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October 07, 2006

RAND SIMBERG looks at some interesting goings-on in the aerospace field.

A LOOK AT International Law, firearms regulation, and human rights.

KATE WRITES: "By the time you read this, seven more women will most likely have been stoned to death after being convicted of committing adultery."

MORE ON LIBERTARIAN DEMOCRATS, from Ilya Somin and Megan McArdle.

I'm sufficiently unhappy with the GOP that I wish the Democrats would show me something. So far, though, not much.

LIEBERMAN NOW 20 POINTS AHEAD OF LAMONT? Wow.

MICKEY KAUS: "Immigration is big! It's the fence that got smaller!"

DAVE KOPEL WRITES ON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS AND PRESS-INSPIRED COPYCATS:

Copycat violence from media sensationalism dates back at least to 1888, when Jack the Ripper mutilated and murdered five prostitutes in London. Improvements in printing technology, such as typesetting machines, had led to the creation of low-cost, mass-market daily newspapers - "the penny press" - which thrived on lurid crime reporting. The immense publicity given to Jack the Ripper led to many copycat murders and rapes.

Although Coleman does not explicitly say so, his evidence suggests that a Chinese-style system of strict and comprehensive censorship would deprive would-be copycats of inspiration.

However, censoring the American media to prevent school shootings runs into the same problem as banning guns in order to prevent school shootings. An effective gun ban - including confiscation of the more than 200 million guns currently in private hands - would drastically reduce mass murders at schools, since there are no other weapons which are so easy to use and which allow one person to control a crowd at a distance. But it is unrealistic to believe that a gun ban would actually prevent guns from being plentiful on the black market, just as legally prohibited drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin are plentifully supplied on a black market that even a high school student can reach.

Similarly, it is difficult to believe that an official system of censorship in the U.S. could prevent the informal spread of news about school shootings - especially in an era when everyone has cell phones and e-mail. Moreover, official censorship would inadvertently give credibility to false rumors and hoaxes about shootings. (Of course there would also be insurmountable constitutional problems with censorship or gun bans.) . . .Because of the First Amendment, it is up to the media themselves, and not government, to search for ways to reduce the media's role the vicious cycle of copycat murders and suicides. But the evidence produced by Cramer and Coleman suggests that it is long past time for the media to begin the necessary self-examination.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Here's the article Kopel refers to, in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics.

TIGERHAWK is running a straw poll on the economy.

JOHN WIXTED NOTES THAT THE FEDERAL DEFICIT IS PLUMMETING, and stresses a lot of other good economic news:

Let's see, GDP growth is strong, productivity is way up, unemployment is low, family incomes are rising, inflation is down, the stock market is up, and the federal deficit is down. Yet polls show that we are about to put more Democrats into both the House and the Senate.

So much for "it's the economy, stupid!" Wixted has lots of interesting charts and data.

GETTING READY FOR THE Schwarzenegger / Angelides debate.

MEGACHURCHES WITHOUT GOD: This should prove an interesting sociological experiment, if nothing else.

We're already part-way there. My daughter took one of her karate belt-tests at a megachurch whose denomination was indiscernible -- even its Christian nature appeared only thinly, as the cross in the sanctuary was inconspicuous and the only one present. But it had a cafe with free wi-fi, and extended child care.

October 06, 2006

FUN TIMES DRINKING with Countertop and Dave Hardy. Plus, "Dave Kopel is a hottie."

MORE ON preventing school shootings.

MAIMON SCHWARZSCHILD VISITS FRIDA KAHLO'S HOUSE and is appalled to find it lovely:

Say what you will about Kahlo's art - it has always seemed self-dramatising kitsch to me - she had a lovely house. It's disconcerting to realise that you have tastes (in surroundings, if not in art) in common with a devotee of political barbarism.

The fashion shoot pleased me, on the other hand. There's something oddly reassuring about Kahlo's radical chic transformed into pure unadulterated commercial chic.

Will Trotsky be next? His house is around the corner from Kahlo's. He appears to have had a brief affair with Kahlo. That would have been before Kahlo's hero in the Kremlin had Trotsky murdered with the icepick.

I think Trotsky's house would be an excellent site for a fashion shoot.

ON FREE SPEECH, Peter Beinart asks liberals where's the outrage:

If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed. Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush. . . .

But it's not enough. There are liberal causes that have nothing to do with opposing Bush and his Republican henchmen. In fact, some of those causes might even place liberals and Republican henchmen on the same side. And liberals must be passionate about them nonetheless. Partisan militancy may be necessary to combat Republican power. But it cannot define what it means to be a liberal in the United States today.

Except that it pretty much does.

MULTIMEDIA: Bloggers discuss the success of the transparency legislation, on video.

And here's a podcast of last week's Pajamas Media panel on "How Partisan is Too Partisan?" at the National Press Club in Washington.

A FULL FOLEYGATE INVESTIGATION IN THE WORKS? Some people won't like the "under oath" part.

ED CONE sends a link to this interesting photoblog by Lisa Scheer.

A BLOG CONFERENCE TOMORROW in Greensboro, N.C. That's the second one this month! But this one features Scott Johnson of Power Line.

$1.6 BILLION for YouTube? Seems like a lot to me. I'd sell InstaPundit for half that much!

USING THE N-WORD at Columbia University.

UPDATE: A statement from Columbia President Lee Bollinger. Plus, this email from reader Ian Jay:

Just wanted to point out a note regarding the link you put up to the News Alert article, which went on to link to a Fox News transcript, where Marvin Stewart of the Minutemen stated that the protesters used "the n-word". I wasn't there, and I haven't seen video, so I obviously can't comment on whether that's correct or incorrect.

But, it's worth bearing in mind that Marvin Stewart later in that interview proves himself to not be the most reliable narrator of the evening. He went on to say that, with regards to the banner that was unfurled by the protesters, he "was informed that the Arabic writing stated that the holocaust did not happen." According to the Blue and White, a Columbia blog which has been covering the issue, this isn't quite true. Or really, isn't true at all.

Link

So in general, I'm suspicious of the way he recaps the evening, just as I'm suspicious of the anecdotes coming from the other side that claim they "peacefully" went on to the stage and were "attacked".

On a related note, I'm not planning on really taking sides here, but I do want to emphasize that the protestors who rushed the stage were absolutely not representative of "the viewpoint of Columbia University" (which is the way this story seems to be headed), any more so than the Minuteman speakers were. The people who rushed the stage were, according to reports I've read, members of the local branch of the International Socialist Organization, which at last count had about 30-40 student members, out of a Columbia student body of about 20,000. Their actions are absolutely condemnable, but it's disconcerting to read things that seem to indicate a belief that the viewpoint of those who rushed the stage is shared by Columbia students in general. We should denounce the protestors, but I'd be wary of denouncing Columbia as an institution along with them.

This was far longer than I had expected it to be. Either way, have a great weekend.

I will. And how Columbia as an institution looks depends on how Columbia as an institution acts. So far it looks hopeful, but we'll see.

Here's a report from the New York Sun.

THE IRAQ WAR MOMENTUM POST from this morning has been updated a lot. Scroll down, or go here.

HYBRID UPDATE: A look at the Lexus GS450h. "We can see the self-appointed hybrid police objecting already. The new Lexus GS 450h doesn't promise 50-mpg fuel economy. Instead, it delivers V8-like thrust with four- or six-cylinder economy. And to us, that makes good sense."

THE INEVITABLE FOLEYGATE CONTRARIANISM IS STARTING TO APPEAR:

This Florida ex-congressman Mark Foley stuff is totally lame ass crap manufactured and distilled way out of proportion to be some sort of scandal, when it is really little more than some idiot douchebag's personal embarassment. What crime was committed? So far as I can tell as of this typing, none. What potential crime was averted through the breaking of this information in the national news media? None. What happened? Okay: some idiot wrote supposedly creepy and salacious instant messages to some teenager a couple of years ago, maybe apparently at the teen's goading, maybe not. But, anyway, who cares?

Nothing happened to nobody. . . . Will any of these right wing commentators arguing that something bad and evil happened please explain what, exactly, was bad and evil? And, no, I wouldn't want some douchebag creep writing my sons similarly, and I hope to raise them right enough to not even need to find themselves remotely close to the position of receiving such communication, but beyond the fact that one nitwit wrote highly embarassing instant messages to someone he shouldn't have, and resigned as a result, where, exactly, is the source of outrage fueling all this?

Andrew Sullivan has a similar, if more restrained, take:

The most infuriating aspect of the Mark Foley fiasco is that we're still unclear on what exactly it is we're infuriated about. This was not pedophilia: The pages involved were all above the legal age of consent in Washington, D.C. It wasn't exactly pederasty either, given that we have no evidence (at least not yet) of any actual sexual contact between two live human beings. Sexual harassment? It doesn't appear that, at the time of the now-infamous instant messages, the pages were in Foley's employ. The best phrase I have been able to come up with for Foley's transgression is "virtual pederasty," with a large dose of extremely creepy and abusive behavior toward younger, vulnerable people whose trust he clearly betrayed.

Something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.

But as a preemptive move, Roger Simon has outed himself, the better to stay ahead of the McCornthyites.

UPDATE: More on "The List" and witch-hunts from Gay Patriot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bob Owens continues to ask what Brian Ross knew, when he knew it, and who he knew it from. And A.J. Strata is asking questions, too.

Meanwhile, reader Michael Sauter emails: "Your various posts on FoleyGate and the coming elections brought a question to mind: whatever happened to the old saw, 'It’s the economy, stupid!'?"

The GOP would be ahead by 50 seats if that were true. And reader C.J. Burch emails:

David Corn sort of makes it appear that the Dems are willing to crush the gay folk to get elected in '06. The question is will the gay folk step into the meat grinder as willingly as the feminists did when Bill Clinton had his problems with Monica Lewinsky? I think what you're beginning to see from Andrew is called a second thought, as in on "second thought maybe this is a bad idea."

Feminism has never recovered from Monicagate, as even Maureen Dowd has noticed. But in a followup email, Burch adds:

Of course none of this changes the fact that Hastert has been a terrible majority leader for the Repubs, (William Jefferson, ethics reform, pork, etc., ect.) and the nation as a whole. The Repubs clinging to him so desperately is a sign of a deep rot in their party. A rot that is different from the rot that is eating the Democratic party away, (hatred of America, defeatism, political correctness, socialism, ethnic plantations) but disgusting all the same.

Yes, the two-party system would be more appealing if we didn't have these two parties. . . .

FINALLY: "Outing closeted gays is good, but outing anonymous accusers is despicable!"

THE LATEST BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW PODCAST is up, with Austin Bay, Richard Fernandez, and Gerard van der Leun talking about North Korean nukes, Congressional emails. Plus, Australia integrates Islam.

JAMES LILEKS:

It comes down to this: Islam is being defined in the popular mind by three forces: the radicals who kill, the PR-savvy activists who protest, and the officials who cave. The aggregate effect does not produce good will. Every time something gets cancelled out of fear of the Few, it works to alienate the Many, be they people annoyed by the cancellation, or those annoyed by the initial provocation.

Read the whole thing.

TOM MAGUIRE LOOKS AT BILL CLINTON'S VIEWS on media bias.

ARE AMERICANS OBSESSED WITH SEX?

Yes, and there are double standards galore, too.

BURT RUTAN TALKS ABOUT the future of space travel, and SpaceshipTwo:

I think the public will be surprised at how large it is. We are building 11-place commuter airliners. If you're going to send somebody to a resort hotel in orbit, it's okay to cramp him into something small with a little window. Because when he gets there he has this big spacious hotel, and he gets his view and his weightless experience. But with suborbital spaceflight, your destination has to be your transfer van. We believe the people — and there will be large numbers of them at the cost at which this can be done — they'll want to float around and look out of large windows facing all directions.

Read the whole thing.

IN THE MAIL: Ian Bremmer's The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall. Looks pretty interesting, though this bit from the jacket copy is contestable: "U.S. policymakers have sought to manage security threats with a simple formula: reward your friends and punish your enemies." I'm not so sure that accurately describes our approach, unfortunately.

UPDATE: Here's a review of The J Curve in the Philadelphia Inquirer, by Tim Worstall.

SHARON BEGLEY:

You have 100 doses of a vaccine against a deadly strain of influenza that is sweeping the country, with no prospect of obtaining more. Standing in line are 100 schoolchildren and 100 elderly people.

The elderly are more likely to die if they catch the flu. But they also have fewer years left to live and don't get out enough to easily spread or catch the disease. The kids are more likely to act like little Typhoid Marys, sneezing virus over anyone they encounter, and have almost their whole life ahead of them. But they're also less likely to die if they get sick.

Whom do you vaccinate?

Plus, there's this: "Last year, scientists showed in a model that if you vaccinate about 60% of U.S. schoolchildren, flu deaths among the elderly would fall to 6,600 from the typical 34,000."

As a parent, it's easy to convince me that the nation's schools are the key reservoir of infectious disease.

THE NRA HAS ENDORSED Tennessee's Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen.

ALL WEEK, Patterico has been posting a series of interviews with a nurse from Guantanamo. Here's the roundup post with links to all of them.

mushroom2.jpg

Yes, it's rained a lot around here lately.

UPDATE: Reader Mary Rue emails: "OK! What camera did you use to take that Incredible pix of the Mushroom!!!!!"

Well, it's not "incredible" -- I'm no Rick Lee -- but I saw the mushroom when I drove in from dropping my daughter at school, and thought it would make a good picture; I haven't done enough photoblogging lately. I took it with a Nikon D50 and the 18-70 kit lens that came with my old Nikon D70.

I bought the D50 because the autofocus failed on the D70 (out of warranty, of course) and it would have cost exactly as much to get it repaired as a new D50 body cost. The quality is as good as the D70, and it's easy to use -- my daughter, age 10, took this picture.

OIL PRICES drop again.

DAVE KOPEL has thoughts on what to do about school shootings.

WITH DEMOCRATS REACHING OUT TO LIBERTARIANS, Arnold Kling offers a suggestion:

What I propose is that Democrats promise to support one major libertarian experiment. In exchange for Democrats agreeing to support this experiment, libertarians would agree to vote for Democrats.

The experiment that I have in mind is school choice. If Democrats would instead prefer an experiment with voluntary investment accounts substituting for Social Security, that is an acceptable alternative. But for now, let us work with school choice.

I think his offer is likely to be rebuffed.

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS in Londonistan.

INDICTMENTS IN THE AIR AMERICA SCANDAL:

Two former executives at a government-funded youth organization whose finances were scrutinized after it diverted money to the liberal radio network Air America were charged Thursday with misappropriating $1.2 million of the non-profit's funds.

Charles Rosen, a former executive director at the Gloria Wise Community Center, and his former assistant director, Jeffrey Aulenbach, face charges of grand larceny and obstructing governmental administration. Rosen was also charged with forgery.

There's lots more on this story at Radio Equalizer.

A LOOK AT POTENTIAL MILITARY NANOTECHNOLOGY and what to do about it, from the Lifeboat Foundation. The discussion is rather speculative, but interesting.

ONE OF MY QUESTIONS about the war effort in Iraq is why we lost momentum -- as I noted before, the old saying is that you can do anything with bayonets except sit on them, and we've been sitting on them in Iraq instead of taking the war effort to our enemies, many of whom are outside of Iraq. Mohammed of Iraq the Model has a lengthy discussion of that very topic. Excerpt: "The insurgents, terrorists and militias operating in Iraq depend on foreign support for money, training, technology and in some cases men. Moreover the influence of foreign interference is clear even in the political arena in Iraq through the numerous political crises the country had faced. Thus, this war will not see an end unless America revives the preemptive war strategy and start chasing the enemies and striking their bases in the region, especially in Syria and Iran."

That seems right to me, and I don't understand why the Bush Administration has let the momentum grind to a halt. (Does Iran already have nukes, and has it successfully threatened us with them? Possible, I suppose, but how likely?)

UPDATE: TM Lutas says that Mohammed and I are wrong, and misunderstand the U.S. strategy. "I've been writing about how the US and Al Queda are fighting on a meta-battlefield of serialization and parallelization since at least 2003. The US is fundamentally trying to slow things down, occasionally biting where it chooses, chewing, and swallowing chunks of Al Queda and company at its convenience. Al Queda tries to make it politically impossible to maintain a sustainable pace so that the US is forced by political realities into burnout, leading to an opportunity where Al Queda can actually claim a durable military victory."

Read the whole thing. I hope he's right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Driscoll emails:

For what it's worth, when I interviewed Mark Steyn last week for an upcoming TCS podcast to discuss "America Alone", he suggested the same thing that Mohammed of Iraq the Model and you did: take the fight into countries like Syria. I replied that you'd immediately hear folks like Sen. Kerry saying, "It's Cambodia, all over again!"

Steyn replied that Kerry would, of course, say that no matter what we did, but it dovetails into one of the central points of his book: think of how badly we'll look on the world stage--and especially, in the Middle East--if we lose another long drawn out conflict: "America will look not like a super power, but a super pussy". (And yes, that was the phrase Steyn used.)

Jonathan Gewirtz has more thoughts, and Barry Dauphin emails:

I can understand your desire for the pace with respect to Syria and Iran to pick up. But to paraphrase someone else, you go to war with the democracy that you have. Democracies have to fight wars with a certain level of popular support or they can't genuinely fight. Bush's approval ratings aren't low because we haven't invaded Syria, but because Iraq is so very difficult. Furthermore the opposition party has to support the kind of effort you are talking about or there simply can't be that kind of effort. It will be a long, hard slog. I think Administration strategy is always tempered by domestic political concerns. How could it be otherwise. Should the House & Senate fall to democrats, is there any chance in heck that the Administration could move in any way close to what you are suggesting?

Yes, it's hard to do with our current political situation. And M. Simon has further thoughts.

MORE: A reader who prefers anonymity emails:

We're not losing momentum in Iraq. The Pentagon strategy is a very deliberate form of tough love that is forcing the Iraqis to defend their own country.

Arabs are culturally the most passive, fence-sitting people on the planet. By their own admission they follow the strongest leader out there. If we had sent 500,000 troops to Iraq and fought a Soviet-style counterinsurgency, the end result would have been an Iraq with no incentive to do the very hard work of creating viable fighting forces from scratch. We would've been their new masters in perpetuity.

We also can't attack Iran and Syria right now because the Iranians would then activate their Iraqi militias and send a million Basij into Iraq. Syria would do a Saddam and start firing WMD-tipped missiles at Israel. The entire region could go up in flames.

Don't let the media convince you that things are going badly in Iraq. The Anbar tribes are now fighting al Qaeda on their own initiative, and the Shi'ite-dominated government is slowly dismantling al Sadr's Mahdi Army. "Experts" predicted that neither of these things would ever happen because of secular loyalties, but they are happening, and only because we're forcing the Iraqis to stand up and fight for their country.

Finally, take a look at what happened when the French, Soviets, and Russians fought Muslim insurgencies with the kind of aggressive, "proactive" approach so many Americans claim to want.

The French lost 18,000 in Algeria, a KIA rate three and a half times ours. The Soviets lost 14,000 in Afghanistan, a KIA rate twice ours. The Russians officially lost 5500 in the First Chechen War of 1994-96, but Soldiers' Mothers of Russia puts the actual number at 14,000, a KIA rate ten times ours. Nobody knows how many Russian troops have died in the Second Chechen War, but Soldiers' Mothers of Russia had the number at 11,000 by 2003.

Our strategy in Iraq is sound. It's keeping our own casualties down, and it's forcing the Iraqis to defend themselves.

Don't despair. We're winning.

I certainly hope so.

October 05, 2006

ED MORRISSEY looks at events in Anbar province, and observes: "The tribal backlash shows why the Zarqawi strategy was always a loser."

SANDY LEVINSON -- one of my favorite Constitutional Law scholars -- is blogging over at Balkinization, and has thoughts on slavery, genocide, and humanitarian intervention.

PORN AND GAMBLING ON THE INTERNET -- KEYS TO LIBERTY? Well, they're keeping government employees from doing their jobs. Assess that how you will.

MICKEY KAUS:

If Harold Ford is elected to the Senate from Tennessee, will he get the same adulation Barack Obama--and now Deval Patrick--are receiving from "starry-eyed Democrats" and MSM types? ... kf prediction: No. Why? Ford is too ostentatiously centrist and idiosyncratic. He doesn't activate The Dream.

Hmm.

THE DOW HITS its third consecutive high in three days.

UPDATE: Bill Quick, you'll be surprised to hear, is unencouraged by these numbers.

ANOTHER FOLEYGATE ROUNDUP from Pajamas Media, including an item that casts doubt on Drudge's "prank" story.

UPDATE: Much more at Hot Air. Plus this: "I’m going on record with my prediction: Hastert steps down before the close of business tomorrow."

That would be okay with me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Advice to the GOP, from Ed Morrissey: "Unfortunately, they and their supporters have proven resistant to good advice. The sooner we quit trying to win an unwinnable argument, the sooner the air will deflate from this embarassment. If Republicans had done that last Friday, all of the subsequent revelations would have generated drastically less damage to party credibility."

MORE: A Knoxville angle on the Foley story.

SPREADING VIOLENCE in Europe, according to Brussels Journal. That was a year ago, but this report from today says it's getting worse.

UPDATE: Brian Dunn asks what the rioters want: "Jobs, or hijabs?"

And Tim Blair offers a quiz.

HAVE YOU LISTENED to your newspaper today?

CATHY SEIPP REFLECTS on the tenth anniversary of Fox News.

A.C. KLEINHEIDER LOOKS AT race and the Tennessee Senate election.

BOB OWENS: What did Brian Ross know and when did he know it?

And from whom?

HERE'S AN INTERESTING REVIEW of The Blog of War, in The Philadelphia Inquirer. (Via Frank Wilson).

CLAUDIA ROSETT visited Guantanamo and reports on what she saw: "To fly into the damp Caribbean heat of this U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is to enter a place of multifaceted myth, a zone that continues to inflame the imagination of the world. And yet, when it comes to witnesses, monitors and the media, there is probably no more heavily trafficked detention center on the planet."

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER: Now Drudge is reporting that "the now famous lurid AOL Instant Message exchanges that led to the resignation of Mark Foley were part of an online prank that by mistake got into the hands of enemy political operatives, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal."

Like Brendan Loy, I don't think this gets Foley off the hook even if its true. (Hastert? I'm not sure.) But it certainly complicates things.

Craig Henry says this whole scandal is "anti-gay window advertising," and Bill Quick agrees, somewhat more pungently.

UPDATE: John Podhoretz comments: "If Drudge has it right, then Foley got played by a couple of teenagers. Which seems like fitting punishment for him. But did the rest of us have to get drawn into this bottomless vortex?"

And Eric Scheie writes: "Is it worth taking another look at all the facts and finding out exactly what Foley did?"

WRONG-HOUSE DRUG RAIDS ARE BAD ENOUGH, but here's a wrong-house annoyance-call raid:

For a 67-year-old homeowner and his wife, wrongly subjected to a shattering pornography search, saying, "Oops, wrong number" is not enough.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich apologized Tuesday for the blunder, which he said resulted when Detective Timothy Hines tried to nail whoever was responsible for obscene calls to at least 20 women enrolled at Whitworth College.

Hines wrote down the wrong figures for a telephone number associated with the calls, and he obtained a search warrant for a house in Spokane, miles from the correct location in suburban Spokane Valley, Knezovich said.

The irate homeowner told The Spokesman-Review, which did not identify him at his request, that deputies dumped out drawers, went through his wallet and checkbook, seized computers, CDs, floppy disks, VHS tapes and other material and refused to clean up the mess in the raid Sept. 27.

A half-dozen sheriff's vehicles converged on the house, and after taking photos outside, Hines told officers within hearing of the neighbors, "Now let's go inside and get some porn," the owner said.

Inside, the man said, a female deputy "giggled" about remarks at his expense.

"It's like the gang that can't do it right," he said. "They shoot themselves in the foot, and then they all come to make peace.

"What would you do if somebody came to your door and ripped your whole house apart, turned everything upside down and said you are a porno freak?"

You ought to be able to sue for damages, with no bar from official immunity, and recover attorney's fees if you win. (Via MBS).

IS THERE A RATIONAL BASIS for banning same-sex marriage?

NOT EXACTLY THEOCRACY: In the mail, a copy of Andy Olree's new book, The Choice Principle: The Biblical Case for Legal Toleration. According to the enclosure, its central thesis is that "God ordains governments, but only for the very limited purpose of protecting citizens from those who would directly harm others through force or fraud. This understanding would exclude legislation for other purposes, such as discouraging sexual impurity or the hoarding of wealth . . . . an evangelical commitment to moral absolutes and the authority of Scripture need not entail government endorsement of religious truths or legislation of any particular view of what constitutes a virtuous life."

Not exactly theocracy, as I said. Or anyway, if this be theocracy, make the most of it. . . .

DONALD SENSING HAS MORE THOUGHTS on the Battle of Franklin. The 21st Century one, not the 19th Century one.

TURKISH PEACEKEEPERS ARE GOING TO SOUTH LEBANON: But this doesn't inspire much confidence:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has assured the skeptical public that Turkish soldiers will be withdrawn immediately if asked to disarm Hezbollah fighters.

Why is it that these "peace process" agreements always seem to turn out to be some sort of sham?

TOM PAINE makes a comeback.

EMILY LITELLA ALERT: Drudge is reporting that Foley's accuser was actually 18 years old at the time the Instant Messages were sent. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: A reader emails: "Do you really think no one in the Republican leadership has bothered to go back and look at the file to see how old the page actually was?"

A competent Republican leadership certainly would have, but that's pretty much already been ruled out, right?

I'm all in favor of getting rid of Hastert -- but I've been in favor of that for a long time, and his William Jefferson response seemed to demonstrate his utter ineptitude -- or worse -- sufficiently for my purposes. And as I noted yesterday, the Republican House leadership has squandered its political and moral capital across the board and over an extended period of time.

On the other hand, if ABC ran with a story that was wrong in its essential detail, turning consensual behavior among adults into underage sex, well, that's kind of a major blunder, too, at the very least.

MORE: Bob Owens says that the IMs started when the page was 17. It's just the publicized chat, apparently, that took place at age 18.

Meanwhile, reader Christopher Grayce thinks I'm wrong to talk about "underage sex," as there was no actual sex:

I don't recall anything in the Foley story about sex. Just some naughty text messages. I mean, that's in bad taste, but maybe this shouldn't be quite the witch hunt it is. I'm also a little nonplussed by your strong distinction between salacious messages to a 17-year-old on his own in D.C. with an 18-year-old. I believe both are legal (age of consent being lower than 18, I think). I'm sure you'll recall a young man can join the Marines and go to Iraq at 17.

I'm not defending being a paederast, but still, aspects of this process are beginning to look a little hysterical.

Good point.

MORE: Strangely, the above produces this email from an (of course) anonymous lefty emailer:

You and your entire side of the political spectrum are now plainly exposed for what you are: power-hungry perverts, obsessed with anal rape. From Abu Graib to Giuliani Time, from Mark Foley to outlawing gay marriage, to authorizing Bush to "define" the Geneva Conventions, conservatives in America are obsessed with just one thing: penetrating the rectum of unwilling partners.

Maybe we should ask Mrs. Instapundit about these tendencies.

Republicans: The Anal Rape Party.

Fitting, don't you think?

Hmm. My first thought is that I didn't realize that Bill Lockyer was a Republican. My second thought is that you're a loony. That's pretty much my third and fourth thought, too. . . .

Anyway, I am on the record as being pro-sodomy, but not of the coerced kind, though as far as I know there's none of that to be found in FoleyGate. Seems to me that some Democrats are going a bit off the deep end here.

STILL MORE: James Joyner notes that Judd Legum is among those who seem to have lost it.

APPARENTLY, WE'RE STILL NOWHERE NEAR A RECESSION: "The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in 10 weeks. . . . The level was down by 17,000 from the previous week and marked the second consecutive week that claims applications have fallen, providing evidence that the slowdown the economy has been going through since the spring has not triggered a big increase in layoffs. Meanwhile, many of the nation's major retailers reported Thursday that sales came in better than expected in September as customers, encouraged by falling gasoline prices, went on a shopping spree."

Funny that this good economic picture is getting so little attention. Unemployment is very low, inflation is low, the Dow is at record highs. . . . You'd think we'd be hearing more about it.

MARK TAPSCOTT IS GUESTBLOGGING over at the PBS MediaShift blog.

THERE'S NOW A TRANSCRIPT of our John Fund podcast on election fraud. You can read it here. In the not-too-distant future, these will routinely appear a few days after the interview is posted.

STRATEGYPAGE ON WHY THE KURDS ARE DOING BETTER than the rest of Iraq:

When asked, Kurds attribute their peaceful neighborhood to the fact that Kurds are not Arabs. But this is not the main reason, for the Kurds have, in the past, been as factious and violent as the Iraqi Arabs are now. But during the 1990s, when the U.S. and Britain agreed to keep Saddam's forces out of the north (to prevent another large scale massacre of Kurds), the Kurds sorted out their differences and learned the benefits of cooperation and law and order. In effect, the Kurds had a ten year head start on the rest of Iraq, in the "how to create peace and democracy" department. The Iraqi Arabs, Sunni and Shia, who come north on business, or for a vacation, note this. The Arabs believe they are superior to the Kurds ("a bunch of hillbillies," to most Arabs), and find it irritating that the Kurds have made things work, while down south, especially in central Iraq, things are still a mess. Given another seven years, the Iraqi Arabs will probably catch up. But this is not a popular solution to the "Iraq problem," and no career-conscious journalist is going to talk about it.

You can hear Michael Totten talk about Kurdistan in our podcast interview from last week.

CRUSHING OF DISSENT at Columbia University. Follow the link for video, and multiple reports.

PROGRESS IN TELEPORTATION:

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further.

"Teleportation between two single atoms had been done two years ago by two teams but this was done at a distance of a fraction of a millimeter," Polzik, of the Danish National Research Foundation Center for Quantum Optics, explained.

"Our method allows teleportation to be taken over longer distances because it involves light as the carrier of entanglement," he added.

Transport of humans is quite a ways off, though. Computing applications are much closer.

ANDREW POSTMAN looks at saving energy at home:

I bought 50 compact fluorescent light bulbs — 50 — intent on replacing every incandescent one in my home. The new bulbs were supposed to be 67 percent more efficient and last up to 15 times longer. Unfortunately, the ones I bought also cast a considerably colder light, so I aborted my plan after just two bulbs when I realized the quality of light they emitted reminded me of a bus station bathroom.

Yeah, I had that problem, too. Read the whole thing for more -- though I note that many of the people quoted have yet to quit the private-jet habit . . . .

BURNING LOTS OF JET FUEL to fight global warming. Haven't these people heard of the Internet?

October 04, 2006

CHINA GIVES UP on stopping a North Korean bomb, making it very likely that Japan will acquire nuclear weapons in response.

Nonproliferation efforts don't seem to be working very well.

A SECOND RECORD CLOSE FOR THE DOW. And gas prices keep falling.

Will this offset the Foley scandal? Good question, but it's good news regardless.

A BIG FOLEYGATE MASTURGATE ROUNDUP, at Pajamas Media.

Plus, an open secret? And a look at the GOP playbook: "Gerry Studds (D-MA) had sex with a 17-year-old male page. In 1983*, he was reprimanded. Republicans wanted to censure him. But 79 Dems voted against upgrading the condemnation. The GOP wants you to know that some in the Democratic Party, in 1983, apparently did not find Studds's conduct to be deserving of a full censure, which carries significant penalties."

And a look at the blog that started it all. Dirty tricks are dirty, sure -- but does this really help the Republicans given that the charges seem to be true?

UPDATE: Hmm: "Meanwhile, does anyone think it is ironic that so-called progressives who excoriated eavesdropping on terrorists are feasting on the publication of supposedly confidential email and IMs? You can forget about privacy. It no longer exists, if it ever did."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Daniel Schensul emails that the Hotline blog item above is in error, and that Studds was censured, not reprimanded.

Wikipedia agrees with him, so to the extent that the difference matters it's worth noting.

MORE: A guestblogger at TalkLeft thinks that my link to the erroneous Hotlineblog item was a "lie." That's setting the bar for "lying" pretty low, isn't it? Especially given that the difference seems rather minor -- who knows or cares now, anyway, about the difference between a Studds reprimand and a Studds censure, so what would be the point of such a "lie?"

BRENT SCOWCROFT ACCUSES WOODWARD of making up quotes: "there are statements in the book, directly or implicitly attributed to me, that did not and never could have come from me."

POPULAR MECHANICS WILL BE WEBCASTING its Breakthrough Awards ceremony tonight.

I had planned to be there myself, but family responsibilities intervened, alas.

UPDATE: Here's a direct link to the video feed.

MORE ON the battle of Franklin.

GAY PATRIOT says that Democrats are descending into "sexual McCarthyism" in the wake of Foleygate, circulating lists of Republican Hill staffers who are presumed to be gay. "I am not surprised that this is where we are headed. But my question is…. why have our national gay organizations (HRC, Log Cabin, NGLTF) not stepped in to stop this witchhunt which originated on the Gay Left in the first place? I think we know the answer."

UPDATE: Eric Scheie writes on when "outing" isn't enough. "Who'd have ever expected to see gays and antigays rejoicing together?"

I guess it's more of that strange-bedfellows stuff.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Not FoleyGate, MasturGate: "This may well be the reverse Monica of the new century; the first time that a remote hand-job has had a hand, so to speak, in bringing down a government. . . . Coming from a party that is first and foremost about advancing gay and lesbian rights on all fronts, it seems especially shameful that -- to settle all their old scores and gripes and grievances -- they are going willing to sacrifice the lives, careers and reputations of their fellow Americans."

MORE: It boils down to "Where were the Republican Taliban when we needed them?"

CATHY SEIPP looks back at ten years of South Park.

A COMPARISON of how the Chicago Tribune covered record stock market highs in 2000 with how it's covering them today.

DO THE REPUBLICANS DESERVE TO RETAIN THE HOUSE? This morning driving in to work I heard Neal Boortz saying no, and he made a pretty compelling case. (If it weren't for silly Democratic talk about impeachment and show-trial hearings I'd find it even more compelling.)

The counter-case is that a Democratic House would be a disaster for the country. I gathered from Boortz's discussion that that's the case that Hannity and Limbaugh were making yesterday. It's a strong argument -- except that if Republican control of the Congress is so all-fired important to the future of civilization, then why haven't the Republicans who control Congress been acting as if it is so important?

And it's not so much the Foley affair -- that's just the pebble that starts the avalanche. It's the past two years of more substantive problems, which, as Rich Lowry notes, have exhausted their stock of moral and political capital on a lot of issues. Were GOP control of the Congress so important to the country, wouldn't the GOP leadership have exercised a trifle more self-discipline and self-denial? And if it's not capable of doing so, then what kind of leadership is it?

YOUTUBE is caving to censorship.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON looks at the war and its critics.

A LOOK AT Al Qaeda's narrative of doubt.

IN THE MAIL: American Mourning: The Intimate Story of Two Families Joined by War, Torn by Beliefs. The book contrasts Cindy Sheehan with another, rather different, family.

SCANDAL SATURATION? Mickey Kaus wonders about the "Densepack Theory," in which

the anti-GOP media have launched so many damaging GOP stories--see Josh Marshall's list-- that they are all arriving at once and, like fratricidal incoming ICBMs, are knocking each other out of the news rather than destroying their target!

Hmm. A bigger risk is that with this many GOP scandal stories, the press will feel obliged to run with at least a couple of Dem scandals, too, to preserve the illusion of evenhandedness.

UPDATE: Karl Rotstan agrees: "Now that the Rubicon has been crossed so close to the election, we should prepare ourselves for an avalanche of Congressional filth, the likes of which will make Clinton's experience look tame by comparison."

But it'll be good for ratings! Do ratings trump partisanship?

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's starting.

MORE: Indeed: "I assume this is the sort of thing the MSM have declined to publish in the past. Unfit to print and all that. Now, they have to print or face denouncement for imbalance. So, come on, everybody, forward to MSM all those evil cybermessages the various politicos have been sending you over the years. Let's see how MSM handles it, and let's sit back and enjoy the hijinks. . . . I wonder how many politicians (and others) are sweating out this little interlude in the history of sex."

THE OUTWARD EXPLOSION BEGINS? Dale Amon looks at developments in space.

AUSTIN BAY: "Are USAF brass and bureaucrats denying airmen the right to wear combat awards?"

RED LIGHT CAMERAS falling short of revenue expectations.

GRAND ROUNDS is up!

RUDY GIULIANI tops the choice for Republican nominee in 2008. Condi is second, and McCain a somewhat distant third (and he's fallen over the past year). Meanwhile, on the Democratic side Hillary is the runaway favorite. Matched against Hillary, Rudy wins by 7. Rudy's the only candidate that a majority of Americans want to run in 2008. All according to the new WNBC/Marist poll.

IN MY TCS DAILY COLUMN today, I take a hopeful look at the future of aviation.

October 03, 2006

THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTS: "OMB Welcomes Help of Anti-Pork Bloggers."

ORIN KERR looks at legal issues in the Foley investigation.

QUESTIONING THEIR PATRIOTISM:

PRIME Minister John Howard has launched a scathing attack on Australia's left-wing intelligentsia, questioning its loyalty to the nation over the past decades.

In a speech delivered last night for the 50th anniversary of the conservative magazine Quadrant, Mr Howard said the left had a history of denigrating the nation and was now doing the same with the war in Iraq, describing Islamic terrorism as the new tyranny.

He said Australian universities were still breeding leftists and described pro-communists of decades past as “ideological barrackers for regimes of oppression opposed to Australia and its interests”, Fairfax reports today.

Mr Howard said the left was wrong in its view that the Cold War was an equal struggle between the ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union.

He seems to be especially . . . forthright these days. It's certainly hard to imagine George W. Bush saying anything like this.

A RECORD HIGH for the Dow. And I paid just over two bucks for premium unleaded today.

DON'T MISS THIS YEAR'S BLOGGER BOOBIE-THON! It's got . . . boobies!

KATIE COURIC blasts into third place.

ANNE APPLEBAUM writes that Europe remains in denial about terrorism. Spineless, but in denial.

COMMEMORATING A BATTLE in politically correct fashion.

THE LATEST POLL shows a Ford-Corker dead heat.

Hmm. Just yesterday we had one with Ford up by 5; not long before that there was one with Corker up by 5. Is it just me, or is this more variation than we usually see? Are voter sentiments that volatile (or superficial)? Or is there something about this race that makes minor differences in polling methodology more important? Or is this normal?

UPDATE: Michael Barone emails:

I don't think the poll numbers in TN are unusually volatile. When you look at all the public poll numbers since the primary (excluding the Zogby Interactive), link, you see that Ford is getting between 42% and 48% and that Corker is getting between 42% and 48% (except for one Democratic poll that shows him at 39%). With an error margin of plus or minus 4%, all those numbers could be the same.

Interestingly, Ford does best (48%) on the two robopolls, Rasmussen and SurveyUSA.

This is about the same level of variation as in the MO Senate race, which seems the closest thing we have this cycle to a tie. Link.

Interesting. And that Ford is doing better in the robopolls casts doubt on a theory I've heard around here, that some people are telling pollsters they'll support Ford over Corker in order not to sound racist, but that they'll vote for Corker in the privacy of the ballot box. Seems to me that a robopoll would vitiate this phenomenon if it existed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some interesting thoughts on robopolls from Mickey Kaus. For this to be true, though, I'd expect us to see the same pattern elsewhere. Do we?

YET ANOTHER UDPATE: Mark Blumenthal emails:

Barone beat me to the first half of the answer (though I expanded on that a bit), but a very interesting thing happens when we do the Pollster.com thing and draw a picture: The phone surveys track well with each other, but Zogby/WSJ Internet trends are completely different: Link

Hmm. Interesting.

THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT won't hear the Texas sex-toy case. "An adult bookstore employee in El Paso, Texas, sued the state after his arrest for showing two undercover officers a device shaped like a penis and telling the female officer the device would arouse and gratify her."

That makes them less progressive than Louisiana.

PIETER DORSMAN LOOKS AT the brief Dutch Sharia explosion.

BILL BRADLEY: "Five weeks before election day, California’s Democrats are in something of a state of disarray."

OIL FALLS below $60 a barrel.

THE INSTA-WIFE was on Hugh Hewitt's show last night talking about the Amish school shooting. The transcript is here, and she's got a post with some further thoughts here.

UPDATE: There's an audio clip here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Thoughts from Eugene Volokh here and here.

A "FREE SPEECH BARN-BURNER" at CBS.

SHOULD THIS BE the next PorkBusters project? It certainly deserves attention from someone.

UPDATE: Stephen Moore notes that sometimes a do-nothing Congress is a good thing. (WSJ video -- no subscription required).

POLITICAL WIRE is partnering with U.S. News.

THE ONE MEME TO HAVE, when you're having more than one.

The Glenn and Helen Show: John Fund on Election Fraud and its Cures

fundcov.jpgWith the elections only a month away, we talk to John Fund, Wall Street Journal writer and author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. Fund talks about high-tech problems with electronic voting machines, more mundane problems with ineligible voters and phony ballots, and the general slackness and incompetence that have made our voting system one that can only aspire to the high standards of Mexico.

You can listen directly -- no downloading needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. For a lo-fi version suitable for dialup, go here and click on "lo-fi." And, of course, you can always subscribe via iTunes.

Music -- "Oh, Just Have Some Faith in Me" -- is by The Mr. T Experience.

This podcast brought to you by VolvoCars.us

As always, my lovely and talented co-host is taking comments and suggestions over at her place.

HOWARD KURTZ: "Among the many depressing aspects of the downfall of Mark Foley--who has now done the inevitable checking-into-rehab thing--is that a number of young people could have blown the whistle on this deceptive congressman in recent years, but didn't."

And Brendan Miniter writes: "House Republicans have done a lousy job of policing themselves."

MORE AL QAEDA UNHAPPINESS: In war, it's easy to forget that the other side has problems, too. Big ones.

AMIT VARMA HAS A PIECE ON CENSORSHIP IN INDIA in today's Wall Street Journal. It's subscription-only, but you can read it for free at his blog.

DEMOCRATS HAVE PROMISED JOE LIEBERMAN that he'll keep his seniority if he's reelected as an independent, according to a report in The Hill. Harry Reid, however, seems to be waffling.

ROSS DOUTHAT AND REIHAN SALAM look at complaints about Bush's spending habits and observe that Bush never ran as a small-government conservative: "There have been many surprises associated with the Bush presidency, but his willingness to deviate from conservative orthodoxy on the role of government isn't one of them."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: John Murtha, PorkMeister!

Outside Washington, Mr. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran and longtime hawk, may be best known for his break with the president over the Iraq war last fall. But inside the Capitol, he is best known for turning earmarks into power. As the top Democrat on the House military spending subcommittee, he often delivers Democratic votes to Republican leaders in a tacit exchange for earmarks for himself and his allies. . . .

Earmarks — often buried deep in complex bills by unidentified lawmakers — have come under new scrutiny since the conviction last fall of Representative Randy Cunningham, a California Republican on the defense-spending panel who accepted more than $2.4 million in bribes from contractors. The cost of earmarks has tripled in the last decade to about $64 billion a year, according to the Congressional Research Service. Mr. Murtha and other lawmakers say many earmarks are worthwhile, but critics charge that they waste taxpayers’ money, encourage cronyism and foster self-dealing.

Some members of Congress complain that earmarks corrupt lawmaking in other ways. “They are used as internal bribery in order to get members to vote for a piece of legislation they wouldn’t ordinarily give two minutes to,” said Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

No one is more adept at such trading than Mr. Murtha, say current and former members, Congressional aides and outside observers.

I guess it's too much to hope that Diana Irey will oust him this fall, though I see that she's making an issue of the pork.

MICHAEL PETRELIS says that the Human Rights Campaign needs to speak out on Foley:

No one has been shocked!, shocked! to find the gay wing of the Democratic National Committee, the Human Rights Campaign silent on the Foley scandal. HRC is just too squeamish to figure out something, ANYTHING, of substance to say about the ex-congressman, now in rehab.

The largest gay organization in America and all its members can't see a single reason to weigh in on anything related to Foley, showing HRC has all the backbone of one of the dead, boneless chickens served at their dinners.

Among other things, he thinks HRC should ask for its $27,000 in campaign donations back.

UPDATE: More silence.

October 02, 2006

AT THE GUARDIAN, the sound of silence is a lot like the sound of applause.

TOM MAGUIRE: The Times throws Condi a rope.

JOSHUA TREVINO takes a look at libertarians and the left. And here's a related item by Arnold Kling.

MORE TEENS GONE WILD: No members of Congress are involved, but there's a lapdance. (Click on "grand entrance.")

A LOOK AT the U.N. and the Internet.

MICHELLE MALKIN'S ADVICE TO THE REPUBLICANS on the Foley mess: "Deal with it." She's right. Of course the press and the Democrats are taking advantage, but it's no less real for all that. Denial won't help things.

AN ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY claiming that Bill Frist says we can't win in Afghanistan is incorrect. Read the response here.

UPDATE: Some readers find Frist's statement less than compelling. Follow the link and decide for yourself.

IN THE MAIL: The paperback edition of John Farrell's The Day Without Yesterday. It was good in hardback, so I imagine it's just as good -- but cheaper! -- in paperback.

WHY IT'S A BAD IDEA to try to censor bloggers.

Some highly consistent related discussion can be found here.

DAVE KOPEL has much more on HR 5013, the just-passed bill banning firearms confiscations, including its full text.

OVER AT THE POSTGLOBAL BLOG they're asking who should replace Kofi Annan. My first thought was that anyone would be an improvement, but alas the U.N.'s state is such that we might actually do worse. These thoughts of mine from 2004 are a bit dated now, but . . . . Happy Birthday, Mr. Havel.

HAROLD FORD, JR. IS UP BY FIVE PERCENT in the latest Rasmussen poll. How smart is Ford? He's a regular on "Southern Roots Radio," a local hard-right talk radio show. I haven't heard his appearances, but a colleague was telling me at lunch that he does quite well.

As with Phil Bredesen, this willingness to engage people rather than coming across as condescending has paid big dividends. Other Democrats might want to take note.

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm a shill for the Democrats. Reader Jim Chandler emails:

You'll be laughing out of the other side of your liberal mouth when your butt buddy, Harold Jr., gets his ass kicked in the election. You guys must be long lost, separated brothers.

Well, we're both extraordinarily handsome men, but I don't think the resemblance goes beyond that.

SEBASTIAN MALLABY writes in the Washington Post:

After years of single-party government, the prospect of a Democratic majority in the House ought to feel refreshing. But even with Republicans collapsing in a pile of sexual sleaze, I just can't get excited. Most Democrats in Congress seem bereft of ideas or the courage to stand up for them. They clearly want power, but they have no principles to guide their use of it.

Michael Barone makes a similar point. And that's one difference between now and 1994: The incumbents in Congress have made themselves vulnerable through corruption and ineptitude. But this time the opposition party doesn't stand for anything in particular beyond the desire for power itself.

It's enough to make you lose faith in the two-party system.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal looks at the roots of Republican failure in Congress.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonathan Adler writes: "If Republicans lose control of Congress, they'll have no one to blame but themselves."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Senators Coburn and Obama write about the transparency bill:

If nothing else, this activism and this bill are a testament to a hunger that exists in America today. It’s a non-partisan hunger for a government that’s honest and open — one that spends our hard-earned tax dollars wisely, efficiently and transparently. The scandals of the last few years have shaken the American people’s faith in this kind of government, and if we hope to restore that faith, bills like this will have to stop being the exception and start becoming the rule. . . .

We know of other small, but important, steps we can take. More than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, there are still no-bid contracts being awarded to companies with questionable spending practices. The process by which Congress awards earmarks is still fraught with waste and abuse. And now that Jack Abramoff has faded from view, Washington seems incapable of passing reforms that were once thought to be inevitable.

The movement that helped pass this bill proves that the American people want to participate in this debate, that they’re demanding more from our politics, and that they believe this begins with a government that is responsive and accountable to the public.

This movement also demonstrated that even in our polarized political culture the American people can forge a consensus and achieve real results. One Web site won’t change government overnight, but the widespread support it received, the swiftness with which it was passed, and the steps it will take to reconnect citizens with their government are all real and welcome signs of hope.

It was a small step, but a useful one. We need many more steps, though.

DANNY GLOVER looks at calls for Hastert's resignation.

I've never been a fan, and his ridiculous behavior over the William Jefferson subpoena was, in my opinion, reason enough for him to go.

A GROWING INSURGENCY in Iran?

UPDATE: Plus, a look at Anbar tribes vs. Al Qaeda from Bill Roggio.

INTERESTING FOLLOWUP on the John Fund column mentioned below:

The FBI's top counterterrorism official harbors lots of concerns: weapons of mass destruction, undetected homegrown terrorists and the possibility that old-fashioned mobsters will team up with al-Qaida for the right price.

Though there is no direct evidence yet of organized crime collaborating with terrorists, the first hints of a connection surfaced in a recent undercover FBI operation. Agents stopped a man with alleged mob ties from selling missiles to an informant posing as a terrorist middleman.

The story's a bit thin on specifics, but it's something to watch. Of course, one thing that would drastically reduce the danger of this kind of thing would be to end the drug war . . . .

A JIHADI TAXONOMY from Matoko Kusanagi.

FOLEY UPDATE: "So it seems in the run-up to the election we won't have to talk about Iraq and terrorism and detainees anymore. Let's talk about sex."

ANOTHER CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY: Reportedly, HR 5013, which prohibits gun confiscations of the sort we saw in New Orleans after Katrina, has passed Congress.

Dave Hardy observes: "If the bill as passed tracks the earlier language, then it makes another (the fifth?) time that Congress in a preamble to a bill finds the Second Amendment to be an individual right. . . . Any person affected has a right to sue for damages, and recovery of legal fees is mandatory if they win."

That's excellent. Now we should try the same approach for wrong-house no-knock raids.

IN CASE YOU WERE OFFLINE THIS WEEKEND, say because you have, you know, a life or something, don't miss our in-studio podcast interview with Michael Totten.

Coming soon: John Fund on election fraud and its remedies.

PATRICK PORTER looks at Iraqi opinion and finds an interestingly mixed bag.

ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA: "With exceptions such as China and India, the (slow) decline of the newspaper business is a worldwide trend. The big mistake that newspapers in America, Europe and Latin America have made in response to the new environment is to treat this trend as a financial and a technological challenge rather than a cultural phenomenon."

DARFUR UPDATE: "A United Nations official who infuriated Washington by accusing the United States and Britain of 'megaphone diplomacy' over Sudan changed tack on Monday, praising both countries for keeping the issue alive. . . . 'On Darfur, the two leaders, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are moral stalwarts on what needs to be done,' he said." Actual accomplishments, however, seem scarce on this front.

THE JOKE'S ON OSAMA: "Al Qaeda's fortunes have sunk so low in the Moslem world that he is being mocked, via jokes about his demise. While the Western media may not be picking up on this, al Qaeda certainly is, and is eager to do something about it."

LIFE IMITATES Arthur C. Clarke. At least Neil Armstrong can feel vindicated.

JOHN FUND: "Congress is patting itself on the back for passing the Port Security Act last Saturday. But the day before, a House-Senate conference committee stripped out a provision that would have barred serious felons from working in sensitive dock security jobs. Port security isn't just about checking the contents of cargo containers, it also means checking the background of the 400,000 workers on our docks."

October 01, 2006

"I'M REALLY MORE OF AN ART BLOGGER THAN A LAW BLOGGER:" But, we're told, art and law are just two different ways of manipulating people.

REAL SCANDAL, fake blog.

This was foreseen.

THE 9/11 BLUE DRESS: Well, it does give the lie to the "blame Bush" theorists.

UPDATE: Check out the video here.

A MASSIVE PROTEST AGAINST ETA TERRORISTS IN SEVILLE: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

IN BRAZIL, Lula da Silva has failed to win a majority.

UPDATE: Lots of coverage at Publius, of course.

MIKE RAPPAPORT: "I remember being in Germany in the 1980s, when Irish kids would go there to try to get jobs. Now the travel goes in the opposite direction. Every Democrat (and many Republicans including President Bush) should be asked about the Irish miracle and how their own policies compare with these."

HERE'S VIDEO from the Artificial General Intelligence conference in Palo Alto.

TIM BLAIR notes a double standard regarding the Michelle Malkin photoshop on Wonkette.

But a commenter notes the problem that transcends the faux-tography issue: "What’s hypocritical about being photographed in swimwear? Is she an advocate for Sharia law?"

Plus, remedial education for urbanites. What, the answer isn't "the store?"

UPDATE: More troubling Malkin photos. Plus, from a commenter, the most important observation of all: "At least she didn't cat blog."

KAUS ON FOLEY:

The only clearly guilty party, as far as I can see--aside from Foley--is the New York Times, which hyped the anti-Hastert angle by conflating the earlier, suggestive emails and the later damning ones.

I'm not sure I'm ready to cut Hastert that much slack, though the NYT certainly doesn't get much either. And Ann Althouse thinks that blaming the closet is letting Foley off too easy: "But many heterosexuals also pursue young subordinates. They are fully open about their sexual orientation, but somehow they do bad things too."

Meanwhile, Tom Maguire smells a rat -- er, besides the obvious one, I mean: "Apparently the Mark Foley story first broke on this new blog, StopSexPredators.blogspot.com, which started in July and brought down the Congressional leadership with its sixth, seventh and eighth posts. Color me skeptical. . . . The story was evidently not quite good enough for the D Kos, but ABC found enough to run with it."

UPDATE: Apparently, staffers were warning pages about Foley in 2001. And I should note that I'm no relation to Tom Reynolds, in case anyone wonders. Meanwhile, RedState is questioning the timing.

MORE: "If I were one of those sickos. . ."

MORE STILL: Bill Quick has read the IM traffic.

And Eric Scheie comments: "It's inappropriate behavior by a high-ranking congressman, and no more. . . . So why is the left acting like it's Watergate?"

EVEN MORE: Reader C.J. Burch offers a prediction:

Once the FBI starts investigating, and they will, all sorts of lurid things are going to come out about the use and abuse of pages on both sides of the aisle. And with Representative Jefferson getting indicted soon... great fun ahead for comedians. I'm beginning to suspect that the Republicans and the Democrats both secretly hate the two party system and are working hard to destroy it. The alternative explanation, that they are both this incompetent, corrupt and sleazy is just too depressing to contemplate.

As I noted below, the response to the Jefferson search makes me wonder what else they're hiding.

WAITING IT OUT: Some hospi-blogging from neo-neocon.

SIMPLICITY CAN BE COMPLEX: I review John Maeda's The Laws of Simplicity, in The New York Post.

TOO FAT FOR JIHAD? Perhaps it's a cunning plan: "Only in America would you find authorities trying to cope with terrorist detainees by over-feeding them. . . . Guantanamo officers say that while most of the detainees upon arrival at Gitmo ranged from underweight to normal, today the 460 or so held on the base range from normal to overweight to mildly obese." One inmate, reportedly, is up to 410 pounds.

PORK BECOMES A CAMPAIGN ISSUE, as Ned Lamont attacks earmarks:

Lamont also said Congress should end the practice of anonymously inserting appropriations known as "earmarks" into the budget, saying it invites mischief - such as favors for contributors.

He pledged he would use earmarks for legitimate projects in Connecticut until the rules are changed and the practice is banned.

Well, that second bit robs his promise of some of its punch. But still, I'm glad to see the issue raised in campaigns.

AN 18-SECOND GAP. Now where have I heard that before?

GOOD NEWS: Iraqis hate al Qaeda, too.

And Saudi comedians are mocking them during Ramadan.

GAS AT $1.99 a gallon.

IN THE MAIL: Nancy French's A Red State of Mind: How a Catfish Queen Reject Became a Liberty Belle. It came Friday, but Helen immediately grabbed it. She says it's good so far.

RICK LEE: Photoblogging from the operating room.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Michael Totten on Independent Blog-Journalism and the Middle East

totten1sm.jpgMichael Totten is an independent blog-journalist who has covered the Middle East with support from his blog readers. He's reported from Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt -- and he's now planning another trip.

We talk to Michael about what he's observed, and what it's like to make a career-change from blogger to professional blog-journalist. Plus, reviews of Libyan restaurants!

You can listen directly, with no downloading needed, by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file by clicking right here, and you can get a lo-fi version for dialup by going here and clicking on "lo fi." You can subscribe via iTunes by clicking here. And you can visit our show archives for previous episodes at GlennandHelenShow.com.

Podcasts brought to you by VolvoCars.us.

UPDATE: INDCJournal picks up some highlights. And I should have mentioned that my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments at her place.

A SCHWARZENEGGER TSUNAMI in California.

MICKEY KAUS: "Obama would be less susceptible to the flip-flop charge if he stopped flip-flopping (for example, his vote against the border fence before he was for it)."

LONDON'S SUNDAY TIMES looks at Kofi Annan:

Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.

Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.

Read the whole thing.

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