Archive for August, 2005

August 26, 2005

MIDEAST UPDATES: Movement toward democracy in Egypt (and this is interesting, too). Plus an essay from Publius on Iraqi federalism.

UPDATE: A deal in principle on the Iraqi Constitution, we’re told.

August 26, 2005

THE PERFECT SUMMARY of a lot of confirmation stuff I haven’t blogged about:

I don’t really have strong feelings about Roberts one way or the other. If it weren’t so pathetic, the media’s desperation to validate their existence by discovering some bombshell would be amusing.

Actually, that covers a lot of stories running at the moment.

August 26, 2005

ANDY BOWERS has a podcast roundup.

August 26, 2005

PATRICK RUFFINI analyzes the results of his 2008 Republican presidential straw poll.

August 26, 2005

KATRINA THREATENS NEW ORLEANS: Brendan Loy is blogging.

UPDATE: More on New Orleans here.

August 26, 2005

SOME INTERESTING POLL DATA:

People with friends or relatives serving in Iraq are more likely than others to have a positive view of a generally unpopular war, an AP- Ipsos poll found.

Kind of like the higher re-enlistment rates, I wonder if this is because they’re getting information from someone other than the big media.

UPDATE: Well, not everyone feels this way. Megan McArdle:

Having spent the last week complaining vociferously that conservatives were just making it all up about high-profile liberals who are rooting for the insurgents, the left half of the blogosphere cannot be happy to discover that Cindy Sheehan thinks that the folks infiltrating into Iraq to blow up cars in large crowds are “freedom fighters”.

Indeed.

August 26, 2005

ED LARSON:

Intelligent design, despite its proponents’ claims to the contrary, isn’t modern science. It’s part of that rebellion against it. Scientists look for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Their best explanations, if they survive rigorous testing, become scientific theories.

Intelligent design, in contrast, is a critique of all that. Its proponents may challenge the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for the origin of species but they have not — and cannot — offer testable alternative explanations. The best they can offer is the premise that, if no natural explanation suffices, then God must have done it. Maybe God did do it, but if so, it’s beyond science.

I highly recommend Larson’s book on the Scopes Trial, A Summer for the Gods. And he and I did this video for Court TV. Some Scopes Trial background (which, like Larson’s book, demonstrates that Inherit the Wind doesn’t really tell the story) can be found here, courtesy of Jim Lindgren.

August 26, 2005

I HAVEN’T PAID MUCH ATTENTION to the Able Danger story, but Mickey Kaus has a roundup of the latest developments.

August 26, 2005

AGING AND THE KLOTHO GENE: Sounds fairly promising for drug development.

August 26, 2005

HUGH HEWITT will have Michael Yon on his show shortly, if the satphone connection works out.

UPDATE: Radioblogger has a transcript.

August 26, 2005

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THIS IS KIND OF COOL: Reader Jason Shelton emails: “I thought you might enjoy a quick picture of your website as seen with Sony’s new PSP web browser.”

UPDATE: Reader David Scott emails: “PSP? That’s nuthin. Here’s underwater Instapundit.”

underwaterinstasm.jpg

Heh. But actually, this is underwater InstaPundit:

August 26, 2005

WRITING IN INSIDE HIGHER ED, KC Johnson has thoughts on intellectual diversity, and the lack thereof at American universities, and the unpersuasive arguments offered by defenders of the status quo.

August 26, 2005

NEW ARMY PRONOUNCEMENTS on military blogs and operational security.

I think that they’re right to worry — but they’d be crazy not to take account of the benefits of military blogs, too.

August 26, 2005

INTERESTING ARTICLE ON CELLPHONES AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA — and I think it’s representative of how technology in general helps. (Via Samizdata).

August 26, 2005

I’M HAPPY TO REPORT that these are still yummy, and that I’m still enjoying the free part, too.

August 26, 2005

OMAR AT IRAQ THE MODEL has thoughts on the Iraqi Constitution.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein has more thoughts.

August 26, 2005

E.U. REFERENDUM:

But the peace prize? How much peace is there in the world and if there is, how much of that had been achieved by the various nominees?

Let us face it, if it is peace and democracy we are honouring then we should look to the body of men (and some women) who have done more than anyone else to bring both those concepts to parts of the world that have, in the past, known little of it.

This blog hereby nominates the US Corps of Marines for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Read the whole thing, which includes an unflattering contrast to Gerhard Schroeder.

August 26, 2005

“VACATIONING BUSH WRITES NEW IRAQI CONSTITUTION:” Heh.

August 26, 2005

HUGH HEWITT has thoughts on the Michael Yon phenomenon. I agree with Hugh that old media ought to be buying Yon’s dispatches, and I’m quite surprised that they haven’t done so yet.

August 26, 2005

AUSTIN BAY just finished attending a conference on the media and the military, and has some thoughts.

August 26, 2005

HERE’S AN ABC REPORT ON THE PR MACHINE BEHIND CINDY SHEEHAN:

ABC7 Looks At The Financing Of ‘Camp Casey’
By Mark Matthews
With the President back at his Crawford ranch, the anti-war protest right outside his ranch is getting a lot more media attention. ABC7 looks at who is financing the operation and who’s providing on-the-ground support.

The camp at Crawford is full of Cindy Sheehan supporters, people from all walks of life. But off to the side are a small group of professionals, skilled in politics and public relations who are marketing her message. . . .
Leading the group is Fenton Communications employee Michele Mulkey, based in San Francisco. Fenton specializes in public relations for liberal non profits.

Their bills are being paid by True Majority, a non-profit set up by Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream fame.

Ben Cohen: “People are willing to listen to her and we want to do as much as we can to make her voice heard.”

Cohen’s liberal group has teamed up with Berkeley-based moveon.org, an anti-Bush group co-founded by Joan Blades.

I can’t say I’m surprised: the “grassroots” antiwar movement keeps turning out to be MoveOn/A.N.S.W.E.R. astroturf. But I bet that if a GOP group were to send servicemen’s families to picket Democrats it would be getting more play. And more negative play.

UPDATE: Reader Don Fishback thinks this is just a smokescreen:

You have to wonder if Karl Rove is the one who is REALLY behind Cindy Sheehan. Look at what he has accomplished and hopes to accomplish with her help:

First, his name is completely off the radar screen. Valerie Plame? Who is she?

Second, liberal interest groups are getting their hopes up once again, as they have after every so-called Bush implosion. Hardcore Democrats feel liberated and are actively supporting Sheehan, who contemporaneously says things like “AFGHANISTAN was a mistake” and “Get Israel out of Palestine.” It’s as if the hardcore leftists are so emboldened that even Howard Dean isn’t enough for them!

But most of all, he’s set an awful sweet trap for some bigger catch. I am sure that he was hoping that some potential Democrat presidential candidates showed up in Crawford. Well, at least someone besides Sharpton. Alas, it looks like he’s going to have to wait until her entourage gets to Washington.

It’s as if Rove has set the Democrats up with a Kobayashi Maru. If a major Dem goes to Cindy’s side, they’re doomed as a national candidate. No one in Tennessee or Indiana is going to support someone who agrees with the policy that Afghanistan was a mistake. But if they don’t, as Kaus points out, they’ll never get nominated by the emboldened left-wing base.

Evil Genius indeed.

Hmm. Is Karl Rove that smart? Are Democratic activists that gullible?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Maybe so.

August 26, 2005

IRAQ, unplugged.

August 26, 2005

MICHAEL FUMENTO REPORTS FROM FALLUJAH with some surprising news:

After crisscrossing Fallujah by foot and Humvee in May, I reported on tremendous progress being made to restore “the city we had to destroy to save.” Actually fighting left most of the town unscathed; most damage was from three decades of neglect under Saddam Hussein. And rebuilding began almost immediately.

Good news from Iraq rarely gets a single story compared to the many thousands on a war protestor’s stake-out in Texas. Yet it occurs nonetheless.

Read the whole thing.

August 26, 2005

OVER AT BIASED-BBC, BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds (no relation) is responding to criticism in the comments.

August 26, 2005

CHARLES MURRAY looks at Lawrence Summers.

Summers should have taken Ann Althouse’s advice on how to do politically correct research on innate sexual differences: “The rule is: always portray whatever you find in the female as superior.”

If you always follow this rule, you’ll never be sexist!

August 26, 2005

THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up!

August 26, 2005

THE SOVIET BIOWAR HANGOVER seems to be continuing, with an outbreak of tularemia in Russia. Gateway Pundit has this and related news.

August 26, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Todd Steed.

August 26, 2005

PEOPLE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT PAT ROBERTSON, but really, this post by Stephen Green is the last word:

Pat Robertson is an idiot. Not only that, but he’s a hypocritical idiot. If we were so hot for toppling dictators, he really ought to stop making millions of dollars off them.

Not that there’d be much wrong with killing Hugo Chávez. If there’s one thing Ayn Rand got right, it’s this: No dictatorship has any right to exist; any free nation wishing to topple a dictatorship has the moral right (but not the moral obligation) to do so.

Failing that, knocking off the dictator certainly couldn’t do any harm.

But Robertson is still an idiot.

Well, yeah.

August 26, 2005

THE NOT-SO-SAD PLIGHT of female DJ’s — I take up a challenge from K. Lo, over at GlennReynolds.com.

August 25, 2005

HENRY COPELAND WANTS YOUR HELP designing a new Blogads logo. Be sure to tell him I sent you!

August 25, 2005

MICHAEL BARONE has thoughts on Iraqi Constitution-making.

UPDATE: Patterico has a solution to any problems that may arise.

August 25, 2005

ERIN CHAPIN CONDUCTS A VIDEO TOUR of Knoxville’s adult establishments, and offers an “in your face” to Kate Hudson.

Some people in Knoxville do want to entertain Kate.

August 25, 2005

LYNNE KIESLING OFFERS A summary of reasons why oil and gasoline prices are so high, then expresses enthusiasm for ethanol as a fuel. Er, for bloggers, anyway. . . .

UPDATE: She also has some interesting numbers on household spending on gasoline as compared to income.

August 25, 2005

WATER FLOWED ON MARS: recently!

The new study suggests water may still bubble to the surface of Mars now and then, flow for a short stretch, then boil away in the thin, cold air.

The conclusion is based on computer modeling of the atmosphere and how water would behave.

“The gullies may be sites of near-surface water on present-day Mars and should be considered as prime astrobiological target sites for future exploration,” said Jennifer Heldmann, the lead researcher from NASA’s Ames Research Center. “The gully sites may also be of prime importance for human exploration of Mars because they may represent locations of relatively near surface liquid water, which can be accessed by crews drilling on the red planet.”

Any potential long-term human presence on Mars would require a water source, both for drinking and to be broken down into hydrogen as fuel for return flights.

The claim that water carved the gullies is based on the shape and size of features spotted by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor.

This is good news, though life on Mars might well be bad news.

August 25, 2005

ASSASSINATION AS A TOOL OF FOREIGN POLICY: Eugene Volokh is against it. George Stephanopoulos is reportedly more supportive.

August 25, 2005

OUCH, again.

UPDATE: And again. “Hey, this is blogging, not journalism or scholarly work. But Mr Cole can be pretty blistering when others make errors on his turf.”

I think he’s just defending his monopoly position . . . .

August 25, 2005

MORE ERROR-CORRECTION BY BLOG.

August 25, 2005

RADLEY BALKO NOTES that “consumer advocates” can make life miserable for consumers. Bill Quick is mentioned, as is Jeralynn Merritt.

August 25, 2005

GATES OF FIRE: Michael Yon has more firsthand combat reporting from Iraq, with photos. As always, it’s a must-read. Thank goodness for the blogosphere, as you won’t see this kind of reporting anywhere else.

August 25, 2005

LYNN KIESLING ON GAS PRICES: “[B]etween economic growth and increased fuel efficiency, the amount we spend to pay for fuel is a decreasing share of our household budgets, and is a much lower share than in the 1970s. It’s expensive and annoying, yes, but it’s not the big budget item in most budgets that it used to be.”

August 25, 2005

SCOTT OTT has found a leaked White House document.

August 25, 2005

SOME THOUGHTS on hybrid cars and blogs.

August 25, 2005

IN CONNECTION WITH THE POST ON SUVs, BELOW, here’s an interesting chart: “The following plot shows how much I paid for each gallon of gas I bought over the past 26 years or so. . . . The upper, black curve shows the actual price paid for each gallon. The lower curve is the data adjusted for inflation using April, 1979 as the datum.”

Of course, as Nick Gillespie has suggested, if we’re worried about people wasting fuel we should ban private jets. But what would Arianna say?

August 25, 2005

JACK KELLY FACT-CHECKS a New York Times story on the war by calling the source:

Colonel Thomas Spoehr is annoyed with New York Times reporter Michael Moss, for what I think is a good reason.

Spoehr is the director of materiel for the Army staff. He had a good news story to tell Moss, which Moss converted into a bad news story.

Read the whole thing. You know, calling sources to check their quotes in Big Media is an interesting approach.

August 25, 2005

WELL, IT IS THE VOLUNTEER STATE:

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Increased bonuses, advertising, relaxed qualifications and more recruiters are being credited by Tennessee National Guard and Army recruiters for rising enlistments. . . .

Wenzler said the National Guard will likely finish about 300 recruits short of its goal of 1,600, but that enlistments are up from last year.

Meanwhile, Rich Hailey has thoughts on why re-enlistments are running so high:

First time enlistments are running a bit behind, another product of a burgeoning economy, but re-enlistments, even from soldiers in combat zones, are running ahead of expectations.

What does it mean when the guys in the thick of it, closest to the action, at risk, on the ground and looking at things with their own eyes, decide to stay for another hitch?

They must believe in what they’re doing.

Indeed.

August 24, 2005

ROBERT SAMUELSON WRITES:

Economist Robert Fogel, winner of the Nobel Prize, recently told students at Cornell University that “half of you [may] live to celebrate your 100th birthday.” Fogel’s prediction goes well beyond standard projections, which envision today’s college students living into their late seventies. But Fogel, who has studied centuries of change in human well-being, said that conventional forecasts are usually too cautious. “In the late 1920s,” he recalled, “the chief actuary of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. put a cap of 65 on life expectancy.”

Fogel’s forecast reminds us that sooner or later Americans will have to work longer and retire later. It will become economically, politically and morally intolerable for government (aka taxpayers) to support people for a third or even half of their adult lives. Our present Social Security “debate” ought to start this inevitable transformation. But it isn’t. We are in deep denial about the obvious. . . .

The system encourages earlier retirement among career workers and frustrates their reemployment. We could take steps to change this: review age discrimination laws to make it easier for companies to keep career workers; allow people to buy into Medicare at age 62 or 65 while still working.

I’ve had thoughts on that subject, also mentioning Fogel (you’ll have to scroll down), here.

August 24, 2005

DAN GILLMOR: “The remarkable thing, from my perspective, is the degree to which Google’s public-relations wounds are self-inflicted.”

August 24, 2005

I DON’T REJECT MANY BLOGADS — if I only ran ads I agreed with, soon people would think my views were the result of the ads and not the reverse — but I would have rejected this one, too.

August 24, 2005

UTAH RAVE UPDATE: From the Salt Lake City Weekly:

Law-enforcement officers—so often overworked, underpaid and underappreciated—deserve the respect of citizenry. But based on personal accounts and digital-camera footage of that evening that have flooded the Internet since, even the most die-hard supporter of the local constabulary would feel remiss not asking questions. . . .

There’s something telling, too, about the fact that the Sheriff’s Office learned at noon that day where the rave would commence, but waited more than two hours into the music—until 11:30 p.m.—to make 60 arrests and demand the area be cleared. Much was made of one young raver who “overdosed on ecstasy,” and then was released to her parents. If disaster was so imminent, and warranted 90 men in uniform, why wasn’t the rave politely stopped before it started? Perhaps because the spectacle of an outdoor event, like a rave itself, is a lot more fun than sitting at home.

Read the whole thing. (Via the comments here).

UPDATE: Matt Rustler notes reports that the ATF has been acting pretty thuggish lately, too. More here.

August 24, 2005

TOM MAGUIRE HAS A BIG SUV / FUEL ECONOMY / CAFE ROUNDUP: Read the whole thing, as it’s link-rich and informative.

A few points worth making here. First, the SUV craze isn’t solely the result of car-buyers being idiots. It’s in no small part an artifact of government regulation. Andrew Sullivan, in a post that Tom links, notes that people used to just toss the kids in the back of the station wagon (at least I hope that’s what he means by the “trunk.”) Do that now, and you’d practically be charged with child abuse. (Accusing SUV owners of treason is a bit, er, excitable, too.)

Now you have to strap them into car seats until they’re quite large. This produces demands for more room, DVD players, etc., to keep them amused, and the like. What’s more, station wagons — at least the big ones that Andrew invokes — were actually casualties of the CAFE standards and other regulations; car makers switched to SUVs to give people the station-wagon-like room while getting to treat the vehicles like trucks for purposes of safety and economy rules. The government didn’t have to set things up that way, but it did, and the result was predictable if unintended. (Also, the ability of self-employed people to deduct high-gross-weight vehicles on more favorable terms plays a big role). [LATER: A subsequent post on Andrew Sullivan's blog blames the "Bush tax cuts" for this, but actually I believe this policy predates Bush -- and it was tightened up (somewhat) in 2004, though it was loosened for a bit before that, I think.]

I lack the religious opposition to SUVs that many have, but I don’t want one. When I bought the Passat wagon over 6 years ago, gas was less than a dollar. I drove a lot of SUVs, and wasn’t thrilled by their truck-like driving and lousy mileage. The newer ones drive better, but $2.50/gallon gas hasn’t done anything to make the lousy mileage more tasteful.

And I’m not terribly happy with the offerings right now. The Passat is still OK, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and I’d like to replace it in a year or two, depending on how it does. I enjoy looking at cars, and I’ve looked at minivans — roomy, but dull, and with mileage that only looks good next to SUVs — various “crossover” SUVs (I visited the Knoxville Infiniti dealer and looked at an FX35; it was cool, but pricey, and actually smaller inside than the Passat. The salesman was really pleasant and knowledgeable, though.) and the small crop of wagons out there (the Jaguar Estate is perhaps the ugliest car I’ve seen since the Vega). I want to look at the Toyota Highlander hybrid, but I haven’t yet.

A salesman at Harper VW told me that there was actually a TDI version of the Passat wagon on sale last year that got 38 mpg on the highway, but it’s not offered any more, which seems like bad timing. Or why not a station-wagon version of the Accord hybrid? I’d like to see car makers bring out more vehicles like that — and if gas prices stay this high, they probably will. That would suit me.

UPDATE: Michael Wenberg emails:

You and Andrew have a point about SUVs, but he in particular forgets that some people actually “need” big rigs. As much as I’d like to, I can’t pull 2 tons of hay with my 1987 VW Cabriolet. Same with the horse trailer. And we’re not alone. Out here in the rural west, trucks and SUVs are even more common than the big coastal urban areas. I’m sorry, but just because we happen to own two horses doesn’t make me a closet supporter of Islamo terrorists. We can certainly do more with our energy policy than just give tax breaks, but pummeling SUV owners because they take advantage of moronic tax policies seems to be a wrong way to go about it.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Johnathan Pearce has more thoughts.

Meanwhile, reader Bob Whitehead emails:

I’ve been saying this about car seats and seat belts laws causing SUV’s popularity for three years now to all the liberals I know in Jackson Mississippi and keep getting blank stares in the process. Maybe since they don’t have kids they don’t get it. Don’t forget the passenger-side airbag effect as well, keeping older kids in the backseats with their siblings deep into the tween years. The bottom line is–if you have more than two children, you HAVE to drive an SUV or minivan.

Yes, the airbag issue is a real one.

MORE: A reader notes that the VW.com website lets you build a TDI Passat wagon, so maybe they’re still available after all, despite what I was told. Or maybe the website’s out of date.

Meanwhile, reader Paul Milenkovic emails:

I don’t know whom to blame on this one, but Ford is making a fuel-efficient “crossover-SUV” big station-wagon like thing called the Freestyle in my home town of Chicago, and Ford can’t seem to sell very many.

It is styled like its big brother the Explorer, it has the chassis from a Volvo XC-90, it has the same EPA mileage ratings as a Taurus, and it has gotten top marks in the both the Federal and IIHS crash tests. It has the same 3 litre motor as a Taurus but coupled to a gas-saving transmission that allows this motor to move a substantially bigger and heavier vehicle. That transmission called a CVT works on a similar principle as a hybrid car in that the gasoline engine is operated under more fuel efficient load conditions, but I guess it hasn’t been marketed with the “democracy, whiskey, sexy” hype of the hybrid.

The 3 litre engine and CVT transmission don’t have enough oomph to haul a horse trailer, but then how many soccer mom’s board horses? What gets to me is that every self-styled automotive expert who has reviewed this car whines “not enough power!” or “don’t buy until they come out with the 3.5 litre!” The 0-60 numbers are competitive with other vehicles out there, but the CVT transmission doesn’t give the feel of shift points like you are making progress accelerating the car. If this drive train were called a “hybrid”, everyone would be saying how virtuous it is to drive such a car but since it is simply a gas engine and a fancy transmission, all of the car pundits are complaining.

On one hand the punditocracy is complaining about $3 gasoline and wasteful habits and evil SUV’s, and on the other these same people are writing about how the Freestyle is way underpowered and these things are parked all over dealer lots.

In fact, Ford has reportedly discontinued it, though reportedly there will still be a Mercury version in 2007. Here’s a review of the Freestyle from Popular Mechanics.

Reader Francisco Moreno, meanwhile, sends this article from Car and Driver on why diesels are hard to come by:

The trouble with diesels in the U.S. is at the tailpipe. They can’t pass the emissions regs that go into effect in California this year and phase in across the country over the next four years. This may surprise those who’ve seen or sniffed the exhaust coming out of the latest passenger-car diesels—it looks and smells as clean as that of a gas engine to the naked eye or nose. The diesel combustion process, in which the air-fuel mixture is ignited not by a spark plug but by the high temperature and pressure created by a high compression ratio, is naturally clean in terms of carbon moNOXide, hydrocarbons, and other organic gases, so those standards are easily met. But those high temperatures and pressures result in oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and particulate matter—the soot your Olds diesel belched—that are very difficult to clean up, and the new standards apply equally to all fuels. No more special dispensation for diesel.

New technologies may fix that, but many manufacturers are giving up. Finally, Wall Street lawyer-turned Red State soccer mom Jane Meynardie emails on the airbag issue:

One used to be able to put a child below the age (and size) of 12 in the front seat, but can’t do that anymore without risking death by airbag. That means if one has four children, or three children any one of whom has a friend who likes to tag along, one must have a third row of seats (or at least one of those nasty pop-up seats in the cargo area). My one monster-size SUV in which I ferry my 3 boys and their buddies uses less gas than the two vehicles I (and my husband or hired chauffeur)would have to manage if I didn’t have it.

Indeed.

MORE STILL: Ted Nolan thinks we worry too much about safety:

When I was young, and there were no interstates between Columbia SC and Fernandina Beach FL, my parents would prepare the car for the trip by putting a big sheet of plywood across the back seat. This covered the hump, and with blankets spread over it, made a dandy play area for my sister and me to loll and squirm about for the 8 hour drive. If we got tired of that, we could lay down in the shelf between the back seat and the back window. The car may have had seat belts in the front; certainly no one ever used them.

The operative assumption was that my parents were good drivers and they would trust themselves to keep us safe. I think we lost something very important when we lost that presumption. . . . I think sometimes that if we knew where things would end up, we might have gone a different way even though every step seemed to make sense at the time.

I’m a big believer in seat belts, myself, but I take the point. And reader Julie Kelleher Stacy emails:

I hate to email you and take up your time, but this SUV issue strikes very close to home for me. Some people who live in the Northeast, like Andrew (whom I haven’t read in a year), don’t realize that some people in red states own or work on ranches, or work on large government properties, and have kids or guests, and really need these things. Northeasterners sometimes have no concept of how big and diverse this country really is. (By the way, your readers Mr Wenberg and Mr Whitehead have very good points, and I agree with them completely.)

For example, I present my annual childhood summer vacation. Every summer in my childhood of the ’60′s and early seventies was spent at the Big Bend area ranch that has been in our family since the 1880′s. I guess my parents should have had the the foresight in the 50′s to downsize and leave a small footprint on the earth by having fewer kids and selling off my mom’s share of the ranch. But no— instead I was afflicted with the existence of three siblings and a large ranch to help manage. (All working Trans-Pecos ranches have to be large. It takes on average 50 acres to sustain one cow/calf.)

So our parents would stuff all us kids, plus the dog, into the old Buick station wagon (what’s a seatbelt?), drive 350 miles west to the turnoff from the highway (did I mention that Texas is big?), and slowly limp up the several miles to the house. We would park the old Buick in the driveway for the next month, because it couldn’t hack the roads. So instead we would use the ranch pickup for all of our driving. Double cabs did not exist, so it was three people in the cab with a big stick shift between the legs of the child in the middle, and the other kids and dog in the bed of the truck. We even drove 20 miles to town like this to get groceries and library books (no sat dishes back then), at 70 MPH once we hit the highway. I loved riding in the back. We had no idea how dangerous this was, and now it’s illegal in many areas.

When the ranch started buying some early SUVs, first a Wagoneer and then a Suburban, what I liked best was the rear AC units, seemingly heaven-sent. More important was this: SUVs provided ranch families the means to transport humans INSIDE the vehicle, with seatbelts, a huge leap forward in safety for family transportation.

So I intensely resent this demonization of an inanimate object that has so greatly enhanced the safety and comfort of rural families. This is a huge, wealthy, diverse country, with room for people with all kinds of lifestyles. Do I wish SUVs got better gas mileage? HELL YES. I think, hope, and pray that markets and technology will take care of this in time. Faster please.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails along these lines. See also this post from Greg Ransom, and here’s an interesting tidbit on the front-seat airbag problem:

I’d like to point out, though, that we purchased a brand new minivan (a Mercury Monterey) a couple of weeks ago, and it doesn’t have the problem. If the passenger seatbelt latches, and it thinks that it’s an adult-sized amount of weight, it turns the airbag on. If it latches, but the weight is too low, it determines that it might be a child, so it turns off the airbag.

That makes sense, but I didn’t know it was available. That’s a good thing, though it would be even more useful in smaller vehicles, for obvious reasons.

August 24, 2005

NICK SCHULZ: Et tu, Lance?

August 24, 2005

THE MU.NU SERVER is back online.

August 24, 2005

RENEWED MY DRIVER’S LICENSE TODAY at the TDS facility in West Knoxville. I budgeted 90 minutes; it was done in less than 15. Service was fast and pleasant, hassle was low, fees were modest. I love Knoxville.

August 24, 2005

I JUST RAN ACROSS this interesting interview with Cory Doctorow by Wagner James Au.

August 24, 2005

ALENDA LUX notes some major media flip-flopping over the Iraqi constitution.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here are some non-flip-floppy thoughts from John Eastman.

August 24, 2005

RICH BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week’s Carnival of the Vanities is up.

August 24, 2005

LAW PROFESSOR CANDIDATES AND GEOGRAPHY: A colleague at another school is looking through the resumes filed by wannabe law professors and writes:

I just noticed that in the “Geographical Locations” restriction in the AALS FAR that one candidate had listed that he would only accept employment in “Blue States, Florida, and Virginia” and would not accept a position in “Other red states.”

I guess the meme (red/blue) is established, at least until 2008.

August 24, 2005

SOME PEOPLE ARE CHEERING ON the war between Kos and the DLC. I’m not sure it will end well for anyone, even the Republicans.

UPDATE: Jonathan Chait says that Kos is channeling Dr. Evil. Hey, I thought that was my job!

Meanwhile, the folks at Anklebitingpundits are pulling for the DLC, because they want a strong opposition party. (Link was bad before — fixed now).

And IowaHawk observes: “savvy young progressives go for the taste of Kos®-brand: the Flava of Generation Xtreme™.

MORE: Heh: “I haven’t decided whether I care or not, but it’s worth pointing out that the DLC actually won a couple elections and the Kos/MoveOn wing hasn’t won anything.”

August 24, 2005

BAINBRIDGE on Lithwick on Roberts.

August 24, 2005

THE ANCHORESS WONDERS WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO BUSH?

Does anyone remember April and May of 2005? And the months preceeding them? The Orange Revolution? The Arab Springtime? The Cedar Revolution of Lebanon – all of them seeming to have a fire lit under them, a wonderful fire of liberty. Remember Revolution Babes?

All around the globe, there was a spirit of something that felt a lot like the Will to Power – something that was building in momentum…like we were on the brink of something truly remarkable and historic and new.

Then, suddenly – poof! – it all stopped? It all just seemed to go away. It was like a big giant foot just came down and stomped out all of those wonderful fires…and the White House seems to have just…blink! Forgotten about it.

I like W a lot, but what the hell?

Judging by the polls, a lot of people are wondering.

As I noted Monday:

Bush’s position traditionally flags during the summer, with supporters complaining of malaise, only to see the Administration go back on-message after Labor Day. Will it happen again? It had better, if Bush wants to succeed.

It had better.

UPDATE: Jim Hoft says we’re just not paying attention:

I am sorry that people are so blue…. But I am feeling another surge coming upon us.

A trial of a Mass Murderer, a Meeting with the Jews: Link

Abused [Pakistani] women standing so very tall! Link

Soldiers welcomed home!!! Link

There is great news out there! Let’s help others tap into it!

Bring it on, to coin a phrase.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge complains that Bush’s Iraq strategy has deep-sixed the social-conservative agenda. To me this is less a bug than a feature, and it seems to me that the Democrats would have been wise to recognize this, too, and run with it.

Meanwhile, reader Mike Walker emails:

I think whats wrong with the President is that he is tired, as we say in the south “slam wore out”. Like a good blue tick after hunting, he needs to crawl up under the porch out of the heat and sleep for a good long spell. Look at pictures of him, you can see the graying, the wrinkling, and the fraying take place right before your eyes.

The man has had to preside over some momentous events during his 2 terms, from 9/11 to Enron et al to recession to Afghanistan to Iraq to a bitter, long and momentously important election to supreme court appointments. Every step of the way he has been criticized, demonized, lied about, misrepresented, belittled and opposed. No matter what he has done, he has been trashed out by someone somewhere, often including his own party members and some “supporters”. He has been betrayed by members of his own party in the senate. HIs victories are ignored and his losses maginified a thousand times over.

The cumulative effect of all this, from what I can judge, has worn him out and drained him of his fire and energy. Lets face it, he is human, and the man has borne some unbelievable burdens over the last 5 years, where his choices were often between shades of the lesser of evils, and no choice was ever easy or apparent. HIs tank is low, and he needs some uplifting by those who believe in him. Nobody will please us 100% of the time.

But what do we do? We start criticizing him again for not being super-human, and we start asking “whats wrong with the president?”, as if we ourselves never get tired, worn-out, run down, and just plain disocuraged in our jobs or lives. As a people, have we become this divorced from the realities of high-stakes leadership, and the toll it takes on those who take it on? Worse yet, have we no understanding and empathy for it?

Maybe the real question is, whats wrong with us?

I think everyone is tired. I was tired of the war before the invasion of Iraq and my involvement has been rather more peripheral than GWB’s. But it’s a good point.

UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith emails:

You have frequently reminded us that democratization is a ‘process, not an event.’

I would add that it’s more a bursty process not a continuous one. We saw a lot of good news in the 1st half of the year from areas of interest to those of us who actively support extending human liberty. This streak lasted roughly from Arafat’s death to Condi’s visit to Egypt and included the Iraqi elections. Now things have slowed down, at least in terms of large headline grabbing events with protest hotties. I would expect lulls like this from time to time as people on both sides of a particular struggle absorb what has happened and plan their next move.

Like him or not, Bush is as patient and goal-oriented as one could hope within the political constraints he faces. This is a good thing as our war with the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq has become largely a test of wills fought in an unfavorable media environment. I would like to think that the president, as is his pattern in September, can alter that environment a bit and regain some public support, but there is only so much he can do with words. Events will matter more and we can expect them to pick up relatively soon. I doubt Bush sleeps too well at night, but if he does it’s because he has done what he can up front to maximize the likelihood that the next flurry of activity will break in a good direction for our country and allies.

Your reader’s blue tick metaphor is apt. Bush has taken a lot of criticism for the R&R he takes and his ‘early to bed’ habits, but they are the actions of a leader who understands the that the tempo of events is bursty. We should cut him some slack on this basis.

That’s true. But momentum matters, too.

More here: The Thrill is Gone.

August 24, 2005

IN THE MAIL: Suzanne Mettler’s Soldiers To Citizens: The GI Bill And The Making Of The Greatest Generation. It looks very interesting, and she makes the point that — contrary to what many people think — the GI Bill wasn’t really a New Deal legacy:

The G.I. Bill bore less resemblance to New Deal legislation — which tended to target citizens as workers — than to an older American tradition of social provision geared for citizen soldiers. In the democratic ideals so central to the nation’s identity, military service had long been regarded as the utmost obligation of masculine citizenship, and the protection of the nation by ordinary citizens, as opposed to a standing army, was considered essential to maintaining self-governance.

Roosevelt, in fact, was hostile to “social provision limited to veterans,” she reports, which is something I didn’t realize, and the G.I. Bill was really a product of the American Legion. (Mettler’s no Roosevelt-basher, though, and is also critical, in passing, of welfare reform.)

Her main point, however, is that the G.I. Bill wrought major social improvements (the book revolves around a huge number of interviews of veterans on how it changed their lives), and she suggests we should try something similar now. I’m not sure what that would be, but I suspect we’ll be hearing more along these lines in the next few years.

August 24, 2005

BLAWG REVIEW, the Carnival of Law Bloggers, is up.

August 24, 2005

IRAQI CONSTITUTION UPDATE:

Iraq’s new constitution must be for all its people and should meet the aspirations of Sunni Arabs, President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday. . . .

Talabani said the country’s stability cannot be achieved without consensus among Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis Arabs and Kurds.

“The constitution will be to serve everybody and not only one community of the Iraqi society,” he said, speaking after a meeting with parliament speaker Hajim al-Hassani. “We hope that all the pending disagreements be solved in what guarantees consensus between the three (main) communities in Iraq and in what guarantees the satisfaction and approval of our Sunni brothers in this important matter.”

Sunni members of the constitutional drafting committee oppose several parts of the document, which was handed to parliament Monday. Their opposition forced parliament to delay a vote for at least three days to give Shiite and Kurdish negotiators time to win over the Sunnis.

The Sunni objections include federalism, references to Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led Baath Party and the description of Iraq as an Islamic _ but not Arab _ country.

I’m unmoved by the Sunnis’ concerns, but my opinion is of limited importance here. On the other hand, one question is how much Sunni spokesmen represent their constituencies. Polls seem to suggest otherwise, and so do reports like this one from the Christian Science Monitor, which I referenced yesterday:

Since January’s elections, Iraqi politics has been divided sharply along religious and ethnic lines. But average Sunnis are resounding in their call for unity and to wipe out labels like Sunni, Shiite, or Kurd.

“We don’t differentiate between Sunni and Shiite,” says Khalid Hamid, a Sunni. The politicians “talk about unity of all Iraq but they stimulate the sectarian divisions.” . . .

But all the concerns now swirling around the Sunni community have made many determined to turn out in force in the next national elections scheduled for December.

“Sunnis made a mistake by not participating in the elections,” says Mustafa Ali Kareem al-Bayati, a Sunni living in north- eastern Baghdad.

He says there are banners in his neighborhood encouraging people to vote and he says he will be sure to. “Our destiny will be decided in these days.”

Indeed, what most Sunnis want now is for the constitutional process to stop, and for new elections to be held, which they expect would yield them more influence. “We want the constitution to include all Iraqis. If this fails it’s a good thing. It will give the Sunnis another chance,” says Mustafa Ali Kareem, a Sunni.

On the other hand, there’s this passage: “Sunnis across the board say they would vote against any constitution that includes federalism or specific language about the Baath.”

Mickey Kaus points out that some critics of the process have blinders on: “Kaplan and Cole are so eager to find fault with the constitution (and, by implication, the war) that they’ve lost touch with logic.”

My own sense is that this stuff isn’t as important as we like to make it. Americans are unusually legalistic and unusually focused on constitutions. But plenty of constitutions have wonderful language on paper (the old Soviet constitution was great that way) and plenty of countries (Britain, for example) manage to get by without written constitutions at all. What matters more is political culture. If the Iraqi people want a free, prosperous country and are willing to work for it, they’ll get that. If they don’t, or aren’t, then they won’t.

That’s the story in Iraq — but, really, it’s the story everywhere, including here. “A Republic, ma’am — if you can keep it.”

UPDATE: Reader Brian King sends a link to this essay by Ben Franklin on the U.S. Constitution.

ANOTHER UPDATE: For a more pessimistic take, go here. Meanwhile, Tim Worstall notes that the old Iraqi constitution was full of fine words, but that things still didn’t work out very well what with the torture rooms and mass graves and all.

MORE: Further thoughts here.

Much more here.

August 24, 2005

AP REPORTERS GHOST-WRITING for Cindy Sheehan?

UPDATE: Maybe not. Tim Russo, whose post on this is linked above, emails: “Upon closer read, I think she just sloppily attributed the quotes she took from the ap stories as ‘contributions’ from the AP reporters, which suggests a more voluntary relationship than simply pulling a quote. I note this on my revised post.”

August 24, 2005

PROMISING NEWS on the space front, reported in my TechCentralStation column.

August 23, 2005

LARRY KUDLOW: “I say three cheers for higher energy prices. Why? Because I believe in markets. When the price of something goes up, demand falls off (call it conservation) and supply increases (call it new production). We’re seeing a tectonic shift.”

I hope he’s right. I’m pretty sure that the Bush Administration sees things the same way that he does.

August 23, 2005

PERU PLANE CRASH: Here’s a firsthand report.

August 23, 2005

A HOMEMADE ENDOSCOPE: Via Engadget.

August 23, 2005

RUDY GIULIANI IS KICKING BUTT in Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Republican straw poll. What’s really interesting, though, is that the results are pretty robust notwithstanding the different flavors of blogs. Giuliani is a huge favorite among InstaPundit readers (McCain is a distant second). But he also holds the lead (albeit narrowly) among Hugh Hewitt readers, who are on the social-conservative side and who didn’t favor him last time around. He also leads among Michelle Malkin readers and among Power Line readers.

FreeRepublic readers favor Tom Tancredo, which probably says something about the GOP’s vulnerability on immigration. And Condi Rice seems to lead pretty much everywhere in the “fantasy candidate” category. I think this makes her a very plausible VP candidate.

Interestingly, I’m pretty sure that a similar poll of Democrats would show a similar lead for Hillary Clinton. Is there some sort of New York magic at work? Forget a “subway Series” — could we have a “subway election” in 2008?

August 23, 2005

JAMES LILEKS OFFERS ADVICE TO ANGRY EMAILERS: “Everyone always thinks they have some armor-piercing argument the other side has never considered, but that’s rarely the case.” My advice to recipients of angry email — get a gmail account, and then you see the first line of the email, and usually don’t have to bother opening it up to read the whole, lame, effort.

August 23, 2005

TOM MAGUIRE LOOKS AT more Able Danger confusion.

August 23, 2005

DON SURBER OFFERS three lessons on baseball payrolls.

August 23, 2005

ADVICE TO BLOG CARNIVAL ORGANIZERS: I’ll add one more item — if you want me to link your carnival, be sure somebody sends me the link!

August 23, 2005

UTAH RAVE BUST HAS PARTYGOERS CRYING FOUL:

Swat members from Utah County busted the rave at Diamond Fork in Spanish Fork Canyon. At least 60 people were arrested for various offenses.

Many who attended the rave are upset because they say authorities used excessive force to shut down the party.

It’s not clear to me if this is another Racine, Wisconsin case, but there’s more information here. The linked video certainly appears as if there was excessive force.

UPDATE: Some firsthand reports here. Sort-of-related background here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Much more, from Matt Welch.

More here.

MORE: And here.

August 23, 2005

PHIL BOWERMASTER has thoughts on life extension, his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and Six Feet Under.

August 23, 2005

SIGNS OF PROGRESS in Libya? Gateway Pundit has a roundup of what looks like good news.

August 23, 2005

NORMBLOG has much more on the Iraqi Constitution, from Brendan O’Leary.

UPDATE: Publius has comments, too. The more people look at this, the better they seem to feel.

August 23, 2005

HERE’S A PAGE THAT REPORTS ON reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Lots of stuff I hadn’t heard about.

August 23, 2005

RANDALL PARKER: Treat biomedical research as a capital expenditure:

Think of it this way: If potholes in the roads were causing damages to vehicles that far exceeded the cost of fixing the potholes then the political cry would go out to fix the potholes. Well, the cost of diseases and aging – both for expensive treatments and for the costs of disability – run into the trillions of dollars per year. So why do the US National Institutes of Health get less than $30 billion dollars per year while US federal, state, and local governments spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 to $800 billion per year for medical care and nursing care? Why does the private sector spend even more while the government also spends money to provide income to old folks who are too aged to work? . . .

The faster we develop therapies built upon the rapid advances in biotechnology the sooner we will start reaping the return on our collective investments in therapies that repair and rejuvenate aged, malfunctioning, and diseased body parts.

This makes sense to me. I think it would be politically popular, too. Related thoughts here.

August 23, 2005

PATRICK RUFFINI is running his monthly Presidential straw poll again. Looking at the choices, I can’t help but feel that the Republicans are in trouble in 2008. Unless one of the “fantasy candidates” runs.

On the other hand, my two favorite candidates out of Ruffini’s field(Giuliani among the “real” candidates, and Condi Rice among the “fantasy” candidates) are on top.

August 23, 2005

I WOULD MANAGE TO CONTAIN MY DEJECTION if someone bumped off Hugo Chavez, but Mark Daniels notes that Pat Robertson’s call for just that is bad politics and bad religion.

Well, those are Robertson’s stock-in-trade, which is why he was one of the original models for the term “idiotarian.”

August 23, 2005

BILL ROGGIO says that worries about Islam in the Iraqi Constitution are overstated. I hope he’s right.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh thinks it looks pretty good, but that the real action will be in subsequent legislation.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dave Price is similarly untroubled.

Meanwhile, here’s why the Sunnis don’t like it:

But at root of the Sunni rejection of the constitutional process is fear itself. The psyche of this community, from which Saddam Hussein’s most fervent supporters were drawn and who enjoyed privileged positions until his regime was toppled, has been badly damaged in the past few years.

Many fears about the new Iraq are expressed throughout Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhoods. They fear that Iraq’s new masters will punish them for supporting Mr. Hussein’s regime; they fear they don’t have leaders or social cohesion; and they fear their former status will never be regained.

It’s this fear and doubt that feeds their distrust of Iraq’s other communities and their desire to see the writing of the constitution delayed. . . . The current draft constitution on the table specifically outlaws Hussein’s old Baath party, which many Sunnis interpret as an effort to target them as a community.

I’m unmoved. But note that even among Sunnis, the population seems substantially more progressive than the leaders. Jeff Goldstein has further thoughts. So does Michael Totten.

August 23, 2005

IN THE MAIL: John Farrell’s The Day Without Yesterday: LeMaître, Einstein, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology. I read a fair-sized chunk of it last night, and it looks quite interesting.

August 23, 2005

RALPH PETERS ON IRAQ COVERAGE:

What should have made headlines? It would’ve been nice to see more attention devoted to the complexity and importance of drafting a new constitution for Iraq. But my nomination for the “Greatest Story Never Told” is a quieter one: Locked in a difficult war, the U.S. Army is exceeding its re-enlistment and first-time enlistment goals. Has anybody mentioned that to you?

Remember last spring, when the Army’s recruitment efforts fell short for a few months? The media’s glee would have made you confuse the New York Times and Air America.

When the Army attempted to explain that enlistments are cyclical and numbers dip at certain times of the year, the media ignored it. All that mattered was the wonderful news that the Army couldn’t find enough soldiers. We were warned, in oh-so-solemn tones, that our military was headed for a train wreck.

Now, as the fiscal year nears an end, the Army’s numbers look great. Especially in combat units and Iraq, soldiers are re-enlisting at record levels. And you don’t hear a whisper about it from the “mainstream media.”

It’s as if they’re biased or something.

UPDATE: Jane McCalla Miller notes this claim that Peters is overstating things — recent months are better, but the Army is still likely to finish the year in the hole.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this post from Intel Dump, too.

MORE: Peters, interviewed, says he had the numbers wrong.

August 23, 2005

THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF LIBERTY is up!

UPDATE: Sorry — wrong link before. Fixed now.

August 23, 2005

OUCH.

August 23, 2005

HERE’S THE LATEST on the in-progress Iraqi Constitution. Here’s the current text.

UPDATE: Saudi blogger The Religious Policeman is not impressed with the course of developments.

August 23, 2005

ARNOLD KLING HAS THOUGHTS on incumbent politicians and the Long Tail.

August 23, 2005

DEALING WITH BROADBAND: Via Daniel Drezner.

August 23, 2005

A FUEL SHORTAGE IN CHINA.

A bra shortage in Europe.

Perspective here.

August 23, 2005

HEALTHCARE BLOGGING: Grand Rounds is up!

August 23, 2005

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE:

A faculty group has sent the investigation of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill to the next level.

Seven complaints of alleged plagiarism, historical fabrication and other research misconduct by Churchill have been recommended for a deeper investigation, while two other complaints that were part of the original inquiry were dropped, his lawyer said. The report from the faculty subcommittee that had spent about four months looking into the allegations was delivered Monday, said David Lane, who represents Churchill.

Here’s a Rocky Mountain News editorial on the subject.

August 22, 2005

IT’S GAY DAY at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

August 22, 2005

WOW: I said that Andrew Breitbart was a media mogul, but I didn’t realize he was such a mover and shaker.

August 22, 2005

CHECK OUT ED CONE’S Greensboro blog conference announcement. It’s scheduled for October 8.

August 22, 2005

HELP SMASH get a new job!

August 22, 2005

THE FRENCH ARE WONDERING: Why do they hate us?

August 22, 2005

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS: “Iraqi Parliament Delays Constitution Vote.” I don’t think that making the Sunnis happy is priority number one, but I hope to see more progress on other issues.

August 22, 2005

STEVE STURM EMAILS ON ABLE DANGER: “I know you haven’t been a big follower of the whole matter, and I’m starting to see why you’re probably the better for it.”

As I’ve said before, my pre-9/11 view was that we were best off treating Islamist terrorism as a law-enforcement matter, but otherwise trying to ignore it until it collapsed under the weight of its inherent idiocy. That was wrong, but it’s hard for me to blame the Clinton folks for seeing things the way that I did — except when, occasionally, they pretend otherwise.