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August 26, 2006

TIM BLAIR: "I’m not religious, so I don’t have a God in this fight, but I’d sure like to read a 'short, wicked and witty' book by Robyn Williams exposing all the scientific flaws in fundamentalist Islam (and the ABC’s aggressive promotion of that book)."

A PHILADELPHIA QUAGMIRE? Stop the killing. U.S. out of Philadelphia now!

UPDATE: Iraq veteran Chris Seamans isn't impressed with the analysis in the Post article:

Among my other duties in Iraq, I was a convoy gunner. I am also a native of inner city Philadelphia who has spent almost all of my life in some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. I can say from direct experience that combat duty in Iraq isn't as easy or as safe as walking down the street in Philadelphia. This is a simple fact that the statistics you've linked to attempt to obfuscate. The statistics don't take into account the fact that the majority of servicemen in Iraq spend their deployments behind rows of T-walls, Hesco barriers, and checkpoints, and that the much smaller number of troops that spend their time outside the wire face far greater danger than young black men walking the streets of Philly. The statistics also ignore the fact that the American military has some of the best trauma care in the world, and that the number of people who live despite grave injuries vastly outnumbers those who die from them. (If I remember correctly, the Army said a little while ago that the number of deaths in Iraq would be four times greater if not for its ability to quickly evacuate casualties to top quality medical facilities.) This means that a lot more soldiers have faced potentially life-threatening injuries than just those who have died. If the proper statistics were referenced (or even available) I'd bet my next paycheck that they would back up the obvious reality: Iraq is a warzone that is vastly more dangerous than even the deadliest sections of Philadelphia.

Jeez, you figure when you read something positive about the war in the Big Media it's probably true. Oh, well.

But read this post from Dean Esmay, which seems about right.

ANTOTHER UPDATE: A response to Chris Seamans here:

No one is trying to say that Philadelphia is "more dangerous" than Iraq. (Well, okay, I'm sure someone somewhere is. But I'm not, Glenn Reynolds wasn't, and the Washington Post article didn't...)

Let me repeat: The point wasn't that Philadelphia is "more dangerous" than Iraq. The point was that the death rate in Philadelphia among black men was 11% higher in 2002 than it was in Iraq among US troops during the first three years of the campaign. For the purposes of the point at hand, the statistics referenced were, indeed, the "proper" ones and they're very clear.

I think that nearly everyone realizes that Iraq is far, far more dangerous than Philadelphia. But let's not pretend that it's more dangerous than it is. The statistics show how many people died in Iraq and they showed how many black men died in Philadelphia.

The ultimate point is that the numbers, when compared to each other, will probably surprise you.

Yes, by historical standards the war in Iraq isn't terribly bloody, which does tend to get lost in the media coverage.

ROY BERENDSOHN:

Let me see if I’ve got this right. The price of all types of fuel is headed toward historically high levels. So how do we respond in this country? What are we doing, at least on principle, to cut our fuel consumption? Cranking up the AC.

I’ve never spent a summer as cold as this one. Everywhere I go, I find air conditioners running at full blast. Now, I’ve got nothing against air conditioning. But have you stepped inside an office building, train, restaurant, airport, house of worship, school, or doctor’s office lately? I rode on a train the other day that was, from one end to the other, nothing more than a rolling meat locker.

I think that air-conditioning is one of the great inventions of Western civilization. But I agree that over-airconditioning is rife, though it actually seems to me that things have been better this summer than last.

A LOOK AT JOHN MCCAIN'S somewhat iffy record on gun rights. This is a big problem for him.

IT'S LIKELY TO BE "HURRICANE ERNESTO" NOW: Brendan Loy has a roundup.

UPDATE: Jeez, I fixed an error above almost immediately, but not before Brendan saw it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I was just a little bit ahead of the news cycle -- Ernesto's a full-fledged hurricane now.

SPACE TOURISM UPDATE: "Anousheh Ansari, a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin, will become the world's first female space tourist when she blasts off aboard a Russian rocket on September 14, the launch company said on Friday."

FAUXTOGRAPHY AND OTHER JOURNALISTIC FAKERY, discussed by me, Charles Johnson, and Dean Barnett, in the latest TCS Daily podcast.

A SHOCKING KATRINA PHOTO has been released.

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO DIE WHILE SERVING IN IRAQ? About half as likely as Americans back home, reports the Washington Post. Yeah, there are some caveats -- read the whole thing -- but it's hard to look at these numbers and see the catastrophe that the "527 media" are proclaiming. The Belmont Club has much more discussion.

UPDATE: But see this post.

UH OH: "A landmark scientific report that was supposed to bridge the gap between proponents and opponents of human embryonic stem cell research has become the focus of an escalating feud, with a prominent critic of the research alleging that scientists were deceptive in presenting their results."

HOWARD MORTMAN NOTES A GROUNDSWELL: "If only Teddy Roosevelt had appeared on Comedy Central."

WHAT CONGRESS WILL LOOK LIKE, if the Democrats win a majority.

ORIN KERR looks at the group dynamics of mass unsolicited email lists.

DIVORCE IS A BIG ISSUE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE these days, at least judging from the response to our podcast on marriage and divorce featuring family lawyer Lauren Strange-Boston. It's now been downloaded over one and a half million times, edging it into first place. It's funny, but although the political shows get more attention, overall I think the nonpolitical ones are more popular.

MORE AIRBRUSHING?

UPDATE: Stephen Spruiell: "If Mitchell altered the text of this article, what he's done is taken an embarrassing situation and turned into one that seriously calls his ethics into question."

Another take: "Gobsmackingly vile."

PAYBACK IS A BITCH:

Lieberman -- who after losing an Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Ned Lamont has launched a third-party bid to hold onto his seat in the Nov. 7 general election -- was asked whether he still endorses Diane Farrell, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy, three Democrats looking to unseat endangered Republican incumbents Chris Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson.

“I’m a non-combatant,” Lieberman declared. “I am not going to be involved in other campaigns. I think it’s better if I just focus on my own race.”

Why are the netroots surprised by this? You guys stuck a knife into him. Of course he'll stick you back. And I suspect that this is only the beginning.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT KNEW AND WHEN HE KNEW IT: A look at the Clinton Administration's intelligence on Saddam's WMD.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Todd Steed.

THE "527 MEDIA:" Jed Babbin publishes a letter to Ken Mehlman on what the Republicans need to be doing.

HITCHENS GIVES BILL MAHER'S AUDIENCE the finger. Should things go badly with the war, Maher's audience -- and, for that matter, Maher himself -- will be cited by historians as evidence of the American opposition's unseriousness.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails: "I suspect that historians will judge Democrats unserious regardless of the war's outcome. In fact, if it goes badly enough, history of the era will be written in Arabic." And even those historians won't respect Maher and his audience, though they may be grateful for their petty Bush-hatred.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The entire Maher show is reviewed here.

MORE: Radley Balko says that Rand Simberg is objectively pro-terrorist. Next he'll be questioning his patriotism!

August 25, 2006

MEETING THE BLOGGERS FACE TO FACE: "The successful bloggers I met certainly aren't sad or joyless although some of them are perhaps a little bit on the obsessive side."

He must mean Lileks. Certainly not moi.

THE ECONOMIST on who killed the newspaper. I'm guessing Adnan Hajj and a host of predecessors. . . .

(Via Jeff Jarvis).

JEFF TAYLOR: "Just who at The New York Times does Matt Nifong have naked pictures of? . . . Taking the lead investigator's notes and using them as a narrative doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know about the case while managing to gloss over the huge holes in Nifong's case."

Related comments from K.C. Johnson, Jeralyn Merritt, and Tom Maguire.

JAMES LILEKS: "Of course, one could make the case that the greatest threats to the freedoms of the West are posed by the head-choppers, plane-exploders, their many merry supporters, and the nuke-seeking state that supports them. . . . But don't expect the artists to make the case. They saw what happened to that Theo Van Gogh fellow. They take the easy way out, these brave souls; they'll perform 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' but only because now some people think it has a happy ending. They cradle their illusions like a big dead pig, singing them lullabies."

AH, THE FAMOUS DAMNING BUT: I Hope And Pray We Don't Get Hit Again-BUT.....

But it'll be worth it if it gets rid of the damnable Bushitler regime. "If an attack occurred just before the elections, I have to think that at least a few of the voters who persist in this 'Bush has kept us safe' thinking would realize the fallacy they have been under."

(Via Ace. He's got a related post here.)

UPDATE: A more extensive Fisking from Caerdroia.

MIKE HUCKABEE: The Sam's Club candidate?

MORE ON THE TRANSFORMATION OF Human Rights Watch.

UPDATE: Some further thoughts from Professor Kenneth Anderson.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg is even more critical.

TOM MAGUIRE HAS MORE ON STEM CELLS, here and here.

MORE PHOTO FORENSICS, this time involving a politician, not the media. Can I get a witness?

BOB OWENS may have discovered why the Editor of Editor & Publisher is so sympathetic to staged news.

Jeff Goldstein: "Fortunately for us, though, Google never forgets."

UPDATE: Ouch: "I wasn't a perfect reporter, but it's pretty easy to avoid making stuff up out of whole cloth. My dad and I both know that. Mr. Mitchell does not. My dad and I are both conservative bloggers. Mr. Mitchell is editor of Editor and Publisher. Telling, isn't it?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Mitchell is charged with airbrushing the original story. After bloggers had quoted it. Can he be that stupid?

SADLY, NO: "I'm of the opinion that how to handle Wal-Mart is among the two or three most important issues facing the country."

If only that were true! We'd have it made.

UPDATE: More on WalMart and its critics, here. I feel about WalMart like I do about Bush -- it's not that I'm crazy about them, it's that their critics just seem crazy, period.

BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW IS UP, featuring Daniel Drezner, Austin Bay, and Gerard van der Leun.

I GUESS PORKBUSTERS IS MAKING PROGRESS: Just a few months ago, Dave Weigel was calling it "the ineffective bloggers' group Porkbusters."

Now he's holding it up as a model of constructive political involvement:

Long-term, honest public pressure can force an administration to make changes or change course on a failed policy. It works on domestic issues: witness the Porkbusters campaign, which has rapped the president and Congress without apologies in an effort to shame them into cutting spending.

The advantage of PorkBusters is that it's focused on one issue and been nonpartisan, criticizing porkers regardless of party. I don't think the kind of criticism Weigel's talking about can say the same, though I agree that it would have been more effective if it could. Anyway, it's nice to see that PorkBusters' progress is being noticed.

MAN ARRESTED FOR REBROADCASTING HEZBOLLAH TV:

A New York man was arrested yesterday on charges that he conspired to support a terrorist group by providing U.S. residents with access to Hezbollah's satellite channel, al-Manar. . . .

The U.S. Treasury Department in March designated al-Manar a "global terrorist entity" and a media arm of the Hezbollah terrorist network. The designation froze al-Manar's assets in the United States and prohibited any transactions between Americans and al-Manar.

Iqbal's attorney, Mustapha Ndanusa, said yesterday that the accusations against his client are "completely ridiculous," according to the Associated Press. Ndanusa added that he is not aware of another instance in which someone was accused of violating U.S. laws by enabling access to a news outlet.

This raises some interesting First Amendment issues, but don't blame the Patriot Act or the Bush Administration here. The statute in question, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA, pronounced "Aiyeepa") predates the Patriot Act by decades, and has just been upheld in another context by the Second Circuit. IEEPA is very far-reaching -- in a case that I used to teach back when I taught International Business Transactions, United States v. Spawr Optical Research, 685 F.2d 1076 (9th Cir. 1982) (doesn't seem to be online anywhere), the defendants had violated the Export Administration Act. They thought that they had a pretty good defense, in that the Export Administration Act had actually expired before their actions. The court held that the President had lawfully extended the expired statute's provisions by regulation, under his general powers delegated by IEEPA.

I don't like that case, but it's one of several reasons why I find claims that the Bush Administration is exercising unprecedentedly broad powers unpersuasive.

Personally, I'd favor exempting retransmission of news material, etc., from the statute, and I think there's a pretty good argument that this sort of prosecution violates the First Amendment. But it's also true that sweeping powers of this sort are nothing new in the field of international trade.

THE MANOLO OBSERVES: "This intersection between the politics and the fashion it would appear to be at the corner of the Dull Street and the Boring Boulevard."

JEFF GOLDSTEIN MAKES HIS VIDEO DEBUT, at Hot Air. Helen was surprised: "He's really good-looking!"

UPDATE: Heh: "I'm officially starting a countdown to when Goldstein appears in drag on this show. And my money is on next Friday. Who's in?"

OVER AT THE CORNER (scroll down) they've been discussing Serenity and Firefly for the past several days, and talking about Tim Minear's politics. If you're interested, we had a podcast interview with Tim Minear a while back.

IN THE MAIL: Benjamin Wittes' new book, Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times. Seems pretty timely, and Amazon has provided a discussion forum.

MOHAMMED OF IRAQ THE MODEL reports on a Cairo bloggers' conference that he attended.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: Grand Rounds is up, and celebrating its 100th installment. Also check out the Carnival of Education, the Carnival of Liberty, the Carnival of Homeschooling, and the Blawg Review.

And, of course, don't miss the Carnival of the Recipes!

Yes, I've been pretty lame about posting these links lately. Sorry, but you can always find carnival highlights in the right sidebar, or at BlogCarnival.com.

THE POLICE'S RIGHT to keep your property. These seizure cases are an outrage.

PLAN B APPROVED: And I don't find the argument against the approval compelling:

Conservative opponents complained that the FDA had buckled to political pressure. They have argued that easier access to the pill would increase promiscuity.

Whether access to the pill will "increase promiscuity" or not isn't clear, but I think the only question should be whether the drug is safe and effective. It seems to me that's been established for a while, and that it was political pressure that was holding up the approval. But promiscuity, or the lack thereof, isn't the concern of the FDA. Or at least it shouldn't be.

ANOTHER FLIGHT STOPPED:

An Aer Lingus flight from New York with 239 passengers aboard was evacuated in Ireland Friday following a threat against the aircraft, airport authorities said.

Aer Lingus Flight 112 was evacuated during a scheduled stop at 2:50 a.m. EDT at Shannon airport in western Ireland, said airport spokesman Eugene Pratt. The plane was en route to Dublin.

The threat "came to a police station in Dublin, and referred to some explosives aboard that specific flight," Pratt said. No trace of explosives was found in the initial search.

Pratt said security officials decided to remove all baggage from the flight to be screened again.

As I mentioned yesterday, if I were a terrorist, I'd focus on bogus threats -- lots of disruption for minimal investment, plus you eventually get people to lower their guard against real attacks.

HMM: "In a recent poll, more Iraqis, who live in Iraq, say Iraq is headed the right direction than Americans who merely watch TV reports about Iraq or read newspaper reports about Iraq."

August 24, 2006

OINK!

MICHAEL YOUNG: Hezbollah lost.

A LOOK AT Chinese lawyers and human rights.

A LOOK AT the political value of blog advertising, at National Journal's "Beltway Blogroll."

PAMELA BONE:

IN Tehran in June, several thousand people held a peaceful demonstration calling for legal changes that would give a woman's testimony in court equal value to a man's. The demonstrators, most of them women, were attacked with tear gas and beaten with batons by men and women from Iran's State Security Forces, according to Amnesty International.
Iranian women may not travel without their husband's permission but they are allowed to wield a truncheon against other women.

Do you think women in Western countries marched in solidarity with the Iranian women demonstrators? Of course not. Do you think there are posters and graffiti at universities condemning the Iranian President? Of course not. You know, without needing to go there, that any graffiti at universities will be condemning George W. Bush, not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (I concede Bush is easier to spell.)

You know, before you get there, that at the Melbourne Writers Festival starting this weekend the principal hate figures are going to be Bush and John Howard. You know there will be many sympathetic references to David Hicks but probably none to Ashraf Kolhari, an Iranian mother of four who has been in jail for five years for allegedly having sex outside marriage and, until last week, who was under sentence of death by stoning.

Thank goddess, as they used to say: a few Western feminists have begun to wonder why women who once marched for women's rights are marching alongside people who would take away even the most basic of those rights.

Read the whole thing.

SOME INTERESTING CONGRESSIONAL / LOBBYIST DIGGING at the Sunlight Foundation.

FAUXTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Brit Hume reported on the phony ambulance incident -- video is at Hot Air.

UPDATE: More on stupid journalist tricks.

MORE TERROR CHARGES IN EUROPE:

A Danish prosecutor today charged four young Muslims with plotting a terror attack in Europe.

The four suspects were arrested in October last year in connection with an investigation in Bosnia.

Prosecutor Henning Fode said they helped two other suspects in Bosnia get hold of weapons and explosives as part of a plot to blow up an unidentified European target.

The four men, who cannot be named under a court order, would face up to life in prison if found guilty. Under Danish law, life sentences are commuted after 16 years.

Well, that should certainly frighten any potential imitators.

FIRST DELL, NOW APPLE: "Computer giant Apple is recalling 1.8m batteries used in its laptop computers worldwide after overheating complaints."

CUT THE CARDS: Interviewing Dave Ramsey, at Hot Air.

A LOOK AT THE ANTI-CHAVEZ OPPOSITION IN VENEZUELA, which is reportedly growing.

DANIEL GLOVER says we're seeing "the buying of the Democratic blogosphere."

BILL ROGGIO: "Somalia continues the slide into the darkness of a radical Islamist state."

MEGAN MCARDLE: "Where does this idea come from that the Japanese and German corporations don't have to pay any costs to cover their employees' health and retirement? And why hasn't anyone bothered to check it?"

IRAQPUNDIT HAS MORE on the security situation in Baghdad.

ALL YOUR FAKES ARE BELONG TO US.

BRUCE SCHNEIER WRITES ON WHAT THE TERRORISTS WANT: He's right that we don't want to overreact, and that some of the aviation scares seem like overreactions. It's like an immune system: Overreact and you get allergies and autoimmune problems; underreact and you die of overwheming sepsis or something. But getting the balance right is harder than saying that we need to get the balance right.

But we need to beware of what one of Schneier's commenters notes: "What's to stop terriorists now just getting on flights and acting suspiciously on purpose. If no crime was committed (I was just checking my watch, saying my prayers, going to the bathroom etc.) they can cause disruption, create paranoia and terror at will and get off scott free." That's what I would do if I were a terrorist.

Schneier's blog, by the way, is a must-read on this stuff, and I recommend it, as I have in the past.

A BIG MAZDA RX-8 RECALL: Mine's given me no problems, but it sounds as if Mazda is handling this the right way. More here.

IN THE MAIL: Richard Posner's new book, Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency. In essence, it's something of an argument for taking a "Living Constitution" approach to civil liberties in wartime. I'm guessing that it will prove controversial.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The "secret hold" story is getting more attention:

In an ironic twist, legislation that would open up the murky world of government contracting to public scrutiny has been derailed by a secret parliamentary maneuver.

An unidentified senator placed a "secret hold" on legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., that would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, worth $2.5 trillion last year. The database would bring transparency to federal spending and be as simple to use as conducting a Google search.

The measure had been unanimously passed in a voice vote last month by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It was on the fast track for floor action before Congress recessed Aug. 4 when someone put a hold on the measure.

Now the bill is in political limbo. Under Senate rules, unless the senator who placed the hold decides to lift it, the bill will not be brought up for a vote.

More and more people are trying to smoke out the "secret holder" though.

ANN ALTHOUSE: "Why do judges make it easier for their critics?" Because they live in a cocoon.

MCCAIN IS BASHING BUSH ON IRAQ, and some people are pretty angry at him for backstabbing.

The substance of McCain's claim is pretty weak: I don't recall Bush ever saying that Iraq would be a "day at the beach," and in fact casualties to date are considerably lower than what was generally expected for the ground war to Baghdad, where you generally heard figures in the 10,000 range. (Ted Kennedy predicted that we'd run through battalions a day. Gary Hart predicted worse.) It's more the duration, and the extent of the bad press, that has exceeded expectations, really, though McCain's pretty sensitive to bad press.

But this isn't a "backstab." In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it were choreographed by Karl Rove. Democrats forget it, but Bush doesn't matter much from the perspective of 2008, and if the GOP can get mileage out of Bush-bashing, it will.

Retrospective Reagan hagiography has obscured this, but in the last couple of years of the Reagan Administration we saw the same thing. Reagan was expendable, since he couldn't be reelected, and with the country tired of the same guy, Republicans (politicians and pundits alike) distanced themselves in order to position for 1988. Bush Sr. ran in 1988, in fact, on an "I'm not like Reagan, but I'll still protect the country unlike those weakling Democrats" platform. Whoever is the GOP nominee in 2008 will do the same, and will be able to do it more obviously because -- unlike George H.W. Bush -- they won't be a sitting Vice President.

To the GOP, Bush is a wasting asset; like Reagan at the same part of his term, he's expendable. They'll use him up, and if the best way to get value out of him over the next couple of years is to bash him, then they will. That's just politics, and McCain's just ahead of the curve. Being ahead of the curve may not be smart, since McCain's biggest weak point is with the Bush base, but I think it's the strategy.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty has a different reason for being unhappy with McCain.

And McCain sure sounded different in 2003. So did a lot of Democrats who are now criticizing the war, of course, but I don't know if McCain can pull this off.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's looking like McCain won't be able to pull this off.

MORE: By the way, here's a roundup of lefty predictions about the war that illustrate that many antiwar people were hoping expecting that things would turn out much, much worse than they did. McCain, however, was not endorsing their views at the time.

More on McCain here.

DEFENSETECH: "Let's face it: nobody cares about mine warfare. . . . But all that's about to change."

UPDATE: Speaking of mines. (Thanks to reader Richard Andrews for the tip.)

CANADIAN DOCTORS are weighing in in favor of private health care.

Maybe they've seen Dead Meat. Or, more accurately I suppose, they've lived it.

TEA DOESN'T DEHYDRATE YOU: "Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found."

THERE'S LOTS OF ADVICE FOR FIRST-YEAR LAW STUDENTS, but here's a post with advice for rising second-year law students.

I WOULD HAVE HAPPILY DONATED A MOBIUS DICK CD TO THE CAUSE: Gateway Pundit has pictures from an Iranian rave.

IT'S HARD OUT THERE FOR A MAN, and Fausta has thoughts on why. Oprah is involved.

GEORGE W. BUSH: The President who reads too much!

WILL HILLARY HAVE a Billy Carter problem?

August 23, 2006

HARVESTING STEM CELLS without harming the embryo. This, if it proves out, should mollify pro-life opponents of embryonic stem-cell research, though it won't please Leon Kass types who simply don't like the idea of these new treatments at all. Hey, if longer, healthier lives don't appeal to you, we're just not on the same page.

DOKTOR FRANK REPORTS that his novel, King Dork, has been nominated for a Quill Award.

You can vote on it here and here.

A LOOK AT THE SECURITY SITUATION IN IRAQ. And here's more from ABC News.

UPDATE: Civilian deaths in Iraq decline. I think you can make too much of these trends, but it's interesting that they seem to get reported a lot more when they're bad.

ANOTHER UPDATE: John Wixted has more warnings about mistaking random fluctuations for long-term trends. He's right, but as I say the news coverage often seems non-random.

SNAKES ON THE INTERNET: The picture even looks a bit like Oliver Willis.

UPDATE: Oliver doesn't like this post. Gee, you think he'd be happy to be compared to a movie star . . . .

STIX NIX DIX CHIX: Plus, a fervent defense of Islamic principles.

HOWARD DEAN'S OLD WEBMASTER will be working for John McCain.

MORE ON WEIGHT LOSS AND REAL FOOD AT The Crisper. I agree with his thoughts on BMI, too.

Plus, I should mention that Nina Planck's website has a bunch of useful resources. And her book certainly seems to be selling well.

UPDATE: Related post at Electric Venom.

MORE: Forget the Summer of Love. This is the Summer of Food!

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Another pro-PorkBusters editorial:

The game goes like this: Each member must pretend to be fiscally responsible. They loudly decry "pork" and/or "fat" in the budget.

However, when it comes to their own district or state what might otherwise be labeled as "pork" turns into a vital public works project.

Therein lies the difficulty. Vital projects and pork projects each happen so frequently that it is difficult to tell the two apart.

But now a disparate group of watchdog organizations have come together in an attempt to provide more transparency to the process. The coalition produced a single database of what are called congressional "earmarks" and each group provides access to that database from its own Web site.

This isn't all that novel, but the twist is that the coalition wants ordinary citizens to examine the list and to investigate any earmarks that catch their eye and report back via either blog or e-mail.

This operates on the theory that local people may be able to provide the best insights as to the relative merits of a particular earmark.

Nice that people are noticing. Meanwhile, Mark Tapscott is happy with Frist's response today, but has some further questions. And Human Events' Robert Bluey says they'll hold Frist to his promise.

Plus, a look at pork and agro-terrorism.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Pope sacks astronomer over evolution debate.

Or maybe the guy was just working too hard.

UPDATE: Or was he fired after all?

BLOG SWEEPS WEEK HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO RUN ALL YEAR: Pamela Atlas is bikini-videoblogging from the beach.

UPDATE: What's next, striptease at funerals? Hey, whatever brings an audience, I guess . . . .

"RIGHT NOW, TOM VILSACK IS TAKING PIANO LESSONS:" Mike Huckabee was born to be wild.

AS THE KATRINA DISCUSSION HEATS UP, I thought it might be worth linking my lessons from Katrina post from last year.

I also recommend this Katrina retrospective from Lou Dolinar of Newsday. There's this, too.

PLANE GROUNDED after 12 passengers showed suspicious inflight behavior.

WHY WE NEED TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT:

How good is government at wasting our tax dollars? Consider the Department of Homeland Security.

It's not yet five years old, but it's already experienced at throwing away cash. A recent congressional report found that 32 DHS contracts "experienced significant overcharges, wasteful spending or mismanagement." Federal credit cards were used to buy beer-brewing equipment and iPods. Tax money was squandered on luxury hotels and "training" sessions at golf and tennis resorts.

Altogether, those contracts cost the government -- meaning you and me -- $34 billion. Sadly, a lot of that was wasted.

DHS says it can solve the problems -- if it can hire more inspectors. "We need more," Elaine Duke, the DHS chief procurement officer, told lawmakers. "We have an increase coming in the current '07 budget of about 200 additional [workers], and we are working towards needing even more over time."

But the answer isn't to hire more bureaucrats to supervise what the current bureaucrats are doing. There's a simpler, cheaper and more permanent solution: Allow 300 million Americans to review how government spends our money.

Meanwhile, it's easy to see how dangerous things can be when you get corruption in national security matters. Just look at Israel:

The serious news is that the IDF's reserve forces were a shambles when they mobilized. Information from an inside source reveals that, when the reserves' warehouses and depots were opened, key stocks were missing - stolen.

What was gone? Fuel, weapons, ammunition, food, spare parts - all that a modern military needs to go to war. And I doubt it ended up in Iceland.

Trent Telenko speculated that this sort of thing was a problem earlier.

A NEW WORLD DIESEL SPEED RECORD: In excess of 350 miles per hour. (Via L'Ombre de l'Olivier).

UNLOCK INTERNET OR RISK LOSING STAFF:

Jobseekers will think twice about employers who lock down work internet access, a senior Microsoft executive said today.

“These kids are saying: forget it! I don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t be freely online during the day,” said Anne Kirah, Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist.

“People that I meet are saying this to me every day, all over the world.”

In fact, I was saying it months ago.

DEBORAH FRISCH UPDATE: "As far as we know, she is now the first troll of the political blogosphere to face criminal charges relating to that activity."

UPDATE: More thoughts from John Cole.

OVER AT HOT AIR, GUESTVLOGGER BETHANY FROM REALVERSE looks at the Josh Wolf case. Honestly, the most damning things for Wolf are the remarks from his own attorney.

QUESTIONS ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH'S CREDIBILITY.

JULES CRITTENDEN on why terrorism against Fox News isn't news: "Fox newsmen don’t command the same level of sympathy and interest in our largely left-leaning media that [Jill] Carroll did."

YESTERDAY'S REAL FOOD / CRUNCHY CONS PODCAST produced a lot of email, including one from Dave Johnston of The Crisper, who says that he lost 51 pounds by switching to a "real food" diet. And the before-and-after pictures are pretty impressive.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More on pork from the D.C. Examiner:

This tale of two small tech companies in Alexandria perfectly illustrates how damaging the practice of earmarking — anonymously adding spending to appropriations bills without public hearings, open debate or peer review — has become. And not only for taxpayers who foot the bill.


Vibration and Sound Solutions Ltd. received millions for its “Project M” magnetic levitation program, thanks to earmarks submitted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. The tax dollars kept coming even though the Navy decided five years ago it wasn’t interested in VSSL’s magnetic levitation program.

When federal funds finally dried up earlier this year, Moran campaign contributor and company President Robert Conkling shuttered his Royal Street facility. At that point, according to Department of Defense officials, VSSL had received at least $30 million from the firm’s lone “customer” even though that customer insisted for years it wasn’t interested in the magnetic levitation program.

Moran and Hunter were far from alone in using defense spending for questionable purposes. There were 2,847 earmarks totaling $9.4 billion submitted by members of Congress in the fiscal ’06 defense budget. Not a dime of that $9.4 billion was requested by President Bush or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

You could do a lot with 9.4 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, Bill Frist responds to an InstaPundit post on pork from yesterday. "Many in the blogosphere – left and right – have rallied to support this crucial legislation, which is fitting, for no group better knows the power of technologically empowered grassroots activism. And, for reasons of policy and politics, many bloggers are rightly outraged that S. 2590 was shot down when I attempted to bring it up for a vote prior to the August recess."

But he doesn't out the Senator behind the "secret hold" on the earmark reform legislation. I suppose that's too much to expect, but it's not too much to hope for. . . .

MICHAEL TOTTEN looks at Israel's "Peace Now" under fire.

PREMIUM WATTS ONLY: Popular Mechanics has a driver's report on the Tesla electric roadster. "You squirt through traffic holes without the hesitation—it’s absolutely always in meat of the powerband. And all you hear from the powertrain is a hushed turbine-like wail from behind your head." I'd like one.

ANN ALTHOUSE IN The New York Times:

As long as we’re appreciating irony, let’s consider the irony of emphasizing the importance of holding one branch of the federal government, the executive, to the strict limits of the rule of law while sitting in another branch of the federal government, the judiciary, and blithely ignoring your own obligations.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Judicial Watch is claiming a conflict of interest.

And Ann thinks that some people are missing the point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr isn't very impressed with Judicial Watch's complaints: "I don't think Judge Taylor wrote a good opinion, but I think it's very far-fetched and rather insulting to her to suggest that her opinion was influenced by some kind of actual conflict of interest."

I suspect that's right, though it's probably true that if this case involved a conservative judge and the NRA we'd be hearing more about it.

A LOOK AT THE MINDSET OF THIS YEAR'S FRESHMAN CLASS:

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in “big boxes”.
6. There has always been only one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually “ring it up” on a cash register.

Lots more, including my favorite: "Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober." He's the Thomas the Tank Engine guy, right? But wasn't he in in some band, once, too?

MICKEY KAUS: "Whose judgment do you trust more: sweet unionized Iowa teachers or cynical unionized Vegas gambling workers? Somehow I don't think the Vegas gambling workers would have picked out John Kerry as 'electable!'"

IRAN'S DIPLOMATIC STRATEGY, EXPLAINED.

AMIT VARMA WRITES on transforming India's mental landscape.

A LOOK AT keeping silent rather than helping Bush.

August 22, 2006

DAVID BERNSTEIN on the decline of Amnesty International.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll reminds me that Steven Den Beste was on top of this phenomenon three years ago.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS ON GUNTER GRASS'S SS PAST:

"Let those who want to judge, pass judgment," Grass said last week in a typically sententious utterance. Very well, then, mein lieber Herr. The first judgment is that you kept quiet about your past until you could win the Nobel Prize for literature. The second judgment is that you are not as important to German or to literary history as you think you are. The third judgment is that you will be remembered neither as a war criminal nor as an anti-Nazi hero, but more as a bit of a bloody fool.

Ouch.

RICHARD COHEN ON THE MIDEAST: "This inability of Europe to get its act together is what suggests 1938. . . . Hezbollah's avowed aim is to eradicate Israel. Listen to what it says. Pay attention. It will renew its attacks the first chance it gets. This is why it exists."

PLAME UPDATE: Richard Armitage's hot seat is getting hotter.

IRAQPUNDIT SAYS HEZBOLLAH DIDN'T WIN. Aziz Poonawalla says Israel didn't lose.

A LOOK AT BLOGS and conversational marketing. (Via PJM).

ERIC SCHEIE HAS SOME THOUGHTS in response to the animal-rights terrorism item I posted earlier:

I think that the tactic of threatening children (which I've posted about infra), while nothing new to animal rights activists, works as a "twofer." That's because it simultaneously accomplishes both of the following:

1. It intimidates the intended audience (all animal researchers, and especially other researchers who might so much as think about doing animal research); and

2. It advances the nihilistic ideology that there is no moral distinction between humans and animals.

The latter fires up the troops, and frightens everyone else.

These observations are not new for me, and I'm sure others have made them too. But the reason I decided to write this post was that the other day I had the occasion to talk to a genetics researcher who works in the United States but who comes from another country, and closely follows what goes on in his field worldwide. He told me that the animal research work is constantly, relentlessly, being shifted to China. (You know... "Outsourcing.")

In an amazing coincidence, the outsourcing of animal research to China is also a "twofer":

1. In China, the concept of animal rights is a laugh (even more of a laugh than human rights, which is also a laugh). This means animal research facilities are not subject to policing or inspections as they are in the West.

2. Chinese researchers are meticulous and hard-working, and cost a fraction of their American counterparts.

So, as a result of the fascistic activist tactics, animal rights research is farmed out to a basically fascist country, where animals suffer more, and where the research can be conducted inexpensively without any real ethical limitations.

Sounds likely to me.

UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails:

Well, in its own way China also upholds the principle that there is no ethical difference between human and animals (sorry, make that "non-human animals"). Animals have no rights there, and neither do humans.

It's all making sense, now.

FINALLY, A FATWA I CAN GET BEHIND: "Death to CAPS LOCK."

MACACAGATE UPDATE: "Burned by a blog-induced firestorm over an an off-hand comment at a campaign rally, Sen. George Allen's campaign is seeking a conservative blog maven who can blunt future attacks and help rally conservatives in the state and elsewhere behind Allen's campaign." Better late than never, I guess, but . . . .

BRENDAN LOY LOOKS AT hurricane disaster scenarios that make Katrina look mild.

He's right to warn of these. On the other hand, as I've noted before, the media's tendency to hype every hurricane mercilessly means that warnings about really dangerous ones are more likely to be ignored. I think that was one reason why Katrina warnings got less attention than they deserved.

UPDATE: On further reflection, I want to quote this bit from Brendan's post: "He is mystified by a study that found 60 percent of people in hurricane-prone U.S. coastal areas have no hurricane plan — which to disaster managers means up to a week’s worth of food and water squirreled away, a kit with flashlights and other gear, and an established evacuation route to higher ground."

People, I don't care where you live, you should have a week's food and water, some other disaster supplies, and a plan for where to go if you have to leave your home. More on that here.

MY ARMY OF DAVIDS VIEWS COME IN FOR SOME CRITICISM at Government Executive magazine, which seems to view me as insufficiently friendly to big government. On the other hand, the author also thinks I work at the University of Texas, so I don't feel terribly stung by his criticism.

UPDATE: Reader Bill O'Neill found something else to object to:

Even more characteristic of government bureaucrats than the (now corrected) error in your university is the following sentence from the review you linked:

"I was intrigued by the notion of who might want to beat big government -- usually only tax cheats and other criminals are interested in that kind of racket."

Do you think this pompous bozo believes he works for us, the taxpayers?

Yes, quite a few people found that sentence both revealing and objectionable. (Though I should note that Govt. Executive is published for government employees, but not by government employees). But Shoop did send me a non-pompous email on the error: "Jeez, that was a dumb mistake. My apologies. I’ll correct it."

Quick correction is characteristic of the blogosphere and the Army of Davids, so maybe there's hope for him yet.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg comments on the review, and observes: "It's useful to note that when people criticize big government (at this website, the target is often NASA), it's not (necessarily) criticism of the people who work for the big government. People, good people, respond to the situation in which they find themselves, and they also respond to the incentives inherent in that system."

I've also noticed that some government people -- and some journalists -- respond to criticism of their employer or profession as if it were criticism directed at them, personally.

A MAJOR TAX DECISION from the D.C. Circuit, involving the reach of the Sixteenth Amendment. TaxProf has the scoop.

hampic.jpg
HAM ON PORK: It's a PorkBusters videocast from Mary Katharine Ham.

I think some folks in Congress were hoping that this issue would just kind of evaporate over the summer. Sorry, guys.

MORE ON THE WAR, from Michael Barone. And here are some related thoughts from Arnold Kling. "I think that the popular instinct is that the elites so far have not gotten it right on security and Islamic militancy. And in that regard, the popular instinct is right."

The Glenn and Helen Show: The Politics of Food

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It's all about the politics of food, and how food doesn't track politics very well. We talk to Nina Planck, author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why. and Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party). There's a surprising degree of overlap, and we learn about how the Internet is revolutionizing small farming and how foodie impulses and back-to-the-land sentiments defy traditional political categories. Plus, the dangers of vegetarianism, the health benefits of beef and butter, and advice on how to shop healthy, and save money, even at ordinary grocery stores. And Helen spars with Rod Dreher in defense of libertarian hedonism.

You can download it directly by clicking right here, or you can subscribe via iTunes here. There's a lo-fi version right here, and you can get all our podcasts at GlennandHelenShow.com. And if you'd like to stream it directly from your browser with no messy downloading, you can go here and click on the gray Flash player.

Music is "Myrtle Lee" and "Rough Skeleton," by John T. Baker.

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

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Washington Examiner weighs in on the Senate's secret hold on earmark reform legislation:

A Senate staffer — who shall remain nameless here — must have awakened on the wrong side of the bed Monday morning. Said staffer exploded in response to a constituent’s question whether the staffer’s boss was the senator who placed an anonymous hold on S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. . . .

Odds are slim that the real senator or senators behind the anonymous hold will ever come forward voluntarily, even though for years it has been customary in these arcane matters beyond the Senate cloakroom for the identity of such holders to be kept private only so long as necessary to force some sort of compromise on the legislation in question. Compromise is probably not the spirit behind the present anonymous hold.

The problem here, of course, is that federal spending transparency is anathema for too many Democrats and Republicans in government. They think members of the public ought to keep their noses out of how their tax dollars are being spent by the Potomac potentates at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and all the departments and agencies in between. The attitude was epitomized by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s statement that he was “damn tired” of the “so-called porkbusters” because “they’ve been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina.” Those words sound like something you’d expect from a prime suspect in the present mystery, do they not?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Over at the Corner, Andrew Stuttaford warns Republicans:

Stories like this can only add to a "throw the bums out" mentality this fall. And whoever the senator responsible for the "anonymous hold", the GOP should be under no illusions that - as the party in charge - they will be the ones that end up paying the electoral price.

He concludes, "Are you paying attention, Senator Frist?"

ANIMAL RIGHTS TERRORISM PAYS OFF:

The constant calls, the people frightening his children, and the demonstrations in front of his home apparently became a little too much.

Dario Ringach, an associate neurobiology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, decided this month to give up his research on primates because of pressure put on him, his neighborhood, and his family by the UCLA Primate Freedom Project, which seeks to stop research that harms animals.

Anti-animal research groups are trumpeting Ringach’s move as a victory, while some researchers are worried that it could embolden such groups to use more extreme tactics. . . .

Colleagues suggested that Ringach, who did not return e-mails seeking comment, was spooked by an attack on a colleague. In June, the Animal Liberation Front took credit for trying to put a Molotov cocktail on the doorstep of Lynn Fairbanks, another UCLA researcher who does experimentation on animals. The explosive was accidentally placed on the doorstep of Fairbanks’s elderly neighbor’s house, and did not detonate.

If people were doing this to animal-rights activists, it would be called fascism.

UPDATE: More threats against children here. And the Insta-Wife wonders why the AIDS activists aren't going after the anti-research animal-rights terrorists. Good question!

And reader William S. Aronstein emails:

"If people were doing this to animal-rights activists, it would be called fascism."

In fact, this informal "control of the streets" was a key part of the National Socialist and Fascist program. By intimidating their opponents with threats of violence, the fascists silence them.

With all of the reports of unhinged leftist mayhem catalogued by Michelle Malkin and Gateway Pundit, how far away from such a situation are we?

Still pretty far, fortunately. But I think the FBI should come down hard on animal-rights terrorism, and I think these guys deserve RICO suits to the same degree that anti-abortion terrorists do.

FEWER HURRICANES THIS YEAR, because of cooler seas? When I was in the Cayman Islands earlier this month, people said the water was a couple of degrees cooler than last year. Apparently, that's a general phenomenon this year. But Brendan Loy says more storms may be on the way.

AN 8/22 DOOMSDAY WATCH UPDATE: "It’s the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine."

GERMAN TERROR PLOT UPDATE:

A LEBANESE student suspected of trying to paralyse the German railway network with a bomb concealed in a suitcase appeared in court yesterday, as a huge police hunt for a second suspect continued.

The 21-year-old man was remanded in custody by an investigating judge in Karlsruhe, southwest Germany, on charges of attempted murder, belonging to a terrorist organisation and attempting to cause an explosion.

The suspect was an engineering student in the north German town of Kiel, where he was held on Saturday morning.

His arrest has thrown the country into panic since it coincides with Berlin’s emotionally charged decision to deploy troops in the Middle East for the first time since the Second World War. Suddenly Germans, too, are beginning to feel that they have become a target.

As opposed to a sanctuary, which is what they've been for years.

AN A'IMMA ANNIVERSARY: "Last weekend, roughly one million Iraqis celebrated a holy day in Baghdad. And they were relatively unmolested."

UPDATE: A less positive take from Omar. He's there, so I defer to his position.

AIDS UPDATE: William Saletan looks at circumcision as vaccination. "Drug researchers would kill for an HIV vaccine half as effective as circumcision." I think he overstates the case somewhat, but the evidence that circumcision makes a difference does seem to be growing.

MICKEY KAUS compares Iraq and Iwo Jima.

August 21, 2006

MOVIE CHANNELS BLOCKED IN MUMBAI: Amit Varma has the scoop.

IDIOT FATIGUE: Bruce Kesler says you don't know Jack. But he thinks you should.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: An interesting report:

House Republican leaders promise that even if lobby reform stalls - as it has - they will do something to rein in earmarks when they return to Capitol Hill next month.

The reason: There's too much flak over lawmakers who are cashing in on earmarks - legally, as campaign contributions; illegally, as bribes. Even good projects look bad when they're muscled into spending bills late in the process, anonymously, and with no competition, debate, or chance to delete them.

Read the whole thing.

CATHY SEIPP looks at Spike Lee's new Katrina movie, which seems to be rather conspiracist in nature. Those interested in a more factual account might want to look here.

Upside -- the movie reportedly features Brendan Loy, who provides some background and stresses a point that Lee may or may not address in depth: "Ray Nagin is an incompetent idiot. Here’s a detailed explanation of why. Two days before landfall, I predicted that he would be “the mayor who fiddled while New Orleans drowned,” and I was right. Yes, there were massive failures at all levels of government — local, state and federal — but the single person who bears the most blame, in my view, is Mayor Nagin, for failing to make even a halfway-serious effort at implementing the city’s evacuation plan, even though it was 100% clear by the Saturday morning before landfall that if there was ever a time to do it, now is the time. Spike, I gather, intends to focus on Condi Rice’s shoe-buying tendencies in tonight’s movie, and while that might score political points, it’s not the Secretary of State’s job to protect American citizens from hurricanes."

UPDATE: More Katrina background here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And in a largely unrelated item, Cathy also looks at hip hypocrites.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Brendan Loy has another post with further reflections on Spike Lee's film:

I don’t mind the inclusion of the conspiracy theories, in the sense that it’s good to know how many people believe that, but Spike definitely didn’t emphasize the debunking of those theories. His treatment was hardly evenhanded, clearly leaving the impression that these theories are plausible, if not likely. A bit more actual scientific commentary on the plausbility of the theories, and alternative explanations for the “explosions,” would have been appreciated. . . . Also: Harry Belafonte is an idiot. But if you’re going to include his inane ranting about how Bush doesn’t care about poor people and black people, where was the alternative viewpoint saying that it was incompetence, not malice? I know Spike had footage available of someone saying that, because I said it. He just chose not to use it. So Belafonte’s crap goes unrebutted, the ridiculous criticisms of Rice go unrebutted, Nagin’s comment about “where are the buses” goes unrebutted (the obvious rebuttal being, you let them drown, Mr. Mayor)… yet when people criticize Nagin, it’s rebutted by Nagin and others. Very interesting editorial choices, Spike.

But, alas, not surprising. Dishonesty is the small coin of documentary filmmaking these days.

MORE: On the other hand, Randy Neal loved the film.

THE HOTLINE BLOG: "Quinnipiac's latest poll suggests that the anti-war sentiment in CT isn't as fervent as anticipated."

Karl Rove has lured the Kos Krowd into a quagmire! But James Taranto is offering them a way out . . .

PAT BUCHANAN HAS A NEW BOOK OUT, but I thought The Camp of the Saints had already been written.

THE ANCHORESS is standing by her man. Who happens to be Rudy Giuliani.

THEY SHOULD HAVE HAD AN EXIT STRATEGY: "As the rest of the nation ponders solutions to Iraq war troubles, progressive bloggers are also mired in their own strategic quagmire in CT. After toppling Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in the 8/8 Dem primary, progressives are finding it more difficult than anticipated to rid themselves permanently of the 18-year incumbent. Now that it's clear cable exec Ned Lamont (D-CT) faces a tough battle that threatens to drain progressive resources and attention from other races, as well as draw out GOPers in close House races, some are arguing that Lamont should be cut loose to focus on the larger war against the GOP. For now, the 'stay the course' crowd is winning the debate."

If you criticize Kos, you're siding with the Republicans!

UPDATE: Ryan Sager wonders why the "netroots" haven't taken on Hillary.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heck, forget Kos. Nowadays, if you criticize Iran you're siding with the Republicans!

JAMES LILEKS DISCUSSES "the perpetual adolescent strain in post-WW2 culture."

NO, THERE AREN'T MANY HURRICANES. But that could change. They could rev up anytime. Yessirree, any old time at all. . . .

Yeah, they do seem a little bit desperate here (which is not to mock Alberto's fierce wrath). But hey, you can only milk JonBenet so long.

And anyway, for some reason (fear of an Iranian apocalypse tomorrow?) people want my disaster preparedness post again. It's right here.

UPDATE: Brendan Loy thinks that things may actually be about to heat up.

If that happens, I'll blame James Wolcott. But will that help the Republicans again?

HOT AIR has video of the Scotland Yard press conference on the UK skybombing plot. Claims that this was some sort of put-up by Bush and Blair are looking weaker.

YOUTUBE POLITICS: My TCS Daily column is up.

MIKE GODWIN WRITES on why net neutrality is like New York cabs.

UPDATE: Matt Sherman and Richard Bennett beg to differ.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: A new Wall Street Journal editorial looks at the secret hold on earmarks reform:

Yet most Senators clearly have no desire to shine a light on their spending practices, and at least one -- perhaps more -- has placed a "secret" hold on the legislation. Normally the architects of these holds are exposed within a few legislative days, but with Congress on recess the masked spender has so far evaded capture and public scrutiny.

Porkbusters, a grassroots outfit that fights government waste, found this untransparent move to stymie government transparency a bit rich, and last week launched a campaign to unveil the blocker's identity. It has asked its members to call on their Senators to disavow the hold, and the responses are trickling in. The group, which is tracking the results on its Web site (www.porkbusters.org), still has the pictures of 91 Senators under its "Suspect" list. The nine Senators who have denied placing the hold are now listed as "In the Clear"; they are Senator Coburn, Barack Obama, Mary Landrieu, David Vitter, John McCain, Ron Wyden, Richard Shelby, Jim Inhofe and Jeff Sessions.

If Congress insists on spending like there's no tomorrow, at least the Members could let the voters see what they're spending it on by passing Senator Coburn's reform. Will the real secret Senator please stand up?

I'm guessing he or she won't come forward voluntarily.

UPDATE: This item has produced an angry email to PorkBusters from a Senator's communications staffer, charging a "guilty until proved innocent" approach. This seems unwise, but I'll leave out the guy's name and attribute it to Monday-morning blahs. But here's some advice.

First, angry emails to bloggers are a bad idea. They usually get reprinted in full.

Second, "guilty until proved innocent" seems a bit strong, but it's also kind of rich considering that the whole issue stems from Senate secrecy about the people's business. It's the Senate's effort to avoid transparency and accountability that's at the root of the problem here. Senators conducting Senate business aren't like individuals going about their private lives -- they're public officials, who work for the public, who are doing the public's business, not their own. The Senate's tendency to forget that, and to wallow in its own sense of entitlement, is what's wrong here. Complaints like this one just underscore that.

MOSCOW MARKET BLAST: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

MORE TIPS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS: But advice tailored to boys that age seems to be in shorter supply.

DANIEL GLOVER: "Democratic bloggers have invested as much or more of their rhetorical energy into attacking lawmakers in their own party this year as they have Republicans."

AIDS UPDATE: John Donnelly, in the Boston Globe, finds some good news:

Today, the change for the better is astonishing: Idoko now treats nearly 6,000 HIV-positive patients. He has expanded his clinic three times in five years, and his waiting room once again is too crowded. ``Now, we are eyeing an abandoned building nearby," he said last week, chuckling.

The major reason for Idoko's success is the Bush administration's AIDS program, which in the last three years has sent billions of dollars to Africa and helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. When I moved to Africa three years ago, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was just getting off the ground. As I return to Washington this month, the $15 billion program is just hitting its stride, and many Africans believe it has become the single most effective initiative in fighting the deadly scourge.

``The greatest impact in HIV prevention and treatment in Africa is PEPFAR-there's nothing that compares," Idoko said.

Only you wouldn't know it in America-or Canada, or Europe, for that matter-given the tenor of the AIDS debate in Washington and the nature of the international media coverage.

Read the whole thing. (Via Miss Kelly).

MICKEY KAUS on Social Security reform:

'Defending' Social Security and achieving a decent health care system is less likely to 'galvanize and strengthen progressive reform as a whole' than it is to either bankrupt the government or require a larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear. . . .

It's when you don't think we should save the "universal" Social Security system that you don't want to engineer a few moderate Bush-style cuts now in order to make it solvent for the next 100 years, which will only convince everyone there's no reason to tamper with it! Better to leave the system alone and make truly radical, means-testing cuts later, when a) it will be clear there's a budget crisis and b) Democrats will be in a position to achieve something big, like national health insurance, in return.

I'm not sure how a budget crisis in Social Security will produce a favorable environment for another big entitlement program, but maybe I'm missing something here.

STRATEGYPAGE ON AFGHANISTAN:

The weekend saw another major Taliban defeat. It began when a force of about a hundred Taliban attacked a town 35 kilometers west of Kandahar. Police held off the attackers as reinforcing soldiers and police moved to hit the Taliban from the rear. NATO warplanes arrived as well, and by the end of the weekend, at least 71 dead Taliban were found in three locations. This battle was part of operations to stop Taliban attacks along the newly rebuilt Kandahar-Kabul highway. The Taliban losses are believed to account for about ten percent of the Taliban combat strength in the area, which is not good for morale. The Taliban have suffered one defeat, like this one, after another all Summer. Moreover, the Taliban have been trying to intimidate the NATO combat troops, without much success. Canadian NATO troops, which the Taliban have been clashing with regularly in the past month, were the ones who hit back at the Taliban this past weekend.

The report also says that Taliban efforts to terrorize Afghan tribes are having mixed results.

Meanwhile, John Tammes has a roundup of other news from Afghanistan that you probably missed.

August 20, 2006

VIDEO: Lieberman on Kerry.

"FAKE BUT ACCURATE:" ANN ALTHOUSE responds to Larry Tribe's defense of Judge Taylor's opinion.

MACACA UPDATE: James Joyner says the Washington Post is gunning for George Allen, and offers a psychological explanation: "One gathers the Post is more offended by the insinuation that inside-the-Beltway elites aren’t part of 'real America' than about the 'racist overtones' of the Macaca incident. Perhaps Allen’s remarks hit a wee bit close to home?"

Nah. It's all just misdirection to let them report the real damaging news that Allen is half French. . . .

JOE GANDELMAN looks at Republican pundits deserting Bush, which does seem to be a phenomenon. Bush -- who, as I've said before, has always been politically weak, just stronger than Kerry or Gore -- is in the "sweet spot" on the war, fighting hard enough to anger the antiwar folks but not hard enough to please the prowar folks. This might argue that Bush is getting it right, but I suspect not. If you're going to fight a war, you should probably fight it full bore or not at all, raising the troubling possibility that both sets of critics are right simultaneously. But perhaps a nuanced approach is called for.

On the other hand, the Hotline Blog suggests that Bush-bashing has gone too far, asking, "What's next, blaming Bush for ATM fees?"

UPDATE: Ron Coleman has had some related thoughts on waging war. So does Josh Trevino. They don't agree, though.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

JAMES PINKERTON wonders if AIDS has "pushed planetary politics to the right."

And colonialism isn't entirely out of style: "I heard a torrent of sex-drenched verbiage from white people, all aimed at browbeating mostly non-white people into changing their traditional ways."

IS THE ANGLICAN CHURCH splintering? My Nigerian relatives are Anglicans, and my sense is that the Nigerian church is far more conservative than the American or English versions.

SOME INTERESTING DATA ON PODCAST AUDIENCES, from Nielsen:

More than 6% of U. S adults, or about 9 million web users, have downloaded podcasts in the past 30 days, according to The Economics of Podcasting, a report released today by Nielsen Analytics, part of VNU’s Media Measurement & Information Group.

In a first quarter 2006 study, conducted by Nielsen Analytics at Nielsen Entertainment Television testing facilities in Las Vegas, more than 1700 participants were surveyed on their podcasting usage. About 6% of respondents described themselves as regular podcast downloaders – more than 75% of whom were male. The findings show that a significant percentage, approximately 38%, of active podcast downloaders say they are listening to radio less often.

“The incredible popularity of podcasting is the latest demonstration of consumers’ willingness to take control of their media experiences,” said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics. “While essentially still in nascent form, podcasts offer free audio and video content that is inexpensive to create, easy to access and on a portable platform that has already reached mass distribution. This exciting new medium has only just begun to stretch its legs.”

Judging by the numbers they give for popular podcasts, the Glenn and Helen Show is doing awfully well, though as with all Web stats its hard to be sure that you're comparing apples and apples. In the same spirit, I don't think that Nielsen will learn anything useful by sampling the habits of 400 iPod owners. First, most people listen to podcasts on computers, not iPods. (Even most people who listen on portable players tend to listen on other brands than iPods.) Second, Apple users tend to be disproportionately left-leaning, and while that's probably less true for iPod owners than it is for Mac owners I think it probably injects some potential bias. And finally, given the vast diversity of offerings out there, 400 listeners isn't nearly enough. Even 4000 would be a pretty coarse measure.

UPDATE: Reader Douglas Winship takes me to task, which, er, provides me with a great opportunity to showcase the self-correcting nature of the blogosphere:

I am curious about your assertion that Apple users as a whole tend to lean left. I know it is a common assumption, and Apple certainly has a tendency to lean left in the culture it uses in its advertising, but have there actually been studies on this? Could you cite one, just for grins?

I am curious, because my own experience does not support this. I know plenty of users who range from full-blown BDS sufferers, to California Libertarians (OK, there may not be a difference there....), and a bunch of moderate to conservative Republicans like myself. Now, I am aware that we all gravitate socially to like-minded people, but I find it hard to believe that Mac users gravitate that significantly Left.

He's right to call me. You hear that about Apple users leaning left all the time, but I don't have a study on that. Anybody know if I'm right, or just recycling commonly held stereotypes? I'm probably also wrong on the iPods vs. other players issue, as their market share (I looked this up myself) has risen to an astounding 82% of the retail market, and may be headed higher. Even allowing for the large base of preexisting players from other brands out there, iPods are probably an absolute majority of players in use. Also, interestingly, the percentage (not the number) of iTunes users subscribing to our RSS feed has dropped, as lots of people have started subscribing via Firefox and other agents. I assume those folks are listening on their computers, mostly, and certainly not on iPods.

I stand by my point about 400 iPod users not being a big enough sample, though.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chad Irby emails that the iPod has actually dropped to a "mere" 75% of the market. But mobile phone listeners are coming on strong. We certainly get some of those.

YES, IT IS THE SILLY SEASON, and this is the best headline example yet: "Sex Change for JonBenet Killer?"

IT'S A CULTURE OF CORRUPTION UPDATE over at Ed Morrissey's.

I'LL BE ON CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES at about 10:30 Eastern this morning, talking about George Allen and related items.

UPDATE: Hot Air has video thanks to Ian Schwartz.

LEBANON UPDATE: Jules Crittenden offers translations from the French:

In recent weeks, France stepped forward to act as a broker of peace in Lebanon. “Act” is the key verb in that last sentence, as it now would seem that the only other verifiable part of the sentence is “in recent weeks.”

To correctly parse that sentence, one must understand that when France suggested it wanted to broker peace in Lebanon, it did not necessarily mean “broker” or “peace” or “Lebanon” in the way we might understand those words. The same is true when France further suggested it wanted to “lead” a “strong” “multinational” “force” there.

Read the whole thing.

TOM W. BELL HAS THOUGHTS on victim disarmament policies. And Dave Kopel notes a Darfur connection.

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has some new stuff on behind-the-scenes efforts along those lines in the Clinton years. Bill Clinton thought that gun control cost him the Congress in 1996, and there's some evidence that Democrats have taken that lesson to heart, though as the party moves left I don't know if it will stick.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, on the Darfur front, here's a site that scores members of Congress on their efforts regarding the genocide there.

SOME MAP-READING ADVICE for the media: "Really with the ease and speed of web sources there is no excuse for reporters, or at least their editor when the reporter is in the field, to not check the web for correct locations, place names and other facts."

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