Archive for March, 2007

March 31, 2007

BOBBY JINDAL saves Louisiana?

March 31, 2007

SOCKS, SCISSORS, PAPER: More on the Sandy Berger story. “Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., is charging a cover-up by the Justice Department in connection with the 2003 theft and destruction of top secret documents by Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.”

March 31, 2007

MICKEY KAUS: “Do Times reporters talk only to the interest group that hands them the study? [At least they weren't having sex--ed Yes, then they might be biased!]“

March 31, 2007

IT’S CORN AND MINITER AGAIN — only this time without Miniter, who’s in Turkey, and is replaced by Eli Lake. Still, it’s better than Hardball!

March 31, 2007

FREE GRANNY DUNHAM? Or just leave her alone? I’d go with number two.

March 31, 2007

A U.S. / CHINA tariff war?

March 31, 2007

I LIKE BIG KNOBS: They’ve put my next column online early, and it’s about the superiority of traditional tactile user interfaces — like knobs and dials — over modern systems using nested menus and lots of tiny buttons. (Yes, I’ve ranted on this topic before, but the designers don’t seem to have caught on.)

This also produced an interesting discussion on Slashdot, with most discussants seeming to agree with my position. I especially liked this observation. It certainly rings true in my experience.

UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun thinks there’s something funny about the intro to this post, but I don’t see what’s funny about Mackie controllers.

March 31, 2007

SCOTT ADAMS: What’s your “permanent age”? I think I’m 32.

Of course, from some people it’s always fifth grade.

March 31, 2007

POLITICAL PROFILING AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT? Or statistical illiteracy on the part of those making the claim?

March 31, 2007

1000 WORDS: Part of it’s the pixelation, but it looks a bit like a romantic painting.

March 31, 2007

COOKWARE UPDATE: Yesterday’s nonstick post led to numerous reader emails recommending seasoned cast iron as durable nonstick cookware. Typical was this one from reader Craig Forrest, who’s a big fan of Lodge Logic cookware — hey, it’s made in Tennessee, so I can’t complain — and writes:

If you want good, long-lasting nonstick cookware, you can’t beat traditional cast-iron cookware. Cheaper than modern non-stick stuff, and you can’t make anything stick to it once it is fully seasoned.

Lodge is what I buy: http://www.lodgemfg.com

You can usually get it cheap at Wal-Mart or on Amazon; I recently purchased my wife this 7-quart enamel Dutch Oven that is beautiful as well as easy to clean.

That’s good stuff, and I had a nice Lodge Logic skillet for a while. It was cheap, and nonstick. However, a few trips through the dishwasher — and as I’ve mentioned before, in my house everything winds up in the dishwasher eventually, despite my best efforts — and it wasn’t seasoned anymore. Others who have more control over their kitchens may want to give the cast-iron stuff a try. It’s cheap, and good.

March 31, 2007

MORE CELEBRITY GLOBAL WARMING HYPOCRISY:

His serious aviation habit means he is hardly the best person to lecture others on the environment. But John Travolta went ahead and did it anyway.

The 53-year-old actor, a passionate pilot, encouraged his fans to “do their bit” to tackle global warming. . . .

Clocking up at least 30,000 flying miles in the past 12 months means he has produced an estimated 800 tons of carbon emissions – nearly 100 times the average Briton’s tally.

Travolta made his comments this week at the British premiere of his movie, Wild Hogs.

He spoke of the importance of helping the environment by using “alternative methods of fuel” – after driving down the red carpet on a Harley Davidson. . . . Travolta’s five private planes – a customised £2million Boeing 707, three Gulfstream jets and a Lear jet – are kept at the bottom of his garden in the US next to a private runway.

Don’t miss the accompanying photo.

March 31, 2007

A WHIFF OF GUNPOWDER: Roll Call has an article on gun lobbying. It’s subscription only, but here’s a key bit:

Any lingering doubt about the gun lobby’s continued juice under Democratic rule was laid to rest Thursday. House Republicans, maneuvering to derail a bill to grant Congressional voting rights to the District of Columbia, inserted a provision in their alternative measure that would dramatically scale back the city’s gun restrictions.

But nervous that conservative members of their Caucus who favor gun rights could switch sides and hand the Republicans a victory, House Democratic leaders pulled the bill from consideration — and Republicans gloated. “Fearing that many in their party would support Second Amendment rights for District residents, the Democratic Leadership shamefully exploited a rule to kill debate and postpone the vote indefinitely,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

Though the NRA has pushed in the past to roll back the district’s gun restrictions, Cox said his group had no hand in the effort on the voting rights bill. Nevertheless, he said its fate testifies to the potency of the issue. “What you’ve seen is the political reality that the Second Amendment is a major political force, not only on Election Day, but throughout the legislative process,” he said.

It certainly seems that way. I wonder how Jim Webb would have voted? Would he vote differently today than last week?

UPDATE: Michael Geisler, who doesn’t understand the conditional, writes: “Have you figured out yet that Senators can’t vote on House measures you dumbass, you?”

Would have. Not did. Got it?

ANOTHER UPDATE: XRLQ emails: “Has Michael Geisler figured out yet that Senators *can* vote on bills that originate in the House, and in fact must do so before said bills can reach the President’s desk for signature, he dumbass, he?”

Apparently not. Par for the course from my critics, alas.

March 31, 2007

IN BAGHDAD, OMAR FADHIL’S HOUSE IS SEARCHED. The soldiers see the laptops and digital cameras and one observes:

These are bloggers, dude; cover your face if you don’t want to be seen nude on the internet tomorrow!

Heh. He did get a photo.

March 31, 2007

THE CARNIVAL OF CARS IS UP: And yes, I’ve been irretrievably lame on carnivals lately. But there’s always BlogCarnival.com, and the list of highlights over in my right sidebar. Click here and look right.

March 31, 2007

IS A RECESSION ON THE WAY? James Pethokoukis says not if consumers can help it:

And indeed, real consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in foul February. Even a so-so March, JPMorgan added, “would imply a 3.6 percent pace for the quarter. There now appears significant upside risk to our 3 percent consumer spending forecast for the quarter.” As it is, real consumer spending has increased at a 3.7 percent annual clip the past three months.

So there you go. Americans are working, getting paid good dough, and spending it. (The big surge in government tax revenues is another sign that there is plenty of juice out there.) That points to an economy that will continue to expand–2006 fourth-quarter gross domestic product was just revised up to 2.5 percent from 2.2 percent–going forward.

Oh, and this just in: The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index posted its largest one-month movement ever in March, rising to 61.7 from 47.9, thanks to big jumps in new orders, production, and backlogs.

That means that it’s time for economists and pundits to go back to worrying about inflation!

March 31, 2007

IF FRED THOMPSON RUNS, will that knock his episodes of Law and Order off TV? Jonathan Adler looks at the question.

March 31, 2007

THE DIANNE FEINSTEIN SCANDAL: The San Francisco Chronicle is reportedly investigating.

March 30, 2007

SELECTIVE REPORTING ON PORK?

March 30, 2007

ALAS, YES:

African leaders often point fingers at the West for “not doing enough.” But last week’s meeting of the Southern African Development Community shows why sensible wealthy nations are reluctant to give aid.

For at that meeting, some of Africa’s so-called leaders disgraced themselves by endorsing the brutal, murderous regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s 27 years of misrule have taken a country that was once prosperous — the breadbasket of Africa, it was called — and turned it into a poverty-stricken hellhole rife with famine, genocide and terror, and lacking rule of law.

Indeed.

March 30, 2007

THE .XXX TOP LEVEL DOMAIN gets rejected again.

March 30, 2007

AT POPULAR MECHANICS, a response to Rosie O’Donnell.

UPDATE: More on Rosie O’Donnell, here.

March 30, 2007

FIGHT THE POWER! By subverting American Idol?

I mean, sure, Ann Althouse will be pissed, but . . . .

March 30, 2007

RAND SIMBERG WRITES ON DIY ROCKET SCIENCE, for Popular Mechanics. (Via, er, Rand Simberg.)

March 30, 2007

LIGHTBULB-BLOGGING, from Eric Scheie. He likes his compact fluorescents.

March 30, 2007

MORE BUZZ on a Fred Thompson candidacy.

March 30, 2007

DOCTOR WHO MEETS THE BEATLES (Via BoingBoing).

March 30, 2007

EUGENE VOLOKH LOOKS AT overheated judicial rhetoric. It doesn’t produce great confidence in the judiciary.

March 30, 2007

THIS SOUNDS LIKE GOOD NEWS: Taliban flee Afghan-led NATO offensive:

Complete success is being claimed for the largest Afghan-led operation yet against the Taliban.

Afghan army forces and police have now purged the Nad Ali district of Helmand of 400 Taliban fighters, following a series of chaotic battles.

Allied commanders estimated 70 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting, while many others fled or gave up their weapons.

Locals said that the dead included at least one senior commander, Mullah Abdul Bary.

“Of course there are some Taliban left in here, but they have dropped their weapons and they are hiding,” said Colonel Rasoul, the commander of the 3rd Kandak, the best regular army unit in the fledgling Afghan security forces.

I hope the news stays good.

March 30, 2007

DER SPIEGEL:

The Germans have believed in many things in the course of their recent history. They’ve believed in colonies in Africa and in the Kaiser. They even believed in the Kaiser when he told them that there would be no more political parties, only soldiers on the front.

Not too long afterwards, they believed that Jews should be placed into ghettos and concentration camps because they were the enemies of the people. Then they believed in the autobahn and that the Third Reich would ultimately be victorious. A few years later, they believed in the Deutsche mark. They believed that the Berlin Wall would be there forever and that their pensions were safe. They believed in recycling as well as in cheap jet travel. They even believed in a German victory at the soccer World Cup.

Now they believe that the United States is a greater threat to world peace than Iran. This was the by-no-means-surprising result of a Forsa opinion poll commissioned by Stern magazine. Young Germans in particular — 57 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, to be precise — said they considered the United States more dangerous than the religious regime in Iran.

The German political establishment, which will no doubt loudly lament the result of the poll, is largely responsible for this wave of anti-Americanism. For years the country’s foreign ministers fed the Germans the fairy tale of what they called a “critical dialogue” between Europe and Iran. It went something like this: If we are nice to the ayatollahs, cuddle up to them a bit and occasionally wag our fingers at them when they’ve been naughty, they’ll stop condemning their women to death for “unchaste behavior” and they’ll stop building the atom bomb.

That plan failed at some point — an outcome, incidentally, that Washington had long anticipated. Iran continues to work away unhindered on its nuclear program, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reacts to UN demands with an ostentatious show of ignorance. The UN gets upset and drafts a resolution.

Read the whole thing, which also has some interesting thoughts on German anti-Americanism and its dangers.

March 30, 2007

DIVINE: My not so subtle begging did the trick, as a big box of chocolate-covered cherries showed up in the mail today. They’re beautiful — and delicious!

March 30, 2007

MARINES UNFAZED BY CHLORINE GAS. Bill Ardolino reports.

UPDATE: John Weidner has some perspective.

March 30, 2007

A BLOGGING FIRST: Captain Ed is liveblogging his wife’s kidney transplant. Send your prayers and best wishes.

March 30, 2007

WE HAVEN’T HEARD MUCH OF THIS, but finally someone is complaining that the Iranians are violating international law by parading prisoners on TV.

International law is rapidly becoming a joke because of double standards. And, as noted, because of its enforcement problem. At a guess, we’re likely heading toward a regime of strict reciprocity, as that’s all that can work in such a degraded environment.

UPDATE: A few emailers are suggesting that there’s some sort of contradiction here in my pointing this out, as if I’d never discussed the Geneva Conventions before. But, of course, the point is the double standard: the Geneva Conventions never seem to do our guys any good. Our enemies don’t obey them, and our critics use them — even when they don’t apply — as a way to call American troops and their friends torturers and war criminals. That’s what I meant by “degraded environment,” which aptly describes the political and intellectual environment in which such critics operate. As I’ve observed in the past, we don’t operate in an environment of reciprocity now. As Professor Kenneth Anderson has noted, the Geneva Conventions tend to serve more as a source of urban legends for anti-American and anti-Bush writers who often don’t even know, or care, what the Conventions say.

March 30, 2007

A LOOK AT YOUR IMMINENT ROBOTIC FUTURE, from Daniel Wilson. Upside: Less dog poo!

March 30, 2007

ANDY BOWERS, ET AL., review Rudy Giuliani’s first campaign ad.

March 30, 2007

COOKWARE UPDATE: I mentioned this nonstick pan that’s cheap and allegedly metal-utensil safe a while back. Months later, it remains unscratched despite the Insta-Wife’s regular use. That’s pretty much a miracle, so I thought I’d note it.

March 30, 2007

HEH: A look at the RIAA’s lawsuit decision matrix.

March 30, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE:

The federal agency that tracked pork-barrel spending during the 12 years of the Republican congressional majority has discontinued the practice since Democrats took power, riling lawmakers suspicious of the timing and concerned about the pace of fat being added to bills.

“To me, something doesn’t smell right,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. “I just hope no one is pressuring” the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

While not blaming the Democratic leadership, Mr. DeMint added: “I guess if you’re looking for a motive, you’d have to look in that direction.”

CRS, a nonpartisan agency of the Library of Congress created to conduct research for members of Congress on legislative issues, changed its policy in February — a month after Democrats took control of the Congress and vowed to curb the number of special-interest projects inserted into spending bills or even reports that don’t require a vote.

Seems pretty fishy to me, and I wonder why it’s not getting more attention.

March 30, 2007

MORE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS, from Jules Crittenden.

March 30, 2007

A ROSIE O’DONNELL MELTDOWN: “I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the video against which all future Rosie clips will be compared.”

March 30, 2007

CRITICISM OF KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON’S BILL to repeal the D.C. gun ban.

March 30, 2007

THE LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA NEWSPAPER ASKS: “Tell us, Sen. Webb, do you pack heat on the floor?”

Would a “yes” really hurt him with voters? I doubt it . . . .

March 30, 2007

JOHN TAMMES ROUNDS UP more news from Afghanistan that you may have missed.

March 30, 2007

“PRISSY AND PURITANICAL.” Best line in the comments: “If they were only drunks, at least a few of them would become more pleasant.”

March 30, 2007

IF THIS IS TRUE, IS THE BLOGOSPHERE DOOMED? “Nobody wants to read a fisk of a fisk, I assume.”

March 30, 2007

MICHAEL TOTTEN MEETS UP with Iran’s revolutionary liberals.

March 30, 2007

JAMES JOYNER: “Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies* has announced the results of a telephone survey conducted for the Republican National Committee of 800 registered voters from March 25-27, 2007. They found a majority opposed to the provisions of the Iraq War Supplemental Spending bill that just passed both Houses of Congress but faces an almost certain veto by President Bush.”

March 30, 2007

AUSTIN BAY ON IRAN’S KEYSTONE KOPS MOMENT: “Iran initially gave coordinates (the correct coordinates) that placed the action in Iraqi waters. Iran later provided new coordinates, conveniently inside Iranian territory.”

March 30, 2007

IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL . . . er, until the long haul actually, you know, happens. Here’s what Chuck Hagel and Joe Biden said in 2002:

Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein’s, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after — or, more accurately, the decade after — Saddam Hussein.

Once he is gone, expectations are high that coalition forces will remain in large numbers to stabilize Iraq and support a civilian administration. That presence will be necessary for several years, given the vacuum there, which a divided Iraqi opposition will have trouble filling and which some new Iraqi military strongman must not fill.

So, it was a project for a decade then. But now it’s cut-and-run. (Via The Corner).

March 30, 2007

FRENCH LITERATURE ON liberty and the right to arms.

March 30, 2007

RICHARD MINITER IS IN TURKEY, and reporting on the Turks, Iraq, and the PKK.

March 30, 2007

MICKEY KAUS ON GERRYMANDER REFORM: “Two-thirds of California “likely voters” support a plan to turn over redistricting to “an independent commission of citizens.” That seems to be slightly higher than previous polls. [Via Bill Bradley's New West Notes]. We’ll see if Bill Clinton moneybuddy Stephen Bing and Nancy Pelosi can find a way to block reform this time.”

March 30, 2007

THOUGHTS ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT, from Jonah Goldberg:

Of course, there has always been a minority of liberals who’ve shown a willingness to admit, often reluctantly, that the Constitution can approve of something they disapprove of. Liberal journalist Michael Kinsley famously quoted a colleague as saying, “If liberals interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the rest of the Bill of Rights, there would be law professors arguing that gun ownership is mandatory.” And in 1989, Sanford Levinson penned a Yale Law Review article tellingly titled “The Embarrassing Second Amendment.”

Such honesty has proved contagious. As Brookings Institution scholar Benjamin Wittes chronicles in the current edition of The New Republic, various liberal legal scholars have come to grudgingly accept that the Second Amendment’s meaning and intent include the individual right to own a gun. “(T)he amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification,” writes no less than the dean of liberal legal scholars, Laurence Tribe. Tribe had to update his textbook on the Constitution to account for the growing consensus that — horror! — Americans do have a constitutional right to own a gun. It’s not an absolute right, of course. But no right is.

Read the whole thing. And law professors arguing for mandatory gun ownership? Don’t be ridiculous!

March 30, 2007

SATURN’S HEXAGON:

The best theory I’ve come up with so far, after brushing up on von Daniken’s “Chariots of the Gods,” is that it’s the Hex Nut of the Giants, affixed to the end of a massive bolt that’s holding the planet together. I haven’t worked out yet how a race of titanic engineers managed to insert the bolt at Saturn’s south pole. Nor have I identified the location of their hardware store, but we need to start looking for it right away, because NASA’s video shows that it’s swirling counterclockwise dangerously near what looks to me like the end of the bolt. If this thing keeps unscrewing . . . .

I think it’s the walls of an alien base.

March 30, 2007

CHARLIE ROSE ON the science of longevity.

March 30, 2007

MAKING YOUR HOME RELATIONSHIP-READY: Though the barber chair sounds kind of cool.

March 30, 2007

HARVESTING ALGAE ENERGY for pond-powered biofuels:

The science is simple: Algae need water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow. The oil they produce can then be harvested and converted into biodiesel; the algae’s carbohydrate content can be fermented into ethanol. Both are much cleaner-burning fuels than petroleum-based diesel or gas.

The reality is more complex. Trying to grow concentrations of the finicky organism is a bit like trying to balance the water in a fish tank. It’s also expensive. The water needs to be just the right temperature for algae to proliferate, and even then open ponds can become choked with invasive species. Atmospheric levels of CO2 also aren’t high enough to spur exponential growth.

Solix addresses these problems by containing the algae in closed “photobioreactors”—triangular chambers made from sheets of polyethylene plastic (similar to a painter’s dropcloth)—and bubbling supplemental carbon dioxide through the system. Eventually, the source of the CO2 will be exhaust from power plants and other industrial processes, providing the added benefit of capturing a potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere.

Read the whole thing.

March 29, 2007

OXBLOG: Our conference call with McCain. Who knew that “hot lesbians” would come up?

March 29, 2007

A MORMON CONSPIRACY SO VAST — revealed!

March 29, 2007

JOURNALISTS ON THE JOB: “Questionable claim unquestioned.”

March 29, 2007

“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED to ‘name, rank, and serial number?’”

“International law” is only a tool to bash the United States and its allies. It’s not meant to actually protect people. Except the enemies of civilization. Just ask the folks in Darfur.

March 29, 2007

OKAY, I’VE NEVER ACTUALLY SEEN BEDTIME FOR BONZO, but David Boaz says it’s better than advertised: “I wonder how many liberal journalists have ever watched Bedtime for Bonzo. It’s actually quite funny to see Reagan as a young liberal college professor trying to prove the ‘nurture’ side of the nature-vs.-nurture and saying that there are no bad kids, just bad environments.”

Maybe I should order it! (Via Jesse Walker).

March 29, 2007

A.C. KLEINHEIDER: “I grew up in New Jersey and I will tell you right now, there is nothing, and I mean nothing worse than toll roads. There are reasons that people migrate down South from the Yankee north. I am sure no one has ever moved out the North explicitly because of toll roads but they are a symptom of a greater disease.”

When I lived in Connecticut, an anti-toll group noted that the toll revenue barely sufficed to pay for the toll collections. The response: “It produces jobs!” It’s like Bastiat’s “negative railway” without the humor.

March 29, 2007

BIPARTISAN RECOGNITION OF D.C. GUN-LAW STUPIDITY: Democrat Taylor Marsh writes; “The incident surrounding Senator James Webb not only became a one-liner in Bush’s stand up last night, but it has been illuminating. The D.C. gun laws, one of which was recently overturned by the Court of Appeals after 30 years on the books, sound like the most ridiculous set of laws ever to be enacted. I mean really, you can bring an unloaded gun into the Capitol but you can’t travel through the D.C. streets with that same gun on the way to the Capitol?

UPDATE: Guns and Poses.

March 29, 2007

SMEARS AGAINST IRAQ THE MODEL: And this response.

Is there any enemy of America that the left won’t side with? Or any friend that the left won’t oppose? No.

March 29, 2007

OVER AT OPINIO JURIS, an interesting online symposium on challenges to public international law.

One challenge, it seems to me, is the prevalence of double standards.

UPDATE: Ouch: “If the standards are not consistent, it is simply not a regime of law, is it? It is a fig leaf for something completely different and, inevitably, something far less benign.”

March 29, 2007

ANOTHER MODEST STEP FORWARD FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: Texas’ governor Rick Perry has signed the “no retreat” law.

March 29, 2007

PROTECTING THE READERS FROM FACTS THEY DON’T NEED: At the L.A. Times, where readers can always count on that kind of protection!

March 29, 2007

AL GORE as Clarence Darrow? It’s not an analogy that I would have thought of.

March 29, 2007

I DON’T THINK THIS PHENOMENON IS CENTERED IN WASHINGTON, THOUGH: Human evolution is accelerating.

March 29, 2007

PORK WINS, troops lose.

March 29, 2007

THE GENEVA CONVENIENCE: Seldom has the double standard been so clearly illustrated.

March 29, 2007

GOOD: “Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act of 2007, a bill to restore Second Amendment rights in Washington, D.C.”

I wonder if Jim Webb will cosponsor.

March 29, 2007

DIANNE FEINSTEIN blazes a trail for women.

March 29, 2007

WHEN ANTIBIOTICS DON’T WORK: This sounds promising. Let’s hope it pans out.

UPDATE: Link was bad before. Works now. Sorry!

March 29, 2007

“LIKE WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT:” An appropriate motto for the National Sarcasm Society.

I actually hear it in the voice of SpongeBob’s “Squidward,” but that’s probably just me.

March 29, 2007

THE JIM WEBB / PHILLIP THOMPSON GUN ARREST STORY has had the salutary effect of bringing more attention to the District of Columbia’s silly gun laws. The Washington Post headlines its story this way: You Can Bring Gun to Capitol, But Not Through D.C. and observes:

The arrest this week of Phillip Thompson, an aide to Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) who carried a loaded pistol into a Senate office building, brought to light a contradiction between the regulations governing the Capitol grounds and the laws covering District streets.

The Capitol grounds are federal property and not subject to the District’s strict gun laws, which generally prohibit firearms.

Although some people are allowed to bring guns into the Capitol, they cannot legally get them there, said Lt. Jon Shelton, the longtime head of the D.C. police department’s gun unit.

“They can’t helicopter them in,” Shelton said.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said he would advise lawmakers to “abide by D.C. laws” when not on Capitol grounds. He said members of Congress who want guns at the Capitol should ask police to transport the weapons for them.

Jeez. Though it seems to me that this may violate the right-to-travel provisions of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. I’m not an expert here, but I doubt that the D.C. police are, either.

Meanwhile, Timothy Noah, in Slate, parses Webb’s statements and observes:

To one of the reporters present, this sounded as though Webb were saying not only that he carried a gun with him when he was in Virginia, where it’s legal, but also that he carried a gun with him when he was in D.C., where it’s not. (D.C.’s handgun ban was recently struck down by the D.C. Court of Appeals, but it remains in force while the city government seeks a review by the full D.C. Circuit.) The reporter therefore asked, “Do you, senator, feel that you are above Washington, D.C.’s gun law?” Webb replied: “I’m not going to comment in any level in terms of how I provide for my own security.” Webb then reaffirmed his belief in the Second Amendment; said he couldn’t comment on any aspect of Thompson’s case; denied, bafflingly, that he ever gave the weapon to Thompson (Did that mean he gave it to another aide who in turn gave it to Thompson?); and stated, most bafflingly of all, “I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex.” Was Webb saying he’s carried a gun elsewhere in the District of Columbia? His office won’t answer that question.

Webb’s silence increases the suspicion that he either has broken or continues to break the D.C. law, more or less daring the local authorities to do anything about it. That could be posturing; as Dana Milbank points out in the March 28 Washington Post, nobody ever lost a vote in the state of Virginia by thumbing his nose at gun control. Legally, though, Webb’s evasiveness constitutes probable cause, entitling the next D.C. cop Webb encounters within city limits (but outside the Capitol) to frisk him. That’s probably the last thing D.C.’s new mayor, Adrian Fenty, and his new chief of police, Cathy Lanier, would like to see happen. I therefore recommend that Fenty or Lanier phone Webb and ask the senator straight out whether he intends in the future to obey D.C.’s gun laws. (Figuring out whether Webb has broken these laws in the past is the job of Thompson’s prosecutors.) If Webb answers anything other than “yes,” then Lanier should dispatch a police officer to frisk Webb at the senator’s next public appearance outside the Capitol. If Webb is carrying a handgun, that police officer should arrest him. Sounds absurd, I know. But how can the D.C. government do otherwise while on a daily basis it arrests less-well-dressed young black men for the very same offense?

There’s a solution to these absurdities — adopt a sensible gun law in Washington, D.C. The laws of neighboring Virginia — or, heck, Tennessee — would provide a good model. That would make it easy and legal for law-abiding citizens to carry guns, without having to rely on the political clout of being a U.S. Senator to avoid police harassment. After all, reliance on that sort of clout isn’t very populist.

Webb has said he’s for liberal laws on gun carriage, and, I believe, for national reciprocity laws that would make states recognize one another’s carry permits. So let’s see less talk about legislation on the subject and more action. Then we won’t have to worry about this sort of thing happening again.

On a humorous note, elsewhere in Slate Webb’s comments are parsed differently: “Coincidentally, in the new film Shooter, Ned Beatty plays a U.S. senator who says, ‘I don’t carry a gun,’ and then pulls out a Beretta 92.”

UPDATE: The gunnies weigh in! First, a humorous comment from reader George Lukes:

Ned Beatty’s character spoke the truth. He wasn’t carrying a gun, only a poorly designed gun wannabe, the Beretta 92.

Ouch! There are people who like ‘em, but I’d prefer a Sig, a Glock, or a model 1911 .45. Still, it’s a gun, sort of. And reader Michael Seifert writes:

Some observations I have not seen elsewhere.

1. Isn’t part of this story irresponsibility? As a former Boy Scout Marksman, I was drilled on not only the proper shooting of a firearm, but it’s handling, transportation and storage. A loaded handgun has only two places to be. On your person under immediate control, or in a locked case. Some would argue the locked case should never contain a loaded weapon. Carrying a loaded weapon in a shopping bag, backpack or briefcase is, to me, the height of irresponsibility on the part of the owner. Once Jim Webb surrendered his personal control of the weapon, it should have been secured AND unloaded. I would like to hear him explain that!

2. Congress members are free from arrest going to and from legislative business. Combine that with the 2nd amendment and I think the DC police would not be well advised to try to enforce what looks like a shaky law.

But the part that bugs me the most is the lack of gun owner’s responsibility.

That may be a little strong, but this was not good practice. If Webb’s too busy and distracted to take care of his gun — not implausible for a Senator — then he shouldn’t carry one. This is why busy, distracted people who can afford them hire bodyguards. Even if you possess all the skills to defend yourself, if you can’t properly implement them in your daily life you’re better off recognizing that fact. On the other hand anyone — even professional bodyguards, like the one working for Edward Kennedy who got caught with an illegal submachine gun in the Capitol — can suffer a lapse of attention.

As for the immunity claim, I don’t think it works, as the privilege against arrest extends to all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace. Illegal guns are a felony in the District; I’m not sure, but I think that illegally carrying a gun may qualify as a breach of the peace. I wouldn’t advise Webb to rely on that, anyway . . . .

And it’s not necessarily bad news for Webb on the political front. As Dave Hardy observes: “I thought Webb showed great potential for becoming the Right Sort of Democrat, and this tends to confirm it.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shakey Pete wonders who the gun belongs to.

March 29, 2007

SLUMS RULED BY MILITIAS: It’s a quagmire! Pull out!

Oh, wait, it’s in Rio de Janeiro. As someone with family in Nigeria, it’s been clear to me that some — not all — of Iraq’s problems are unfortunately typical of third world countries with weak social contracts, and will likely persist regardless of how the war goes. That’s not to say that Baghdad is no worse than, say, Lagos — but in Lagos, armed criminal gangs, kidnappings, murder, etc. are shockingly common and uncontrolled. And in Nigeria’s Delta region there’s basically guerrilla war over oil already. Sadly, Iraq probably already has a better government and military than Nigeria, so that if the insurgency ended tomorrow Baghdad would probably be better than Lagos. Heck, it might be as good as Rio. But it wouldn’t be as good as even a badly-governed, gang-infested, crime-ridden American city like, say, Washington, DC.

Via The Belmont Club, which observes: “One way to recognize a failing state is to examine the extent to which its cities are subdividing into gated communities. “

March 29, 2007

HOUSE REPUBLICANS FINALLY UNITE AGAINST SPENDING: Well, the Democratic congress has already accomplished something that the Republican Congress couldn’t manage . . . .

March 29, 2007

JENNIFER RUBIN LOOKS AT PARKER V. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, the case in which the D.C. Circuit struck D.C.’s gun ban. She puts it in the context of a bigger picture:

Peter Ferrara of the ACRU takes a more philosophical and historical view of the potential long-range implications of the case. He remarks that if Parker is upheld by the Supreme Court, it will “be a big shot in the arm for conservatives” and will demonstrate that “we have had an impact on the courts and on changing the judiciary.” He notes that the effort to achieve recognition of an individual right of gun ownership has been an undertaking of more than fifty years of research, scholarship, and support for conservative judges. He explains that what was once considered a “radical” position — recognition of an individual right to gun ownership — has now attracted support even from liberal scholars like Laurence Tribe and has been accepted by a prominent federal appeals court. Ferrara says that conservatives should remember that these jurisprudential efforts are “not short term fights.” As for the impact on 2008, he reminds conservatives that “this is no time to be discouraged” with at least two justices who could be potentially replaced by the next president.

These battles are long-term affairs. When I teach Brown v. Board of Education, I always stress to my students the lengthy run-up to that case, in which Charles Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and other NAACP attorneys laid the ground for the ultimate win. As the gay-rights lawyers learned in Bowers v. Hardwick, trying to rush this process tends not to work.

March 29, 2007

I’VE WONDERED ABOUT THIS KIND OF THING MYSELF: “Does Iran have a network of sleeper cells inside the United States that could strike us if we bomb their nuclear facilities?”

March 29, 2007

INDEED: “Why have so many journalists been saying that Faye (Topsy) Turney ‘admitted’ the British sailors trespassed into Iranian waters? That implies that it’s true, but she’s obviously under duress. She said it. That’s all.”

March 29, 2007

REDSTATE IS SENDING TWO BLOGGERS TO IRAQ, and wants your help in funding the trip.

March 29, 2007

MORE ON BUDGET POLITICS, from the D.C. Examiner:

Something else Democrats should be more upfront about is the 30 “reserve funds” in the draft 2008 budget. A reserve fund is a sort of legislative hidden-ball trick that authorizes Congress to spend additional billions on favored programs so long as either spending elsewhere in the government is reduced or taxes are increased by an equivalent amount. For example, Section 306 of the draft 2008 budget includes a reserve fund worth an additional $15 billion in farm aid. But does anybody seriously think Congress will reduce spending somewhere else by $15 billion? Whoops, here comes another tax hike!

As we’ve asked before and will no doubt ask again, why can’t Washington politicians just tell us the truth?

Er, because if people knew what they were really doing, they’d be tarred and feathered? Just a guess . . . .

March 29, 2007

HOWARD KURTZ:

For months, Barack Obama got the kind of glowing media coverage that most candidates could only fantasize about.

But now that he’s a full-fledged presidential candidate, he’s starting to get nicked a bit. This was utterly predictable, and is part of the process. You don’t get to be a party’s nominee without an intensive media audit, especially if you haven’t been a national figure who has been vetted in the past.

As he notes, however, some lefty bloggers are squealing, though rather unpersuasively. I like Obama (and I remember a delightful email exchange with his campaign manager back when he was running against Alan Keyes) but his record is pretty thin, and you can expect people to look at him as closely as they can — in part because of all the hype. And that’s good. If he has any big problems, they’re sure to come out before the election. Better for the Democrats if they come out now, rather than in October of 2008.

March 29, 2007

AUSTIN BAY ON IRAN’S LATEST HOSTAGE GAMBLE: If Jimmy Carter had responded firmly to the first one, we would be facing a lot less misbehavior from Iran today.

Still, Bay observes: “But this latest hostage-taking incident smacks of desperation, not revolutionary fervor.”

March 29, 2007

MISSING IN ACTION: The “human rights community.”

Their outrage seems to be reserved for situations that benefit the enemies of civilization.

March 29, 2007

“MCCAIN STANDS IN THE GAP:” I’ve noticed a lot of people who haven’t been huge McCain fans taking a shine to him because of his strong stand on Iraq.

March 29, 2007

APPARENTLY, BLOGGER STILL SUCKS: The Insta-Wife is in the next room cursing, as Blogger just ate a post she’d put a couple of hours’ work into. Why doesn’t it have the auto-save feature that Gmail has?

March 28, 2007

ANOTHER REASON TO LIKE FRED THOMPSON: James Dobson doesn’t like him.

UPDATE: “I’m willing to overlook that.”

March 28, 2007

TAKING ON “AMERICAPHOBIA:” It’s about time someone did. . . .

March 28, 2007

DIANNE FEINSTEIN RESIGNS from the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee.

UPDATE: Moe Lane: “I question the timing.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: “As big as Duke Cunningham.”

Then why isn’t it getting more attention?

March 28, 2007

DANA MILBANK SAYS THAT JIM WEBB IS EXECUTING A CUT AND RUN – not over Iraq, but over the fate of his aide Phillip Thompson:

If Webb seemed to be enjoying the moment a bit too much, that’s probably because a Virginia politician has never lost an election for loving guns too much. But Phillip Thompson, who carried the weapon, derived rather less pleasure from the incident.

Thompson — a.k.a. “Lockup No. 1″ — spent 28 hours in the slammer after walking into the Russell building Monday morning with a gun and two loaded magazines in his briefcase. Two hours after Webb’s performance in front of the cameras, Thompson — sandwiched between drug cases and domestic disputes — made his appearance in the foul-smelling arraignment room at D.C. Superior Court. He had a 5 o’clock shadow and a new pair of leg irons to accessorize his rumpled business suit. Ordered to stand in a box marked off with frayed duct tape, he must have been too stunned to answer when the judge asked if he understood the charges. . . .

Webb even hinted that he ignores the District law requiring handguns to be registered. Asked if he considered himself above D.C. law, he said: “I’m not going to comment in any level in terms of how I provide for my own security,” he said.

The senator was less forthcoming in his defense of Thompson. “He is going to be arraigned today,” Webb said. “I do not in any way want to prejudice his case and the situation that he’s involved in.”

Prejudice the case? But wasn’t it Webb’s gun that his aide was carrying for him?

Webb wouldn’t even acknowledge it was his gun. “I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex, and I did not give the weapon to Phillip Thompson,” he stipulated.

Webb had kind words for his aide — “a longtime friend” and “a fine individual” — but he seemed to be trying to cut Thompson loose as he spoke of the incident.

That doesn’t seem right. If the gun was Webb’s, and it was all an accident, — and I can’t think of any other likely explanation — why doesn’t Webb make things clear? Am I missing something here?

March 28, 2007

DIVESTMENT: Will California take on the mullahs? “Today California will become the first state to decide whether or not it will continue to do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The State Assembly will hear proposed legislation (AB-221) by Republican Joel Anderson of El Cajon, and Democrat Jose Solorio of Anaheim that will require state pension funds to divest from companies that do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

March 28, 2007

THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL makes itself even more of a joke by excluding Iran and Uzbekistan from consideration.

UPDATE: Read this post, too.

March 28, 2007

MORE ON SPACE JUNK, from the Smithsonian’s Air and Space magazine.

UPDATE: Link was wrong before. Fixed now. Sorry!

March 28, 2007

YET ANOTHER DUMB INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWSUIT: “The company that licensed the US rights to Orwell’s 1984 don’t really understand copyright, so they’re threatening the people who made the now-infamous Hillary Clinton/Apple 1984-ad mashup.”

March 28, 2007

PAJAMAS MEDIA BLOGGERS Omar and Mohammed Fadhil quoted by President Bush.

March 28, 2007

ALSO, THERE’S NO CONNECTION BETWEEN TOBACCO AND LUNG CANCER:

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack gave Sen. Hillary Clinton his endorsement for her presidential campaign.

The Clinton campaign has promised Vilsack to help pay off a $400,000 campaign debt he built up during his run for the White House. . . .

The campaign said there is no connection between Vilsack’s endorsement and their commitment to help pay off his campaign debt.

Oh, well. (Via Best of the Web).