InstaPundit.Com

3/9/2002

THERE'S SOME KIND OF CYBERWAR GOING ON. At least, I've gotten more DNS Error responses, from home, from the office, from the dialup account on the laptop (3 different ISPs) today than in a long time. And there have been more than usual over the past week. It's past coincidence, I think.

JIM BENNETT WRITES that Britain is shaking off its "post-imperial cringe," and also realizing that the EU is doomed to failure.

WILL ALLEN RESPONDS to Mickey Kaus's comments about government vs. business:

It is a little painful to read a writer with Kaus' talent engage in the sort of straw-man battles that lesser pundits typically use for material. The virtue of a free market is not that it ever achieves perfection, but that the transactions are the by-product of, well, freedom. When business executives squander billions, the money squandered was given to them through voluntary transaction, and those who gave it can refrain from doing so in the future, except, of course, when Congress supplies transfer payments to businesses . When Congress squanders billions, the money squandered was obtained through coercion, and an opposing minority or apatheic majority continues to be tapped for yet more billions. If one wished to erect an opposing straw-man, one might say that Kaus overlooks this because he does not value liberty.

Imagine if General Electric had a board of 535 members, and could forcibly obtain 25% off the top from all wage earners/stockholders in the U.S. on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Further imagine that each wage earner only had input as to three of the 535 board members. What mischief can you imagine that the board members might engage in to keep their small constituency of wage earners/stockholders satisfied, even to the detriment of all other wage earner/stockholders? Would such board members stop at anything in order to maintain such extraordinary power; the coercive access to 25% (or more) of the wages of the wealthiest society in human history? Jack Welch certainly had his faults as a business executive, but his faults were mitigated by his lacking the power to incarcerate people who refused to supply him capital. If only the same could be said of Robert Byrd or Phil Gramm.

Yes. When business acts badly -- a la Dilbert -- it is because it's forgetting the market, not because it's paying attention to it.

I'M A BIG FAN of the Supreme Beings of Leisure, and you can see a really cool Flash video of theirs (even cooler, it was programmed by the singer, Geri Sorriano-Lightwood) here.

SGT. STRYKER SAYS to file this post under "rant." But read it before filing.

DAVE KOPEL SAYS THAT THE Columbine coverup continues.

PEDOPHILE PRIESTS: I've had little to say on this, and I suppose I still do: It seems to be covered pretty thoroughly over at The Corner and at AndrewSullivan.Com.

But I'm afraid that we may be exchanging one problem for another, going from willful blindness to a witch-hunt.

In both cases, the causes are political, and the real villains are in management. Of course the Catholic priesthood has lots of pedophiles. Pedophiles aren't all that rare, and it's a big organization. It may be (my wife the psychologist says this) that positions like the priesthood attract pedophiles. But that's not the issue. The real problem is that the Church hierarchy appears to have been deliberately covering up for these guys, and leaving them in positions where they could abuse children even after learning of their problems. And abuse it is. (My former neighbor, Palm Beach's Bishop Anthony O'Connell, abused a 9th-grader who came to him for counseling after being abused by another priest).

But in exchanging sloth for a witchhunt, the Church won't be expiating its sins. Is a measured, reasonable response beyond them?

I can only add that in the past couple of decades, the American bishops have been busily offering opinions on everything from nuclear arms control to homelessness, while allowing this problem to fester under their very noses, and with their conscious assistance in covering it up. The next time they opine about matters temporal, I'm going to suggest that they devote their energies to doing their jobs, which they seem to have been neglecting for some time.

MICKEY KAUS responds to my criticism of Congress for finally passing a stimulus bill now that we don't need a stimulus bill anymore. Well, actually he takes exception to my suggestion that Congress is thus unqualified to criticize corporate executives for their economic acumen, citing the dot-com bust as an example.

Well, there were plenty of dumb dot-com ideas, though I think that the big injection of liquidity in late 1999 -- which was a Fed phenomenon, not a market phenomenon -- encouraged some of that. But notice the difference: folks in the market arena generally pay a price for getting things wrong; folks in the political world generally don't. Just one example: Arthur Andersen is in danger of bankruptcy because it's hemorrhaging clients. It's hemorrhaging clients because people don't trust it. People don't trust it because it turns out to have been untrustworthy. So far, the market system has punished Andersen more swiftly, and more effectively, than the political system.

CELEBRATION STATION is kid heaven. For parents it's somewhere more in the nature of purgatory -- though what's being purged is mostly your wallet, which is vacuumed free of cash in a fashion reminiscent of the John Fogerty record-company-slamming video of "Zanz kant danz." Much cash was turned into tokens, which were used to play games, which yielded tickets, which could be fed into machines, counted, and redeemed for junky plastic toys.

At first I hated this setup, but the kids love it, and when I figured out why, I didn't mind so much. They love getting stuff with the tickets because they feel they earned it through their own superior ball-tossing, mole-whacking, lighted-button-stomping, wheel-of-fortune-spinning powers.

I couldn't help noticing the shift in the game mix over the past few months: "Real life adventures" featuring "heroic firefighters" is now upfront. There are a lot of astonishingly realistic Sniper games, too.

THE FILIPINOS ARE faster learners than Nicholas Kristof, despite his time there. They're urging people to carry guns to frustrate terrorist kidnappers.

Yeah, there's nothing more frustrating than a 9mm between the eyes.

NO, I AM NOT TRAVELLING IN TIME: The timestamps on these posts are wrong. I have it set for EST, but it seems to be GMT anyway.

UPDATE: This problem disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared. Some byproduct of the Blogger server upgrade no doubt.

IT'S A LITTLE-GIRL SLEEPOVER, followed by a trip to kid-paradise "Celebration Station." Posting will resume later.

3/8/2002

JULIA GORIN has some unflattering things to say about the masculinity of anti-gun men. I won't spoil it by quoting her.

Oh, hell, I can't resist. Here:

The very ownership of a gun for defense of home and family implies some assertiveness and a certain self-reliance. But if our man kept a gun in the house, and an intruder broke in and started attacking his wife in front of him, he wouldn't be able to later say, "He had a knife--there was nothing I could do!" Passively watching in horror while already trying to make peace with the violent act, scheduling a therapy session and forgiving the perpetrator before the attack is even finished wouldn't be the option it otherwise is.

No. Better to emasculate all men. Because let's face it: He's a lover, not a fighter. And he doesn't want to get shot in case he has an affair with your wife.

Read the rest; this just scratches the surface.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE ARMY, according to Coyote. But surely even the Roman legions had REMFs.

DR WEEVIL is hoping for fratricide among idiotarians.

TONY ADRAGNA AND WILL VEHRS ARE SHOUTING 'CROSS THE POTOMAC. But they're not nearly as loud as Charles Oliver, who's Shoutin' Across the Pacific.

YET ANOTHER TERRIFIC TED-RALL-BASHING PARODY CARTOON, which I found via Damian Penny, who found it via Brian Silverman. (Er, and doesn't this entry look like the Weekly Standard blog parody?)

SENATOR? Hell, that's obviously thinking small.

THIS ITEM tells me something that it did not tell its author, Peggy Noonan:

A few months ago I was talking with a priest about the prophecies of St. Malachy, a mystic who, 1,000 years ago, wrote a line of prophecy about each future pope. The next one, the priest told me, is described by Malachy as "the joy of the olive." I didn't know that, and asked him what he thought it might suggest. He said, "It suggests we should keep our eye on Cardinal Martini."

When I told another friend he laughed and added, "But the olive tree is also the symbol of Israel. It may mean the next Pope will be a son of Israel." Such as the retired Cardinal Lustiger of Paris, a convert from Judaism.

I don't think so. I think we may see Pope VodkaPundit the First.

AN INTERESTING TAKE on the political response to Enron, which I found via The Occasional.

NOW IT'S PATRICK RUFFINI who thinks I should run for Fred Thompson's Senate seat. Don't be silly.

I'm a law professor. I already outrank a Senator.

NOW IT'S TIM BLAIR SAVAGING BUSH on steel tariffs in FoxNews.Com.

ANTI-IDIOTARIANISM: The term is Charles Johnson's and I've been meaning to post a Thoughtful DisquisitionTM on what it means. Something along the lines of: You certainly don't have to agree on substance to be an anti-idiotarian. But you have to have some substance. Anyway, maybe it's better just to give two examples from people I often disagree with, but who I think fall into the anti-idiotarian camp. First, from Thomas Nephew, who disagrees, I think, with a lot of what I say about the war -- but does so because he disagrees with it, not because he secretly hates Western civilization, or because he just can't bring himself to stand up and be counted in favor of traditional virtues like courage or patriotism (reasons that are more characteristic of idiotarians). Just read this passage:

But I'm still as furious as any of the rest of you about it (victims' friends and family members excepted). When I think of Mohammed Atta's sponsors and supporters, I feel icy rage: may they, too, fall and burn, crush and die, may their beliefs wither and be forgotten. If you ever feel the same way, then whether my views on Iraq, or Europe, or missile defense, or the West Bank, or Bush, or Enron, or anything else match yours, far more still unites us than divides us. I reserve the right to disagree with you about what to do next about it, and how, and why. But we are together on this.
I'm not the only one to notice this: read the comment on the page from Sgt. Stryker, who agrees with me on the war more than I do (or something like that). Then notice this passage from Dan Perkins aka Tom Tomorrow:
Actually, this brings me to another point I’ve been wanting to discuss, which is, essentially: reasonable people can disagree. I know this is a revolutionary breakthrough in the study of human interaction, a concept so stunning that many of you will be tempted to reject it out of hand, but bear with me here. If someone disagrees with you politically on, say, 20% of issues, or even 30% or 40%--it does not make that person your Automatic Sworn Enemy. Because we are here in the blog mode, let’s talk about this in blog terms: there are a number of bloggers whose writing I genuinely enjoy, even as their politics differ from my own. Lileks, for instance--jesus christ, have you seen his site? His obsession with retro pop culture, science fiction, and roadside americana mirrors my own to an astonishing degree--he recently posted a jpeg of the cover of an old paperback novelization based on the Hugh O’Brien tv show "Search" (and probably no more than five people reading this have any idea what that means, but if you’re one of them, then you should understand everything I’m trying to say here), and he’s an utterly brilliant writer, whose meditations on family and life are thoughtful and wise. So maybe we don’t have the Exactly the Same Politics, or even anything approaching a similar worldview sometimes--am I therefore required to deny myself the pleasure of reading his work, of rooting through his extraordinary archive of pop culture detritus? I don’t think so.
You wouldn't hear this from an idiotarian, for whom such professions of open-mindedness are only meaningful if aimed at murderous thugs.

HEY, THIS BOZO WAS MY NEIGHBOR: Anthony O'Connell, the bishop of Palm Beach, has resigned because of past acts of molestation. He used to live just a few houses up the street from me, until a couple of years ago.

I haven't commented on this whole priests-and-pedophiles thing, since I don't really have much to add to what the folks at The Corner have been saying. But this strikes pretty close to home.

JOHN DERBYSHIRE has this upsetting information:

Four bandits held up a Staples store at gunpoint, locked employees in a store-room etc. etc. Fortunately there was no massacre this time; thank to an employee with a cell phone, the bandits were all arrested. So was my attention when I got to this paragraph near the end, describing the background of two of the bandits: "Brown and Grant live together and are security guards at Kennedy Airport, a job for which they had passed background checks, officials said."

READER Stephen Skaggs wonders if the removal of families from the U.S. base in Izmir, Turkey is a portent of action on Iraq. I think the answer is "yes."

Nicholas Kristof is -- naturally -- unhappy with the new fashionability of guns among younger women. (Boy is he behind the times -- this was an InstaPundit item back in the Fall, and also see the Harvard Law School shooters' club item from earlier this week). Kristof recycles a few tired anti-gun chestnuts that probably still count as insights to the New York Times op-ed page crowd, and completely ignores the mountain of research by people like John Lott, Gary Kleck, and Dave Kopel that establishes the social benefits of widespread gun ownership by law-abiding people.

But Kristof's big mistake is writing the piece at all. PC has ruled on campuses long enough just to be another piece of tired fuddy-duddiness suitable to be rebelled against. So when a tired fuddy-duddy like Kristof opines against armed coeds, he's merely adding fuel to the fire.

Now that it's pretty obvious that we don't need a stimulus bill, Congress has passed one. Just remember this when you see these guys second-guessing corporate executives on their business judgment.

Two people have written to suggest that I run for Fred Thompson's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.

Somehow, I don't see myself in the Senate, except perhaps in the extremely enjoyable fill-someone-else's-unexpired-term capacity. That might be fun.

This sequence of security camera photos shows the impact of Flight 77 on the Pentagon on September 11.

UPDATE: This article from the Washington Post raises some doubts about the photos' authenticity.

This article in The American Prospect says that the attacks on Judge Pickering have been self-destructive:

For one, the huge imbroglio among liberals over Judge Pickering demonstrated the true calculus of the nomination battles: The "killers" expend a lot more political capital than nominee supporters do. The main shot fired against Pickering was based on civil rights, and shrapnel tore through the liberal activist community, sparking high-pitched debates between those who thought Pickering should be allowed to move past his youthful record and those who insisted it remained relevant. Conservatives happily jumped in to characterize the whole affair as a breakdown of anti-discrimination liberalism.
Yes. The inability of groups like the Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way to simply oppose Pickering, without resorting to obvious calumnies like calling him a throwback to segregation, did longterm damage to their credibility, and alienated a lot of Democrats who aren't driven to such lengths by the need to feed hungry direct-mail lists, as these groups apparently are.

At the moment I'm working on a law-review article that looks at every Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving two recent Supreme Court precedents, and what I'm finding causes me to echo Mike Dukakis, and say that the problem with the federal judiciary isn't ideology: it's competence. These are, for the most point, and entirely independent of the outcomes, lousy opinions: conclusory, devoid of analysis, disrespectful to litigants, and badly written. I wish there were groups that would assess judges' judicial temperament, but the ABA doesn't seem to do much of a job there, and the various lobby groups just want to get on TV and push their direct mail fundraising.

Reader John Jorsett sends this gem:

Regarding ABC's threat to jettison the Drew Carey episode if they showed no competent airport security personnel:

The Drew Carey Show has been one of the most innovative shows on television. I was particularly taken with the show that they simultaneously webcast. In that regard, I think that Carey should separately shoot the scene the way he wanted it originally and make it available on the web. It'd be a way of acceding to the demands of the suits at ABC while sticking a thumb in their eye artistically.
Great idea.

WE'RE BAAACK! Blogger was undergoing a server upgrade. I did post some stuff to the InstaPundit backup site (it's the one labelled "InstaPundit Backup" on the left) but not everyone thought to check there, based on the email I got. I'll post some new stuff here shortly.

3/7/2002

SO WHO'S LYING? JACK VALENTI? OR BARBARA BOXER? Boxer's aide says that she doesn't support the Hollings SSSCA, or any digital copy protection legislation. But Jack Valenti, whose creature Hollings is, supports digital copy protection legislation and is quoted thusly by Hiawatha Bray: "Every senator on that dais today agreed with us." Boxer, needless to say, was on the dais.

Well, there's probably enough wiggle-room that by the not-very-strict standards of lobbyists and politicians both can claim to be just, er, stretching things. But Boxer and Valenti need to get their stories straight, because to the rest of us it looks pretty cheesy.

Bray's column is another must-read. Here's an excerpt:

Enter the Hollings bill, which seeks to mandate the inclusion of exactly this sort of technology into every device capable of running digital media. Read it and gasp: "It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies."

Yes, that includes your desktop computer, your TiVo recorder, your PlayStation 2 and TV set-top box. Everything. Suddenly, the US government is in the business of designing the next generation of electronic devices. . . .

One wishes that a few of those minds would concentrate on existing law governing the public's right to make "fair use" copies of copyrighted material. At the hearing, Disney CEO Michael Eisner singled out the Apple Computer Inc. marketing slogan "Rip, Mix, Burn." Eisner sees it as evidence that the PC's ability to copy, remix and re-record music is an invitation to thieves. But as Intel's Vadasz noted in an open letter written after the hearing, "the ability to rip, mix and burn in a protected manner is not piracy, it is simply fair use of content as permitted by law."

Yes, one does wish that. But then one wishes in general for honest Senators. In general, and all too often in vain

ALL THESE PEOPLE (BLOGGERS, MOSTLY) HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING THAT BLOGGERS AREN'T WRITING ABOUT THE STEEL TARIFF DECISION. Try searching this page for steel and you'll find stuff. There's more on Virginia Postrel, AndrewSullivan.Com, and quite a few others. Still think it's not enough?

Then try this experiment in comparative interest: go out on the street, buttonhole the first five people you see, and demand to know "Where's the outrage on steel tariffs? Steel tariffs, man! Steel tariffs!" Watch their blank looks turn to caution, then hostility. Then be polite to the nice men when they come for you.

There's more interest in steel tariffs in the Blogosphere than outside it. Trust me.

WORKING MIRACLES -- IN THE WRONG DIRECTION: Bush's steel tariff decision, via a somewhat contorted chain of events, produces actual sympathy for Rahm Emanuel.

PLEASE BASH GLENN KINEN. He wants it. Really.

STEPHEN GREEN EXPLAINS the new terrorist threat-warning system, and its motivation.

AUSTIN BAY has an excellent column on how the war is going to date, with an important caveat:

Though these successes are significant, the long-term political foundation necessary to win this war still isn't secure. Afghanis topple Afghanistan. Meet another geopolitical truism: The trick to defeating America is to get America to defeat itself, to weaken American will.

Unfortunately, 9-11's full import has yet to sink in on some Americans. 9-11 changed our world. The habits of political partisanship must change as well. Congress plays an essential role in building the political foundation for a successful war. Real national leaders --as opposed to headline-seeking hacks -- must understand that building and sustaining the American public's will to fight and finish The War on Terror is, at the moment, their most urgent mission.

Constructive critique, the vetting of realistic alternative policies made with an understanding of the stakes, is a democratic strength. Cheap shots in the hope of partisan gain, however, can have deeply fracturing effects on public faith, and undermine military success in a long war where setbacks are a certainty.

ANOTHER GREAT PIECE by Victor Davis Hanson.

JAMES LILEKS RULES.

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Economist has retracted its positive review of Arming America, though it's very careful not to actually accuse him of fraud, and rather flabbily tries to maintain that he may still be right on the "culture" point.

MORE ON RECORD COMPANIES: Charles Murtaugh sends a link to this article from the New York Times:

Every year Michael Greene, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, stands onstage during the show he runs, the Grammy Awards, and delivers a speech about an issue that pertains to the music world. On the broadcast last week, however, he chose a strange way to make his point.

The issue he addressed was the unauthorized trading of songs on the Internet. During the awards show he showed clips of what he said were three students downloading "as many music files as possible from easily accessible Web sites." He added that in two days the three students downloaded nearly 6,000 songs.

"Now multiply that by millions of students and other computer users, and the problem comes into sharp focus," he said. As he made his point, the cameras zeroed in on the three students, all looking very sheepish.

His speech, as anticipated, ignited much discussion and controversy among music fans and those in the industry. But in addition, it seems strange that he would admit on national television that he hired three people to break the law (the Electronic Theft Act) and then show them in the process of doing this, especially since one is a minor.

And now one of these downloaders for hire (at about $12 an hour), Numair Faraz, has stepped forward to say that Mr. Greene's claim that three students downloaded 6,000 files from easily accessible Web sites isn't even true. For starters, Mr. Faraz, 17, isn't a student: he left school to start his own technology business. But more to the point, he says that the group didn't spend two days downloading music; they spent three. And most revealing, he says that most of the music wasn't even downloaded from publicly accessible Web sites.

Well, some of us aren't suprised by this.

A READER WITH A MILITARY EMAIL ADDRESS WRITES THIS ABOUT MY FOXNEWS COLUMN:

<<"Keep your grubby laws off my computer" sounds like a pretty good slogan, and it's one that Republicans could use against Democrats nationwide. >> as seen in Http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,47296,00.html But the GOP won't use it, because they want their grubby hands on my computer, to tap/trace/inspect for crypto/inspect for p*o*r*n/money la*under*ing/d*rug car*t*els/militia membership/terrorist plots. And if they can't get into my computer proper, they'll monitor the bandwidth connected to it with DCS1000, formerly known as Carnivore. Nice thought, but it won't happen. Go tell it to the Libertarians
Well, like most things, that all depends on the politics of the issue. And I think people are starting to wake up on this one.

ATTENTION BLOGGERS: A bunch of people tell me I caused them to start a blog, and a lovely French journalist with a famous husband just asked me how many there are. I said, beats me. But let's try to find out: If you were brought to blogging by reading InstaPundit, send me an email to the address at the top-left of this page. Please make the subject read: Blogstart so they'll be easy to sort. Include your name, your weblog, and your URL and I'll post the whole list over the weekend.

SOME ADVICE FOR THE RECORD COMPANIES: Downloading can't be stopped. There's a similar WSJ piece in the print edition today.

COPY-PROTECTION UPDATE: I got a call from Danny Sepulveda of Sen. Barbara Boxer's office. He says that I have misread the Wired article that's linked in my FoxNews piece, and that Boxer has never taken a position on digital copy-protection legislation. Well, that's not how I read the article, but OK. He says that she would prefer a negotiated private sector agreement to legislation.

This is the first time I've ever gotten a call like this from a Senator's aide, which suggests to me that Senate Democrats may be feeling some heat. Which, I think, underscores what a potent political issue this might be.

UPDATE: The piece is on Slashdot. That may account for their sensitivity, as they're probably getting a lot of calls and email.

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE MIDDLE EAST that, I'm afraid, are probably true. Can anyone handle the truth?

READER BRIAN HOFFMAN isn't happy with Bush's steel decision: "The important anti-globalizer now isn't Fisk or Chomsky (in their fuckin dreams), it's President Bush--and I've never been so disappointed in him."

I've gotten a lot of email like this.

AIRPORT SECURITY IS A JOKE: But everyone knows that in airport-securityland, jokes are verboten. Drew Carey found this out:

The installment, set to be taped Thursday and air next month, features Carey’s goofball buddies Lewis (Ryan Stiles) and Oswald (Diedrich Bader) scoring jobs as airport security. ABC, however, was purportedly concerned that the script didn’t feature anyone “competent” on the airport security staff. Carey claims the censors then threatened to toss the entire episode if producers didn’t make changes.
This isn't really censorship. It's just that Drew Carey does a comedy show -- and a script that didn't feature anyone "competent" would be reality TV.

I also love the way TV folks scream "censorship" when the Pentagon doesn't want them to report troop locations on the battlefield, then bend over for stuff like this. To Carey's credit, he's not bending over.

STANLEY KURTZ looks at the March edition of Harper's and draws some lessons about the anti-war left. Unlike many critics, he believes they're sincere.

MORE ON COPYRIGHT AND CONGRESSIONAL CORRUPTION: Okay, I've written two pieces on this subject this week: one at FoxNews and one at TechCentralStation. But you should still read this piece by Chris Sprigman from Findlaw.Com too. And here's a nice blog posting on the subject.

I HAVEN'T POSTED ON THE ADMINISTRATION'S DUMB STEEL-TARIFF POLICY, but I recommend reading Virginia Postrel's inspired rant on the subject. She's not happy with Bush, and she shouldn't be -- though part of the problem is with the steel industry in general, and with antidumping law.

I could tell stories on this, but loyalty to my old law firm, which is the major actor in the steel disputes, impels me to just send you to Virginia's site.

JOSH MARSHALL has some great stuff on astroturf opeds (something I wrote about too, on FoxNews a while back). He also has a long and thoughtful response to Natalija Radic.

SPEAKING OF NPR, I heard Palestinians saying that we needed outside intervention. You know what that means? It means they're losing, and they know it. The story (like a Daniel Schorr commentary last night) tried to paint Bush as cowardly or hesitant, but that's because the painters are stupid or dishonest.

What's really going on is that Arafat broke his Camp David promise, and Bush is sending the signal that he's going to pay the price, that the United States can't be counted on to rein in the Israelis now. That's doubly so when the targets are the same people who cheered the 9/11 attacks. And you can bet the message has been received in the Arab world.

You're either with us, or against us. And if you're against us, the best you can hope for -- the very best -- is that we won't intervene when you're getting your ass kicked by someone else. And it only gets worse from there.

CALIFORNIA: I know very little about Bill Simon, Jr., which apparently puts me in the same category as most pundits. And, like them, I'm not letting ignorance stop me from expressing an opinion!

But here's my suggestion: according to the thoroughly unslanted NPR item I heard yesterday, his big problems in California are (1) abortion; and (2) the hostility of Latino voters alienated by Pete Wilson's anti-immigrant stance. These don't seem insuperable to me, and in fact suggest that his position isn't that weak.

On the abortion front, he could weaken it a lot as an issue by telling people that he's happy to put it up for a referendum -- this is California, after all, where everything controversial seems to wind up in a referendum. So you don't have to fear Simon: let the voters decide. And on the Latino front, I imagine that the abortion issue doesn't have the same resonance; I haven't seen polling but I'll bet that Latino voters are much less abortion-friendly than Anglo-Democrat voters. Maybe some spanish-language commercials could exploit that gap.

And on the Pete-Wilson legacy: go on the offensive by attacking barriers to employment of immigrants -- like unions, bureaucratic rules making it hard to start a business, etc. -- that all feed into Democratic constituencies, forcing the Dems on the defensive there. You can bet that Latino voters are aware of these barriers, and resent them.

Can he win doing this? I don't know. But he can frame the issues in ways that might win, and that will help the Republican party in California.

PANIC is the main danger posed by "dirty nukes," says this story in The New York Times. This is absolutely true. Perhaps the Times will help inoculate America against such terrorism by ceasing to run hysterical stories exaggerating dangers of radiation exposure.

By the way, someone (I forget who, I was blogsurfing the other night and didn't save the link) said that the real question is how we'd respond to a nuclear explosion in Manhattan or another American city where we didn't know who was responsible.

My suggestion: respond in kind against any place in the world where street celebrations take place.

READ THIS POST by Doc Searls and follow the links.

HOLLINGS-O-RAMA: My FoxNews Column is up, and it's about . . . what a corporate-lackey bozo Fritz Hollings is! Imagine that. Actually, it's about the huge political opportunity that the Democrats' water-carrying for Big Media offers for the Republicans, if they're smart enough to take it.

Democrat Rick Boucher (D-Va) is smart enough to realize this, but it's not clear that any other Democrats -- or Republicans -- are.

3/6/2002

THE HUNGER STRIKE AT GUANTANAMO IS TURNING PRETTY PATHETIC:

``We have what I would refer to as a rolling hunger strike,'' said Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert, the commander of the detention mission. ``Essentially, people take turns not eating.''
In the words of reader S.E. Brenner, who sent this item: "Well, there's not a sorority in America that couldn't whup you at that game, tough guys."

OOOH. Ted Rall's not gonna like this savage parody cartoon either.

JONAH GOLDBERG has a great column on problems between the West and fundamentalist Islam. Here is a key passage:

And, hell, even if Sept. 11 never happened and Osama bin Laden had followed his true calling and became a cross-dressing apple-bobber in Amsterdam, we would still have a legitimate reason to have "negative views" toward Arab countries.

You know why? Because they are undemocratic stagnating cultures lead by tyrants who drink daily from a heady cocktail of brutality, corruption, and crapulence. I am so fed up with the criticism that it is "arrogant" to express such opinions. Fine, it's arrogant. I plead guilty. That doesn't mean it's not true, does it?

Nope. Arrogance is no guarantee of truth. Complaints that center around "arrogance" and not much more are actually an admission that it's true, though. Read the whole thing.

HOW DO YOU DO THE DEFINITIVE BLOGGER TAKEDOWN OF TED RALL? Why, with a cartoon of course. This is one of the finest parodies I've ever seen. It's even in Rall's style -- er, except, of course, that it's actually funny.

HERE'S THE LINK to my TechCentralStation column, by the way.

STANLEY KURTZ is calling for an army of collegiate conservative bloggers modeled on Kevin Deenihan -- who will expose PC idiocies on their campuses for the benefit of a wider audience. Kevin certainly did that when he broke the Cal Patriot story. Who says bloggers don't do original reporting?

WOW -- just hit "get email" and there are only 109 messages downloading: a fraction of a usual day's worth. Guess it's good that I told people I'd be gone today.

OKAY, THAT'S IT for me this morning. I'm off to Nashville. If you want more of my blather, my TechCentralStation column should be up later this morning.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ says that cloning needs to be banned "precisely because so many think it’s ok." Huh?

PATRICK RUFFINI has this instant analysis of the California gubernatorial race. He says that Riordan didn't get that many votes even in places where there should have been liberal Republicans to vote for him.

I haven't followed this closely, but it seems to me that Republicans in California have problems that can't be solved simply by nominating a guy who isn't very Republican. I have nothing in particular against Riordan -- we split 50/50 on the hot button issues, agreeing on abortion but not on gun control. But he's not at all compelling, and only someone really charismatic would stand a chance of getting elected as a Republican in California right now. The party made some major goofs under Pete Wilson, and it's in a fundamentally liberal (not "basically moderate" as some idiot on CNN was saying yesterday) state.

The real question isn't whether Simon can win -- he probably can't, and if he does it will be because Gray Davis alienates enough people to hand him the election, which isn't impossible. The real question is whether he can run a campaign that's the start of revitalizing the California Republican party, one that states principles that some people will find attractive -- and that gives even the ones who don't support him the sense that the party has principles, not just poll-tested sound bites. I don't know if Simon can do that, but I'm pretty sure that Riordan couldn't.

READ MICHAEL KELLY today. He's dead-on.

3/5/2002

AN INSTAPUNDIT DROUGHT: Not much posting tonight. I was finishing up mastering a CD for Michele Newton Easterday, a singer-songwriter who rules. I'm driving to Nashville and back tomorrow (not on music business, but to testify before the legislature on an anti-cybersquatting bill). So I won't be blogging much, if any, before tomorrow night. And that excuse makes my life sound a lot more interesting than it, in fact, is.

But my TechCentralStation column will be up sometime tomorrow morning -- it manages to tie together Bjorn Lomborg and Fritz Hollings' campaign contributions.

A couple of notes: people have emailed me to say that the venomous Ted Rall cartoon making fun of 9/11 widows has been removed from the NYT site, no doubt in response to Charles Johnson's campaign. And someone said that the Olive Garden piece that James Lileks savaged so beautifully is mysteriously missing from The Guardian. Reportedly, you can still find it with a keyword search for "Olive Garden," but it no longer shows up among Matthew Engel's columns, with a noticeable gap where it should be. The power of the Blogosphere in action!

I HEARD Heather Havrilesky on NPR today as I drove home. She did a very nice monologue, but I notice that they didn't mention the domain name of her weblog on the air. . .

JEFF JARVIS has a great post on David Brenner's monologue about airport security. Read it.

I WASN'T GOING TO WRITE ABOUT THE NEW YORK NUKE SCARE. I saw Giuliani and Pataki complaining on TV that they weren't told. But, honestly, if the feds had told the NYPD, it would have leaked. The panic would have killed people, and added to the terror and economic destruction of the WTC attacks. They were right to keep it quiet. You either evacuate if you're sure and you think you can, or you keep it quiet and avoid panic.

But here's the eerie Lileks take on the parallel universe where it did happen -- or the future when it will:

There are European columnists in respectable newspapers who would write about the event, and no matter how much sympathy they evinced towards the start, you’d be waiting for the fulcrum of the BUT, and you’d find it. There are reasonable, rational people writing for newspapers grounded in the Western empirical tradition who would feel it was their duty to explain the nuking of New York, and place it in context. They remember Hiroshima, but not Pearl Harbor. (It would be a hallmark of their intellect that New York could suffer both - a sneak attack and a nuke - and they would remain America’s fault.) They would bring up the camp at Gitmo; they would recycle all the false numbers about Iraqi sanction deaths and Afghan casualties, and if they shed a tear it would be for the Motherwells in the museums and the immigrants who, being new to the poisonous shores of America and being guilty of nothing but misguided hope, were blameless.

Think I’m kidding?

Wait.

He's right. Fuckers.

JOHN DVORAK says bloggers never criticize each other. Well, I dunno: there's the Natalija Radic/Matt Yglesias/Josh Marshall criticism-fest, and now Richard Bennett, who seems to make a specialty of doing just that when he's not moonlighting as a French skating judge, says that Rand Simberg presents the "knuckle-dragging Freeper point of view" on the California gubernatorial primary.

But I've met Rand, and I want to state clearly for the record that his knuckles do not drag.

UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini says that Riordan will lose because he's run a lousy campaign and no longer looks like he could beat Davis anyway.

READER TIM HARTIN SENDS THIS OBSERVATION:

This piece at the WSJ OpinionJournal by B. Jolkovsky notes that the recent bombing in Jerusalem targeted anti-Zionist Hasidic Jews. As an aside, it contains the following
quote:

"They are by definition unarmed," Tzipi Livni, a minister in Ariel Sharon's government, told the New York Times.

Is it just a coincidence that, after at least one recent attempted suicide bombing was foiled by armed Israelis, the Palestinians chose a neighborhood where they knew the odds of running into an armed Israeli were low? We will have to keep an eye out to see if this develops into a pattern, but it is certainly suggestive, isn't it?

Yes, it is. Let's do keep an eye out. And don't miss this piece about an armed Israeli civilian stopping a terror attack. Or this one.

ANOTHER PIECE ON BLOGGING. Not bad, but with this howler: "Without editing, they aren't generally as streamlined or finely tuned as an equivalent piece in Harpers or the London Review of Books. Opening up to Everyman engenders a lot of sloppy argument, especially down in the pits of the blogs." Either this man hasn't read Harper's or the dissent-stifling London Review of Books lately, or he doesn't recognize a sloppy argument when he sees one.

ANDREW STUTTAFORD reports another success for British gun control. Also, don't miss this item on the same subject by Dave Kopel, who wrote a prophetic law-review article on British gun control a while back.

JACK STRAW seems to be on board with the Iraq invasion now. Did Blair take him to the woodshed?

READER DALE LEOPOLD sends this link to physicist Robert Park's site, where he's skeptical of bubble fusion claims.

On the other hand, Park seems rather credulous about the "Doomsday Clock," which is pure PR.

ARE AMERICAN SANCTIONS STARVING IRAQI CHILDREN? Hell no! according to the always-reliable Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz:

We supply our citizens with a daily ration of 2400 calories: rice, bread, dried beans, sugar and tea.
Well, there you have it. Straight from the horse's, er, mouth.

(Via Best of the Web).

BOMB THE ISLAMISTS WITH BARBIE DOLLS: They're already kinda sensitive on the subject.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Dave Kopel reports that Michael Bellesiles has just been awarded a $30,000 NEH grant to write another book about guns. "The NEH gave money to the Newberry Library in Chicago, which gave the money to Bellesiles, and which refuses to disclose how such a notable faker was awarded your money. Should the Newberry Library be renamed the Office of Strategic Deception?"

KEN LAYNE offers his take on the California elections over at FoxNews. Rand Simberg already disagrees.

UTHANT.COM has a penetrating take on the whole Shadow Government issue, and offers to be the "shadow Justin Timberlake," if that's needed to protect America.

MICHAEL BELLESILES' complaints of death threats and computer break-ins have been widely reported and treated as true, though I'm unaware of any supporting evidence.

There's more evidence for these but I'll bet they won't get as much attention.

HERE'S ANOTHER ARTICLE ON BLOGGING from the Star Tribune. I like it, and especially this quote from FoxNews's Scott Norvell, about the reader reaction to Fox Blogs:

The reaction so far? "About three-fourths positive and one-fourth are-you-crazy-this-is-garbage, on par with most of the other op-ed stuff," Norvell said.
I love the "on par" bit.

SALON SEXWATCH UPDATE: Okay, it's not exactly sex, but it's closer than it usually gets over at Salon's alleged sex-advice column:

Why don't you buy the baby stroller and the video camera now, put your 24-pack of condoms in the stroller and head for the park? Women love a daddy. Go ahead, take a peek, you say to the nice young woman. And when she leans down to the stroller and pulls back the pink blanket, you can videotape her.

Yep, that's my darling little 24-pack. Go ahead, pick her up.

(Warning: do not follow this advice! Creepy guys in parks with baby-strollers full of condoms are -- well, face it, pretty much any guy in a park with a baby-stroller full of condoms is going to be creepy. And that's before we get to the video camera). But at least it's less boring than usual.

Rachael Klein, as usual, offers the kind of advice that, by all appearances, a lot of Salon readers need. I can't believe that they still have their lame sex-free sex-advice column despite all my taunting. Of course, they probably think it's a success because of all the hits that this feature sends it each week. Hmm. Maybe I've been going about this all wrong. . . .

I SAID THERE WAS A CULTURE-SHIFT on guns after 9/11, and here's more evidence: Harvard Law Students have started a shooting club. Follow the link for photos of an ethnically diverse group of sometimes-machine-gun wielding law students, and assorted gun information.

The Harvard Crimson says it's quite popular:

To an outside observer, a gun club on the traditionally liberal HLS campus might seem misplaced. But as unorthodox as the club might seem, it seems to have been embraced by the student body. Currently, there are over 100 members of the club—5 percent of the HLS student body.
And here's a student piece from the Harvard Law Record entitled Discovering the Joy of a Semi-Automatic.

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. The times, they are a'changin'.

THE ALWAYS-INSIGHTFUL RALPH PETERS has a good piece on war casualties in today's OpinionJournal. Excerpt:

There likely will be more American casualties. Perhaps many more. We may see some American elements ambushed and even wiped out. That's war, folks. You suck it up and keep on marching. War is, ultimately, a contest of wills. And our war with terrorism is a knife-fight to the bone. When Americans die, the sole correct response is to hit back even harder.

Even the best-planned combat operations by the best-trained, best-equipped troops can go awry. Combat is disorienting, confusing, and indescribably dangerous. Your enemy is intent on killing you and surviving, just as you are intent on destroying him. Our combat losses, though we feel each one, are understandable and, to a painful extent, inevitable. We have done an astonishing and commendable job of limiting our casualties. But soldiers die in war.

My sole fear is that some elements within our government, responding to the broadcast media's alarmist whining, will argue for interrupting the operation. That would be entirely wrong. We cannot afford any more Mogadishus, where U.S. victories convince our leaders to cut and run. The least wavering merely encourages our enemies and costs us far more casualties down the line--as the last administration's failure to take serious action against terrorism led directly to Sept. 11. I don't think the Bush administration will follow such a course--but we must not flinch for even an instant. Not even if the casualty figures soar. The best way to honor our dead is to defeat the enemy.

I don't think the public has any trouble understanding this. The "hysterical" media, to use Peters' term, are having more trouble. But as Peters notes, the military has learned from its experience, while the media crowd seems to be doing its best to avoid learning anything. Here's his most telling passage:
Yet, even the worst ignorance cannot explain the yearning so many reporters and pundits appear to feel for American forces to fail. Of course, failure makes for richer headlines and predicting disaster will always get you on a talk show. But I still cannot understand wanting the good guys--and make no mistake, we are the good guys--to lose just to get a story.
A lot of press folks will deny this, but it shines through their reporting like too-small Hanes through the seat of a cheap suit.

PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR David Vise ordered thousands of copies of his own book from BarnesandNoble.Com, then returned them. Was he trying to pump up sales figures? Clever trick. Wish I'd thought of that.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN HAS BEEN BOOTED from the PBS NewsHour and -- oh, the ignominy -- Don Imus. I'd gotten an email about the former, but couldn't find anything about it until this letter in MediaNews. Imus I missed entirely.

The letter also answers (partly) my question of why Doris Kearns Goodwin has created more outrage than Michael Bellesiles among the media crowd: "Goodwin's long chain of reputedly accidental borrowings, but they show her tendency to pickpocket her peers." Bellesiles, you see, was just pulling the wool over the eyes of Americans. He wasn't doing anything to his peers.

COLD FUSION? Somebody at ORNL sent me a headsup email on this over the weekend, but I didn't post on it, because I was, to put it mildly, skeptical. But here's an article in the Washington Post about a potential cold fusion breakthrough.

I would sure like for this to be true, which is one reason why I've given my skepticism free rein. Leaving aside the wonderful effects on the Saudis (who would become small-scale sellers of chemical feedstocks, rather than energy barons, with a coincident reduction in their ability to finance people who want to kill us), this would be an environmental and economic boon of huge proportions.

I'm still skeptical -- though it's always possible, I suppose, that even if what's going on isn't fusion, it's something interesting and valuable. Some bloggers have already weighed in on this. Edward Boyd writes that: "A peer reviewed article is nice, but I won't crack open the champagne yet. Four (or is it three?) simple words: Bellesiles was peer-reviewed."

Scientist-blogger Derek Lowe has some similarly cautious observations.

Once burned, twice shy, and all that. But it's sure worth some effort to find out if it's true.

UPDATE: Here's a to the article and some accessory pieces in PDF form. Thanks to Science for making this widely available.

ROBERT MUSIL has an interesting discussion of why exhortations to vote aren't as well-founded as most people think.

Personally, I think no one should be elected who doesn't receive votes from a majority of those registered. How's that for a radical proposal?

MEGAN MCARDLE'S GOOGLEBOMB is now famous. Maybe now she'll be willing to show her face in public.

OUR FRIENDS THE SAUDIS get the deference they deserve from Mark Steyn:

There are only two convincing positions on the House of Saud and 9/11: a) They're indirectly responsible for it; b) They're directly responsible for it. There's a lot of evidence for the former -- the Saudi funding of extreme Islamist madrassahs, etc. -- and a certain amount of not yet totally compelling evidence for the latter -- a Saudi "humanitarian aid" office in the Balkans set up by a member of the Royal Family which appears to be a front for terrorism. Reasonable people can disagree whether it's (a) or (b) but for Americans to argue that the Saudis are our allies in the war on terrorism is like Ron Goldman joining O.J. in his search for the real killers. . . .

Reforming the House of Saud is all but impossible. Lavish economic engagement with the West has only entrenched it more firmly in its barbarism. "Stability" means letting layabout princes use Western oil revenues to seduce their people into anti-Western nihilism. On the other hand, blithely burning it down offers quite a bit of hope, given that no likely replacement would provide the ideological succour to the Islamakazis that Saud-endorsed Wahhabism does. My own view -- maps available on request -- is that the Muslim Holy Sites and most of the interior should go to the Hashemites of Jordan, and what's left should be divided between the less wacky Gulf Emirs. That should be the policy goal, even if for the moment it's pursued covertly rather than by daisy cutters.

Borders are not sacrosanct. The House of Saud is not Royal, merely nomads who found a sugar daddy. There's no good reason why every time you fill your SUV you should be helping fund some toxic madrassah. In this instance, destabilization is our friend.

Give this man a job on the National Security Council. Or at least make sure they're reading his columns.

I JUST SAW SOME TALKING-HEAD ON MSNBC, a retired major named Messing, saying that we're going about things all wrong in Afghanistan. Apparently, he's worried that jihadis are coming in over the passes from Pakistan and Iran, and then we're killing them in large numbers, which will "inflame" the Arab world.

I haven't seen much evidence of eager new jihadis. But I hope he's right. While in the overall war against terrorism there's a lot to be said for focused lightning-fast special operations raids, the only way we'll put an end to this stuff is to make clear that martyrdom really means martyrdom -- and futile martyrdom. I think Afghanistan needs to be a sort of terrorist Hotel California, where they check out, but don't leave. Dispersed terrorists have to be dealt with by law-enforcement and special-operations forces, but that's out of necessity. As long as they're willing to concentrate and be killed in large numbers, we should accommodate them.

Is this bloodthirsty? Nope. Personally, I'd rather they went home and became McDonald's franchisees. But I think that the only solution to this stuff is to make clear that (as some British journalist or other put it disapprovingly) "Kill Americans, and you're dead meat."

I remember Walter Russell Mead writing a piece last fall noting that the only opponent to kill American women and children in significant numbers was the American Indian, and that the response was near-extermination (since many of those were my ancestors being exterminated, I'm not necessarily approving this, but that's neither here nor there at the moment). He predicted that this would be the American response to Islamic terror if it weren't contained early. I think he's right. I think that squashing this stuff now will save lives, compared to what will happen if an American city is nuked. The big danger in the next few months isn't being too violent, and inflaming the "Arab street" with a desire for revenge. It's not being violent enough, and inflaming the "Arab street" with the belief that victory is possible.

MATTHEW HOY has scored an exclusive interview with one of the Al Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo. The turban / hunger-strike thing is just the beginning of a master plan.

3/4/2002

KEN LAYNE has some good thoughts on casualties in Afghanistan.

STEVEN DEN BESTE says the French-tipoff-to-Karadzic scandal may be destroying NATO. I don't suppose it'll do much for the European Rapid Reaction Force, either.

DR. WEEVIL says that the Blogosphere is the Borg Collective. I'd be upset at this, but since he kind of implies that I have a shot at Seven of Nine, I'm not sure I am.

My wife wouldn't mind, right? It's not infidelity if it crosses species lines. I think I heard some Clinton Administration spokesman make that argument once. . . .

TONY ADRAGNA SAYS SEN. JAMES INHOFE IS an idiot for resurrecting the "God has lifted the mantle of protection" line of argument floated by Jerry Falwell shortly after 9/11.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, according to Matt Drudge quoting Harvard "insiders," is likely to lose her position as a Harvard Overseer.

STEVE JOBS says that the music industry's copy-protection efforts are stupid, and won't sell. "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."

CANADIANS: Reader John Kahn writes:

Actually Glenn, although the US media completely ignores it, Canada has a sizable combat force there (by the standards of our tiny army), approaching 800 men, not part of the peacekeeping operation run by the Brits in Kabul but in a combat role alongside the 101st Airborne at Kandahar. The first offensive combat deployment since Korea. Canada's special force unit, JTF-2 has been there with the SAS and Delta since October.

The battalion there is part of a regiment with a history going back to before W.W.I, and the romantic, if awkward, name of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, or PPCLI for short (I have no idea who the hell Princess Patricia was). A PPCLI battalion in Korea won a Presidential Unit Citation from Eisenhower for holding a pivotal hill against the Chinese and preventing US and ROK forces from being cut off.

Y'all may ignore us all the time and devote all your attention to the Brits and Aussies, but when the chips are down we are your most loyal friends, being next door and descended from the same colonists.
Actually, I have read about this. JTF-2, if I'm not mistaken, is a highly capable ground recce unit. I read that somewhere, but where is now lost in the data (or mental) fog. On the other hand, I had completely missed the presence of Danes and Norwegians.

You're right, though, that the U.S. press should cover this more.

PRO-AMERICAN LEFT-WINGERS IN BRITAIN say they're being censored by publications that don't want to print anything good about America or the war. The article cites incidents at The New Statesman and The London Review of Books.

DOCTORS WITHOUT SHAME: Here's a great comment by Dave Kopel:

Today's postal mail includes a solicitation from Doctors Without Borders. DWB was the group that denounced U.S. food airdrops as propaganda, and demanded that U.S. military action in Afghanistan be halted so that aid convoys could get through. It turns out that aid convoys get through a lot better now that the Taliban have been driven from power. If George Bush and Tony Blair had listened to DWB, many thousands of Afghans would have starved to death, or died from lack of medical care, during the last several months. Yes despite being so massively wrong about Afghanistan, DWB claims "Every day, from Afghanistan to Sudan, we are able to save lives because of the generosity of our donors." If you want to save the lives of refugees and other victims of totalitarian regimes, forget DWB; instead, take up a collection to help our Armed Forces buy some more Daisy Cutters. DC's stop dictators; DWB cooperates with dictators.
What he said.

I DON'T THINK JESSE JACKSON, ALREADY ON THE ROPES POLITICALLY, WILL LIKE THIS. Of course, as Jackson weakens, Sharpton just gets stronger, which is a dubious tradeoff.

I bet it will sell.

HOW MANY? Well, we now know there are 96 German special-forces soldiers in Afghanistan. But how we know is kind of disturbing. Read this:

Someone is conducting psychological warfare against the families of the 96 German elite soldiers involved in a huge offensive against al Qaida and Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan. Germany's military intelligence, called MAD, is investigating a spate of anonymous phone calls telling troopers' wives, "Your husband is dead." The Defense Department is at a loss over how the callers could have obtained the secret numbers of the KSK special forces unit stationed in Calw at the foothills of the Black Forest. The ministry is giving the families new numbers and moving them to different apartments. Contingents from the United States, Australia and Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Norway assist the Afghan military in the current offensive.
Typically cheesy. But I rather doubt it will have the desired effect.

DIANE E. has some additional support for Mickey Kaus's "welfare causes terrorism" theory.

READER MIKE GANNIS POINTS OUT THAT HATRED OF COPY-PROTECTION HAS gone mainstream. And this is as mainstream as it gets.

CHRIS BERTRAM has a lot of information relating to civilian casualties posted on his site.

BEST OF THE WEB is particularly good today. I especially like the "Arab Courage" and "Great Moments in Law Enforcement" posts.

ENRON'S VOICE MAIL MENU: It's changed. I like the Dick Cheney line, though I suppose Fritz Hollings won't.

THE TRUTH THAT NO ONE DARES ACKNOWLEDGE. And boy, is it true.

ANNE APPLEBAUM says Euro-anger comes from impotence:

We are in for a long spell of this, I'm afraid: Snarly quotations from Chris Patten and Hubert Vedrine advocating "the need for multilateral engagement," Kyoto treaties, and so on—contrasted with more pointed quotations from members of U.S. think tanks, politely explaining that "Americans see the Europeans as wanting to put their heads in the sand."

Behind the scenes, I'm afraid it is all a lot more bitter and nasty—and more emotional as well. Let's face it, Europe is grappling with the sudden realization that its military power counts for nothing—and that the increased "influence" that the closer European Union was supposed to bring hasn't materialized. Meanwhile, Americans are slowly waking up to the fact that they are not just a superpower, but the only power: American military spending over the next five years will be higher than that of China, Russia, and the EU combined. Myself, I am going to stick by the idea of the transatlantic alliance and "Western civilization" in general, but I can tell this is going to make me unpopular.

OKAY, I'VE LISTENED TO THE BELLESILES STORY on NPR and I think it's pretty damning, and not a squishy downplaying of the problem at all. Follow the link and listen for yourself.

FRENCH TIPOFF ON KARADZIC RAID: Reader Daniel Kauffman points out that Natalija Radic called this one before anyone else.

HEY, WE'RE SEEING REAL INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION against Al Qaeda forces now:

Australian, Canadian, French, Norwegian, Danish and German troops were fighting alongside their American and Afghan allies as Chinooks moved personnel from rear positions to the battlefield.
I wonder what the numbers look like.

FRITZ HOLLINGS' shilling for the entertainment industry is getting a cool reception in the House, report Declan McCullagh and Robert Zarate:

The U.S. House of Representatives doesn't seem willing to intercede in an increasingly bitter dispute over embedding copy protection controls in all consumer electronic devices.

Key legislators in the House have indicated they're skeptical of the government mandating anti-piracy technology, an approach that Democrats of the Senate Commerce Committee endorsed during a hearing last Thursday.

JUSTIN SLOTMAN DOUBTS THAT Josh Marshall will every respond to Natalija Radic.

A BLOGGER DRINKING GAME? The world isn't ready.

IAIN MURRAY of the Statistical Assessment Service and blog fame has a piece debunking the Marc Herold figures on civilian casualties, but concluding that they may still have been too high given the failure to get Al Qaeda leaders.

THREE AUSTRIAN POLICEMEN are charged with torture of a prisoner leading to death. Sounds a bit worse than those hoods at Guantanamo.

MICHAEL LEDEEN savages the Bush Administration for "embarrassing timidity" where Iran is concerned. We talked the talk, he says, and now we have to walk the walk:

If we really have a wonderful CIA, as George Tenet claims despite the abundant evidence of its impotence and fecklessness, we should be able to document the long list of hostile actions taken against us and our allies in Afghanistan by Iranian officials and agents (here's a heads-up for Langley: The regime has planned a series of actions in the second half of March), along with the details of the Stalinist crackdown now underway in Iran itself, and bring them to the world's attention. That would at least give heart to the democratic forces inside the country. That way, they would at least know that their suffering is recognized and appreciated.

We want a nonviolent democratic revolution in Iran, led by those brave Iranians who have risked their lives in the streets, and who are now suffering at the hands of their torturers. Silence after the State of the Union means complicity with the torturers. It is clearly not what the president wants, but it is what the inaction of his government is producing.

Faster, please. We're losing ground.

THOUGHTS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF ISLAMIC SCHOLARSHIP, AND MORE, from Adil Farooq.

MONICA LEWINSKY'S BLOG isn't by Monica Lewinsky, I'm pretty sure, but there's some fan mail posted there in response to the HBO special last night.

KEN LAYNE writes about corruption in the alternative media. I thought it was definitionally impossible for them to be corrupt -- sort of like it's definitionally impossible for human rights activists to be guilty of exploitation, abuse, and coverups.

Or for populist Democrats like Fritz Hollings to be guilty of siding with fatcats against the little guy.

THE WAR ISN'T OVER, even in Afghanistan. That's the problem with lightning victories. You win by destroying your enemy's coherence and ability to fight in an organized fashion, but you don't destroy your enemy. That makes mopping up a real issue. It's still better this way, but it's something to remember as we look at Iraq.

I do hope that we're doing our best to maximize enemy casualties here. Any Al Qaeda left fighting at this point are probably beyond any hope of redemption. If they're left alive, they'll just be trouble in the future. And the Guantanamo experience proves that taking prisoners is more trouble than it's worth, generating a lot more criticism from Eu-nuchs than dead Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

BELLESILES UPDATE: NPR had a Michael Bellesiles story this morning. I didn't hear it, but several people told me about it. Here's the website blurb -- streaming audio should be up later today:

Historian Under Fire
Emory University historian Michael Bellesiles is being challenged by fellow scholars over his celebrated book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. They say the book is inaccurate and possibly fraudulent. NPR's Eric Westervelt reports. (7:02) (Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture is published by Vintage Books; ISBN: 0375701982)
They're using the "f" word here, though reader Bill Long says they didn't use that word in the segment:
One interesting thing about this is that the segment never used the word fraudulent. The critics they interviewed all simply talked about the high rate of errors in the research. They spent as much time rehashing Bellisile's thesis, even replaying a segment of an earlier interview with him. They kept repeating his assertion that the criticism is either political or a matter of interpretation. Finally, they quoted Bellesiles (who wouldn't be interviewed on tape) as comparing his situation to that of Stephen Ambrose or Doris Kearns Goodwin.
I'd say it's a sign that Bellesiles finally appreciates his situation, that he's trying to argue that his problems are only as bad as those faced by Ambrose and Goodwin.

Of course, they're far worse. Bellesiles is accused of fraud, which means that his scholarly work is deceptive. Plagiarism just means it's unoriginal. To me, deception is worse than unoriginality.

UPDATE: Charles Murtaugh writes that he heard the piece and he thinks that it was much worse for Bellesiles than Bill Long did:

I think whoever gave you the heads-up on the Morning Edition piece got it wrong. I heard it -- it was devastatingly anti-Bellesiles, and not only by NPR standards. Yes, he got to restate his thesis, but they didn't have a _single_ fellow academic defending him, and several ones attacking him. I think they may even have used the term fraud. And the Ambrose/Goodwin
comparison was by the reporter, not by Bellesiles. (I'm pretty sure.)

The only thing possibly slanted in his favor is that he claims to have received death threats after his book was published; I don't know if there is any independent confirmation of this. (Do you know about this? It would be classic foot-shooting on the part of the pro-gun people if it turned out true, though.)

Well, I'll have to hear it when it's streamable later today. As far as I know there is no evidence apart from Bellesiles' statements to support the death threats. Like his unsubstantiated claims that discrepancies in his data were the result of a mysterious hacker clever enough to leave no traces, and to make the discrepancies match those in earlier pieces by Bellesiles, I think they should be viewed with a jaundiced eye.

FRANKLIN FOER writes in The New Republic that the textile lobby is blocking efforts to help Pakistan's economy by opening the U.S. market to Pakistani textiles. And, sure enough, reliable friend-of-fatcats Fritz Hollings is shilling for this industry too!

Pervez Musharraf has laid it on the line for the United States, and we ought to be rewarding that loyalty. The rap on the United States in the Arab world -- and it's justified -- is that we appease our enemies and betray our friends. That has to stop -- Hollings notwithstanding.

HIRO TAKAHASHI has written a great letter in the Japan Times. Excerpt:

As one of the few Japanese who lost a family member (my father) in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, I strongly support America's war on terror. The Japanese have criticized the Americans in public and through the media. I even heard one person shout out loud that "of course the WTC was attacked -- it was America's own fault." I was enraged by this comment and the apparent attempt to attach some sort of reason to the senseless killing of thousands.

Who sends in volunteers, troops and aid at the first sign of trouble or need? The Americans. What does Japan do? Debate and wrangle in the Diet for about two months, and then end up doing nothing most of the time or sending money. Money is useful, but is not the answer to everything. Sometimes sacrifices must be made. Most Japanese don't seem to realize that thousands upon thousands of lives were lost so that they could enjoy the peace and prosperity they take for granted today.

The U.S. government has provided our family and the families of the victims of the attacks with all the help and services it can, regardless of nationality. What has the Japanese government done? From actual experience, I can state absolutely nothing. Do Japanese think that a Sept. 11 type of attack can't happen in "safe" Japan? Before criticizing Americans, they should step back and take a long hard look at what their own government is doing, or more accurately, isn't doing.

Thanks to reader Abraham Genauer.

IS IT JUST ME? Or do these guys look just like Klansmen?

3/3/2002

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, the reason the effort to arrest Radovan Karadzic failed was that a French officer "revealed the operation."

OLIVER WILLIS says Disney is in a nasty decline. I have to agree. I saw Return to Neverland yesterday. It didn't exactly suck, but the vintage Pluto cartoon that ran before the feature blew it away. You tend to forget that Disney once made actual cartoons as opposed to animated extravaganzas with famous-actor voices and famous-if-past-their-prime-songwriter scores. And they were good at it.

AN INTERESTING PIECE ON ZYVEX, which intends to be the first nanotechnology company to hit the big time.

BILL PESCHEL says that Mickey Kaus's series skipper actually proves Sandra Berhnard right.

SUMAN PALIT DISAGREES with Jim Bennett (sort of) about India's future. But are there really 2 billion Indians?

AHA, CONT'D: The Hashemite Restoration plan continues to unfold. Yesterday a column in the Jerusalem Post suggested giving the West Bank back to Jordan. I think that's going to happen, but some people reasonably asked why Jordan would want the worthless West Bank, with its troublesome inhabitants who are desired by no Arab regime. Today's installment, though, makes this suggestion in answer to just that question: dismember Iraq, and give part of it back to the Hashemites:

To King Abdullah II and his Hashemite ruling family, the Palestinian territories are a burden, not an advantage. What is needed is a sweetener of such calorific proportions as to make the shouldering of that burden acceptable.

The solution lies in the direction of Iraq. The Bush administration, which is now engaged in planning a major operation to unseat Saddam Hussein and get rid of his regime with its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, is plagued by the problem of what to do with Iraq after Saddam.

The answer is to dismember Iraq, create an independent Kurdistan in its northern third, which could be viable with the oil reserves in that area, and give the southern two-thirds to Jordan, as payment for its readiness to incorporate the Palestinian territories. That would constitute a fulfillment of the post-World War I dream of the Hashemites - who were driven out of Hejaz by the Saudis - to rule a major kingdom from the Jordan River in the West to the border of Iran to the east.

Yes. Of course, there's one former Hashemite dominion that's left out here. Maybe we'll hear about it in a later installment.

SPEAKING OF DAN HANSON: He's got another great post on the music industry's unwillingness to face its real problems:

On the Grammy awards the other night, Michael Greene ranted for an eternity about how music swapping was killing the record industry. He pointed out that record sales are down over 10% this year, and blamed the downturn on file swapping networks.

But then we find out that Grammy viewership has hit a six year low. Hey Michael, does file swapping explain this? If the kids today are swimming in music, why aren't they tuning in to the Grammys in record numbers to see their favorite acts?

I have an alternate theory for the downturn in record sales: THE MUSIC SUCKS. You know something is very, very wrong when Barry Manilow is on top of the charts with a moldy greatest hits collection instead of caterwauling at the Tick-Tock Inn for tip-jar money.

You want to know why the kids aren't buying your music? How about because you package two or three 'good' songs along with 8 other pieces of complete crap, call it an album, and sell it for $20? How about because you cancel record deals with great artists like John Prine or Warren Zevon so that you can make more shelf space for the latest focus-group packaged boy band or pyrotechnic female singer with big hooters but no soul?

Read the whole thing. It just gets better.

TED BARLOW can't figure out how I can savage Fritz Hollings for being a tool of the entertainment industry, while not simultaneously backing campaign finance reform. Well, Dan Hanson, to whom I linked on that very point earlier, says it best:

The solution, however, is not campaign finance reform. You will never be able to 'reform' politics to prevent special interest influence, unless you adopt restrictions on liberty so severe that the remedy is worse than the disease. No, the proper solution is to reduce the power of the federal government, so that they are unable to meddle in these areas. You want to get rid of the influence of powerful dairy farmers on government? Fine. Take away the government's ability to regulate dairy production. That's the only real answer.

As long as government has power, money will flow to it. The cost-benefit equation for both industry and government officials is just too strong. Attempts to legislate this problem away are doomed to failure.

I said something similar in a FoxNews column in January (also linked from this site):
There’s no surprise here. With the federal government’s finger in so many pies, it would be astonishing if the people it regulated didn’t try to influence it. (And much of the influence-buying is really a form of extortion: everyone knows that if you don’t buy influence, you’re far more likely to find your company or industry targeted.)

This should come as no surprise either. The government attracts people trying to influence it the way honey (or, ahem, other fly-attractors) attracts flies. The bigger the government, the bigger the pile of, er, honey and the more flies it attracts. Most political ethics laws are the equivalent of putting up screen doors or handing out flyswatters: try all you want, but the flies will still get through. If you don’t like flies, you’ve got to do something about what’s attracting them.

I hope that clears things up.

ANDREW HOFER has some amusingly pungent imaginary introductions to stories on journalists, inspired by an unfortunately genuine on by Tina Rosenberg at the New York Times.

DAMIAN DISSES DOLE: Liddy Dole, that is:

How about this radical suggestion: drinking - and everything else - should become legal when you turn 18 and legally become an adult. Surely to God, if you can be trusted with the right to vote, thereby influencing who your country's leaders will be, you can be trusted with having a drink (or even a cigarette, for that matter). It'll never happen, though. In fact, if Elizabeth Dole had her way, the American drinking age would rise to 25. (Liddy is horrified about 23 year-olds having a beer, but she has no problem with her husband slobbering over Britney Spears in TV commercials. Go figure.)
Penny also makes fun of the term "children under 21" used to describe "underage drinkers." I've seen gun-death stories talk about "children under 25." And we've seen people like American Al-Qaedist Johnny Walker or Louise Woodward (remember her?) called "children."

I read Harry Potter to my six-year-old. That's a child. 18 to 21 year olds aren't children. In most societies they're already married with kids at that age.

SEVERAL PEOPLE are making an observation about Daniel Pearl's photos that quite a few InstaPundit readers made.

TIME-SAVER OF THE WEEK: Mickey Kaus gives the Woodward & Balz September 11 extravaganza his Series-SkipperTM treatment. Some interesting observations emerge therefrom.

ELECTRIC-POWER TERRORISM? A while back I ran an email from a reader who works in the power industry, which said that there was a lot of cyberhacking going on from Middle Eastern countries. Here is an article that says the same thing.

JOANNE JACOBS has the last word on the "shadow government" flap:

Didn't "The Postman'' depict a post-apocalyptic world where U.S. officialdom was represented only by mailman Kevin Costner? Do we want to risk living in a bad Costner movie?
I should note, though, that the original novella by David Brin was pretty damned good. It's a shame he had to suffer the ignominy of the Costner film. I hope they paid him a lot.

I LOVE THIS PIECE about the "closing" of the disinformation office.

ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY UPDATE: Reader Doug Levene writes:

Your complaints about the record industry routinely ripping off artists by
underpayment of royalties could be equally laid at the feet of the entire entertainment industry. It has been an open secret for years that TV writers and performers receive only a fraction of the royalties they are contractually entitled to. I'd like to see class action suits outlawed, but maybe I'd be willing to consider an exception for these lovely people.
Yes. I remember Art Buchwald's case.

LINK-WHORING at its most shameless. Hope you guys are happy now. And I'll never look at a breadstick the same way again.

UPDATE: No, the "rejoinder" from me isn't actually by me. Duh.

TV PUNDITWATCH IS UP! Go there for all your punditry needs this afternoon; I have to do some real work.

READER JON FULBRIGHT has these comments on the New York Times editorial page:

The effectiveness of the Democrats' recent criticisms of the Bush administration's war efforts could be gauged by a brief glance over the past four days at the editorial page of the New York Times.

While the Times has felt free to pen editorial critcizing Bush on Enron, the secret energy meetings, campaign finance reform and today on The Uses of American Power in relation with consutation with our allies, the Times has been struck mute on the biggest dipute going on in Washington, the critcism by Tom Daschle, Robert Byrd, Ernest Hollings and John Kerry on Bush's conduct of the war. Even the New York Daily News, which can be described politically as Lieberman Democatic under Mort Zuckerman has this editorial today lambasting the recent comments.

Obviously, the Times has no problem giving the administration a rap across the knuckles, especially when it can do it in response to charges made by Democrats, and I'm sure they would love to hammer The Hammer (DeLay) and Lott for their comments in reaction of Daschle's comments. But apparently his statements (and even moreso those by Kerry, and Hollings) are either too much for the paper of record to handle, or Gail Collins must be in about her 17th rewrite of an editoral trying to support Daschle's position while having to deal with the fact there's a gaping wound four miles south of the Times' headquarters that calls into question the Democrats' strategy. Following the party's line on this is harder to pull off when the majority of the hometown readership and advertisers can see for themselves the results of not taking on al-Qaida, and with the prospect of more bodies being located in the next few days as the last of the Tower 2 debris is removed from the World Trade Center site. If the Times thinks this is a idea not worth even commenting on, you know it's a turkey of a strategic move.

Oh, come on, Jon. Next you'll be saying that there's something odd about the Times printing page after page on Enron campaign donations without mentioning that Senator Fritz Hollings is bought and paid for by entertainment companies who want to take control of every American's computer.

THERE ARE NO HOMOSEXUAL IN UGANDA, according to its government. Such radical disconnection from reality has marked the African response to AIDS, with lethal results. Such behavior by Western governments would be treated as genocide.

READER BILL RUDERSDORF reports that the Lileks / Guardian dustup has made Arts & Letters Daily.

THANKS TO READER JOHN COLE for the news that Bravenet, which provides counters for a lot of bloggers, has been hacked.

DICK CHENEY'S SECRET LOCATION REVEALED! Gary Farber even has the telephone number. It wasn't hard to find, he notes.

Of course, this could all just be clever disinformation. . . .

READER ALEX BENSKY SAYS I'M UNFAIR TO MARY ROBINSON in my post below:

Your recent swipe at Ms. Robinson, that she considers her job to be
criticizing the United States, is untrue and unfair. That is only one part of her job.

Apparently the other is criticizing Israel. Some time ago she criticized Israel for being, "too Jewish." I don't think she has faulted Ireland for being too Irish or France for being too French. Maybe I missed that.

Yeah, maybe you did -- but if you did, so did I.

SERGEANT STRYKER tells a story on Madeline Albright. I didn't realize those two went back so far.

PRINT PUNDITWATCH is now up for today, with TV Punditwatch coming this afternoon about 2. Can Will Vehrs keep up this grueling schedule? I hope so.

GLOBALIZATION REDUCES CHILD LABOR, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The report's findings run counter to a belief long held by critics of trade liberalization -- that free trade would lead to increased demand for products from developing nations, which could further encourage families to send their young children to work in response to higher wages and higher demand for workers.

The report's authors, Dartmouth University economists Eric Edmonds and Nina Pavnick, found that the opposite was true: when Vietnamese parents could make more from the sale of the grain they grew, or received higher wages when picking it themselves, they chose to keep their children out of the rice fields.

"We went in thinking that we would see big increases in child labor related to increases in money to be made," Edmonds told United Press International. "But we were surprised to see the opposite."

Well, child labor tends to disappear as people get richer, and free trade tends to make people get richer.

EURO-ARISTO WANNABE GISCARD D'ESTAING is now facing a vote of no-confidence inspired by greed, arrogance, and efforts to silence any contrary political voices. Seems to me he's acting pretty consistently with the highest traditions of the Eurocracy.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY is taken to task for supporting terrorists, and the article cited refers to support for the IRA. But it's from August. I'd be interested to know if she's changed -- or even mentioned -- her position since 9/11.




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