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September 02, 2006

PROF. KENNETH ANDERSON, IN THE NEW YORK TIMES: "It's Congress's war, too." And he says Congress isn't pulling its weight.

TIM BLAIR: "Osama fans enjoy eating out."

AL GORE DOES STANDUP on MTV.

HELEN FINDS a TV show she likes.

A POSSIBLY USEFUL GADGET: At the grocery store today, I ran across the Energizer Quick Switch Flashlight, which uses AA, C or D batteries in the same flashlight. This seemed useful enough that I bought one and tried it out. It seemed to work fine with either AA or D cells -- I didn't have any C batteries handy to test it with. It's a nice idea for an emergency kit -- and the Energizer literature specifically sells it for that -- as it will work with whatever batteries you happen to have on hand, or are able to scrounge.

Construction quality is OK, but the all-size battery tray is a bit flimsy-plasticish. Fine for an emergency kit, but not for long-term hard use, I'd say.

IF THEY HAD A HABIT OF BLOWING THINGS UP, they wouldn't face this problem:

BRITISH Jews are facing a wave of anti-Semitic attacks prompted by Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Synagogues have been daubed with graffiti, Jewish leaders have had hate-mail and ordinary people have been subjected to insults and vandalism.

But honestly, violent antisemitism (with Israel as a threadbare excuse) has been on the rise in Europe for years. And the authorities haven't done enough about it because, it seems, they're too afraid of the Muslims who seem to be behind these attacks and who do blow things up.

The incentive structure that this creates will likely come back to haunt them in a number of ways. But regardless, the virus of antisemitism seems to be spreading.

UPDATE: "Hey, kidnappers are people, too!"

Related item here.

HEH. I'm hoping the answer is "desperately bored."

THE FATTENING OF AMERICA: So the Insta-Daughter and I went for lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. That's not news, as we go there regularly. They had a new menu, which isn't news either, as they get new menus on a near-monthly basis.

What's new is that almost everything on it was fattening to the max.

They used to show the calories on the menu, along with other nutrition information. Not any more, and with good reason. A simple Cheeseburger is 1120 calories -- equal to two Big Macs -- and even the Turkey Burger, which you'd expect would be healthy (and which used to be) is 824 calories, more than a Whopper with cheese. And it's that way across the menu.

I don't mind that they have fattening stuff on the menu, but they seem to have stripped off almost all the old healthy favorites. The steaks are the lowest-calorie offerings left.

We got up and left without ordering; there wasn't anything we wanted. We won't be back until they change the menu again, which is too bad because we've always liked the place.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Crawford emails:

I've been on Weight Watchers for a year and a half, and occasionally go to Ruby Tuesday's with some friends. Until the last time, it was easy enough to find things that fit my diet. The last time, I saw the same menu you did; nothing that could work. I had even planned ahead, using information about the old menu to figure out what I could get, and the menu change blew away my plans. Heck, even the salad bar was about half acceptable.

Now, my choices are as limited as a vegetarian's.

On the other hand, Applebee's has a whole section of diet items, including a couple of desserts.

Which is why I expect that Ruby's will change their tune sooner rather than later. I don't know what they were thinking. I don't ask for tofu and sprouts (in fact, I hate those) but I'd rather not be presented with an array of things that are dripping in grease.

S.M. STIRLING'S NEW BOOK, A Meeting at Corvallis, comes out on Tuesday. It finishes up the trilogy that began with Dies the Fire, which is itself a spinoff -- or mirror-image, or something -- of the Island in the Sea of Time books. Anyway, I'm fortunate enough to have read it in manuscript, and it's an excellent conclusion to the series.

Here's an interview with Stirling that I did last year.

DARFUR UPDATE: "In the face of ongoing genocide in Darfur, the international community's failure to accept the 'responsibility to protect' (that's United Nations language, officially adopted) innocent civilian lives has taken its last, abject form. The National Islamic Front (NIF) regime in Khartoum, made up of the very men who have for more than three years orchestrated the systematic destruction of Darfur's African tribal populations, has been told directly and unambiguously that there will be no U.N. peacemaking force without its consent."

Kind of puts the U.N.'s disavowal of a right to self-defense in perspective, doesn't it?

UPDATE: And it's not just Darfur:

North Korea may be an even more egregious U.N. failure. Annan, his disgraced-and-resigned Special Envoy, his disgraced-and-fired U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and his America-loathing U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said absolutely nothing while North Korea starved two or more million of its people to death — probably intentionally — and China played the role of enforcer of this democide. The one U.N. official to have been the least bit helpful was Special Rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn, and there is little indication that his words will make much of a difference in the killing fields of North Hamgyeong.

If the U.N. cannot stop a genocide — and we now know that it is not above forming corrupt relationships with those who commit genocide — one would at least hope that it would not stand in the way of people exercising what was once enshrined as a right under the U.N. Charter: self-defense.

Hope, maybe. Expect . . . no.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH VS. HUMAN RIGHTS: "Manifestly, the work of Human Rights Watch on the Middle East is motivated less by concern for human rights than by the goal of damning Israel. Why this might be is not self-evident. But it perpetuates a long tradition of the appropriation of human rights terminology by groups and individuals whose true goals lie elsewhere, often quite far afield."

This phenomenon is obvious and indisputable, and it has led to a drastic loss of credibility on the part of human rights groups over the past several years.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH NO-KNOCK RAIDS: Radley Balko and Joel Berger have a piece in the Wall Street Journal today:

Criminologist Peter Kraska estimates that the number of SWAT team "call-outs" soared past 40,000 in 2001 (the latest year for which figures are available) from about 3,000 in 1981. The vast majority are employed for routine police work -- such as serving drug warrants -- not the types of situations for which SWAT teams were originally established. And because drug policing often involves tips from confidential informants -- many of whom are drug dealers themselves, or convicts looking for leniency -- it's rife with bad information. As a result, hundreds of innocent families and civilians have been wrongly subjected to violent, forced-entry raids.

Last year, for example, New York City police mistakenly handcuffed Mini Matos, a deaf, asthmatic Coney Island woman during a pre-dawn raid. While her young son and daughter burst into tears, Ms. Matos's plea to use her asthma pump was ignored until an officer realized they entered the wrong apartment.

Home invasions can also provoke deadly violence because forced-entry raids offer very little margin for error. Since SWAT teams began proliferating in the late 1980s, at least 40 innocent people have been killed in botched raids. There are dozens more cases where low-level, nonviolent offenders and police officers themselves have been killed.

Last summer a SWAT team in Sunrise, Fla., shot and killed 23-year-old Anthony Diotaiuto -- a bartender and part-time student with no history of violence -- during an early-morning raid on his home. Police found all of an ounce of marijuana. This January a member of the Fairfax, Va. SWAT team accidentally shot and killed Salvatore Culosi, a local optometrist with no criminal record, no history of violence and no weapons in his home. Police were investigating Culosi for wagering on sporting events with friends.

Public officials are rarely held accountable when mistakes happen. The Culosi family has yet to be given access to documents related to the investigation of his death, including why a SWAT team was sent to apprehend him in the first place. More than a year after Diotaiuto's death, his family too has been denied access to any of the documents it needs to move forward with a lawsuit.

What's more, New York, after promising to reform its practices, hasn't actually delivered:

In 2003, acting on a bad tip from an informant, police mistakenly raided the Harlem home of Alberta Spruill, a 57-year-old city worker. The violence of the incursion literally scared Spruill to death; she died of a heart attack at the scene. The raid spurred public outrage, calls for reform, and promises from the city to change its ways. The NYPD published new guidelines calling for more reliability when taking tips from informants. The city also promised greater vigilance in conducting surveillance and double-checking addresses before a SWAT team was sent in.

But later, during the course of a lawsuit stemming from another, mistaken raid -- in 1992, on corrections officer Edward Garrison, his elderly mother and two young daughters -- the city declared that all of the post-Spruill reforms it had promised were merely discretionary, not enforceable in court, and could be revoked at will by any future mayor or police commissioner.

In any case, botched raids have not stopped. In 2004, police arrested a Brooklyn father of two in a drug raid and held him for six months at Riker's Island. In March of this year they dropped all the charges, conceding that he had been wrongly targeted. The man's lawyer called it the worst case of malicious prosecution she'd ever seen. Also in 2004, police mistakenly raided the home of Martin and Leona Goldberg, a Brooklyn couple in their 80s, when an informant provided bad information. "It was the most frightening experience of my life," Mrs. Goldberg later said. "I thought it was a terrorist attack."

I'd like to see federal legislation making the officers, and the officials who supervise them, strictly liable in all such cases, without benefit of official immunity. No-knock raids should be reserved only for cases where there's an immediate threat to people's lives.

Link to the full piece should work for non-subscribers for the next week.

MORE UK TERROR ARRESTS:

Fourteen people were arrested in London overnight on suspicion they were involved in training and recruiting for acts of terrorism, police said Saturday.

Police said the arrests were not linked to last month's alleged plot to bomb U.S.-bound passenger jets or to the July 2005 attacks on London's transport network. . . .

Peter Clarke, head of Metropolitan Police anti-terror efforts, said police and intelligence agents were now attempting to track thousands of people believed to be directly or indirectly involved in terrorism, according to comments made public Friday.

The threat from homegrown terrorism is increasing in Britain, he told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast Sept. 3, an advance transcript said.

"What we've learnt since 9/11 is that the threat is not something that's simply coming from overseas into the United Kingdom," Clarke said. "What we've learned, and what we've seen all too graphically and all too murderously, is that we have a threat which is being generated here within the United Kingdom."

Nice to see them recognizing that. There's a roundup of blog reactions on these arrests here.

UPDATE: More thoughts here, including this observation: "We aren't creating terrorists in Iraq. The manufacturing process began long ago, and in one case noted at the end of this excerpt, the terrorist nested in Great Britain went to Iraq to 'blow himself up.'"

I GUESS IT'S EASY to be for raising the minimum wage, when you're not going to pay that much anyway.

UPDATE: Matt Edens finds something else interesting in the article:

From that Madison article about campaign workers making less than minimum wage linked on Captain's Quarters:

"Grassroots Campaigns, a Boston-based for-profit company with operations in 18 U.S. Cities..."

Well, "AstroTurf" is trademarked.

RED CROSS AMBULANCE DRIVER KILLED: But nobody cares, because Israel didn't do it. Heck, there weren't even photoshopped images making it look as if Israel was involved, which is kind of hard to believe, really. Is Reuters falling down on the job?

TOUCH THE MOTHMAN'S BUTT -- it's good luck!

September 01, 2006

NEWS ON WMD IN IRAQ: "For those keeping score, this most recent discovery raises the total number of chemical weapons found in Iraq since 2003 to more than 700." Follow the link for more information.

LEE SIEGEL, last seen accusing the blogosphere of thuggery, has been suspended by The New Republic for sock-puppetry. There sure seems to be a lot of that going around.

The New Republic also seems to have sent all of his posts to the memory hole, which seems rather extreme.

UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch writes: "We are approaching an election and the left and the press are in full melt down mode. I've seen this movie before."

Meanwhile, here's a non-left/right take: "Siegel is perhaps the single most pretentious person in America today, close to unreadable at length no matter the topic on which he is writing and immensely uninteresting as a blogger. It turns out he was conspiring with someone to post comments on his blog — evidently to create the impression that said blog had at least one reader." Ouch. Upside: Now James Wolcott's position in the blogosphere is unchallenged!

A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN to ask about the music from The Nevers in our last podcast. Sorry, but you can't get it anywhere at the moment -- it's from an unreleased demo. I'm trying to talk them into releasing it, though, and I'll let you know if they do.

DISSIDENTS at Dartmouth.

DONALD RUMSFELD ISN'T BACKING DOWN: "I do worry about the lack of perspective in our national dialogue — a perspective on history and the new challenges and threats that free people face today. Those who know the truth need to speak out against the myths and distortions being told about our troops and our country. My remarks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion conventions have generated much discussion. I encourage everyone to read what I actually said at defenselink.mil/speeches."

UPDATE: And I just got copies of letters that Rumsfeld sent to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Click "read more" to read them.

Read More ?


HMM. Some actions by Sen. Ted Stevens that have benefited his son Ben's clients.

VIOLENT DEATHS IN IRAQ dropped dramatically in August. As I've said before, I think it's a mistake to make much of these short-term trends, but given all the press that bad news gets, it's at least worth mentioning them.

UPDATE: Matoko Kusanagi emails: "Yesterday 64 civs died, 287 wounded. I wonder if the jihaadis see the declining death stats in the media (like for august) and work feverishly to pump up the number of deaths."

Sounds like middle-managers trying to make a quota. But wouldn't that dynamic lead to a spate of attacks at the end of the month, before the period closes?

The bottom line, though, as noted above, is that it's only the long-term trends that matter. What's disturbing is that the press tends to report short-term, and to emphasize bad news over good.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Looks like the good news may have been in error.

WILL FRANKLIN HAS more on the U.N. and self-defense.

UH OH: "I’m hearing all kinds of disturbing, though predictable, stories about a Clintonista offensive against 'The Path to 9/11,' an ABC documentary written and produced by Cyrus Nowrasteh ('Into the West'), and directed by David Cunningham ('To End All Wars')." . . . Apparently, the documentary recounts the bureaucratic bungling and lack of action against al Qaeda that was pervasive prior to the September 11 atrocities. It is by no means, I understand, pro-Bush. It is, instead, an effort to present history accurately. This evidently has many former Clinton officials and apologists in their default kill-the-messenger mode. Great pressure is being brought to bear on ABC and Disney to reopen the editorial process at this late stage (the documentary is supposed to air on September 10-11) so that the years 1993-2001 may remain forever airbrushed."

It seems to me that enough people have previewed it already that the consequences for ABC of making changes at this point would be disastrous.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt: "I, and I am sure many others, have been sent the entire six hour program to preview and review, which I will be doing over the weekend. Edits post-distribution of the review DVDs would invite scrutiny of the very portions sent down the black hole, underscoring the episodes the censors hoped to hide. No, I don't think ABC would injure its brand that way, and certainly not when they couldn't get away with it."

MORE: Stephen Spruiell called ABC and they say it's "locked and ready to air."

POLLSTER.COM is a new polling-related site set up by Mark "Mystery Pollster" Blumenthal. More about it here. I predict that it will become a daily stop for political junkies.

A WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL pronounces the Plame scandal bogus.

Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.

Including the Washington Post, alas. They should have been reading InstaPundit. Though I remember some people at the Harvard blogger conference in 2003 reacting with incredulity at my view that the Wilson narrative was extremely dubious, so I guess reading InstaPundit isn't enough. . . .


UPDATE: Roger Simon has questions for the New York Times.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Duncan Black isn't bitter that Fitzmas has become Fizzlemas.

And Tom Maguire is making the rubble bounce. Bounce, rubble, bounce!

IN THE MAIL: Cass Sunstein's new book, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge. It's interesting, because the original concept for An Army of Davids was going to be called Horizontal Knowledge, and was going to be something much closer to what Sunstein does in this book. That discussion wound up getting shrunk down to a single chapter in Army of Davids, as the book went in a different direction. But I always felt that the stuff I left out deserved more attention, and now I'm happy to see it getting some -- and, no doubt, done better than I would have done it anyway.

Interestingly, the "discussion forum" for the book leads with this question: "Is having a discussion topic for each book necessary?"

FBI RAIDS ON ALASKAN LEGISLATORS, including Ben Stevens, son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

byrdstevens.jpg
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "Busted by the bloggers:"

To the right of the masthead at the Web site porkbusters.org is a quote attributed to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott: "I'll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I'm getting damn tired of hearing from them."

Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) are probably damn tired of hearing from them too, but taxpayers ought to listen up--and applaud. The porkbusters led a pack of bloggers who outed the two senators for bottling up a bill meant to help the public track how its tax dollars are spent. . . .

When they were caught, Stevens and Byrd offered lots of blather about why they were preventing taxpayers from finding out how their money is spent.

Byrd's office said he just wanted to slow things down so the bill could get a thorough and open debate. Stevens' staffers said he was concerned about the cost, and he wanted a cost-benefit analysis and assurances that the database wouldn't create more bureaucracy and blah blah blah. Stevens could have brought all this up while the bill was in committee, but he skipped those hearings.

A more likely motivation: Stevens was mad because Coburn had tried to block a $223 million appropriation for Alaska's infamous "bridge to nowhere" that Stevens inserted in last year's federal highway bill.

It's a good day for taxpayers and the bloggers who got to the truth. And a bad day for secrecy in the U.S. Senate.

Indeed.

BRUSSELS JOURNAL: "The Belgian authorities have destroyed archives and records relating to the persecution and deportation of Jews in Belgium in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of this happened as recently as the late 1990s. This was revealed during hearings in the Belgian Senate last Spring. Though the Senate report dates from 4 May the Belgian press has not yet mentioned the affair."

Maybe the Belgian press is afraid of being treated the way Brussels Journal is being treated.

WAKE ISLAND GOT HIT:

Super Typhoon Ioke has made a direct hit on Wake Island, pounding the tiny U.S. Pacific territory with catastrophic winds of up to 300 kilometers an hour.

Ioke is the strongest central Pacific typhoon in at least 12 years. Forecasters expect the "monster" storm to submerge Wake Island and destroy everything on it that is not made of concrete.

The winds were strong enough to blow out the weather gear, but it recorded gusts of 190 mph before failing.

UPDATE: Brendan Loy thinks I'm misreading the gusts bit:

I think you're misreading the linked AP article (at the L.A. Times website) about Supertyphoon Ioke. I would be very, very surprised if the weather instruments on Wake Island survived long enough to actually measure 190 mph wind gusts. And I don't believe the AP is saying that they did. The article says: "the instruments blew out as the storm approached with winds up to 155 mph and gusts up to 190 mph." The description of what the storm "approached with" refers, I believe, to the official National Hurricane Center estimate of the storm's strength as it approached -- not to any actual measurements at Wake Island. A little strangely worded, but I think that's what it means.

Er, okay, though that does seem strangely worded. Either way, I'm certainly glad I wasn't there to experience it firsthand.

ARE JOBS LESS SECURE THAN THEY WERE A GENERATION AGO? Greg Mankiw says no.

UPDATE: A modest proposal for raising the median wage.

DEMOCRATS PUSHING A DRAFT? Sort of.

THIS SOUNDS PROMISING:

Cancer results from cells gone wild. Proliferating out of control, the cells spawn malignant growths that can travel throughout the human body, spreading the disease. Some patients' immune systems are able to recognize such tumors and begin to attack them, and research has shown that boosting the patients' levels of such tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes can help defeat deadly cancer. Now scientists have transformed immune cells into cancer fighters outside the body--and prompted complete remission in two subjects when those cells were reintroduced.

Let's hope that more extensive tests bear out these results.

August 31, 2006

IF PRO WRESTLING SEEMS TOO CALM AND DIGNIFIED, you can always read law reviews.

MORE ON THE U.N., SELF-DEFENSE, AND INTERNATIONAL LAW: "People writing reports for the U.N. should consider what the founders of the modern ideas of the law of nations had to say about the subject. Hugo Grotius was quite clear on the subject. Emmerich de Vattel was too. . . . the U.N. has cut international law off from its root."

MORE THOUGHTS ON ECONOMIC ATTITUDES, from Dr. Tony.

UPDATE: Meanwhile The New York Times is changing its tune.

DR. MELISSA CLOUTHIER says that full-spectrum lighting is better than fluorescent.

AVATAR INTERVIEW: Mark Warner was interviewed at Second Life. The transcript is here.

porkbusted.pngHERE'S MORE ON THE "SECRET HOLD" EXPOSURE, from The Hotline:

Stevens' admission "offered a glimpse into the increasing role that online pundits play in U.S. policymaking." It came a day after Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) "posted a Web entry asking colleagues to cooperate with bloggers who were trying to identify who was using the legislative maneuver to stall a vote."

The measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), "has bipartisan support" and has been "championed for months by bloggers who, regardless of their political persuasion, advocate for more information to be available through the Internet." RedState.com's Erick Erickson: "The left can very easily find out which earmarks Halliburton is involved with, and the right can find out which earmarks Planned Parenthood is involved with." Obama spokesperson Tommy Vietor: "When you have InstaPundit and RedState, some of the most influential conservative bloggers, working with (left-leaning) DailyKos, that's sort of a powerful grassroots alliance" (Talev, McClatchy Newspapers, 8/31).

CNN's Koppel: "This political-who-done-it captivated bloggers for days and brought together an unusual alliance on both sides of the aisle. ...

Let's hope it's just a beginning, and not a one-off.

UPDATE: Here's more on the Byrd secret-hold story.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Byrd admits it!

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd admits that he placed a “secret hold” on legislation that would make uncovering the Byzantine world of federal contracting as easy as typing a Google search.

Tom Gavin, spokesperson for Byrd, confirmed to Cox Newspapers that the senator placed the hold on legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., before voting on the measure.

Byrd joins Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, for holding up the bill right before Congress left town on August 4. . . .

Byrd has released his hold, now that there “has been time to better understand the legislation,” Gavin said.

Excellent news. And TPM Muckraker has more.

MORE: Bill Frist makes a commitment: "In September, I will bring S. 2590 to the floor of the Senate for the vote it deserves."

WHERE ARE ALL THE STUDENT ANTIWAR PROTESTS? Ann Althouse has some thoughts.

PIETER DORSMANN TAKES A LOOK AT Dutch politics and says that claims of a rightward shift may be exaggerated.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Despite Republican Sen. Ted Stevens being outed as a secret-hold source, there have been rumors swirling that there's a Democratic secret hold, too. TPM Muckraker has more:

By this morning, the dogged persistence of hundreds of bloggers and blogreaders garnered denials from 98 senators saying they did not hold up the Coburn/Obama spending transparency database bill. Only one senator, Ted "King of Pork" Stevens (R-AK), has admitted placing a hold on the bill.

But do the math -- you'll find that makes 99 senators. And Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) ain't one.

That's right: Byrd, whose penchant for pork would probably win him the Pork Crown if he weren't saddled with minority status, has for days declined to answer constituents and others who have asked if he put a hold on the spending database proposal, S. 2590.

We have called and emailed his office and press secretary at least a half-dozen times over two days. Yesterday, we were promised a statement by the end of the day; none came. This morning, spokesman Tom Gavin continued to blame Byrd's travel schedule for the lack of response.

What's more, staff in the personal and leadership offices of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been almost uniformly mum on the issue. If Byrd placed a hold on the legislation, he would have had to notify Reid's office to do so. After several calls and conversations with numerous staffers, Reid spokesman Jon Steinberg would say for the record only that "it's the policy of our office not to talk about holds."

Well, Byrd's not exactly beyond suspicion here. In fact, he and Stevens shared top honors in the PorkBusters Hall of Shame. Maybe they just like the attention!

UPDATE: An idea on turning secret holds into a force for good.

SELF-DEFENSE IS NOT A RIGHT, according to a U.N. Report. David Hardy has some thoughts. "As might be expected from the source, the concept of 'right' is rather ineptly socialist: rights are what you may ask the government to do for you."

IN THE MAIL: The DVD release of Paul Greengrass's United 93. I'll try to watch it this weekend, but the reviews on Amazon are already stellar.

CHANGING THE WORLD with new fluorescent lightbulbs:

For two decades, CFLs lacked precisely what we expect from lightbulbs: strong, unwavering light; quiet; not to mention shapes that actually fit in the places we use bulbs. Now every one of those problems has been conquered. The bulbs come on quickly; their light is bright, white, steady, and silent; and the old U-shaped tubes--they looked like bulbs from a World War II submarine--have mostly been replaced by the swirl. Since 1985, CFLs have changed as much as cell phones and portable music players.

One thing hasn't changed: the energy savings. Compact fluorescents emit the same light as classic incandescents but use 75% or 80% less electricity.

What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.

I replaced the bulbs in the overhead fixture in my study with compact fluorescents, and I'm not crazy with the quality of the light they're producing. But I may not have chosen the best new bulbs. I have been replacing outdoor lights with fluorescents, though, as I don't care as much about the light quality there.

But look who's spreading the technology:

In the next 12 months, starting with a major push this month, Wal-Mart wants to sell every one of its regular customers--100 million in all--one swirl bulb. In the process, Wal-Mart wants to change energy consumption in the United States, and energy consciousness, too. It also aims to change its own reputation, to use swirls to make clear how seriously Wal-Mart takes its new positioning as an environmental activist.

It's a bold goal, a remarkable declaration of Wal-Mart's intention to modernize and green up a whole line of business using market oomph. Teaming up with General Electric, which owns about 60% of the residential lightbulb market in the United States, Wal-Mart wants to single-handedly double U.S. sales for CFLs in a year, and it wants demand to surge forward after that.

Diane Lindsley, the hardware buyer who decides what goes in the lightbulb aisles at Wal-Mart, thinks 100 million swirls is perfectly reasonable.

No doubt we'll hear more complaints about evil monopsony power, though.

HOWARD KURTZ: "Cook up something, call it a 'study' and, like Pavlov's dogs, panting journalists will put it in print and on the air."

They respond faster, though, to studies that reinforce their political views.

JEFF SOYER'S ALPHECCA BLOG ISN'T DOWN -- just moving servers. It should be back soon.

THE INSTAWIFE has Google Ads on her blog now, and the context-sensitive adserving has responded to her post on prison sexual abuse by linking up "ladies of the Pen," a site dedicated to "lonely, sexy ladies looking for love" -- from behind prison bars. It seems like it ought to be a parody, but as far as I can tell it's not.

UPDATE: A reader emails: "Ladies of the Pen may not be a parody, but it's probably not what it claims to be. I recognized one of the women pictured as a fairly popular B-grade pornstar, so the other pics probably aren't authentic jailbirds either. (Let's not dwell on HOW I recognized her!)"

Maybe it's a Reuters operation . . . .

But if it's "Hoosegow Honey" action you're looking for, IowaHawk is the place to go! Guaranteed 100% authentic -- unlike, well, most of the stuff at IowaHawk.

OLBERMANN outdoes Chomsky.

JOHN WIXTED looks at how Americans hate their fabulous economy. The charts on attitude and economic performance are very interesting. (Via Power Line).

UPDATE: TigerHawk comments: "The problem with Engram's post is that it does not respond to the primary lefty criticism of the "Bush" economy, which is that real wages for the average Joe -- people who are not in, say, the top decile -- have been flat to down. . . . While I do not doubt that the media is tougher on the economy today than it was during the Clinton years, real wage stagnation is a more likely explanation for the sour public mood than a vast mainstream media conspiracy."

Hmm. Maybe. But two observations: One, the shift from satisfaction to dissatisfaction is awfully abrupt, and comes when Bush was elected. Wages can't stagnate that fast, but media coverage can shift tone that fast. Two, I keep hearing about real-wage stagnation, but everyone I know who has a business complains that they can't get enough decent help even when they raise pay, because people are always leaving for better jobs. That may be a local phenomenon or something, but I'd like to see something that accounts for worker mobility, too.

This post by Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek isn't quite on the point mentioned above, but it does explain why living at the median income today is a lot better than living at the median income was in 1967.

MORE: Wixted responds to TigerHawk.

THE WAR OF THE WALLETS: Austin Bay says that Hezbollah is not faring as well as many seem to think.

JIM LINDGREN WRITES on ABC News and the end of the world.

THE "INSTA-ANDIE MACDOWELL"? Actually, Helen hears this a lot.

August 30, 2006

FRED THOMPSON IN 2008: Brian Noggle makes the case.

DAVID LAT HAS A NEW LEGAL BLOG, called Above the Law. Okay, it's more of a legal-gossip blog, really.

VINCE CARROLL REVIEWS the Popular Mechanics 9/11-myth debunking book in the Rocky Mountain News.

Our podcast interview with the book's editors, David Dunbar and Brad Reagan, can be found here.

THE MANOLO has a great take on the Couric photo-fakery story.

UPDATE: Eww.

Plus, textbook faux-tography.

busted.jpg
CNN HAD A PORKBUSTERS / TED STEVENS FOLLOWUP: The video is at Hot Air.

UPDATE: Now there's a Democratic hold?

KATE O'BEIRNE: "For almost three years, at every minor twist or turn of Plamegate, there were media stakeouts at the offices and homes of of the suspected leakers that invariably made the evening news and played in constant loops on cable. So who's on Armitage driveway duty? Richard Armitage isn't being hounded to answer questions about his role in Plamegate because the media wishes he had no role."

UPDATE: "The Armitage revelation and way he and Colin Powell handled it—in the most self-serving way possible, with maximum damage inflicted on the administration—demonstrates what the real cabal in the first Bush administration was."

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

SHADES OF JOHN BARNES' MOTHER OF STORMS: A Pacific Category V "Super Typhoon" threatens to scrub Wake Island clean:

Classified as a Category 5 "super typhoon," Ioke is expected to extensively damage the U.S. territory when it hits Wednesday with 155-mph winds, said Jeff Powell, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

"This is going to roll up a storm surge that will probably submerge the island and destroy everything that's not made of concrete," Powell said.

Ouch. Glad I'm missing it. (Via Brendan Loy).

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: "Secret Senator" smoked out:

After much speculation, a staffer to Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, admitted to Cox Newspapers today that the senator is the lawmaker who placed a “secret hold” on legislation that would open up the obscure world of government contracting to public scrutiny.

Until now, it was a political whodunnit as to who quietly blocked 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.

Shockingly, Saunders takes a dig at the blogosphere.

As for Stevens' claim that he just wants a cost-benefit analysis, Mark Tapscott comments: "If that obvious BS doesn't get Stevens hooted out the U.S. Senate .... How about we do a cost-benefit analysis of Stevens' tenure in the nation's capitol?"

I think he'll want to put a hold on that . . .

AN A.P. HATCHET JOB ON RUMSFELD? The QandO blog does a side by side comparison of the speech and the AP story. Shockingly, the two are a less-than-perfect match. "I'm not sure why I felt compelled to compare the speech with the story, but for some reason the story just didn't sound right. And, as you can see, it wasn't. . . . CNN repeats the story unedited and obviously, unchecked. Forbes as well. Ditto for ABC and Fox. And you wonder how myths and memes get started?"

Wonder? No.

GREEN HELMETS ALL AROUND! CBS confesses to Katie Couric photo-slimming.

UPDATE: Best take yet, from Scott Lemieux: "Christ. DO they alter pictures of Chris Matthews?"

I'm not sure which answer to that question is more frightening. Well, yes I am, actually.

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY: "Patrick Fitzgerald's three-year manhunt to track down who blew Valerie Plame's CIA 'cover' has been exposed as a costly sham. He apparently knew all along that his man was not Scooter Libby. . . . From top to bottom, this has been one of the most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's history. That it's taking place at a time of war only magnifies its sordidness."

UPDATE: Tom Maguire: "Oh, stop. I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for belittling the investigatory ineptitude that allowed Fitzgerald to overlook the leak to Bob Woodward by Richard Armitage. (And I want to copyright 'What else did Fitzgerald not know, and when did he not know it?') I suppose that is a 'lie' in the 'Bush lied' sense, but I don't think anyone can argue that Fitzgerald knew the statement was false when he made it, or intended to deceive others, or made it with reckless disregard for the truth. Fitzgerald was wrong, but it was not a lie."

ALEX BEAM WRITES that dissent is being crushed at MIT.

I blame John Ashcroft!

UPDATE: Okay, I should clarify -- it's not MIT that's doing the crushing, it's where the crushee works. Read the article.

FRONTBURNER IS NOW UP AND RUNNING over at PoliticsCentral, with Claudia Rosett and Ron Rosenbaum posting. More to come.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: A Katrina video retrospective, at Hot Air.

IN THE MAIL: Obery Hendricks' The Politics of Jesus : Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted. Just in case you doubted that there's a Religious Left as well as a Religious Right. I expect that Amazon discussion board to heat up now that the book's out.

UPDATE: Telford Work emails: "Glenn, whatever the other merits or the demerits of Hendricks' book, I find it hard to believe that he and Doubleday used the same title as John Howard Yoder's classic The Politics of Jesus (Eerdmans 1972, rev ed 1994). Surely Hendricks has encountered it studying at Princeton Seminary or at New York Seminary where he now teaches; it is the seminal work on which many of the worthier voices in the 'Christian left' now draw. If is as if John Stossel wrote The Wealth of Nations or Stephen Jay Gould wrote The Origin of Species."

Yes, even I noticed that. It does seem a bit presumptuous.

UPDATE: Some very different thoughts on religion from Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Daniel Glover has more on the secret hold:

Every August, lawmakers leave Washington for relaxing summer vacations, taxpayer-funded junkets abroad, low-key field hearings and high-dollar fundraisers. In even-numbered years, the few incumbents whose jobs are threatened have more hectic campaign schedules, but for the most part, lawmakers don't have to answer tough questions in the month whose name is linked to external triumph and internal peace in the Roman Empire.

Not so this August -- at least not for the 100 unfortunate souls who happen to hold U.S. Senate seats when bloggers across the political spectrum are in a feisty mood. Those bloggers are hot and bothered not by the temperature and summer humidity but instead by the time-honored Senate tradition known as the "secret hold," and they are doing their best to break that hold against policymaking accountability.

The procedural hold in this case is on a bill that would create a public, searchable Web site of all federal grants and contracts in an effort to deter pork-barrel spending in lawmakers' states and districts. Senate tradition allows senators to place such holds anonymously as a way to delay or prevent floor action.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Ted Stevens?

ANOTHER UPDATE: William Beutler has much more on this.

MORE: Dave Weigel: "If earmarking was a 1970s adult film loop, Stevens would be John Holmes. (Robert Byrd could be Harry Reems.)"

So what, does that make Trent Lott Johnny Wadd?

MORE STILL: Reader Bill Gardner writes: "Under the heading of 'embarrassing trivia I shouldn't know,' JW and John Holmes are the same person."

You're right, Bill. About all of it! And various other readers sent variations on "Please! No posts that cause us to imagine members of the United States Senate naked!" Good point.

MORE ON FAKE NEWS: My TCS Daily column is up.

CRUSHING OF DISSENT, IN CANADA:

I saw the satirical website www.HezboLiberal.com and laughed pretty hard (my favourite line: "MP searches Middle-East for terrorism, finds Israel). But they weren't laughing over at Liberal headquarters. The party's in a bit of a snit right now over the issue of Israel and terrorism and they've lost their sense of humour.

The grown-up answer to a satirical website like that is to laugh it off. But the Liberal party is hurting right now, so it lashed out against the pranksters -- pressuring their internet service provider (ISP) to censor the site.

That's been their pattern, I believe. It only makes the satirist's point, of course.

"GERMANS LEAVE IN RECORD NUMBERS, FLEEING UNEMPLOYMENT:" Okay, so it's not exactly the Potato Famine. But it's evidence of the problems an overly rigid economy brings.

STUART TAYLOR on the Duke Lacrosse case -- and the New York Times' coverage thereof. "The Times still seems bent on advancing its race-sex-class ideological agenda, even at the cost of ruining the lives of three young men who it has reason to know are very probably innocent."

HITCHENS ON THE PLAME SCANDAL -- which turns out to be scandalous, but not in the way we were told for the past several years:

It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was "seized on by administration critics."

What does emerge from Hubris is further confirmation of what we knew all along: the extraordinary venom of the interdepartmental rivalry that has characterized this administration. In particular, the bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA appear to have used the indiscretion of Armitage to revenge themselves on the "neoconservatives" who had been advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein. Armitage identified himself to Colin Powell as Novak's source before the Fitzgerald inquiry had even been set on foot. The whole thing could—and should—have ended right there. . . .

And can one imagine anybody with a stronger motive to change the subject from CIA incompetence and to present a widely discredited agency as, instead, a victim, than Tenet himself? The man who kept the knowledge of the Minnesota flight schools to himself and who was facing every kind of investigation and obloquy finally saw a chance to change the subject. If there is any "irony" in the absurd and expensive and pointless brouhaha that followed, it is that he was abetted in this by so many who consider themselves "radical."

Yes. And some of us were skeptical a long time ago. But this only makes Bush look bad for his failure to fire Tenet -- and to roll some other heads at the CIA -- shortly after 9/11.

August 29, 2006

PORKBUSTERS AND THE "SECRET SENATOR" STORY were on CNN tonight. Hot Air has the video.

THE FEC CRACKS DOWN ON CAMPAIGN SPEECH: Mark Tapscott thinks it's a serious blow to McCain's campaign.

I agree. Despite his efforts to court bloggers, this will remind 'em that he got us into this mess.

And the whole campaign finance "reform" thing was astroturfed, anyway.

A HIT-AND-RUN SPREE in San Francisco:

As many as 14 people were injured this afternoon by a motorist who drove around San Francisco running them down before he was arrested, authorities said.

Seven of those injured were in critical condition, police and firefighters said.

Authorities have identified the man who was arrested as Omeed Aziz Popal, who has addresses in Ceres (Stanislaus County) and Fremont.

We need car-control. But anybody can buy one of those things, without even a background check or a waiting period. (Via LGF).

UPDATE: A terrorist attack? It does seem a bit reminiscent of the "Jeep jihadi." Well, to look on the bright side, better crashing cars into people than planes into buildings, I guess.

MORE: Gateway Pundit has a roundup. Reportedly, three other people have been taken in for questioning.

And Bill Quick warns people not to get carried away with speculation in advance of the data. Good advice, as always -- especially since, as Dan Riehl notes, Popal seems to have had traffic-court problems before.

Meanwhile, a few readers say that we do require licenses for cars. Not exactly. As Dave Kopel notes, licensing for cars is much, much looser than the regulation surrounding guns. People who think otherwise are mistaken.

CATHY YOUNG COUNTS THE WAYS that welfare-reform critics turned out to be wrong.

Plus, Mickey Kaus comments:

The purpose of welfare reform wasn't to lower the poverty rate. It was to move people from welfare to work--out of an isolated, non-working subculture that had all sorts of bad social effects (fatherless families, crime, segregation, etc.). If welfare reform could have done that with a small increase in the poverty rate, that would have been a price worth paying. If reform had accomplished this goal--a near-60% reduction in the families getting welfare**--with no increase in the poverty rate, that would be a victory. That the poverty rate has actually fallen a full point from 1996 (13.7% then to 12.6% now--an 8% reduction) is a significant success. ... P.S.: The black poverty rate has fallen from 28.4% in 1996 to 24.9% in 2005, a 12% drop. In 1993, when Clinton took office, it was 33.1%. Since then it has dropped by almost 25%. ...

Sounds like a success.

BILL FRIST on PorkBusters and the "secret Senator."

UPDATE: Tim Chapman, meanwhile, offers a defense of secret holds.

MORE: Frist promises to take S.2590, the earmark reform bill, to the floor.

SOME THOUGHTS ON DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE, from Steven den Beste.

AN INCUMBENT PROTECTION ACT? Pretty much.

AMERICA'S MUSLIMS: "Not as assimilated as you think."

UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla says "yes we are!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: I got several emails from American Muslim readers, along the lines of this one:

You've probably gotten a lot of responses like this, but I feel I must add to the chorus. American muslims are definitely integrated and as fully American as any other ethnic group. More so than many groups, in fact. The blindingly obvious difference with European muslims is that American muslims have not had the same job and class racism as exists in Europe and are for the most part have been able to reach the middle or upper classes. In fact, about 60% of all Americans of middle-eastern descent are college educated, compared to about 40% of all immigrants, and 25.9% of all U.S. citizens ... My own ethnic group, Americans of Egyptian descent, have about 80% college graduation rates. Hardly a poor, uneducated, unassimilated underclass.

This seems right to me, and I hope it is.

The Glenn & Helen Show: Richard Posner on Terrorism and the Constitution

posnercov.jpg
With the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks coming up, we thought we'd talk to law professor and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, whose latest book, Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency looks at terrorism, the Constitution, and issues of surveillance, civil liberties, and history. One quote: "Civil libertarians are in a state of denial." Despite this sound-bite, though, his overall views are rather moderate even if not politically correct.

You can listen directly -- no messy downloading -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. There's a lo-fi version here, and you can subscribe via iTunes here.

Surveillance-themed music by The Nevers.

UPDATE: Some comments here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A summary of the main points here.

MORE: Glenn Greenwald says that Posner is being un-conservative by advocating "drastically expanded police powers." Some things that Posner advocates in his book might fall within that category, though generally I think that's something of an overstatement. As I note in the podcast, what's interesting is that Posner's advocating a "more European" approach to national security powers, which produces a left/right role reversal. Posner also makes the point that it's interesting that the Supreme Court's foreign-law enthusiasts don't look to Europe as a model in these areas, as they do in the case of capital punishment.

Meanwhile, Allah characterizes this as an interview with God. Posner's a god on the legal scene, but I wouldn't call him God. Then again, who am I to argue about this stuff with a guy named Allah?

There's also this depressing note: "There is something seriously wrong with this country when I have to download a random podcast to listen to an eminent scholar like Posner while cranks like Walt & Mearsheimer are hosting their talk at the National Press Club, televised on C-SPAN." And JonBenet stories trump all!

But by "random podcast" I believe he meant "first-rate Internet audio production" . . . .

MEARSHEIMER AND WALT: Idiots, or anti-semites?

Do I have to choose?

MORE FAUXTOGRAPHY: Katie Couric gets a touchup. Okay, it's more than just a touchup. But you can trust her and CBS to present the unvarnished truth on the air!

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's more confidence-inspiring journalism from CBS.

MORE: But see this.

IN THE MAIL: Marvin Olasky's The Politics of Disaster: Katrina, Big Government, and A New Strategy for Future Crises.

"HOW DARE HE DEMAND WE TELL THE TRUTH!"

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has criticized "dishonest" media coverage of the conflict in Lebanon.

In an address to the National Newspaper Publishers Conference, Downer denied media claims his ministry had been slow in providing assistance to thousands of Lebanese-Australian passport holders, The Australian newspaper reported.

"What concerns me greatly is the evidence of dishonesty in the reporting out of Lebanon," he said. He gave as examples the case of photographs of the results of Israeli air strikes being altered and the "tendency to report every casualty on the Lebanese side of the conflict as a civilian casualty, despite indisputable evidence that many of the injured from the Israeli offensive were Hezbollah combatants," Downer said.

The secretary of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Chris Warren, says Downer's remarks showed an unfortunate but increasing trait of governments to try and dictate conflict reporting.

If any other industry were doing as much public harm by producing a similarly substandard product, the press would be screaming for the government to take action.

UPDATE: More here.

SECRET SENATOR UPDATE: Andy Roth has a poll letting readers vote on their top suspect in the "secret hold" case. At the moment, Ted Stevens enjoys a slim lead. Well, maybe not enjoys, exactly.

HOWARD KURTZ: "Will every anchor, correspondent and producer who shamelessly hyped the John Mark Karr story now apologize for taking the country for a ride? Don't hold your breath. . . . Karr was a fake, and the media caravan moves on. But I don't think the public forgets. They should teach this one in journalism schools for a long time."

I'm not expecting much in the way of apologies for the Plame story, either.

UPDATE: Heh. This photo says it all.

A YEAR LATER, Hurricane-blogger Brendan Loy looks back at Katrina, and talks about what we've learned.

UPDATE: Bob Owens says we shouldn't be rebuilding New Orleans: "We should have learned; you don't build a major city in a hole in a swamp surrounded by the Mighty Mississippi on the one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other and expect it to last."

THE POLITICS OF THE WAR: Bill Stuntz, writing in the Weekly Standard, says that voter dissatisfaction with the war stems as much from a sense that Bush isn't fighting hard enough as from a sense that it's going badly: "Voters may indeed want America either to win or get out of Iraq. But I bet they'd prefer winning to getting out. The real problem is that we aren't doing either." Michael Barone, however, sees some spine-stiffening among the electorate.

Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus looks at reports from Iraq and comments: "One wonders if the Washington players are now so locked into the hell-in-a-handbasket Iraq story line--in large part because the polls support it--that they are incapable of grokking a promising trend in the news."

August 28, 2006

CATHY SEIPP looks at Barbara Ehrenreich.

MARY KATHARINE HAM authors a memo to the press: "Why we don't believe you." Various bogus-journalism incidents are invoked.

Related post here. But who could believe that Reuters would fake a photo?

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The "Secret Senator" story got addressed by Brit Hume on Fox News today.

You can see the video at Hot Air.

Meanwhile, TPM Muckraker reports that the number of Senators denying that they're behind the "secret hold" has risen to 58.

The circle continues to close! Some readers wonder what happens if the secret-hold Senator just lies about it? Well, if we get to 100 denials, it's going to be pretty embarrassing for the Senate, which has already had about all the embarrassment it should want in an election year. But I don't think that will happen.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has more.

MARY KATHARINE HAM has the latest on the Greg Mitchell story.

STILL MORE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: A somewhat snarky post over at KnoxViews gradually turned into a fairly useful discussion of disaster preparedness for people who are poor, sick, or disabled. (Bizgrrl's actually very nice; she was just a bit overwrought.)

Here's a blog post on that very topic, "disaster preparedness $5 at a time." Anybody interested should join the conversation with their own suggestions.

WHEN THE LEVEE BROKE: Paul at Wizbang says that it was bound to go soon.

MY EARLIER POST linking to Stanley Kurtz's "Fallout Shelter Future" article generated a lot of emails like this one from reader James Ivers:

Dean Ing, in the 1970s published a series of articles called "Gimme Shelter" in a series of paperbacks edited by Jerry Pournelle in which he listed a largish number of things an individual could do independently to survive attacks by what we now call WMD. I think I possibly still have copies of many of them.

He lists simple things like having a bicycle generator and a bike to charge up low-power radios and such, and how to radiation-proof (at least a little usefully) your basement for the 3-4 days of maximum danger from fallout, etc. How to use rolls of toilet paper and other stuff to build a servicable air filter quickly.

Anyhow, it looks like someone should look into updating this sort of stuff. Many people I knew at the time were convinced that in case of nuclear attack we'd all die. Ing said, "not so," and explained how those even a little distance from the blast effects could increase their chances of survival. Same for CBW attacks.

I think we're a long way (er, well, at least a medium way) from needing to prepare in Cold War fashion. But I remember the Dean Ing articles, and I believe they're collected in Pulling Through, which is still available.

Something that we did in the 1950s and 1960s that would be worth redoing now, though, is stocking public buildings (as the designated "fallout shelters" were) with water, food, and emergency supplies, which would be useful against all sorts of disasters, natural or manmade. As we learned in Katrina, evacuations don't get everyone out, and the people who remain are often those least able to take care of themselves or prepare for emergencies.

UPDATE: Reader John Lynch emails:

The king of the DIY nuclear survival books is Cresson Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills. On Amazon, but NOT copyrighted (intentionally) and available for download legally. For obvious reasons, I'd rather have a bound copy around than one on my hard- drive.

The book is full of exact instructions on how to build a fallout shelter, how to store food, how to build your own geiger counter from a coffee can ( really ) and it has all been tested by the Oak Ridge lab. They even had some families test it out. Very readable and very useful.

Yes, I believe Kearny's work was the basis for Dean Ing's articles, but I'd forgotten this book if I ever knew about it. I'm not sure that this stuff is really called for, though I suspect that most of what passed for even basic nuclear-survival knowledge in the Cold War has been forgotten by nearly everyone.

ALLAH says that the NYT photo being questioned on Drudge isn't photoshopped.

MAKING SADDAM watch the South Park movie.

Is that cruel and unusual punishment? No. Maybe if it were Gigli.

TPM MUCKRAKER has joined in the hunt for the missing Senator behind the secret hold on earmark reform legislation.

UPDATE: Fifty Senators are accounted for. The circle is closing: The anonymous Senator had better come clean!

CALIFORNIA KABUKI:

On August 16th, the California Senate became the first state legislative body in America to vote to turn over redistricting powers to an independent agency. Although it was hailed by hopeful reform advocates, it was an illusion. It was all part of a kabuki play launched last year when the Democratic leaders of California’s legislature promised to do redistricting reform “the right way” … if only voters went along with them in defeating Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s redistricting reform initiative, which they did. . . .

Meanwhile, after this extraordinarily laughable episode, with the press clearly not buying the explanations of Democratic legislative leaders, it’s obvious that only public pressure and the intervention of the governor will get the entrenched political class to honor its promises. What else is new?

Didn't Kaus predict exactly this?

A FALLOUT-SHELTER FUTURE?

Better dust these off.

TERROR TV: A look at Al Manar television, over at Hot Air.

DEAN ESMAY ON THE SENATE'S SECRET HOLD: "It's sort of telling that the government can't keep its mouth shut about secret terrorist wiretaps and secret terrorist financial tracking programs, but somehow this information manages to stay under wraps despite public pressure."

UPDATE: Er, Dave Price, not Dean Esmay. The dreaded co-blogger confusion strikes again!

MORE FAKE NEWS.

"DUMB ECONOMIC POPULISM:" Sebastian Mallaby writes: "By beating up Wal-Mart and forcing it to focus on public relations rather than opening new stores, Democrats are harming the poor Americans they claim to speak for."

A DIGITAL CAMERA customer satisfaction survey, from J.D. Power. (Thanks to reader Paul Engel for the link).

MICHAEL TOTTEN REPORTS on Israel's other rocket war, with lots of photos.

AMERICA: More like Sweden than you thought!

PRAISE for Tom Lantos.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The "secret hold" story has provided an irresistible news hook.

It's a sign of just how hot an issue pork-barrel spending has become that the biggest game in political Washington this summer is trying to smoke out the senator who is blocking a bill to create a searchable database of federal contracts and grants.

The bill has the support of the Bush administration and activists on widely divergent sides of the political spectrum. It also passed a Senate committee without any objections, so the unknown senator is annoying many people. . . .

Now Porkbusters.org, a Web site dedicated to exposing wasteful government spending, is conducting a public campaign to smoke out the obstructor or obstructors, while blogs on both sides of the political spectrum have weighed in, demanding action on the bill. Mr. Frist has also vowed to get into the act, promising to try to pass the bill again when Congress returns from its break next month.

"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," Mr. Frist wrote in an entry last week on the blog of Volpac, his political action committee.

Thanks, anonymous Senator!

UPDATE: More here:

The hunt for the senator is turning into a classic political "whodunit," said Brian Darling, director of senate relations for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative leaning think tank based in Washington.

It could be anyone -- Democrat or Republican -- Darling said. To place a hold, senators merely have to inform their leader that they don't want the legislation to move forward, he said.

It remains unclear if the senator responsible will be able to withstand the pressure from the broad array of groups and senators supporting the bill.

Why would a senator be against a database that makes it easy to track what companies are awarded grants, procurement contracts, loans, insurance and financial assistance?

"Somebody has something to hide," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a new Washington-based nonprofit devoted to helping the public understand Congress through the Internet.

Gee do you think? And still more here:

The same Senate rules prohibit those party leaders from disclosing which of them did this dirty deed, and at which senator's behest. It's treated like classified information.

It's troubling enough that Congress functions like this. All the worse is that this is such an important bill that serves the pubic interest. That some would stoop to such depths in opposition to government transparency can only suggests that the awarding of the government contracts and grants the database would track is even more corrupt than anyone had suspected.

It does.

ROD LIDDLE in the (London) Times:

Quick, somebody buy a wreath. Last week marked the passing of multiculturalism as official government doctrine. No longer will opponents of this corrosive and divisive creed be silenced simply by the massed Pavlovian ovine accusation: “Racist!” Better still, the very people who foisted multiculturalism upon the country are the ones who have decided that it has now outlived its usefulness — that is, the political left. It is amazing how a few by-election shocks and some madmen with explosive backpacks can concentrate the mind. . . . This is how far we have come in the past year or so. When an ICM poll of Britain’s Muslims in February this year revealed that some 40% (that is, about 800,000 people) wished to see Islamic law introduced in parts of Britain, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality responded by saying that they should therefore pack their bags and clear off. Sir Trevor Phillips’s exact words were these: 'If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else.'

I think we'll see more of that.

"THANK YOU, WAL-MART!" Wait, I thought that when Wal-Mart forced Coke to make its product healthier that was a bad thing, and a sign of its evil monopsony power . . . .

August 27, 2006

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, so blogging has been light as we've engaged in various family activities. It's likely to remain so, but if you're bored, note that GayPatriot is livepodcasting the Emmy awards.

CONVERTED TO ISLAM AT GUNPOINT: It's not a religious war to us, but it is to them. More here.

Much, much more here. Plus this: "I’m glad these guys are safe and free. I wish them well. But I hope there will be some attention paid by Fox and other media to the way in which kidnappings and similar threats coerce and intimidate journalists, and may influence their coverage."

RICHARD ARMITAGE WAS THE ORIGINAL PLAME LEAKER, according to the new book by David Corn and Michael Isikoff.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire, unsurprisingly, has thoughts. And there's lots of discussion at The Corner, too -- just keep scrolling.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A Tom Cruise Plamegate connection?

Meanwhile, Cruise has been busier pushing Scientology than anyone knew. According to a just-declassified State Department schedule, Cruise visited then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on June 13, 2003, just an hour after Armitage had met with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. (It's speculated that Armitage outed Valerie Plame as a CIA spy at that meeting.)

Cruise was accompanied by Tom Davis, head of the L.A. Celebrity Center for Scientology, and Kurt Weiland, Scientology's veep of communications.

What was discussed? "Only Armitage can answer that question, and he's no longer here," a State Department spokesman told us. E-mails to Armitage and Cruise's rep weren't answered, nor was a call to Scientology headquarters.

Forget 9/11, here's some real conspiracy-theory material.

SCALZI WINS: Reader Darin Briskman emailed last night, after I went to bed: "I am live at the Hugo awards ceremony in Anaheim. I thought you's like to know that John Scalzi just won the Campbell Award for best new Science Fiction and Fantasy Author."

You can hear our podcast interview with Scalzi here if you're interested. Can we spot talent, or what?

THE ORANGE REVOLUTION'S AFTERMATH: Robert Mayer of PubliusPundit is reporting from Ukraine and Belarus.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Ed Feulner writes:

The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to build an easy-to-use Web database containing detailed information about all the grants and contracts the federal government hands out. This database would allow virtually anyone to see how much money a federal program received and how it spent that money. And, to ensure that public oversight is timely, information about spending would, by law, have to be posted within 30 days of when Congress authorized the money.

“It shouldn’t matter if you think government ought to spend more money or less money,” Obama says. “We can all agree that government ought to spend money efficiently. If government money can’t withstand public scrutiny, then it shouldn’t be spent.”

That makes perfect sense to most people. That’s why the bill has 29 co-sponsors, including staunch liberals, determined conservatives and self-professed moderates. Small wonder it’s moved through the legislative process at what amounts to lightning speed.

The bill was introduced in early April and has already been passed by a committee (the step in the process where senators usually bottle up controversial bills) and placed on the Senate’s legislative calendar.

But one senator doesn’t like it. And that may be enough to derail it, because he (or she) has put a hold on it. A secret hold. How’s that for irony -- a secret hold on an open-government bill?

It may not stay that way for long, though. The watchdog group Porkbusters (www.porkbusters.org) is trying to smoke out the offender. It’s urging constituents to call their senators and push them to disavow the hold. Senators who go on record against the hold are “removed from the suspect list.”

Sen. Obama and I disagree on many things. But he’s right about this. The U.S. needs more openness in government, so anyone and everyone can review how Uncle Sam spends our tax money. Good government shouldn’t be held hostage by secret holds.

Lawmakers have the right -- indeed, the responsibility -- to block legislation they consider bad. But they should always do so publicly, identifying themselves and explaining their actions.

Indeed.

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