Archive for May, 2006

May 31, 2006

THE WASHINGTON POST has a story on Egypt’s imprisoned bloggers. And, in the Christian Science Monitor, Sandmonkey is calling for a boycott of Egypt:

If arresting peaceful protesters on the street, week after week (653 last month alone), weren’t enough, the Egyptian government is looking to end public dissent over the Internet. So far, six bloggers have been arrested. One of them is Alaa Abdel-Fatah, one of Egypt’s most prominent bloggers. Mr. Abdel-Fatah runs an aggregator service for Egyptian blogs, using the space to help organize protests. He has been a thorn in the side of the Egyptian government for some time, which finally decided to handpick Abdel-Fatah and fellow bloggers out of a recent street protest and detain them. They have been in jail for three weeks now in a place that makes Abu Ghraib look like the Four Seasons.

Another blogger, Mohamed el-Sharqawi, was released, then rearrested two days later, just last Thursday. He was beaten up and says he was raped by the police before being thrown in jail again. There is still no word on what he is charged with, or how long he will be detained, since the emergency laws allow his indefinite incarceration without charges. . . .

For all of the aforementioned reasons, I call upon you to boycott Egypt financially.

I am not just asking the US State Department to suspend the $3 billion in annual aid sent to the Egyptian government. I am asking every person who reads this to not visit Egypt, not buy Egyptian products, and not invest in companies that invest in Egypt. I am asking you to completely boycott Egypt and everything Egyptian until this government stops silencing dissent.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country. But the current regime has to be stopped, and the only way that’s going to happen is if it is no longer supported.

Read the whole thing. Mubarak, apparently, is pissed at the pressure he’s been getting from the United States. Seems to me that means it’s time for more.

May 31, 2006

SINCE SOME PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE IT, I should note that Kim du Toit is blogging again.

May 31, 2006

BILL ROGGIO HAS POSTED A REPORT FROM KABUL that’s worth your time.

He also emails this photo of sunset in Kabul.

roggiosunsetkabulsm.jpg

May 31, 2006

MERCENARIES FOR DARFUR: Max Boot floats an idea that’s been seen here at InstaPundit before:

If you listen to the bloviators at Turtle Bay, salvation will come from the deployment of a larger corps of blue helmets. If only. What is there in the history of United Nations peacekeepers that gives anyone any confidence that they can stop a determined adversary?

The odds are much greater that U.N. representatives will instead be taken as hostages by bloodthirsty thugs, as happened in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and in Sierra Leone five years later. Or that, rather than protecting the people, the peacekeepers will prey on them — as allegedly has happened in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Congo, all places where blue helmets have been accused of a horrifying litany of sexual abuses, including pedophilia, rape and prostitution.

Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t come to pass, the U.N. is likely to prove ineffectual in the face of determined opposition. Look at what is happening in East Timor, where, after seven years of U.N. stewardship, the capital has been paralyzed by fighting among armed gangs. The situation is even worse in Haiti, where a Brazilian-led U.N. force has done little to stem growing chaos. It is worse still in Somalia — the most lawless country on Earth — where a U.N. deployment failed in the early 1990s. . . .

But perhaps there is a way to stop the killing even without sending an American or European army. Send a private army. A number of commercial security firms such as Blackwater USA are willing, for the right price, to send their own forces, made up in large part of veterans of Western militaries, to stop the genocide.

We know from experience that such private units would be far more effective than any U.N. peacekeepers. In the 1990s, the South African firm Executive Outcomes and the British firm Sandline made quick work of rebel movements in Angola and Sierra Leone. Critics complain that these mercenaries offered only a temporary respite from the violence, but that was all they were hired to do. Presumably longer-term contracts could create longer-term security, and at a fraction of the cost of a U.N. mission.

Yet this solution is deemed unacceptable by the moral giants who run the United Nations. They claim that it is objectionable to employ — sniff — mercenaries. More objectionable, it seems, than passing empty resolutions, sending ineffectual peacekeeping forces and letting genocide continue.

More likely they fear that if it proves effective, they’ll lose out on a line of business that has proved profitable so far.

May 31, 2006

FAREED ZAKARIA WRITES, correctly, that Iraq’s problems are fundamentally political not military: “The reality is that only an effective political bargain will bring about order. There needs to be a deal that gives all three communities strong incentives to cooperate rather than be spoilers.”

The Iraqi Oil Trust idea, originally proposed here via Lou Dolinar (and see the followup posts here, here, and here for more) might be one way to accomplish this.

May 31, 2006

ANN ALTHOUSE doesn’t think that hypocrisy is a generational matter.

May 31, 2006

IRAN AND THE U.S. NEGOTIATION OFFER: Austin Bay has thoughts.

May 31, 2006

A HADITHA ROUNDUP, plus this pretty much sure-fire prediction: “The media frenzy around the actions of a handful of Marines is now building and, as happened with the illegal acts at Abu Graib, will be used to advance agendas unrelated to the allegations, agendas which trade on the slander of the American military, and which use the very rare exceptions to paint broadly, even as the enemy will.”

UPDATE: Peter Ingemi writes that the antiwar left has made Haditha morally irrelevant:

There is one aspect about Haditha that seems to be ignored by everybody.

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting “Hadithas” over and over again over the last three years.

Time and time again our friends have accused us of every possible atrocity that there is to the point that internationally people are already able to believe this or the 9/11 stuff or all the rest.

Because of this, internationally it is totally irrelevant if the Marines actually violated the rules of war. Our foes are going to say that we’ve done things if we do them or not, so the only people that it really matters to will be; the people killed (and family) and the people in our own country who support the military.

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say “we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep”. At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not.

That is a fate that I don’t wish on any of us.

Neither do I.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Background and video here.

MORE: Some people, judging from my email, are misjudging — or deliberately misconstruing — Ingemi’s point. Ingemi’s point, as I took it, is that crying wolf leads end the end to moral callousness, as people assume that there’s no point in behaving morally when they’re going to be called monsters anyway. This seems rather uncontroversially obvious to me.

STILL MORE: I keep getting emails like this: “So you endorse using violence against your political enemies?” I don’t see where anyone gets that from the above. I certainly didn’t say that, and I don’t think that Peter Ingemi meant it. And I don’t really see how anyone could get that from the above.

This seems rather manufactured — kind of like Matt Yglesias’ claim that this post constituted an incitement to vandalism against the New York Times.

And at a time when elected Democratic officials are speaking fondly of the prospect of “putting a bullet between the President’s eyes,” these claims of outrage ring rather hollow.

MORE STILL: I didn’t think that Peter Ingemi was proposing civil war (One tipoff — where he said “This is a fate I don’t wish on any of us.”). He sends this followup:

You know I’ve been re-reading the responses to that letter and thought about it overnight. It really bothers me.

When you look at military dictatorships and military oppression that has taken place in history there is one common thread, (something that you have written on over and over) one side is armed and one is not. Usually you have a homogeneous military consisting of a single group/race etc.

One of the great genius’ of the American system was the subordination of the military to civilian rule, and the concept of militia consisting of all able bodied men. Our military came from all over the country and from all walks of life mixing and getting together. It’s a lot like going to church, people of all walks and trades and classes together in one spot. My pastor politically is as left as they come, that doesn’t stop him from being of the finest priests I’ve ever seen. I very much wish the church had more like him. (but I digress)

As political fever drives both sides farther apart over time we are in great danger of having a military that represents only a single party and class of people. We got a tiny glimpse of this during the Clinton years as the troops did their best to separate the office from the man. What will happen in 20 or 30 years?

Since the 60′s two unifying forces, for good or ill, were removed from the country: the removal of Judeo/Christian values as the semi-official moral code of the public schools) and the death of the draft/aka Vietnam. (actually ending in the 70′s). These two changes had one thing in common, it took two generations for them to have the following effect:

It is now unlikely that a student going to school today, had a teacher or parent who 1. Served in the military or 2. Was taught that moral code in school. To a whole generation now being born these are things that belong to outsiders. This makes the military and religious people outsiders and strange to one group and vice versa. Since the military draws predominantly from those two groups it will become more isolated from the rest of the public as time goes by.

This is not healthy for our country. What is worse is that one group has slowly vilified the military assuming them to be all dupes or thugs. A lot of this was political rhetoric but it has grown as a matter of faith.

There is NOTHING more dangerous in a republic than this. In the old south you had a police force that was of a single race, how many people of color felt comfortable calling the police? Right now we are in a war with a group that ironically hates most of what the left loves. The people who are predominantly fighting that war are on the right, the primary targets of our foes are frankly those on the left.

Some guys like Andrew Sullivan understand that I might disagree with him on Gay Marriage but these barbarians would cut his head off and brag about it. A person like me might suffer 2nd class citizenship in an islamist state. Our friends on the left would be dead.

I am an anomaly. I was born in 1963 but my parents were in their 40′s at the time. That means my father served in the pacific and my mother said the Lord’s prayer in the public school that she went to. My father is long dead but my own sons are babysat by my 81 year old mother quite a bit, (active is too slow a word for her). The values I’ve grown up with were the values that were the mainstream of the greatest generation, however I grew up around people a generation ahead of me so perhaps I can see it a bit brighter than most. This has to be nipped in the bud before somebody in the future with power means what our left leaning friends think I did.

I see two simple solutions: The primary one is history. Let our friends in the left study the history of their grandparents and great grandparents. It is almost a certainly that they had family members in the military, belonged to a church and had the worldview that the right hold now. Look into this and see when you study their lives, how they lived without the wonders we take for granted, how they got by without TV or air conditioning or that 2nd car and see if you see what kind of people they were.

Second take a lesson from today. I would recommend to our liberal friends the book KEEPING FAITH A FATHER-SON STORY ABOUT LOVE AND THE USMC. by Frank Schaeffer (the sequel Faith of our Sons is fine too). It is the story of a man of the left who’s son decides to join the Marine Corps (1998). The reaction of the people in his community and his school are shock and dismay. The reaction of the teachers is where did we go wrong? It is a riveting read.

For our part on the right we need to not make the venom directed against our institutions make us unquestioning supporters of all they do, furthermore have some contacts with people on the left. Socialize, In the group I hang out with. I am the only practicing Roman Catholic, most are not religious, several have marched in favor of gay marriage, several have signed the petition to put it back on the ballot, yet we all are pals, we are all welcome in each others homes and would drop what we are doing in a second to give the other a hand. That doesn’t mean when a subject comes up we don’t argue politics but that doesn’t make us less friends.

Anyway I can’t believe I’ve spent an hour writing this on my day off but it was on my mind and wouldn’t get off of if until it was written and sent.

I’m opposed to conscription, but this is the strongest argument for the draft I’ve seen. Meanwhile, reader Kevin Deenihan, who was initially unhappy with Ingemi’s first email, sent this after I assured him that I didn’t think Ingemi was calling for civil war:

I agree that, on the surface, the comment looks like a simple ‘reap what you sow’ shot at scaremongers that see Abu Ghraib every time a Marine rolls his eyes. Perhaps I shouldn’t read more deeply then that… or perhaps I’ve gotten your own opinion on that kind of boy-cries-wolf scenario exactly backwards.

But that comment, to me, did mean more. It’s about holding to moral standards greater then your opponent and maintaining your integrity. I support the war — by and large — because I want to believe that those supporting it with me can always look at a Haditha and say ‘This is wrong.’

To hear that the horror of a Haditha on fellow supporters can be minimized or lost because of the silly ramblings of The Nation — that’s profoundly disturbing to me. Are our moral compasses so easily dulled by New York Times opinions that we don’t have the capacity to tell the difference? Or worse — and this is what truly bothered me — to tell the difference, but no longer even care? The idea that listening to overblown NPR rhetoric could lead to apologists for Haditha, simply because it will ‘piss off’ the Left, or because they’re tired of being criticized, or whatever rationale.. I feel like that’s the line that cannot be crossed.

Perhaps the reason that the Left is e-mailing so much is because, deep in their hearts, they believe that we all share some fundamental, American outrage at these kinds of abuses, if they really are what they seem to be. Imagine the Left’s dismay if they finally proved there were horrors, and the response was a calm “we don’t care about Haditha, thanks to your endless whining. Good job.”

At Berkeley there was a Republican who wanted to start a Berkeley Gun Club for no better reason then ‘It will really piss off the Hippies.’ I can think of no more ideologically and philosophically bankrupt position then letting rage or fatigue towards your political opponents determine your own morals and integrity.

That’s certainly right. A silly contrarianism is, well, silly at best. And — by pointing out the unfortunate political purposes to which some people try to put war crimes — I’m not trying to suggest that they don’t matter when they actually happen. (I even played a part in Zeyad’s efforts to uncover crimes by U.S. troops in Iraq). I would, however, like to see something more than endless efforts to rerun My Lai, as well as credit to U.S. troops for waging a war that is undoubtedly the most restrained in history. And when people exercise that kind of restraint, and get less than no credit for it, I think the result is poisonous.

And, alas, I don’t think the lefty emails are motivated by anything as noble as Deenihan suggests. At least, not the ones like this, from trout@thefishshow.com:

You find this myth about we who oppose you comforting, do you, you pencil-necked weakling fuck?

Would you be shocked to learn that we are armed, dangerous, and smarter than you?

You will be.

Fuck you and your little rat-eyed chimpanzee emperor.

There were a lot of those, too. So who’s threatening civil war, again?

[LATER: Technically, I guess it wouldn't be "civil war" for me, since thefishshow.com is registered to a Vancouver, BC registrant. That's a relief, as we all know that Canada is free of potentially violent extremists.]

May 31, 2006

MORE ANTISEMITISM FROM PETE MCCLOSKEY that makes the Los Angeles Times’ and San Francisco Chronicle’s endorsements look pretty bad:

There’s no doubt that Jews, like others, participate in the political process, and promote causes that they care about — which sometimes include Israel. It’s quite legitimate to discuss that. It’s quite legitimate to criticize Israel; for all I know (not being particularly knowledgeable on the subject), Rep. McCloskey’s substantive criticisms of Israel were quite sound, though the claim that Israel was “very much like Adolf Hitler’s Germany” makes me skeptical of his other views.

But when someone suggests that the Democratic Party is “in the hands of the Jews,” because it is beholden to “Jewish money” (the money of 2% of the U.S. population, a group that’s somewhat but not vastly more prosperous per capita than the average person), that suggests a pretty serious lack of perspective. And when coupled with the more recent talk of the “so-called Holocaust” and the shocking double standard in evaluating Arafat and the Israeli leaders, it makes one wonder whether Mr. McCloskey is indeed quite as good as the Times and the Chronicle suggest.

I’m not wondering at all.

May 31, 2006

MICHAEL MOORE, DEFENDANT:

A double-amputee Iraq-war vet is suing Michael Moore for $85 million, claiming the portly peacenik recycled an old interview and used it out of context to make him appear anti-war in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Sgt. Peter Damon, 33, who strongly supports America’s invasion of Iraq, said he never agreed to be in the 2004 movie, which trashes President Bush.

In the 2003 interview, which he did at Walter Reed Army Hospital for NBC News, he discussed only a new painkiller the military was using on wounded vets.

“They took the clip because it was a gut-wrenching scene,” Damon said yesterday. “They sandwiched it in. [Moore] was using me as ammunition.”

I hope that this gets the attention it deserves.

May 31, 2006

LIVEBLOGGING THE SPELLING BEE, at Throwing Things.

UPDATE: Ack, that’s last year’s link. That’s what I get for blogging from the car. Just go here and scroll.

May 31, 2006

THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS on Harold Ford’s chances of winning a Tennessee Senate seat, which seem to be at the center of Democratic plans for taking back the Senate. You can hear our podcast interview of Ford here.

May 31, 2006

A LOOK AT HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN ENHANCEMENT from Ron Bailey.

May 31, 2006

RAND SIMBERG HAS MORE THOUGHTS on obesity and public schools.

UPDATE: Laura Lee Donoho has bad memories of school cafeteria days.

May 31, 2006

HERE’S AN INDONESIAN BLOG with more coverage of the earthquakes.

May 31, 2006

DR. WES FISHER has thoughts on politics and the New England Journal of Medicine.

May 31, 2006

THINGS THAT DON’T SUCK: My TCS Daily column is up.

May 30, 2006

I’M OFF VISITING MY BROTHER and both blogging and email responses are likely to be slow tonight. Back later.

May 30, 2006

A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT IS OBVIOUSLY REQUIRED: “Food police” may be making children fatter.

May 30, 2006

THE INSTA-DAUGHTER was desperate for reading matter a few weeks ago, so I gave her a copy of a book I loved when I was a kid, Henry Reed’s Journey, which I’ve mentioned here before. She pronounced it “great,” and then devoured Henry Reed, Inc., Henry Reed’s Think Tank, and, well, I think all of the other books in the series, too. The setting already seemed charmingly out of date when I was a kid, but the stories haven’t lost their appeal, I guess.

May 30, 2006

EUGENE ROBINSON: “The evidence, by now, is overwhelming: Beautiful, decadent New Orleans wasn’t doomed by Hurricane Katrina but by decades of human incompetence and neglect.” Worse, the problems remain.

May 30, 2006

HILLARY CLINTON GETS THE LIEBERMAN TREATMENT from angry Democratic activists. Obviously, only one potential Democratic candidate can fully pass their test. But he’s perfectly positioned. He’s even a veteran! . . .

May 30, 2006

POPE BENEDICT’S AUSCHWITZ SPEECH gets a bad review from Eric Muller.

May 30, 2006

JOHN MCINTYRE:

There is a quiet rage building among average middle class folks on the illegal immigration issue, and if the Republican leadership doesn’t take control of the problem very soon they will allow the more extremist wings of the anti-immigration debate to become the face of the Republican party on immigration. That would be a disaster for GOP hopes to grow their new found majority in the years to come.

The surprise that is building politically is how strongly illegal immigration will manifest itself in the fall elections. Contrary to the early conventional wisdom that the huge immigration rallies would galvanize Congress to pass some kind of “comprehensive reform” along the lines of the Senate bill, the reality is that House Republicans with their enforcement-first approach are poised to reap substantial benefits by killing the Senate’s reprise of Simpson-Mazzoli. . . . Republicans should understand that if there is a signing ceremony with President Bush, John McCain and Ted Kennedy on a compromise immigration bill that the Washington Post and New York Times praise, the GOP can kiss control of Congress good-bye.

Mickey Kaus has more, and observes:

If the House passes A (enforcement) and the Senate passes A (enforcement) + B (legalization)–and if, as the Weekly Standardites claim, the Republicans need to pass something, isn’t the most conspicuous candidate for that something the common element that has been approved by both chambers? In other words, A.

What’s been most striking to me about this whole affair has been the complete cluelessness, on the part of both the White House and the Congressional Republican leadership, on how this has been playing with the country and the base. The good news: It’s not government by poll! The bad news: It’s amazingly out of touch. (When we talked to Ken Mehlman, he was putting a good face on things, which is his job, but I certainly felt that he didn’t fully grasp what he was confronting. Bill Frist, on the other hand, seemed to get it, but hasn’t been as strong on follow-through.) And though McIntyre says that the importance of the immigration issue is a surprise, I should note that Hugh Hewitt has been warning for a year that the issue threatened the split the GOP coalition like no other. Not many people outside the blogosphere seem to have listened, though, and the result — once again — is the Republicans in political trouble that they could have avoided.

UPDATE: Polish your crystal ball by reading this piece by John Fund. He’s certainly got this part right: “So far, the White House and Republican National Committee are behind the curve.”

May 30, 2006

GRAND ROUNDS is up.

UPDATE: So is the Carnival of Liberty and the Carnival of the Capitalists.

May 30, 2006

STUCK ON STUPID in East Timor.

May 30, 2006

BILL ROGGIO has made it to Afghanistan, and sends this report:

The good news is I’ve safely landed in Kabul. The somewhat bad news is the UN flight to Kandahar is booked, so I will head down there on Monday. But there is plenty to do in Kabul, and I’ve already dug around a little bit about the violence in the city yesterday after a US vehicle killed 1 to 3 Afghans during a traffic accident. The consensus among the folks I spoke to is the protests after the accident were staged by groups waiting for such an event to happen. I made the comparison to the reaction by some Islamist groups in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) after the Muhammad Cartoon riots, where the “spontaneous protests” were anything but. there was agreement on this point. I will likely post about this tonight or tomorrow.

I drove through the city twice today, and it is an interesting place. The city is scarred from decades of combat, however you can see people are working to rebuild. Shops are open, people and traffic are on the streets, and there are signs of new construction and rebuilding/repair projects. I saw several “land/title offices,” as well as signs for rooms for rent. Security is tight, and it seemed as if police were on every corner, no doubt a reaction to yesterday’s events. Unfortunately my camera was packed away, but I’ll get some shots tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

May 29, 2006

MORE TURMOIL IN IRAN: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

May 29, 2006

THE AUTOMATED DORM ROOM: Via Slashdot.

May 29, 2006

HARRY REID EMBARRASSED: “Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.”

This seems like small potatoes to me — you’d have to pay me to go to one of those things, though Reid feels differently (“I love the fights anyways, so it wasn’t like being punished”) — but it won’t help that “culture of corruption” offensive.

May 29, 2006

OWEN WEST FROM VETS FOR FREEDOM calls for an end to squabbling about the war in the New York Times. Read the whole thing. (Via Ann Althouse).

May 29, 2006

BLOGGING A TOBY KEITH CONCERT in Iraq.

UPDATE: And here’s another blog report from the same show.

May 29, 2006

LOADS OF EMAIL on the Google / Ask / Dogpile post below. Lots of people like Ask.com and Dogpile.com as Google alternatives. I should note that Ask has a sort-of competitor to Google News, too.

I still miss Jeeves, though.

UPDATE: And a couple of recommendations for Clusty.com, a search engine I’d never heard of before.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A Google-vs-Ask comparison, here.

May 29, 2006

THE JAVA EARTHQUAKE NEWS just gets worse:

Homeless earthquake survivors living in rice fields and makeshift shacks begged for food and water under a blazing sun Monday as Indonesia’s death toll rose to over 5,000.

Soldiers began delivering bags of rice to village chiefs in the mountainous quake zone on the island of Java, but survivors called the aid meager and slow. The United Nations planned a global appeal, saying relief money was running low.

“We have 300 families in this village and have only gotten two sacks of rice,” said Lastri, 27, holding a 5-month-old. “It’s not enough.”

Indonesia’s Social Affairs Ministry raised the death toll to 5,137, saying some 800 bodies that were buried in mass graves immediately after the quake had just been counted. . . . The country also is battling a bird flu crisis and a spate of terror attacks by al-Qaida-linked Islamic militants.

Here’s a list of charities if you’d like to help.

May 29, 2006

IT’S A BEST AMERICAN NOVEL POLL over at Power Line.

May 29, 2006

BLAMING BLACK MAGIC for bird flu: “As their neighbors started dying, confusion and mistrust prompted villagers to stop cooperating with officials. Many refused to give blood samples, fearing they would later fall ill and suffer the fate of their neighbors. The case has been a powerful lesson for WHO officials in understanding the importance of early communication and education.”

May 29, 2006

MY POST YESTERDAY on Amazon’s new Bill Maher vehicle got a lot of negative email. I agree that Maher was a somewhat pedestrian choice, but I imagine the platform will broaden considerably in short order.

May 29, 2006

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: “Since all efforts at commemoration are bound to fall short, one must be on guard against any attempt at overstatement. In particular, one must resist efforts to ventriloquize the dead. To me, Cindy Sheehan’s posthumous conscription of her son is as objectionable as Billy Graham’s claim, at the National Cathedral, that all the dead of Sept. 11, 2001 were now in paradise. In the first instance, we have no reason to believe that young Casey Sheehan would ever have supported MoveOn.org, and in the second instance we cannot be expected to believe that almost 3,000 New Yorkers all died in a state of grace. Nothing is more tasteless, when set against the reality of death, than the hollow note of demagogy and false sentiment. These things are also subject to unintended consequences. When Dalton Trumbo wrote his leftist antiwar classic ‘Johnnie Got His Gun,’ he little expected that it would be used as a propaganda tool by pro-fascist isolationists in the late 1930s, and that he would be protesting in vain that this was not what he had really meant.”

May 29, 2006

JONAH GOLDBERG ON GOOGLE: “It’s kind of sad. They change their homepage logo for all sorts of holidays and occasions. Just last week they paid tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday. But Memorial Day doesn’t seem to rate anything at all.”

UPDATE: A reader points out that one of Google’s competitors remembered:

askmmday.jpg

ANOTHER UPDATE: DogPile gets a good review, too, from reader Rich Willis: “I switched to Dogpile.com as my search portal about a year ago. They let you use several search engines at once to grab searches from a variety of sources. After the last bit of ‘Googliganisms’ I removed google from my search tools in Dogpile. Thankfully, I read your blog daily, or I would have missed that Google today showed an unsurprising lack of respect for our armed forces, and for those of us who DO honor and respect them.”

It’s not a huge deal, but judging from my email it seems to be the last straw for a lot of people, coming after the China censorship deal, etc. As I warned earlier, Google seems to be engaged in a Dell-like squandering of its goodwill, which strikes me as very unwise given that goodwill is its biggest asset, really.

dogpile.jpg

May 29, 2006

SOME MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS from Ben Stein.

UPDATE: See also this post from Phil Carter.

May 29, 2006

OVER AT CHICAGOBOYZ, something you can do in observance of Memorial Day. I just donated $100 myself.

May 29, 2006

HERE’S AN ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY on imprisoned Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah:

The 24-year-old Abdel-Fattah’s blog, which he does with his wife Manal Hassan, has become one of the most popular pro-democracy voices in Egypt. He has continued writing despite being arrested in early May during a street demonstration in Cairo — part of a crackdown on reform activists by Egyptian security forces.

“We covered the walls of our cell with graffiti of our names and slogans and Web site addresses,” Abdel-Fattah wrote one time, referring to himself and fellow imprisoned activists. “We chanted and sang and the mood was great.” . . .

The duo call their blog Manalaa, a combination of their first names. Young, secular and anti-authoritarian, they link the blogosphere with a democracy movement demanding reform from President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power longer than they have been alive.

Their blog, launched two years ago and written in a mixture of English and Arabic, is an Internet rallying point for activists in a nation where state-run media predominate and give little voice to reformers.

It posts announcements of planned demonstrations, political commentary, even photos — with names — of plainclothes security agents notorious for beating protesters. In March, the couple used their blog to organize a sit-in, where more than 100 protesters slept in a downtown Cairo square.

Read the whole thing, which suggests that the effort to silence Alaa has backfired. I’ve written more on the topic here, too. And Extreme Mortman has further thoughts on the freedom-blogging phenomenon:

On this Memorial Day, it’s thrilling and heartening to see the battle for democracy being fought on the Internet, not on bloody battlefields. Cheers to all blogging on the front lines.

Indeed.

May 28, 2006

SENSENBRENNER OPPOSES the “path to citizenship.”

May 28, 2006

I’VE HAD GOOD LUCK WITH MY DELLS. Doug Weinstein, not so much.

But he’s had worse trouble with Adaptec.

May 28, 2006

DEBRA SAUNDERS:

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi rails against the GOP “culture of corruption.”

And in the most boneheaded political move of 2006, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., just handed her extra rope.

This has been a sorry year for congressional ethics. Cunningham pleaded guilty. Under indictment and with news reports linking him to Abramoff, Rep. Tom DeLay has announced his resignation. When he pleaded guilty, Abramoff implicated Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Last month, Alan Mollohan, D-W.V., stepped down from the House ethics committee after The Wall Street Journal reported that he was under investigation for directing federal spending to nonprofits with which he has financial ties. So when the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., Hastert should have kept his head down and, for a change, let Pelosi do the squirming.

Instead, Hastert and Pelosi issued a joint statement demanding that the federal government return “the papers it unconstitutionally seized.” Bush responded by sealing the seized records for 45 days.

Be it noted that the FBI had a subpoena and the House raid followed a search of Jefferson’s home last August that netted $90,000 stashed in Jefferson’s freezer — money that allegedly came from a $100,000 bribe captured on videotape. The feds had tried to get Jefferson to honor the subpoena for months — but to no avail.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told The Washington Times, “Make no mistake, the American people will come to one conclusion — that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigation.” That’s certainly how I see it.

Me too.

May 28, 2006

MORE ON WARD CHURCHILL, from a CU department head.

May 28, 2006

IRAN ERUPTS — MULLAHS BLAME U.S.: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

UPDATE: Another roundup here — including the news that, ironically, a cartoon is involved.

May 28, 2006

CAR CRASH AT INDY: Donald Sensing has more, including video.

May 28, 2006

SINCE THE SUBJECT’S IN THE NEWS AGAIN, here’s the Kerry Christmas in Cambodia speech post. There’s more background here, here, and here.

And refresh my memory: Did Kerry ever release his military records in full, as he promised? It seems rather silly of him to restart this debacle otherwise.

UPDATE: More here.

And Ed Driscoll is dubbing Kerry’s newest initiative the “Blogosphere Full Employment Act of 2006.” He is a gift that keeps on giving. More here, too.

May 28, 2006

TOM ELIA offers historical perspective for the ignorant.

May 28, 2006

IT’S A SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY Carnival of the Recipes! I cooked barbecued chicken on the grill last night; the InstaDaughter made strawberry and blueberry trifle for dessert.

May 28, 2006

I KNEW IT WAS COMING: Amazon TV.

UPDATE: The reviews so far aren’t that positive.

May 28, 2006

THE PIECE BY PROF. ROBERT TURNER OF VIRGINIA that I linked yesterday, on separation of powers and Congressional immunity, is now up as a free link at OpinionJournal.com.

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has split with Hastert and Pelosi:

FRIST: … if there are accusations of bribery, of having lost the trust, abused the trust of the American people, criminal activity, no House member, no senator, nobody in government should be above the law of the land, period.

And a search warrant was obtained to go in. So to answer your question, no, I don’t think it abused separation of powers. I think there’s allegations of criminal activity, and the American people need to have the law enforced.

I don’t think it was a separation of powers question. I’ve looked at it very carefully.

He’s right, of course.

May 28, 2006

A LOOK AT GREENHOUSE HYPOCRITES AND THEIR GULFSTREAMS, over at Hot Air. More background from Gregg Easterbrook here, and an account of Al Gore’s carbon consumption on his film tour here.

If you don’t fly commercial, don’t talk to me about greenhouse gases or conservation.

May 28, 2006

IF YOU WANT TO HELP the victims of the Java earthquake, most of the charities in this list will probably be helping.

May 27, 2006

PROBLEMS IN EAST TIMOR, but the United Nations doesn’t seem to have done much good:

After several soldiers opened fire on unarmed police in Dili on Thursday, killing 10 as they were being escorted from their headquarters by U.N. officers, the traumatized force melted away. Frightened officers fled for the surrounding hills. On Saturday, no one patrolled the largely abandoned streets but the vigilantes. . . .

Hours after the United Nations announced it was also evacuating nonessential personnel from the country, dozens of employees trickled into the U.N. compound carrying suitcases and backpacks. Some were distraught over leaving their Timorese colleagues behind and abruptly suspending services to the country’s impoverished population.

I can imagine. It certainly seems to have upset the Timorese:

Arriving at Dili’s airport, Tim Costello, the head of aid agency World Vision said the departure of international aid staff and UN officials was sending a bad signal.

“The symbols are all wrong,” Costello told AAP.

“The people who are camped here (at the airport), who can never get on a plane, see the UN leaving.

“I would hate to think of the message they get from that.

“I think it’s important for aid workers and the UN to actually be here and say, ‘You’re not so strife-torn and hopeless that it’s only a one-way ticket out.’”

The U.N. flies out, World Vision flies in. I know who I’d rather see getting my money. And Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has a sensible perspective:

“But it’s a very, very new country. After all, the referendum was only in August 1999.

“Full independence has come relatively recently. It’s going to be tough for them.”

These things take a while. It hasn’t fully settled down in the former Yugoslavia yet, after all.

May 27, 2006

A MAJOR QUAKE IN INDONESIA now said to have killed over 3,500 people. If past experience is any guide, those numbers will turn out to be low.

U.S. forces are standing by to help. That’s both the right thing to do, and good politics.

Of course, if you believe some sources, it’s all about the politics.

May 27, 2006

REPORTING FOR DUTY: A Memorial Day tribute.

May 27, 2006

THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF SCANDAL: CBS News turns Rep. William Jefferson into a Republican.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll reminds me that CBS previously made Bush President back in 1998 in a story about how the U.S. failed to stop Osama back then.

May 27, 2006

TOM MAGUIRE: “John Kerry wants to re-fight the Swift Boats wars. My goodness, that is the only thing that could get the Times to cover this – during his campaign they stayed about as far from this story as Kerry was from Cambodia at Christmas time. . . . And just to be clear – I have no interest in beating on Kerry like a rented mule (again). I am much more curious to see whether we can demonstrate that the MSM was horribly deficient in their coverage of their story.”

May 27, 2006

A READER SAYS “It looks like this anti-aging stuff is working already:”

Doctors said sexually transmitted diseases among senior citizens are running rampant at a popular Central Florida retirement community, according to a Local 6 News report. . . .

A doctor blamed Viagra, a lack of sex education and no risk for pregnancy for the spike in sexually transmitted diseases at The Villages.

“All I can repeat are the things I have heard which are things like, ‘Should I bring the little blue pills over tonight?’” community singles group president Richard Matwyshen said.

Senior sex should still be safe sex.

May 27, 2006

PETER DIAMANDIS WINS THE HEINLEIN PRIZE: Rand Simberg has comments.

I think it’s well-deserved.

May 27, 2006

MORE ON CONGRESS AND THE SEPARATION OF POWERS: What’s frustrating in these discussions is the failure to distinguish between what the law should be in somebody’s opinion, and what it actually is, based on the Constitution and the caselaw. This entry on Congressional immunity from Jerry Pournelle — a smart guy, but no lawyer — is a good example:

Just as each House is the judge of the qualification of its members, each House is responsible for enforcement of ethics and criminal actions of members. The Houses have sufficient authority to do as they will in those cases.

When you bring the executive power into direct enforcement against sitting Members of either house of Congress, you end the separation of powers. It is easy for the executive to fake ‘evidence’ if it chooses. Once the executive power can intimidate sitting Members of Congress, you have an entirely different kind of government.

Now it is required that the Houses inquire into the criminal actions of Members. But that is done by their own agents, or at the request of the Speaker or President pro tem; not by the executive authority.

Now you may think that this is a good idea — I don’t, but Pournelle apparently does — but it is not now, nor has it ever been, the law. In fact, with the sole exception of impeachment (which doesn’t run against members of Congress), the Congress cannot investigate or try offenses, and impeachment is carefully distinguished from criminal prosecution in the Constitution. The Constitution’s prohibition of Bills of Attainder, in fact, explicitly forbids Congress dealing with criminal matters.

A house of Congress can also refuse to seat members it judges not properly elected, and expel members for misbehavior — but even then it’s not immune from outside review, as Powell v. McCormack makes clear. (And note that when a member is expelled, it’s generally after criminal conviction not the result of independent Congressional investigation). The autonomy of Congress extends only to legislative business: Congress could, if it chose, let a convicted Senator or Representative continue to vote and participate in Congressional business from a jail cell, but the Speech and Debate Clause provides no generalized immunity from law enforcement, which is an executive function. It’s just not true that, as Pournelle claims, “Members of Congress and Senators enjoy many of the immunities of the old Roman Tribunes of the People.” At least, not unless “many” means “a slight tinge.”

I don’t know why this, which is and always has been the law, seems so hard for some people to grasp. It’s true, of course, that things are done differently elsewhere: The Russian Duma has immunity from prosecution, for example. But that’s not how it’s done here. And I thought that we weren’t supposed to get our constitutional law from foreign jurisdictions?

There’s a good oped on how unhappy many members of Congress are with the notion of accountability and how anxious they are for special status, by Prof. Bob Turner, in today’s Wall Street Journal. It’s subscription-only, but here’s an excerpt:

Put simply, only Congress can inquire into the motives or content of votes, speeches or other official legislative acts.

But as the Supreme Court observed in the 1972 case of United States v. Brewster, the clause was never intended to immunize corrupt legislators who violate felony bribery statutes — laws that have expressly applied to members of Congress for more than 150 years. In Brewster, the court noted the clause was not written “to make Members of Congress super-citizens, immune from criminal responsibility,” adding: “Taking a bribe is, obviously, no part of the legislative process or function; it is not a legislative act. It is not, by any conceivable interpretation, an act performed as a part of or even incidental to the role of a legislator.”

Such behavior is therefore not protected by the Constitution. The purpose of the Speech or Debate Clause was to protect the integrity of the legislative process, and the Court noted that bribery, “perhaps even more than Executive power,” would “gravely undermine legislative integrity and defeat the right of the public to honest representation.”

A dozen years ago, I testified before the House Committee on Administration on this same basic issue. Newt Gingrich and other reformers were trying to bring Congress under the same ethics laws it had imposed upon the rest of the country, and some indignant legislators seemed confident that the laws were not supposed to apply to them. The hearing was held in a small room in a part of the Capitol Building off-limits to the public, with exactly enough chairs for members, staff and the three witnesses.

Two members of the public who managed to make their way to the room were turned away on the grounds that there was “no room” for public observers.

Critics of the Gingrich proposal did not hear what they wanted. Some seemed genuinely shocked when I informed them that, in Federalist No. 57, James Madison noted one of the constraints in the Constitution to prevent legislators from enacting “oppressive measures” was that “they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.”

It is increasingly rare to find a spirit of bipartisanship in Congress these days. So a display of the spirit would have been a good thing to see — especially in a time of war — but for the fact that the issue now uniting Republican and Democratic leaders is an outrageous assertion that members of Congress are above the law, and that the Constitution immunizes legislators who betray their public trust in return for bribes from investigation by the executive branch.

In light of the attitudes held by so many of our legislators, it is no wonder three times as many Americans disapprove of Congress’s job-performance as approve, according to last week’s Gallup Poll. Those are Congress’s lowest numbers since the Democrats were last in power a dozen years ago.

Congress probably has the power, constitutionally, to immunize its members from prosecution while in office. Such legislation would be immensely unpopular, of course, and would cause a lot of people to lose reelection: “Vote for me — I’m in favor of immunity for corrupt members of Congress!” isn’t much of a slogan.

That’s why members of Congress are making a bogus Constitutional argument instead of using their undisputed legislative powers: To avoid the very kind of legislative responsibility to the voters that the Constitution, and separation of powers, places squarely in their laps. Such behavior is reminiscent of what Bill Clinton did in Clinton v. Jones, and I don’t recall many of the Republicans who are taking a pro-immunity position now endorsing Clinton’s approach then.

May 27, 2006

IRAN, IRAQ, AND NUKES: Iraq the Model asks:

Does the CNN have problems with translation from Arabic to English or is it a case of deliberate twisting of facts?

Read the whole thing.

May 27, 2006

AUSTIN BAY:

I am listening to President Bush’s speech at West Point and thinking “Why didn’t he give this speech three years ago?”

He’s liveblogged it.

May 27, 2006

MICKEY KAUS:

Does the just-passed Senate immigration bill really only require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes for 3 of the past 5 years? It looks that way. I’ll take that deal! … My sophisticated political antennae tell me that this provision will not go over well! At some point, the voters may conclude the Senate has simply lost its mind.

Ya think? And yes, I’d like a couple of tax-free years, please. And without even having to donate a kidney!

May 27, 2006

BECAUSE YOUR BOOK CAN’T BE ANY GOOD IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT POLITICAL ATTITUDES:

Yesterday, we blogged the Yale press release (dated 5/23/06) stating that Michael J. Graetz (Yale) & Ian Shapiro (Yale) had won the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for their book Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth (Princeton University Press, 2005). According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the foundation at the last minute rescinded the award because of Shapiro’s opposition to the unionization of Yale graduate students.

Jeez.

May 27, 2006

PROBLEMS with the Space Elevator concept? They don’t sound insuperable to me.

May 27, 2006

FRANCE DEFEATED AGAIN: By New World wines:

At the tasting of 10 red and 10 white wines, evenly split between French and American in both classes, the panel awarded the top place in both categories to Californian wine. A Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973 topped the white wines, beating famous French names such as Puligny-Montrachet.

In the red category, a Stag’s Leap Cabernet-Sauvignon 1973, now unobtainable, beat names such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1973 (now roughly £100 a bottle).

There was only one journalist there. The French media stayed away, assuming the result would be a bore.

It wasn’t.

UPDATE: More on the new result here:

French and California winemakers marked the 30th anniversary of the storied Judgment of Paris tasting with another sip-and-spit showdown.

California won — and by more than a nose.

The domestic wines took the top five of 10 spots, with a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello cabernet sauvignon from the Santa Cruz mountains coming out on top Wednesday.

“Today was a snapshot in time and all the stars were aligned properly. We had a lot of fun,” said Peter Marks, director of wine at Copia, the Napa Valley wine and arts centre where the New World end of the tasting was held. A European panel of tasters met at a London wine merchant to give their rating.

Cool.

May 27, 2006

BRIAN NOGGLE is unhappy with ballot technicalities in Missouri.

May 27, 2006

JEFFERSON SCANDAL UPDATE:

A former aide to U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for his role in a bribery scandal involving the congressman.

Brett Pfeffer, 37, of Herndon, Va., pleaded guilty in January to two bribery-related charges: conspiracy to commit bribery and aiding and abetting bribery of a public official.

Pfeffer’s eight-year term was in the mid-range of the federal sentencing guidelines. Pfeffer, who is cooperating in the ongoing investigation of Jefferson, may be eligible for a reduction of his sentence once his cooperation is complete, said prosecutor Mark Lytle.

I wonder what that cooperation will involve.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, an interesting backstory at the Justice Department:

The Justice Department signaled to the White House this week that the nation’s top three law enforcement officials would resign or face firing rather than return documents seized from a Democratic congressman’s office in a bribery investigation, according to administration sources familiar with the discussions.

The possibility of resignations by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales; his deputy, Paul J. McNulty; and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III was communicated to the White House by several Justice officials in tense negotiations over the fate of the materials taken from Rep. William J. Jefferson’s office.

Assuming this report (based on anonymous sources) is true, it seems likely that this means the Jefferson investigation goes well beyond the not-entirely-newsworthy phenomenon of a corrupt Louisiana Congressman. Even if the claims of Congressional immunity are bogus — which they are — I can’t imagine these guys threatening resignation over a run-of-the-mill corruption case. That makes me think that there are a lot of other members of Congress implicated, which perhaps also explains the rather, um, vigorous reaction from Congress.

UPDATE: Some speculation on what might be going on.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who claims insider knowledge says not to get ahead of the news cycle on the Gonzales-resignation story. Well, stay tuned!

MORE: Some thoughts from Ed Morrissey:

Hastert and his colleagues have busied themselves with goalpost-moving and backtracking. Before, they claimed a Constitutional privilege of freedom from search warrants and subpoenas from the executive branch, even though Congress regularly issues subpoenas without judicial approval against members of the executive branch. Now Hastert has acknowledged that Congressmen are subject to the same laws as everyone else, but have modified their complaint; now they say the issue is that Jefferson and his attorney were not allowed to be present at the search. That’s a far cry from the phony Constitutional crisis they declared earlier this week, perhaps a more reasonable issue and certainly one that didn’t require Hastert’s intercession. He could have kept his mouth shut and let Jefferson’s attorney raise that question when the evidence got submitted for trial — just like any other defendant in a criminal case.

The denouement of this kerfuffle demonstrates two very important points. George Bush still holds the power in Washington and in the GOP, and this controversy shows that he and the people at Justice remain the adults in charge of the day care center. Hastert has severely damaged himself politically in two ways. No one in the GOP will ever give Hastert the same level of trust again after this attempt to pervert the Constitution, and Republicans will remain furious with him for taking the focus off of William Jefferson and his cash-cow business in selling his vote.

That sounds about right to me.

May 26, 2006

ATLAS VLOGS.

May 26, 2006

MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS, FROM VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Worth reading, as always.

May 26, 2006

TUCKER MAX wins a lawsuit.

May 26, 2006

JEFFERSON ON JEFFERSON: Writing in Slate, Akhil Amar writes on the Framers’ views on Congressional immunity:

None of what T.J. said helps W.J. W.J. is a target of a criminal corruption investigation, and if criminally charged, he would have no more Arrest Clause protection than any of the countless other sitting Congress members who have been criminally prosecuted over the years—Dan Rostenkowski, Duke Cunningham, and Tom DeLay, to name just three.

Since W.J. has no immunity from an ordinary criminal arrest, it is hard to see why he has some kind of blanket immunity from an ordinary criminal search to uncover evidence of his suspected crime. If other white-collar suspects are vulnerable to office searches, why is William Jefferson any different?

What about the remainder of Article I, Section 6, which specifically protects congressional “Speech or Debate”? Here, too, the language provides little shelter for W.J.

This is no surprise. The scope of Congressional immunity is, and always has been, narrow. What’s disappointing is that the Speaker of the House, and so many of his colleagues, are either abysmally ignorant of an aspect of constitutional law that’s directly related to their jobs, or that they’re just flat-out dishonest. Either way, they deserve every bit of political damage they suffer.

UPDATE: More from Prof. Rachel Barkow of NYU, interviewed in the WSJ:

What do you make of the arguments from members of Congress?

“They’re reading [the speech and debate clause] very broadly, more broadly than I think is even remotely justifiable,” she says. There have been other cases where members of Congress have been subjected to criminal process for things that take place outside of their legislative duties; Ms. Barkow says she doesn’t see any reason why a search warrant couldn’t be executed on a congressional office.

What about the argument that this FBI raid represents an extension of the power of the executive branch?
The FBI is an arm of the executive branch. But the warrant was approved through the courts, part of the judiciary branch. “It’s not unilateral executive action. It was done with approval of the judiciary in so far as they had to get a warrant,” Ms. Barkow says.

This is not an especially difficult question.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh.

May 26, 2006

MICHAEL YON HAS A POST on the stolen photo issue:

I first became aware of the infringement when stunned and angry readers contacted me under the mistaken belief that I allowed SHOCK magazine to use it on their cover. I did not, and never would have agreed to their usage. I regularly turn down usage requests for this photo — uses that could earn money — because this photo is sacred to me and is representative of the U.S. soldiers I have come to know. It is also representative of the horrors of the enemy we all face.

My attorneys are in discussions with those at fault, and we have demanded that all copies of the magazine be removed from circulation and from the internet.

Stay tuned.

May 26, 2006

RAMESH PONNURU ASKS: “Is this really what the Republican Senate wants to take up in the aftermath of the immigration bill? A bill to pave the way for secessionism in Hawaii?”

May 26, 2006

REUTERS HAS SUSPENDED AN EMPLOYEE over threats aimed at Charles Johnson.

May 26, 2006

THE CARNIVAL OF CARS IS UP!

May 26, 2006

THE APPLE V. DOES DECISION is out, and Denise Howell is blogging it. It looks like a good result for the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Stanford’s Lauren Gelman calls it a “huge win” for Internet journalism.

May 26, 2006

THIS IS COOL: “Contests energize the battle against aging.”

May 26, 2006

THE LATEST BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW PODCAST is now up, with special guest Jeff Goldstein.

May 26, 2006

GOOD NEWS: “The International Ski Federation approved women’s ski jumping for the 2009 World Championships Friday, an important step before gaining Olympic approval.”

May 26, 2006

TIM LYNCH ON FANNIE MAE and trimming government for dummies.

May 26, 2006

JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH has been confirmed by the Senate.

May 26, 2006

A LETTER TO CINDY SHEEHAN from Cathy Seipp. It begins, “Dear Useful Idiot.”

May 26, 2006

FOR SOME REASON, I haven’t been getting email this morning. It seems to be some sort of gmail problem, and it’ll probably fix itself, but if you’ve emailed me through the site and I’ve missed it, I’m sorry.

May 26, 2006

IN THE MAIL: Nick Sagan’s novel, Everfree.

John Scalzi interviews Sagan here.

May 26, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More on pork and corruption in the House:

Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, another conservative stalwart, tried unsuccessfully to strip millions of dollars worth of farm subsidies out of the bill. “I offered eight amendments and every single one got voted down,” he says.

After the defeat, Flake told the New York Times, “”We have one of our former members in jail right now for basically selling earmarks”—referring to disgraced former member Randy “Duke” Cunningham. “He was able to get his earmarks through the legislative process without being challenged. Jack Abramoff reportedly referred to the Appropriations Committee as an ‘earmark favor factory.’”

In response to these comments, the earmarks’ defenders told the Times that Flake’s comments were out of line.

1994. Again. Right? I mean, these guys were never rocket scientists, but when I see this many people acting this stupidly — and in the face of lousy approval ratings that should be getting their attention — I have to wonder what I’m missing.

UPDATE: More here from Jacob Sullum:

Like most of their colleagues, Bonilla and Obey think buying votes with other people’s money is perfectly honorable—indeed, something (unlike respecting the Constitution) they are obligated to do as the people’s representatives. Hence it is light years away from the blatant corruption represented by such malefactors as Cunningham and Abramoff. Flake’s point, which Bonilla and Obey pretended to miss, was that the earmark system, by allowing legislators to quietly slip in funding for pet projects, invites such corruption.

But pork is also a form of corruption in itself, involving the use of taxpayer money not to perform the legitimate functions of the federal government but to serve the legislator’s own interest–in this case, staying in power, which brings with it all sorts of perks. Cunningham did pretty much the same thing, bringing federal money to his district at the behest of his constituents, except that he got some additional goodies in the process. If the actions are the same, does the antique armoire make all the difference?

To some people.

May 26, 2006

JOHN TABIN on the Jefferson search.

May 26, 2006

A BEGINNING FOR THE EUSTON MANIFESTO: Norm Geras has thoughts.

May 26, 2006

A FANNIE MAE SCANDAL TIMELINE: You’d think a scandal involving this much money and politics would get more attention. (Via Mickey Kaus).

May 26, 2006

HUH. JUST SAW THIS. Call it sincere flattery.

May 26, 2006

NANCY PELOSI speaks. But not clearly.

May 25, 2006

52606sm.jpg

Some related thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Reader Edward Tabakin writes:

I do believe we’ve just seen the Republicans make their own “Post Office.” Yep, 1994, all over again.

Why do you think the President caved so quickly? Did Hastert threaten to stop all legislation? Given the Senate’s Immigration Bill is headed for conference, that might be a good thing.

Indeed. I’m increasingly convinced that there’s something going on behind the scenes that we’re not hearing, but I’m not sure what it is.

May 25, 2006

DEATH THREATS from Reuters?

So does this mean that one man’s terrorist is another man’s . . . Reuters journalist?

May 25, 2006

A FRESH WARNING ABOUT REGULATING BLOGS: “Former Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith said the threat of campaign regulations for blogs is still very much alive, despite the FEC largely exempting blogs earlier this year.”

Eternal vigilance, and all that. Plus, given the job that Congress is doing, it’s easy to see why there might be pressure to shut down criticism.

May 25, 2006

JIM GERAGHTY: “So, no sooner than I spend the better part of a week making the case as to why conservatives ought to not sit out the 2006, elections, Dennis Hastert and many senior Republicans behave in a manner that suggests they’re riding to the aid of Democratic Congressman William Jefferson and declaring that the FBI has no right to search a member’s office. . . . At this moment, I completely understand the anger of the Tapscottians, those who are content to see a GOP majority fall. Although honestly, at this moment, I don’t want to wait until November to see this kind of behavior punished.”

May 25, 2006

JOHN HINDERAKER: “The Bush administration and Republican Senators have badly misjudged both the attitudes of most Republicans (and, of course, most Americans) toward illegal immigration, and the intensity of those views.”

May 25, 2006

A NEW CONGRESSIONAL BUMPER STICKER: Heh.