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May 06, 2006

HOMELAND SECURITY IS STILL A JOKE, and Jonathan Rauch writes on how the government let down its guard by passing on an innovative security approach:

Hiring people to stand guard full-time over all but the most sensitive sites would be prohibitively costly and cumbersome. Walker's solution was what he calls distributed surveillance. HomeGuard posts webcams on the peripheries of no-go zones around critical sites. Cameras, of course, are old hat. Here is the innovation: Regular people, not high-priced security professionals, monitor the sites over the Internet. If a camera detects motion, it transmits a picture to several "spotters," ordinary Web users who earn $10 an hour for simply looking at photos online and answering this question: "Do you see a person or vehicle in this image?" A yes answer triggers a security response.

The details are ingenious, and you can read about them in my 2003 column on HomeGuard. Suffice to say that, in principle, the system is cheap and almost infinitely scalable. In practice, however, the system needed field-testing before private industry could consider it. Having built a prototype, Walker Digital approached the government in the spring of 2003.

On the recommendation of Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., Walker and his staff met with a series of officials, first at the White House and then at DHS, where they spoke with people from then-Secretary Tom Ridge on down. They were not selling anything. "We were very clear we would give it to a contractor in a heartbeat," Walker says. "We were reluctant to build a field trial. It's not our thing. We're systems designers." Having designed the system, they were trying to give it away.

It didn't happen, though. Too bad, as it seems like a real Army of Davids approach.

VARIOUS PEOPLE ARE WONDERING why the New York Times felt compelled to stick up for Zarqawi.

I'LL BE ON MICK WILLIAMS' CYBER LINE radio show in a few minutes. You can listen live here.

S.K. BUBBA offers a sure-fire mint julep recipe. It's even better if you let the bourbon steep overnight in the mint, which is the secret to my friend Ralph Davis's famous mint juleps.

Yes, I know the Derby's already over. But mint julep season has just begun.

WELL, DUH: "Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre."

Plus, Robert Novak reports: "Republican National Chairman Kenneth Mehlman went to Capitol Hill last Tuesday to warn the party's House and Senate campaign staffers of dire consequences unless Republicans break the current legislative deadlock. Mehlman stressed the necessity to pass a budget resolution and an immigration reform bill, dealing with two issues that seriously concern the Republican base."

Hugh Hewitt, meanwhile, says that all is unfolding as he has foreseen.

UPDATE: Over at Ankle Biting Pundits (permalinks not working for some reason, but at the moment it's the top post), some skepticism about the poll's demography, with some support. And Professor Bainbridge has related thoughts.

IRANIAN NUKES, U.N. SANCTIONS, AND MORE: Austin Bay has a roundup of news and analysis.

THIS IS COOL:

In an attempt to “seek novel solutions for mission challenges from non-traditional sources,” according to a press release, NASA has announced yet another public competition, this time to create a lunar landing “analog.” With a $2.5 million prize purse at stake, this is the twelfth such event to be announced in the past year under the space agency’s Centennial Challenge program. This new challenge is co-sponsored by the X Prize foundation, and will be held in October at the X Prize Cup Expo.

According to X Prize, the competition will be divided into two "levels." Level one, with a $350,000 first place prize, a vehicle to take off, fly to150 feet (50 meters) altitude, and then to hover for 90 seconds before landing precisely on a landing pad 100 meters away. Level two, which stipulates a hover of 180 seconds and a landing on a rocky, simulated moon surface, comes with a $1.25 million first place prize.

This was announced at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles yesterday. Dale Amon has been blogging from that conference over at Samizdata -- just keep scrolling.

THE LAW OF THE BLOGGER, as expounded by Gerard van der Leun. (Via Frank Wilson).

GIULIANI IS GEARING UP FOR 2008: In the Ruffini & Hewitt straw polls, he's done best among InstaPundit readers, with Condi Rice a close second.

DARTBLOG WRITES ON SPEAKING TRUTH TO HECKLERS: "This exchange, as so many in the last three years have, underscores the necessity of making logic classes mandatory as early as elementary school."

UPDATE: Related questions from Gateway Pundit.

THE COMFY CHAIR REVOLUTION CONTINUES TO EXPAND:

What is this Workspace all about? Well, if you're one of those people who does most of your work as an independent, and works primarily from home, or at cafes, then Workspace is for you. Bill is renovating a big bright 4th floor space in Gastown (that picture to the right will click you through to a great set of photos by the talented Kris Krug) with a fabulous view of the North Shore. Members will pay monthly for access - half-day, full-day, or evenings. Click here to watch a lil' videoblog about the idea. There will be dedicated meeting rooms available for booking (no more having to meet with clients at cafes or at their office!), wifi (of course), a cafe (for in-house caffeination), and...tentatively... yoga. !!!

Can I call 'em, or what?

UPDATE: Yes, this revolution, too, requires sacrifice. And, of course, it's got its power struggles, too.

THE UN-SILENCED BILL HOBBS has a postmortem on the Maine blog libel case, and interviewed Lance Dutson, the blogger.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING LOOK at Lulu, Blurb, and the whole personal book-publishing phenomenon.

WHAT HATH KELLER WROUGHT:

San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who wrote a book about Barry Bonds's alleged steroid use, were subpoenaed yesterday to testify before a federal grand jury regarding court documents they used in their articles, the newspaper reported. The subpoenas called for the authors to turn over their copies of grand jury transcripts from the 2003 investigation of a steroid distribution ring based at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, according to the Chronicle. They also were asked to provide the identity of the person or persons who leaked the secret documents to them.

Reaping the whirlwind, to coin a phrase.

TIM WORSTALL is metablogging.

APPARENTLY, DAVE AT ISRAELLYCOOL isn't the only Australian in Israel.

ANOTHER PLAGIARISM SCANDAL:

Raytheon directors punished the chief executive, William H. Swanson, by taking away almost $1 million from his 2006 compensation yesterday because he failed to give credit for material that was in a management book he wrote. . . .

The similarities between many of the rules in Mr. Swanson's book and the 1944 text was uncovered by a San Diego engineer, Carl Durrenberger, who then posted his observations on a blog he maintains.

Reader Jeff Barr, who sends the story, also sends this link to the blog entry in question.

May 05, 2006

PLEASE SEND YOUR PRAYERS AND GOOD WISHES to Ramona Dixon, who's in that unenviable condition of hoping it's benign.

IT'S PLEDGE WEEK at Protein Wisdom.

ANOTHER ARGUMENT FOR CHEAP COFFEE MAKERS: "A plain Proctor Silex. We've used the same one at work for three years. We run at least five pots through it everyday. No one cleans it. Ever. And yet, it carries on making delicious coffee. It is the Cal Ripken Jr. of coffee makers."

I HAVEN'T PAID MUCH ATTENTION TO THE PATRICK KENNEDY STORY, but over at Daily Kos he's facing a call for him to resign. Though not from Kos. (Via Michelle Malkin, who has been paying a lot more attention than I have).

And I should have thought of the Cynthia McKinney angle.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hogan emails:

Porkbusters having an effect?

I forwarded the list of the senators who had voted three times against pork to my senators, Chambliss and Isaakson, and asked why their names weren't on the list. Just now I received a call from Rich in Senator Chambliss' office. Rich said the senator wanted me to know that he voted against the budget bill this morning. I'm registered as a Republican but have never been active in politics since my days in the Jaycees many years ago. The only thing I get from this is that the GOP is finally understanding that voters are upset. Go Porkbusters!

If you hear anything from your Senators or Representatives, let me know. Please put "porkbusters" in the subject line to help make sure I don't miss it.

UPDATE: Stephen Lalley has heard from Sen. Patty Murray. Click "read more" for the results.

Read More ?


DARFUR UPDATE: "The government of Sudan and the largest rebel faction fighting in the conflict in Darfur signed a pact today to end the carnage there." But don't pop the champagne just yet.

THE REAL HONOR IS BEING NOMINATED, but it's nice to be number one on the National Journal Blogometer poll of bloggers' favorite blogs. Thanks.

MAINE BLOG LIBEL SUIT UPDATE: "Moments ago, lawyers for the advertising agency suing MBA Member Lance Dutson filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal in U.S. District Court in Maine."

The Media Bloggers Association has sent out a statement:

The decision to withdraw the lawsuit comes on the heels of a withering media campaign orchestrated by the Media Bloggers Association on behalf of MBA Member Lance Dutson. Hundreds of bloggers responded to the MBA's call to arms and were joined by media outlets around the world in highlighting the heavy-handed tactics of the state contractor.

"As it should be, the story of 'Warren Kremer Paino and the Maine Blogger' is now a cautionary tale", said MBA President Robert Cox, "future potential plaintiffs would do well to consider WKP's experience in attempting to silence a blog critic through the Federal courts. Our message is simple: 'Don't Mess with the Bloggers'"

A big round of thanks is in order for the lawyers who volunteered their time on Lance's behalf including MBA General Counsel, Ronald Coleman of the Coleman Law Firm, Greg Herbert of Greenberg Traurig and private attorney Jon Stanley.

"This demonstrates precisely what we have said all along," said Coleman, "Suits like this are premised solely on the anticpation that there will be no push back from the little guy. Here, there was."

Yeah, it's like the little guys have been empowered, or something. Anyway, this is pretty much the dynamic I predicted in my article on blogs and libel for the Harvard blog conference last week.

UPDATE: Ed Cone has it right:

Let's be serious: There will be successful suits against bloggers who violate copyright laws, or commit libel, or do other bad things. Being a blogger doesn't give you magic protection powers.

And as Seth Finkelstein pointed out in a comment here not too long ago, no individual blogger out of the millions who publish can count on the MBA or a national blogstorm coming to their rescue in a given instance.

But the lesson is still clear: bully bloggers at your own risk. They have rights, and they are networked, and the big media pay attention to them.

Find a better way of dealing with them, and maybe a better way of doing business.

Yes, being a blogger doesn't immunize you against libel suits. But on the other hand, the bullying approach doesn't work very well.

MORE: I guess the coming legal superstorm against bloggers hasn't arrived yet. But don't get cocky, kids.

PORTER GOSS HAS RESIGNED as CIA head. He was always a transitional figure, there to clean up the Tenet mess, but I suspect there's more to it than that because I don't think that mess has been cleaned up. Regardless of the reasons for Goss's departure, I believe that Bush will continue to regret not doing a major housecleaning in late 2001/early 2002 (and not just at the CIA), when he had the political mojo to do it. More here.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall says it's all about the hookers. You'd think that someone with hooker issues wouldn't pass the security clearance -- but then, look at all the other people who've made it past the background checks.

UPDATE: At RedState they're speculating about a connection to the Florida Senate race. And others are at least raising the question. Hmm. Beats me.

Meanwhile a roundup of rumors and speculation here, with this observation:

Following so close to the McCarthy story makes this interesting. If it's corruption then this is huge, if he's being painted with Cunningham's tainted brush and being linked to prostitutes when in fact he has nothing to do with the Watergate-redux than I'd say the CIA cabal theory of things becomes less a tin foil hat scenario than we previously thought.

Hmm. Well, stay tuned.

MORE: Here's a roundup of reactions, leaning toward the "transitional" theory:

This isn't a "staff change", it has nothing to do with Rove. It was understood when he came in what he was coming in for. He did what he came to do.

He swept, now others will collect the dust.

Let's hope. Seems to me that there's more sweeping to do, but maybe the new broom will do it.

MORE STILL: "The leak-plugging bastard!"

STILL MORE: The Wall Street Journal reports:

The agency also has been drawn into a federal investigation of bribery that has sent former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham to prison. Just this past week, the CIA confirmed that its third-ranking official, a hand-picked appointee of Mr. Goss, had attended poker games at a hospitality suite set up by a defense contractor implicated in the bribing of former Rep. Cunningham. Friday, people with knowledge of the continuing Cunningham inquiry said the CIA official, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, is under federal criminal investigation in connection with awarding agency contracts.

Mr. Bush didn't immediately name a successor to Mr. Goss. Current and former intelligence officials speculated that one likely candidate would be Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland-security adviser.

When Mr. Goss took over the CIA in September 2004, officials said they hoped he would bring rigor to an agency that had suffered tremendous morale problems in the wake of intelligence failures before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the run-up to the Iraq war. But instead, problems at the agency seemed to multiply, as insiders criticized the rigid management style of the former CIA agent and Florida Republican congressman. Mr. Goss was thought to have hastened the brain drain at the agency by reassigning much of its upper echelon when taking over, installing a new crop of managers.

Current and former federal intelligence officials familiar with Mr. Goss's thinking say the former congressman had become disenchanted with his diminished role after Mr. Negroponte, a veteran national-security official, was appointed to run the new White House intelligence directorate, and had complained that he no longer felt he had the support he needed from the White House to turn the agency around.

Scandal, turf wars, or both? I'm betting both. If "insiders" were unhappy with Goss's style, that seems to me to be a good thing, but I'm wondering if the CIA isn't beyond repair. I also wonder if the Negroponte shop isn't intended to gradually replace the CIA, relegating it to back-office status over time.

Time, meanwhile, says that Goss's replacement will be Gen. Michael Hayden, and says that Goss's resignation was the result of a turf war between him and Negroponte. Plus, "one House Democrat promises 'a partisan food fight' during the confirmation process."

Nice to see some people handling national security matters with their customary degree of maturity.

COULD TECHNOLOGY AND ALT-MEDIA make a third-party candidacy in 2008 more successful than past efforts? Some thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

JOE KATZMAN has a big future-of-Europe roundup.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: "When Iran's mullahs acquire their coveted nukes in the next few years, the number of Jews in Israel will just be reaching 6 million. Never again?"

Given the Iranians' words and actions, I think that Israel is legally and morally justified in launching whatever sort of preemptive strike it chooses.

TENNESSEE SENATE RACE UPDATE: Out running errands just now, I heard a radio commercial for Bob Corker, who's one of the three running for the Republican nomination for Bill Frist's seat. The commercial called him a "conservative Republican," stressed his "pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-traditional marriage" views and used the word "conservative" more times than I could count. Harold Ford is (now) the only Democratic candidate. I was going to blog about the commercial, but when I got home I also got an email from the Ford Campaign that provides some background. Excerpt:

From Charlie Cook in today’s National Journal:

Tennessee

Strange as it might seem, Democrats have a shot at an open Senate seat in the South. Their Tennessee nominee, Rep. Harold Ford, may be their strongest recruit of the cycle in terms of raw talent, political skills, and fundraising ability. Ford, though, will have to wait until August and the outcome of a three-way Republican primary before he will know what kind of general election contest he'll have.

Former Rep. Van Hilleary, the GOP's 2002 gubernatorial nominee; former Rep. Ed Bryant, a 2002 Senate candidate; and former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker are competing for the GOP nod. Hilleary and Bryant are vying for the conservative vote while attacking Corker as a tax-raising, abortion-flip-flopping, Democratic-primary-voting, disaster-of-a-mayor moderate.

Corker, on the other hand, argues that he has always opposed abortion rights and that he raised taxes and cut the size of the city's government to erase a budget deficit and put Chattanooga on the road to financial stability. He acknowledges voting in two Democratic primaries. More important, Corker has vastly outraised each of his Republican rivals and, according to the latest FEC reports, had more than $4.2 million in the bank compared with less than $1.2 million for Hilleary and under $1.1 million for Bryant. Corker is the least well-known candidate, but his war chest can go a long way toward fixing that problem. He recently launched a six-week, $1.6 million advertising campaign.

The bottom line is that Hilleary and Bryant are likely to split the conservative vote, creating an opening for Corker to win the nomination.

While Ford is a strong candidate, he is not without obstacles. The first is that since Reconstruction the South has never elected a black candidate to the Senate. The second is that his politically connected family constantly attracts negative attention. An uncle who had to resign his state Senate seat after being indicted on extortion charges is set to stand trial in October. That certainly won't help Ford's chances.

Admirable of them to mention the family problems -- the Fords are a sort of black Kennedy family for Tennessee. You can hear our podcast interview with Harold Ford, Jr. here.

CLAUDIA ROSETT: "Even the United Nations’ own employees don’t trust it to deliver justice. Just ask Cynthia Brzak, an American who has worked for the past 26 years at the U.N. refugee office in Geneva, Switzerland. Despairing of a U.N. system that operates immune to any normal jurisdiction of law, Brzak, who two years ago brought an in-house allegation of sexual harassment, is now going outside the institution to ask for a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court."

THAT MAINE BLOGGER LAWSUIT doesn't seem to be working out very well: "A Maine legislator, Stephen Bowen, has written to the state tourism office to request the suspension of Warren Kremer Paino Advertising's contract with the state." I can't say I'm surprised.

UPDATE: Ron Coleman proves that great minds think alike. Or something.

IRAN UPDATE: When going to Brussels is a crime.

RUSSIAN SPAMMERS behind the shutdown of TypePad and LiveJournal?

MORE ON COFFEEMAKERS: My earlier coffeemaker post generated so much email that it's taken me this long to digest it.

The bottom line is that there's a huge market opportunity here for someone, as lots of people are unhappy with their coffeemakers. The major problems are the ones I described: Flimsy construction even in the expensive ones, carafes that dribble -- what's with that, anyway? -- poor temperature control, and various annoying "features" that get in the way of the basic task.

Various people even suggested that I go with a classic percolator (they do seem to be making a comeback) or a French Press, or an old fashioned Melitta pour-through. But I really like the convenience of setting up the machine the night before and waking to fresh coffee.

Several readers liked this Capresso, though it's a bit pricey. Reader Ed Hack writes: "Yep, it's expensive. However, my wife and mom say it makes great coffee. The latte attachment is a bonus and the carafe keeps it hot for quite a while. (I don't drink coffee, but usually do the setup each night.)" You're a good husband, Ed.

Reader G.L. Carlson recommends the DeLonghi Nabucco: "Try a DeLonghi Nabucco - it has controls for brew strength and time. When set up correctly (strong, double brew time), it makes a most puissant potion. The pot does dribble if you get the pour cap on off center, or if you pour too fast. Dribble pots are ubiquitous these days."

Why is that? Isn't getting the spout design right a matter of high-school physics?

A reader who works at Starbucks, meanwhile, recommends this machine, which they sell. It's certainly handsome!

Going far downmarket in terms of price, a lot of people liked this cheap Black & Decker. The best coffeemaker I ever had was a Black & Decker. I liked it so much that I replaced it with one of their undercabinet models -- which promptly leaked so much steam that the cabinet it was bolted under swelled up and looked terrible, requiring me to do unpleasant things with clamps and Elmer's Glue to make it look OK again That kind of soured me on the brand, but maybe unfairly.

Ted Gideon, another Black & Decker fan, has this on going cheap and why he likes his low-end model:

All it does is make coffee, keep it hot, and stand up to the neglect I visit on it (in terms of preventive maintenance) year after year.

My experience with the German brands (Krupps, Braun, etc.) is that, without exception, small appliances from der vaterland are overpriced and underwhelming. . . . On the other hand, if you buy cheap and the product doesn't meet your needs, you are not out that much and can try another budget special or two and still pay less than for the trendy yupster machine.

That's true, though for some reason I hate to have to replace a coffeemaker, when I'd spend a similar amount to replace some other appliance without a second thought. I'm not sure why.

Several readers are big Mr. Coffee loyalists, and a few point out that they're not ugly anymore (this one is certainly attractive). Attractiveness isn't everything, of course, but you'd rather something that sits on your kitchen counter look nice, or at least not bad.

And reader David Ward says I should give the Cuisinart I mentioned earlier another chance: "I'm a coffee machine buying nut and the Cuisinart, which I bought 6 months ago, is excellent. It beeps about 4 times when its done which doesnt seem to me to be as big a drawback as it is to you. I've gone through 3 or 4 coffeemakers that didnt beep but did make crummy coffee so my advice is to deal with the couple of beeps. Its not like a freakin car alarm is going off in your kitchen. Plus if you program it, the coffee making and beeping will be done just as you finish putting on your shoes and heading downstairs."

Hmm. I'm going to research this further and report on my results. Stay tuned.

(Hey, it's no worse than ketchup-blogging!)

UPDATE: And the mail just keeps coming. James Lileks emails:

Perhaps you want the Cuisinart DCC-2000:

It solves the dribble-glass carafe problem - by eliminating the carafe. Voila!

I’ve had one for almost a year, after going through three machines in 12 months (including that stylish Mr. Coffee, which lost its will to live after six months.) The DCC-2k makes two fine pots per day, and I am satisfied. I also expect it to break within the year, but that has less to do with the Cuisinart brand than the general end of the era of immortal appliances.

Yes, appliances did used to be pretty much immortal, but not now.

GATEWAY PUNDIT LOOKS INTO THE BACKGROUND of a Rumsfeld heckler. This reminds me of Matt Welch's old project of googling antiwar people to discover how many (quite a few) had been apologists for Slobodan Milosevic's genocidal efforts. Why don't the Big Media do this kind of thing?

MY MENTION OF THE SHANGRI-LA DIET produced a wave of email from people saying they'd lost a lot of weight on it, painlessly.

I'm . . . well, not exactly skeptical, but unpersuaded. That's because whenever I mention any diet I get email like that. People say that diets don't work, but that's a half-truth: in fact, pretty much every diet works, if you stick to it. It's the sticking to it that's hard.

I follow the "eat less, exercise more" diet, and that works pretty well, as long as I stick to it. I've been reading the book, though, and it looks fairly sensible. For me, exercise is key: Not only is it good in itself, but I tend to eat better when I'm exercising regularly.

BECAUSE THERE'S A BELIEVER BORN EVERY MINUTE? Lee Harris wonders why socialism hasn't died.

BRING IT ON: A look at the upgradable you.

THE MICKEY KAUS / ROBERT WRIGHT BLOGGINGHEADS.TV VENTURE gets a nice writeup in the New York Times.

J.D. JOHANNES offers video of an IED attack.

May 04, 2006

LAPDOGS? STEPHEN SPRUIELL fact-checks Eric Boehlert.

SHOULDN'T THE KENNEDYS JUST HIRE DRIVERS? I mean, they can afford it.

UPDATE: TigerHawk answers my question.

BACKLASH UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has a roundup of polls on immigration, and the protests seem to have produced less support for amnesty, rather than more.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Dennis Hastert says the Senate spending bill is dead on arrival:

As it's currently drafted, the Senate's $109 billion emergency spending bill is dead on arrival in the House. President Bush requested $92 billion for the War on Terror and some hurricane spending. The House used fiscal restraint, but now the Senate wants to come to the table with a tab that's $17 billion over budget. The House has no intention of joining in a spending spree at the expense of American taxpayers.

Good. Bill Frist doesn't like it much, either, though only a few of his colleagues joined him in voting against it.

A SHORTAGE OF ANTIBIOTICS:

The CDC is conducting a campaign to prevent antibiotic resistance in healthcare centers that consists of four main strategies: prevent infection, diagnose and treat infection, use antimicrobials wisely, and prevent transmission. However, federal officials have paid little attention to the flip side of the problem: the shortage of new antibiotics. Twenty years ago, approximately a half-dozen new antibiotics would appear on the market each year; now it's at most one or two. For decades we've relied largely on new variations on old tricks to combat rapidly evolving pathogens: Most antibiotics in use today are chemically related to earlier ones discovered between 1941 and 1968. During the last 37 years, only two antibiotics with truly novel modes of action have been introduced -- Zyvox in 2000 and Cubicin in 2003, the latter of which is used only against skin infections.

Market forces and regulatory costs have exacerbated the antibiotics drought. Until about a decade ago, all the major pharmaceutical makers had antibacterial research programs, but they have dramatically trimmed or eliminated these efforts, focusing instead on more lucrative drugs that treat chronic ailments and other issues. Think Lipitor and Levitra, for example. Whereas antibiotics cure a patient in days, and may not be required again for years, someone with high cholesterol or erectile dysfunction might pop expensive pills every day for decades. Moreover, drug development has become hugely expensive, with the direct and indirect costs to bring a drug to market now averaging more than $800 million.

Read the whole thing.

POLITICAL DISCOURSE: In the gutter?

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Mark Tapscott observes:

In other words, the conferees appointed by the Senate's Republican and Democrat leadership to negotiate with the House voted in favor of earmarks twice as often as they did against earmarks. Of the 28 conferees, 13 voted for earmarks every chance they had. The only conferee who voted against earmarks at every opportunity was Kohl.

Of the 23 votes cast by conferees against earmarks, 11 were by GOP senators, the other dozen by Democrats. That apparent balance is a bit deceiving, however, as there were 8 GOP senators who voted against earmarks every time, compared to five among the Democrats.

I'd like to see a lot of incumbents voted out.

I'M SUPPOSED TO BE ON NBC NIGHTLY NEWS in a little while, talking about blogs and the media.

UPDATE: Well, I watched it, and I don't want to be rude to the NBC people, who were quite pleasant. But jeez, that was a 2002 story. If you hadn't heard of blogs before, I guess it was news. Otherwise, not so much. But I guess there's not a lot you can do within the confines of a roughly 2 minute news story.

Ian Schwartz has the video, if you'd like to watch.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rick Lee emails:

Well... these stories are still needed. It seems that most of the people I come in contact with either have no idea what a blog is or they are only vaguely aware but don't read them. The word itself is very off-putting to most people. I can't tell you how many times I've talked about blogs with somebody who struggles to get the word out and then giggles after saying it... as though they had just said "poop" or something. Blogs are still far, far from mainstream in this country.

Good point.

THOUGHTS ON COLBERT AND COMEDY, over at GlennReynolds.com.

TIM WORSTALL: "Something stunningly sensible has just occurred in the field of climate change research." I like his title.

A ZARQAWI BLOOPER REEL: This'll wow 'em at the fan conventions.

UH OH: Will the election be decided by Lou Dobbs voters?

UNO DE MAYO is a new film by Stuart Browning on the less-savory participants in Monday's marches. You can see it online here.

Boy, those marches sure have launched a lot of web videos.

OVER AT HOT AIR, a video interview with Ramesh Ponnuru. I'm not on board with his whole Party of Death approach, though I share his disregard for bioethicists. The Hot Air video interview setup is really well done, too, and offers a look into the future of web video.

UPDATE: Or maybe this is the future. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails on the "Party of Death:"

Isn't that the one with Leon Kass in it?

You'd think.

THIS WEEK'S BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW PODCAST is up, over at Pajamas Media. I'm on, and so are Austin Bay, Eric Umansky, and Tammy Bruce.

SPACE IS HOT AGAIN: Dale Amon is blogging from the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles and reports: "Before we open the gate we have over 1100 persons expected. With walk-ins tomorrow we will very possibly pass 1200 or even more." I'm pretty sure that's a record.

MARK TAPSCOTT:

It's been an historic week in the U.S. Senate as Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, used an obscure parliamentary move dubbed the "clay pigeon" amendment to force votes on nearly two dozen earmarks slipped into the emergency appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery.

There have been some victories and more defeats, but Coburn has succeeded in putting before the American people as no politician has before him in the modern era the magnitude and fundamental dishonesty inherent in so much of federal spending.

By standing up by himself in the beginning and then persevering through the insults, counter-attacks and tirades of the old bulls of the Senate, Coburn has given the country a vivid demonstration of genuine political courage. One result has been that many more Members of the Senate have begun to vote with him instead of against him.

But there is another aspect of Coburn's demonstration that bears comment and that is how he has also provided a demonstration of the tremendously salutary effects of term limits.

I think we should term-limit some folks this November, but he's right. The argument against going ahead on term limits was that electing Republicans would fix things. It didn't.

IN THE MAIL: Seth Roberts' The Shangri-La Diet. It's billed as the "The No Hunger Eat Anything Weight-loss Plan." And I thought that required tapeworms!

Interesting Freakonomics endorsement.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Over at the Porkbusters site, there's a report card of how Senators are voting:

Listed below are Senators, grouped by how many times they voted to support one the three Coburn anti-pork amendments that have come to a vote: the CSX Railroad relocation in Mississippi (Coburn lost 47-50); the "seafood promotion strategies package" (Coburn won 51-44), and the Northrup Grumman bailout (Coburn lost 48-51).

More details to come as we continue to monitor the Senate's progress...

You may want to let your Senators know how you feel about these and related votes.

MORE VIDEO FROM THE MAY DAY PROTESTS, by Andrew Marcus and Evan Coyne Maloney.

HOWARD KURTZ: "But seriously, folks, has Congress become something of a joke?"

TENNESSEE'S BUDGET SURPLUS is "surging." The un-silenced Bill Hobbs has more on the ensuing scramble to spend more money. I think across-the-board salary increases for law professors at Tennessee law schools make sense! Big ones!

Will this bolster Phil Bredesen's presidential prospects? Er, probably not, if he goes with the law-professor-salary thing.

ANOTHER BLOGGER UNDER FIRE: As I've noted before, attacking bloggers is generally a dumb move, PR-wise. "Martinsville, Virginia: Our sense of humor stops where your free speech begins!" seems like a bad slogan to me, but it also seems like what the town fathers are aiming for.

RAISE CAFE STANDARDS? A negative take at The Truth About Cars.

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM at Iowahawk.

MARY KATHARINE HAM wrote the other day that Trent Lott hasn't recognized yet that he has a problem. I'm not sure that kleptomania is quite the right word, though.

PEGGY NOONAN thinks that Moussaoui should have gotten death:

Excuse me, I'm sorry, and I beg your pardon, but the jury's decision on Moussaoui gives me a very bad feeling. What we witnessed here was not the higher compassion but a dizzy failure of nerve.

From the moment the decision was announced yesterday, everyone, all the parties involved--the cable jockeys, the legal analysts, the politicians, the victim representatives--showed an elaborate and jarring politesse. "We thank the jury." "I accept the verdict of course." "We can't question their hard work." "I know they did their best." "We thank the media for their hard work in covering this trial." "I don't want to second-guess the jury."

How removed from our base passions we've become. Or hope to seem.

Read the whole thing. I confess that I'm more interested in seeing the deaths of people who are still in a position to harm us, but she nonethless makes a good point. Paul Mirengoff's lawyerly take is here.

May 03, 2006

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS WAS ON HUGH HEWITT tonight, talking about his back-and-forth with Juan Cole. Transcript and audio are here.

AS I'VE NOTED BEFORE, though it's more obvious among Republicans there are splits on immigration in both parties. Here's a Democratic argument against illegal immigration.

AMBER TAYLOR: "It just seems odd to say that we can burn flags in public (something many people find so offensive that it provokes violence) but we can’t have sex in the bushes at the park because someone might get the vapors."

Plus a followup, here.

WAGNER JAMES AU EMAILS on "the ever-declining returns on anti-Bush hysteria:"

2004: "Darn you mainstream media, you're ignoring a US ambassador whose visit to Niger exposed Bush!"

2005: "Darn you mainstream media, you're ignoring a UK official whose memo to 10 Downing exposed Bush!"

2006: "Darn you mainstream media, you're ignoring a comedian whose performance at a press roast exposed Bush!"

Heh. I guess next year will be about muppets.

DEATH RAY!! AAAHHHH!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! Or not.

USING LAPTOPS TO STEAL CARS: "The expert gang suspected of stealing two of David Beckham’s BMW X5 SUVs in the last six months did so by using software programs on a laptop to wirelessly break into the car’s computer, open the doors, and start the engine."

NO DEATH PENALTY for Moussaoui.

WELL, I DRIVE A HYBRID, but I don't think I'm part of the group he's talking about . . . . But I think their silence does them credit, really.

ED DRISCOLL INTERVIEWS ALVIN TOFFLER in this TCS Daily podcast.

THE BELMONT CLUB looks at Barry McCaffrey's report on Iraq.

UPDATE: More on McCaffrey here.

FIGHTING KEYBOARDISTS get a CentCom endorsement. Heh.

Meanwhile, here's a podcast interview with blogger Bill Roggio, who's on his way to an embed in Afghanistan. Roggio is interviewed by Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club.

UPDATE: Judging by this Michael Yon report from Afghanistan, Bill will have a lot to report on, much of it bad.

KC JOHNSON OFFERS ADVICE FOR THE DUKE FACULTY:

Indeed, far from needing a more “progressive” campus culture, the lacrosse scandal suggests that a considerable portion of the Duke faculty and student body need to reread the Constitution and consider the accused — regardless of their group identity — innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, if, as Duke officials have claimed, Brodhead seriously desires to use this event as a “learning opportunity,” he needs to explore why voices among the faculty urging local authorities to respect the due process rights of Duke’s students seemed so overpowered by professors exhibiting a rush to judgment.

Indeed.

DR. TONY REPORTS on a day without immigrants that wasn't.

AN IMMIGRATION BACKLASH?

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER? Ray Nagin has finally come up with a hurricane evacuation plan for New Orleans.

IN THE MAIL: Shelby Steele's new book, White Guilt : How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. Helen's got it, so I don't have any impressions, but you can read a column from Steele that summarizes some of his points.

MAX BOOT:

Of the top 14 oil exporters, only one is a well-established liberal democracy — Norway. Two others have recently made a transition to democracy — Mexico and Nigeria. Iraq is trying to follow in their footsteps. That's it. Every other major oil exporter is a dictatorship — and the run-up in oil prices has been a tremendous boon to them.

My associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ian Cornwall, calculates that if oil averages $71 a barrel this year, 10 autocracies stand to make about $500 billion more than in 2003, when oil was at $27. This windfall helps to squelch liberal forces and entrench noxious dictators in such oil producers as Russia (which stands to make $115 billion more this year than in 2003) and Venezuela ($36 billion). Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez can buy off their publics with generous subsidies and ignore Western pressure while sabotaging democratic developments from Central America to Central Asia.

The "dictatorship dividend" also subsidizes Sudan's ethnic cleansing (it stands to earn $4.7 billion more this year than in 2003), Iran's development of nuclear weapons ($45 billion) and Saudi Arabia's proselytization for Wahhabi fundamentalism ($149 billion). Even in such close American allies as Kuwait ($35 billion) and the United Arab Emirates ($36 billion), odds are that some of the extra lucre will find its way into the pockets of terrorists.

Of course, if we seized the Saudi and Iranian oil fields and ran the pumps full speed, oil prices would plummet, dictators would be broke, and poor nations would benefit from cheap energy. But we'd be called imperialist oppressors, then.

UPDATE: Various people (with various degrees of enthusiasm) see the above as a call for invasion. It was, rather, a comment on the vacuity of the "imperialist oppressors" language. Though I was probably wrong there anyway: If we really were imperialist oppressors, the critics would be sucking up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ah, I see that Scott Adams has engaged in a similar thought experiment. His closing line rings true.

But just to troll a bit more, I do think that seizing Saudi and Iranian oil would be entirely morally justifiable on terms usually approved of by the left: They didn't earn it, they inherited it (it's like the Estate Tax writ large!). They're extracting huge profits for fatcats at the expense of the poor. They're racist, sexist, homophobic theocrats! (Literally!) Surely if it's ever permissible to redistibute wealth by force, this is the case. Right?

Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias offers a practical objection: That there isn't enough surplus capacity in Saudi Arabia and Iran to make a difference. That's possible, but hardly undercuts the point. He also quotes Tim Lambert, who invokes Iraq -- but Lambert assumes, wrongly as usual, that Iraq was a war for oil. Had we wanted oil, we could have simply ended sanctions against Saddam, who after years of being limited to what he could launder through corrupt UN bureaucrats would have pumped plenty without us having to invade.

But practicalities aside, the point is -- why isn't war for oil not only morally permissible, but morally required, if the forcible redistibution of wealth in other ways (including "windfall profit" taxes -- or Evo Morales' seizure of natural gas wells in Bolivia) is OK?

MORE: Reader Tom O'Brien writes on practicalities:

Running the Saudi fields wide open would not do much for price. They are now being run at close to their maximum sustainable capacity. Running beyond that level for any length of time damages the reserve and curtails production. Can't fight Mother Nature regarding the reserve.

The Saudis don't really like these prices, although they surely enjoy them. They know as well as we do how markets respond to high prices, and the last thing they want is more exploration drilling in other parts of the world, more hybrid cars, more methanol plants, and the great horror of a plug-in hybrid that can run 40 miles on battery alone.

Well, that's about practicalities -- and based on practicality, the Estate Tax is a bust, too! (And the "windfall profits" tax, and, undoubtedly, Morales' nationalization.)

I'm all for the plug-in hybrids, though. As I noted in our podcast yesterday, I could do my commute plus errands without ever firing up the gas engine. Bring it on!

But while you do, ponder the fact that an arrangement that subsidizes fatcat dictators is sanctioned -- and even defended -- by people on the left, while even the idea of doing anything about it is condemned. That's not about practicalities, but philosophies.

And yes, the various lefty bloggers linking to this post and misrepresenting it are both dim and dishonest -- but that's hardly news, is it?

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: As Capt. Ed notes, it was a bad day for PorkBusters yesterday:

The projects that got past Senate pork hawks like Tom Coburn were a $200 million bailout of Northrup Grumman for indemnifyng the defense contractor against losses that its insurers refuse to cover. Coburn faced stiff opposition from Trent Lott, the man who apparently wants to make a career out of defying voters on earmarks, and Thad Cochran. Both Republicans insisted that the government needed to replace the loss, even though Northrup made a 7.1% operating margin in 2005, up from 6.7% in 2004 and 5.6% in 2003. That represent $2.4 billion in profit, an increase from $2.3B in 2004 and $1.9B in 2003.

Why does a corporation that made $2.4 billion in profit need another $200 million from American taxpayers to cover a loss they've absorbed in that same year?

Rather than focus resources on the truly needy and on real emergencies, Lott and Cochran have manipulated the relief bill to stick money into Northrup's pockets. Perhaps folks from Lott's home state of Mississippi should ask themselves why Lott seems more concerned about the travails of a corporation that had its best year ever than those who had their entire lives wiped out by Katrina. No wonder Lott proclaimed himself "damned tired" of constituents who question his pork-barrel activities -- who'd want to keep explaining this? . . .

Congress has a rather narrow view of profit in a free-market society. When ExxonMobil makes 10.7% profit, they decry the "windfall profit" of a corporation. When Northrup Grumman makes 7.1%, they qualify for a bailout.

It's as if there's nothing going on but graft and shakedowns.

MICKEY KAUS:

Last week, the Bush administration's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency arrested a few hundred illegal immigrants, a move widely dismissed (here and elsewhere) as a for-show bust. But this minor blip in enforcement apparently frightened thousands of illegals into staying home from work, at which point the ICE felt moved to announce that nobody should worry because they didn't really intend to enforce the law after all.

Jeez. But read the whole thing for some interesting points going beyond this comic incident.

CATHY YOUNG: "Many feminists seem to think that in sexual assault cases the presumption of innocence should not apply."

WHY TRYING TO SILENCE BLOGGERS BACKFIRES: My TCS Daily column is up.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Porkbusters gets a mention in this Time magazine profile of Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork efforts:

While they may not endorse his views on social issues, Coburn's allies on his efforts to cut spending are perhaps the two most popular men in the Senate: Illinois Democrat Barack Obama and Arizona Republican John McCain. Before Coburn arrived in 2005, McCain was the chamber's most vocal basher of wasteful spending, but he has eagerly ceded that to Coburn, while working with the Oklahoma Senator to strategize on how to cut earmarks from this month's war spending bill. Obama, much to the left of Coburn, is an unlikely friend, but the Senate's most famous freshman said his and Coburn's wives became fast friends during the orientation for new senators and their families, and Obama has vocally supported Coburn's spending efforts. "He's fearless in his approach," says Obama. Coburn has also found support from groups like Citizens Against Government Waste and the American Conservative Union, as well as a blog called porkbusters, to which his office is often feeding information about egregious earmarks, in the hopes of stirring opposition in conservative blogs that could embarrass his colleagues into limiting their earmarks.

Sadly, many of his colleagues seem immune to embarrassment, which is why the GOP is in big trouble.

HEH: "Insulting the Prophet is one thing, but insulting Stephen Colbert, the patron saint of the piously correct left! That's really blasphemy."

May 02, 2006

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: "In some ways, the continuing row over his call for the complete destruction of Israel must baffle Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

OUCH: "The Bush Administration is the definition of openness compared to the New York Times."

Another ouch: "Trent Lott has not yet recognized that he has a problem."

The Glenn and Helen Show: Alternative Fuels and Alternative Media

pmcovbiofuels.jpg
We talk to Jim Meigs of Popular Mechanics about alternative fuels, and Henry Copeland of Blogads.com about the new Blogads reader survey and the future of the blogosphere.

Popular Mechanics has just published an extensive look at alternative fuels like ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen (you can see the article here), and we had Editor-in-Chief Jim Meigs on to talk about what they found, and what the prospects are for getting away from gasoline -- and for the political system's getting rational about energy and fuel.

We also talk with Henry Copeland of Blogads.com about the future of the blogosphere. Blogads has just released the results of their survey on blog readers, and Henry talks about the results, the blog-advertising business, whether the blogosphere is too commercialized, and what's likely to come next. Ads on podcasts? Who knows?blogadlogo.gif

You can listen directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking right here, or you can get it via iTunes. There's an archive of previous podcasts here, and you can get a low-fi version suitable for dialup here.

Music -- appropriate for both biofuels and blog advertising -- is Audra and the Antidote's "Sugar Daddy," available for download here.

As always, my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments and suggestions.

TYPEPAD IS DOWN: No word on how long it'll be before things are fixed.

UPDATE: Anil Dash emails: "TypePad appears to be down because I think connectivity to the hosting facility has been knocked out for us as well as everybody else in the facility. I'm just finding out more now, but that's why even the status site is offline, as well as a bunch of other companies' websites. We'll be updating the status.sixapart.com blog ASAP with more info." I notice a number of sites seem to be hard to reach at the moment.

A reader reports that LiveJournal is down, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Back up now, but I got this email from Anil overnight: "Thanks for taking the time to update, really appreciated after a long, shitty day. Looks like it's a coordinated denial-of-service attack, but on word if it's related to the DOS attacks on high profile bloggers last week. Our ops guys aren't going to be sleeping tonight, but after they've had time to breathe, I'll update you if we find out who the attackers are."

Hmm. There's certainly a lot of that going around.

IF YOU READ THE JURIST WEBLOG they'd like you to vote for them for a Webby.

MORE ON FRANCE'S CLEARSTREAM SCANDAL, from Fausta.

THE UN-SILENCED BILL HOBBS blogs about a spending cap amendment sponsored by Tennessee Republican state Senator (and candidate for Governor) Jim Bryson. I think a lot of people are going to wish he were still busy working at Belmont University . . . .

ED CONE: "I'm guessing former Clinton mouthpiece Mike McCurry meant to sound tough and bloggy with this post about net neutrality. It really didn't work. He sounds like an angry insider who can't believe a bunch of nobodies dared to challenge him."

"WHY ZARQAWI IS ALL ALONE:" Plus, why Al Qaeda is retreating from Iraq.

Heck, according to this report, even Zarqawi is hiding out in Syria.

TODD GITLIN WRITES ON the self-inflicted wounds of the academic left, in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

CATO@LIBERTY is a new blog from the Cato Institute.

A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES from bloggers on the left and right, about individuals and privacy.

PAJAMAS MEDIA offers a video report from yesterday's immigration protests in Los Angeles, featuring lots of interesting interviews.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles reader Matthew Holzman emails: "I hope they have more protests. The freeways were flowing smoothly at 5:00pm, and we probably saved as much in gasoline as the cost of the lost man hours!"

If a day without an immigrant means a day without traffic, Angelenos will build a fence on their own.

UPDATE: I'm guessing that the protesters know who not to cross.

IN THE MAIL: Eric Boehlert's new book, Lapdogs : How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. I have to say that I find the thesis that Bush has benefited from a friendly press rather difficult to swallow -- it looks to me more as if the press is continuing to exact Evan Thomas's fifteen percent. And what's up with the reader reviews?

UPDATE: Now the reviews are gone.

THE D.C. EXAMINER: "Arrogant politicians like McCain show why Congress desperately needs term limits."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More developments:

The playground bully in the Senate _ the Appropriations Committee _ actually took a loss last week at the hands of senators determined to strip so-called pork barrel projects from a bill that's supposed to be devoted to the war in Iraq and hurricane relief.

And the House this week will vote on requiring members to attach their names to "earmarks" _ those hometown projects slipped into spending bills. The idea is that the sunshine of public scrutiny will mean fewer wasteful, silly sounding projects like $500,000 for a teapot museum in Sparta, N.C.

Lawmakers say voters are getting sick of all this pork; there's even a recent poll that says reforming earmarks is the most important issue facing Congress. Could it be that politicians are losing their appetite for the other white meat?

Definitely not, alas. And Trent Lott is dissing Bush and bragging about how "wily" he is:

Not only is Lott not worried that Bush might for the first time in his presidency veto a spending bill, Lott thinks quite highly of himself and Sen. Thad Cochran, Lott's colleague who happens to be Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"Senator Cochran and I are wily guys," Lott boasted to the newspaper.

He was referring to the emergency spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery that Lott and Cochran stuffed with a $700 million earmark to move the "Railroad to Nowhere" in order to clear the way for gambling interests and other developers to construct new facilities along the Mississippi coast.

Lott and other senators pumped the bill to more than $106 billion with earmarks added to the emergency bill that originally included $92 billion. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, failed by one vote last week to secure passage of an amendment that would have stripped the $700 million out of the bill.

Who was the one vote? Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, who earlier in the day had told Bush he and others had rounded up enough senators to sustain a presidential veto.

Call me crazy, but it seems like these guys aren't just killing their party, but actually bragging about it. That doesn't seem very "wily" to me.

UPDATE: Reader Eric Alexander writes:

I think - really - that he would be just ecstatic if the Republicans lost control of the House and the Senate. I suspect he's been waiting a long time to get back at the President and the party for stripping him of his leadership status over his tin-eared Thurmond remarks a few years back, and he sees his chance to stick it to them. And I think he's especially thrilled he can do so while doing what comes naturally to him - pushing pork for his Mississippi good-old-boy cronies.

Well, that's just another reason to think he deserved to lose his leadership position, isn't it?

BOB HERBERT: Automatic for the people.

May 01, 2006

LOS ANGELES PROTEST CROWDS: Not as big as predicted:

Pro-illegal immigrant protests that organizers and Spanish-language radio stations hoped would attract a crippling percentage of Southern California’s several million Latinos have been large and loud but not record-breaking — and were closer in size to throngs that celebrated the Lakers three-peat in 2002. By 4:30 pm, KABC TalkRadio’s reporters in the field were noting that crowds had dwindled to 60,000.

Well, a three-peat is a pretty big deal.

UPDATE: More reporting and photos here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: People are talking about backlash, and how these rallies are counterproductive. That's probably right, but I think that's what the A.N.S.W.E.R. folks are hoping for. Right now you have lots of immigrants who want to be part of America. The A.N.S.W.E.R. people have been stoking these demonstrations not because they want to help illegal immigrants, but because they hope to provoke a backlash that will make them angry at America instead. They don't have short-term ameliorative political goals -- they want shock troops for the revolution.

MORE: Reader Richard Palmer emails: "The protests were designed to create a backlash. Remember, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier it meant the end for the Negro Leagues. Just consider who organized these marches and why."

STEPHEN SPRUIELL: "As regards the firing of CIA official Mary McCarthy, the Washington Post is in the same untenable position that the New York Times was in during the Judith Miller episode — the editors know something they're not telling, but they go on reporting the story as if they don't know."

CORY MAYE UPDATE: "A man's life hangs in the balance. Whose judgment do you trust, twelve duly appointed jurors or one lone blogger?"

VIRGINIA POSTREL: "Liberals who support immigration should rethink their love of progressive income taxes."

DAVID BERNSTEIN has the latest, plus a roundup, on the Penn State censorship scandal.

MEN LIVING LONGER, women hardest hit.

TIM WU WRITES IN SLATE on why you should care about Net Neutrality:

The Internet is largely meritocratic in its design. If people like instapundit.com better than cnn.com, that's where they'll go. If they like the search engine A9 better than Google, they vote with their clicks. Is it a problem, then, if the gatekeepers of the Internet (in most places, a duopoly of the local phone and cable companies) discriminate between favored and disfavored uses of the Internet? To take a strong example, would it be a problem if AT&T makes it slower and harder to reach Gmail and quicker and easier to reach Yahoo! mail?

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A contrary view here.

VIDEO: MEXICAN POLICE SHOOT AT STRIKING MINERS (Via BoingBoing).

MARC COOPER on today's illegal-immigrant amnesty marches:

There is a definite time and place for this sort of tactic, and it isn't here or now. Boycotts are powerful and volatile weapons used as a last resort to bust open dams of dogged resistance. You don't use them when the political tide is even vaguely flowing in your direction. . . .

It's no accident that those pushing hardest for the May 1 boycott, many of them marginal protest groups such as ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), have never shown much concern for real-world results, preferring to act out their ideological impulses.

That's why the larger institutional players in the pro-immigrant movement prefer an after-school (and after-work) rally over an intentionally punitive boycott and walkout. They argue that such an escalation could alienate lawmakers and the public just when political sentiment is shifting more toward immigrants. The positive message of demanding inclusion in the United States would be replaced by a more negative and divisive signal.

Read the whole thing. Also read this post on Publius, which offers a cautionary note. Meanwhile, there's this report from L.A.:

With large crowds of illegal immigrants gathering at two locations in Los Angeles, extensive backroom planning to avoid offending U.S. citizens appeared to have failed: crowds are carrying about 60% Mexican flags, just 40% U.S. or other flags. KABC TalkRadio reported “there’s not a sign out there saying they want a ‘guest worker’ program — they all say they want full amnesty.”

I predict that neither party will be able to maintain a successful straddle on this issue for long. Here's some evidence:

California’s two best-known Latino politicians had difficult mornings on Southern California news broadcasts. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa struggled to explain to KFWB News 980 why he is attending a late-afternoon pro-illegal immigration protest, and California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez offered KNX 1070 NewsRadio a tortured definition of amnesty while insisting he does not support amnesty.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: More here from the Pajamas Media crew covering the marches in L.A.:

We were immediately engulfed by a gigantic crowd. It is impossible to say how many from our perspectives, but these are the things we can report - they were joyful, they were non-violent (at least as far as we could see) and they were well-organized. A lot of the organization from the downtown demonstration came, alas, from ANSWER and their extremist ilk, but that didn’t stop us from being moved by the demonstrators and their earnest desire to be Americans and to find honest work here. Nevertheless, there were some among them who wanted, unfortunately, the whole enchilada, the return of California to Mexico. But when you interview these people (you will see the results later), you find some are more confused than anything else. For the most part, they just want to work and raise families. They are being exploited by leaders singing a very old and tired song.

More later. I just spoke with Roger Simon on the phone and he says the size of the crowd is unbelievable.

MORE: Here's a report from San Diego.

ADVICE TO RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS: Act violent, get your way.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: This sounds promising:

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn this week will continue to raise havoc on the Senate floor. The Senate is still debating its emergency supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Katrina.

Coburn filed an amendment and then used parliamentary tools to split it into 19 seperate amendments attacking non-emergency pork spending projects in the bill. Last week he had some modest success, and looks to capitalize on that momentum this week.

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote for cloture -- to limit debate -- on the spending bill. Because Coburn crafted his amendment strategy with precise language all of his amendments will be germaine post cloture. In other words, limiting debate on the bill will in no way affect the good Doctor's ability to raise heck on the Senate floor this week.

Expect Coburn to receive votes on many of his remaining amendments that would save the taxpayers billions.

There are rumors floating around the Hill that last week the GOP conference began to come to grips with the fact that they have been spending the people's money carelessly. The way the Senate votes on many of Coburn's amendments this week will prove those rumors true or false.

Keep your fingers crossed. And perhaps give your Senators a call: (202) 224-3121.

AT CATALLARCHY, a day of remembrance for victims of communism.

MICHAEL TOTTEN CONTINUES TO REPORT from the Israeli / Lebanese border, where things are, he says, about to explode. Excerpt:

It’s a lot easier to hate people when you don’t know them personally, when you can’t work together, when you can’t hang out and talk, when you can’t wave hello. The vitriolic and eliminationist propaganda from Iran and Hezbollah is instantly proven abject and stupid upon contact with average Israelis. An open border and a free exchange of thoughts and ideas is Hezbollah’s worst nightmare.

“What do you want to see happen here, Eitan?” I said.

“I wish we could have peace and an open border,” he said. “Like a normal country. Like it is between Oregon and California. Right now we call the Lebanese enemies. But they are not really enemies. I know them. Some are my friends. The only enemy is Hezbollah.”

Read the whole thing. Lots of photos, too.

DAVE SIFRY HAS MORE on the state of the blogosphere.

THE WALT/MEARSHEIMER PAPER: A "nasty piece of work."

THE CARNIVAL OF BLOG COVERAGE is up!

SOME SQUIRREL-BLOGGING COMPETITION for Ann Althouse.

Plus, spider-blogging!

A DARFUR SOLUTION: Mercenaries?

COFFEEMAKER BLEG: My old Braun coffeemaker was great. It died, so I bought this Braun coffeemaker, which seemed to be pretty similar. It sucks. The coffee's good, but it's not quite hot enough, and the machine already leaks and drips after just a few months. Plus, the pot dribbles when you pour, which the old one didn't. How can they get that wrong?

The beach house we had last year had this Cuisinart and it was good except that I seem to recall it beeping annoyingly when the coffee is done. (Message to appliance makers -- if it beeps, provide a switch to make it not beep. I could post an extended rant on that topic, but not at the moment.) My brother went through a whole bunch of coffeemakers that sucked before finding a Bunn that he likes, except that it's hard to make the coffee really strong because it pours the water through so fast.

I want a coffeemaker that (1) doesn't leak, and doesn't dribble -- as my new Braun does and my old Krups did -- when you pour from the carafe; (2) makes strong coffee; (3) keeps it hot enough; (4) doesn't beep; and (5) has a timer. Is that so much to ask? Any suggestions will be welcomed.

RAJAN RISHYAKARAN REPORTS ON massive opposition demonstrations in Singapore.

OVER AT CATO UNBOUND, a look at the Republicans' lost opportunities. " It’s one thing to try to slow down opponents as they try to enact their vision of society into law. It’s a very different thing to have a vision of one’s own. And the day in which we could look to the GOP to have an affirmative small-government vision of its own has I think definitively passed."

A LOOK AT who reads blogs.

IN BUSINESS WEEK, a rather skeptical look at ethanol as an alternative fuel.

SOME PEOPLE thought I was too easy on Michael Hiltzik when I was on Reliable Sources yesterday, but Patterico agrees with my position.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: This is interesting:

Three members of Tennessee's congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, have taken the unusual step of revealing the lists of local projects they are pushing to be included in next year's federal budget.

Cooper, a Democrat, along with Democratic Reps. Lincoln Davis of Pall Mall and Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis are seeking more than $500 million for more than 100 projects, although only a handful of those requests will end up being approved.

The practice of funding special requests is viewed by some as controversial because of the secrecy surrounding the requests, the growth in their number, the role lobbyists play in obtaining special funding, and how these projects skew the budget-building process.

Congress placed 12,852 special funding requests in last year's appropriations bills, with a value of $67 billion, but only 4 percent were actually in the text of the bills where they could be easily found, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

"Earmarks (the special funding projects) can be spent wisely, but there is no safeguard," Cooper said. "I think a process so open to abuse has to be curbed."

Cooper wants these special requests eliminated and federal funds distributed through the formal budget process based on need, not on political or special-interest power.

Davis thinks requests that come from special-interest lobbyists should be banned, but others in the delegation defend them.

Read the whole thing. (Via Bill Hobbs).

UPDATE: Reader TC Lynch emails (more in response to the last Hobbs item than this one, I think): "As you've noted, going after Bill Hobbs has to be one of the dumbest things, in retrospect, any Tenny Democrat could ever have done, in the view of 'advancing' the state party's agenda. Instead of neutering him, they allowed him to totally cut loose."

POWER LINE is inviting readers to help cover immigration marches around the country by sending in photos and video.

JOSHUA SHARF rounds up some economic news you may have missed. A few tidbits:

Retail store sales were up 4.1% year-over-year

Same-store sales were up 5.1% year-over-year

Consumer Confidence rose to 109.6, well above the consensus estimate range

The housing bust continues to track the elusive Afghan Winter, as existing home sales rose slightly, when they were expected to decline

This was offset somewhat by a decline in mortgage applications

Durable goods orders were up 6.1%

He's got more. And don't miss the Carnival of the Capitalists -- what better way to celebrate May Day?

I DIDN'T DO A VERY GOOD JOB of posting campus photographs this year, but homesick University of Tennessee alumni can check out this photo pool from Flickr for a lot more.

BAD NEWS FOR MAC OWNERS:

While Apple's Mac operating system is considered more secure than Microsoft's Windows, the Cupertino company's software recently has become more vulnerable to attacks, according to a report coming out today on the top trends in Internet security. . . .

Perhaps the most striking is the "rapid growth in critical vulnerabilities" in Mac OS/X, Apple's operating system, long considered safer from hacker attacks than Windows, the report said.

"Although OS/X still remains safer than Windows, it's certainly not a bulletproof alternative to Windows," said Rohit Dhamankar, editor of @RISK, a SANS Institute newsletter. "The number of vulnerabilities in the Mac OS has certainly increased in the last six-month period."

No condition is permanent.

UPDATE: A skeptical response, here.

AN ARMY OF CHRENKOFFS: Arthur may be gone, but Bill Crawford is presenting underreported news from Iraq.

And read this piece from The Mudville Gazette, too.

April 30, 2006

ROGER SIMON:

Andrew Marcus (with video camera), Juliette Ochieng (aka baldilocks) and I will be covering the immigration demonstration in LA tomorrow for Pajamas Media. If you are a blogger or just a concerned citizen who would like to help us, we will be rendezvousing in the lobby of the New Otani Hotel (120 S. Los Angeles St.) at 8:30AM. Bring your digital camera and/or tape recorder. Spanish speakers especially welcome.

And let me know what you find.

STRATEGYPAGE REPORTS THAT AL QAEDA, despite powerful allies, is being defeated by the Internet.

ETERNAL VIGILANCE IS THE PRICE OF HEALTH:

Or, in the case of the mumps, which is now tearing through the heartland for the first time in decades, nine plane rides away. That's how many connecting flights it took for just two infected airline passengers, one flying out of Arizona, the other from Iowa, to apparently kick-start a new eight-state epidemic that has so far sickened 1,165 people. The outbreak serves as a grim reminder that vaccines aren't perfect and that despite modern medicine's advances, germs commonly associated with the early 20th century are still very much in the world. Right now several of the mustiest-sounding diseases—whooping cough, anyone?—are spiking again. "When fewer people start getting diagnosed, there's a premature declaration of victory," says Kenneth Castro, of the CDC. "Then we let our guard down, and the diseases come back and bite us." . . .

As if they didn't have their hands full with mumps and whooping cough, doctors are also starting to worry about other blasts from the past. National statistics haven't been collected, but many papers in the medical literature argue that rickets—a vitamin deficiency long thought to be a relic of the 19th century—is increasing among African-American and Hispanic kids, particularly in the North. Doctors blame it on everything from an increase in breast-feeding (breast milk doesn't contain much vitamin D) to the overuse of sunscreen (the body needs ultraviolet light to produce the vitamin). Another vintage ailment, scarlet fever, the scourge of "Little Women" and "The Velveteen Rabbit," though easily treatable with antibiotics now, also endures. It infects hundreds of kids each year, but pediatricians will usually say those kids have "a symptom of strep throat," not scarlet fever, if only so as not to scare the parents. Finally, though tuberculosis is at a record low, a nasty drug-resistant strain has emerged. Seems like old times.

Related item here.

BETTER ALL THE TIME, The Speculist's regular roundup of (mostly) technological good news, has been posted. Check it out.

BOB HERBERT gets repetitious.

GERARD VAN DER LEUN on United 93: "The film I saw by myself tonight expands that meaning and brings a human face to the acts by the passengers of United 93 that endure only in that rare atmosphere that heroes inhabit. What I know in my heart, but what always escapes my understanding until something like this film renews it, is that heroism is a virtue that most often appears among us not descending from some mythic pantheon, but rising up out of the ordinary earth and ordinary hearts when the moment calls for actions extraordinary."

I also like what Wesley Mullins wrote:

The film also refuses to use hindsight in determining which facts to emphasize and has total ambivalence for the cultural impact of some people/events. No special significance is given to Beamer's "let's roll" direction that became a rallying cry for America and no reference is made to the group being lead by a hulkish homosexual who helped redefine the image of effeminate gays in a pre-Brokeback world. Even though those have been two important stories to come from Flight 93, nobody on the flight that day knew it...so the film doesn`t revise reality to acknowledge them.

The brilliance of a film like this can be understood by comparing it to the film many would have made instead. A lesser film would have Brad Pitt or Eric Bana playing Mark Bingham and Matt Damon or Tom Cruise playing Todd Beamer. The action would have slowed for the characters to capture the focus of the audience and build cliched subplots about lifelong struggles to overcome adversity. Their final rush to glory would have been a moment of catharsis, as they were able to overcome some fault that haunted them for years.

Thankfully, "United 93" is not that film. It is an unflinching, unromanticized account of the events of 9/11.

More at ShrinkWrapped and The American Thinker.

JOHN HINDERAKER looks at conflicts of interest and the New York Times.

DARFUR UPDATE: On the way home from the studio I passed a big Darfur rally, starting in front of the synagogue and continuing quite some distance down Kingston Pike. I don't know how many people were there, but it was certainly more than I've seen at any antiwar protests in Knoxville.

Those are going on all over the place, with support from people like George Clooney. I'm happy to see it, but I agree with Tim Cavanaugh's point:

I don't want to make the umpteenth cheap shot about Hollywood stars and their political campaigns. I think military intervention in Darfur is a non-starter, and I'm glad about that. But what's the clear categorical distinction between intervening in Iraq (which I think it's fair to say Clooney and many other Darfur hawks opposed) and this one? Why does it always seem like progressives support any intervention that clearly does not advance any American interests?

Why, indeed?

UPDATE: Jose Guardia emails: "Yeah, it's great that some people are marching against the genocide in Darfur; and no, I can't understand either why for them for them it's OK to intervene militarily in Darfur and it wasn't in Iraq. Anyway, just wait until -if- Bu$Hitler starts making plans for an intervention. You'll see how fast they start chanting 'No War.'"

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: This Washington Post piece on pork says that the PorkBusters approach is wrong:

Congress often seems to have devolved into a policy-free zone, where pork not only greases the wheels of legislation, but is the very purpose of legislation. Last year's energy bill, enacted the same day as the transportation bill, did not reduce high gas prices or U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but it did shower billions of dollars on well-connected energy firms.

As former GOP Senate aide Winslow T. Wheeler detailed in his legislate-and-tell book "The Wastrels of Defense," Congress even turned its post-Sept. 11, 2001, military bills into receptacles for pork, including gyms, chapels, parking garages and museums. "What was once a predictable but part-time activity has become a full-time preoccupation that permeates Congress's activities and decision-making processes," Wheeler wrote.

Egregious earmarks are certainly a symptom of this phenomenon, such as the largesse that Cunningham stashed into military bills for a contractor who bribed him and the economically and environmentally dubious water projects that the Army Corps of Engineers was building in Louisiana when it should have been protecting New Orleans. That's why some proposed earmark reform makes sense, especially rules that would identify their source, require votes on them and prevent them from slipping into huge bills at the last minute.

But it is hard to see how preventing individual members of Congress from proposing individual measures -- even measures designed to benefit their constituents or contributors -- would serve the cause of democracy.

I think the key here is transparency. If wide attention weren't bad for pork-related efforts, Congress wouldn't try so hard to hide them.

I'M SCHEDULED TO BE ON RELIABLE SOURCES TODAY, about 10:30 Eastern, talking about various events in the news.

UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has the video.

AS I PREDICTED, Bill Hobbs' defenestration has made him more of a thorn in the side of Tennessee's political establishment, rather than less.

THE CLEARSTREAM SCANDAL IN FRANCE is threatening to overflow its banks.

A GUIDE TO VIDEOBLOGGING, via Hot Air.

A LOOK AT OIL PROFITEERING:

"From 1986 to 2003, using 2004 dollars, the real national annual average price for gasoline, including taxes, generally has been below $2 per gallon," noted the Federal Trade Commission in a 2005 report absolving the industry of collusion. "By contrast, between 1919 and 1985, real national annual average retail gasoline prices were above $2 per gallon more often than not."

In other words, gasoline prices were lower than at anytime since 1919 for much of recent history. Some conspiracy! Maybe somebody should have been investigating consumers for "gouging" the oil companies.

And just who is the profiteer here? While the average profit on the sale of a gallon of gasoline is nine cents, the average state and federal tax on that same gallon of gasoline is about 45 cents (and 52 cents in Michigan). And if we must have an investigation, how about investigating the extent to which government regulations drive up prices and block new production?

Management guru Peter Drucker once remarked, with his usual drollery, that profit is "whatever government lets a company keep." But most folks have a vastly inflated view of corporate profits. One regular survey of Americans found that the majority believes the average corporate profit is between 30 percent and 40 percent of sales, while the real figure is closer to 4 percent.

Washington should cool its carburetors. The pursuit of profit is one of the main engines of Western progress and prosperity. And as people in my neck of the woods are fast learning, it is only out of profit that we can afford to pay for a comfortable retirement. As profits in the steel, airline and auto industries erode or even vanish, so do pensions and health care benefits, not to mention jobs.

(Via NewsAlert). Yes. As I've noted before, a lot of the people commenting on this stuff need some remedial education.

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