October 29, 2006
A PROFOUND TWELVE MINUTES, courtesy of Major John Tammes.
A PROFOUND TWELVE MINUTES, courtesy of Major John Tammes.
SOME ALMOST-FORGOTTEN HISTORY: “On one wall of the plaza is a sculpture of a lunch counter with several people sitting at it. It’s so very life-like that in nice weather people routinely sit down on the empty stools to eat their lunches at the counter. There is no plaque to explain the sculpture.”
A DIALOGUE CONCERNING PROGRESS, at Burchismo.
REPUBLICANS DON’T LOVE THE LORD? If a Republican said something like that about Democrats, it would be a national scandal. We’re seeing a lot of unforced errors from Harold Ford all of a sudden. I think he and his campaign could use a good night’s sleep.
UPDATE: A tax on Internet porn?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dean Barnett thought that Harold Ford looked tired on the Sunday shows. It’s tempting to go all-out and shortchange yourself on sleep, but that drastically increases your risk of saying something damaging.
The administrator of Blogme.gr, a Greek blog aggregation website had his house raided, his hard drive seized and was himself arrested by the Greek cybercrime division last week, after having been served with a libel lawsuit without prior notice, because a public figure was offended by a satirical blog that was linked to by his site. The outraged response by Greek bloggers was immediate and unprecedented, reaching in the hundreds of posts within two days of the raid. The developing story coincides with the Internet Governance Forum being hosted in Athens this week, to be attended by Internet luminaries, entrepreneurs and activists like Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn and Joi Ito and featuring panels on Openness and Freedom of Expression.
Sounds like they need those panels. (Via Slashdot).
JONATHAN ADLER: “An analysis of state-wide records by the Poughkeepsie Journal reveals that 77,000 dead people remain on election rolls in New York State, and some 2,600 may have managed to vote after they had died. The study also found that Democrats are more successful at voting after death than Republicans, by a margin of four-to-one, largely because so many dead people seem to vote in Democrat-dominated New York City.”
UPDATE: According to Mark Kleiman, there’s less to this story than appears above.
IS THE EURO “slowly killing half of Europe?”
THE IRON LAW OF THE MEDIA:
I felt outraged on behalf of Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose photo was not even a tenth as big. My dad told me not to feel so bad, that no one, not even a Nobel Peace Prize winner, gets a photo as big as mine unless his story involves boobs. Note to future Nobel Prize winners: fight poverty and cure diseases with your shirt off.
It does seem to work that way.
MORE ON LIVEJOURNAL AND RUSSIAN POLITICS: I have to say that if I were a Russian blogger, I’d want to use a foreign hosting service.
IT’S NOT THE ETHANOL:
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva didn’t celebrate the oil independence milestone out in an Amazon sugar field.
No, he smashed a champagne bottle on the spaceship-like deck of Brazil’s vast P-50 oil rig in the Albacora Leste field in the deep blue Atlantic. Why? Brazil’s oil independence had virtually nothing to do with its ethanol development. It came from drilling oil.
Hey, maybe we should try that . . . .
ANOTHER REASON TO WORRY ABOUT ELECTRONIC VOTING:
The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez.
The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation, and is trying to determine whether the government in Caracas has any control or influence over the firm’s operations, government officials and others familiar with the investigation said.
See, with paper ballots you don’t care who owns the paper company . . . .
THE ACLU HAS DROPPED ITS LAWSUIT AGAINST THE PATRIOT ACT:
The ACLU said it was withdrawing the lawsuit filed more than three years ago because of “improvements to the law.” The Justice Department argued last month that amendments approved by Congress in March 2006 had corrected any constitutional flaws in the Patriot Act.
Rob Port thinks there’s a political angle, too. Regardless, I guess this means the end of the Patriot Act as an election slogan.
LOOK AT HOW TONY SNOW HAS BEEN DOING since taking the job as White House Press Secretary. I think he’s helped Bush, but I think it’s a bit like George Allen’s hiring of Jon Henke — it would have helped a lot more if he’d made the change sooner.
MORE ON PROBLEMS WITH ELECTRONIC VOTING, at Ars Technica.
BILL ROGGIO says we need to be worrying a lot more about Pakistan.
What gives you a better grasp of the realities of Europe today? The front-page reports on the G8 and the U.S.-EU summit? The in-depth profile of Jacques Chirac or Dominique de Villepin? Or the small space-filler about a French police lieutenant promoted to captain despite spending 12 of the last 18 years on “paternity leave,” in the course of which he wrote three books about the Beatles.
As a summation of contemporary Europe that could hardly be improved.
(Via Tim Blair).
Meanwhile, in a testament to the power of clicks over bricks, reader John MacDonald notes that Mark Steyn’s book, America Alone is Number Two on the Amazon Canada bestseller list (apparently swapping back and forth with Richard Dawkins), meaning that he’s selling a lot even though it’s not being carried in many bookstores there: “the major book chain -Indigo-hasn’t really stocked his book (The owner-Heather Reisman and her husband Gerry Schwartz were major financial donors to the Liberals).”
AUSTIN BAY ROUNDS UP the violence in Oaxaca and explains why Vicente Fox is acting now.
THOUGHTS ON PREVENTING SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES, from Regina Lynn at Wired.
WANT PRESS COVERAGE? Apparently, you have to run attack ads to get it, leading Bill Hobbs, after reviewing the research, to comment:
A story about the 21st district race would be a story about a clash between old and new, and between the entrenched elites and the next generation – a youthful challenger taking on 36-year-incumbent; a challenger using the Internet to discuss issues, raise money and find supporters while the incumbent hides from voters, avoids public debate and gets his money from special interests.
So, then, why isn’t the Nashville news media covering the 21st district race between Bob Krumm and Sen. Henry?
The only answer seems to be the lack of negative attack ads.
That doesn’t reflect positively on the news media.
GLOBAL WARMING, defeated.
SHOOTING YOUR FANS — and yourself — in the foot.
MICHAEL DEMMONS thinks that Karl Rove is right about Republican prospects in November: “Rove is good at this kind of thing. I very much hope he’s wrong. But, if anything, I’m going out on a limb and saying that his skepticism of the nation polls is factoring into my predictions. I think it’s going to be extremely close. The race for the House will go either way. Rove is no idiot. If he says Republicans are going to win, you’d better take him seriously.”
Democrats had better hope that movie box offices aren’t a predictor . . . .
UPDATE: In a classic blog-fallacy, Sloppy Thoughts thinks I’m approving Smith’s analysis by linking it. Er, no — surely anyone who reads InstaPundit much would know me better than that!
Just to be clear, though, the answer to Tom’s question is “no.” And, furthermore, there’s nothing wrong with other people spending gobs of money on me, either! Just in case Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or somebody is wondering about that . . . .
ASTROTURFING THE MILITARY: The Mudville Gazette notes another bogus antiwar story:
As of this writing, over 200 newspapers have carried the story; The Boston Globe, al-Jazeera, The Washington Post, ABC News, Reuters, The (UK) Guardian… but none of the stories acknowledge the orchestration of the event by Fenton Communications.
If Wal-Mart were behind this, they’d be calling it disgraceful and manipulative.
MUCH MORE on the Duke rape case here. And just keep scrolling.
THE INSTAWIFE IS LOOKING FOR ADVICE on Seasonal Affective Disorder.
LOADS OF INTERESTING STUFF over at Tom Maguire’s place. Just keep scrolling.
THINGS ARE HEATING UP IN OAXACA: PJ Media has a roundup on developments.
NOSTALGIA for Western Electric telephones.
I wish I had one. I was doing a radio interview with the CBC once while visiting my brother’s and they didn’t like the sound quality. My brother dug out an old Western Electric phone from the closet, plugged it in (via an adapter that turned its 4-prong plug into an RJ11) and the CBC engineer exclaimed “You sound wonderful! How did you do that?”
APPARENTLY, THE VIRAL-MARKETING VIRUS ATTACKS THE BRAIN, at least at Universal Pictures:
“What happens when a film studio and a fanbase get into bed? Fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and the movie by Universal Studios — Serenity — are not amused. After being encouraged to viral market Serenity, the studio has started legal action against fans (demanding $9000 in retroactive licensing fees in one case and demanding fan promotion stop), and going after Cafepress. The fans response? Retroactively invoice Universal for their services.”
This, of course, poisons the viral-marketing well for Universal Studios in perpetuity. Nobody will cooperate the way Firefly fans did, now that this has happened. Naturally, people have the right to protect their trademarks — but when you do viral marketing you also have to relax on that a bit. The Serenity PR people sent me lots of images and art, with the obvious expectation that I’d use them in publicity. When you do that sort of thing, it filters out. This was a bad time to lawyer up. Plus, it violates an important rule of the Internet: “Don’t annoy someone who has more spare time than you do.”
Joss Whedon’s attitude seems more sensible. Viral marketing works both ways . . . .
THIS ISN’T VERY IMPRESSIVE: “The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party said during a court hearing Friday that he still hasn’t interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case.”
UPDATE: Reader John Bell emails:
I was a prosecutor for sixteen years before heading out into private practice. From my experience, Nifong is in an awkward position here in regards to interviewing the victim. From what little I have followed on this case, she looks like the kind of victim who has trouble telling the same story the same way twice in a row. The more versions she gives the weaker Nifong’s case. If he interviews her and she strays from previous versions of her story, he generates exculpatory material which goes straight to the defense. If he doesn’t interview her, he looks incompetent. If he does a thorough interview, he runs into all her prior contradictory statements and then has to decide which version of events is the “official” one, boxing him in before trial. Nifong, as I said, is in a bad position, but then, he has no one to blame but himself.
Indeed. And it’s getting worse:
A woman identified as the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape case performed an athletic pole dance at a Hillsborough strip club at the same time that the accuser was visiting hospitals complaining of intense pain from being assaulted.
A time-stamped video shows a woman at The Platinum Club on March 26. The club’s former security manager, H.P. Thomas, identified her as the accuser.
The video, reviewed by The News & Observer, shows a limber performer. The same woman told doctors at UNC and Duke hospitals around that time that she had been beaten and assaulted and was racked with pain.
This case is looking more and more pathetic.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Schedler emails:
OK, it has been nearly 30 years since I did my short stint as a prosecutor. But, I am still perplexed at the notion Nifong is in a “bad position.” It is only “bad” if the objective truth and justice to the parties is irrelevant to your thinking.
As I understand it, the duty of the prosecutor is to do justice, prosecuting crimes being the principle means to that end. One cannot ascertain just how justice will be served unless and until one has the facts in hand. A prosecutor doing his or her duty would interview the complainant & get to the bottom of the matter. If the allegations hold up, then he or she can assess how justice would be served by prosecution. If the allegations collapse under investigation, then justice admits of only one course: dismissal.
Avoiding the facts and leaving innocent people hanging out is, in my view, a disgraceful abdication of duty.
I FINISHED JOHN SCALZI’S NEW BOOK, The Android’s Dream last night. I thought it was quite good, though it was nothing like Old Man’s War or Ghost Brigades, it was more lighthearted and focused on interstellar diplomacy. Not quite in the vein of Keith Laumer’s Retief stories, but occasionally I got a bit of that feel.
We did a podcast interview with Scalzi a while back: It’s here.
DEFENDING AMERICA FROM THE AUSTRALIAN NUCLEAR THREAT?
HERE’S MORE ON HAND SANITIZERS AND POLITICS:
Like so many other people involved in politics these days, Mrs. Ryun has become obsessive about using hand sanitizer and ensuring that others do, too. She squirted Purell, the antiseptic goop of choice on the stump and self-proclaimed killer of “99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness,” on people lined up to meet Vice President Dick Cheney this month at a fund-raiser in Topeka.
When Mr. Cheney was done meeting and greeting, he, too, rubbed his hands vigorously with the stuff, dispensed in dollops by an aide when the vice president was out of public view.
That has become routine in this peak season of handshaking, practiced by everyone from the most powerful leaders to the lowliest hopefuls. Politics is personal at all levels, and germs do not discriminate. Like chicken dinners and lobbyists, they afflict Democrats and Republicans alike. It would be difficult to find an entourage that does not have at least one aide packing Purell.
While the hand gel is shown to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria which are often spread by human contact, the new mouth sanitizer was formulated to prevent the viral spread of dirty, bitter and vitriolic political speech.
According to a news release from the company, “Just a quick squirt, swish and spit before stepping up to the microphone and Purell Mouth Sanitizer eliminates not only the words that make others sick, but it even protects a politician from speech that can harm one’s own career, thanks to a special ingredient we call Gaffe-B-Gone.”
VAL MCQUEEN: “In the last few days in Britain, three events have caused what was already a small crack in the paper-thin edifice of ‘multiculturalism’ in Britain to widen to a noticeable fissure.”
MY RELIGIOUS EDUCATION is now many years in the past, but I was never taught that Pontius Pilate was a great moral thinker. Rather, he was portrayed as a man who used superficial doubt as a means of avoiding responsibility.
UPDATE: Frank J. emails: “I hope Pilate is a great moral thinker. He’s running for judge in my county.” Heh. That’s got to be something of a handicap.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Przekwas emails:
If you read Mr. Judge’s original story, in particular the transcript of the conversation, you would notice that just before the Pilate comment Mr. Hewitt is discussing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – the name Plato being mentioned several times. Now, is it not possible that in Mr. Sullivan’s reply he misspoke and said Pilate instead one Plato – when referencing Plato’s comments on the unveiling of truth in the Allegory of the Cave?
Well, that would make more sense.
MORE: A reader emails:
Yeah, except…um, why would he misspeak and say “Pilate,” while meaning to say “Plato,” when in fact quoting Pilate?
I said it would make more sense. I didn’t say it was likely.
YEAR-ROUND DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME? I’m all for it. Morning sucks regardless, but I like the extra hour of light in the evening. If it saves as much power as a big nuclear plant would generate, well, so much the better.
DO YOU WANT AMERICA TO WIN?
PHOTOBLOGGING FROM THE STANDS at the World Series.
IT’S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED: Though I think Andie MacDowell would fit the part better than Angelina Jolie.
Watching and reading the recent Washington punditry, whether in print or on television, is a depressing spectacle. Almost all—Charles Krauthammer is the most notable exception—have somehow triangulated on the war, not mentioning why and how in the B.C. days they sort of, kinda, not really called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. For some the Road to Damascus was the looting or Abu Ghraib, for others the increasing violence. Still more now say the absence of WMD did the trick.
But almost none of the firebrands of 2003 speaks the truth behind the facade: They supported the war when it looked like few casualties and a quick reconstruction and thus confirmation of their own muscular humanitarianism—and then bailed along the way when they realized that wasn’t going to happen and the unpopular war might instead brand them as “war mongers”, “chicken-hawks” or just fools.
Instead of that honest admission, we get instead either cardboard cut-out villains of the “my perfect three-week war, your screwed-up three-year occupation” type—a Douglas Feith, Gen. Sanchez, or Paul Bremmer—or all sorts of unappreciated and untapped brilliance: from trisecting the country to “redeploying” to Kurdistan, or Kuwait, or Okinawa?
Read the whole thing.
ROGER SIMON interviews Tony Blankley.
AN INTERVIEW WITH MARK STEYN: Over at Hot Air.
AUSTIN BAY has thoughts on Al Qaeda’s media war.
DANIEL GROSS: “So the Dow hit 12,000. Big whoop.”
Well, it would be a big deal if a Democrat were in the White House. . . .
I do like this line, though: “Only 24,000 points more to Dow 36,000! ”
The Amazon reviews for Dow 36,000 are kind of funny, too. Hey, they didn’t say when . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rob DeJournett notes that although the NASDAQ is way up over recent years, it’s nowhere near its peak. True enough, but as the chart demonstrates, “peak” is really the right word.
ROB HUDDLESTON says that the GOP is “surging,” but that seems a bit optimistic to me.
REMEMBERING THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION: John Fund reports on an event now 50 years in the past.
JON HENKE, George Allen’s campaign blogger, responds to criticism of the Jim Webb novel story in my post this morning by emailing:
Something to remember about the Webb/book story — here’s Keith Olbermann talking about the sex scenes in Scooter Libby’s book:
“we have beaten the hell out of Libby for this, and deservedly so. If a Democratic White House official had written this book, his head would be on a pike somewhere.”
Well, now a Democrat HAS written that kind of book. So it’s funny to see how quickly the Democrats have rediscovered the irrelevance of fiction writing. If voters are not bothered by Webb’s work, fine….but it’s not a ‘smear’ to cite the public record that Webb himself talks about in commercials, interviews and on his campaign website.
It’s true that the Dems have gotten mileage out of steamy Republican novels in the past. Though “steamy” isn’t quite the term I’d use here.
UPDATE: Ann Althouse thinks it’s stupid to judge a candidate by his fiction writing. Well, if Olbermann does it, that’s a strong argument . . . .
Amusing line from Althouse’s comments, where there is much interesting discussion:
Republicans who write about sex and murder are depraved, fucked-up sickos who write about grisly repressed fantasies. Democrats who write about sex and murder are artists, flowering the world with beauty and challenging our perceptions.
Christ, don’t you people understand how it works?
Yes. Kind of like this: “When Republicans appeal to rural, white, socially conservative voters, they are Neanderthals. When Democrats do it, they are shrewd tacticians.” I’m beginning to sense a pattern here!
MORE: Matt Rustler writes:
I hate to break it to you, folks, but the military — especially the Marine Corps, the service that Webb knows best — is largely composed of macho young men with foul mouths and an unhealthy obsession with all things sexual. It’s a giant locker room. No one who’s been in the naval service beyond boot camp — especially back when Subic Bay was still open — hasn’t heard a story or two about a Filipino stripper dicing a banana with her vagina. . . . I admit that I don’t see the point of some of the rather bizarre, homoerotic scenes mentioned in Allen’s press release. But they’re presented entirely out of context. And I’ll bet that if I read those books, I would see the point.
He’s voting for Webb, though he was before. I think that Allah captures both sides of this story best, with two passages. First: “Have we actually reached the point where Senate seats now turn on the sex scandals of fictional characters?”
But also: “If George Allen had written this book, not only would the left be going berserk, they’d be circulating lists of characters in his other books whom they suspect of being gay.”
Yes, it’s that bad.
MORE STILL: Novelist Bill Quick weighs in.
Meanwhile, the DSCC isn’t elevating the tone: “GOP Conservatives’ Library Features Bestiality & Pedophilia.”
JIM CHEN writes that the New Jersey gay marriage case is just like Loving v. Virginia. I think he’s right, which is why I think that it’s wrong to call the New Jersey decision a compromise. It’s a flat-out win for gay marriage advocates.
AT BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW, Austin Bay and his guests get Kinky — Friedman, that is.
THE CARNIVAL OF CARS is up!
LASHAWN BARBER is liveblogging from GodBlogCon.
POPULAR MECHANICS lab-tests digital camcorders.
They really liked this Panasonic, which looks like it would be a cool videoblogging tool, too. I have to say, though, that for videoblogging the video capabilities of digital still cameras are looking pretty good. My little Sony pocket camera shoots 640 x 480 30fps video, with shockingly good sound. And I shot all the video for this piece using still pocket cameras — a Sony and (for the underwater parts) an Olympus.
There’s even one that shoots in HD (1280 x 720 pixels). That’s overkill for videoblogging, of course, but it’s sort of cool.
Maybe I’m racially insensitive, but I don’t get the uproar over the ad in which a hot chick says she met Harold E. Ford, the Tennessee Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, at a Playboy party and asks him to call her. A Vanderbilt expert on political advertising says it “makes the Willie Horton ad look like child’s play.” Really? It’s worse for voters to think that beautiful women want to have sex with you that it is for them to believe that you let a dangerous criminal out of prison to commit rape and murder? I think Michael Dukakis would disagree. He could have benefited from this sort of slander, if anyone would have believed it.
I agree. As I’ve said before, I think the Playboy thing helps Ford more than it hurts him.
UPDATE: Reader Janice Lyons says it’s not about the bimbo:
By focusing on the blonde the Dems are either being really really clever, or are really really dumb.
It’s the WHOLE AD that has the bang. It is not only hilarious, it’s points to Ford’s positions (I assume, since I’m not a Volunteer), which when voiced in their implications, are pretty damning.
Perhaps by calling race! sex! – and – gasp! bimbo! they are trying to divert attention from the problem of Ford’s positions (the actual content of the ad, not his sex life) with [self righteous] indignation.
Surely more than a few people see the ad, snicker at the blonde, and wonder if Ford really does think they own too many guns, it’s no big whoop that the family farm which has now become a developer’s (and the tax office’s) dream can will be lost to the family because of property and death taxes, that people who produce stability in the society pay higher taxes, that the US should stop trying to slow down the nuclear train to hell, and that people committed to blowing up as many Americans and as many America ideas and things as they can should have the right to be treated as citizens, and better.
That’s what the Dems are really worried about. Or should be anyway. That’s the message of the ad the Dems are trying to distract from while “whining” about the bare shouldered blonde.
Well, of course, the complaints just caused many, many more people to see the ad. Smart? We’ll see.
And I think Dukakis would have picked up at least 3 states if it had come out that he’d partied with Playboy bunnies . . . .
The U.S. Department of Defense is now taking its requests for corrections public through a website known as For the Record (located at http://www.defenselink.mil/home/dodupdate/index-b.html). Here, the Department of Defense is openly calling for corrections from major media outlets, and even noting when they refuse to publish letters to the editor.
The most recent was this past Tuesday, when the DOD published a letter, that the New York Times refused to run, which contained quotes from five generals (former CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, current CENTCOM commander John Abizaid, MNF Commander George Casey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, as well as his successor, Peter Pace) that rebutted a New York Times editorial. This has been picked up by a number of bloggers who have been able to spread the Pentagon’s rebuttal – and the efforts of the New York Times to sweep it under the rug – across the country.
They’ve got a long way to go on the information-war front, but at least they’re getting into the game.
INTIFADA IN FRANCE: Richard Miniter interviews Paul Belien of Brussels Journal.
IT’S A BLOGFEST: Now Michael Yon is on C-SPAN, following up Virginia Postrel and Sally Satel.
Our podcast interview with Michael Yon is here.
There are hundreds of websites featuring dozens of professionally produced videos of violence against US forces in Iraq. Dubbed with loud monotonal music for an extra creepy effect, at the point of the attack, the filmers usually erupt into cries of “Allahu akbar!”
The US might film its own missions for forensic or debriefing purposes sure, but that is a far cry from reveling in them. So what might motivate someone to be so twisted as to film and celebrate death?
One answer: recruitment. . . .
This mobilization is real. It has tangible impacts. Look no further than what is now being called “the YouTube jihad.”
Read the whole thing.
BILL ROGGIO: It’s decision time for Maliki.
KIDNEY TALK: Virginia Postrel and Sally Satel will be on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal at 8 am Eastern this morning, talking about kidney transplants.
And we did a podcast interview with Virginia on the subject a while back, too.
I DIDN’T KNOW THEY HAD A MOVEON CHAPTER DOWNUNDER:
After emerging from Friday prayers at Lakemba Mosque today, Sheik al-Hilali was asked by a media pack whether he would quit over a speech in which he said scantily-dressed women invited rape.
“After we clean the world of the White House first,” the sheik said.
Supporters of the sheik cheered and applauded loudly at the comments, which were directed firmly at US President George W Bush.
All sins are pardonable, apparently, so long as one is sufficiently anti-Bush. It’s a religion that transcends religious divisions. Bush: A uniter, not a divider!
DIRTY PASSAGES IN JIM WEBB’S NOVELS: Not that big a deal to me — they’re novels — but I suppose the Foley business has given this sort of thing more resonance than it would otherwise have. That sort of blowback doesn’t seem all that unfair, though it’s just another indicator of how lame the Webb/Allen race has been ever since Macacagate.
UPDATE: Tom Bevan: “Given that Drudge is currently splashing the details of some bizarre, sexually explicit passages from Jim Webb’s books on his site, the first line of this big profile of Webb in today’s Washington Post is timely, but probably not helpful: ‘James Webb will tell you that he is first a writer, with several best-selling novels to his name.’ Oy. . . . It’ll be interesting to see how the mainstream media handles this story – if they cover it at all – and how the notoriously prickly Webb responds.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Surprisingly, Imus doesn’t like Webb’s writing.
MORE: Radley Balko thinks this whole story is unfair to Webb:
This is nothing like Foley. I agree that the Foley attacks were blown out of proportion. But it’s also clear that Foley was a sexual predator. Jim Webb was writing about a remote, foreign culture. The two aren’t remotely comparable. Nor is it legitimate to say there’s some sort of “unseemliness equivalence” between chastising the GOP for Foley, and implying that Webb is a pervert because of passages from his books.
The scene everyone’s up in arms about isn’t remotely titillating or sexual. It depicts two Americans in an exotic and foreign locale. The penis-kissing incident involves a native man and his son in a remote, rural part of South Asia. It’s clearly scene-painting, and both characters are shocked and troubled by it, and return to it later in the book.
The genital-kissing custom, by the way, is fairly common in many parts of the world, including Southeast Asia. It isn’t sexual. Yes, it seems odd to Americans (there have been several cases where Asian
adults in America have been prosecuted for it — none have been upheld, with courts clearly finding the practice customary, not sexual) — and it seems clear from the book that Webb thinks it’s odd, too. It isn’t as if he made it up as part of some latent perversion.
It’s entirely likely that Webb saw this happen while he was in Vietnam, was struck by it, and is relaying what he saw in the book.
I wasn’t suggesting that Webb is some sort of pervert — as I said, it’s a novel — but only that this would be likely to play badly. I like Webb, and my earlier impression of Allen as a bit of a dim bulb has been amply borne out by this campaign. Nonetheless, when you get down in the mud, as the Webb campaign has certainly done, you get dirty too. And if Imus thinks it’s bad, then it’s likely to hurt him.
MORE: Reader Brian Wiegand emails:
Radley Balko is mostly right. I interviewed Jim Webb this morning and he said that he saw the genital kissing while he was in Thailand, not Vietnam. As Balko says,it was not at all a sexual act. This story is being grossly misrepresented, much like the story about the noose that used to be in George Allen’s law office was. What was that you were saying about getting down in the mud?
MORE THAN 5 YEARS AFTER 9/11, they’re still finding human remains at Ground Zero.
MICKEY KAUS has further thoughts on the New Jersey gay marriage decision.
MUCH MORE ON VOTER FRAUD IN MISSOURI, which is beginning to get national attention.
RAPED? According to this imam, it’s all your fault.
WHO’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE? A poll at AbovetheLaw.
MAJOR JOHN TAMMES has posted his roundup of news from Afghanistan a day early.
HOWARD MORTMAN: “Forget everything you were taught about natural law and the time-space continuum. Is it – shudder — possible for someone named Biden to lose in Delaware?”
MORE ON BILL MOYERS: Rick Byrne of Public Affairs Television sends a letter from Bill Moyers on the Beisner matter, which I had previously mentioned in connection with Bill Moyers’ legal threats against a blogger. Click “read more” for Moyers’ letter. I’ll just note that getting your story out this way is a lot smarter than trying to intimidate bloggers with legal threats, as Moyers has already done. Still, we want to reward people for learning . . . .
And checking the threatened blogger’s site for updates I found this.
“SMELLS LIKE . . . victory!”
MORE ON BILL HASLAM, Mike Bloomberg, and gun control.
MICHAEL BAR0NE: Gutenberg is dead.
But as a wise woman once said: “The Colonel is dead, and here we are still enjoying his chicken.” Extra points if you can spot the source.
UPDATE: A bunch of readers got this right away (I suspect them of Googling, though that’s bad form on questions like this). But reader Tim Tighe was first. It’s from this classic motion picture. Beauty, eh?
THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES: And here I thought that was just a joke — but no!
Siberian scientists believe that addiction to alcohol and narcotics, as well as depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic diseases occur when an individual loses his or her interest in life. The absence of the will to live is caused with decreasing production of endorphins – the substance, which is known as the hormone of happiness. If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the “production of happiness” and eventually remove depressive feelings.
Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.
Or maybe they just pretend to feel better so the damn whippings will stop . . . .
IN THE MAIL: Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book on disasters and preparedness from a lefty perspective, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. It’s an interesting example of the kind of lefty apocalypticism I discussed last week, and I wish I’d had a copy when I wrote that piece.
The book draws heavily on Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies, which is a terrific book — though I recall reading it a few years ago and concluding that Tainter’s lessons didn’t suggest that our society was in particularly great danger. Homer-Dixon feels otherwise. There’s also a troubling reference to Stalin-apologist Eric Hobsbawm merely as an “eminent historian” — talk about a guy who can argue for “the upside of down,” — but overall I think the book’s pretty interesting. It’s certainly an example of the phenomenon I described in my column:
As with some of the righty books from the 1990s, there’s a curious push-pull here: Though these are warnings of catastrophes to come, there’s a sense that to some extent those catastrophes involve society getting what it deserves for its sinful ways, perhaps coupled with an opportunity for purification in the wake of the crisis — with the virtuously prepared having the upper hand, of course.
Worth reading, if this stuff interests you.
KIMBERLY STRASSEL looks at the Ford/Corker race: “The Democratic Party has been aware of its weaknesses on social issues and national defense for years, but with Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi in charge, it has refused to budge from a liberal stance that resonates mainly in New York and California. Mr. Ford has shown that voters elsewhere will respond to Democrats who aren’t afraid to really talk with them–and vote with them–on God and guns.”
SayUncle has related thoughts.
NEAL BOORTZ tells how you can help some Marines in Iraq have a Merry Christmas.
ANN ALTHOUSE: “Going to New Jersey to get married sounds like the least cutting-edge thing in the world to do, doesn’t it? But throw in the gay and nothing’s boring.”
THE SECURE FENCE ACT has been signed by the President.
THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM is that the New Jersey gay marriage decision is good for the Republicans. But the futures markets don’t show a lot of movement. What do you think? It’s time for another InstaPundit reader poll:
Mark Warner looked to be the strongest Democratic contender for President in 2008 except for Hillary Clinton. We’d been slated to interview him when he decided not to run, but we thought that decision was interesting enough in its own right to justify an interview. We talk to Warner about his choice to bow out, about the state of politics today, and about what he’ll do next. We also discuss anti-terrorism, the Democrats’ problems with flyover country, and the importance of alternative energy, including nuclear power, to address oil pressure and greenhouse emissions. Plus, an interruption by Jimmy Carter!
You can listen to the show directly — no downloading needed — by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download it directly by clicking right here, and you can get a lo-fi version for dialup by clicking here and selecting lo-fi. Better still, you can subscribe via iTunes and get future episodes automatically.
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Music is by Mobius Dick.
MORE RIOTING IN FRANCE: Gateway Pundit has a roundup, and there’s more at No Pasaran! “The most spectacular incident took place at 1AM between Bagnolet and Montreuil. A gang of 10 pistol wielding hooded youths boarded the bus. One of the assailants placed his gun on the side of the bus driver’s head and ordered him to get out of his seat. The gang commandeered the bus, drove it a short distance and torched it in an neighboring suburb.”
MARY KATHARINE HAM posts a special Halloween edition of Ham Nation. She was born to videoblog!
PRACTICING FOR A PANDEMIC in Virginia:
The exercise was part of a two-day, statewide public-health drill. Called Fluex 06, the drill assumed that a pandemic flu, or a strain for which the public has little protection, was moving through the state.
Local hospitals were full and medical supplies were running low, according to the simulation. State officials declared a mock emergency and ordered the vaccination of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
In the Fredericksburg area, health officials participated in the exercise by scheduling a real-life, drive-through flu clinic. Those interested were told to roll down their car windows and roll up their sleeves for a free shot. The state Health Department supplied 400 doses of flu vaccine.
Officials chose the Stafford center for its large parking lot. The Stafford Volunteer Rescue Squad offered one of its bays, and the Stafford Sheriff’s Office supplied four officers to help with traffic.
The response surprised just about everyone.
Nice to see that they’re preparing.
JUST HEARD HAROLD FORD on the radio with local talk-king Hallerin Hill. Ford was defending his “temperament,” which suggests to me that the Corker-confrontation must have hurt them.
On the other hand, when Hill asked him about his girlfriend, Ford quipped, “I don’t email little boys.” So much for Kaus’s theory that the Foley scandal isn’t hurting Republicans any more.
RALPH KINNEY BENNETT: “Sometime this week, probably Friday, the last Ford Taurus will be built at the Ford Motor Co.’s Hapeville, Ga., assembly plant.”
He has some thoughts on what the Taurus’s demise — or abandonment — means for Ford and the American car industry.
OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM at work.