, but so far it's too early to say much.
BOTH JOSH MARSHALL AND MICKEY KAUS ARE MAKING FUN OF JONATHAN TURLEY because The Hill is identifying him as an expert on mideast terrorism.
As a terrorism expert myself, let me step up to defend Turley. Okay, my claims to expertise are a bit shaky (though so are everyone else's if you track results). But I've studied the ideology of militias and other "fringe" groups for quite a few years. After the Oklahoma City bombing I appeared on PBS's NewsHour along with Morris Dees and a couple of other people. The Washington Post lifted quotes from that appearance (in a somewhat shady way that gave the impression, without actually saying so, that the reporter had actually interviewed me and not just copied stuff from the TV) and identified me as an "expert on domestic terrorism." These Post quotes were recycled in various other papers, all the way to the Sydney Morning Herald, with my reputation growing along the way. (I think, if I remember right, that the Morning Herald promoted me to an "internationally-recognized" expert on domestic terrorism -- which I guess I was, once they said that anyway -- but it might have been the Straits Times).
Anyway, my point is that Turley shouldn't be flogged just for what The Hill said. They may have asked him to talk about something related to terrorism that he does know about, like federal law enforcement powers, or executive power under the Constitution, and then hyped it in their own way. God knows it wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. Heck, I know.
JOSH MARSHALL makes this important observation:
Just a thought. Quite a bit is being made of the fact that Pakistan is one of only three countries to have recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. But you don't hear so much about the fact that the other two are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
No, you don't.
READER TONY ADRAGNA SENDS THIS LINK to a Frontline page on Osama bin Laden. Note his 1996 declaration of war against the United States, excerpted there. (The full text of the declaration can be found here).
SUPERB POINT BY VIRGINIA POSTREL:
All three of the men who took action to save their fellow Americans, and quite likely the White House, from destruction were technology-company executives. They were the sort of people David Brooks has been bashing in The Weekly Standard for the past several years. (Sample passage, from this Weekly Standard article: "Nowadays when you walk amidst the office parks, you see a country that is great but insufficient too—great in its scientific accomplishments, in its tolerance and in its industriousness....And yet insufficient because of its self-satisfaction and complacency.") These men were the people who create national greatness, not the ones who talk about it. Like foreign enemies past and present (as well as many American preachers and writers), Brooks has mistaken the quiet pursuit of happiness for weakness and decadence. But no one who has actually spent much time in technology companies should be surprised.
Virginia won't be posting for a couple of days, in observance of Rosh Hashanah. Items like this make me wish it were otherwise. Knowing quite a few guys like this myself, I'm not surprised either.
READER THOMAS MCLISH takes issue with the Steyn quote below, which he says is no better than Jerry Falwell's nonsense. I disagree, and I think it's worth explaining why.
I don't believe that terrorism is "crazy" or "senseless." I think that it's a tool used rationally, by people who want things that they think terrorism can get them. (They may be crazy to want the things that they want, but that's a different story. Rationality is about matching means to ends, and ends are often not chosen rationally). People use terrorism when they think it will get them what they want.
When their goal is either to change the behavior of, or destroy the morale of, the West, they know that there is a significant group -- the Michael Moores and Edward Saids -- who will applaud, or at least make excuses for, whatever they do, and who will use it in ways that will advance those ends. This makes it more appealing: their acts of terrorism not only have direct effects, but strengthen their "allies" (or at least tools) within the West.
I also think that things like Durban (and, more generally, the mindset and set of international institutions it was part of), by rewarding those who shout their grievances the loudest, encourage the formulation and shouting of grievances. This, at least arguably, creates an atmosphere conducive to terrorism.
Gandhi launched a wonderful idea-weapon when he responded to the question "what do you think of Western civilization?" by saying "it would be a good idea." He also played, quite consciously, to the ignorance of most Westerners about Indian history, since many apparently thought that it was, somehow, less bloody or cruel. (Note to historical illiterates: it wasn't.) Western intellectuals of a certain ilk have happily played along with this game ever since. But all civilizations have roots in violence. Unless you're willing to make comparisons -- which Gandhi certainly wasn't doing, and which Michael Moore and Edward Said aren't today -- noting the violence at the base of any particular civilization means nothing.
Somebody once reviewed one of Germaine Greer's books and noted that to her any act, however unspeakable, was okay so long as the hand performing it was suitably brown and weathered. I don't remember the book that was reviewed, or where I read it, but the phrase seems to encapsulate a certain attitude on the part of a lot of Western intellectuals of a certain stripe. I think it's a pathological attitude, which is why I agree with Steyn.
This hardly makes me a "my country right-or-wrong" type, as anyone who has read much of InstaPundit should be able to tell. But the ability to make critical judgments is essential -- though I find it sadly lacking in many people who regard themselves as intellectuals.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II SANG A FOREIGN NATIONAL ANTHEM for the first time the other day. It was The Star Spangled Banner. She also sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Mark Steyn reports. God save -- or at least God bless -- the Queen. Steyn contrasts her behavior with that of the ninnies who are banning flags at schools and workplaces, or observing, as a teacher at his area high school did, that the Allies killed more people in Dresden than the terrorist did on Tuesday, and continues with this observation:
This is what brought us to Tuesday morning: the western world's 30-year campaign of self-denigration, culminating in its ludicrous determination to apologize for Western Civilization to the massed ranks of gangsters and dictators (supported as always by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, President-for-Life of the Republic of Himself) at Durban, a week before the massacres. This is the start of a long war, with civilians in the front line. We will never win it if we are ashamed of ourselves, our culture, our history.
That's why I thank the queen, a non-American but, pace the vice-provost of Lehigh University, not one who's uncomfortable with the emblems of the great republic that overthrew her forebear.
CONSTITUTION DAY: On this day in 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution. 214 years, and still going strong! Let's keep it that way.
WALTER SHAPIRO offers this observation: the number of NYC firefighters who died Tuesday exceeds the total number of servicepeople who have died in combat in the past 20 years.
RETAIL FRONT SITREP: Apparently the Retail Support Brigade has been doing its job. I just ventured out to the mall (returning lingerie for my wife's mother, who has a broken foot; surely this wins me some sort of son-in-law award). I made a point of strolling around and asking questions at different places like Proffitt's (a local chain that, through some weird pac-man type transaction, now owns Saks Fifth Avenue and a bunch of other stores), Godiva, Brooks Brothers, Waldenbooks, and so on.
All reported pretty much the same thing: Business was dead Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But Friday was good, and Saturday night and Sunday were, in the words of one, "like Christmas."
Recession? We don't need no stinkin' recession!
TALK SHOW HOSTS: I said earlier that the anti-hate role played by talk radio has gone woefully unreported. But not everyone has missed the story, as this report from The New York Times illustrates. When yahoos made death threats to an Iranian-owned restaurant in San Antonio, talk-radio hosts and callers denounced it. One host urged his listeners to go there for lunch. The result: a line that snaked out the door. This makes me proud.
NATIONAL ID CARDS: Let me get this straight. The federal government let these guys into the country even though they were on terrorist watch lists. It gave them pilot's licenses. But somehow a "National ID card" issued by the same government would have prevented them from hijacking airplanes?
This is a terrible idea and should be squashed now.
A THOUGHT: When we discussed this in one of my classes, many students pointed out that the evidence pointing toward Osama bin Laden seemed almost too good, too pat. Boasts in bars the night before, IDs and literature left behind in hotel rooms, etc., etc. Of course, it could be possible that bin Laden is either stupid, or just doesn't care whether we connect it to him. But consider these other two possibilities: (1) Somebody else is fingering him -- perhaps as an involved-but-not-central "cut out" or as a complete bit of misdirection -- so that we won't look past him to the real mastermind; or (2) this is disinformation being fed to the media by our own government to put the real culprits (Iraq or whoever) off guard. Keep your eye on this one.
AIRLINE PILOTS HAVE DECIDED TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST HIJACKERS:
"Each of us has probably decided that, no matter what, no one's going to get into our cockpits," said Ken Adams, an Atlanta MD-11 captain and air safety expert. "We've always been reluctant to resist hijackers because everyone's chances for survival improved if we cooperated. That's not the case anymore."
I think we're seeing the "de-wimping" of America. Good.
GOOD SENSE FROM TALK SHOW HOST NEAL BOORTZ:
LET’S NOT LOWER OURSELVES TO THE LEVEL OF THE TERRORISTS
I know a Sikh family in Atlanta. These are some of the kindest, gentlest people I know. In the guest room of my home there’s a note written on a chalkboard from a Muslim guest from Bangladesh we entertained a few years ago. These are gentle, loving people who do not deserve the anger of Americans.
Look – every religion has its extremists and fanatics. Just look at the Protestants throwing bombs at Catholic schoolgirls a ten day or so ago. Do we initiate random attacks on Protestants because of the vile acts they commit in Northern Ireland? Do we initiate random attacks on Christians every time hideous violence is carried out against abortion providers in the name of God?
Get a grip, folks. Just because you wear a turban doesn’t mean you’re an Arab. Sikhs are from India. Just because you attend a Christian church doesn’t mean you use sniper rifles to shoot doctors while they’re having breakfast with their children. With every news story of a random act of violence against someone with a turban, someone wearing a robe, someone who looks Middle Eastern, or someone with a Muslim name we lower ourselves in the world’s eyes to the level of the Taliban or another other religious fanatic extremists. Americans are better than that.
One underappreciated story of the past week has been the role of right-wing and libertarian talk radio hosts in calming public fears and overreaction. I think that, because these guys are not known for being PC, they have a lot more credibility in doing this. And the ones I've heard have been doing a superb job of urging against yahooism.
BUSH WILL BE ATTENDING AN EVENT DESIGNED TO SHOW THAT "AMERICAN MUSLIMS LOVE AMERICA TOO." This is very smart.
ADVICE FOR AMERICAN MUSLIMS (AND THE WHITE HOUSE): In previous wars, Americans of the same ethnic extraction as the enemy have been the major line of defense against infiltration, sabotage, etc. This makes sense: they're in a better position to spot phonies, and infiltrators usually try to blend in with those populations to escape scrutiny. Leaders in the American Muslim community should be working with the authorities (and vice versa) to encourage this sort of thing again.
This is a reason (entirely aside from the overpowering one that it's the right thing to do) for Americans to treat American Muslims with respect. They're our major line of defense against middle eastern terrorism. For this they deserve respect, and gratitude.
It's also a reason for American Muslims to take on this role with vigor. Nothing would do more to disprove the views of the yahoos who think that all Muslims, and all people of middle eastern extraction, are terrorists.
EXCELLENT PERSPECTIVE FROM BRUCE SCHNEIER AT Counterpane, an Internet Security firm. Quote:
Calls for increased security began immediately. Unfortunately, the quickest and easy
way to satisfy those demands is by decreasing liberties. This is always short sighted;
real security solutions exist that preserve the free society that we all hold dear, but
they're harder to find and require reasoned debate. Strong police forces without
Constitutional limitations might appeal to those wanting immediate safety, but the
reality is the opposite. Laws that limit police power can increase security, by enforcing
honesty, integrity, and fairness. It is our very liberties that make our society as safe as
It's refreshing to hear a security professional talking sense. Brutal security powers haven't prevented terrorism anywhere. China has a serious terrorism problem in its western provinces (hint: they're not that far from Afghanistan). Russia has a serious terrorism problem. Turkey has a serious terrorism problem. They all have, er, extremely vigorous security systems and not much in the way of constitutional restraints. And they all have worse terrorism problems than we do, overall, though of course Tuesday's attacks trump any single event.
Schneier goes on to say that he's been swamped with calls from reporters seeking the Internet angle, but that there isn't one. He notes, though, that new Internet restrictions are on the legislative calendar anyhow. Natch. Smart guy.
A THOUGHT: Jerry Falwell is being attacked even by the folks at Lucianne.Com. Ann Coulter, as I reported below, has taken a pasting from right- and libertarian academics.
But leftists who have said more or less the same kind of blame-the-victim crap, like Michael Moore, haven't gotten nearly the same degree of criticism from the left.
This says bad things about the American left today.
NEW ZEALAND has opted out of the ANZUS treaty rather than support the United States. Not surprising, as PM Helen Clark has traditionally been both Anti-American and Anti-Australian. This isn't terribly significant to the United States -- though it won't win any friends for New Zealand -- but it is an issue for New Zealand. New Zealand has largely dismantled its military, and it now has no allies, either. This doesn't strike me as a wise policy, but it's one for the Kiwis to live with.
Except, of course, that if they face any problems the United States will probably still save their bacon. Which puts a different face on their actions, doesn't it?
MORE OPPORTUNISM: In the wake of a tragedy where terrorists took advantage of disarmed Americans, California's Governor Gray Davis is seizing on the opportunity to push more gun controls -- the same thing he wanted before the tragedy. This is opportunism just as sleazy as Jerry Falwell's. But it won't get as much media criticism.
ITALIAN TROOPS WILL NOT PARTICIPATE in any military action. No comment.
TO CALL THIS TOM TOMORROW STRIP a cartoon would be wrong. But it's good. The illustrations are digital photos by Tom Tomorrow himself, I believe.
EBEN MOGLEN, who is a law professor at Columbia and general counsel of the Free Software Foundation, has this perspective on why the Microsoft case was settled. Basically, lots of people prefer a monopoly in the operating system area, for reasons of their own. Hardware manufacturers want bloatware that requires people to upgrade regularly; entertainment companies figure they can get anti-copying provisions built into a monopoly system that consumers would reject in a free market.
Moglen says that this will actually hasten the death of Microsoft, and he's probably right.
WHY THE WORLD TRADE CENTER? Caleb Carr offers this assessment in the New York Times Magazine. I think he's absolutely right. BTW, if you got the Times on paper, you apparently didn't get this magazine (I don't, so this is hearsay). It's online, but will go to subscribers later this week.
GREAT COLUMN BY SHELBY STEELE: He says the West should stop apologizing for the greatness of our civilization. He draws the connection -- which Andrew Sullivan has done as well -- between the hysterical anti-Westernism of the Durban conference and the mentality of the terror bombers. Quote:
Today the First World is dealing with an embarrassed Third World that is driven to save face against the anguish of an inferiority that is less and less blamable on others. The deep appeal of a Jesse Jackson or a Yasser Arafat, one reason they hang on as leaders despite every kind of public and private failing, is their ability to hide inferiority behind blame, to be the parent who sees no wrong in the child.
But blame is only the most common defense against this embarrassment. Terrorism is another. The shame of languishing in the midst of freedom generates a touchy, narcissistic sensibility and an abiding faith that, but for the evil of others, one's superiority would be self-evident. The terrorist act is a self-referential event, a self-congratulation that smothers the feeling of inferiority in one glorious blaze of spite. Here, finally, is the effectiveness that is so absent elsewhere. Even if you cannot build the World Trade Center's towers--emblems of demonstrable Western superiority--you can come along of a Tuesday morning and, like God himself, strike them down.
This excerpt doesn't really do justice to what is an excellent column throughout. Read the whole thing.
HOW MUCH OF OUR AGENDA MUST BE SUBMERGED TO ANTITERRORISM asks Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post. Diehl's point is that all the nations joining with us are going to ask for things in exchange for their support (they've already started) and putting together an effective alliance requires a lot of wheel-greasing to go along with the arm-twisting. He's right. When you make one thing an overriding priority (and I'm not arguing against it) you necessarily make other things less of a priority. But which other things? And how much less? That's the question that the foreign policy team needs to get right.
VIRGINIA POSTREL FILES another Retail Support Brigade report from the mall at Plano, Texas -- along with cool pix from the new digital camera she bought there. Let's keep this economy rollin'! She has good advice from Dan Gillmor, too: don't buy stock today, despite what the emails say. If you want to support the market, buy mutual funds, but the infrastructure doesn't need the extra burden of lots of small odd-lot purchases. It'll have enought trouble just getting through a normal day.
BOB HERBERT comments very soundly on the best (and worst) in the reaction to Tuesday's attacks. I'm not usually a big fan of Herbert's, but he's one of the many people who have outdone themselves since Tuesday.
READER JIM HENLEY SAYS IT WELL:
In all my grief and horror as the story unfolded on the television Tuesday, I couldn't help but notice how Peter Jennings kept talking about how "Things would [have to] change in this country" in the wake of the attacks, that "we" would have to accept less freedom and like that. It made me angry. The reason is that the "we" is spurious - Peter Jennings and Dick Gephardt don't mean that _Peter Jennings and Dick Gephardt_ will have less freedom. They'll still fly first class; they'll wait in the VIP lounges; they'll continue to have access to the airwaves to say what they deem to be sayable. They mean that the _rest_ of us will have to change.
What they mean is that the _differential_ between their lives and our lives "will have to" increase. I'm old enough to remember when air travel was something rich people did. When I was a lad, my grandfather was not CBS, nor NBC nor ABC - to spread his socialist opinions he had to resort to haranguing the neighbors. Free enterprise and the free exchange of ideas put everyone who wants to in the sky and on the net. Drive up the cost of travel in the name of security, and the cost of communication in the name of security, and travel and "publication" become, once again, the purviews of the elite. . . .
War and crisis are good for business if you are in broadcasting or government. For that reason, we mustn't expect official media to defend any rights but their own in the coming struggle.
SLASHDOT HAS THIS GUIDE TO PRESERVING OUR RIGHTS ONLINE despite new security efforts. Quote:
And then there's email and the World Wide Web. Imagine a technically unhip Senator or Member of Congress who has read about Osama bin Laden allegedly using encrypted email and secret messages hidden in online porn to communicate with his followers and allies. Put the words "Osama bin Laden" in the same sentence as "pornography" and "the Internet," and you had better get out of the way of the avalanche of anti-online privacy laws coming your way -- or get crushed by them, even if people like bin Laden can switch to other means of communication at the drop of a hat.
Worse, disagreeing with the U.S. government right now may almost be viewed as treason in some quarters. "My Country, Right or Wrong" was a popular bumper sticker among the gunrack-and-confederate-flag pickup truck crowd in the late 60s, and this attitude, if not yet the bumper sticker itself, has been making a major comeback
The problem with the "My Country, Right or Wrong" attitude is that it allows our government to go terribly wrong in many ways that may not be made right again for a long time, if ever. As Rep. Rivers pointed out Saturday, once laws are made that are supposed to help law enforcement in some way, they are almost never repealed because Members of Congress don't want to be seen as "soft on terrorism, soft on crime, soft on drugs."
Excellent account of a meeting by civil libertarians and members of Congress on what to do. Also specific advice on how to lobby Congress to protect freedom, and information and links on how to contact your Representative and Senators most effectively. Read it and be informed.
JUST CAME FROM THE LITTLE MEMORIAL SERVICE THAT MY NEIGHBORHOOD PUT ON FOR ONE OF US WHOSE SISTER WAS KILLED AT THE PENTAGON. There was a wonderful spirit of love and community. But also one of anger. It's well summed up by this paragraph of Andrew Sullivan's:
But whenever Americans have been challenged, they have risen to the task. In some awful way, these evil thugs may have done us a favor. America may have woken up for ever. The rage that will follow from this grief and shock may be deeper and greater than anyone now can imagine. Think of what the United States ultimately did to the enemy that bombed Pearl Harbor. Now recall that American power in the world is all but unchallenged by any other state. Recall that America has never been wealthier, and is at the end of one of the biggest booms in its history. And now consider the extent of this wound - the greatest civilian casualties since the Civil War, an assault not just on Americans but on the meaning of America itself. When you take a step back, it is hard not to believe that we are now in the quiet moment before the whirlwind. Americans will recover their dead, and they will mourn them, and then they will get down to business. Their sadness will be mingled with an anger that will make the hatred of these evil
fanatics seem mild.
Or as the sign on a local sporting goods shop put it, less grandly but no less eloquently: "YOU SORRY BASTARDS ARE FUCKED."
RUMORMONGERING: Attending another birthday party today, I was speaking with one of the parents who's ex-military. He said his friends called him on Monday to say that forces up and down the East Coast were being alerted, including a Navy fighter squadron.
I don't want to make too much of this, but I haven't head this anywhere else. Has it been reported? If true, it may mean that there was more warning than we've heard about. But, obviously, not enough.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE -- CHICAGO SITREP: Lynne Kiesling files the following report from Chicago:
I am happy to report from Chicago that the informal membership in the Retail Support Brigade is large (in addition to my formal membership!). In one of our main "boutiquey" areas this afternoon, restaurants and shops were crowded and many flags and ribbon pins were in evidence. I myself took the opportunity to buy an expensive pair of snowboots, a purchase I've been postponing for years.
This street is also in a residential neighborhood, and several of the neighborhood children worked together to set up two tables selling homemade cookies, brownies, lemonade, and ribbon pins, with all proceeds going to the relief effort. Store windows have stars and stripes themes, and many employees are wearing flag t-shirts and ribbons. The feeling of unity and community, usually quite robust for such a large city, surpassed any I have ever experienced here.
I am grateful to you, Virginia, and the others whose links you have provided who are arguing publicly for the simultaneous vigilance against terrorism and for individual liberty. We can't be reminded enough that some of the phrases that we may think sound trite in the postmodern world, like "we are a country founded on an idea" and "those willing to give up essential liberty for security deserve neither" have real meaning.
I'm also informed that the "Target Osama" store that I linked to below has been shut down by CafePress.Com as "too controversial." Personally, I don't see what's so controversial about pictures of Osama Bin Laden with a bullseye superimposed on his face. But hey, maybe that's just me.
A THOUGHT: If I were the evil mastermind, I would have planned for another attack, also attention-getting and completely different, to happen about the time people were starting to relax, but close enough to capitalize on the preexisting shock. At my best guess, that would be sometime later this week. So people should keep their eyes open.
MORE FROM THE RETAIL FRONT: This message is spreading, as this thread from a wargamers' chat board suggests (found through the wonders of referrer-id tracking). Of course, I wasn't really suggesting weaponry as the main purchase item....
RETAIL FRONT SITREP: Just visited my local Borders. It looks to be doing a strong business today. They're sold out of Jim Dunnigan books ("A Quick and Dirty Guide to War," "How to Make War," etc.). Stephen Ambrose is doing very well, but then he always does. Instead of the usual classical or alt.rock, they were playing lots of WWII-era music: "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," various Glenn Miller, Harry James, etc.
I don't mean to harp on this nostalgia thing. If it just reminds people that things are serious, fine. But this war won't look much like World War Two, and it's better if people keep that in mind.
And for those who want a less-glorified version of World War Two, I would recommend the superb Pogiebait's War by Jack McCall. It's a warts-and-all report, but surprisingly moving.
MORE ON ABANDONING THE "CULTURE OF PASSIVITY": This superb column on United Airlines' Flight 93 by Brian Carney says it well. Are we seeing a real sea change in attitudes here? Maybe. Quote:
Those heroes who gave their lives in the service of others deserve boundless praise and admiration. But we would honor their memory more by learning from their example. The price of a free society is a citizenry willing to defend those freedoms, to die for them if necessary. . . .
While it is true that lightly armed terrorists might hesitate to hijack a plane if they believed that a gun-toting sky marshal would shoot them for brandishing a knife, it is also true that a nation of Thomas Burnetts would need no marshal to protect them. . . .
It has already been suggested that we have left ourselves open to these attacks by being an open and free society. This is a lie. It is also insidious, as it will be used as an excuse to curtail our freedoms if we do not resist the lie.
We are faced with a choice: We can look to the government to institute measures to defend us against these attacks, or we can resolve, each of us, to learn from Thomas Burnett's example, to have the courage to stand up for the freedoms we cherish. Government has always been a poor defender of individuals' liberty. That is why, when the Founding Fathers agreed on a Bill of Rights to amend to our Constitution, it consisted of 10 measures to protect citizens from the state, and not from each other.
This would have seemed extreme to many last week. Let's hope that by next week it just seems obvious.
ANNE APPLEBAUM offers excellent insight on the kind of war it's going to take to do anything about this problem:
Pro-Western Muslims, or rather Muslims who are interested in creating liberal, tolerant, Islamic societies, are our only legitimate allies in this struggle. Not only are they just as deeply opposed to fundamentalism as we are, they are much better equipped to compete against it, as they can offer a counterexample: a way to live a good Islamic life in the modern world. Both the military and the political means we use to fight against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism must be subtler than ever before, certainly subtler than they were during the Clinton administration. A few cruise missiles hitting a few dubious targets isn't going to fix anything for long.
She also points out that the Clinton Administration's repeated rebuffs to Taliban opposition group the Northern Alliance may well turn out to be the greatest foreign-policy blunder of the past decade.
THE BBC IS REPORTING that the major ISPs are cooperating with the FBI by providing access to user information and records. It's not reported whether or not the FBI has obtained warrants (although earlier searches of Hotmail did involve warrants). Keep your eyes on this; what's being done now as an "emergency" item looking for terrorists could easily become a routine matter, used to look for people suspected of ordinary crimes -- or even to troll for evidence of criminal intent on the part of random people for whom there's no basis for suspicion. That's what to be wary of -- because it's what the FBI has wanted for years.
TERRIFIC PIECE on air safety by Dave Kopel and United Airlines Pilot Dave Pettey. The basic point is one I've made here before (they quote InstaPundit on plastic knives), but with lots of detail and technical explanations. Best point: we need to move beyond the "culture of passivity" and encourage people to take active responsibility for their own safety and that of others. Indeed.
SHOPPER ALERT: Here you have it -- the first anti-Osama merchandise that I've seen (though I've probably missed something). One of the wonders of the market is that it can move so fast. (This, I should note, was set up by a loyal InstaPundit reader who doesn't want his name released.)
A READER YESTERDAY suggested that I was obsessing on fears that Congress won't respect constitutional rights sufficiently. But, frankly, their record is lousy even on nonwar subjects. Exhibit A is the quote from Rep. Henry Waxman over on Mickey Kaus's site. Waxman is trying to find out if Jack Welch (head of GE, which owns NBC) influenced election-night coverage. In the passage Kaus quotes, Waxman is frothing at the mouth at the effrontery of Welch's argument that the First Amendment means he doesn't have to answer questions. Welch, Waxman froths, isn't a journalist!
As my extensive coverage of the Vanessa Leggett matter earlier on InstaPundit should illustrate, the government is always trying to limit First Amendment protection to the equivalent of licensed journalists. This is, of course, a transparent effort at (1) limiting First Amendment protection; and (2) controlling those to whom it is limited.
Why don't I trust these guys? Ask Henry Waxman. Of course, he'll probably tell you my opinions don't count, since I'm not a licensed journalist.
SPEAKING OF VIRGINIA'S SITE: Lisa snell there writes about her children's school, which opposes Power Rangers and all talk of weapons or violence. She notes: "People are always talking about how bad television is for children and they seldom talk about how bad their schools are for children. Yet, I would rather be on a highjacked airplane with someone inoculated by Power Rangers than someone who believes the message of every school institution: that weapons are bad and that the authorities and the government will solve all problems and protect you."
Then I read this on Jerry Pournelle's webpage:
A terrorist attack -- hijacking, or anything else -- is, tactically, an ambush. The attackers have the advantage of planning, preparation and surprise. The defenders -- the rest of us -- have to react by disrupting their plans as rapidly and decisively as possible. It's hardly an instinctive reaction to charge an armed man, but cold logic tells us it's the correct reaction. Any plan that takes longer than a few seconds to unfold can be altered, even aborted, by the intended victims. As Flight 93 shows us, that can make the difference between a mere tragedy and a catastrophe.
Terrorists are almost always outnumbered by their intended victims who are close enough to stop them. That ambush reaction needs to become instinctive among the able-bodied portion of our populace. Perhaps it can replace the "innocence" that so many commentators have been wailing that we've "lost."
Both of these writers are onto something. We've spent a lot of time trying to prevent harm by becoming harmless. To anyone with knowledge of history, this was pretty obviously a mistake. Now it's pretty obviously a mistake to anyone, period -- except those who are invulnerable to experience and logic. Sadly, there are quite a few of those. But not a majority.
THE RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE HAS OPENED A NEW FRONT over at what Virginia Postrel properly calls InstaPundit's unofficial companion site, vpostrel.com. If shopping is what it takes to win this thing, America can't be beat.
GOOD NIGHT. Enjoyed a 6-year-old's birthday party tonight. That's what life's about.
HOW DO WE KNOW THINGS ARE RETURNING TO NORMAL? I just saw Gary Condit on CNN for the first time in almost a week. I didn't miss him, though.
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