InstaPundit.Com

3/30/2002

MORE ON EUROPEANS AND ISRAEL from Jumping to Conclusions.

WHERE ARE THE LIBERAL BLOGGERS? People have asked that, and we've seen some lists. Here's a new one: The CounterRevolutionary, which says it's dedicated to

Restoring liberalism by purging it of:

1. The hypocritical socialist-based politics of hate and division;
2. Anti-Americanism spawned by Soviet-era propaganda; and
3. Unyielding and murderous idealism.

Focusing on the basic Tenets of liberalism:

1. Democracy
2. Individual rights
3. Social justice (equality of opportunity)

Check it out. I don't know who's behind it -- the email I got didn't say.

LIKE ME, Perry DeHavilland hopes he's wrong about what he sees coming.

"WHO DO WE HATE MORE THAN THE ROMANS?" It's internecine warfare within the gun-control movement. Go to the Violence Policy Center's website and what do you see? A link to Nicholas Confessore's piece in the American Prospect, savaging rival anti-gun group Americans for Gun Safety.

I WAS JUST READING JOSH MARSHALL'S take on the the mideast situation when I noticed this passage: "Yet they have gotten the other Arab states to place themselves on the side of defending, rather than attacking the Iraqis." This is meant as a rebuke to the Bush Administration's diplomatic efforts. But what if it is -- as they say all too often at Microsoft -- not a bug, but a feature. On the "you're for us or against us," calculus, haven't we just gotten the Arabs to publicly admit what's been true all along: that they're against us? Perhaps they should be forced to live with that declaration.

ERIC ALTERMAN, reports RiShawn Biddle, apparently doesn't know the difference between Cathy Young and Michael Young and has mixed the two up in his pro/anti Israel column.

NOW THAT THERE'S A LOT MORE SMALLPOX VACCINE in stockpiles than we thought, it's affecting the planning on what to do, as Gina Kolata reports. Of course, the sheer existence of those stocks has to matter for terrorists, too. Release smallpox in the United States, and the vaccine supply is now enough to stop an epidemic in America. But what if a few infected people make it to Mecca for the Haj, and send smallpox-carrying pilgrims back to Islamic countries -- most of them with dreadful public health agencies -- around the world?

READER STEVE WHITE sends these thoughts on Saudi strategy:

Quick now: can you name the last Arab Summit in which anything of world political significance was achieved?

I couldn't either.

The term, "Arab unity," is an oxymoron. That Saddam Hussein played kissy-face with the Kuwaitis and Saudis is irrelevant. Both of the latter two countries have to know that were American forces in the region withdrawn, Mr. Hussein would find a pretext and invade.

Much has been said on your blog and others about the deep game Mr. Bush might be playing -- provide the public with an appearance of moving towards peace with General Zinni while preparing our forces and our true friends to deal with Iraq. I wonder if the Saudis are similarly playing a deep game -- provide the Arab street with Solidarity against Israel and towards Iraq, while taking steps both to ensure the survival of the Saudi royal dynasty and to eliminate a continuing threat (Baath socialism) to Waahabite Islam. With Mr. Hussein out of the way and a new, more friendly, more fundamentalist regime in place in Baghdad (even if the Kurds split off), life gets better for the Saudis. And both the U.S. and Israel will be the fall guys.

Oh, I don't think there's much question that this is what the Saudis are hoping for. But since the Saudis are the root of the problem, I won't consider the war won if the House of Saud is in power. But it's probably just as well that the Saudis think they can come out of this ahead, so long as no one in the White House labors under any delusions about them. I'm a little worried about that.

BRITISH READER MARTIN PRATT OFFERS THIS COGENT CRITICISM:

I think the tragedy is that if the IRA did commit as many bombings in the last 3 months as the Palestinians have in Israel, and they came close in 1974, then if the UK were to retaliate the criticism by the US would be louder than any. For every European apologist for Palestinian terrorism you recount I have, particularly when living in Boston, been forced to listen to 3 or 4 well meaning, articulate, Americans (esp. Irish-Americans, understandably) express to me that while terrorism is "deplorable" clearly the deaths of Irish Protestants and English people for no reason other than
their faith and/or nationality is "justifiable" in the name of a United Ireland. Real PEOPLE like Tim Parry (12) and Jonathan Ball (3) who died when the IRA bombed Warrington in 1993, and event for which Gerry Adams has never even expressed regret. Three years later your President hugs him in the street.

Nine years later....A quick search of Streetmap.co.uk reveals no Yasser Arafat Avenue in Britain, whereas there IS a Gerry Adams Way in California...

Therein I think lies the hypocrisy. I have lived my whole politically conscious life hoping for a peacefully united Ireland while half the Democratic Party are quietly encouraging the IRA to plant a bomb at the end of my street. Fine, Anti-Semitism and Terrorism are horrible, and I have first hand experience of the latter, but at least in the eyes of the majority of Britons, the American populace is guilty of at least as much dangerous knee-jerk Anglophobia. There is no difference, innocents get killed, and without the financial support of individual Americans and the tacit support of your politicians, fewer people would have died. Whatever the merits and obvious demerits of European support of Arafat (and don't forget Germany practically gave the Israeli govt a couple of new submarines last year) if you keep poking your finger at the Europeans, your going to have your eye out.

Well, yes and no. The support that the IRA has gotten from U.S. politicians (and not just those of Irish descent like Ted Kennedy, Tip O'Neill, and Bill Clinton) is disgraceful, and I think that Martin is on solid ground in complaining about it. But you don't hear as much of that as you'd expect, with most critics preferring to criticize the U.S. on far less substantial grounds.

What's interesting to me is how little complaining about it we hear, though, from critics of American anti-terrorism policy in Europe. My problem with the critics isn't that they're criticizing the United States -- it's that they tend to side with the terrorists against civilization in general. And no, that's not an exaggeration. That's why I don't see Martin's criticism as objectionable where I do see the remarks of, for example, Robert Fisk as disgraceful.

CHARLES MURTAUGH has some perspective on the birth-control-pill / cervical cancer story that (barely) appeared last week.

FOREIGN POLICY has an excellent article on NGOs and human rights entitled Merchants of Morality. It goes a long way toward explaining what I think is wrong -- and often dowright corrupt -- about the NGO world. Here's a brief excerpt, but the whole thing is a must-read:

Powerful transnational NGOs, emblematic of global civil society, also display serious limitations. While altruism plays some role in their decision making, NGOs are strategic actors who seek first and foremost their own organizational survival. At times this priority jibes nicely with the interests of local clients in far-flung locations, but often it does not. When selecting clients from a multitude of deserving applicants, NGOs must be hard-nosed, avoiding commitments that will harm their reputations or absorb excessive resources. Their own goals, tactics, constituencies, and bottom lines constantly shape their approaches. Inevitably, many deserving causes go unsupported.

Unfortunately, the least participatory local movements may experience the greatest ease in winning foreign backing. Charismatic leadership is not necessarily democratic, for instance, yet external support will often strengthen a local leader’s position, reshaping the movement’s internal dynamics as well as its relations with opponents.

I hope that some investigative journalists will look into the finances of NGOs, which make Enron look like a case of responsible accounting.

OKAY, THERE ARE A LOT OF DEPRESSING, or at least upsetting posts about the Middle East today. So here's something completely different -- no, not a man with three buttocks, at least not exactly. It's a FoxNews story about the growing popularity of butt implants.

But as proof of my one-track mind today, I have to add: This is why we're gonna win. Arabs, etc. look at stuff like this and think that it means we're decadent and weak. But actually it's the opposite: these are women who starve and exercise themselves into such whipcord shape that they have no butts. Only they want butts. So do they relax, and have a decadent slice of pie? Hell, no -- they go under the knife for a painful and expensive procedure. Weakness? Ha. This is as much an emblem of societal toughness as a sun-dance. Decadent my, er, ass!

ORRIN JUDD looks as Islamic terrorists, and what's likely to happen to them and their causes, and asks "Why do they hate . . . themselves?" I think his Atticus Finch illustration is dead-on, by the way.

STEVEN DEN BESTE looks at who our friends are, and aren't. Interesting.

SPEAKING OF MEDIA BIAS, Jonah Goldberg's syndicated column has another example of this phenomenon:

Members of Hamas - the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing as well as numerous other terrorist attacks -- are routinely called "activists" in the American media. NPR reports, "Palestinian anger increases each time Israeli troops attempt to kill one of their activists." The latest Time magazine cover story on Middle East violence uses the word "activist" synonymously with how most of us would use the word "terrorist."

In the United States, we are propagandized daily about how smoking is evil. Children are treated to endless commercials in which playground peers who encourage kids to smoke - or take drugs -- are depicted as awful human beings. Hamas pressures children to become suicide bombers. The Palestinian Authority encourages children to hate Jews with a bloodlust normally associated with Nazis. But these people are only "activists."

Well said.

FROM THE ONE-MAN'S-NEWS-SERVICE-IS-ANOTHER-MAN'S-BLEEDING-HEMORRHOID DEPT., reader Robert Egge offers this comment on a Reuters dispatch about Arafat crossing the Delaware, or something like that:

Arafat couldn't find a better PR team than Reuters itself. In a story describing Israel's siege of his compound, the reporter, Mohammed Assadi, writes: "Arafat, accustomed to close brushes with death during his long career as a guerrilla leader and statesman, remained defiant and in high spirits."

A regular George Washington, it would seem, except perhaps a bit more brave.

Yeah. The whole story continues in that vein.

SECRET Yasser Arafat telephone transcripts are on the web. I'm surprised Debka didn't get these first.

ED DRISCOLL picks up on the whole coffeehouse "third place" discussion, and notes that many times Starbucks employees don't even realize that their store has wireless internet. He offers a link to a directory of wired caffeine distributors.

MICHAEL JUDGE blows the whistle on the various neo-temperance outfits currently crusading against drinking. My advice to the public-health community: start focusing on things like anthrax and smallpox, instead of announcing bogus studies with the shocking discovery that college students like to drink.

UPDATE: Reader Ernest Miller writes:

A new temperance movement? No, this is an old temperance movement moving onto new ground. When you have a "war on drugs" supported by both parties that demonizes smoking a little marijuana, is it any surprise that you create fertile ground for a movement opposed to any use of alcohol? Mr. Judge states that, "The point is that acknowledging the social and, yes, health benefits of moderate, responsible drinking is a surer way to guard against excess than preaching abstention." Well, yes ... but shouldn't that also be the case with certain recreational use of other drugs as well?

Of course, the popularity of sexual abstinence preaching in the Republican Party might also encourage people to preach abstinence in other realms, "that many Americans see ... as somehow immoral and not a salutory part of social mores."

Yeah, and this is the big weakness of the Bush coalition. When the GOP is out of power, "lifestyle" conservatives and libertarian-leaning Republicans (and crossover libertarians) come together. But once it's in power, the chastity crowd and the drug warriors alienate a sufficient number of the libertarian-leaners that they sit the election out, or cast libertarian protest votes.

EUROS FOR ARAFAT: A reader writes:

"Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou condemned the Israeli military action, saying his country had "ties, both friendly and personal, with President Arafat."

"For us Arafat is not an enemy, and beyond this he is also a personal friend," said Papandreou, who also condemned the terror attacks on Israelis.

Ya know somethin'? Turkey's lookin' better all the time. And the rest of the EU (pronounced "e-e-eyu-ue"), while making their usual short, obligatory remarks condemning suicide bombings (see Papandreou's comment above), spends most of its collective breath barking at Israel to sit, roll over and play dead.

Geez, I'm getting sick of these guys.

Yeah. I think there's a whole lot of denial going on here -- along with nastier undercurrents of antisemitism and anti-Americanism. Makes my bring-Turkey-into-NAFTA argument look better and better, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Ken Layne's take on this seems definitive:

Yeah, dude. Your idea of an "independent Palestinian state" meant "kill every freakin' Jew." Doesn't work. You had your chance. And all you've done is screw the Palestinian Arabs for decades.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Robert Schwarz offers this hopeful observation: "Do not forget that Jordan and Egypt both avoided the Arab League conference. It's possible they knew what was going to happen and wanted nothing to do with it. There is some hope in that."

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Read what Jay Caruso says about this. Excerpt:

What is going on here? The French have seen a sharp swing upwards in the amount of anti-Semitic activities in their country. Would Jacques Chirac sit back and do nothing if these people started to bomb civilian targets in France? Would Great Britain sit back and do nothing if the IRA had bombed as many civilian targets over the last month as the Palestinians have with the Israelis? If they did respond, would anybody dare to criticize them for defending themselves?

How is this any different?

Oh, I think we all know how it's different. What's interesting to me is the extent to which the allegedly sophisticated and diplomatically sensitive Europeans fail to appreciate what this has done to their credibility.

3/29/2002

READER JUSTIN ADAMS WRITES:

I read your blog about Stuart Tanner, and I read the headlines on today's Washington Post -- "Powell says Sharon intends Arafat no harm"; "Arab Leaders Rally to Arafat"; "World Leaders Criticize Israeli Assault" -- and I had this depressing feeling that we're not to 1941 yet, we're still stuck in in 1937 or so. A regional or global conflagration is over the horizon, but we're still jerking around, trying to placate our enemies. It's not inevitable that we'll win. It's not even inevitable that we'll try to win, instead of appeasing our enemies. Which means either means we'll lose the war, or thousands more Americans -- and Israelis -- will have to die before we'll try to win.
I'm inclined to agree. I'd like to be wrong, of course, and see things return to a comfy business-as-usual for the long term, but I don't see that happening. I hope that the Bush Administration has been playing a cleverer game than it appears, but I have my doubts.

On the other hand, with the Arab League condemning the invasion of Iraq, and with us almost certain to go ahead anyway, we'll certainly demonstrate the impotence and irrelevance of the Arab League. Not that that hasn't been done before.

UPDATE: Here are some troubling thoughts on whether we've lost the initiative. Personally, I think that "shuttle diplomacy," and "peace processes" are sucker's games. That's okay with me, so long as we're not the suckers.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Damian Penny finds more "it was a jewish conspiracy" views around the web.

HMM. Looks like there's at least some useful cooperation between the FBI and the Pakistani police.

READER DAVID BERNSTEIN sends this troubling item:

A guy doing a documentary for PBS Frontline was in a Washington Post chat today. Check out what he has to say to Sharon, which is very close to a blood libel, suggesting that Israel allows suicide attacks to give it an excuse to crack down on the Palestinians:
Washington, D.C.: If it's true that not even the Israeli government believes that actions such as the one this morning will reduce the Palestinian attacks against Israel, do you think the attacks are meant to provoke more bombings against Israel, so that the Israeli escalation becomes self-justifying? Stuart Tanner: Of course, what's interesting about spending some time in the area is that you become aware of deeper and in some sense darker aspects of the conflict. To give you an example, the suicide bombing on Wednesday, the "Passover massacre," as the Israelis call it, whose interests did that serve? I'd say it certainly undermined the whole Arab summit and peace proposal. It strengthened Sharon's claim that Palestinians are not interested in peace. And it further damages the image of Chairman Arafat. And therefore sometimes you get darker currents of conspiracy theory, whereby people begin to think that maybe these attacks are allowed, because the timing of ! them would suit Israel politically so strongly. Or that there are elements within the Palestinian side that want to damage Chairman Arafat themselves, and in fact provoke the Israelis into crushing him. The most likely result of which would be the strengthening of the Islamic groups, like Hamas. And it becomes very dark waters in which it's not impossible that either of those things are true, and certainly you could say that people get involved in that kind of thinking.
Well, it's not quite a passover-Matzoh piece for the Arab News but it's close. By way of comparison, just imagine if someone suggested, without any actual evidence, that Al Sharpton had staged the Louima beating in order to gain leverage against the NYPD and embarrass Rudy Giuliani. I don't think that person would be working at Frontline. (Here's the link to the transcript.)

JONAH GOLDBERG says that Democrats need to quit obsessing over Clinton's scandals and move on.

DALE AMON explains his problem with the Republicans. Nice post.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE expanding on a theme I addressed a while ago: the growth of bookstores, cafes, etc., as "third places."

NOW SIMBERG IS FISKING FISK:

When will someone admit the truth: that the Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in a dirty colonial war which will leave both sides shamed and humiliated?

We do admit that it's a colonial war, Bobby. It's an attempt by the Wahabbi empire to colonize Jewish Palestine, replacing its inhabitants with more lunatics.

Read the whole thing.

ACCORDING TO THIS STORY, Arafat is hiding out in a windowless office. What, he's afraid they're sending French police after him?

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, SUMMARIZED in this piece by Jacob Sullum:

"Congress has essentially granted speech licenses to giant corporate conglomerates such as Viacom, Disney Corporation and General Electric Company by allowing these corporations unlimited rights to spend money talking about issues and candidates, while silencing the voices of ordinary citizens and citizen groups." . . .

It's easy to understand why members of Congress would welcome such relief. Why put up with attacks on your record if you can legislate them away? What's hard to understand is how anyone who takes seriously his duty to uphold the Constitution could support such a blatant infringement on freedom of speech.

Yep.

TIM BLAIR has some self-help suggestions for terrorists who love terrorism too much.

ORRIN JUDD responds to Eric Alterman by asking: who would you rather have run the country, Team Alterman, or Team Will? You can vote in his comments section.

JACK O'TOOLE looks at two profiles of Mitch McConnell in Slate and The American Prospect and says that the profiles reveal more about their respective publications than about McConnell.

ERIC OLSEN has a depressing tale of music-industry rapaciousness. These guys sure don't respect intellectual property that belongs to, you know, other people.

PAUL BOUTIN has a piece in Salon on Fritz Hollings' copy-protection bill that's worth a read. He says Hollings is trying to mandate the impossible. Excerpt:

The music and movie people -- and to a lesser extent, e-book publishers -- seem convinced that technology companies are just avoiding building an unbreakable content lockbox for them. But to the security experts and the standards-committee members who've dedicated their careers to finding solutions, drafting a law ordering the problem to be solved isn't the "wake-up call" Hollywood is calling it. It's just the latest Beltway foolishness. Next, they'll float a bill extending Moore's Law.
How about a bill mandating the Senators get a clue?

EVEN PARANOIDS HAVE ENEMIES, writes Brock Yates, and nowadays, he says, it's hard to tell the paranoids from the sensible people, given what's going on with spyware, etc.

IT LOOKS LIKE DEN BESTE called this one correctly. Anyone seen Layne today?

Seriously, as I've said before, I believe that we'll see the obliteration of the Palestinian Authority as a functional entity. The Israelis will crush organized opposition, then pull out and hand the West Bank over to Jordan, whose, er, "efficient" secret service will finish the job.

RAND SIMBERG responds to Eric Alterman's charges of philosemitism by administering a thorough Fisking:

I think that Israel sucks in multiple ways. It is a socialist nation. It can sustain such socialism only through the largesse of American foreign aid and implicit defense. It is a religious state, that imposes unacceptable (to me) strictures on freedom. It continues to subsidize collectives called kibbutzim (though not as much as in years past) in a vain effort to sustain the socialist vision that led to its founding. It is a fractious country, unable to maintain a coherent policy because it is ruled by a multi-party parliamentarian system, derived from failed European models.

Oh, sorry. I know that someone like you considers all of this a compliment--not criticism, so what's a guy to do, Eric? When one can't even criticize the state of Israel without sounding like a defender of it to socialist journalists, is it surprising that your little enemies list is so skewed?

But the reality (yes, I know, a vile and unfamiliar concept to writers for The Nation) intrudes. I have to conclude that, for all its flaws, it's the only nation in that region of the world that has any hope of providing a glimmer of freedom and prosperity to its people, including its Arab citizens.

Not as pithy as Asparagirl, but leading to a similar conclusion.

GO TO THIS SITE and sign their petition. But don't just stop there -- signing online petitions, without more, is mere "slacktivism."

MOUSSAOUI SOLUTION: Several readers write that since the French are upset that accused 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui might face the death penalty, perhaps we should have him jump out a window at police headquarters instead. Much neater, much less simplistic.

UPDATE: Orrin Judd sends this: "Michael Barone, known blogger, actually suggested the French solution on Fox News Special Report last night."

KEN LAYNE reports on his latest round of weapons training, while Steven Den Beste predicts Arafat's imminent demise. A coincidence, surely?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON takes on bogus arguments regarding the mideast:

Facts mean nothing. The dispute is purportedly over the principle of occupation — but next-door Syria holds far more Lebanese land than Israel does the West Bank. The dispute is supposedly over ethnic intolerance and gratuitous humiliation — but Kuwait, quite unlike Israel, ethnically cleansed their entire country of Palestinians after the Gulf War. The dispute is said to be about treating the "other" fairly — but Syria and Iraq summarily expelled over 7,000 Jews after the 1967 war, stole their property, and bragged that they had rid their country of them. The upcoming Arab Summit could spend weeks just investigating the Arab murder and persecution of its own people and Jews.

Multicultural distortion also appears in a variety of strange ways. Palestinian spokesmen harangue Americans about their tilt toward Israel. Yet they also speak in grandiose terms of an "Arab summit" and a global Islamic brotherhood. Apparently, fellow Muslims, Arabs — and kindred autocracies — are supposed to support Palestinians unquestioningly because of religious, cultural, and political affinities. Yet we multicultural Americans are not entitled to exhibit similar sympathy for Israel, which like us and unlike Mr. Arafat's regime, is a Western, democratic, open, and free society.

Why do such bankrupt arguments find resonance? I think the causes have now permeated well beyond a few coffeehouse theorists blabbering away in Cambridge or Palo Alto. Rather it is because we live in a society in which playground fights in our schools are now often adjudicated by concepts such as "zero tolerance" and "equal culpability." Rather than exercising moral judgment — and investing time and energy in such investigation — our school principals simply expel any student caught fighting, as if the bully and his victim occupy the same moral ground.

Read the whole thing.

RECORD TRAFFIC YESTERDAY -- er, at least I think, since my counter is still semi-busted and it's hard to read the little graph without the text legends. But we broke the 35,000 mark pretty solidly, which if it isn't a record is damned close.

SERIOUS PROBLEMS AT THE INS: This says it all:

The Immigration and Naturalization Service violated federal whistle-blower protection laws late last year when it demoted and penalized two U.S. Border Patrol agents who openly complained about lax security along the Canadian border in the wake of Sept. 11, according to two independent federal offices.
Just remember, these are the kind of people who would be in charge of a National ID program!

PAUL KRUGMAN says he's a victim of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Matthew Hoy begs to differ.

3/28/2002

THE POWER OF THE BLOGOSPHERE: Patrick Ruffini traces the history of the Condi Rice boom with a painstaking chronology of events. The de rigeur Gladwell reference is included.

THERE ARE TWO CATEGORIES OF COLUMNISTS: Those who divide columnists into classes, and those who do not. Eric Alterman reveals which class he falls into in this MSNBC piece.

Funny, I remember when Hazel O'Leary compiled a list like this, it was called an "enemies list" and she got a lot of flak for doing it.

Hey, and I notice that he unaccountably omits Asparagirl.

THE IMPACT OF THE BLOGOSPHERE: Just read this excellent piece by Richard Starr on the San Francisco Chronicle's chicanery, and the role of the Internet in catching it. Here's my favorite part:

No, like your average petty felon cooling his heels in the county jail, the Chronicle is very, very sorry it got caught. But it doesn't really, deep down seem to think that it did much wrong.

Such attitudes are bound to get beaten out of the media in an era when anyone with an Internet connection can play media critic. We're going to see increasing public humiliation of incompetent and crooked journalism. Good journalists, it almost goes without saying, will welcome this and even enjoy watching it happen. Indeed, "media criticism" (especially as regards the competition) has long been a contact sport in most newsrooms.

But there will be a countervailing guild instinct to hunker down and reminisce about the good old days, when readers were powerless and we were as gods. In an online discussion of the Chronicle/Wolfowitz episode last Friday, a professor of journalism refers to "the new challenges that journalists face in a world of digital networks, where story subjects can disseminate their side of a dispute in ways the old print and broadcast media never allowed." Ah, yes: There's nothing like the new challenge of doing one's job passably well.

Yes, by my count the "oh, neat, look at the blogs" phase is just about over, and we'll see a lot more "countervailing guild instinct" pieces in the next couple of months.

BILL QUICK SAYS MOST BLOGGERS WILL QUIT WITHIN A YEAR. He's no doubt right. Hell, I might quit -- I'm doing this because it's fun, and it might not stay fun forever. But the real test isn't whether people quit, but rather whether a nontrivial number stay.

THE SARGE IS THREATENING TO blow the whistle on illicit Congressional travel on military aircraft.

That's a big whistle.

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: Just saw a bit of Cornel West on C-SPAN, part of a panel on the African American community and 9/11. He was sitting in a chair, wearing the usual three-piece suit, waving around an absurd walking stick while shouting about the lack of intellectually honest leaders in the black community who cared about ordinary people.

He was absolutely right.

THIS IS AN AMUSING FOLLOWUP to the Sarah-Brady-buys-a-gun story from last week -- "Gun Rights Group Seeks Sarah Brady's Son As Member":

"Now that Scott Brady is the proud owner of a high-powered 'sniper' rifle, he will most certainly need a fuller understanding of the Second Amendment than he ever received at home," said Erich Pratt, a spokesman for Gun Owners of America (GOA).

Sarah Brady, who heads up the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, wrote in her recently released book that she purchased the rifle for her son and noted that it was her background and not her son's background that was checked in order to complete the purchase. . . .

"We congratulate Scott for keeping his name off paper," said Pratt. "Because the gun was bought under his mother's name, he completely avoided the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) registration system. This means authorities will never know he has the sniper rifle, a benefit which reduces the possibility that his gun could ever be confiscated by authorities."

Here's the line from the story that I find least surprising: "The Brady Campaign did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story."

TONY WOODLIEF has valuable pronunciation advice for TV journalists. And especially for those NPR foreign correspondents.

FIRST-GENERATION FURY: Suman Palit warns the terrorists of the new American street:

I am the face of the new American street.
I am your worst nightmare because I have met you before, and I know what you are capable of.
I know of your faith.
I know of your hatreds because of your faith.
I know that there are many beautiful and wonderful Muslim people who I have called, and still call - friend!
I know that you are not one of them.
I am not hogtied by the insufferable guilt of your politically correct, wimpy allies here in America.
I hogtie your politically correct, wimpy allies here in America before breakfast every day.
In case you were wondering, I am not alone.
We are the frontline defenders of democracy and freedom - for America, for Israel, for India, for all those who you wish to cause harm.
We are at the frontline because we know what monsters lie at the waters edge. . . .

A few days from now, your world will begin to go up in flames. Through its fire, I hope you see my face. It may looks like yours, brown, swarthy, and more than a little tired. Beneath the surface, it is absolutely, utterly, entirely and undeniably *nothing* like yours. Are you jealous..? I know I would be. Goodbye now, and good night.

Read the whole thing. I hope Arafat and Saddam do.

COPY-PROTECTION IN THE HOUSE: Declan McCullagh is reporting that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Disney) of Burbank will be introducing a companion bill to Sen. Fritz Hollings' (D-Disney) copy-protection bill. The Dear Colleague Letter from Schiff references Disney CEO Michael Eisner's op-ed invoking Abraham Lincoln in support of copy protection.

The Republicans, as the Party of Lincoln, should sue Eisner for infringing their intellectual property. Though they haven't tried this yet, they don't seem happy with the bill:

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), who has criticized similar proposals in the past, denounced Schiff's approach.

"That's not something we support," Armey spokesman Greg Crist said. "You're essentially putting bureaucrats in the driver's seat to decide what the standards will be in protecting intellectual propoerty.... Armey has a general disagreement with government interferring."

If the Republicans are smart, they'll make an election issue out of this.

RUSSELL YATES gets savaged by Ozzy Osbourne. Can this story be true? Yep, it can.

MCCAIN UPDATE: Reader Tom Anderson writes:

You should update your posting on John McCain currently leading your web page to note that Senator McCain was on Imus this morning and rejected the claim that he was upset about dead-of-night bill signing and his lack of recognition. Not only is the story false he said, but he profusely thanked the President for signing the bill. He said that his gratitude is due to the fact that he really doubted he had the votes to override the veto, and for that he owes the President.
I don't listen to Imus (what's the point -- no more Doris Kearns Goodwin!), but OK.

JUSTIN SLOTMAN surveys the blogosphere on the subject of the Palestinians, and finds a lot of interesting views. Everyone, I think, wants to see the Palestinians happy, wealthy, and secure. But nobody thinks they can -- or should -- achieve that as a result of blowing up rooms full of innocent civilians. That has to fail so unmistakably badly that even the louses they call leaders can't spin it into a victory.

There's also the problem that by all appearances most Palestinians would rather kill Jews, or in a pinch Americans, than be happy, wealthy, and secure. This may, as I suggested a while back, be an illusion, or at least a preference that could change quickly. But there is worrisome evidence otherwise.

NOW COMMUNITY LEADERS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE are defending racially-motivated crimes. Well, more or less, according to Emmy Chang.

JAY MANIFOLD SAYS THAT AMERICA is a meme-processor extraordinaire, with the blogosphere presumably being in the lead.

PERRY DEHAVILLAND offers photographic evidence of his heartfelt support for immigration.

CHARLES JOHNSON says the American street is getting angry.

I HADN'T BEEN TO IAIN MURRAY'S SITE IN A WHILE, so I stopped by. There are so many good things there that I didn't link to any single post -- I'm just going to tell you to go and scroll.

ANDREW HOFER says he's identified the next Democratic anti-Bush trial balloon, and says he thinks it's been refined through reading the blogosphere.

TONY ADRAGNA has what I think may be his longest post ever on gay marriage. BTW, I did a poll in class on Tuesday (teaching Loving v. Virginia, the interracial-marriage case) and about 4/5 of my students think we'll see gay marriage within 20 years.

READER NELSON ASCHER (not the poet/critic, though -- at least I don't think so) writes from Paris with this observation on the "right of return:"

Islam was the first truly expansionist and imperialistic militant ideology. The Romans were imperialistic, but they did not try to convert those they conquered. Christianity, before the rise of Islam, expanded by converting people inside the Roman empire, not conquering lands. Indeed, until the discovery of the Americas, Christendom was busy not conquering, but reconquering lands it had lost to the Muslims. What, in the end, they (the Muslims) do complain about is that their bid to conquer the planet was not as successful as they wished (and still wish).

Why not a universal right of return? Europeans could begin by giving back the Jews their place in the continent. It could be done according to the demography of the 30's. Thus Jews would be granted 10% of the Polish lands, 5% of the Hungarian territory and so on. But let's stop bargaining: I think they would accept half of Austria as a last offer. On the other hand, all those who managed to find a place for themselves in Europe because it had been emptied of Jews could go back to their holy Judenrein Islamic lands. With this, most Europeans (well, maybe not all British journalists) would gladly agree.
More proof of the can of worms this thing opens. I'm still pressing my Byzantine claims, though.

Then there's this:

Glenn, I am of Scottish descent, and I really don't want much from the English; give me the golf course at St. Andrews, or the Laphroaig distillery, and I will call it even.-Will Allen
You can have those, if I can have Lagavulin. I'm not a scotch drinker in general, but I'm not stupid.

UPDATE: Nelson Ascher emailed back, and it is the poet/critic Nelson Ascher. Reading InstaPundit from Paris. Go figure.

MIKE KINSLEY WANTS TO GIVE YOU MONEY! Eugene Volokh sends this:

The usually sharp Michael Kinsley delivers the following in Slate today, ("Justice a la Carte"):
But the Republican complaints gloss over the fact that most lawsuits, including some of the most absurd ones, do deliver justice of a sort. There are exceptions: If the vegetarians currently suing McDonald's for covertly using beef extract in its fries manage to get their palms greased, that will be a parody of justice. But if, say, a smart lawyer managed to smoke $2 million out of McDonald's for a 9/11 widow-plus another million for his own contingency fee-by persuading a jury that eating Chicken McNuggets fueled the terrorists' hatred of America-that would be a parody of justice but not unjust. Would you voluntarily exchange your beloved spouse for a $2 million check? If your answer is yes, just ignore the next point. If your answer is no, then the widow is still undercompensated for her loss (and McDonald's, although blameless, needs the $2 million less than she probably does).
(Volokh comments:) So it's "not unjust" for a jury to take money from a *blameless* company A to give it to person B, just because person B had been cruelly wronged by criminals C, and because "A needs the [money] less than [B]"? And this was said in a piece that was supposed to be an insightful critique of "a common flaw in the American sense of justice." Seems to me that the Kinsley sense of justice is considerably more flawed than the public's. Or maybe that people should just sue Kinsley, on the theory that he's blameless, but they're victims and they need the money more than he does.
Yeah.

SASHA CASTEL has these thoughts on the "right of return:"

So the Palestinians want a "right of return" and "reparations". I think it only fair that the Jews kicked out of Arab countries over the last couple of centuries receive the same rights. I've met Jews of Persian and Iraqi ancestry who would be more than happy to collect millions from the mullahs. HA!
Personally, I'm claiming descent from Constantine Palaeologus and demanding return of the Byzantine Empire.

GARY FARBER has found out what Edward Said thinks about Tom Friedman. Hint: the word "zionist" is used. Said also thinks that this is a time of great Palestinian heroism.

LEE BOCKHORN responds to the blogosphere on the Condi Rice boom.

Say, when I post on a piece by Bockhorn replying to stuff said in blogs, is it the blogosphere that is acting in (in his words) an "endlessly self-referential fashion"? Just wondering.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY, you should be interested in the Foresight conference next month in Palo Alto. I go most years (I'm on the Foresight board) and it's always a very worthwhile place -- both to learn things, and to schmooze with about the highest-quality geek crowd anywhere. Follow the link for more information.

The big topic this year is something that has interested me for quite a while: the "go green" vs. "go gray" debate. Don't know what that is? Well, there's another reason to go to the conference, then!

CHRIS MOONEY has some thoughts about Bill McKibben's New York Times op-ed on cloning from yesterday, and on the new left/right Luddite coalition.

JAMES LILEKS does it again, with this post on yesterday's Passover-Seder-suicide-bombing and what it means:

It’s a mark of the times that a suicide bombing that kills 3 makes one grim and angry, and the news that a bomber was using a Red Crescent ambulance to ferry explosives just makes you pissed, but a story about a bombing that kills 15 and injures over a hundred just stuns you silence. Does it take numbers to impress me now? . . .

I live in a world which is proving, every day, that Nazism was not the summation of human perfidy. It was just the start. The Nazis had the basics - race hatred, death worship, a bland bureaucracy designed to handle the paperwork of mass extermination. But they lacked the patience of Saddam. It takes foresight and a keen instinct for the long-term to spray towns with chemicals that will kill the next generation of children - and do it as a research project.

The Nazis had a self-invented myth with an incoherent embrace of German paganism - not the sort of thing that has street appeal, and likely to collapse when kicked. No German soldier ran to battle for the greater glory of Wotan. Saddam is hardly the model of religious devotion, but it would appear that in his culture the secular historical role models are inextricably bound up with religious ideology.

Yeah. I remember Jewish friends telling me 20 years ago about the influence of Nazi thought on the Arab powers-that-be. I thought they were overheated before, but now I think they were right.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN IS WHINING, according to Howard Kurtz, about his lack of recognition in the McCain-Feingold signing "ceremony." When I was a Washington lawyer, I remember hearing people say that you can accomplish anything in DC if you don't insist on receiving credit. McCain should take the win and shut up, instead of grandstanding.

REMEMBERING FLIGHT 93. Even though I know Dennis Roddy slightly, I had missed this piece of his from last October. But fortunately Orchid linked to it. It's worth reading even now. Or perhaps especially now.

UPDATE: And here's a new piece from The Weekly Standard by Jonathan Last. And while I'm at it, don't miss this terrific piece by Brad Todd from back on September 16.

GET THE INSIDE SCOOP ON MICKEY KAUS'S mix tapes here. What, no BT?

RISHAWN BIDDLE emails to note that there's actually a good sex story in Salon. Yeah. But they've always had those from time to time. It's just their "sex advice" column that's mysteriously free of sex.

JONAH GOLDBERG proposes an amusing new conspiracy theory over at The Corner.

DO NOT BE ALARMED: In an effort to conserve bandwidth and speed load times I'm only showing the last two days' posts. We'll see if this works without causing unforeseen problems in archiving or something.

UPDATE: Seems to be working fine. Oh, and if you want to see the whole week's worth for some reason, just click on "archive" at the upper left and select the entry for the current week (it's at the bottom).

TOM HAYDEN: BLOOD-AND-SOIL FASCIST? That's pretty much what Ian Buruma says in his review of Hayden's book in the New York Review of Books. Excerpt:

Hayden's Irish soul really comes down to two things: the trauma of the Famine, and the conflict in Northern Ireland, which, in his view, is simply a continuation of the heroic war against the ancient English foe. The historic Irish sages and rebels who fired Hayden's imagination are reincarnated in the likes of Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams. Irishmen such as Conor Cruise O'Brien, who hold more skeptical views of the sectarian battles, are dismissed as "self-hating" patsies of the colonial power. Irish-Americans who have similar doubts are also deemed to have trampled on their Irish souls. Hayden, then, is like those Jewish Americans who denounce every Jew with reservations about Ariel Sharon as a self-hater. Or, conversely, like those bigots everywhere who believe that Jews cannot be patriots, since their only loyalty is to God's chosen tribe.

I wonder, also, where this leaves the rest of us, especially in the US? If our true selves are shaped by ancestral traumas and ancient feuds, what about a person whose veins contain Scottish, English, and Polish blood? Should he or she mourn the dead of Culloden one day, curse the Russians on the next, and toast the Queen on Sunday? Is a Roosevelt only true to himself if he remembers the Spanish oppressing the Dutch? Should Donald Rumsfeld be celebrating his German soul, with Fichte and the Meistersinger providing a chorus against the French? And I had always thought the main reason so many people flocked to America was to be rid of such nonsense. . . .

If the main problems with Hayden's brand of romanticism were bad history and woolly politics (he contrives to enlist his battles over the Irish soul in today's fashionable struggles with multinationals and globalization), this would make the author look foolish, but that would be that. In fact, his thinking, or rather, his feeling, is more lethal. It is exactly what justifies violence in the name of identity. Like his hero, Patrick Pearse, Hayden is haunted by bloodthirsty ghosts. He is not alone. There are Sikhs in Toronto, Muslims in Britain and France, Jews in Brooklyn, and many others in far-flung places who seek to sooth ancestral voices by encouraging barbarism far from home. Some are prepared to die for their causes. Most are content to let others do the dying, while they work on their identities at home.

Yeah. It's become apparent since 1989 that for many people, it's not so important what the cause is, as that there is a cause.

UPDATE: Reader Ken Summers sends this observation on the '60s antiwar movement: "Yep, as Isaac Asimov once said: 'They could be steered into crewcuts if President Nixon would make the supreme sacrifice and grow his hair long.' "

ORRIN JUDD has some disquieting thoughts about what the Palestinians, and their Arab supporters, are getting themselves in for.

3/27/2002

THERE'S A GARDEN GNOME LIBERATION FRONT. No, really. (Via WorstLogEver.)

A SHORT HISTORY OF FILE-SHARING, by Michael Palmer. Excerpt:

Little Company called Napster allows people to use the Internet to send files back and forth to each other. People proceed to send tons of Audio Files (MP3s) over the great white way. The Record Labels, stunned that anyone could potentially rip off music artists without their having a part in the ripping off, got sad ("This is why our industry is hurting! Not because we're turning out shit!"), then angry ("Why, how dare you interfere with our right to turn out shit!"), then sued ("Heh heh, now you're in the shit").
It gets even better.

BRINK LINDSEY SAYS we live in a QueeQueeg world. That actually makes sense.

FRANCO-AMERICAN UPDATE: Many readers have written to say that the statement below about the mass shooting in France was badly translated and isn't as anti-American as the news reports make it sound. Here's one from a satisfied French reader (yeah, I've got 'em):

Just a quick word from one of those damn French...In spite of the regular French bashing in the whole blog scene, I'm a enthusiast reader of your blog and a few others. However, I think your remark on the
French blaming the shooting on the Americans is a bit exagerated. The actual French sentence was "une dérive à l'américaine", which could be more accuratelyly translated by "an american-style evolution". Anyway, the statement was indeed quite stupid, but it did not mean that the killer was influenced by America, it meant that the event recalled some American events. As you know, we're in a middle of a presidential race, which tends to make our politicians even sillier than they usually
are.

That being said, congrats for your site, I really enjoy being challenged by the opinions you express, and I don't really care about the apparent hostility most bloggers tend to have for my country, since overall I learn more about Americans from the blogs than from the New York Times.

Well, thanks. I should say that bloggers don't, I think, have hostility toward France so much as toward the dumb things French politicians say, which is a different thing. Of course, I suppose we should be alert to translation difficulties -- but my French isn't good enough to pick up on nuances. In fact, based on my last trip there's a warrant for my arrest out, from the Academie Francaise, for the murder of the French language.

DAMIAN PENNY has some comments on the latest suicide bombing from those peace-loving folks at IndyMedia.

"BUY YOUR GIRL A GUN DAY:" Yep, Campus Nonsense is the Guest Blog on FoxNews today. Excellent:

"UNM is the rape capital of the Southwest, and a girl technically can't even carry a pocket knife on campus to defend herself (UNM Code of Conduct). I think this is nuts. The College Republicans wanted to do something to celebrate the passage of New Mexico's concealed carry law. Thus, Buy Your Girl a Gun Day was born.

"CRs brought in the NRA and New Mexico Gun Owners to do an information table with us. We tabled with them and passed out, "Rapists love women who hate guns," and "The ultimate in feminine protection," flyers (the flyer borders alternated lipstick tubes and hand guns). A local shooting range donated some range passes, and we gave those away, too. The concealed carry law was carried by a woman state representative and we had her come in and speak at our meeting that night. She's a former Army captain with pink hair; the woman kicks. We ended up on all the nightly news broadcasts and in the "real" Albuqerque newspapers. The only regret I have is that we didn't chalk "I Shot A Rapist Here" all over campus.

"Would you believe all this made the Women's Studies Department administration furious?"

Actually, yes, I would. What's really cool is that the Campus Nonsense blog started just a couple of weeks ago in response to a casual suggestion from Stanley Kurtz over at The Corner. And it's already on FoxNews and bringing in interesting stuff like this from all over. I should mention that its spiritual father is probably Kevin Deenihan, whose CalStuff blog, devoted to Berkeley goings-on, was Kurtz's inspiration. But CalStuff is ancient -- I mean, it's been around for over a month!

HERE'S A REAL POSER FROM RAND SIMBERG:

Can anyone remember the last time an Arab nation (or for that matter, an Islamic nation) won a war unassisted?

WENT TO THE DEATHCLOCK SITE. Entered my info. Clicked. Nothing happened. Guess that means I'm not going to die.

DAVE TEPPER has some choice comments about University of Virginia Law Student Marta Sanchez's bogus lawsuit against her professor for touching her during a class demonstration. They're especially interesting because he took that very class, from the same professor, a few years ago.

EARLIER I MENTIONED the extent to which Saudi money is behind so many of our problems. Now, via Charles Johnson, I find this item from MEMRI on just how far that money reaches. Nothing here I didn't know, really, but it's impressive to see it all in one place.

UPDATE: A reader notes that the apparent terrorist-wannabes from Northern Virginia were alumni of the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria.

STEPHEN GREEN has some not-so-flippant thoughts about the latest suicide bombing. He's right to abandon flippancy. As I said before, I'm sick of this stuff, too, and I just don't care what Israel does to the Palestinians anymore. They danced about 9/11, and they've made very clear -- the populace more than the leaders -- that they don't want peace, they want to kill Jews, and Americans. They've sowed. Let 'em reap.

UPDATE: In an interview I found via Charles Johnson, Daniel Pipes says the Palestinians are losing:

Today one sees a contest between Palestinians and Israelis. Although military strength figures highly, ultimately victory is a psychological issue. I would say that eight months ago Israelis were losing and the Palestinians were ambitious and optimistic. Today I see the situation flipped. Yes, Palestinians are killing Israelis on a daily basis, but the former no longer have momentum or a sense of movement. Palestinians soon will realize they cannot sustain this battle and their will at that time will break.
Losing maybe. Losers, definitely.

And notice that while there was a lot of hand-wringing about us bombing during Ramadan, these guys don't have any trouble bombing during Passover.

STUPID WHITE MEN at the BBC: This article includes the following howler:

Moore's writing points the finger at his fellow countrymen, saying "they go out of their way to remain ignorant and stupid.". . .

The writer's previous targets have included computer giant IBM in his book IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation and the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Of course, IBM and the Holocaust was actually written by Edwin Black.

Thanks to reader Tim Callahan for pointing out this goof. And bigshot journalists complain about blogs not having editors?

IT'S ME AND MY BLOG-BUDDY OSAMA over at Slate today!

SAUDI MONEY IS THE PROBLEM: When we talk about campaign finance reform, we hear that money is the root of all evil. But when it's Saudi money supporting terror and hatred, we hear a lot less. Rich Lowry says that's all wrong:

What has happened since 1973? Money, money, money (plus the Saudi custody of the holy sites, which gives their interpretation of Islam an extra measure of credibility).

The Saudis have over the last three decades literally changed the world and the nature of Islam, as the indispensable Stephen Schwartz never tires of pointing out. We are now dealing with the consequences, in places as far-flung as Malaysia and Herndon, Virginia. . . .

The Saudis provide money for mosques, they provide imams — they provide everything. According to Kepel, "the Saudi ministry for religious affairs printed and distributed millions of Korans free of charge, along with Wahhabite doctrinal texts, among the world's mosques, from the African plains to the rice paddies of Indonesia and the Muslim immigrant high-rise housing projects of European cities."

This push served to erase the rich diversity of a great religion: "For the first time in fourteen centuries, the same books (as well as cassettes) could be found from one end of the Umma to the other; all came from the same Saudi distribution circuits, as part of an identical corpus. Its very limited number of titles hewed to the same doctrinal line and excluded other currents of thought that had formerly been part of a more pluralistic Islam."

This is exactly what I hear from Islamic scholars who are afraid to say it publicly for fear of Saudi retribution. And that's another kind of influence that needs to be shut down. The Saudi family has done immeasurable damage to Arabia, and to Islam. Shutting them down isn't anti-Islamic, any more than opposing Nazism was anti-German.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ looks at Women's Studies and finds a discipline that's, well, Bellesilesean in its disregard for factual accuracy.

BEN DOMENECH has weighed in on the Condi Rice for VP issue. Also see the comments to the post by Patrick Ruffini that I linked to below.

FRENCHMEN KILL FRENCHMEN, AND THEY BLAME THE AMERICANS! That's right, the mass shooting in France has been denounced by a French Presidential candidate as an "American-style byproduct."

Byproduct of what, exactly? I don't see any way to make that statement look pretty, but perhaps all will be made clear in time.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF is getting a lot of flak for his columns these days.

HOWARD KURTZ picks up on the Condi Rice boomlet, quoting Andrew Sullivan (but not Asparagirl!).

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN for this week is up. It's about how support for copy-protection legislation is likely to doom DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe's plan to improve the Democrats' position on the Web.

LILEKS is unimpressed by Nicholas Kristof, which seems to give him a lot of company these days:

People in my camp are often accused of being slope-shouldered keyboard monkeys channeling the spirits of Mars from our warm comfy rooms, urging war! war! war! against Iraq with no thought towards the consequences. The worst consequence, oddly enough, seems to be the defeat of Iraq. Why, this might destabilize the entire region. True. It’s also true that the defeat of Berlin ushered in a brief period of destabilization in southern France. What’s not certain is why stability is our friend - particularly when we are talking about a state, or states, that regard Americans as slick fat curs sucking the hind tit of Satan’s shitzu.

I do know this: an additional ten years of diplomacy and sanctions against Iraq would have the same effect as the last ten years. The technical term, as used by diplomats, is “bupkis, squared.” So it was with a cocked Spock eyebrow I read a piece by the invaluable Nick Kristof of the Times, explaining why it would help to -

Well, I’ll let him explain it.

Read the rest. You'll be glad you did, unless you're Nick Kristof. And if you are Nick Kristof, you'll pick up some valuable pointers on how to write interesting stuff.

VIRGINIA POSTREL IS back after a long absence, with a lot of interesting stuff.

THE ALWAYS-INTERESTING WALTER SHAPIRO says that campaign finance reform will bankrupt political consultants. Finally, a reason to be for CFR! I'm skeptical, though. But Shapiro is definitely on to something when he notes how little attention the subject gets:

Media consultants take as vigorish a percentage of the overall TV buy. This ad-placement fee, a billing gimmick borrowed from Madison Avenue, was traditionally 15 percent; these days in big-ticket races, it can be negotiated down to about 7 percent. What this means is that consultants have a vested economic interest in fostering expensive campaigns built around dueling TV ad wars. As political spending has soared thanks to the soft-money loophole, media consultants have made out like ... well ... selfless professionals devoted to the common good.

Political reporters, who meticulously study FEC fund-raising reports as if they were the Racing Form, are notoriously incurious about the swag earned by these humble toilers in the political vineyards. It violates journalistic etiquette to press the consultants who are your best sources about what they earn. The only in-depth look at the finances of Politics Inc., was a laudable Washington Post series by Susan Glasser two years ago. It was not surprising that Glasser only turned to this nettlesome topic as her swan song before leaving the political beat.

I'd like to see the Byzantine nature of the political-consultant world get a lot more attention.

IT'S NOW BEING REPORTED that Google is rejecting anti-scientology ads. That's not exactly censorship, but it doesn't make me think better of Google. And it serves as a reminder of why we don't want to get too dependent on any single company whose editorial "discretion" might stand in the way of free speech.

UPDATE: It's not just a Google issue, either. Here's a piece from 2000 by Chris Suellentrop in Slate on a similar issue with Yahoo! advertising.

3/26/2002

THIS PIECE BY DAN GILLMOR is great:

1. Do you care if a few giant companies control virtually all entertainment and information?

2. Do you care if they decide what kinds of technological innovations will reach the marketplace?

3. Would you be concerned if they used their power to compile detailed dossiers on everything you read, listen to, view and buy?

4. Would you find it acceptable if they could decide whether what you write and say could be seen and heard by others?

Those are no longer theoretical questions. They are the direction in which America is hurtling.

Media conglomerates are in a merger frenzy. Telecommunications monopolies are creating a cozy cartel, dividing up access to the online world. The entertainment industry is pushing for Draconian controls on the use and dissemination of digital information.

If you're not infuriated by these related trends, you should at least be worried. If you're neither, stop reading this column. You're a sheep, content to be herded wherever these giants wish.

But if you want to retain some fundamental rights over the information you use and create, please take a stand. Do it soon, because a great deal is at stake.

Go read the whole thing. Here's the link again, just to make it easier. Go ahead -- go now. I'll wait here till you get back.

I hope this inspires you to do something that goes beyond mere slacktivism.

WHEN EUGENE VOLOKH WAS PLAYING SPECIAL GUEST-BLOGGER a couple of weeks ago, he posted an item on traffic cameras. As such things have a way of doing, it became a Wall Street Journal op-ed, which isn't available on their free OpinionJournal site, but is available here.

UPDATE: Geoffrey Barto has a different take.

AN AMUSING, YET DISTURBING POST ON THE American Techniban.

ROBERT GEORGE EMAILS to say that I was all wrong in my reading of his post about Condi Rice's pro-choice history over at The Corner:

Wow, talk about completely misreading what I said. I wasn't calling for Condi Rice to recant anything. In classic blog style, I responded to Kathryn Lopez' question from John Miller inquiring as to Rice's position on abortion. Kathryn noted Jay Nordlinger's observation: "She calls herself 'mildly pro-choice' on abortion." I asked what did that mean and compared her to Kay Bailey Hutchison. I won't presume to speak for Christian conservatives; however, my hunch is that were she not disqualified from being VP because she's from the same state as the current Prez, Sen.Hutchison might very well be acceptable to pro-life conservatives. She calls herself pro-choice, but it's not her raison d'etre and she confirms pro-life judges. That was my concept of "mildly pro-choice." If that's Rice's philosophy, I think she can get through the abortion test on the right. If it's something different, well, the jury's out. My -- admittedly brief -- comment on the Corner was more to lay out how the phrase "mildly pro-choice" is open to much interpretation. And that's what I meant. In the interests of completeness, Ramesh Ponnuru weighed in on the whole concept of "mildly pro-choice," which could be seen as a potential defense of Ms. Rice if it ever gets to that point. Oh, and I worked at the RNC under Lee Atwater. I'm a Big Tent kinda guy.
Okay. It occurs to me that you (or at least I) tend to interpret blog posts in light of earlier ones, which is a mistake in a group blog like The Corner where different people are posting them. Or, er, maybe it was just that it was 6:29 a.m.

UPDATE: On the other hand, maybe I'm not so dumb. Read this post by Patrick Ruffini on George's remarks.

JEEZ. NOW EVERY-FREAKIN'-BODY HAS A BLOG.

KEN LAYNE is highlighting the story of Saddam Hussein's payments to Palestinian suicide bombers. Why isn't this story getting more play? That's what Ken wonders, too:

This should be a huge story. This should be on the front page of every serious newspaper. But you have to spend some time looking for any mentions of it. On March 12, the Associated Press quoted Baghdad's Al-Iraq newspaper's quoting of deputy minister Tariq Aziz, who said the payments have been made since 2000 and recently were increased. The BBC monitored a broadcast this week about the blood money deal. Other news organizations report nut-sandwich "solutions" by the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, who at least sounds more sincere the Saudis. But McGeough is the first to bring this twisted tale to the current war coverage.

It was news even to the Palestinian officials McGeough questioned.

"I interviewed the guy from the Arab Liberation Front last Thursday, the general secretary, and he told me everyone got $10,000. He knew nothing about the extra $15,000."

Maybe he didn't know. But could the Iraq-PLO deal be missed by Arafat?

Either Arafat knows, or he's so out of it he doesn't know. It's hard to see, either way, why he's worth "negotiating" with. Read Layne's story, which is full of interesting information.

MICKEY KAUS is suspicious of the Oscars.

ORRIN JUDD is looking forward to the Arab League summit:

Meanwhile, what would be so terrible about an Arab summit that turns into "an anti-Israeli and anti-American free-for-all"? This might actually provide a welcome moment of clarity in which the US and Israel are forced to accept that war is the only viable option in the Middle East. The outcome of such a war is surely not in doubt, so let's get it on.
I hope Saddam and Yasser read this stuff.

THE WAR CRITICS, as I've noted before, learned nothing since Vietnam. The U.S. military, as Jim Dunnigan notes learned a lot:

During the Vietnam War, U.S. Army Special Forces used the same techniques they applied in Afghanistan. It was in Vietnam that the Special Forces actually developed the tactics that worked so well in Afghanistan. The Vietnam experience was even more dramatic. For most of the 1960s SOG (Studies and Observation Group) Special Forces LRRPs (Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrols) operated in Laos. The Special Forces (and CIA) had organized a 10,000-man army from among the local Hmong tribes in Laos. The LRRPs went in (about 23,000 times) to find North Vietnamese troops and installations, whereupon devastating air strikes were called in. Another 50,000 tribesmen in the central highlands of Vietnam were organized into military units.

Some of these fought in Laos as well. However, the North Vietnamese (and Laotian communist Pathet Lao) troops were more numerous and determined than the Taliban, so the "American Tactics" didn't work out as well in Laos. The technique did work better in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese were not able to capture the Central Highlands until the Special Forces and American air power left. And, OK, they didn't have as many smart bombs in the 1960s, but they didn't need them to do the deed.

So there.

GUN CONTROL AS A TOOL OF COLONIALISM is discussed in this interesting paper:

Gun control was not new in the South Africa of the 1870s. The first laws against providing Africans with arms and ammunition dated from the seventeenth century. Yet serious efforts at gun control had rarely been made. In the 1870s, in the Cape Colony, permits to purchase firearms could be issued by unsalaried Justices of the Peace as well as by salaried Resident Magistrates to Africans who were considered "fit." Many settlers felt that Justices of the Peace were too liberal in their issuance of permits.[2] In 1876, the Cape Colony's Secretary for Native Affairs was forced by settlers to clarify government policy. He sympathized with the settlers but came down on the side of African freedom to purchase arms. He believed that any restrictions on African gun possession might call into question the broader rights of Britain's African subjects in South Africa. According to the Secretary for Native Affairs, Africans now wanted to know "why if they are really British subjects we should be so anxious that they should not possess guns."[3]

In order to build a discriminatory state, politicians created and managed a discourse about the risks of arming Africans and the need for gun control. Gun control was an important part of confederation, and yet historians have not taken it seriously, perhaps out of fear of being branded "technological determinists." I believe that a richer picture of confederation emerges when we reconsider gun control, particularly the ways in which politicians and settlers produced discourses about gun control and citizenship. . . .

As disarmament and gun control become incorporated within the normative discourse of global humanitarianism in the early twenty-first century, it is worth our while to reflect upon the relationship between arms and new ideas about global citizenship, and upon the ideological nature of determining technological risk. The case of nineteenth-century South Africa shows that disarmament was linked to disenfranchisement and dispossession. When "non-state actors" handed in their guns, they lost any security they had against a predatory state.

This doesn't do justice to a complex and involved paper, but it's very interesting.

UPDATE: If the link above doesn't work, try this one.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN defends Russell Yates and disses Bill O'Reilly.

OSCARS: Apparently, the oscars were unpopular in the "red states." Some people are already trying to spin that into a racial angle. But Dan Hanson has the real reason:

But most of the pundits are missing the real problem with the awards, which is that THEY ARE GIVEN OUT TO FREAKING MOVIE PEOPLE! It's like God himself came down and said, "You know what the problem is with movie people? Their egos just aren't big enough. How can we create a gigantic televised cluster jerk that will ensure that these clowns make even more outrageous demands and drag around even larger entourages of sycophants and losers? Because if there is one thing I can't stand, it's a humble Hollywood star."
I think we're safe.

MARK STEYN has another great column:

Naive Washington thinks all will be well if you liberate the will of the people, the European elite knows that civilization depends on restraining it. At heart, they believe the opposite of the American tourist on the train: There are no good peoples, just different groups of bad peoples whose baser urges have to be adroitly managed -- as Western Europe failed to do between the wars but which it has done with some success since. That's why the EU likes the Emirs and the Ayatollahs, old Arafat and Boy Assad. They feel those fellows are engaged in the same project as theirs: Holding the excesses of the people in check.

This worldly cynicism would have more to commend it if it weren't for the overwhelming evidence that the opposite is, in fact, the case -- that these regimes preserve themselves by actively encouraging their people's worst instincts. Take my old friends the Saudis.

Please.

BILL QUICK HAS UNCOVERED the Bush Administration's secret aid program aimed at Central America. Ari Fleischer was unavailable for comment.

THE TRUSTWORTHY FRENCH, CONT'D: Reader (and former Knoxville public radio star and, if I'm not mistaken, friend of Orchid) Keith Spurgeon sends this link to a story on how a blabbermouth French officer screwed up plans to catch Al Qaeda terrorists in Kabul:

Six cars were rigged with booby-traps to be detonated near peacekeeper security patrols, according to Flight Lt. Tony Marshall, a spokesman for the security force.

The vehicles were placed under surveillance, but no arrests have been made, he said. However, the international security force chose to make the plot public after a French captain revealed details of it to French journalists, officials said.

Ah, blabbing to journalists. How simplistic.

READER DAVID HORWICH SENDS this gem from Dick Morris, who seems to have Bush's rope-a-dope strategy figured out:

Facing the threat of invasion to enforce the U.N. mandate, Saddam will backtrack and admit the inspectors, expecting to resume the game of hide and seek that so befuddled Bill Clinton and led to the withdrawal of the inspectors three years ago.

But, instead of Saddam playing Bush, it will be Bush who is playing Saddam. The minute Saddam resumes his old game of telling the arms inspectors they can't visit sites without notice or barring them from certain areas, Bush will immediately issue an ultimatum to Iraq demanding that Saddam either permit unfettered inspections or face invasion.

Saddam will give in, of course, but then (after a suitable interval) again try to restrict the inspectors. But Bush will then move immediately to start military action - and, when Saddam backs down, say "too late." The war will start.

The international community (i.e, the appeasement-oriented Europeans) won't back an invasion of Iraq. But they can't oppose arms inspection. Once Saddam makes clear that he won't really allow inspection, they'll have no choice but to at least keep silent as Bush hangs Saddam by his heels in Baghdad.

Morris also has this to say about the Clinton Administration's policies regarding Iran:
Clinton's naive characterization of Iran as a quasi-democracy misses the key point about that nation's politics. It is a democracy in the same sense that a student council at a high school is democratic: Candidates run, speeches are made and a governing council is elected, but the principal still runs the school. No matter what the elected government says or does, it is the clerics who are in charge.

When one reads comments like Clinton's about Iran and sees Bush's moves against Iraq, one thanks the Almighty that it is Bush who is running the war on terror.

You hear that from a lot of Democrats.

THE TRUSTWORTHY FRENCH: Not just tipping off Serbs:

An explosive report by the Taiwan government alleges that France betrayed Taiwan's confidence by passing top-secret information to China about the controversial sale of $2.5 billion worth of French frigates to Taiwan in the early 1990s, according to people who have seen the report.
There's more about French government corruption, and the possible murder of a Taiwanese naval officer investigating the matter.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Now it's Alexander Cockburn taking Bellesiles to task for fakery. I believe that this will also appear in the print edition of The Nation. Excerpt:

To give him credit, Bellesiles falls with some dignity ("Arming America is admittedly tentative in its statistics") but fall he does. Now Emory is making nasty noises, and erstwhile allies are fleeing into the hills. Morgan, who whooped him up in the New York Review, says he's rethinking. Gary Wills says he's too busy now to address the matter, which is pretty light-hearted, considering that Bellesiles' phony scholarship is as devastating a blow as the anti-gun crowd has sustained in decades of fighting over the Second Amendment. . . .

What about Knopf, which published Arming America. Jane Garrett tells Postel that the house "stands behind" Bellesiles, that his were not intentional errors but the result of some "over-quick research". Knopf is renowned for its cookbooks. Suppose Bellesiles had suggested putting dried Amanita phalloides into the risotto. I don't think Garrett would be so forgiving.

I note that most of the book-review sections that published glowing reviews of Bellesiles' book have not yet retracted those. The New York Times even reran an excerpt from Garry Wills' fawning review just a few months ago when Arming America came out in paperback, long after it was obvious that the book had serious problems.

UPDATE: Yep, I'm emailed that it's in the April 8 issue of The Nation,, page 8. The emailer adds:

Alexander Cockburn guts Bellesiles like a striped bass.

Prof. B has now taken hits all the way from National Review to The Nation.

There isn't much political commentary, and none you could call mainstream, outside those borders.

Last week I emailed the head of Emory's PR office to ask what was going on with the Bellesiles investigation, which was supposed to have produced a decision by now. No reply.

EDWARD SAID, THE FOX IN THE HENHOUSE, or something like that. Reader Richard Samuelson emails to note that rock-throwing terrorist-champion Edward Said is on the board of the Baylor University Center for American and Jewish Studies. "What's next?" Samuelson emails. "Will Harvard put David Duke on the board of the [W.E.B.] DuBois center?"

This does seem rather, er, odd.

MIKE CROOKER over at Tres Producers has some interesting thoughts about withdrawal from popular culture. It's not some big statement, it's just that he's got other, more interesting stuff going on.

That's kind of how I feel. I'm more into "microculture" than into pop culture, which I tend to see as culture for people too lazy to use the Internet to find what they really like.

MORTON KONDRACKE says that campaign finance reform will make elections nastier. Oh, boy:

In fact, it's possible that one unintended consequence of reform will be to make American politics even more negative, harsh and partisan than it already is.

That's because, to make up for the loss of soft money ($500 million in 2000), the parties will have to collect as much as they can in hard money and spend it in ways that will deliver the most devastating bang for the buck.

So we should expect direct-mail soliciting that's even more strident than at present, fundraising calls to corporate executives that are more high pressure and ads that excoriate opponents even more harshly to get the message across.

Corporations and unions can't contribute from their treasuries, so party operatives will be after them to swell participation in their political action committees.

Ironically, the party that led the way toward reform in the name of cleaning up politics - the Democratic Party - will be especially tempted to walk on the dark side in the post-reform era because it was more dependent on soft money in the pre-reform era than the GOP.

Once attacked, of course, Republicans will retaliate in kind - and they will have more hard money with which to do so.

It just gets worse. Read the whole thing. And when it happens, remember who to blame.

STANLEY KURTZ says that the culture war is alive and well, at least on the bestseller lists.

SINCE Joanne Jacobs is down from hardware failure, I'll post this link to the latest story on California public-school shenanigans for her.

THE ANTHRAX STORIES don't add up, as this WSJ editorial points out.

I'M NOT A VEGETARIAN, but I had a bite of a "BK Veggie," and ate an entire Chicken Whopper the other day. Both were pretty good, actually, despite this savage assault on the former by Victorino Matus. And his conclusion is dead-on: "In a way, it's a little miracle that meat-eaters and vegetarians can come together and eat peacefully--at the Home of the Whopper no less."

LILEKS HAS A RATHER SCREEDISH BLEAT about why it's hard to take American Muslims' complaints about insensitivity seriously (scroll down past the amusing Target story). He's right, as this excerpt illustrates:

So. The host of the radio show asked for an example of an anti-Arab movie, and one of the guests said “Rules of Engagement.” Which concerned some Yemeni militants shooting up a US Embassy. He said that America does not make movies showing the positive side of Yemen, the normal happy civil daily life. The host of the show pointed out that 17 Americans died when a US ship was blown up in a Yemen port. The guest remarked that it was the failing of American movies that they did not show why people were driven to such actions.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s me. I assume that in most places around the world, normal civil daily life is the rule, and that it is not inconsistent with a culture that harbors all sorts of alarming ideas. But it got better: the show took a call from a woman who came in as hot and fast as a jet overshooting the deck of an aircraft carrier; she said YOU PEOPLE, which is always my cue to file the fulminations under DISREGARD. She was steamed about the Saudi media stories that described the elaborate means by which Jews extract blood from Gentiles for their holiday pastries.

Said the guest, as cool as could be:

“I thought we were talking about stereotypes.”

Meaning, the stereotypes he didn’t like. That an Arab state-run newspaper should print the Blood Libel, and that a Western reader should draw an inference from this about Saudi culture, was irrelevant. And let’s remind ourselves of the subject matter of the interview: foreign Islamic extremists in American movies. By the guest’s logic, the truth about Arab attitudes in other countries should not be disseminated if it makes people draw conclusions about Arabs in America.

Back in the Fall I expressed the hope that the American Muslim community -- and in particularly the Arab-American Muslim community -- would play the kind of pro-American role that immigrant communities have traditionally played in past wars. It hasn't.

UPDATE: Read this story. Where was all this outrage and organization when it came to American Muslim groups that were supporting terrorism? Absent, that's where.

JIM PINKERTON offers a modest proposal for solving the Catholic Church's priest-abuse problems, in the truest Swiftian sense. I don't think this will help recruit new priests, though. Or parishioners. Ugh.

MATT WELCH is soliciting advice as he puts together the proposal for his book on the Nader 2000 campaign, tentatively entitled Speaking Lies to Power.

CONDI RICE BACKLASH: Robert George, over at The Corner pretty much rules out Condi Rice unless she recants any pro-choice views she might have expressed in the past. Hey, what about that "big tent?"

UPDATE: Reader Christopher Sentman says I've mischaracterized George's statement. I don't think so (though I suppose you can read it as saying that if she keep her views "personal" and doesn't let them influence policy it's okay for her to be pro-choice).

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, like most universities I've known, many of our buildings operate on what we call the "statistical theory of climate control" -- if you're too hot half the time, and too cold the other half, then on average, you must be comfortable.

I fear that the Catholic Church may adopt a similar response to the priest-abuse scandals. Having covered up genuine abuse for decades, I wouldn't be surprised to see the church switch to a draconian and unfair policy in the future. But that won't be justice, anymore than the statistical approach to air conditioning yields comfort.

UPDATE: Tony Adragna has some thoughtful views (and scroll down from this post for more).

ELECTRIC PUNDIT KEN ANDERSON EMAILS these comments about the Virginia lawsuit:

Speaking as a 2nd-year law student up at Cornell, I'm similarly amused/disturbed at the frivolous lawsuit arising from the professsor's pedagogical poke administered while teaching the Vosburg rule. If the Socratic method is still as much in force at UVA as it is at Cornell, our litigious law student can look forward to a great deal more psychic bruising than she has already received.

The thing is: Isn't Vosburg the first case taught in any Torts class? This means that our suing student decided *on the very first day of law school*, or very soon after, that she wanted to sue the school. This does, fortunately, point more towards an unbalanced personality than poor legal instruction at UVA. My suspicion is that our cranky law student is the end product of a politicallly correct undergraduate institution which piously emphasized that offensiveness/sexual harassment/ill-directed laughter/whatever are wholly in the eyes of the offended, reasonableness be damned.

Yes, it has always been my position that lawyers are supposed to be thick-skinned, and I certainly wouldn't be interested in hiring -- either as a client or as a law-firm employer -- anyone with such, er, fragile sensibilities as Miss Sanchez appears to possess.

3/25/2002

DAMIAN PENNY REPORTS ON THE SURREALISM OF THIS WAR: Canadian killers and Qaddafi peace plans. Go figure.

JEFF JARVIS has bad news about airport security.

BLOG WARS: The Sgt. Stryker / Nick Denton war seems to be escalating. Uh, Nick? You know the Sarge does this war thing for a living, right? Maybe it's time to start working on a "peace process."

HERE'S AN INTERESTING TIDBIT from Dave Farber's list: domestic U.S. computer spending is $600 billion a year; Hollywood's domestic earnings are $35 billion a year. The poster asks: "Someone remind me again why Congress pays Hollywood any attention?"

The answer is that politicians operate in the "ego economy" as much as in the "money economy," and Hollywood's ego-power gives it disproportionate influence. But this is a fact worth repeating as Hollywood tries to buy political control of the computer world.

LAW PROFESSORS ACROSS AMERICA ARE HORRIFIED by this story, and with pretty good reason. A law student is suing her professor at the University of Virginia for a light touch (she calls it a "caress"). The "touch" was part of teaching an old chestnut of a case called Vosburg v. Putney, in which an elementary student kicks another, freakishly inflicts serious injury, and is sued for the severe consequences of a minor wrongful act.

You might think there's a parallel here, but there shouldn't be: in Vosburg the whole point is that the kick was a wrongful act -- it was just the nature of the consequences that couldn't be foreseen. Here the act wasn't wrongful -- minor contact during a class illustration doesn't seem like a "battery" to me.

Were I the professor in this case, I'd pursue a scorched-earth response to this frivolous lawsuit, ensuring that the student and her lawyer would deeply regret instituting it. I wonder if law professors around the country will band together and file a class-action suit against the plaintiff and her lawyer, arguing that this frivolous suit endangers the atmosphere in classrooms across America?

UPDATE: Sorry, the link to the rather lame website for the Charlottesville Daily Progress now leads to a different story. They apparently just put up stories for the day in question, then consign 'em to oblivion.

PEOPLE KEEP EMAILING ME THAT I SHOULD READ THIS DILBERTESQUE STATEMENT by Martin Nisenholtz, and tremble for the future of the New York Times. But I'm not so sure. It does have a certain amount of obligatory corporate self-congratulation. But it's possible to infer from this that he plans to follow the lead of FoxNews, which might be an excellent move. But can the Times actually incorporate something like that without it becoming as dull as the op-ed page?

I HAVE THE DEEPEST RESPECT FOR JONAH GOLDBERG, but I don't care what he says, he'll never persuade me that mandatory consumption of haggis should be a part of the conservative platform -- or any other platform.

It might, however, be a suitable penalty for low-level Al Qaeda types.

STILL MORE ON THE CONDI BOOMLET: Now it's being taken up over on The Corner.

NOW ANDREW SULLIVAN is jumping on the Condi Rice 2004 vice-presidential bandwagon. Excellent piece, even to the conclusion that echoes Asparagirl's concerns.

UPDATE: Asparagirl has a new post putting this into perspective. She says Andrew's (and her) concerns aren't as significant as they might appear at first, and I think she's probably right.

ALLEN UPDATE: Reader James Hudnall writes:

Mia Farrow tried to charge him with pedophila during a custody trial over their son. She lost. Alan Dershowitz was her attorney. He really tried to tar Allen and succeeded to an extent. It was obvious to the jury, however, that she was bitter over the Soon Yi thing and was trying to hurt him.
Meanwhile, James Lileks emails to defend Fatty Arbuckle:
Actually, ol' Roscoe was probably innocent of the woman's death - if I remember an Arbuckle bio I read many years back, the cause of death was mostlikely peritonitis from either an amateur abortion or the effects of alcoholism. (Her name was Virginia Rappe, which had an odd premonitory sound to it.)

Through the miracle of the web, Roscoe's explanation is here.

And the whole story, with pictures of the particulars, is here.

I expect you'll get 31 letters on this matter. Maybe 32.

Yeah, I got a lot, considering the relative unimportance of Woody Allen and Fatty Arbuckle compared to the other things on today's page. But heck, it's the day after the Oscars, so what's a little Hollywood history?

OKAY, THIS IS A BIT HARSH: Jonah Goldberg has this to say about Woody Allen:

I hear that Woody Allen (AKA Skinny Arbuckle) got a standing ovation from the crowd. You would think that during the Church-pedophilia scandal Hollywood might have chosen a different hero.
Hmm. Fatty Arbuckle (accidentally) killed a girl by, ahem, pleasuring her with a champagne bottle. Woody Allen never did that. Pedophilia is sex with a child. Woody Allen hasn't, as far as I know, been accused of that. His now-wife, Soon-yi Previn, was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, and was much younger than Mia Farrow when Allen married her. But heck, I'm much younger than Mia Farrow. If I recall correctly, Soon-Yi was 24 when they got married. This isn't really in the same category as the priestly scandal, and blurs the pedophilia/underage sex distinction that The Corner usually tries to maintain.

There's no coverup or abuse of the confessional either. So lay off Woody. It's tough enough on him that he isn't funny anymore.

REP. ED MARKEY is warning of "black holes" in nuclear security.

Er, wouldn't "black holes" be good, since any terrorists who tried to slip through them would never be seen again?

Okay, this is kind of snide. But, really, shouldn't somebody who writes a report on nuclear security have at least the vaguest, Parade-magazine-level notion of what a "black hole" actually is?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON basically says that Steven Den Beste is right about the Arab world and what we have to do about it:

The truth is that there is a great storm on the horizon, one that will pass — or bring upon us a hard rain the likes of which we have not seen in 60 years. Either we shall say "no more," deal with Iraq, and prepare for a long and hard war against murderers and terrorists — or we will have more and more of what happened on 9/11. History teaches us that certain nations, certain peoples, and certain religions at peculiar periods in their history take a momentary, but deadly leave of their senses — Napoleon's France for most of a decade, the southern states in 1861, Japan in 1931, Germany in 1939, and Russia after World War II. And when they do, they cannot be bribed, apologized to, or sweet-talked — only defeated.
When all this started, I thought that such talk was alarmist. But after paying sustained attention to what's going on in the Arab world, I don't feel that way any more.

And I do mean Arab, more than Islamic. Yes, there is anti-Western sentiment in the non-Arab Islamic world. But it's much more muted -- and where it's present, there's usually Saudi money behind it. It's the Arabs who have taken leave of their senses. And I think, more and more, that Den Beste is right and that they need to be defeated -- soundly, completely, brutally -- like Germany and Japan in were World War Two, or the American Confederacy was. Defeated so that their spirit is broken, and their culture permanently and fundamentally changed despite their heartfelt wishes that it were otherwise. The good news is that for all their bluster, they're much less formidable foes. The bad news is that the West has hamstrung itself with the absurd notion that the sovereignty of such nations is worthy of respect.

PATRICK RUFFINI has so much new, good stuff on his site that I'm not going to link to individual entries. Just go there.

RISHAWN BIDDLE skewers Eric Alterman in the Letters page at MediaNews. Alterman replies with a limp admission of ignorance.

MICHAEL LEDEEN has another excellent piece on Iran, where we should be encouraging the Mullahs' regime to unravel, as it clearly is:

So we have witnessed yet another referendum on the Iranian regime, and the people have again voted against it. As if further confirmation were required, attendance at leading mosques was sparse, even though the Shia month of mourning — the holiest period of the year for the faithful — started at the same time. No wonder several leading ayatollahs have recently supported a national referendum on the continuation of the Islamic Republic. They now fear that the fall of the regime will bring down Islam along with it.

At the same time, the regime has become increasingly brazen in its support of terrorism. There are almost daily calls for further violence against Israel and America, and even the scandalously unobservant American press has noted that Iran is actively supporting anti-governmental groups in Afghanistan.

Ledeen's doing a great job of covering this stuff, but where's everybody else?

EUROPE DROPS THE BALL ON HUMAN RIGHTS, as this Washington Post editorial points out:

This year is the first in the 55-year history of the commission that the United States has been excluded as a member. Even as countries such as Syria and Sudan -- along with perennial targets Cuba and China -- were elected to the commission last year, the United States was voted off after its European allies declined to grant it an assured place. At the time, there was a lot of self-satisfied talk in Europe about teaching a lesson to the arrogant and unilateralist Bush administration. Now, however, the European governments that left themselves alone in Geneva risk giving the world a different lesson -- one in their own inability to stand up against torture, massacre and extrajudicial killings when they are practiced in places such as Chechnya or Tibet.

Though the U.N. commission has no real authority, Beijing has gone to great lengths to avoid the passage of resolutions in recent years, threatening would-be sponsors with economic and political retaliation. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations pressed resolutions anyway; with the United States gone this year, the European Union released its members to take action if they so choose. But so far none has done so -- not Britain, or Germany, or Italy or Spain -- and not France, or Sweden or Austria, the three countries that combined to muscle the United States off the commission last year. If that passivity continues, the message to China's Communist regime will be clear: Europe has no will to resist its suppression of political freedom, its torture and murder of the Falun Gong and other religious believers, its campaign against independent intellectuals or its crackdowns in Tibet and Muslim-populated Xinjiang province.

Yes. One conceit among Eurocrats has been that although the United States may carry the ball militarily, it's the Europeans who do the dirty, behind-the-scenes work of promoting international human rights through diplomacy. But in fact what's been demonstrated is that the same qualities of indiscipline that have made the Europeans unimportant in military affairs have carried over into the diplomatic sphere, too.

HIAWATHA BRAY of the Boston Globe thinks that weblogs are a fad. The reason: "More troubling is the fact that three quarters of Williams' subscribers got bored and gave up. Blogs are far easier to maintain than traditional Web sites, but they still need more effort than most bloggers are willing to supply."

Now, this is true. It's easy to start a blog, but keeping up posting over the long term seems to be a lot harder for most people. But then again, lots more people take up, say, playing the guitar than keep it up -- but that's not a fad. The real test of whether blogging is a fad, it seems to me, isn't so much how many people start writing but quit -- it's how many people keep reading.

HOW TO IRRITATE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DESERVE IT: Make Turkey a member of NAFTA! No, really.

The EU has been jerking the Turks around for years. Now they're threatening a trade war against the U.S. (not, I admit, without some justice) over Bush's dumb steel tariff decision. Opening U.S. trade to Turkey will give them a big goose in the rear, but in a pro-free-trade way. And it'll remind the Turks that we're their friends, which is extremely useful right now.

It'll also horrify the Islamofascist crowd, which is good. And it'll serve as a salutary lesson to many people that the United States can reward people as well as blow them up.

JAMES LILEKS has an amusing screed about "outsider artists" who make their living on the corporate dole.

I understand why the artists take the money. As a shareholder, I'm less happy with the corporations' doling it out.

WHO IS HAIM SABAN? He's the creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he gave the Democratic Party $7 million -- coincidentally on the same day Fritz Hollings introduced his entertainment-industry-backed Digital Big Brother bill. He's also, according to the L.A. Examiner, just been named a Regent of the University of California by Gray Davis, to whom he has given $600,000. That's in spite of the fact that Saban never graduated from College. I agree with Matt Welch that this stinks.

I also wonder: if a conservative Republican appointed a big donor who gave a lot of money to right-wing causes, but had never graduated from college, to the Board of Regents of the University of California, would we be hearing a lot about "politicization" and the "decline of standards" from, say, the New York Times editorial page? You know we would.

UPDATE: Several irate readers wrote to point out that Saban is the creator of the lame TV adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not the cool original comic books. True.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Laurence Jarvik writes:

BTW I remember when Haim Saban was a big Newt Gingrich backer, and the Mutant Turtles stood with him on the steps of the Capital (check it out in Nexis/Lexis) as part of the Republican Revolution. There was a tremendous anti-Turtle backlash in the press (accusations that horrors, Republicans would rather have children watch violent Turtles than PBS's Big Bird).
Not too long afterwards, Saban turns up as a Democratic donor to Bill Clinton, etc. So I'd guess he's (1) looking after his own business interests, (2) putting his finger to the wind and seeing which way it is blowing, and (3) angry at Bush for abandoning Israel (I believe Saban is from Israel). Just a theory.
Well, the Power-Rangers-on-the-steps part is certainly true, though from what I was able to find I could only infer a Saban/Gingrich axis, not establish one. But Al Gore did blast Saban and the Power Rangers about then.

OSCAR-O-RAMA: No, I didn't watch 'em. Like Dick Cheney, I had better things to do. But Jim Treacher has pithy cartoon commentary, and James Chen savages the Academy for racism for ignoring Asian-Americans. And the always-thoughtful Jim Webb has some interesting thoughts on war movies and how they may be changing.

Oh, and James Lileks explains why people like him, and me, don't care.

3/24/2002

ROBERT MUSIL says that the criminal law is in a muddle when it comes to its treatment of married couples, and contrasts the Yates case and the California dog-mauling case.

MATTHEW HOY thinks he's qualified to do Tom Friedman's job.

RAND SIMBERG points to an article suggesting an Iraqi angle to the Oklahoma City bombing.

THE GREAT FIREWALL OF CHINA IS HELPLESS AGAINST WEBLOGS reports the South China Morning Post:

For savvy Net users on the mainland, proxies and other kludges exist to get around the Internet barrier.

Now another information option is quickly developing.

One notable loophole in the content watch list are Web logs, popularly known as blogs.

Blogs are Web sites maintained by ordinary users that serve as online diaries, soapboxes and guides that Internet users swarm to for other obscure links to be found on the Net.

They are easy to update, cheap to maintain and difficult to block because new ones appear each day. They can be updated with a simple browser. Blogger, Greymatter and Movable Type are some of the more popular blogging applications.

Blogs can alter Google rankings, sway public opinion and sometimes provide news faster than the regular media. For example, The Drudge Report, one of the most famous proto-blogs in the United States, will usually link to or write about alarmist anti-China news.

However, it was easily accessible in Shanghai. So, as China attempts to block content from traditional media, it remains far more exposed to the new type of content created not by journalists, but by ordinary people. . . .

Internet content censors from China come from a different time and place in terms of technology. Blogs remain a concept difficult for them to understand for now.

Bloggers, as they refer to themselves, take pride in their ability to scoop regular media organisations and in the diversity of their views. Sites such as InstaPundit.com and MetaFilter have become highly influential. These sites work in China and they can guide users to sites beyond traditional media.

Buwhahaha! Thanks to loyal InstaPundit agent of infiltration Joseph Stocker for pointing out this story.

TIM BLAIR COMPARES HOSTILE EMAIL from George W. Bush and Michael Moore supporters, respectively. He finds a significant difference.

THE NIGERIAN MINISTRY OF JUSTICE has essentially declared Sharia law unconstitutional by stating that it violates the principle against discriminatory punishments in the Nigerian constitution. This will be very unpopular among the Saudi-backed Muslims in the north who have been pushing the strict Saudi Hanbali version of Sharia (source of the recent stoning-for-adultery sentences) at the Saudis' behest. Stay tuned.

STEVEN DEN BESTE says that to win the war, we have to do more than defeat Al Qaeda -- we have to introduce major changes to Islam, comparable to the changes in Japan after World War Two:

Many Muslims are already tolerant. But many are not, and there is a major core of the faith of Islam which is not.

That is also what existed in Japan going into World War II, and to ultimately pacify Japan it was necessary to completely gut its culture and rebuild it according to our desires. There have been few nations as radically changed in such a short time as Japan between 1946 and 1951, when the occupation officially ended and a formal peace treaty was signed with the new government of Japan.

I fear that before this war ends we shall have to make changes as radical to the majority of Islamic nations, especially the Arab ones. I fear that, because I don't see how this war can end if we don't, unless we are defeated. We can't merely defeat them militarily; I think we have to break their spirit.

I hope that we don't have to do that. But we're fools to assume that we won't have to, and we'll be bigger fools if we reach that point and are unwilling to do it.

RICHARD BENNETT notes that just after birth is the riskiest time in a child's life where murder is concerned, and that 89% of murdered infants are killed by their mothers. Think we'll see this on the Oxygen Channel?

AMERICAN MUSLIMS are calling FBI raids on Muslim charities proof that the war is really a war against Muslims. Well, God knows I'm willing to believe that the FBI has screwed things up.

But it's also true that "mainstream" Muslim groups have in fact been big supporters of terror -- and the American Muslim spokespeople who are condemning these raids have not been out there loudly criticizing the Saudis for supporting bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein for engaging in chemical warfare against his own people. If these groups want to be voices for "moderation," as they say, they need to step up to the bar. Not many have.

Someone will probably write and say "what about the charities that support the IRA?" Hell, raid them too. Like I care.

JOEL KOTKIN SAYS that reports of an "urban renaissance" are largely bogus, and that the real growth is in suburban fringes. He also makes a point that InstaPundit has made, to the effect that 9/11 will encourage sprawl as an antiterrorist measure:

Large companies -- the traditional "anchor" tenants of large high-rise developments -- are under increased pressure from their own insurers and stockholders to disperse their operations. "No one wants to be the next Cantor Fitzgerald," the bond trading firm that lost more than 600 of its 1,000 employees when the Twin Towers collapsed, points out Matt Walton, president of E Team, a California-based firm that advises companies and governments on emergency preparedness.
I've suggested before that Cold-War nuclear fears encouraged suburbanization. I think that dynamic is at work again.

I also think it's a good thing. Dispersal is an excellent defense against most terrorist attacks and nuclear disasters.

THIS COLUMN ON THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY by Steven Levy is a couple of weeks old, but I just ran across it. It's excellent. Excerpt:

Despite a plethora of problems that have nothing to do with the Net, media executives are obsessed with the idea that their customers are shiftless pirates who want their wares for free. The world got a chance to sample this mind-set at the Grammys last week, when National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences head Michael Greene hijacked his own awards ceremony to rant Queegishly about music downloading, “the most insidious virus in our midst.” (So much for HIV.)

In the short run, the media companies are counting on the courts to shut down the Napsters of the world. Long range, they’re betting on security schemes that intentionally limit the functions of both hard- and software. Some labels have already begun to ship compact discs encoded with a special process that prevents copying. Consumer advocates are appalled that the copy-protected discs deny users their legal rights to copy music for personal use on digital devices like computers and MP3 players.

To make sure that the customer’s larcenous options are totally closed off, however, copy protection must be built into computers and other devices. Enter Hollings’s proposed Security Standards and Certification Act. The bill demands that all digital electronic devices be saddled with systems that restrict copying of tunes and movies. Earth to moguls: beware of what you wish for. Business-school professors could feast for years on the unintended consequences that come from treating Britney Spears tunes like nuclear secrets. Clearly, clamping locks on electronic equipment and intentionally crippling CDs wouldn’t increase sales. Would it depress sales? Almost certainly.

Read the whole thing. Then call or write your Senators and Representative (don't bother emailing; it doesn't work) and tell them this is evil and stupid.

UPDATE: Here's an alert from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on this subject; it includes a sample letter.

TV PUNDITWATCH is up!

JOSH MARSHALL HAS more on dual citizenship and why he's against it.

THE "AMERICAN STREET" IS ANGRY AT THE PALESTINIANS, according to this Newsweek poll. Think Yasser Arafat is wondering "why do they hate us?" He should be.

The Palestinians are losers, and for evidence I point to the cover of Newsweek's rival Time, which shows a Palestinian shooting an SKS rifle at an Israeli tank -- from the hip, of course, just to insure that he's more likely to hit innocent bystanders than the tank, which the SKS is as likely to harm as a water balloon. It's the perfect combination of boyish macho posturing and ineffectiveness, and sums up the entire Arab world in one photo. Losers!

I was once somewhat sympathetic to the Palestinians, but it is now hard for me to imagine any circumstances in which I would object to anything the Israelis do. The Palestinians, and not just the leadership but the huge mass of them, have made clear that they want to see dead Jews -- or, in a pinch, dead Americans -- more than they want peace. As a thought experiment, imagine what the West Bank or Gaza would look like if Israelis or Americans took a corresponding position. The Palestinians -- like the Arab world generally -- rise and face Mecca every day entirely, and I mean entirely, on the sufferance of a charitable and nonviolent West. But they've been depending on the kindness of strangers whom they're lying to and trying to kill for too long.

And, yeah, I know: supposedly most Arab muslims are peaceful, etc., etc. Well, they need to get off their asses and control the non-peaceful ones, or any complaints about collateral damage will ring pretty damned hollow. I still remember the street celebrations on 9/11, and so -- to judge from the polls -- do most Americans.

HEY -- GUESS WHAT! A BBC reporter has discovered that the People's Republic of China is a Police State! Even though it has, like, Starbucks and Pizza Huts and stuff! I can't improve on the description from reader Holly Watson, who forwarded the link:

The tone is priceless - he seems genuinely surprised at all this. At first I thought his defiance of the Chinese police thugs was brave - then I realized it was just stupid.

Next up: Beneath the brilliant orange sunsets of Houston's skyline, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes finds pollution-belching petrochemical facilities.

Chortle.




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