Monday, March 31, 2003


First it was CNN and the Baby Milk Factory in the first Gulf War. Now, Arnett has put his foot in his mouth again, and NBC has fired him, too. Perhaps CNS and FoxNews can put him out of our misery once and for all, and "fire" him preemptively?

UPDATE: It seems that I spoke too soon. Apparently, FoxNews has its own problems to worry about.

UPDATE: Or maybe not.

UPDATE: It didn't take Arnett very long to find a new job with one of Britain's bottom-feeders. I would have preferred to have seen him work for Al Jazeera, though.

UPDATE: Just in case any execs at NBC or National Geographic were not sure they'd made the right decision, Arnett has written that he is the one wronged, and is quoted by his new employer as saying:

I am still in shock and awe at being fired. I report the truth of what is happening here in Baghdad and will not apologize for it.

Quick, someone please break out the world's smallest violin. The good news, such that it is, is that the referenced story is dated April Fool's Day. Time will tell if even the Mirror is foolish enough to carry Arnett's nonsense come April 2.

Thursday, March 20, 2003


Recently I groused about the "fair-weather federalists" on the right who talk of "states' rights" and the Tenth Amendment when it suits them, only to conveniently ignore these noble principles when it doesn't. Liberals, for their part, tend to ignore the Tenth Amendment more consistently. Until now.

Today, Volokh conspirator Orin Kerr announced the brand-new case of U.S. v. McCoy, in which the Ninth Circuit invalidated, on Tenth Amendment grounds, the federal prohibition on private possession of child pornography for non-commercial purposes. The majority opinion was write by Stephen Reinhardt, of all people. Who knows if the ruling will stick, but this one should be fun to watch, in any event.

Eugene Volokh, also of the Volokh Conspiracy (duh!) quoted a reader who extrapolated from McCoy that if Congress cannot prohibit individual, private possession of child pornography, it cannot prohibit illicit drugs, either. A third Volokh conspirator, Clayton Cramer disagrees. His counter-argument is as follows:

    It would not be at all difficult to establish a plausible connection between intoxication (alcohol or illegal drugs) and DUI, murder, rape, child molestation, industrial accidents, and a host of problems that much more directly affect the overall economy. Indeed, you can make a stronger case for the impact of alcohol and other intoxicants on interstate commerce than the supposed reduction in grain demand that the Wickard decision used as an excuse.

There's only one problem with this rebuttal: all five of these concrete examples (DUI, murder, rape, child molestation and industrial accidents) are matters of state law, not federal law. Sure, Congress can regulate these matters in certain contexts, e.g., where a criminal crosses a state line or the victim is a federal agent on the job, but as a general rule, these are not federal matters. Thus, it is not clear why the connection between drugs and any of them should form an independent basis for allowing Congress to step in. Do DUI, murder, rape, child molestation and industrial accidents have some effect on interstate commerce? Of course! What doesn't? But following Lopez and Morrison, "some effect" is no longer enough. Nor should it be; the commerce clause was around long before National Prohibition, but no one seriously argued at the time that Congress could rely on it to prohibit alcohol without a constitutional amendment.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


What part of "buh-bye" doesn't Saddam understand, the "buh," or the "bye?" It's probably too late for him to catch a flight out of Baghdad, but he still has enough time to drive to Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Defecting to the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq technically does not count as leaving Iraq, and is not recommended in any event. Defecting to that other country Saddam once considered part of Iraq would probably not be a smart move, either.
UPDATE: So much for the 5:00 PST / 8:00 EST deadline. By Iraq's choice, the war is on. Link via Instapundit.
UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: Or maybe not? No one but the Independent seems to be reporting this, and we all know the Independent has a nasty habit of reporting news before it actually happens. I guess we'll find out soon enough, though. ANOTHER UPDATE: Whether the war has started or not, it's pretty clear that Iraqi surrenders have. Here's hoping they won't get sent back this time around.
UNRELATED UPDATE: Master of the Obvious David Lazarus writes that this might just be one of those conflicts you can't mediate away. I'm sure the blogosphere's favorite mediator would agree with this assessment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003


Much has been said of the fact that the U.S. is "going it alone" in Iraq, seeing as only 30 other countries have supported us openly while 15 others have done so behind the scenes. What I'm hearing from all sides is that we're sticking our necks out by acting without that umpteenth U.N. resolution, so dammit, we'd better be right.
To that, I reply: right about what? About Saddam Hussein having substantial quantities of undeclared WMD? If we're wrong about that, then so is the rest of the U.N. Security Council. If France didn't think Saddam had WMD, it should have voted against Security Council Resolution 1441. So if we're wrong on that count, everybody's wrong, and at least we're in good company. 

The one scenario I can envision in which we would indeed be wrong, and France and Germany right, would be if Saddam was indeed in material breach but Hans Blix's crew was doing a much better job of thoroughly disarming him than anyone (even Blix himself) thought it was. Even if this happened, I wonder how bad our P.R. would be when new stories come out almost daily about torture chambers, or worse. But if, for some reason, it turns out that Hussein was really in the process of completely disarming, and all the horror stories about human rights atrocities turned out to be one great big disinformation campaign (a claim hardly anyone other than the Iraqi regime itself has made), then I promise to eat escargots and chant "France was right, we were wrong" once a day, every day from then until the end of the year. And no, I won't take down this post, even if it ends up making me look like an idiot. I know what happens to people who try to cover their tracks in the blogosphere.
UPDATE: MSNBC reports that 65% of the population supports a war on Iraq. I wonder how this story fits in with all the propaganda journalism we've read in recent months that claims most Americans conditioned their support for the war on new U.N. authorization? Perhaps this means that 16% of the population thinks the Security Council just voted to authorize force yesterday morning, but didn't bother to tell anyone about it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The International Herald Tribune reports that increasing numbers of French and Germans are beginning to wonder if their governments overplayed their hands. I don't think there's too much "wondering" on this side of the pond.

Friday, March 14, 2003


Howard Bashman links to articles by Rachel DiCarlo of the Weekly Standard and Michael Kirkland of UPI discussing the "constitutionality" of the new bill passed overwhelmingly by the Senate to prohibit partial-birth abortions. Unfortunately, neither of these articles discuss the one part of the Constitution that actually prohibits such a law, nor do any of the other articles I've read in the mainstream media (assuming, of course, that Instapundit isn't your idea of the mainstream media). 

UPDATE: Instapundit agrees with me on this, as does Jonathan Adler of the National Review. Nice to know I'm not completely alone on this issue.

Thursday, March 13, 2003


Kazim Muhammed al-Hut, an Iraqi torture agent arrested in the autonomous region of Iraq last December, recently gave the press some of the gory details of his former profession. In particular, he describes the "shock therapy" that was commonly administered to suspects, and also discusses how small children were beaten with steel cables to get their mothers to talk. On the bright side, Muhammed maintains that his group didn't actually kill the children. It didn't need to; the beatings seemed to do the trick just fine. Rape? "We had another group responsible for that.''
Muhammed has no kind words for Saddam, whom accuses of abandoning his people making peole like Muhammed into killers. He doesn't seem 100% repentant himself, however:
He continued: "Look, you are a journalist, you do your work. He's a security man, he does his work,"nodding in the direction of one of his captors. "And I did my work."
Just another job, eh? Iraqis' tax dollars at work if you will. This is the regime our French and German "allies" are so desparate to keep in power.
Link via Joanne Jacobs.