October 31, 2002
HAPPY HALLOWEEN: James S. Robbins does a great job of weaving the holiday theme in with his analysis-- Osama as The Thing That Wouldn't Die. Robbins speculates that terrorists might try to keep bin Laden "alive" (even if he's actually dead) until one of them can consolidate power.
THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG
THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG: Mondale is already running negative ads, says Drudge. Economically illiterate, too; it laments the effects of free trade on steel manufacturers; never mind that steel protectionism costs, according to estimates, eight times as many jobs in steel-buying industries as it saves. And what's with the line about sending "thousands of good paying Minnesota jobs to China and Mexico?" Maybe the insinuation isn't racist per se, but let's just say I wouldn't call it "progressive."
October 30, 2002
GUN NUT RANTING, PLEASE IGNORE
GUN NUT RANTING, PLEASE IGNORE: Isn't that the editorial message telegraphed by the title of this article? "Let everyone have a gun," the headline, probably written by editors who disagree with the writer, doesn't describe at all what is advocated. I see no calls to hand out guns to children, the insane, prisoners, etc. Glenn Reynolds and Clayton Cramer champion the writer's guts for coming out against gun control, but don't his editors short-circuit his message a bit?
SAME PLANET, DIFFERENT WORLDS
SAME PLANET, DIFFERENT WORLDS: "The memorial service for Paul and Sheila Wellstone and the others who died was... more inspiring than sad, and incredibly invigorating. Republicans must have been humbled..." -Tapped
"[T]he Democrats on display at Paul Wellstone's memorial service represented everything I personally find distasteful, disagreeable, and downright disgusting about the Democratic party..." -Jonah Goldberg
OUT OF THE FRAY
OUT OF THE FRAY: Boy, am I glad I stayed out of the postmortem conversation on Senator Wellstone. It is interesting, though, how the conversation seems to have evolved into a more civil one. Start from Misha's splutterings; retractions or not, the display of poor taste will haunt him forever. Lileks's scolding of the grave-dancers made some fair points, but still came off as a bit, shall we say, more-sensitive-than-thou. Finally, Arthur Silber's response to Lileks (and scroll up for follow-ups) explicitly raised the conversation from the personal to the intellectual.
Could it be that the blogosphere reverses the typical old-time internet pattern of debates devolving into flame-wars? Maybe it's just a fluke.
October 29, 2002
NOT NEW YORK
NOT NEW YORK: Kathryn Jean Lopez protests Fox News referring to th UN as part of New York. She's right-- it's "international territory." They couldn't really resist if we wanted the real estate back, though, could they?
October 28, 2002
THAT HIPPY GOLISANO
THAT HIPPY GOLISANO: Robert Bartley laments his choices for New York governor. The critiques of Pataki and McCall are obvious, but Bartley's beef with Golisano is a tad bizarre. The attack of pharmacutical industry money is certainly demagoguery, but Golisano's other sin, in Bartley's eyes, is that, despite being "sometimes thought of as a conservative alternative," Golisano's "super-expensive TV ad blitz pushes medical marijuana." Oh, no! If he's friendly to marijuana reform, he must be a wild-eyed leftist, like those National Review pinkos.
Speaking of which, those who disagree with the Wall Street Journal editorial page on drug liberalization (one of the few issues the WSJ is totally off-base on), have a chance to send a message by voting for Tom Leighton of the Marijuana Reform party. If you really don't like any of the top three, this makes some sense; there are no ballot initiatives in New York, and unlike other protest votes, the message "voting the leaf" sends is unambiguous. (Does a Libertarian Party vote mean lower taxes, decriminalized drugs, and gay marriage? Or does it mean isolationism and "civil liberties" for terrorists?)
I AM A SEITANIST
I AM A SEITANIST: The "right-libertarian epicure" that Andrew Stuttaford quotes defending seitan in this Corner post is none other than yours truly. I must emphasize one point: the usual practice of calling seitan a "meat substitute" is an insult to both seitan and meat.
October 26, 2002
HEY, I KNOW THAT NUT
HEY, I KNOW THAT NUT: Hey look, it's Kathy Kelly. I'm familiar with this woman's anti-Israel activities, which I wrote about in the Northwestern Chronicle last spring. What she's doing now, as Glenn Reynolds implies, is near treasonous.
DOWN WITH THE HARABAH
DOWN WITH THE HARABAH: Shi'a Muslim blogger Aziz Poonawalla, in a long deconstruction of Osama Bin Laden's abuse of Islam which (as Glenn Reynolds noted) is well worth reading, says that the terrorists aren't engaged in a jihad at all (nor are their pronouncements really fatwas). A jihad is a religious struggle; the Islamofascist's war is a "harabah," an un-Koranic "war of intimidation." A useful bit of vocabulary, no?
HUNDREDS HELD HOSTAGE, PAGE A28
HUNDREDS HELD HOSTAGE, PAGE A28: It's terrific that the sniper team have been caught. But wasn't the three-day stand-off in Moscow (which just ended in an assault, as these things tend to in Russia) a way bigger story than the coverage seemed to imply? At least with the shameful downplaying of the bombing in Bali, the snipings were actually going on. But they were caught, and the on-going drama in Moscow was still considered secondary to repeating that the guys were caught. I know more local stories get more weight, but this was a little absurd.
UNOBITUARY: There have been numerous sensitive obituaries for Paul Wellstone today, by liberals, libertarians, and conservatives. My contrarian instincts would be inappropriate to indulge, so I have no comment.
October 23, 2002
NICE, DEVE: I'm not sure where Doug Dever found this, but it's hilarious. (Warning: rough language toward the end--- if you're a small child-- you didn't find the link here...)
BLOGGING PAST EACH OTHER
Taranto's actual problem with the article is that it describes him as an "Arab basher." The characterization is obviously true -- Taranto's column discusses Arabs the way much of the Arab press discusses Jews -- but he objects to it because "we're actually of Turkish descent." Note to Taranto: Turks aren't Arabs. Both groups do tend to be Muslim, but by that standard, you could refer to Boris Yeltsin as a Frenchman.Note to Jesse: Taranto was kidding. "Arab basher" (as opposed to "Arab-basher") can be willfully misread as "basher who is an Arab" rather than "basher of Arabs"-- so Taranto played dumb (a favorite mode of humor for him) and said basically "how can I be an Arab basher? I'm not an Arab anything." I've fallen for the deadpan act myself; once he ran an item marveling that someone in a story with a tongue piercing could "mistake her tongue for her ear." I emailed that tongue-studs are actually fairly common on college campuses, and he replied "yeah, right. Next you'll be telling me they pierce their noses!"
It's simply wrong that "Taranto's column discusses Arabs the way much of the Arab press discusses Jews"-- there's hardly a stronger defender of immigrants on the Web, and Best of the Web was among the first to cheer Buffalo's Muslim community for helping catch the apparent terror cell among them. I've certainly never seen Taranto describe Arabs as pigs and monkeys who eat baby blood, which is what they matter-of-factly say about Jews in the Arab press.
October 20, 2002
SENATOR LOOK-AT-ME: Becoming the first sitting Senator to host Saturday Night Live was an obvious manifestation of John McCain's attention-avarice, but it was pretty entertaining. It was odd to see McCain-as-Ashcroft sending up anti-libertarianism-- this from a guy who's made prior restraint of political speech a personal crusade. The Meet the Press sketch was entertaining, though Russert's questions about McCain's presidential ambitions were on odd target for satire. In real life it was a perfectly fair question, and Russert wasn't being obsessive, as in the sketch-- he really did catch McCain waffling. And the McCain-Sings-Streisand sketch ("Do I know how to sing? About as well as she knows how to govern America") had one major flaw: McCain's singing wasn't nearly bad enough.
Oddly enough, the best sketch of the night, the dead-on send-up of Lifetime original movies, could have been done with almost any male host.
BLOGLULL: Sorry about that. I've been travelling, and last time I tried to post, Blogger was acting up. I was going to comment on how bizarre the coverage of the North Korea revelation was. "Shocking," "stunning," the talking heads kept saying. It was surprising that North Korea was developing nukes? Haven't we been pretty sure about that? Wasn't it announced in the State of the Union Address?
Condi Rice said it on Face the Nation this morning: it wasn't a surprise that they have a nuke program, it was a surprise that they admitted it. But few reporters seemed to understand the distinction.
October 14, 2002
BLAMING THE NET
BLAMING THE NET: The bomber in Finland appears to be "only" a troubled teen, rather than an Islamist. The move is on (predictably) to blame the Internet, since bomb-making instructions can be found online. I have an alternate theory, that the bomber is to blame.
ON BALI: I have little to add to my note on Indonesian politics below, but I did want to extend my solidarity to the Australians, some of whom are calling this their own Sept. 11, and the British, who make up many of the non-Ausssie casualties. I remember the outpouring of support from the Anglosphere last year, and it's time to return the favor. Read Tim Blair for continuous skewerings of stupid reactions.
RUMOR MILL: Mickey Kaus is spreading rumors about trouble at The American Prospect. Kaus says TAP will announce Wednesday that they'll be publishing less frequently, and that Tapped, the Prospect's only readable product, will be killed for being too independent of Bob Kuttner. The Kausfiles item, says Mickey, may be the first that TAP staffers hear of this.
Tapped hasn't updated today. I think Kaus's clock is on Pacific time, so his item has only been up for a little over an hour and a half, but I'd imagine it has TAP staffers abuzz. I'll be interested to see if or how Tapped reacts publicly. I hope it's by quashing the rumors; the blogosphere will miss them.
October 13, 2002
WHERE'S MARK?: Mark Shields wasn't on The Capital Gang yesterday. He hasn't been on Novak, Hunt & Shields for a few weeks now.
Shields still owes viewers an apology. I can't say I was holding my breath, but I didn't think he'd avoid being on television again.
October 12, 2002
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
TROUBLE IN PARADISE: Indonesia is full of beautiful islands, but Bali reigns as a tourist destination. The most annoying thing about Kuta Beach, filled with hawkers who won't let anyone enjoy an afternoon, used to be the "massages"-- often, an ugly old woman touching your shoulder with one hand, vaguely rubbing, and demanding payment.
Note I said "used to be"-- now it's the terror attacks. Indonesia's tolerant society has suffered a small infestation of Islamist radicals for years, but this is getting serious. President Megawati Sukarnopatri (who is a woman, which irks the Islamofascists to no end) ran under the banner of a party, ubiquitous when I was there during the election season in the Spring of 1999, symbolized by a bull-- strong, but quiet. (Due to parliamentary alliances and/or the mysteries of dictatorship-to-democracy transisition, Megawati, who's party appeared to be the most popular everywhere I went, didn't take power until a year after the election, when Abdurrahman Wahid stepped down.)
"Some critics say Indonesia is the weakest link in the U.S.-led war on terror in Southeast Asia, partly because the government has concerns about cracking down on radical Muslim groups for fear of upsetting the vast moderate mainstream," according to Reuters, but with the tourist trade threatened, a crackdown seems likely. Expect it to be strong, but quiet.
ISLAMIST BRIDGE-BURNING: Reports are that the attack on the supertanker Limburg, and the stabbing of the mayor of Paris by a gay-hating Muslim, have (unsurprisingly) steeled the French against the Islamist threat. If the bombing in Helsinki (which Finnish blogger Teemu Lehtonen is following closely) is Islamist terror, more Europeans who could previously live in a fantasy world of ambivalence will become our strong allies. It's amazing how little the terrorists understand the West.
October 11, 2002
UGH: Last night I had a rather bad bout of insomnia. Just before I finally fell asleep, the announcement came in from Norway that Jimmy Carter, dear friend to despots and monsters, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Also, I gorged on Golden Grahams while I was up.
It's anyone's guess why I felt sick to my stomach when I woke up this afternoon.
October 10, 2002
SCHMECEDENT, INDEED: Okay, so you're wondering what that means; it's from the item on TNR's blog, &c., which insisted that "it's exceedingly difficult to imagine a set of circumstances in which a party would want to scrap their candidate so close to an election."
LARRY KING LUDICROUS
LARRY KING LUDICROUS: Josh Marshall returns to one of his most entertaining hobbies, ridiculing Larry King. If you missed his earlier installments, be sure to follow his links for more laughs.
PROFILES IN LAMENESS
PROFILES IN LAMENESS: After weeks of testing every possible tentative (but weak) critique of the war, Tom Daschle jumps on board after a careful, measured, and deeply serious assessment of the polls.
Meanwhile, Robert Byrd is proving to be the most obnoxious man in Congress (and that's saying something). Seventy-five Senators stopped him from carrying out his own little unilateral strike, a filibuster to delay the war resolution. As you can see from the last line in this report, the old bat's foreign policy thinking is still stuck in the 60s.
TNR VS. THE IRAQ-AL QAEDA...
TNR VS. THE IRAQ-AL QAEDA CONNECTION: The New Republic is wrong, I think, to assert that the Bush administration strains credibility unless it makes the case for war without mentioning al Qaeda. The denials of an intelligence connection all come from either consistently foolish legislators, like Chuck Hagel and Joe Biden, or from anonymous "intelligence sources," who for all anyone knows have ulterior motives. The CIA has been scooped by the New Yorker on this issue, and I'm sure many of them would like to pretend it doesn't exist.
As I wrote before, the Iraq-al Qaeda link, however loose, is an important factor. Even a passing acquaintance between Iraqi government elements and al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists indicates that proliferation of weapons to terrorists is a credible risk. In fact, even if we accept the (highly questionable) premise that Saddam is a "rational actor" and "deterrable," the risk that his arsenal might slip out of his control is reason enough to stop his weapons programs once and for all, and the only way to do that is regime change.
With the war resolution past the House and moving quickly through the Senate, of course, these arguments are fast becoming mostly academic.
October 09, 2002
TOO QUIET: Will someone who has a better knowledge of labor policy than I please explain the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Bush forcing the ports open? The blogosphere has been strangely quiet, perhaps because the issue is so arcane, but there must be someone with a viewpoint on it.
UPDATE: Okay, I read the Wall Street Journal op-ed (not online) by Stefan Gleason of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Gleason applauds the president for the Taft-Hartley injunction, but says it's just a "band-aid on a gaping wound," and calls for real labor policy reform (though he's a little vague on the specifics). The president intervening in labor negotiations leaves a bad taste in my mouth all by itself. It appears that this is a case of regulation begetting regulation; there would be no need for government intervention if unions didn't enjoy extrodinary government protection in the first place. In fact, shippers staging a lockout to protest a union-mandated work slow down probably wouldn't happen at all if employees were freer to buck the union line. As it stands, unions are typically formed by majority vote, sometimes generations ago; employees are rarely able to join a union one at a time, as they ought to be. I'm fairly certain that this is codified in federal law.
My question is, is there any labor law that belongs on the books? I tend to doubt it. Merely enforcing criminal laws prohibiting violent 19th-century style strike-breaking tactics should be enough to level the collective-bargaining table sufficiently.
CHEERS: Vodkapundit arises from dormancy, and Stephen Green discusses the libertarian nightmare of not attacking Iraq. Don't miss it.
October 08, 2002
PLACE YOUR BETS
PLACE YOUR BETS: Dave Weigel handicaps the Senate races. He predicts a one-seat net gain for the Democrats, unless John Thune wins in South Dakota, which is a dead heat. The (Sioux Falls) Argus Leader has more on that race; Johnson has an edge on issues questions, but Thune still has an edge with independents (though according to the article, Johnson's internal polls show the opposite).
Dave says he might handicap the House later tonight, and update his picks as the weeks go by. UPDATE: the House calls are up. It's amazing how few seats are even thought to be contested. As the Wall Street Journal has pointed out, the fact that Republicans (by dominating state governments in 2000) benefitted most from the gerrymandering this round is small consolation for fans fair play on the Right.
TERROR-BURST?: With the terrorist attack in Kuwait-- a pretty weak one, compared to past attacks on the U.S. Military in the Middle East-- plus the apparent attack on the Limburg near Yemen, are we seeing a coordinated burst of new attacks, perhaps coinciding with the anniversary of the Afghan campaign? Is the D.C.-area sniper-spree part of it?
October 07, 2002
BUSH'S SPEECH: Most of what Bush talked about, of course, has already been covered by others, notably Dick Cheney and Tony Blair. But what really struck me is the passage on connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. I've written before on how the administration seemed to be soft-pedalling the (undeniable) link during the summer, when they were delaying action, as if they thought that, if an al Qaeda connection became explicit common knowledge, they might be pushed into war before they were ready (or be seen as weak).
Now that the rhythms on the war drum are less Ravel and more Slipknot, the Bushies are finally saying that Iraq and al Qaeda are linked. It's being treated as almost an afterthought, but given that the central casus belli that the administation has fleshed out is to prevent weapons of mass destruction proliferation, the link to those really dangerous terrorists to whom Iraq might prolifereate its weapons seems pretty important to me. We hawks should be mentioning this link more often, no?
FRANCE UNDER SEIGE
FRANCE UNDER SEIGE: A Muslim stabs the mayor of Paris because he's gay (the mayor, not the Muslim), and Rod Dreher rightly invokes Pim Fortuyn (and imagines what a difference we'd see if the attacker had been a Christian fundamentalist). Meanwhile, Le Monde reports that, regarding the explosion of the French oil tanker Limburg near Yemen, "the testimony of the crew describes a small boat rapidly approaching the side of the supertanker right before the explosion" (my translation, with help from AltaVista).
There's an interesting Instapundit-lead discussion on why Islamists might see France as their most natural target for effectiveness right now-- and why they might, once again, be wildly miscalculating.
SUPREME COURTESY: The High Court did the Republicans a favor by refusing to hear their complaint; valid or not; having the Democrats' legal maneuverings (and not the Republicans') fresh in mind helps Forrester. But Dave Weigel, who lives and breaths the horse-race side of politics, assures me that Lautenberg will win; elections in New Jersey tend to turn on abortion, says Dave. We'll see.
UPDATE: Now Dave's blogged his many reasons for betting on Lautenberg. Abortion is what he cited over IM, but now it looks like the issue doesn't even merit a specific mention...
SPREE KILLING: Indepundit Scott Koenig is all over the DC-area shootings. I don't think the terrorism angle can by any means be dismissed, but I don't buy dismissals of the just-plain-psycho theory, either. The former sort of encompasses the latter, though, doesn't it?
THANK YOU, MARK SHIELDS
THANK YOU, MARK SHIELDS: Tons of traffic from Instapundit and now Best of the Web, plus a few clicks from an engaging, Chicago-based, and Sekimori-slick blog called The Spoons Experience, which is new to me. Welcome all.
October 05, 2002
HOW TO CONQUER THE INTERNET
HOW TO CONQUER THE INTERNET: My good friend Ryan Vooris, having discovered a new toy at googlefight.com, notes that I beat him out on google-hits by over a thousand. The secret? The blogosphere-wide attention drawn by InstaLinks. Thanks, Glenn, and welcome new traffic.
OUTRAGE: Mark Shields committed one of the most egregious acts of intellectual dishonesty in recent memory tonight on CNN's The Capital Gang (which will be replayed tonight at 11 PM Eastern and tomorrow morning at 4:00 AM Eastern). His "Outrage of the Week," prefaced by the note that comments to Congressional representatives were running 100 to 1 against invading Iraq, was this quote from Tuesday's Best of the Web, compiled by James Taranto:
"Based on the e-mail we receive, we'd say 95% of readers of this column support a war in Iraq, and of those who don't, perhaps half are either openly anti-Semitic or just plain nuts."Here is the actual item, in its entirety:
Stupidity WatchNote first that the emphasis on "this" ("this column") was in the original, but omitted from the CNN graphic. Note also that Shields, in noting what activists who contact Congress are saying, committed the very same logical fallacy that Lopez committed, and that Taranto was illustrating.
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez doesn't understand how to gauge public opinion. "Forget what you've heard," he writes:National polls, some of which suggest 70% of Americans support a war against Iraq, are not to be trusted. Roughly 75% of the readers of this column are opposed, and that many people can't be wrong.Lopez apparently doesn't know what a "representative sample" is. It's unlikely that readers of his column represent a cross-section of Americans, and even unlikelier that the minority of readers of his column who write to him with their opinions do. Based on the e-mail we receive, we'd say 95% of readers of this column support a war in Iraq, and of those who don't, perhaps half are either openly anti-Semitic or just plain nuts. But of course our readers are a self-selected group too.
Twice now I've raised questions about the wisdom of such an undertaking, and several hundred people have backed me up.
Lopez's stupid argument doesn't even have the virtue of originality; the New York Times' Thomas Friedman made essentially the same argument two weeks ago.
There are two possibilities here. One: Shields is a bald-faced liar. He saw the BotW item, and intentionally took it out of context to reverse the meaning. Two: Shields is lazy. Someone took the quote out of context and sent it to him, and he didn't check the context.
Neither explanation is an acceptable excuse. Mark Shields owes his viewers an apology.
UPDATE: If you're following a link from Best of the Web or Instapundit (or anywhere else), you're stuck in archive-land, and you're missing my most recent posts, in case you're interested.
October 04, 2002
GOING POSTAL: What is it with postal workers?
THIS IS TERRORISM
THIS IS TERRORISM: The DC-area sniperings, that is; Bill Quick makes a compelling argument (via Instapundit, who concurs).
October 03, 2002
BLUE MAN: You've probably seen this widely-blogged blue Libertarian Party candidate in Montana. And they say the LP isn't taken seriously. He should really shave his head and start doing found-object percussion performances.
TUSSLE ON THE TURNPIKE
TUSSLE ON THE TURNPIKE: You'll notice I haven't mentioned the New Jersey debacle yet; I haven't been especially interested. See Mickey Kaus for the center of the blogosphere's commentary on this issue. Dave Weigel makes a good point: if absentees have already voted, what happens to their votes? Lautenberg doesn't get to keep Torricelli's votes, does he?
SHOOTINGS: Like a weasely "not terrorism"-spouting public official, I'll reserve comment until we have more information.
PATRIOTISM REDEFINED: Kathryn Jean Lopez reports in The Corner that Jan Schakowsky, the Democratic Congresswoman from Evanston, Skokie, and a few neighborhoods at the north edge of Chicago, is quetioning the patriotism of-- tax cutters! This from a woman who openly courts the anti-American vote.
October 02, 2002
SPLITS: There's an important article by Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review OnDeadTree (as Jonah Goldberg puts it) on the foreign policy split among libertarians-- the anti-war fringe, the pro-Afghan war, anti-Iraq war libertarian mainstream (how's that for an oxymoron?), and, of course, the hawkish libertarian blogosphere. Glenn Reynolds excerpts some of it here.
Last week Stephen Green decided, apparently, to abandon the libertarian label altogether and call for a new Federalist party, but that doesn't seem quite right to me, either. If you'll look at the comments below that post, you'll notice I suggestion we liberty-loving hawks call ourselves "neo-libertarians," admittedly appropriating a term that means something else in a different context. I was seconded by Robert Prather of the, er, Neolibertarian News Portal. Don't be so shocked.
REAPPEARING JAY: Jay's been found, says Ryan in the comments section below; I trust him, so I won't go digging for a link. Snoogans.
DISAPPEARING POSTS: After posting a one-line item below, I deleted it, thinking in retrospect it was somewhat juvenile-- but after deleting it, I forgot to hit "publish" in Blogger, so it stayed on the page for a day.
I wouldn't have such a problem with that-- it wasn't that bad, just a fairly mild joke about this item. So now I'd leave it up-- except there's no way to un-delete it, and it will disappear as soon as I post & publish this item. So if you were wondering where it went, that's the answer.