February 19, 2006
MORE BAD PRESS for the Daily Illini. “In an effort to gratuitously antagonize a fresh new segment of the populace, the Illini has implemented a new policy prohibiting its staff from writing blogs.”
MORE BAD PRESS for the Daily Illini. “In an effort to gratuitously antagonize a fresh new segment of the populace, the Illini has implemented a new policy prohibiting its staff from writing blogs.”
ANYONE WHO THINKS “PAPER TIGER” is a synonym for “harmless” has never been involved in litigation:
A soldier wounded in Afghanistan and the widow of his slain comrade were awarded a $102.6 million judgment from the estate of a suspected al-Qaida financier.
U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell said the lawsuit may be the first filed by an American soldier against terrorists under the Patriot Act. . . . Attorney Dennis Flynn said the U.S. and Canadian governments have frozen the assets of the elder Khadr.
Sic the trial lawyers on ‘em. They’ll be begging for mercy.
UPDATE: Howard Bashman has more, including a link to the opinion.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: I don’t blame John Ashcroft for this one.
THE FINAL WORD on the Cheney Kerfuffle, from Scott Adams: “I think it’s the worst kind of pandering to shoot a lawyer just because your popularity is low. But I’ll bet it works.”
Yep: “After a weeklong bump into the double digits, the Dick Cheney June 30 retirement futures at intrade.com have plummeted; they’re now below where they were before the shooting.”
CHINA AND THE INTERNET: An interesting story in the Washington Post. Excerpt:
No one told the editor in chief. For 90 minutes, he ran the meeting, oblivious to the political storm that was brewing. Then Li announced what he had done.
The chief editor stammered and rushed back to his office, witnesses recalled. But by then, Li’s memo had leaked and was spreading across the Internet in countless e-mails and instant messages. Copies were posted on China’s most popular Web forums, and within hours people across the country were sending Li messages of support.
The government’s Internet censors scrambled, ordering one Web site after another to delete the letter. But two days later, in an embarrassing retreat, the party bowed to public outrage and scrapped the editor in chief’s plan to muzzle his reporters.
Via Hugh Hewitt, who observes “The Party ought to require every member read An Army of Davids. (Who’s got the rights in the PRC Glenn?)”. Why limit it to Party members? I think that everyone in China should read it!
OKAY, I didn’t post these originally, since I don’t generally post other people’s work without permission (I’ll sometimes deep-link images with a link back to the source, but that’s different — and hard to do given that big-media folks haven’t been falling all over themselves to slap these on their websites). But by now I’m pretty sure the Danish authors don’t mind, and apparently various ignorant thugs are threatening sites that post them. So I guess that makes it my turn. Here are a couple of the better ones. More will follow if this nonsense keeps up.
Hardly worth rioting over, in my opinion. But the people who do this sort of thing don’t care much about my opinion. So why should I care about theirs?
UPDATE: James Hudnall makes an important point — in fact, the actual cartoons weren’t that controversial until the Danish Imams added three fake cartoons to fuel the fire. Perhaps the Danish Government should immediately imprison them for hate crime, to appease the mob . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Various readers write to tell me how “brave” I am for publishing this. Not hardly. We’re at more risk from the Insta-Wife’s clients. . . .
ARI FLEISCHER on the Cheney kerfuffle:
On why Vice President Cheney’s office should have handled the hunting accident differently
FLEISCHER: Well, I think this could have and should have been a one or two day story. It was a serious story, so I don’t know that it would have gone away instantly, but it could have and should have gone away much quicker. And so I do differ with the vice president about how it was handled…I do think that the vice president should have and could have announced this either Saturday night or Sunday morning.
On how the White House press corps were both right and “bonkers”
FLEISCHER: I think the White House correspondents were right on this one. They did have a legitimate beef. They should have been told about it. But I think you can be right and still go bonkers, and I think that’s what happened here…I do think there is an element here of the press going bonkers because they didn’t get the story. Somebody else did, and they wished it had been them. It should have been them, but that does feed into their anger.
(Via email from the Reliable Sources folks.)
Just yesterday, Hamas came into power. As I noted, its first order of business was to indemnify itself—rhetorically, if not legally—from the obligations of Oslo, and to assert that, no, the nation of Israel does not have the right to exist in this world. Despite Hamas’ being essentially a successor government (and thus required under international law to abide by treaties to which the previous government acceded), the party has renounced any treaty that recognized Israel.
Can you guess what the second order of business was? That’s right: to condemn Israel’s decision to cease sending cash to the Palestinian Authority. Specifically, $42.2 million. Since the PA and its new Hamas bosses run almost entirely on the swiftly-eroding goodwill of the rest of the world (terrorism doesn’t pay very well), Hamas is now demanding that Israel reconsider its decision to cut funding. A representative said: “This is a faulty decison, and the Israelis must reconsider their decision. It will only increase hatred.”
It really is like dealing with teenagers. Except, you know, for the murder part.
UPDATE: Bob Krumm writes that the Palestinians certainly understand the meaning of the term “Chutzpah.”
MORE IGNORANT THUGGERY: “Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.”
If Christians were burning mosques, it would be portrayed as proof of their inherent degeneracy and violence.
UPDATE: More here.
TAMMY BRUCE NOTES rampant Olympic discrimination against female ski-jumpers, who aren’t allowed to compete. I’m familiar with this: My stepcousin Karla Keck (you can see her in midflight here) was ranked first among women jumpers in the late 1990s — but never got to compete in the Olympics, because, you guessed it, women can’t compete. Lame.
SOMEBODY TELL BRYANT GUMBEL about this.
WELCOME to 21st Century London. I don’t think the tourism-promotion folks will like this story.
MORE colossal Kofi conflicts: “Kofi Annan has learned nothing from the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food scandal, in which Saddam Hussein’s billions corrupted the U.N.’s entire Iraq embargo bureaucracy. Earlier this month, Annan accepted from the ruler of Dubai an environmental prize of $500,000–a fat sum that represents the latest in a long series of glaring conflicts of interest. Call this one Cash-for-Kofi.”
Note to Condi: Why don’t we give this sort of outright bribery a try? It seems to be all the rage.
DAVID BERNSTEIN has much more on the ABA’s affirmative action policy. Given its earlier antitrust problems, I’m surprised the ABA is taking such an aggressive line here. Legal consequences aside, though, I think the ABA is in danger of further marginalizing itself, accelerating its move from an umbrella legal-profession organization to just another political interest group.
I HAVEN’T READ ROBERT FERRIGNO’S Prayers for the Assassin, but several readers note this line from the Publishers Weekly review: “Fans of instapundit politics will love this thriller, which has the cinematic motion and atrocity F/X of a good airport read.”
That may (or may not) be true — I haven’t read it — but from reading the entire PW review I’m not sure the Publishers Weekly reviewer likes me. . . .
Hugh Hewitt interviewed Ferrigno recently. The transcript is here. Ferrigno also has some interesting thoughts on how the Internet is affecting book sales.
THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS published the Mohammed cartoons that have mobs of ignorant thugs rampaging around the world. The reader reaction was favorable:
“Thank you,” was the consistent message.
“Thank you for taking a stand for freedom of the press when so many of our U.S. newspapers caved in,” an e-mail from Breckenridge told me. “My respect for you and the Rocky Mountain News is renewed.”
“Congratulations on being an equal opportunity offender,” another e-mail said. “Well done and well said. The Danish cartoon reveals media double standards, bias and political correctness run amok (all of which continue to be denied, save for you and a few others).”
“Thank you, Mr. Temple, for not bowing to the pressure from the Muslim world concerning the printing of the cartoons,” a third writer said.
“It is time for the Western nations to know that the mere existence of the Western world is an ‘insult to Islam.’ There is a double standard at work here. We must tiptoe around to avoid offending Muslim ‘sensibilities’ while they can clearly state a goal as the destruction of Israel and run cartoons with impunity depicting other religions in an ‘insulting’ manner.
“I believe that political correctness is the downfall of a free society. It stifles free speech and expression and leads to both self-censorship and imposed censorship.”
I received only a handful, literally, of complaints, and three of them were form letters late in the week.
Badly written form letters, at that. The conclusion: “This whole experience of publishing these cartoons has been enough for me to want to wear a Danish flag pin in solidarity with that country and to regret – at least during this test of journalism’s commitment to free speech – my membership in the American Society of Newspaper Editors.”
They keep forgetting that it’s their job to tell us stuff, not to decide what we shouldn’t be told.
PAUL CARON HAS MORE on the ABA and law school diversity.
He regards them as insufficiently committed to transparency where their discussion of affirmative action, etc., is concerned.
MAINSTREAM MUSLIM LEADER urges violence against gays. In Russia. To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, theocracy is forever descending on America, but somehow it always lands somewhere else.
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Sissy Willis.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Althouse:
Ah, so the cartoon violence is to work as general threat to suppress all sorts of behavior. Religious fanatics with no power to force others to adopt their religion use violence and threats of violence to force others to behave as if they were followers of that religion.
ANOTHER MICHAEL TOTTEN REPORT FROM IRAQ:
A Western journalist I met in Erbil, who has been in Iraq for some time, told me the place challenges almost every liberal idea he has ever had in his head. I don’t know what he was like, ideologically speaking, before he got there. But he certainly doesn’t have orthodox left-wing opinions today. (Some right-wingers, especially those who think of the entire Islamic religion as a totalitarian death cult, would likewise get a crash-course in reality if they ever bothered to hang out in Iraq and meet actual Muslims.)
I was only in Iraq for two days before I had to face the sort of thing my journalist friend was talking about.
By the way, his reporting is supported by reader donations, so if you like it you might hit his tipjar.
MEDICAL BENEFITS, VACATION, TORTURE: A look inside Al Qaeda’s Human Resources Department. No, really.
SPECIAL FORCES: here’s more on Rumsfeld’s new defense strategy:
Each of the four military services has special-operations forces, which are overseen by U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. For the most part, they fall into two categories. “Black units,” such as the Army’s elite Delta force and the Navy’s SEALS, focus primarily on highly sensitive “direct action” missions such as hunting terrorists or rescuing hostages. “White units,” like the Army’s Green Berets, work closely training, advising and in some cases fighting alongside indigenous forces world-wide.
Under Mr. Rumsfeld’s plan, special-operations forces would work in small teams, fanning out to remote corners of the globe to live with, train and advise indigenous security forces battling terrorists. Troops also would gather intelligence and build relationships with locals over the course of months and years.
“To succeed…the U.S. must often take an indirect approach, building up and working with others,” Mr. Rumsfeld’s review states. It uses the term “indirect approach” no less than 11 times.
An oblique approach often works.
AUSTIN BAY comments on a permanent African peacekeeping force.
PLAME UPDATE: Tom Maguire is unimpressed with Fitzgerald’s response to discovery requests.
MICHELLE MALKIN has a big cartoon war roundup.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: It’s not too late to cast your vote for the PorkBusters Hall of Shame!
Right now, Ted Stevens (R-AK) is in the lead, but it’s not over until the fat lady sings.
Meanwhile, here’s a bit of good news on pork:
BUSHNELL – Sumter County will not be pursuing federal aid to build a sports complex in the southern end of the county. When the motion was made to approve a request for federal funding, it died for lack of a second.
The issue sparked a debate Tuesday between Commissioners Dick Hoffman and Randy Mask after the matter was brought up for the second time in two weeks.
Hoffman again described the park project as a “pork” request, as he did at the meeting two weeks ago when the board was asked about funding for the complex and a hurricane shelter for the southern end of the county.
According to Citizens Against Government Waste and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition, “pork” projects must meet two of the following criteria: they are either requested by only one chamber of Congress; they are not specifically authorized; they are not competitively awarded; they are not requested by the president; they greatly exceed the president’s budget request or the previous year’s funding; they are not the subject of Congressional hearings; or serve only a local or special interest. . . .
Hoffman said asking for government help in order to pay for projects was “too easy,” and that he would support the complex “if the citizens of this county are willing to take money out of their own pocket to pay for it.”
“That’s when the rubber hits the road,” he said.
It’s all about changing the culture.
UPDATE: It’s neck-and-neck: Robert Byrd has pulled ahead by three votes. The suspense is killing me!
FEAR THE GOVERNMENT that fears your dildo.
MORE LAW PROFESSORS WEIGH IN on the question of affirmative action and intellectual diversity.
IN THE MAIL: Bruce Bawer’s new book, While Europe Slept : How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Here’s an interview with Bawer by Brad Miner.
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: Global Preparedness is taking shape:
As the spread of avian flu accelerated through Europe, scientists said the world’s ability to handle the disease is improving.
“If a catastrophic pandemic occurred tomorrow, everyone in the world would be unprepared,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, or NIAID. Still, he added: “We’re so much better off now than we were six months ago, a year ago.”
Maybe I should switch to Knology. The thing is, they’ve been very responsive in the past, but this time it’s like everything goes into a black hole.
UPDATE: Well, there’s a guy out there now, though they were supposed to call me before he showed up and nobody did.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Fixed now. The guy was, as always, nice and competent. But the online repair form seems not to have worked at all; the whole thing was in response to my phoning the robots last night, not to my online repair request from the day before.
Syria’s attempt to leverage Moslem anger, over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed that have recently been published in some Western newspapers, seems to have backfired. By permitting the protest demonstrations against several Western embassies to turn into riots, the Syrian government appears to have been attempting to refurbish its connections with Islam. But some analysts in the region believe that the actual result has been to encourage anti-government Islamic extremists. This pattern is being seen in many Moslem nations, most of them run by dictators that normally do not allow free expression by the people.
ANN ALTHOUSE: “So the Senate Intelligence Committee is not going to investigate President Bush’s (supposedly) controversial surveillance program. There was also a 96 to 3 vote today in the Senate not to hold up the Patriot Act. Quite a fizzle, no?”
MICKEY KAUS: “The possibility that Cheney would resign–allowing Bush to appoint and anoint a successor–seemed plausible before Cheney’s hunting accident. It’s probably less likely now, because Bush wouldn’t want to be seen as having given in to the press mob.”
But Sean Hackbarth has some candidates.
DICK CHENEY has inspired a new video game!
GUN REGISTRATION: Such a bad idea that even the Canadians are scrapping it. “One former Mountie called the registry ‘totally useless’ because criminals don’t register their guns.” Too bad they didn’t figure that out a few billion dollars ago, but at least it’s an object lesson for the United States.
Here’s Tempest in a Barrel:
For $495, an outfit called TheCapitol.Net will teach you how to feed at the trough. The firm, which does training seminars on how Washington works, is offering a one-day course on how to get an earmark. If you sign up, the folks at TheCapitol.Net will even teach you how to counter “public criticism of pork.” . . .
Suddenly, however, “public criticism of pork” is all the rage, and earmarks are the target. Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif., resigned from the House and is going to prison for taking bribes to use appropriations bills to steer defense contracts to his corporate friends. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to operating a favor factory that depended on getting members of Congress to help his clients in a variety of ways. Reformers have vowed to send earmarks the way of such other once-familiar Washington institutions as Duke Ziebert’s restaurant and The Washington Star.
Also, Moving Target:
“Earmarks have become the currency of corruption,” Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., wrote to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., after the guilty pleas of ex-Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif., and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. “We can’t allow this to continue.”
But the road to earmark reform is potholed with definitional booby traps. Take these examples: $1.7 million to rehabilitate historic buildings at White Grass Dude Ranch in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.; more than $1.5 billion to support “ultra-deepwater” drilling, largely directed to the Texas Energy Center in Sugar Land, Texas; a $44 million break from import duties for makers of ceiling fans, spearheaded by hardware mega-chain Home Depot.
All of the above could be considered earmarks, yet none qualify under the usual definition — that is, a project inserted into an appropriations bill by a member of Congress. The dude-ranch funding, for example, was not a request from the Wyoming congressional delegation but a line item in the White House’s 2006 National Park Service budget.
“What’s an earmark? If there’s a ship in there the administration wants, is that an earmark?” asked Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H. “The definition of how you get into this is going to be difficult.”
Read the whole thing.
And, finally, a look at Presidential vetoes of spending bills — not that we’ve seen many (by which I mean “any”) of those, lately.
WHO’S MORE FANATICAL — LEFT OR RIGHT? Responding to claims that Bush-loyalty is the ne plus ultra of the right, Marshall Wittman writes:
From his varied experience, the Moose questions whether this is true. The reality is that prominent conservatives have been critical of this President on a range of issues – the Weekly Standard has questioned Administration’s execution of the war, the National Review and the Heritage Foundation has been critical of the President’s big spending ways. And now, a range of libertarian conservatives have differed with the President on the NSA program.
Yes, there is an element of conservatism that attempts to apply a Lenninist discipline on ideological heterodoxy. In fact, the Moose was the target of their efforts. The Moose has enjoyed the distinct pleasure of being labeled both a Republican squish and a Rovian plant. But, based upon personal exposure to both sides of the political spectrum, this mammal can confidently observe that there is more tolerance for differences on the right side of the spectrum than on the left.
While Greenwald suggests that “loyalty” to Bush is the requirement for the right, the standard to to be a member in good standing of the liberal/left community is hatred of Bush. The Moose opposes most of the economic agenda of the Administration. However, he critically supports the President in the war on terror – including the NSA program. This has won the Moose the visceral opprobrium of the left. Because in the left wing universe, one must oppose everything the President supports. The truth is that a good part of the left believes that George W. Bush is a greater threat to America than Osama bin Laden.
I think that the part of the Left that feels that way is relatively small, but it has a disproportionate impact. Meanwhile, Megan McArdle has thoughts on moderation:
Now, again, perhaps I’m just insensitive to these things, but I haven’t found Ms Althouse to be an apologist for Bush. She clearly does not hate his policies as much as my more liberal commenters do. But of course, that would probably be why she voted for him. She, and Instapundit (who is also being singled out for opprobrium), have criticized the administration; it’s just that when they criticize the administration, it’s in a tone of “The Bush administration is doing something I don’t like”, rather than “The Great Satan is again unleashing the powers of Hell to destroy a Once Great Nation.” I haven’t noticed her, or Instapundit, criticising the administration’s conduct of the WOT, but–I’m going out on a limb here–maybe that’s because they generally agree with it, not because they’re “apologists” for the administration.
Well, I try to avoid the whole Great Satan thing even when I’m talking about the likes of Ted Rall — which I try to avoid doing anyway on the theory that they want to be talked about — but I do try for (with mixed success) moderate language; in particular, I try to avoid name-calling aimed at individuals.
Moderate language isn’t the same as moderation in ideas, of course. My ideas (I won’t speak for Ann Althouse) aren’t particularly moderate at all, at least on an opinion-poll basis. I mean, there’s nothing moderate in this: “Personally, I’d be delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons.” Then there’s the whole transhumanism thing. . . . I try to use moderate language in part because I disagree with pretty much everybody on something big. This has led to claims that I “lack fire.” (You want “fire” from a law professor?)
So why are things so polarized? Maybe it’s because even though we tend to look at radical Islam abroad, we’re in a different sort of religous war at home:
Not all leftwingers in the US are as frankly religious as Hillary Clinton, and many don’t even realise that the ideas that they champion have deep religious roots. But even for these people, being leftwing has itself become a sort of religion, with those who disagree viewed as sinister, almost demonic forces, rather than simply as individuals holding different views.
The language of righteousness and sin, if not that of redemption and grace, remains a hallmark of the purportedly secular left, though I find it no more attractive than the language of the religious right.
I don’t fit into the religious right or the religious left. But, in America, you don’t get to choose a major political party that does not have some sort of religious strain to it.
And it strikes me that one reason why politics in the US have become so much more bitter over the past couple of decades is that two rather different threads of religiosity have come to dominate the two major parties in distinct fashion, where each party had previously incorporated major components of both. This has turned political battles into quasi-religious ones.
Add to this mix the inevitable effect of Jane’s Law (“The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.”) and you’ve got a recipe for polarization. That’s unfortunate, because this is a time when we’d be a lot better off without the polarization and division that we’re seeing. I’m not sure what to do about it, though.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here. Sounds like I’m screwed no matter what happens. . . .
MARK STEYN ON HUGH HEWITT: Transcript and audio here.
BRAD SMITH has joined RedState.
BELLSOUTH’S BROKEN PROMISE: I’ve had trouble on the line since yesterday. I filled out their online repair form and got this answer:
Thank you for contacting us regarding your telephone service. A repair report has been generated to have your trouble cleared as soon as possible but no later than 2/16/06 by 7:00 PM. Please accept our apologies for your inconvenience. We appreciate your business. Thank you for choosing BellSouth.
It’s 7:01, and nobody’s called and nothing’s happened. I’ve had good luck with them in the past, but this is pretty lame.
MORE GOOGLE BACKLASH:
W Ketchup announced today that it has cancelled all advertising with Google, including both search engine ads and content network ads. The company took this step to protest Google’s agreement to help the Communist regime in China suppress liberty and free expression in that country.
That’s more backbone than the Bush Administration has shown on this issue. (Via Molten Thought).
THE BELMONT CLUB: “Three incidents embody, in their own ways, what the West values most of all. I’m just trying to figure out what it is.”
EUGENE VOLOKH has thoughts on censorship envy.
GATEWAY PUNDIT reports on a female reporter stoned for not wearing a headscarf at an Islamic protest.
JAMES TARANTO is defending Al Gore.
HIAWATHA BRAY sends this report from Capitol Hill:
I just got back from DC, where I covered the hearing on US Internet companies in China. Boy, those congressfolk don’t know how to cut it short! We were an hour 45 minutes into the hearing before the first witness uttered a sound. Pitiful. No WiFi in the hearing room either. All the livebloggers had to use Ethernet cable. I think it makes sense not to have wireless in government buildings, as a rule–too many security problems.
But I can’t see why they can’t hook up a router just for the occasional hearing and such.
I ended up filing my story from a nearby Starbucks. As I was finishing up, I noticed about six middle-aged, highly capable-looking men and women at a nearby table, poring over printed PowerPoint slides and various documents, tapping their Blackberries, and nattering on about the Centers for Disease Control and systems for tracking the health of the nation’s livestock. Sure enough, these guys were hard at work planning for a possible avian flu outbreak in the US. Right there, in the shadow of the Capitol, at a Starbucks.
You may laugh, but I felt proud. Stuff like this is one reason I love my country. We make fun of politicians and bureaucrats all the time; God knows I do. But a lot of these guys–probably most of them–work really hard, and think really hard and are trying desperately to keep the rest of us alive. Think about most governments throughout history–or even most governments in the world today. Political power often attracts the worst of the worst–gunsels, road agents and chiselers. We get our share here too. But I bet most of the people working for us are just like these guys. Plain good people, doing their best. I thank God I live in a country full of them. Even if they do spend too damn much of my money!
Indeed. My brother, who spends a lot more time in the third world than me, often makes this point. Despite complaints about our government, often justified ones, it works better than many. Of course, that’s partly because we complain, instead of responding with hopeless resignation.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: A secret appropriations committee meeting?
HAROLD FORD, JR. RUNS TO THE RIGHT:
Ford said he supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms, he is against partial birth abortion, he argues we have to stay in Iraq until we get the job done and he says he was encouraged on his most recent of four visits to the war zone. He wants to end pork barrel spending and balance the budget by making every department cut spending, and he wants to reform the tax code.
It was in the area of entitlements that Ford made his boldest statements. He says we need to notify people 40 and under right now that they won’t be getting Social Security until they are 70. Increased life expectancy is threatening the solvency of the program. He also favors means testing so that those making over $300,000 a year would not receive a Social Security check. He is opposed to private accounts.
Read the whole thing.
ALL CHENEY, ALL THE TIME: Arianna Huffington is darkly proclaiming a coverup (maybe by the criminal syndicate that runs America? maybe not), Steve Martin is making light, and Hugh Hewitt is interviewing Lawrence O’Donnell about O’Donnell’s, er, speculations.
It’s hard not to agree with this summary: “Veep coverage continues to tell us more about the folks producing it than about the Veep and the Administration.”
UPDATE: Well, yeah: “But it’s more or less an open secret in Washington that Mondale liked to make Ed Muskie ‘dance.’”
AUSTIN BAY looks at the U.S.’s new offensive against the Iranian mullahs.
PODCAST BUZZ: It’s a trend!
PAJAMAS MEDIA CORRESPONDENT Andrew Marcus interviews Rep. Peter Hoekstra about all those unread Iraqi WMD documents. Hoekstra suggests parceling them out to the blogosphere. Call in the Army of Davids!
It’ll be up on the PJ Media WMD Files site shortly, but you can see a QT version here if you don’t want to wait.
Here it is, in both QuickTime and WMV versions.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Investor’s Business Daily editorializes:
Members of Congress have developed the earmarking process into a fine art, skillfully asking for — and getting — dollars for specific local programs in their home states and districts without actually putting their names on the requests. Last year’s mountain of earmarks — 13,997 of them — cost taxpayers $27.3 billion, says Citizens Against Government Waste.
Rep. Tom Prince, a Republican from Georgia, has introduced a sensible bill that amends House rules so that members who ask for earmarks will have to attach their names to the requests. Across the way, Sen. John McCain has introduced the Pork-Barrel Reduction Act, which has a provision that also requires the identification of lawmakers who propose earmarks.
The remainder of the bill is an attempt to make it more difficult for Congress to slip through earmarks.
Forcing disclosure won’t end the problem of earmarks. Many in Congress strut and preen over their ability to bring home the pork. Shameless lawmakers such as Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, have never been shy about admitting they squeeze taxpayers across the country to pay for pet projects that they believe make them look good back home.
Porkbusters, a group at truthlaidbear.com that is dedicated to cutting the budget, has named these gentlemen Nos. 1 and 2 in the Pork Hall of Shame, but there’s little chance that it bothers them.
Ideally, earmarks should be eliminated entirely. They are not legitimate federal expenditures. There are real people out there paying high taxes for goodies that others will avail themselves to.
Indeed. (Via Newsbeat1).
UPDATE: Assistant Majority Leader John Shadegg?
WILL BLOGGING LOSE ITS AMATEUR QUALITY? My TCS Daily column is up!
UPDATE: LaShawn Barber has more thoughts. “His latest column at Tech Central Station is called ‘Blogging: Love or Money?’ Why the dichotomy? I blog for both!” She has some thoughts on profitable niche blogging, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts from Rand Simberg.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist talks about government preparations for avian flu, and bloggers interviewed on the fly talk about everything, all in the latest Glenn and Helen podcast. To listen, click right here, or you can subscribe via iTunes, which we like because it pushes us up on the charts — we’re Number 6 on the “talk radio” podcast charts at the moment. I don’t think we’re a threat to Howard Stern, though. (An archive of all our podcasts is here. For you dialup and cellphone listeners, a low-bandwidth archive is here.)
Anyway, in today’s show, Senator Bill Frist talks about the threat of avian flu, and new government programs to prepare for epidemics of all sorts. Interestingly, he endorses the Ray Kurzweil suggestion to take a “Manhattan Project” approach toward developing rapid-response technologies for dealing with contagious disease of both the natural or biowar variety. How ready are we right now? Not very.
Also, we roamed Bloggers’ Row at CPAC and interviewed a wide variety of bloggers, and a even a few non-bloggers we happened upon, including Little Miss Attila, Lashawn Barber, Joel Miller, Wonkette Emeritus Ana Marie Cox,, Sean Hackbarth of The American Mind, Chris Nolan, Condi for President fans Americans for Rice, and Muslims for Bush, soon to be renamed “Muslims for America.” (Come to think of it, Frist has a sort-of blog, too).
UPDATE: By the way, this is the digital recorder we used for the live interviews, with the accessory stereo condenser microphone.
And, as always, the InstaWife is asking for comments and suggestions.
IAN SCHWARTZ has video of Dick Cheney on Brit Hume’s show, talking about his shooting accident.
WMD FILES is a new PJ Media blog devoted the the new discussions regarding Saddams’s weapons of mass destruction.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT, this time at the University of Illinois.
POPULAR MECHANICS has been doing Katrina followup for months, and now they’re saying that recently obtained documents cast serious doubt on some of the findings of the House report. Excerpt:
We’ve given the report an initial read and found it riddled with poor logic, internal contradictions and exaggerations. . . .
For now, though, here’s a quick overview of what seems to be the report’s most troubling shortfall: consistently blaming individuals for failing to foresee circumstances that only became clear with the laser-sharp vision of hindsight.
For example, the report states:
“Fifty-six hours prior to landfall, Hurricane Katrina presented an extremely high probability threat that 75 percent of New Orleans would be flooded, tens of thousands of residents may be killed, hundreds of thousands trapped in flood waters up to 20 feet, hundreds of thousands of homes and other structures destroyed, a million people evacuated from their homes, and the greater New Orleans area would be rendered uninhabitable for several months or years.”
This statistic is referred to often, and refers to computer modeling of a direct Category 5 hurricane landfall in New Orleans. However, it’s also a distortion. According to the data the Committee itself examined, 56 hours prior to landfall, Katrina was a relatively weak Category 3 storm, heading west in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next few hours, it began its turn north, but where the storm was going to make landfall along the Gulf Coast was any weatherman’s bet (the average 48-hour margin of error is 160 miles). In fact, it was not until the next day, Saturday, that it became more of a certainty that the hurricane was heading toward New Orleans. Furthermore, hurricane forecasters and emergency managers tell PM that until about 24 hours before landfall, hurricanes are too unpredictable to warrant the sort of blanket evacuation orders the report describes.
And according to transcripts obtained by POPULAR MECHANICS of the Sunday, August 28, videoconference between FEMA, DHS, Gulf State authorities, the National Weather Service and the White House, as late as Sunday—only 24 hours before landfall—National Hurricane Center storm tracks predicted: “There will be minimal flooding in the city of New Orleans itself.” The death tolls listed in the congressional report presuppose: A) certainty that the storm would hit New Orleans directly, and B) certainty the storm would strengthen to a Category 4 or 5. Neither of these propositions was certain 56 hours prior to landfall. And, in fact, the hurricane was a Category 3 storm when it did hit.
The Committee report also criticizes the DHS and FEMA for not including the Department of Defense in their pre-storm and immediate post-storm planning. However, the same August 28 transcript shows that DoD was included from the beginning. In reality, despite organizational shortcomings, the rescue spearheaded by the National Guard and the Coast Guard turned out to be the largest and fastest in U.S. history, mobilizing nearly 100,000 responders within three days of the hurricane’s landfall. While each of the 1072 deaths in Louisiana was a tragedy, the worst-case scenario death toll would have been 60,000.
Read the whole thing, and stay tuned for more.
UPDATE: Brendan Loy isn’t impressed.
MICHAEL TOTTEN is photoblogging from Kurdistan.
SPACE ELEVATOR UPDATE: This is cool:
A slim cable for a space elevator has been built stretching a mile into the sky, enabling robots to scrabble some way up and down the line.
LiftPort Group, a private US company on a quest to build a space elevator by April 2018, stretched the strong carbon ribbon 1 mile (1.6 km) into the sky from the Arizona desert outside Phoenix in January tests, it announced on Monday.
The company’s lofty objective will sound familiar to followers of NASA’s Centennial Challenges programme. The desired outcome is a 62,000-mile (99,779 km) tether that robotic lifters – powered by laser beams from Earth – can climb, ferrying cargo, satellites and eventually people into space.
The recent test followed a September 2005 demonstration in which LiftPort’s robots climbed 300 metres of ribbon tethered to the Earth and pulled taut by a large balloon. This time around, the company tested an improved cable pulled aloft by three balloons.
I love it.
HOWARD KURTZ has a big Cheney roundup.
It’s possible to make fun of the press’s self-involvement here, and it’s hilarious to hear — as I did in the car on the way home just now — Hillary Clinton complaining about this Administration’s secretiveness, as if we’d forgotten the health care task force, the Rose Law Firm billing records, etc. But nonetheless, Cheney screwed up bigtime.
Anyone can have an accident, and absent, you know, actual facts there’s not much to say about the actual shooting (though as Kurtz notes, that hasn’t stopped some people from proposing theories as if they were fact). But they’ve played to everybody’s characterization of them, and it’s the classic political mistake of not responding quickly.
That said, it’s also a classic example of the press’s instinct for the capillary. This is getting Natalee Holloway level coverage, when there’s lots of more important stuff going on.
NEXT, THEY CAME FOR THE plastic clowns.
MICKEY KAUS offers message advice for the Democrats. Trouble is, I’m not sure “normalcy” is what the Democratic base wants.
MY VALENTINE’S EVENING: Spent the night with my 91-year-old grandmother, so my mother could watch my sister’s kids, so my sister could accompany my brother-in-law to Nashville for some medical tests. It’s familial love, not the romantic variety, but extended families are good.
I’d say Ann’s following that advice, as the robots are everywhere on her blog today — the above examples are just the beginning.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Ted Barlow is ready to put an ad program on the block. “I really hope that there’s some teacher, somewhere, getting some use out of Energy Ant.”
MARK GLASER offers a guide to podcast directories.
CANADIAN POLITICO Warren Kinsella is suing a blogger for libel.
As the old joke has it, I think he’s liable to regret doing so.
JOSHUA SHARF REVIEWS An Army of Davids.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: I blame — well, okay, not John Ashcroft this time.
G.M. ROPER: “Cancer, me, and the blogosphere.” It’s good news.
PAUL HACKETT has dropped out of the Ohio Senate race. He calls the Democratic party’s effort to get him out a “betrayal.”
MICHAEL TOTTEN reports from Iraq.
PERHAPS BUSH SHOULD DEFEND HIS WIRETAPPING PROGRAM as an effort to be more European: “The fact is that in much of Europe wiretapping is de rigueur—practiced more regularly and with less oversight than in the United States. Most Europeans either don’t know about this or, more likely, simply don’t care.”
HERE’S A QUAGMIRE DECLARATION that seems about right to me.
A HALF MILLION LEBANESE rally on the anniversary of Hariri’s murder: No embassies were burned.
DAVID BERNSTEIN HAS MORE on the ABA and affirmative action.
IN THE MAIL: Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology : Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Steven Savile and Alethea Kontis. Looks pretty good, with contributions by Larry Niven, Brian Aldiss, Joe Haldeman, and many more, and an introduction by Arthur C. Clarke.
MICHAEL BARONE looks at the politics of negation.