Saturday, November 03, 2001


Guess it didn't occur to Osama that his videotape mght give away his position. In an item that I haven't yet seen reported anywhere other than --*ulp*-- that journalistic embarassment, the New York Post -- it seems we're narrowing down the search for bin Laden on the basis of forensic evidence:

Military sources said that intelligence agencies began to focus on the Paktia cave complexes in the early phases of Operation Enduring Freedom after receiving reports from Russia and Pakistan that bin Laden reinforced underground tunnel complexes and used them to conduct operations against the Soviet army in the 1980s. ... Suspicions that bin Laden and his henchmen moved back to the region after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon grew after the release of bin Laden's videotaped anti-Western diatribe on Oct. 7. Government geologists identified the limestone rocks behind bin Laden and reported they showed distinctive formations unique to the smaller mountains in the Paktia region, sources said.

Too bad you never spent an idle weekend watching Columbo reruns on A&E, Osama -- you'd know that the criminal is always too clever by half.

Friday, November 02, 2001


Martin Pratt surfs in from London and makes some cogent points about the British perspective in my Guestbook. An excerpt:
"...the fact that we were not directly hit on Sept 11 may in itself allow us a certain a friend counselling restraint to a man who has just fallen victim to a dreadful crime. The intervention of Bill Clinton in Northern Ireland was welcome because he was not emotionally involved, and he could see the best way to peace, uncomfortable (and unwelcome) as that was to the British Govt and public at the time. And guess what, it seems to have worked.


Notice what we're not hearing anymore? We're not hearing the Taliban protesting that the rationale for this war is based on false or unproven charges against their guest, Mr. bin Laden. If our evidence was the least bit shaky, you'd think they'd be more strenuously making the case that we're going after the wrong guy... y'know, like, we should be searching for the real killers.


Glenn (Instapundit) Reynolds is still trying to fathom the depths of female bellicosity in the conduct of this war:
"I don't recall seeing this degree of anger from women during the Gulf War, or Vietnam," says Glenn. "And I haven't heard of it being so pronounced in World War Two. I think it's the damned burkas. And the beatings and stonings. And the ban on medical care. And on education. Whatever it is, the Taliban are toast. Did I mention the beatings and stonings?"

While I'm sure we're all in favor of a post-Taliban regime bringing more than marginal improvements to the lives of Afghan women, let's keep things in perspective. Afghanistan is 12,000 miles away and for most of us, sadly, the plight of their women is an abstraction.

To account for the level of anger among American women, look closer to home. As surely as if they'd sent their own trained militia over here to do it, the Taliban just killed our kids, Glenn. The kids of American women. In massive numbers. For no reason.

In World War II especially, and to some extent in those other recent conflicts as well, surely there was more of an understanding among American women that their 18- and 19-year old kids -- overwhelmingly boys, and overwhelmingly volunteers -- were risking and sacrificing their lives for the greater good of the world.

Whereas, in the current conflict, their kids -- 20- and 30- and 40-year-old kids -- men and women alike, in roughly equal number -- have already been arbitrarily slaughtered by nihilistic bullies who just wanted to take out as many victims as possible en route to their own demise. (The only significant difference between Mohammed Atta and Dylan Klebold is one of scale -- of their bankroll, and of their imagination.)

Angry? You betcha, women are angry. The anger you're sensing is their frustration that they can't personally take bin Laden and his Taliban backers apart, one joint, one limb at a time, over a period of several days, in retribution for bankrolling and masterminding the wholesale murder of their innocent, beautiful boys and girls.

(You remember that old World War II recruiting poster, "Gee, I wish I were a man -- I'd join the Navy!" If America's soccer moms could enlist tomorrow, you gotta know they'd join in record numbers!)

By the way, Glenn -- your Blog is the Gold Standard!

Thursday, November 01, 2001


The great "Getting Mentioned" campaign is squarely under way! Huge overstuffed shipping crates full of thanks to Mickey Kaus for the prominent link in today's Kausfiles. (Scroll down four items to see what prompted him.)

If you're new to Mind Over What Matters -- not to worry, you haven't missed anything. This enterprise is only a couple of weeks old. But what a terrific start! I watched the counter roll past 1000 with the excitement of a giddy 8-year-old egging on Mom and Dad to drive around in a big circle in the Krogers parking lot while the odometer in the old Ford station wagon flipped into seven-digit territory for the first time.

Bookmark us and come back often. We'll try to keep you entertained, informed, and amused -- but above all, we'll hold your feet to the fire and make you think! (Maybe we'll even rethink a few things ourselves!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2001


My correspondent and young ward, Richard Bensam, reports this honest-to-god actual political scoop!

My household just got one of those prerecorded calls from the Mike Bloomberg mayoral campaign, the usual deal with a tape of him exhorting citizens to vote for him. It being Halloween and all, I was sort of hoping he'd try a Count Floyd riff -- "Ooooo, that Mark Green sure is scary, isn't he, boys and girls?" -- but no such luck. (On the other hand, can you do much better than "Mike Bloomberg for Mayor" in the spine-tingling department?)

Anyway...the interesting part of this is that we have caller ID, and saw precisely where his automated call originated from. It was from the 314 area code: eastern Missouri.

So this fellow is running for Mayor of New York City in a time of dire economic need for the city, on a platform of creating new jobs and business opportunities through his financial acumen. And yet his campaign is spending its money outside the city, outside the tri-state area...all the way over in Missouri, presumably to take advantage of cheaper labor costs, when there must be outfits perfectly capable of handling this sort of operation inside the five boroughs.

Hey, we have banks of telephone operators, we have poster brigades, we have goons for hire...and New York needs the jobs. We've shown we could do the job in the past. I say, let's support the guy who hires New Yorkers to do the scutwork for him.

Frankly, I have "issues" with our likely next mayor, Mark Green. A few years ago, when the NYC Rent Control laws were very nearly allowed to expire, Green took the intellectually dishonest, populist position in favor of Rent Control for Everyone in Perpetuity. Sure, he drew lots of cheers -- he might as well have been coming out in favor of Ice Cream for Everyone! -- but a more honest assessment would require acknowledging that rent control actually causes more harm than good to the local economy, and that the challenge for the next Mayor is to find some way to gradually dismantle rent control without causing undue hardship for those who have come to depend on it.

On the other hand, Bloomberg is a political dilettante and a craven opportunist who wants to buy his way into public service through the top echelon, without learning anything about the arcana of New York City governance from the inside and bottom first. Even with his virtual carpet-bombing of the media with glitzy commericals and an impressve portfolio of endorsements -- what a humiliation for both Giuliani and Pataki to have to endorse this transparently phony Dem-hastily-turned-Republican for the good of party unity! -- it's still amazing to me that Bloomberg is polling above 20%.

(My favorite part of the Bloomberg radio ad spot is the very end, where -- right after a slick professional announcer has finished extolling his virtues, some guy who sounds more like a Sopranos wannabe comes on to say the "Paid for by Bloomberg for Mayor" tagline. What -- they couldn't afford to pay the professional's going rate for two more seconds of studio time?)

It pisses me off that Green would ever demonstrate a Clinton-like willingness to put his finger to the wind before opening his mouth -- but this seems to have been an aberration. On balance, he's been candid and forthright far more often than not, and like Giuliani, he's not afraid to cut to the chase and call 'em as he sees 'em, even if he comes off sounding like a bit of an egotist and an ass. Those are exactly the qualities we need in the guy who succeeds Giuliani, and I intend to vote for him.


This Associated Press story nails fraudulent TV psychic Miss Cleo for violating New York telemarketing Law. C. Adrienne Rhodes, the executive director of the Consumer Protection Board, explains:
"[Psychic Readers Network] misleads customers into thinking they can get a free psychic reading. But... the "psychics" employed by Access-PRN can only be reached by dialing a 900 number at $3.99 a minute. ....This so-called 'psychic' service appears to be a scam to keep people on the telephone for as long as possible."

I predict Miss Cleo is facing stiff fines and possible jail time. Consider it a freebie.


Slate's survey of recent UK press offerings tends to confirm what Mind Over What Matters reported the day before: Despite Tony Blair's putting every ounce of his political capital on the line, public opinion in Britain is starting to turn against the war effort. Must every civilized nation suffer a grievous act of nihilistic destruction on their own soil before they appreciate the stakes in this conflict?


Last month, when KausFiles predicted that the terrorism story could well be off our personal radar screens by the time Thanksgiving rolled around -- due to the phenomenon of cultural "speeded-up information processing" -- he was thoroughly poo-poohed by the entire Blog-ocracy community for daring to gauge the limits of public sentiment against its historical attention span. Wrote Mickey Kaus on 9/12:

Media coverage of the 9/11 attack often emphasizes that it will be a "long time before America gets back to normal," etc. The opposite is likely to be closer to the truth -- we'll get back to normal all too quickly, in keeping with the tendency (often discussed in this space) for the population to process information much faster than in former, less wired times. (Don't you feel as if you've lived about a month in the past two days?) I suspect the story will be off the evening news by Thanksgiving -- a denial, in a warped way, of the attackers' disruptive goal. ...

Of course, those words were written before troops were deployed and the anthrax counterstrike started in earnest, and no one could have foreseen how they would reinvigorate and refresh the news cycle.

Still, is Mickey about to be vindicated? Is the story starting to lose its legs? Might it at least, occasionally, be positioned after the lead or "below the fold" in another month's time? The New York Daily News suggests, at least insofar as television news is concerned, maybe so!

[UPDATE: Mickey Kaus replies: Thanks very much. Still a month to go! But, seriously, while I can't quite reconstruct what I was thinking when I wrote that item, I THINK I was thinking about the emotional grief-reaction to the WTC collapse, not the subsequent military campaign. But it's hard to believe I couldn't anticipate some long-lasting military reaction. Excellent blog. I'll keep coming back. cheers]


From Harry Broertjes:
I should point out something that I don't believe any reporters, writers, columnists or commentators have mentioned so far as anthrax anxiety continues to grip the vitals of our nation. It's this:

We shouldn't give the perpetrator(s) a whole lot of credit. Whoever they are, they've got to be mightily pissed off. They wanted to assassinate the leaders of Congress, the Supreme Court, the icons of American broadcasting and miscellaneous other high-level officials in Washington. All those targets remain healthy. Who did they get instead? A few regular postal workers and a tabloid photo editor. The perps can't be happy about that. The fish they were after were a lot bigger.

Yet everyone in the country is acting as though these cases of anthrax are part of a carefully thought-out plan. What they probably are, in reality, are the results of a major screw-up.

Well, not everyone -- a few End-Time doom-and-gloomers, perhaps, but the most panicky -- discounting postal workers and a few congressman who have actually stared the threat of real bioterrorism in the face -- are those who have a visible platform in The Media. (Disclosure: Harry works for The Media.) Most of the folks I know here on Earth-Real Life -- in fact, everyone I actually know well enough that I come into contact with them daily -- is taking the Anthrax Menace in stride, and merely adjusting their Risk Assessment Barometers accordingly. Statistically, it's still far more likely that any one New Yorker will be struck and killed by a bike messenger than encounter a killer dose of anthrax in the course of their day-to-day activities. Instinctively or intellectually, we all know this here on Earth Real.

But still, it's fun to watch all those chattering cable-heads at work, ain't it!

[Breaking news] Word comes this morning that the Bronx woman -- a stockroom employee at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in Midtown who was among the very few known cases of inhalation anthrax -- has now become the fourth casualty of this "major screw-up." Time to ratchet up my Risk Assessment Barometer up by a fraction of a notch, I guess. Meanwhile, I've got deadlines to meet...

Tuesday, October 30, 2001


So far, Meatwad is barely whuppin' Frylock's greasy little dada tush! C'mon -- let's really show 'em who's the Coolest Aqua Teen! Vote Meatwad! Meatwad! (Scroll down about half-way to vote.)
Master Shake 148 (21%)
Frylock 257 (37%)
Meatwad 286 (41%)


I can't believe what I'm hearing tonight on NPR's Fresh Air. Literally, I cannot believe it.

New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges -- apparently, he's the go-to guy when you want a pro-Palestinian interview -- is being interviewed at considerable length this evening about, among other things, the plight of the Palestinians. No matter how he paints it, I still find it hard to dredge up much sympathy for those who would intentionally jump off a cliff and then insist that the force of gravity is to blame for their injuries. But, okay -- the Middle East is a complicated problem, and the Palestinians do have a side. I'm open to hearing it.

But tonight, Hedges is going on, and on, and on, and on ... about how we just cannot imagine how incredibly horendous it is to be living in occupied Palestinian territory, where Israeli soldiers can be seen routinely taunting, baiting and shooting 11- and 12-year-old Palestinian rock-throwing kids for sport.

That's what he said. Here's the exact quote (my transcript):

"I watched the solidiers open fire, and it was -- I mean, I've seen kids shot in Sarajevo ... the snipers would shoot kids in Sarajevo... I've seen death squads kill families in Algeria and El Salvador ... but I've never seen soldiers bait or taunt kids like this, and then shoot them for sport!"

Never mind balance. Never mind historical context. Why is interviewer Barbara Bogaev just sitting there and listening to this drivel without challenging a word of it? I thought Glenn (Instapundit) Reynold's readers might be overreacting a bit to NPR's sympathetic pro-Palestinian tone. But this is the some of the most offensive, overtly biased reporting I've ever heard.

By the way, Chris Hedges -- whose main claim to fame was having been among the group of forty reporters captured and detained by Iraqi soldiers at the end of the Gulf War -- has quite a well-documented track record for factual error, tactical ommission, careless research and wholesale disregard for the truth when it gets in the way of a good story. (Thanks to CAMERA -- the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America -- for the research!)

I wonder -- From exactly whom does NPR expect to receive donations during their pledge drive this week? I understand that a certain Saudi diplomat has a $10 million check that's looking for a home...

THE DAILY HOWLER IS BACK! . . . with a vengeance!


Tuesday's UK Guardian claims to show support for war cooling -- an exclusive poll revealing that 54% say that we should halt attacks and allow aid convoys into Afghanistan. Details of the survey show that support among [British] women has slumped by 17 points from 68% to 51%. Only a bare majority of women now approve of military action against the Taliban.

Is there anything to this story? -- or is it just another example of how to lie with polls? Surely, the Brits have not suddenly come to believe that terrorism is someone else's problem!

Monday, October 29, 2001


In what appears to be a baldfaced (and boldfaced!) attempt to curry favor with his former employer, Matt Drudge wants us to know -- in this evening's screaming above-the-masthead headline:

Here' the truth: The journalistic embarrassment called the New York Post -- which retails for 25 measley cents, last time I checked -- has an audited circulation of 533,860. That's up 22 percent over for the year ending September 30, yes. But was it a gradual, carefully engineered increase of 22 percent over several months, or did the paper possibly show a huge, sudden spike in circulation since September 11? Matt doesn't say.

Nor does he make explicit what the Post's surging circulation is supposed to mean, although the implication is transparent enough: "Despite whatever preconceived notions you may be clinging to," Matt projects between the lines, "The Post is a great old New York institution, and people are finally coming around to noticing it in droves!"

What it could also mean, of course, is that the economy of New York City post-9/11 is in such ruins that fewer people can afford to shell out fifty cents for the New York Daily News, or 75 cents for the New York Times. For the newly-unemployed, two bits for a quick read on the trip to the Unemployment Office may well be all they can handle -- and still also afford Lipton's Cup-A-Soup for dinner.

In fact, let's put those numbers in perspective. Those "top newspapers" with "flat" circulations include The Wall Street Journal, (1,780,605, actually up 1.0 percent), the New York Times (1,109,371, actually up 1.1 percent.), and the New York Daily News (734,473, up a moderately healthy 4.6 percent). Turns out, all of the other New York City papers still whup the Post's 800-point hiney when it comes to audited circulation figures. The Times still outsells the Post better than 2-to-1. The Wall Street Journal outsells the Post by more than 3-to-1.

Granted the Post is making some headway in the circulation race with that other great New York workingman's paper, the Daily News. But consider, please, that the News is actually profitable and the Post is not. The Post has not been profitable in something like 30 years. The Post still exisits at all because Rupert Murdoch is determined to own a print journalism mouthpiece in New York, and he can afford to prop up the paper with the profits from Fox News while the Post remains awash in red ink -- literally and figuratively. (If the Daily News wanted to sell an extra 250,000 copies for the hell of it, they could also adopt a policy of bribing commuters with a lower cover price. Big deal.)

But the truth is, in comparing publishing statistics, the only thing that really matters is the number of ad pages and the rate charged per column inch. Such statistics may well be out there, somewhere, but Matt Drudge conveniently hasn't taken the trouble to research them, much less provide them to readers of the Drudge Report. It doesn't take a MacArthur Fellowship award winner to know that every other New York paper has much more desirable demographics, and therefore commands a premium rate, while the Post gets little more than the dregs.

In the early 1980s, I used to freelance for a typesetting shop that prepared newspaper display advertising artwork for the now-defunct Alexander's chain of department stores in the NYC metropolitan area. Famously -- or perhaps, apocryphally -- one of the Alexander's ad salesmen related to me this story -- which was surely, in turn, retold and embellished and claimed as original by all of the major advertisers in town. But from where I was sitting, the story was this:

The Post ad salesmen were putting pressure on the Alexander's ad reps to run more display advertising in their paper. In those days, "pressure" meant #10 envelopes envelopes containing everything from expensive theater or baseball tickets to generous sums of cash with non-sequential serial numbers. But no matter how many envelopes were surreptitiously slipped into their ad reps' hands, Alexander's maintained only a token presence in the Post for years and years.

When the advertising manager of the Post finally ran out of patience and demanded an explanation, the Alexander's rep explained: "Look, I'm sorry, but we really don't want the readers of the New York Post in our stores. Your readers are our shoplifters!")

Sunday, October 28, 2001


My correspondent Jeff W. reports

When asked how I intend to dress for Halloween in the office, I said, "I'm going to put on a suit and tie and wear a Cantor Fitzgerald ID tag."


He may well be the most bitterly anti-American cartoonist in America, but aren't we fighting precisely for his right to express that side of the political spectrum?

Meanwhile, for all the criticism being heaped upon Ted Rall, why has Aaron McGruder escaped unscathed? Or is the reason so obvious that it would be impolitic to mention it?