NATALIJA RADIC says Josh Marshall's Balkan history is deficient.
THE HARPER'S INDEX has now acquired a debunking site. Sort of like SmarterTimes, except that the clever operator, Eric Lindholm, only has to update once a month.
DALE AMON has some unflattering things to say about Fritz Hollings' behavior sixteen years ago.
JIM BENNETT is cautiously bullish on India.
AHA! This article in the Jerusalem Post calls for giving Jordan the occupied territories. As I've said before, I think that this is the plan, once Israel has crushed the infrastructure for potential opposition. With the Palestinians neutralized from a military standpoint, the Jordanians will ride to the rescue -- and then the efficient Jordanian intelligence services will finish the cleanup.
SECRET SERVICE BRAWL UPDATE: Here, courtesy of Matthew Hoy is an update on the Secret Service bar brawl. The ear-biting was by an agent.
Perhaps they were defending themselves from an unprovoked attack -- but even so, why did they leave the scene? And was it good judgment to be off duty and armed at a bar? Most law enforcement agencies, and many state laws, forbid such behavior, just as they forbid civilians with gun permits from carrying guns in bars. So even if you take the most charitable view of this incident, it reflects quite badly on the Secret Service.
BELLESILES UPDATE: He must regret his disrespect for the Contra Costa County Historical Society, whose devastating response to Bellesiles' claims appears to have been the last straw in his tenuous claim on academic respectability. But it gets worse:
James Melton, read the posting and sent Maffei an apology for Bellesiles' behavior. On Feb. 13, Emory Dean Robert A. Paul announced that the university has undertaken an investigation into Bellesiles' scholarship, saying "questions remain about his research."
The investigation could cost Bellesiles his tenure and his Bancroft Prize. But Maffei already feels vindicated.
"Our reputation wasn't at stake -- his was," Maffei said. "Maybe he thought no one would check a small history center. But he was just a rude young man."
MORE ON HOLLINGSGATE: As this item from The Register points out, Hollings uses the word "we" to refer to the entertainment industry. He's not even drawing a distinction between himself and those who have purchased his support. I think the author, Thomas C. Greene, calls it exactly right here:
"Now where do you get all this nonsense about how we're going to have irreparable damage?" Hollings demanded. "We don't want to legislate. We want to give you time to develop technology."
The "we" he mentions, it's quite obvious, refers to the entertainment industry flacks and lobbyists who wrote Hollings' pet bill, the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), which would require hard drives to fail to load 'insecure' applications, and perhaps even operating systems at some point in future. Tinkering with one's own personal property to defeat this Orwellian innovation would be criminally punishable.
This is of course the entertainment industry's dream, as it seeks to hobble all equipment so that it can determine when, where and how its content can be enjoyed by consumers. Copying any content from one medium to another could be blocked on the pretext of piracy prevention, so it's entirely possible that one would have to purchase two CDs with the same content -- one for the computer and one for the stereo, say. It's this sort of extortion the industry has relentlessly lobbied Congress to enshrine in law.
Defeating piracy is the pretext; but obliterating the consumer's right to fair use is the true goal. But because Congress can't quite bring itself to eliminate fair use directly and up-front, a series of laws like the DMCA and SSSCA have been devised to eliminate it practically, or 'incidentally'.
"Cash and carry government," indeed. Corruption, thy name is Hollings. So why isn't the press -- so eager to chase down Enron connections -- paying more attention to this?
UPDATE: Read this piece, too.
MORE ON THE AID GROUP SCANDALS in Letter From Gotham. Hint: the sex isn't the only scandal.
LINK PROBLEM: Something's wrong with the autolinks that Blogger is generating. They're not working right here, or on another blogger-powered site I've checked. Bear that in mind when linking to items.
UPDATE: It's fixed now.
MORE ON THE SEX SCANDAL INVOLVING AID GROUPS IN AFRICA: Looks like more of the same:
Testimonies from children claiming they were given humanitarian aid in exchange for sex were revealed earlier this week in a preliminary report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children.
But the UNHCR confirmed on Friday that the individuals are still working in the camps in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
"They are in place. We cannot do much without firm proof to suspend them," said UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski.
"For the moment the proof is simply too weak to do so."
Wanna bet they'd consider the same sort of proof more than adequate if the matter in dispute were U.S. "atrocities" in Afghanistan?
A GERMAN MAN CLAIMS THAT TEN-EURO NOTES ARE making him impotent.
"I haven't had a spark down there since I started using the notes. I'm ok with other denominations, it's just the ten-euro. It started with headaches and just got worse. It would be funny if it were not so pathetic."
His lawyer Hanns-Ekkehard Ploeger is planning a lawsuit against the government, acting for Mr Fritz and others who have been made sick through this currency.
Thousands of people in Germany are claiming they have been struck by allergies and ailments after handling the note.
Sufferers blame the chemical tributyltin which is only used in the ten-euro note.
I'm rather skeptical about such claims, but it's yet another piece of bad publicity for the already troubled Euro.
MORE EVIDENCE of water on Mars in the first images from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. This isn't the surprise that evidence of water on the Moon or Mercury was, but it's excellent. I suspect we'll find that there are more complex hydrogen-containing molecules there, too, like methane, though this article doesn't say anything about that. The presence of both will greatly benefit future exploration and colonization efforts, which I see as pretty damned important.
JOHN ELLIS makes a great point about how to get ubiquitous wi-fi. I hope that some electric-utility folks read it.
LIBRARIANS VS. PUBLISHERS: Reader Mary Lacroix sends this link and it's not a parody this time.
CHRIS BERTRAM has a new blog (doesn't everyone?), which he says I'll hate. I don't.
CHRIS MOONEY tells Ann Coulter to stop pussyfooting around and say what she really means. Can that excessive subtlety! (Via Jeremy Lott).
MARY ROBINSON AND MASS MURDER: This story in the usually-UN-friendly Sydney Morning Herald says that U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson is more diligent at criticizing the United States than at actually doing her job. (Though one suspects that she thinks criticizing the United States is her job):
The mass graves on the steppes of Central Asia are cloaked in winter's last snow, but now they threaten to claim another victim - the credibility of Mary Robinson's United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.
Rights groups have complained bitterly - but privately - for more than four years about the commission's record in Afghanistan. But in a scathing critique to be published next month, it is accused of bungling in the aftermath of two massacres in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. . . .
The report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Herald, says: "The UNHCHR has until now abdicated its responsibility for promoting accountability in Afghanistan through its failure to conduct thorough investigations."
The report, by three leading humanitarian experts, goes perilously close to blaming the commission for some of the deaths: "While not holding the UNHCHR entirely responsible, the magnitude of the consequences of [its] Mazar failure should not be downplayed.
The report also mentions what it calls a "surprising unwillingness" to investigate reports of Northern Alliance atrocities in 1997.
It's not surprising. In 1997, the Northern Alliance wasn't allied with the United States.
SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on the Kurtz/Ruffini media-bias war, with additional illustrations, over at (where else) Cut on the Bias.
THE ENTIRE ENRON ETHICS MANUAL is available in PDF format on THE SMOKING GUN. I'm shelving my copy right next to "Accurate Statistical Research," by Michael Bellesiles.
ARTHUR ANDERSEN'S REPUTATIONAL LOSS is doing it more harm than regulators so far.
AN AMUSING SALVO from the copy-protection wars.
GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: This story illustrates why a "National ID" card won't do any good: it's too easy to forge the documents on which it would be based.
ANYBODY devoted to frustrating Chinese Internet censorship can't be all bad.
I DIDN'T THINK ANYONE COULD FIND ANYTHING INTERESTING TO SAY ABOUT THE OLYMPICS. As usual, Steven Den Beste exceeds expectations.
VIRGINIA POSTREL HAS BROKEN THE STORY of the Kaus / Reynolds blog-related blatherfest at UCLA. We were keeping it secret to forestall terrorist attacks, but I guess now we'll just have to move it to a secure, undisclosed location at the last minute.
WEEZER'S web page links to Ken Layne's excellent FoxNews column. In the small-world department, one of 'em (Brian Bell) is my neighbor -- or, more accurately, his mom is.
CHARLES MURTAUGH calls for more Republican party animals.
I JUST GOT AN EMAIL from someone with the subject line "My Naked Ex-Girlfriend." Sounds like a virus, but Norton (just updated) didn't flag it. I deleted it anyway, since such things are usually viruses. Consider yourself warned.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON says that George W. Bush can dance.
MUSIC-INDUSTRY STATS BOGUS? Pieter K. has done some research and he thinks they're peddling what might be termed Bellesiles-quality statistics from clearly prejudiced sources.
Here's another thought: the music industry is saying that CD sales have been falling because of piracy. But as many bloggers have noted, this year's Grammy Awards had the smallest viewership in six years -- and you can't blame that on file-sharing.
Maybe people just don't like what they're selling?
MICHAEL FUMENTO on Dan Rather's bad journalism. A must-read.
POLITICAL SPAM and prerecorded phone calls masquerading as constituent communications. Just two more tools in the modern politician's arsenal. And these guys are supposed to be morally superior to businesses?
HERE'S A PIECE by a "professional journalist" who hates blogs. Unlike a blog post, it doesn't have much of a point. Which is the point.
NPR JUST HAD one of those "troubling questions are being raised" pieces about "corporate influence at the White House."
Fair enough, but I'd like to hear a similar piece about corporate influence on Senate Democrats, like, say, Fritz Hollings.
Not surprisingly, the corporate media aren't reporting on this. But isn't NPR there to offset their influence? Or is it just there to pursue its own political agenda?
UPDATE: The spoonfed NPR journalists and the Big Money corporate media may be dropping the ball on Hollings' dirty money, but Ken Layne is all over this issue.
READER TOM MCKENDREE WRITES:
There is an article in the Economist, in which they summarize "More guns at home means more child deaths. Surprised?" There is a sense in which I am not surprised. I expect a study would show that with many more outdoor pools in Southern California, that per capita more children drown in pools in Southern California than in Minnesota. On the other hand, the study only counts very direct relationships. For example, what if you count children killed in genocides that would have been more successfully resisted if more people had more guns at home?
Then I think the calculus goes the other way, Tom. James Rummel, by the way, has some debunking
, or at least some revealing background, on the study.
SERGEANT STRYKER just keeps getting better. Go there, and see what I mean.
BEST OF THE WEB says I'm wrong to scoff at the antidrug terrorism ads. Uh, yeah, except that it's the Drug War that's keeping drug dealers rich.
And hey -- at least I knew the Cindy Williams story! (But then, BOTW does say I'm "usually astute.")
DAN HANSON HAS MORE on the influence of entertainment-industry money on the whole copy-protection issue. He says it's a much bigger deal than Enron, and he's right -- though don't expect Big Media news operations to cover it equivalently:
Take for example, this new bill that would impose digital copy protection on pretty much everything. Very few people outside of the record and movie industry think this is a good idea. Yet, Fritz Hollings keeps coming back to this issue like a pitbull on crack. This isn't the first time he's tried something like this, and it won't be the last. I wonder if this money could have anything to do with it? Among the PAC contributions to his campaign in the current election cycle: $5,000 from the National Association of Broadcasters, $3,000 from the MPAA, $1,000 from Time-Warner, $500 from ASCAP, and tens of thousands from a large number of content providers who would stand to benefit from such a law. In the last election cycle the numbers were quite a bit higher, because we're still in the middle of this one. For example, last time around, Time-Warner gave him $11,000.
This time around, Hollings has a co-sponsor, Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska. Here are his PAC contributions. Some of the highlights: The National Association of Broadcasters at $9,000, Walt Disney at $5,000 (he's in Alaska, BTW. Huge Disney state, that...), National Cable Television Association PAC - $5,000, the MPAA - $3,121. Sony Pictures - $2,000, Universal Studios - $1,000, Time-Warner: $1,000. In total, telecom and communications providers and content authors gave him $96,121 in the current election cycle.
Who cares about Enron? At least they are gone and can do no more damage. The fact is, almost every politician in Washington is so awash in special interest money that they are not free agents. If Hollings and Stevens repudiate this bill or refuse to sponsor it, they both know that the special interest funding that keeps them in office will dry up. The claim that this money does not influence them is a farce, and everyone with half a brain knows it.
Hanson says the solution isn't campaign finance reform, and he's right.
DANIEL HENNINGER ASKS: What would Bugs Bunny Do? The answer, alas, is "be savaged for political incorrectness."
Of course, Bugs wouldn't care about that. And neither should the rest of us.
KEVIN DEENIHAN has updates on the Cal Patriot newspaper-theft issue.
THE SECRET SERVICE seems to have a management problem. First there was the Arab-American agent with an attitude, bragging about his White House connection, then the lost itinerary for Dick Cheney. Now there's a bar fight involving bitten ears and a quick skedaddle.
Bitten ears? Where was Mike Tyson that night?
Seriously, the Secret Service has had too much money and too little oversight for years. And its behavior has been increasingly praetorian, alienating a lot of people in the process. It needs a serious cleanup.
UNBEKNOWNST TO ME, Richard Bennett has been keeping a day-by-day score of my postings vs. those of Stephen Green, and Green has been ahead in number of posts for the past several days.
Well, hell, I don't count these things, so I guess I'm glad somebody is. I've actually been trying to post less lately, as I've been turning around a couple of law review articles after they've been ritually butchered, er, edited, by law students. (The editing and citechecking of law review editors is extremely annoying at times, though on the other hand Michael Bellesiles-style bogosity couldn't possibly survive law-review citechecking, though it slid through historians' "peer review" like a bad burrito through Ken Layne.) But it's like my granpa told me: no matter how fast a keyboard you wield, there's always gonna be someone faster. All I can say to Stephen is I'm sorry for him, because now every time he walks into a saloon or rides into a new town, all the hotheaded young pundits, trying to make a name for themselves, will be gunning for him. Just remember, Stephen: they've all got mommas and sweethearts, so be gentle if you can.
TIM BLAIR WRITES ABOUT CARS as FoxNews' blogger-of-the-day.
THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN THE POCKET OF BIG BUSINESS: The entertainment business, that is. Just check out how much money it's shelled out to the guys who are now backing copy-protection schemes for the record and motion picture industries.
This is a golden opportunity for the Republicans to portray the Democrats as privacy-invading tools of grubby amoral businesses. Slogan for 2002: Keep Your Grubby Laws Off My Computer!.
Seriously, this is a huge vulnerability for the Democrats. I think some investigations into Big Entertainment and where its money goes could do them a lot of harm.
MICHAEL BELLESILES' ARMING AMERICA has won another award: the Coogler Award for 2001. The book was published in 2000, but the paperback edition came out in 2001, which is all the apparently none-too-picky Coogler Award Committee requires.
JONAH GOLDBERG says that Aaron Sorkin is a big fat liar. Okay, he doesn't actually say the fat part.
OKAY, I'M NOT CONVINCED THAT THIS IS GENUINE -- but apparently Monica Lewinsky has a blog.
THE CONDI RICE FOR PRESIDENT steamroller is really moving now, as the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz picks up on InstaPundit's analysis.
I think this is really a tribute to the power of the mysterious Asparagirl.
IAIN MURRAY REPORTS that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled courts-martial illegal.
THE CATFIGHT over housework continues at Spinsters.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER SAVAGES THE EU-NUCHS in a classic column today:
The Europeans sit and pout. What else can they do? The ostensible complaint is American primitivism. The real problem is their irrelevance. . . . This is not our fault. We did not force upon them military obsolescence. They chose social spending over defense spending -- an understandable choice, perhaps even wise given that America was willing to pick up the slack. But hardly grounds for whining.
We are in a war of self-defense. It is also a war for Western civilization. If the Europeans refuse to see themselves as part of this struggle, fine. If they wish to abdicate, fine. We will let them hold our coats, but not tie our hands.
The title, Axis of Petulance
, is also a classic.
European politicians, if they were one-tenth as sophisticated and attuned to international opinion as they claim, would be deeply, deeply, concerned with the serious plummeting of their reputation in America -- not only among the general populace, which never thought that highly of them, but among the East Coast elite. But they're too busy worrying about whether Saddam Hussein will be miffed at them.
PATRICK RUFFINI has one answer to Howard Kurtz's piece on the myth of media bias. Here's another.
THE RECORD INDUSTRY: Always finding new ways to alienate its customers. These guys suck. Get this quote:
"Being treated like a criminal makes me want to act like one," said Ron Arnold, 39, of Royal Oak, Mich., who has 1,137 songs on his portable iPod player — all of them paid for, he said. Mr. Arnold is one of hundreds of frustrated music fans who have registered complaints at the www .fatchucks.com Web site, which keeps a list of CD's that consumers know or suspect are copy-protected.
Yep. The more you tighten your grip. . . .
Ken Layne's column is a must-read on this. It explains why these guys are paying off Senators to help them screw their customers.
ASPARAGIRL sends more info on Condi Rice:
Condi Rice running for President would make my year! But it seems someone else has already thought of that- check out www.rice2008.com. Don't know who put up the site, but it's got a nice collection of articles and photos of everyone's favorite NSA babe. Forget Rummy; I know who my wartime pin-up is!
And for some hard numbers, it looks like someone's already run those too; this says that Rice leads the GOP field in the California primary with 24% of likely GOP primary voters supporting Rice. That makes Rice the strongest (hypothetical) Republican to face Davis in their poll.
On another note, though, she's never been married and has never been publicly romantically linked to *any* men, political or not, so there's always the issue that maybe she's not heterosexual, which would probably throw a monkey wrench into the GOP nominating her. (Of course, this could just be projecting on my part, seeing as how I'm a queer Republican [no, Andrew Sullivan ain't the only one].) . . . BTW, I got e-mail from someone who said that Der Spiegel was, in fact, selling copies of posters of that cover after all via their Englewood, NJ office- but when I e-mailed them to check it out and get a copy, they wrote me back to say that they'd already exhausted their supply (!). So I couldn't have been the only one who wanted one. Oh, well; maybe one will show up on eBay one of these days.
Well, Condi certainly has a lot of fans out there. I'm one of 'em myself. I couldn't get the Rice2008 page to open, though -- it's live, but blank at the moment. I searched the domain registry and it's registered to a Matthew Reid of San Francisco, CA, but when I googled him I didn't come up with anything terribly interesting -- there are lots of Matthew Reids.
JAMES RUMMEL is suspicious about a study involving children and guns. Hey, next he'll be raising doubts about Michael Bellesiles' work.
ANDREW SULLIVAN says the antiwar left, and Islamofascists, are both back on the march.
PATRICK RUFFINI bodyslams Howard Kurtz's column on media bias. And he's got numbers!
A PRETTY GOOD ARTICLE ON BLOGGING in The Technology Review.
THIS ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST tells about how crucial government officials were moved out of Washington after 9/11. Reader David Bernstein suggests that we should disperse the federal government entirely -- making it invulnerable to terrorist "decapitation" attacks and also reducing the pro-government Beltway culture.
THIS STORY hasn't gotten much play, but I think it should:
A 27-year-old man has been jailed for 20 years at Birmingham Crown Court after being found guilty of planning to cause an explosion.
Mr Justice Hughes told Moinul Abedin of Sparkbrook, Birmingham, that the planned explosions would have caused "immense risk" to people's lives if they had not been stopped by the security services. . . . The judge said Abedin, who used a so-called terrorists' handbook detailing bomb-making techniques, had put together a chlorate-based mixture which was very common in terrorist devices. The court was not presented with any evidence about Abedin's intended target or motivation.
I wonder about that last.
FRENCH MILITARY ACTION FAILS: I just keep that headline set in type on general principles. But apparently the French military effort to snatch Radovan Karadzic has failed, embarrassingly:
FRENCH-LED troops failed yesterday in a heavy-handed attempt to seize Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader and war criminal.
Soldiers using helicopters and armoured vehicles raided Celebici, a remote Bosnian mountain village on the border with Montenegro, after a tip-off that Karadzic was hiding there.
But by the time the commandos arrived, he had fled with his bodyguard.
As soldiers searched more than 40 buildings, blowing the doors off 18, locals smirked at them, triumphant that their hero had got away. Villagers became aware of the raid when armoured vehicles raced through nearby communities at least half an hour before the force reached Karadzic's alleged hiding place.
The bungled operation is a serious embarrassment to Nato, which has failed to catch Karadzic, or his military commander, Ratko Mladic, in more than six years.
I really wish it had succeeded, but the record of the French military in the Balkans (and most other places) makes this something less than shocking. Reader David Owens, who sent the link, opines that the French approach wasn't "simplistic enough."
STEPHEN GREEN asks the question that I've been asking myself: when will UThant.Com give us something new? We're desperate, here.
OLD WHITE GUYS ARE BACK IN STYLE, according to Diane E. Since I hope to be one someday, all I can say is that I hope it lasts.
GENOCIDE IN ZIMBABWE: Dave Kopel and Joanne Eisen issued a warning over a year ago that Zimbabwe was ripe for genocide. Now the U.S.-based group Genocide Watch is issuing a warning that genocide may break out as soon as next week.
I'm sure that France is preparing a crack battalion of elite philosophers for dispatch to Harare.
HINDU/MUSLIM RIOTING in India is getting ugly.
DELL ANTI-GUN UPDATE: A bunch of people have emailed me to say that the Dell anti-gun thing wasn't an accident, and included this link to an affinity sales site in which purchases from Dell generate kickbacks to Handgun Control Inc. (Of course, HCI has changed its name to the less-inflammatory "Brady Campaign"). Here's an interesting reader email on the subject:
First, on the Dell anti-gun thing. I was reading the Sierra Times item about Jack Weigand (linked from Neal Boortz' page) just as our Dell rep arrived to discuss, among numerous other things, a large potential equipment order. As a government employee I must pursue the best deal I can for the taxpayers and not let personal issues intervene, but I felt it would be remiss to not provide the rep with a copy of the article and mention the Washington Post's (I think it was the Post, might have been the NYT) item on gun owners' impact on the Kmart financial decline and that Dell's anti-gun position was - and this is true - traveling around the net at light speed (before the day was out I had gotten several
copies of the ST piece e-mailed to me). The rep was surprised at the article, but appeared genuinely interested, and he remarked that the NRA was the number one lobbying outfit in the country. I suspect Michael Dell has heard about it by now from lots of sources, and it'll be interesting to see what their response is to gun owners. I don't know Jack Weigand, but I compete in IPSC and a number of the guys I shoot with and against use guns he's built. Good guy, from what I hear, and I can testify that his guns shoot well. I get beat by them often enough.
Dell may want to rethink its position, given the surprisingly large overlap between gun and computer enthusiasts.
UPDATE: Reader Daniel Weiner writes:
HCI's affinity sales are handled by a third-party, EduOrg.com, which arranges sales links to Dell and over a hundred other companies. EduOrg then signs up liberal, conservative, and education organizations; provides customized-looking affiliate web pages for each one; and splits the subsequent sales commissions with them (see http://www.eduorg.com/terms.html). So Dell's deal was with EduOrg, and Dell probably had no knowledge that HCI was in turn one of EduOrg's subcontractors. Therefore this in no way indicates that Dell is anti-gun. Pro-gun groups can sign up with EduOrg just as easily as HCI, and thereby link with Dell and collect revenue on computer sales.
So which is it? Michael Dell, the ball's in your court.
IS THERE A 9/11 COVERUP? Worldnetdaily says yes, but it'll take a bit more to convince me.
THE RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE deserves a Presidential Unit Citation! These economic figures are making Osama cry. Or roll over in his grave. Whatever.
DOC SEARLS has noticed the overwhelming slowness of the Net, too. I want to know what's going on.
HANDICAPPING THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY -- Well, yeah, it's only two years away! We'd better get right on it.
Actually, people are. There's an analysis by Mark Halperin, Elizabeth Wilner
& Marc Ambinder on ABCNews.Com and one by Joseph Britt, Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna on Punditwatch. I think Punditwatch wins, though, because they don't include Joe Biden as a contender. I mean, seriously -- Joe Biden? Who lost to Mike Dukakis?
INTERNATIONAL AID GROUP SEX ABUSE UPDATE: Reader Steve Carroll wonders why names aren't being named:
Is it just me or is it bizarre that none of the press releases about the aid groups that are allegedly molesting the refugees mentions which "well-known" groups are suspected of abuse. Is this their idea of professional courtesy? Like a lot of people, I've grown a lot more skeptical of "humanitarian" groups lately because they aren't given the same level of skepticism in the press as other special interest groups. If the press group would have named groups, it would have put pressure on the groups in question to deal with the allegations which surely would be more positive than their current "sweep itunder the rug" position.
Yes, well, one reason is that in many less-developed countries the aid-group staff and the First World journalists are often dating. But you would think that the question of which internationally known "humanitarian" groups has been covering up extortionate sex and child abuse would be at least as important as, say, which energy executives met with Dick Cheney.
SEEMS LIKE THE FILIPINOS LIKE US, after all.
ROBERT MUSIL isn't intimidated by Maureen Dowd, no matter how many times she flips her hair or stares coldly in his direction.
CHARLES MURTAUGH has a bunch of great stuff, including this observation on bogus studies and teenage drinking, and this one on the utility, or otherwise, of mammograms.
JAMES LILEKS RULES: One of my bigshot journalist readers writes:
I had particular cause to react to that atrocious Olive Garden piece from the Guardian. I graduated with honors with a master's degree from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service (which Guardian correspondent Matthew Engel describes as the premier academic training ground for U.S. diplomats), and I'm also a native Southerner with working-class roots. As such, I'm intimately familiar with the subculture of the U.S. foreign policy establishment as well as that of everyday, working-stiff Southerners.
With that background, I conclude that Matthew Engel seems incapable of understanding a great truth: The typical grease-covered, toothpick-chewing, country music-listening car mechanic from backwoods Alabama appears to understand the fundamentals of 9/11 -- we've been attacked by super-empowered zealots, military force has to be a vital force in our response, and immense evil exists in the world -- far better than do the self-satisfied Oxbridge snobs with whom Engel would evidently prefer to associate.
In any case, I agree with you: James Lileks is awesome. The quality of mainstream journalism in this country would be raised immensely if most U.S. journalists wrote with only a tiny fraction of Lilek's wit and verve.
Indeed. I notice that Lileks' piece
has just picked up a link over at The Corner
. When he sees his bandwidth charges he may regret the piece's popularity. But I just dropped a few bucks in his tipjar, and I hope some other readers will, too.
STEVE MILLER now has a blog at the Independent Gay Forum page. Looks pretty good, too.
JEROME CARTER ASKS: What the hell happened to Chris Patten? I've wondered the same thing myself, since I admired his pro-democracy stance when he was governor of Hong Kong.
DELL ANTIGUN? I got a multiply-forwarded email with a story about Dell refusing to sell a computer to a gunsmith whose business was named "Weigand Combat Handguns" because somebody there thought the business sounded "terroristic." I discounted it as probably untrue or exaggerated. Turns out I was wrong and it really happened. Now that Dell has been bombarded with endless emails, it has admitted its mistake. Weigand, however, seems like a standup guy:
Dell wanted to send Weigand a free Inspiron 4100 -- which starts at $1,100 -- as compensation for his troubles. But Weigand won't take it, saying that people might think he caused a fuss just to save some cash.
"They offered the free machine and I declined," he said.
Good for him. But now tens of thousands (or more) potential customers have a bad feeling about Dell, all because one of its managers figured that anything having to do with guns was probably shady. Maybe Dell should move him to a job more in line with his degree knowledge of the world. Like, say, janitor. Though I imagine most janitors could have set him straight on this one.
THIS NEW YORK TIMES STORY by Adam Clymer seems to be trying to make something out of the fact that Ashcroft's budgetary priorities have shifted since September 11, in favor of more antiterrorism spending.
THOSE DUMB SUPER BOWL ANTI-DRUG COMMERCIALS come in for more debunking on FoxNews. Like pretty much everything the Drug Czar's office does, they were a lie, and a waste of money.
UPDATE: Of course, as Andrew Stuttaford notes, the private sector can do some pretty dumb stuff, too. (To the extent that the AMA counts as the "private sector," anyway). But at least it's not using my money to do it.
OKAY, NOW THIS IS JUST SILLY.
UPDATE: It may be silly, but the bidding is fast and furious. Hmm. Maybe I should try this. . . . Naw. Then again, search engines are selling links to the highest bidder, notes this Washington Post piece.
SENATOR FRITZ HOLLINGS (D-Disney) is paying back the nearly $300,000 that Big Entertainment put into his last campaign by carrying water for Jack Valenti and his cronies on digital copy protection.
And he has the gall to criticize "cash and carry government?" Fritz, you're the poster boy for cash and carry government. Resign.
WITH ALL THE GRAMMY HYPE THIS WEEK, Ken Layne's column on the record industry is a must-read. In particular, note how they fail almost every audit -- with the "mistakes," naturally, being in favor of the record companies.
Last year we had a panel of bigshot songwriters and entertainment lawyers at the law school, and I was moderator. In an effort to stir up some disagreement (since we had people from both the industry and the artist sides) I suggested that the record industry was vulnerable to racketeering charges. I failed miserably: everyone agreed that I was right. It's time for the Department of Justice to look into this. They've made some moves in that direction, but they're barely scratching the surface. (Note: this was the subject of my very first InstaPundit post. And it's still important.)
AT THE MOMENT, Lileks' excellent Screed on the yahoo Guardian reporter at the Olive Garden is the sixth most-blogged link in all creation. And it deserves to be number one. I notice that Andrew Sullivan has picked it up, so maybe it's got a shot!
AIRLINE INSECURITY UPDATE: According to this story in the Los Angeles Times, the million-dollar bomb sniffing machines don't work. I'm not surprised; they've been trying to keep their details secret for "security reasons," which is usually a sign that the whole thing is a con.
STILL MORE ON THE AID-WORKERS REFUGEE CHILD SEX SCANDAL: It appears that this problem was known for a long time, but covered up by the aid groups.
The widespread sexual abuse of young girls in refugee camps in west Africa in exchange for food and aid was well known but consistently covered up by senior aid workers, it was claimed yesterday.
The allegations were made in the wake of the leaking of a report for UNHCR and Save the Children UK which revealed that aid workers have been involved in extensive sexual exploitation of refugee children, offering food rations in return for sexual favours.
More than 40 agencies have been named in the report, including many well-known charities. The report was originally 80 pages long but 16 pages were released to the public.
One aid worker, who did not want to be named, said the full report contained even more damaging allegations, including the names of all the charities involved.
He said last night: "People have known about these abuses for months but they were afraid to do anything because they didn't want to be critical of the international agencies involved."
Another said corruption and abuse had been allowed to flourish because the international agencies failed to provide adequate supervision of locally employed staff. He said: "Everyone knows these things are common, but they always cover them up."
And yet these are the people complaining about Guantanamo. Criticizing international agencies, even for real human-rights violations, just isn't done. Criticizing the United States for imagined ones, however, is almost mandatory.
READER DAVID LABOTZ has the candidate for the Dems to run against Condi:
I nominate Gennifer Granholm; she's currently Michigan's A.G., and is
now running for Governor. Gennifers going to wipe the floor with primary opponent (and former governor) Jim Blanchard, as well as charisma-challenged Republican Dick Posthumous. I'd love to see her run against Condi. Let the better woman win!
Er, okay. I think Labotz means Jennifer Granholm
. But I think she's got a way to go to match Condi in, er, several departments -- and she sure doesn't look black to me. Of course, neither do Mariah Carey or Hazel O'Leary, so what do I know?
I JUST RAN ACROSS this cool article on how weblogs affect Google at Ginger Stampley's site.
IT'S A CATFIGHT over at Spinsters.Com, with charges of feminazism filling the air as housework is discussed.
PATRICK RUFFINI IS TOUTING CONDI RICE for 2008. (This is his very cool graphic.) I have to say, so far her candidacy looks pretty good. She ought to be unbeatable: a black woman who can't be portrayed as weak on national security. If I were a Republican nabob I'd want to nominate her just to watch the Democrats trying to figure out how to run against her. (Okay, actually it's because I'm not a Republican nabob that I like to make such mischievous suggestions).
But why wait until 2008? Cheney's health seems, as far as I can tell, to be fine, but by the second term he'd be three years older, making health questions a vulnerability for the ticket. Run Condi in '04 and you get to strengthen the ticket (imagine all the historic firsts) in '04 while strengthening her for '08. This is Patrick's "alternative scenario" (more or less) and I think it's a lot stronger.
And who's the black female VP candidate that the Democrats can come up with to match Rice's qualifications? Sheila Jackson Lee? Naming Rice would be a damning way to make that point, without saying a word.
UPDATE: Some interesting observations from reader Daniel Wiener:
The problem with replacing Cheney with Condi in '04 is that it looks a tad gimmicky, and suggests that Bush might be nervous about his re-election prospects. It also deprives him of the most involved and effective Vice-President in U.S. history.
There's another alternative besides running Condi for VP in '04 or having her go directly for the Presidency in '08. Sometime during Bush's second term, Cheney simply resigns for "health reasons" and Bush appoints Condi as VP. There's no way in the world that Congress would fail to confirm her. That her gives incumbency credentials, the '08 Republican nomination in a cakewalk, and an easy victory in the general election.
I'm sure Karl Rove is pondering stuff like this. Right, Karl?
I WAS BUSY ENOUGH TODAY that I clean forgot my usual link to Punditwatch, which I usually offer as a convenient excuse for not posting on busy Wednesdays. (I don't teach on Wednesdays, which somehow leaves me busier than on the days when I do teach -- not one, but two faculty meetings today, then I escaped to Borders to proofread a nearly-finished law review article). But if you haven't visited, go see who Will Vehrs named "pundit of the week." Hint: not Maureen "alpha female" Dowd.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN UPDATE: Reader Ben Domenech notes that the University of Delaware has withdrawn its invitation for Goodwin to speak at commencement this spring.
University President David P. Roselle said he made the decision to change speakers after Goodwin admitted in a New York Times article Saturday that she copied more language than previously noted.
"We thought better to just cancel the appearance than to have her talk in front of our students and their families," he said.
This strikes me as significant.
IRAN IS ACTING SCARED, says Sgt. Stryker. Is it just Bush's speech? Or is there more going on than meets the eye?
DON'T ASK QUESTIONS -- JUST READ THIS PIECE BY JAMES LILEKS. Then face the Twin Cities, bow down, and repeat: "We are not worthy. We are not worthy." Say this especially if you are a journalist, and double-especially if you are an American correspondent from a British or Continental newspaper phoning in tripe like the piece that Lileks dissects.
READER DAVID COHEN HAS AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION:
Reading Carol Elkin's description of the fake trading floor at Enron, a little bell went off in my head. Something sounded familiar. Then I remembered Paul Krugman's puff piece about Enron, written while he was on Enron's "advisory board."
Krugman describes a trading floor he saw at Enron's Houston headquarters while attending a meeting:
Sure enough, the company's pride and joy is a room filled with hundreds of casually dressed men and women staring at computer screens and barking into telephones, where cubic feet and megawatts are traded and packaged as if they were financial derivatives. (Instead of CNBC, though, the television screens on the floor show the Weather Channel.)Compare this with Elkin's description of the fake trading floor:
[O]n the sixth floor of the company's downtown headquarters was a set, designed to trick analysts into believing business was booming. "It was an elaborate Hollywood production that we went through every year when the analysts were going to be there to be impress them to make our stock go up," former employee Carol Elkin said. . . . Elkin said that the phony trading room was staffed by her and other employees to resemble a real trading operation. . . . Elkin said. "They would build out a set with a big, 36-inch flat panel screens and the teleconference conference rooms." Elkin said that it was all an act, and that no trades were actually made there. The people on the phones were talking to each other.Is it possible that Paul Krugman, smart, virtuous, incorruptible Paul Krugman, was fooled by a Hollywood set and a group of play-acting middle managers and secretaries? The possibility that Enron pulled the $50,000.00 wool over Krugman's eyes gives new meaning to Krugman's payoff line: "The whole scene looks as if it had been constructed to illustrate the end of the corporation as we knew it." If he'd only known.
A READER WRITES WITH THIS EXPLANATION FOR WHY THE NET IS SLOW: "The net is slow because the FBI is busy putting taps on all the servers!" I assume he's joking, though his email address makes me wonder. . . .
GLASS HOUSES: Last month, I remarked about Jesse Jackon's Enron criticisms that "If I were Jesse, I wouldn't be encouraging the government to crack down on questionable accounting practices."
Oops! Too late for Jesse to take my advice. His organization may lose its tax-exempt status for just that. Jackson blames racism for these troubles.
STANLEY KURTZ writes about the Berkeley censorship incident in which the entire press run of the California Patriot was stolen from its locked offices because of critical articles about lefty students and the antiwar movement. Kurtz is even kind enough to credit Kevin Deenihan's Calstuff blog for breaking the story.
Who says webloggers don't do original reporting?
READER BRETT DEAL WRITES FROM NORTH CAROLINA about Liddy Dole and the federalized drinking age:
I certainly agree with you that the drinking age should never have been forced upward to 21. Elizabeth Dole's role in that bad policy move, which also created a precedent for the Federal Government to blackmail the States by threatening to withhold revenues if they will not comply with Washington's will is the reason she will not receive my vote for Senator from North Carolina should the Republicans inflict her candidacy upon us.
I have lived in several college towns, and the ridiculous consequence of these laws is to burden the college administrations and communities with problems inherent in criminalizing a conduct for three quarters of the student body that is not criminal for the other twenty-five percent. It doesn't stop the drinking in the younger group, yet threatens their futures with criminal records or places them in the loving care of the substance abuse business, which has no reason to put itself out of a job by actually mitigating the problems attendant to drinking.
This situation creates a culture in which most college students are instructed that they are not adults. I'm not surprised they often make no attempt to behave as adults. In my more irritable moments, despairing of a return to the 18-year-old standard, I have suggested that colleges should try a policy of making 21 the minimum age for enrollment; at least the college bound might spend that three years earning some of their own tuition and becoming familiar with the working world.
Yes. There's also some evidence that raising the drinking age has made problem-drinking by 18-20 year olds worse, by moving them from bars (where there are people watching) to dorm rooms, etc., where there aren't. But regardless of the merits here, this is an issue that exposes the fair-weather federalism of so many Republicans.
IAIN MURRAY HAS MORE ABOUT THE BRITISH CRIME WAVE and dysfunctional British policing.
RAND SIMBERG CALLS ME A HYPOCRITE:
Does anyone else notice the irony of Glenn complaining about Samizdata trolling for hits with chykpyks the day after linking a picture of his beautiful wife?
Hey, who says I was complaining
MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN for this week is up. Excerpt:
Stephen Hawking says that humanity won't survive the next thousand years unless we colonize space. I think that Hawking is an optimist.
CATCHING AL SHARPTON IN A LIE isn't exactly splitting the atom, but Jonah Goldberg has a good one from Crossfire last night. I hope Sharpton's creditors were watching.
ANOTHER BOGUS STUDY: The "study" released over the weekend that purported to find enormous levels of teen drinking seemed a bit fishy when I saw it touted on CNN. Turns out I was right: it's a big, steaming pile of, er, inaccuracy. The connection between Michael Bellesiles and the public-health community bears investigation.
UPDATE: Boy, I was pretty much joking with that comment, but it didn't take long for someone to find one, in the form of an article from Salon on "violence studies":
One of its most passionate advocates is Michael Bellesiles, a brash young historian at Atlanta's Emory University. He came up with the idea of violence studies four years ago, "over a bottle of wine" with Arthur Kellerman, head of emergency medicine at Emory's medical school. As Bellesiles recalls, "We were having dinner one night and fantasizing about what a perfect program for undergraduates would look like."
Kellerman is a gun control activist and is the author of the widely-debunked study that produced the still-extant factoid
that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill the owner than a burglar. Last I heard, he was still refusing to share the data behind that study, though it appears from this item that he has finally done so
ANOTHER UPDATE: The study (the drinking one, that is) is getting savaged over at The Corner (scroll up from this item for more). And it's done the opposite of what Califano (my old boss, when I was practicing law) and his Center probably wanted: it's reigniting the issue of putting the drinking age back at 18, where it belongs. Old enough to fight, old enough to drink has more resonance in wartime, of course, but it's been my position all along.
PUNK ROCKERS FOR CAPITALISM: Reader John Bowman sends this link to a piece from Popshot Magazine on why capitalism, rather than Naderism, is truly punk:
Ralph Nader and the Green Party have gained tremendous support from the punk rock/independent community. The most recent "anti-capitalist" material I read on the web was juxtaposed with a link to Nader's "Fair Trade" web page. . . .
Ralph has been at this for 40 years or so and he doesn't seem to understand economics. He hates capitalism though it's made him a multi-millionaire. Capitalism values the entrepreneur and protects individuals. Ralph's also an asshole. I'd like to hear his investment secrets and not his suggestions to raise the minimum wage. . . .
How boldly do I have to make this point? Shouldn't this be obvious?
When I got into punk rock at 15 and 16, it was because I didn't fit into a clique. I wasn't a part of the mainstream. Punk rock, despite the peer pressure to wear black t-shirts and cut and dye my hair all funny, offered an escape for me to be an individual. Sound familiar?
Punk rock also offered a pretty hardcore code of ethics -- like community and equality and responsibility. One of the most enduring moments I've witnessed was when I saw Kurt Cobain stop a show because some meathead in the audience kept groping a girl in the pit. The mainstream meathead must have had no clue that kind of thing could happen. Only last year, I saw Sleater-Kinney eject a guy who was dancing rough in the crowd. The punks police themselves. Punks take initiative.
Entrepreneurial initiative is personified in the punk rock ethic of "DIY." Doing It Yourself is something that is only possible in a capitalist system. Without private and individual ownership of the means of production, independent punk rockers couldn't record songs on a four-track, duplicate them at home and sell them at shows. Imagine trying to get an entire community to agree to let you use the communal recording studio.
Self-regulating. Initiative-taking. Free-exchange and free-association -- the ability to associate and disassociate with whom you want.
What is it? Capitalism.
Rock on, brother. As a DIY musician myself, this seems dead-on.
UPDATE: Reader Keith Terranova sends a link to this piece by Ron Bailey on research showing that markets make people more generous.
VIRGINIA POSTREL writes that GM and Kraft are advertising on Al Jazeera TV -- and not on the pro-freedom National Iranian TV. She has some helpful contact information for people who want to suggest to them that their approach is in error.
ANOTHER FRAUD SCANDAL IS BREWING AT THE EU: Gee, they're unelected, unaccountable, and have access to lots of other people's money. And they're corrupt? Go figure.
I MENTIONED BASELESS THREATS FROM LAWYERS: Here's a story about a website that is trying to counteract them. They're not filing disciplinary complaints with the bar, though, which my legal-ethics colleague agrees is a technique that has merit.
A PUNK ROCKER describes how September 11 made her break with the tiresome, Michael Mooreish politics of today's punkosphere. Read the article that Punk Planet was afraid to publish. Wusses.
BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE: Kevin Deenihan's CalStuff blog has this scoop. Someone broke into the offices of the California Patriot, an alternative student paper and stole the entire print run: it was about to run articles critical of lefty students and the antiwar folks.
Too bad that Berkeley has never learned to value free speech and dissent.
SINCE BLOGSPOT HAS BEEN SO SLOW FOR WHATEVER REASON, I'm also publishing InstaPundit to its new home a bit early -- here is a link that will work, though eventually the InstaPundit.Com address will point there. In the meantime you may want to bookmark it.
There's no fancy GlennReynolds.Com site around it, and the archives won't work properly from there yet, but at least you'll be able to get new stuff if Blogspot isn't working right.
RED CROSS HYPOCRISY: Reader Joseph Klein finds something in this story that others have missed:
According to the story, the Red Cross has repeatedly visited U.S. taliban and al qaida prisoners,providing them with cold weather gear and other assistance. However, they haven't yet visited the prisoners in a *RED CRESCENT PRISON*, financed by the International Red Cross. One of the prisoners has been held in chains for 35 years, so long that no one remembers why he's there. When the NYT went to visit him, he begged for a blanket and some books.
However, Gianni Bacchetta, the head Red Cross representative in Afghanistan, actually said he intends to make the welfare of Red Cross prisoners "one of my second priorities" after re-checking on the welfare of U.S. prisoners.
The other really juicy detail, ommitted in the [OpinionJournal] summary, is that Bacchetta stated that "he must be careful not to offend the marastoon's Afghan management by acting too boldly. 'You have to accept this as an idiosyncrasy of this kind of country.' "
In other words, the Red Cross has no problem picking on the U.S., but doesn't want to offend the Afghan management of a *RED CROSS PRISION*. The reason these people pick on the U.S. and not foreign countries turns out to be specifically because we have civilized values and our enemies don't.
Yes, as is so often the case, multicultural "sensitivity" turns out to be a new wrapper for the old "what can you expect from the wogs?" racism.
A WHILE BACK, I PRINTED reader John Schuchard's observation that a lot of Enron employees are more accomplices than victims. Now, via AndrewSullivan.com I've found this column by Michael Lewis saying more or less the same thing:
We now know, for example, that it took many hundreds of people to orchestrate the huge number of spectacularly bad investments made by Enron over the past decade. Many hundreds of people were at the same time very highly paid. How could it not occur to these people that there was something odd in this arrangement?
We also know that some large number of employees answered former CEO Skilling's call to create a phony trading floor, so that analysts visiting from Wall Street would have the impression that Enron was doing more business than it actually was.
Many of these people -- to judge from their newspaper quotes -- seem to feel that the Potemkin village exercise is proof of corruption at the top of Enron, and thus of their case that they were defrauded by their evil masters. Actually, it shows that a lot of people should have known that something was wrong all along, and that the corruption, or delusion, extended down into the Enron ranks.
I hope that this angle gets more attention.
IT'S THE END OF NEUTRALITY IN EUROPE, and this column from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has some interesting observations:
None of the four states, who have long since stopped speaking of neutrality and have chosen instead the clever euphemism "freedom from alliances" to describe their partiality, ever left any doubt in past decades about where they really belonged. Finland alone was forced to accept the shadow of the Soviet Union as a constant reality. Geography was kinder to Austria. For although "permanent neutrality" was, for similar reasons, a condition of its sovereignty, it used the freedom this offered -- as did Ireland and Sweden -- to cultivate a noble image as the world's conscience, thus diverting attention from the fact that others were taking care of its security.
The end of this supposed superiority, which turned a pragmatically motivated decision in favor of a life between the fronts into a moral right to hover above the fronts, is today proving to be painful. Up above, the neutral states had an easy time, laying claim worldwide to issues like development aid, environmental protection, confidence-building and pacifism. Down below, meanwhile, alliances armed to the teeth thrashed about trying to achieve equilibrium in a bipolar world. Although no one seriously believed that the neutral states would be able to retreat completely from this world, least of all the states themselves, no one was allowed to say so out loud: for neutrality exists only in the eye of the beholder.
Sweden is a particularly crass example of such double-speak. Having been neutral since 1814, it had had more experience of standing on the sidelines than had any other nation by the time the Nazis turned its neutrality to their advantage and in doing so rendered it meaningless. While Sweden's postwar leaders followed the activities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with both suspicion and disdain, they also sought to ensure that if push came to shove, Sweden would enjoy NATO's protection.
Meanwhile, neutrality proved to be a useful weapon on domestic battlefields too. Anyone who dared question the doctrine was instantly branded a security risk.
But it's hard to know who has been taken in by whom in this exchange:
The demise of the neutral states appears all the more painful and difficult because it is happening at a time in which security policy throughout the West is undergoing a radical overhaul. The EU's attempt to develop a Europe-wide security policy is a direct consequence of the Balkan wars and Sept. 11.
Yet these days, Europe is more of a dithering, neutral bloc than ever before in its history. In the war against terror, too, the Europeans are once again trying to avoid getting their hands dirty -- even in the course of defending their own interests. This in turn points to a deep-seated yearning for the kind of moral impeccability that the neutral states for so long indulged. Let no one claim there is no longer any place for them in Europe.
But it was posturing then, and it's posturing, on a grander scale, now.
MORE ON THE ABSURD PRETENSIONS OF EURO-GRANDEES in this story from The Times:
AN UNPRECEDENTED constitutional convention on the future of Europe opens in Brussels tomorrow, but its lofty ambitions are being eclipsed by petty disputes involving its chairman, Valéry Giscard D’Estaing.
The haughty, patrician former French President, sensing his moment in history, has been insisting on his right to speak first at the grand opening ceremony in the European Parliament.
In the event, he will have to save his eloquence until José María Aznar, Pat Cox and Romano Prodi, respectively the European Union, Parliament and Commission Presidents, have declaimed before the television cameras.
That was preceded by a row over M Giscard’s demand for an “appropriate” salary approaching the 20,000 (£12,000) a month paid to Signor Prodi. In the event he was granted a daily allowance of 1,000 to cover his expenses and those of his bodyguards.
GET YOUR WURTZEL ON: Jim Treacher said he was done with Ms. Wurtzel. But he lied.
UPDATE: Reader Robert Schwartz forwards more reasons to despise Wurtzel. If, that is, you give her any thought at all, which I must confess I generally don't.
SLOWNESS: Several readers have emailed to note that a number of major ISPs underwent emergency server upgrades over the weekend, and several have sent this link to the Internet Traffic Report website, which shows a big spike in packet losses earlier.
Things seem back to normal here -- though the WSJ site is loading unusually slowly -- but we'll see. I am (slowly) working on moving InstaPundit to a new server, which may or may not help.
PERRY DEHAVILLAND is shamelessly trolling for hits again at Samizdata with photos of Capitalist Chicks.
JAMES LILEKS ISN'T ME, but with lines like this I sometimes wonder if I don't have a twin: "If Target sold bourbon, I would just put the family in a Winnebago and live in the parking lot."
'INSTAPUNDIT RULES," says Andrew Sullivan. My day is made.
FRENCH ANTISEMITISM UPDATE: THIS STORY BY SUZANNE DALEY in The New York Times suggests that this important issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. (God knows I've been flogging it hard enough the last few weeks). Note also the additional support for the Mickey Kaus terrorism/welfare connection:
Most often the attacks occur in Paris suburbs like this one, where poor and working-class Jews and Muslims live side by side in bleak housing projects.
"Today's incidents are linked to some very real social problems in France, where many Arabs who are having a hard time or who are frustrated with what is going on in Palestine are taking it out on Jews," said Dr. Shimon Samuels, the co-author of a recent report on the issue for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris.
"The fact that the government is not willing to acknowledge this is very a big problem," he said. "People are scared."
The Jewish leaders see a political component in the lack of outcry over the new wave of violence against Jews. More than five million Muslims - many of them from Algeria or other former French colonies in north Africa - live in France today, but only 600,000 Jews.
"It is clear that the Muslim community is more taken into account," the chief rabbi of France, Joseph Sitruk, said in a recent interview.
Sadly, the unsophisticated French have not grasped the connection between welfare-statism and terror. Not until they begin to engage these root causes will terrorism be beaten.
IT'S NOT JUST BLOGSPOT: I'm having trouble opening Charles Johnson's page, too, among many others. And I just talked to a friend at a law firm who says they're having lots of Internet problems. At the moment there's nothing on Slashdot about some sort of wider problem, but the Internet weather seems pretty bad lately.
NOW INTERNATIONAL AID GROUPS HAVE A CHILD REFUGEE SEX SCANDAL ON THEIR HANDS: that's to go with the bribery, blackmail and money-laundering ones. Excerpt:
The BBC has obtained details of a confidential report by aid agencies in West Africa that says many of their own workers are involved in the sexual exploitation of refugee children.
The report, which covers Liberia, Sierre Leone and Guinea is due to be made public soon and the revelations have surprised even experienced relief personnel.
Their report found that locally employed aid workers from more than 40 aid agencies were alleged to have exploited their positions to obtain sex.
Young girls told the researchers how they were obliged to exchange sex for food rations and other essentials of life. . . .
Some under age girls said United Nations peacekeepers in the West African region were also involved.
One can only imagine what Amnesty, et al.
would be saying if U.S. forces were involved.
KEN LAYNE SAYS THAT ENRON ISN'T AS BAD AS THE RECORD INDUSTRY. He's right.
BLOGSPOT REALLY SLOW? A lot of people are telling me that. I got an email from Ev a few days ago saying that the server was doing fine and it seemed to be a network congestion problem.
I've noticed that the whole Web is not up to speed the last few days, and it doesn't seem to matter which of my several different high-speed connections I use. I'm getting a lot of transitory DNS errors, network congestion problems, etc. I wonder if there's some server-level problem going around?
STALIN-INSPIRED FASHION passes without comment in non-simplistic Europe. This has Andrew Stuttaford very upset.
Of course, there may be something else going on here. I believe it was one of the Samizdata team who explained his fondness for Soviet-era memorabilia to primitive tribes' displaying the severed heads of their enemies. Unfortunately, I fear the European fashionistas are too sophisticated to take this attitude. I suspect that they just don't find communist atrocities upsetting.
JOHN ELLIS SAYS THAT GLOBAL CROSSING MAY BE WORSE THAN ENRON.
THE MICHAEL BELLESILES / DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN CONNECTION is explained here.
THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN has dropped its support for Andrea Yates, despite proclaiming her a victim just a few months ago. Wendy McElroy explains what's going on.
ON MY WAY BACK FROM TAKING MY DAUGHTER TO SCHOOL THIS MORNING, I was listening to Tu Condena by the very cool Cecilia Noel, who I never would have heard of if it weren't for the Internet. (Interestingly, though, it turns out that Charles Johnson of LGF fame has played with her -- but then I probably would never have heard of him if it weren't for the Internet, either.)
I thought about this when reading this cranky screed against Internet hype by John Dvorak. Some of what Dvorak says makes sense, but what I notice is that -- now that the wave of hype has broken (and, honestly, everyone I know realized it was hype at the time) -- the Internet really is making a huge difference.
Dvorak has been around long enough that he should know the pattern. Lotsa hype way too early. Early hype collapses. Then the revolution happens. It was that way with PCs. It was that way with biotech. It's that way with the Internet.
By the way, here's another Cecilia Noel song that I like.
DRUG-WAR JIUJITSU: This anti-drug war ad responds to those dumb drugs=terrorism commercials at the Super Bowl. It's supposed to be in USA Today and the Washington Times this morning.
VIRGINIA POSTREL, who has been closeted at an undisclosed location for national security reasons, has now emerged with a slew of good posts on Saudi perfidy, city planning, vulgar culture, and sweet, sweet protectionism.
OK, DOUBLECLICK, YOU SUCK: My browser, IE 5.5, keeps crashing on trying to load some damned ad from doubleclick. It's apparently a new version of a similar Active-X problem that I used to encounter with the L.A. Times but now it's all over.
SALON SEXWATCH UPDATE: Nope. There' s more action at a quilting bee. On the other hand, Rachael Klein sadly informs us that "Contrary to what you would think, an advanced sex-ed class—covered in national media last week—didn't help the whole campus get laid." But she's doing her best on behalf of those who are getting a little action, with suggestions that involve food and -- oh, how politically incorrect -- a cigarette afterward! (Klein modestly omits her mention in the Weekly Standard last week.)
THE 10,000,000TH BLOGGER POST was this Yellow Pages parody by Agent Vulga.
ANDREW SULLIVAN'S piece on blogging is, not surprisingly, the best so far.
STEVE CHAPMAN WRITES ABOUT AN ASSHOLE who deserves to be called an asshole. But he doesn't deserve to be criminally prosecuted for the "crime" of handing out anti-American pamphlets in New York near ground zero.
Unlike preening antiwar lefties like Susan Sontag, this guy actually is being persecuted. Naturally it's fallen to a libertarian writer, not one of them, to defend him.
LIKE GARY FARBER, and some others, I'm turned off by lousy spelling and punctuation in blogs. I know that nobody's perfect, and God knows I've got nothing against informality. But typos and similar errors should be the exception -- they shouldn't appear in every paragraph.
By the way, Blogger Pro has a spellchecker. I don't use it, so I can't vouch for how good it is. But if you need it, it's there.
STEVEN DEN BESTE is for some reason unhappy that car ads are using beautiful brunettes with pouty lips nowadays. Being married to one of those, I don't see the problem.
IS IT JUST ME -- or is all this crowing about America getting 34 medals cheesy? I've never liked the Olympics-as-a-medal-contest. Sure, Soviet sports commissars thought that this was a cheap way of garnering international prestige once upon a time (and Nazi sports types before them). But isn't that reason enough not to think that way?
I FOUND THIS COOL PIECE on fetal heart surgery over on The Daily Dose.
TIM BLAIR HAS UNCOVERED CREEPILY PERSUASIVE PROOF that NRO's John Derbyshire is actually a pseudonym for actor Harry Dean Stanton.
JEFFERSON IBN DAVIS? Interesting take on Muslim schools in America over at the wonderfully-named Captain Scott's Electric Love Bunker.
MORE ON THE DER SPIEGEL COVER I linked to earlier. Asparagirl says it's the coolest magazine cover she's seen in a long time.
JONAH GOLDBERG SAVAGES PAT BUCHANAN: How savage is it? Well, this is the nice part:
I could support Pat in many of his arguments, no matter how un-PC, if they weren't used to support an argument for white supremacy. Hell, I have no problem whatsoever with arguments about Western supremacy; I just don't believe in the words of Sam Francis (who[se] fingerprints are all over The Death of the West) that Western Civilization is a product of our "genetic endowments."
And even if our "genetic endowments" (I'm assuming Goldbergs are included) had something to do with the success of the West, any politics based upon that assumption are unacceptable morally and pragmatically. How do you win in a democracy when you take as a given that vast numbers of voters are essentially less American? Besides, the goal here shouldn't be to persuade white people to buy the multiculti Left's terminal asininity that says that logic, reason, democracy, merit, achievement, etc. are "white." The goal should be to crush the multicultural Left's Balkanizing philosophy, not surrender to it.
But that is precisely what Buchanan does. Pat and the paleocons used to be the most articulate defenders of regional diversity. They defended state's rights and the cultural distinctiveness of the south with great skill and passion. Pat still defends the south quite a bit but he's also pounding the table with indignation that we aren't "one nation" and how "racial consciousness now conflicts with national consciousness." The Death of the West reflects this schizophrenia — or hypocrisy — throughout.
Indeed, it's striking how hypocritical the paleocons are these days. They denounce all conservatives who don't toe their line as "neocons" who've "caved" to the liberals on all the important issues. But, that's only true if you consider the important issues to revolve around this narrow and nasty emphasis on what Peter Brimelow calls America's "specific ethnic core." For that cause, they are willing to relieve themselves of any other principle.
You tell 'em, Jonah. (And if you think I'm being cute, read the piece. This really is
the nice part.)
I'M CORRECTED ON THE WHOLE "Bearded Spock" vs. "Bizarro" characterization by Justin Slotman, who I confess is far more precise in his usage.
DONALD RUMSFELD is unapologetic where Euro-critics are concerned:
Let me come back to that Axis of Evil speech. When President Reagan said that the Soviet Union was an Evil Empire, everyone got all a-twitter. All of the elites in the world. They thought, "Oh, my goodness gracious. Isn't that something. This president of the United States really doesn't get it, and he doesn't realise how important it is to have good relationships with Russia" and whoever happened to be the head of that time.
On the other hand, the people of Russia and the Russian republics, I think probably had a very different view of that. The people who'd been in the gulags. The people that weren't allowed to vote freely, and weren't allowed to practice their religion freely, and the people of neighbouring countries that were being repressed, and the people on neighbouring continents that felt that the Soviet Union was trying to expand its empire in their direction, they had quite a different view of it.
And that tended not to be carried in the press, or carried in the television of the world. Let's take North Korea. I've got to think of what's classified and what's not classified. But let's just, for the sake of argument, say there are tens and tens and tens and tens and tens and tens of thousands of Koreans, political prisoners, in prison camps. Camps, more than a handful of camps, that are the size of cities. That are being starved.
Why are Korean people trying to get out of North Korea into China? It is a regime that is vicious. It's developing weapons of mass destruction. It is selling them all across the globe.
BELIEVE-IT-OR-NOT: The FAA was covering up security lapses before 9/11, according to this report. And I'll bet they still are.
MATT WELCH has made Natalija Radic very happy.
BARCELONAN BLOGGERS correct Dave Kopel on Goya's "Naked Maya," which should be "Naked Maja." They have some amusing observations on Victor Davis Hanson, too.
THE PR INDUSTRY is now targeting "E-fluentials."
HOWARD KURTZ BUSTS THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE:
The House's approval of campaign finance reform earlier this month has drawn vast coverage. But the broadcast networks somehow failed to mention that high-powered television lobbyists killed an amendment that would have provided cheaper rates for candidate advertising. With a few exceptions -- such as the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and Variety -- the rest of the media ignored it as well, despite their usual delight in reporting on the maneuvering of powerful special-interest lobbies.
"There's a tremendous amount of self-censorship going on, which is incredibly disturbing," says Jeff Chester, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy. "It raises a question about whether you can really trust the messengers when they won't report on their own dealings."
Yeah, but campaign-finance reform will give them even more power.
Remind me again why TV executives are more ethical than Enron executives.
RICH LOWRY savages John Ashcroft for his hypocrisy on campaign-finance reform.
A NICE PIECE on what's wrong with the space program. I have something similar coming out in TCS on Wednesday.
One of the things that President Bush should do is reinstate the National Space Council, which Al Gore dismantled under Clinton.
SAM BROWNBACK, TOOL OF THE LOONY LEFT? Chris Mooney of The American Prospect makes a persuasive case:
On Meet the Press, however, Brownback didn't mention twins. Instead, following in the footsteps of Friends of the Earth, his main case against therapeutic cloning took an explicitly anti-business tack, one that almost entirely masked the religious worship of the embryo that actually underlies his position. In Brownback's own words:
And at the fundamentals of it, we've got to ask ourselves what is a young human? I mean, is it a person or is it a piece of property? The Feinstein bill would say that until you plant it in the uterus, this is a piece of property, you can research on it.And again:
We have strong support from environmental groups, from women's health organizations that don't want to see this be exploitive of women. The environmental groups are very concerned about the commodification of the human species, and, Tim, truly, we're talking about a grave issue for humanity.
Note the near-Chomskyite code words here: "property," "exploitive," and especially "commodification." Brownback sounds just like Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder, who testified before the Senate recently that the "push to redesign human beings, animals and plants to meet the commercial goals of a limited number of individuals is fundamentally at odds with the principle of respect for nature."
Mooney goes on to point out the hypocrisy of the anti-cloning feminists, and rightly so:
But if Idea Log is being hard on Friends of the Earth, we ought to be even harder on the feminists who pretend to stand up for a woman's right to choose but have also allied themselves with Brownback on the cloning issue. These include the Our Bodies, Ourselves author Judy Norsigian, co-founder of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Like Brownback, this organization worries that therapeutic cloning has "profound implications for the future of humanity," and fears that "cloning would place undue health burdens on women as well as turn our eggs and wombs into commodities."
Yes. Better we should turn them into the property of the state. For women's own good, of course. Good piece.
ANOTHER BLOGGING ARTICLE, this time in the New York Times, but missing the warblog phenomenon pretty much entirely.
WOW. A reader sends this link as evidence that "Bearded Spock" is the new term for "bizarro." Uh, okay.
UPDATE: Scrolling down to this message, I find the ultimate explanation for the "links open new windows or not?" controversy.
NAKED JUSTICE: Dave Kopel points out that in ordering the seminude statue of Justice draped, Attorney General John Ashcroft was merely following in the footsteps of feminists, and those bulldozed by feminists, all over the country.
At the Pennsylvania State University, a female professor complained that a copy of Francisco Goya's painting "Naked Maya" hanging in a classroom constituted sexual harassment. "Whether it was a Playboy centerfold or a Goya," whined the professor (who was herself later accused of sexual harassment), "what I am discussing is that it's a nude picture of a woman which encourages males to make remarks about body parts." Afraid of a lawsuit, the school removed the painting. . . .
Vermont tends to consider itself a quite progressive state — but the state government was years ahead of John Ashcroft in covering up works of art. In 1993, female employees in a state office building complained that they were being sexually harassed by a mural of Christopher Columbus arriving in the New World, because the painting depicted native women without shirts. State officials hung bedsheets over the harassing mural.
Read the whole thing, which will make you laugh or cry or both.
BEYOND THE BLOGOSPHERE: Blogger Iain Murray has a piece in today's TechCentralStation. So does blogger Charles Murtaugh!
Iain's piece, on journalists' statistical illiteracy, mentions the shark-attack hysteria from last summer, Michael Bellesiles' statistical folderol, and new efforts to blame Accutane for the kamikaze attack in Tampa.
The shark-attack angle is enough excuse for me to remind anyone out there writing a novel of my proposal from last October, which may be statistically unjustified, but which would, I think, be cool. And besides, we're talking undisguised fiction here. Unlike, say, Arming America.
EUROPEANS DON'T UNDERSTAND AMERICA, Victor Davis Hanson argues persuasively. This is a terrific piece. One reason is Hanson's wonderfully accurate phrase, "aristocratic socialism," which perfectly describes what so many Eurocrats are after: the recreation of the pre-World War I transnational aristocracy (and didn't that work out well). (Don't believe me? Read this piece.) Here's another terrific passage:
There are two general themes to their unhappiness — other than simple envy. First, European criticism is without a doubt deeply embedded in aristocratic socialism. We Americans somehow are purportedly cutthroat and exploiting in our manner of capitalism, and yet manage to allow our unwashed, crass, and parochial classes to define our culture. Do they hate us for trampling upon our less fortunate — or allowing our less fortunate to trample high culture and so dominate the American landscape from McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and Britney Spears to Oprah, Nascar, and Jerry Springer?
Second, the Europeans also don't have a clue about America's world role — past, present, or future. And their ignorance has manifested itself in a variety of ways throughout this crisis. Everyone from Swedish relief officials to Bono whines that in proportional rather than absolute amounts of foreign aid, we Americans are tight-fisted and do not give generously to the Third World countries. Forget the billions that we do hand out — and whether such blanket donations without prerequisite conditions of Westernization make countries like Egypt, Palestine, North Korea, and Pakistan worse rather than better. Instead consider that Americans, unlike Europeans, spend billions in defense that in real terms are not directly tied to the security of the United States, but rather ensure global trade, tranquility, and security.
Just how much "foreign aid" is a multibillion-dollar carrier battle group worth, when it patrols the Mediterranean or the Sea of Japan and so has the effect not of stealing foreign resources, but rather of ensuring that Turks and Greeks are not at war, that Koreans do not blow each other up, or that China keeps away from Taiwan and Japan? Unlike simple food or money, this type of "foreign assistance" is quite risky to its benefactors — and more likely to be resented, caricatured, or misrepresented.
Europeans need to learn more about the world, and abandon their simplistic and self-centered political and diplomatic formulations. The world is much too dangerous a place for their uninformed certitudes.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN VS. MICHAEL BELLESILES: Reader Paul Schmidt writes:
I find it interesting that Simon and Schuster are destroying their inventory of Doris Kearns Goodwin's "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" due to plagiarism, yet Knopf is doing nothing about the fraudulent research in "Arming America". . .
P.S. I just looked at Knopf's web site, and their description of "Arming America" includes the phrase, "Basing his arguments on sound and prodigious research". Feh.
Yes, last I saw, Knopf was still trying to claim that the dispute over Bellesiles' book is merely a question of interpretaton. That's like saying that the dispute over Milli Vanilli's recordings was merely a question of production values.
MUGABE GETTING READY TO FLEE? That's what this story from The Times reports:
PRESIDENT MUGABE is said to be planning secretly his escape route out of Zimbabwe after his private polling predicted he could be defeated in next month’s elections. . . .
Rumours circulate in Harare that Mr Mugabe has the crew of his presidential helicopter on 24-hour standby and the aircraft is parked on the lawn of State House should a swift getaway be needed.
The question remains where Mr Mugabe, who is thought to have suffered a recent stroke, will choose for his exile.
Richard Cornwell, of the South Africa Institute of Security Studies, believes that he will elect to stay in Africa, even though he has cultivated government leaders in Malaysia, Thailand, Cuba and North Korea, among others.
In the words of Gus Hall, "you want a nice vacation? Try North Korea." Starvation, thugocracy, and no free press. You'll feel right at home. Go for it, Mugabe!
PAUL KRUGMAN DOESN'T KNOW WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT, says the Treasury Department in an emailed press release forwarded by reader John Taylor, a solicitor in London (I love the Web!):
A February 22 Treasury Department release seeks to clarify an op-ed by Paul Krugman that appeared in the February 22 New York Times. Krugman's "The W Scenario," says Treasury, incorrectly said that last summer's rebate checks were going to be "snatched away" by line 47 of IRS Form 1040. Says Treasury Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michele Davis, line 47 "takes nothing away from the taxpayer, and instead provides a tax cut for millions of taxpayers."
Krugman had said the president did not want to give "those famous" $300 rebate checks, but did so only after "prodding" by Democrats. The rebate checks, or "outlays" as Krugman calls them, "were included only grudgingly, and with a catch: they really weren't rebates. Instead, they were merely advances on future tax cuts." Krugman explains that for most taxpayers, when they reach line 47 of their tax form, they will discover that they owe $300 more in taxes than they expected. Not so, says Treasury's Davis. "Line 47 of Form 1040 (line 30 of Form 1040A and line 7 of Form 1040EZ) provides a Rate Reduction Credit for those taxpayers who did not get the maximum benefit from last summer's Advance Payments, and whose 2001 income or tax amounts qualify them for an additional amount."
Davis added that last summer's checks did not reduce refunds or increase tax bills. "In fact, the most recent figures show that the average amount for nearly 23 million refunds processed has actually increased by $232, to $2,210."
The Treasury advises taxpayers who have received the maximum advance payment for their filing status to leave line 47 of their 1040 forms blank. "The Advance Payment check they received last year is theirs to keep. Period."
AN AL QAEDA LINK TO the 1993 attacks on Americans in Somalia now seems much more plausible.
On a related angle, I've gotten several emails indicating that there's a lot more American military activity in the region than is being reported on the news.
A READER CALLS this gathering of EU "grandees" a case of "historical reenactors getting above themselves."
UPDATE: Reader John Fulton adds this trenchant observation:
Seems to me there's one important difference: The Framers of our Constitutions pledged their lives and fortunes to the success of their undertaking; the Euro-Grandees are pledging other people's lives and fortunes.
Well, that was the Declaration of Independence, but yeah. And you left out "sacred honor" here, but I'm not going to touch that one. . . .
HEY -- NOW TRACY QUAN has a blog! Perhaps she can sit with Orchid and Natalija at the next event to which I, for obvious anatomical reasons, am not invited.
AN "AXIS" TO GRIND? SOME INTERESTING STATS from the Media Research Center on press treatment of Bush's "Axis of Evil" statement:
MRC analysts reviewed all 37 network stories which discussed the "axis of evil" on World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News from January 30 (the day after Bush’s State of the Union address) through February 19. Only five of those stories (14%) focused on Iraq, Iran or North Korea themselves, compared with 73% whose main focus was negative reaction to the President’s declaration. In framing their stories, reporters invariably cast the "axis" comment as incendiary and counter-productive. Out of 19 "talking heads" invited by reporters to react to the administration’s policy, 89 percent condemned Bush’s statement.
Funny, it got much better treatment in the Blogosphere.
ARMED BRITONS UPDATE: Iain Murray (who I believe will have a piece at TechCentralStation tomorrow) has some comments on the Simon Heffer piece on self-defense, and links to this excellent article on how things in Britain came to such a sad state despite a "Bill of Rights" that grants a right to arms.
CHARLES MURTAUGH explains why Jesse Helms is a friend to science. No, really!
ORCHID SHOWS OFF her purple hair in a pair of very fetching self-portraits.
She hopes to be seated next to Natalija Radic at the next libertarian-bloggers-with-breasts get-together. You mean they have those? How come nobody invited me?
A DISTURBING OBSERVATION: "We used to have peace officers. Now we have law enforcement officers. The difference is more than just semantics."
THE ELIZABETH WURTZEL BENEFIT CONCERT: An idea of Jim Treacher's whose time has come. Well, maybe. (Via Jeff Jarvis).
BRIAN MICKLETHWAIT EXPLAINS AN UPSIDE OF GENETIC ENGINEERING that I hadn't considered before. I'm ready for the future. Let's roll!
LINDA ELLERBEE HAS BEEN SENT DOWN TO THE MINORS, doing "kids' news" on Nickelodeon. All that means is that she can be even more biased and smarmy than she was in the majors. At the moment, she's explaining, behind the thinnest of smokescreens, that the real patriots are the ones who oppose the bombing in Afghanistan. (Must be a rerun).
Faugh. This sort of stuff is bad enough when it's aimed at adults.
"SANCHEZ FOR GONERNOR" -- an education letter is full of embarrassing spelling and grammar errors. And they make fun of Bush?
JONATHAN LERNER REMINISCES ABOUT THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND:
It has taken me until now -- 25 years -- to fully realize how foolish and wrong we were, and to be able to say these things out loud. I had to wait for my father to die, so I wouldn't break his heart. I try not to gratuitously hurt people anymore. And I had to know for sure that the life I have made is good for me, and good for the world, and all mine. I still have my political sensitivities, to things like racism and the dangerously worsening disparity between the rich and poor of the world. But I do not need to be the one who changes it all. It feels strange to find myself supporting our country's current war. I certainly have my criticisms, my dismay that it is necessary, my fears of what it will provoke. But I am not confused at all about defending a society resilient enough to have me as a full participant -- after I devoted my youth to tearing it all down.
RUSSERT IS BIASED, RUMSFELD IS ACID, AND DAVID BROOKS IS HIGH-TECH: All on today's Punditwatch!
THE POLL THAT ACCOMPANIES MY FOXNEWS COLUMN is still neck-and-neck: 47% against any kind of cloning; 53% in favor of either permitting therapeutic cloning only (21%) or not banning cloning at all (32%).
This is not, as readers are warned right on the results page, a scientific poll. But I think it's more important for that, in a way. Fox is more conservative than average, so this probably overstates the opposition to cloning. And coverage of cloning -- especially human, as opposed to therapeutic, cloning -- has been extremely negative, and you've had not a single elected official speak up for it. Nonetheless, you've got a third of FoxNews readers supporting it.
I may be wrong, but opposition to cloning seems to be another issue, like campaign finance "reform," and regulation of "hate speech," that is felt far more passionately among the political and chattering classes than among the populace at large.
UPDATE: Charles Murtaugh writes to note that although Fox is more conservative than others, this is probably overridden by the fact that the Internet is far more libertarian than society at large. I guess that has to be right, though one would expect that as more and more people are on the Internet, this character would be diluted beyond recognition. Doesn't seem to have happened, though.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Manifold sends a link to this Time poll that's much more anti-cloning. The biggest reason given for opposition is that it's "against God's will."
MATT YGLESIAS ASKS if Mickey Kaus is a neolib or a neocon. I think Yglesias is exactly right in saying that Kaus is a neolib who looks more -con than he is because of the issues that happen to be big: welfare reform and the war.
I think that's true of a lot of people. In fact, it probably explains why readers who haven't followed InstaPundit for a while often think I'm a conservative. At least until they read my posts on cloning, porn, or gay rights.
MORE ON THE AFGHAN UNDERGROUND in an excellent Los Angeles Times story -- though one that claims to be revealing more things for the first time ever than it really is.
JUST FINISHED STEVE ("S.M.") STIRLING'S The Peshawar Lancers, an alternate-history romp featuring crazed Wahabbi assassins, murderous Afghan tribesmen, deep-cover death cults, and some very subtle Harry Flashman allusions. I enjoyed it very much.
One interesting aspect to the book, which must have been entirely completed before 9/11, is when a character expresses shock that anyone would be surprised by a group of bystanders rushing to attack a suicide bomber. That's what one does, isn't it?
It is now, and not just in "alternate" history.
UPDATE: Reader P. Nielsen Hayden writes:
Of course it was finished long before 9/11; I distinctly recall being
on a panel with Steve Stirling at the World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, a week and a half before the attack, and
admiring the copy of the advance bound galley that he was carrying around with him.
Well, it would be astonishing were it otherwise, given the glacial pace at which books are usually produced. (New technology doesn't seem to have sped things up much -- they can
get books out fast, but they usually don't).
GUN CONTROL in Britain isn't doing well, as this story illustrates: "Gun crime trebles as weapons and drugs flood British cities." Of course -- as Samizdata has been reporting steadily -- given the "blame the victim" attitude that appears to pervade British law enforcement, this is hardly a surprise. Gun control does exacerbate crime on its own, but it's also a prominent indicator of dysfunctional attitudes about crime on the part of the authorities.
UPDATE: And they're noticing in Britain. Reader David Owens passes on this column by Simon Heffer on the subject:
The crime wave is being compounded by the complacency of politicians, by the bullying of the police into attitudes of craven political correctness, and by a creaking criminal justice system. Now we have reached a situation in which few can feel safe even in their homes, and this could be the breaking point.
Most of us had an implicit assumption that there was a contract between law-abiding people and the state. In return for our restraint, the state would use the various means at its disposal to control crime. It would police our society properly. It would severely punish those who attacked us.
It must, though, be clear to all that the state has broken that contract. When it comes to crime, we are no longer dealing with good, honest criminals. We are dealing with degenerates who view crime not only as a way of life but also as a recreation. . . .
The Government absolutely lacks the political will to deal with the violation of one of the most fundamental liberties of the people it governs: their right to feel safe in their own homes.
Given this scandalous situation, it is time for the Government to confer a new right on the people: the right to bear arms. Gun control in this country is in any case a joke. There is far more gun crime now than there was before the idiotic law passed by the Major government to ban handguns after the Dunblane massacre.
The police obsessively regulate shotguns and rifles held by sportsmen who have no intention of killing anyone with them, while failing utterly to control illegal weapons. In America, the two states with the highest level of gun ownership - New Hampshire and Vermont - have the lowest levels of crime.
One of the most murderous places in the United States, Washington DC, has the most rigorous gun control in the Union. For a householder to shoot a burglar in most states in the US is regarded not so much as permissible as part of his civic responsibilities.
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