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December 10, 2005

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOT MUCH: Michael Crowley's item in the New York Times Magazine about how conservative blogs are more effective is up and, well, it's not much. Especially in light of all the brouhaha about it. It's about 200-300 words, quoting only "liberal activist Matt Stoller" and (indirectly) other unnamed Democrats, about the message discipline of Republicans. OK. Whatever.

UPDATE: Yes, the bit about Drudge being quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere is also dubious. Drudge is, in fact, pretty aloof where the blogosphere is concerned. In fact, the whole "superior message discipline" theory seems doubtful to me.

The Democrats' real problems come from their positions, and their candidates, not from Republicans' media operation. They're still in denial about that, though, and Crowley's story couldn't be better for the Republicans if Karl Rove had written it himself.

RADLEY BALKO has much more on the Maye case in Mississippi. There's more here, and you should probably just scroll around his blog as he's got other posts as well. I hope that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will look into this ASAP.

IT'S A BUSH LANDSLIDE! First one of those I've seen, actually . . . .

HERE'S A NARNIA ROUNDUP, and here's an article from the (London) Times condemning over-literalism.

UPDATE: Reader Melissa Feagins emails with this review:

Leaving aside the Christian allegory and opinions as to the writing ability of C.S. Lewis, my husband and I took our three kids to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe today. The theater was full and not just of parents with kids. I saw teens and several older couples with no children along. My eight-year old dubbed it, "the best movie ever!" It's a two and a half hour movie and my five-year old sat almost perfectly still through the whole thing and there was none of the usual chatter you hear from children in theaters. More unbelievably to myself, I sat through the whole thing. I have arthritis in one of my hips and I never sit down for more than an hour at a time anymore and that not very often. I left the movie stiff and limping, but more than entertained. It was well worth the $25.00 it cost us to see the show. If you haven't taken the InstaFamily to this film, please do. It's wonderful in every way: faithful to the book (the beginning scene does explain how the children come to be living with the Professor, but that's the only real difference and a great addition, I think), marvelous acting, great cinematography and effects. I'm no expert on literature or film, but I LOVED this movie and highly recommend it to all.

The audience reviews seem to be quite positive.

THE CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up! More blog carnivals here.

STEPHEN HAYES:

FOR THE SECOND TIME IN recent weeks the Department of Defense has denied a request from The Weekly Standard to release unclassified documents recovered in postwar Iraq. These documents apparently reveal, in some detail, activities of Saddam Hussein's regime in the years before the war. This second denial could also be the final one: According to two Pentagon sources, the program designed to review, translate, and analyze data from the old Iraqi regime may be shuttered at the end of December, not just placing the documents beyond the reach of journalists, but also making them inaccessible to policymakers.

As a consequence, the ongoing debate over the Iraq war and its origins is taking place without crucial information about the former Iraqi regime and its relationships with presumed U.S. allies and known U.S. enemies.

Read the whole thing.

SOUND FINANCIAL ADVICE from Megan McArdle. Especially the stuff about spending and debt.

One other piece of advice: Marry someone who has a level head about money. I'm always amazed at how often people's financial problems are really marital problems.

MICHAEL TOTTEN is now blogging from Cairo.

Meanwhile, Bill Roggio is blogging from Ramadi.

RICHARD PRYOR has died. So has Eugene McCarthy.

SHADES OF TIANANMEN: Gateway Pundit has a big roundup and links to audio.

UPDATE: Big blog-reaction roundup here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A useful observation: "China’s development, though extraordinary, is one that is leaving behind several hundred million people. Though they are not necessarily in worse-off terms than before the economic rennaissance began, in relative terms the gulf is ever yawning. China’s development has become something like an egg - the smooth, hard outside shell gives the impression of stability and depth though it shrouds a fragile interior. . . .Secondly and most importantly, we must remember that Shanghai ain’t China, it’s the glistening, candy shell, and the windowpieces for the passing shoppers to see. The inside of the store, however impressive the window, is in fact quite different."

A NASTY PLANE CRASH IN NIGERIA: Port Harcourt is the hometown of my Nigerian relatives, though most reside in Lagos now. I haven't heard any news from them, though.

SO I'VE BEEN READING THE PAGE PROOFS for An Army of Davids, and that's been fun: No matter how many times you read a manuscript in process -- and it's always a lot -- when you see it set in type and formatted as a book it looks fresh and different.

One thing that has struck me is how much of a debt I owe to Virginia Postrel. The book's topic is different from hers, but themes and ideas from The Substance of Style, and The Future and Its Enemies (and references to them both, along with some of her New York Times columns) just keep cropping up. Virginia's books have gotten a lot of attention, of course, but I think that in twenty years we'll still look back and see them as underrated. If you haven't read them, you should.

Jeff Jarvis and Nick Denton crop up a lot, too. Visionaries all!

AN OPEN LETTER TO HALEY BARBOUR on the Corey Maye case.

SATELLITE RADIO UPDATE: People have asked about reception. It works fine in the car, with the car antenna simply sitting on the dash. (The manual says that may not work well, but driving around West Knoxville it seems to work fine). I haven't used it like a Walkman yet, with the portable antenna.

NEW SHOPPING TREND: "[S]hoppers have embraced a shift away from traditional gifts, such as sweaters and watches, toward experience gifts such as spa treatments and trips that enhance the lifestyles of friends and relatives."

Of course, I noted this in 2003.

FROM HOMOSEXUALITY AS MENTAL DISEASE to "extreme bias" against homosexuality as a mental disease, in just a few decades:

Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis.

So when homosexuality was unpopular, it was a mental disorder. Now that it's popular, not liking it is a mental disorder. Evidence for either position? Not much. My diagnosis: How about we recognize a disorder consisting of turning intellectual fashions into pseudoscience? Seems like this is a case of "mental health" consisting largely of agreeing with whatever political opinions psychiatrists hold at a particular moment in time. Psychiatry, heal thyself. (Via Either End).

UPDATE: Heh.

MORE: Related thoughts here:

I might take those who advocate a new diagnosis more seriously if they included hatred of conservatives as another example of pathological bias. But, even then, it’s the individual’s intense hatred that’s the real “disorder” — regardless of its object.

Indeed. Dr. Sanity has further thoughts, too.

Still more here.

MORE: Still more disapproval of this approach.

JIGSHA DESAI videoblogs a Christmas Tree cutting, and offers expert advice on which tree to pick, while Dipti Vaidya interviews people about their favorite Christmas ornament.

NEWSBEAT 1 on the Canadian elections: "The Conservatives are clearly targeting the long-suffering middle-class -- too rich to be poor, too poor to be rich. Martin seems content to go after anyone anywhere who might be bribed to vote Liberal."

WHETHER YOU'RE A FEMINIST or a Mobilist, your carnival is up. Other carnivals are here.

December 09, 2005

HERE'S MORE on the Mississippi no-knock case involving Cory Maye mentioned below.

MASSACRE IN CHINA:

Armed with guns and shields, hundreds of riot police sealed off a southern Chinese village after fatally shooting demonstrators and searched for the protest organizers, villagers said Friday. . . .

During the demonstration Tuesday in Dongzhou, a village in southern Guangdong province, thousands of people gathered to protest the amount of money offered by the government as compensation for land to be used to construct a wind power plant.

Police started firing into the crowd and killed several people, mostly men, villagers reached by telephone said Friday. The death toll ranged from two to 10, they said, and many remained missing.

State media have not mentioned the incident and both provincial and local governments have repeatedly refused to comment.

Gateway Pundit has more, and notes that some media outlets seem confused as to the location. [LATER: Or maybe not.]

UPDATE: More here.

MORE: Here's a followup report:

Residents of a southern Chinese village near Hong Kong where police opened fire on demonstrators described a tense standoff in the area on Saturday with thousands of armed troops patrolling the perimeter and blocking anyone from leaving. Frightened villagers said they were either hunkering down at home or arguing with police who are refusing to return the dead to their families.

A Hong Kong newspaper quoted villagers accusing Chinese officials of trying to cover up the killings on Tuesday in Dongzhou, a village in Guangdong province.

Residents said police opened fire on a crowd of thousands protesting against inadequate compensation offered by the government for land to be used for a new wind power plant. Up to 20 were killed, villagers said, while some said dozens more were missing.

It was the deadliest known use of force by Chinese security against civilians since the killings around Tiananmen Square in 1989, which drew an international outcry.

So far, the outcry in this case seems rather muted.

READER ANDREW TICKLE sends this interesting article on lessons from Iraq.

CATHY SEIPP LOOKS AT problems with contemporary parenting.

IN THE MAIL: Finding Serenity : Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly. Looks pretty interesting, with chapters by science fiction writers Mercedes Lackey, Tanya Huff, and others, plus one by cast member Jewel Staite.

I haven't even finished watching the Firefly DVD set yet -- last night, after a long day that included going over the first round of page proofs for the book, I sat down with a glass of wine to watch . . . a videotape of a faculty candidate's "job talk" from Monday, which I missed because I was otherwise engaged. When I finish watching those, I'll get to the Wonderfalls episodes, but that may be a while.

UPDATE: Here's a blog review of the book.

A DEBATE ON THE ECONOMY, featuring Larry Kudlow, Andrew Roth, Paul Hoffmeister, Russ Roberts & James Hamilton.

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INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major Robert Macaraeg, sends this report and photos:

A few days ago I received a phone call and email from a university student at the newly reopened University of Kandahar. I was asked to help the student with MSgt Radermacher of the USAF to move over three air cargo pallets of books for the new library that the University is opening. Afghan students at George Washington University collected the books and the US Air Force transported them under the Denton Program for no cost. The students arranged for a Jingle truck for the final leg of the journey and with US Military personnel provided the elbow grease to load the truck with the books. The students were grateful for the books and the Air Force and Army personnel were happy to contribute to the growth of Academia in Afghanistan.

Have fun in America and Merry Christmas.

Likewise, Major.

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DALTON CONLEY HAS THOUGHTS on a man's right to choose.

UPDATE: A related post from Jason Smith of Generation Why?

LOTS OF PEOPLE like to pick on Zogby polling, and I remember that some of them used to tout his stuff as really good. But this does seem like a bit of an embarrassment.

TAXPROF has a chart of federal tax revenues since 2003.

DID HE SAY BOMB? Reports differ. Of course, they often do.

SHAVAR JEFFRIES on school choice: "In the current model, public schools have little incentive to respond meaningfully and systematically to the interests of Black parents, particularly poor Black parents, as these parents simply do not have the political capital to impact systematically the way in which public schools deliver education. A choice model, however, consistent with the most basic predicates of freedom and democracy, begins to grant poor people the opportunity to opt out of the public system if it continues miserably to fail their children."

BLOGS4GOD ROUNDS UP Christian bloggers' reactions to the Narnia movie.

I SET UP THE SATELLITE RADIO last night, and it was very easy: Charged the battery, called a toll-free number, and was up and running in about 15 minutes. The sound is good (I plugged in my excellent Sennheiser iPod headphones instead of the cheapie earbuds that come with it) and the user interface is quite easy to navigate.

However, on the advice of reader Christopher Fox I ordered the antenna / headphone combination yesterday; I'll report on those when they arrive. He says that performance is a lot better with those, and the price was low.

WALTER SHAPIRO defends the New Hampshire primary.

I'm not sure I agree, but I liked his book, One-Car Caravan.

THE FAIR TAX FRIDAY Carnival is up. For more carnivals, click here and look right.

A REVERSAL ON GAY MARRIAGE in New York.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The National Journal's Daniel Glover notices that Senator Tom Coburn has put the PorkBusters logo on his website.

I hadn't noticed that, but it's pretty cool. As Glover observes:

Shared logos are becoming a regular feature in the blogosphere as bloggers unite in common causes. But it's not often that you see one of those logos on a congressional Web site.

The logo from the PorkBusters campaign, in fact, appears to be the first to achieve that status. Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn has the logo displayed prominently on the right side of his Senate Web site, just under a ticker that shows the rapidly increasing federal debt. The logo also appears on a separate page dedicated to the PorkBusters cause.

Welcome aboard, Senator.

And remember: Congress is out of session now, so legislation is on hold, but that means that if you'd like to meet with your Congressmember while he/she is home, it's a good time.

December 08, 2005

IF A COP BREAKS INTO YOUR HOUSE UNNANOUNCED, and you shoot him thinking he's a burglar, it's self-defense. But Radley Balko reports on a case of a wrong-house no-knock raid that has led to what sounds like a total miscarriage of justice:

As the raid on Smith commenced, some officers - including Jones -- went around to what they thought was a side door to Smith's residence, looking for a larger stash of drugs. The door was actually a door to Maye's home. Maye was home alone with his young daughter, and asleep, when one member of the SWAT team broke down the outside door. Jones, who wasn't armed, charged in, and made his way to Maye's bedroom. Because police believed Maye's side of the duplex was still part of Smith's residence, they never announced themselves. Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones, hitting him in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later.

Maye had no criminal record, and wasn't the target of the search warrant. Police initially concluded they had found no drugs in Maye's side of the duplex. Then, mysteriously, police later announced they'd found "traces" of marijuana and cocaine. I talked to the attorney who represented Maye at trial. She said that to her knowledge, police had found one smoked marijuana cigarette in Maye's apartment. Regardless, since Maye wasn't the subject of the search, whether or not he had misdemeanor amounts of drugs in his possession isn't really irrelevant. What's relevant is whether or not he reasonably believed his life was in danger. Seems pretty clear to me that that would be a reasonable assumption.

In a way, this is the flipside of the Miami airport shooting. And I regard the shooting of a cop in this situation similarly: It's a tragedy, but the risk is, and should be, borne by the person who's acting unreasonably. Here, it's the cop's. When you break down people's doors and charge in unannounced, you do so at your own risk, cop or not.

Radley has more reporting here, and observes:

Put yourself in Maye's shoes. You have no criminal record. You've done nothing wrong. In the middle of the night, in a bad neighborhood, you awake to find someone attempting to break down your door. The door flies open, and a man in black paramilitary gear comes storming into your bedroom, where your infant daughter also happens to be sleeping.

Not only is that set of circumstances "reasonable ground" to think that someone is about to do you "great personal injury," and that you're in "imminent danger" of said personal injury being accomplished, you'd be crazy not to take quick action to defend yourself.

The SWAT team was in Maye's home illegally. And they failed to exercise due dilligence in obtaining the search warrant, given that they were obviously unaware that the target of the warrant was a duplex with a second residence. These are facts.

If the facts are as he reports, this guy never should have been charged -- and he should have had a lawsuit (though those, unreasonably, are usually losers) against the police for breaking down the wrong door. The cop who was shot was the police chief's son. And there's a racial angle, too.

More here and here.

UPDATE: Reader Steve Alexander emails:

My brother and I (both military officers and strong police supporters) were just discussing "no-knock" raids last week. A citizen has every right to defend himself in his home to unknown intruders. Not too long ago, a family was the victim of home intruders posing as cops. I'd be hard-pressed to believe anyone barging in my home in the middle of the night, especially if I KNEW I wasn't a criminal. "No-knock" raids should be illegal in all 50 states.

Further, why doesn't the Hollywood crowd take up the cause of a truly wronged black man on death row, instead of real criminals like Tookie and Mumia?

Excellent question. Unlike those other cases, this seems like one without a political angle. It's unclear whether that will get it more attention, or less.

JORDAN GOLSON has a roundup on the Midway Airport plane crash.

UPDATE: Lots more from The Travel Bloggers.

HERE'S A GRAMMY NEWS ROUNDUP: As a member of the Recording Academy, I get to vote, but I can't think of a year when I've been less excited. But maybe I haven't been paying enough attention.

A LOOK AT FEDERAL SPENDING, 1970-2005.

JERALYN MERRITT REMEMBERS JOHN LENNON: Lots of people wonder what he'd be doing now. I'm skeptical that he'd be a Republican today if he had lived, but who knows? He went through a lot of changes in a short period.

Back in the 1980s, researching a novel that nobody has read, I watched some old British TV of the Beatles (Ready, Steady, Go! and so forth) and what struck me was how burly and tough the early (1965-66) John Lennon looked, compared to the one I remembered. I had heard stories of him breaking people's ribs, and they didn't seem very credible in light of my memories of the fragile and emaciated Yoko-era John. But looking at the earlier Lennon, well, yeah.

So who knows? But I think it's a mistake to make Lennon into anything today -- even a poster boy for handgun control -- instead of remembering him as he was. He never got the chance to develop into whatever he would have been, and that's the tragedy of his death, of course.

UPDATE: Some memories from Gerard van der Leun: "We'd finished filming John and Yoko for the video a day or so before. It was their last video, but of course we didn't know it at the time."

TIAN LOOKS AT SOME hysterically overpriced cookware. No, really: "When he revealed the price, it was so overpriced that it is truly laughable! . . . If you don’t have any cash on hand, a 48-month payment option is available with 18% interest rate." Spare me.

At the recommendation of various readers back during the Great Cookware Thread, I bought some Cuisinart Multiclad stuff, which was quite cheap even compared with All-Clad, which I thought was expensive until I saw this stuff, and with which I've been very happy. And I'm even happier when I compare the price with the stuff Tian's writing about. Holy crap!

And for the Insta-Wife, who's kind of hard on pots, I bought a few pieces of Chefmate stuff from Target. Even cheaper, and not half bad considering the price.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM HASN'T GONE AWAY:

Six people were arrested in a string of ecoterrorism attacks in the Pacific Northwest dating to 1998 _ four fires that caused millions in damage and the toppling of an 80-foot power transmission tower, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The arrests were made Wednesday in Arizona, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

The radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front had claimed responsibility for most of the acts.

The extent of this sort of terrorism is underappreciated.

MICHAEL TOTTEN: "Americans are aiding and abetting pan-Arabism. Seriously. This isn't a joke."

UPDATE: Ack, it's not by Michael, it's by one of his cobloggers on his blog. Sorry.

LITTLE BOXES: Here's an interesting followup on my TCS column.

GUN CONTROL IN CANADA, YESTERDAY AND TODAY: It is ever thus. Read this, too.

POLICE HAVE VIDEO PROBLEMS in San Francisco.

U.S. ECONOMIC GROWTH IS "GALLOPING."

Meanwhile, France's problem is not enough Wal-marts.

THE CARNIVAL OF EDUCATION IS UP! And some others (look right!).

DON HO, CARDIAC PIONEER:

Ho had his own stem cells injected into his heart Monday night, which is expected to improve the muscle's pumping ability by as much as 70 percent.

Ho suffers from cardiomyopathy and his doctor said conventional surgery could do nothing to ease the inflammation. The procedure, which is not available in the United States, was performed by former University of Michigan cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Kit Arom and overseen by Dr. Amit Patel of Pittsburgh.

I hope this works, and that if it does it becomes available in the United States.

NEWS FROM IRAQ, via the Washington Post:

As Iraqis nationwide prepare to go to the polls for the third time this year on Dec. 15 -- this time for a new parliament -- candidates and political parties of all stripes are embracing politics, Iraqi style, as never before and showing increasing sophistication about the electoral process, according to campaign specialists, party officials and candidates here.

"It is like night and day from 10 months ago in terms of level of participation and political awareness," said a Canadian election specialist with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a group affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party that is working to ease Iraq's transition to democracy. . . .

In January, most candidates outside the dominant few parties largely eschewed campaigning, fearing they could be kidnapped or assassinated. Now, even long shots are getting into the act. One day this week, National Democratic Institute instructors explained get-out-the-vote techniques to a dozen members of the Free Iraq Gathering, a new coalition that "probably won't get many more votes than you see in that room," according to an institute employee.

Sounds positive to me.

THE LAST REFUGE OF POLITICAL SCOUNDRELS: Paul Martin proposes a handgun ban for Canada. Because a ban on rampant political corruption would be too hard to enforce . . . .

ON THE BALL: Even though I selected 2-day shipping, the satellite radio I ordered yesterday showed up this morning as I was leaving for work. That's pretty impressive. No time to fool with it today, but I'll charge up the battery tonight and post a report.

A SOLAR-ENHANCED PRIUS: Cool, in a geeky sort of way.

At the gym this morning, I parked between another Highlander hybrid and a (non-solar) Prius. That probably says more about my neighborhood than their overall sales, but maybe not. A few years ago it was Chevy Suburbans and Toyota Landcruisers as far as the eye could see.

FOUR YEARS AFTER THE TALIBAN FELL -- and four years and a month after people pronounced Afghanistan a hopeless, Vietnam-like quagmire -- an ABC News poll says that Afghans are optimistic about the future:

77 percent of Afghans say their country is headed in the right direction — compared with 30 percent in the vastly better-off United States. Ninety-one percent prefer the current Afghan government to the Taliban regime, and 87 percent call the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban good for their country. Osama bin Laden, for his part, is as unpopular as the Taliban; nine in 10 view him unfavorably.

Progress fuels these views: Despite the country's continued problems, 85 percent of Afghans say living conditions there are better now than they were under the Taliban. Eighty percent cite improved freedom to express political views. And 75 percent say their security from crime and violence has improved as well. After decades of oppression and war, many Afghans see a better life.

Read the whole thing. (Via BarcePundit).

UPDATE: Major John Tammes, who spent some time in Afghanistan with the Ordnance Corps, and also served as InstaPundit's Afghan photo correspondent (see some of his photos here) sends this email:

I saw your story (and link to the Barcepundit) on the optimism of the Afghans. The past few months have been a little difficult - feelings of letdown, etc. Seeing something like this is...validation.

You and Franco have made my day!

Good! As I've said before, if you read the news coverage and it leaves you dispirited, demoralized, and depressed, that's not an accident. That's the goal.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF BLOG REACTION to the Miami airport shooting. It's tragic, but as the InstaWife was saying this morning, traveling with a bipolar who's off his meds is like traveling with a diabetic who's not taking insulin: unwise.

KOS: A voice for moderation in today's Democratic Party.

LEARNING TO LOVE SPRAWL: My TechCentralStation column, which revolves around Robert Bruegmann's Sprawl: A Compact History, is up.

Bruegmann's book is very interesting, and I predict that it will be very influential.

December 07, 2005

MORE THOUGHTS ON G.M., over at GlennReynolds.com.

Meanwhile, the UAW -- with behind the scenes support from GM -- is holding up pension legislation in Congress.

JULIE FIDLER has a survey she'd like people to take.

MARC DANZIGER BUSTS a conspiracy theory. Sheesh.

CLIVE DAVIS has a Narnia roundup.

IT PROBABLY LACKS THE POP APPEAL of his Harry Potter piece, but I just got a piece of fan mail from Rob Merges regarding this article by my colleague Ben Barton on tort reform, innovation, and playground design, so I guess I should link it.

JOHN LEO writes that Harvard Law is outperforming Yale on faculty diversity.

BOB WOODWARD IS VALERIE PLAME: Discussed at Tom Maguire's.

VIOLENCE AT THE POLLS IN EGYPT: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

MOHAMMED OF IRAQ THE MODEL has a report on the impending Iraqi elections. The opening paragraph illustrates that the Iraqis have achieved parity with other democracies!

I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED THIS SOONER, but Scott Adams has a blog. Not surprisingly, it's quite good. I particularly recommend his advice on how to debate.

"GROWING OIL SUPPLIES MEAN LOWER OIL COSTS:" Wow, that's more support for Mickey Kaus's outrageous theory about prices. Someone should look into this!

SHOTS FIRED by air marshal at Miami airport. A suspect is dead, but it's not clear what he's suspected of.

THE CONSUMERIST, Nick Denton's new shopping site with an angry, bitter edge, is now up!

And no, he didn't buy me a sports car in exchange for this mention. Though feel free, Nick!

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HAS THE WHITE HOUSE joined the War Against Christmas?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON ON THE CUNNINGHAM SCANDAL:

But we can’t let this collective carcass picking -- as voyeuristically titillating as it may be -- distract us from the two vital issues this story raises: the corrupting role that money continues to play in our politics, and the overly cozy relationship between those in power and those in the media whose job it is to cover them.

I mean, where was the Washington press corps on this story?

Here you have a Congressman making $158,000 a year, living (and partying with lobbyists) on a yacht docked at the Capital Yacht Club and driving a Rolls-Royce -- and not a single Washington journalist thought this worth looking into? If one of them had followed the spoils, it would have quickly led to a defense contractor buying the yacht, christened the “Duke-Stir”, while at the same time receiving massive government contracts authorized by the defense appropriations subcommittee Cunningham sat on.

But, instead, the Beltway Gang turned a blind-eye -- so jaded and accepting of how the game is played in Washington that the corruption didn’t even register.

Which isn't uncommon. I suspect that bloggers could accomplish a lot in unmasking corruption by looking at politicians' lifestyles and matching them against their declared incomes. So could journalists, but they don't seem to do much of that.

AUSTIN BAY writes on Iraqi reconstruction efforts.

IN JUST A FEW MINUTES, Michael Ledeen and Marc Cooper will be debating online. There's also a contest to name their show. I favored "Nattering Nabobs," but they vetoed it. (There was also a potential naming dispute with the philosophical blog "Nattering Nabobs of Postivism," and you can't be too careful about those things, it seems . . . .)

A PEARL HARBOR ANNIVERSARY ROUNDUP at LaShawn Barber's place.

NUDE PHOTOS OF JENNIFER ANISTON raise legal questions.

SOME OVERLOOKED ASPECTS of Condi's Eastern Europe trip.

SATELLITE RADIO UPDATE: So after reading all the responses to this post on XM and Sirius, I wound up ordering this one. Though a few people had complaints, the vast majority of emailers seemed happy with either XM or Sirius, regardless of which they had. So as a tie-breaker, I decided to go with loyalty to the one that carries my brother's stuff -- and that was offering a really good deal.

SAMBUCKS loses to Starbucks. This seems silly to me.

THANKS, Business Week.

BURNING CARS AND BURNING GIRLS: A German feminist looks at the French riots. (Via Winds of Change).

THE CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up! Along with some others (look right).

VIRGINIA POSTREL looks at airport politics.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF BLOGGING on Saddam's trial.

December 06, 2005

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT: "Most Americans and a majority of people in Britain, France and South Korea say torturing terrorism suspects is justified at least in rare instances, according to AP-Ipsos polling. . . . In America, 61 percent of those surveyed agreed torture is justified at least on rare occasions. Almost nine in 10 in South Korea and just over half in France and Britain felt that way." I happen to disagree with this view, though I can't say I'm surprised, and I suspect that the over-the-top hysteria of some torture opponents, equating things like fake menstrual blood and wrapping people in the Israeli flag with torture, is actually creating a backlash. It will be interesting to see whether this poll affects any of our political weathervanes in Congress.

UPDATE: Tom Holsinger suggests the headline, "Majorities say torture should be safe, legal, rare."

READER HANSON TIPTON EMAILS:

I am considering getting satellite radio for Christmas and knowing that you are a bit of a technophile I was wondering if you or your readers could recommend particular receivers or set-ups. I am leaning toward XM as they carry all major league baseball games, and I would want it mainly for the car but I would also want to have a way to play it in the house. I currently only listen to music (on CDs) or radio (talk) in the car. My job has me in the car a lot and usually out in rural areas that don’t necessarily get good reception for conventional radio, so I think satellite is something I would enjoy. Do you have satellite radio and if so do you recommend it to others?

Thanks for any advice you can offer. I always enjoy seeing your reviews of products (particularly electronics,) and also the input of your readers. Using Instapundit’s search feature I saw that in April someone wrote you about finding Webb Wilder on XM and you mentioned your brother’s band was on there too. Have you taken the satellite radio plunge?

No, I haven't, though I'm planning to. My sister has Sirius and likes it; I was talking to a friend today who has XM and is very happy with it, too. That's part of my problem -- I'm too lazy to make a decision, though I'd probably go with XM for the reasons above.

My sister chose Sirius because it had the more compact receiver at the time, but now it looks as if both outfits have plenty of choices available. Of course, that just makes it harder. If they merged, they might get a lot of extra customers who currently can't make up their minds which to choose . . . .

Anybody got advice for Mr. Tipton? Er, and maybe for me?

UPDATE: Michael Barone emails:

Last year I decided to buy (lease, actually) a BMW. The car came with a radio equipped to pick up Sirius satellite radio; I decided to take advantage of it and subscribe. I find I like it very much. I can get Fox News Channel audio (I listen especially when I'm headed to the Fox News studio for an appearance), and the classical music offerings are good. Also, there are lots and lots of other channels and I listen to a few of those occasionally (like the Washington/ Baltimore traffic channel). Reception is generally good, though there are occasional irritating blackouts and it goes off in underground garages (not in the tunnel under the Capitol, however). Commercial interruptions are much less frequent than on AM or FM radio.

Overall, I am happy with Sirius and will definitely install satellite radio on any future car. It helps that the BMW doesn't require extra equipment (I believe Mercedes cars are set up for XM).

Meanwhile, Hazen Dempster emails:

I'm getting satellite radio for Christmas and I chose XM largely due to the MyFi Portable XM Receiver. It comes with a built-in antenna and a built in FM transmitter. It also comes with the complete home and car accessory kits so you don't have to buy them separately. One cool feature is that It can record up to 5 hours of programming to play back at your convenience. What ultimately closed the sale for me, however, is I was able to find it for $134.99 at Buy.com. Since XM is offering a $50 rebate through year end, that brought the price down to $84.99 (Buy.com also offers free shipping). I figured it would be tough to beat that price and I don't like Howard Stern anyway.

Here is a link to the XM description of the MyFi Receiver: Link
Here is a link to Buy.com description: Link

I'll update this post more, later. Of course, even if you don't get satellite radio, you could be a winner, as Michael Barone also observes:

I note that about a month ago I heard Rush Limbaugh announce that Clear Channel stations that broadcast his program will have one FEWER minute of ads each hour. I take this to be a competitive response to satellite radio. I don't think Clear Channel would give up the revenue except out of fear that people sick of all the commercials will switch to satellite. Competition works.

I love that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Mullins notes that Webb Wilder has recently left XM. D'oh! I have to agree with the commenter on Webb's page who writes: "in my opinion XM were idiots to let Webb get away." Indeed.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Turns out Hazen Dempster's deal is also available at Amazon at almost the same price, for those who prefer Amazon to Buy.com. I do, though I suppose it's mostly out of habit.

DEFINING TERRORISM DOWN.

AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW on life-extension science in the New York Times:

Q. Do you believe there is such a thing as a limited life span for humans?

A. No. Life span is totally tunable. In my lab, we tune it up and down all the time.

Read the whole thing.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP on the Wikipedia wars. I've had my own problems with them in the past, though short-lived and (to me at least) no very big deal. My sense is that the wiki format works pretty well when issues are uncontroversial, but that it doesn't handle politics very well.

UPDATE: More here.

gasprice.jpg
BUSH'S POLLS SEEM TO BE DRIFTING UPWARD, and there are various theories as to why.

The photograph to the right seems to be the most likely explanation, though the reappearance of John Kerry -- always good for Bush -- may explain part of it too, as may the Administration's willingness to hit back at its critics. This may not win over a lot of enemies, but it probably heartens a lot of Bush supporters. And given that some of the dissatisfaction with Bush comes from war supporters who think he's not fighting hard enough at home and abroad, that might make a difference, too.

HERE'S MORE DISCUSSION ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE, from Laurence Simon, Tobias Buckell, Stephen Green, and Yay Sports!

TOM MAGUIRE wonders what Howard Dean's thinking. Tom Bevan wonders if he speaks for the Democrats.

INDEED: "It's as if the whole Valerie Plame matter never happened."

A PROFESSOR'S CLAIMS of anti-conservative bias turn out to contain rather a lot of bogosity, leading to his resignation.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more.

ED DRISCOLL looks at Hollywood's declining fortunes. I'm interested to see him touch on the "prosumer threat," which is something I've written about myself.

DENNIS KUCINICH explains what it means to "Buy American:"

"This is about our children and grandchildren," he said. "We have to get the word out - 'Buy American.' This is a matter of our allegiance to our own communities, our belief in each other, our commitment to each other."

While Ohio has about 16,000 workers building Honda automobiles, engines and transmissions, Kucinich later said he defined "American" as being made by a union. The UAW has failed in its effort to organize the Honda plants.

So if you're an autoworker who isn't a UAW member, I guess you're not American. I hope he's not questioning your patriotism. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Richard Zeien emails:

"The UAW has failed in its effort to organize the Honda plants."

Hmmmm, the Honda plants aren't in danger of closing. Coincidence?

I think not.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING REVIEW of Ray Kurzweil's new book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, which I reviewed earlier here.

THE OFFICERS' CLUB LOOKS AT IRAN, and thinks that a military solution is not unlikely.

THE BLAWG REVIEW, a law-blog carnival, is up!

LINCOLN AND IRAQ: Writing in The New Republic, Bill Stuntz argues that it's a good thing the Iraqi insurgency has lasted this long. "Brief wars rarely produce permanent results, but long wars often do." Interesting argument.

IN THE MAIL: This rather interesting-looking book by Daniel Nissanoff, arguing that online shopping will be far more revolutionary than current models suggest.

COFFEE: Is there anything it can't do?

GRAND ROUNDS is up!

RON BAILEY WRITES on what we can learn from carbon markets.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY REGULATION from the Washington Post, noting the EPA's appropriately cautious attitude toward overregulation. Some of the reasons for the EPA's caution can be found in this report.

BACK IN THE HALCYON DAYS OF MP3.COM, one of my favorite bands was Digital Ritual. I just got an email from 'em, and a link to this new site. Makes me feel like I should get back to my own musical efforts, though all the hobbies have taken a beating since I started the book.

DANIEL SOLOVE looks at varying media treatments in the Tom Delay case.

Personally, I don't like Tom "no pork here" Delay, and I think it's good for the country (and the Republicans, actually) that he won't be resuming his leadership position. On the other hand, I also suspect that he really is the target of a politically motivated witch hunt, and I can only imagine the howls we'd hear if the same kinds of legal theories were being applied to labor unions.

UPDATE: More here.

December 05, 2005

IT'S MURTHA VS. MURTHA over at Kausfiles. "Sorry, this man seems confused. In his current state I wouldn't follow him either into battle or out of it."

The Dems do seem in disarray over the war, but now they're not just disagreeing with each other, but with themselves. It's like the whole party has been Kerry-ized.

UPDATE: P.A. Miller has a theory about what's going on.

MORE: "Karl Rove has made suckers out of the Democrats again."

"POUTING SPOOKS" STRIKE AGAIN? Seems, as others have suggested, like something calling for more subpoenas. Because leaking classified information is always wrong, right, not just when it might implicate someone in the White House. . . . (Via Never Yet Melted). You do wonder whether anyone at the CIA ever manages to keep a secret. It seems clear that Bush made a dreadful mistake by not firing a lot of people after 9/11.

I'VE NOTICED LOTS OF DEMOCRATS on various TV shows calling for Bush to replace Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman. Given that the Democrats don't exactly see eye-to-eye with Lieberman on defense matters, I wonder what's going on? Are they trying to get him out of the Senate for some reason? Do they expect things to get a lot better in Iraq before 2006, and want to split the credit? Do they think Bush is going to do it anyway, and want to make it look like they pressured him into it? (Kaus's "Nader strategy?") Or is there some other agenda I'm missing? Because it sure seems to have coalesced as an across-the-board talking point very quickly.

UPDATE: Here's some Democratic thinking, according to Kos.

ANOTHER UPDATE: John Kerry has jumped on the bandwagon, which makes me suspect that it's not going anywhere.

IF YOU LOOK IN THE RIGHT SIDEBAR (below the credits buttons and just above the recommended links) you'll see a box listing recent blog carnivals. I'm testing this for my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein -- it's a feature of his BlogCarnival.com site. Don't worry -- I won't quit linking carnivals here. But I think it's a useful guide. I believe you can get the button for your site, too, just by clicking.

UPDATE: The Carnival of Tomorrow is up!

HEH.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF VENEZUELAN ELECTION BLOG COVERAGE put together by Robert Mayer of Publius.

SO THE 9/11 COMMISSION IS COMPLAINING about problems with first responders' radios. Who's holding things up? Television networks:

As I noted in an earlier post, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., and Congresswoman Jane Harman, D-Calif., have cited un-named television broadcasters who use the frequencies first responders want to use -- Channels 63, 64, 69 and 69 -- as holding up this legislation for years.

So who are we talking about? Which big broadcasters?

I'm told from Congressional sources that the big stations that would be affected by giving those spectrum numbers are the family-friendly PAX and Spanish-speaking UNIVISON, as well as some other broadcasters in particular markets.

I wonder if the family friendly and minority nature of these stations have anything to do with the politicians' reluctance to name them?

Or is it just that it's more nefarious-sounding to call them "big broadcasters"?

I wonder why this story isn't getting more TV coverage . . . .

MARC COOPER:

I just came back from the Burbank studios of Warner Bros. where I saw a screening of the new thriller, Syriana.

In a word: disappointing.

Syriana’s commercial tag-line might, indeed, be “Everything is Connected” but its 126 minutes made me feel like I was pitched into a roiling sea of free-radical dots with very little coherence at all. As I watched a particularly gruesome scene of George Clooney’s character getting his fingernails pulled out, I briefly considered if it might be worth my time to trade places with him.

Ouch!

WHO SHOULD CONTROL THE INTERNET? A discussion.

FOR SOME PEOPLE, it will always be 1971.

UPDATE: But not for everyone.

THE 9/11 COMMISSION WILL NEVER GO AWAY, APPARENTLY: Now they've issued a report card.

On the other hand, there's clearly room for improvement:

Connecticut homeland security officials were left in the dark for more than two hours Friday after a series of bomb threats forced the evacuation and shutdown of the state's 45 courthouses, authorities acknowledged Monday.

Neither police nor Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office _ which received one of the bomb threats at 10 a.m. _ had informed the security agency by noon, leaving top officials to learn about the first-of-its-kind evacuation from reporters.

Yes, this is a state issue -- but supposedly we created a new cabinet department to help bring states up to speed.

FRESH BAKED: Nidra Poller offers firsthand reporting from Paris, where unrest continues. This time it's the gypsies rioting. "Everybody and his brother can bring the city to a halt. Demonstrating is the last of the sacred rights."

SO I GUESS FOXNEWS DIDN'T JUST MAKE IT UP: Brian Flemming has declared war on Christmas.

I hate to disparage a fellow blogger, but I'm not sure Brian is a match for Foamy the Squirrel. Maybe they can do a point/counterpoint on O'Reilly. . . .

AT LEAST THEY'RE CONSISTENT: Antiwar protesters practice cut-and-run.

PUBLIUS has a live report from the Venezuelan elections. "Miguel Octavio and I went across the entire city of Caracas in search of a polling station full of people. Or half full. Or people at all!"

And Gateway Pundit has more.

SOME FURTHER THOUGHTS on happenings in Azerbaijan: "Unlike their neighbors, the Georgians (with whom I also worked with for a year) the Azeri opposition was never able to understand the basics of political message development and communication – namely, that you have to research the electorate and identify and communicate a message that will resonate with a specific portion of that electorate." Somebody should offer them some help.

EUGENE VOLOKH looks at neutrality and trust in the judicial system.

MORE ANNOYING SPYWARE installed on your computer. And here's a review of antispyware tools. (Both via Slashdot).

I think that companies that install spyware should be liable under RICO. Or we could just bring back tarring and feathering.

I'M HOME FROM HAVING A COLONOSCOPY -- everything went fine, but I think I'll let the drugs leave my system for a while longer before doing any serious blogging. In the meantime, you might want to check out Cato's new blog, Cato Unbound, and also this interesting post on India's increasing engagement with the Anglosphere. And if you're still bored, you can cast your votes for best blog in the Wizbang Weblog Awards.

UPDATE: Better now. A few people were offended that I even mentioned the word "colonoscopy," while others wondered why I didn't live-blog it a la Katie Couric. The latter is a bit much, and would have required me to forego the drugs; the former is just silly.

A colonoscopy isn't just a diagnostic test -- if they find polyps, they can remove them, making it virtually certain that you won't get colon cancer. If you skip that because of squeamishness, well, you're just an idiot. Luckily, I was clean and don't have to go back for five years. By then, they may have replaced them with swallowable cameras, with actual scoping only when there's something that needs fixing. At any rate, though, there aren't many simple safe procedures that can absolutely prevent cancer, and this is one. Don't forego it because you're squeamish.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm blaming the drugs for this error, which Dave Johnston emails me to correct:

Cato Unbound is not Cato's blog, which is forthcoming later this month. Unbound is a online magazine-type project by Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson. It will feature monthly issues and discussions, with work submitted by scholars in various areas depending on that month's topic. It is set up to look a bit like a blog (I've installed WordPress for Will and Brink to use as a content management system).

I point this out because there has been significant internal wrangling here at Cato to make sure that the two projects are not confused.

The blog will be very free-flowing with no set topics or discussions...like, well...a blog.

Certainly this one!

MORE: Oncologist reader David McCune emails:

Before you exit your Katie Couric mode, I was hoping you would do one last public service announcement. You reach a wide audience, and it wouldn’t hurt to get the word out as to the current screening guidelines for colorectal cancer.

Colon cancer screening with either colonoscopy (a flexible tube that allows a doctor to visual the entire colon) or flexible sigmoidoscopy (a shorter scope) is recommended for men and women beginning at age 50. If the person has a family history of either cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, then screening should start at 40 or 10 years younger than the earliest age at which cancer was diagnosed in the family, whichever is earlier. Although the two tests are considered equivalent, I personally recommend the colonoscopy. The sigmoidoscopy has too high of a chance of missing cancers that occur beyond the reach of the shorter scope. The colonoscopy does have its own drawbacks, though, including a higher risk of serious complications and the need for sedation. Here are the recommendations from the American Cancer Society, and here are the ones from the National Cancer Institute.

I’m an oncologist, so I end up seeing the people who eventually get advanced cancer. The percentage of people who have not had the recommended colon screening is much higher than the percentage who have neglected to have mammography (probably because of the “ick factor” of talking about the colon), even though the reduction in cancer death is even more impressive than that seen with mammogram screening for breast cancer. Thanks for getting the word out.

You'd feel pretty stupid, wouldn't you? And yes, I started early because of family history issues.

HERE'S MORE on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong yesterday.

GO BUY VIRGINIA POSTREL'S BOOK -- or she'll think you're unpopular! Actually, I think it's the other way around, which strikes me as poor salesmanship . . .

THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS IS UP!

PLAME TWO: The sequel! More subpoenas are on the way, no doubt.

JOHN HAWKINS HAS ANNOUNCED THE WINNERS of the 4th annual Warblogger Awards.

December 04, 2005

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Rich Galen traces the connection between pork and corruption. Plus a suggestion on what to do.

PorkBusters action has slowed down since Congress is out of session -- but if you'd like to call your Congressmember's local office and stress your opposition to pork spending, and your desire for cuts, there's nothing stopping you. Since most of them are home in their districts now, it might even get noticed more.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

I DON'T CARE MUCH ABOUT THE OSCARS, but Roger Simon does.

LOTS OF UPDATES TO THE HDTV POST, including a video camera endorsement from James Lileks.

BILL ROGGIO CONTINUES HIS REPORTING FROM IRAQ.

JOHN HAWKINS interviews Tammy Bruce.

UPDATE: Reader Frank Wilson forwards this review of Tammy Bruce's new book.

A FEW INTERESTING WAR-RELATED ITEMS: "Indonesians ask why Muslims turn to bombs." They're not the only ones asking.

"Assassination in Samarra Backfires." Austin Bay notes that sometimes terrorists experience blowback.

"Dems Determined to Ignore Progress in Iraq." Mark Steyn says that antiwar Democrats have their heads in the sand. (Meanwhile, the Columbia Journalism Review seems to have its head in the sand regarding Democrats who aren't antiwar.)

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein uncovers a new war plan.

CARNIVALESQUE is a carnival of medievalist blogging. (Via ClioPatria.)

UPDATE: The Carnival of the Cats is up, too.

DISAPPEARING MEN IN HIGHER EDUCATION:

The trend of females overtaking males in college was initially measured in 1978. Yet despite the well-documented disappearance of ever more young men from college campuses, we have yet to fully react to what has become a significant crisis. Largely, that is because of cultural perceptions about males and their societal role. Many times a week, a reporter or other media person will ask me: "Why should we care so much about boys when men still run everything?"

It's a fair and logical question, but what it really reflects is that our culture is still caught up in old industrial images.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: GirlintheLockerRoom says Gurian's numbers are wrong.

MOVEON STRIKES OUT: "ZERO calls, emails, or letters resulting from the ad."

BILL QUICK'S weekend cooking thread is up!

UPDATE: So is this week's Haveil Havalim.

HUGE PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS IN HONG KONG: Gateway Pundit, as usual, has a roundup, with photos.

Publius has more, too.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE FROM WIRED on efforts to reinvent the 911 emergency-call system to take advantage of more modern technologies. The conclusion seems right:

If national safety - the ability to respond to hurricanes, terrorist attacks, earthquakes - depends on the execution of explicit plans, on soldierly obedience, and on showy security drills, then a decentralized security scheme is useless. But if it depends on improvised reactions to unknown threats, that's a different story. A deeply textured, unmapped system is hard to bring down. A system that encourages improvisation is quick to recover. Ubiquitous networks of warning may constitute our own asymmetrical advantage, and, like the terrorist networks that occasionally carry out spectacular attacks, their power remains obscure until they're called into action.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The author of the Wired article, Gary Wolf, has more on this topic on his blog.

THE OFTEN-IRASCIBLE MATOKO KUSANAGI thinks I'm exaggerating the threat from avian flu. ("My friend that's a post-doc in biochemistry says probably we have 5 to 10 years before the virus can mutate for airborne human-to-human transmission, and that it may never happen.")

Well, I don't know. I don't want to be alarmist: I've repeatedly tried to make the point that avian flu may not amount to anything, but that preparations for pandemics in general are a good idea. (See, just for example, this post and this one. Oh, and especially this one.) And I've certainly never been as, um, dramatic as the scientific journal Nature, which published a fictional journalist's weblog reporting on the course of an avian flu epidemic.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that the assurances of a friendly post-doc in biochemistry are the end of the matter, either. The truth is, it's impossible to predict with certainty when or if avian flu will mutate to spread easily among humans. But it's clear that we're not prepared for that, or similar, threats. If we wait until it's clearly underway, it'll be too late. Pointing that out hardly seems alarmist to me.

UPDATE: Here, by the way, is the Wall Street Journal's avian flu newstracker. It's free to nonsubscribers, I think. (Since I subscribe, it's sometimes hard for me to tell.)

Meanwhile, here's a poll. What do you think?

How big a threat is Avian flu?
It's nothing but hype.
A distant threat, worth a little thought.
A serious, but not immediate threat.
2006 is the new 1918.
DOOMED, WE'RE ALL DOOMED!

(Go straight to the results by clicking here.)

MORE: Reader Eric Kuttner emails:

"If we wait until it's clearly underway, it'll be too late. Pointing that out hardly seems alarmist to me."

Uh oh! Now they're going to say you claimed the threat was imminent, just like Bush!

Heh. I think they already did. Meanwhile, William Aronstein emails: "Any appeal to authority should be rejected in a scientific discussion. But the appeal to 'my friend that's a post-doc in biochemistry' takes the cake." I thought so, too.

Aronstein has more to say, below the fold. Click "more" to read it.

Read More ?


I KEEP SEEING FOX NEWS doing its "War on Christmas" things. Why don't they just give John Gibson the month off and replace him with Foamy the Squirrel?

UPDATE: Uh, oh: "Vandals burn Swedish Christmas goat, again."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related post here.

MORE: Reader Aram Hagopian thinks I'm mocking Christianity. But while there's mocking going on here, that's not it. I find the whole thing kind of bemusing: Merchants who desperately want people to spend money because it's Christmas are afraid to say the word, while those who are complaining are basically demanding that we commercialize Christmas more openly. Sigh.

Ann Althouse, meanwhile, thinks that Christmas doesn't belong in commercials for judicial nominees.

Related stuff from Fox, with video, here.

PLAME UPDATE: Tom Maguire is all over the latest developments. And Mickey Kaus observes: "The upshot may be that, despite Joseph Wilson's dramatics, his wife's outing didn't really cause such national security damage--something a few scandal-poopers have claimed all along."

Gee, do you think?

UPDATE: A "flock of pouting spooks."

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