Archive for January, 2005

January 27, 2005

TRAFFIC CAMERA UPDATE:

A brand new, exhaustive study of all seven Virginia red light camera programs shows an overall increase in injury accidents has occured where the devices are installed. The study was performed by The Virginia Transportation Research Council at the request of the state transportation secretary. . . .

Despite a distinct sympathy in favor of camera enforcement, the researchers found a “definite” increase in rear-end accidents and only a “possible” decrease in angle accidents. Most importantly, the net effect was that more injuries happened after cameras are installed. Camera proponents explain this away by asserting angle accidents are more serious, but this claim has not been scientifically studied according to this report. The rear end collisions caused by the cameras still produce injuries — the original promise of camera proponents was that they would reduce accidents and injuries, not rearrange them.

This study agrees with long-term findings in Australia and North Carolina.

On the other hand, they generate revenue! Or maybe not: “The report also notes a fatal flaw in the Virginia’s camera law — motorists can ignore any ticket received in the mail. Only tickets that are personally served matter (the same thing happened in Arizona).” Oops.

January 27, 2005

OMRI CEREN REPORTS ON open anti-semitism at USC. (Via Bones of Contention).

January 27, 2005

BABES WITH BLASTERS, Experimental Babes, Alien Babes, and more — all at Babes in Space, a collection of lurid cover art from science fiction’s pulp era.

UPDATE: There’s a massive collection of space babes here, arranged by decade, from movies and TV. And TexasBestGrok has a poll running for “best SF babes” from Dr. Who. Here’s a gallery of previous winners.

It’s amazing the links people will email you once you post on a subject.

January 27, 2005

UNNATURAL ACTS AND FULL DISCLOSURE: I call this a case of too much information, and I think that Eric Alterman would agree.

January 27, 2005

AN INTERESTING EMAIL from Condi Rice.

January 27, 2005

AN OFFICER ON THE U.S.S. ABRAHAM LINCOLN disputes a story about rude and inept U.N. passengers that has been widely circulated in the blogosphere.

January 27, 2005

TONY MAURO profiles the Institute for Justice, which has two cases before the Supreme Court this term.

January 27, 2005

SHOULD I DISCLOSE THIS? In the mail today, I got two books from Charles Stross: The Atrocity Archives and The Family Trade. Autographed, no less.

Meanwhile, lefty blogger Newshog wonders why I like Stross, and gets replies from me and from Stross in the comments.

January 27, 2005

TONGUE TIED is looking for co-bloggers.

January 27, 2005

“I TOOK FEDERAL MONEY:” Brian Noggle makes full disclosure.

January 27, 2005

TSUNAMI UPDATE: The U.N. is trying to take credit for the work of others, but is busted by the Diplomad.

January 27, 2005

MAX BOOT examines Seymour Hersh and finds him wanting in objectivity and suffering from “relaxed reportorial standards.” He concludes: “His record doesn’t inspire confidence.”

January 27, 2005

THE SPEED OF BLOG: Barb Kaye from the U.T. Journalism Department emails:

I’m introducing my Web journalism students to blogging. Instapundit is on the big screen, and we’re hoping you’ll respond to us so students can see how blogging works.

Anything to oblige a colleague.

UPDATE: I should mention that she has a new textbook out on electronic media, which talks about blogs. In fact, she got me to write a short segment.

January 27, 2005

IT SEEMS AS IF every other time I go to Amazon, one of these is shown as the “featured product.” Are they advertising that much to everyone, or do they know something that I don’t? . . . Should I be taking this as advice?

UPDATE: Reader Rick Sawyer emails:

Ironically, when I sign on, I see this: Panasonic ES246AC Bikini Shaper and Trimmer

To paraphrase from you, do they know something I don’t? And if so, HOW??Ugh.

Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I’m not the only one.

January 27, 2005

MICKEY KAUS comments on my MSNBC Kurtz piece. I agree that the Gallagher and Kurtz cases aren’t the same — my point in mentioning Kurtz, and Kaus’s critique of him, was simply that lots of people in the pundit class have conflicts, and don’t disclose them every time. And, as I said, I don’t share Kaus’s criticisms of Kurtz.

Still, Kaus makes a good point when he observes that Kurtz’s position is somewhat unique, and there may be something to this point:

The issue with Kurtz isn’t whether he discloses his conflict with CNN (he usually does, though not always). The issue is whether even disclosure of the conflict cures his problem, or whether the conflict is so great Kurtz can’t be trusted on his beat even with disclosure. … Clearly, by the conventional MSM standards, Kurtz should be taken off the beat. The Post wouldn’t let a reporter who had a lucrative gig with General Motors cover General Motors, as Charles Kaiser has noted. … The issue was settled, in my mind, when Kurtz went soft on CNN in the Eason Jordan/Saddam atrocity scandal. He’s a great reporter, but you can’t trust anything he writes about CNN anymore. They have him by the balls. (That’s especially true now, when CNN’s whole programming approach is under review. Does Kurtz want to offend Jon Klein, the man who’ll decide whether to cancel his show? He sure didn’t when he interviewed his paymaster in this January 6 WaPo story.) …

The big question, I guess, is what do you do? Kurtz is a one-man media empire. You could, I guess, say that such things shouldn’t exist. Or you could rely on a system that’s big, and diverse, enough that they don’t matter so much when they do. I tend to favor the latter approach. Diversity, and markets, are better than regulations.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Samuelson emails:

I realize that this point is easing into satire, but I am making a serious point. In principle wouldn’t true full disclosure, if we were really to get serious about it, require that reporters disclose who is paying their spouses, and perhaps children? If it were Kurtz’s wife who worked for CNN, rather than Kurtz himself would the conflict of interest be any less real.

Incidentally, Jonah Goldberg was very good about that when his wife was working for Attorney General Ashcroft. But he’s an opinion journalist, so it is easier for him. How many others have been similarly good? The age of the two-earner family makes things difficult in this regard, but that does not mean that we should have no standards.

Yeah, there’s a huge array of things you might disclose. The problem is that it gets unwieldy. And I think that although Kurtz’s Gallagher story makes clear (sort of) that the case isn’t an Armstrong Williams pay-for-play story, it’s being spun that way. One ethical consideration for journalists, beyond conflict of interest, involves covering stories in ways that contribute to that sort of spin. I don’t know how you could make a rule for that, but it’s certainly a consideration. This is especially true when the herd instinct strikes, and “me-too” journalism leads latecomers to try to make their stories sound more like others that were big news than they really are.

One also wonders why people like Bill Moyers don’t get more attention. Or — to pick a somewhat less significant example — CNN commentators James Carville and Paul Begala, who joined the Kerry campaign while staying on the air for CNN. In Carville and Begala’s case, I guess the viewer expects them to be shilling for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

Then again, that’s probably true for Moyers, too. Nonetheless, his case seems rather significant.

January 27, 2005

ED MORRISSEY says that the Washington Post is offering its readers a rare experience.

January 27, 2005

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT that the 21st Century’s biggest problem would be underpopulation?

There seems to be a growing consensus that this is a serious issue.

January 27, 2005

GLOBAL WARMING: At least we’ve got a dialogue! Gregory Benford and Martin Hoffert are criticizing Michael Crichton, while Jerry Pournelle is debating a climatologist.

January 27, 2005

JAMES KIRCHICK writes that Yale has a diversity problem.

So, according to this report, does Dartmouth.

UPDATE: More on Yale and diversity here, from Tico Almeida. And there’s more on Dartmouth, with lots of links to related posts, here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Diversity problems at Kansas State, too.

January 27, 2005

SOCIAL SECURITY UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (free link) has an interview with Edward “Ned” Gramlich, a U.S. Federal Reserve governor who chaired a Social Security advisory commission a decade ago. He’s only partly on-board with the Bush reform plan.

UPDATE: David Hogberg offers some thoughts on the shape of the debate.

January 26, 2005

RUNNING THE NUMBERS WITH BIDEN AND RICE: Ed Morrissey has been corresponding with Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times.

January 26, 2005

THE AMERICAN COPTIC UNION is crying foul at claims that the New Jersey killings weren’t motivated by religious hatred.

January 26, 2005

IF YOU GO TO THIS USA TODAY STORY on the Iraqi elections, you’ll see a sidebar of good news compiled by blogger Dave Weigel.

January 26, 2005

TRAFFIC CAMERAS are a longtime InstaPundit concern, but I haven’t paid enough attention to the issue lately. Eric Scheie, however, offers a serious rant on the subject.

January 26, 2005

ACTIVISM AS RITUAL WORSHIP: A phenomenon of the left and right.

January 26, 2005

IT’S NOT A NATIONAL ID CARD:

Oh sure, it will add a magnetic identification strip and identifying photo to your existing Social Security card, and you’ll be required to present the new card for identification any time you want to apply for a new job. At that point, your prospective employer would then check the identification listed on your card against a national database which identifies eligible employees.

But Rep. Dreier’s bill will not create a national identification card.

(Via Arthur Silber).

January 26, 2005

AIRBRUSHING at the Washington Post?

January 26, 2005

ANOTHER BLOGGER SUCCUMBS TO SCALZI’S irresistible charms:

You can chalk me up as another victim of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. The book arrived this afternoon, and I’ve hardly put it down.

I liked it, too.

January 26, 2005

AUSTIN BAY’S COLUMN is up. Plus, on his blog, he has a critique of easily-fatigued pundits.

January 26, 2005

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF ROUNDS UP GOOD NEWS FROM THE MUSLIM WORLD — and there’s a lot more of it than you might think from reading Western media where the focus is almost entirely on the Muslim world as a problem.

January 26, 2005

JOHNNY DOLLAR GOES TO THE TRANSCRIPTS to see if Fox News allows criticism of the Bush Administration. Shockingly, the anwer is yes!

Meanwhile, Kos responds to criticism over the press-pass incident.

January 26, 2005

THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up.

January 26, 2005

STOP BITCHING, START A REVOLUTION: Evan Coyne Maloney was at the inaugural anti-Bush demonstrations, and has a new video.

January 26, 2005

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE: “On the other hand, to give credit where due, no one covers the insurgent side of the war quite like the AP.”

January 26, 2005

IN THE MAIL: Craig Shirley’s new book, Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started it All. I haven’t read it, but Joe Trippi likes it: “It’s a must-read to understand the movement that has put President Bush in the Oval Office for a second term, what drives that movement, and why President Bush will implement an aggressive plan to achieve his goals. For Democrats it is a must-read because the book provides an object lesson on how a party thought to be void of ideas, moribund, and on life support 29 years ago, rose up and changed course and is now defining the debate at home and abroad.”

And how do I know this? Because somebody (Shirley’s publicist, I think) posted the review, along with some others, in the Amazon comments. Smart promotion.

UPDATE: A Bush-Reagan comparison here, saved from the NYT’s editorial wastebasket through the magic of the blog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see Trippi interviewing Shirley here.

January 26, 2005

THE CLUB FOR GROWTH has a Social Security reform blog.

January 26, 2005

HOWARD KURTZ, MAGGIE GALLAGHER AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Gallagher got money from the Clinton Administration, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I still think that this is true, though:

I think that guild-mindedness and political slant is a much bigger problem for the press than institutional conflicts — and I suspect that that’s one reason why the press spends so much time talking about the latter while piously (and bogusly) claiming freedom from the former.

Some things don’t change.

January 26, 2005

TSUNAMI UPDATE: The death toll has hit 280,000, and we also learn this: “In Indonesia’s worst-hit Aceh province more than 1,000 bodies a day are still being recovered.”

Jeez. I don’t have words, really. (Via Tim Blair.)

January 26, 2005

CONFIRMATIONBLOGGING isn’t a big thing here at InstaPundit. But Legal Affairs is hosting a debate on Gonzales’ confirmation over at their site. Remember, this isn’t an exclusive relationship — you can read other people! [What, it's like "friends, with benefits?" -- Ed. Er, sort of, I guess.]

UPDATE: RedState has launched a confirmation blog.

January 26, 2005

MORE ON HUGO CHAVEZ’S TIES TO TERRORISM: Why am I not surprised to be reading this?

January 26, 2005

HERE’S ANOTHER BLOW to any hopes CBS might have had that the Thornburgh Report would put RatherGate behind it:

A document examiner involved in the flawed “60 Minutes Wednesday” report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service claims that he was defamed and his reputation damaged by the recent report from an independent review panel that investigated the show’s reporting practices, E&P has learned.

Marcel Matley, one of four document experts consulted by CBS News while reporting its Sept. 8, 2004, report on Bush, is demanding a slew of corrections in the report, which was issued earlier this month. In an interview with E&P, he referred to the report’s treatment of him as “defamation.” . . .

He said the report has already hurt his professional reputation, claiming it was mentioned last week during his appearance in a Modesto, Calif., courtroom on a probate case. “Someone brought it up that I was the one who made the mistake in the ’60 Minutes’ case,” he said. “I’ve already had this thrown at me.”

Matley told E&P he had yet to hear back from CBS or Thornburgh about the e-mail. “They have not acknowledged my existence,” he declared. “They have not even replied.”

Jeez.

January 26, 2005

ARMED SELF-DEFENSE WORKS:

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — \When two men walked into a popular country store outside Atlanta, announced a holdup and fired a shot, owners Bobby and Gloria Doster never hesitated. The pair pulled out their own pistols and opened fire.

The armed suspect and his partner were killed. The Dosters won’t be charged, according to local officials, because they were acting in self-defense.

“I just started shooting,” said Gloria Doster, 56. “I was trying to blow his brains out is what I was trying to do.” . . .

Police arrived about five minutes after receiving Gloria Doster’s call; the suspects died a short time later at a hospital.

The bloodshed, nevertheless, startled Gloria Doster, who has been around guns all her life, and has used them for target shooting. “But I never figured I’d have to use them on anybody,” she said.

The practice worked. And note that the police also would have been too late to save the victims, if they had needed help.

UPDATE: Read this story, sent by reader George Johns, too.

January 26, 2005

PROBLEMS AT THE FBI are a long-running InstaPundit topic of interest, but this is still a big deal:

A federal jury today awarded nearly $6.6 million in damages to former Chicago police Officer Steven Manning, finding two veteran FBI agents framed him for a Cook County murder that put him on Death Row.

The jury also held that one of the FBI agents also framed Manning in a Missouri kidnapping case. Manning spent 14 years in prison before both convictions were overturned and the prosecutions were dropped.

The damages could go even higher. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, who presided over the six-week trial, is yet to rule on whether the United States shares responsibility with the two agents for malicious prosecutions.

“It’s a long, long way from Death Row to complete vindication,” Manning said after the verdict.

Then there’s this bit:

Both Miller and Buchan remain with the bureau, according to FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates.

In closing arguments Jan. 11, a federal prosecutor lauded both Buchan and Miller as dedicated, law-abiding FBI agents.

In a fateful decision, the FBI used a notorious informant named Tommy Dye to try to elicit evidence about the Pellegrino murder while Dye and Manning were incarcerated in Cook County Jail.

Dye asserted he had captured a confession by Manning on a hidden recorder, but when nothing was audible, he claimed that the confession came during a two-second inaudible portion of the recording.

Sounds like he should work for CBS. But this is no joking matter, and (1) it’s appalling that someone would introduce such dubious evidence; and (2) this sort of thing needs to be punished so that it doesn’t happen again. No doubt the agents would claim that the defendant is really guilty, and that the evidence is “fake but accurate,” but that doesn’t wash.

The question is whether this represents a systemic problem at the FBI, and I fear that it does. Can Porter Goss go there next?

If he does, he should listen to Dave Kopel and Paul Blackman on what ought to be done.

January 26, 2005

JEFF JARVIS ON THE HOMELESS:

And the real issue isn’t homelessness. It’s insanity. The laws in this country make it impossible to commit and help even the obviously and often the dangerously insane.

I say that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is as much at fault as any politician, for it made the institution frightening and the people who run it bad guys.

Yes. Lakeshore Park, the lovely place where I sometimes walk or jog, is actually on the grounds of the former Eastern State Mental Hospital, which housed thousands of people. There are still a few left in a couple of buildings, but what used to be a place to care for mentally ill folks is now a complex of baseball fields, putting greens, and jogging trails. The people who once would have been cared for there are now, for the most part, on their own.

My wife thinks that the de-institutionalization movement was a dreadful mistake, and that a lot of people have suffered as a result. And they’re not just the people who were deinstitutionalized, either, though they suffer the most. Her documentary on the Lillelid murders notes that the ringleader of the killers was discharged from a mental hospital after 11 days — actually a fairly long stay by today’s standards — despite a clear recognition that she was dangerous to herself and others; if she’d had proper treatment, the family that she and her confederates murdered would still be alive. (My wife felt strongly enough about the importance of this point that it’s in the trailer). Ironically, the killer is finally getting mental health treatment in an institutional setting, and she’s doing better than she was before. As my wife notes, prisons have become the mental hospitals for many people now — it’s just too bad that the price of an admission ticket is sometimes murder.

I think that Jeff’s right about the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest effect. And mental hospitals often aren’t — and weren’t — nice places to be (though they weren’t all hellholes, either: I recently talked with a woman who had spent six weeks in a Virginia state hospital back in the 1960s who said it was one of the most pleasant times in her life, as “they had a swimming pool, the food was good, and nobody bothered you”).

On the streets, lots of people bother you. Though we tend to talk about the homeless in terms of their bothering others — and, God knows, they do — the experience is usually pretty bad for them, too.

UPDATE: Reader Rosemary Bright emails:

Glenn, as someone who was in the graduate school of social work at the University of Texas in the ’80′s I saw the beginnings of the deinstitutional movement. Under the laws that were passed there was a time frame the state had to meet on getting the mentally retarded and mentally ill out of the state institutions. The day-to-day workers were against it, there weren’t enough group homes for folks to go to (neighborhoods went up in arms when a home was being converted in their area). It was clear to me, someone new to the area, that there were a lot of people who needed to stay where they were.

I’ve heard numbers that some 60% of the “homeless” on the street are mentally ill. Anyone who’s dealt with the mentally ill know they will get off their medications. Family members of these people are usually worn out from caring for them, worrying about them and are not equipped at all. It was the wrong kind of reform to take.

I got out of the whole profession … realized I was a capitalist at heart! But that whole concept of how to deal with mental illness desperately needs to be revisited.

De-institutionalization let states save money while looking compassionate. It was irresistible. But the more difficult (and expensive) follow-through was highly resistible. Reader Ben Bauman emails:

Many of the mentally ill need constant care and do not get it. My brother was one of these people. His mental instability constantly got him in trouble and the only way he could have a normal life was when he was in mental institutional care. He would only receive this when he would get in trouble and went to jail. We could not get him institutionalized through the courts. So, he roamed the country (primarily CA and NV) until he would get in trouble or some one would harm him (therefore requiring medical care). Normally he would be released after 6 months in a mental institution because he was “healthy” enough to make it on his own (survive). Well, this went on for years until he finally passed away last year at the age of 40. The system really did kill him. I thank god for the Salvation Army for all the time they spent trying to help him, but the evil people out there took advantage of him constantly. Again, I think your wife is right on this issue from my own personal experience.

I’m sorry to hear that. Not all the homeless are mentally ill, of course, but a lot are — and they’re usually the ones who have, and cause, the most serious problems.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

MORE: George Roper emails:

Dear Mr. Reynolds, first, a great posting on de-institutionalization of the mentally ill. I started working in a mental hospital in 1969 as a recreation therapist. At the time I started working, we had well over 2000 patients in a hospital that could comfortably hold only 1800 or so. By the time I finished my graduate degree in 1973, the population was down to about 800 or so. The majority of the some 1500 clients were placed in nursing homes, with family or in sheltered homes. But, they didn’t stay. The mental health field adopted the idea of short term treatment for even the severely disturbed as the ultimate goal and psychiatry/psychology became a game of numbers. Legally, in Texas at least, you cannot be committed for treatment unless A. you are mentally ill and B. as a result of that illness you are a clear danger to yourself or others. So, no matter how disturbed you are, if you aren’t a danger under current law, you cannot be forced into treatment. Unfortunately, by the time a patient is patently dangerous, it may be too late.

The massive release of mentally ill patients between the late 1960′s and mid 1970′s unfortunately did not include the concept of required treatment. Because many of the anti-psychotic medications produce a significant decrease in libido, many patients quit taking their medications in favor of an active sex life. Many patients, left to their own devices quit taking their medications because they just didn’t remember. Many families quit “forcing” their family to take their medication because it was just too hard, too much work. The results are evident across the country.

We have collectively done a great disservice to those who, through no fault of their own, have severe mental illness and are not getting active treatment.

One example of the ignoring of mental illness and its resulting tragedies is the issue of suicide which I address in my blog here: Link

Judith Lown writes:

I worked for a year in a post-doc internship at a facility for the homeless mentally ill in San Diego. Not only are the vast majority of the homeless
mentally ill, most of them have long drug and alcohol histories. It’s really impossible to sort out self-medication from fried brain due to drugs. But after a
while, it’s possible to guess pretty accurately what drug is implicated in the variety of fried brain you’re seeing.

San Diego was the early capital of meth manufacture and use and we saw a lot of meth induced psychosis–some in people who were previously productive middle class citizens. I don’t have an answer. I left clinical psychology.
But the homeless mentally ill were my favorite clients. Beat the middle class navel gazers by a mile.

Ouch.

STILL MORE: Background and history on what went wrong, here.

January 26, 2005

I’VE NEVER BEEN A FAN of the Patriot Act, though I have to admit that its operations so far haven’t proven as dire as I feared. But this column by Walter Williams is worth reading, and I agree with this suggestion:

Government officials have always wanted open access to our financial records; the war against terrorism gives them the cover to do so. Here’s what might be proof: How about an amendment to the Patriot Act whereby any information gathered under its provisions cannot be used in a court of law unless it can be tied to terrorist activity? I’m guessing that few politicians and law enforcement authorities would agree to such an amendment.

Most vital to the conduct of any war, including a war on terrorism, is a vibrant, flexible economy. There’s a possibility that massive volumes of security regulations and massive security expenditures can weaken our economy and thereby threaten national security. Al-Qaeda type terrorism is not our only national security threat either now or in the future. Keep in mind it was our productive capacity that ultimately won the Cold War.

I think that all of these special “terrorism” provisions — many of which have already been invoked by prosecutors in mundane criminal cases — should in fact be limited to cases involving terrorism, and I think that government officials who abuse their authority ought to be subject to punishment, and to lawsuits. And it’s very hard for me to take “antiterrorism” legislation lacking such safeguards seriously.

January 26, 2005

CHINA TARGETS SPACE: My TechCentralStation column is up.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg sends this link to a column he wrote last year on China. He thinks they’re no threat until they start taking a more entrepreneurial approach. I actually hope that they do, for reasons explained in my column.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this column by Mark Whittington, too. He’s hoping for a space race.

January 26, 2005

INTERESTING NEW POLL RESULTS from Iraq. The Iraqis’ views on security are especially interesting: “75% of Iraqis say security where they live is either ‘good’ or ‘average.’ Not exactly the impression you would get from the American press.”

UPDATE: Be sure to check the new Iraqi website, Friends of Democracy, regularly.

January 25, 2005

ANOTHER OPED PAYOLA SCANDAL? What are these people thinking?

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey says that Drudge misrepresents the Gallagher story, and that it’s not another Armstrong Williams case.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gallagher responds here:

I was not paid to promote marriage. I was paid to produce particular research and writing products (articles, brochures, presentations), which I produced. My lifelong experience in marriage research, public education and advocacy is the reason HHS hired me.

But the real truth is that it never occurred to me. On reflection, I think Howard is right. I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers.

Seems like a tempest in a teapot to me. I think we’re in the midst of another ethical feeding-frenzy, of the sort discussed at length here, in which conduct that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow six months ago, or six months from now, is likely to get a lot of attention.

MORE: Scandal or non-scandal, LaShawn Barber sees it as an opportunity!

STILL MORE: Reader David Jones emails:

The old adage applies: Circumstances alter cases. This was not “payola” and as you observe only has the appearance of being such because of the proximity in time to the Armstrong W debacle. Of course, those who are opposed to Maggie’s strong defense of marriage will make the most of it to discredit her. She deserves better.

I’m actually not very familiar with her “strong defense of marriage,” and suspect that I might well disagree with it. But while it would have been better for her to disclose this, it seems quite different from the Williams case. And you can’t disclose everything — or, if you do, it becomes a joke, like the “do not eat” warning label on the iPod Shuffle. Some sense of proportion is called for.

I suspect, though, that there are a lot of people on the left and right who couldn’t pass the test that’s set for Gallagher. Which is why I think this furor will die down soon.

January 25, 2005

MORE PHOTOBLOGGING FROM IRAQ, by Lance Frizzell.

January 25, 2005

PROF. BAINBRIDGE has a stinginess update.

January 25, 2005

TIM BLAIR is back.

January 25, 2005

YES, ROBERT BYRD is an awkward choice. Fortunately for him, the media won’t make a big deal of this, as they might in other circumstances.

UPDATE: Others, however, are doing so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related posts here and here and here. It’s a good thing that Democrats are doing this, because if Republicans were doing it it would be evidence of racism at the highest levels of American society.

MORE: Still more here.

STILL MORE: Roger Simon has further thoughts.

January 25, 2005

YOU KNOW, I wish I could cancel a few days’ classes, hop a plane, and go Kayaking in Death Valley. And don’t just follow that link, but check out Ken Layne’s entire Highways West blog.

It’s like Arizona Highways Magazine, er, except it’s not just about Arizona, and it’s a blog, not a magazine. And it’s by Ken Layne.

January 25, 2005

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE about the Wisconsin electoral-fraud story, the Badger Blog Alliance is all over it.

Meanwhile, over at GlennReynolds.com, I call for action to remedy voter fraud now, so that it can be implemented in time for 2008.

UPDATE: Here’s a report on vote fraud in East St. Louis.

January 25, 2005

LOOKING PAST THE IRAQI ELECTIONS: Brett McGurk, recently back from Baghad, has written an oped and done an online chat at the Washington Post. And here’s a PBS NewHour transcript of a discussion featuring McGurk and Larry Diamond. And here’s the article on lawyering in Baghdad that I linked a while back.

January 25, 2005

DANIEL DREZNER looks at the costs and benefits of airline deregulation. And he’s right, this Matt Welch piece on deregulation and low-cost service in Europe is great.

January 25, 2005

THIS seems like good news:

U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in January to a six-month high after the economy added more jobs and incomes grew, raising the odds that spending will spur the economy.

The Conference Board’s index increased to 103.4 from a revised 102.7 in December that was higher than first reported, the New York-based research group said today. Optimism about the current economic situation rose to the highest since May 2002, helping fuel gains in stock prices and the dollar.

Consumer purchases probably rose at the fastest pace in more than four years from July through December, and weekly retail surveys suggest shoppers haven’t let up this month. Last year was the best on record for sales of previously owned homes, the National Association of Realtors said today.

Not exactly a depression we’re in, is it?

January 25, 2005

BLOGGER’S DELIGHT:

Google and Yahoo are introducing services that will let users search through television programs based on words spoken on the air. The services will look for keywords in the closed captioning information that is encoded in many programs, mainly as an aid to deaf viewers.

Google’s service, scheduled to be introduced today, does not actually permit people to watch the video on their computers. Instead, it presents them with short excerpts of program transcripts with text matching their search queries and a single image from the program. Google records TV programs for use in the service.

Not quite the whole deal, but pretty cool.

January 25, 2005

HERE’S MORE on election fraud in Wisconsin. Really, it seems as if we need to tighten up the rules on voter registration. And here’s more on efforts to fix problems in Washington state.

UPDATE: This isn’t election fraud, exactly, but it’s pretty lame.

January 25, 2005

MICHAEL MOORE is short of sympathy on the Left.

UPDATE: Roger Simon: “They adopted Moore for a short while to make a point which is now fading even for them. Most people in Hollywood now see, although maybe they won’t admit it, that democracy in Iraq is extremely important. For Moore, it’s over.”

January 25, 2005

RICH LOWRY:

For the second day in a row, the New York Times has a positive Iraq piece, this one about Sunnis wanting to have a part drafting the consitution. For weeks, administration insiders have been telling me how: 1) the Shiite slate has been amazingly respsonsible in its actions and statements; 2) there will be plenty of chances to buy reasonable Sunnis into the political process even after the January 30 election. Stunningly, both points have now been reported and given high-profile play in the Times.

That’s news, all right. Here’s the story.

UPDATE: Capt. Ed has more on the terrorists’ plans to disrupt the Iraqi elections, and observes: “What I find most fascinating is the terrorist reliance on the media and their confidence in manipulating journalists to the terrorist ends.” Terrorism is parasitic on modern media. Or, perhaps, symbiotic.

January 25, 2005

ER, I THINK YOU MEANT FISKED, HUGH:

Just this weekend, Tim Blair, an Australian blogger, a very good blogger, took a “Washington Post” piece that was completely silly — and the term is fist — destroyed it, deconstructed it, proved that it was all spin. When Barbara Boxer made her inane comments last week at the Condoleezza Rice hearings, bloggers posted them, dissected them before the news had even put it on the air.

Then again, given what Blair did to them this time, maybe it’s not a transcription error . . .

January 25, 2005

WERE THE MEDIA REALLY more enthusiastic about Iraqi elections two years ago than they are today?

January 25, 2005

JOHNNY CARSON: Pro-space visionary?

January 25, 2005

ALPHECCA REPORTS that gun crime is up in gun-free Britain.

January 25, 2005

INTERESTING COLUMN ON FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS IN ASIA: The term “anglosphere” isn’t used, but the concept certainly seems to be in play:

Egeland’s comment also reflects a certain European view that contends that the state, and in this case a universal state, should be responsible for the welfare of humanity. Not surprisingly, this view is not shared by the United States, which looks far more to private and community-based actions to resolve social problems. Given this context, Egeland’s complaint was seen as most directly attacking the United States. And if you’ve worked in the UN/NGO community you’d know that this sort of assumption would not be wholly off the mark.

This leads us to the second event. While American diplomats derided Egeland’s slip of the tongue, the US engaged in an activity that said far more than any words could regarding the new international order. Without any concern for the UN, the US proceeded to set up a core group of nations to deal with the disaster. Partners in the group were Australia, Japan and India. It is this alliance that will matter most to the US in the future. The four big Pacific democracies, three with strong Anglo-Saxon histories, will most likely develop into the central alliance of the twenty-first century.

Read the whole thing.

January 25, 2005

A FEARLESS PREDICTION:

Oh, by the way. Hillary is running for president. Official announcement to follow in three years. Obama will be her veep pick. It will be a campaign with energy on the left beyond anything you might have thought you saw last year.

Well, this would be in accord with the prediction that she’ll be “the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States!”

But although forecasts about 2008 are brave, Austin Bay has election predictions out to 2016.

January 25, 2005

MICHAEL MOORE: An Oscar shut-out. I think some people are unhappy with him for giving the election to Bush.

Other people are saying I told you so.

January 25, 2005

WANT HEALTH CARE BLOGGING? It’s at Grand Rounds.

January 25, 2005

MORE ON PHIL BREDESEN and the Democrats in 2008, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Over at the MSNBC site linked above, I quote a piece from The New Republic on an antiwar “counter inaugural.” That leads reader John Lucas to write:

While these people are rooting for the enemy, here’s an excerpt from an e-mail from a guy who gets it:

“I truly see this as a battle between the forces of good and evil. How can anyone not? Good brings hope to a whole people that have never know any and evil cuts the heads off innocent civilians on tv. . . . We didn’t come here to rule an impoverished people or to gain riches for ourselves. We came here to try and win this one battle in what I am afraid is going to be a long and costly war that we have only begun to fight.”

That is from my 27-year old son who is currently fighting in Baghdad. I think that he has captured the essence of what is going on in a way that many “intellectuals” have missed. His may be the “Occam’s Razor” explanation of our national purpose.

We are in a war in which the enemy can only defeat us if they break our national will. It is being fought on the home front just as much as in Iraq.

Indeed.

January 25, 2005

ARNOLD KLING looks at the dubious future of self-marginalizing groups — in a discussion inspired by Jim Bennett’s new book, The Anglosphere Challenge.

January 25, 2005

THIS SEEMS LIKE POSITIVE NEWS:

With the Shiites on the brink of capturing power here for the first time, their political leaders say they have decided to put a secular face on the new Iraqi government they plan to form, relegating Islam to a supporting role.

The senior leaders of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of mostly Shiite groups that is poised to capture the most votes in the election next Sunday, have agreed that the Iraqi whom they nominate to be the country’s next prime minister would be a lay person, not an Islamic cleric.

The Shiite leaders say there is a similar but less formal agreement that clerics will also be excluded from running the government ministries.

“There will be no turbans in the government,” said Adnan Ali, a senior leader of the Dawa Party, one of the largest Shiite parties. “Everyone agrees on that.” . . .

The conviction that the Iranian model should be avoided in Iraq is apparently shared by the Iranians themselves. One Iraqi Shiite leader, who recently traveled to Tehran, the Iranian capital, said he was warned by the Iranians themselves against putting clerics in the government.

“They said it caused too many problems,” the Iraqi said.

Less than a week until the elections. And I suspect they’ll be watching closely in Iran.

January 25, 2005

OLD DOGS, NEW TRICKS:

Old beagles, like old humans, act younger and smarter when they get the right diet and plenty of intellectual stimulation. A report published in the January issue of Neurobiology of Aging found that a diet rich in antioxidants combined with a stimulating environment slowed the canine aging process. . . .

By the end of the two-year trial, it was clear that the enriched diet alone and the enriched environment alone were each helpful in preventing decline. But the mental functioning of the dogs given a combination of enriched diet and stimulating environment was considerably higher than that of the dogs in the other three groups, the researchers found.

Maybe there’s hope for Dan Rather.

January 25, 2005

AN APOLOGY TO THE WORLD: “P.S. If you need any help in the future, please call Canada.”

January 24, 2005

“THEY DOWDIFIED US IN THE SAME OLD WAY, and, you know, we Fisked them in the same old way.” And it wasn’t a near thing, either.

January 24, 2005

Marstheory.jpg

I GUESS THIS WILL BE NEXT, from various under-informed Boards of Education. (Via an amusing series of Mars photoshops at Fark).

January 24, 2005

THE BONNAROO FESTIVAL has announced its line-up of artists for this year. Tickets go on sale January 29th.

January 24, 2005

BLAST FROM THE PAST: “MIAMI – A trial opened Monday in a $3 million-plus lawsuit by 13 people who say they were injured or traumatized when federal agents seized a screaming Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives’ home. The opening witness was neighbor Maria Riera, who testified that she clutched her chest and thought she was dying when an agent doused her with tear gas during the April 22, 2000, raid to reunite the 6-year-old boy with his father in Cuba.”

January 24, 2005

DONALD SENSING WRITES THAT IT’S ROPE-A-DOPE IN IRAQ, and that Zarqawi is the dope. “Z-man is only marginalizing Islamism when he bombs and assassinates Iraqis who support democracy. Increasingly, his claim that such Muslims are really infidels deserving to die is seen as untenable. Mass heresy among millions of Iraqis? Who could possibly have the right credibly to claim that? Not Abu Musab al-Zarqawi nor anyone else. And who will believe it? Not the Iraqis themselves nor millions of their Arab neighbors.”

January 24, 2005

BUSH’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS played well in Iran, according to Pejman Yousefzadeh.

January 24, 2005

WHY IS TIM BLAIR’S SITE DOWN? I emailed him and he responds:

Readership has overwhelmed the server, so Hostmatters is shifting us to a new one.

Don’t know when this will happen; soon, hopefully.

I blame Instapundit!

It’s a fair cop.

UPDATE: Alternative theory: Eaten by dingoes. Well, she should know.

MORE: Andrea Harris emails that it was actually a flood of comment-spammers that shut it down. Those guys suck.

January 24, 2005

I’M GOING TO BE ON HUGH HEWITT’S SHOW shortly. You can listen live here.

January 24, 2005

BILL HOBBS: “Will Bredesen Turn TennCare Lemon Into Political Lemonade?”

January 24, 2005

HIGH PRAISE: “The campaign for clean elections led by Sound Politics is gaining steam.” Don’t miss the photo.

January 24, 2005

LT SMASH: “Zarqawi is Doomed.” More here.

January 24, 2005

A BBC FLIP-FLOP ON WMD? Why would that surprise me?

January 24, 2005

JOURNALIST OR ACTIVIST? I think the difference between Kos and some other people with press cards is mostly that he admits he’s taking a side.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Gudeman thinks I’m wrong here:

Kos doesn’t just admit that he’s partisan, he is also a professional organizer, fundraiser, and promoter for the Democratic party. That ought to disqualify him from carrying a press pass at any function that relates directly to the party. This is like having a top manager for a corporation wear a press pass at the corporation’s annual shareholder’s meeting. It’s dishonest.

I suspect that Jim Geraghty disagrees, too, though he correctly notes that it’s mostly an intra-Democratic Party question in this context.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doc Searls says we’ll see more of this sort of thing. Prof. Bainbridge is unconvinced that there’s an issue here. And Ed Batista is retreating from his earlier comparison of Kos with U2. I don’t think there’s any danger of Kos turning into Bon Jovi, though.

And Bainbridge has some tough questions for the more traditional media.

January 24, 2005

ECONOBLOGGING: This week’s Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

January 24, 2005

IN THE MAIL: A copy of Leonard Sax’s new book, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, a book that’s sure to be controversial. Though it seems that it’s okay to talk about sex differences, so long as it’s done in a way that reflects badly on men.

January 24, 2005

THE PRESS DID ITS BEST TO IGNORE the Afghan elections. I suspect that, since that’s not an option with the Iraqi vote, they’ll be doing their best to portray it as a failure somehow. I also suspect that it won’t work. One of the things that made press coverage so damaging in Vietnam was that it was the first time anyone remembered American reporters saying bad things about an American war effort. By now, hardly anyone is alive who remembers anything else.

UPDATE: More here.

January 24, 2005

MICKEY KAUS:

The people I’ve felt most sorry for are the journalists who have to pretend they are excited by the inauguration and Bush’s second term. NPR personalities in particular. You can hear the inauthenticity and desperation in their voices. … As far as I know, none of them have yet tried to cover any Bush festivities from the sanctuary of the FDR memorial–where an All Things Considered correspondent wound up fleeing, on air, during last year’s Reagan ceremonies. But the term is young. …

Heh.

January 24, 2005

THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS THAT Internet advertising is booming:

Many of the same companies that were badly burned by Internet investments before are aggressively bidding for these sites not just because of the growing online ad business but because, like Dow Jones, they are worried that their current Web sites will not be able to keep up with demand.

“The existing old-line media companies, which have a big stake in where people advertise, have to recognize this medium,” said Larry S. Kramer, a founder and chief executive of MarketWatch. “Our audience means more to them now because it’s not just revenue they are going to pick up. It’s revenue they are going to lose.”

Online advertising is expected reach $9.7 billion in 2004, or about 3.7 percent of United States advertising spending, according to a recent Merrill Lynch report. Still, that number is expected to grow 19 percent this year as the nation’s largest advertisers shift budgets from print and network television to cable and the Internet, the report said.

As a result, publishers are being forced to confront a potential advertising inventory crunch. There is no physical limitation to the number of Web pages, of course, but advertisers want to be placed on the most popular pages and those which cater to their most profitable audiences. And those kind of pages are in shorter supply.

Sounds like good news for Henry Copeland, anyway!

January 24, 2005

DEVELOPMENTS IN MILITARY NANOTECHNOLOGY: Best quote: “Getting the government to change the way they kill people is difficult.”

January 24, 2005

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF OFFERS A GUIDE TO IRAQI POLITICAL PARTIES, and links to more election coverage.

January 24, 2005

JANUARY 24TH is the grimmest day of the year. Relax — there’s always February to look forward to!

January 24, 2005

CRUSHKERRY.COM is now AnkleBitingPundits.com, a reference to an ill-advised comment on the blogosphere by Steven Levy.

January 24, 2005

SHADES OF FALLEN ANGELS:

The findings from a team of American climate experts suggest that were it not for greenhouse gases produced by humans, the world would be well on the way to a frozen Armageddon.

Scientists have traditionally viewed the relative stability of the Earth’s climate since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago as being due to natural causes, but there is evidence that changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations should have driven the Earth towards glacial conditions over the last few thousand years.

What stopped it has been the activity of humans, both ancient and modern, argue the scientists.

Heh. Whole story here.

UPDATE: I believe that this is the paper described above. Make of it what you will — except that if what you want to make is a perversely delightful thesis for a science fiction novel, well, it’s already been done. And though I think I’ve mentioned this before, you can read Fallen Angels for free at (where else) the Baen Free Library.

January 24, 2005

BREDESEN IN 2008? More thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs: “Bredesen in 2008? He has a better chance to win the White House than the Democratic primary.” Which sums up the Democrats’ institutional problems rather neatly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Tim Roemer story is relevant here, too.

January 24, 2005

ALCOHOL: Good for your brain. (At least if you’re an older woman). Viagra: Good for your heart. As Randall Parker observes: “The future is going to be a strange place.”

One full of drunk old ladies and horny old men, I guess.

January 24, 2005

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link) looks at Michael Powell’s term as FCC chairman, and at the problems facing his successor. There’s also an interactive poll where you can grade his performance. No voting twice, Jeff . . . .