September 17, 2006
PODCASTING on sex and politics.
PODCASTING on sex and politics.
A LOOK AT JOE WILSON AND PATRICK FITZGERALD, from Michael Barone.
LOOKING FOR A nuclear terrorist?
CLAUDIA ROSETT: “It’s a good rule of thumb that there is no one more easily offended than your average despot and surrounding acolytes. Tyranny by nature requires grand fictions, and when anyone dares point out that the emperor has no clothes, or the emperor is living it up while dressing his minions in suicide belts, or the emperor is murdering his own subjects and honing technologies and methods to blackmail, subjugate or kill anyone else in reach, then the emperor and his cohorts take huge offense. If you happen to live under their sway, they chuck you in prison. If you are outside the immediate reach of their secret police and terror squads, they do what they can to maneuver the debate onto their terms. They — who apologize for nothing — demand apologies.”
Question is, why do we listen?
UPDATE: An open letter to the Pope.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mike Rappaport: “In his book on democracy, Natan Sharansky speaks of fear societies like the Soviet Union and much of the Middle East. Everyone there is required to give the accepted answers, to Westerners and to one another, but that does not imply they believe it. Indeed, this phenomenon accounts for the sudden transformation of such societies when the threat of coercion is reduced or eliminated. But Sharanksy also notes that Westerners are often oblivious to these threats and treat the statements at face value, much as some commentators treated elections of Saddam with 100% as reflecting his support. There may not be much that the West can do about these threats. But one thing is essential and largely risk free: refuse to treat statements that may be coerced as genuine. It was worthwhile for people in the West to point out that the Prime Minister of Lebanon’s statements were possibly coerced and to question whether he meant it. Let us and others never forget the man behind the curtain.”
More thoughts from Jeff Jarvis.
ANOTHER RATHER DRASTIC CORRECTION from the New York Times. It’s nice that they’re correcting these mistakes, but it would be nicer still if they didn’t make them quite so often.
MORE KIDNEYBLOGGING from Virginia Postrel.
AUSTIN BAY writes on fiddling and twiddling with Iran. The loss of momentum in the war reminds me of something that I believe Napoleon (or maybe it was Talleyrand) said: “You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.” Much of the problem in Iraq comes from Iran, and we seem curiously unwilling to do much about it. I wonder — does Iran already have nuclear weapons, and are we being successfully blackmailed?
MARTIN LINDESKOG REPORTS ON THE SWEDISH ELECTIONS: “The opposition center-right alliance has narrowly won the Swedish elections.” He has lots of interesting links and background, including an explanation of why this matters beyond Sweden.
THE NEW YORK TIMES reports on global gun rights. The opening is typically tendentious, but the story can’t help but report some interesting news:
At first, the group openly fought gun control abroad, but that enabled gun-control advocates to accuse local gun lobbies of selling out to America. In Brazil, the N.R.A. tried a new approach. Brazil has the most gun deaths annually of any country, and last October it held a referendum on a nationwide gun ban. In the run-up to the vote, polls suggested that more than 70 percent of Brazilians supported the ban. Then the Brazilian gun lobby, which previously had emphasized the desirability of gun ownership, began running advertisements that instead suggested that if the government could take away the right to own a weapon (though Brazilians have no constitutional right to bear arms), it could steal other civil liberties. This argument took gun-control advocates by surprise, and on voting day, 64 percent of Brazilians voted against the gun ban. “We gun-control groups failed to anticipate this idea of focusing on rights,” admits Denis Mizne of Sou da Paz, a Brazilian public-policy institute. As a report in Foreign Policy revealed, the National Rifle Association lobbyist Charles Cunningham had traveled to Brazil as early as 2003 to impart strategy to local gun advocates, teaching them to emphasize rights instead of weapons.
Around the world, the N.R.A. is finding that a rights-based approach translates into many languages. As the N.R.A.’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, says: “They made the rights argument [in Brazil.] They made the argument that this was being taken away from the people.” He pauses. “It caught Iansa” — the International Action Network on Small Arms — “by surprise. They already had the Champagne on ice.” In the mid-1990’s, the N.R.A. became a nongovernmental observer at the United Nations and helped form a global coalition of pro-gun groups to match disarmament coalitions. At U.N. conferences, this coalition then uses success in national referendums to argue against global treaties. “The vote in Brazil on last Oct. 23 was a mandate,” the head of one gun-advocacy group argued at the U.N. conference this July. “The international anti-gun community, especially powerful NGO’s, was intimately and extensively involved in supporting the gun-ban referendum. They lost. They did not receive the mandate.”
The notion that an individual right to arms might be included within international human rights law is, of course, a compelling one.
AN ASSOCIATED PRESS switcheroo?
THE WEBB/ALLEN DEBATE: Dean Barnett says it was a major win for Webb: “For conservatives wishing for Allen to retain his seat, their best hope is that Virginians were otherwise occupied this morning or that the state’s NBC outlets were having technical difficulties.”
The Allen Campaign liveblogged the debate, and says that Webb was routed. “Jim Webb was simply out of his league — he’s not up to the complex array of issues facing Virginia, so he’s piggy-backing on the Kennedy/Kerry wing of the Democratic party.”
I link, you decide.
UPDATE: Tom Bell emails to note that the futures market seems largely unmoved, with a modest uptick in Webb’s position but nothing dramatic. You mean TV events don’t decide elections? That’s a rout for the pundit class, anyway. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Yet another take on the debate, from Decision ’08.
And Slate’s John Dickerson weighs in.
THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT ISN’T MINCING WORDS:
AUSTRALIA’S Muslim leaders have been “read the riot act” over the need to denounce any links between Islam and terrorism. The Howard Government’s multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia’s mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.
Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.
“We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith,” Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.
“And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.
“You can’t wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.
“Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia.”
We need more of this common-sense variety of multiculturalism.
DARFUR UPDATE: Ian Davis looks at the U.N.’s failure to prevent the slaughter of civilians, despite much talk.
BARACK OBAMA SAYS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY “has become the party of reaction.” I think he’s onto something.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON remembers Oriana Fallaci and thinks about the Pope.
PODCASTING ON “THE CONGRESSMAN FROM CAIR” at Power Line.
ED KOCH: “I believe that the U.S. is faltering in the current war against international terrorism, and we are losing our will to prevail. We are losing our fighting spirit as a result of the fighting between Republicans and Democrats on just how to prosecute the war.”
LOTS OF INTERESTING GUESTBLOGGING over at Protein Wisdom.
At least I think they’re guestbloggers. It could just be Goldstein pulling a Greenwald. . . .
UPDATE: Major John Tammes emails:
When the 107 mm rockets landed on my base in Afghanistan: nervous, startled, but not afraid.
When I got stuck in some mines halfway up a cliff near Ashrafkhel: nervous, wary, but not too afraid.
When a large group of men in Qarabaghi-Robat told me they were going to kill my interpreter, then me: moderately afraid.
Being put on the approved list to guest post at Jeff Goldstein’s PROTEIN WISDOM, after what I have seen the last couple of days: Afraid, very afraid to go in there…
ANGELA MERKEL is defending the Pope against his critics: “‘What Benedict XVI emphasised was a decisive and uncompromising renunciation of all forms of violence in the name of religion,’ she said.”
Maybe that’s what they’re really objecting to.
UPDATE: More thoughts here. And Mike Rappaport writes: “As a promoter and beneficiary of modernity, I feel bad for those stuck in the middle ages. Not only are they led to do evil things, but it all seems very confusing for them. After all, they must mix modern claims of victimhood with medieval charges of blasphemy. It is hard to keep your stories straight, as the above quote suggests. It kind of reminds me of a weird movie I saw some years back. About ten peasants from Europe during the black death dug through a hole and came out in 20th century Australia. It was all very confusing for them. But no one thought of allowing them to get nuclear weapons.”
It’s like he’s been reading Jim Geraghty’s new book or something.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS looks at Saddam’s man in Niger.
AUSTIN BAY looks at the Axis of Egos.
HELPING WOMEN IN PAKISTAN: Matoko Kusanagi sends this link on efforts to pass legislation in Pakistan.
BLOGGING CAN GET YOU INTO TROUBLE:
A blog has apparently led to the firing of a staffer in the Ben Cardin for Senate campaign.
According to the Washington Times Insider Politics blog, a person labeling herself the ‘Persuasionatrix’ wrote that she was on the staff of a high profile, contested Senate campaign and was based in Baltimore.
Persuasionatrix wrote that staffers should pose holding Oreo brand cookies under the caption ‘devouring the competition.’
Cardin, the ten-term white Congressman from the Baltimore area, is the Democratic candidate facing black Lieutenant Governor and Republican candidate Michael Steele. . . .
The Cardin staffer also allegedly posted statements on her blog about not being able to fire a subordinate whose performance was inadequate because the junior worker was black.
It’s kind of like Dog Days, only without the sex.
MODERN FEMINISM DEFIES GENDER STEREOTYPES with statements like “Ann Althouse is a nasty old crone.”
One might almost think that feminism has become nothing more than a subset of the Democratic Party’s activist base. Actually, that has become so obvious that even Maureen Dowd managed to figure it out when she famously commented: “Feminism died in 1998 when Hillary allowed henchlings and Democrats to demonize Monica as an unbalanced stalker, and when Gloria Steinem defended Mr. Clinton against Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones.”
UPDATE: Reader Patrick Kelly emails:
I think it is now safe to say, after hundreds of comments at Ann Althouses’s blog, Feminisitng, TalkLeft, your wife’s, many others, and your post, that Jessica Lindstrom has the most famous breasts in the portion of the blogosphere to which I admit visiting.
On a related note, I find it appalling that anyone would find it acceptable to dine with a former President in clothes as casual as those in the picture. To paraphrase Kos “would it kill you to wear a jacket?”
I agree with Kos on that. [LATER: I'm not the only one: "I find myself in surprised agreement with Markos Moulitsas: it wouldn't have killed those people to have all dressed more formally. I'd wear a suit and tie if I was meeting former President Clinton. Heck, I'd wear a suit and tie if I was meeting former President Carter. For my own pride's sake, if nothing else."]
MORE: Matt Sherman looks at making the personal political. And vice versa, these days.
STILL MORE: The left blogosphere is starting to sound unhinged over this one. In the comments at Helen’s they’re calling us “Taliban Republicans.” Er, yeah, because we’re like, anti-sex and stuff. Riiiight. Tell it to Richard Bennett and Ben Domenech. [Wait, I thought you were libertarian hedonists? -- ed. That would be closer.]
And if Atrios thinks that publishing this photo is embarrassing to either of us, well it just proves he’s missing the point as usual. Jeez.
Meanwhile, over at the National Journal’s Beltway Blogroll Daniel Glover is calling the Clinton lunch the “the blog lunch that backfired.” Yeah, you can’t take these people anywhere.
FINALLY: Pretty much the last word: “We thought we were the movers and shakers, so how come everybody is laughing at us?”
THINKPROGRESS’S STORY THAT AIR AMERICA IS GOING BANKRUPT appears to have been too far ahead of the news cycle to be, um, true.
TIGERHAWK looks at The Times, the Pope, and Muslim rage.
Frankly, I’m pretty tired of “Muslim rage.” If they’re that insecure about their religion, maybe the problem isn’t with the critics. I’m also pretty unimpressed with Western commentators who serve as enablers to such juvenile and destructive behavior.
“Baptist rage” certainly wouldn’t get this kind of slack from the Times.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker: “The Pope can perhaps be excused for thinking that Islam can be associated with violence. He probably took it personally when an Islamic terrorist group plotted to assassinate his predecessor. If the Vatican ever starts assassinating imams, then they’ll really have something to protest.”
Meanwhile, Tom Smith offers a lengthy excerpt from the Pope’s speech and comments: “The Pope can apologize if he wants to, but I certainly don’t think he has anything to apologize for. I suppose he could explain that when he quotes a dialog between a 14th century Byzantine emperor and an educated Persian, he does not therefore endorse the views of either interlocutor. He might even quote something in order to ask, as he does, what are we to make of this? Obviously, the Pope was just putting in context the question the emperor was posing, and that has been posed for a long time, since 1391 anyway — whether forced religious conversions are religiously justified.”
Professor Bainbridge has further thoughts. (And scroll down for several other posts).
And Jacob T. Levy (yes, he’s blogging again, now at TNR) says that people are inappropriately treating the Pope as a political, rather than a religious, figure: “surely religious believers are in the business of drawing distinctions with, and denying the truth of, other religions. . . . I don’t expect Catholics to take their theology less seriously than Muslims do; I certainly don’t expect the Pope to take his theology anything less than wholly seriously. And what is a Catholic, committed to the truth of Catholicism, to think of Mohammed’s additions to and transformations of the Christian bible?”
Ed Morrissey sees an imbalance: “People use words to criticize Islam; Muslims use stones, fire, and eventually bombs to protest back. When was the last time Christians threw firebombs at a mosque to protest Muslim imams characterizing Christianity as polytheistic? When have we seen Jews firebomb mosques for Muslim leaders calling them the descendants of pigs and monkeys, a common insult from both religious and secular Muslims in the Middle East? Muslims have proven Benedict prophetic, and don’t think for a moment that this wave of violence has peaked.”
The Anchoress thinks that Benedict has them exactly where he wants them: “Benedict has managed – in his very scholarly fashion – to apply a very hot drawing poultice to the enormous and festering boils of both radical Islamism and rampant secularism.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Shiite Muslim IraqPundit opines:
I can think of a lot more pressing matters for Muslims to be angry about. How about taking to the street over the murderers who have been disgracing our religion by shedding oceans of innocent blood in its name? On Thursday, a car bomb blew up outside a Baghdad orphanage. In all the wide sweep of the Muslim Street, is there no one sufficiently disgusted to raise his voice over such a thing? It should be easy enough, especially since a common excuse has been that the perpetrators of such evil cannot be Muslims. Surely, if such “non-Muslims” are killing Iraqi Muslims in great numbers, it’s worth the attention of the pious.
The World Health Organization on Friday called on more developing countries, particularly in Africa, to begin spraying the controversial pesticide DDT to fight malaria.
The difference: DDT, longed banned in the United States because of environmental damage, is no longer sprayed outdoors. Instead it’s used to coat the inside walls of mud huts or other dwellings and kill mosquitoes waiting to bite families as they sleep. . . .
“We must take a position based on the science and the data,” said Dr. Arata Kochi, the WHO’s malaria chief. “One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual house spraying. Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.”
“It’s a big change,” said biologist Amir Attaran of Canada’s University of Ottawa, who has long pushed for the guidelines and described a recent draft. “There has been a lot of resistance to using insecticides to control malaria, and one insecticide especially. … That will have to be re-evaluated by a lot of people.”
The U.S. government already has decided to pay for DDT and other indoor insecticide use as part of President Bush’s $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to control malaria in Africa.
The cost of malaria in Africa is enormous — it’s hard to do much beyond bare survival when you’re sick all the time. Plus, the noneconomic costs are very high, as life sucks when you’re sick all the time, too . . . .
I highly recommend this piece by Malcolm Gladwell on DDT, malaria, and mosquitoes. And here’s a piece by Ron Bailey on the ongoing political battles over DDT, which tend to pit green correctness against the lives of poor people in the Third World. And yes, this has been an InstaPundit topic for a long time.
UPDATE: Reader Dexter Van Zile emails:
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa in the 1980s.
I served in Zaire (know the DRC).
I got malaria numerous times.
It sucks. I really sucks.
The headache, the exhaustion, the fever are unbelievably debilitating.
If DDT works, use it, use it, use it.
My sentiments exactly.
CLINTON TAKES A LESSON FROM REAGAN:
On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people will gather in New York at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative, a project led by former President Clinton, to tackle problems involving global health, poverty, religious strife and threats to the environment.
Setting the meeting apart from other gabfests, in part, is its steep price: An admission ticket costs $15,000. More than that, most participants — who include government leaders, corporate executives, heads of nonprofit organizations and an array of big names like Christiane Amanpour, Shimon Peres, Katie Couric and Rupert Murdoch — must pledge to fund and carry out an initiative to help address one of the problems. And therein lies a dilemma.
A few participants at last year’s fest “pledged” to carry out programs that already were under way. In other words, the initiatives weren’t specifically generated by the CGI. Moreover, not all participants followed through on their commitments. That’s a no-no.
So this year, the Clinton folks have adopted a Reaganesque principle: Trust but verify. “We have an even greater focus on ensuring that the commitments are specifically for CGI and that the commitments are real,” says spokesman Jay Carson.
That seems wise.
EARLIER REPORTS of the capture of Afghan terror leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar turn out to be incorrect: “The capture suspect is a high level commander in Hezb-i-Islami, and is said to be a dead ringer for Hekmatyar.”
I MENTIONED DIANE DUANE EARLIER, and she emailed to tell me that she’s got a blog now.
Last week, I talked about the menu at Ruby Tuesday’s. This week, I’ll tackle the heady subject of kids’ meals at McDonald’s.
Our 6-year-old son, Anthony, was quite thrilled when Ronald and company decided to feature Hummers in the meals this summer. But environmental bloggers were offended by the promotion of the gas-guzzling vehicles, so they want McDonald’s to feature hybrid vehicles in future kids’ meals.
I don’t own a Hummer, and I don’t want one, in part for the very reason that environmentalists hate them. But I also think it’s a bit silly to protest the toys in kids’ meals. So here’s what I think: Hummer owners should unite for one day and conduct drive-through events at their local McDonald’s restaurants.
Now that gas prices are down, they might be able to afford to . . . .
ANN ALTHOUSE: “Let’s take a closer look at those breasts.”
Meanwhile, Extreme Mortman looks at another photograph.
UPDATE: There’s a Carnival of the Boobies?
ANOTHER UPDATE: It’s a support group!
Plus, a further look at double standards in political sensitivity.
MORE: Somehow, this item from The Onion seems to fit.
MICHAEL LEDEEN remembers Oriana Fallaci.
JONAH GOLDBERG isn’t sure it would be so bad if the Republicans lost control of Congress:
The rub of it, from a conservative perspective, is that Republican control of the House doesn’t equal conservative control. It may not seem that way to liberals who think Joe Lieberman is right wing, but from the vantage point of the conservative movement, GOP dominance has been an enormous disappointment . . . . This may be why some of us aren’t contemplating the possible, if not probable, Democratic takeover of the House with too much dread.
If it weren’t for the war, and the Democrats’ fecklessness on national security, I wouldn’t dread it either.
UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge: “Republicans deserve to lose, but the Democrats don’t deserve to win.”
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EMAILING ME THE POLLS, but I haven’t been linking them because polls are dubious and tend to fluctuate. But now Chris Bowers writes: “Bush’s approval is up. Fortunately, it still isn’t very good, but you would have to be in denial at this point to not notice the upward trend.”
Yes, it’s noticeably up from where it was. The question is whether the trend will continue. I suspect that it’ll matter less anyway after the ’06 elections, when everyone is looking at ’08.
To the extent that Bush has improved, I do think that it has to do with security voters, giving more support to Jim Geraghty’s thesis. (Rasmussen says that Bush’s increase stems from returning base members, though he doesn’t make clear if they’re “security voters.” Seems likely, though, given that it’s the week of 9/11 and Bush made a big issue of that). Bush is, however, not doing as well with the “war base” as he was a couple of years ago because he doesn’t seem to be pressing as vigorously as Jacksonian voters would prefer.
Bowers, on the other hand, thinks it’s all about gas prices. In which case Bush’s approval may rise some more, if forecasts are correct.
JAMES SWANSON EMAILS that his book Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer has been nominated for a Quill Award.
TOM MAGUIRE has more on Armitage, Plame, and Libby.
MAYOR RICHARD DALEY plays ‘em like a fish.
REMEMBERING ORIANA FALLACI.
A DEBATE ON THE NEW NUCLEAR POWER, at Popular Mechanics.
THE BLOGGING FOR BOLTON VENTURE seems to be generating quite a lot of phone calls.
I USED TO KNOW DIANE DUANE back in the old days of the CompuServe science fiction forum, and I got her book So You Want to Be a Wizard, (a sort of proto-Harry Potter) for the Insta-Daughter. But the Insta-Daughter has been reading Jane Eyre, so I started reading Wizard myself. It’s as good as I expected.
UPDATE: Reader Heather Chambers emails:
I loved her entire young wizard series. My son, now 18 yrs old, still enjoys re-reading them. – We are taking him off to UC San Diego this weekend to begin his freshman year. If he doesn’t take them with him, I guarentee he will reread each of them over the 1 month Christmas break. (Sleep is somewhat optional at 18). Each of us read at least 5 books a week. I like the fact that the kids accept consequences for their actions and recognize the profound implications for others. Excellent introduction to philosophy and ethics for teens. Congrats on your niece! Terry Pratchett has a Disc World series. Some of them are written for kids and are exceptional as well. Wee Free Men and its sequel Hat Full of Sky – same theme of choosing to fight evil and to protect others without being preachy or syrupy.
I haven’t read those, but I’ll check them out.
For pure entertainment value, not much can compete with the blood sport of New Jersey politics. Last week federal investigators launched a probe into whether U.S. Senator Robert Menendez illegally benefited to the tune of more than $300,000 from a rental-income deal he had with a nonprofit agency that received millions of dollars in federal contracts. Even liberal good government groups agree that the relationship may have violated congressional conflict-of-interest rules.
The allegations have sparked a mini-panic among state Democratic operatives, who not so long ago thought Mr. Menendez — who was appointed by Jon Corzine to complete his Senate term after being elected Governor in 2005 — had the November election in the bag. Now they see Republican Tom Kean Jr. surging into a lead. If Republicans were to pick up a seat in this deep blue state, Democrats’ chances of winning control of the Senate would be all but slammed shut.
That’s why, as reported by the Newark Star-Ledger, there’s now widespread speculation that the party brass may decide to throw Mr. Menendez overboard and replace him with an alternative — nine-term Rep. Rob Andrews, perhaps — who is regarded as more electable. This has become a familiar practice in the Garden State and has become known derisively as the New Jersey Switcheroo. . . .
If this story seems like déjà vu all over again, it should. This isn’t the first time New Jersey Democrats have nominated ethically challenged candidates for high office. Last year Jim McGreevey resigned the governorship after he hired his gay lover as the state’s national security director. In 2002, Senator Robert Torricelli was implicated in a bribery and campaign finance scandal, prompting the party oligarchs to throw him off the ballot and handpick Frank Lautenberg as his replacement on the ticket. Never mind that the deadline for ballot changes had passed. Senator Lautenberg kept the Senate seat from falling into Republican hands.
You’d think that the Jersey Democrats might try nominating people who aren’t crooks.
AUSTIN BAY looks at oil prices.
SUNDAY IS A GLOBAL DAY FOR DARFUR.
JOSH MANCHESTER HAS THOUGHTS on counterinsurgency and democracy.
TIM BLAIR: “The International Solidarity Movement denied three years ago it had any connection to Tel Aviv suicide bombers. That denial might be a little harder to believe now that ISM activists have been photographed clowning around with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.”
They’re not anti-war. They’re just on the other side.
Mona Nagger reports on an embarrassing letter of solidarity that Günter Grass received from 46 Arab intellectuals. “The signatories see in Grass’ confession to having been a member of the Waffen SS (more here) a sign of courage that deserves respect and recognition. The critique of Grass is being interpreted as a campaign ‘aimed at diverting attention from the Israeli crimes against Palestine and Lebanon.’ The Israelis are depicted as ‘Neonazis’: ‘They kill Palestinians and Israelis, destroy their countries, build a dividing wall around them and put them in camps.’ The tone recalls quite clearly the language of the Iranian president Ahmadinejad.” Nagger’s conclusion: “The document says a lot about the sensitivities of many Arab intellectuals. They live in a world of conspiracy theories, far removed form reality; they mistake populist slogans and rhetoric for intellectual discourse and they see no need to take a serious look at the Holocaust and Nazi crimes.”
You’re welcome to ‘em, Günter.
COLOR ME UNIMPRESSED — WITH THE FCC: “The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.”
UPDATE: James Ruhland emails: “I for one wonder how anything could make local TV news coverage any worse. I mean, other than new insect overlords.”
BILL FRIST has done great service on the anti-pork cause, but I can’t imagine what he’s thinking with this: “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is trying use a bill authorizing U.S. military operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit people from using credit cards to settle Internet gambling debts.”
Internet gambling seems pretty lame to me, but if people want to do something as dumb as that, well, it’s their money. I don’t think Washington should tell them what to do. And, for that matter, I don’t think that this should be attached to a defense bill.
I SAID EARLIER that this was an excellent day, and it just got more excellent with the birth of my new niece, Ojie Lorraine Reynolds. She’s 21″, 7 lbs 14 ounces, and she wasn’t born yesterday — she was born today! She came a bit earlier than we had expected, so I wasn’t able to be there for the birth, but I look forward to meeting her soon.
I WAS HAPPY that Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) wound up voting for the earmark reform rule today. Like Georgia blogger Jason Pye, I’m unhappy that Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) voted against it. Kingston has reached out to the blogosphere repeatedly, but this vote shows that he hasn’t fully imbibed its spirit.
UPDATE: Kingston should have paid attention to Jeff Flake.
GIZMODO has a post, and video, on how to steal an election with a Diebold voting machine.
While I think that most of the “stolen election” claims are a mix of sour grapes and conspiracy theory, I think that we’d be much better off going to a more secure voting method, in order to forestall such corrosive charges. This isn’t perfect, as there are other ways to steal an election, but it can’t hurt.
UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla: “My WordPress blogs have better security than this.”
A COUPLE OF RIGHT CHICKS SITTING AROUND TALKING: Michelle Malkin and Mary Katharine Ham offer an alternative version of The View.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: THE EARMARK-REFORM RULES CHANGE has passed the House 245-171. This is an excellent day.
Neither this, nor the passage of S. 2590 this week, means that the problem of wasteful — and often corrupt — pork has been solved. But it does mean that a much greater dose of transparency has been applied, and I think that’s likely to make a very significant difference.
How big a difference, of course, will depend on the extent to which people continue to pay attention.
UPDATE: Here’s a list of how they voted. You might want to let your Rep. know how you feel about his/her vote.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The White House has issued a statement from President Bush on the reform:
I applaud the House of Representatives for voting again this week in support of greater transparency and accountability in government. H.R. 1000 would shine a brighter light on earmarks by requiring disclosure of the sponsors of each provision. This reform would help improve the legislative process by making sure both lawmakers and the public are better informed before Congress votes to spend the taxpayers’ money.
I’m told the White House regards this as “a good first step.” Indeed.
OVER AT THE CLUB FOR GROWTH BLOG, they’re rounding up Congressional statements on the House earmark-reform rule change.
I’VE BEEN CALLING THE TENNESSEE SENATE RACE CLOSE for a while, and Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin, writing in Slate, agree.
I JUST GOT AN EMAIL claiming that Harold Ford, Jr. plans to vote against the earmark transparency rules change mentioned below. I just called his office and was told that he hasn’t made up his mind yet.
It seems like a no-brainer to me, and he certainly spoke in favor of transparency in the podcast interview we conducted a few months back.
UPDATE: Ed Frank emails: “CQ reporter Liriel Higa just repeated on C-Span that Harold Ford and Dennis Cardoza told her earlier today that they plan to vote against the earmark-reform package.”
That’s a big disappointment to me, and I suspect it’s a big campaign-issue opportunity for Bob Corker.
ANOTHER UPDATE: As it turned out, Ford voted for the rule change. I’m delighted to discover that, as I found it hard to reconcile his enthusiasm for transparency when we spoke with a “no” vote on this measure.
MEGAN MCARDLE AND STUART BUCK have an op-ed in The Examiner on media coverage of the economy:
It often gets dicey for readers when journalists, who are rarely math majors, play with numbers and then publish misleading or mistaken conclusions. It happened Labor Day when the Detroit Free Press published a horrifying map showing huge losses in household income across America. Horrifying and totally wrong, that is.
Read the whole thing.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The earmark reform legislation has passed the House and Senate, but there’s also an important House rules change up for a vote today, and House Appropriators are balking because it is likely to undercut their power by making them more accountable.
Meanwhile, I’m told by the folks at Americans for Prosperity that these members of Congress ought to hear from concerned constituents on the subject. You can call (202) 224-3121 and ask for them by name if you’re from their district:
Jerry Lewis, CA (R – Chairman)
C. W. Bill Young, FL (R)
Ralph Regula, OH (R)
Harold Rogers, KY (R)
Frank R. Wolf, VA (R)
Jim Kolbe, AZ (R)
James Walsh, NY (R)
Charles H. Taylor, NC (R)
David L. Hobson, OH (R)
Ernest J. Istook, Jr., OK (R)
Henry Bonilla, TX (R)
Joe Knollenberg, MI (R)
Jack Kingston, GA (R)
Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, NJ (R)
Roger F. Wicker, MS (R)
Todd Tiahrt, KS (R)
Zach Wamp, TN (R)
Tom Latham, IA (R)
Anne Northup, KY (R)
Robert Aderholt, AL (R)
Jo Ann Emerson, MO (R)
Kay Granger, TX (R)
John E. Peterson, PA (R)
Virgil Goode, VA (R)
John Doolittle, CA (R)
Ray LaHood, IL (R)
John Sweeney, NY (R)
Don Sherwood, PA (R)
Dave Weldon, FL (R)
Michael K. Simpson, ID (R)
John Abney Culberson, TX (R)
Ander Crenshaw, FL (R)
Dennis R. Rehberg, MT (R)
John Carter, TX (R)
Rodney Alexander, LA (R)
If one of ‘em is yours, you might want to let them know how you feel.
A MAN-BITES-DOG STORY THAT SHOULD BE A DOG-BITES-MAN STORY: “Amnesty International has announced that in its opinion, Hezbollah is guilty of war crimes. Hezbollah purposefully and indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians.”
JOHN MCCAIN will back the RightRoots campaign.
The House and Senate have passed landmark legislation imposing transparency on earmarks in the appropriations process. The Senate is also looking at the John Bolton confirmation, and legislation aimed at trying terrorists before military tribunals.
We managed to catch up with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist this morning and talk about all of these subjects, Frist’s new Blogging for Bolton venture, and the joys of blogging and podcasting.
It’s shorter than usual — less than 20 minutes — but I think you’ll find it interesting.
You can listen directly without downloading by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download directly by clicking right here. A lo-fi version for dialup is available here, and you can subscribe via iTunes by clicking here.
And here’s an editorial on the passage of the earmark-reform legislation.
UPDATE: The nice folks at eScribers sent us another free transcript. You can see it here.
If we can work out a deal, we’ll start doing this regularly.
ALAN DOWD: “NATO is learning that Afghanistan is not a peacekeeping mission in Europe.”
INTERESTING, how things often look different from a different perspective:
At the imposition of the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution, the West almost unanimously considered the war in Lebanon a disaster for Israel. Most analysts insisted that Israel’s failure to destroy Hezbollah amounted to a humiliation and worried about the energizing Seffect Hassan Nasrallah’s victory would have on radical Islam’s popularity in the region. These analysts would be surprised to learn that Arabs increasingly view Hezbollah’s war as a disaster as well — but a disaster for Arabs. . . .Western commentators and no shortage of Israeli pundits pointed to Nasrallah’s claims to have prevailed as a devastating propaganda offensive that would make Israel and the West look weaker than ever. Arabs have taken a more realistic view of the war’s results, including the fact that Nasrallah has to make those claims from undisclosed locations to this day.
Some of us had noted the problem with the whole undisclosed-location thing ourselves. Of course, there’s no reason why it can’t be bad for both. But there’s a good point about Western journalists being rather credulous with regard to Hezbollah’s propaganda.
AIR AMERICA: The strong, silent type. “One might have thought that the same tsunami of voter anger that is going to sweep away the Republican Party and all its works this fall might have prompted a few people to tune in.”
NIDRA POLLER REPORTS on the Al Dura trial in France.
BILL FRIST LAUNCHES BloggingforBolton.com, a site designed to get John Bolton confirmed.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The earmark reform legislation has passed the House (identical legislation was already passed in the Senate) so it’s now heading to the President’s desk. Here’s an email from the Majority Whip’s office:
WASHINGTON—Legislation championed by House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) to increase budget accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts passed the House tonight by voice vote. . . .
The federal government awards approximately $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 different organizations annually. Each year, roughly one million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold. The Blunt-Davis bill will ensure that those expenditures are readily accessible to the media, the public, and Members of Congress.
The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act will:
Eliminate Wasteful Spending by empowering everyone with access to the internet to begin reviewing federal grants and other forms of taxpayer assistance for waste, fraud, and abuse;
Ensure Compliance with Federal Law by requiring grantees to also disclose their subgrantees, and
Ensure Compliance with Lobbying Restrictions by identifying entities receiving federal grants that would be subject to lobbying restrictions in existing law.
With House passage of S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, and the enrollment correction containing the House-Senate compromise agreement, the final bill will now go to the president for his signature.
It’s not the end of the fight against pork, but it’s certainly a very significant step. Congratulations to everyone involved!
A TRANSCRIPTION FIRM sent us a transcript of our Bob Corker podcast as a “free sample.” I’ve added it to the original post, if anyone’s interested.
If this is the sort of thing you’d like to see on a regular basis, let me know.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? PJ Media is looking for a name to describe voters who don’t fall into conservative / liberal pigeonholes. There’s a contest, and a cool prize. Details here.
MONTREAL SCHOOL SHOOTING: Sari Stein was in the area and has been live-blogging. “It seems from the initial reports that the today’s episode bears more resemblance to the Columbine shootings and to the subsequent and oft-forgotten shooting at a high school in Taber, Alberta than to the previous Montreal shootings, but that probably won’t stop anyone from drawing parallels and from suggesting that school shootings are something of an epidemic here in Montreal, despite the rarity of these episodes.” And there’s a big blog roundup here, too.
KEEP YOUR GRUBBY MITTS OFF MY HARD DRIVE: My TCS Daily column is up.
SONG OF MYSELF: Patterico looks at sock-puppetry.
ANDREW STUTTAFORD: Buy Afghan opium.
MICKEY KAUS looks at Republicans on the march to stop Bush.
LT SMASH visits with Code Pink and reports that they don’t really like soldiers that much.
DID SYRIA FAKE THE DAMASCUS EMBASSY ATTACK? Regardless, why are we putting up with these bozos?
BRAD SMITH TO RUSS FEINGOLD: Yes, you’re censoring political speech. Somebody send a copy to John McCain, too.
IS NORTH KOREA NEAR COLLAPSE? “North Korea’s potential for anarchy vastly exceeds that of Iraq’s. Iraq is not going to suffer a general breakdown of its urban economy—sending millions into the surrounding country-side to live and die as hunter-gatherers. But North Korea has somehow survived at the edge of that nightmare scenario for nearly two decades. And it has nukes.”
LICENSE TO KILL: A look at military contractors in Iraq and elsewhere. Plus, robots in the operating room.
TAEGAN GODDARD notices the Tennessee Senate race, which at a statistical dead heat is closer than you’d think from the small amount of attention it’s gotten.
I’m on the road, by the way, and will be blogging and responding to email at a slower than usual pace.
UPDATE: Here’s more polling on the race from RealClearPolitics. Ford is ahead by 3 in the latest poll, the first time he’s outpolled Corker by any margin.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The NRA has endorsed Corker. SayUncle is a bit hard on Corker’s second amendment statements — he was taken by surprise when we asked him about nationwide concealed carry, but I’m not shocked that he wasn’t ready for that question, and he was positive, though a bit tentative, in his support for it.
BRADFORD PLUMER DEFENDS PORK: “Without pork, activist government would wither and die.”
Color me unpersuaded, on a number of levels. . . .
UPDATE: Capt. Ed observes: “Plumer’s argument amounts to an admission that the kind of big-government, intrusive spending that will come from perennial policy stands of progressives has no chance of succeeding through democratic means. The only way in which single-payer health care and greater federal protections for unions can ever pass is to have a built-in bribery mechanism to sway enough votes . . . I agree with him on that point, and it demonstrates the corrosive nature of pork better than anything I’ve previously written.”
RYAN SAGER LAUNCHES The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party, with an impressive array of blurbs. (Blurbers?)
You can read the first chapter for free here.
With Senator Bill Frist retiring and leaving his seat open, Tennessee is one of the handful of states where Democrats have a chance of picking up a Senate seat this fall, making it crucial to Democratic efforts to recapture the Senate. (According to recent polls, it’s very close). Earlier this year we interviewed the Democratic candidate, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis.
Now we’ve got the other side of the story, with Republican candidate Bob Corker. Corker answers questions on Iraq, the war on terror, the Second Amendment, immigration, and more. Plus, questions about earmarks and pork!
You can listen directly — no download needed — by clicking right here and then clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. A lo-fi version for dialup, etc., is available right here, and you can subscribe via iTunes here.
Music is by The Opposable Thumbs.
UPDATE: A transcript of this interview is now available. Click “read more” to see it.
AVOIDING WORLDWIDE CATASTROPHE: James Lovelock thinks that nuclear power is vital. “We live in a nuclear-powered universe. We’re the oddballs by getting energy from burning carbon.”
BUSH, SADDAM, AND 9/11: William Sjostrom asks, “Is the Guardian really this incompetent, that neither its reporter nor its editors pay attention to their own stories, or is something else going on?”