Archive for March, 2007

March 28, 2007

BLAMING AL GORE AND ME: It’s a fair cop.

March 28, 2007

THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT HAS BEEN REINTRODUCED, and here are some thoughts on what it might mean.

Personally, given the tendencies of the people who run universities and government agencies, I’d like to see ironclad nondiscrimination rules on race, sex, and sexual preference. But without the usual loopholes for politically correct discrmination.

UPDATE: Eric Scheie: “NOW is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.”

March 28, 2007

RICH HAILEY:

Can you think of anything good coming from establishing a troop withdrawal deadline? Anything at all?

Except of course, for getting a Democrat into the White House. And that’s really the whole point, isn’t it?

That’s alway the point nowadays.

March 28, 2007

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON:

Why the liberal furor over 300? . . . there seems to be an almost elemental anger that such a ‘simplistic’ take on good and evil—West good, East bad—reduced to comic book simplicity has hoodwinked the Neanderthal class in the way they were led by the nose to Iraq by the Bush/Cheney nexus.

But what they fail to grasp is why 300 took off, and, say for example, Oliver Stone’s Alexander bombed, a take that had all the hot-button Hollywood issue from easy homosexuality to the inner crisis over ‘what it all means.’ But critics forget that there were 4 key differences between those two films.

Read the whole thing. Part of it is that the movie industry — or at least the critic section thereof — is stuck in the 1970s, when moral ambiguity and angst used to be groundbreaking and novel. Now they’re overdone, predictable and boring.

March 28, 2007

HOW BLOGS opened up Microsoft.

March 28, 2007

POT, KETTLE: A look at what goes on in the comments sections at The Washington Post.

Some related thoughts here.

March 28, 2007

GENERATING HYDROGEN FUEL ON DEMAND from magnesium and water? Sounds too good to be true. Though I’d be happy to be wrong about that.

UPDATE: But it looks like I’m not. Various readers emailed, but this from chemist Derek Lowe is clearest:

As I’m sure several heaps of people have already emailed you about, magnesium gives off hydrogen as a matter of course when it’s submerged in water. You’re left with magnesium hydroxide, an insoluble white powder. The problem with this (and similar ideas using boron, aluminum, etc.) is that you need energy to get the free metal to start with, and plenty of energy to recycle the oxides back to the metal (when that’s practical at all – it often isn’t).

All the press-release talk about how this process doesn’t release carbon dioxide ignored the production of the metals, as far as I can see. . .

Sounds like the process is of limited utility overall.

March 28, 2007

CLOSE CALL: “Pieces of space junk from a Russian satellite coming out of orbit narrowly missed hitting a jetliner over the Pacific Ocean overnight.”

More on space debris here.

March 28, 2007

GIULIANI ON ECONOMICS: David Weigel and Stephen Moore are impressed. “So is Rudy carving out a niche as the fiscal conservative candidate who’ll govern like Reagan without the speeches to the March for Life?”

UPDATE: Steve Forbes to endorse Giuliani.

March 28, 2007

SCUM.

UPDATE: More scum.

March 28, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Brink Lindsey’s new book, The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture. Best quote from the blurbs: “Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s while Democrats want to work there.”

Guess that’s why I’m not either. I’d rather live in the 21st Century. And the 22d!

March 28, 2007

A REPORT ON MCCAIN’S conference call with bloggers. One quote: ”I strongly recommend to the White House that the president read the list of pork to the American people when he vetoes this bill.”

March 28, 2007

THOUGHTS ON THE IMPACT OF T.V. VERSUS PRINT, from Ann Althouse: “Why does TV make me so much more hostile to her? Is the important message in the words or in the whole picture as experienced via television? Is this just about me and Hillary, or is this something more general about TV and print?”

March 28, 2007

“YOUTHS” RIOT in Paris.

March 28, 2007

BILL ROGGIO: “Al Qaeda in Iraq is conducting a full fledged chemical war in Anbar province.”

Al Qaeda used to posture as heroic resistance against the West. Now they’re gassing Muslims.

March 28, 2007

JIM WEBB’S AIDE, PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION, AND GUN LAWS: Eugene Volokh has some thoughts.

March 28, 2007

NATIONAL REVIEW: Gonzales should go.

March 28, 2007

AS INSTAPUNDIT READERS KNOW, I’m a big fan of compact fluorescent light bulbs. But there’s a difference between thinking that something’s worth encouraging people to do, and thinking that people should be forced to do it. Or at least there should be. Katherine Mangu-Ward looks at Big Brother’s light bulb forays.

March 28, 2007

A BOB BARR FLIP-FLOP: “Bob Barr, who as a Georgia congressman authored a successful amendment that blocked D.C. from implementing a medical marijuana initiative, has switched sides and become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project.”

I’m glad to see the change, but I wish it had come while he was, you know, in a position to actually legislate on it.

March 28, 2007

LAW PROFESSORS ON American Idol? Well, they need something to spice the show up after Gwen Stefani’s lame performance.

March 28, 2007

SCOTT BURGESS interviews Michael Crichton.

March 28, 2007

YOUR CONGRESS AT WORK: “Spring Break may delay war funds.”

March 28, 2007

OUCH: “Despite years of attempts from every major phone-maker and service provider, music phones are still little more than spring-loaded bear traps for foolish early adopters.” That seems a bit harsh.

March 28, 2007

MICKEY KAUS: “Has National Review gone wobbly on immigration?”

March 28, 2007

THIS NOT-RUNNING SEEMS TO BE WORKING PRETTY WELL FOR FRED THOMPSON:

He’s not even a candidate yet, but Fred Thompson already has risen to third among possible Republican presidential candidates, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday.

He seems to be doing well with InstaPundit readers, though interestingly Rudy Giuliani is doing better against Thompson with InstaPundit readers than he is overall.

March 27, 2007

AT THE NEW EDITOR, A POLL: Who’s your favorite chickenhawk? I’m going with FDR.

March 27, 2007

AN INTERVIEW WITH AN IRANIAN OPPOSITION GROUP that the left can get behind, from Michael Totten. Excerpt:

“Do you see signs of a collapse similar to the Shah’s government happening now to the mullahs?” Patrick said.

“Yes, I think so,” Hassan said. “In Iran things are going in that direction.”

I hope he’s right.

March 27, 2007

A NEW METRIC: “We have wall-to-wall Anna Nicole Smith on the news. The war must be going well.”

Somebody tell the guys at Brookings!

March 27, 2007

NEW YORK TIMES: “Webb defends gun-toting posse.”

I expect these charges to be dropped, as it appears they probably should be. But Webb should really get behind the kind of sensible gun law reforms that will protect all Americans’ enjoyment of the Second Amendment freedoms he so values.

UPDATE: At RedState, a suggestion that Webb should be doing more defending.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Quite a few readers are unhappy with me for saying the charges should probably be droppped. Jeffrey Hexel is typical:

I’m curious as to the legal reasoning behind your opinion that the charges against Senator Webb’s assistant “probably should be” dropped. The facts seem pretty clear cut, and they seem to the point to the fact that he broke the law. Regardless of the gun’s registration in Virginia, he was still committing a crime by bringing it to DC and committing an additional crime by carrying it in a concealed manner.

I agree that the DC handgun ban is a bad law, and I’m hoping that when it reaches the Supreme Court it will be overturned, but unless I’m missing something this is an open and shut case. Jim Webb’s advocacy of 2nd Amendment rights does not change the fact that his aide committed a crime. Or at least it shouldn’t.

I agree that he seems to have broken the law. But it’s within a prosecutor’s discretion not to prosecute, and cases of inadvertence like this are often dropped — and should be. (It’s not clear that Thompson even knew the gun was in the bag.) Reader Larry Boykin thinks I’m an elitist (“So, it’s alright to have one set of laws for the common man and another set of laws for the ‘elite’? That’s what you are advocating if you believe that charges should be dropped. “) but I think that charges should be dropped for anyone in these circumstances. Would they be? Well, I don’t know. I know of some similar cases where ordinary people weren’t charged — but it’s true that they weren’t at the U.S. Capitol. If charges are dropped here under public scrutiny, of course, that’ll be an argument for treating ordinary people in similar circumstances similarly in the future.

March 27, 2007

“YOU’LL NEED A SHOVEL:” I’m not sure that’s such a good campaign slogan — but it’s one that’s sure to fit practically any candidate!

March 27, 2007

“I WAS WRONG:” Radley Balko renounces his support for torture. Glad to have him join me in the anti-torture camp, which needs some sensible and non-hysterical members.

UPDATE: Say, I guess this means that now I can link to Balko without Andrew Sullivan attacking me for “linking to pro-torture blogs!”

March 27, 2007

TIM BLAIR fact-checks a climate expert. He claims to have found some errors.

March 27, 2007

THEY’RE RUNNING AWAY WITH THEIR LITTLE CURLY TAILS BETWEEN THEIR LEGS: The Senate has just passed an Iraq withdrawal bill, which like the House bill was laden with pork to buy votes.

It’s a disgrace, but par for the course for this bunch.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, read this from Jules Crittenden.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Driscoll comments: “Not at all a surprise, of course. But very far removed from how they were actually elected in the first place.”

And Don Surber itemizes some of the pork and observes: “Disgusting is too nice a word for people who voted to send troops to Iraq in 2002, and less than 5 years later play political chicken with funding for those very troops.”

You don’t need a weathervane to know which way the wind’s blowing. Just a copy of the Senate voting record.

MORE: Bob Krumm looks at the bright side: “Perhaps President Bush will finally veto a pork-laden spending package.”

Heh. If he’d started doing that sooner, he probably wouldn’t be facing this problem now.

March 27, 2007

THE VALUE OF “world sympathy.”

March 27, 2007

AND WE HAVE A WINNER. What’s more, it’s neither Hillary nor George Allen.

March 27, 2007

BRANNON DENNING AND ED ZELINSKY debate the future of the Dormant Commerce Clause at the University of Pennsylvania Law Review’s PENNumbra site.

March 27, 2007

TERRIBLE NEWS FOR TONY SNOW: Cancer survivor G.M. Roper has thoughts.

UPDATE: Thoughts from the compassionate left at the Huffington Post. And not just in the comments.

MORE: Jim Treacher apologizes for his brutal honesty.

March 27, 2007

TONY BLAIR CALLS FOR A NO-FLY ZONE over Darfur.

March 27, 2007

JIM WEBB ON guns in D.C. “I’m not going to comment in any level in terms of how I provide for my own security.”

Lots of Americans feel the same way, but don’t get the same privileges. Webb could, and should, play a constructive role in addressing that disparity.

UPDATE: Much more here. Excerpt:

Webb said he has been in New Orleans since Friday and returned Monday night. He denied that he gave the weapon to Thompson. . . . Asked what support the senator was giving to his aide, Webb told FOX News, “We’re doing all we can.”

“I want to emphasize, first of all, that Phillip Thompson is a long-time friend. He’s a fine individual. … I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Webb told reporters. “I think this is one of those very unfortunate situations where, completely inadvertently, he took the weapon into the Senate yesterday.”

Handguns are illegal in Washington, D.C., but nearby Virginia allows residents to carry concealed handguns. Capitol Police rules allow members and their employees to bring a weapon onto Capitol grounds if it is unloaded and securely wrapped. In this case, it was allegedly neither.

Webb said he is a big supporter of the constitutional right to bear arms and thinks Virginia’s concealed handgun law is a “fair law.”

“Everyone here knows that I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, that I have had a permit to carry a weapon in Virginia for a long time,” he said.

So apparently the gun wasn’t Webb’s. Go figure. But, again, I think that Webb should take the lead in protecting those Second Amendment rights in Washington, D.C., over which Congress has authority. There’s also this from Webb:

“I believe that it’s important — it’s important for me, personally, and for a lot of people in the situation that I’m in, to be able to defend myself and my family,” Webb said. “Since 9/11 for people who are in government I think in general there has been an agreement that it’s a more dangerous time. Again, I’m not going to comment, again, with great specificity about how I defend myself, but I do feel that I have that right.”

Reader Christopher Fox emails: “Well, Senator, that might be your perception, but as far as I can tell, domestically speaking, we’ve lost around 3,000 civilians and 0 Senators to the post-9/11 dangers of which you speak. It’s a more dangerous time for all of us, and civilians seem to be shouldering the majority of that risk. So maybe we can, I don’t know, all get to carry unregistered firearms around wherever we like? No? Why not?”

Why not, indeed? Certainly Webb should take the lead in making it possible for ordinary Americans — not just “people who are in government” — to protect themselves as he does.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts at SayUncle. SayUncle notes that Webb didn’t actually deny that it was his gun, only that he gave it to Thompson.

March 27, 2007

U.S. VS IRAN IN IRAQ: A timeline.

March 27, 2007

MARY KATHARINE HAM saves the planet.

March 27, 2007

ERIC MULLER: “Monica Goodling has a valid basis for asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege.”

Not really my area of expertise, but he’s certainly no apologist for the Bush DoJ. As I’ve done before, I’ll just recommend my former colleague Peter W. Morgan’s The Undefined Crime of Lying to Congress: Ethics Reform and the Rule of Law, 86 Nw. U. L. Rev. 177 (1992), which explains the way in which the False Statements Act (18 U.S.C. 1001, which applies to statements made to any federal official, not just Congress) has been used and abused. Sadly, Morgan’s piece is not available on the web anywhere, as far as I can tell.

UPDATE: A contrary take from Orin Kerr.

March 27, 2007

“SENATE WAR BILL FEATURES $20B IN PORK.”

Pehaps they’ll add a double-secret withdrawal date.

March 27, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Christopher Buckley’s new novel, Boomsday. Judging by the blurb, it’s a sort of Atlas Shrugged for the post-Boomer generation:

With Boomsday looming as 77 million baby boomers get ready to retire and crash Social Security, Cassandra Devine, a sarcastic spin doctor by day and a ferocious blogger by night, calls for a revolution. Why should the under-35 crowd pay higher taxes to support the “Ungreatest Generation?” What have boomers done for anyone? Look at Cassandra’s heinous father. He absconded with her Yale tuition and convinced her to enlist, leading to her encounter with a land mine while escorting Massachusetts senator Randolph Jepperson. After going to jail for instigating anti-oldster riots at golf courses, Cass takes a cue from Jonathan Swift and offers her own outrageous “modest proposal.” With one eye on the White House and the other on tough and lovely Cass, blue-blood Jepperson decides to back her provocation. As Cass’s mensch of a boss observes, “The line dividing reality from absurdity in this country has finally disappeared.”

Well, that’s certainly true. . . .

March 27, 2007

JULES CRITTENDEN WANTS TO SELL MORON OFFSETS: I think demand may outstrip supply. Why Sean Penn alone could . . . . Oh, just read the whole thing.

March 27, 2007

SOME EXPENSIVE VOTES in the Senate.

March 27, 2007

JOHN MCCAIN DEFENDS MCCAIN-FEINGOLD, in this blogger video from his tourbus.

Loads more video here.

March 27, 2007

HOWARD KURTZ ON CABLE TV:

Anna Nicole was back in the news yesterday with the official finding that she died from an accidental overdose, and you could almost hear the groaning from television producers that there wasn’t a more controversial outcome.

The press conference by the thick-accented medical examiner — who almost seemed from central casting — could not be covered by the cable networks, of course, without a cascade of split-screen pictures of the onetime stripper shaking her booty for the cameras. If you banned that footage, I believe the coverage would drop by 80 percent.

At least.

March 27, 2007

NOT-SO-GREAT MOMENTS in education.

March 27, 2007

EMBRACE THE MACHINE: In the D.C. Examiner, I look at some technological breakthroughs I’d like to see.

March 27, 2007

MICKEY KAUS: “For now, please read through Rutten’s piece and ask yourself if he shows any sign of awareness that he and his distinguished LAT colleagues only have their jobs because they produce a product that people are willing to pay money for? Rutten writes as if there’s a constitutional provision that credentialed journalists have lifetime professional tenure no matter how much money his paper loses or makes.”

This attitude is just part of the harm done by the press’s “Fourth Estate” self-image. Actual parts of the government don’t have to turn a profit. People who merely regard themselves as being part of the government apparatus, however, still do.

March 27, 2007

FRANK WARNER ON THE SURGE: “One little-publicized finding of the new Pew poll is that, compared to last month, Americans now are slightly more optimistic about the Iraq war. The portion of Americans who believe the war is going ‘very well’ or ‘fairly well’ for the United States increased from the all-time low of 30 percent in February to 40 percent this month. . . . In the last month, the percent of Americans saying the war is going ‘not too well’ or ‘not well at all’ dropped from 67 to 56.”

That isn’t huge, but it’s significant. And this reversal as the surge gets underway suggests that much of the decline in support over the past year comes from people who’ve felt we weren’t prosecuting the war vigorously enough, as opposed to people who were simply against the whole enterprise.

UPDATE: Various readers argue that a ten-percent shift in one month is huge. Well, maybe. It would certainly be portrayed as huge if it had gone the other way. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on the “it’s huge” theme.

March 27, 2007

“MCCAIN-FEINGOLD: FIVE YEARS OF FAILURE.” Pretty much. And it’s looking to be an expensive failure for John McCain. And, I guess, Russ Feingold, who otherwise might be running for President.

March 26, 2007

AUSTRALIAN TALIBAN DAVID HICKS pleads guilty.

March 26, 2007

DEATH THREATS AGAINST BLOGGERS? Robert Scoble weighs in. So does Roger van Oech.

March 26, 2007

REPRESSION IN EGYPT: Sandmonkey reports: I was going to excerpt him, but it defies excerpting. Read the whole thing. And ask, as I’ve asked in the past, why the U.S. is sending the Mubarak regime so much aid.

March 26, 2007

DAVID CORN AND RICHARD MINITER DISCUSS POLITICS AND THE ELECTIONS over martinis and oysters, in this new video from PJ Media.

It’s a lot better than Hannity & Colmes!

March 26, 2007

TOM MAGUIRE on Washington: “Why do the rest of us fear aging when clearly memory improves with time?”

March 26, 2007

GALLUP’S FRANK NEWPORT REPORTS that Fred Thompson is becoming a factor in the GOP race. Most of his support appears to be coming at Giuliani’s expense.

March 26, 2007

REPORTEDLY, TENNESSEE GOV. PHIL BREDESEN wants to be able to confiscate guns in emergencies. This seems like a dreadful idea on practical grounds, and would also violate federal law.

UPDATE: Yes, it would probably violate the Tennessee Constitution, too. And I don’t see where the Governor would possess such power in an emergency anyway, in the absence of specific legislative authorization that, as far as I know, he doesn’t have. Article I sec. 25 of the Tennessee Constitution provides: “That martial law, in the sense of the unrestricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose of the persons, liberties or property of the citizen, is inconsistent with the principles of free government, and is not confided to any department of the government of this state.” Between that, and the rather strong Tennessee right to arms, it’s hard to see how there could be any argument on behalf of an inherent power here. That said, a state anti-confiscation law is probably still a good idea, as plain statutory language tends to get more attention than constitutional argumentation in times of emergency.

UPDATE: Bob Krumm reports that Bredesen has reversed his position. And apparently there was such statutory authorization, sort of, though not for much longer if this anti-confiscation bill passes as expected.

March 26, 2007

BALANCING ENVIRONMENT AND PROFIT, in the Cayman Islands. Some thoughts at Popular Mechanics.

March 26, 2007

LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE, in New Orleans:

Sixty-four-year-old Vivian Westerman rode out Hurricane Katrina in her 19th-century house. So terrible was the experience that she wanted two things before the 2006 season arrived: a backup power source and a gun. “I got a 6,000-watt generator and the cutest little Smith & Wesson, snub-nose .38 you ever saw,” she boasted. “I’ve never been more confident.” People across New Orleans are arming themselves – not only against the possibility of another storm bringing anarchy, but against the violence that has engulfed the metropolitan area in the 19 months since Katrina, making New Orleans the nation’s murder capital.

The number of permits issued to carry concealed weapons is running twice as high as it was before Katrina – this, in a city with only about half its pre-storm population of around 450,000. Attendance at firearms classes and hours logged at shooting ranges also are up, according to the gun industry. . . . In New Orleans, police have accused the district attorney of failing to prosecute many suspects. Prosecutors have accused the police of not bringing them solid cases.

Some people are losing faith in the system to protect them.

I think some people in other locations learned from New Orleans’ experience, too. But so far, this bill hasn’t moved. (Via Dave Hardy).

March 26, 2007

PELOSI, REID AND MURTHA’S plan for victory in Iraq.

Victory for whom, is the question . . . .

March 26, 2007

JIM WEBB HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD ON GUNS, and maybe the incident that Drudge is currently reporting will encourage him to get behind the D.C. gun ban repeal:

SENATE STAFFER BUSTED FOR CARRYING WEBB’S LOADED GUN: Phillip Thompson, executive assistant to Senator James Webb (D-VA ), has been arrested by Capitol Hill Police on Monday for ‘inadvertently’ holding the senator’s loaded gun, according to a person close to the investigation. A Senate staffer reports that Thompson was arrested for carrying the gun in a bag through security at the Russell Senate Office building while the Senator was parking his car. Thompson was booked for carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL) and for possessing unregistered ammunition. According to congressional rules, congressmen and senators, not staff, are allowed to have a gun on federal property.

Sounds like a minor incident, but it underscores the silliness of D.C. laws. “Unregistered ammunition?”

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: News story here.

March 26, 2007

DMCA AUTHOR says it was a failure.

March 26, 2007

NEWSPAPER AD REVENUE CONTINUES TO PLUMMET:

Revenue from advertising was in striking decline last month, compared with February a year ago, and were generally weaker than analysts had expected.

And while there was one piece of good news for the industry — ad spending on newspaper Web sites rose — many industry watchers were wondering whether the February declines were part of a short-term slump or whether they signal a deepening systemic problem.

Revealingly, lots of readers have emailed this story to me with various gleeful comments. I don’t share their glee. I want newspapers to get better, not go broke. However, it says something bad about the politicization of news reporting that so many potential readers are canceling subscriptions and even taking glee in bad financial news for newspapers.

March 26, 2007

FROM HAVANA with hypocrisy.

Plus, cold-calling Iraqi communists! “Instead of talking to people who were unprepared to speak to American journalists due to a communications failure, we had accidentally cold called a group of revolutionary communist Kurds who had then treated us as honored guests and freely shared their best. In the place in all of Suliamaniya governate where we could expect the worst treatment, their hospitality was more gracious than we could expect among friends in America. Here endeth the Comedy of Manners.”

March 26, 2007

DUKE WINS the game that wasn’t played.

March 26, 2007

JOHN MCCAIN ON the Iraq vote and Congressional pork. He calls the vote a “new recipe for defeat.” Video at the link.

March 26, 2007

WILL WEB VIDEO KILL AUDIO PODCASTS? No, says Mark Glaser, and I think he’s right. They’re different formats, with different applications. I like doing both, but I don’t see one as a substitute for the other — just as I don’t see either as a replacement for “traditional” text blogging.

March 26, 2007

NEAL BOORTZ: Why people think conservatives are idiots.

March 26, 2007

JONATHAN ADLER HAS FURTHER THOUGHTS on the politicization of the Congressional Research Service.

March 26, 2007

INFORMATION WAR: “Islamic terrorists are encouraging their supporters, who can write in English, to get on American web sites and pretend to be friends or family members of American soldiers or marines. The ‘media jehadis’ are instructed to tell stories in line with the anti-war tone of American and European media. Things like soldiers committing suicide because they were forced to take part in atrocities in Iraq. Or wounded soldiers suffering, or killing themselves, because of the poor care and abuse they have received from the army. The media jihadis are told to make it sound like they are simply passing on what a soldier said, not to pretend to be a soldier or marine.”

Read the whole thing. Though, heck, if they play their cards right they can probably get interviewed by The New York Times.

March 26, 2007

“RUMMYGATE” at the Los Angeles Times? Instead of going from tragedy to farce, this scandal has been farce all along . . . .

March 26, 2007

BILL ROGGIO TALKS ABOUT IRAQ at this week’s blog week in review.

March 26, 2007

SET YOUR CLOCKS: It’s Israeli Double Standard Time.

March 26, 2007

FROM BUSH AS HITLER TO BUSH AS DRACULA? The President’s Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America.

Okay, that’s not really what it’s about.

March 26, 2007

THE CAYMAN DIVE VIDEO has been viewed over 350,000 times, and the Saturn Aura video has already been viewed over 100,000 times. So that poses a question:

Should InstaPundit feature more videoblogging?
Sure – make it the next TV network!
A little video now and then is nice.
Forget the video — stick with the pithy links.
InstaPundit has had video?
  
pollcode.com free polls

March 26, 2007

BEST THOMPSON TITLE YET: “Fred Thompson and the Hunt for a Red November.”

March 26, 2007

WHAT YOU YOU CAN’T SAY.

March 26, 2007

KATIE COURIC’S CONCEPTUAL ART: At Kausfiles.

March 26, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: John Fund reports on politicizing the Congressional Research Service to cover up earmarks:

Nothing highlighted Congress’s spending problem in last year’s election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they’ll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.

Democrats promised reform and instituted “a moratorium” on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS)–a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency–has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. “They claim it’ll be transparent, but they’re taking away the very data that lets us know what’s really happening,” says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. “I’m convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS.”

Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. “CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals,” stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan. . . .

Despite claims they would bring reform, Congress’s new bosses are acting like the old bosses. Last Friday, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake sought clarification from House Appropriations Chairman David Obey about an incorrect listing of a NASA earmark in the Iraq supplemental bill. Rep. Obey responded: “The fact is, that an earmark is something that is requested by an individual member. This item was not requested by any individual member. It was put in the bill by me!” In other words, Mr. Obey believes his own earmarks are nothing of the kind.

Sen. Coburn plans to fight back. He says he will attach an amendment to every appropriations bill demanding CRS prepare a full report on the earmarks in it. “Let senators vote for secrecy and prove they don’t want a transparent process or let them deliver what they promised,” he says. “The choice will be theirs and the American people will be watching.”

We need to keep their feet to the fire, and force them to live up to their pre-election promises about earmarks.

UPDATE: House porkers on video.

March 25, 2007

EXPLAINING THE LAW at The Belmont Club:

As currently interpreted the Geneva Conventions only apply to individuals bent on destroying America. Individuals who blow up elementary schools, kidnap children, attack churches and mosques, kill invalids in wheelchairs, plan attacks on skyscrapers in New York, behead journalists, detonate car bombs with children to camouflage their crime, or board jetliners with explosive shoes — all while wearing mufti or even women’s clothing — these are all considered “freedom fighters” of the most principled kind. They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention. As to Americans like Tucker and Menchaca or Israeli Gilad Shalit — or these fifteen British sailors for that matter, it is a case of “what Geneva Convention?”

This does seem to be the reaction of the “international community” — and, of course, of the press. You might almost think they preferred the one side over another.

Read this, too.

March 25, 2007

AN IMPORTANT BICENTENNIAL: “On March 25, 1807, two hundred years ago today, Parliament passed An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.”

March 25, 2007

ANOTHER REASON WHY REPUBLICANS should cheer the music industry’s troubles, and perhaps help them along by repealing the DMCA or something. As I’ve suggested in the past, though, I think their reflexive tendency to side with big business has gotten in the way of smart politics.

March 25, 2007

A LOOK AT IRAN’S ambitions.

March 25, 2007

COMBAT FATIGUE from women soldiers who were never in combat. Only at The New York Times! More here.

March 25, 2007

IS THE BLOGOSPHERE JUST one big bitch fest?

March 25, 2007

GLOBAL WARMING: A QUESTION OF MORALITY, or a question of science? I’m going with “science.”

March 25, 2007

WHY I DON’T HAVE COMMENTS ON MY BLOG: In part, because if I did, dishonest reporters would attribute to me things said by the commenters. In this case, comments on an entirely different blog . . . .

Jeez.

UPDATE: As if. What’s to discuss?

March 25, 2007

IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER DARFUR POST, a reader emails: “How is it that the war we aren’t involved in ended up fulfilling all the quagmire predictions of the one we did get into? Makes Iraq look like a rather professional, and practically downright humanitarian, gesture.”

March 25, 2007

WHERE THE MEN ARE AVERAGE, and the women are shy: “I only wish she had broken that down with a bit more detail – is it Matt Yglesias who speaks for the blue-collar worker with a high school degree? Does Ezra Klein speak for the young black males of the Dem party? Or are they all just average guys speaking for the average guy? Gosh, I feel like buying them all a beer or something while we talk college hoops.”

March 25, 2007

SOME MCCAIN-FEINGOLD BLOWBACK for John McCain’s campaign?

March 25, 2007

ASSESSING FRED THOMPSON’S CHANCES: “My prediction: The first reliable national polls after Thompson announces his candidacy will have Thompson roughly tied with Giuliani, and both of them at least 10 points ahead of McCain and Romney.”

March 25, 2007

DEAN BARNETT: “I’ve reached some conclusions about comment boards and the effect they’re having on our politics at large.”

March 25, 2007

THERE WAS ENOUGH INTEREST in my post on the Saturn Aura that I went back and shot a short video of the interior, and an exterior walkaround. Plus a bit of commentary. Really, though, the video doesn’t fully capture the surprising sense of quality that I felt, something that’s been sadly missing from a lot of GM vehicles in recent years., This was first rate.

And it turns out that Robert Scoble has an Aura, and likes it: “I even choose to drive it over Maryam’s new BMW quite a bit, which is a testament to how good a car it is (it’s a better freeway car than the BMW and the back seat has a LOT more room).”

March 25, 2007

THANKS TO THE MIRACLE OF “SCHEDULED POSTING” ON MOVABLE TYPE, it probably hasn’t been obvious, but I’ve been travelling with the Insta-Wife and Insta-Daughter this weekend. Among other things, that gave me the opportunity to test out this Netgear Travel Router that I got as free swag when I was at the Consumer Electronics Show. It’s the size of a pack of playing cards, and it worked perfectly as soon as I plugged it in.

That’s more than I can say for the “iBahn internet service” at the J.W. Marriott, though. It’s bad enough that they charge you $12.95 when much cheaper hotels like the Hampton Inn give away wireless Internet access. But even though we’d registered and paid the fee, when I hooked up the Netgear router the sign-on screens reappeared. I assume it’s some kind of scheme to block people from doing what I was doing, which seems rather lame, especially as they offer a 2-foot ethernet cable that ties you to the desk otherwise. My suspicion is that hotels, like the J.W. Marriott, that cater to a mostly business crowd charge for Internet access because they know it will just get passed on to the company, while hotels that don’t, like the Hampton Inn, give it away because they know that people who are paying out of their own pockets will resist paying half as much for a day of Internet access as they pay for a month at home. Well, okay — the kine that tread the grain, and so forth. But if you’re going to charge, shouldn’t you make the exorbitantly priced product at least as convenient as the free version?

UPDATE: Reader Chuck Cilek emails:

When you sign up for this service, they register the MAC address of the card connecting to their service, not the room number. From your description, it sounds like you

1) connected the laptop and signed up
2) disconnected the laptop
3) connected the router, then connected the laptop to the router.

From the IBahn’s DHCP server’s point of view, it sees the router MAC which is not registered. It does not see your laptop’s MAC, because the router sends its own MAC and never sends your MAC.

I believe that if you had hooked up the router first, then connected your laptop and signed in/registered, the router would have been registered and your intended setup would have worked.

Several other readers said the same thing, and yes, that’s how I signed up. That makes sense, I guess, so I shouldn’t blame Marriott too much. On the other hand, another reader emails:

I don’t do much traveling but have ended up on the road in a fancy hotel on occasion. Once, reluctant to charge my employer for the exorbitant Internet connx charges, I decided to try the phone dataport and use my old (since discontinued) dialup AOL account. No go. It would not let you access the AOL modem pool – as soon as the modem tones were detected, the line went dead. So do these expensive hotels have you by the short hairs in all ways? Why yes. Yes, they do.

I echo your sentiments re: Interstate highway motels, which offer free (often wireless) access in their guest rooms. One summer, we even used IM between our rooms, instead of calling, to coordinate schedules during a large family reunion – thanks to the free WiFi.

Only when you are paying at least three times as much for the room, do you have to pay additional for access, I have found. Oh, unless of course you want to get dressed and go to the lobby, where the WiFi doesn’t cost. Although, on a trip not too long ago, I discovered even the lobby location is becoming a for-pay T-mobile spot. I wonder how these hotels’ decisions to make access pretty darned expensive (with no value added) will influence cities’ decisions to make downtowns into WiFi hotspots. Won’t the Hiltons and the Radissons fight tooth and nail to keep their for-pay islands, even if the heart of the city is free WiFi?

This seems like overreaching to me. And a couple of readers asked why I care, when I have EVDO. The reason is that my wife and daughter want Internet access too, and don’t want to share computers. Yes, we’re that geeky.

March 25, 2007

VOTERS VOTE YES, county says no anyway:

On the Web site Grupthink.com, an online symposium founded by John Masterson, who is also chairman of the oversight committee, a post exclaims “I have lost all faith in Missoula County government.”

“Is there even a point to voting any more if the will of the people can so easily be subverted by two people?” the post inquires.

Much of the criticism, online and off, has alluded to County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg’s position that a “gut feeling” led him to conclude Missoula’s electorate misinterpreted the ballot language. The tone of Wednesday’s public hearing, which was teeming with 20-something adults, went from inquisitive to indignant when Van Valkenburg used the phrase “gut feeling,” which many called insulting.

“Your ‘gut feeling’ does not supersede the democratic process,” according to one post.

This is sadly familiar to me. (Via Slashdot).

March 25, 2007

A ROMNEY SCANDAL, reported by the L.A. Times: Abortion rights and gay rights activists are unhappy that Romney pretended to be more liberal on those issues than he really was. Or something like that.

March 25, 2007

LOTS OF STUFF ON THE L.A. TIMES SCANDALS, over at Patterico’s. Just keep scrolling.

Meanwhile, Kaus says it’s Civil War, and pours it on.