InstaPundit.Com

2/23/2002

MORE UNATTRIBUTED MATERIAL from DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN.

GIRLS RULE AT MIDDLE SCHOOL, and it's not very pretty.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

Every time I hear from some feminist that women are naturally more sociable and cooperative and that when they get power everything will be much more mellow I snicker. Such people have forgotten what junior high was like or have never taught it.

I have. You break up a fistfight and sends the boys to office, counselor, or class as may be appropriate. Next day you toss out a ball and everyone's happy. I saw girls leave ninth grade smoldering yet over what someone had said in seventh grade.

And I hear tell, mostly from male chauvinists, no doubt, that women's studies departmental meetings are not necessarily models of courtesy, openness, and compassion.

If you haven't seen "Welcome to the Doll House" I recommend it. It brought back my junior high memories--I was sort of an omega.

BOMBING ACCURACY at the Kandahar airport -- check out this photo from SpaceImaging.

AMERICA IS A HYPERPOWER NOW, but is it exceptional? Jim Bennett says no.

THIS ARTICLE ON NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS in The Atlantic Monthly is finally online -- I've been waiting to mention it all month. I may be swayed by its extensive quotation of my very smart University of Tennessee colleague and friend, Rosalind Hackett of the Religious Studies department, but I thought it was terrific. In particular, the rapidly-growing influence of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa gets a lot of attention.

This is an item I'm somewhat familiar with. Americans generally don't realize that Arab Muslims were the major slave-traders in Africa -- but Africans do, and it undercuts the appeal of Islam.

UPDATE: This produced two reader comments. S.E. Brenner sends this:

...I should think that another thing that damps any enthusiasm amongst Africans for Islam (apart from the kulturkampf going on in
Sudan and playful sport like it) is a very alarming issue that no one pays any attention to at all.

We all know where the descendants of the Atlantic slave trade are -- here in the Americas and in the Caribbean. But where are the
descendants of those who were shipped to the East? At least an equal number went to Islamic countries and there are certainly no
comparable populations of African slave descendants in the lands of Allah.

They didn't all wander through life in maiden meditation; or expire pining for the fjords. Um. Enough said.

Orrin Judd, meanwhile, sends this link to a review of a book that answers the question. Excerpt:
Several other factors help to account for the disappearance of a distinct black populace :

* Male slaves were frequently turned into eunuchs--so obviously they had no offspring.

* Many of the rest were used as soldiers, with resulting low survival rates.

* For unexplained reasons, African slave women imported to the Islamic states had extraordinarily low fertility rates.

* Mortality rates among Islam's black slaves were extremely high, from adverse treatment, disease, and other causes.

In the end, Segal suggests, a combination of death, infertility (naturally occurring and man made) and miscegenation must account for the disappearance of blacks and blackness from the Islamic Middle East.

THE EUROPEANS DON'T GET IT, AND IT'LL COST 'EM: That's what American diplomats are saying, according to this essay by David Warren, forwarded by reader Boris Kuperschmidt. Excerpt:

I have been quite struck, in the last several weeks, speaking to people within the Bush administration, by their assessment of diplomacy on the Western front. All expect relations with continental Europe, and even with Canada, to deteriorate seriously over the coming months, or even years. The amount of outrage, even in the placid State Department, for what they think is European hypocrisy; and for anti-American remarks such as those made by Chris Patten on behalf of the European Union, or by the French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine; or even for what our own prime minister, Jean Chretien, said about Iraq in Moscow -- is startling.

All three of these statesmen have since backpedalled; Mr. Patten actually apologizing for going over the top in his remarks about Guantanamo Bay; M. Vedrine calling the American editor of the Paris Herald-Tribune around for a chat to explain that words like "simplistic" aren't really meant to be insulting; and Mr. Chretien his usual bundle of arguably canny incoherence.

Notwithstanding, my sense is that the Bush administration is expecting to receive a great deal of heat, and is putting on layers of asbestos.

"I don't think they have made very accurate calculations of the cost of sacrificing American goodwill," said one such insider of the trio named above. "We are smoldering like that fire was under the WTC," said another, "and they just don't get it."

It is odd that people who worry so much about offending those who, ultimately, don't matter (like Yasser Arafat) worry so little about offending the United States. They've taken our forbearance for granted for a long time, and I guess they haven't yet figured out that it's no longer available.

Funny that they consider themselves to be so sophisticated and discerning.

AN AIRPORT SECURITY SCREENER HAS BEEN arrested for taking a $200 bribe to let a pound of marijuana through. So all this security can be nullified for a couple of Franklins. Comforting, but not suprising.

NOW IT'S JOANNE JACOBS as the blogger presence on FoxNews. I love this.

READER NATHAN CAIN WRITES:

The post from Michael Korte regarding the Slobo Googling missed the most interesting point. Tribble's article did not just appear in "some lame e-magazine," but in the official E-magazine of David Icke, who is nominally famous in some circles for his theory that the Earth is ruled by a race of blood drinking alien lizards. Check out his web sites http://www.davidicke.net or, better yet http://www.davidicke.com. The latter comes complete with quotes from "The Matrix" and a blue pill or red pill choice. It doesn't get much more lame. Here's a piece on Icke by British journalist Jon Ronson. The bottom line is your post makes Tribble seem too respectable. People ought to know just how out of touch with reality these apologists are.

BLOGGER FAVORITE CLAIRE BERLINSKI reviews two books on the CIA in next week's Weekly Standard. I've read the review, and it's quite good. Her novel Loose Lips, it reports, is to be published by Random House shortly.

DANG. CHUCK JONES JUST DIED.

ENRON EMPLOYEES AND UNCLEAN HANDS: Reader John Schuchard sends this link to a story about an Enron employee who helped set up a fake trading floor, and who is now suing Enron for fraud. He notes:

now lemme get this straight. She details how she collaborated in fraud - for years- to artificially inflate her company's stock price, then she's suing her former employer because said company is found to be worthless?

hello?

I hope the SEC interviews the entire list of employees before they scatter to the wind... activities like this should be discouraged with prejudice. "I just work here" sounds a lot to me like "I was just following orders".

Yeah, I'd be willing to bet that an awful lot of these people knew there was something wrong, but hung onto their stocks anyway in the expectation of making a killing before it cratered.

ANOTHER STORY ABOUT BLOGS AND BLOGGERS: This one is pretty good, probably since the writer interviewed Ken Layne. One small correction: Will Vehrs' Punditwatch was the inaugural FoxNews blog on Monday, not Layne's on Tuesday. But that's rather minor.

I like Layne's observations on bloggers being like old-time newspaper columnists, before corporate homogenization set in.

MATT WELCH promises more Slobo-googling results -- but only after he's done hot-tubbing with his lawyers. No, really.

The rest of us only make fun of L.A. because we're jealous. And they know that.

ANOTHER ANTI-WAR SHIBBOLETH BITES THE DUST: Was the U.S. dropping cluster bombs willy-nilly on civilians? Reader Rich Young sends a link to this story in the Boston Globe:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Pentagon, severely criticized for its widespread use of cluster bombs in Iraq during the Gulf War, has dropped far fewer of the munitions in Afghanistan and has largely avoided civilian areas, focusing instead on enemy troops, tanks, and airfields, according to initial investigations by the United Nations.

UN mine-clearing specialists, working with a Pentagon list of 188 sites hit by cluster bombs, have examined 20 so far and found only one site near a civilian area. The Globe has obtained the previously undisclosed site list.

Imagine that -- focusing on bombing enemy troops, tanks and airfields! What will they think of next?

2/22/2002

THE WEEKLY STANDARD NEEDS A SEX-ED PROGRAM OF ITS OWN: Or at least they need to get out more. In this column making fun of Berkeley's sex-ed scandal, writer Lee Bockhorn mentions Daily Cal sex columnist Rachael Klein's latest column -- and even links to it! -- but calls her a "he."

Uh, Lee -- those funny-looking fellows with the funny things on their chests are girls. You'd know this stuff if you'd taken the right classes. . . .

UPDATE: On rereading this later, I think that the "he" actually refers to an "average Berkeley student" who is not Rachael Klein. So maybe there's hope for them after all.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, everyone who has written says that the update's right, and that I should have caught on faster. Well, all I can say is, I read it the way I read it the first time. BTW, although I mentioned it earlier, I should mention that Kevin Deenihan debunks this whole scandal on his Calstuff weblog.

OKAY, ONE MORE UPDATE: A mole from deep within the Standard's ranks writes:

Yeah, Lee's talking about the average Joe demitasse at Berkeley. Believe me, he knows about the ladies.

A News Corps sex-ed program could only lead to bad things. We'll just watch Fox.

You know, Fox became a hard-core sex channel so gradually I hardly even noticed. Meanwhile reader Greg Blankenship writes:
Rather than sex ed Lee Bockhorn needs to invest in some grammar lessons. A pronoun's antecedent is usually the closest previous noun....Thus, perhaps, our confusion...Maybe someone could send him a style guide....

I think Rachel Klein is going to make a lot of money, someday...It's just a hunch...

Yes, I started touting Rachael Klein solely as a means of twitting Salon for its non-sex sex column. But now I'm just trying to draft off her increasing fame. . . .

INSPIRED BY JEFF JARVIS'S remark about the "he decade," Will Warren has set it to verse. But of course.

THE LAST SLOBO-SUPPORTER GOOGLE FOR A WHILE: Reader Dan Hagan sends a link to this statement by Green Party spokesperson Jim Klosterman, timestamped, as he notes, at 6:15 p.m. on 9/11/2001:

The Green Party wants to extend condolences to those families who have lost loved ones in the sad incidences in NY, DC, and Penn et al I want to further mention that the incident could have been averted. From tentative reports or hypotheses, the incidents could be directly pointed to a group sympathy to Palestine. The United States’ foreign policy with Israel and the military aid to them may be the acerbating fact that lead to the sad events. I would like to reiterate to those who do not know that the Green Party has a policy of moving into international problems or conflicts with a peace “card” instead of one of military resolve.

I think we need to understand that those acts do not happen in a vacuum. The use of the term “terrorist” suggest that the person(s) responsible are deranged or are perhaps jealous of the United States. This is surely not the case.

In closing the United States needs to be more conscious of the Human Rights of individuals and in this case the Palestine. It is trusted that American citizens use wisdom in moving to resolve this situation.

Jim Klosterman Green Party coordinating committee member

Fortunately, American citizens used their wisdom in not listening to people like Mr. Klosterman. I feel sure that they will do so again.

I have to wonder, though: what sort of person moves from sympathy for 9/11 terrorists to sympathy for Slobodan Milosevic? I would say "a moral leper," but that's not fair to lepers, who do not voluntarily take on their affliction. Also, leprosy is curable.

SECURITY SCREENERS ARE shaking passengers down for baksheesh at JFK, according to this report (link from reader Whit Sulser) -- and the guy who complained about it says he was held up so that he missed his flight.

TONY ADRAGNA says that Father Drinan has lost it. If, that is, he ever had it to begin with.

UPDATE: Here's another funny Drinan item, suggesting that his politics have changed but his more-moral-than-thou style has been constant throughout his career.

IAIN MURRAY has more Slobo-Fan-Googling information. What a bunch of raving loonies.

MORE RESPONSES TO THE MATT WELCH GOOGLE-SLOBO-APOLOGISTS CHALLENGE:

Michael Korte of Virginia Tech sends this:

This was plucked randomly, and took about 10 minutes to locate. God bless the internet.

620. Justin Tribble, Journalist, Sedona, Arizona, United States

Let's Meet Justin....he works for the Columbine Research Task Force (investigated the Columbine shooting many years ago....)

http://www.davidicke.net/emagazine/vol18/news/october-surprise.html

this is part of NewsHawk(r) Inc. -- some lame e-magazine

"Tribble warned us all to be on the lookout for a major "October Surprise" emanating from the George Bush presidential campaign (that is, the Bush International Crime Syndicate) regarding the ongoing gas/oil price increases this year; the supposed lack of fuel reserves; inability of supply to keep up with demand; and of course, the resultant worldwide uproar and consternation over these issues.

According to Mr. Tribble, what has been going on all year with fossil fuels has been the result of a deal worked out between the Bush Crime Syndicate and their Arab potentate "blood brothers" and other assorted global thugs, to DELIBERATELY instigate the worldwide oil "shortage" and accompanying huge price increases for a number of the purposes; including giving Dubya Bush a massively powerful political issue with which to manipulate public opinion and seriously undermine the campaign of Al "Godfather" Gore."

** and at the end, this golden nugget

"It was a good call you made, Justin Tribble: things are playing out much as you predicted, with the current Israeli situation being callously exploited by Dubya as well. "

Not very impressive, Mr. Tribble.

MORE ON EUROPEAN MILITARY AFFAIRS.

DAVID IGNATIUS defends the French.

DAMIAN PENNY has taken up Matt Welch's challenge to Google signers of the free-Slobo petition.

IT'S FREDRIK NORMAN'S BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday, Fredrik.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Kimberly Strassel, who has been on the case since April, has this account of Bellesiles' ever-shifting story, with this conclusion:

There's an easy way out for Mr. Bellesiles: He simply needs to turn over a list of what probate records he used. Any scholar worth his salt should have that basic information at hand. But maybe that is the problem.

WELL SAID:

Pathetic, ragged Islamic societies see how we live on television and hate us for it. They see how Israelis prosper without petrochemical trillions and hate them for it too. Hate them for winning wars. Hate success because they are failures. And so, when the Trade Center towers collapsed, Muslims cheered and said we had it coming. When suicide bombers kill Israelis in buses, in markets and at a religious celebration, Europeans can say, "The Jews had it coming."

They've said it before, haven't they?

THIS PIECE ON DAN PEARL IS the best thing I've read, except for Matt Welch's one-word take.

JAY ZILBER says that Michael Moore is a big fat liar.

TIM BLAIR is on FoxNews.Com today, with a wonderful report on bellicose women vs. whiny, self-obsessed women. As you might expect, the main example of the second variety is named Wurtzel. A must-read.

CHRIS DALEY has a skeptical response to my reader-comments on the German military, below. He also sends this link to a story suggesting that my skepticism on the Eurofighter is well-founded. Apparently, those who would be cash customers don't feel it offers much value over the cheaper and proven F-16.

I SAID A WHILE BACK that all the guns bought post-9/11 wouldn't do much to stop terrorism. Maybe I was premature, based on this Israeli example:

At least one small explosion did take place, leaving one customer lightly wounded but causing no casualties, said Jerusalem Post reporter Margot Dudkevitch. Nails from one of the explosions littered the floor.

Further tragedy was averted when a woman shopping in the packed supermarket apparently saw the terrorist trying to set off a second explosion and shot him twice in the head from close range.

Three cheers for bellicose Israeli women.

GUN RIGHTS GROUPS ARE SLAMMING KOFI ANNAN FOR HYPOCRISY amid revelations that his guards are carrying apparently illegal machine guns.

Machine guns aren't exactly illegal -- but it is illegal for non law-enforcement people to own machine guns manufactured after 1986. Kofi Annan's guards aren't law enforcement. What's more, it's not clear that these guns were imported legally.

Hypocrisy at the U.N.? Say it ain't so!

UPDATE: Several readers noted that I missed the real story here, which is that the Violence Policy Center agrees, and is actually saying something sensible:

Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, said U.N. security is "flouting" the ban, sending a "terrible message to the average citizen." She noted that the issue aligns her group, an anti-gun organization, with pro-gun lobbies. "The other side is always saying, 'Let's enforce the laws that are on the books,' and in this case, that's what needs to be done. Whether it's [National Rifle Association President] Charlton Heston or Kofi Annan, or whoever, there are laws."
I'm not sure it's sending a terrible message. I think it's sending a truthful message, which is that the people who are most in favor of gun control tend to be guarded by folks with machine guns, often illegal ones. Ted Kennedy had a spot of trouble with that very thing a few years back.

THE MOYERS WARS continue with this exchange between Moyers and The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes. According to Jack O'Toole, Moyers' rather Clintonian response to The Weekly Standard's treatment is a "credibility killer:"

Either Moyers was guilty of intentional deception, or Hayes was. Honestly, I suspected Hayes; Moyers' denials were unequivocal, and it made no sense for him to lie about easily verifiable facts. (A brief example: Hayes writes in his original article that, on September 20, a Moyers' program titled "America Responds: A National Conversation with Bill Moyers," featured "two hours of live dialogue between Moyers and, among others, author and rapper extraordinaire Cornel West, O.J. attorney Alan Dershowitz, and "Vagina Monologues" playwright Eve Ensler." Moyers states crisply in rebuttal: "I have never met or interviewed Alan Dershowitz or Eve Ensler." Sounds pretty strong, doesn't it? Well, that "denial" turns out to be a silly, what - the - meaning - of - is - is construction based on the fact that Moyers presented these guests rather than interviewing them directly. Talk about a credibility killer...)

It looks like my suspicions were wrong. Score this one for Stephen Hayes and The Weekly Standard.

Is Moyers self-destructing? Stay tuned.

ON THE NEW SPINSTERS blog, Gena Lewis compares university sexual harassment rules to Saudi adultery law in a surprisingly persuasive post.

THIS SOUNDS LIKE A PARODY, but the gun-control groups have moved beyond parody. "The National Campaign to Close the Newspaper Classified Gun Ad Loophole" represents how far they've fallen.

THE BERKELEY SEX-ED SCANDAL isn't nearly as scandalous as it's made out to be, according to Berkely Blogger Kevin Deenihan. Here's his latest on the subject, but scroll down and you'll find more. His blog is a wonderful source for Berkeley news, and I expect that pundits and bloggers will be mining it regularly for those colorful stories that Berkeley provides like nowhere else.

I can't help but wonder, though: what does Rachael Klein think about all this?

THE POWER TO TAX: Gerhard Schroder says it should be set at the Euro level.

2/21/2002

MORE ON MASS. GOV. JANE SWIFT AND THE AMIRAULT CASE, from James Haney. Start here and scroll up -- there are multiple posts.

GERMAN MILITARY MATTERS: Reader Thomas Roedl sends this comment:

As a German-born American I have been following the Europe-bashing by the pundits with interest. Despite the whinings of the European media, the governments there are taking a number of measures which will allow them to contribute more effectively to US-led military initiatives. The Germans, for instance, have ordered a fleet of fifteen high-tech corvettes/frigates with drone surveillance capabilities designed for littoral operations, seventy new heavy transport aircraft, hydrogen-cell powered subs, new frigates, and hundreds of new Eurofighter aircraft and Tiger attack helicopters. The KSK special forces battalion is now fully operational and elements of the unit have been in the Gulf for some months now. Chemical warfare units are on exercises with the US in Kuwait at this moment, and a flotilla of frigates and patrol craft are operating in the Red Sea. Lets not forget the troops on the ground in Kabul and Macedonia. This is hardly a negligible effort, and perhaps the world would be uncomfortable if the Germans got more warlike than they are at this point.

The interesting thing about the current German procurement program is that the capabilities are designed to enhance the Bundeswehr's ability to support US and allied operations outside of continental Europe. The fifteen corvettes are designed to replace the German Navy's coastal patrol craft which are really only useful for coastal defense. Unlike the patrol craft, which had to be shipped to the Red Sea to save wear on the high-revving engines, the new ships will be able to travel the seven seas on their own. The German Navy has a tendency to make new ships sound smaller than they are to get them funded; they call frigates corvettes and destroyers frigates. A German aircraft carrier is unlikely ever, but Britain's Royal Navy is committed to building two full-sized carriers. Taken in context, the German efforts are almost heroic, given that the government implementing them is a coalition of socialists and Greens. Should Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian centrist, win the national elections later this year, the country's committment to the common defense will can only increase. Europe is not so much irrelevant as adrift after a decade of domination by left-wing parties. As centrists and conservatives begin to win elections there, we shall see a much different sort of Europe. By the way, Spiegel magazine (the one with the great Bush team cover) does not play the role of popular periodical that Time or Newsweek play in the US. It is a dourly elitist magazine, and members of the middle class never read it unless they have serious intellectual pretensions.

Yes, the German Harper's. I used to read it occasionally -- though "read" is charitable; I lived in Germany as a kid, but I can just barely make out newspaper-level German when I'm lucky.

I thought that the Eurofighter was in serious trouble. That's not what the website says, but . . . .

MATT WELCH has interesting info on Slobo apologists.

US FOREIGN POLICY LED TO MIDEAST PROBLEMS! Well, sort of. While I was browsing the archives looking for the Red Cross item posted below, I ran across this post on U.S. intervention versus Britain and France during the Suez Crisis.

It's been a long time since I read about that, but I think it was a truly major foreign-policy blunder. I think that (whether they think about it now or not) it was a seed for a lot of anti-Americanism by Euro-elites, and it meant that all those noisome countries in the mideast became our responsibility, when we could have stuck the Brits and the French with them. Big mistake, I'd say.

KOFI ANNAN: Nobel peace prize winner -- and gun runner.

SHILOH BUCHER: Hague trials a failure; WonderBra a success -- but with something better on the horizon.

Just trying to see if I could do a Tim Blair. Maybe if I keep practicing. . . .

THE AMERICAN RED CROSS HAS HAD ITS CHARITY RATING DROPPED, as the result of its post-9/11 shenanigans.

They were warned: Here's InstaPundit from October 5th:

A WARNING: A lot of aid money has flowed into various NYC charitable relief funds. This is the result of an outpouring of civic fellow-feeling. But -- if that money turns out to have been abused, to have funded lots of limo-rides, fancy offices, and junkets, or to just plain have been stolen -- the backlash will be just horrible. The Red Cross and other charities administering this money need to be on top of this, and need to restrain eveyone involved from such conduct, and to sack anyone who steps even a little bit over the line. There's a lot of, er, "grazing" that goes on within charitable organizations in normal times. But this money was raised on the basis of times not being normal. The backlash if it's misused will destroy any organization that is involved. And it should.

A HUMILIATING DRUG DEFEAT: I just found (via Overlawyered.Com) that the New Orleans Rave prosecution has ended in humiliating defeat for the prosecution, with the plea-bargain they managed to extort now being struck down. I consulted on some earlier proceedings in this case with the ACLU and the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund. (Here's an earlier story by Janelle Brown of Salon, and here's a piece Dave Kopel and I wrote in National Review Online calling for President Bush to fire the U.S. Attorney involved -- he quit first.)

The entire prosecution was a disgrace -- and proof that the New Orleans U.S. Attorney's office has too much time on its hands, or a deeply distorted sense of priorities, something that I hope Congress will remember at budget time.

KEN LAYNE apologizes to CNN over the whole Mt. Arafat thing, and says he'll post more later. Time elapsed before correction: about 12 hours (during most of which, I hope, Layne was asleep). Bloggers: not immune to mistakes, but a lot quicker to fix 'em.

A NICE PIECE ON PANIC VS. SECURITY by Jesse Walker in Reason.

THE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER IS NOT BLOCKING INSTAPUNDIT, according to multiple -- and amazingly swift -- emails from their IT department. Here are some excerpts:

We do not and have never blocked any web site. . . .

It really is a matter of pride to me that I work for an institution that is as open as it is. In fact, if it wasn't, I wouldn't work there. . . .

A possible explanation for this is that occasionally people set the "Content Advisor" Internet Options on IE. I just tested this on my own system and discovered that the strictest setting do block access to http://instapundit.com.

I don't know of any place where Content Advisor is used institutionally, but I do know of at least one instance where someone did this on a computer in our central computer lab. I imagine this was done as a prank.

It's my recollection that once we figured out how to undo the setting, we reconfigured IE so Content Advisor was permanently disabled.

Most of our computer labs are not managed centrally. It seems likely that the same thing that happened in our central lab also happened in a departmental lab.

Hmm. Maybe this is what's going on -- officially or otherwise -- at Stillman College. I'll see what I can find out.

UPDATE: I don't think that's it. Content Advisor does block InstaPundit when set at its strictest "Gary Bauer" setting, but it doesn't return ratings like "hate speech" or "weapons." That sounds like some other filtering setup.

Interesting legal hypothetical: If a program labels your site as "hate speech" when it isn't, is that actionable as libel?

IMPEACH JANE SWIFT, says Richard Bennett, who takes her to task for giving justice a backseat to politics.

IF YOU'RE IN NEW YORK, I'll be talking about cloning in the Bob Grant show on WOR radio in about two minutes.

HEY, THE AIRLINE SECURITY CONSPIRACY THEORY(tm) is in Best of the Web today. Give it up, Norm -- you've been outed!

AN OUTRAGEOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION IN BRITAIN is reported over on Samizdata. Somebody call Amnesty International!

ANOTHER ETHICAL LAPSE by a New York Times writer: This time it's a falsified story about slavery. The people responsible have been sacked, and will be replaced by llamas. Okay, I made up that last part. Well, actually I didn't make it up: it's "an homage" to Monty Python.

REMEMBER THE STAR TREK PARALLEL-UNIVERSE episode with the bearded Spock? Somehow, the IsntaPundit site reminds me of that.

PEOPLE WHO BLOG TOO MUCH: Rich Hailey, who hails from my neck of the woods, has some warning signs. He blames me.

THIS SAYS IT ALL, about a certain strand of thought on American campuses: "The University's mission is to educate, and perhaps this controversial artwork is educational. But education shouldn't come at the expense of someone's feelings."

UPDATE: Reader Eugene Volokh, a certified friend of free speech, says this post is too hard on the student editorial in question:

Glenn: I agree that the quoted sentence goes too far, when read on its own. But note that the context was a complaint (actually, a pretty well-reasoend complaint) about material that's posted *by the university itself*, and a call for the university to move the material to a different place.

I think that a university, like many other institutions, might well want to care about the sensitivities of its students -- both as paying customers and as fellow seekers of knowledge -- in deciding what to put up (or leave up) on its walls. You and I, for instance, probably care about our students' sensitivities when we're teaching, and while we don't shy away from material just because it might be offensive, we probably do choose our mode of presentation to minimize unnecessary offense. In context, it seems to me that the student is simply, and not unreasonably, calling on the university to do the same thing.

GOV. JANE SWIFT IS A DISGRACE: Read this and this to see why.

ANTI-BLOGGER CENSORSHIP CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY! Another InstaPundit mole reports:

The University of Denver (in some buildings but not in others) has blocked access to InstaPundit.com, Andrew Sullivan, Virginia Postrel, Kausfiles, and others!! I guess my name should remain anonymous here...after all, I don't want to get suspended for looking at this subversive material!
That's okay. Just continue to file your reports as usual, while a crack InstaPundit Strike Team, fresh from vanquishing the opposition at Stillman College (Motto: "Our motto was created by the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator!"), takes care of everything. Do not reveal yourself when they arrive. They don't Need To Know.

FACT-CHECKING KEN LAYNE: Hey, apparently there is a Mount Arafat, according to reader Arieh Rosenblum:

Hey, Glenn. I'm as far as one can be from being a fan of Yassir Arafat or the Saudi Regime, but there is indeed a Mount Arafat near Mecca, and it is a formal part of the Haj Pilgrimage. It is the place where Mohammed is believed to have received the last passage of Islam's holy book, the Koran, during his final sermon 14 centuries ago. Just thought you'd like to know.
Okay. Or is this one of those Arabic-transliteration things? I report, you decide.

RAND SIMBERG IS FOXNEWS' Blogger of the Day today, with some comments on John Glenn, NASA's future, and more.

MARK STEYN'S LATEST COLUMN is chock-full of chewy pundit goodness: a debunking of the Marc Herold casualty figures, some wonderful reflections on Euro-whingeing, and a quote from me:

The EU supposedly fears massive ‘destabilisation’ of the Muslim world. I say, bring it on, baby. If we don’t destabilise them now, they’re going to be destablilising us the day after tomorrow. The population of the Middle East is growing at a rate six times faster than that of Western Europe, whose populations are either stagnant or declining. Islam is turning out ever greater legions of poorly educated young men with little or no economic opportunity at home and every incentive to head to Frankfurt or Marseilles or Luton and drift into Islamic terrorism while living off Euro welfare. The refusal of the Continent’s political class to adjust its support for Yasser Arafat no matter how many Israeli bat mitzvahs get blown up by suicide bombers may strike many Americans as repugnant, but it has a compelling demographic logic about it if you look at even the official figures for Muslim immigration to Europe. If Washington isn’t getting much support for its plans to take out Saddam now, France and Germany and co. are going to be a lot less keen in five or ten years. If it were done, then ’twere well it were done quickly. . . .

For more than five months now, a continuous stream of preposterous criticism of the Americans has had at its core the assumption that such a demotic culture must necessarily be a profoundly stupid one. Yet funnily enough, it’s the sophisticates who keep getting everything wrong: the Arab street will rise up! Musharraf will be overthrown! The Taleban will never surrender! Millions will starve! Thousands of Afghan civilians are dead! (Not true: see below.) There’s evidently a powerful psychological need among the non-American Western elites to believe that, if America is big, it must also be blundering; if it’s powerful, it must also be clumsy; if it’s technologically superior, it must also be morally inferior. Hence the frenzied rush to accuse America of ‘torture’ in Guantanamo, a camp where the medical staff outnumber the prisoners. Atrocious, eh? I bet Rose Addis is glad she didn’t get shipped there rather than the Whittington. . . .

As for Mr Inyadullah’s choice between Pepsi and death, Professor Glenn Reynolds, America’s Instapundit, remarked the other week, ‘Well, it’s January and I’m drinking a Pepsi and Mr Inyadullah is probably dead.’ So things worked out swell for both parties. It’s only the Europeans who find themselves agonisingly caught between Iraq and a soft drink.

The only problem is that the quote from me isn't actually something I said. It was me quoting Old Man Murray, though I guess that may not have been obvious enough unless you followed the link (it was in blockquotes -- but maybe not on everyone's browser, dammit). But that's a minor criticism of a column that contains more good lines than a year of Maureen Dowd. And more good ideas than a decade of Maureen Dowd.

BURSTING THE CHAINS OF TYRANNY AT STILLMAN COLLEGE: My mole on-site reports:

Stillman's scaled back their blocking list, it appears. The only things apparently blocked now are for "pornography". Not the Unablogger, though.

Samizdata isn't blocked anymore, but it was late yesterday -- for "hate speech", of all things.

Stillman College -- new motto "In need of a clue, since 2002!"

MORE ON THE ENRON / CLINTON CONNECTION, which explains why it's going to be hard to make this a useful political scandal. At least, I think it's a bad move for Democrats to do anything that reignites discussion of the Clinton sleaze factor.

I found this first via Josh Marshall, who is also entirely correct, as best I can tell, about the Freedom of Information Act double-standard.

KEN LAYNE UNCOVERS fact-checking disasters at CNN and NPR: "Mount Arafat?" Jeez.

ANDREA SEE is a GlamGirl. Who'da thought it?

MICHAEL BARONE has some interesting historical observations on American, and Presidential, power.

I think, though, that the biggest issue that the United States has to face is how we can assure our security -- which I'm afraid is going to involve a lot of action beyond our borders, and a lot of Cold War-style covert political involvement -- without lapsing into Empire. Andrew Sullivan has written, mostly positively, that the United States is becoming a global empire much as Britain was in the 19th Century. As I say, he's pretty positive about it -- but he grew up in Britain.

Being an Empire (however figuratively) sits very poorly with American institutions and American culture. The Constitution was set up to prevent such an eventuality, and it has been an enormous strain on the Constitution and on American traditions and institutions to deal even with the Cold War. I'm very concerned about this, and I'd like to see some discussion of the issue from sensible commentators.

EVERYONE'S MISSING THE POINT on "Underperformin' Norman" Mineta's ban on special VIP screening lines at airports. Sure, it's fun to abuse him over this. But the real point is that this decision is more evidence in support of the InstaPundit Airline Security Conspiracy Theory (tm): The reason Bush gave in on federalizing airport security was because he knew that the inevitably lazy, inefficient, and rude security screeners would become the face of the federal government to the chattering classes, undermining big-government sentiment more effectively than a brace of Cato Institutes.

Since the chattering classes are disproportionately frequent-flyer types, making the process less painful for them would undermine the plan.

Sure, Mineta's stupid -- stupid like a fox. Remember, you heard it here first.

CLONING ARGUMENTS: My FoxNews column this week is on the arguments against cloning, and how they don't hold water. I should say that I wrote it before I read Charles Murtaugh's piece in NRO yesterday. I think Murtaugh's wrong, but he's more forthright and intellectually honest in his arguments than cloning opponents like Leon Kass and Daniel Callahan.

MY DSL IS DOWN -- along with the phone line that supports it. I'm on a backup dialup connection on a backup phone line, and I'm screaming along at 14.4 kbps. Yeah, you read that right. So I won't be posting much until I get to the office.

2/20/2002

DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT CHEMISTRY: The Al Qaeda guys in Italy had the wrong sort of cyanide, explains Steven Den Beste.

It's a good thing we're at war with people who make a virtue of ignorance, instead of with pissed-off computer geeks and wargamers, who would be a much greater threat.

NOW IT'S BELLICOSE CANADIANS! No, really. This item via Paul Music, another one-person news service who, I hope, doesn't mind the credit.

US TROOPS ALREADY IN IRAQ, according to this story in Pravda. How trustworthy is it? Not very, which doesn't prove it's wrong.

But I think the sign that U.S. special-ops forces are operating in a country is usually when its leadership suddenly starts acting blustery and odd, because something's going on but they're not quite sure what. That hasn't happened in Iraq lately.

THANKS TO THE HORROR OF FACULTY MEETINGS, I just got around to the Lileks piece on gender oppression today. It was worth the wait.

THE ANSWER TO SPEECH IS MORE SPEECH: Katherine Snyder writes that instead of continuing their lame, stupid, and self-defeating efforts to shut down the EnronOwnstheGOP parody website (well, okay, actually those adjectives are supplied by me, not Ms. Snyder), they should simply advertise this one about Democratic links to Enron.

I think she's right. Thuggish lawyering is a poor second to slick web-based PR most of the time. It's sure coming in second here.

READER ANDY FREEMAN sends these thoughts about the Bush/Rambo cover of Der Spiegel mentioned below:

Portraying Bush as Rambo was an deliciously unintended nice touch that reflects badly on Der Spiegel. Why do I say that? Because, unlike the vast majority of folks who use "Rambo" as an insult, I've actually seen the movie.

Rambo (the movie's actual name is "First Blood", the lead character's last name is Rambo and "Rambo" word is used in many of the sequel titles) is a movie about a guy who just wants to visit some friends and then move on. The evil local sheriff decides to abuse him and Rambo fights back.

Tagging Bush with a "I was minding my own business but you screwed with the wrong guy" label is actually something of a compliment as far as Americans are concerned. (But, what do we know? We think that evil should be called by name and that living
with it is no virtue.) In later movies, the "unwilling to fight until attacked" theme becomes "fighting for innocents who have no other protectors".

By attacking these beliefs as "simple", the Eurowhiners miss the point, namely, are they right/good? They score an additional own goal by suggesting failed alternatives in their "it doesn't work" argument.

Typically, one attacks beliefs as "simple" when it isn't feasible to attack them as "wrong."

TIM BLAIR has this side-splitting parody of a recent ArabNews piece ostensibly (but not very ostensibly) written by an American.

Okay, my sides didn't actually split. But if I'd been drinking a beer, it would have come out of my nose.

READER DAN DIXON WRITES WITH THIS INTERESTING OBSERVATION:

Given the chiding that Bush has received from the Europeans and others about the use of the term "evil", I found this Chris Patten quote from last September somewhat amusing:

"It would be terribly unfair to behave in the wake of this disaster as if the whole of Islam was to blame. It is not," he stressed. "We should never see this as a struggle between different civilizations. It's a struggle between decency and evil."
Jeez. No wonder even his EU counterparts are telling him to get a grip.

THE PERSONAL TOUCH: I have a piece coming out next month in the first issue of Legal Affairs (hint: Michael Bellesiles is mentioned prominently). I got the check today -- always a highlight -- and with it there was a nice note from the editor, Lincoln Caplan. That's never happened before. I thought it was kind of cool.

READER CHRIS COTNER sends this story from The Hill, headlined House Dems Make Plans to Circumvent Campaign Reform.

As comprehensive campaign finance reform nears its expected enactment, House Democratic lawmakers have already adopted strategies for redirecting the flow of large contributions to outside groups aligned with their party, a move they hope will help them regain control of the Chamber.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) has assured African-American members of his caucus that he will raise money for groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southwest Voter Project to pay for their voter registration and get-out-the-vote operations.

Reform legislation sponsored by Reps. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) that passed the House last week bans soft money but allows federal lawmakers to raise funds in $20,000 increments for outside organizations as long as those groups are
“nonpartisan.” The loose restrictions would allow party leaders to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars for such groups.

What? Campaign finance "reform" was just a cynical sham?

INSTAPUNDIT: FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE! A reader writes:

You've been blocked!

Stillman College has blocked you (and a number of other blogs) not for traffic but for content -- "Weapons", mostly.

I guess I'm sending this "anonymously" because they're paranoid here and get upset at anyone who tattles on them.

Ah, campuses today -- as far from a "free speech zone" as you can get without being in prison.

UPDATE: STILLMAN COLLEGE -- MORE REPRESSIVE THAN SAUDI ARABIA! A reader sends this:

Take comfort in the fact that Stillman College is more repressive than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I could read InstaPundit from a military base there. And those buggers block WebMD (!).

IT'S A FACULTY MEETING-O-RAMA TODAY for me. But there's always Wednesday Punditwatch for your reading pleasure in my absence!

BLOGOSPHERE WORLD DOMINATION CONTINUES: Now it's Moira Breen in FoxNews. Note to journalists writing about blogs: this Fox connection seems like a good news hook to me. Just a suggestion. . . .

LEWIS LAPHAM IS A TALL, SKINNY IDIOT: An apparently endless continuing series. Reader Jonathan Good sends the following:

Harper's just arrived. Entry number 8 in the Index:

Estimated number of Afghan civilians killed by U.S. bombing last year: 3950.

Source: Marc W. Herold, University of New Hampshire (Durham).

Bogus statistics never die -- they find a home in ideological, badly edited magazines. Lapham should be ashamed to be peddling this long-since-exploded number.

A GOOD EDITORIAL in The New Republic, on Guantanamo and international law.

ANOTHER REASON NOT TO SEND THREATENING LETTERS: People will taunt you mercilessly, as Josh Marshall does to Jonathan Snare, the hapless lawyer who is trying to shut down a parody website on behalf of the Texas Republican Party.

So far, the effect of the Texas GOP's efforts has been to give a little-known parody site publicity beyond its wildest dreams, while making itself, and its unfortunate lawyer, look dumb in the process.

BLOGGER CHARLES MURTAUGH has hit the bigtime with a piece on pet-cloning in NRO. I don't entirely agree with Murtaugh on cloning (as my FoxNews piece tomorrow will make clear) but it's a good piece. And it's more evidence of the Blogosphere's gradual move toward global domination.

DAVID GELERNTER says that Enron is Microsoft's fault. But of course!

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN for this week is up. Enjoy!

ENRON MAY BE OVERCOVERED, but The American Prowler argues that Global Crossing is undercovered. That may be about to change, though.

READER SEAN FITZPATRICK WRITES:

I believe that anti-Americanism is the united Europe's new Patriotism.

It allows the masses to congregate on the boulevards, waving flags but free of any fascist overtones they so rightly fear.

I'm actually not so sure about that last.

REUTERS RUNS THE PENTAGON'S ANTITERRORISM TRAINING? Apparently so, or at least the Reuters philosophy that "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" are morally interchangeable terms was in charge when this training video was made in 1998. Jeez.

We really need a housecleaning in the antiterror area. We did it after Pearl Harbor, and we need to do it again.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA'S NEW ADMISSIONS PROCEDURES are apparently as secret as the minutes of a Dick Cheney meeting.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS in judicial-confirmation politics, courtesy of William Sulik. What I like best about his post is that he's looked into the political donation history of the "ethics experts," Steven Lubet and Stephen Gillers, who are opining to the media. Chortle.

I told you the OpenSecrets website was going to change the politics of this stuff.

MICKEY KAUS unleashes a torrent of posts. I like the conflict-of-interest point the best. He's exactly right: Washington lawyers thrive on them; they're a major stock in trade.

INTERESTING PIECE on U.S. and European attitudes in The Irish Times.

INHUMAN CONDITIONS in a prison camp where the prisoners are treated "like animals." Somone tell the Red Cross! Oh, wait. . . .

Amnesty International doesn't get a mention on this. Where are they?

AL QAEDA IS STILL IN OPERATION, according to this story. I hope it's wrong, but I doubt that it is.

2/19/2002

RAND SIMBERG points out that the Germans probably think that this image is a put-down. But Americans will mostly think it's cool.

I also agree with Rand that the coolest part is the Amazonian Condi Rice.

UPDATE: Check out the Euro-whining in the comments section on Rand's page.

MORE PEOPLE ARE CLAMORING FOR KEN LAYNE as Slate editor. Well, it would certainly be a more, um, lively magazine, wouldn't it?

WILL VEHRS follows up the women good / men bad angle on Enron pioneered by Maureen Dowd.

"WE TOLD THEM NORWAY BUT WE'RE HOPING FOR LIBYA" -- ANDY BOROWITZ HAS THE SCOOP on America's new war strategy:

U.S. ASKS BRITAIN TO INVADE SPAIN

Hopes They Will Miss and Get Iraq Instead

One day after British troops accidentally invaded Spain when they meant to land on Gibraltar, the U.S. asked Great Britain to invade Spain, hoping they will land on Iraq.

The new tactic – tricking geographically confused allies into doing the United States’ bidding – appears to be a strategic shift in America’s war on terrorism.

The mission began when the U.S. Department of Defense faxed an “updated axis of evil” memo to Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, with “Iraq” crossed out and “Spain” written in.

Well, as anyone who's listened to The Ballad of John and Yoko knows, Gibraltar is near Spain. Very near. But this is funny.

SPEAKING OF ENRON, the public radio program Marketplace had a show devoted to it today. (It seemed a bit stale, and may have been a rerun). Boy was it dumb. We had an Enron fairy-tale (once there was an emperor named Lay. . . ), a "how to talk to your kids about Enron" segment that just defies description ("Retirement money is like a jar of cookies." "Ooh, daddy, I like cookies." "So did a man named Ken Lay. . .") and a Paul Krugman monologue explaining that Enron is worse than 9/11.

Put plainly, it sucked. It was like a National Review Online parody of of public radio. I mean, it was embarrassing. Really, really embarrassing. What were they thinking?

UPDATE: Reader Hunter McDaniel writes:

Liberal bias in news reporting is hardly new, but the "Enron scandal" seems likely to take it to a whole new level. There hasn't been any news on this story for weeks; what little there ever was exonerated the Bush administration (and implicated Rubin). No new angles. No shocking revelations. No Deep Throat. But somehow the NYT and NPR and the like keep this going, simply by repeating the words "Enron" and "scandal" over and over again. Continuing to talk about Enron somehow makes the talk itself newsworthy.
Yeah, there's some of that -- you could sure hear it in Paul Krugman's tone of voice. But I also think it's just the usual media drive for a new story; there's not much headline news on the war, and it's hard to get too excited about Condit-style, pre-9/11 sorts of stories. Thus they talk this to death. Paradoxically, this is probably good for Bush: they've already managed to make Enron boring, so that if any smoking guns do emerge most people won't be paying much attention. A really competent biased media would have dribbled this out slowly until something really damaging appeared -- but this isn't a vast conspiracy, it's a thundering herd. The individual members of the herd may be biased (heck, there's not much doubt about that) but there's nobody in charge of the stampede.

DRUG WARRIORS, BIOWARRIORS AND ENRON: Reader Will Allen offers these thoughts:

The two stories you refer to today are proof as to why truly limited government is not only wise, but essential to public safety. The state has unfettered access to capital regardless of how incompetently it performs, therefore allowing great damage to be done to the public. If the boobs and crooks at Enron were able to acess tax revenues, instead of convincing private creditors to give them more money, Skilling, Lay, Fastnow, and company would still be in the clover, while doing great damage to the economic well being of others. There is no alternative, of course, to the state operating a bioweapons lab, but in all things military, peace encourages incompetency. The only way to have the prospect of painful failure discipline military performance is to have a war, which, of course, is paradoxically what we are trying to avoid by having a large military. The U.S. used to solve this paradox by having an extremely small military between conflicts, but it is instructive to note that even when this was still an option, George Marshall purged the officer ranks upon the entry into WWII, even though the Army was still relatively small. We then are, unfortunately, inevitably saddled with incompetents in our military bureaucracies, but this is even more reason to greatly restrict state activity in areas where it is not essential to have the state operating.
Yep. Enron's failure is a success -- at least compared to a state bailout or coverup. Just compare it with the Japanese banking industry.

HOW TO PUT UP WITH DUMB AMERICANS: Columnist Rob Long offers this advice to Europeans in Newsweek International.

THE EUROPEAN UNION is engaging in a campaign to help Yasser Arafat burnish his image. I believe the traditional way of doing that for someone in Arafat's situation was to proffer a bottle of whiskey, and a revolver.

IRWIN STELZER tells Eurocrats about Washington's attitude toward their whining, in The Times. Brutal:

The consensus in Washington — both among the people who influence American policy and those who make it — is that Europe is irrelevant to the world today. Because it will not spend what is necessary to matter as a military power, its views on issues that involve the use of such power are of no consequence to America. Even the most casual follower of foreign affairs rattled off the fact that the increase in America’s defence spending is almost half again as large as the total budget of Europe’s biggest defence spender, the UK. Complaints about “unilateralism” are dismissed as whingeing by those unwilling to belly up to the bar and buy a round of drinks, to put in polite terms the unprintable reaction of some of my guests. . . .

It will come as small comfort to those Europeans interested in maintaining cordial relations with the United States that there is some sympathy for the European predicament. One of my colleagues summed it up by saying that he can understand Europe’s frustration, it once having been a great centre of Western culture and power, now reduced to irrelevance. And he meant it in a kindly way.

Ouch.

UPDATE: A bunch of people say the link's gone and the article doesn't show up on the search page, and are speculating darkly about censorship. However, this link, sent by reader Randall Parker, works for now. But be quick!

RICHARD COHEN picks up on some points regarding the Enron hearings that InstaPundit readers will find familiar.

POP-UP NEWS VIDEO: Howard Kurtz notes a trend that must be alarming to politicians:

Did you notice how some cable networks, during the Enron hearings, began posting a certain factoid beneath the faces of those oh-so-outraged lawmakers?

Under Senator Showboat it would say, "Received $15,500 from Enron."

What if this were the start of a full-blown trend?

What if every time the Agriculture Committee chairman appeared, the television screen would say: "Largest recipient of farm contributions, supports keeping subsidies while attacking out-of-control overspending"?

What if Congressman Bloat was railing against pork and the caption said, "Secured $1.2 million grant for district to study why people litter"?

What if Senator Snidely was denouncing a boost in the minimum wage and viewers were told, "Voted to Raise Own Pay Five Times in Eight Years"?

It would be like MTV's Pop-Up Videos, only better.

The possibilities are endless. And television would be providing added value for the audience.

You can write your own caption for Gary Condit.

This would do more good than campaign finance "reform."

TODAY IT'S KEN LAYNE whose blog is on FoxNews.Com. My favorite passage:

If Usama bin Laden is still alive, he must be furious. The guy launches a war against the Infidels and five months later the big news is all about Figure Skating, cloned kittens and Mike Tyson's latest shameful attempt to find a place greedy enough to let him fight.

COMMON CAUSE caught violating gift rules! It was an innocent accounting error.

I LEARN BY EMAIL from the Nigerian extended-family that Nigeria is now undergoing a wave of bank failures. Even the employees didn't know it was coming. This is a serious blow to a place that's already in serious trouble. Imagine Argentina with 1/20 the per-capita GDP to start with.

My prediction: it'll barely get noticed in the Western media.

JOSH MARSHALL reprints a letter from an attorney responding to the absurd efforts of the Texas Republican Party to shut down a parody website. The response letter is dead on.

My question is, how stupid are these people? Their effort to shut down the website has gotten it far more publicity than it would ever have gotten otherwise. And don't the lawyers for the Texas Republican Party realize that they're putting themselves at risk? Apparently not, as lawyers send threatening letters based on, ahem, extremely weak legal positions all the time. (Some even more ridiculous threat letters appear on Slashdot from time to time). Were I to receive a letter from a lawyer, making legal threats that had no basis, I would immediately lodge a disciplinary complaint with that lawyer's home state bar, and I would consider a civil suit or Rule 11 sanctions as well if the circumstances seemed right. While lawyers are allowed to be aggressive, I've seen a lot of letters that are quite obviously no more than extortionate threats of baseless lawsuits. Such actions are unethical, and reflect very badly on the legal profession. They also seem to be becoming more common -- especially by deep-pocketed big firms representing deep-pocketed clients. This strikes me as deeply unwise.

DAVE KOPEL parses legal ethics rules and concludes that Attorney General John Ashcroft's public comments on the Lindh indictment were (probably) technically not unethical, but were dreadfully ill-advised and should not be repeated.

This doesn't mean that a judge will or should rule that Lindh couldn't get a fair trial. But it does mean Lindh's attorney now has a basis for a new argument with a non-trivial chance of success. If Ashcroft had simply concluded the press conference after detailing the indictment, no risk to the case would have been created.

John Walker Lindh is a despicable person, and Attorney General Ashcroft was accurate in labeling Lindh an enemy of America and American values. But because Lindh is getting more than he morally deserves — namely a trial strictly bound by American rules of legal procedure — the attorney general ought to avoid saying anything which could give Lindh even a slender legal basis for arguing that his case should be dismissed or (if Lindh is convicted) that his conviction be overturned. The gratuitous comments by the attorney general did not enhance public safety, or provide any other special public benefit — and certainly no benefit worth endangering the Lindh prosecution even a little.

In the future, Kopel advises, Ashcroft should keep his mouth shut and let the lawyers do their jobs.

SANCTIONS ON ZIMBABWE: Bill Quick has some cogent observations. Here's one:

In other words, the United States has already done (on December 23 of 2001) precisely what the Euros are only now getting round to threatening to do.

So this is the pack of decadent and elitist do-nothings that presumes to instruct the United States on how to conduct its self-defence and foreign policy. Is it any wonder they aren't making much headway with the American public, or even, as far as the polls indicate, their own public?

Read the whole thing.

WHY WE CAN'T TRUST LAW ENFORCEMENT TO GET THE TERROR WAR RIGHT: Deroy Murdock has this observation about priorities:

Last week, the FBI warned that "a planned attack may occur in the United States or against U.S. interests on or around Feb. 12," thanks to 12 terrorists led by Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei, a Saudi-born Yemeni. Suspecting this, federal officials should have deployed as many dedicated, talented agents as possible to protect high-profile targets such as San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, or the pyramidal Transamerica Tower.

Think again. Washington instead chose February 12 to unleash tough, gun-toting Drug Enforcement Agency officers against AIDS and cancer patients. These federal agents raided a suspected cannabis cultivation center in suburban Petaluma, California, and medical-marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco and Oakland. They arrested four men who led these operations.

This unjust, outrageous, and ill-timed misallocation of law-enforcement resources epitomizes the Bush administration's new effort to repackage the war on drugs within the war on terror.

Murdock paints this mostly as an issue of misplaced priorities, and it's certainly that. But there's more, and I don't want to pussyfoot around it: The drug warriors are losers and liars, to put it bluntly. Letting them anywhere near the war on terror is a recipe for defeat.

THIS VERNON WALTERS EULOGY says that the French are more bellicose than generally realized (scroll down).

JAMES LILEKS IS SO GOOD that even his 404 Error Page is fun to read.

MORE WORRIES about Japan.

SHOULDA WOULDA COULDA: Ralph Nader says that September 11 never would have happened if he had been president.

And skategate never would have happened if I had been one of the skating competitors. Both are equally likely. And Ralph and I are equally qualified for the respective positions.

READER J. CARTY sends this link to a piece by Richard Posner on how badly wrong public intellectuals have been about the war, and says it's not a new phenomenon. Posner names names, and offers this proposal:

Paul Ehrlich, a biologist at Stanford University, predicted at the time of the first Earth Day in 1970 that by 1974 there might well be rationing of food and water in the United States, and that by 1980 there would be mass starvation, leading to hundreds of millions of deaths worldwide because of world overpopulation. He also suggested that US life expectancy would have diminished by 10 years because of DDT, rates of hepatitis and dysentery would have skyrocketed, and fishing might have disappeared because all the stock had died. Ehrlich remains a member in good standing of the Stanford faculty.

The academy values academics for their academic work. It is oblivious to the follies and pratfalls of their forays into the popular media.

As a first step toward promoting accountability by public-intellectual academics, I suggest that all academics post annually on their own or their university's Web site copies of all their public-intellectual forays in the preceding year. That would facilitate public evaluation of whether professors, when talking to the general public, come even close to complying with the standards of accuracy, care, and impartiality that govern academic work.

Good suggestion. Until it's implemented (and by the way, you can see my public writings by clicking on "other writings" at the left, or by searching the archives) I guess the blogosphere will just have to do the fact-checking.

SALON SEXWATCH UPDATE: Still no sex, except for the noisy sex of an upstairs neighbor that's disturbing one correspondent. Rachael Klein, meanwhile, serves up red-hot G-spot advice. Advantage: Rachael. As usual.

A RATHER DAMNING STORYabout lax, or nonexistent, bioweapon security:

Former Army scientist Richard Crosland kept scrupulous notes about the frozen crystals he kept in his lab, and for good reason: The crystals contained botulinum toxin, a biological poison so deadly a single gram could kill a million people.

For 11 years, Crosland carefully logged each shipment of toxin he received and accounted for every molecule, thinking somebody would want to know. But no one asked -- not once during his career as an Army biodefense researcher, and not when he left the job in 1997, hauling away boxes of personal effects that no one checked.

"No one asked questions," Crosland said of his time at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the Pentagon's top biodefense research center at Fort Detrick, Md. "You could literally walk out with anything." . . .

"No one ever came in and asked, 'Where's that material you ordered?' Never once did they ask what you did with it," said Crosland, the scientist who worked with botulinum toxin, a substance regarded by bioterrorism experts as the deadliest on Earth. "7-Eleven keeps better inventory than they did."

Another scientist who had worked at Fort Detrick as a young technician said he was surprised to find himself being granted unsupervised access to the most secure, "Bio-hazard Level 4" laboratories, where ebola and other highly virulent pathogens were kept.

"I would work all by myself with some of the most dangerous organisms in the world," said the scientist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It wasn't just a matter of security lapses -- there was absolutely no security."

Jeez.

I KNOW, I KNOW: Well, actually I didn't think of it until a dozen or two people emailed me. Best of the Web was down in honor of Presidents' Day yesterday. I should have thought of it, but it was -- as I mentioned -- no holiday for me.

GIVE THE CIA this woman's phone number.

2/18/2002

JAY MANIFOLD HAS an interesting suggestion for bloggers.

It would certainly reduce my email load.

GREAT PIECE by Wendy McElroy on how advocacy groups abuse statistics.

THERE WAS NO BEST OF THE WEB TODAY over at OpinionJournal -- unless some weird upstream cacheing problem is keeping me from getting it. But it was still Friday's BOTW at 6 when I was in the office, and that's what's showing here now.

I miss it enough on weekends, but a Monday without Best of the Web is a Blue Monday indeed. I think I'll email 'em.

BRITAIN INVADES SPAIN: Half the world has emailed me this story about British marines invading Spain by mistake. About a quarter of the world has sent this one, which includes this amusing quote:

The mayor of La Linea, Juan Carlos Juarez, said: "They landed on our coast to confront a supposed enemy with typical Commando tactics. But we managed to hold them on the beach."

GAME THEORY PROVES AMERICA A benevolent hegemon, and the eerie Dustin Hoffman / Justin Raimondo parallels. Two interesting items from ExpatPundit.

A READER SENDS a link to this weblog by a guy working security at the Olympics. The port-a-loo incident, the Chinese ice-watchers, and the Canadian Security Threat are my favorite entries.

SEVERAL READERS SENT this unintentionally amusing piece on the EU's ambitions to be a "great power," and this curious definition of what that means:

Mr Lipponen said during his lecture in the London School of Economics that the EU must not develop into a military superpower, but should become a great power that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests, writes Danish daily Politiken.

READER LARRY DUNCAN nominates Moira Breen for Slate editor. I don't know anything about Moira's management skills, but I agree that her reflections on microwave pizza and the Tory/East Coast Wasp connection make her worthy of an appearance in Slate. Too bad they seem to have taken down the Me-Zine links.

ONE OF THE SIDE EFFECTS OF GRETA VAN SUSTEREN'S plastic surgery is the usual spate of articles, like this one, in which women complain that when they go on TV their looks get commented on. You hear a lot of the same kind of thing from women professors, when they talk about student evaluations.

But I think this is a case of inventing things. Whenever I've been on TV, people tell me how I looked. Seldom do they remember what I said. (That's one reason why I like radio). What's more, my student evaluations often include recommendations on dress -- including recommendations (from commenters I fondly hope are women) that I wear fewer clothes, tighter clothes, etc. Because Debra Saunders is a woman, she thinks it's sexism. But is it? This is really no surprise: when people are spending a lot of time looking at you, they notice how you look.

UPDATE: A letter on Jim Romenesko's site from a CNN staffer makes the same point:

I will tell you that there were many men on-air at CNN and elsewhere who struggled with hair dye, toupees and weight loss regimens, knowing that their appearance was being constantly evaluated. I remember one incident several years ago where a veteran CNN anchor's rug had gotten so ratty looking that his appearance was almost comic; the problem persisted for weeks because all of his producers were women and none wanted to broach the issue with him.

Appearance is one of the primary criteria for being on television, with a few exceptions for funny fat guys (being willing to yank off your piece apparently helps) or particularly astute analysts. Obviously age plays into this equation. But it affects almost everybody in front of the camera, not just women.

I think this is right.

WILL VEHRS' PUNDITWATCH is now appearing on FoxNews.Com as a regular feature. Fox is adding some other weblog material to their Views page, too in the near future. (Click on the Views link to see the cool Fox Weblog logo). This is something I've been encouraging them to do, and I think they're ahead of the curve with this.

READER BRIAN MARKS warns: "You may want to warn the poor fellas in Dilbert's Cubeland that, when one visits UNABLOGGER, pictures will come up that female co-workers may issue shocked comments if they happen to see them while walking by." Okay guys. You've been warned.

ANDREW DODGE IS MAD AT ME because he says I didn't give him credit for noticing the Spectator cover first. (Here's the post in question). In a later post he asks if I think I'm God.

No, I don't. (I also don't think this is Usenet. I hope I'm right about that). What I am is a guy with a day job, and several hundred emails a day. (The Sarge is beginning to see what it's like). If I recall correctly -- and I very well may not -- the first person who sent me that was S.E. Brenner, who despite being a one-woman news service operating out of Britain, doesn't want credit for her items. But I often get the same item sent to me by numerous correspondents, and when I do I usually don't name any of them. I try to give people credit for stuff, but I guess it hasn't seemed that important to me: I sent Andrew Sullivan hundreds of items in my pre-blogging days. I think he credited me with one, and that was undeserved because I was actually just forwarding him an email from GMU law professor David Bernstein. That didn't bother me -- I was trying to get ideas circulated, not trying to see my name in pixels.

I'll try to give more credit, if that's what people want -- but really, if you want your name in pixels, don't try to get it via emailing me links to news stories. I do the best I can, but I post this stuff in between teaching classes, watching kids, and cleaning up cat vomit. It's not my life, and it shouldn't be yours.

UPDATE: Dodge emails with this corrective:

For the record I was not mad, I was frustrated. :o}P Using the term mad for me is unwise because a fair section of those who know me think I am the other conotation of the word. And have been for a very long time indeed.
Dodge has another post on this now, and he seems to have mellowed on the subject. However, he slams Blogger Pro rather uncharitably. I've been using it for a few weeks, and it was rock-solid until this weekend when there was a server upgrade that took it down for a few hours (during most of which I was asleep, or wished I was, anyway). It was down for a little while today, but it's back. Yeah, Blogger and Blogspot have their problems -- but the hosting service I was planning to move to was shut down twice by hackers last month, so I'm just reminded that it's the nature of the Internet to be less-than-fully reliable. I know that Ev is busting his ass to make Blogger work, and I'm still pretty damn happy with it.

RAND SIMBERG says that these British National Health Service patients would be better off as prisoners at Guantanamo.

THE UNABLOGGER continues his campaign to be the new Editor-in-Chief of Slate.

WE HAVE CLASSES TODAY. No holiday here, dammit. Maybe that colors my attitude, but I've never liked "Presidents' Day." We used to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln -- each on his own day -- as two Presidents who were more than any other responsible for America's founding and survival. Now we have a generic holiday that lumps them in with Millard Fillmore and Warren Harding. To my mind that's demeaning and unfair.

I think it was Harry Reasoner who mocked Presidents' Day by suggesting that we rename Christmas "famous religious leaders' natal day."

THIS COLUMN BY BARBARA AMIEL is quite good. What's interesting is that several readers have emailed me highlighting entirely different sections -- some sounding a cautionary note about American triumphalism, others about European carping. So rather than excerpt it, I'm going to suggest that you just read the whole thing.

CLICK HERE, look at the photo, and then -- swiftly -- click on "back." I mean, swiftly.

ROMAN HRUSKA'S FAVORITE REPORTER? Mickey Kaus slams Rick Berke in a memorable assault.

JEFF JARVIS says that this is the "he-decade": the military is back, men are back, and testosterone is back.

WILLIAM SAFIRE says that protecting Washington, D.C. at the cost of our freedom is not okay. I think he's right about this. Especially because, based on the British experience, all those security cameras won't catch any terrorists anyway -- they'll just be used to watch ordinary citizens committing picayune offenses, with juicy videos of attractive women bending over circulating like samizdat in the security-guard underground.

DEFENDING BILL MOYERS: This oped in the Post takes Bill Moyers to task for producing a slanted report on NAFTA's dispute-resolution process. But quite a few people in the field tell me that it is a slanted process, so I'm going to have to side with Moyers on this one. And I say that even after reading this unflattering expose on Moyers by Stephen Hayes.

THE MILITARIZATION OF THE TOY WORLD: I wrote about this phenomenon back in October, but it's gone far beyond the positioning that I noted then. Bo Crader has an interesting story, complete with some fun links.

2/17/2002

SOME INTERESTING HISTORY on Israeli/Indian ties going back to the 6th Century B.C., from Suman Palit. Cool maps, too.

ANANDA GUPTA slams NRO for crypto-creationism, and quoting Darwin out of context.

An additional slam at The Corner for, ahem, slacking off on the posting this weekend wouldn't be out of place, either.

HITTING WHERE IT HURTS: Writing in The Times, Alan Day sticks the knife in Chris Patten where it will hurt the most. Brutal.

I'VE BEEN WAITING for Matt Welch's article on the impact of Iraqi sanctions, which I read in the print version of Reason, to appear on their website. It's there now. Go read it.

TONY ADRAGNA weighs in in favor of Colin Powell's statement about condoms.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't get the opposition of so many conservatives to condoms. I think Powell's statement was a brilliant PR move by the Bush administration, as well as being right on substance.

EUROPE: FIERCELY COMMITTED to ensuring its own irrelevance.

BLOG WARS: Megan McArdle accuses Euroblogger Natalija Radic of unilateralism (or is it bilateralism?) and of taking advantage of her resource endowment to the disadvantage of Less Developed Bloggers. Don't miss Natalija's generous reply in the Comments section.

BUSH'S STRATEGY is influenced by Robert Kaplan's Eastward to Tartary, which this piece says Bush read last year.

Hey, I thought he was a dumb cowboy who didn't read! At least, that's what I hear from The Guardian.

STILL MORE ON CHAPTERS: Damian Penny emails this:

You say we Canadians should "take our business elsewhere" if Chapters is treating its customers like shit. There's just one problem: there's nowhere else for us to take our business! Chapters controls over 70% of the Canadian bookselling market, and in a lot of smaller centers (like here in Corner Brook, NF), they're really the only game in town. The government places ownership restrictions on bookstore ownership, meaning we're protected from evil Yankee invaders like Borders. (Ironically, Heather Reisman got her rich financier husband to buy Chapters for her after she was barred from bringing Borders into the country. Also, Barnes & Noble owns a minority share in Chapters.) Amazon has not even been allowed to open a Canadian website.

So, we only have one bookstore chain, where the owner can pull books off the shelves whenever she feels like it (as she did with 'Mein Kampf' last year), but at least we're protected from the evil Yanks, just like our airline and newspaper industries, where competition is flourishing. (Why some time down the road, a SECOND airline might open!) Thank God for that.
Yes, and some other readers wrote that Amazon isn't a viable alternative because of various Canadian taxes and import rules. Hey, I thought NAFTA was supposed to fix all that stuff. . . . No, wait: this is part of that idiotic cultural exception crap:
Cultural protectionism is alive and well in Canada. All of the Canadian folks in the audience know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who are U.S. citizens, you cannot go to Canada and watch HBO on TV. You cannot see MTV. You cannot see Disney. You cannot see ESPN -- Canada’s culture, of course, is threatened by ESPN. Borders Books is not allowed in Canada, not because of a lack of Canadian content, but because the checks from the dividends at the end of the month go to U.S. owners. Sports Illustrated threatened Canada’s culture so much that they decided it had to be thrown out. Movie distribution has to be controlled by Canadians. There is also a threatened film levy which would take taxes on U.S. films rented at video stores, and return them to Canadian artists. All, allegedly, in the name of protecting Canada’s fragile culture.
That would be a culture of unresponsive monopolies and lousy service?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Damian Penny has still more about this protectionism, which he says protects a few marginal Canadian enterprises while impoverishing (both literally and intellectually) Canada as a whole.

JOSH MARSHALL disses Dick Gephardt but misses the real reason that Dick won't be President. The picture accompanying Josh's post answers it, though. As a friend of mine said, he looks like your old "GI Joe with lifelike hair" -- after the "hair" has all worn off.

HEY, MAYBE RACHAEL KLEIN represents the stuffy side of Berkeley sex education.

MICKEY KAUS says that it's embarrassing for Ralph Neas of People for the American Way to be busted for dishonesty by the New York Times. This is damning for Neas -- and in a backhanded way, for the Times, too, since it suggests (correctly) that anything short of outrageous calumny would be spun or ignored by The Times.

Kaus suggests that the various groups attacking Pickering need to portray him as a "Neanderthal" not because they really believe it, but in order to pander to their direct-mail fundraising lists. I think this is correct, and that such corruption, for that's what it is, deserves as much attention as corruption in other walks of life.

HEY, I MISSED TODAY'S PUNDITWATCH! (Well, until now.) Don't you do it!

I'VE SAID BEFORE THAT THE CENTRAL EUROPEANS VALUE FREEDOM more than West Europeans. Here's more proof:

Using uncompromising language rarely heard in public by a foreign leader, visiting Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said Israel must not negotiate with terrorists and implied that includes Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Drawing on Czechoslovakia’s experience during World War II, when the Allies sought to appease Germany by sacrificing the Czech Sudetenland to Hitler, Zeman said, “You cannot negotiate with terrorists because the single response of terrorists for fulfilling their demands is blackmail - new demands, nothing more.”

Asked specifically whether Israel should negotiate with Arafat and whether he is a terrorist, the Czech prime minister said, “Any political leader who tolerates political terrorism as a legitimate tool for his political campaign...is a terrorist."

"You know the English expression," he said. "If it looks like a duck, goes like a duck, tastes like a duck, then it is a duck.”

I guess he's not so big on the EU's support for Arafat, huh?

No wonder the Eurocrats are afraid of these guys.

PICKERING UPDATE: Mike Skoglund has some comments on Judge Pickering's 1959 law review note, and has posted this transcription of what he regards as the relevant parts.

UPDATE: A reader writes that he's not impressed with the saliency of this note:

Isn't it amazing? A man can once have been a member of the KKK (Byrd), can be the one to raise the Confederate battle flag over the SC capitol (Hollings), or being found guilty of perjury (Sharpton) and that won't be held against them. But a 43 year old article by a law student in support of what is now (but not then) considered a bad cause-- well, that's just proof that the man is irredeemable.

Not having been a law student, I can still see the utility of intellectual exercises like making constitutional a law that one
disagrees with. If nothing else, one learns how the true supporters might behave, and what can or should be done to prevent that.

The true evil of the segregation era was that it was a minority used the law to force everyone else to conform to their bigotry. Even if a person wanted to serve blacks, the law could be (and was) used to stop them. And just like Eastern Europe under the Communists, it was easier to go along than to resist.

I just hope that those who are today churning out politically correct articles for law journals get the same scrutiny and treatment in
2040, after their political beliefs have been as discredited.

GUN POLLS: This online poll from Vote.Com asks if "Sniper rifles" should be eliminated. With over 3000 votes, it's running at 99% "no." (That despite the rather loaded question, since a "sniper rifle" is basically a "hunting rifle" with a scope, for all practical purposes.) Meanwhile, this poll from the American Police Hall of Fame, asking "should gun owners be licensed and fingerprinted" is running at 96% no, though with no indication of how many votes.

These polls are self-selected, of course, but I've noticed that online polls usually go this way. At the very least, this means that pro-gun folks are a lot better organized online than antigun folks (something that has been noted many places in the past), and that alone is an interesting datum.

The other interesting datum is the way these online polls tend to disappear without a trace when they turn out differently than their sponsors hope.

AN INTERESTING -- AND UNUSUAL -- NEW YORK TIMES STORY on Judge Charles Pickering. Although he's been called a "throwback to segregation" by the Alliance for Justice, black people in Mississippi say they like him:

Back in Washington, his opponents have depicted Judge Charles W. Pickering as the personification of white Mississippi's oppressive past, a man so hostile to civil rights and black progress that he is unfit for promotion to a federal appeals court.

But here on the streets of his small and largely black hometown, far from the bitterness of partisan agendas and position papers, Charles Pickering is a widely admired figure of a very different present.

In funeral parlors and pharmacies, used-car lots and the City Council chambers, the city's black establishment overwhelmingly supports his nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is heading toward a contentious vote in the Senate in the first major judicial battle of the Bush administration.

Though few black residents here subscribe to Judge Pickering's staunchly Republican politics, many say they admire his efforts at racial reconciliation, which they describe as highly unusual for a white Republican in the state. . . .

"I can't believe the man they're describing in Washington is the same one I've known for years," said Thaddeus Edmonson, a former local president of the N.A.A.C.P. who is now president of the seven-member Laurel City Council and one of its five black members. "If those people who are voting against him because of some press release would just come down here and talk to the people who know him, I think they would have a very different opinion."

The judge's widespread popularity in his hometown has been frustrating to the many civil rights and abortion rights groups that have worked to portray him as an ideological relic of the Old South.

Although racial politics in this country have moved past the point at which doing things for actual black people makes much difference, I think that the anti-Pickering folks are blowing their credibility on this one. Note the Times' characterization of their efforts in terms of "the bitterness of partisan agendas and position papers." The whole story is in that vein, and the civil rights establishment comes off as shrill and out-of-touch. Which, of course, it is. That's too bad, since they could do constructive things if they could bear to admit that it's not still Selma everywhere. But -- like one of my old law professors one of whose office walls was occupied by a huge blow-up photograph of protesters being fire-hosed by Bull Connor -- they have too much invested in the image of themselves that was formed back in those days to admit that things have changed.

MORE SUPPORT FOR THE KAUS THEORY: It's not just welfare for individuals, but welfare that props up stagnant state-controlled economies, that promotes terrorism. Just read this story on Egypt. Excerpt:

Egypt's economy is a faltering, state-managed dinosaur. After a decade of ostensible liberalization, the government has failed to attract adequate investment, keep local money working at home or build a dynamic private sector. Instead, the country has survived--and at times prospered--by capitalizing on its strategic importance to the West, burning through about $50 billion in aid and loans since making peace with Israel a quarter of a century ago.

And once again, Egypt is poised to cash in on its geopolitical value. At a recent donors conference, wealthy Western nations eager to ensure stability in the Arab world's most populous country--especially during the U.S.-led war on terrorism--pledged an additional $10 billion in loans and aid over the next three years.

"When we were doing well, it was not because we had a solid economy," said Samiha Fawzy, deputy director of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, a Cairo-based think tank. "It was always dependent on external sources." . . .

"They have some real problems they have to deal with, but it is not a crisis," the diplomat said. "The main problem is the way the government acts. In some ways, the government magnifies the problem with some of its actions. . . . Egyptians want economic reform, but they don't want there to be any pain with it. They want things to change, but they want them to stay the same."

Terrorism, I believe, thrives when people don't confront reality. Welfare -- at both the national and individual level -- allows that luxury.

JIM BENNETT SURRENDER MONKEY UPDATE: The mail just keeps pouring in. Jim: You need a blog! This is from Andrew Wharton:

I sent the link with the reply about the "surrender monkeys" to a French friend who lives in the states. He is a pretty good guy. This was his reply; excellent rant:
What makes you think I don't enjoy french bashing ? :) I've never been the last for that sport but since 9/11, I'm going for the gold medal. My only consolation is that at the rate Hubert Vedrine and the other socialists over there are going, I'll soon be able to ask for political asylum.

Pretty good article overall. On one hand, I do agree when it comes to the very negative influence of the corrupt elites who all come from the same school and hold the same narrow, supposedly "sophisticated" view of the world...And the utter lack of credibility and relevance of the usual local suspects who constantly bitch and moan about America's "cultural imperialism" while demanding a "cultural exception" for France, which is a very nice way to tell the world what we really think of everybody else's culture...; and of course, they will also give you the deep concerned look and the scared trembling voice when they talk about the American economic bulldozer on TV, all dressed up in Dockers khakis and Banana Republic shirts while their kids wear only Gap clothes and don't even have to ask Mom and Dad twice about going to McDonald's after watching the latest Disney/Lucas/Spielberg movie on Saturday.

Spineless numbskulls. Don't get me started.

On the other hand, the author is a little too forgiving. Let's not forget that for all its socialist trappings, France definitely is a democracy and as such, the people there do get the government they choose and therefore deserve. The ones who don't like it don't think twice, they flip a finger and vote with their feet by leaving; for the US, the UK, Ireland etc But unlike de Gaulle, it ain't about coming back to take the place back from the traitors within; so in a way, the surrender monkey is alive and well. I'll plead guilty to that one.

Now I don't want to go on and on about this - I obviously could - but the one thing I think most American commentators miss when it comes to the EU attitude towards America is the conventional wisdom ingrained over there in the past 20 years or so; since the early-mid 80s, most european countries have been under leftist governments (new left, old left, reformed left, upgraded left, center left, whatever...). But by and large, they've all had to execute fairly conservative policies, at least by the standards of their core constituencies. They've managed to get away with it and get reelected for almost 20 years by blaming the all-too-powerful "markets", capitalism and all sorts of external evils, real or imaginary, that "tie their hands" and prevent them from "doing what is right" for the people. Convenient and shallow, of course, but problem is, after 20 years of this ideological bombing and with a big pile of unemployment surrounding him, the average EU schmoe is not only willing to buy this crap, he's come to accept it since the counter-argument guns have long been left silent and unmanned, like some sort of overrun political Maginot line. Which has two consequences : the instant popular success of anything that's "anti-", anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist (i.e. anti-American) etc
and a deep, dangerous cynicism about the relevance of national politics, leading to lower and lower turnout rates at the polls; which helps maintain the same fools on top. Bad combo.

What amazes me every time I go back, is the visible, pervasive amount of wasted potential.

So I just drink to get over it.

Whew! Until I got to the end I was wondering if this guy was really French.

"Wasted potential," of course, is a side effect of most statist systems, left or right, and is an oft-overlooked "root cause" of terrorism. I think that Mickey Kaus is really onto something with this.

Did I mention that Jim Bennett needs to get a weblog?

BRITISH AK-47 UPDATE: I wrote below of the weapons training going on at a British mosque. Reader Brian Hoffman adds this point:

You didn't quote the best part of [the story] about the AK training at the Finsbury Park mosque: Early last year the agents told their handlers that several groups had been taught to strip and reassemble Kalashnikovs in the mosque's basement.

Hamza, the most influential and radical of the prayer leaders at the mosque, said yesterday that, as far as he knew, no 'harmful' activities had ever taken place there. However, he admitted that he could not monitor all areas of the mosque.

And yet it is thought that treaties will allow us to monitor Iraqi weapons production.

A treaty and a daisy-cutter will get far more cooperation than a treaty alone.

COMFY-CHAIR UPDATE: Reader Nancy Pearce writes about the protest "hoax":

It is and it isn't. The protest may be a hoax but the chairs are disappearing. I was in my local Chapter's yesterday and the three large seating areas (complete with couches, armchairs, and coffee tables) have all disappeared and have been replaced with display tables. I counted two small armchairs still present in the store (no table nearby to lay down your Starbucks and have a leisurely peruse). People were sitting on the floor browsing through books As well, there is now a sign next to the Starbucks seating area stating that you must pay for any item taken into the area prior to seating.
Give 'em hell, then -- and take your business elsewhere.

GEORGE BUSH AS NAPOLEON: I'm not actually a Napoleon fan, but he did understand a lot of things -- and this quote suggests that things in Europe may not have changed as much as we think:

Many good generals exist in Europe, but they see too many things at once; I see but one thing, and that is the masses; I seek to destroy them, sure that the minor matters will fall of themselves.
By "the masses," Napoleon means armies, not the populace, something that isn't as clear in this translation as it might be. But it's the difference between "root causes" and law-enforcement approaches on the one hand, and targeting the sponsors of terrorists on the other.

MICHAEL MOORE ON NADER: In this this hilarious post by Matt Welch.

OSAMA'S RIGHT-HAND MAN is reportedly in an Iranian prison. I hope it's true. I think.

GUN CONTROL IN BRITAIN isn't preventing terrorists from getting AK-47 training.

THE JIM BENNETT COLUMN below generated a lot of email -- which is why Jim needs to get his own blog. But here are a few highlights:

I've been doing this daily...reading your posts that is. And I agree with you on your free market stance, I'm much more conservative "socially speaking". However, my take on the the Jim Bennett post is that strong people don't elect weak people. We get the leaders we elect and that we usually deserve.

****
This is what happens when a nation decides that its government is there to relieve them of responsibility for their own welfare. America is still vacillating between that path and the one of self-reliance with the government handling those chores that we really need it for, like national defense.

Socialism not only sucks out the economic strength of a nation, but also its spirit and concern for the rest of the world. European socialists are full of vitriol for the U.S. but they seem to care nothing for the people who are victimized by the likes of bin Laden and Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il and the rest. Maybe it's the fear that we'll upset the comfortable stasis in their own countries. Better to keep their government programs rocking the cradle than threaten it by standing up to people who are only trying to destroy American democracy or their third word neighbors, for now.

****

It seems to me that Britain might be indistinguishable from France today, except that they were lucky enough to have Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. Take away Thatcher, and Britain's economy wouldn't have grown for years, either. Presumably most of their privatization wouldn't have taken place. Maybe they'd be full members of the EU, with euros and everything. And we'd be talking about how the Europeans were solidly against us, and only the Aussies and the Canadians were willing to help us in Afghanistan.

These just scratch the surface. Jim: Get a blog!




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