OKAY, ONE MORE TNR ITEM: Just because these guys sound so smart that, well, they must have been reading InstaPundit: "For a start, Operation Enduring Freedom is not a humanitarian intervention. It is a war in defense of the United States. If we leave behind a country in chaos that can no longer serve as a base of operations against us, then we will have accomplished a necessary objective."
D'OH! "Do I really have to worry about that? I've got enough on my plate right now." That's National Security Adviser Anthony Lake in 1994, quoted in The New Republic, talking about the threat of anthrax bioterrorism. Of course, Lake's not the only one looking dumb in retrospect, as the article makes clear:
When a researcher in Amherst, Massachusetts, began work on a promising new anthrax vaccine in the late 1980s, for instance, he was protested by the Quaker-led American Friends Service Committee, which petitioned local officials to declare the town "a biological warfare research-free zone." And when, less than a week before the September 11 attacks, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon had been secretly conducting advanced anthrax vaccine research in Ohio, the news was presented as a disturbing sign that the United States might be violating the spirit of a global bioweapons ban.
Bet they feel different about that vaccine research now at the Times
-- at least, I'm sure the mailroom folks do.
WHO SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: Not Kofi Annan, obviously. Here's who Peter Beinart suggests in The New Republic:
Egyptian academic Saad Eddin Ibrahim.
Ibrahim, an internationally respected sociologist, was sentenced to seven years in prison this May on a number of trumped up charges that amount to this: He challenged Hosni Mubarak to hold free elections, respect Egypt's Coptic Christian minority, and make real peace with Israel. He is exactly the kind of person Arab governments want the world to ignore--because he exposes just how vicious and corrupt they really are. And he is exactly the kind of person the world--and particularly the U.S.--needs to champion if we want to win the war on terrorism. . . .
What Ibrahim's plight makes clear is that when a government abandons the rule of law in its fight against fundamentalists, it usually abandons it altogether. So while it's true that Egypt's crackdown has crippled Islamic terrorism, it has also crippled Egypt's civil society.
Yeah, he's right. Though several emailers have reminded me that the Shah -- a major liberalizer -- didn't fall because he was too harsh, but because he wasn't harsh enough. And he didn't fall to people who objected to his human rights violations, but merely to people who wanted to conduct different
human rights violations of their own. Unfortunately, they're right, too.
CHRIS MOONEY OF THE AMERICAN PROSPECT SENDS a pointer to this interesting piece on racial/ethnic profiling. A majority of Arab-Americans, he notes, aren't Muslim. What's more, a majority of Muslims aren't Arabs. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, Al Qaeda has links to the blond, blue-eyed Bosnian Muslims, who don't feel nearly as much gratitude to the United States for saving them from genocide as they should. Quote:
The vast majority of Arabs are Christians: 42 percent Catholic, 23 percent Orthodox, 12 percent Protestant.
This simple fact has enormous consequences for any notion of anti-terrorist profiling that depends, even partly, upon race. Osama bin Laden's calls for jihad against innocent U.S. citizens simply aren't going to register with Christian Arabs, any more than they would with Jews or atheists. So it makes little sense to subject these individuals, who comprise 77 percent of the Arab population in the U.S., to the same type of treatment that might be warranted when it comes to male, Muslim Arabs. Indeed, religion -- not even mentioned by Noonan -- may be a more significant factor in identifying terrorists than race. Who can doubt that Al Quaeda would have a far easier time recruiting hate-filled non-Arab Muslims from Indonesia than non-Muslim Arabs in the U.S.?
PROFESSOR EUGENE VOLOKH has emailed me to suggest that a "women and children first" vaccination strategy may be unconstitutional, as a violation of equal protection. He may be right. I'm going to have to think about this one.
PROGRESSIVE MUSLIMS IN AMERICA TAKE ON FUNDAMENTALISTS: It's about time.
BERKELEY IS "REELING" OVER THE REACTION to its political stances since 9/11, especially the anti-bombing resolution, according to this article. A spontaneous boycott is killing local businesses, and the angry calls and emails -- many from within Berkeley -- keep coming in to City Hall. The times, they are a'changin'.
THE RIAA GETS DIABOLICALLY CLEVER: Michael Jackson's new album is free on the Internet. If you download it -- here's the evil part -- you'll probably listen to it. Buwahahaha! I told you those guys were diabolically clever.
STUDENTS ARE ORGANIZING PROTESTS AT CAMPUSES AROUND THE COUNTRY: Only this time, they're pro-war protests. Even at Berkeley, a group called United Students for America is planning a 1,500-strong protest for Wednesday.
MARK FITZGIBBONS EXPLAINS what's wrong with the new "antiterrorism" law -- not least, that it isn't about terrorism:
The new law does have some good provisions that strengthen America’s borders and require the tracking of aliens in the United States on visas. Had such measures been in place before Sept. 11, they may have reduced the chances of the terrorist attacks succeeding. But many provisions of the new law apply more to mainstream activities than terrorism, and there are no guarantees that the law will be used solely against suspected terrorist activities.
For example, the new anti-terrorism law allows law enforcement authorities greater access to personal, business and educational institution records, expands the scope of subpoenas, and delays notice of search warrants for any criminal investigations—not just those cases pertaining to terrorism.
History has shown us that type of laws are vulnerable to abuse—and the concern now is the inevitability that these new laws will be used out of proper context by administrative agencies against unpopular businesses, outspoken critics of the government, and just plain unlucky citizens.
Fitzgibbons is right, and it's important to remind government officials that this crisis, too, will end. They may be forgiven for honest mistakes, but they won't be forgiven for deliberate or reckless abuses. The past couple of decades have made this clear in other countries -- can you say Pinochet? -- and it will be truer in a country as litigious and unrespectful of authority as ours.
WHO IS STRATFOR? I referred to them as "Insta-Experts" because I hadn't heard of them before 9/11. But since one of the few perks of being a law professor is free access to NEXIS, I searched 'em. They've certainly gotten a lot of attention since, but they had 527 mentions before 9/11. However, they'd had 10 in the month before, and 38 in the month afterward, with the mention rate seeming to climb throughout.
None of this, of course, says anything one way or another about whether they're right. Their stuff is well-written, logical, and plausible. Which only means they're reasonable people, not that they're right or wrong, but does account for their popularity. I'll bet a lot of 'em are former wargamers.
OH PUHLEEZ: Searching "anthrax" on google is now producing ads for outfits selling "mail sterilizers" and "home protection kits."
AMERICA THE SENSIBLE: That's the point of an article in The Economist, which sensibly enough echoes InstaPundit. People (except for a few excitable types mostly in Washington) aren't panicking. They aren't slavering for bloodthirsty revenge against anyone in America who looks middle eastern. They're determined and largely unafraid.
Are Americans concerned? Certainly. Are they taking precautions? You bet. But are they in a state of tight-sphinctered panic? Not a bit. The whingers who reached for their lawyers when their coffee was too hot have seen the light. The can-do pioneers who tamed a wild continent and then helped to win three world confrontations have not disappeared after all.
Yep. It's better reporting than we've seen in some of the panic-stricken American media. I'll bet The Economist
knows the difference between sewage and drinking water, too.
SAM MACDONALD reports on how the "anti-terrorism" bill was rammed through without reporters -- or even most members of Congress -- really understanding what was in it. (Declan McCullagh is quoted as saying he couldn't even get a copy until after it passed).
The best preventative for abuses: making government officials understand that people are watching, and that the crisis atmosphere of the present will not protect them from being held accountable for abuses once the crisis has passed.
SOPHISTICATED ADDITIVE? The Daschle anthrax is supposed to have a supersophisticated additive in it called Bentonite. Bentonite is clay. It's in kitty litter. Perhaps (perhaps) the way it was used is somehow supersophisticated, but the reporting on this subject, frankly, sucks. But then what do you expect when you've got reporters who can't tell sewage from drinking water covering bioterrorism?
TALIBAN EXECUTE CIVILIANS "INDISCRIMINATELY" -- but aren't facing criticism from "humanitarian" groups that criticize the U.S. for dropping a bomb a hundred yards from a senior citizens' center. Go figure.
Here are some choice items from the U.N. report by UN HRC investigator Kamal Hossain:
Some victims "were tortured prior to execution, particularly through bayoneting and mutilation by knives," it said. At least one firing squad victim was skinned, it said.
The soldiers also broke into homes, "where women and children were terrorized and in many cases food stocks and valuables were looted," the report said.
"Evidence of the scale and method of execution suggests that it could not have been done without the knowledge of the Taliban commanders," it said.
Funny, I've heard Doctors Without Borders criticize U.S. food drops -- but I haven't heard a word from them about this.
INTERNET WIRETAPS PRO-TERRORISM? According to this article in FoxNews.Com: "[T]he FBI has plans to change the architecture of the Internet and route traffic through central servers that it would be able to monitor e-mail more easily."
Hmm. Take a decentralized architecture designed to survive a nuclear war, and centralize it. What do you get? A big fat target for terrorists. If you could damage one or more of those "central servers" you could bring the economy to a halt. (And the bottlenecks created by this architecture would probably slow things down enough to do the terrorists' work for them. Or is this really an RIAA stalking-horse?)
Smart move, guys. How much are we paying you? Whatever it is, it's too much.
THE DANGERS OF POLLING: This wonderful letter from the L.A. Times says it all:
"Cinema Gunplay: Drop Dead" (editorial, Oct. 24) states that gun violence is the main thing that turns people off from a movie. Strange, then, that just a couple of weeks ago, the No. 1 movie in America was "Training Day," an extremely violent movie with lots of guns. Just goes to show you that anyone with a capacity for critical thinking ignores what led you to this conclusion: a poll.
When are the media going to get it through their heads that polls are inherently unreliable? I could go into a hundred reasons why this is the case, but I'll stick to just one. What kind of people were these 462 subjects who answered this poll? I'll tell you: They are the kind of people who don't have the courage to tell the telemarketer who invaded their private time to conduct a poll to buzz off. These people are wimps; of course gun violence in movies will turn them off.
This explains a lot about polls and politics, doesn't it?
ANTI-WESTERNISM AND NEONAZISM? Fulfilling the prediction I made below, Elizabeth Nickson says that Ladenism isn't really an Islamic idea, but a bastard child of the anti-Enlightenment values taught in Western universities. She says that people who espouse such ideas should be treated the way neo-Nazis are treated:
Sooner or later, this crypto-fascism -- Islamic or Western -- will be traced to the places from which it arose, our universities. The revolutionary theorists we hire to teach our children, and who eat up vast quantities of our cash, must be held to account. What are they teaching our kids, what is the future they see, and why are we paying for it, when their ultimate goal is to bring down our culture? We do not tolerate academics teaching neo-Nazism. How much did this poison, operating in the heart of our culture, contribute to our current state? The language they use, the assumptions that they make must be criticized, must be laid bare so we can see what underpins the thinking. This is not censorship, it is engagement. If we do not so engage, the ruinous fantasies of those to whom we entrust our greatest treasure, our brightest children, will bring our civilization down. Certainly that is, on the evidence of their writings in the humanities at least, their goal.
After decades of saying that intellectual inquiry must be stifled to serve larger social purposes, how will they respond?
UNDERSTANDING THEIR ANGER: Alan Anderson asks why people hate anti-American campus radicals:
A professor at a New Mexico university tells his class, “Anyone who blows up the Pentagon has my vote,” and finds himself the target of death threats. A professor at a Texas university expresses similar sympathies for the murderers of Sept. 11 and is similarly targeted. Finally, a college senior at Emory University in Atlanta burns an American flag and is violently assaulted by two fellow students. I — along with most Americans, I’m sure — condemn these acts of violence and intimidation directed toward the America-hating radicals on our college campuses in the strongest terms possible and agree the perpetrators of these acts should be hunted down and dealt with appropriately.
And yet ...
Should we be satisfied with such a simplistic response to violence directed against our campus radicals? Should we be so quick to judge those who commit acts of violence against them with such stark, black-and-white arguments as “people have a right to free speech regardless of how stupid said speech might be?”
Shouldn’t we, instead, at least try to understand what prompts these people who love their country to violence against those who don’t? Put simply, shouldn’t we go beyond such pre-postmodern modes of thinking and examine the root causes of terrorism directed toward our campus radicals?
I think we should.
Consider, for example, the two students at Emory University, who allegedly (only allegedly, mind you) beat the stuffing out of another student for burning a flag on a student-run radio show. Let us consider the world in which these two students live. . . .
A pretty amusing expose of a double standard.
Joanne Jacobs presents a passage from Stanley Kurtz on the puerile desire of many university types to set themselves against the society of which they are part -- not on any particular issue, but in general. This was always stupid; it has now reached the point at which people are beginning to ask why they put up with it. And -- having spent the past few decades undermining (hell, frontally assaulting) the ideas of free speech, open debate, and intellectual inquiry -- the anti-American professoriate is left with few arguments that it can use in its own defense.
This is richly deserved, but I hope there won't be too much collateral damage.
THE CLONING BAN PROPOSAL STINKS: I wrote a lot on this issue before 9/11, but it's still important. Reason Online has this item on why the proposal to criminalize cloning research is a terrible idea. There are statements from lots of people, including former Presidential Science Adviser George Keyworth, Dartmouth theologian Ron Green, Bioethicist Arthur Caplan, authors Michael Lind and Daphne Patai, and yours truly. Read it. For one thing, it doesn't mention Afghanistan, Osama, or anthrax even once.
RAND SIMBERG has a reference to this Robert Novak column about police chiefs' -- and Rudy Giuliani's -- extreme dissatisfaction with FBI cooperation since September 11.
But here's the most damning thing the chiefs say about the FBI, and it's completely true: "Police chiefs would open the FBI to the same probing of decisions and actions that they routinely perform after the fact. They also would like the same rules for the bureau that govern most of the nation's police departments. In the FBI, nobody takes the fall for blundering." Amen, Bob.
In war, the learning curve is the single most important thing. You learn from analyzing failure. The FBI's official position is that it never experiences failure. This impedes learning, to say the least.
CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE SHUT JOE BIDEN UP? This article from The Times of India quotes Biden as saying that the United States is planning how to neutralize Pakistan's nuclear forces if Pakistan's government collapses.
I certainly hope it's true. But why the hell is Biden saying it in public? I'm sure it's not helping to have this publicized -- in an Indian newspaper no less -- so that Pakistani military people can read it. Jeez.
Of course, I'd like to believe that Biden is playing a carefully staged role, furthering some sort of military-diplomatic interest, not just shooting his mouth off stupidly. I'd like to, but I don't.
NOT-SO-DARK WINTER: Reader Cal Ulmann pointed me to Alex Knapp's posting about this article by Steven Milloy (InstaPundit: giving credit to everyone!) reporting that the CDC has found smallpox to be significantly less contagious than the Dark Winter scenario assumed. Dark Winter is based on a 1-person-infects-10 virulence; historical evidence suggests it's more like 1-infects-2. That makes a big difference. Hope the CDC is right. That's no reason not to be cranking out vaccine, but it's a reason to worry a bit less.
THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT SMALLPOX: Writing in the new and ugly-redesigned Slate, Jon Cohen writes that epidemiological experience suggests smallpox vaccinations continue to work for up to 50 years. Good news for me -- mine' s 30 years old. Smallpox terrorism could thus produce a dreadful blowback, since it would be a lot worse in unvaccinated third world countries than in the target developed countries, which have a lot more people who were vaccinated.
SLASHDOT IS REPORTING that the SSSCA hearings have been cancelled due to massive opposition. Perhaps because the bill -- a sort of DMCA on steroids -- was authored by Satan Himself?
Shame on Fritz Hollings for even thinking about this bill. Now he looks like a tool, for nothing. Whatever they paid him for this, it wasn't enough.
GOODBYE, PAT -- OR IS IT GOOD RIDDANCE? Barton Wong writes in Spintech Magazine:
It's been announced that Patrick J. Buchanan, "a senior adviser to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000, is swearing off politics and relaunching his popular twice-weekly column in WorldNetDaily." Pat is swearing off politics? I rather think that politics was swearing off him.
ANTHRAX MAIL: ECO-TERRORISM? That's what this article argues. The author, Tom DeWeese, is hardly unbiased. But his arguments are nontrivial.
The truth, of course, is that we don't know. Dave Neiwert speculates that it's right-wing militia types in Salon today (it's a "Premium" article -- translation, something you used to get for free but now pay for -- so I'm not linking). And there's actually a lot of evidence suggesting that the obvious suspects -- the hijackers -- were actually behind it. So people shouldn't get too carried away.
BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: Actually, there are signs of hope, in this column by Jasmin Yang challenging identity politics from the Daily Californian. No wonder so many of the thought police at Berkeley hate this paper:
As a New York native turned Valley girl, I have no apologies for where and how I was raised. I don't have to prove my Asian credibility to anyone, especially not to other Asian people who feel that I'm something other than what I should be. While identity politics are not as neatly synthesized and beautifully packaged as they are on after-school specials, and while I can't say that I have it all figured out, I am aware and conscious of the dichotomy between my upbringing and heritage. As an aside to those who are so quick to define what the essence of Asian (sounds like a drugstore perfume!) ought to be, I say the following: Revolution is an all-or-nothing thing and hypocrisy only becomes more evident when others are implicated and critiqued. How logical is it to go to school and live in America, to drink the same soft drinks and watch the same TV shows that corporate America feeds you, and then turn around and deny that you're the least bit American. Culture is not like a dining commons buffet where you get to pick and choose what is popular, safe or generally considered edible. It's like driving Japanese cars and hating Japanese people. It doesn't follow. And you've no business complaining about how badly other ethnic groups treat you if you can't even keep from disparaging those of your own kind.
Who cares if we're the salad bowl or the melting pot? We're confused cultural mutts. I don't have any romantic illusions about going back the homeland, about finding my people, about "keeping it real" and dating only Asian people.
The Daily Cal
is becoming a very interesting paper. Prediction: many of the non-PC writers there will go on to great things. Their critics, on the other hand, are experiencing the peak of their sad little careers of hate-mongering right now.
THIS LETTER FROM AN AMERICAN MUSLIM in the New York Times is the sort of thing we need to be seeing more of.
Suicide is prohibited by the Koran, as is the killing of innocent civilians. Many Muslims seem to be in deep denial about the tragic events of Sept. 11, and some are even coming up with conspiracy theories about who was responsible.
We should stand up and resist the Taliban-like forces in the American mosques that mandate a draconian Muslim system that bars women from work, prohibits television, music and dancing and punishes men who trim their beards. We should discourage importing scholars from abroad who are unaware of the social context and dynamics of this society.
I like the last sentence. It's time for people to start showing sensitivity to our
CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: Tom Tomorrow channels Patrick Ruffini on tormenting the Taliban with homosexuality, atheism, and all sorts of other things the Taliban don't like about us. New T-Shirt Idea: "We're Here, We're Queer -- Get Used to it, Osama!"
READER ALEXANDER DEL CASTILLO forwards this article from NRO by Victor Davis Hanson. Best quote:
I watch the well-heeled upper echelon on television chastising our government and then see my twin brother — with decrepit pickup truck, fighting the lowest agricultural prices since the Great Depression, losing an ancestral small farm to the bank — proudly driving in and out with a tattered flag flying from his truck antenna. Recent emigrants in Selma, my hometown — which is now nearly 85 percent Mexican-American — have plastered fresh American decals over faded Mexican flags. Yet when I come to work, professors, who have done far better in America, suggest that our classes should now read Edward Said to "understand" the crisis "in its proper prospective." Those who are not thriving in America seem incensed by attacks on their country, while the beneficiaries of this wonderful system of freedom and capitalism are cranky — like angry puppies who gnaw and chew at their mother's ample teats. . . .
I think fashionable anti-Americanism and pacifism have now become completely aristocratic pursuits, the dividends of limited experience with the muscular classes and the indulgence such studied distance breeds. Our pampered critics may be as clever as Odysseus, but they have lost his nerve, strength, and sense of morality. And so they have neither the ability nor desire to ram a hot stake into the eye of the savage Cyclops to save their comrades.
In contrast, those who toil with their hands for a living, who become unemployed frequently and work two jobs, who take out loans for their kids to go to college at public universities, and who do real things like grow food, put out fires, and arrest felons, have a very practical view of human kind — not all that different from the pessimistic assessment of the old hard-as-nails veteran Thucydides himself.
Well said. The academy is supposed to teach about the world, not to try to pretend that the world is as it would prefer.
GREAT PIECE by John Fund on arming pilots. Pilots used to be required to carry guns. 75% of Americans want them to be armed. But the FAA is opposing it. Somebody call Jane Garvey and tell her to get with the program.
THE NEW REPUBLIC features this article debunking the "international aid community's" opposition to food drops.
The truth is that it's not the Taliban who are worried about distinguishing between military and strictly humanitarian relief; it's the aid agencies. In part this reflects institutional narcissism. Just as surgeons tend to think medical problems should be addressed with surgery, aid agencies tend to think humanitarian crises should be addressed by aid agencies. After nato soldiers sheltered and fed thousands of refugees from Kosovo two years ago, humanitarian groups complained of being overshadowed.
But the deeper reason that humanitarian groups believe the food drops taint relief efforts has nothing to do with their effectiveness. Despite their protestations of neutrality, the aid agencies simply oppose American bombing and, in their view, anything associated with it is morally tainted--regardless of whether or not it saves lives. Criticizing the military for dropping food is really a way of criticizing the military for dropping bombs.
These guys are choosing sides, whether they realize it or not. And they've chosen the wrong one. I hope that the State Department and other federal agencies are keeping track, and that they "reward" these groups appropriately.
IT'S OFFICIAL: Slate's redesign sucks. Not only have many Slate Fraysters emailed me to say so, not only do I think so, but now journalists say so. Yuk. What were they thinking?
ACCORDING TO INSTA-EXPERTS STRATFOR.COM, Afghanistan is a sideshow and Pakistan is what really matters. There's some truth to this, though in fact I think Stratfor misreads the extent of U.S. war aims. Wrecking the area, and leaving behind millions of starving quarreling people, is a humanitarian disaster. It is not necessarily a political or military disaster, but rather an object lesson. Yes, that outcome might inflame the "Arab street" -- but they hate us anyway. More importantly, it would strike fear into a lot of people about the consequences of crossing the United States.
Don't misunderstand: I don't want that outcome, and I don't regard it as optimal. But in fact, so long as we don't chicken out -- and there's no sign of that happening -- it's the absolute worst-case scenario for the United States, and it's not that bad. Stratfor is making the mistake of thinking that the Taliban are a guerrilla movement like the Vietnamese or the early-1980s Afghan resistance. But they're not. They are -- or, more significantly, were -- a government. (And so are the people who will be influenced by our wrecking them). Now they're increasingly unable to function like a government. They're also not getting the kinds of outside support that the Vietnamese got, or that the Afghan resistance got in the 1980s.
Where Stratfor is clearly right is that being willing to stick to our guns and do what is necessary to win is the most important thing. Large numbers of potential allies -- and enemies -- are watching to see if we'll chicken out or not. They want to decide what's scarier: being our allies or our enemies. That's why, as John McCain says, there's no substitute for victory:
Fighting this war in half measures will only give our enemies time and opportunity to strike us again. We must change permanently the mindset of terrorists and those parts of Islamic populations who believe the terrorist conceit that they will prevail because America has not the stomach to wage a relentless, long-term, and, at times, ruthless war to destroy them.
We cannot fight this war from the air alone. We cannot fight it without casualties. And we cannot fight it without risking unintended damage to humanitarian and political interests. . . .
We did not cause this war. Our enemies did, and they are to blame for the deprivations and difficulties it occasions. They are to blame for the loss of innocent life. They are to blame for the geopolitical problems confronting our friends and us. We can help repair the damage of war. But to do so, we must destroy the people who started it.
War is a miserable business. Let's get on with it.
MORE ON SMALLPOX: Here's a link to the Dark Winter exercise information. Most disturbing item: North Korean special forces are getting smallpox immunizations. I still think the threat is exaggerated in the short term, but. . . .
MATT WELCH points out this online store for "Former Pacifists" set up by Jeff Jarvis. Welch also asks "What the Hell is up with Bush and the Saudis?"
SMALLPOX VACCINE PRODUCTION should begin in a month or so. That's good, though it shouldn't be rushed. We don't need vaccine scares on top of everything else. But mass vaccinations against smallpox should make smallpox terrorism not just less effective, but far less likely. That's very important, since if the disease gets out it is likely to become a nasty and persistent scourge in the Third World, causing devastation there to a degree far out of proportion to the damage done by the actual terrorist attack. I'd like to think that the Ladenites and their ilk know this and would therefore be deterred, but I'm dubious that they think this way.
DOWNSIDE: one deterrent to working with smallpox is that doing so is extremely dangerous if you're not vaccinated. (Even suicidal terrorists don't want to die before their work is done). As vaccine becomes more available, the pool of vaccinated people able to do the work expands. This isn't a reason not to vaccinate, but it is a reason to carefully plan who gets vaccinated first. You want to avoid creating a window of vulnerability, where potential terrorists get the vaccine before enough population has been vaccinated to deter an attack. I hope that this is being taken into account.
UPDATE: Reader Kurt Hemr offers an excellent solution:
Here's an extremely easy way to avoid that danger: "Women and children first."
While we know that some women in Middle Eastern nations support terrorism, it appears that the overwhelming majority of terrorists are adult males. Putting women first in line to be vaccinated almost certainly means that terrorists living in America won't be part of the first wave of those vaccinated.
Also, vaccinating women first would ensure that in two-parent households, one adult is vaccinated and can keep the household going in the event the other gets sick. (Of course, the majority of single-parent households are headed by women.)
There is a certain amount of arbitrariness here, but any alternative scheme (a lottery, or what have you) would be similarly arbitrary, and this scheme would be extraordinarily easy to administer. To the extent this scheme might create some particularly severe inequities, I wouldn't have any problem making some carefully targeted exceptions (in particular, for single fathers who are primary caretakers).
(Incidentally, lest I be suspected of trying to make some stone-age antifeminist political point here, I will note that I gave to Hillary Clinton's senate campaign. Twice.)
I may be wrong, but I don't think feminists will be rushing to the rear of the line once smallpox vaccine becomes available. But this is an excellent suggestion. We should not just do this at home: we should require that it be the approach taken in other countries to whom we supply vaccine, if we wind up doing so.
Imagine if most of the smallpox-immune people in the middle east are women. That would mean that a serious smallpox epidemic would produce majority-women societies. That should be a superb deterrent to smallpox terrorism, shouldn't it?
GUN CONTROL A LOSER: The Democratic party is learning from its mistakes. Gun control, it turns out, is an issue with only regional appeal at best. Instead of being a national issue that Dems can use to tie Republicans to an unpopular fringe, gun control cost the Democrats the Congress and the 2000 Presidential elections, as even people like Bill Clinton and Joe Lockhart have publicly admitted. Now the Democratic candidate, Mark Warner, in the Virginia gubernatorial election is engaging in "aggressive courtship" of the NRA, according to this story from the Washington Post. And hey -- he's doing better in the polls, too! Go figure.
ANDREW SULLIVAN reflects that New Yorkers seem far less fearful than the D.C. crowd. His experience echoes that of my wife, who was up there taping a TV show earlier this week. The woman who did her hair had a friend who was actually infected with anthrax, but dismissed it as no big deal: that's life in the city, she said.
Andrew thinks that the difference is that most New Yorkers have real jobs. I think that's part of it. But I also think that D.C. has, over the past couple of decades, become such a hype factory that hysterical overreaction is a reflex. It's the default option for dealing with any new development. However, pandering to public taste is an even deeper reflex, and I believe that as the folks in Washington realize how badly hysteria is playing among the voters, they'll adopt a stiff upper lip. Let's hope, anyway.
MICKEY KAUS HAS AIR SECURITY ADVICE that makes a lot of sense:
Instead of complaining that federalizing airport security will lead to thousands of new, unionized, impossible-to-fire federal employees, why don't Republicans write provisions into the law making these particular federal employees easier to fire -- as a sort of nose-in-the-camel's tent? That would terrify the federal employee unions. But they'd be in a bind, forced to make their traditional arguments for due process, etc., in a highly unfavorable context.
I agree entirely.
AIRLINES SHOOTING SELVES IN FOOT: Virginia Postrel has more tart commentary on how the airlines are managing to alienate their passengers -- especially the frequent flyers who make up the core of their business. (This makes sense: if you fly once a year, annoying hassles are an occasional thing. If you fly weekly, they're a lifestyle.) What's worse, she notes, is that they aren't even making things safer. In fact, some of the "security" stuff -- like limiting carryon bags -- is just a case of capitalizing on terror to do things they've wanted to do all along.
I agree. Of course, the airlines lost a lot of my business a while back. I was a "Royal Medallion" frequent flyer a few years ago. But flying grew steadily more disagreeable and now I'm a "who the hell are you?" infrequent flyer instead.
Funny, most businesses try to make their customers happy. I say, let' em fold. The newer airlines, like JetBlue, seem to actually care about their customers. If United and its ilk fold, maybe they'll be replaced by people who give a damn. That's what the American way of life is supposed to be about.
FREDRIK NORMAN reports that the Green Party fell for the old "DiHydrogen Monoxide" scare letter (see a sample here) and announced that it would oppose this dangerous substance, which is present in acid rain and used in nuclear submarines. (Uh, and nuclear submarines are used in it, since it's. . . water). The DiHydrogen Monoxide Research Division keeps up to date on the threat, with scary headlines about "DHMO in the dairy industry," "DHMO and cancer," etc. The milk page is, er, rich. . . :
A former U.S. Food and Drug Administration employee and a specialist in the feeding of dairy cattle, Dr. Donna Maria Waltz, warns that regulation of DHMO in the dairy industry is lacking. According to Waltz, it is the single most commonly used chemical in the production of milk. Cows are encouraged to ingest large quantities of DHMO, with studies showing that this practice can lead to increased milk production. The side effects of this practice have not been well studied.
Economic pressures play a major role in the widespread use of DHMO in the dairy industry. In fact, in some areas, it is subsidized by the U.S. government. As a result, claims Waltz, DHMO is the single largest contaminant of milk.
Does Geraldo know about this?
PALESTINIANS FOR BIN LADEN:
This was at a demonstration in support of the Islamic Jihad group and suicide bombers in general at the Al Azhar University in Gaza.
LAW PROFESSOR MARCI HAMILTON offers this superb column on September 11 and the beauty of federalism.
Then came September 11, unforgettable and world-changing. It was no big surprise when some critics of the Court's federalism jurisprudence, including Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times, immediately announced that the terrorist attacks spelled the end of federalism, and of State and local power.
These critics, however, have failed to grasp the true lesson in the September 11 tragedy — which is precisely opposite to the lesson they have taken from it. . . .
While Congress was piddling around with duplicating State laws in a remarkable number of categories, apparently no one in the Capitol was studying seriously what America would do if attacked by anthrax, which was being developed in unstable regimes around the world, or smallpox, which was well-known to have been developed in Russia in quantities that remain unaccounted for. . . .
Defense from foreign aggression is one of the most important reasons the Framers met to mend the Articles of Confederation and form the Constitution. The thirteen States, loosely confederated, were too loose an organization to conduct effective war. Therefore, the Framers sought to create a central power that could do so. . . .
When Congress permits itself to be drawn down the path of most popular lawmaker rather than national leader, it subverts the people's interest and leaves them vulnerable to the international threats that now fill our daily newspapers. Congress cannot serve its proper role when its members' finite time and abilities are directed away from the hardest, the most important, and the truly national issues, including national preparedness and defense.
It's a great piece, and even these extensive excerpts don't do it justice. As I've said before: why are people who want the federal government to do the important things that are actually its job called "anti-government," while the people who want to fritter away its energies on inconsequentials called "pro-government?"
THE ANTITERRORISM BILL: If only it were about terrorism.
AGROTERROR: this piece from February and this one from 1999 lay out a threat that's not getting much attention at the moment: bioterrorism aimed at crops and livestock. There has been a small amount of speculation that the European hoof-and-mouth outbreak was agroterrorism, and PETA has made noises about deliberately introducing hoof-and-mouth into the United States.
This doesn't seem splashy enough for the Ladenites or their ilk. But a more patient enemy might do it. Or the Ladenites or their sympathizers might learn more patience. This Federation of American Scientists page talks about the importance of disease surveillance and preventive measures.
COMPARE INSTAPUNDIT, 10/22:
THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, THE MORE THE "hold back on the war until we have a political solution to who will replace the Taliban" strategy seems like a bad idea. Military history is full of armies that lost because they were thinking too much about how to divide the spoils, and not
enough about winning.
Yeah, we have an interest in a stable Afghanistan. But not much of one, in itself. The main reason for smashing the Taliban is to send a signal to other nations that support terrorists -- that they might be next. It's the smashing part that sends the signal, not the what-comes-next part. Win first. Politics later.
WITH THE ITEMS QUOTED IN HOWARD KURTZ'S COLUMN TODAY
, criticizing the Administration for being too cautiously calibrated on the war. Advantage: InstaPundit!
MCVEIGH'S GHOST: This story from U.S. News says that some "top Defense officials" are speculating that Timothy McVeigh may have been an Iraqi agent. (Is Paul Wolfowitz the source on this one? Just a guess.)
This may or may not tie in with a mystery I've wondered about for a while. The same day of the bombing, before McVeigh had been identified, Iranian radio reported that the attack was the work of an American. Did they know something? Or were they just blowing smoke? I don't mean to make too much of this, which probably means nothing, but I've always wondered about that.
FEAR AND TREMBLING, NOT: Reader Marvin Shaw writes:
I keep shaking my head in disbelief over the reports that people in Washington DC are consumed with "fear and dread." I work 50 feet from the White House and ride the Metro ever day, and can report that most people are calm and composed. The downtown streets are packed at lunch and suburban malls are also bustling on weekends. Joanne Jacobs
has some polling data on her site that suggests Shaw is more representative of the American mood than the fear-mongering media.
I don't think the press means to be alarmist or unpatriotic. They've just been hyping fear (Alar! Air Bags! Fire retardant pajamas! Non-fire-retardant pajamas! Salmonella in eggs! SHARK ATTACKS!!) for so long that they don't even realize when they're doing it.
LEFT WING HAWKS EMERGE: This item from Kuro5hin talks about the growth of the pro-war Left in amusing -- and, I think, largely accurate -- fashion. At first it was the attack. But, face it, the Taliban are a lefty's worst nightmare. "Kill 'em all!" says one lefty.
The media and the Administration haven't Gotten It yet. They're still worried how it will play when the civilian casualties start popping up and the body bags start coming home. They forget how it played out the last time this happened. They don't need to spin the news to make the Taliban appear evil; the Taliban are doing a fine job of that all on their own. The Right are responding to an attack in a measured way. The more empathetic Left have figured out that, if the positions were reversed, the Taliban would have already killed us all on general principles. The only way to deal with them is the way you would deal with a rabid dog, and that doesn't vary no matter how much you love dogs.
The Right, which is looking for an "appropriate response" to a role of unknown magnitude in the bombing of a few buildings, don't realize that for the Left it isn't about 9/11 any more -- It's about the Taliban. 9/11 has just shown that we can't ignore these shitheads any more just because they're 10,000 miles away. Since we're going to put on the hip boots and go over there anyway, these former doves reason, we might as well free their women and straighten out their legal system while we're at it.
This reply from a proud liberal (scroll down a bit on the page) is interesting:
Thank you. Nobody I know has understood my beliefs about the Taliban. Just today a dumbass coworker was harassing me saying "I thought you were a liberal, why do you talk war now? Do you just believe any old random thing you feel like?" as if there was any sort of contradiction between believing that all humans have certain rights to freedom, security, and basic necessities of life, and believing that Taliban nutsos who deny these rights should be killed.
My housemate goes around spouting that "I guess that having a city bombed isn't enough to make Bush give a shit. Gee, I wonder what would?" and stuff like that - talking nuke-em, all of that - and nobody harasses him because he's a conservative. Meanwhile, our conservative government plays its useless aerial bombing game for show, with no intention of conquering these murderous monsters.
There is a lot of popular confusion as to what liberals are all about - witness the recent anti-globalization protests! Liberal protestors are stereotyped as wanting to end modern industry, conservatives gripe that we just want to live in caves. However, many people are out there demanding decent wages and a clean environment for the Third World, why? So that they can live like we do! I'm a liberal, I love the American way, and I'm not the only one.
I think we're seeing the resurrection of a strain of liberalism that's been dormant for several decades. Call it Humphrey Bogart liberalism. ("I didn't want to get involved, but when someone kills his partner, a man's supposed to do something.")
NOTICE TO INSTAPUNDIT READERS: Several of you have sent me this story about the Pentagon soliciting antiterrorist ideas. Given the wealth of stuff generated by PsyWar Update, some of you should probably apply. . .
INSTAPUNDIT is in "Best of the Web" today for the Joe Biden comments. I love those guys.
EMERSON UPDATE: Dave Kopel and I have a rather long analytical piece on the Emerson decision in the National Review Online today. (Bottom line: "What Emerson does in some federal courts for federal laws — as the state constitutions of all but a few states already do, in state courts, for state laws — is make it clear that ordinary, law-abiding people cannot be prohibited from owning ordinary rifles, shotguns, and handguns.") You may also want to read Jacob Sullum's excellent column on the decision in today's Washington Times. Michael Barone's excellent column on the decision from last week is also highly recommended.
AIRPORT SECURITY WAS A JOKE BEFORE 9/11 AND IT STILL IS: Claudia Rosett points out how much of it is still an exercise in absurdity as her tweezers are confiscated while her much larger metal nail file isn't, and observes:
It all gets even more confusing when you come across reports such as the Associated Press story that a man in New Orleans boarded a plane Tuesday with a loaded gun in his briefcase, an object the gate guards apparently missed, and the man himself says he forgot about until after takeoff--at which point he turned the gun over to a flight attendant. Upon arrival, he was interrogated and released by the FBI. Maybe they would have caught up with him sooner if he'd had a pair of nail scissors.
So what's keeping us safe?
What's mainly making us safer in the air right now is not the furor at the boarding gates. It's that American air travelers, knowing what they now do, would most likely respond to any threat on board by tearing the hijackers apart. One of my brothers, who flew from New Orleans to Prague in mid-September, sent an e-mail before he left explaining that he had mapped out a plan in case the plane was hijacked. He would resurrect the old high-school wrestling "chicken-wing" maneuver to attack the terrorists. He had been practicing flying on his home-computer simulator; having retaken the cockpit, he would head for a place that would allow maximum room for error in trying to land the aircraft safely--such as the great salt flats of Utah.
He added, "Seriously, though, if there is any funny business, I will be one of the ones rushing the terrorists. I just can't see any point in sitting and waiting to go."
Yep. The tweezer searches are there to make sure that people know their tax dollars are at work. Meanwhile, it's the taxpayers who are doing the most to actually keep the airways safe. This is worth remembering when people opine that the real key to air safety is turning the dimwits who can't find a gun in a carryon bag into federal employees who can't be fired.
WAR OPPORTUNISM WATCH: Former Clinton Justice Dept. official Eric Holder writes that the way to stop terrorists is to pass gun control laws. Hmm. It's true, of course, that gun confiscation is Taliban-approved as a means of controlling the populace, but is that the model we want to follow? Note also the similarity between Holder's op-ed and this press release from the gun-control group "The Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence." There's a campaign going on here, all right. I don't think it will have much traction, though. Do Osama's boys really need to haunt gun shows to get an AK-47?
ANONYMITY AND THE INTERNET: These thoughts from Prof. Eugene Volokh of UCLA:
Though in the last few years the debate about anonymous speech has focused almost exclusively on the Internet, it now turns out that the great danger is anonymous speech in a far older medium, the post office. Libertarians and regulators can both make it of what they will . . . .
BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: Copies of the Daily Californian were stolen en masse by someone who didn't like an ad it contained about terrorism from the Ayn Rand Institute. The ad blaims Iran for worldwide terror. I regard its statements as overdrawn (Iran is one sponsor of terror, but not the linchpin). But that hardly matters.
Funny, it was just a few weeks ago that Berkeley student politicos were passing a resolution that said:
Berkeley remains one of the few places in the world where a thoughtful, critical exchange can occur from people across a spectrum of backgrounds and races, without fear of reprisal or hatred.
This was an obvious lie then. It's more obvious now.
Berkeley has become a joke, and not a funny one. The immaturity of its student "activists" and the impunity with which they operate against those whose opinions they dislike is worse than a joke: it's a disgrace, and it's not free speech but its opposite. (The Daily Cal article notes that: "UC police are currently investigating the case but have no suspects, said UC police Capt. Bill Cooper. Past thefts of the Daily Cal have never resulted in any arrests or prosecutions, Cooper said."). I'm sure the UC Police have no interest in finding the perpetrators. Given the pervasive violations of civil rights at Berkeley, perhaps the FBI should open an investigation.
DOUBLE-ASYMMETRIC WARFARE: Some people are beginning to say that the Taliban are tougher than we think, that their dispersal of tanks to mosques and schools, and of fighters to caves and mountains, means that we will have a hard time beating them.
This is wrong. In fact, in the war against the Taliban, we have the advantages that terrorists usually posssess. The big strength of terrorists is that they don't have to govern -- they just have to wreck things so that others can't. But in Afghanistan, that's our situation. We don't have to govern: we just have to wreck things so that the Taliban can't. Tanks in mosques are no good for fighting. Warriors dispersed to caves and basements can't oppose an invasion, or support a government. Their responses to our airstrikes may make them harder to eliminate entirely, but they do so at the price of giving up their status as a state. No surprise there.
Terrorist states are inherently unstable. By becoming states, they surrender the tactical advantages of terrorists. Yet they lack the strengths of true states.
Comparisons to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan are facile. The Soviets wanted a stable border country and an unobstructed corridor to warm water ports. We don't care about that. All we have to do is to make it impossible for the Taliban to rule Afghanistan. For humanitarian reasons, we might wish to see a happy, free and stable Afghanistan, just like we'd like to see happy, free and stable countries everywhere else. But that's not a war aim. If we depose the Taliban -- which we've already just about done as a practical matter -- we eliminate a base of opposition and send an important message to other states about what happens if they harbor terrorists. And while Afghanistan as a putrefying sinkhole of chaos and famine might be a humanitarian disaster, it wouldn't be such a war disaster, since it would only reinforce that message.
What this means is that we can't really lose in Afghanistan, unless we defeat ourselves.
READER MEREDITH DIXON writes concerning Jonathan Yardley's reference to a nationwide "gnawing, enervating sense of dread." Yardley said he thought that feeling went beyond DC to the entire United States, from West Virginia to Wisconsin. Dixon writes from West Virginia:
I can't speak for the feelings of those in Wisconsin, but I live near a small town in West Virginia. I don't feel a vague, gnawing, enervating sense of dread. Last I checked, what I was feeling was a keenly focused sense of
cold fury. Mind you, I'm also dismayed that Congress hasn't seen fit to make a formal declaration of war, frustrated that we're mobilizing so slowly, and worried that our leaders might actually decide to stop fighting during Ramadan, but those emotions aren't visceral.
Seems to me the difference is quite simple, and it has nothing to do with distance from Ground Zero. Judging from his column, Yardley is still thinking of what happened on 9/11 as "a terrorist attack". I -- and as far as I can tell, my neighbors here in West Virginia -- am thinking of it (and have been thinking of it since at least September 12th) as the first, unexpected blow in an as yet unnamed and undeclared war. . . .
And perhaps in Washington it is particularly easy to fall into the habit of thinking of things in that light. In the late '80's, I worked at the IMF, only a few blocks from the White House. I still remember one day when there was a particularly loud and raucous demonstration outside our building. The crowd sounded as though, if about a zillion security guards hadn't been on hand, they would have been quite willing to jump me just because I was wearing an IMF nametag. I don't remember feeling a vague, enervating sense of dread then either, but I was definitely scared.
I suspect that Yardley is seeing 9/11 as just one more demonstration -- more violent than most, but not different in kind from the sort of protests that are always going on in downtown D.C.
But I don't see 9/11 that way, and judging from the columns in the local paper and the patriotic T-shirts and other merchandise that was for sale at our town's Oktoberfest a few weeks ago, neither do my neighbors. We know that this is war. Dread's what you feel when you're helpless to oppose what's coming. We're not helpless, so we're not afraid. We're angry.
I think that Dixon is right. My friends and relatives in DC keep saying how scared and morose everyone is. People here are neither. They're angry and determined.
Maybe Congress should recess for a couple of weeks, not in response to anthrax fear, but as a chance to get out of DC and get in touch with people who aren't afraid.
BELLIGERENT WOMEN UPDATE: A local librarian forwarded me this chain email, which by its headers has been seen and passed on by thousands of women already:
Take all American women who are within five years of menopause - train us for a few weeks, outfit us with automatic weapons, grenades, gas masks, moisturizer with SPF15, Prozac, hormones, chocolate, and canned tuna - drop us (parachuted, preferably) across the landscape of Afghanistan, and let us do what comes naturally.
Think about it. Our anger quotient alone, even when doing standard stuff like grocery shopping and paying bills, is formidable enough to make even armed men in turbans tremble.
We've had our children, we would gladly suffer or die to protect them and their future. We'd like to get away from our husbands, if they haven't left already. And for those of us who are single, the prospect
of finding a good man with whom to share life is about as likely as being struck by lightning. We have nothing to lose.
We've survived the water diet, the protein diet, the carbohydrate diet,and the grapefruit diet in gyms and saunas across America and never lost a pound. We can easily survive months in the hostile terrain of
Afghanistan with no food at all!
We've spent years tracking down our husbands or lovers in bars, hardware stores, or sporting events...finding bin Laden in some cave will be no problem.
Uniting all the warring tribes of Afghanistan in a new government? Oh, please ... we've planned the seating arrangements for in-laws and extended families at Thanksgiving dinners for years ... we understand tribal warfare.
Between us, we've divorced enough husbands to know every trick there is for how they hide, launder, or cover up bank accounts and money sources. We know how to find that money and we know how to seize it ... with or without the government's help!
Let us go and fight. The Taliban hates women. Imagine their terror as we crawl like ants with hot-flashes over their godforsaken terrain.
I'm going to write my Congresswoman. You should, too!
Those guys don't stand a chance.
JOSH MARSHALL speculates about a possible domestic origin for the Anthrax attacks. It is just speculation, however. It's not impossible that there's a domestic angle, though domestic terrorists have for the most part been more talk than action. (Larry Wayne Harris, often discussed as a domestic Anthrax enthusiast, couldn't culture yeast according to most people who are familiar with him). I will stress, though, that it's not really an either/or thing. It's entirely possible that if domestic groups are involved, they may nonetheless be working with the Ladenites, with whom -- pathetically -- some of them share a lot of worldview. The Ladenites could have provided the Anthrax and a (or just a "you'll know when") and let them do the rest. It's also possible that another group -- still foreign, but with its own sleeper agents in the U.S. -- is involved. The FBI is being appropriately cautious on this in public.
JOE BIDEN says if we keep bombing we'll look like a "high tech bully." Funny, but although it's always the right that's accused of thinking of warfare in terms of the schoolyard, it's always the left that uses metaphors like this one.
War, of course, isn't a schoolyard. We aren't bombing Afghanistan to show off, or to get the attention of girls. We're doing it because it has been an integral part of the operation that killed thousands of Americans. "Fighting fair" means nothing in this context. Only winning. Biden should understand this; he certainly does not suffer from outmoded notions of chivalry where politics is concerned.
GUN CONTROL, TALIBAN STYLE: One reason why they haven't faced a lot of internal resistance is that they confiscated all privately owned weapons years ago as part of a self-proclaimed effort to make Afghanistan peaceful. Didn't work too well. Now they're ordering people to come pick up weapons to defend the country against Americans. I predict that that won't work well, either.
BOMBING DURING RAMADAN: Jonah Goldberg has these points (and some others) to make:
Muslims have been killing each other, and other people, during Ramadan for centuries. Mohammed himself opened a clay urn of whup-ass on tribes outside Mecca during Ramadan, in 624 AD. Iraqis and Iranians killed each other over Ramadan with great aplomb during their war. Anwar Sadat of Egypt launched the Yom Kippur war on Israel during Ramadan, with little respect to his own religion and even less for Israel's. Besides, as Tod Linberg of Policy Review points out, if we did stop bombing because of Ramadan, that would send the signal that we are waging war against Muslims - instead of against terrorists, as we keep insisting.
After a discussion of Ladenite plans to kill the Pope, and widespread admiration for the Nazis among certain Arab circles, he adds:
Organized Muslim groups in this country and the elites of various Muslim dictatorships abroad take advantage of America's myopia about such things. These groups claim it's bigoted to suggest that Arab or Muslim societies are even remotely bigoted.
I can sing the praises of American pluralism all day. But the one time it falls apart is when it becomes a one-way street. It only makes sense to respect other religions when the adherents of that religion respect you back. Otherwise, taking the high road only gets you run over. Any group of people willing to celebrate Nazism or to murder the Pope, doesn't have enough sensitivity to deserve any in return.
He's right. And I don't believe the propaganda value of observing Ramadan is worth anything -- while the value of making statements like Goldberg's clearly and often, and while dropping bombs, is high. Want tolerance? You have to be tolerable, first.
UZBEKISTAN: Home to My kind of Muslims.
"They would prohibit us from drinking vodka, and to make love to another man's wife would become a dangerous thing, with maybe a chance at execution," said Ismat Islamov, a bus driver visiting the city. "Uzbeks don't want that."
GOOD NEWS FROM INDIA, along with a bit of perspective.
THE SAUDIS DON'T GET IT: As this quote illustrates:
``My sense is that it has not fully registered yet, the gravity of the situation. I don't think they understand how problematic this period is,'' James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, told Reuters by telephone.
He's right about this, even if he is pitching for business.
READER RANDALL PARKER shares this link to a letter on Andrew Sullivan's page, in which a woman writes:
I'm a 54 year old elementary school teacher. Liberal Democrat. Lapsed Catholic. Gore voter. Happily married mother of two fine adults. Cancer survivor (so far). I'm a calm, reasonable person who thinks every problem has a solution and that solution is best arrived at by talking. Since Sept. 11 I've never experienced such sustained rage in my life. . . . You talked about the anger of the American people growing daily. I don't think it's growing. That's impossible. I think it's now only being vocalized. If I'm any indication of what's going on out here in the American mindset, then these barbarians are already history.
She adds: "I've grown particularly fond of the CA-130 gunship." Parker adds:
Its worth noting that Steve Sailer similarly predicted [on InstaPundit] a few weeks ago that when the meaning of what has happened sinks in in Europe that European women would drive European public opinion very strongly in favor of the US. Well, that appears to be happening as well. Anti-Americanism in Europe is becoming marginalized.I never ever ever thought I'd live to see the day when middle class liberal women would be thinking talking this way. To find liberal Democrats and their equivalents in Europe moving so far to the right is simply astounding. I'd like to make some cogent and insightful comment about it but its so weird that I'm still trying to get my mind around it.
One suggestion: Start telling these women the names and contact information of organizations in the Middle East that fight for women's rights. My guess is that the effect would be similar to that of putting up a very tall lighting rod during a thunderstorm.
Good points. Any suggestions out there?
LEARNING TO LOVE THE BOMBING: More on Afghans who are okay with the bombing. I found the link in Best of the Web.
AMY LANGFIELD has this item on Ladenism, and it makes sense. My favorite part is this quote:
In the Marx Brothers' classic movie Duck Soup, there is a scene in which Chico and Harpo are talking to the evil, calculating European statesman Trentino, Groucho's political rival, who has hired Chico and Harpo as spies. When Chico and Harpo come to Trentino's office to report on the progress of their spying, his secretary walks in with a telegram. Harpo grabs it out of her hands, examines it closely and then rips it to shreds, tosses it to the floor and shakes his head. Stunned and surprised, Trentino turns to Chico with a quizzical look, as if to ask: "Why did he do that?" And Chico answers: "He gets mad because he can't read."
Her point, of course, is that the Ladenites are like Harpo, and modern civilization is like the telegram.
Except, of course, that it's not so easy to tear up.
PHILLIP WEISS argues that women are still anti-war compared to men; they've just been silenced. Of course, his examples -- Susan Sontag, Arundhati Roy, various upper-west-side women he knows -- aren't exactly representative. With support for war polling around 90%, the gap can't be that bit. Maybe he should see what the women in Front Royal, Virginia are saying.
Personally, the email I get from women is more bellicose than the email I get from men. And the only really obnoxious hate-America-love-the-Taliban "peace" stuff is from men.
THIS TERRORIST HUNTING LICENSE takes the whole "Letter of Marque" thing a bit far.
THIS PIECE BY MICHELLE COTTLE in The New Republic illustrates two themes that I've been hitting for a while: bellicose women and the much lower level of fear outside Northeast Corridor politico/media circles Quote:
Electric razor in hand, barber Jane Hill offers up her prescription for personal safety in these tense times: "I think all women oughta carry a cell phone and a three-fifty-seven. Loaded." Everyone else at the Royal Barber Shop here in rural Front Royal, Virginia, bursts out laughing. Smoothing the near-bald pate of the customer occupying the shop's second chair, barber Marlene Daniels (Jane's older sister) recounts in disbelief a "20/20" episode her daughter recently saw about the run on anthrax medication. "That blew my mind," she says. The others murmur in assent. It's not that the locals are making light of the fear and anxiety that increasingly reign less than 70 miles up the road in Washington. But clearly they do not share it. "Nobody around here seems really stressed," says Hill. "I haven't heard one person express anxiety, have you?" (No's all around.) Indeed the prevailing sentiment around town is perhaps best described by patron Danny Mason: "What's gonna happen is gonna happen.... I'm not losing any sleep over it."
I'd like to hear more people in politico/media circles talk this way. And if they did, they'd probably feel better.
MORE ON THE "WHAT IF CONGRESS IS OBLITERATED" STORY: The idea is to have governors appoint members of the House (as they already do Senators) until a special election can be held. My question: how did we make it through 40 years of nuclear-war risk without worrying about this, only to make it a priority in the wake of a few envelopes with anthrax in them?
THE CDC IS GETTING A LOT OF CRITICISM for its handling of the anthrax scares. Rightly so. That organization, whose post WWII role was chiefly (though quietly) one of biowar defense, has been wasting its time and energy looking at side issues like "violence as a disease," (it's not, it's a behavior), gun control, household accidents, and other items not really part of its responsibility.
This bureaucratic mission-creep may have helped some people build fiefdoms, but it distracted the CDC from its real goal, which is monitoring and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. Maybe this will encourage CDC managers to get their eyes back on the ball.
THIS OTHERWISE ANNOYING column in the Daily Californian has a bang-up conclusion, even if it is suspiciously like something that appeared in InstaPundit a couple of weeks ago:
When it comes to winning the psychological war, there is a viable solution. First we have our Special Operation super soldiers capture and hospitalize bin Laden and the Taliban leadership. Top sex change surgeons would then be flown in to operate. After a few hours of surgery and a heavy prescription of estrogen, the Taliban would be ready to go back and lead their country in a new direction. Before returning them to their mountainous homeland, we could set them up in off-Broadway productions. Mullah Omar could have his own segment in the Vagina Monologues; bin Laden could be cast as the vamping "Angel" in Rent. Broadway would be back in business and the Taliban leaders would realize the hidden joys of emancipated femalehood. The next time we see bin Laden on video it could be an advertisement for Monistat 7.
Perhaps then we could give the rest
of the Taliban this column
from the Daily Cal
on how to please a woman. . . .
SPEAKING OF OVERLAWYERED.COM, I'VE ALWAYS LIKED THIS FLAG, which seems to me quintessentially American in its attitude:
In fact, I think it's fair to say that when lawyers are defending this view, they're doing good. When they're doing the treading (see the Philly story below) they're not.
OVERLAWYERED.COM reports on Philadelphia Democratic Party efforts to block independent ratings of judges, which have expanded into a threat to arrest anyone who helps in the project. Jeez. This is why I'm against campaign finance "reform" programs that give government officials power over campaigns. It's sure to be abused because, basically, there are a lot of sleazy no-goods in politics. Letting them control campaigns is like letting cockroaches have charge of the insecticide.
THE UN FUNDED BIN LADEN through a "front group" charity, reports the BBC. Sadly, I don't find this especially shocking. I have an acquaintance who works for the UN, and briefcases full of cash (quite literally) going to dubious destinations without any accounting controls are a regular experience for him.
FREDRIK NORMAN points out the underappreciated connections between Islamist terrorists and the Baader-Meinhof/Red Army Faction crews of European terrorists and their leftish sympathizers. Perhaps this explains why so much of the preparatory work for the September 11 attacks took place in Germany? It may also explain the email reports I'm getting of airport security seeming to be very interested in Northern European types, too. (This of course makes the highly optimistic assumption that airport security does things for reasons that have a clear connection to security.)
NOT EVERYONE shares the Pakistani Mullahs' distaste for the killing of Muslims by non-Muslims. Many Afghans seem happy about the bombings:
"Most of the people are supporting the American bombing because they want to be free from the Taliban."
Mohammad Ali, the unemployed bus driver, said U.S. airstrikes in Kabul had hit a military base of the Taliban's 315th Brigade, the airport, a base in the southern part of the capital containing Afghan and Arab Taliban fighters and their equipment, and a suspected missile site known to residents as Scud Hill.
"I walked all around the city, and the people are very happy about the American airstrikes," he said. But those who show satisfaction risk reprisals from the Taliban, he added. About 10 days ago, three young men who lived on his street and had expressed such sentiments were taken away in the middle of the night and have not been seen since, Ali said.
Since the U.S. bombing began, he said, "the Taliban have been treating the people very badly." Now, residents would welcome "anyone who comes to Kabul to take power -- American, British, Russians, anyone." Whatever happens, he said, "the Taliban should leave Kabul."
Apparently, the Taliban are relying heavily on Arab and Pakistani fighters now, as Afghans increasingly desert them. I hope that's being widely reported, in Arab, Pashto, etc.
SOME AMERICANS have said that anti-war opinions are being "suppressed." Joanne Jacobs points out the difference between being criticized and being "suppressed" with a quotation from the UN report on how dissidents are treated in Iraq.
NON-MUSLIMS KILLING MUSLIMS: As you read remarks about the Muslim world's reaction to the war, the anti-American protesters repeatedly say that they're upset about non-Muslims killing Muslims. Apparently, Muslims killing Muslims (as when the Taliban shelled Kabul and killed untold numbers of civilians) is OK. And Muslims killing non-Muslims is OK, too -- and maybe better than OK. It's just non-Muslims killing Muslims that's bad. (Even if the Taliban are using civilians as human shields).
I understand that we may have to take this attitude into account for propaganda reasons. But we certainly shouldn't take it seriously ourselves. And we should be asking, loudly, where all these mullahs who are condemning the (meager) number of civilian casualties now were when the Taliban were murdering their way through Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. The hardcore haters won't care what we say about this. But they're not the ones we're trying to win over.
SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on Singapore's pending elections from Andrea See.
A READER WRITES:
Did you happen to hear the John Burnett story on ATC this afternoon? A very interesting counterpoint to the Taliban claims of heavy civilian casualties from Afghani sources -- including one Afghani complaining 'where were the Pakistani Mullah's when the Taliban were shelling Kabul??'
Nope. I actually spent some time doing family stuff and avoiding the news, and the computer, as you can tell by the almost-unprecedented 7+ hours without a post. I did find this link to the story
, though. Interesting. This stuff should be on VOA, in Pashto and Arabic.
PROJECT SAFE SKIES is a new organization promoting safe air travel by arming passengers. Two months ago, they would have been dismissed as kooks. Now, they've got the "Big Mo" on their side, particularly as the idiocy of the current tweezer-confiscation regime sinks in. The website is on the rough-and-ready side, but I like the quote from Thucydides.
MATT WELCH IS BACK from guzzling champagne and scarfing down lobster in Mexico, and has several interesting posts, my favorite being the one on how sexual libertinism is one of our strengths, and the lack thereof is one of the Islamists' weaknesses. I think he's right.
I'm still jealous of the whole champagne-and-lobster thing, though.
SOME WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS were given Cipro on September 11. That was some time before the first reports of anthrax surfaced. Interesting.
MORE ON THE HILLARY BOOING: Okay, there's a passing mention in this Boston Globe story. (Note -- this link may or may not work, as the Globe takes these stories down fast and it's from yesterday). It's also mentioned, as James Taranto writes, in this story by Joan Walsh from Salon. Excerpt:
Who do we think died trying to save the World Trade Center victims that morning, Richard Gere and Ralph Nader? Snotty rock critics? No, they were working-class guys, a vast number of them Irish and Italian, from Queens and Brooklyn and Long Island. Some of them drink too much and vote Republican and lots of them apparently hate Sen. Hillary Clinton, who got roundly booed when she came onstage to feel their pain. But they're heroes nonetheless. They deserve our unqualified gratitude. They deserved a big, sentimental, over-the-top party without any preaching, and they mostly got it.
Walsh also has another observation worthy of quoting:
The New Left screwed up American politics because it was disproportionately run by elitist college kids who sneered at the working class, at the guys who weren't fortunate enough to hide from the war in universities (or, like the privileged sons of the right, in the National Guard) -- the ones whose families sent them to the police academy, not Harvard. Celebrating the Sept. 11 heroes doesn't mean we forget about police abuses like the killing of Amadou Diallo, or relax efforts to diversify departments that are still too much of an Irish and Italian enclave. But lefty cultural elitists are wrong when they reduce police and fire departments to those flaws, when they forget about the heroism it takes to do those jobs every day, not just Sept. 11.
Hey, if enough people on the Left start thinking this way, who knows what could happen?
RUMORMONGERING: I'm told that the reason the anthrax in Daschle's office spread farther wasn't because it was higher-grade but because the 20-year-old intern who opened it screamed and threw the envelope in the air (filling the room with anthrax-spore dust) when she realized what it was. I haven't seen that reported anywhere, but the Hill person I heard it from is in a position to know. This may settle some people's minds if it turns out to be true.
MATT DRUDGE KEEPS REPORTING THE FIREFIGHTERS-B0O-HILLARY STORY: But I haven't seen it appear in any other outlet, except as a pickup of Drudge. Why is this story getting so little play? I assume it's true, and was on TV for everyone who watched to see, because I got email from viewers who saw it.
UPDATE: Okay here's an account in the Boston Herald, which I found via Tony Adragna's page. But it seems to be based on the Drudge account, and it's an opinion piece not reporting.
"GAY HERO EMERGES FROM HIJACKING:" This AP story about Flight 93 hero Mark Bingham is interesting. There was a time, not very long ago, when the very idea of a gay man as an exemplar of manly courage would have seemed unthinkable.
Actually, in the past 20 years gay men have often acted more "manly" than straight men. I think that sometime in the early 1970s men decided that the way to get women to have sex with them was to act "liberated," which often was interpreted as meaning "unmanly." This actually worked, I believe, for a few years. But the habits, once formed, tended to last because it's an effort to act manly. Many men, no doubt, were quite relieved not to have to act brave, strong, or chivalrous. Heck, you got to keep your seat on the subway, let women deal with muggers by themselves, and generally take it easy.
Not having a desire to sleep with women, gay men were perhaps less susceptible to this strain of behavior. Of course, most straight men -- especially those outside certain political/academic/professional circles -- didn't succumb either, but the tone is set more by the people within those circles than without. I think that changed on 9/11, thanks in no small part to Mark Bingham and the other Flight 93 heroes.
MUSLIMS AGAINST TERRORISM is a new organization devoted to explaining that terrorism and Islam do not go together. I found this site via Good Thinking, with whom I agree that the site is a bit "overproduced." (Call me a curmudgeon, but I don't like fancy Flash intros). That said, it's good. I hope these folks get more attention. Quote:
Terrorism is an act against God, not for Him. Anyone who tries to justify such atrocities ultimately fails because both Islamic law and theology punish these acts as moral sins and heinous crimes. This is true regardless of one's grievances towards American foreign policy. The Quran instructs Muslims in times of adversity to act with justice and persevere with patience.
Muslim jurists considered terrorist attacks against unsuspecting and defenseless victims as heinous and immoral crimes, and treated the perpetrators as the worst type of criminals. It is a well-established Koranic precept that the injustice of others does not excuse one's own injustice.
OKAY, THESE CROP-DUSTER STORIES are bothering me. This could, of course, be a wacko simply trying to sow panic (which the rather odd choice of targets would support). Or it could be something else. I'm troubled, and hope that this is getting proper attention from the proper authorities.
READER MARTIN PRATT REPORTS ON FEAR OF FLYING outside the United States. I love the part about the UK being near Afghanistan -- glad to see that geographic illiteracy isn't limited to the United States. (My 7th grade geography teacher, bless him, made us draw maps of every state in the US and every country in the world). Here's what Martin sends from the UK:
I don't know if you are interested in the Commonwealth spin on the fear of flying post you put up earlier, but I enclose above a link to the BBC story that confirms that England (captained by the highly respected Nasser Hussain, a British Muslim born in Madras but who grew up outside London) will undertake its Cricket tour to India despite safety concerns.
The Australian Rugby League (League is the 13-man version of the sport played predominantly in New South Wales and Northern England) recently called off its tour to England because of flying fears and the quaint misconception that Britain is near Afghanistan, but changed its mind after stinging criticism from both the Aussie and the Pommie press. The fact
that the rival Australian Rugby Union (Union is the 15-man version, played everywhere else and routinely derided by RL aficionados as being "soft") had decided to come over to play a games against England, Spain and Wales, together with the New Zealand All Blacks who are playing Ireland and Scotland, had a lot to do with the change of mind too.
The Rugby Players on Flight 93 played Rugby Union, so the iron man reputation of Australian Rugby League players has accordingly taken a bit of a battering. It just goes to show, if you want to save the world, ask a rugby union player - like me! The Princess of Wales' Regiment (the local regiment where I grew up in Kent County) once played the SAS in the
Army cup and won by some margin...thankfully Kent is harbouring no terrorists that I know of.
Very interesting. And, hey, I've learned something about Rugby, too, a subject about which I am pretty ignorant. (I dated a Women's Rugby team member when I was in college, but, er, we didn't talk much about sports. A lot of drinking seemed to be involved, though, a subject on which I possess more expertise.)
IN OTHER NEWS (yes, there's other news): Two major affirmative action cases from Michigan come before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit later this week. In an extraordinary action, the Sixth Circuit has decided to hear the case en banc in the first instance, without having it heard by the usual three-judge panel first. Here's an excerpt from the court's statement (sorry, no link, I got this in email from a lawyer):
These are cases of tremendous significance, not only to the citizens of Michigan, but to all of those seeking admission to the University... Counsel in these cases had earlier filed a petition that the cases be heard in the first instance by the full Court rather than the customary three-judge panel. After consultation, the panel determined that a poll should be taken of the active judges to determine whether or not in fact the case should be heard by the full Court prior to a three-judge panel hearing. A majority of the active judges of the United States Court of Appeals have voted in favor of hearing these appeals before the full Court.
I'm not sure what the impact of this will be (it eliminates the likelihood of getting a different judgment from an unusually-liberal or conservative panel, anyway) but I would guess that it is indicative of the Sixth Circuit's belief that these cases will wind up before the Supreme Court.
DOMESTIC ANTHRAX: It is not impossible that the anthrax mailings are domestic projects, either done in conjunction with the Ladenites (whom some right-wing kooks like the Posse Comitatus, or the Army of God, seem to like) or opportunistically. Some people, however, (like James Ridgeway at the Village Voice)have been hyping the possibility beyond any support from the evidence, particularly by invoking Larry Wayne Harris a biowar wannabe who seems to live a rich fantasy life. The fact that the envelopes were mailed from areas near where the hijackers were active, and the absence of any evidence linking this to domestic groups, means that any speculation on this subject should be restrained, for the moment.
MORE PROFILES IN UNCOURAGE: It's not just Congress that's showing wimpery:
The New York Post reported that actress Heather Graham abruptly canceled her date on David Letterman's show last week because it would have entailed a flight to New York. Drew Barrymore bowed out of the New York premiere of her latest film. New York resident Liza Minnelli canceled a Los Angeles charity event, telling the Post's Cindy Adams that her Washington "contacts" advised her not to fly. "I should risk my life for one f---ing song?" she snipped.
Contrast this skittish behavior with that of Lisa Beamer, whose late husband Todd was one of the heroes of Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. Last week, Mrs. Beamer took the same morning United flight from Newark to San Francisco that Todd had taken on Sept. 11. Her mission was to reassure the flying public and also to meet some of the business associates her husband had been flying to see. Ms. Beamer is expecting her third child in January, but nonetheless was composed and calm during the flight.
These stories suggest that the culture-warriors who have argued that the political/entertainment complex is morally weak and out of touch with American values may have more of a point than I had thought. And bravo, once again, for Lisa Beamer who -- unlike Heather Graham and Liza Minelli -- has firsthand experience with terrorism but who has managed to hit exactly the right note.
Maybe she should run for Congress.
MORE PR TROUBLE FOR THE SAUDIS: This letter in the Washington Post takes Saudi Prince Bandar to task for his statement that freedom must take a back seat to economic development in the Arab world -- comparing it to similar statements traditionally made by Communists.
It's also irretrievably stupid. Afghanistan may have trouble on the economic side. But Saudi Arabia, I think, can afford to feed its people. I thought Bandar was supposed to be a super-slick diplomat, but he seems to be unravelling as he assumes a more public role. Maybe he's only good with politicians, who are used to swallowing absurd statements without comment.
THE GREAT CONGRESSIONAL BUGOUT (CONT'D): The story of differential response on anthrax is pure political poison, as this New York Times headline illustrates: "Prompt Response for Politicians, a Slower One for Postal Workers"
The response was swift and decisive when an aide to Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader, opened a letter containing anthrax. Mr. Daschle's office was quarantined, the Capitol's mail system was shut down, public tours were suspended, and 50 people, most of them aides to the senator, were prescribed the antibiotic Cipro while they were tested for anthrax exposure.
But when that same day the authorities realized that the letter had passed through a mail sorting center on Brentwood Road in the northeast section of the city, the response was quite different. . . . The disparity between those responses — one involving the country's most prominent politicians and their aides and the other involving people who carry and sort the politicians' mail — drew sharp criticism today, as authorities disclosed that two Brentwood station employees believed to have had anthrax had died and two others were infected with pulmonary, or inhalation, anthrax, a particularly dangerous form of the disease.
As critical as I've been of Congress, it's hard to blame them too
much for this -- apparently, it hadn't occurred to people that dust inside of envelopes could be blown out as they passed through mail-sorting equipment. But after the big skedaddle of last week, the storyline that Congress is more solicitous of its own welfare than anyone else's has considerable resonance. If they had stuck bravely by their posts, it wouldn't be playing this way.
Wartime leaders act differently. It's wartime. Time for Congress to catch on to the new script.
CNN DROPS BALL ON HELICOPTER "WRECKAGE" -- INTERNET PICKS IT UP. At least, this post on Plastic.Com says that a three-minute Internet search would have let CNN know that the helicopter parts displayed by the Taliban were very unlikely to have come from the helicopter that the Taliban claim to have shot down.
As the CNN article notes, pieces of the wreckage in question are labeled 'Boeing' and 'Loud Engineering.' Problem is, the only Boeing helicopters that use a Loud Engineering landing gear assembly, as displayed by the Taliban, are the CH-46 Sea Knight and the CH-47 Chinook -- both large heavy-lift transport helicopters, unlikely choices for an air assault operation, for which one of the Sikorsky H-60 Blackhawk variants would generally be employed. Of course it took about three minutes to track that down, and who at a major media outlet has that kind of time?
The military has traditionally hated being second-guessed by reporters. I think in this war, the reporters will come to hate being second-guessed by, well, everyone else just as much.
TRAFFIC: Just passed the 300,000 mark earlier today (we're now at 305,155 at this precise moment).
THE PENDING DEMISE OF STUART BUCK'S WEBPAGE due to judicial fiat has made me wonder (well, actually it was an email about the demise of Stuart Buck's webpage from Professor Brannon Denning that started me wondering). Judges for years have been telling us how "independent" they are from their law clerks. This is one reason why the law clerk hiring process has avoided any significant outside scrutiny.
Yet the judges of the DC Circuit apparently feel that their independence is so questionable that they must silence a law clerk's weblog for fear that his musings might, somehow, reflect on them.
But if law clerks are so influential, surely the process of choosing them -- now pretty much based on the whim of the judges -- deserves more attention, and perhaps accountability. Perhaps they should be subject to Senate confirmation? Or perhaps they should be professionalized via a standardized merit selection process?
I've always opposed this sort of thing. But, then, I didn't realize that law clerks' opinions were so earthshaking in their impact.
DAVE KOPEL has some interesting insights into the pending "antiterrorism" legislation. I still wonder if the RIAA will manage to slip something into the bill while it's in conference.
HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD: Jonah Goldberg writes about media criticism, and how ticked off some establishment media critics are that other people are cutting in on their action:
The truth is that today — thanks in large part to the web, as well as to the growth of conservative media — anybody can be a media critic. The web teems with me-zines, chat rooms, and "citizen-journalists" who are just as good — and just as bad — at dissecting the press as anybody else. After all, if "what's on the page" is what's important, then everyone begins at the same starting line.
Far be it from me
to argue. . . .
JUST A THOUGHT: The assassination of Israeli Minister Rehavam Zeevi has caused a lot of problems for the U.S., derailing Israeli/PLO negotiations at a crucial time, when Arafat looked to be trying to make nice. Is it possible that this isn't a coincidence, but that it was designed to do just that? Could the PFLP be coordinating with bin Laden? That, of course, would make them targets of U.S. action, and would make those who support them targets as well.
WHY AFGHANISTAN WILL TOPPLE ITSELF (er, with a bit of help from us): A good piece by Austin Bay:
That's the open secret to waging war with the Taliban. Provide appropriate help, then let the locals do it.
The Taliban confront the same fractious strategic hodge-podge all would-be Afghan potentates, commissars or ayatollahs confront. Fanaticism only goes so far when you have to raise children and feed goats, so tribal loyalties to the bosses in Kabul are always iffy, at best. "What have you done for me lately?" is a question common to every political culture, but in the purchasing of tribal, ethnic and political loyalty in Afghanistan, how the question is answered is decisive.
At one time the Taliban provided acceptable answers. The Taliban began as a reformist movement with the mission of: (1) winning the Afghan War the Soviets began in 1979; (2) ending political and economic corruption; (3) establishing a just Islamic society.
To the brutalized Afghan populace, the Taliban's moral armor of incorruptible commitment was far preferable to the usual politics of Central Asian warlords.
However, the Taliban's more recent answers have been dreadful, destructive and macabre. When violence is rampant, when a taste for power has been whetted, moral armor corrodes. When history doesn't go like it's supposed to go, when victory is elusive, when enemies prove to be resilient, doubts intrude, grumbling starts, defections begin.
And that was the Taliban's situation prior to Sept. 11.
PERSPECTIVE ON ANTHRAX HYSTERIA, from Michael Fumento. The hysteria seems strongest in DC and New York -- partly because that's where the Anthrax (mostly) is -- and partly because people there just seem, well, more hysterical anyway.
Actually, polls show that despite the media's 24/7 blasts of fear, which are somewhat understandable since by and large they ARE the intended targets, most of us aren't as worried as we're being told we are.
Most of us are going about living our lives and are not throwing away our mail willy-nilly because we're convinced an al Qaeda operative forged Aunt Martha's handwriting. This winter, about 20,000 Americans will die of flu that they would have survived had they merely gone to a clinic to receive a $15 vaccination.
THE WAR AT HOME: Jim Dunnigan's StrategyPage.Com has this item:
The battle for Afghanistan extends to the United States in ways most people don't realize. One reason the deposed king of Afghanistan has so quickly become a factor because of a U.S. based PR effort (orchestrated by the Jefferson Group, a Washington based lobbying firm.) This was set in motion by a politically connected millionaire (Joseph J. Ritchie, a security advisor to Ronald Reagan) who grew up in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance publicist is the sister (Otilie English ) of a Republican Congressman (Phil English ) from Pennsylvania. The Taliban and bin Laden handle their own PR.
FIRST TENNESSEE BANK, according to a lawyers' email list I'm on, is now charging a $25 fee to look up the payoff amount on a loan with them. And -- get this -- it's $50 if you want same-day processing. Fifty bucks -- for just clicking an icon on somebody's computer screen. And this from a place where "relationship-building" is supposed to be the "key." And these guys wonder why people hate 'em? What is it about bankers?
ANDREW SULLIVAN SAYS THAT WE'VE CROSSED A BIOLOGICAL RUBICON, making U.S. escalation of the war almost inevitable. This, too, should give the Saudis -- a few of whom have been making noises about switching sides if the U.S. gets out of hand -- pause.
BAD NEWS FOR THE SAUDIS: This transcript from Meet the Press has John McCain dumping all over them. Example:
But they've been playing as well as Egypt and a couple of other countries kind of a double game here. They've satisfied their extremists within their own societies by not only allowing them to have the megaphone and do the things that we had just read excerpts from, but they've also financed some of these organizations. And they're kind of trying to have it both ways. I don't think they can, and it's very sad.
I think it's very important for us to have them emphasize that three conflicts, the United States has come to the aid of the Muslims. In the Persian Gulf War, in Kosovo and Bosnia, we sided with the Muslims. The Saudi people should know that and the people in the Middle East.
Yes, United States national interest was there, but they're not--they're playing a double game, I'm afraid, that's going to cause them very great problems in the long run unless they change and take the megaphone back from the extremist elements in the Middle East and in their own country.
Joe Lieberman then chimes in with this:
And we can't tolerate a nation like the Saudis, whose government, in many ways, continues to stand because we support them, to promulgate that hatred.
From a Saudi's point of view, as John has suggested, they followed a strategy where I think they can ride the back of this tiger. This tiger, if they continue to ride its back, is going to eat them up.
The Saudis are in trouble. Big trouble.
THE BUGS BUNNY OPTION: This cartoon featuring a steadily-more-unhappy Osama bin Laden is pretty funny. But what's with the Calypso theme to these things? Is this somehow inspired by Colin Powell's Jamaican ancestry?
READER STEVE HORNBECK WRITES:
Of course bin Laden is breathtakingly ignorant of Western nations, especially the US. If he wasn't, then long before he began initiating terrorism, he could have probably accomplished one of his main goals. The man could've have taken a small percentage of his fortune and hired Washington lobbyists to press for the US to pull its troops out of Mecca. Hell, an inexpensive ad campaign sponsored by some bogus advocacy group he could have set up probably would have convinced a majority of Americans before long to support such a move on the grounds of respect for other cultures, better international relations, etc.
But then he's probably convinced that America isn't really a democracy but is instead run by some shadowy cabal made up of oil company executives and bankers....
STORIES WE'RE MISSING: So far, there's been very little coverage of hearings scheduled for Thursday, on Fritz Hollings' wet kiss to big media, the so-called SSSCA. We've already seen the Recording Industry Association of America try to sneak language into the Antiterrorism Bill that would let RIAA hack your computer to delete "unauthorized" MP3s. Now we have a bill with far worse characteristics receiving very little attention even though it is designed to kill open software systems like Linux:
Eben Moglen, chief counsel for the Free Software Foundation, is succinct: "SSSCA is a deliberate attempt to destroy free software."
Moglen believes that the industries behind the drafting of the SSSCA want to control information from the beginning to the end of every event chain. "The content industries want to make a leakproof pipe that leads from their production facility directly to the eyeball and eardrum of the consumer."
"The software monopolist and the entertainment oligopolist are discovering that this can be the beginning of a beautiful, but socially obnoxious and oppressive friendship."
These guys have no integrity, no patriotism, and no sense of fair play. They've already shown that they're willing to hide their self-serving behavior beneath the fog of war.
Hollings should be ashamed to be carrying their water for them. And he shouldn't be allowed to do it quietly.
DEMOCRATS FOR DUBYA? Howard Kurtz joins the chorus reporting on many Democrats' secret (well, not so secret, since they're blabbing it to the press everywhere) post-9/11relief that Bush is President instead of Gore. This may be unfair to Gore, who might have surprised Republicans every bit as much as Bush surprised Democrats. Question that I haven't seen asked: Is this widespread pro-Bush blabbing related to efforts to keep Gore from running again in 2004?
THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY isn't doing very well in its "defenders of freedom" role. First it was Ralph Mecham's sleazy Internet spy campaign. Now it's Stuart Buck's website being shut down. Free cruise-ship travel from interest groups for judges: OK. Opinion writing by law clerks: verboten! Yeah, that makes sense. And we rely on these guys to protect our freedom?
ARMED PILOT SHOOTS HIJACKER, SAVES PLANE! Er, not now. It was in 1954, at a time when airline pilots were required to carry guns. I didn't know this. Interesting.
THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, THE MORE THE "hold back on the war until we have a political solution to who will replace the Taliban" strategy seems like a bad idea. Military history is full of armies that lost because they were thinking too much about how to divide the spoils, and not enough about winning.
Yeah, we have an interest in a stable Afghanistan. But not much of one, in itself. The main reason for smashing the Taliban is to send a signal to other nations that support terrorists -- that they might be next. It's the smashing part that sends the signal, not the what-comes-next part. Win first. Politics later.
BUSH HAS OUTFOXED BIN LADEN according to this column in The New Australian. One reason is that bin Laden knows little about American culture, and what he does know is filtered through the lens of people who don't understand America very well themselves.
Far from being the educated man he is said to be he, like his suicide-bombers, is remarkable ignorant of the West, specially the US. Although some of his followers have been educated at Western Universities their education has been confined to technical subjects like engineering. Those, for example, who attended US universities learnt nothing of US history or cultural values, confusing topless bars, which some of them enjoyed, with moral decay and lack of will. The sad fact is that what little they knew of US history and policies came entirely from the country’s anti-American left, which has painted a grossly dishonest picture of America that neatly fitted in with these terrorists’ anti-American dogma thus blinding them further to the political and military consequences of their actions. . . .
In bin Laden’s fantasy America would either respond in a Clintonesque way and so demonstrate to the world its cowardly nature or it would blindly strike out, killing hundreds if not thousands of innocents and so inflame the whole of the Islamic world. (Notice how closely his apocalyptic vision resembles the extreme left’s one of a world-wide revolution against capitalism).
He got neither. Instead of grabbing the initiative he made a terrible blunder. His actions pulled the US together, awakening in it a steely resolve that can have only one outcome. Instead of retreating or immediately striking out, President Bush set about building up a mighty military force not only to destroy bin Laden but to demonstrate to the rest of the world the consequences of attacking America.
Oops. The author makes another point about fanatics generally: they're incapable of learning from their mistakes, except in a narrow, tactical sense:
Believing himself to be the hand of God and a follower of the one true faith, or his fanatical version of it, means he operates with an open loop. Therefore there is no negative feedback mechanism to correct his distorted picture of the world. There are no advisers to counsel restraint or retreat because like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc., he literally believes himself to be the only one capable of interpreting events and predicting their consequences.
This is a problem not limited to bin Laden, but common to all of his ilk.
BERKELEY BACKLASH UPDATE: This story from KRON-TV talks about the problems Berkeley businesses are facing as a result of the hostile reaction to the city's anti-war resolution. (QuickTime or MPEG).
UPDATE: Reader Scott Farley notes that Clif Bars also come from Berkeley, and suggests calling the 800 number featured on bar wrappers to tell them what you think about Berkeley's political stances.
OIL PRICES ARE DOWN -- so are we adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Not that I've heard. But, regardless of what happens in the next few months, the likelihood of problems in Saudi Arabia is higher over the next five to ten years than it has been over the past five to ten years. We should have two to four times as much socked away as we do now. This will not only protect us in the event of a disruption, it will make such a disruption less likely, because its impact will be smaller.
"Just as we need to examine the contents of our own colons, we need to examine the contents of our government." That's Alice Walker, defending Rep. Barbara Lee, talking (I guess) about her vote against war. (I'll skip the obvious "full of . . ." joke.)
Funny, when people on the right talk about distrusting the government, they're "antigovernment" and "haters." When people on the left do it, they're "progressives."
At least people on the right don't turn politics into a high colonic.
ONE CASUALTY OF WAR: Bob Bartley points out that treaties against germ warfare haven't protected the United States. I agree, and in fact noted this in a September 6 NRO piece coauthored with Dave Kopel.
Arms control treaties work only (1) where they're not really needed; or (2) when verification and enforcement are extremely easy, and when violations can't be explained away by fans of nonaction, or people who are afraid that admitting to the existence of violations will reduce support for the underlying treaty. Neither circumstance applies in the context of biological warfare.
I'VE NOTICED THAT I SELDOM EVEN CHECK OUT SALON anymore, when it used to be an everyday stop for me. Partly that's because of their lame "Premium" service (only on the Web would charging you for what used to be free count as "premium" -- this is like the steadily-declining MP3.Com), but more of it is because of things like this nasty and largely idea-free assault on Andrew Sullivan by David Talbot.
I remember when it was Archie Bunker who dismissed the thoughts of an Englishman because, he said, England was a "fag country." David Talbot seems to have reached Bunkerism, but without Archie's charm.
LAWSUITS AND VACCINES: Overlawyered.Com is reporting that liability fears are holding up the production of new vaccines that might protect against bioterrorism.
I'm not as opposed to liability suits as Walter Olson, but there's no question that the social-welfare calculus on things like vaccines and new drugs is completely out of whack. Most of the medical advances of the 20th Century would be dubious propositions if they were discovered today because of regulatory and liability issues.
MATT DRUDGE, nearly 24 hours after InstaPundit, now has the story about Hillary Clinton being booed.
I FINISHED WRITING EARLY THIS AFTERNOON (My piece on Emerson for NRO, now off to coauthor Kopel for him to add his magic). So I went for a long drive out Northshore (a road that, unsurprisingly, runs along the north shore of the lake (it was the Tennessee River before TVA got hold of it) that bisects Knoxville). It was another perfect day: sunny, 70, with that golden autumnal light. The lake was full of boats: fishing boats working along the shore, sailboats, jetskis and powerboats further out. An ultralight airplane did lazy circles overhead, its parachute-like wing shining in bright colors.
I had the top open and the windows down, blasting music (Dave Clarke's "World Service" and the "Vital 2-Step" compilation). Life doesn't get much better. I wonder what Osama did in his cave tonight?
FIXING THE FBI: Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller have apparently agreed that the FBI should shift its focus away from things that have recently occupied its attention -- like kiddie porn, deadbeat dads, carjacking, etc., -- and toward things like terrorism, political corruption, and white collar crime too sophisticated for other organizations. The crimes that the FBI is leaving behind will be assigned (back) to the states for enforcement.
This may be the end of the "federalization of crime" that has been such a phenomenon of the past 20 years. Good. It also suggests that the claims that September 11 meant the death of federalism were premature.
SOME WONDERFUL REFLECTIONS on making fun of Osama & Hitler, the emptiness of most of the peace movement's slogans, and more. Check it out.
HMM. MAYBE IT IS A RELIGIOUS WAR OF SORTS: Fredrik Norman steers us to this argument by Dr. Hurd that it's ethnocentric of Westerners to assume that people will be happy with freedom and prosperity -- sometimes what makes them happy is destroying freedom and prosperity:
What makes it especially dangerous is that freedom and capitalism (even a watered down version of capitalism) psychologically threaten most people in this part of the world. It's not enough for them to bow their heads and choose to live in permanent misery under their fundamentalist dictatorships. We have our own fundamentalist, anti-materialists in this country: the Amish. They live quietly and peacefully within our borders. They don't want us to tread on their antiquated way of life, consisting of horse and carriages and denial of modern medical services; but they also show no desire to initiate force against the rest of the world, either. Essentially, they wish simply to be left alone.
The fundamentalists who live in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran are different. They feel they have to destroy everything which reminds them that another way of life is possible. They must pull us into their misery. There are always individual exceptions, of course. Not everyone is as hateful and determined as the actual terrorists. But the dominant trend is undeniable. Most of these people have not risen up against their governments. When they do, it's in favor of religious dictatorship, not Western ways, as was the case when Iran had a revolution in the late 1970's. Even in Pakistan -- a government supporting our military efforts at the moment -- the great majority of the people despise the United States and all things Western.
I think that this is an overstatement, though it's undoubtedly true of some. If I'm wrong -- and if a "majority" of people (or even, to quote Robert Bork precisely in context, a "vocal and influential minority") in a lot of countries really do think this way -- then I suppose we'll have to elect Ann Coulter as President and turn her loose. But I really don't think that's the case. Even the terrorist-types are deeply conflicted about Western culture, both desiring it, and hating and fearing it. (They hate it in part because they fear they will never make it in Western culture.) But though Hurd's characterization may be true of some, I don't think that those are the people who will turn out to matter.
Let's hope I'm right, as otherwise those arguments about the need for neocolonialism will have more force. We simply can't share a planet for long with people who desire our destruction above all else, and are willing to do anything to achieve it.
MORE VAPID ANTI-AMERICANISM FROM ARUNDHATI ROY: Leave aside the dreadful language of moral equivalence. She's mostly concerned with Western "pride" and "boasting." In all such things, of course, Americans are supposed to tread softly, lest they awaken "whole warehouses of suppressed fury." Shouldn't, well, some other people have been worrying about that, before 9/11?
Arundhati, honey, you don't know anything about awakening suppressed fury. But if you, and those like you, had been on the job -- nurturing love of freedom instead of anti-Western resentments -- maybe those bombs wouldn't be falling now. Those who planted and meticulously tended the seeds of anti-Western hatred are as responsible for the current war as anyone.
AIR TRAVEL SUCKWATCH: I keep getting email from people who say that they're having bad experiences with long lines and inept and clueless (but rude!) security personnel.
Flying already sucked, to the point that I started some years ago asking myself "is this trip really necessary?" before agreeing to travel. Now -- at the same time they need more customers desperately -- they're going out of their way to make the experience as unpleasant as possible: cancelling meal service, limiting carryons further, reducing the number of flights, even removing creamer and sweet 'n' low from flights for fear of anthrax scares. And on top of this, their employees seem to be ruder and more inconsiderate than before, which is no small achievement given their lousy attitudes pre-9/11.
If this keeps up, I say let 'em fail.
EX-BERKELEYITE JOHN CHANG WRITES:
As for Berkeley, I think the boycott idea is really cool. These folks have been using the threat of boycotts to further their own political agendas, so it's only appropriate that they get a sense of what their own medicine tastes like.
FYI---One of Berkeley's major 'exports' is PowerBar, and I think it might be worth suggesting in one of
your next posts--even if tongue-in-cheek--that your readers boycott it. By the way, I went to graduate
school in Berkeley for two years, but you'd be surprised how many people there DON'T buy into the intellectual bankruptcy of the town. Keep up the good work.
No, I'm not surprised. Few people buy into the notion of their own intellectual bankruptcy, until events force them to.
As for PowerBar -- I much prefer Balance bars anyway. Powerbars always taste to me like they're made out of a mixture of cardboard and shredded machine-shop waste.
BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: This story from the San Francisco Chronicle tells of a gun course for women in which over 100 women had to be turned away.
BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: THE DAILY CALIFORNIAN REPORTS that Berkeley is facing an economic boycott because of its anti-war resolution. Local businesses are already losing contracts and trade, the newspaper reports. Of course, the main victims will be the small businesses of the area who aren't involved in public policy, not the government employees and professional activists who were behind the resolution. They, however, no doubt regard these problems as "acceptable" collateral damage. Irony, anyone?
MORE ON TED RALL: Hey, he really is a nasty, bitter little man. Just look at the scorched-earth lawsuit he's been maintaining against another cartoonist for an email prank. Hey, if the United States responded to terrorism the way Rall responds to joke email, it would be "Lake Afghanistan" now. Apparently, Rall's only against scorched-earth tactics, and for peace and conciliation, when the interests of important people like Ted Rall aren't involved.
EXCELLENT THOUGHTS ON TERRORISM BY JARED DIAMOND:
The current crop of terrorists, unlike the bombers of World War II, has no chance of conquering us or (realistically) of killing a large fraction of our population. They cannot destroy us; our biggest risk is our own panic. What we face is terrorism in the most elementary sense: actions whose hoped-for impact is paralysis of the target rather than direct damage from the action itself. We cannot appease these terrorists or surrender to them, any more than Londoners could give in under the Blitz. We will track them down, because we are much stronger than they and we have no other choice.
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