InstaPundit.Com

4/6/2002

JIM BENNETT'S latest column is about Japan. He wonders if Koizumi will be able to do for Japan what Margaret Thatcher did for Britain.

ROBERT BAUER SAYS HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN -- but, he notes, so is stealing restaurant silverware.

GOOD ADVICE FOR NEW BLOGGERS from The Sarge. The post says it has 15 comments, but -- as is often the case for me -- I can't open the comments. They're probably worth reading, too, though, if you can.

SUICIDE BOMBINGS: A legitimate tactic of war? That's the implication of a passage in this New York Times article by Douglas Frantz:

Still, the Palestinians are badly overmatched in weapons. The relative paucity of high-powered weapons discovered in the Israeli incursions underscores the contention by Palestinian militants that suicide bombers are their only means of countering one of the world's best-equipped armies, which uses heavily armored tanks and American-supplied warplanes and helicopter gunships to dominate the conflict.
There might be something to this, if the suicide bombers were actually attacking that army, instead of pizza places, Passover seders, and bat mitzvahs.

Does The New York Times not understand the difference? And if not, why exactly are we listening to them?

NOT A BLOGOSPHERE THING: Reader Boris Kuperschmidt forwards this story saying that traffic has been up at all news-related websites for the past week. The increase of my traffic -- which is in the neighborhood of 33% -- seems pretty consistent with what's going on at major-media sites. I guess people are just so disgusted with CNN that they're turning to the web for news.

OKAY, I DON'T KNOW FOR CERTAIN, but I'm pretty sure that this blog isn't really by Alex Beam.

READER EMAIL: My post below brought this strongly critical (and hence encouraging) email:

For the most part, I think you're spot on with your comments about the Arab world.

But I strongly disagree with the idea of *ever* interning Arab Americans as a group, no matter what some of them say.

There *are* Arabs and Muslims who regard suicide bombings and all the trappings of Islamofascism with disgust. I understand how they feel..I regard the actions of Christofascists like Eric Rudolph with a similar disgust.

These dissidents are intimidated, threatened, and marginalized in their communities. Then they get ignored by mainstream America, in favor of the bravado of teenage goofs. (If that girl really wanted to martyr herself, she could do it..far easier, of course, to make statements to TV cameras.)

There is some cause for worry about Islam in America, and the sympathy for extremists in that community. But talking about internment camps helps no one but the extremists.

Until the day when we can prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that *all* Arab or Muslim Americans are working for the Islamofascists, we shouldn't even *think* of anything like internment camps. I'm willing to bet that a poll of German-Americans in the days before Pearl Harbor would have revealed favorable attitudes towards Nazi Germany similar to those that seem to be present among Arab Americans and Muslims in the US today. We won the war without incarcerating them en masse, and I think we can win this war without imprisoning Arabs or Muslims. And I'm willing to bet that, once the Islamofascist forces are broken and defeated, and their evil is laid bare in undeniable fashion, shorn of media spin and propagandistic apologia, there will be about as many Arab- or Muslim-American sympathizers of Islamofascism as there are German-American Nazis today..in other words, a very small lunatic fringe.

The logic of internment is similar to that of the Arab nations who expelled their Jewish populations in the late 40s, or that of modern day Iran. Personally, I'd rather leave that kind of behavior to the Khameinis and Rasfarajanis of the world.

It has become a cliche to say that, if we curtail civil liberties, "the terrorists will have won." I don't believe that for a second..they won't have won until they have achieved their goal of subsuming all humanity under the iron heel of Islamofascism.

The Islamofascists don't care about whether or not we have civil liberties. But *we* should, and flinging a group of American citizens into camps purely because of their ethnic origin would be a major blow against the rights of all Americans.

I will never "understand" suicide bombers or the urge to reenact the shame of Executive Order 9066. (I'm hoping you meant to put "sarcasm" tags around your use of the word.)

I'm serving in the military right now. I am not fighting to see an America where something like internment camps will make a comeback.

I'm delighted to hear that. I certainly don't support internment camps, and I rather assumed that regular readers realized that (then again, judging by my traffic I probably have a lot of new readers who aren't so attuned, which means maybe I should use the sarcasm tags clearly).

But, you know, what I want isn't going to drive what happens. If we see suicide attacks in the United States, and if the Arab- and Islami-American community keeps speaking approvingly of suicide bombings, and failing to criticize the extremists in its midst, the pressure for that sort of thing will become much stronger. The appropriate analogy isn't support for Germany by German-Americans before Pearl Harbor. It's how German (and Japanese-) Americans acted after Pearl Harbor. They weren't saying we should understand the Axis -- and if they had said that, they would have been lynched by their own communities. If you see an atomic or chemical bomb detonated in an American city, statements like the one below will be dredged up as proof that Arab-Americans can't be trusted.

We hear a lot about what "desperate" people can be driven to do. What "desperate" Palestinians do isn't a patch on what Americans will do if they ever become desperate. It behooves those who might be the target of that desperation to do what they can to prevent it, not to spread fuel for the fires. I don't believe that the random spoutings of a 14-year-old girl ought to count for much, but the failure of anyone of note from that community to contradict her is the problem. I believe that the leaders of the Arab and Islamic communities in the United States have dropped the ball almost completely on this issue. If they're going to marginalize and suppress the voices of sanity in their communities, then they're in a position of perilous dependence on the voices of sanity in the larger community. Such dependence on the kindness of strangers is a poor political stratagem.

THIS IS WHAT WE GET for Bush's outreach to American muslims right after September 11:

Thousands of miles from the bloodshed, one heard anger, disbelief and a teen-age girl saying that she, too, would blow herself up.

There is no other option, she said yesterday during an Arab-American and Muslim rally to protest the latest developments in the Middle East.

She is 14, a girl of Syrian and Jordanian roots. She wears braces. And she talks of willingly strapping on explosives.

"This is what desperate people do," she said.

Few people at the spirited but peaceful rally at the Islamic Center of San Diego said they thought it would come to this, that even young Palestinian women would become suicide bombers, although an 18-year-old blew herself up and killed two others a week ago in Jerusalem.

Few condoned it, but many said they understood. And some, like the teen, said she would do it, too.

I don't condone the notion of putting all Arab-Americans in internment camps. But too many unchallenged comments like this from Arab-Americans and I'm going to understand it.

When will the Arab-American community start demonstrating patriotism, instead of mouthing Islamist catchphrases and offering Zogby-like excuses?

UPDATE: Matthew Hoy, who sent me this link, has some comments of his own. Excerpt:

Unlike the American Muslims today, Japanese-Americans never asked the American public to understand what could have driven the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor. . . .

All Americans need to be wary of the hatred in our midst. Unfortunately, I don't think it will be long before many Muslims are clumped in with the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam. Politicians can only proclaim Islam as a "religion of peace" for so long, when so many of its adherents practice hate, terror and praise suicide bombers.

In time of war, immigrants are expected to prove their loyalty. So far, the Arab-American community is falling short.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: David Warren weighs in on the non-wobbly side. I hope he's right.

THE EXCELLENT BROOKS ARTICLE THAT MENTION BELOW is up on their website now. Highly recommended.

WHY PEACE ACTIVISTS HATE ISRAEL -- AND AMERICA. From John Weidner:

Israel started out as a Socialist we-are-all-workers- living -together-on-the-Kibbutz place. But they weren't fooling anybody. From the beginning it was a country that people are trying to get into, not out of. That's a dead givaway. Maybe they didn't wear neckties in the Knesset, but Jews were working hard, getting ahead, inventing things, prospering, thinking for themselves. The more European welfare states stagnate and the more the Islamic dictatorships stagnate, the more they both hate Israel. And the USA.

We make their program look bad. And it's the same program! An elite in the glossy halls of government will issue orders, and all will be happy and prosperous and stable. Same concept in Brussels and Bagdad. . . .

If Israel was an improverished Third-World command economy, they could probably grind up Palestinians to make Purina Pig Chow, and none of the activists or Arab brothers would say a word. Didn't Syria wipe a whole city off the map to get rid of some troublemakers, and where-oh-where were our activists then ? ...

This explains the presence of French anti-McDonald's "activist" Jose Bove among the pro-Palestinian "activists" who rushed down to Israel from Europe, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Just looked at the latest Weekly Standard, where David Brooks has a somewhat more sophisticated (and much longer) discussion that makes these points and some others. Most importantly, Brooks notes that it's not so much enthusiasm for a command economy (as Weidner suggests above) as jealousy of the energy of bourgeois societies that motivates such hatred. More on this later: it's a terrific piece.

MERYL YOURISH has FACT-CHECKED THE RECORDS of the U.N. Human Rights Commission's members, producing a long Microsoft Word document that's available for download at the site. (Follow the link above). This seems like a valuable resource for journalists, etc., covering these issues.

I NOTICE THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SLOWNESS OF BLOGGER LAST NIGHT. Blogger ProTM was working fine. I can understand why people just starting out might not want to make the commitment, but once you've become a dedicated blogaholic (a good measure of which, in my mind, is complaining about the slowness of Blogger) why not upgrade to Pro? I've been using it since the beginning, and I've found it very stable. And it's only $35.

CHLOROPHYLL ON MARS? Some researchers who've been studying the Pathfinder data think so. This would be big news, of course, if it were true, but I'm skeptical. (Via War Liberal).

CELINE DION'S COPY-PROTECTED, COMPUTER-CRASHING CD has gotten a lot of attention in the Blogosphere lately, so I wasn't going to write about it. (If you've been on Mars for the past week, the gist is that if you try to listen to it -- not copy it, just listen to it -- on the CD drive in your computer, it'll crash it dead.) But reader Tom Brennan sends this story containing a delightful quote from the record company:

Some fans believe that the CD is more damaging than that, however. On the German discussion boards at MacFixit, Mac users claim that the CD will not eject using normal methods and that the intentional corruption of the disc's session data could unpredictably affect the drive's firmware. (Firmware is a combination of hardware and software instructions that are permanently embedded in the hardware's controlling chips, such as with a computer's CD-ROM, and altering it could cause permanent damage.)

Sony denied these allegations. "The CD will probably cause a system to crash, but it will not alter anything," the spokeswoman said. "And it won't eject properly, but that's just because the computer has crashed."

Oh, THAT's a relief. It crashes your computer. And when you reboot the computer it'll crash it again. And you won't be able to get it out of the CD drive -- without prying it out with a paperclip -- because, of course, it's crashed the computer!

They've shipped an intentionally defective product and it's causing lots of people problems with their computers. Not only will they be sued all over the place for this, and probably lose, but it occurs to me that there may be criminal liability under some of the antihacking and "computer sabotage" statutes. Anyone seen anything on that?

4/5/2002

DAMIAN PENNY REPORTS on synagogue vandalism in Canada.

EMMANUELLE RICHARD reports on French reaction to the Pentagon conspiracy book -- and tells us that convicted hacker and Emmanuelle-drinking-buddy Kevin Mitnick is working on homeland security.

RAND SIMBERG offers history and perspective on a long, bloody feud. I like the peace offer at the end. And the giant atomic ants.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: Bill Quick, Stephen Green, and Andrew Sullivan all say that Bush isn't going wobbly.

WORTHWHILE CANADIAN EMAIL: Canadian reader Stephen Ogden writes:

A quick example confirming solid support for our southern neighbours from the bulk of us ordinary Canadians (from a recent regular visitor to InstaPundit).

As you know, on September 11 all your commercial air traffic not on the ground was diverted to Canadian airports. Our local radio station here in Vancouver gave numbers to provide room & board for stranded American travellers. When my wife called early afternoon to offer our house the lines were jammed, & when she did get through she was told that they had hundreds more offers than travellers.

Honestly, people were crying openly (no exaggeration) and even here on a typical university campus, except for the tiny whacko Left the support was universal -- and it doesn't seem to diminish at all.

Remember: no fair judging us Canucks by our weenie government.

God Bless America..

Fair enough.

EVERYONE'S A MEDIA CRITIC THESE DAYS, and lots of 'em are good. I love this observation:

Haven't seen / heard anyone mention the seeming inconsistency in language used to describe the IDF incursion into the West Bank.

The Palestinians say that Israel "occupies" Palestinian land, and in fact use that as the principal reason for the need to perform acts of terror. Yet most news reports are calling the latest defensive maneovers in the West Bank as a "reoccupation" of the West Bank....

Maybe I am missing something (and I truly might be), but how can someone "reoccupy" an area that they supposedly already "occupy?"

Just asking.....

Good question.

MORE CANADIANS -- Steve Levy writes:

This topic is of interest to me, as a former Canadian.

I attended the Guess Who concert in Anaheim in October. This is a band that came of age in the 1960s, but never lost their Canadian roots.

During the concert, they made several comments strongly supportive of American military anti-terrorist action, including statements such as 'America has bailed us out of trouble over and over for the past 60 years, and now they're doing it again.'

As anti-American as is the Canadian fabric - especially the usual suspects: media, academia, trade unionists, Liberal and NDP politicians - it was very encouraging to see icons in the Canadian entertainment industry be as supportive of American military efforts as they were. Maybe all is not lost up north.

Given that the Guess Who's biggest hit, American Woman, is generally regarded as an anti-American anthem, this is pretty impressive. Of course, times have changed since the '60s. It's interesting that '60s-era musicians like the Guess Who and Neil Young (also Canadian) have figured this out while so many academics and media types are still stuck in 1969.

TRAFFIC: My traffic has exploded this week, and there's no obvious cause. Bill Quick writes that he's seen something similar:

DailyPundit, which had only in the past month begun to average about 1000 hits a day, suddenly within the past ten days has jumped to over three thousand hits per diem. . . .

Could the cumulative effect of all the mainstream attention the warblogosphere has been getting the past few weeks suddenly have pushed us past a tipping point?

Beats me, but that's as good an explanation as I've seen.

BERKELEY HATEWATCH UPDATE:

Jewish students coming out of worship services have been pelted with eggs and subjected to epithets, Oleon said. Last week someone threw a cinder block through the front windows and wrote "F-- Jews" in black marker on the Jewish Hillel cultural center's recycling bins. Some Jewish students believe that Berkeley professors, even those who are Jewish, have unfairly come down hard on Israel in lectures.
I found this link over at Charles Johnson's site. Charles notes: "Of course the Palestinian students say they’re being harassed too. . . . But unless I missed something in this article, it’s only the Jewish students who are being pelted with eggs and having cinder blocks thrown through their windows.Someone should explain to the Berkeley folks behind this that in attacking Israel they're siding with the Pope. That should produce at least a week of soul-searching.

UPDATE: Kevin Deenihan says that the Berkeley Administration has known about this and kept it quiet. He also says CNN is investigating.

MORE EMAIL: I've had Canadians bashing Canada -- now here's an email from an American Naval officer who says Canada's response to 9/11 has been great:

I'm a US Navy submarine officer on exchange in Canada, working with the Canadian Navy in British Columbia. I've been on the job for about a year and have been watching the response of the Canadian Navy and civilian community on and since 9-11. Let me tell you from a first person perspective, Canada cares very much about the United States.

As I documented on my web page at http://members.shaw.ca/m.atwood/9-11.htm, the people that live here are generous, helpful and as loving as any I've met. My wife, who was very nervous after the attacks, had neighbors that we hadn't met offering gestures of sympathy and condolences. I had a military community that felt a cold anger build and wanted in the fight.

Canada has committed over 1/3 of its Naval Forces directly to the fight in the Gulf and Arabian Sea. Special Forces are on the ground. Let's face it, we have a neighbor to the (True) North that is a great friend. Admittedly, some of the things coming out of Ottawa are pretty silly, but not much sillier than what came out of Washington for so many years. The softwood lumber tariffs in BC are causing a lot of grief, yet there is no slacking in the support for the war on terror.

I say, thank God for our neighbors.

Mark Atwood
LCDR, USN

Interesting.

SOME PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW how to register their disapproval of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee's denunciation of 1994 winner Shimon Peres but not of 1994 winner Yasser Arafat. Well, all I know is what's on this contact page that I found via Google. You've heard of Google, right?

Yeah, I know. Sometimes I forget to check Google for obvious stuff, too. Anyway, there's the page, and it's got email addresses.

HOMOSEXUALITY IN KANDAHAR: An interesting article from the Los Angeles Times.

MICHAEL BARONE has it exactly right:

It is often said that we cannot prosecute a war against Iraq until there is a solution to the Palestinian problem. But actually it is the other way around. We cannot get a solution to the Palestinian problem until we have successfully prosecuted the war against Iraq.

That is because the problem that needs to be solved is the state of mind of the Arabs. As long as Arabs, and Palestinians particularly, believe that they can extirpate the state of Israel, there will be no solution they and Israel can agree on.

Exactly.

A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS, AND A MAJORITY OF PILOTS want pilots to fly armed. And they're big majorities. Tom Ridge disagrees, and Bush is backing him.

God help them both if there's another hijacking. 'Cause I won't.

MICHAEL KINSLEY goes after the Luddite Left in Slate today. Good column.

BLOGGERS ARE RESPONDING to the letter from Eric Alterman that's posted below. Here's Jim Treacher's take. And here's Asparagirl's.

UPDATE: And here's a mini-editorial from Popshot Magazine. That was fast!

BRENDAN NYHAN SAYS that the Washington Post should get a blog. He has a number of other interesting thoughts about establishment and new media, and uses as a springboard a story that originally appeared on MediaWhoresOnline -- one about a Washington Post reporter who got an email from an unhappy reader, and complained to the reader's boss.

Interestingly, that's the story that originally piqued my curiousity about MediaWhoresOnline. I started to link to it, but I noticed that the MWO site was completely anonymous, and the story didn't link to anything else I could use to confirm it. I don't like running factual assertions from completely anonymous people with no other indicia of reliability (this is one reason I don't trust Debka much, either), so I decided not to go with the story, though it now seems to be true.

By the way, I kind of like the sound of "get a blog!" Sort of like "get a horse!" only with a more progressive technological slant.

JEFF JARVIS says The Economist is wrong about about terror for a "deserving cause."

MATTHEW HOY IS SAVAGING PAUL KRUGMAN.

CORRECTION: Earlier this post said "fact-checking" Paul Krugman. I don't know why. I'm blaming the cold medication for that one. It's slowed me down a bit.

WHAT'S WRONG IN CANADA? AN ANSWER. The other day I asked why I was getting so many angry emails about Canada from Canadians. This produced (of course) still more angry emails, many of them quite eloquent. Here's one that sums up most of the rest:

I won't make this too long - I'll try to be about as brief in the face of a long list of grievances as was the Declaration of Independence.

Were it not for the fact that American culture seeps by osmosis throughout the world (not without our government trying at every turn to stop it), it could be much worse.

We have a government that values tolerance, understanding and sensitivity over justice. They value multiculturalism and diversity over prosperity, patriotism and national pride.

Our Prime Minister and government left most Canadians ashamed in the wake of 9/11. Canadians once fought valiantly for the cause of freedom. Two generations have passed since then. Our current government has no such morality, no such courage. Our government's response to September's tragedy sullied the memory of those who sacrificed their very lives to provide the basis for freedom. They provided the basis for freedom, but could not ensure it. Freedom must be earned each day. Our government, and many foolish Canadians, balk at the price (like the rest of the world, we prefer to let you pay for it). Today's government - although not just Canada's in this case - would gladly devalue to meaningless the sacrifice of our veterans when threatened by something as mildly evil and threatening as the Durban conference, never mind something so morally unequivocal as the World Trade Center bombings or Israel's war against those who wish it annihilated.

Were I Prime Minister in September I would have been in New York the next day - serving coffee if need be - but doing something to help. Our Prime Minister waited weeks and lied by saying that Guiliani's office had told him not to come! Can you imagine the shame of being represented in such a way? You are our very generous neighbour, for which I am ever-thankful. If my neighbour's house burnt down tonight, I would be there immediately to offer whatever help I could. True, most days we barely exchange a nod. I have never had them in my home. But there are times where being a neighbour takes on a different meaning. Canada's response to 9/11 was the equivalent of me standing over the ashes of their home and saying "that'll teach you to play with matches". That you are so forgiving of such "friends" as Canada is one of the reasons American culture is so much sought after, and is one of the reasons it will prevail.

We have a government still trying a dozen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall to show that socialism works, and that government has the answers. We face an incredible tax burden due to a redistributive policy that, if not reversed, will see Canada become another Argentina in a generation. Our government is acutely averse to any policy that de-centralizes governmental power, or reduces their influence on the daily lives of people. They believe that charity does not start at home - it starts with the Prime Minister. Government largesse is doled out - in wildly disproportionate amounts to Quebec and other regions that continue to re-elect the ruling Liberals - with little regard for taxpayers and a belief that individuals cannot make a just society, only government can.

If the U.S. would accept Canadians as political refugee claimants you would have a long line at the border. Our country has ceased to be a representative democracy, and is suffering a slow death which the U.S. itself narrowly avoided. The takeover of our educational establishments decades ago has succeeded in destroying most of the characteristics of Canadian society that contributed to its early successes. The politically correct, tolerant-of-all-at-all-costs, multicultural, compassionate collective result is a country that no longer stands for anything. Nor are we against anything, except perhaps the U.S. Canada is a country that would be unable to define itself were there not an America. We cannot say what we are, or what we stand for, but whatever it is, it isn't what you stand for. Such is our anti-identity. What is going on up here is a people constructing a society whose goal is to avoid all that is right with yours.
Well, come on down, folks! We're always happy to take refugees from the Great White North. Hell, we took Peter Jennings, and we don't even like him.

Or else get your own alternative media / alternative politics machine going and take back your country. You'll have plenty of sympathy and support from most of the blogger community.

UPDATE: Reader Linda Kommrusch writes:

I used to live in Canada and today's post is completely accurate. I was happy to read something so well written and so true. Usually Canada is not on the radar chart of American journalists at all - and when it is mentioned Canada is treated as it it's a pro-American, warm-fuzzy, brotherly country different from the US only in that it is colder (true) and allegedly has better health care and other government services (not true). Thank you!
Meanwhile Peter Watt says the problem exists elsewhere: "The long post from "ashamed" of Canada speaks for me in New Zealand, too. The similarity between our local situations is uncanny. Australia is in the same situation, as well."

HOLY SH*T! Just checked yesterday's traffic and it was 47, 334! Where is it coming from?

JONAH GOLDBERG has some good thoughts on suicide bombers and hopelessness.

MEDIAWHORESONLINE UPDATE: Reader Glen Hoffing writes:

Normally you can find who owns a domain name by:

1) going to www.netsol.com
2) clicking on whois
3) entering the domain name

This has always worked for me in the past. However, when I tried it with www.mediawhoresonline.com, I found out that it is obviously possible to register a domain name with completely bogus information.

Hmm. Very suspicious.

IN THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF HIS TRAFFIC-CAMERA TOUR-DE-FORCE, Matt Labash observes that they're not very popular, despite the claims of their boosters:

While the cities' most common refrain is that the majority of the public supports the technology, the public sure has a bizarre way of showing it.

Across the United States and Canada--where two provincial elections have swung for politicians promising to scrap local photo radar programs--citizens have made it clear why the supposedly beloved technology is installed inside bullet-proof casings. In Anchorage, photo radar operators were pelted with water balloons before cameras were finally banned. In Denver, police thought somebody fired on their photo radar van, though the projectile turned out just to be a rock. Elsewhere, camera units have been smeared with lubricant, pulled out of the ground with tow chains, and rammed by automobiles. In Paradise Valley, Arizona, where the city council once contemplated shooting motorists with photo radar cameras concealed in cactuses, one civic-minded citizen decided to shoot back, emptying 30 rounds of bullets into two photo radar units.

That's what historian Gordon Wood calls "out of doors political activity," and it's an American tradition that predates the Revolution, like tar and feathers. Which, if this crap continues, could stand a revival itself.

ROBERT WRIGHT suggests that Israel's present is America's future. He's half right. It's our future if we let this sucide bombing work. The way to keep it from being our future, frankly, is to kill a lot of the right people now. That's the part that Wright has had trouble grasping all along.

STEPHEN GREEN IS BACK -- and boy is he pissed! Especially at the Nobel folks.

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR (or the blogger):

Where did all you bloggers get the idea that I think "blogging" is a bad idea? I think Andrew Sullivan's blogging is a bad idea, just as I think most things Andrew does are bad ideas. I can't imagine many people care about his bathroom troubles and his dinner parties and I think it rather self-indulgent of him to think anyone does. But are exploding toilets and "stomach evacuations" really what blogging are about? I said specifically in my column on Andrew that I learned much from Mickey Kaus's blog and also from Josh Marshall's. I also very much enjoy spinsanity.org and mediawhoresonline.com, which are both blogs, as far as I can tell, along with this one. A worthwhile, in my view, blog is one that sticks to topics that are likely to be of interest to significant numbers of people and treats them intelligently and (relatively) responsibly. Is that so outlandish a position? I have no brief for the "credentialed" media, much less the mainstream media. I just think it's a good idea for everybody to keep their egos in check. Editors help most writers do that, and they also help them find points and arguments they've missed. But if people can do all that without editors, I say "Blog On" (Reggae Woman)"

all the best,

Eric Alterman

I wondered if this was authentic, so I verified it via The Nation. It seems to be.

I like Spinsanity, too. Mediawhoresonline, sadly, seems to be all-too-aptly named, and it's not at all clear who's behind it. Anonymous speech on the Internet is something I believe should be legal -- but I don't put much credence, generally, in anonymous publications. I'd be interested in knowing who's behind that site, if any readers know.

UPDATE: Alterman writes back to ask me to add this PS, which I wasn't sure was for publication:

PS. It occurs to me that my late friend and mentor, Izzy Stone, might be considered the first blogger. He was wrong about a lot of things, but I suggest his work (collected in six volumes by Little, Brown and Co.) to all as a model of thoughtful, committed independent reporting and commentary
Yes, I've actually made the bloggers/Izzy Stone connection here myself a time or two. In fact -- though I'm no fan of Stone's work on substantive grounds -- he's a good example of how someone with strong ideas and a good style can have wildly disproportionate influence in relation to the number of subscribers.

THE 1994 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WAS A MISTAKE, THE NOBEL COMMITTEE SAYS. At last, I thought, they're coming to their senses. BUT NOOOO. . . . It's not the award to Arafat they regret. It's the award to Peres:

In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper, committee members said they regretted that Mr Peres' prize could not be recalled because, as a member of the Israeli cabinet, he had not acted to prevent Israel's re-occupation of Palestinian territory.

One member said Mr Peres had not lived up to the ideals he expressed when he accepted the prize.

"What is happening today in Palestine is grotesque and unbelievable," said Hanna Kvanmo.

"Peres is responsible, as part of the government. He has expressed his agreement with what [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon is doing," she said.

If Arafat were killed by Israel, Peres could "share in the blame"

"If he had not agreed with Sharon, then he would have withdrawn from the government."

Oslo Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, a committee member for the past eight years, describes as "absurd" what he sees as the involvement of a Nobel laureate in human rights abuses.

Other committee members argue that the Israeli government's actions in general and Mr Peres' involvement in particular are threatening to bring the prize into disrepute.

Words fail me. These guys aren't just idiots. They don't just lack moral judgment. They have negative moral judgment. I believe the traditional term for that characteristic is "evil."

UPDATE: Meanwhile, over 200,000 non-evil people have signed a petition to revoke Arafat's peace prize at this site.

OKAY, several emailers -- including the scrupulously fair Eugene Volokh -- think that my post on The Economist is unfair. I don't, but that's a given: I wouldn't have posted it if I did. But I still think that the notion of terror in a worthy cause as somehow being better misses the point. Is it okay for me to firebomb the Economist's offices and incinerate the staff, so long as my cause is worthy? If so, then isn't it okay for the Israelis to napalm Ramallah so long as the cause (survival) is worthy? And if it's not, then what point, exactly, was The Economist trying to make?

UPDATE: Canadian reader Anthony Almudevar writes:

I think I've been following events in the Middle East fairly closely, and I don't recall hearing of any suicide bombings in the last few days. Does this mean what the Israelis are doing is working?
Yeah. I guess so. Does that mean that The Economist would call the Israelis' actions, which it has condemned, justified now?

WATCH is a weblog covering the war on terror. Pretty interesting.

CHARLES OLIVER'S Brickbats column is now online. I like that.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR MARK WARNER has blocked both an abortion ban and a gun ban this week. Maybe there's hope for domestic politics yet.

WOBBLY WATCH: The Wall Street Journal editorialists are worried that Bush may be going wobbly, though they're not entirely sure. Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan thinks he got it right.

A majority of readers who've emailed me seem to think Bush has caved on terrorism. However, a substantial minority favor the rope-a-dope interpretation, and note that (1) the military buildup against Iraq, etc., proceeds unchanged by all the hoopla; (2) American media, and Arab and European diplomats, who would otherwise be agitating to put the brakes on an invasion of Iraq are now fully occupied with a sideshow, and other U.S. military actions (in Yemen, for example) are getting a lot less attention than they otherwise would; (3) the Israelis have been given plenty of time to break Arafat's organization and gather useful intelligence; and (4) our enemies in the Arab world and elsewhere have revealed themselves. These are all plausible arguments. I hope they turn out to be true.

4/4/2002

THE ECONOMIST JOINS THE ARYAN NATIONS in approving suicide bombing:

Yet Palestine does not fit the September 11th template. For this is terrorism harnessed to a deserving cause: the independent statehood that America itself has taken pains to say it supports.
Nonsense. This -- as The Economist should know, and as the New York Times made clear today -- is not about an independent Palestinian state, which Arafat got with the pissed-away Oslo accord, but about destroying Israel and replacing it with an "Islamic state." The terrorists say it. Why can't The Economist? Because admitting this would force it into taking sides? And in favor of Israel?

And does The Economist really believe that terrorism is okay if the cause is "deserving?"

ALICE wonders what Bryant Gumbel will do now that he's leaving The Early Show. Maybe he should start a blog. I never watched The Early Show, but I'd visit his blog occasionally. Since, apparently, no one else ever watched The Early Show either, he'd be at least one up!

WHO ARE "OUR GUYS," if not these guys, asks John Ellis.

MICKEY KAUS has a good piece on the (un)constitutionality of campaign finance reform. It's not very nice to Paul Wellstone. The conclusion is really good, too.

UNLIKE THE ARYAN NATIONS, Matt Welch doesn't sympathize with terrorists -- and he says that those who make excuses for them are really denying their humanity.

THE ARYAN NATIONS are praising suicide bombers and hoping that they will be joined by Americans of similar orientation:

Will the sons and daughters of YHVH God be joining with the zealous soldiers of Mohammed, rising up in righteous indignation? Will the Phineas Priests and Phineas Priestesses begin awaking all over this country to "execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people" as the Psalmist David foretold?
No surprise here, in a way -- their fellow-yahoos the Posse Comitatus cheered the 9/11 attacks within an hour of the World Trade Center's collapse. For those who don't know, the Phineas Priests are a rather nasty bunch of homegrown terrorists and terrorist-wannabes.

I hope the FBI keeps a real close eye on these guys.

JEWS KILLED JESUS -- and not just any Jews, but Israeli soldiers. That's the message of the mural at St. John's Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is truly pathetic.

I'll bet the Aryan Nations crowd likes it, though.

ANGRY CANADIANS: Another one. Reader Michael Homburger has this to say:

The recent attacks on Jews in Europe are quite revealing. Wasn't it the
Europeans . . .who just recently were warning of a backlash against Muslims in the United States--presumably by simple, unsophisticated, redneck Americans--after a bunch of Saudis crashed hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania countryside killing upward of 3,000 people (although that number might be subject to a downward revision if that guy in France is correct about the Pentagon)? Now these same Europeans, when faced with disturbing attacks on
their Jewish citizens by their Muslim citizens, sympathize with Muslim "frustration" at the situation in the West Bank. What a bunch of amoral, spineless hypocrites.
I'm getting more and more email like this from Canadians (see "Puppet Governments" below). What's going on up there?

ERNEST MILLER savages the "Children's Internet Protection Act" over at the very cool Yale Law School LawMeme site, which I've been meaning to mention for a while.

WOMAN PREGNANT WITH HUMAN CLONE? This story claims that Italian cloning researcher Dr. Severino Antinori reports that a woman is 8 weeks pregnant with a human clone. At least, I think that's what he said. The story isn't entirely clear, since it also has him saying that this is "therapeutic cloning." Stay tuned.

THE GREAT CLONE CAPER -- CHRIS MOONEY explains how a lot of lefty academics got suckered into signing a right-wing petition against cloning -- and how many of them are now frantically backpedaling now that they've figured out what it was that they actually signed. Ooops! Except that now it's happening again with another petition. Don't these people ever learn?

HARDBALL INTERROGATION TACTICS at Guantanamo. Where's Amnesty International now?

IRONY: Rand Simberg reports:

A Palestinian woman received a kidney donated by a Jewish victim of a suicide-bombing. Can anyone imagine the reverse occuring? A Jew receiving an organ from a Palestinian that was killed by Israelis?

Compare and contrast two cultures--one that celebrates murder and destruction, and another that offers life to its enemies, born from the deaths that they cause.

Indeed.

CORRECTION: James Taranto sends this story from June about a Palestinian organ donation.

OH, BOY: Now some Berkeley students are trying to get universities to divest holdings in Israel. This is too stupid for words, even by Berkeley standards.

I've got a better human-rights campaign: divestment from Saudi Arabia, a corrupt theocracy that practices torture and murder.

HELP! I'M A BLOGGER TRAPPED IN A JOURNALIST'S BODY! Well, okay, P.J. O'Rourke doesn't actually say that, but read this piece from The Atlantic Monthly and you'll see what I mean.

NAT HENTOFF has a good column on censorship. Read it.

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: The Harvard Crimson can't decide whether to say "don't go!" or "good riddance!"

RUMOR HAS IT that a big story on cloning is going to break later today or tomorrow. Stay tuned.

AS IN BRITAIN, gun confiscation in Australia is leading to more gun crime. Well, duh. American scholars like John Lott could have told them that. In fact, I think they did tell them that.

ROPE-A-DOPE UPDATE: Several people have written me to say that I'm being too hard on Bush. They say that he's really playing a clever game, distracting the Arabs into thinking that they're having an effect on Administration policy while really continuing with plans for an attack on Iraq and smoking out anti-American forces throughout the Arab world so that they're easier to target for destruction.

I'd sure like to believe this, and it's not entirely unbelievable. Such an approach is Bush's style, and there's an item dated today on Debka that would tend to support it, to the extent that you believe Debka.

From my perspective, it doesn't matter. If Bush is really going wobbly (still more likely than the alternative, I think) then it needs to be pointed out. If, on the other hand, he's playing a clever game of pretending to go wobbly, well, then criticism won't do any harm and will even help the deception along.

UPDATE: Orrin Judd has a lengthy post supporting the non-wobbly view.

MATT LABASH writes that red-light cameras actually cause accidents, and that camera advocates know that but don't care:

The cameras were installed in 1998. Between the years 1997 and 2000, accidents increased at 5 of 13 intersections for which Howard County's Department of Public Works provided statistics. Rear-end accidents increased at 7; they more than doubled at 4, tripled at one, and quintupled at one. All told, the red-light-camera intersections reported a 21 percent increase in rear-end accidents, while total accidents increased 15.9 percent. Figures for all other county intersections also show an increase in accidents, but a smaller one (a 13.4 increase in total accidents and an 8.5 percent increase in rear-end accidents).
This is pretty damning stuff.

RED CROSS HYPOCRISY UPDATE: Damian Penny emails this, which he can't post to his blog because his boss might notice:

Further to your comments on the ICRC, I went to their website to check out what they have to say about the Israeli situation. In the "Israel" section, there are mentions of International Women's Day celebrations, destruction of homes in Gaza, food assistance for people in the West bank and Gaza...but NOT A DAMN THING ABOUT SUICIDE BOMBING OR ITS AFTERMATH. I guess that can all be left with the Magen David Adom, which the ICRC does not recognize.

But in this press release, I found an interesting tidbit, thrown in almost as an afterthought: the Magen David Adom has had ITS ambulances attacked as well! (It's mentioned in the sixth paragraph.) Incredible.
Yeah, it's pretty clear that the ICRC is in bed with the Palestinians. (Though recognition, if I'm not mistaken, is with the International Federation of Red Crosses, not the ICRC, for whatever that's worth). I wonder, though, why we haven't seen this mentioned in the many reports from the Middle East. I certainly haven't seen any mention of this.

PUPPET GOVERNMENTS: In response to my linking the Canadian editorial from "Ed the Sock Puppet" yesterday, reader Alan Cameron writes:

As a Canadian embarrassed by our weak government's response to 9/11, our pathetic contribution to the war on terror, our support of Mugabe, our criticisms of Gitmo and the Israelis, and so very much more in recent months, I can now say with certainty that our country - and our neighbour to the South - would be better served by the establishment of a puppet regime.
Hey, as Bush wobbles, Ed's looking better down here, too.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: It looks like Bush is crumbling.

MICHAEL MOORE AMBUSHED AT CORNELL! This story on Moore's appearance from the Cornell Daily Sun contains this delicious tidbit:

During the session, Matt Hirsch '02, a former Sun News Editor, approached the stage and presented Moore with a fake check of $10,000, Moore's honorarium for the appearance.

Despite lack of a microphone, Hirsch told the audience that Moore made more money off of this one speech than many teaching paraprofessionals make in one year.

"Motherfucker ... You come down with your check making a big-ass statement. ... I give this money away to organizations I support," Moore responded angrily.

After the lecture, Hirsch explained his actions.

"When one person's time -- and a short time at that -- is worth $10,000, there's a serious problem in the way in which we value people."

Note Moore's expression of solidarity with the working class. And he sure seems to hate it when people use his own style of ambush journalism against him, doesn't he?

INSTAPUNDIT HAS SPIES EVERYWHERE, and one of my moles at the ICRC sends this interesting report. As with all intelligence (er, or journalism) it cannot be guaranteed reliable, but this informant has been accurate in the past and his/her emails contain other evidence of accuracy:

I thought I'd write you again to update you on the latest from the International Red Cross here in Geneva. I recently read the piece in the New York Times about the legality of Israel's occupation of the West Bank,
Gaza and Golan Heights in which the author claimed that the occupation, contrary to what the UN was saying, was indeed legal since no peace agreement had yet been reached. From what I can tell, this is more or less the concensus among experts, except here at the UN and the Red Cross where anti-Israeli sentiment is part of the initiation course.

Anyhow, more so than the prisoners at Gitmo, the Israeli/Palestinian situation shows how biased the Red Cross is. Apart from anti-semitic e-mails floating around and the rather odd habit the Red Cross has of providing Palestinians with assistance that goes far beyond anything given to any other group anywhere else in the world (we provide Palestinians with jogging suits, t-shirts, running shoes and school backpacks, while Eritreans and Ethiopians who are in much worse shape get peas and cooking oil) [Emphasis added], the most interesting thing is the situation regarding the Palestinian Red Crescent and the ambulances funded by the International Red Cross. You might have seen recently that one of the ambulances was stopped and searched by the Israeli Defense Force which found explosives under a stretcher carrying a three-year old boy. There have also been instances where Palestinians have used ambulances for cover from the IDF.

The interesting point is that the issue of the IDF stopping ambulances and searching them is the one thing over which the Red Cross makes the biggest fuss. We're constantly giving the Israelis hell for doing it, saying they're contravening the Geneva Conventions and all that sort of thing. However, when the explosives were discovered in the ambulance recently, the ICRC had to admit that this was a problem. But in its statement regarding the discovery, the Red Cross still denounced Israel for stopping ambulances.

I can't say much about this now, but I do plan to write something about it when I leave the ICRC in the next year or so. However, someone else could write about it and start asking some questions.

Well, here's a heads-up for any investigative journalists interested in the Red Cross. Tally ho!

And even aside from possible antisemitism, isn't there something, well, racist about doing so much more for the Palestinians than for Ethiopians and Eritreans? God knows people would be saying all sorts of things about, say, the United States government if its email were full of racist jokes and it discriminated in this fashion.

GLOATING IN GAZA: This article from The New York Times makes clear what everyone except European politicians and idiots knew already: the goal of the suicide bombers isn't freedom for Palestinians, but the destruction of Israel:

Hamas wants Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements and full right of return for the four million Palestinians who live in other states. After that, the Jews could remain, living "in an Islamic state with Islamic law," Dr. Zahar said. "From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine."

Mr. Shenab insisted that he was not joking when he said, "There are a lot of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews."

The Hamas leaders are clearly enamored of the suicide attacks carried out by their followers. "It is the most effective strategy for us," said Dr. Rantisi. "For us it is the same as their F-16," the attack fighters used by the Israeli military.

And the response should be the same as if Israel were being attacked by airplanes. This is a war of annihilation, nothing less, and trying to pretend that it's all a big misunderstanding that could be resolved by a "peace process" is either clueless or dishonest.

MICHAEL MOORE UPDATE: The Spinsanity column I mentioned a couple of days ago is now up for free on their website. And there's an interesting -- and mostly unflattering -- discussion of Moore's veracity going on on his own messageboard.

DEREK LOWE HAS SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on medical progress, inspired by my comments on Mickey Kaus, below,

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE WAR, or politics, or anything like that. But it's more proof of why James Lileks rules. Visit here and see if you can make it through without at least a hint of a tear.

Now try to imagine Alex Beam doing something like this.

DAVE KOPEL says that postmodernism is headed for the ash-heap of history. Great piece -- though to be honest my favorite part is the conclusion, which has more to do with literature than with Heisenberg.

WHY DO THEY HATE US? Norah Vincent looks at anti-bloggerism in traditional media. Excerpt:

Why are Web logs so infuriating to their shrewish detractors? Is it really the narcissism? Or is it the political opinions being expressed? Ask yourself this question: If Palestinian intellectual Edward W. Said were blogging, would Alterman and Beam be calling him a navel gazer? Or would they praise his brave alternative point of view and complain that the mainstream press is too conservative?

Web logs are infuriating because they are thoughtful alternatives to the self-important New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and their toady satellites, much of whose reporting has become hardly less biased than the bloggers'. Bloggers at least have the honesty to admit their biases up front. They don't pretend to be objective.

I think she's hit the nail on the head with this one. Read the whole thing.

STILL MORE TERROR ATTACKS AGAINST JEWS IN FRANCE. After the Oklahoma City bombing, bien pensant opinion somehow managed to pin the blame on Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh for creating a "climate of opinion" in which "such an action became thinkable." I believe that one could, with at least as much justice, lay the blame for these attacks at the feet of the French establishment that has consistently shown support for Palestinian terror in Israel, and countenanced antisemitic remarks by government officials.

MARK STEYN SAYS ARAFAT HAS TO GO:

In the end, the Middle East has to be fixed. A few more synagogue burnings in France and Belgium might wake up even the Europeans, though I doubt it. At best, the large unassimilated Muslim populations will paralyse the Continent, at worst destabilise it. As for the Palestinians, they’re a wrecked people. It’s tragic, and, if you want to argue about who’s to blame, we can bat dates around back to the Great War. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter whether you regard, as the Europeans appear to, the Palestinians’ descent into depravity as confirmation of their victim status: as Palestinian Authority spokesman Hasan Abdul Rahman said on CNN after a new pile of Jewish corpses, it’s the fault of Israel for ‘turning our children into suicide bombers’. Might be true, might be rubbish. Makes no difference. They can’t be allowed to succeed, because otherwise the next generation of suicide bombers will be in Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. That’s why Arafat will never be president of a Palestinian state, and has begun his countdown to oblivion. The unravelling of the Middle East has just begun.
He's right, of course. And "stability" in the Middle East shouldn't be our goal. We should promote a wave of collapsing regimes. None of them are worth saving, and what comes after is unlikely to be worse, or more dangerous.

And even if it is worse, it won't be more dangerous. Because whoever comes next will know that the United States can and will bring the whole house crashing down around their ears. And that's a damned important lesson.

BRIAN LINSE reports from Europe that he can't believe how anti-American CNN International is. Ken Layne wonders why they do that, when their main audience is travelling Americans. I think they do it to "demonstrate their independence" so as to facilitate sucking up to third-world despots when they need access. Kind of like that lame "World Report" program that showed unedited crap from various Ministries of Information. (My favorite, from some years ago, was a half-hour tour of the Cote de Ivoire's Minister of Communications' home, a mansion that strongly suggested he was, ahem, supplementing his salary). Do they still do that? I almost never watch CNN anymore.

MORTON KONDRACKE understands what's going on:

By inspiring an upsurge in suicide bombings and violent Israeli countermeasures, America's enemies hope to prevent a U.S. attack on Iraq by turning all Arab countries against the United States - especially Kuwait, where invasion forces would need to congregate.
He's right -- but Bush is a fool if he lets this be done. Arab leaders who don't cooperate, like Saudi Arabia, need to be replaced with cooperative regimes. Make that clear and there's no problem.

ROBERT MUGABE UPDATE: Now he's sacked a top official for being gay. I like this local perspective:

A Zimbabwean analyst said: "Perhaps if Mpofu had stolen hundreds of millions from the national treasury Mugabe would have just said he is being normal like everyone else in government and would have forgiven him ... However, Mpofu committed the wrong crime and he has to pay dearly."

MICHAEL BELLESILES UPDATE: MY FOXNEWS COLUMN for this week is up now. It asks why so many places that were quick to give Michael Bellesiles' now-discredited book Arming America glowing reviews haven't bothered to correct those reviews now that the truth is out. Even Bellesiles' most staunch defenders have pretty much given up trying to defend the book -- they're just trying to save him from losing his job for writing it. And we're not hearing much from them now, even along those lines.

By the way, the Emory folks never did respond to my inquiry concerning their investigation. Not even a "we can't talk about it" response.

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: He and Michael Lerner are going to bring peace to the Middle East! How? They're inviting us to join them in "putting our bodies on the line" by engaging in "nonviolent civil disobedience around the demand for US participation in an international force that would separate the two sides, and restart the process to End the Occupation." In Washington D.C.

4/3/2002

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: Just noticed this item from Bill Quick.

HERE'S A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT of Michael Moore's appearance at Cornell this evening, just posted by Ken Anderson.

STEVEN DEN BESTE has a typically long and thoughtful post about the problems he's had because of his site's popularity. This is the sort of thing I was planning to write but never got around to -- which happens a lot, and is one reason why I link to him so often. He doesn't even mention the big problem for those who aren't hosted on BlogSpot: bandwidth charges. By his classification of bloggers, I'm more a "linker" than a "thinker" -- that is, most of my posts are links to other stuff, with some short commentary, rather than longer analysis.

That wasn't how I'd planned it, and I've written some long pieces. But now that I have a weekly and a biweekly column, I get my long-piece jones satisfied that way, usually. And also -- and Den Beste is frustrated by this too -- there's just so much good stuff out there to link to! You can either do what he does -- which is just give up on trying -- or do what I do, and try to bail the ocean with a teacup. I make an effort to roam around and find new sites that look good and link to 'em, but there are just so damned many good blogs now, compared to even a few months ago, that it's more and more a futile effort in terms of reaching any significant percentage. Every once in a while I'll find a whole cluster of new bloggers who know each other, and look pretty active, that I didn't know existed at all. And they're good!

But on the other hand, that's proof that the Blogosphere is taking off. One of the things that I've tried to do over the past months is to encourage the growth of lots of sites. Yeah, I know: it's not obvious good sense to create competitors, and I'm sure lots of old-journalism types would -- and do -- quail in horror. But I've never been one of those people who sees other folks' success as a reproach. (Only a fool goes into teaching if he feels that way, though my profession does have its share of such fools). I'd rather be doing pretty well among thousands of weblogs than standing in lonely isolation amid a half-dozen. And I think that most bloggers feel that way, which is one of the coolest things about the Blogosphere. Will it last? Beats me. But whether it does or not, we're in the midst of a very special time -- one of those Internet breakthrough periods. Enjoy being part of it. God knows, I do.

I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO REACH NRO FOR HOURS. And VodkaPundit is down, too (see below for why). But, hey, Blog*Spot is up!

I JUST RAN ACROSS THIS PIECE in The Idler arguing that Sharon should try Arafat as a war criminal. Oh, wouldn't that set off the EU crowd? But, really, Arafat is guilty of many of the same crimes that Slobodan Milosevic is charged with, and he has less of a claim to head-of-state immunity than Milosevic or Pinochet have (since he's not, you know, head of a state). And, really, he and Slobo are two peas in a pod. Arafat just wants to cleanse an ethnicity that's better at shooting back. But I don't see why that should get him off the hook.

OKAY, IT'S KIND OF LATE, but I just read Mark Steyn's Easter column. Here's an excerpt, though it pretty much defies excerpting:

In the days after September 11, we were told that Muslims had great respect for their fellow "people of the book" - ie, Jews and Christians. This ought to be so: after all, the dramatis personae of the Koran include Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It's one thing to believe that the Israelis are occupiers and oppressors and that the Zionist state should not exist. But no Muslim with any understanding of his shared heritage could in good conscience blow up a Passover Seder. It marks a new low in the Palestinians' descent into nihilism - though, as usual, the silence of the imams is deafening. As for the nonchalance of the Europeans, that too should not surprise us: in my experience, the Continent's Christians, practising and nominal, find the ceremonies of Jewish life faintly creepy, notwithstanding that these were also the rituals by which their own Saviour lived.
The whole thing's worth reading. So read it. I'll wait.

HERE'S A REPORT OF A successful gene therapy treatment that appears to have saved an 18-month-old boy.

ED, A CANADIAN SOCK PUPPET has a surprisingly good editorial on the Israel/Arafat faceoff. More proof that even footwear is smarter than the editorial-writers at the New York Times, something I've often suspected. Here's an excerpt:

Think about this country. Europeans came here, took the land from the natives, forced them to live on squalid reserves often no better than refugee camps, and re-educated their children to squash native culture. They have a legitimate gripe. But how long would we tolerate natives bombing our shopping malls, pizza parlours, cafes, hotels or neighborhoods? The Mohawks in Ontario blocked some little road and the government responded with lethal force. A few mailboxes blew up in the 1960s, and Trudeau suspended our civil rights and put tanks in the street.

Does anyone think that we, or the U.S., would allow ourselves to fall victim to an ongoing campaign of terror on our lands? And how many of us would feel well-disposed toward negotiating with such terrorists in order to make them our neighbors?

HEATHER HAVRILESKY GIVES GOOD advice.

THE SULLIVAN / NYHAN WARS continue.

JONAH GOLDBERG says that Islam needs its own version of the Catholic Church. Of course, judging by what's coming out of the Vatican today, it's already got one.

FUNNY, now Yasser Arafat is a big fan of the holiness of the Church of the Nativity. Not long ago he was talking about turning it into a mosque. Well, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, anyway.

UPDATE: Reader Philippe Richard writes:

I think you running afoul again of a translation. Nowhere does Arafat actually say he wants to turn the church of the Holy Sepulchre into a mosque. Are you confounded by the Allah willing? Well, isn't "Allah" Arabic for God? The mere fact that an Arab says "Allah willing" does not mean they are even a Muslim, nor does it mean in this context anything like you think it means. Not only does it mean God, it also refers to the same God of Abraham worshipped by Jews and Christians.

Given the substantial numbers of Palestinian Christians (some 20% of the Arabic population in the Holy Lands, including about a third of Bethlehem), it makes no sense for Arafat to talk like that. He fancies himself a leader of all Palestinians, not just the Muslims, especially since he is/was a Marxist, not an Islamist. Even the more damning quotes linked at yourish.com do not portray Arafat as anti-Christian. Did you ever wonder why you so rarely ever hear anything anti-Christian out of the mouths of Palestinians whereas anti-Semitism sometimes seems to flow like spit?

The percentage is wrong; Richard followed this up with an email saying it was 2%, not 20%, though more in Bethlehem.

Yeah, I thought of this when I read the Arafat passage, but in context it really didn't sound that way. But I didn't allow for the translation factor, which may throw things off. And it's certainly true that there are Christians (though nowhere near as many as there used to be) among the Palestinian factions. And those who remain (see, e.g., Edward Said) seem to try to prove themselves more anti-Israel than the Muslims.

WHERE'S VODKAPUNDIT? Yeah, I wondered, too. Apparently, his hosting company, HostGo, isn't making him very happy. Here's what he had to say:

My host pulled the plug without warning, without explaination. I had to contact them -- and wait an hour -- to learn their puny servers can't handle Moveable Type's perl script.

Apparently, they need to upgrade the 386 or feed the hamster or something.

Web Administratrix Stacy Tabb (www.sekimori.com) is busy working on getting VodkaPundit moved to the new host -- but it will be 24-48 hours before that job is done.

Have a cocktail and bear with me here.

Oh, and feel free to say uncharitable things about the lovely service HostGo provides.

After hearing of Lileks' experiences with various hosting outfits, I think that the webhosting business is due for an upgrade.

ROD DREHER notes over at The Corner that the Vatican just issued a statement condemning Israel for "revenge attacks," which Dreher points out is an odd term for self-defense.

You know, I've been reluctant to draw larger lessons from the whole priest-sex-scandal things, but it seems to me that the Vatican is having severe problems in the moral judgment department. Covering up for pedophiles, blasting people for self-defense -- this is moral leadership?

UPDATE: Here's a news story on the subject, which contains this quote from an editorial in the Vatican newspaper:

Also Tuesday, the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano had a strongly worded front-page editorial, criticizing Israeli attacks in Palestinian areas.

"Rarely has history been violated with this crudeness and pushed backward by a clear will to offend the dignity of a people," the article said. "The land of the Uprising is profaned with the iron and the fire and is the victim of an aggression that wants to destroy."

This is absolutely outrageous, and calls for an immediate apology. What is wrong with these people?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Carl Frank writes:

Today is the blackest day since September 11th. Even though I'm not a Catholic, I've had great faith in the Church as a spiritual teacher, and this Pope in particular as a moral leader. His life story is moving, and he met (and opposed prejudice) early on and throughout his life. But, I'm now afraid that John Paul II has become seriously mentally unbalanced; the statement from Osservatore Romano that you link to defies both logic and morality. If Rob Dreher's source (quoted at The Corner) is correct, it should be on every newspaper headline tomorrow. But, I'm afraid it won't be.

For the first time in seven months, I don't see how truth, and right, can win.
Well, I'd rather have the Pope on the side of good. But, you know, we won World War Two without having the Pope on our side.

OLD-MEDIA VS. NEW-MEDIA SMACKDOWN! Compare Michelle Cottle's report on the College Park riots from The New Republic with this one from Will Wilkinson on his Weblog. Both are first-person, I-was-there accounts, though Cottle's talks a lot more about Cottle than does Wilkinson's, which is much more closely focused on events, causes, etc. Wilkinson also links to the WaPo story on the same event; TNR doesn't.

Advantage: Wilkinson. At least, that's my take. Read and decide for yourself.

UPDATE: Looks like his archive links aren't working right. Go here to his main page. It's at the top at the moment anyway.

CORRECTION: Oops. They're describing two different nights of rioting. (I hadn't realized there were two!) You can still compare reporting styles, but they're not covering the identical event. Thanks to reader Milt Milton for pointing this out.

ACCORDING TO THE LATEST STUDY, this public-health ad rocks!

BILL KRISTOL AND A BUNCH OF FOREIGN-POLICY EXPERTS have an open letter urging Bush not to go wobbly with Arafat and Saddam. I caught a few minutes of Limbaugh (er, except it wasn't him, but some guest host) this afternoon in the car, and the callers all seemed to be taking the same line.

ALEX BEAM UPDATE: The Globe has a correction today! Only it's not a correction of Beam's April-Fool embarrassment. But while they couldn't find webspace to correct Beam's embarrassing mistake, they did find space for this:

An article on Proposition 21/2 in yesterday's Globe West Extra should have noted that the state law limiting annual increases in property taxes excludes additional spending that results from increases in state aid, tax dollars from new growth, and other local revenue.
Ah, the superior attention to accuracy of Old Media. . . .

MATT LABASH has another traffic-camera piece. Read it, especially the last few paragraphs demonstrating that speed limits are set too low -- presumably for revenue purposes.

ANDREW SULLIVAN responds to Spinsanity and issues a challenge to Jim Romenesko.

CULTURAL INSENSITIVITY DEPARTMENT: Imagine how people would be talking if American soldiers were holed up in one of Islam's holiest shrines. But when Palestinian terrorists hole up with hostages in the Church of the Nativity, we don't hear the same kinds of complaints. Then again, we're not supposed to bomb during Ramadan, but it's okay for them to bomb during Passover. Net result: nobody cares about "cultural insensitivity" complaints anymore, since their hypocrisy has been demonstrated to the world. Which is a good thing. Just remember this when the 82d Airborne is in Mecca, guys!

ASSAULT WITH A FRIENDLY WEAPON: Charles Paul Freund writes about the replacement of regular programming with porn on Palestinian TV stations. I think he omits the main reason for doing it, though: it's funny.

DON'T MISS BLOGGER AMY WELBORN'S piece on problems with the Catholic Church. She disses Bill Donohue, a very nice guy who I was once on Larry King with, but who is definitely over-the-top on some things.

KEN ADELMAN says the problem with Israel and the Palestinians isn't big enough to be resolved. He has some suggestions for making it larger. But if you ask me, he's still thinking too small.

ERIC OLSEN is all over the Zubaydah story like Michael Moore at an all-you-can-eat buffet. He asks again: why are the major newspapers dowplaying the Cole connection?

HERE'S A COLLECTION OF HIDEOUSLY EMBARRASSING CORPORATE ANTHEMS, in MP3 form no less. Found via Brink Lindsey.

SKIP OLIVA responds to the Slate article on women's basketball that I linked to yesterday.

UH-OH. Things are going down the tubes in Argentina, and naturally the answer to problems caused by rampant corruption and disastrous economic policy is to raise the Falklands issue again! Duhalde is disavowing any military plans (not least because of how disastrous things were last time) but angry mobs are burning Union Jacks and throwing things at the British Embassy.

DAVID ARTEMIW offers some interesting thoughts on diasporas, second holocausts, and a very timely dialogue from Philip Roth that I hadn't read.

GARY FARBER takes advantage of his experience in the publishing industry to explain Michael Moore's "poverty." And he also explains Yasser Arafat's finances in another post.

MICHAEL MOORE is speaking at Cornell and gets a warm reception from the Cornell Daily Sun:

Now, Moore should feel free to rant and write to his heart's content. But speaking normatively, the man does not deserve an invitation to go bowling with the Rotary Club, let alone to give an address at an Ivy League school. He is being given an air of undeserved intellectual respectability, and Cornell is being used as an unwitting tool. That serious scholars or students are willing to pay him to ramble is disgraceful. Even more disturbing is the amount he is being paid. Moore is collecting $10,000 for an hour or two of his time at this University, and he'll be sure to plug his new book on at least a few occasions.

GREEN OR GRAY? My TechCentralStation column is up.

SAM VERHOVEK'S DIRTY POOL: Nearly six months ago, virulently antigun New York Times reporter Fox Butterfield wrote a piece suggesting -- without any evidence -- that Washington state prosecutor Tom Wales was murdered by gun-control opponents. I posted an item noting this smear and commenting that nobody on the domestic-terrorism list I subscribed to took this theory at all seriously. Now, with no additional evidence, Sam Verhovek runs basically the same story. Sure, it has this smarmy disclaimer:

There is no firm indication that any opponent of gun control was involved in his death, and many pro-gun groups have expressed great ire at the suggestion. Moreover, Mr. Wales had also prosecuted many people in 18 years here in the United States attorney's office, specializing in fraud and white-collar crime. Investigators have been exhaustively combing over those cases, looking for anyone who could be a suspect.
No "firm" indication? As far as I can tell, there's no indication at all, except for some handwaving from gun-control groups who want to spin the story. But the whole tone of the article manages to imply otherwise, and Verhovek -- who is obviously in the tank with the numerous gun-control organizations quoted in the story -- must know that. So must his editors.

The New York Times should be ashamed of itself.

SPINSANITY TAKES DOWN MICHAEL MOORE: It's a Salon Premium piece now, but it'll go on their website for free later this week. One of the many InstaPundit deepcover agents infesting the Salon organization has sent me a copy, and here is an excerpt:

With the success of "Roger and Me" also came a critical rap: That he took liberties with the truth, fiddling with the chronology, for greater dramatic effect. But that criticism doesn't seem to have made an impression on Moore, and that's nowhere more apparent than in "Stupid White Men." In it, readers are told that 10 million people left the welfare rolls during the '90s, brutally kicked off by Bill Clinton. He writes that five-sixths of the defense budget in 2001 went toward building a single type of plane and that the recent recession is nothing more than a fabrication by the wealthy to keep down the working classes. And readers who uncritically accept those "facts" -- along with a number of other egregious and sloppy distortions -- will be duped. Good satire also should be grounded in fact. Regrettably,
Moore gets his facts wrong again and again and again, and a simple check of the sources he cites shows that lazy research is often to blame.

Consider, for instance, his claim that "two-thirds of [the over $190 million President Bush raised during the presidential campaign] came from just over seven hundred individuals." Given the $2,000 federal limit on individual donations, this claim is obviously false. To back it up, he cites the Center for Responsive Politics Web site (opensecrets.org) and an August 2000 article from the New York Times. As opensecrets.org clearly indicates, however, only 52.6 percent of Bush's total $193 million in campaign funds came from individuals. The Times article Moore references actually states that 739 people gave two-thirds of the soft money raised by the Republican Party (which uses its money for "party-building" activities that support all GOP candidates, not just Bush) in the 2000 election cycle as of June of that year. Whether out of malice or laziness, Moore conflates the party's soft money with Bush's campaign funds.

This pattern -- the very sources Moore cites proving him wrong -- continues throughout the book. . . . In a blatant misrepresentation, he states: "We're number one in budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP)." When Moore wrote his book last year, the United States was running a budget surplus, as it had for the previous three years.

The piece points out a lot of these errors, and also criticizes reviewers for not noting them. As the Michael Bellesiles affair proves, book reviewers are virtually useless at pointing out factual errors in books: they just don't check. That's especially true given book review editors' tendency to assign leftie reviewers to review leftie books. If you're a Salon subscriber you'll want to check this out (go there anyway if you just want to see the photo of Moore in a dunce cap); otherwise you can get it for free in a couple of days.

MATT WELCH WRITES about his dead neighbor from the Pentagon, and the obscenity of French conspiracy theorists. He has some choice things to say, and then refers people here.

I SAID I WOULDN'T LINK TO ANY MORE ALEX BEAM STUFF unless it was really good. Naturally, that meant that James Lileks would weigh in, and naturally -- being Lileks -- what he wrote was really good. He shares with us his letter in reply to Beam's rather cheesy query email, which -- like Virginia Postrel's reply -- makes Beam's final column, which ignored both, even more ridiculous.

PEOPLE WHO BLOG TOO MUCH: Eve Tushnet has some warning signs. Me, I can quit whenever I want!

GLENN KINEN has a thoughtful post on Arab antisemitism. And scroll down for a post with some Arab cartoons.

4/2/2002

REMEMBER, BLOGGERS, THOU ART MORTAL: Matt Welch offers a few words of caution to bloggers carried away over Beam. (Er, and who would that be?) Don't get too thin-skinned and full of yourselves, he says, or you'll be just like the "gatekeepers" you criticize.

That's true, of course. But jesus, have you read that piece? I think that most bloggers could write a thorough, and in some ways very deep, criticism of blogging, one that goes far beyond what Beam managed. But I don't think that many bloggers would write something that snide, sloppy, and half-assed and feel like they''d done something. As Emily Jones notes:

As for our accuracy, I challenge any anti-bloggers out there to come up with the name of one blogger that has seen the slightest bit of success or traffic after repeatedly posting misinformation. Not legions, folks. Just one.
Well said. I don't think that bloggers are full of themselves. I think, rather, that they're just appalled to see that the man behind the curtain isn't the mighty and powerful Oz, but rather somebody who can't get basic facts straight, and doesn't seem to care.

IF YOU THOUGHT ALEX BEAM'S ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS WAS BAD BEFORE, go to Virginia Postrel's site and read the long, thoughtful, and helpful letter that she sent him in response to an email. Then realize how little of this long, thoughtful, helpful letter made it into his lame, sloppy and embarrassing piece. Had Beam followed some of Virginia's suggestions, he might have written a worthwhile article. But because he set out to write a snide, condescending piece about a subject that he didn't know much about -- and then ignored helpful guidance from someone who actually understood the subject -- he wound up producing a column that Virginia calls "snarky," and that contained what she rightly characterizes as an "incredibly embarrassing" error.

And this is the kind of bigshot, Old Media journalist that bloggers are supposed to look up to? No. This is the kind of lazy Old Media journalist who is desperately afraid that people will start noticing the laziness.

UPDATE: Joanne Jacobs has it right here: "Smart journos like blogs. Dumb ones fear opening the field to thousands of new writers, some of whom are very, very good. And smart bloggers understand that we're not going to put the Boston Globe out of business." Yes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Richard Bennett says Beam was just recycling an old oped on letters to the editor anyway. Yeah, he's real big on the voice of the common man. Heck, reading the letters-to-the-editor column (which Bennett links) I don't think he even likes the voice of the uncommon woman. And here's Steven Den Beste, with what will probably be the last Beam-bashing piece I link to. Unless it's really, really good.

THE NEXT TIME someone accuses technologists of hubris, send 'em this interview with Frank Fukuyama from today's New York Times in which the author of The End of History complains that technology will make it hard to impose an ideal condition on humanity:

Even in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Dr. Fukuyama has yielded little ground to his critics. The only objection he acknowledges as serious is the argument that history cannot end without an end to science, or at least to science that alters human nature. . . .

History may have ended, but it seems that special measures are needed to keep it in a state of finality.

Yes, I think that this is what Virginia Postrel calls "stasism" in a rather highly refined form.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru thinks that I'm a bit hard on Fukuyama here. Hmm. Maybe the Times story doesn't properly convey the flavor of what Fukuyama really thinks, but I don't think the passage I quote is out of context in relation to the story. Of course, I was a lot nicer to Fukuyama than Eric Olsen is.

KEN LAYNE unveils his Middle East peace plan. I like it better than Tom Friedman's, except for the Gefilte Fish Tacos.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has some amusing comments on Boston Globe writer Alex Beam's unfortunate April Fool gullibility episode. Sullivan adds: "Of course, it's all flattering, really. He clearly reads bloggers. How many bloggers or their readers have ever read him?"

UPDATE: Stephen Green just finished reading Beam. But Beam won't like what he has to say. Here's a sample: "As a writer, Beam has the enviable ability to make me feel eight years old again. 'Are we there yet?'"

ONE MORE: Clay Waters points out that while Beam savaged Lileks, he wrote a long piece a few years back praising the Unabomber's writing style. (Is he kidding? I've read Kaczynski's stuff. Oh, wait -- this is the guy who took Bjorn Staerk's North Korean press releases seriously!)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mickey Kaus joins in the fun!

STILL MORE: Beam-befuddler Bjorn Staerk writes:

I try not to walk around with an obnoxious grin on my face, it looks bad and I usually don't deserve it, but it's very difficult not to gloat after watching Media Professional Alex Beam at the Boston Globe mimic Rowan Atkinson walking into a lamppost in Not the Nine O'Clock News . . . . I would have thought the date, Virginia's hint, and the link to a North Korean press agency would haved tipped him off, but then I'm not a real pundit, I don't know about these things.
Also, Ed Driscoll remarks in a more general discussion of anti-blog backlash among professional journalists:
The irony of Web logs is that they allow people to build a following by bypassing the traditional avenues of publishing. So, as I said in my Spintech article, anybody can have a blog, and the more offbeat the topic or slant, the better. The very journalists, who claim they’re for “the little guy”, the individual over big business, are slanted against letting those individuals have a way to communicate their own viewpoints!
Yeah, funny that.

STILL MORE! Scott Ganz joins in the fun. Here's a snippet distilling Beam's treatment of Sullivan:

Beam's message here is little more than "I do not like you on a blog, I do not like you with a dog, I do not like you in the fog, I do not like you mixed with grog! I do not like Republicans, I do not like you, Sul-li-van!"

AND WE TAUNT YOU SOME MORE: Reid Stott notes:

Mine even contained hyperlinks to the things I was referencing, unlike virtually every media story I've seen about weblogs. Including this one. When they show they understand that most basic precept of the web, the hyperlink, perhaps I'll pay their observations a bit more heed.
Yeah, but pointy-headed bosses think hyperlinks will take readers away from the site. Jeez.

BILL QUICK isn't amused either.

MEGAN MCARDLE asks a pithy question:

How come when regular countries let people summarily execute suspected dissidents, that's a human rights crime, but when the Palestinians do it, neither the UN nor any of the Human Rights groups can find a damn thing to say?
See her posts on the unworkability of an oil embargo, and the reason for Michael Moore's financial problems, too.

GARY FARBER has this European anti-semitic violence roundup. It's not pretty.

AFRICA AND AIDS: Blogger and medicinal chemist Derek Lowe has a piece in TechCentralStation that's not very encouraging. Note, by the way, how TCS has been raiding the Blogosphere for talent.

THE TRAGEDY OF THE PALESTINIANS, Joshua Trevino writes, is Arafat:

The man is a kiss of death for any Arab polity. Since becoming, as his Nobel Peace Prize biography puts it, a "full-time revolutionary" in 1964, Arafat has been based in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. He tried to take over Jordan and Lebanon, sparking ruinous civil wars for both countries (interestingly, he was supported by a Syrian invasion in both cases, with the Jordanians actually requesting Israeli help). Tunisia was spared because it refused entry to the hordes of refugees and military units that once accompanied their leader in his wanderings. It's curious indeed -- and almost touchingly naive -- that Israel allowed this man, a lifelong enemy with a track record of seeking the overthrow of his allies, to rule in the West Bank and Gaza. So do I blame Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia for denying Arafat asylum? No. Do I think they're rank hypocrites? Yes.

BERKELEY STUDENTS ARE joining the Israeli Defense Forces. Now there's something you don't see every day.

"THEY'RE BEATING UP JEWS ON THE STREETS OF BERLIN AGAIN," reports Rod Dreher in The Corner, referring to this story. This time, of course, it's not Nazis, but Arabs:

The men asked whether the bearded New Yorkers were Jewish before pushing them to the ground. Police said the victims' black and white clothes identified them as Orthodox Jews.

One of the victims suffered facial wounds needing hospital treatment. The attackers fled the busy street and have not been caught.

In a separate incident, a swastika was painted on a Jewish memorial in Berlin in the early hours of Tuesday.

The question is, what will the Germans, and other Europeans, do about it?

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MALE COACHES in women's basketball? That's what this Slate article by Bryan Curtis claims:

But a few years back, sportswriters and coaches began noticing something strange. Year after year, the best teams with male coaches were being stuffed into the same regional bracket, meaning they had to play and eliminate one another before advancing to the Final Four. In 1999, the top four seeds in the Mideast Regional were coached by men. No other bracket got similar treatment. In 2001, male-coached teams made up the top three seeds in the East Regional. Again, nowhere in the tournament was there so high a concentration of testosterone.
Interesting.

ERIC OLSEN, who owns the story, has an item on how webloggers are way ahead on appreciating the significance of the Zubaydah capture.

TRAFFIC REPORT: Yesterday was a new record, with 42,965 visits. Thanks for stopping by!

MICKEY KAUS JOINS IN THE CHORUS of people who say that Paul Krugman is losing it. In response to today's Krugman Social Security column Kaus says, "He had a beautiful mind!"

Actually, though, I think Kaus is partly wrong here. Kaus sees medical advances as inevitably expensive. I think it's more complex than that. Medical expenses actually follow a bell-like curve, like most technology. When you can't do anything, ("here, eat this root and hope for the best") it's cheap. Then you get treatments that are expensive and marginally effective (sanitariums for TB). Then, back on the downslope of the curve, you get treatments that are cheaper and more effective (antibiotics for TB). Cancer treatments now are very expensive. It's entirely possible (I'd say likely) that in 40 years they'll be cheap and much more effective.

UPDATE: Reader Bruce Hay responds: "Yeah, but the cutting-edge treatments will always be expensive. You’re right that what’s cutting edge today will be tomorrow’s familiar (and relatively cheap) treatment. But a new cutting edge will take its place, it will be costly, and every patient will demand it." This is a good point -- though it suggests that the real problem is the appetite for cutting-edge treatments, rather than the movement of the cutting edge. And, actually, there is a natural limit to this progression, which occurs when nearly all physical ills are readily curable. And I think that date may happen within the next 40 years. Or, to be more accurate, people who know a lot more than me, and whose opinions I respect, think that.

MATT LABASH has another installment of his excellent traffic-camera series. Guess what: cities are shortening yellow lights to increase revenue, even as safety experts have been urging longer intervals

ANOTHER CLUELESS WEBLOG STORY: This one from Alex Beam at the Boston Globe, who was taken in by Bjorn Staerk's April Fool's page:

Over the weekend, for instance, Postrel posted a link to Norwegian revolutionary (!) Bjorn Staerk 's bizarre recommitment to left-wing raving: ''This new blog is dedicated to the coming revolution, and the age of peace and equality it heralds.'' (More Staerk: ''Noam Chomsky is a brave man, and how he escapes imprisonment in that horrible police state he lives in is beyond me.'')
Note to Alex: I don't know of any bloggers who got taken in by that. But when you parachute in and try to do a story about something you don't understand overnight, you're going to look stupid. And you do.

UPDATE: Here's a link to Bjorn Staerk's "People's Blog" from yesterday. Now ask yourself: if you were a reporter for The Globe, and saw this on April Fool's Day, would you be suspicious? Or are webpages topped by portraits of a smiling Uncle Joe Stalin so much a part of everyday existence for Globe reporters that this one seemed unremarkable?

ANOTHER UPDATE: John Ellis suggests on his blog that Beam will probably become a blogger himself, soon -- when he's tossed by the Globe.

And here's another difference between weblogs and the allegedly superior Old Media: Beam knows of his error (I know this because I emailed him, and he replied a couple of hours ago). Any blogger would have long since posted a correction. But I just checked the Globe story and the error remains, uncorrected. And it'll probably stay that way.

OKAY, ONE MORE: James Lileks reproduces the snide email he got from Beam when Beam was "researching" his story, and has a few choice comments of his own.

BIN LADEN HENCHMAN UPDATE: Eric Olsen points out the little-emphasized fact that the just-captured Abu Zubaydah, reportedly bin Laden's #2 guy, was also the mastermind behind the attack on the Cole. Olsen thinks that Zubaydah's capture will scare bin Laden, but I believe that bin Laden is probably already discontentedly nibbling his 72 raisins. If he were still alive, we'd have heard something from him -- and not just a phony email address. Anyone can send fake email.

4/1/2002

KEN LAYNE notices the link between anti-Semitism and anti-McDonaldsism. We all sensed it, though, didn't we?

GREAT POST BY MATT WELCH on immigrants and divided loyalties. I say: more Guatemalans.

MICHAEL MOORE: Rich multi-millionaire, or broke and unable to pay his taxes? Tim Blair explores his contradictory statements.

DANIEL PIPES writes in The New Republic that the United States needs to avoid temporizing:

The shame is, this inconsistency is not even necessary. Even if the support of states like Saudi Arabia is truly essential to the American war on terrorism, muddling U.S. foreign policy won't help win it. Rather than put mock-pressure on Israel to appease the Saudis and others who can help in the Iraq effort, the administration would do better to understand that, as William Kristol and Robert Kagan put it, "at the end of the day, the Saudis will support the United States in Iraq not because they like us, and not because we promise them a Palestinian state, but only because we leave them no choice." In the president's own words, the Saudis are either with us or against us; and they should know they will pay a very large price for choosing the latter option.
Indeed.

"SPARE US FROM ANY MORE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PLANS," writes Michael Gove in The Times. It would only convince people that terrorism works:

Israel today, like the Falkland Islands exactly 20 years ago, and Czechoslovakia 63 years ago, has become democracy’s salient which evil means to overwhelm. Just as in the Falklands and the Czech lands, men who live by violence and feast on weakness are testing the limits of our resolution. They prosecute their claims by force of arms, directed against the innocent in their sights, and solicit international pressure for a “peace plan” to satisfy their manufactured grievances. These plans, hybrids bred from the spores of aggression and watered by the sweat of fear, pois- on any contested ground in which they take root. They bind and weaken the innocent prey, confirm the calculation of the evil that democracy is too decadent to resist, and eventually embolden the wicked in their ambition for total conquest.

The lesson of Czechoslovakia was a simple one: evil must not prosper by violence if yet greater violence is to be averted. . . . Any “diplomatic settlement” wrung out of Israel as a consequence of the current terror campaign will only guarantee further terror, for it will have delivered a political yield for an investment in violence, secured a better forward base for the terrorists’ stated goal of exterminating Israel, and indicated to tyrants from Baghdad to Damascus that the West was unwilling to hold the line.

Worse, it would advertise to the world what al-Qaeda hoped to establish on September 11: it would show that suicide bombing, if prosecuted for long enough, will work. Yesterday Haifa, tomorrow who knows?

Well said.

TRAFFIC: Holy S**t! Just looked at the traffic and it's already past 36,000 -- well into new record territory. Must be all the AOL shareholders wondering how badly their money is being squandered!

MATT LABASH has an expose of the red-light camera industry and it's (surprise!) corrupt, inaccurate, and intrusive. Excerpt:

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it must be noted, is one of the staunchest advocates of automated enforcement, and views the 72 percent figure as a triumph. To which any reasonable person might ask, what other law enforcement tool snags the wrong guy over one-fourth of the time, and is still considered a success?

Just to recap, consider: A private company is given police power to ticket citizens, has a monetary interest in generating as many tickets as possible, and, despite its low success rate, is often allowed to do so with minimal or no police supervision.

It would seem that a trip to Lockheed IMS's processing center was in order to watch its employees fulfill their constabulary duties. But when I ask D.C. police spokesman Kevin Morison for a tour, he must check with Lockheed, though the police are purportedly running the operation. A few days later, Morison regretfully informs me that Lockheed said no--"They had privacy concerns." Morison at least plays at being oblivious to the richness of a vendor's claiming to be concerned about your privacy after taking a picture of your car and in some instances whoever's in your car, tapping into your DMV records, levying a fine against you, then mailing the whole care package to your house (in Italy, a senator's marriage faltered when his wife spotted his mistress in a photo radar citation).

That Senator thing will probably get this shut down in Washington, D.C., at least. But this is outrageous and should be stopped.

BELLICOSE CANADIANS: Kathy Kinsley has got a couple of 'em. No, really.

STEPHEN GREEN reports that Playgirl is offering money for male Enron employees to pose nude. He says he'll double their offer to keep Ken Lay dressed.

EDWARD BOYD has compiled all the April Fool's jokes he can find from around the blogosphere. Check 'em out!

READER ELLEN MICHELETTI has these observations on mandatory web filters and guys named "Dick:"

How about if the student is researching NASCAR driver Dick Trickle? (number one on the all name team as far as I'm concerned)

Seriously, how hard would it be to put some filtering software on a couple of computers in a public library and set them aside for the kiddies to use? If they have difficulty researching their homework topic - well isn't reference help one of the things librarians do?

READER LARRY SHAPIRO sends this mideast parable:

Perhaps you might remember the stories about the Christians and the lions. Christians were given flimsy weapons by the Romans to defend themselves against wild animals. What is less known is that the Romans also featured fights between Jews and the lions, except instead of weapons, the Jews were buried up to their necks in the Coliseum ground and then told to defend themselves. One Jew managed to turn his head from side to side while an enraged lion pounced on him from one side and then the other. Finally the lion attacked the Jew from the front and as the lion came down upon the head of the Jew, the man took a hefty bite out of the lion's testicles, at which time the crowd shouted as one, "FIGHT FAIR, JEW!" Sound familiar?
Does this mean Arafat will soon be singing soprano? After all, the lesson here is, "don't listen to the crowd."

JACK O'TOOLE thinks the terrorists are winning because a democracy can't be brutal enough to respond effectively. I'm not so sure he's right about that. Arafat better hope he is, though.

But democracies have been capable of as much brutality as anyone else when pushed to it (can you say "Dresden?"), and Israel is being pushed.

HERE'S A STORY ON MANDATORY WEB FILTERS that suggests a strong constituency opposing them among Congressmen named "Dick".

CHARLES JOHNSON HAS UNCOVERED these talking points for Arab spokesmen.

HERE'S AN ISRAELI WEBLOG offering first-hand accounts of what's going on. Encourage him to post more.

JOSHUA TREVINO writes about my earlier posting on Arafat's proposed exile:

....don't you think the real story is in this paragraph?

"U.S. officials said the effort to find Arafat safe haven is being aided by the European Union. They said such countries as Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia refused to provide Arafat with asylum."

Yeah, the real tragedy for the Palestinians isn't how Israel has treated them. It's how their alleged "Arab brothers" treat them. In this case, though, I think they're right. And if Israel kills Arafat there will be a lot of public condemnation, and a lot of private sighs of relief.

APRIL FOOLS: Reader James Ingram has this observation:

You have been taught a valuable lesson. Modern life defies parody. There is no parody you can write that someone will not believe. And they will believe it because, half the time, it will in fact happen in a few weeks. Think "Wag the Dog."
Well, if I'm a millionaire in a few weeks, that'll be okay with me. . . .

DISGRACE: The jerks who praised the WTC attacks were jerks, but they shouldn't be jailed for doing it, and the judges who say otherwise are so wrong that, in my opinion, they should be impeached. This isn't even a close call.

HELEN THOMAS IS NOW REPORTING FOR AL JAZEERA, or at least that's what her opening "question" at today's White House press conference suggests: "Does the President believe the Palestinians have the right to resist thirty-five years of brutal occupation and repression?"

Fleischer should've asked her how she felt about Palestinian threats of terror against the United States.

OKAY, THIS IS GETTING OUT OF HAND: I thought the whole AOL acquisition routine was pretty obviously an April Fool joke, but I just got an inquiry from a Big Media guy who seemed very excited about the whole thing and wanted to do a story on it, so I guess I need to be clear here: It's not real. It was an April Fool's story in The Register, which I just picked up on because it mentioned me. I'm still independent, and I have, yet again (the first time was in '88 or '89, and I think AOL was still called Quantum or something like that) missed out on my chance for big AOL bucks.

Er, that also means that you shouldn't ignore the "tip jar" to the left on the presumption that I'm now filthy rich because of the new acquisition. Sadly, my financial status remains unaltered.

Oh, and at the risk of spoiling things, I don't think Bjorn Staerk has suddenly become a Stalin (and Chomsky)-worshipping communist, either. But, interestingly, his April Fool posting is more coherent and persuasive than most of the folks he's parodying.

ARAFAT EXILE IN MOROCCO? I don't know if this is an April Fool or not. But, remembering Leon Trotsky, I say: make it so!

THE POWER OF INSTAPUNDIT: Read this item by Reid Stott to see why AOL was willing to cough up, well, the impressive sum that they coughed up, to harness that power.

MORE ON MILITARY MATTERS: Steven Den Beste has an extensive politico-military analysis, including this:

There's a famous cartoon of two vultures sitting in a tree, and one says to the other, "Patience, my ass. I'm going to go kill something." It would be unfortunate but perhaps understandable if Israel and the US finally had reached a point of saying, "Criticism, my ass. I'm going to go kill something." With the situation the way it is, it's nearly to the point where Israel has nothing to lose by going into the Palestinian territories and doing their damndest to make the Palestinians as miserable as possible. It wouldn't actually be too hard for the Israelis to start making the West Bank uninhabitable, for instance; you can ruin a town in fairly short order without having to level every building in it by taking out essential services. (If there's no water supply, everyone will leave.) That step hasn't been taken yet; it's their penultimate threat.
I think he's right about this, and it's not clear at all that it's a bad idea for the Israelis to do such a thing, militarily or politically. (Extra points to Den Beste for using the word "penultimate" correctly, and not as a synonym for "ultimate.") After all, the Palestinian populace, thanks to suicide bombing and massive support therefor, can arguably be viewed as equivalent to a hostile army, not a bunch of noncombatants.

Indeed, with all the Euro-criticism of Bush for his "simplistic" policies and "disengagement," it's worth noticing the way in which Israel's diplomatic isolation -- especially at the hands of the EU nations -- has brought this problem to a head. The Israelis don't have to worry about what Europe thinks, because it's increasingly clear that Europe has decided to wash its hands of Israel and try sucking up to the Arabs no matter what. This will remain the case unless the Arabs are politically neutralized by a crushing defeat that leaves, say, the oil wells of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc., in new hands. Thus, for the Israelis, there's no diplomatic downside to a brutal strategy that emphasizes destabilization in the mideast, and that places high value on Israel's superior ability to kill people and break things, as opposed to the current situation that places high value on Arab nations' skills at lying and dissembling. The Europeans have shown that they want to side with a winner regardless of morality, and that they're willing to overlook Milosevic-like crimes on the part of Arafat because they think he'll be the winner. It would be unfortunate, but not surprising, if the Israelis drew a lesson from that.

A NOTE OF REALISM, from Asparagirl:

And why do we have to keep talking about a peace process? What fucking peace? I don't see a peace here, do you? I see Israelis getting blown up day after day after day while they're supposed to give Arafat one more chance. This time he really means it, this time he'll try harder, this time he'll change. It's like an abusive marriage; Israel gets her teeth knocked in, but stick with it honey, and maybe you and your man can work things out! He was just upset, you see, had a hard day at the office and all. And you were probably askin' for it anyway. And if you really don't like it, then why do you stay with the guy anyhow?
Why, indeed?

READER MARTIN MOREHOUSE SENDS THIS CARTOON, with some lessons for the war on terrorism.

THIS PIECE BY JOHN HILER is the best story on weblogs yet. He has an excellent take on blogs' strengths and weaknesses, and on their relationship with traditional journalism.

Of course, now that I'm a filthy-rich member of the AOL/Time-Warner empire, I'm going to have to take a whole new attitude. . . .

IT'S TRUE -- just as reported in this article from today's (Monday's) Register, InstaPundit has been acquired by AOL/Time-Warner. And for a pretty penny, too. I knew this weblog stuff would pay off bigtime!

All I can say is, no matter what communist crap Bjorn Staerk is yammering on about, capitalism rocks!

UPDATE: If you're troubled by this, or feel it will compromise my independence, or just want to know more (and my email suggests that a surprising number of you fall into these categories), click here for details.

ANDREW SULLIVAN says that what's going on in Israel is not some local conflict -- it's the same war we're fighting, against the same people, for the same reason.

He's right, and this should be made clear by the Fatah threats against America I reported yesterday. The Sarge is taking suggestions from wargamers about how this war ought to go. To me, it's looking uncomfortably like the Boer War or the American Indian wars.

MORE ANTISEMITIC ATTACKS IN FRANCE, including one on a Marseilles synagogue. Gee, if Americans were burning mosques, don't you think the Euros would be making a lot of hay out of it?

STEPHEN GREEN is tanned, rested, and back on the job, dissing Richard Holbrooke, calling Ariel Sharon a wimp without a plan, calling Arafat the "Palestinian Milosevic," and calling the French a bunch of gullible fools. And that's just for starters.

3/31/2002

PHOTODUDE has suffered personal injury as a direct result of Yasser Arafat's machinations. I think he should sue.

ORRIN JUDD has advice for Israel from Machiavelli.

HERE'S THE STORY of an Israeli who's gone from peace activist to hawk. And he's not nearly as much of a hawk as this American-turned-zionist.

Somebody should have warned Arafat that his simplistic approach would only inflame people further and create more violence. Where are the French when you need them?

Oh, right -- eagerly buying up thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory books about September 11. This is so bad even Chris Bertram is unhappy with them.

WILL WARREN WEIGHS IN with a poem that, I think, is more fitting to these circumstances than the one the Sarge invokes.

PUNDITWATCH is up!

STROMATA has some further thoughts on Tom Friedman's belated awakening to the realities of the situation, and adds that it is time to treat this war as a real war.

GARY FARBER and Emmanuel Goldstein have unfavorable comments on a new "antiwar newspaper" that is supposed to be coming out soon; Goldstein's are all the more pungent because he's so strongly antiwar himself. I've been reading more of the antiwar sites lately, as a check on my own growing pro-war sentiments. I haven't found anything that has overturned my growing sensation that we're on the verge of something big, ugly, and unavoidable, but I've been happy to see some evidence of antiwar sentiment that's free of Chomskyite idiocy.

As I've said before, I'd welcome an intellectually honest and thoughtful antiwar movement. One of my mentors in Law School was Charles L. Black, who with Thurgood Marshall wrote the brief in Brown v. Board of Education, and who worked on many of the post-Brown cases. He always felt that the poor quality of the intellectual opposition to desegregation led to flabby, bad law -- "we would have done better," he said, "if we'd had better lawyers on the other side." (BTW, there's a superb movie about this called Separate but Equal, starring Sidney Poitier as Thurgood Marshall.) I feel the same way about this discussion. Here's another post by Gary Farber making a similar point.

UPDATE: Charles Austin takes issue with the word "pro-war." Well, I'm not in favor of war in general. But once a war's inevitable, I'm in favor of striking while the balance of forces is in our favor. That, I'm afraid, is our situation, and that's what I meant.

STEVE at HappyFunPundit has some unkind words and tough questions for the Euros who are rushing to Israel to "protect" Yasser Arafat. Here's one:

Where are the P.I.Ps for Israel?

Where are the activists moving into Jewish discos, delis, and hotels?

Where indeed?

STILL MORE CONFIRMATION ON FATAH THREATS AGAINST AMERICA: Charles Johnson emails this link to a story from the Boston Globe. Excerpt:

Brigadier General Sultan Abul Aynayn, the head of Arafat's Fatah movement in Lebanon, who has been accused by Lebanese officials of organizing and arming illegal groups, said in an interview in this coastal camp south of Tyre that ''if a hair of Arafat's head is hurt, the Israelis and the United States will be held responsible.'' . . .

Aynayn added: ''Only the Americans can stop this massacre. They can stop the massacre with one phone call. If there is harm to one hair of the head of Arafat, the United States should protect its interests all over the world. We are not like bin Laden, but we have our own style.''

We've got our own style, too, buddy.

SPEAKING OF CHARLES JOHNSON, HE HAS THIS TO SAY about Tom Friedman:

In a way, Thomas Friedman is partly responsible for what’s happening in Israel right now. His disastrous column promoting the Saudi peace scam led to a sense of impending victory in the Arab/Palestinian world, a feeling that the Palestinians’ barbaric strategy of suicide terrorism could actually succeed in forcing Israel into the sea.
I think this is about right. Charles is right that Friedman is beginning to redeem himself with today's column -- but, really, he should have known all along that he was being suckered by the Saudis.

How many ego-filled American journalists and politicians have let themseves be sucked in by the hopes of being the one to bring peace to the middle east, when the ones doing the suckering only want to make a desert out of Israel, and call it peace? Too many.

BEN SHERIFF has confirmation of the Fatah threats against America mentioned below.

I think we need to break the cycle of violence -- by killing everyone who means us harm. I also wonder if this isn't playing into Bush's hands, actually. Now there' s no need to pretend to be an evenhanded broker. Saddam and the Palestinians are now squarely against the United States. That makes them legitimate targets of war.

Sure, the French won't be satisfied. But they never are.

ALEX BENSKY OFFERS A PREDICTION:

My guess is that besides uncovering a large cache of arms in the Ramallah redoubt the Israelis are going to find all sorts of documents which will remove any possible doubt, if doubt is possible now, that Arafat wants anything except the destruction of Israel, that he talked peace and send out suicide bombers.

My prediction is that with respect to the French, the rest of Europe, the UN, our own chattering classes, and everyone else who takes the "let's be evenhanded, both sides should stop the cycle of violence" line, all this will do nothing whatsoever.

I predict that they will simply rationalize away whatever the Israelis publish. I predict that none of these people will ever publish anything along the lines of, "Oops, I guess I was wrong," or anything resembling second thoughts.

I admit I'm getting a bit more cynical as to why this will be. I used to have political and ideological and economic explanations. Now I wonder if it isn't something more basic.

I've stopped wondering, Alex.

TIM BLAIR reports that Israeli troops have taken over Palestinian TV stations and are broadcasting porn. Chortle. Suspiciously, no one's heard much from the Unablogger lately. . . .

TOM FRIEDMAN IS RIGHT:

The reason the Palestinians have not adopted these alternatives is because they actually want to win their independence in blood and fire. All they can agree on as a community is what they want to destroy, not what they want to build. Have you ever heard Mr. Arafat talk about what sort of education system or economy he would prefer, what sort of constitution he wants? No, because Mr. Arafat is not interested in the content of a Palestinian state, only the contours.

Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated. . . .

The Palestinians are so blinded by their narcissistic rage that they have lost sight of the basic truth civilization is built on: the sacredness of every human life, starting with your own. If America, the only reality check left, doesn't use every ounce of energy to halt this madness and call it by its real name, then it will spread. The Devil is dancing in the Middle East, and he's dancing our way.

My big question is, why has it taken Friedman, with all his sources and travel and meetings with Arab potentates, this long to figure things out? It's been obvious for months, if not for years. As Steven Den Beste said a while back, we have to break their spirit. That means a crushing defeat, and nothing -- absolutely nothing -- less is going to do anything but make things worse.

The Palestinians have set things up so that even the New York Times' foreign affairs columnist has figured this out. They're screwed. And they deserve it.

UPDATE: Reader Ernest Miller writes:

Fox News Sunday is reporting that a leaflet from a joint Intifada leadership group is now threatening American targets because of American bias in favor of Israel. Any confirmation?
Nope; this is the first I've heard of it. But I think it illustrates the point nicely.

KNOXVILLE BLOGGER BASH: Well, it wasn't really a "bash," but we had dinner with Nick Denton as he passed through on his way from San Francisco to New York. It was an enjoyable dinner filled with sparkling conversation. With Knoxville astride a major east/west route, and many bloggers preferring to drive rather than fly where possible, I'm hoping to see more people this way. Sarge?

WHY IS AMERICA LESS SOCIALIST than Europe? Jim Bennett says it's because of the New Left, ironically enough.




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