Saturday, October 26, 2002

Enough sympathy for frauds
So Bellesiles has resigned from Emory. Eugene Volokh suggests that it is time to thank, but not congratulate, Lindgren and Cramer for the work they did in exposing Bellesiles. Like hell. When a cop catches a burglar, we congratulate him. So congratulations to both of them. Academic jobs are tough enough for honest scholars to find, and they don't need to pushed out by cheap frauds.
Where is Mary Robinson's mouth?
With 67 hostages dead, where is Mary Robinson with the demand that the Russians should have done nothing and let the terrorists kill everyone, because now it is the Russians with blood on their hands?
No damn good
Colbert King (in the Washington Post) points out, with respect to the snipers, the obvious:
I have come to believe that in this brief and transitory life, there are some people who are just no damn good.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Totalitarian Monsters
Here is a story to sicken you. The government of Belarus (home to Chernobyl) has demonstrated that it believes if you are born there, you are their property to use and abuse. Seven Belarussian children from the Chevren orphanage there have been ordered back to the orphanage. They are currently being cared for in Ireland in four families. No explanation, just a one line letter saying the State demands its property back. In the event some Robert Fisk-type creature wants to defend this, he needs to defend this:
Teresa Flynn, the Irish parent of eight-year-old Sergei, said yesterday she is "devastated" at the thought of Sergei going back to the orphanage. When Sergei - who is unable to walk or talk - arrived from the orphanage three years ago, he was severely malnourished, weighing only 11lbs.
Speaking from her home in Miltown-Malbay yesterday, Teresa said: "His system had closed down and it took a year to get him back on track. Now he is the normal weight of an eight-year-old."
The Telegraph does better
The Daily Telegraph's story on the sniper says in paragraph one that he is a Gulf War veteran, and in paragraph two that he is a Muslim. Then it spells out all the details of the gun and the capture. By the way, Americans readers of the story should know that the boot of a car is British for the trunk.
An ever more cretinous Guardian
The Guardian's front page (web edition) gives us a link to its commentary, although the commentary, by Duncan Campbell, the Guardian's Los Angeles correspondent, doesn't actually mention the sniper story at all. Instead, it is a laughable attempt at being condescending. And so we get:
Almost every week now, an article appears in the American press by a journalist recently returned from Europe about the "anti-Americanism" they have experienced. Sometimes a rebuff by a waitress is cited as an example of European hostility. . . . Quite often now, of course, the commentators concerned may be looking for any hint of anti-Americanism, so that they can reinforce a comforting, stereotypical view of Europe as a snooty and hostile home of appeasers.
Sorry dude. Americans don’t need to get a rebuff from waitresses. Duncan Campbell dishes out plenty of snooty and hostile behavior on his own. And I resent the libelous remark about the waitresses. In my experience in ten years of living in Europe, waitresses have way too many manners to behave in the in the snooty and hostile way that correspondents for the Guardian do. Waitresses get drawn from a better class of people than Guardian correspondents.
Equally, there is often a similarly monolithic impression of the US created in the European press: of a people wedded to guns, violence, the death penalty and over-eating, and happy to swallow whatever they are told by George Bush, Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld at the cosy daily chats that pass for press conferences. No wonder some Americans throw up their hands in frustration when they see the whole of the population portrayed in this way.
In short, he wants Europe to understand that America isn’t populated exclusively by the kinds of boorish people who would actually disagree with him, or more accurately, think he is a twit. Some Americans really are just as snooty as Duncan Campbell. No doubt, he has that right. Just visit SFSU.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about an anti-war gathering in California. A flood of emails from Americans followed. The thrust of most of them was that there were many people in the US opposed to a war in Iraq, but they felt that the rest of the world was unaware of this. One email from a [persumably self-identified] black woman in Chicago complained that "it seems the rest of the world views the populace as a bland, homogenous chunk of Bush followers". Others quoted relatives in the military who had expressed opposition to the war.
His evidence that America thinks just like him? The idiotitarian left sent him emails telling him so. The rest of his idiocy, including his panting like a kicked dog at the feet of Michael Moore, you can read for yourself.
Sniper story with a Guardian slant
The Guardian reports on the capture of the sniper with the headline "Captured in their sniper's nest: Gulf veteran and the teenager", and the headline is right next to a big display titled "Special report: Gun violence in America". So, the first paragraph tells us he a Gulf War veteran, and the second tells us he used an "assault rifle". They don't get around to mentioning he is a convert to Islam and that he was openly sympathetic to the September 11th terrorists until paragraph eight (in a fifteen paragraph story). And they never get around to mentioning that John Lee Malvo was an illegal immigrant. But of course it would be wrong to suggest that the Guardian is slanting its news coverage to attack the US military and cover up Islamic terrorists.
Even more double standards about Jews
The Jerusalem Post reports on a man given the death penalty for allegedly collaborating with Israel. Curiously, the anti-death penalty is quiet on this one. I can find nothing on the story in the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph, or the Irish Independent. The Israelis should stop wasting time trying to appear reasonable to these people. They are not critics of Israel, they are its enemies, who want it destroyed, and there is not appeasing them.
More double standards against Jews
Israpundit launches a brutal attack on the Israeli left in the form of Israel's attorney general, for limiting prosecutions to Jews, and ignoring what it describes as treason by Arab members of the Knesset.
Someone at Harvard doesn't hate America
I picked up this review of why the left is so fanatical in its hatred of America through Cold Spring Shop. Michael New reviews Dan Flynn's Why the Left Hates America, and his proposition is a simple one. America is rich, so capitalism hasn't obviously failed; it practices religious tolerance, so Christianity isn't obviously intolerant; immigrants flock to America, so maybe it is better than the hell-holes the left so adores. The only part that baffles me is that Michael New is listed as a post-doc at Harvard, and writing for FrontPage Magazine is not the way to keep that sort of job.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Why hasn't Mary McGrory Retired?
Mary McGrory rambles today even more than usual. She starts off by talking about absentee ballots in Iowa, drifts into criticism of the campaign being run by Tom Harkin's opponent, Gerg Ganske, then drifts down to Missouri to talk about the Carnahan-Talent race, and ends up complaining about Bush and North Korea. Somehow, this all drifts back to voter interest. The column is an aimless mess, writing that would fail freshman English.

It would be insulting to George Will, Richard Cohen, Charles Krauthammer, or William Raspberry to say they can write a series of connected, coherent paragraphs, because that is the bare minimum to be expected of a writer for any paper, not just at the top. It isn't that she can't think any more; she can't even write. Her writing makes me think of those sad professors way past their prime, refusing to retire even into their seventies, still giving the same lectures they gave 40 years earlier. It is time for the Post to put Mary McGrory out to pasture and replace her with someone literate.

A fascinating slap at Belafonte
Yesterday was too busy for much blogging, so I missed a piece in the Chicago Tribune by Clarence Page ripping into Harry Belafonte for his comments about Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. This story isn't new, but Page's comments are a brutal attack on the Democratic Party's longstanding practice of taking blacks for granted:
That's makes Powell and Rice scary to Democratic Party regulars. They show how opportunities can be found in both major parties for those who don't need somebody else to tell them how to be black.
The indictment of Belafonte is clear: he is less interested in the welfare of other blacks than he is in the welfare of his party.
Absinthe makes the heart grow stronger?
The Chicago Tribune reports that after being banned for nearly a century, absinthe is being produced again, legally. The story reports that it is still illegal to make or import it into the US. I hope that this does not become an important new front in the drug war. Then again, the manufacturer interviewed for the story does say
"Consumed in the right way, it should be harmless." Pause. "Of course, if you have six of these in one evening, it could cause considerable carnage."

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Integrity challenged
Mark A.R. Kleiman (I'm always intrigued by people with two middle names; I have none) goes into the silly realms of partisanship.
It is not the case that their contempt for the difference between truth and falsehoold distinguishes the President and those who work for him differ from the professoriate generally. That contempt separates them only from the respectable parts of the academic world. There is actually a resemblance between Bush & Co. and the denizens of academia's lowest slums.
I have spent nearly two decades as a practicing academic, and I often suspect that I would have to switch careers to selling heroin to children to deal with a worse class of people. And dear god, more pompous, self-important jackasses per square inch than a Robert Byrd speech. Dorothy Rabinowitz has fun comparing the relative integrity levels of the professoriate and the military.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

More USS Flight 93
My proposal to name a US naval vessel the USS Flight 93, originally suggested by the author of Bah, Humblog, has been picked up by Instapundit and ColdSpringShop. A reader suggests they be awarded the military Medal of Honor, not a civilian award:
I began to think about the middle aged, middle class business men that dropped their cell phones and laptops, and rose from their seats and fought the enemy with their bare hands.
They were not civilians. They were the militia, in the tradition of Captain Parker's company at Concord. When faced with an enemy intent on destroying their nation they organized, took up what few weapons were at hand, and attacked on cue. Though they knew their own lives were forfeit they engaged and destroyed a better trained and equipped foe. They saved hundreds, perhaps thousands of their fellow countrymen. . . . They didn't wear uniforms, they didn't get a paycheck or shop at the PX. They didn't go through basic training. They didn't swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. They just did it.
No quarrel, but I still like the ship name; it is a lot more public.
AtlanticBlog bites cat
On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece by Sheryl Gay Stolberg titled "When Risk Ruptures Life." Monday's Best of the Web (under "You Don't Say - IV") had some fun at the article's expense, noting the line "Not only is the sniper unpredictable, he is, to most people, evil, which only magnifies the threat he seems to pose." Pay attention, because you will not likely see this again here: Best of the Web is wrong; the New York Times is right. The NYT article is about the ways in which people respond to risk. Talking to experts and listing some numbers on the incidence of death from different causes, the author draws the conclusion that people react differently to harm caused by things that are evil than other events. A sniper is different from electrocution by a toaster, even if the probability of death is the same. So the story makes a decent case that evil matters to our reactions to risk, and the sentence is perfectly reasonable.
One more time: THREE CHEERS FOR THE AUSSIES
In the Jerusalem Post, Mark Steyn complains that there has been too little outrage over the murder of Australians by Islamic fanatics, especially in America, in view of the extraordinary support Australia has provided in the war on terror. He writes:
After September 11, Americans took it for granted that the rest of the civilized world would be moved by the simple human injustice of what happened. Australians have the right to expect the same. But, if anybody in the US is interested in this story, you'd never know it from watching the TV news. The networks are playing this like they would one of those Bangladeshi floods or a Turkish earthquake just one of those goofy things that happens to obscure foreigners somewhere offshore thousands of miles away.
The press on this side of the Atlantic is giving it about as much coverage, but these are people from the "smugness of little powers" who admire Robert Fisk, after all.
How big is the Palestinian death cult?
Israpundit reports an interview on the Hamas website with the mother of a suicide killer, in which she praises her son's decision. (My difficulties with Israpundit links seem to be clearing up, for no apparent reason.) It makes for repellent reading, but I wonder if it is for real. We know a lot of Palestinians danced in the streets after 9/11, but what are we to make of their claims of suicidal fanaticism? (Recall the quotation attributed to Patton in the film: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." It is in the interests of Hamas to make us believe that mothers are lining up to send their sons on suicide killings. Destroy Hamas? It will do you no good because the bombers' mothers will still send them forth. This sort of interview strikes me primarily as a way to destroy the morale of the west.

Well, I don't buy it. Let the Israelis wipe out Hamas, and if there are still some crazed mothers who want their boys to be suicide killers, then deal with them next.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Sneaky attack on Bush
Mark Kleiman has started a very clever attack on George Bush. He has started a campaign to persuade his left-wing friends that Bush in not an idiot. The success of this campaign would clearly be bad for Bush, because one of his biggest assets is the foolishness of his enemies. If you think your enemy is an idiot, you don't prepare for his attacks. Kleiman is smart enough to understand this. I'm hoping his left-wing allies aren't smart enough to catch on.
USS Flight 93
I got a note from Bah, Humblog with a superb idea. The US Navy has picked a lot of deserving names for its ships, including the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Winston Churchill, so what about we start a movement to name a ship the
USS FLIGHT 93
The Secretary of the Navy is Gordon England (with a name like that, maybe he would go for the USS Margaret Thatcher?) and I will start the letter writing campaign to
The Honorable Gordon England
Secretary of the Navy
Washington, DC 20350-1000
I cannot find an email, but the Secretary of Defense's office has a page for submitting questions and comments.
Spam scam
Through a post in The Corner, I picked up this marvelous parody by Russell Working in the The Atlantic about the internet money laundering scams. You know the ones:
I am Mrs. Mariam Sese Seko, widow of late President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now known as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I am moved to write you this letter in confidence ... Most of my husband's million[s] of dollars [were] deposited in Swiss bank[s] and other countries [and] coded for safe purpose because the new head of state, (Dr.) Mr. Laurent Kabila, has made arrangement[s] with the Swiss government and other European countries to freeze all my late husband's reasures ...
If you are weary of spam, you do not want to miss this.
Piled high and deep
This morning The Corner directed me to a book that I thought sounded interesting, until I got to the site, which listed the author as a Ph.D. I am not altogether sure why that is so thoroughly offputting to me, but it is. Partly it is the old joke: B.S. stands for b**l s**t, M.S. stands for more s**t, and Ph.D. stands for piled high and deep. Partly it is because the Ph.D. is evidence of being able to do supervised research, and serious research is unsupervised. So the Ph.D. should be the worst piece of research a scholar ever does, not the thing he spends his career bragging about by calling himself "doctor" or sticking Ph.D. after his name on the cover of his books. Partly it is because although there are fine scholars with Ph.D.s, just about any moron can get one (and I have worked with some of those morons). And maybe mostly it is because I am tired of watching semi-literate, unproductive academics who strut around as doctor.
Jonathan Pollard
I get cranky when the subject of Jonathan Pollard comes up. He was a spy, he got caught, and he is now in prison. I get in a worse mood when someone calls for his release and (especially) his pardon. A pardon says what he did was okay, and Americans have no reason to tolerate spies, even from allies. That said, Yosef Goell makes the case for his release and pardon in the Jerusalem Post, and for the first time, I am persuaded about the release part, although I doubt I will ever be persuaded about the pardon part. The short form of his case is that however stupid and irresponsible it was for the Israeli government to use Pollard as a spy, it would now be a reasonable quid pro quo for asking the Israelis to stay out of the Iraq war, even if attacked. In particular, Goell makes the point that because Pollard's spying was to get information on Iraq, releasing Pollard would be at least a symbolic gesture to the Israelis about being right about Saddam first.
Britain and America
David Frum has the first of a five part series in the Daily Telegraph (yes, registration required, like just about everywhere else) on British attitudes toward America. The first column is more about explaining America to the British, focusing on the role of Jews in America, which Frum dismisses as inconsequential. Not so much that Jews are not important, but rather that they are important as conservatives or liberals, not as Jews. Frum always makes for interesting reading, and he does not disappoint here.
Death penalty blues
The outgoing vile governor of Illinois, George Ryan, is giving clemency hearings to all 139 of the monsters on the state's death row. The relatives of the victims are being dragged through their misery again. John Kass in the Chicago Tribune (and yes, registration is required) relates the details.
All this pain just so that a dishonored Ryan--who destroyed the Illinois Republican Party and is being hounded by a federal corruption investigation--may leave a legacy of mercy.
Ryan, like many a corrupt politican, is not an utterly stupid man. He is playing, with some success, to the many people who sentimentalize criminals. Does self-indulgent sentimentality cause pain? You bet. Read Kass and be depressed.