Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

July 28, 2005

Sorry for the interruption

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:33 pm

To those of you who have been reloading this page daily or more often and have been disappointed to find I’ve posting nothing in almost a week: My apologies. I have plenty to say, but I’ve been busy at work and haven’t had much time to say it. Sorry.

July 24, 2005

John Roberts and the “Politics of Personal Destruction”

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:00 am

Does anyone remember how Clinton’s supporters called for an end to the “Politics of Personal Destruction” in connection with the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal? Or how Kerry’s supports used the same phrase to accuse Bush during the 2004 campaign?

Well let’s see what some Democrats think is perfectly legitimate discourse, now that Bush has nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

First, the liberal blog Daily Kos accused Judge Roberts’ son of being gay:

Did You Catch His Wife

When Roberts thanked his family, he mentioned his son, Jack…Roberts’ wife’s face fell. It was like a poker tell. I think we should research Jack.

He’s probably gay

Of course, this is how ridiculous rumors get started, but extreme conservatives seem to have a lot of homosexual children…

It took nearly a full day before someone on that blog noticed that:

Say What?

Dude….the kid is FOUR YEARS OLD.

Well hey, don’t liberals believe that people are born gay or straight? If so, then why can’t a four-year-old be gay? (I mean, if you accept the usual liberal assumptions).

Of course, it couldn’t end there. Now, several commentators including Ann Althouse, Wonkette,
Reasoned Audacity
are saying that a New York Times article seems calculated to imply that Judge Roberts himself is gay. As Ann Althouse put it:

I do think the NYT piece was subtly constructed to plant this idea. Just look at the series of photographs they chose: young John in plaid pants, young John with his boys’ school pals, young John in a wrestling suit with his fellow wrestlers, John with footballers, and — the final pic — John smiling in an all-male wedding photograph. The article also says Roberts married his wife when both were in their forties and that that their children were adopted.

Now you would think that this is really weird, because the oh-so-tolerant liberals are always claiming there’s nothing wrong with being gay and the conservatives (like Judge Roberts?) are the ones who were intolerant. But of course it’s not that simple. Turns out it’s OK only when liberals are gay. Conservatives who are gay should be publicly humiliated for it.

Even more revealing, there is an extensive argument in the Ann Althouse’s comments as to whether it is ethical to “be gay” but choose live a straight live, marry a person of the opposite sex, raise children, and so on. I thought liberals were supposed to be “pro-choice.” Some things, you can’t believe even if you see them… .

And, of course, the Los Angeles Times is attacking Judge Roberts’ wife. No partriarchal, chauvanistic, don’t-attack-the-ladies chivalry there at the Times. After all, there’s a scandal! The scandal is … (drumroll please) …

Wife of Nominee Holds Strong Antiabortion Views
By Richard A. Serrano, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — While Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.’s views on abortion triggered intense debate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, there is no mistaking where his wife stands: Jane Sullivan Roberts, a lawyer, is [Gasp!] ardently against abortion.

A Roman Catholic [Oh, the horror!] like her husband [more horror!], Jane Roberts has been deeply involved [deeply!] in the antiabortion [crime syndicate!] movement. She provides her name [gasp!], money [gasp!] and professional advice [gasp!] to a small Washington organization — Feminists for Life of America — that offers counseling and educational programs [gasp!]. The group has filed legal briefs [indecent!] before the high court challenging the constitutionality of abortion [, truth, justice, freedom, and the the abolotion of slavery and child sacrifice -- wait, scratch that last one].

Gosh, I think we need a special prosecutor for this one!

(Hat tip for the first link I saw on this: Clayton Cramer.)

July 22, 2005

British Police, Treatment of Suspects, and Double Standards

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:37 pm

When I was growing up, I was frequently exposed to the idealistic story that Britain was so peaceful that even British police did not carry guns. I don’t know if it was true at the time, but it is surely not true now — neither the part of about Britain being nearly crime-free, nor of the British police being unarmed. Violent crime in Britain has skyrocketed since 1997, the year that Britain banned private ownership of handguns. (Not surprisingly, opponents of gun control see a cause-and-effect relationship here.)

And, British police now carry guns. And they use them like this:

Eyewitnesses described mayhem at Stockwell Tube station today after a suspected suicide bomber was shot dead fleeing from armed police.

One said the man was shot five times as he ran on to a Northern line train soon after 10am.

Scotland Yard have confirmed they shot a man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witness Mark Whitby … “An Asian [meaning South Asian, which in London usually measns Pakistani Muslim -- DR] guy ran on to the train. As he ran, he was hotly pursued by what I knew to be three plain-clothes police officers.”

He tripped and was also pushed to the floor and one of the officers shot him five times.

“One of the police officers was holding a black automatic pistol in his left hand. They held it down to him and unloaded five shots into him. I saw it.

He’s dead, five shots, he’s dead.”

He continued: “As the man got on the train I looked at his face. He looked from left to right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit, like a cornered fox.

“He looked absolutely petrified.

“He sort of tripped but they were hotly pursuing him and couldn’t have been more than two or three feet behind him at this time.

“He half-tripped, was half-pushed to the floor.

“The policeman nearest to me had the black automatic pistol in his left hand, he held it down to the guy and unloaded five shots into him.

“He looked like a Pakistani but he had a baseball cap on, and quite a thickish coat.["]

Now think about this for a moment — the police are holding an ethnic-minority guy down on the floor, and a police officer holds a gun right up to him and pumps five shots into him at point blank range as other officers hold him down.

Can you imagine the outcry if police in the United States were to do something like this? If they were already holding and physically controlling a suspect, and they shot him anyway? If several police officers calmly held a suspect to the floor for another officer to shoot him without even having to aim?

You don’t have to if you rememer the massive outcry that nearly brought down the Giuliani administration in New York City when Amadou Diallo was shot by police — and Diallo was not restrained; police though he was reaching for a weapon (it turned out to be his wallet).

You don’t have to if you rememer the Rodney King case — Rodney King was not only not controlled, he was actively fighting the officers, having already been shocked with a Taser to no apparent effect. And he was not even shot, but (merely) beaten; he survived with no permanent injuries. Yet two of the police officers went to jail for that. (Rodney King himself went free.)

Some will say that this case is different — that the Pakistani was a terrorism suspect who had been fleeing police. But how do you think Americans, including the American press (and even me!), would have reacted if two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, New York police had chased down a Muslim, held him to the floor of a subway, and summarily killed him? Even if this is a war more than a crime, you just don’t do things like that.

In fact, even our soldiers and marines don’t shoot people they know are terrorists, once they have physical control over them. That’s why we have all those prisoners at Guantánamo — those are all people who could have been held down and shot rather than held down and captured.

But Americans don’t kill their enemies in a fit of passion after capturing — they give them first aid, sometimes even if the medic giving the first aid was just shot by the terrorists. I think it’s time to review this story from earlier this week.

July 21, 2005

House Vote on Iraq and Guantánamo

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:59 pm

Quoted verbatim from Instapundit:

THE HOUSE VOTED TO oppose withdrawal from Iraq and support operations at Guantanamo. I’m sure that will be the lead story on tonight’s news.

Lester Crawford confirmed as FDA Commissioner

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:57 pm

The Senate has confirmed the President’s nomination of Lester Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D. to be the new FDA Commissioner. Dr. Crawford has been acting commissioner since March 2004, when then-commissioner Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Dr. Crawford is known as a food safety expert; he is also a veterinarian with a Ph.D. in pharmacology. Dr. McClellan is a respected health economist; he is a physician with a Ph.D. in economics. I doubt somehow that this will put to rest accusations that the Bush administration is a bunch of uneducated idiots, but it should.

(Trivia: Mark McClellan is a brother of White House spokesman Scott McClellan, and both are sons of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who was also the first woman mayor of Austin and is now running for governor. There’s a fascinating story about her here.)

Microsoft Sues Google

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:52 pm

This lawsuit could be just what it seems — an issue of someone switching employers and possibly revealing proprietary information of the first employer to the second — or it could be part of a larger strategy by Microsof to keep Google from infringing on its territory as the most important and most financially successful company in the computer industry.

Daylight Savings Time May Be Extended

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:21 am

Congress may add two months to Daylight Savings Time:

Congressional leaders of both parties have signed off on a proposal, being considered in Washington this week, to start Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday of November. They say it would save energy.

If the president signs the bill, the new law would take effect immediately, extending Daylight Saving Time by one month this fall. Currently, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ends at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

“The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who co-sponsored the measure with U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Ummm….. does Ed Markey really believe that there will be “more daylight” if Congress passes this law? Is this going to slow the rotation of the earth during the day and speed it up at night?

“Daylight Savings Time” doesn’t create more daylight, it just moves it around. More precisely, it moves our clocks around, making everyone do everything one hour earlier relative to the sun’s position in the sky. It’s really just a cultural shift, because people have gotten in the habit of, say, opening the stores when the clock says “10:00 am” regardless of how long it’s been since sunrise.

This seems to me like Congress is trying to get something for nothing. I mean really — if Daylight Savings Time is really such a great idea in terms of saving energy, why not use it all year? Is there some reason why Ed Markey and Fred Upton think we should be wasting energy in December, January, and February?

(Hat tip: Slashdot, where one commenter suggests we call the rest of the year “Daylight Wasting Time.”)

Another Argument Against Gun Control

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:40 am

Just when I thought I’d heard all the arguments on this issue…

Those opposed to gun control often argue that restrictions on gun ownership by definition disarm only law-abiding people. When laws restricting gun possession are passed, law-abiding people obey them and don’t buy or get rid of their guns. Criminals — who by definition do not obey the law — ignore laws against guns the same way they ignroe the laws against robbery, auto theft, murder, rape, and so on. After all, if someone is willing to violate the law against murder, what makes anyone think that person will obey a law against having the gun used to commit the murder?

So, the argument goes, gun control disarms law-abiding people and emboldens criminals, who know their intended victims are less likely to be armed. Since the victims are less likely to be armed, the “cost” of attempting a crime — in terms of probability of being injured or arrested — is lower. Thus, crime is more likely to pay, so criminals commit more crimes.

This all old hat, and has been extensively documented by John Lott.

But now, Capital Freedom has yet another argument, which is so obvious we all should have thought of it years ago. Because taking guns away from the law-abiding makes crime more profitable, and because it’s easier to commit certain crimes with guns, gun control increases the benefit to a criminal of having a gun. Since crime more “profitable,” a gun is more likely to be a profitable investment for a criminal. So criminals acquire not the same number of guns, but more of them.

In other words, gun control not only disarms the law-abiding, but actually encourages the criminals to obtain and use guns.

July 20, 2005

Father of 9/11 Hijacker Speaks Out

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:44 pm

From the London Daily Mail:

Father of 9/11 hijacker warns of 50-year war

11:56am 20th July 2005

The father of one of the September 11 hijackers said today he had no sorrow for what had happened in London and claimed more terrorist attacks would follow.

Egyptian Mohamed el-Amir, whose son Mohamed Atta commandeered the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York, said there was a double standard in the way the world viewed the victims in London and victims in the Islamic world.

El-Amir said the attacks in the US and the July 7 attacks in Britain were the beginning of what would be a 50-year religious war, in which there would be many more fighters like his son.

Speaking to a CNN producer in his apartment in the upper-middle-class Cairo suburb of Giza, he declared that terror cells around the world were a “nuclear bomb that has now been activated and is ticking”.

Cursing in Arabic, el-Amir also denounced Arab leaders and Muslims who condemned the London attacks as being traitors and non-Muslims.

He passionately vowed that he would do anything within his power to encourage more attacks.

So much for the theories that (1) terrorism is caused by the desperation of poverty, and (2) that the motivations of Islamic terrorists have nothing to do with Islam.

Google Maps the Moon

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:13 pm

In honor of the 36th anniversary of the first moon landing, on July 20, 1969, Google Maps has added some moon data to the Google Maps interface, so you can now zoom, pan, and otherwise explore the surface of the moon. The sites of the moon landings are marked.

Now, the regular Google Maps allows you to look at either a street map or a satellite image of an area, but Google Moon has only images. Wonder why… ;-)

(Hat tip: FrankJ at IMAO.)

Credibility Gap

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:52 am

The traditional media has always been a bit condescending and dissmissive of the Internet, as if the Internet has no credibility. When pressed for something other than dissmissiveness, they usually resort to a claim that web sites have “no editors” and “no fact-checkers.” Of course, the most famous such incident was when Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report reported that Monica Lewinsky had a blue dress with President Clinton’s “evidence” on it, and this was dismissed as obviously false since it was from an “internet gossip site.”

Until the dress showed up. Whereupon no one admitted that the “edited” and “fact-checked” media got it wrong, but one guy with one computer in a cheap apartment in L.A. got it right.

This sort of thing keeps happening. I don’t know why anybody regards the “major” newspapers has having any credibility. Here’s the latest example, in which the Los Angeles Times mdae a gross factual error in the print edition, then changed the web version and neglected to issue a correction. Patterico has a scan of print edition.

Here’s another example, from the Seattle Times.

Great moments in inappropriate online advertising

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:16 am


Read the comments to see why this is not entirely accidental….

July 19, 2005

The Gulag of North Korea

Filed under: — Different River @ 8:47 pm

I think the story of the horrible torture and deliberate starvation of North Koreans by the government of North Korea is not getting enough attention here in the U.S. — or anywhere else where this blog is readable, for that matter.

As a reminder, consider this story:

A North Korean defector who survived 10 years in a prison labor camp said he told President Bush last month that the United States should do more to help those who flee the communist regime.

‘The people who are at the camps, the [North Korean] government wants to kill them all,’ Kang Chol-hwan said in an interview with The Washington Times. ‘Instead of executing them, they kill them slowly, making them work in forced labor. That was the hardest part.’
Mr. Kang, 37, said prisoners are fed very small portions of corn and salt that make it ‘impossible to survive’ without additional food. As a result, prisoners survive by eating cooked rats and snakes, and live lizards, he said.

And these are the lucky ones.

(Hat tip: The Amateur Economist)

Commodore Uriah P. Levy, USN

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:13 pm

A fascinating story.

Another excellent new blog

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:56 pm

Welcome to the newest blog from a student at George Mason University — Capital Freedom, which starts out by explaining why without property rights, no other rights can be guaranteed.

Oh, and by the way — The UN Population Program is, according to the UN’s own definition, guilty of genocide.

If the first five days are any indication, this is going to be a great blog!

(Hat tip: Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek.)

Being Left Means Never Having to Check the Facts

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:57 am

David of David’s Medienkritik in Germany points out that German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has justified his opposition to the Iraq War by claiming that his pre-war predictions had come true. Except they haven’t.

[I]n a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, Joschka Fischer was asked if he had always taken the "right tone" with the United States during his time in office as Germany’s Foreign Minister. His answer was unfortunate if not entirely predictable in that it focused almost exclusively on the Iraq war. Mr. Fischer re-asserted that Germany was right to oppose the war and pointed out that his concerns over Iraq had been "confirmed", calling the war a "mistake". Mr. Fischer nevertheless concluded that he was in favor of transatlantic friendship and was a "Transatlantiker" through and through, but stated that he would not be a "follower" of the United States like "Frau Merkel."

One also has to wonder which of the following predictions, made by prominent members of Schroeder and Fischer’s governing coalition before the war, have since been "confirmed"?:

Claudia Roth (Greens) predicted that an attack on Iraq would unleash a firestorm in the wider Middle East, implying that the entire region could be thrown into a state of war.

Olaf Scholz, Secretary General of the SPD (Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party): The war will "likely result in the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people."

Heidi Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD), Minister of Development Aid: She expected "hundreds of thousands of innocent people, civilians, children, women" to become war victims, and she expected two to three million refugees. Like Roth, Zeul also said that the Iraq war would "unleash an unimaginable firestorm" in the region.

The former SPD-politician Erhard Eppler expected "the lives of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions (of people) at risk".

Jürgen Trittin (The Greens), Minister for the Environment: "The Ministry of the Environment has several studies, among them UN documents. According to these 40.000 to 200.000 victims of military actions can be expected. (…) We are afraid, that up to 200.000 more people might die from the consequences of a war."

Christian Ströbele, MP (Greens): "Tens of thousands of deaths…"

Wolfgang Thierse, President of the German Parliament (SPD): "I think of the millions of people in Baghdad, who will be victims of bombs and rockets."

The only prediction remotely close to being true was that of Christian Ströbele, unless of course, one actually lends credence to the profoundly flawed results of the Lancet study. But Mr. Ströbele likely expected the deaths to be the direct result of US military action during an actual attack on Iraq. They haven’t been. Many of the deaths to date have been caused by a ruthless insurgency consisting of former Saddam supporters and Islamo-Fascist terrorists who have blown away innocent children bystanders by the dozens and brutally beheaded kidnapped civilians.

And whether or not the US had invaded Iraq, the violent fanatics at the root of the ongoing havoc in Iraq would have almost certainly found another way to kill and oppress their fellow men, either as Saddam’s henchmen or as followers of bin Laden. Mr. Fischer and all of his left-wing friends were clearly wrong when they predicted that US intervention would create a swell of popular support for Al-Qaeda sponsored terror in the Middle East. A new poll strongly indicates that the very opposite is true. Middle Easterners and Muslims around the world are increasingly rejecting suicide bombings and terror. Only an increasingly fanatical and isolated minority continue to support Al-Qaeda. The very real emergence of democracy in the Middle East in places like Iraq and Lebanon has caused many to rethink their views and begin to hope for a better life for the first time in decades.

July 18, 2005

Carnival of the Capitalists

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:55 am

This week’s roundup of economics and business blogs is up at the Club for Growth Blog.

July 17, 2005

How America Fights

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:00 am

If you have any notion that that American soldiers are fundamentally, morally different from the “insurgents” terrorizing Iraq by blowing up children and decapitating food-aid workers, read this:

Tschiderer, with E Troop, 101st “Saber” Cavalry Division, attached to 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was knocked to the ground from the impact, but he popped right back up, took cover and located the enemy’s position.

After tracking down the now-wounded sniper with a team from B Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, Tschiderer secured the terrorist with a pair of handcuffs and gave medical aid to the terrorist who’d tried to kill him just minutes before.

And if you think the media hasn’t taken sides, consider that there has been hardly any news coverage (none I’ve seen) despite the fact that TV networks love video, and the whole thing is on video:

See the video of the attack.

Read the account of the incident from the 256th Brigade Combat Team.

I am speechless with pride in our troops. Especially when I consider not only how the sniper would have reacted with the tables turned, but the knowledge that PFC Tschiderer no doubt was even more aware of that.

Some on the insurgents’ side will interpret actions like this as a sign of weakness. But it is truly a sign of strength, and they misinterpret at their peril.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

July 15, 2005

Security Stupidity

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:13 pm

I know just a few people in the security industry, but they all seem to agree that the post-9/11/01 airplane rules — e.g., no nail clippers on planes — are more for show than for security. If you think this is altogether too cynical, consider this account of a charted flight bringing Georgia Army National Guard troops to Kuwait (on their way to Iraq):

Speaking to 280 fellow soldiers before they boarded a chartered DC-10 at the start of their marathon flight from Savannah to Kuwait City earlier this week, King was thunderous, blunt and well armed with an M-16 rifle slung over his shoulder.

King, who in civilian life is the Doraville police chief, rolled his eyes at the FAA regulation that requires soldiers — all of whom were armed with an arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns and pistols — to surrender pocket knives, nose hair scissors and cigarette lighters.

“If you have any of those things,” he said, almost apologetically, “put them in this box now.”

It’s amazing — for some reason the rules about guns didn’t apply to them, but the rules against nail clippers did.

In what world does this make sense?

(Hat tip: Bruce Schneier.)

Congratulations, Professor Volokh!

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:57 pm

Long-time Blogger Eugene Volokh, has been awarded the Gary T. Schwartz Chair at the UCLA law school.

Prof. Volokh notes:

Regrettably, it turns out that there’s actually no physical chair involved, though maybe I could just rename my chair the Gary T. Schwartz Chair. Gary was a torts scholar, so perhaps that will decrease my chance of having accidents in the chair — or would it increase the chance?

Somehow this reminds me of the story of President William Howard Taft, who was offer a Chair of Law at Yale upon leaving office. He responded that “sofa of law” would be more in keeping with in proportions. (He weighed over 300 pounds for much of his life.)

He did accept the Chair, however, and was later appointed to the Supreme Court. I hear there is a chair available there as well. Perhaps Professor Volokh would prefer to change his chair for that one? ;-)

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

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