InstaPundit.Com

3/23/2002

GOOGLE VS. SCIENTOLOGY UPDATE: John Hiler reports the latest in MicroContent News. The Scientology critics have gained back some ground, but not as much as many think.

JIM BENNETT has some thoughts on Margaret Thatcher's recent pronouncements about the European Union:

So, when the lady with the handbag drops the other shoe, it's worth paying attention. In this case, it is Lady Thatcher, who followed last year's draconian warning against Britain joining the European Monetary Union with a measured warning in her new book, Statecraft. In it she called for Britain to begin a measured disengagement from the more problematic European institutions, and, if it could not do so, to begin preparations to withdraw entirely.

For the first time, a figure as prominent as a former prime minister, and one of the most stunningly successful in British history, has offered definitive criteria for when and under what circumstances the United Kingdom should withdraw from the European Union.

The criticisms have been fast and furious, of course. But it's worth noting that the most vociferous have come from people like Chris Patten, who have also been the most vocal critics of the American-led war against the radical Islamists. In my mind, this only goes to further validate Thatcher's thesis.

Yes, the question has now been raised in a form that's impossible to ignore. Though many are doing their best.

JOSH MARSHALL is against dual citizenship, and Justin Slotman is worried.

MEGAN MCARDLE HAS POSTED THIS love letter to Europe. Well, it's kind of "tough love," really. But love nonetheless. And for latin bloggers John and Antonio it's just plain love.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH, a lawyer-blogger of Iranian extraction, has these inspiring thoughts about September 11 and the American response. Read the whole thing. Here's an excerpt:

My parents did not leave behind the only life they knew to come to a defeated and dying country. They came to one which is continually reborn, which is continually sanctified in the reflected glory of the highest and most noble products of human thought, which continually reminds its citizens, its friends, and its foes of the meaning of greatness. I refuse to believe otherwise.

Remember: what you do matters. Remember: you're helping us win. And if you should ever doubt that fact, if ever the twists and turns of realpolitik and domestic chicanery should temporarily disillusion you, remember the words of that famous half-American, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill:

Lift up your hearts, all will come right. Out of depths of sorrow and sacrifice will be born again the glory of mankind.

And above all:

NEVER FORGET.

Read the rest; it just gets better.

I DON'T FIND DEBKA ESPECIALLY RELIABLE, but a reader sends this interesting tidbit:

As for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, he is deemed a write-off. Washington will make sure he is removed from the Palestinian Authority and replaced with an acceptable Palestinian leader or leaders. The United States, the vice president explained, intended casting the kingdom of Jordan and its army in the role of security patron over the West Bank province of the Palestinian state-to-be.
You read it here first, of course.

THE LATEST MARK STEYN COLUMN rules. Here's an excerpt:

To put it in a nutshell, no one looking at Washington right now could seriously argue that this is a government culture on a war footing. The newly federalized security scanners fall asleep on the job as often as the minimum-wage illegal-immigrant no-spikka-da-English felony-warrants-in-three-neighbouring-states old-school security scanners. Last Saturday, incidentally, an America West flight landed at Des Moines with a dead man on board. The cabin crew described him as "kind of stiff" during the flight -- in two and a half hours, he hadn't moved. But, although some witnesses have suggested he was dead at the gate back in Phoenix, America West is insistent that there was no breach of security and that he fully qualified under FAA regulations as a living human being when he boarded the 737, wheeled on by his son and daughter-in-law. The FAA forbids dead people from boarding, presumably in order to prevent al-Qaeda corpses from picking up their green cards.

Worried about bioterror? Don't worry, the Centers for Disease Control is busy researching state variations in intimate-partner homicide. Congress? They've done nothing useful since the day of the attacks, when they appeared on the steps of the Capitol and spontaneously sang God Bless America. The current political scene resembles a recent misprint in Britain's Independent, in which, in the course of a good Eurosneer at the expense of the President, their leader writer commented that Mr. Bush had choked on a pretzel "while watching the Green Bay Packers take on the San Francisco Giants." This seems unlikely, given that the Packers are a football team, the Giants a baseball team. But, in a way, that's what Washington feels like.

Yeah. Taking the war seriously in the political arena would upset too many lucrative or ego-stroking applecarts. But failure to take the war seriously will do more damage than that, believe me.

"GUN PERMITS SURGE, BUT NOT VIOLENCE," the Detroit News reports.

"That's really the surprise," said Wayne County Sheriff Robert Ficano. "There are no altercations or incidents I've seen that are at all attributable to the law change. We thought there might be some."
That, of course, has been the story everywhere that liberalized handgun-carry laws have been enacted. And yet opponents of such laws continue to claim that the streets will run with blood.

ASPARAGIRL dismisses Eric Alterman with casual contempt.

MICKEY KAUS has the inside scoop on Bill Clinton and Joe Klein -- and why a Clinton resurrection within the Democratic Party won't happen.

He also emailed me saying that InstaPundit readers want to hear more about the colonoscopy, not less. Well, my Katie-Couricism has its limits, but (1) it's no big deal; and (2) if you do it starting early enough, you're pretty much safe from colon cancer -- it's not just a diagnostic procedure, but a preventive one, since they can remove polyps before they turn into cancer. Not all polyps become cancer, but all colon cancer starts from polyps. And there I stop.

3/22/2002

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN thinks that The Nation's Eric Alterman is just trolling for bloghits to shore up that outdated mag's stats. He says: "Let's see those server logs, Katrina."

THERE'S A NEW SmarterHarper'sIndex up for this month.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING STORY on the Mars Society's ongoing project to build enthusiasm, and a knowledge base, for human colonization of Mars. If this stuff interests you, check out Bob Zubrin's book The Case for Mars.

DANG. HOTLINESCOOP IS dead. But readers are kindly invited to take up a regular subscription to the regular Hotline. For a mere $5,500 a year.

FLINT NATIVE RAND SIMBERG is boasting that Michael Moore is not really from Flint, Michigan. What? Moore misrepresent himself?

YOU CAN'T ARGUE WITH SUCCESS: Here's something I didn't know, from BizQuick:

Salton, the company that brought us the George Foreman Grilling Machine, is now offering a PowerPuff Girls wafflemaker, a Scooby Doo popcorn machine, and a Marilyn Monroe travel iron. I would probably say something snide here if it weren't for one fact: This company has sold almost a billion dollars' worth of Foreman grills. That's billion with a "b." So they can do whatever the hell they want without jokes from the likes of Bizquick.
PowerPuff wafflemakers? They're geniuses: PowerPuff Girls and waffles are both very big in the InstaPundit household. I must have one!

THE POWER OF INSTAPUNDIT: On Sunday, I told Salon to hire Heather Havrilesky -- and today she's in Salon! So where's Rachael Klein?

SUSANNA CORNETT IS A ONE-WOMAN DEMOLITION SQUAD, taking apart New York Times essayist Anne Taylor Fleming and a bogus story about a study on gun violence, as well as the Times' failure to report another study whose conclusions are inconsistent with its biases.

OH, NOOO! Another Nation writer says he's being censored! By people writing mean things about him! Boohoo!

Only at The Nation is disagreement equal to censorship. Which means that, given most of what gets published there, they're likely to be, er, "censored," a lot. Show a little backbone over there, folks!

RISHAWN BIDDLE launches a powerful two-pronged left/right assault, exposing Eric Alterman's ignorance of blogging and Ramesh Ponnuru's errors of history.

BRAVELY RISKING ERIC ALTERMAN'S WRATH, the Brothers Judd now have acquired that all powerful tool of censorship and inquisition, their own blog. Check it out. Now, don't you censor anyone boys!

ERIC ALTERMAN seems to be annoyed by blogging, though he is charitable enough to admit that "It is not as if responsible blogging is impossible." That's big of ya, Eric.

The piece is mostly an extended assault on Andrew Sullivan, who apparently is engaged in an "inquisition" inspired by a "will to censorship." Sullivan's censorship is apparently accomplished by the evil and heartbreakingly effective technique of criticizing people on his weblog. Oh, the humanity!

But when Alterman makes sure to mention Sullivan's sexual preference, HIV status, personal ads, and black leather pants, on the other hand, it's not "censorship." At The Nation, you see, such conduct -- which would be reprehensible if someone on the right did it -- is simply "standing up for freedom." Thank god Alterman has the bravery not to be intimidated by Sullivan's weblog postings, unlike those Sullivan-silenced wimps Tom Daschle and Janet Reno. Give this man a medal!

MICHAEL MOORE CONTAINS MULTITUDES, as this piece by Tim Blair at FoxNews illustrates. Read it -- it's a delightful exploration of Moore's many contradictory public statements. He's rich! He's poor! He loves guns! He hates guns! Flint, MI is just like Manhattan! It's hilarious.

THE GLOBE-TROTTING MICHAEL BARONE emails from Italy:

You mention that the Democrats are running against Bull Connor.

But when Connor set the police dogs and fire hoses on peaceful civil rights demonstrators, he was the Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama--a member of the Democratic National Committee!

Strangely, we're seldom reminded of that.

Note one key difference between real pundits and bloggers -- the travel opportunities!

INSTAPUNDIT'S SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL Dave Kopel explains why the drug war is promoting terrorism in Peru and elsewhere:

The hard reality is that farmers in Peru are being starved out by a militarized anti-narcotics strategy. They can't see why they should be prevented from growing an export crop that feeds their families. In Peru, coca consumption dates back to the days of the Incas, with coca consumed by chewing coca leaves. The effect is not all that different from caffeine consumption. In the United States, though, the illegality of coca forces sellers to sell the product in a much more concentrated (and, therefore, much more concealable) forms: powder cocaine and crack cocaine. The psychoactive effects and dangers are much greater, of course. Similarly, American prohibition of alcohol caused a consumption shift away from beer (large volume, low "kick") to gin (low volume, high "kick").

It is unrealistic to expect that Peruvian farmers trying to feed their families are going to care much about how American drug laws change the way that coca in consumed in North America. The farmers are ideal targets for terrorists who offer to protect the coca crop and to buy it. Now, the terrorists are convincing the farmers to plant poppy seeds too. . . .

If history is any indication, a further expansion of U.S. law enforcement and military anti-narcotics in Peru will only drive traffickers and growers under the wing of both the Shining Path and FARC, allowing them the resources to become a major threat again in Peru. A vicious cycle requiring more and more U.S. involvement appears very possible.

Terrorists in the United States cannot overthrow our government, but they are far stronger in South America. The drug war in the United States attempts to protect American consumers from the consequences of their own bad choices, but the effect of this effort to protect North American fools is to put fragile South American governments in danger of being destroyed by terrorists.

After September 11, it is time for the destruction of terrorism to be America's foreign policy. No other goal should be allowed to interfere. It is time to stop letting the drug war hinder the war on terrorism.

When will we start hearing such good sense from within the Administration?

I'VE BEEN MEANING TO LINK to the No Watermelons Allowed blog for a while. So now I've done it. Go read it, and be pleased.

SARAH BRADY VIOLATES BACKGROUND-CHECK LAW! No, really!

Gun-control advocate Sarah Brady bought her son a powerful rifle for Christmas in 2000 - and may have skirted Delaware state background-check requirements, the New York Daily News has learned.

Brady reveals in a new memoir that she bought James Brady Jr. a Remington .30-06, complete with scope and safety lock, at a Lewes, Del., gun shop.

"I can't describe how I felt when I picked up that rifle, loaded it into my little car and drove home," she writes. "It seemed so incredibly strange: Sarah Brady, of all people, packing heat." . . .

Delaware Justice Department spokeswoman Lori Sitler said the purchase could be illegal under state law if Brady did not also say who she was buying the gun for and submit his "name, rank and serial number" for a full check.

"You can't purchase a gun for someone else," Sitler said yesterday. "That would be a 'straw purchase.' You've got a problem right there."

Anti-gun control advocates were surprised to hear of Brady's foray into their world.

"We hope that it's innocuous and there's been no laws violated," said James Jay Baker, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. "It's obviously interesting that Sarah would be purchasing firearms of any kind for anybody, given her championing of restrictive guns laws for everyone."

Thanks to reader Andrew Wharton, who sent this amusing, and amazing, link.

KEN LAYNE is selling his first novel, which wasn't published in the United States due to the nefarious efforts of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (or maybe Ted Rall; I'm not sure) online. That means it will be a rare collectible that will surely finance your retirement, your next two trophy spouses, and your grandchildren's college educations at Yale. (Individual results may vary). Anyhow, follow the link for more information. I haven't read the book yet, but since everything he writes is great, logic dictates that this book, which is something he has written, must be great too.

READER CHRISTOPHER CROSS sends this warning for bloggers about Internet addiction. Hey, I can quit whenever I want.

And when are you putting out another album, Chris?

SPRING BREAK here at the InstaPundit household has been no trip to the beach. (Hint: my colonoscopy on Tuesday was nowhere near the worst part of the week). So I didn't get much posted today. But thanks to the distributed-intelligence character of the Blogosphere, important tasks like savaging Nick Kristof's latest dumb column are handled by other nodes anyway. Read Stephen Green's near-Lileks-like dissection of Kristof's latest. You won't regret it.

UPATE: Rand Simberg writes: "BTW, the description of your current medical diagnostic procedures may have been a tad more than some of us wanted/needed to know... :-)"

Just call me the Katie Couric of the blogosphere.

THE GREAT SELLOUT: What a coincidence -- just as "campaign finance reform" passes, and just as Sen. Fritz "cash and carry" Hollings (D - Disney) introduces the most restrictive copy-protection bill ever contemplated, two entertainment figures give $12 million to the Democrats.

Scott Harshbarger, the president of Common Cause, said of the Democrats' record-setting donations, "This is a shocking fire sale."
Indeed. Good thing they're looking out for the little guy. Reader Richard Carr also points out that the Democrats may be getting worried about the weblog phenomenon, as this passage suggests:
Mr. McAuliffe has put together a computerized presentation that highlights the wide gaps with the Republicans in crucial areas, like technology, voter outreach and grass-roots campaigns. He has shown it to scores of wealthy donors. Mr. McAuliffe showed The New York Times the presentation today. It is a five-alarm plea for assistance.

One section deals with the Republicans' savvy use of "free media" — Web site message boards, talk radio shows and online news polls — to shape public opinion. "This message gap," Mr. McAuliffe said, "this is what scares everybody."

Well, Terry, if you're worried about these media here's some advice: stop selling out people's First Amendment rights to Big Media. Got that?

UPDATE: Reader George Byrd sends the following:

Just gleaned this from Farber's IP list:

The Senate is taking comments on the rebadged SSSCA via web form, and not by email.

To read comments and to make comments, go here:

http://judiciary.senate.gov/special/input_form.cfm

I read the entire commentary to date. There is not one comment in support of the SSSCA.

No surprise there. Keep the heat on.

3/21/2002

NORM MINETA offers an engaging statistics lesson that explains modern air security.

GOOGLE UPDATE: Slashdot is reporting that Google has relisted the sites that Scientology wanted taken off. Personally, I'll be happy to make a donation to Google's legal defense fund if it comes to that. Of course, the Scientologists could deploy their ultimate weapon and have John Travolta threaten to make a sequel to Battlefield Earth if Google doesn't relent.

READER MIKE CAKORA offers this alternative campaign-finance suggestion:

Rather than term limits, why not just repeal the 17th amendment? State legislatures can then decide every six years whether an incumbent senator is doing the job that the folks back home need done. An added benefit is that it achieves John McCain’s objective of taking money out of politics.

What would change? Probably not that much unless a state’s legislature changed hands. Here in SC, Thurmond would remain no matter what party was in control, but Hollings would not have great job security. And West Virginia’s Byrd would stay in so he could finish moving every federal agency back to his home. Even Boxer and Feinstein might be guaranteed seats for a long time. But you’d never see a Corzine in senate chambers. It might also increase the likelihood that the less wealthy could serve in the senate.

Moreover, simply because they would not face election, senators would not be able to demand the contributions they now receive without facing federal charges of extortion (and for the contributors, bribery). No need for senate PACs, either.

Yeah. I don't think you'll see the likes of McCain running to place themselves under the supervision of state legislatures, though.

THE WAR LIBERAL MANIFESTO, which I discovered via Tony Adragna.

NOW DAVID WARREN is suggesting that it's "rope-a-dope" with Arafat:

In an exquisite piece of diplomatic choreography, Colin Powell, the U.S. secretary of state, declared the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, under Mr. Arafat's command through the Fatah faction, to be an official "foreign terrorist organization" within hours of the suicide bombing it claimed, at the corner of Agrippas and King George St. in Jerusalem. President Bush paused in El Paso, to express his disappointment with Mr. Arafat's latest failure. And Gen. Zinni let Mr. Arafat personally understand the U.S. was aware the murderer, Mohammed Hashaika, had been released from Palestinian police detention in Ramallah at Mr. Arafat's instruction.

In Israel, Mr. Cheney, whose purchase on English syntax is firm, had been careful to distinguish between the idea of a Palestinian state, and the idea of Mr. Arafat. The one idea no longer necessarily contains the other. The U.S., with pressures building towards Baghdad, can no longer afford to tolerate a leader who, in addition to his established credentials as terrorist and psychopath, is in the habit of telling lies, and breaking promises.

Mr. Cheney also made clear to other Arab leaders, that while the U.S. anticipates the establishment of an independent Palestine, and has now even sponsored a Security Council resolution to that effect, it will not allow the formation of another Islamist rogue state, in the suburbs of Jerusalem. A Palestinian leader who will not dissolve every tie he has with terrorist violence, is one who must be retired.

Read the whole thing. Boy, I sure hope he's right.

SEN. FRITZ "CASH AND CARRY" HOLLINGS (D - DISNEY) ($287,534 from entertainment industry in 2000) has introduced the SSSCA, now renamed the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA), in the hopes that people won't notice.

Initial reports are that it's actually worse than the stalking-horse version they had hearings on earlier. Hollings -- and everyone else who supports this travesty, including cosponsors Ted Stevens (R-Alaska; $85,659 from entertainment industry in 2000), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii; $49,852 from entertainment industry in 2000), John Breaux (D-Louisana; $121,920 from entertainment industry in 2000) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California $216,138 from entertainment industry in 2000) -- should be ashamed of themselves, though one doubts they're capable of such an emotion.

Funny: we just had a "campaign finance reform" bill and now we have an absolutely outrageous example of corporate paybacks to big donors.

I think it's time to bring back the term limits movement.

HMM. MAYBE BUSH IS PLAYING ROPE-A-DOPE with Arafat, after all.

RAMESH PONNURU and, er, Ramesh Ponnuru are disagreeing with me on the social-conservatism thing over at The Corner. Ramesh Ponnuru opens with the tautology that "Republicans would have a larger majority if fewer people were socially liberal." This is true, of course (though the "majority," if it exists, is an awfully thin one, and depends on a lot of libertarian-inclined swing voters). It's also true that a Ted Rall / Michael Moore ticket would win the Presidency if fewer Americans had the sense God gave a horse's patoot. So what?

Ramesh Ponnuru, meanwhile, says that it was Medicare reform that killed the Republican revolution. I'm not so sure about that -- I think it was when the 1994 class started acting (by about late 1995) like plain old members of Congress rather than anti-incumbent revolutionaries. Ponnuru accuses me of confusing my own views with those of the electorate: fair enough -- that's an occupational hazard. But I think the electorate's views are closer to mine than to those that were the subjects of my original posts -- people who think that Alanis Morrissette's emotional problems stem from the sexual revolution, and that today's college women are "whores." I notice that no one has stepped up to defend those claims.

WHY I LOVE KNOXVILLE: Thanks to reader Dan Rector for pointing out this story on the fire engine that Knoxville donated to the NYFD, which was just delivered; they started taking donations on 9/13. I'd seen stories on local TV, but nothing I could link to.

FACILITATING SLEAZE WITH EASE: Read this chilling story on how the DMCA has empowered those thugs from Scientology to censor critics via Google. As far as I'm concerned, this is misuse of the copyright laws, and warrants Congressional action.

UPDATE: Reader Charles Chapman points out that there's a thread on Slashdot about this.

JONAH GOLDBERG says we should work to remember the horror of 9/11, but that the TV networks are papering it over. Yeah, I know I mentioned that already, but at least you can link to this website, which I should have mentioned when I posted on Goldberg's piece the first time around.

THE U.S., ISRAEL, AND IRAQ: Bill Quick has some interesting insights on the gamesmanship involved. It's bad news for Iraq.

BRIAN CARNELL SAYS "I TOLD YOU SO" to CNN regarding the EgyptAir crash.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: Best of the Web has a lengthy post on why Bush's evenhanded policy with regard to Arafat and the Palestinians is wrong.

It is wrong. They were dancing in the streets on 9/11; the Israelis weren't. Enough said.

LIFESTYLE CONSERVATISM: Boy have I gotten a lot of email, pretty much evenly split between "you're so right!" and "you're so wrong!" I don't want to keep this going too long when there are so many other important issues, like steel tariffs, lumber tariffs, and, oh, yeah, textile tariffs to talk about. Oh, and the war. But a few comments:

Lots of people say that Ashcroft has the right to his beliefs, etc. True. But the political reality is that people will respond to him in a particular way. Joycelyn Elder had the right to her beliefs, too (and I don't think they were so dumb) but nobody squawked when she was fired for sending the wrong message. Besides, Ashcroft -- though a genuine political issue -- was Will Wilkinson's bete noire, not mine. I was responding to pieces on all college women being whores, and Alanis Morrissette as an unfortunate casualty of the sexual revolution.

I'm not threatened by school vouchers, religious schools, home-schooling, or strong beliefs in monogamy: hell, my own sex life could pass an audit by a committee of Mormon bishops. But for the same reason those voluntary items don't bother me, I'm deeply opposed to government mandates in the same area -- and you don't have to stray into Gary North territory to find traditional-values social conservatives advocating that sort of thing. And that turns a lot of people off (even before you start calling women "whores"), which is bad politics.

A related issue is that -- just as Democrats' concerns about "privacy in the bedroom" evaporate when the question is whether you can have a gun in your bedroom instead of a dildo or a moose, so do social-conservative Republicans' concerns about Big Government evaporate, for the most part, when the issue of morals regulation comes up. Just look at the proposal for a federal cloning ban, which sits rather uneasily with notions of federalism and enumerated powers. That bothers me.

I'm also concerned with those who see national greatness as inhering in bossing people around, and on this I think I'll quote Mike Potemra from The Corner, quoting Richard Nixon:

Here's my personal favorite: "Let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn it, they root [gays] out, they don't let 'em hang around at all. You know what I mean? I don't know what they do with them. Dope? Do you think the Russians allow dope? Hell no. Not if they can catch it, they send them up. You see, homosexuality, dope, uh, immorality in general: These are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing it. They're trying to destroy us." You know what I love most about this? The idea that the Soviet Union, less than two decades before its complete destruction, is a "strong" society because it tyrannizes over its own citizens. Well, we didn't take Nixon's advice and become more like the Communists. And guess which country is still standing.
You want to stand with Nixon, Brezhnev, and Stalin, you go right ahead. Like Potemra, I'm siding with American values!

Megan McArdle points to this story that purports to explain why N.O.W. gave Clinton a pass on the whole Lewinsky affair. Hint: federal money is involved.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: Today's Wall Street Journal has an editorial savaging Bush over the steel tariffs decision.

SPINSANITY IS SAVAGING Terry McAuliffe for race-baiting. Here's the link to their "Salon Premium" item, but it'll be on the SpinSanity website for free on Friday. Excerpt:

In remarks Friday to the National Association of Hispanic Publications, Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe took the low road yet again, implying that Republican primary voters are hostile to Hispanics and suggesting that the GOP is racially biased. Even for statements by a professional partisan, they were wildly unfair. . . .
Well, as other people have been noticing, the Democrats are desperate for issues. That means they're likely to fall back on the old-reliable approach of social-security fearmongering and trying to run against Bull Connor. I think that those dogs won't hunt this time around, but I could be wrong.

WILL WILKINSON responds to Rand Simberg (see below) on the damage done to Republicans by lifestyle-conservative types. Wilkinson doesn't exactly fault Simberg's analysis, but concludes that not many people will make his calculus and notes:

What people are interested in is a sense of identity. If a party grates against our sense of the kind of person we'd like to be, then we don't want anything to do with it.

So, if the the alternative to being an uptight, sanctimonious, moralistic asshole is to be a Democrat, then we'll want to be Democrats -- even if we do end up getting shafted by Taxman. And I think that's the way a whole lot of folks in my demo (BoBo Gen-X) see it. To large swaths of the public mind, choosing to put a gargoyle like John Ashcroft in charge of norm enforcement is like choosing to put Michael Moore in charge of the Fed.

I think that this is absolutely right. Now, I've certainly defended Ashcroft, and I don't think he's a "gargoyle," but he's a red flag to a lot of people who really agree with Republicans most of the time, because of the lifestyle stuff. (I know because I get lots of email from Silicon Valley types saying that whenever I defend Ashcroft). Rumor in Tennessee (which is almost certainly wrong) is that Bush realizes this and that Fred Thompson will replace Ashcroft as A.G. after the elections. But when the anti-sex crowd trots out its usual line, they alienate most voters. Sorry to all of you who emailed me citing scripture explaining why they're right -- for all I know you're right on the scriptures (well, actually you're not, but that's another point for another post) but regardless it doesn't matter politically.

Nor is it a response to say, as some do, that, well, the Libertarians have their idiots. It's true, they do: but Libertarians don't care about putting together a majority that can govern the country. Republicans do. And we're a long way from seeing someone at the opposite-but-equivalent point on the Republican Party spectrum from Ashcroft (an end-the-drug-war type like Dave Kopel, say) being named Attorney General. Though, in my no doubt biased opinion, the country would be a hell of a lot better off with Kopel, or -- also anti-drug-war -- former prosecutor Randy Barnett as Attorney General. And the Republican Party probably would be better off, too.

Rand's argument that the lifestyle-conservative positions won't ever win, so they don't matter, is beside the point. They're espoused by important enough people to scare voters, which is why they don't win.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

I've been kicking around an idea for the past couple years that fits in with your discussion about lifestyle conservatives and their appeal (or complete lack thereof) with voters.

Here's the thesis. Everything comes down to the movie 'Footloose'. For a large majority of people, 'the' political question is, "How would the sanctimonious preacher from the movie Footloose feel about this subject?" They answer the question, and then take the opposite position.

This mindset is absolutely ingrained in a lot of people my age (a couple years younger than gen-x). For every preachy moral conservative I've met in real life, I've seen twenty on TV. For each Baptist I know in real life, I've seen ten in movies. To me, they are all the preacher from Footloose.

Jeff Wimble

PS Please run for the Senate.

The Senate thing ain't gonna happen, Jeff. Though I might have run as a pro-gun, pro-rock'n'roll Democrat if Tipper had entered the race. That would have been fun. On the other topic, I never saw Footloose, but I take your point, and it's a real issue, though the slam on Baptists, etc., in movies and TV is rather biased. Baptists, after all, have a strong record in support of intellectual freedom, though you often wouldn't know it from their more prominent spokesmen. And Ashcroft, though not a Baptist, does arouse the kind of fears that you describe, and doesn't seem concerned about it.

And I don't mean the above as a slam on Ashcroft. I have some serious problems with his priorities -- they're cracking down on cannabis clubs for sick people when we're at war with terrorists? -- but I've defended him before. He got a lot of flak for the Lady-Justice-Draping incident, but as InstaPundit Shadow Attorney General Dave Kopel points out, Ashcroft was acting in the grand tradition of leftie feminists. (Of course, I don't like their views on sex, either). But I think that Ashcroft is an honorable guy. I just don't like his priorities. And I find the occasional "the sexual revolution was bad for women because it broke a collusive sex-cartel that enabled them to extract monopoly rents from men" argument from the "traditional values" right unpersuasive, and I'm not surprised that most Americans find it somewhere between risible and threatening. God knows, I do.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AT THE PENTAGON? Pentagon police seized a properly accredited Fox News cameraman and confiscated his tape. So while other people are debunking the absurd conspiracy theories surrounding the Pentagon attack, the Pentagon police are acting as if they have something to hide.

As we used to say in Junior High: "Smooth move, Ex-Lax."

MARY MCGRORY IS NERVOUS at the gun-control movement's ongoing collapse. If only those hicks from the NRA would shut up! Gun control is killing Democrats! And now they've got the sisters at Mt. Holyoke interested in guns! Oh my!

MICHAEL MOORE IS A GASBAG, and James Lileks deflates him brilliantly. This is as good as Lileks' Olive Garden piece. I was going to break out a quote, but the whole thing is so damned good that I just can't choose. Go read it.

3/20/2002

THANKS TO ALL THE FOLKS who hit the tip jar today! I don't know what got into you. But thanks.

CHARLES OLIVER has this wonderful explanation of how money disappeared in the later Star Trek shows:

I figure that any civilization that can perfect faster-than-light travel, transporters that can move people tens of thousands of miles while only occasionally splitting them into good and evil twins and holodecks so realistic that the fake guns can kill people and the fake Moriarty can take over the ship can find a way to make Marxism work.
That's pretty much what it would take.

OVER AT FOXNEWS, Andrea Harris disses Harry Browne, the Saudis, the INS, and more. Great blogging.

RAND SIMBERG SAYS that people (well, libertarian-leaning people, anyway) should vote Republican in spite of those who have what I've charitably called "traditional" values regarding sex. He makes a good argument, but every "College coeds are whores" statement nonetheless costs a lot of votes.

JONAH GOLDBERG has a superb column on why the networks shouldn't be soft-pedaling the horror of September 11:

The images of people leaping to their deaths from the World Trade Center were carried around the world for weeks. Many have cited and credited these images with rallying world opinion to our cause. When visiting the United States, Hamid Karzai, the interim president of Afghanistan, singled out those images as the essence of the evil we face. By the evening of Sept. 11, the only place Americans could see these morally compelling images was foreign television. It is a rare thing in the history of humanity that the galvanizing images for a nation's war are more likely to be seen by the enemy than its own citizens. . . .

When Alec Baldwin recently declared that the Florida recount "has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do" and "I believe that what happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City," he received a thorough round of applause. That's fine. If you believe that, clap away. . . .

But, it goes without saying that if the same audience had just watched 15 minutes of honest footage from Sept. 11, at least a few of the morally thoughtful kids would think twice about nodding like jamboree monkeys in a toy-store window.

Look: There are professors and intellectuals, well-meaning journalists, and ill-intentioned activists eager to portray the United States as a villain. They've stayed out of the public eye for much of the last six months, largely because nobody would tolerate their moral illiteracy. But these people have been doing their work: The Massachusetts professor who, in the wake of Sept. 11 said the American flag "is a symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and oppression;" The Rutgers professor who declared "[We] should be aware that the ultimate cause [of Sept. 11] is the fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades"; the University of New Mexico professor who joked "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote"; the noisome buffoon Michael Moore who lamented that the WTC victims weren't Bush voters.

We can have debates in this country. We can have arguments. I do not wish to silence these people. But it would be nice if we could remind average Americans from time to time how this got started.

Read the whole thing.

WHAT HATH STANLEY WROUGHT: Stanley Kurtz called for a blog tying together campus conservative/libertarian blogs and lo, Campus Nonsense was born. And it looks to be hoppin'!

HOW THE ARAB WORLD IS DOING: Lousy. Most people would learn from that sort of experience.

HERE'S another salvo about women and the sexual revolution, from the traditional values crowd, forwarded by reader Chris Puzak. Jeez.

This kind of stuff, by the way, is the reason why a lot of Democrats who are basically in agreement with the Republican party are still afraid to vote for Republicans.

UPDATE: This seems to be a family thing. (You'll have to read the article I link to above, or at least the title, to get this). A streetcorner preacher seized my sister when she was in college and -- on the strength of her shorts and cutoff t-shirt -- called her a slut. She decked him. I, of course, eschew such violence, but my reaction is similar.

SORRY, but in the middle of the Catholic Church's meltdown over sex scandals covered up by the highest levels, this assault on the sexual revolution fails to move me. To read this guy, you'd think that nobody ever lied about love to get sex before 1973. It's stuff like this that makes it impossible to take the traditional-values crowd seriously.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF'S ANTIGUN POSTURING DISMEMBERED -- in the Boston Globe, no less!

DAMN! THE SECRET PLAN IS OUT! Somebody at Al-Ahram must read InstaPundit!

The implications of the Turkish-Israeli-U.S. axis are alarming for the Arabs. Turkey is the wild card that can effectively upset the regional odds. Let us look at the agreements, security arrangements and plans that have so far been forged by the United States, Turkey and Israel. The essence of the security cooperation agreement between the United States and Israel, and the earlier military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Israel, reflect changes in the U.S. strategy in the Middle East... Israel, Turkey and the United States are holding periodic naval drills in the Mediterranean, the latest of which was a few days ago, following Ecevit's visit to Washington. Arab countries, while monitoring such actions closely, are making little secret of their displeasure.
Chortle. The article says that the U.S., Turkey & Israel have as their ultimate goal the dismembering of Iraq and Iran.

GUN-RIGHTS ADVOCATES say that the new group Americans for Gun Safety pretends to be moderate on gun issues, but is really just the same old gradual-prohibitionist approach wrapped in friendlier slogans.

This article by Nicholas Confessore in The American Prospect ironically supports that view even while demonstrating that AGS has created devastating splits within the gun-control movement. There's some interesting information on shady dealings, with suggestions of consulting contracts leading to gun control op-eds supporting AGS's positions. I'm not sure whether I believe that or not, but it's interesting, and the whole article illustrates just how much "public interest" activism is really about furthering the interests of the activist groups in question, with one-upsmanship among groups ostensibly on the same side being one of the major drivers. The non-profit sector is every bit as corrupt as the for-profit sector -- quite possibly moreso, given the lack of market discipline -- it's just that the corruption comes in different forms.

BILL BENNETT is all over Bush for going wobbly on Palestinian terrorism. That's been my take, too, but several readers have written me to suggest that Bush may be using the same "rope-a-dope" strategy that he's used so successfully in domestic politics, and there's an analysis on Debka entitled "Cheney Pushes Arafat and Saddam into Same Corner" that suggests more or less the same thing.

Gee, I sure hope this is true, but it's going to take more than that to convince me.

WALTER SHAPIRO looks at the Immigration and Naturalization Service and concludes that many of its problems come from the fact that you can't fire anyone. His conclusion:

Part of the problem is that, for all the talk of accountability, few ranking INS officials have their jobs on the line. True, Ziglar last week announced the punitive transfers of four senior managers. But such shakeups are acutely limited by the rigors of civil-service rules. Currently, counting Ziglar, there are exactly three political appointees in the entire INS. Just three officials whose primary loyalty is to the president who appointed them and who ultimately will be judged on their record. More than anything, the INS needs a massive influx of talented senior managers (yes, politically accountable appointees) whose careers depend on how quickly they bring about desperately needed reforms.

It is telling that the INS' antiquated headquarters building is named after Chester Arthur, the 19th-century president who gave the government civil-service reform. It is decades of that civil-service mentality that has brought the INS to where it is today.

You never would have heard such things from a liberal Democratic columnist a few years back.

READER MARK WHITE offers an excellent solution on gerrymandering:

A solution to gerrymandering would mandate that, as far as practicable, each district will have equal numbers of registered voters in the two largest parties in the district.

That ought to drive the incumbents crazy!

Chortle. Which, of course, is why it'll never happen -- except perhaps by court order.

BRINK LINDSEY IS savaging the Administration for what it's about to do on softwood lumber. (Hint: my old law firm is behind this one, too.) Lindsey's right, of course. But it got me thinking about something else.

The EU has promised to retaliate on steel against industries that primarily benefit contested states in the 2002 election, a maneuver that has produced much commentary within the blogosphere. But the EU promised to do this if it didn't get compensation from the U.S. "Compensation" here means cutting U.S. tariffs on other goods in an offsetting amount, something that the President has authority to do to prevent a trade war. So say Bush now sends the Europeans away happy by doing just that -- cutting tariffs on industries predominantly headquartered in states that he wants to impact. California, maybe? Bush has now shored up his political position in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, etc. -- and hurt the Democrats, while leaving the Euros reasonably happy, or at least not too unhappy.

This, of course, is why it's a bad idea to give the government discretion over foreign trade matters. It's irresistible to play domestic politics with them.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN is up. You might want to read Bruce Sterling's cover story in Wired on U.S. space dominance along with it, but you'll have to get the magazine -- Sterling's excellent story doesn't go online until April 9.

AL QAEDA TROOPS aren't as good as an earlier post of mine (citing a New York Times story) indicated, according to Sgt. Stryker's buddy Gunner20. He makes a persuasive case, though I don't think it undercuts my bottom-line proposition that it's good to kill as many Al Qaeda as possible.

STEVEN DEN BESTE has some observations on the difficulty of peacemaking:

I think peace would be a great idea. But it's not something you get by seeking it directly.

I want a dark flashlight, please. I want a lamp I can put in a room and turn on and it will make the room dark. (I need it for my darkroom, har har har.) Where can I buy that, please? Sorry, not for sale, not even physically possible. To make a room dark, you must find and get rid of all sources of light. But as long as there are any sources of light in the room, it won't be dark.

I would like to buy some peace, please. Where can I buy that? Sorry, to get peace, you have to stop all conflicts, and that means you have to find and remove all the reasons why those involved were willing to fight.

Yes. Or remove the fighters directly. The "peace process" is a fundamentally ill-conceived approach.

TONY ADRAGNA picks up the priestly sex scandal story. Also check out Michael Kelly on the same subject.

REMEMBER THE "DIGITAL DIVIDE?" It's gone. If it ever really existed.

And the reason isn't some government program, but the market, which has made computers as cheap as TVs and VCRs. InstaPundit is largely produced on a two-year-old E-Machine that cost $400 new. (It's soon to be replaced). Fancy-schmancy Dell machines are $700 new, and you can get a perfectly good used computer for $200.

But even the macro-scale digital divide, accused of lowering wages for non-computer-experts, is bogus, as Robert Samuelson notes above. What's more, we should have known that all along -- and people who paid attention did know that all along. But oh, that wonderful alliteration. . . . Samuelson's conclusion:

The "digital divide" suggested a simple solution (computers) for a complex problem (poverty). With more computer access, the poor could escape their lot. But computers never were the source of anyone's poverty and, as for escaping, what people do for themselves matters more than what technology can do for them.
Well said.

JOSH MARSHALL points out the underreported role of labor unions in the underreported Global Crossing scandal.

THE TWO FACES OF LEON KASS: Virginia Postrel rightly savages Kass for trying to wriggle away from his extremist positions with the unpersuasive claim that he was simply playing the intellectual provocateur. Her word: "Sleazy."

PETE DUPONT characterizes the American/European divide thusly:

The divide is easily identified: Who would you rather have run your nation, white-collar elites or blue-collar voters? The faculty of Yale or the firemen you saw on CBS's "9/11" special last week?

Most European societies would pick the Yale faculty, for they believe in the wisdom and judgment of white-collar intellectuals, and for more than a century they have built their governments around the elitist, socialist model Germany introduced in the 1890s.

Most Americans would pick the firemen, for we are wary of the Ph.D./good-government elites, and since 1776 we have placed our faith in the judgment of voters.

Indeed. Though I believe that the United States, fearful of communist influence over labor unions, etc., after World War Two, encouraged the anti-democratic, elitist tendencies in Europe. Which is the richest irony of all: the elitist anti-American Eurocrats owe their positions, in no small part, to the CIA's manipulation of European politics.

ZIMBABWE GENOCIDE WATCH: LeAnn at Spinsters is sounding the alarm. The proper response to a feared genocide, of course, is to arm the population of potential victims. Interestingly, even computer genocide models illustrate that lesser interventions don't work very well.

THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP: Edward Boyd reviews the "living wage" movement and offers a cause of his own -- the campaign for a living profits ordinance. But of course!

3/19/2002

MARY ROBINSON UPDATE: Reader Brian Hoffman writes to note just what a stinging indictment Lantos' paper is -- not just of Mary Robinson, but of the entire Human Rights NGO establishment:

Hi Glenn--

I'm sure you've seen the Lantos link at Matt Welch's site. Here's one of the best parts:

What is perhaps most disturbing about the NGO community's actions is that many of America's top human rights leaders--Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch, Michael Posner of the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Gay MacDougal of the International Human Rights Law Group--participated. Although most of them denounced the NGO document that was adopted, it was surprising how reluctant they were to attack the anti-Semitic atmospehere and the clear OIC effort to derail the conference.

(page 46; page 16 of the PDF)

Here's Brody's logrolling comment on Robinson's departure yesterday:

"Reed Brody, advocacy director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, said Robinson was paying the price for willingness to stand up to Washington, Moscow and Beijing."

Note the nice rhetorical trick: "Washington" is like "Moscow and Beijing."

Brody's moral cowardice speaks for itself. Robinson--well, if you read Lantos, it's perfectly obvious that her view is the same as Ahmed Maher's, it's just that she's SO cowardly that she won't come right out and say it publicly.

I'm also waiting for evidence that Robinson saved anyone, anywhere.

And so are we all, Brian. I'm deeply disappointed to see Mike Posner in such company -- he was my International Human Rights Law professor when I was at Yale and I did some pro bono work with him. But all the NGO human rights crowd have done themselves no credit at all by their behavior here, which has been either spineless, corrupt, or clueless -- or shades of all three.

You're not a good guy just because you call yourself one.

UPDATE: I think it's time to give the UN and Euro crowd what they say they want -- deep U.S. involvement in the U.N. and other multilateral enterprises. Getting rid of Mary Robinson is the beginning of this process. We've let too much crap fester by ignoring it on the plausible theory that it didn't matter. Let's show these folks the respect of taking them seriously -- but let's hold them to the responsibility that entails. U.S. diplomacy needs to look more like Metternich and Bismarck than Albright and Robinson.

THE FOXNEWS FOLKS decided to run my column early this week, so it's up now. They changed the title, though: My original was "Dukakis was Right!"

MICKEY KAUS (who seems to be posting a lot more often) agrees with Will Vehrs that gerrymandering should get as much attention as campaign-finance reform.

Well, it should. After all, gerrymandering is about protecting incumbents. And so is campaign finance reform!

"SELLING A LIE:" Despite all the evidence that Michael Bellesiles' Arming America is somewhere between unbelievably sloppy and outright fraudulent, the Violence Policy Center continues to cite his work:

Historian Michael Bellesiles, for example, examined more than a thousand probate records from northern New England and Pennsylvania filed from 1765 to 1790. He found that only 14 percent of household inventories included firearms–and more than half of these were inoperable.22 Colonial settlers got meat mostly from domesticated animals like cows and pigs. When they wanted wild game, they bought it from native Americans or professional hunters, most of whom trapped their prey.23 Prior to 1850, at most only a tenth of the nation's population individually owned guns of any kind.24
The endnotes add a scholarly patina, but they are all to Bellesiles.

One would think that the Violence Policy Center, which is still trying to deal with the self-imposed blow to its credibility created by its making charges last October against Barrett Rifles, without much evidence, of supporting Osama bin Laden, would be more careful.

JUAN GATO takes down the Kristof column today. It's like, er, shooting fish in a barrel.

How much does The Times pay Kristof to sit in Yemen writing about what morons Americans who send him email are? They should hire Juan instead. He can sit, er, wherever he is, writing about what morons other Americans are -- and he can do it much better than Kristof. And unlike Kristof, Gato doesn't get upset by negative email. Here's what he says in another post:

I'll stand by the basic point and just let you think I'm on to something or a stupid, racist jackass, either way my life's the same and my mom still says I'm cool.
I think that truth-in-advertising might require Kristof to adopt Gato's site-motto, though, unless his columns improve in a hurry.

HERE'S ANOTHER PIECE ON COLLEGE GUN CLUBS, which appear to be a growing phenomenon.

BELLESILES UPDATE: I just ran across this piece from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer comparing historial Michael Bellesiles' misconduct with that of Doris Kearns Goodwin and Joseph Ellis. The author says Bellesiles' is worse.

AIRPORT SECURITY UPDATE: A reader who prefers to remain anonymous writes;

I just got back from an airport security conference. The new security procedures are not a sham, but I am getting the feeling we are mounting a huge, huge effort to prevent a retrospective one-of-a-kind surprise, plus a steady trickle of deadly but much smaller attacks that may or may not play out over the next decade. It's a 'No regrets' policy, and we can afford it, but?

But, you can begin to see what it is like to live in a society that must continually guard itself against murderous thugs, against whom no ordinary law is effective. That has already happened to us, to a large degree, in dealing with garden-variety domestic violence. Now, we get the foreign kind.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is going ahead with current technology for the Explosive Detection Systems (EDSs) for 100-percent screening of checked bags by December, per Congress's order. The current EDSs yields a 30-percent false positive error rate, so the big question right now is how and where to do the further screening. Right now, the most likely method is by hand search. They expect to decide these questions by April. TSA thinks better software will improve the accuracy of these current-technology EDSs next year. But baggage screening will be a dynamic process, with new hardware and software added as it becomes available.

TSA is still aiming for maximum 10-minute wait lines, eventually. And they will get there, eventually. But Stephen McHale, the Deputy Undersecretary at TSA, said, candidly, "people are just now becoming aware of the real impact this is going to have on the economy." And Congress is getting "sticker shock" at the price tag for Federal screening of passengers and baggage.

Yeah, and the cost of the equipment and screeners is going to be dwarfed by the external cost on the traveling public in terms of lost time, lost opportunities, etc. And I'm pretty skeptical about just how effective such widespread, false-alarm-prone defenses can be. If you've got a 30% false-positive rate, it's not possible to take any alarm seriously or you wind up stripsearching 30% of flyers. Even if people will stand for that, which I don't, the searches will be ineffective since searchers will know that they're almost always pointless. And the terrorist only has to fool a tiny piece of the system for a short period of time. And as you add to the hassles, people will choose to stay home.

Can you have effective security that's also largely painless? Maybe. But so far I think that the goal has been to make security as obtrusive as possible so that people will feel that something is being done. It's time to change that philosophy.

READER DENNIS O'REILLY sends this link to an ABC News story on Amnesty International and Nigerian sharia stonings:

"We are lobbying various authorities in Nigeria within our campaign against the death penalty," said George Ngwa, a spokesman for the London-based Amnesty International. "We are not for or against sharia law, but we are campaigning for a process based on fair trial where a suspect is allowed basic rights such as access to a lawyer and the ability to speak out in his or her own defense."
O' Reilly notes: "Interesting, Amnesty Int'l hasn't decided whether sharia law is a good thing or a bad thing. But they get bent out of shape if the US doesn't let a prisoner wrap a towel around his head." This seems about right. The double-standard that groups like Amnesty apply can be translated as "you can only expect so much from a bunch of wogs." It's racist, as well as being unfair to the United States.

JOHN HILER has taken MicroContent News on its own, and the first issue is about mass-media reporting on weblogs, which he says has been pretty disappointing. Hiler says that personal publishing is where personal computing was in the mid-1970s. I'm not sure about that, but he's got some very interesting takes on the issue.

HOWARD MORTMAN savages Geraldo Rivera for some stupid remarks, but misses the most offensive part -- Geraldo's semi-explicit comparison of Israel and Sharon with the Nazis and Hitler. Let's be clear here: it's not the Israelis who are trying to wipe out the Palestinians as a people, but the other way around. Nor were the Jews of 1938 setting off bombs in crowded German restaurants. The Nazis hated the Jews for what they were, not for what they did. The same is true of the Palestinians, who are making Geraldo's fatuousness still more obvious by snapping up copies of Mein Kampf in record quantities.

UPDATE: Read this piece by Orson Scott Card on Geraldo and moral equivalence, too. Excerpt:

The truth is that most of the killings in Israel and Palestine during the intifada have been in confrontations instigated by the Palestinians. Now, it is their right – it is the right of all people – to revolt against a hated government. But the moment you begin your revolt, you lose civilian status. Whether you wear uniforms or not, when you attack the soldiers of the hated oppressor, you are soldiers, too. You may have a right to attack them, but they also have a right to shoot back. And when, instead of attacking the forces that maintain the hated authority of the enemy, you start to attack innocent civilians, you move beyond soldier status. You are all the way over the line to "terrorist."
Yep.

WILL VEHRS' POPULAR two-minute drill feature is especially good today. Check it out.

ANNE APPLEBAUM says that 9/11 may have killed the European Left:

Just as the growing gap between American and Soviet military technology once scared Mikhail Gorbachev into launching glasnost, so too does the war in Afghanistan seem to have scared Europeans. The United States now seems light-years ahead of everyone else—and everyone else, even if they aren't in conflict with the United States, is worried about it. Suddenly, Europe wants to emulate America's perceived economic success—which means, among other things, privatizing, liberalizing, and cutting taxes.

Finally, for better or for worse, Sept. 11 had another kind of impact as well. Along with cutting taxes, a number of Europe's conservative politicians favor greater controls on immigration than have been in place in recent years. This is certainly true of the Danes and the Italians, as well as of the Dutch politician Fortuyn, who was widely condemned for saying that the number of Muslims living in Holland was too high. While his wording was unfortunate, it is true that the number of Muslims living in Holland is indeed very large—5 percent, according to the Economist—given that Holland is a small and relatively homogenous country, with no tradition of mass immigration. In the wake of Sept. 11, the large numbers of illegal immigrants, not only in Holland but in Italy, France, and Germany, have suddenly seemed a less benign presence, and it has suddenly seemed more acceptable to say so. The fact that a number of the hijackers had lived for many years in Europe, collecting European welfare benefits, was not lost on anybody.

I would add that the biggest evidence of a European immigration problem is that European politicians have been afraid to take some actions for fear of rioting by noncitizen immigrants. When your foreign and domestic policy are hostage to people who aren't your voters, you've got a problem.

Of course, the problem isn't so much immigration, but assimilation, which the Euro-elites have scrupulously avoided, concealing their contempt for the immigrants behind a figleaf of multiculturalism. 9/11 didn't help that, either, I imagine.

CHARLES JOHNSON has an interesting take on CNN's increasingly blatant anti-Israel bias:

Many people have commented on CNN’s very blatant anti-Israel bias, but as I was Googling around for the previous entry I made a discovery that may explain it: guess who’s the largest shareholder in CNN’s parent company, AOL? None other than our old Saudi Arabian pal, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Oh, surely it couldn't be that simple. Could it?

MICHAEL MOORE -- FRIEND OF THE WORKING MAN, unless the working man wants to knock off and go home before Moore's done making money. Reader Chris Adams sends this gem:

Speaking of hits, "Stupid" is climbing The New York Times best-seller list. When Moore champions the overworked and overlooked American, you have to cheer.

But don't expect George Waller, a custodian at San Diego's Marston Middle School, to join in the applause. On March 8, Moore visited Marston for a talk that was scheduled to end at 11 p.m. At 11:15, Waller asked Moore to stop signing books, so Waller could clean the auditorium.

Moore refused.

"He didn't care that I had to work the next day," Waller said. "He didn't care that I had already put in a full day. I think he just wanted to sell books. He was all about the money."

Why is this so unsurprising?

UPDATE: Read this interview, too in which Moore endorses chain restaurants over local ones, because small business owners vote Republican: "Fuck all these small businesses - fuck 'em all! Bring in the chains. The small businesspeople are the rednecks that run the town and suppress the people. Fuck 'em all. That's how I feel." And it's all about how he feels, isn't it?

HERE'S AN ARTICLE ABOUT BLOGGING IN AMERICA from the French newspaper Liberation. My French is just about up to reading newspaper stories where I already know the storyline, but I liked it.

OSCAR FEVER is amusingly lampooned by Ken Layne.

NICK KRISTOF is the classic schlock foreign correspondent -- one who goes abroad so that he can write about America with a certain sneer that is available no other way. He also appears to have a problem with email.

Note to Gail Collins: Why are you paying this guy to go to Yemen and write about his email from the United States? Again?

3/18/2002

CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: Mickey Kaus is agreeing with Laura Ingraham.

WHY THEY HATE US: Explained, by way of The Simpsons, by Juan Gato. Maybe this means we should be meaner and more selfish in the future.

THINKERS VS. FEELERS: I just ran across this item by Jay Zilber and I can't decide whether it makes me pessimistic or optimistic about the war, and life in general.

JACK O'TOOLE doesn't think bloggers will get rich, but he does have some suggestions for an economic model that might work.

I MAY POST A FEW MORE TONIGHT (or I may not) but don't expect much from me before tomorrow afternoon. Have a nice morning!

MARK STEYN explains why Tom Ridge isn't earning his pay:

Instead, a strange mantra arose that the events of Sept. 11 had somehow ushered in a new respect for "big government"--not just from the usual liberal flacks, but even from Dick Cheney. What worked that day was small government, municipal government--the heroic fire and police departments of the City of New York. What flopped spectacularly was big government, federal government, all the fancypants acronyms--CIA, INS, FAA and FBI (whose pre-9/11 investigations of Saudi links to terrorism were shut down apparently). But, for some reason, the administration, congressional Democrats and the pundits reached an unspoken agreement to wipe the slate clean, and allow every federal deadbeat and time-server to start afresh. . . .

We now know that's not the case--that "big government" is carrying on just as before. How much faith should Americans have that the INS can spot living, potential terrorists when they can't even spot world-famous dead terrorists? Well, don't worry, says breezy INS spokesman Russ Bergeron: It's all perfectly routine, the terrorists had received verbal notification a few months back, most likely when they were still alive, but the paperwork got tied up at the processing center in London, Ky.

The visas were actually issued by an INS clerk on Oct. 1, 2001--three weeks after the attacks, when Mohamed Atta's face was being flashed up on TV screens every hour of the day, and Dekkers' flight school was getting a lot of publicity. But, even if Atta's name and Dekkers' school failed to ring any bells with this INS clerk, you'd sort of hope that, in a more general sense, they'd be keeping an eye on flight-training applications by young men from the Middle East.

You might hope that, but you'd be a fool to expect it.

Okay, this isn't really Tom Ridge's fault. But the whole "homeland security" thing is basically a sham, like the airport security and the color-coded threat warnings. And it's pretty obviously a sham.

SERGEANT STRYKER explains how the Bush Administration is conducting its sales campaign on behalf of war with Iraq.

THE NEW YORK TIMES features a profile of Leon Kass by Nicholas Wade under its "Scientist at Work" heading. But Kass hasn't worked as a scientist in a long, long time, and the article says that now he "has taught philosophy and ethics at the University of Chicago since 1976." That doesn't sound like a working scientist to me.

Two points: First, Kass now seems to be backing away from some of his earlier views. They were merely to get the debate going, he says. Second, he seems to rely an awful lot on fiction. Earlier I noted his reliance on Nathaniel Hawthorne; this story winds up with the myth of Prometheus, the meaning of which he mangles. Just remember -- Prometheus was the good guy in his story; it was the nasty Greek gods, who feared inroads on their unchallenged power, who were unhappy with Prometheus.

MORE ON MEDIA MISCONDUCT from the Dreaded Purple Master. Hmm. Why isn't this sort of fakery as bad as plagiarism?

CORSAIR ASKS THE QUESTION that I've been wondering about:

The South Koreans like it when small groups of North Koreans show up on their borders because they like to look like the good samaritan and take them all in. What happens when 300,000 show up looking for food, housing and a job. Can't give them to Japan or Taiwan. They are all brother and sister Koreans who have to live and work together. North Korea is not only an economic basket case, however it is also an infrastructure basket case. The moment the North Koreans get a chance to leave their dilapidated trailer to go live in a the McMansions of the South they will jump at the chance. So even if the North government falls (or gets pushed) the people are not going to want to stay there. What a mess for all involved.
Add to this the possible delegitimizing of the Kim Dae Jung government when it becomes unavoidably obvious just how utterly horrific things in North Korea have been during this period of "constructive engagement," and you've got a real recipe for trouble.

We'll be there to help out of course. We always are. And somebody'll bitch about that, too.

JAY MANIFOLD files some excellent reports (just keep scrolling up from this item) from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Huge, incredibly valuable killer asteroids chock-full of platinum, and many other interesting topics abound. It's good, firsthand science reportage.

CHARLES AUSTIN is making a project out of dissecting Richard Cohen. Here's the latest installment.

MORE ON PRIESTS, and probably the last I'll post on this topic, whose interest to me is exceeded by the linear inches of posting I've done today. Reader Barry Kaplovitz offers this observation:

I'm here in Boston, and though I don't really have much to say about the Catholic Church's crisis/scandal, I would like to make a small contribution as you track/ reason your way through this on your weblog:

Don't you think that there might actually be THREE distinctly different sex scandals emerging that the CC will have to deal with?

1) A Priest/Pedophile Scandal--priests who have made overtures, abused, molested, and whatever else with pre-teen (though mostly male) children of either sex;

2) A Homosexual Priest Predation Scandal--gay priests who have sexually seduced, coerced, and/or outright preyed on TEENAGE boys--both under(13-16) and above (16-19) the age of consent--into having sex with them;

3) A Consensual Homosexual Sex Scandal In The Church: Gay priests having consensual sex with whomever--each other, seminary students, and ("of age) consenting teens and adults who, for whaever reasons, come within their orbit.

And each one of these distinctly different sex scandals within the Catholic Church has its own set of legal and "cultural" issues--for both the CC's hierarchy and clergy, and for the laity.

This is an excellent point, and is what I was groping at. The moral outrage associated with case (1) is being indiscriminately applied to cases (2) and (3), which are (especially (3)) very different.

FRITZ SCHRANCK has some interesting observations about the Red Cross's troubles, leading up to a truly shocking denouement.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON says unflattering things about Joe Sobran.

NEWSFLASH: Eve Kayden announces that she's not running for the Senate from Tennessee either. Dang. She would have been a lot more fun than Tipper.

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on why biotech is popular with Indian farmers, from Suman Palit.

MARY ROBINSON IS stepping down as the U.N. Human Rights chief:

Robinson recently indicated privately she was willing to remain U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights for three more years, diplomats said. They said she had support from Western Europe and many Arab and developing countries.

Human rights campaigners said the announcement at Monday's meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission showed that the United States had prevailed against supporters of the former Irish president.

``She has paid a price for her willingness to confront publicly big governments like the United States and Russia when they violate human rights,'' said Reed Brody of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

That's putting it rather charitably. The truth is that she's paid for her anti-American reflexes, and for her inability to distinguish real human rights problems from opportunistic twaddle, as witness the Durban conference which was her chief project before 9/11. And for her unsophisticated political tone-deafness, as evidenced in this statement:
``The buildings that were destroyed on Sept. 11 can be replaced,'' she said. ``But if the pillars of the international system are damaged or demolished, they will not be so easy to restore.''
Yeah, Mary. It's all about the freakin' buildings.

I'm glad to see that the Bush Administration is showing some backbone here, too. Those who take anti-American stances should realize that there's a price to pay. That's diplomacy, after all. I suspect that some of the UN and NGO crowd are too simplistic to realize that. Yet.

I THINK THAT GRAY DAVIS MAY NOT BE SO TOUGH. Here's a quote from an interview Davis did with the San Diego Union Tribune:

When I took office, the average amount of money spent (on education) per child was $5,756 and in my proposed budget it is $7,058. So we are making real progress by almost any yardstick you use...
Now here's what the reader who sent me the link commented: "Hmm. By this standard, my household spending is making real progress, too."

UPDATE: Orrin Judd says I'm wrong:

Looking around the web recently, it seems to me that folks (especially in blogdom) are reading California in much the way they read New York in 2000, that is to say, inaccurately. You can string out reasons that a Hillary or a Gray Davis will lose until you are blue in the face, but at the end of the day, they are Democrats in Democratic states and they win. The race it most reminds me of is actually Mitt Romney vs. Ted Kennedy--attractive young GOP businessman vs. obviously outmoded liberal hack. The race looks close in Spring and early Summer but then the Dems come home to the party, hold their noses, and vote for the yellow dog.
Yeah, makes sense. Of course, to the extent this is true, the whole Riordan-coulda-won argument loses its force.

ROD DREHER OF THE CORNER responds to my original post on the priestly sex scandals.

Er, except that he doesn't really respond to my argument, which he doesn't repeat. But here's his response:

These are not just adults; these are priests. Many, many young men who have been coerced into sexual relations by priests have suffered tremendous emotional and psychological damage, and have lost their faith. It would hardly be less outrageous if priests were assaulting teenage girls, but the simple fact is there is not a lot of that going on, certainly not relative to the rates of homosexual assault on teen boys. Facts, alas, are stubborn things.
Except the only facts that Dreher provides (via a link to a Boston Globe story) prove my point: this isn't pedophilia, it's underage sex. Is there a difference? I think so. The law thinks so. And the article does not say that sex abuse within the church is overwhelmingly a problem of gay priests preying on young males.

It's fine to say, as Dreher does, that it's worse when it's by priests. Okay. But my point all along was that the scandal has gotten the attention it's gotten in part because it's been styled a pedophilia scandal. But now that it's gotten that attention, we're being told that it's really not a child-abuse issue, but a problem stemming from gay priests who have sex with non-children. There's a real scandal here, especially in the Church hierarchy's instinctive coverup. But some of the treatment of this issue is starting to look like a bait-and-switch to me.

THIS ISN'T A PIECE ON BLOGS: It's a piece on freelance media criticism via the Web, which is related. Cool.

HERE'S THE BEST RESPONSE I'VE SEEN to the conspiracy theories about the Pentagon attack.

CITING DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, MICHAEL BELLESILES, and others, Bob Bartley writes that it's time to hold academics as accountable as businesspeople.

AM I MISSING SOMETHING: In my post on The Corner and priestly sex scandals (below) I asked if I was missing something. Lots of people said yes, but here's one particularly cogent response:

Yes, you are. Big time. The question is, are the priests having opportunistic sex with teenagers who, if not have sex with the priests, would be having sex with some other man? If the young men were seeking out sex with the priests as much as the priests were seeking out sex with the young men, we have, as you say, "just" an issue of underage sex. But we have no evidence that was the case. Instead, the anecdotal evidence is that the priests used their influence to get an otherwise unwilling young man to participate in sexual activity. This isn't simply underage sex, its at best sexual harassment or at worst rape. (If I were to use my power as an employer to convince my secretary to have sex with me, the fact we are both over 40 would not make my actions morally acceptable nor legally defensible.) [Yes, but it wouldn't be a crime]

All of these issues apply to priests having sex with young men or young women. But, to the extent that the young man in question is not gay, it seems worse. I am not sure why that is. Surely, being molested by your priest would be a traumatic experience without regard to your sexual orientation, but it would seem to be more confusing to a straight young man than to one who is a "confirmed" homosexual. Would the priest's kind attentions influence the young man's sexual orientation later in life? Are
we saying that the priests' "gadar" was so accurate that they never came onto a straight young man? I doubt it.

This ties in with this post by Frederick Bartlett, where he says: "Boswell's interpretation hinges on the words here translated as against nature: he argues that Paul simply means that people who are heterosexual by nature should not indulge in homosexual acts (and, of course, vice versa).

Thus, homosexual acts between men and older boys are especially wrong when those young boys are not by nature homosexual, which is likely to be the usual case, as homosexuals only make up 1 to 3 percent of the population." Hmm. More later, maybe.

WITH EVERY PASSING DAY this story becomes more persuasive:

Older men are better lovers and have fewer impotence problems than their younger counterparts, with the "male menopause" a myth pedaled by drug companies to sell their products, according to a British psychologist.

Dr. Lorraine Boule, from Sheffield University in northern England, told the British Psychological Society conference that men became more skilled sexually as they get older, British newspapers reported on Saturday.

FAST COMPANY has a bunch of stuff on weblogs up today.

CHINA ON HUMAN RIGHTS: Dave Kopel observes that:

The government of China has just issued this year's "Human Rights Record of the United States." Much of the report consists of pseudo-factoids created by Leftist interest groups, allegedly showing what a terrible country America is. The leadoff item is an extended complaint about American gun ownership.

The Chinese government frets that "The United States is the country with the biggest number of private guns." We are also, of course, the country with the biggest number of private books, private churches, private newspapers, private computers, private single-family homes, and other tools and incidents of freedom. It is no coincidence that America is a simultaneously a well-armed and a prosperous nation, for both traits stem from America's culture of freedom and individualism.

Yep. That's why they hate it so much. As Kopel observes:
It is in China, of course, where "the voices of the common people" are suppressed by a dictatorship that is so afraid of the common people that no elections are held and the press is rigorously censored. Further demonstrating the Chinese government is not a "dictatorship of the proletariat," but a dictatorship of a self-serving, rapacious, wealthy, and hegemonic elite is China's very repressive gun control, which authorize the death penalty for "serious" cases of illegal gun sales or possession.

The gun-banning Chinese regime unintentionally proves its illegitimacy by distributing Mao's "Little Red Book," which contains Mao's dictum: "Every Communist must grasp the truth, 'Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'" (From "Problems of War and Strategy," Nov. 6, 1938.) Neither Mao nor his successors wanted "the common people" to have any political power, and therefore the common people are prevented from possessing arms. If the Chinese people were as well armed as the American people, China would soon have a very different government.

What does this say about those Americans who want to see the American people disarmed?

RUSSELL YATES LYNCH MOB: Just seconds ago on MSNBC a segment was opened with this observation (quote from memory): "Russell Yates and his mother said Friday that they did everything they could to relieve Andrea Yates of her responsibilities with regard to those five kids. But the facts are that they didn't relieve her for that hour when she killed them." Jeezus. What kind of idiots are these people?

First class.

MICKEY KAUS says that Campaign Finance Reform will lead to the political resurrection of Bill Clinton. Read the piece for the whole frightening story.

ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: Iain Murray now has comments on Margaret Thatcher's EU-abandonment proposal.

PEDOPHILIA DOUBLE STANDARD? Over at The Corner they've been sounding the theme that what's really wrong with the Catholic Church is that there are a lot of gay priests who aren't pedophiles, but who are just having opportunistic sex with teenage boys.

I don't know if this is true. But if it is, then the scandal is a lot smaller, it seems to me. One interesting datum would be to see how many heterosexual priests are having opportunistic sex with teenage girls. I suspect that this number is nontrivial, but that such events simply don't generate the same degree of outrage. But if that's the case, then it seems to me that the real issue is that it's just seen as worse for male priests to have sex with teenaged boys than for male priests to have sex with teenaged girls. Which means that the problem is with gay priests because, er, because gay priests are the problem!

At any rate, it's either a child-abuse issue (say, where 10-year-olds are involved) or an underaged sex issue (say, where 16-year-olds are involved). But if The Corner is right, then we're getting child-abuse-grade outrage about underaged-sex-grade offenses. And I just don't think that sex with a 16-year-old is the same thing as child abuse; nor does the law. Heck, not that long ago most 16-year-olds were having sex, because most of 'em were married and having babies.

So which is it? And if sex with 16-year-olds is child abuse only if it's gay sex, then how, exactly, is the outrage-differential distinguishable from simple prejudice against gays? Am I missing something here?

BUSH'S WOBBLE INFLAMES "ARAB STREET" -- WITH HOPES OF VICTORY! Read this:

Since Ariel Sharon was obliged by US pressure to pull his tanks out of the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian leaders believe they finally have Israel on the run.

The spectacle of the US administration slapping down the Israeli prime minister over his military methods has much to do with the near-euphoria in the Palestinian camp.

But among those who have spearheaded the assaults on Israeli targets, the shift in mood is also based on a belief that what they regard as their armed struggle has been vindicated.

"This time, Anthony Zinni is with us," Nabil Sha'ath, senior Palestinian negotiator, said yesterday, referring to the current mission of the US Middle East envoy. "He's come with instructions to get the Israelis out of Palestinian Authority areas. . . .

There was no indication from Palestinian militants, however, that hope of a breakthrough meant there would be a let-up in armed attacks. "Resistance is working. Absolutely," said Marwan Barghouti, head of the Fatah Tanzim militia in the West Bank. "And even if they leave area A (territory under Palestinian Authority control), the resistance will continue."

There's some other stuff in there that might make the credulous more optimistic than this quote suggests. But I'm not one of the credulous.

LILEKS RULES, GERALDO DROOLS: More or less literally, as this Lileks piece makes clear:

So Geraldo is in Israel, interviewing a man whose teenaged daughter had recently been blown to bits by a madman heading to heaven for his seventy-two dark-eyed seedless Sun-Maids. The father showed Geraldo a picture of his daughter and her friend - they were inseparable, he said. They had spent the morning redecorating a room, then headed into town for some shopping. Where they were blown up. Ripped to bleeding chunks for the greater glory of Allah and Arafat. The father had a stoic grieving dignity that would no doubt provide a certain cartoonist with weeks of hilarious material. Geraldo stumbled around, unable to find the words, and finally launched gracelessly into his new script: “I am a Zionist,” he said, “but I want to be a Palestinianist. I have seen so much suffering on the other side. Just the other day I witnessed a man with his newborn baby, swaddled, going home from the hospital, and they had to wait behind a checkpoint - ”

I watched the father’s face carefully; not a flicker of emotion. No doubt he found the comparison obscene - his daughter had been killed, blown apart, and the fellow in Geraldo’s example had moral equivalence because his arrival home with his child was delayed by a few hours. I fully expected the father to ram the heel of his hand into Geraldo’s trachea and drive his hyoid bone clean through the back of the kapok-stuffed gourd Geraldo calls a head. But the father didn’t move a muscle.

But there's always hope for next time, which is what keeps us watching Geraldo, of course.

THIS IS GOOD: I popped over to Iain Murray's site to see if he had anything about the Thatcher statement, and he didn't. But he had this item on The Simpsons:

Some inspired moments on The Simpsons tonight. I just had to blog this one: Lisa, as Joan of Arc, leading the French into battle against the English --

Kill the English! Their concept of individual liberty might undermine our beloved tyrants!

Also, Homer as Lisa/Joan's father questioned how God could have told Lisa to lead the French to victory when "we don't even have a word for it..."

Great catch, Iain!

MARGARET THATCHER SAYS it's time for Britain to give up on the EU. I think she's right.

WILL GRAY DAVIS SELF-DESTRUCT? Matthew Hoy thinks so, and he's got evidence.

Simon, of course, should be doing his best to prod Davis into saying more self-destructive stuff.

"IF YOU WANT PEACE, PREPARE FOR WAR." This statement is usually read as a warning to remain armed so as to deter war. But I've often thought that it has another message: those who pursue peace too vigorously in fact encourage war. That's the warning of this article by Victor Davis Hanson:

But there is one final consideration for those smug utopian architects in our state department and Europe that is completely forgotten in all this. There will be no second Holocaust. If almost all of the West Bank is returned, as is likely, and in a few years hostilities nevertheless resume as they did during phases 1-3 of the Middle East wars, as is also likely, the battle will be over Israel itself, not Palestinian land. That will be a war Israel will not lose, and it will be fought outside not inside the Jewish state. And that will be a nightmare compared to the current crisis. Those in Europe and in the United States who now lecture about morality will then prove to be not only amoral, but also answerable for far, far more still.
Hanson is absolutely right about this. The endgame to an unsuccessful "peace process" isn't Israelis gradually leaving Israel. It's tens of millions of Arabs dead and Mecca and Medina nuked (and not in some Rich Lowry / Jeremy Lott message-sending duet, but in reality). This is why things that inflame Arab hopes to destroy Israel are not admirable peace-process efforts, but near-criminal disasters.

Should things come to that pass, it will be the smug Europeans and State Department folks who will be responsible. But, no doubt, they will blame the Jews.

THEY'RE STILL OUT THERE: Doris Lessing tells of meeting a dyed-in-the-wool British communist who informed her: "Well of course Stalin was a great man. His time will come." Lessing, I'm happy to say, is a lot smarter than that.

MICKEY KAUS, in what can only be described as an extremely ballsy move, predicts an Al Gore rebound just as the Tipper boomlet collapses. Kaus also references John Ellis on the same subject -- though the best part of Ellis's post is about John Kerry, not Al Gore: "I covered the Kerry-Weld race when I worked at The Boston Globe and I can say with certainty that Senator Kerry will never be president. He's the saddest sack there ever was." No hedging there!

READER TRENT TELENKO is deeply concerned by what this New York Times article reveals about Al Qaeda training:

What I find scary about this is the way al-Qaeda adapted the best military training and modern education techniques into their jihad schools.

They took US Army Ranger patrolling techniques, USMC fire team/squad level tactics & formations, Vietnam era US Special Forces improvised explosives training manuals, Russian RPG and infantry crew served weapons training and put it together in a coherent, modular training syllabus.

Then they adapted this again across several cultures to punch out a cookie cutter pan-Islamic light infantryman-terrorist that have radical Islam as their cohesion bond.

In a equal unit on equal unit infantry fight, these people would beat the armies of every muslim state save for Turkey and Jordan.

We have to kill the minds that put this program together.

This makes the Tora Bora battle a flat defeat, IMO, because the people that put this together got away.

I think the last statement may be a bit too strong with regard to Tora Bora, but it's a warning against complacency and it makes the essential point: that it's far, far more important to kill a lot of Al Qaeda than it is to seize any particular piece of territory. I hope that the Pentagon folks, despite their understandable aversion to body-count thinking, realize this.

ANDREW SULLIVAN -- who, like me, is on unpleasantly close terms with his GI system today -- has a great column on Frank Bruni's Bush book.

MICHAEL OLSON is unhappy with patriotism in the fourth estate. He also can't spell "fourth."

3/17/2002

DAVID GELERNTER HAS some observations on how appeasement brought about Palestinian brutality.

I HAVE TO SIDE WITH TOM DASCHLE ON THIS ONE: I want to know what the hell Tom Ridge is doing too. I hope he's doing worthwhile stuff I don't know about. Because if he's doing worthwhile stuff, I don't know about it.

OKAY, I'M BEHIND: I just noticed that Megan McArdle is in Salon. Now if they'd just replace Cary Tennis with Heather Havrilesky.

GARY FARBER HAS more evidence of Michael Moore's excessive sense of self-importance.

AS A BUNCH OF PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED ME TO NOTE, Tipper Gore has decided not to run for Fred Thompson's Senate seat. Smart move, Tipper.

SERGEANT SCHULTZ has some interesting observations on the contrast between Euro nonsupport, and Kuttneresque criticism, of American policies regarding Iraq and nuclear weapons, as compared to Russian support. He concludes:

You read that correctly. While the LA Times, Robert Kuttner, and Europe is hysterical (along with North Korea) about this report, the Russians admit that it was just a routine contingency review.

I never thought there would come a day when I would hear the words "The Russians are COMING!!" and my reaction would be relief.

UPDATE: By the way, it really is "Sergeant Schultz," which is the nom de net of Sergeant Stryker's new co-blogger.

INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE -- REVERSE WACO? A reader writes:

I was horrified by the Saudi girl school fire and the murderous reaction of
the government Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice that resulted in the death of numerous young female students. I prided myself in the fact that nothing like that could ever happen here and then I realized that...

The secular government of the US incinerated religious zealots at Waco under questionable circumstances. Some have suggested that they were prevented from escaping the burning building by government enforcers. Would I be exaggerating to describe the Saudi incident as a mirror image of the Waco attack? The "anti-Waco"?

Don't dismiss me as an anti-government, conspiracy nut, I am not. I find the rabid Waco-wackos grating on my fragile psyche. I haven't heard anyone advance the premise and thought that you might relish the comparison.

Enjoy your BLOG; hope to start one of my own during Spring break.

Jeffrey R Smith, DMD
Mukilteo, WA

Interesting thought.

ORRIN JUDD WRITES: "India has the Arab world's Eastern flank covered; Turkey the Northern; Israel the Western; and we've got the airspace and the seas--and we're all either angry at them or have hated them for centuries. If I'm Arabian, I'm walking tenderly." Yeah, but they're not as smart as you, Orrin.

Well, maybe they are. Orrin sends this link to a story that suggests they're starting to worry.

DON'T MISS today's TV Punditwatch!

KEVIN KELLY HAS some interesting thoughts on music and digital copying. I think he's right that what he calls "liquidity" -- the ability to make music do what you want, when you want -- is the real consumer benefit here, and I think that record companies still don't get that.

THE THIRD PLACE: At Border's earlier, working on my TechCentralStation column for this week, who did I run into but fellow Knoxville-blogger Gena from Spinsters, who was working on a Derrida takedown.

IN DEFENSE OF RUSSELL YATES: A reader sends this:

Have you ever considered what it must have been like to live with a crazy woman for six years? A totally crazed person? Dishes thrown, dirty house, clean house, missing appointments, lying, not paying bills, fits of total hysteria, hallucinations, hearing voices, etc., etc., etc.? FOR SIX YEARS??????

The husband is probably disoriented at the very least, and perhaps suffering from depression or worse himself. I grew up in a house with a rip roaring alcholic mom. There was no reality. Never. She'd pull a knife, make wild accusations, scream and shout. There is no way to retain sanity in an environment like that.

So, while piling on the husband, consider that he was doing what he thought best. She lied about taking her meds when she was supposedly taking them, I can guarantee it. She lied about everything. Lied about everything, BUT thought she was telling the truth. So when a person is lying all the time how do you discern truth when occasionally told?

This is a tragic situation. I don't think anybody who is not a professional can handle it, and it is obvious that even the professionals totally mishandled this one. I always think of Van Gogh. He thought he was painting reality. His pictures are exactly what he saw. Just think about that.
Yes. But this reader doesn't understand. Men are supposed to suck it up and overcome the problems of a stressful, difficult environment. We can't expect the same of women, poor frail creatures. Just ask N.O.W.

THE EGYPTAIR CRASH was deliberate suicide, the NTSB has determined. Readers may recall that Egypt pooh-poohed this theory when it originally appeared, and spoke angrily of "Western stereotypes" of Arab Muslims as terrorists.

STEVEN DEN BESTE isn't impressed with the Catholic Church's response to the pedophile scandals.

THIS LETTER TO THE EDITOR is typical of something I've heard a lot of: Andrea Yates' husband, we are told, is guilty too. The writer, as usual, is a woman.

Had Mr. Yates killed his children, would these women be blaming his wife for failing to take responsibility for his mental health? Or for having children to such a father?

I MENTIONED JIM BENNETT'S COLUMN on India, in which he responded to Suman Palit's criticisms of some of his earlier writings, but I neglected to include the link to Palit. He's also drawn a response from Richard-no-relation Bennett. Now here's an interesting piece from the Washington Post on Hindu revivalism. India: finally getting a tiny fraction of the attention it deserves!

NOW JOSH MARSHALL is hopping on the Tipper Gore for Senate rumor-mongering bandwagon. Well, he seems to have some fairly solid support, so I guess it's gone beyond mere rumor-mongering now.

Poor Al. He loses the Presidential election, and she's talking about running for the Senate -- implicitly (and truthfully) because he has no chance of winning the seat.

CHRIS MOONEY SEEMS rather pleased with himself about the controversy that has erupted over several recent articles in The American Prospect's online edition. And he should be. Before he took over as editor, it was such a snooze that I never read it, nor did many other people I suspect. I imagine the traffic has picked up.

This leads me to say something about the Jeremy Lott / Rich Lowry slugfest over whether we should nuke Mecca in response to an Islamist nuclear attack on the United States. I wasn't going to weigh in on this, and I still won't weigh in on the merits. I'll just note that if I were a conspiracy theorist I'd be very impressed about the way this idea has reared its head in a fashion that is impossible for, say, the Saudis to miss, but in a fashion that cannot in any way be linked to the Administration. Sadly, however, I'm not the first to cotton to what's really going on. Can't put one by these guys.

MATT WELCH RIPS THE CHRONICLE AGAIN in another post today. I'm surprised that the quote-fabrication thing hasn't shown up in Romenesko's MediaNews. Maybe Monday.

ANOTHER SCHOOL HAS withdrawn Doris Kearns Goodwin's invitation to speak. Goodwin seems to be suffering from this stuff much more than Stephen Ambrose, which actually surprises me. I suppose it's because she holds herself out as a serious scholar in a way that Ambrose doesn't.




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