Plame Kerfuffle

by Kieran Healy on December 3, 2003

Although it’s great that Ted and Henry get to point out what’s wrong with the likes of Instapundit’s take on the Plame Vanity Fair story, I’d be much more entertained in a world where Wilson was on the side of the Bushies. Because then all this would have to be part of a cunning plan of appalling subtlety, and I expect we’d be hearing — in hushed but confident tones, delivered via anonymous email correspondents — that the woman in the car was not Valerie Plame at all.

Leiter on Marx

by Chris Bertram on December 3, 2003

Check out “Brian Leiter’s take”: on what is living (and dead) in Marx’s philosophy. I seem to remember Ernest Gellner writing of Marx somewhere, that even where Marx gives the wrong answers he often asks the right questions, chief among which is “cui bono?”

Diebold (partially) de-fanged

by Tom on December 3, 2003

It seems that those whacky funsters over at Diebold have given up on their attempts to use the DMCA to prevent ISP’s from hosting copies of the stash of hugely embarrassing internal emails which has found its way onto servers all over the place.

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Between consenting adults

by Chris Bertram on December 3, 2003

I see that the “German internet cannibalism trial”:,2763,1098905,00.html has started. For those who don’t know, the defendant advertised for a willing victim on the internet, cut off his penis (which they consumed together) and then stabbed his victim and dismembered him. Nasty stuff, but philosophically untroubling for those of us who are sufficiently paternalistic to think the law ought to place limits on what adults may consent to have done to them. Our “libertarian friends”: , on the other hand, may find it more difficult to come up with principled objections.

Via Critical Mass I found this old (by blogosphere standards) news story about racist speech. The Cavalier and the various officials they quote all say that the accused employee used a racist term in the following sentence:

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I write fan fiction for you!

by Ted on December 3, 2003

That could have gone better, reflected the defendant. The pictures were all over the internet, and he had all but admitted on the stand that he was the only one who could have taken them. The trial had turned into a media circus, and the press was ready to hang him.

The judge came out of his chambers after only a few hours’ deliberation. No one could have predicted what would happen next.

“Will the defendant please rise”, called the bailiff. This is it, I’m done for, thought the defendant.

The judge spoke. “You have been accused of breaking and entering in order to photograph the plaintiff while sleeping. Furthermore, without her permission, you posted those pictures on your personal website. Several witnesses saw you leaving her house on the night that the photos were posted, and you have admitted that you are the only person with access to your camera, or to your website.

“Normally, these would be serious offenses.

“However, we must consider all the circumstances in this case. The plaintiff in this case has admitted to posing for a number of pictures which are unmistakably date-stamped as occurring after the break-in. In fact, several of these photos were for stories about this very case.

“If the plaintiff was truly interested in her privacy, it is clear that she would not have made this choice. Sorry, missy — if you’re really interested in privacy, you don’t do this sort of thing. Unless, perhaps, you’re a self-promoter first, and a victim second.

“I therefore pronounce this case bogus. You’re free to go.”

The judge was mobbed by reporters as he tried to retire to his chambers. One reporter managed to break past the struggling bailiff and ask, “Your Honor, you attended the University of Tennessee law school, am I correct?”


by Henry Farrell on December 3, 2003

Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame appear in a photograph in next month’s _Vanity Fair_. Plame is not identifiable in the photograph. Therefore, according to Glenn Reynolds, the Plame affair is officially “bogus”:

bq. if you’re really an undercover spy, and really worried about national security, you don’t do this sort of thing

The obvious response: does this stricture apply to undercover spies who’ve already had their cover blown by scumball “senior officials” in the administration?

Reynolds goes on to say that the photo proves that either she is a publicity hound, or her husband is. Maybe true. But so what? The point which Reynolds and his dimwitted cronies don’t get, or, more precisely, don’t want to get, is that the Plame affair does _not_ fall or stand on Joseph Wilson’s personality. There’s substantial evidence from a variety of sources that some person or persons within the administration leaked Plame’s identity for partisan political purposes. And that’s pretty nasty. If a Democrat, or heaven forbid, a French political official, had leaked information on a CIA undercover operative’s identity, Reynolds would be slobbering all over it. Because it’s a senior administration official, he’s willing to turn whatever intellectual cartwheels are necessary to deny the evidence disconfirming his partisan and simplistic world view. It’s a rather pathetic sight.

What’s NATO there for

by Henry Farrell on December 3, 2003

It’s my impression that the warbloggers have gone rather quiet in recent weeks, which I suppose is the best available alternative to admitting that they were wrong on the facts of the matter. Iraq is at best going to be a mess, and at worst a complete disaster. Democracy, whiskey, sexy how are ya. But the damage that has been done to international security institutions is just as bad. The UN’s crisis of legitimacy has gotten most attention, but NATO has suffered very nearly as much. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. The “Post”: has a piece today on Rumsfeld’s reaction to a plan for a separate European Union defence planning structure; he suggests it’s a threat to NATO. He’s right – but his own administration has done far more more fundamental damage to NATO, by sidelining it after September 11. NATO no longer has any political purpose for the allies; it’s no wonder that the Europeans are gradually extricating themselves.

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Email software for Palm OS

by Chris Bertram on December 3, 2003

I just acquired a Handspring Treo 600, which is a rather nice bit of kit to have and certainly beats both my old Palm m100 and Nokia 8210 combination. I used to read email with those by using the infra-red connection between the two but once spam started reaching its current extent it just wasn’t worth the hassle. Now I’d like to use the Treo to read email from time to time but I need a decent IMAP-enabled mail client to take advantage of the server-side installation of SpamAssassin on my university mailserver. Any recommendations?

We’re Ready for our Closeup

by Kieran Healy on December 3, 2003

I think the screenplay looks pretty good.