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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

He Wants Some Red Roses for a Blue Lady

Or was that White Roses for a red-faced Chancellor? Follow his link to an incredible story of some student activists.

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How Does Jeff Cooper Fit Through Doorways?

It can't be easy when you stand ten feet tall. Professor Cooper updates his thinking on the Central Park Jogger case, and I am dwarfed by the courtesy and clarity of his writing. Armed Liberal is a fan, as well.

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Oh, Sure, This May Work For Him

But just what am I supposed to do when I need someone sensible to link to?

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Monday, September 23, 2002

Filed Under "Be Careful What You Wish For"

I question his politics, but I do not question his character - Atrios links to me on the Central Park Jogger situation. Thanks to all for considering alternative views.

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The Central Park Jogger - Some Quick Reactions

Jeanne d'Arc, Body and Soul: "And what interests me is... the myth. It's a theme that weave through a lot of stories I write -- the way a belief, often a mistaken one, influences the choices we make, the world we create."

In what seems to have become a regular feature here, I posted a review of the Central Park Jogger case on Saturday.

Susanna Cornett will be keeping an eye on this story, and me. If I am swept away by an eagle, please check her blog.

Mark Kleiman has kind words for me, and other words, both in a new post and in an update to his original post.

Max Power has a few thoughts on innumeracy as posted at Body and Soul (probably easiest to follow his link).

And, in a bit of a jaw-dropper, I find a brilliant summary of the Left theme for the Central Park Jogger posted last Sunday, Sept 15, at, helpfully, Talk Left:

"Lots of people are weighing in this week on the topic of the recently disclosed wrongful convictions of five youths in the 1989 Central Park Jogger case. Recent DNA testing (and the confession of someone previously uncharged in the crime) has established that the five defendants who were convicted of the rape and served time for it were in fact not the rapists.

Instapundit believes that the real issue is not whether the system makes mistakes, because they all do, but whether the mistakes were made in good or bad faith....

Well, this is exactly the idea I am trying to rebut. And progress is slow.

I should note that the InstaPundit linked to my first rebuttal at 4:23 PM. Talk Left introduced Glenn as a suppporting authority on the same Sunday, but I can not make out a timestamp. Lots of legal stuff in the ensuing week, since their motto is "Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news", but no follow up on this case. Yet, I persist.

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Guten morgen, alles

I don't even know what he is saying, but I am sure I agree. And his preceding post, on Title IX, comes through loud and clear.

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Saturday, September 21, 2002

Government Bond Auction Fails in Japan

Hmm. Could be a herald of a financial apocalypse. Well, the Yankees play Detroit today at 1:15. Have a nice weekend. Back on Monday - if there is a Monday.

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Central Park Jogger - Summary

Jeanne d'Arc, Body and Soul: "And what interests me is... the myth. It's a theme that weave through a lot of stories I write -- the way a belief, often a mistaken one, influences the choices we make, the world we create."

An Exhausted Reader wonders,"Maybe you can move off this "Just One Life to Live" format, and tell us what this Central Park Jogger story is about, briefly, is that too much to ask, ...". Good point! Away I go, with links at the end.

The Washington Post, and then the Village Voice, presented somewhat incomplete and misleading accounts of new developments in the Central Park Jogger case. The Times accounts from Sept 6 and Sept 7 were more clear. Matias Reyes, now 31, and imprisoned for rape and homicide, has presented a sworn affidavit asserting that he, acting alone, raped and violently beat the Central Park Jogger. His DNA matches the DNA found on the victim. Based on this, the five people convicted of her asssault have moved to have their convictions overturned. New York City is reviewing the case, and it is worth noting that the five have long since completed their jail terms for this. Thus, these legal maneuverings are about clearing their names, rather than releasing them from jail.

Well. This news of matching DNA set off a scramble among the left half of the blogosphere to see who could express the most profound remorse for this grave social injustice: these five innocent boys, the racist police, convicting little lambs on the basis of confessions that could only have been coerced, oh no!

I have posted a bit more background, available here, and here. Briefly, the mismatched DNA was known at the trial - the prosecution, the defense, and the jury understood that one rapist had not been captured. Furthermore, the issue of coercion with respect to the confessions had been presented. The jury, having been presented with these points, convicted the five young men, aged 14 to 16 at the time.

And did anything happen that night beyond the rape of the young woman known as the Central Park Jogger? Based on court testimony, about thirty black and Hispanic youths entered Central Park that night planning to cause trouble. A homeless man was beaten, several cyclists were harassed, and two male joggers were beaten near the place where the Central Park Jogger was found. The five boys mentioned in the Post story were part of this group, and were convicted of three assaults, robbery, and riot for these activities. Five other boys pleaded guilty to lesser charges, and one was prepared to cooperate with the District Attorney and testify against the others on these charges.

So, brief aside: the police have plenty of witnesses saying that a group of youths are beating people. The body of a raped and badly beaten woman is found that night in the same area. Is it an irresponsible, racist police assumption that maybe, maybe, maybe there is a link?

Long converations with many attendess to the night's events follow. The thirty youths came from two separate housing projects, so not everyone knew everyone else, but eventually, through the haze of statements, it becomes clear (to the police, the DA, and later, a jury) that these five assaulted the young woman. A sixth man, Lopez, seems to be involved, but wisely refuses to cooperate with the police and no separate case can be made against him. The statements also leave open the possibility of other rapists. Not much physical evidence, and, eventually, the DA, the defense, the jury, and the public learn that DNA found at the scene does not match any of the accused.

Trials follow, with these five convicted and five others accepting plea bargains. Now, years later, Matias Reyes emerges, the defense moves to have the convictions set aside, and here we are.

Could Matias Reyes be lying when he says he acted alone? I can scarcely imagine that signing a false statement and risking the legal consequences thereto could hold great fear or tweak the conscience of a man serving 33 years for multiple rapes and a homicide. I can imagine that, since this case was very high profile and politicized, he can picture himself as a hero in the community that supports these young men. If he is 31 now, he would have been 18 at the time of the rape - he could simply be the missing rapist known about all these years. Or, he could have raped the young woman and left her to be subsequently assaulted by the other group. Or, the other group could have beaten her as they described in their statements. One of the male joggers was beaten and left unconscious, but eventually got to his feet and staggered off for help. Perhaps she did the same, and was then set upon by Matias Reyes.

Or perhaps, he is telling the absolute truth - acting alone, he followed her into the Park, where he beat her savagely and left her for dead. Just a peculiar concidence that the other assaults were occurring nearby.

New York City is reviewing this. Meanwhile, although I do not doubt our open-mindedness, not all of us are currently convinced that the police acted improperly, that the arrest of these five was racist and unwarranted, that the new DNA evidence obviously exonerates everyone else, that the jury acted improperly in convicting these five, and that, to paraphrase Body and Soul, this incident formed the basis for the stigmatization of a generation of young black men.

Not all of us. But what is the power of myth-making in the blogosphere? And how might we assess the open-mindedness of the Left?

Some links:

September 6, the Washington Post.

Sisyphus Shrugged: "Oh, god, no..... I feel frozen right now. It doesn't help, though."
Ampersand, with excellent follow up.

On Sept. 7, Max Power responds, "Not so fast". Since Uppity Negro mentions Max Power in his post, Max also responds at the comments section there.

Sept. 8, Body and Soul joins the chorus, and Atrios links to her.

Sept 9: Armed Liberal enters the fray with, "OK, the case is a mess, but the system is correcting its mistake".

Sept 9, Jeff Cooper, law professor, posts on "The Wilding Lie".

Bit of a pause. Now, Sept. 12, Body and Soul revisits the issue. Nice going, she got over 3000 hits on the original post!

"And what interests me is... the myth. It's a theme that weave through a lot of stories I write -- the way a belief, often a mistaken one, influences the choices we make, the world we create."


Atrios shares this interest: "Jeanne D'Arc [of Body and Soul] on the power of myth and the Central Park jogger story.", posted Sept. 13. More traffic, I imagine.

Glenn Reynolds joins in on the 14th. Then, in an update of the same post, I get a name mention and point Glenn towards the Max Power - Uppity-Negro discussion. Glenn also provides many other links. Just a foreshadowing, because later that day I deliver a long post defending the process, to which Glenn links, and which I have noted.

There has been interesting follow up by Ampersand, Armed Liberal, Mark Kleiman, Pandagon of the cool new site and the broken archives, and perhaps others. The four I mention seem ready, willing and able to take on new information and address the issues, and I have the scars to prove it.

Ms. Sisyphus Shrugged is, we are delighted to report, unfrozen. In a sensitive treatment of a serious personal and family crisis, she seems to be ready to convict the Bush girl of drug charges based on newspaper accounts. Innocent until proven guilty, indeed! However, I have seen no follow-up on the Central Park Jogger.

Atrios seems to have dropped this, as has Professor Cooper. Atrios does sometimes just link with a "Read This!", so I could have missed something.

Ms. Body and Soul has posted twice more on the Jogger: once to apologize for underestimating how dire the situation is, and once to remind us that police and scientists often engage in selective perception. As a fan of subtlety and irony, I applaud!

I expect there will be more.

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Friday, September 20, 2002

His Lead Shows Why He Is "The Man"

And the story is good too. Darn, where was he when I needed him?

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Evolution of an Idea

Jeanne d'Arc, Body and Soul: "And what interests me is... the myth. It's a theme that weave through a lot of stories I write -- the way a belief, often a mistaken one, influences the choices we make, the world we create."

Atrios: "Jeanne D'Arc on the power of myth and the Central Park jogger story."

Well, well, so many common interests! I too am interested in the Central Park Jogger story, and I too am interested in the making of myths. Of course, the myth that interests me is the treatment of this Central Park Jogger story in the blogosphere, but still, I expect we will find much to discuss.

I will be away all weekend, but I expect to take this up next week. Two of my posts on this subject are here, and here. Those can be followed to other stories.

Those two posts are long and serious - quite a strain on me and my readership, really, since short and snippy is more my flavor. Hard to predict next week's tone. Serious, or snarky? Engage the other side in thoughtful discussion, or go the "scorn and ridicule" route? I don't know myself. Can't wait 'til next week, though.

Briefly, the Central Park Jogger incident involved the violent rape of a young white woman in Central Park back in April of 1989. Based primarily on their own video-taped confessions, four black youths, aged 14 to 16 at the time, were convicted of her rape, and a fifth was convicted of sexual assault. Good police work, or blatant racism and police "coercion"? Sensible verdict, or gross injustice? The reaction of the blogosphere has been fascinating.

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Thursday, September 19, 2002

Democratic Victory Wagon Rolls On!

The Bush Administration continues to flounder helplessly on the Iraqi question, struggling to cobble together something its supporters can straight-facedly describe as a "plan". Today, the White House was caught flat-footed by Tom Daschle's bold new legislative initiative, which firmly positions the Democrats as the party of vision, national security, and responsible leadership. Daschle has already forced the White House to accede to his demand for Congressional involvement, and now the White House seems unable to resist his call for a prompt, strongly worded resolution on Iraq. Quick passage - Daschle predicts "early October" - then clears the way for the Democrats to re-focus national attention on the issues that matter to the American people, such as prescription drug coverage and health care.

Hey, this is easy. Kind of fun, too. Probably not habit-forming, but it may cheer up my buddies here and here.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Central Park Jogger – Review of Background

We have been discussing the Central Park Jogger case, and the recent developments in which a new person, Reyes, has been conclusively identified by DNA evidence as having raped the victim. In 1990, five young men were convicted of this crime, based primarily on their confessions as to their activities on what was described as a "wilding night" involving as many as thirty youths. Reyes, imprisoned for other violent rapes and a rape/homicide, claims he acted alone. The blogosphere has seen expressions of anguish at this evident injustice, perhaps best characterized by this excerpt from “Body and Soul”:

... there is the liberal reaction, which was captured by Sisyphus Shrugged -- Oh, my God!

I'm not sure most of us have figured out yet exactly what we mean by that cry to heaven. Are we furious at the injustice of what was done to those boys?....

End of excerpt.

Because there seems to be a misunderstanding as to the number of crimes committed that night, I have obtained a copy of “Unequal Verdicts: The Central Park Verdicts Trial”, by Timothy Sullivan, Simon & Schuster, 1992. This book is devoted to this incident, and I summarize its major points as follows:


Antonio Diaz, 52, homeless man: beaten
Several cyclists: harassed, but unharmed
Female jogger: beaten, raped – identified as the Central Park Jogger
John Loughlin, jogger: former Marine, 6 feet, 4 inches, 190 lbs. – beaten, left unconscious, hospitalized with trauma to head, back, rib cage, right knee. Had his Walkman stolen, which becomes the basis for a robbery charge.
David Lewis, jogger: struck in harm, bruised from shoulder to elbow, x-rays revealed no broken bones
David Good, jogger: harassed, struck by stones and sticks.
Robert Garner, jogger: punched, hit by a rock, held down. When released, he ran, then walked home.


The victims above, with the exceptions of the homeless man and the female victim, testified to the involvement of a group of young black men. The cyclists reported roughly thirty, but apparently the groups split up by the time the joggers were assaulted. Only Loughlin was able to make an identification of an assailant, and there were serious questions about it – he apparently recognized a face on television.

One of the youths, Jermain Robinson, pleaded guilty to the robbery of Loughlin. Although he cooperated with the DA, he was not called as a witness. Apparently, he was being saved for the last trial, of Lopez. Ultimately, no trial occurred, because Lopez struck a plea bargain.

Charges: Basically, attempted homicide, rape and assault with respect to the female victim, assaults with respect to the different male joggers, robbery with respect to Loughlin’s radio, and riot. “Riot” seems to be violent behavior involving ten or more people.

The Jury, First Trial: McCray, Santana, Salaam:

“Four whites, four African-Americans, three Latinos, and one Asian”

Result: According to this book, the jury easily reached agreement on the riot charges, the assault charges against the male joggers, and the robbery charge.

The jury did struggle with the charges involving the female victim. The attempted murder charge was dropped early. Agreement on assault was reached quickly for Santana and Salaam. After several grueling days, the jury eventually agreed to rape and assault for all three.

The Jury, Second Trial: Wise, Richardson

“Five whites, four African-Americans, two Latinos, one Asian”

The jury reached quick agreement on the riot charge, the assault charge against the men, and the robbery charge in the case of Richardson. The rape charges were problematic, but eventually the jury settled on rape and attempted murder for Richardson, and assault and sexual abuse for Wise.

Summary of Convictions:

McCray: Rape, four assaults, robbery, riot
Salaam: Rape, four assaults, robbery, riot
Santana: Rape, four assaults, robbery, riot

Richardson: Attempted murder, rape, sodomy, three assaults, robbery, riot
Wise: One assault, sexual abuse, riot

Plea Bargains:
Briscoe: one assault
Escobar: Attempted robbery
Lopez: Robbery
Montalvo: Attempted robbery
Robinson: Robbery

My previous post on this subject can be found here.

UPDATE: Body and Soul posts again on this subject (Sept 19), but we seem to be at cross-purposes.

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"Nathan Newman" Doesn't Sound Swedish

But he sure does spend time there. The "Sweden is poorer than the Mississippi" notion has been circulating since early May, but Nathan puts it to sleep by adjusting the income and taxation figures for social services and lifestyle. My initial post lacked his extensive analysis, but I had a gut feeling something was missing.

UPDATE: These are not the kind of Swedish figures we were thinking of, but Our Man Sans Q seems to be enjoying his Swedish massage.

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The Next Big Thing

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, announced today that she will be pushing Silicon Valley to speed development of a Verbal "Edit-Delete" device, so that the spoken word can be retracted and modified. As noted in her statement to an astonished press corps "It's too late for me personally, but others may benefit. If we can save one politician from heartbreak and humiliation, it will be worthwhile".

Impetus for this project was provided by Sen. Feinstein's comments as reported in the San Jose Mercury News, and now mercilessly promoted by Andrew Sullivan:

"Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., just back from Europe, said she detected growing opposition to the United States among America's allies. ``The driver of a lot of this animus,'' she said, ``is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To leave this unresolved and to attack an Arab country is going to be viewed as an attack on the Arab world.''

She said the anti-American sentiment was so strong that she felt it personally.

``As an American, I have always been proud,'' Feinstein said. Referring to her U.S. flag pin, she said, ``I was embarrassed to wear it.''

Emphasis added? No, phrase highlighted for deletion.

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Shifting Support For Bush On Iraq

Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle now seems to be more supportive than President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The Times has Bush "scrambling" on the same subject. Well, you can't make an omelette without scrambling eggs.

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Oakland Athletics, or Oakland Cardiacs?

Not every pennant race sees a lead change every day, and not every ball game is decided by one run. It just seems that way for the Oakland Whatevers. Do fans need to pass a heart-screening physical to enter the stadium?

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Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I Am Overcome With Admiration

I need to get out more. Susanna Cornett finally kicks me over to Ampersand, and this writer is great. The specific impetus was the Central Park Jogger story. Here is the blogger's first reaction on Sept. 6:

"...here's the short version: DNA tests have proven that the so-called "wilding teens" didn't rape the central park jogger. They were totally innocent. They were totally framed. And I totally bought into their guilt.

OK, plenty of folks stopped there with a reaction to one incomplete story. But check this out from Sept. 16, in the first of two posts:

"A bit more time has passed, and I've done a bit more reading. So here are some thoughts on the case.

Despite my initial reaction, we don't know that the 5 teens who were convicted are innocent....

But we don't know that they're guilty, either. "

This was the result of a research effort that had to drain the Lexis/Nexis budget for a month. This post, and the follow-up, dig up many newspaper and magazine citations from 1990, the time of the trial. Whoever is doing this might be the first ever pit-bull with a blog.

So, what do we think? Well, never get involved in a land war in Asia, for one. And take serious pause before slugging it out on a legal question with what seems to be a lawyer with superior research tools. On the other hand, "slugging it out" presumes significant disagreement. Do we have any? It is quite possible that we are addressing different questions.

Ampersand offers plenty of grist for the mill of those who would like to exonerate these five men today. However, our sticking point may be this conclusion:

"So what do I think? I don't know if the five (or six, counting Kharey Wise) teens accused of raping the Central Park jogger did it or not. But I don't need to know. I'm convinced that - even at the time, and even more so now - there is reasonable doubt about their guilt. And that should be all our system requires. Where reasonable doubt isn't enough to prevent a conviction, we have a problem."

There are two issues that need to be separated here. Should the jury, seeing the evidence available at the time, have acquited these five? And, knowing what we have learned since then, is it reasonable to think a new jury might today reach a different verdict?

The second question is easy - I would be astonished, barring new information, to see convictions at a second trial.

However, the first question is the crux of my position. Most of the objections to these convictions were made at the trial. Problems have emerged with the limited forensic evidence then available. However, the notion that these confessions were coerced was introduced by the defense. There is a question of adrequacy of counsel - this was a high profile case, and I suspect the defendants had good counsel, but I do not know. Ampersand provides this ambiguous tidbit:

"Only one of the six defendants' lawyer - Kharey Wise's lawyer - pressed the issue of racism and coercion at the trial as strongly as possible (American Lawyer, Jan/Feb 1991)...Although the mainstream press criticized the legal strategy for being "divisive," the jury was convinced - Wise was the only defendant to be acquitted of rape."

I have trouble reading this as "everyone agreed at the time that the lawyers were doing a poor job." After the convictions came in, people will inevitably have thoughts about what should have been done differently. We await clarification on this point.

The rest of Ampersand's objections are well-presented problems with the confessions. Again, however, this came out at trial. Ampersand notes that the jury struggled to reach a verdict. Well, yes.

But I have not been saying "I believe they are guilty". I have been arguing that they were found guilty by a jury in a proper trial. My opinion as to whether this is a mistake might be interesting. Surprisingly, and perhaps shockingly to some, I do not find my own opinion on this point to be interesting, or relevant. There is a process here - what happens next? And, just to provide a bit of reassurance, if I thought hand-wringing would help, I would be looking like Lady Macbeth. I spend a bit more time in my piece on what might happen next, and speculate on the motives of the various participants. I have little doubt that Ampersand will be doing the same. The author does look forward with some suggestions for reforming the legal system, and I expect there will be more. We have seen this film.

So, let me be clear. Ampersand's pieces are first class. This kind of work is essential in order to drive an appeal and create some useful publicity. My only argument has been with those who want to leap to unsupported conclusions on the basis of incomplete information.

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Get This Judge a Blog

Let's tap this ranting potential. Commenting on a contempt citation against the US Government for its role in the management of the American Indian trust funds, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said the following:

"In February of 1999, at the end of the first contempt trial in this matter, I stated that 'I have never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government. Now at the conclusion of the second contempt trial in this action, I stand corrected. The Department of Interior has truly outdone itself this time."

The original contmept citation included Treasury Secretary Rubin and Interior Secretary Babbitt. The list is now extended to include Interior Secretary Norton. A bipartisan blast.

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Brad DeLong is High On Pharmaceuticals!

I could never afford his consulting fees, but I would love to bring Professor DeLong to a few cocktail parties. He could explain this while I do what I do best - comparative advantage in action. Yeah, baby!

UPDATE: The Mans Sans Q wants names! Maybe the Professor should say "Volokh".

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Body and Soul versus Letter From Gotham

I seem to have a post which has turned into a two-parter. A pretty much fact-based rebuttal to an assertion by "Body and Soul" appears here. I should say that some of the facts are hidden in some odd places, but there it is. Separately, I am still pondering "Letter From Gotham" and her follow-up comments. I have hopes of saying something thoughtful and sensible, but one never knows.

So, let's reprise Body and Soul, who describes one consequence of the Central Park incident:

"A generation of young minority men -- especially black men -- was unfairly stigmatized."¨

This was Letter From Gotham's launch point, and I have questioned this as well. So:

Bernie Goetz, the subway vigilante, had absorbed the idea that groups of young, black men were dangerous back in Dec 22, 1984. Look, I am not reviewing or endorsing these links, I don't know what is here besides the very basic facts. I see the side bar says "heroism", it may be a bit tilted, get your own Google. I'm observing, not endorsing. Thank you. I continue.

Diana Ross concert, Central Park, July 1983. Here, E-online alludes to "the mayhem of Diana Ross' Gotham gig". Those with long memories will remember that the first concert was rained out, so she had a second. For a virtually hopeless rag's account, check here. I recall some of their very basic facts, such as a mob (unruly crowd? gathering?) at Tavern on the Green, also in Central Park. I do not endorse this stuff, but I will offer it as evidence that prior to 1989, the perception that groups of young black youths meant trouble was circulating.

And, a bit more contemporary, several explanations of the Puerto Rican Day parade and follow up on June 11, 2000. Evidently, 45 women were assaulted and humiliated as part of a racist conspiracy to discredit Vieques protestors. Or, a somewhat more conventional account is here.

Well, can we agree that Ms. Body and Soul was a bit hasty with her suggestion that the Centarl Park incident unfairly stigmatized a generation? Look, it may be unfair, and we should talk about that. But this was not the incident that created the stigma.

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Letter from Gotham Comments on Crime In NYC

The author has picked up on the Central Park Jogger story, and I need to gather my thoughts and reply calmly. But I am stewing about this description of her trip to a police station house following a mugging:

"When I went to the station house to try to ID the perps the cops handed me photo albums. Yeah, like family photo albums. I imagined some cop whose job it was to fit the pictures into the plastic sleeves ("hey! this is such a wonderful picture of little Albert!").

Not one honky in the bunch. Hardly any Hispanics, either, I noticed."

Not having spent a lot of time in station houses, I do not know for a fact that these books would normally be sorted by race. I mean, I would, but I sort my socks pretty carefully too. So, as I said, let me reflect - I have kids that need to get to school.

UPDATE: Looks like I'm not alone in being alone... Should I be quoting "The Police" right now? Pandagon is not happy. Balancing that, Letter From Gotham is open to correction on this point, but stands by her major theme.

UPDATE: Originally I had hoped to say something sensible, but now I'm just hoping to avoid anything stupid. Any bettors?

Right, then. "Body and Soul" asserts that young black men were unfairly stigmatized as a result of this incident. Diane E. of "Letter From Gotham" replies "Unfair! I've been mugged, my friends have been mugged or worse, look at the crime statistics and tell me if I am being unfair or unwise in steering clear of young black men for my own protection."

Now, my wife is quite sensible on this point. She has no problems whatsoever with black people, yellow people, brown people, any color people. Her problem is with violent people. I have a problem with violent people too, when I don't make this distinction clearly and she kicks me in the shins. Sensitivity training. Anyway, my wife is a "root causes" type: education, poverty, family upbringing, neighborhood, housing - nothing unusual on her list. She believes that there are plenty of places in America today populated by poor, menacing white folk. And that, less than two hundred years ago, the Irish neighborhoods in New York were cesspools of crime and drunkenness. But you knew that is where "paddy wagons" comes from, so let's press on.

Her point, and mine, and we presume Diane E's, is that self-preservation is not a race thing per se. Nobody is suggesting a genetic pre-disposition towards bad behavior. However, because the sidewalks of New York often do not allow enough time for a full review of a person's family and lifestyle, rapid assessments are made based on gender, race, age, and demeanor. Explaining why this is OK and not racist is a bit of a balancing act which probably ought to be approached carefully.

Look, if you are getting your lessons in empathy here, we have all fallen on hard times. But hey, rock bottom, it can only get better! I'll type quickly; perhaps that will make this less painful. I'm a middle aged white guy. What do I know about this? Nothing. I lived in Manhattan for ten years (1981-'91) but now I am in a leafy suburb. One fine morning, I was unshaven, unkempt, and properly dressed to mow the lawn when my wife sent me off on an errand to some tony women's clothing store. Yes, she needed it now, no, she couldn't wait, fine, dear. So, I get to the store, not looking at all like their typical customer. A peculiar coolness settles over the store. No, Mr. Invisible, we cannot see you, how could we possibly be expected to help you? Hmm. Not my normal reception. Do they have any idea how much my wife spends here? I don't, but I'm sure it's a lot. I do know that if I were wearing my snazzy business suit, looking like the Important Businessman I play at during the week, they would be falling all over themselves trying to separate me from my money. My situation is quite infuriating, but nobody cares and why should they, because I Do Not Belong. Eventually an older male clerk helps me out and chases me out, and there we are. So, one bad experience ten years ago, and I still remember it. And if it happened ten times a day?

Do I have stories about the police? Fine, once I was jogging in Beverly Hills, of all places. I was there for a friend's wedding, and a cop stopped me for jaywalking. Since I was not carrying my wallet and had no ID, there was some idle speculation about the merits of taking me "downtown". I was very deferential and kept to myself questions as to whether busting joggers for jaywalking represented the fast track to "Detective" in this burg. And I did not ask if I could meet Eddie Murphy, and I kept my own counsel on the seemingly relevant point that I had not left my wallet "downtown" either, it was in the hotel two GD blocks away, maybe THEY had left something "downtown", like their BRAINS... no, I did not walk that road, because I have incredible street savvy. So, no personal police stories to speak of, but I still get that sense of "here we go" when a policeman approaches. And if I were a young black kid, how would the world seem?

Look, I'm not saying Diane E is wrong, other than about the perp book and the implication that every criminal in Manhattan is young and black. But there are multiple sides to this, so please bear in mind a bit of relevant folk wisdom: Don't criticize someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you'll be a mile away when you criticize them. AND, you'll have their shoes.

That's it. We now resume our regularly scheduled butt-kicking.

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Monday, September 16, 2002

George Bush and the "October Surprise"

A Major Talent out there asks the following question:

"Unless someone can explain why August was too early, December is too late, but October is just right, it's clear that the administration is playing politics with Iraq."

Wel, fools rush in, so here I go. First, way back after the State of The Union speech when Iraq was mentioned as member of the "Axis of Evil", the Times speculated as to when military action against Iraq might start. We needed to restore our inventory of smart munitions following Afghanistan, and no one could imagine US troops fighting in Iraq in biochem suits in the summertime. So, Autumn at the earliest. The best months for fighting would probably be December to February, if the military option becomes necessary.

As to Bush's timing of his diplomatic and political push:

August? Europe was on vacation, Congress was in recess, the President was on vacation, Andrew Sullivan was on vacation - what if you gave a foreign policy address and nobody came?

December? Well, the diplomatic portion of the follow through (the technical term is "fandango") might take four months. This means military action could not start until April, with a risk of action running into the summer. Furthermore, Hannukah and Christmas take away the last two weeks of the month, and Congress is either out, or lame-duck. Not a great choice.

November? Ramadan runs from early November to early December. Terrible month to round up Muslim allies.

October? Let's note that, if Bush had waited until October, we would be hearing this same question of "October surprise, cheap politics". Supplemented, no doubt, by cries of "Imperial Presidency", since Congress would be in recess. Not a compelling choice.

And September? Do we arrive here by default? Hardly, since a strong positive case can be made for September. Congress is in session and can address the issue with legislation. Perhaps more importantly, the UN General Assembly opens. Normally, that happens in late September. However, the US asked that it be moved up to September 12. Many Heads of State were in New York for the 9/11 observance, so it fit their schedules. And what a great psychological advantage for Bush, to have delegates go from Ground Zero to the UN, where Bush could say "Never again". Finally, with a September 12 launch, there is ample time for the diplomatic process to unfold.

So, there it is. The Post-cogs have arrived at a decision, and there is no Minority Report.

Now, I have a bit of additional news, although I would like you to put down your coffee or Coca-cola before continuing.

Karl Rove fought this timing every step of the way!

OH, you know he didn't. But when life hands you lemonade, drink up. The politics works great for Bush, but if Rove had never attended a meeting, September 12 would still have been the day.

Fine, so we are wise as owls after the fact. Well, here is a new project for someone. The launch of Desert Storm was influenced by the lunar cycle - the US military likes to fight with a full moon, or a new moon, or something. Has to do with our relative advantage in night vision technology. I can not claim Steven Den Beste as a regular reader, nor he me, but this is his sort of topic. Anyway, check the dates for Desert Storm, research our military preferences, check the calendar, and you can pinpoint the start of a war in Iraq to within a couple of days in January, or in February. Weird, huh?

UPDATE: See, this is what I'm talking about.

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Shades of Innocence

Another "innocent" man freed: Man Is Freed in Killing in Which His Brother Admitted a Role

A complicated story, which I will attempt to summarize: Lamont and Lorenzo are brothers running a crack-dealing "partnership" with two other men. Lorenzo grabs a gun to go discuss an accounting issue with one of his partners. Lamont, learning of the altercation, picks up a gun and goes to the scene of the dispute. While Lamont is outside the room, a shot is fired, a man is killed, and Lorenzo flees the scene.

Well, that is Lamont's story now. Originally, he told the police he was nowhere near the crime scene. Anyway, Lamont goes to jail, Lorenzo remains silent, and thirteen years pass. Now, Lorenzo has 'fessed up. Lamont has plead guilty to a lesser weapons charge and has been released for time served. Interesting tidbit:

"For the Brooklyn district attorney, the plea deal was a victory of sorts. The prosecutors have been stung by news accounts suggesting they prosecuted an innocent man. The statement they exacted from Lamont Branch helped them argue that they had reason to disbelieve the account Lamont had given to some reporters that he was home in bed at the time of the shooting."

So, shades of innocence. Is this simply an attempt by the DA's office to show that this was a reasonable, good faith prosecution? Or are they covering themselves in the event of a civil lawsuit? And, let's wonder out loud, how strong was Lamont's bargaining position? "Plead guilty to the weapons charge and walk. Stick to your original story, and maybe you'll just stick around right here."

Questions, questions, questions. And one more: where is the outrage?

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Safire is a Jewel

William Safire peers into his crystal to foretell developments with Iraq, the UN, and the Congress. Only one man could deliver this line:

"the White House is relying on Baghdad to show not merely consistency in recalcitrance, but an insufferable, infuriating intractability in intransigence."

That's why he is who he is, and the rest of us are not.

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Surefire Conversation Stoppers

Ah, NOW we have come to an area of my special expertise! However, this "Surestopper" was delivered by a wonderful woman who has been a devoted friend to my wife and I for over twenty years, yet retains strong Democratic roots. I paraphrase:

"I will say this: if Gore had been elected, 9/11 would not have happened. The Clinton administration was working on some very aggressive plans to get al-Qaeda, but the transition screwed it up. The new Bush team was so Anything But Clinton that important initiatives got set to one side."

OK. Seen any good movies lately? Have some more tea.

Regrettably, I didn't go that way. I stayed in character and started ripping Time magazine and Sandy Berger, and then my wife stepped on my foot so hard that tears came to my eyes, which our friend took to mean that I was overcome by the memory of 9/11... It was an interesting weekend. And our good luck that our friend wasn't there with Sully.

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Just Watching the Dominos Fall

Saudis Say Would Back U.N. Action Against Iraq

I say dominos, you say weathervane. Whatever.

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Sunday, September 15, 2002

More On The Central Park Jogger

Max Power finds stories in the NY Post and the NY Daily News. A former cop involved with the case who is now a reporter speaks out, and a bit more background is provided. Apparently, the sole rapist, Reyes, was overlooked in the original police investigation because the police were convinced it was a gang effort, and Reyes was a (violent) solo operator. October 21 is now a key deadline - the prosecutors must report back to a judge as to whether they believe Reyes acted alone or as part of a larger group.

UPDATE: Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, has this column from Sept. 9. Selective excerpt? "..this new evidence makes it entirely possible that they are innocent. I completely agree, and admire her journalistic caution.

UPDATE: Now, they tell me. Ampersand has two excellent reviews of the case, and has dug up articles from the early 90's.

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Hello, Bob Shrum and Guests!

The next post is long, important, and very serious - quite unlike me, and perhaps not why you are here. I'd love to have you read it, but your man gets mentioned here.

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Thoughts on the Central Park Jogger

Glenn Reynolds has linked to several articles on the Central Park Jogger. I have posted and commented on this over the past week, and will present some thoughts here.

A review of the circumstances can be found in the NY Times. The Village Voice has interesting supplementation, but is light on some basic facts.


Up to thirty young black and Hispanic men were reported to have gone “wilding” in Central Park in April 1989. Nine incidents of assault, mugging, and harassment were reported to the police.

The police also discovered a badly beaten young woman who also appeared to have been raped. She remained in a coma for twelve days. She has since made an incomplete recovery, and has no memory of that night.

Six of the alleged “wilding” youths, ages 14 to 16, were detained by the police in connection with the rape and questioned. One refused to cooperate, insisted on counsel, and eventually was charged with another assault from that evening. The other five eventually gave videotaped confessions in the presence of their parents. There are no allegations of Miranda violations by the police.

The youths later retained counsel and recanted their confessions. There was little forensic evidences connecting them to the assault. The DNA of a sperm sample was known NOT to match any of the accused. However, when given an opportunity to take the stand and present their version of events, the defendants exercised their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Although no inference can properly be drawn from that in itself, it seems not to have been an effective rebuttal to the videotaped confessions. The five were convicted, sentenced as juveniles to roughly five years, and are now free.

And now? A man already serving a 33 year term in connection with another homicide/rape has come forward. His DNA matches with the Central Park case, so the unknown “missing rapist” has been found. He claims to have acted alone in viciously beating and raping the victim. Attorneys for the five convicts are proceeding through the courts seeking a new trial, or some form of exoneration. The NYC police department is conducting its own investigation and pursuing several possibilities, which seem to include these:

1. The sole rapist is telling the full truth, and the other five were wrongly convicted;

2. There is some connection between these six men, and the known rapist is lying when he says he acted alone.

3. The sole rapist committed his crime, and left. The victim staggered to her feet, and, as she tried to leave the park, was assaulted by the group of five. In this scenario, the known rapist is lying about the severity of his assault on the girl.

Some bloggers seem to believe that this incident shows another failure in our system. To add a bit of structure, let walk through the issues as identified at “Body and Soul”:

It struck me that there are so many disturbing things about this case that it is impossible to rank them, although inevitably people will insist on doing so:

* Five young men lost their reputations and several years of their lives because of a crime they did not commit -- a personal tragedy.

Well, this is still under review – they may well be guilty.

* The real criminal was free to commit more crimes, including murder.

Yes, which the police and public knew at the time. In any event, he was arrested several months later for a rape/murder and has been in jail since then. Arresting him at the time would have been preferable, but I have no reason to doubt that the police were looking for him and simply couldn't find him.

* The fact that the confessions were coerced does not speak well for our system of justice. (Yes, we know this kind of things happens. That doesn't stop us from being shocked when such a glaring example of it is revealed.)

The evidence that these were coerced is not presented. The five retained counsel and presented this “coercion” argument to a mixed jury in NYC, at a time when David Dinkins was Mayor. The jury did not believe it then. Why are we so quick to believe it now?

That said, the police have great latitude in an interrogation. “We have matching blood and hair, and three of your friends have confessed, but they all say you did it – want to tell us what really happened?” False, but an allowable (hypothetical) technique. Always retain counsel.

* The fact that the boys said at the time that the confessions were coerced and everyone assumed they were lying does not speak well for us as a society. Yes, every criminal says he's innocent, but the case was weak from the beginning and liberals especially should have been paying attention, should have noticed that something didn't smell right here. I didn't. We didn't.

Let’s take up “liberals especially should have been paying attention”. Meaning, NYC is not liberal enough? Or, only liberals care about civil rights and police misconduct? Look, when I say “Ruby Ridge”, liberals roll their eyes; when I say “Waco”, they say “whacko”. But police conduct is a bipartisan concern. Look for allies, don’t try to create enemies.

* A generation of young minority men -- especially black men -- was unfairly stigmatized. (It should be noted, of course, that the stigma would have been grossly unfair even if every detail of the story most of us believed was gospel truth, but the fact that it was a lie compounds the injustice.)

This seems a bit broad. First of all, the “wilding night” happened, with police reports as noted. If the point is that people have been wrongfully fearing the prospect of being beaten and raped, when their only valid fear was being beaten and robbed, well, that is a subtle distinction. And I cautiously observe that the history of crime and race relations in NYC, and this country, did not begin on that night.

* Americans built a myth out of a lie.

Well, see above. There is a lot more to this “myth” than one incident that may or may not be a “lie”.

So, what do I think? Well, for the people who see a conspiracy in every action Bush or Cheney take with respect to the Middle East, or energy, this next bit should be easy to follow. And, full disclaimer, I am identifying a possible scenario, not advocating. A possible, hypothetical scenario that the police are probably considering.


This is all about the money, or, if you will, the Benjamins. NYC may face the possibility of a civil lawsuit if these five can show that the confessions were coerced and that the conviction was improper. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, the attorneys hear through the grapevine that the rapist with the matching DNA has been found. Contact is made.

“You know, everyone knows you raped her; if your story was that you beat this girl nearly to death, that would really help some friends of mine.” “”Really?” “If my clients collect from the city, they would probably remember the people who helped them.” “Really.”

OK, it is just a possibility. The sole rapist is lying for money and notoriety. Or do you have evidence that it could not have happened? Would it be responsible to investigate? Now, what about "innocent until proven guilty" - why do these five have to show the sole rapist is not lying? Well, right now they have been proven guilty, and the presumption of innocence is gone. If a judge orders a new trial, then the burden of proof will shift back to the prosecution, which would presumably attempt to discredit this witness. However, absent the confessions there seems to be no case.

So, might the sole rapist have reason to lie? Yes. And might NYC have a reason to conduct a mini-cover-up? Well, there are the financial considerations with a lawsuit, and people’s reputations may be at stake.

My suggested course of action: call for a full, fair, impartial review. Better bet is the Feds, and a group of local black policeman are calling for just that. However, that means taking the case away from the heros of 9/11 and a popular Mayor. And agitate - e-mails to the NY Times, local news outlets, Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, TAPPED (if they are still with us). Bob Herbert, columnist at the NY Times, covers this sort of story all the time - get the media going. Work the civil liberties angle for right wing support. Contact Mayor Bloomberg, Senators, and Congressmen. No, links, sorry: think of it as a test of commitment.

Some view this case as a sign that the system has failed. People, we are the system, which includes judicial review and media scrutiny. Get to work.

UPDATE: I relent. If I were to focus my effort with one e-mail, it would be to Bob Herbert at the Times, who lives for stories of racial injustice. Perhaps he skipped this last week in deference to 9/11, but he might well have it this week. In which case, it will be a story of evil, racist cops oppressing the rest of us. His e-mail is not available, but send him encouragement at the editorial board of the NY Times. The e-mail address is:

UPDATE: If I had an editor, there would be a serious discussion abot the job performance. Let's see:

In reviewing the case, I say: "There are no allegations of Miranda violations by the police."

Huh? Of course the defense attorney and various bloggers have alleged that. Let's make that "The trial judge reviewed and dismissed allegations of Miranda violations, and the Times account does not present this as a serious issue."

Secondly, in presenting a hypothetical jailhouse conversation between the sole rapist and representatives of the five defendants, I use the word "clients". NO, NO, NO! I have no intention of alleging, even in the wildest hypothetical, that the attorneys themselves would have had that conversation with the rapist. Change "clients" to "associates", or "friends", or some suitable term of art from the Sopranos.

Now, I steal some links from the InstaPundit and add one of my own. I salute the can-do spirit at Armed Liberal. I note the spirit at Uppity-Negro, Sisyphus Shrugged, and the afore-mentioned Body and Soul. And my man at Pandagon has questions; do I have answers?

Mark Kleiman has some interesting observations. We could argue just how well they apply to this specific case, but taken generally they are authoritative and astute.

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Saturday, September 14, 2002

Mr. Sullivan, Take Your Bow - And Extend Your Metaphor

It seems like only two weeks ago that many of us were having fun with the apparent disarray in the Bush Administration on its approach to Iraq. Powell wanted UN involvement and a new round of weapons inspections, Cheney wanted the US to go it alone - c'mon, guys, get it together. Andrew Sullivan, however, back from vacation and ready to blog, thoughtfully stroked his chin and ruminated about "good cop, bad cop".

Well, here we are, with Bush's resounding success at the UN. And when a plan, or a metaphor, is working, stay with it. Look, Bush's speech at the UN was simply a casting call, inviting foreign leaders to play good cop to his bad cop with Saddam Hussein.

Now, we loved the good cop-bad cop scene from LA Confidential: Russell Crowe dangling James Cromwell out of a tenth floor window by his ankles while Guy Pearce explained to him the wisdom of cooperation. So, let's recast our little project. Russell Crowe plays George Bush. Who does Guy Pearce play as the good cop? Kofi Anan? Chirac? Putin? We'll see. Slated for a bit of window-dangling, James Cromwell is clearly Saddam Hussein. Kevin Spacey will be a natural as Tony Blair. And who does that leave for the luscious Kim Basinger? Hmm, someone who knows the players, know the issues - hey, this fine lady has been in the news. Go to script.

Gazing Into the Future on Iraqi Errata

Will it be days, or weeks, until the NY Times delivers this insider account: Colin Powell, bureaucratic infighter extraordinaire, manipulated the media and his adversaries while bending the Bush White House to his implacable will? I only ask because it is received wisdom that Bush is not capable of this subtle a strategy.

And while on Powell, what should we do with all the stories of a frustrated, isolated Powell who was unlikely to finish out Bush's first term? Bluff, adroit media-manipulation, what? If you read the stories on-line, I have no advice. However, dead-tree versions should be ready for the bottom of the bird-cage, if you don't have a puppy to train.

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Two Intriguing Social Experiments Launched in Blogosphere

Hey now, not one, but TWO tests of the power of the Masters of the Blogosphere are underway. Hmm, will simultaneous testing invalidate the experiments? Anyway, here they are:

The Insta-man reports on a vicious "full frontal Fisking" of Ben Shapiro. Ben is an earnest, yet execrable young Righty writer, so the postings have a certain "Right on Right" note-worthiness. Hey, is that why my man at Pandagon was overlooked? Pandagon attracted some "right on right" in the comments, but who knew? Anyway, Social Experiment: Look for an upsurge in "right on right" assaults. Probably good for the Blogosphere, and heaven knows there are plenty of targets. Interesting test of Glenn's influence. And, bonus, say good-bye to "Has-Ben" Shapiro.

The second experiment is being conducted by Steven Den Beste. A while back, Dawn Olsen offered her thoughts on sexism in the blogosphere. Her thesis is that she ought to be able to run a site devoted mostly to soft porn and pictures of her fab bod, but on the rare occasions when she posts something on a serious subject, Den Beste, the Insta-man, and the rest of the A-list should link to her. Just like they link to, for example, me, whenever I say something sensible, me being a guy and all. That they do not is, of course, in Dawn's case sexist.

Oh, please. Still, from humble acorns mighty oaks can grow, so sometimes you need to start with a nut. From that laughable beginning, The Bear and Meryl Yourish kicked off a surprisingly lively and insightful discussion of sexism in the blogosphere. Ms. Bias was reliably sensible, but the best round-up of which I am aware is over at Meryl's site. Start here and work up, and down, and around. Just work it! I, of course, pitched two cents into that discussion as well, but I'm linked at Meryl's, and I seem to be light on linking today, so check it out there.

So, Social Experiment Two: Can anyone count the times Mr. Den Beste has counseled against appeasement, and against rewarding bad behavior in the Middle East? And what has he done here? Ignore substance, reward whining.... hey, I liked Glenn's experiment better.

So, depending on their relative clout, look for lots of "right on right" assaults, and a lot of whining about it. Oh, man. This could be a long couple of weeks. But I have to say, I'm a huge Clint Eastwood fan. There may be something for me here.

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Friday, September 13, 2002

More Reaction to the Bush Speech

Maybe not as important as Andrew Sullivan (below), but Reuters gives us the glowing headline and story: World Warns Iraq to Obey UN or Face Consequences

Starting to look like Saddam and a few Congressional Democrats versus the world.

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The Blogger Barometer

So, reaction to the Bush speech to the UN? Andrew Sullivan is dancing in the end-zone... sorry, showing off his home-run trot. He links to Slate and The New Republic, and graciously accepts their concession speeches.

Meanwhile, TAPPED offers "one fairly significant quibble with TNR" before switching to Janet Reno and Social Security. Rousing stuff, chaps.

And Eric Alterman salutes John Unitas, then prints a bunch of reader's letters before heading out for the holiday.

Presumably we will see a bit of a resurgence from the Left next week.

UPDATE: Oh, man, M Pine is looking like a Red Sox fan with these two posts: "DESPONDENT ON THE DEMS" and "BUSH AT THE UN".

I should not have skipped always-interesting Josh Marshall. Well, maybe I should have, because he is whining:

"...After reading the speech several times it seemed to me that when you peeled away the Cheney-esque bluster you had a Powell-esque policy.

No one is mentioning this. The White House had one policy. They hit a brick wall. Now they've changed policies.

And that's good. Because this is a better policy."

Right. This is so much easier than admitting that Powell has been Secretary of State from Day One, and that when Bush said he was studying his options he was, in fact, studying his options.

VERY LATE UPDATE: Saturday afternoon, and lefty quipster Bob Shrum finally delivers on Bush's speech. Worth the wait?

MORE: Smarter than your Above-Average Bear? And, scroll down to find a Josh Marshall fan. Which makes two of us, I should be clear, but not on this point. So, two "Pick-ems" for your Sunday card.

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File This Headline Under "P" for "Penny, Dropping"

Specter of Second Gulf War Hangs over Iraq Crisis

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The Ever Changing Times

My Dead Tree Times, Late Edition, with a front page supplement to the headline story about Bush's UN speech:

A New Face In the Sights
Bush Names Hussein Public Enemy No. 1

by Patrick E. Tyler

Your internet Times:

Bush Names Hussein Public Enemy No. 1

Everything that is old is new again, as the editors eventually realized.

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Not Yet Seen On A New Hampshire License Plate

We expect to see Bush's speech to the UN summarized thusly:

Give Peace a Chance, or Die

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Bush Releases Skunk; Congress Scatters

A few profiles in courage from today's Times, as Congressional leaders respond to Bush's speech at the UN, with occasional emphasis added:

Bush's Address Draws Praise in Congress, but Doubts Linger

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 — President Bush's call for the United Nations to confront Iraq drew wide support from Congress today, strengthening his hand and winning praise from lawmakers who had warned against unilateral American military action.

Even so, it was too soon to say whether the president's address setting out the case against Saddam Hussein was a turning point on Capitol Hill. Many Democrats said they still wanted to await action by the United Nations and a response from allies before voting on the use of force.

Emphasis added, and "lead, follow, or get out of the way" springs to mind.

But the criticism of the administration was tamped down. In contrast to just a week ago, more Republicans rallied to the president's side. One potential Democratic presidential contender, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, called for Saddam Hussein to be deposed.

Whoa. Let's look for quotes, because he is carving out some new turf in his party. Sorry, none in this story. Oh, dear.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, prominent Republican skeptic: "a compelling first step in laying out what a dangerous situation the world faces."

...Democratic leaders praised the president while staying noncommittal about a quick vote on Iraq.

Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader from South Dakota, said in a news conference that Mr. Bush "gave a strong speech today" and that he was "encouraged by his express desire to go to the international community."

For the first time, he said he considered it "likely" that Congress would vote on a resolution authorizing military force before it leaves in October. But then Mr. Daschle quickly backed away, saying, "I don't think anyone is committed to a course of action legislatively or militarily at this point."

Oooh, even the Times is noticing. Daschle can not run for President as Senate Majority Leader. Oh, another time.

...Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the minority leader, said that the administration was still presenting its plan and that "it's not wise or possible now to be setting a timeline."

Gee, lots of project managers use timelines. Yeah, and leaders lead. And Congressman run nothing but a staff of twenty and their mouth.

...Senator Trent Lott, the minority leader from Mississippi, was joined at a news conference by a frequent adversary, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and pressed for a speedy vote on a resolution authorizing force.

Correction to Times: That would be "Saint John".

Lott: "I think it's vital for the Congress to show the world we back this president We must vote to show support for the president right now."

St. John: "I would not like, as a representative of the people of Arizona, to vote ex post facto I think that it would be important that Congress express its will before this military buildup [in Qater]."

...Many Democrats were still resisting a quick timetable, preferring to vote on the issue after November. They cited policy grounds and the dangers of the highly politicized atmosphere in the last weeks before an election when control of the House and Senate are at stake.

"Some issues are so serious, so important to the United States that they should be taken as far out of the realm of politics as possible," said Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Delaware Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Gotta keep the politics out of politics. His opinion on keeping politicans out of politics was undisclosed.

More from Mr. Biden: it would be "somewhat foolish for the United States Senate to be up here essentially issuing a declaration of war" if action against Iraq could be averted.

Yeah, I think if we show a disunited front that is not ready to act, we will be taken more seriously in the negotiations. Look, I need to raise some quick cash. Does anyone know if Biden plays poker regularly, and can I get an invite to the game?

...Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said Congress needed to give the United Nations a legitimate opportunity to respond to Mr. Bush's challenge that it enforce Security Council resolutions against Iraq.

Someone, anyone, please go first.

More: Mr. Kerry suggested today that one avenue would be for Congress to pass a resolution calling on the United Nations to support the United States in holding Mr. Hussein accountable.

Sounds remarkably like a no-authorization, "sense of Congress", "won't you all play nice" resolution. Well, resolution has "resolute" as its root. Let's describe this as a hope, or a song, or a chant, or something. Hey, here's a little something for everyone: "Give peace a chance, or die!"

...Aides in each party said that if Mr. Bush seeks a resolution of force, majorities in the House and Senate would ultimately support him.

Well, the bottom line is at the bottom, but there it is. Some politicians may try to delay a one-way vote, and others of us will ridicule them every wriggle and waffle of the way.

UPDATE: Well, I won't be lonely in the ridiculing. Here is Bush himself, on the AP wires Friday:

"he mocked Democrats and other lawmakers who want U.N. action before a congressional vote.
"Democrats waiting for the U.N. to act?" Bush asked with chuckle. "I can't imagine an elected ... member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying 'I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision'."

Bush added, "It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States."

Just can't seem to keep the politicians away from the politics, after all. Hard luck, Joe.

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More News From The Front

OK, I'm jumping the gun - it's not a "front" yet. But here we get some encouraging info from our Saudi friends:

"This makes this region the most explosive region in the world".

Well, maybe just a few primer bombs will be enough then. Don't you hate trying to burn wet leaves?

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Thursday, September 12, 2002

Man Bites Notes

The Man Sans Qualite rips up his Notes on the Florida and New York primaries. And comes back for more.

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Preserving the Fallback Position

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri denied his country had weapons of mass destruction and said Baghdad still hoped to avoid any attack.

"But if we are attacked, we will choose our own means by using every thing at our disposal, even sticks, kitchen knives, our hands and stones," he said.

Intelligence analysts are scrambling for clues to determine Saddam's plan for the kitchen sink.

UPDATE: The Amish come up big. WARNING: Don't be drinking coffee or Coke while reading this. And there may be an archive bug, but just look around - can't go wrong at that site anyway.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Seen on the MSNBC Crawler

"September 11 will not be remembered as a day when innocent lives were lost; it will be remembered as a day when heroes were born."

I'm paraphrasing from memory, and cannot provide attribution, but I expect we will see these words again.

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A Personal 9/11 Observance

Severe windstorms are buffetting the New York City area, knocking down trees and power lines in the outlying suburbs. Although Utility crews are doing their best to keep the streets clear, driving on suburban streets in these conditions can be treacherous.

A tree had fallen just down the street from our house and was blocking a well traveled intersection. Only yesterday I had been clearing some branches around our yard with my eight year old son. Seeing the downed tree, his first words were, "Hey, Dad, we can clear that tree".

Hmmm. Cars squeezing by, high winds that could knock more branches onto our heads - don't they have people who do this for a living? On the other hand, could there be a better day to celebrate the power of individuals rallying to help the community? "Sure, kid, let's go for it". So, we donned some brightly colored clothing, gathered our saws and clippers, and set off down the street.

Now, for those of you who have not tackled this sort of project with an enthusiastic eight year old, there are a few simple rules: the saw you are using is the saw he needs; when you pick up the clippers, he was just about to use them; and the branch you are cutting is the one he was planning to cut. Master these rules, harness the energy, and marvel at the result.

The two of us had this tree outnumbered. My son cut and moved branches. I spent some time rescuing people from burning buildings, and some time fighting alongside my fellow passengers in the aisle of a hijacked plane, but mostly I cut branches too. Soon enough, the tree was a jumble of wood by the side of the road. Some passing morotists honked and waved to thanks us. Hey, some people got home one minute sooner because of our efforts. I give my son a big hug for a job well done. This is a day of hope.

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What Time Does Bush Speak to the UN on Thursday?

The Judd Brothers think it is High Noon.

Note to Susan Sontag: the Judd Brothers post is an example of a metaphor.

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9/11 Observance

Susanna Cornett

Jane Galt

Brad DeLong with pictures and the Dave Barry column.


Lynn Sislo

Bit of a perma-link problem at some of these sites. Sorry.

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These Chicks Just Don't Get It!

NO, I would never say that! Regrettably, a Regular Reader would; deplorably, I will reprint (with permission) a bit of his fascinating e-mail.

As background, the blogosphere has been having a bit of a round-and-round about sexism in the blogosphere. Meryl Yourish seems to have the most comprehensive round-up, but look around because she is adding stuff. I also pointed out links to Susanna Cornett, and Diane E, author of "Letter from Gotham".

This reader was struck by the following comment from Ms. E:

"whatever certain male bloggers say is accepted and worthy of the blogosphere richochet; whereas if a woman were to say it, it would have been dismissed or ignored....

Example: me and Steven den Beste.

Steven den Beste is linked everywhere..."

And she goes on. In response to which, my Regular Reader offered the following:

"These chicks just don't get it! Hello, Diane, wake up and smell the Starbucks! Here is a nice double latte, no foam - Steven Den Beste gets no traffic. None! Look, he is a techie turned warblogger. He and a few of his accomplices have enslaved a bunch of networked PCs, probably at various campuses and corporations. These slave PCs in effect mimic very low-level DOS attacks on Den Beste's site, giving the appearance of huge traffic. I bet his only regular readers are him, his mom, and his cat, and if he ever posts four pages on his cat's dining habits, mom is logging off. Appearance drives reality, babe."

I didn't know that. And it seems a lot more plausible than the Turing Test I read about somewhere. So, Diane E, wherever you are, be of good cheer.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Somebody Had Their Camera Out

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What Has the NY Times Learned in the Past Year? Defend Civil Liberties!
The visual impact as one unfolds the Dead Tree Version of the NY Times is quite impressive. Susan Sontag, Nicholas Kristof, and Paul Krugman provide all the "op" pieces, which follow the theme of the lead editorial, titled "The War on Civil Liberties". Roughly half of the total space of two pages is devoted to the key lesson of the past year, namely, that we must jealously guard our civil liberties. And that is all we have learned?

Let's skip about here. From the lead editorial, we learn that "The 1,200 detainees rounded up after Sept. 11 and held in secret were mainly Muslim men with immigration problems...". Well, that is about how I remember it. In fact, it was crystal clear at the time that we had nothing to worry about from these guys.

Ms. Sontag: "Real wars are not metaphors. And real wars have a beginning and an end....But this antiterror war can never end. That is one sign that it is not a war but, rather, a mandate for expanding the use of American power."

Paul Krugman: "There will never be a day when we can declare terrorism stamped out for good. It will be more like fighting crime, where success is always relative and victory is never final, than like fighting a war.

And the metaphor we use to describe our struggle matters: some things that are justifiable in a temporary time of war are not justifiable during a permanent fight against crime, even if the criminals are murderous fanatics."

Hey, Krugman and Sontag - ever photographed together? Oh, cheap shot. Krugman's piece is actually reasonable and remarkably restrained. Several times he suggests a need for national sacrifice and comes as close as "But this emergency is neither severe nor temporary... So we had better figure out how to pay the government's bills on a permanent basis" to calling for an end to the Bush tax cut. But he holds back, and if I hadn't been staring at his piece right next to the others his point about civil liberties would have been unexceptionable.

Finally, in far and away the most balanced piece, Kristof: "When we look back at how our country has handled the last year, we have much to be hugely proud of — and, perhaps, one thing to be just a bit embarrassed about.

That's the way some people's civil liberties have been steamrolled since 9/11. I fear we'll look back on this with a hint of shame, much as we recall the abuse of "Reds" after the Bolshevik Revolution and of Japanese-Americans during World War II."

Well, the Times mentions the Padilla case, as it should. The internment of Japanese-American civilians as a response to an attack by the Japanese Navy required a logical leap I personally do not follow these many years later. However, I think most people look back on the Japanese American experience during WW II and focus on the fact that we won the war. Hindsight is 20/20, but if Bush had not rounded up some people with immigration problems, and another terrorist incident had occurred, there would have been no explanation. Will this be a permanent state of affairs going forward? Time will no doubt tell.

So, free advice for Democratic strategists: casting this as a war on civil liberties, and making the preservation of our civil liberties the centerpiece of criticism of the Bush administration, may help raise some Hollywood money. But it will, IMHO, have little to no resonance with the American public at large. People don't understand why Granny has to be strip-searched at the airport while the bearded Palestinian youth behind her gets welcomed aboard, and they will not understand why the Times is focussing on civil liberties virtually to the exclusion of all else in what seems to be a "what we have learned" retrospective.

UPDATE: The Brothers Judd challenge the "war as a metaphor for war" theme developed by Sontag and Krugman. Best of the Web joins in, with their "Stupidity Watch". Mind the criticism of Krugman comparing 9/11 to a natural disaster - he was speaking in terms of economic impact, as his comments make clear. Link thanks to Matthew Hot, traffic cop. And Andrew Sullivan also wonders if Sontag and Krugman were ever photographed together, although he elects to use the English language rather obscure code.

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Judge Takes War on Drugs to Court

The InstaPundit sent us to this site for something else, but what a great story from Colby Cosh. Go to the bottom of "Loose Ends" and look for:

"Courtesy of Fark:

SANTA ANA - The 20-year-old defendant told the judge that marijuana made him a better basketball player.

"Oh, yeah?" replied Judge Marc Kelly, peering down at Alvaro Alvarez, charged with pot possession. "I'm a 42-year-old man. I don't think you can take me on."

Follow the links. Great.

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Night of the Zombies, Part XII

A timely, yet timeless, story from the NY Times:

"Desperate to defend the nation's banks from plunging share prices, Japanese lawmakers today introduced a plan to bolster the equity market..."

Care to guess the date? I know, its been a long decade, hasn't it. Fine, it's today. The latest apocalyptic accounting deadline is September 30. Until the next one.

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The Shadow Descends

Brad DeLong has had some interesting pieces recently on challenges facing the European Central Bank as it tries to set an appropriate monetary policy for the Euro zone. Recently he offered a piece which described the ECB as maintaining a high interest rate policy in order to force the restructuring of failing Eurpean companies. "Not so fast!", said the Professor, although much less breathlessly - surely market forces, such as higher default premia, will raise interest rates for troubled companies regardless of the actions of the ECB. "All very well in theory", said some of his commenters, "but will the European governments actually allow the market to work, or will they keep troubled companies on life support?" Only time will tell.

And today, the Times tells, with the following headline: " Fall in France Télécom Shares Raises Pressure for Rescue". Now, they are 55% state owned, but still, where is the market discipline? A bit of selective excerpting gives us:

"Other options on the table include a government loan or loan guarantee to France Télécom; government help in lining up a refinancing plan with creditor banks; a sale of fresh stock in France Télécom; or a mixture of remedies."

This does not necessarily mean that the ECB policy makes sense, IMHO. However, it leaves me wondering if the Professor has further thoughts on the way forward for the ECB, or would like to point us to people that do.

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Michael Pine, Call Your Blog

In "JEWISH MONEY, BLACK CANDIDATES", M Pine tells us that the McKinney and Hilliard defeats do not bode poorly for the Democratic Party alliance between blacks and Jews, and he has the Weekly Standard piece to prove it. Well, my NRO says differently. Edward B. Miller, "an attorney practicing in New York and formerly a Republican pollster", opens with this:

" For some time now, Jewish voters have been disproving the old adage that Jews live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans. Republican incumbents such as New York's George Pataki and Ohio's George Voinovich, and recent Republican officeholders like New York's Rudy Giuliani and Al D'Amato and Massachusetts's Bill Weld each won more than 40 percent of the Jewish vote in one of their campaigns. However, if the recent division between blacks and Jews in the Democratic party continues to grow, these politicians will no longer be the exception and Jewish support for Republicans will be the rule."

And he goes on to explain why. Eye-catching stat: "Jews raise at least one-third of all Democratic funds". OK, M Pine says "Jews... donate in amounts staggeringly disproportionate to their numbers". Fine, but one-third? How would Edwards know? And what about his thesis that US policy towards Israel will increasingly divide blacks and Jews?

So, M Pine and Nathan Newman have been on this, but of course all comers are welcome. Gentlemen?

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Monday, September 09, 2002

Sound and Fury on the Central Park Jogger

The NY Times discusses new information on the 1989 Central Park Jogger case here, and here. The Sound and Fury has more, and some blog links, but not this one.

UPDATE: YES, I have an opinion on this. The NY Times is in no hurry to exonerate the five men already convicted for this crime (they have already served their time and are out), and neither am I. And, since the Times presents the scenarios so succintly, let me excerpt them:

"Another man who raped the jogger has come forward, and proof that he did it has been established. He says he acted alone, a claim that if true would seem to exonerate the five convicted in the case.

But the man, a murderer-rapist serving life in prison, could be lying; or, even if he is not, it might have happened that the others came along after, before or during his attack, investigators say."

Max Power, of Sound and Fury, also points out that these boys were not busted at a Sunday School picnic:

"The convicted rapists were not innocent bystanders; they were part of a gang of youths engaged in a crime spree that attacked nine other people...I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone whose best argument is that it was a coincidence that they were mugging someone else feet away from where someone was raped and permanently brain-damaged."

This sentiment was memorably expressed by Gene Hackman in in the Clint Eastwood classic "Unforgiven". Told that he had just "kicked the shit out of an innocent man", Hackman replied coldly, "innocent of what?".

So, we wait and see what they are innocent of. If anything.

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Ain't No Way To Treat a Lady

But it's how we treat bloggers, especially Playful Primates. Meryl Yourish has a post addressing sexism in the blogosphere. Now, full disclosure: I am a regular reader of at least three sites that love, not like but love, Meryl. I have read a million good things about her, and she has an interesting, thought provoking blog. That said, I thought her post on sexism was daft. Oh, that's not right - let's say it could have been a lot better.

First, I had no problem with her advice to Dawn. If Dawn wants her motto to be "My ass is my blog", and present pictures of her evidently red-hot bod, well, go for it. But don't be surprised if people overlook your PhD in nuclear physics.

My puzzlement starts here, and I will excerpt freely:

"The problem here is that there are two issues. The first is the issue of sexism: Do the A-listers link more often to male bloggers and ignore female bloggers? Do the guys have an online boys club where they check their buddies out first? Was it sheer coincidence that NZ Bear shot up to the top of the blogosphere? Or was it sexism, as no female blogger has ever garnered the attention he received quite so quickly? (We're talking pre-ecosystem—Glenn Reynolds, Bill Quick, and Stephen Green treated Bear like a long-lost brother returned home....

The answer to the first question: Yes, I think there is sexism in the blogosphere, and it is for the most part unintentional. I was working on a post on that topic months ago, and as a for-instance, I checked the blogrolls of the weblogs I visited regularly and discovered an appalling ratio of female-to-male bloggers on blogrolls. As I recall, the best ratio around was on Bruce Hill's War Now!, but it was still a pretty pathetic ratio, something like only 14%. And even more surprising, most women bloggers had abysmal female-to-male blogger ratios on their blogrolls."

OK, most men, and most women, link to other men. Is there an obvious follow-up question?

"The larger question which begs to be asked, of course, is whether or not there are that few women writing warblogs, techblogs, or other "serious" blogs. The answer: I think so..... it does appear that the majority of "serious" weblogs— the non-journals, non-frivolous political or tech blogs—are still overwhelmingly written by men."

Well, if most blogs are by men, then why, exactly, is it sexist if most links are to men? Is there some approved link ratio to which we should aspire to ease our male guilt?

Oh, I'm not going to rant. Meryl did not even seem to have convinced herself. And the story of the Bear is just one story - if most bloggers are men, then most of the (rare) supernovas will be men.

So, new direction - why so few woman bloggers? Presuming that to be the case, of course, and I am prepared to. Well, let me throw out some ideas, and duck for cover:

Blogging is a hobby: Men come home form work and blog, women come home from work and mind the kids and the home.

More on "Blogs are a hobby": Blogging can involve a lot of vigorous debate - look at Eric Alterman, author of "Altercations", or the round and round with Andrew Sullivan or Paul Krugman. Now, I am not saying that women can not be effective and forceful advocates: the notion of a young Maggie Thatcher running a blog would strike terror into the hearts of many. But as a pleasant way to spend an evening, there is an old idea that men seek confrontation and women seek consensus. Hey, if you can't take the heat, get back in the kitchen! Maybe if more women were blogging, the atmosphere would change, but right now I can see where a calm, reasonable person might prefer a different pasttime.

It's Insidious: Check the regular columnists at the NY Times - Maureen Dowd and seven men. I haven't checked the NRO, but go ahead.

It's The World: Most bloggers, based on casual observation and vague memories of what might have been a Volokh post, are lawyers, economists, journalists, techies, or right wing cranks (I needed a category for myself). Do any of these categories have a 50/50 male/female ratio?

And, Bold Idea: If sexism is really a problem, try anon-a-blogging. George Sand may be taken, but the pros and cons have been exhaustively and exhaustingly covered.

Look, I have no doubt that Meryl is an intelligent and reflective woman who has something sensible to say about sexism in the blogosphere. I'm just sort of wondering when she will say it.

UPDATE: Brad DeLong is not sexist. Well, I say that based on my acquaintance with his written work, but it is a point I am prepared to defend long after I have exhausted the patience and good will of anyone arguing to the contrary. So, my point? Over the weekend, the Professor provided an economist's dozen of cool econo-blogs. A feast for economics junkies, and all the bloggers are male. Go figure.

UPDATE 2: Susanna Cornett is quite sensible on this subject, and the sun rises in the East.

For a complete round-up, check out Meryl Yourish, who has several posts, so look around. Having taken some cold medicine, she is kicking ass and taking names.

Diane E. thinks that, if not for sexism, people would now she was da best. And Jane G joins in.

And hey, its A Rod, P Diddy, and M Pine. What's up with Diane E and Jane G? This is what I'm talking about. So, J Galt. Can't seem to help with Diane, so make it DE.

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