Archive for April, 2007

April 28, 2007

A PROVEN APPROACH to cleaning up the environment:

While the modern environmental movement often portrays capitalist industrial societies as the world’s biggest pollution problem, Forbes notes something interesting about the top-25 cleanest cities in the world: Most of them are in wealthy industrialized democracies. Turns out, all that industrialization created wealth which, in turn, buys the things (mass transit, especially) and pays for the policies that create a cleaner environment.

Yep. The good things in life generally come from wealthy, industrialized democracies.

April 28, 2007

FROM AUSTRALIA: “The US Congress’ vote to push for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq was wrong and will bring comfort to Al-Qaeda insurgents, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Friday.”

From Iraq: “I am an Iraqi. To me the possible consequences of this vote are terrifying. Just as we began to see signs of progress in my country the Democrats come and say, ‘Well, it’s not worth it.Time to leave’.”

UPDATE: A look at the effect of timetables in Basra: “Now that the Brits and Danes have given the people of Basra a drop-dead date for their withdrawal, they have set in motion a fight for power that will only amplify as the withdrawal date approaches. Instead of throwing in with the central government, the flight of the Coalition has convinced Iraqis in that area that they have to find the strongest warlord for protection. We can expect this across the country if the US withdraws precipitately from Iraq. A pullout will embolden the violent and frighten the law-abiding, and the end result will be a completely failed state. Regardless of whether one supported the invasion or not, it is obviously not in the American interest to leave behind a collapsed Iraq where the boldest and most vicious terrorists rise to power in fiefdoms small and large.”

Some people don’t care, though, if it might give them a leg-up in the next election.

April 28, 2007

CARBON TRADING — not just a scam, but a government-encouraged scam:

The government department spearheading Britain’s effort to reduce carbon output is driving companies and individuals towards paying under a European Union system for emissions cuts that do not take place.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also channelled more than half of £215m paid out under a pilot UK greenhouse gas trading scheme to just four companies which spent considerably less than they received on emissions cuts.

The first charge against Defra is that, under a new code of practice, it has been advising businesses and consumers wishing to offset their emissions to buy carbon credits through the EU or a separate UN carbon trading scheme. However, phase one of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been discredited for giving companies so many carbon credits – effectively permits to pollute – that no overall reduction in emissions took place.

Why am I not surprised?

April 28, 2007

GENERALS IN IRAQ: In response to yesterday’s post on the subject, a reader in Iraq who asks for anonymity emails:

Boot has a point about Generals.

They don’t control much on the ground and the tactical decisions, but they have a huge say in asset allocation and priorities. (They know, but don’t control.)

To see all the assets that have been arrayed on huge bases like Balaad, Al Asad, TQ, Victory Baghdad, then compare them to say PB 548 north of Habbaniyah, you see the priorities for asset allocation were inside the wire for a few years.

That is just now starting to switch.

Petraeus is fighting a battle not only against the enemy, but the military’s bureaucratic machine. A machine built up over years in garrison without combat and now turning major bases in Iraq into garrison.

I heard a second hand story last night about a female soldier who was not complying with certain rules on a major base. The rules were because it was a ‘combat zone.’ Her defense? The base she was stationed on was not a combat zone.

I think I would have acquitted her.

Troops in big bases are a lot less likely to get killed, and casualties generate bad press. On the other hand, troops outside the wire can do a lot more, but at the cost of higher casualties.

April 28, 2007

A LOOK AT SEX AND GRADES in adolescence.

April 28, 2007

FORMER STATE SEN. JOHN FORD has been convicted of bribery. More here. The good news for Harold Ford, Jr. is that this will be old news by the time he runs for office again.

April 28, 2007

BEE UPDATE: MICKEY KAUS posts a report from the field: “My mother says her garden is ‘absolutely buzzing’ with bees. So they haven’t all disappeared.”

Meanwhile, although the cellphone theory got a lot of attention, the finger of suspicion is now pointing at a fungus.

April 28, 2007

CRIMINALIZING THE CONSUMER: The Economist writes on where DRM went wrong.

I think that the adversary relationship with their customers that record companies have fostered will do more to harm them than piracy, over time. In fact, I think it already has.

April 28, 2007

JAMES WEBB GUN UPDATE:

Authorities dropped charges Friday against an aide to Virginia Sen. Jim Webb who carried a loaded gun into the U.S. Capitol complex.

“After reviewing and analyzing all of the evidence in the case, we do not believe the essential elements of the crime of carrying a pistol without a license can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor, top prosecutor in the District of Columbia, said in a short statement.

Webb senior aide Phillip Thompson, 45, was arrested on March 26 after Capitol Police spotted the loaded pistol and two other loaded magazines in a briefcase being scanned by an X-ray machine at the entrance of the Russell Senate office building.

Stlll no news on who the gun belonged to, though. I think this was the right outcome, as there wasn’t any evidence that Thompson knew he had a gun in the bag. I just hope that others will get similar treatment. People don’t always get off as easily in these circumstances. (Via Volokh).

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Gigliotti emails:

Webb is in Virginia, yes? Va. Tech is in Virginia, yes? If Senator Webb were a Republican we would be swamped with stories in the media about how his gun obsession influenced the minds of the youth in his state. The normal story line of “what message does this send to our children” did not appear. Gun control nutters have not mentioned his name. Curious.

Good point.

April 28, 2007

MIKE GRAVEL, superstar.

April 27, 2007

WELL, THIS IS NICE: “The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the Americans. Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former major in Saddam Hussein’s army, was apprehended as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran and was transferred this week to the ‘high-value detainee programme’ at Guantanamo Bay.”

Hey, wait — an “al-Qaeda leader” who’s also a “former major in Saddam Hussein’s army”? But I thought there was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Or between Al Qaeda and Iran . . . .

UPDATE: Don Surber: London bombings? What London bombings?

The U.S. announced on Friday that it captured the mastermind behind the 7/7/2005 bombings in London.

But you would not know it by reading the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Associated Press.

None of them mentioned the London bombings in reporting on the capture of the man who organized that attack, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi (aka, Abu Abdallah).

Instead, reporters concentrated on where this major player in the war on terrorism was held after his capture. Incredible.

I don’t know. It doesn’t surprise me.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey comments: “All of these papers had hours after the Times of London report to get the London bombings into the story. The Times goes to bed at 7 pm ET and hits the feeds and wire services. None of the American media bothered to check on Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. Readers should ask themselves whether that comes from a lack of intellectual curiosity, or whether it comes from a bias that puts the circumstances of the detention of a terrorist at a higher priority than the terrorism itself.”

Either way, they’re doing a crappy job. But if he’d had a connection to Jack Abramoff, you can bet they’d have mentioned it!

April 27, 2007

EMAIL OF THE DAY:

Subject: Comments Sectino

To: pundit

So, did you eliminate the comments section because you were tired of having us Libs hand you your anti-intellectual ass, or were you just trying to hide the fact that your fans are drooling mouth-breathers?

Given that I’ve never had a comment section — or even a “comments sectino” — I have no idea what provokes emails like this. But they certainly don’t encourage me to add one, if this is the kind of person who’s, er, drooling at the prospect of posting on my site.

April 27, 2007

REPUBLICANS VS. HILLARY: Interesting.

April 27, 2007

THE NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL has released the report on the Duke Lacrosse prosecutorial debacle. The report’s here. Excerpt:

The re-investigation led to the conclusion that there was no credible evidence to support the allegation that the crimes occurred. The new investigation revealed additional weaknesses in the State’s cases based on the case files that had already been developed.

The State’s cases rested primarily on a witness whose recollection of the facts of the allegations was imprecise and contradictory. This alone would have made it difficult for a prosecutor to prove the allegations. However with additional evidence uncovered in the new investigation, it was clear that there was no credible evidence that these crimes occurred at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. in Durham that night.

Naturally, K.C. Johnson is all over this. The Durham Police Department is coming off badly, too.

April 27, 2007

A CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY IN KANSAS, as the legislature overrides a veto of liberalized carry laws by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

April 27, 2007

A CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY IN KANSAS, as the legislature overrides a veto of liberalized carry laws by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

UPDATE: It’s certainly better than this approach. Jeez.

April 27, 2007

FIGHT! FIGHT! It’s Lou Dobbs vs. Gavin Newsom.

Time to weigh in on this important topic:

Who should resign?
Lou Dobbs, for his comments on immigrants.
Gavin Newsom, for openly flouting the law.
Both
  
pollcode.com free polls

But will someone please explain to all concerned that Hermann Goering was not the Nazis’ propagandist-in-chief? That’s Joseph Goebbels. If you’re going to go all Godwin on this stuff, you need to at least know your Nazis. What has American politics come to?

UPDATE: Yes, of course it’s a dumb poll. As befits its subject. And subjects.

April 27, 2007

JOHN MCCAIN DID A BLOGGER CONFERENCE CALL: I wasn’t on it, but Ann Althouse and Ryan Sager were, and report some news. McCain’s against civil unions, too. Not winning any points with me either.

April 27, 2007

GIULIANI COMES OUT AGAINST CIVIL UNIONS, which seems like something of a flipflop to me. At any rate, it’s not winning any points as far as I’m concerned.

April 27, 2007

HOW TO DO GUN CONTROL: “Special squads of police. No notice searches. Fines. Imprisonment.”

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh observes: “It does seem to me that a War on Guns, with unannounced random searches on streets and in homes, should be highly unappealing to anyone who has even some reservations about the War on Drugs, and questionable even to those who support the War on Drugs.”

I can certainly see a downside. And as Volokh notes, proposals like this do illustrate the dishonesty of claims that “No one is trying to take away your guns,” and that claims to the contrary are just a “gun lobby bogeyman.”

April 27, 2007

COMPACT FLUORESCENTS AND MERCURY: Steven Milloy has a piece on compact fluorescents and mercury that a lot of people are writing about. Milloy tells the horrifying story of a woman in Ellsworth, Maine who broke a compact fluorescent bulb and wound up stuck with a $2000 hazmat cleanup bill.

The story may be true, but she could have saved herself some money by googling “compact fluorescent mercury.” That would have brought her information like this:

The government’s Energy Star program says the amount of mercury in a compact fluorescent bulb is so small that there’s no immediate health risk if it’s cleaned up properly.

The program’s advice is to sweep up the pieces – don’t vacuum them – and put them into a sealed plastic bag. Wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up the fine shards and particles, and put the towel into the plastic bag as well. If weather permits, open the windows to ventilate the room. Treat the bag and its contents as hazardous waste, and recycle appropriately.

Or this:


Is it true that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain harmful mercury?

Compact fluorescent lights contain a very small amount of mercury, significantly less than those in fever thermometers. This small amount of mercury slowly bonds with the phosphor coating on the lamp interior as the lamp ages, prohibiting its entry into the atmosphere. Even breaking a fluorescent bulb is not a significant health risk because the amount of mercury vapor released is so small that it dissipates into the air with a minimal chance of inhalation.

What is the proper way to dispose of burned-out compact fluorescent light bulbs?

Though compact fluorescent light bulbs are exempt from Environmental Protection Agency and State of Washington regulations, Tacoma Power recommends that you dispose of burned-out bulbs as you would batteries, motor oil or oil-based paint. City of Tacoma and Pierce County residents can dispose of household hazardous waste, including burned-out compact fluorescent light bulbs, at the City of Tacoma Landfill Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.

Doesn’t sound so scary to me. What about the overall environmental effects? Well, there’s this:

Ironically, compact fluorescent bulbs are responsible for less mercury contamination than the incandescent bulbs they replaced, even though incandescents don’t contain any mercury. The highest source of mercury in America’s air and water results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, at utilities that supply electricity. Since a compact fluorescent bulb uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and lasts at least six times longer, it is responsible for far less mercury pollution in the long run. A coal-burning power plant will emit four times more mercury to produce the electricity for an incandescent bulb than for a compact fluorescent.

Or this: “The very small amount of mercury in a CFL — about 5 milligrams, compared to an old-fashioned home thermometer, which had about 500 milligrams — is safe while the bulb is in operation and poses little risk even if it breaks, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

I’d be interested in seeing more on this topic, but if CFLs were as deadly as Milloy suggests, I wouldn’t expect big companies to sell them for fear that the trial lawyers would take them to the cleaners. I kind of think that Milloy is just having a bit of fun turning enviro-scare tactics back upon themselves, but I don’t think there’s much foundation to these worries.

April 27, 2007

MARC DANZIGER ON VIRGINIA TECH: “The students didn’t fail to act correctly by not attacking their attacker. The doctrine they were operating under — the one we have trained them in all their lives — failed them.”

April 27, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan’s Caucus of Corruption: The Truth about the New Democratic Majority.

Meet the new caucus. Same as the old caucus.

April 27, 2007

JOHN MCWHORTER:

It is reasonable to surmise that Barack Obama will be the next President.

Mr Obama has a once-in-a-lifetime charisma that Hillary Clinton could never approximate, and she also suffers from the handicap of not being black. For all of his other plusses, part of Mr Obama’s appeal lies in the fact that many whites feel that voting for a black presidential candidate would be Doing the Right Thing. Leon Wieseltier has been explicit about this; he is not unique.

Read the whole thing.

April 27, 2007

HAS BUSH TAKEN THE WRONG LESSONS FROM VIETNAM? Read this interview with Max Boot.

UPDATE: A failure of the generals? “America’s generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy.” Hmm. I’m not so sure, but read this and see what you think.

April 27, 2007

NIGERIA: “The government used the oil revenue, which is over two-thirds of of government income, to buy the recent elections. . . . The stolen oil money is spread around, with about ten percent of the population getting some of it, and doing what needs to be done to keep the thieving politicians in power. The majority of Nigerians get nothing, and the better armed politicians dare anyone to do anything about it. But the current government claimed to be reformers, and blamed all the former problems on corrupt military dictators.” Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

April 27, 2007

JOHN TAMMES POSTS MORE news from Afghanistan that you probably missed.

April 27, 2007

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE LOOKS AT how people are spinning Petraeus.

April 27, 2007

MORE ON MIKE GRAVEL’S sudden stardom.

April 27, 2007

M.I.T. ADMISSIONS DEAN STEPS DOWN over resume-faking scandal. “Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became well known for urging stressed-out students competing for elite colleges to calm down and stop trying to be perfect. Yesterday she admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T. Officials of the institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree.”

April 27, 2007

PEGGY NOONAN:

This week saw a small and telling controversy involving a mural on the walls of Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. The mural is big–400 feet long, 18 feet high at its peak–and eye-catching, as would be anything that “presents a colorful depiction of the rape, slaughter and enslavement of North America’s indigenous people by genocidal Europeans.” Those are the words of the Los Angeles Times’s Bob Sipchen, who noted “the churning stream of skulls in the wake of Columbus’s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.”

What is telling is not that some are asking if the mural portrays the Conquistadors as bloodthirsty monsters, or if it is sufficiently respectful to the indigenous Indians of Mexico. What is telling is that those questions completely miss the point and ignore the obvious. Here is the obvious:

The mural is on the wall of a public school. It is on a public street. Children walk by.

We are scaring our children to death. Have you noticed this? And we’re doing it more and more.

Well, government-sponsored race-hatred seems bad, too. But read the whole thing.

April 27, 2007

SECRETS OF “CROWD-BUILDING,” explained.

April 27, 2007

HILLARY AND HAMSHER: “Democratic activists privately questioned Clinton’s decision to appear on Firedoglake because of the tarnished reputation of Jane Hamsher, one of its chief bloggers.”

More here. It’s a tempest in a teapot, really — but also another reminder to bloggers who want to be political players that real political players (successful ones, anyway) are careful about the record they produce.

April 27, 2007

PATTERICO HAS MORE on the Atlanta cops charged in the Kathryn Johnston no-knock raid gone wrong.

Following up on a comment, I’d also like to know more about the judge who signed the warrant in this case.

UPDATE: Here’s more from Radley Balko:

We now know that Kathryn Johnston fired only a single bullet, through the door as police were trying to break in. They responded with a storm of bullets, which apparently both wounded Johnston and the officers themselves. When they realized their fatal error, they planted cocaine and marijuana in the woman’s home. They then pressured an uninvolved informant to testify to having made controlled buys at Johnston’s home to cover their tracks.

The New York Times is now reporting that the officers have told federal investigators that their behavior was not out of the ordinary. That corruption, planting evidence, and giving false testimony are routine at APD. That’s not surprising. The only way these officers could think they’d get away with all of this is if they were operating within a system that routinely allows for—or even encourages—such behavior. APD’s focus on arrest numbers and professional rewards for the big bust apparently incentivized such short cuts.

It’s also important to remember that it’s possible we wouldn’t know any of this were it not for the uncooperative informant who admirably refused to help the cops cover their asses.

Read the whole thing.

I’d be more impressed with the Democratic candidates if they had united in their opposition to the War on Drugs, which has done the country much more harm, over much more time, than the one in Iraq.

April 27, 2007

CLAYTON CRAMER LOOKS AT HR 297, the mental-illness reporting bill, and isn’t sure why some gun-rights groups are unhappy with it.

April 27, 2007

GREENHOUSE EFFECT UPDATE:

A flock of small jets took flight from Washington Thursday, each carrying a Democratic presidential candidate to South Carolina for the first debate of the political season. . . . No one jet pooled, no one took commercial flights to save money, fuel or emissions.

All but Biden, who flew on a private jet, chartered their flights — a campaign expense of between $7,500 and $9,000.

Couldn’t they have “jet pooled” to cut down on carbon emissions? Or, you know, flown commercial with the hoi polloi? (Via Newsbusters).

UPDATE: John McGinnis thinks it would have been smart to fly commercial: “Every jet flying the
friendly skies is filled with — Voters.”

April 27, 2007

THIS DOES SEEM LIKE A RATHER LOW THRESHOLD for swooning.

Plus this: “Maybe somebody needs to explain to Greenwald what ‘Trutherism’ means. Hint: it ain’t a compliment.” Well, in his circles it probably is. Hence the misunderstanding.

April 27, 2007

JOURNALIST AS DAFFY DUCK: But what’s really “despicable” here, of course, is that it works.

April 26, 2007

MICKEY KAUS NOTES debate Laphamization at the Associated Press, but concludes that it’s okay: “The one she wrote before the debate was better!”

April 26, 2007

SO I’VE ACTUALLY BEEN TRAVELLING TO AND FROM NASHVILLE TODAY, to a meeting at the Capitol on revising the state constitution, and I queued up a bunch of “scheduled posts” (including this one) before I left this morning. So if some big news event happened and I haven’t mentioned it, that’s because it hadn’t happened yet when I scheduled all of this stuff. More fresh stuff whenever I get home, which given that they’re forecasting hail, severe thunderstorms, etc. for Knoxville, Nashville, and the Cumberland Mountains in between may be late.

April 26, 2007

LIVEBLOGGING THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES’ DEBATE: I’d say that Mike Gravel improved his situation the most: “Gravel… that’s news to me. I didn’t even know he was still alive!”

Still alive! Getting that news out is an essential first step in a campaign.

UPDATE: Hey, Gravel-mania threatens to explode: “Where did this guy come from? . . . I suspect he is going to gain a LOT of attention and some popularity.” It’s a trend!

ANOTHER UPDATE: This rapid rise has already produced a wave of Gravel-Bashing: “I still don’t like Gravel. I think he’s crazy.”

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win.” One debate and he’s already to stage three! Watch for people to start poaching his campaign staff.

MORE: A sure sign of momentum in a campaign — pundits are starting to suck up to the candidate: “Gravel was direct and tough on the other candidates during the debate. He also certainly provided the funniest moments of the debate. We have not given him enough attention and for this we apologize. Here is a link to his campaign website.”

STILL MORE: Matt Stoller hearts Mike Gravel. It’s Mikementum, baby!

Dave Weigel, not so much. He thinks Obama won, even though he had the biggest gaffe.

MORE STILL: I’m surprised that TigerHawk is swimming against the tide: “Gravel is a loon, by the way. He makes Kucinich look sober as a judge.”

I dunno. You gotta love this line of Gravel’s: “I’m embarrassed about this Congress.”

Hey, me too. Even more than the last one, and that’s saying something.

Best comment yet: “President Gravel? Only on an episode of The Flintstones.

Though judging by tonight, that may be speaking too soon!

The Hotline blog: “Still unknown: What constitutes success in Iraq for Edwards, Obama and Clinton.”

I think the honest answer would be would be “my election in 2008.”

And here’s a roundup at The Moderate Voice.

April 26, 2007

farragut.jpg
I WENT TO NASHVILLE AND BACK TODAY, for a meeting of the state committee on constitutional revision that I’m on. It was at the Capitol, and when it was over Bob Cooper, the Attorney General, took one of our out-of-state visitors on a tour. I haven’t wandered the Capitol proper in quite a while, so I tagged along. Tennessee’s Capitol is very pretty in an austere sort of way, and if I’d had more time — and if I were Ann Althouse — I’d have a lot of stunning photos. But here are a couple, anyway. It was interesting to hear people compare Capitol-building trivia, and it brought home that when the artisans who designed the chandelier in the Senate chamber put in intertwined symbols of the state, they were doing something with political, not just aesthetic, implications — things that show even today in little bits of state pride on the part of constitutional officeholders. Federalism is built on these things, as well as on the Tenth Amendment.

The meeting was pleasant and useful, and in its informality and its matter-of-fact practicality it brought home another difference between state politics and government and those at the national level. Or maybe it’s just a Tennessee thing; I don’t have much experience with other states’ operations.

Driving both ways today, I noticed that high gas prices still haven’t induced people to slow down — or, judging from the traffic, to drive less. What was sad was that although some of the trees are in full spring glory, many are brown from die-back induced by the late freeze. They’ll bud eventually, but the huge patches of brown on the mountainsides looked like some strange disease was breaking out.

And yeah, posts continued via “scheduled posting” — I managed to get online briefly a couple of times, but never for all that long. I like that feature.

UPDATE: Yes, it was a public meeting, though sparsely attended by the public — I wouldn’t have blogged about it otherwise. I’m just not blogging about this stuff in detail because I don’t think many readers are deeply interested in updating the gubernatorial succession provisions of the Tennessee Constitution. But yes, they know about the blog — both Gen. Cooper and Gov. Bredesen made InstaPundit jokes during the introductions.

capitolhall.jpg

April 26, 2007

IN THE ECONOMIST, a look at changing technology and cottage industry.

It’s a good observation!

April 26, 2007

NEWSPAPERS ARE AGONIZING over whether to allow comments. LaShawn Barber has some suggestions.

April 26, 2007

EGYPT’S “DR. RUTH” SAYS: Muslims need better sex:

It took the 39-year-old mother three years of negotiations to get her show on the air. And a main reason she succeeded is that she talks only about sex allowed in the Quran — sex between husband and wife.

But even with that guideline, it’s no easy sell.

The promo for “The Big Talk” starts with Kotb saying, “Sex. Don’t be afraid. Join me to talk about sex without shame.”

And people are doing just that. The show is gaining in popularity throughout the Middle East. So much so that Kotb just signed with a new production company and plans to push the sexual envelope even further in her discussions.

For the moment her main advice for married couples: Have more sex.

“You have nowhere else to get your sexuality but from your spouse. It’s the only source available, so it’s very important.”

And for the men she has some blunt advice: “You have to have foreplay with your wife and you have to have sex with her frequently, not just when you want to.”

It’s good advice. Read the whole thing.

April 26, 2007

J.D. JOHANNES posts another report from Iraq.

April 26, 2007

(AND STILL ANOTHER) CULTURE OF CORRUPTION UPDATE:

Democrats in Congress appear to be taking full advantage of the “pay to play” system they said led to a “climate of corruption” under Republicans, an ABC News investigation has found.

“Washington looks pretty much the same as it always did,” said Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, despite Democratic promises of reform.

Campaign finance records made public this week show Democratic congressional campaign committees taking in substantially more in contributions than their Republican counterparts.

Read the whole thing.

April 26, 2007

TIME: Was Timothy Leary right?

April 26, 2007

POLICE INDICTED in the Kathryn Johnston no-knock raid in Atlanta.

April 26, 2007

SHOCKINGLY, “CARBON CREDITS” often turn out to be utterly bogus. More thoughts here.

April 26, 2007

(ANOTHER) CULTURE OF CORRUPTION UPDATE: “House Democratic leaders are not expected to pressure embattled Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) to forfeit his lone remaining committee assignment, even as two Republican lawmakers who similarly face intense FBI scrutiny have relinquished their posts in recent days.”

April 26, 2007

IN THE MAIL: David Verklin and Bernice Kanner’s new book, Watch This, Listen Up, Click Here: Inside the 300 Billion Dollar Business Behind the Media You Constantly Consume. I actually managed to read a bit of this yesterday and it’s very interesting. With the sea change going on in the ad market and the growth of online media, lots of people are likely to want to read this book.

April 26, 2007

BACK FROM IRAQ, Fred Kagan comments on Congress’s actions. Excerpt: “I’ve been struck by the degree to which the debate in this town, in Washington, seems to be lagging behind reality in Iraq. And one would hope that with the briefings that the Congress is getting from General Petraeus and others, that we would start to catch up and realize that the world is different from the way it was in November, 2006.”

I think they’re more interested in November, 2008 than, well, anything else, including the welfare of the country.

April 26, 2007

TERRORIST-SUPPORTING LAWYER LYNNE STEWART has been disbarred. This is in response to her earlier conviction for providing material support to terrorists.

April 26, 2007

VIRUS WRITERS TARGETING Google’s sponsored links. I never click on those anyway, which is apparently a good thing.

April 26, 2007

GEN. PETRAEUS will talk about Iraq at 10:00 EST, and it will be streamed on the Pentagon Channel.

April 26, 2007

DAVID BRODER CALLS HARRY REID The Democrats’ Alberto Gonzales. That seems about right.

Broder observes: “It has been impossible for his own members, let alone the White House, to sort out for more than 24 hours at a time what ground Reid is prepared to defend.”

I imagine the troops are having the same problem.

April 26, 2007

TAXPROF: OVER 450,000 FEDERAL WORKERS ARE TAX DEADBEATS.

April 26, 2007

HEH.

April 26, 2007

I HAVEN’T FOUND THE ECONOMIST’S DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA blog quite as interesting as its Free Exchange blog, perhaps because the latter is a lot closer to The Economist’s core strength. But John McWhorter has been guestblogging at Democracy in America — suggesting that maybe the editors have figured this weakness out too — and he’s made a number of interesting posts.

April 26, 2007

JULES CRITTENDEN: The people have spoken!

April 26, 2007

TONY SNOW will be returning to work next week. That’s good news, though the press briefings have certainly been amusing in his absence . . . .

But then, everything’s amusing in Frank J.’s world.

April 26, 2007

STEPHEN HAWKING experiences weightlessness.

And read this post on the appeal of space tourism.

April 26, 2007

CONVERTING YOUR VIDEO FILES TO FILM using an inkjet printer? Yep. (Via BoingBoing).

April 26, 2007

TUNC PRO NUNC: It’s back to the future at the Supreme Court.

April 26, 2007

VLADIMIR PUTIN says he won’t seek a third term:

Putin’s second term in office ends in 2008, and he is constitutionally barred from running for a third. While many observers have suggested he would try to stay in office, Putin has consistently dismissed the idea and did so again Thursday.

“The next state of the nation address will be given by another head of state,” he said.

He then acknowledged that many had expected this speech would be his opportunity to openly state which person he wants to follow him, but instead he drew a laugh by saying “it is premature for me to declare a political will.”

Putin’s compliance with the requirement is a good thing — or, rather, his failure to do so would be the final nail in the coffin for Russian democracy. Things still aren’t good, they’re just not as bad as they might have been.

April 26, 2007

I AGREE WITH MATT STOLLER that carbon cap-and-trade schemes, however appealing they might sound in the abstract, are likely to be scams. If you’re going to get into this game at all, a carbon tax, or an old-fashioned fossil fuel tax, is likely better. However, I think that any such tax should be revenue neutral, with offsets somewhere else so that it’s obvious that it isn’t just a grab for revenue with global warming as an excuse.

April 26, 2007

JEFF SOYER NOTES THAT BRIAN MONTOPOLI OF CBS is calling on the press to gin up political support for gun control by the way it reports the news.

It’s just Evan Thomas’s fifteen percent applied to another cause.

UPDATE: Then there’s just plain old reportorial ineptitude.

April 26, 2007

JOHN HINDERAKER wonders if the Republicans might lose more seats in 2008, perhaps even enough to give the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. It’s awfully early yet, but it’s certainly possible, especially given the cluelessness and self-servingness of the GOP congressional delegation to date.

Democrats — who mostly made other issues than the war their priority in the ’06 election and who lost (Ned Lamont, anyone?) when they put the war up top — are now claiming that the elections were a mandate for surrender. Republicans may be tempted to endorse the idea that the elections were a referendum on Iraq, too, because that would get the GOP Congress off the hook for its miserable performance on, well, just about everything else. In fact, however, the elections were very close, and regardless of the war the GOP could have at least retained the Senate with only a very modest improvement in performance — an improvement almost no one was willing to make.

And they could be doing a lot more to put the Democrats on the spot if they were willing to back up Tom Coburn’s anti-pork crusading and the like, instead of being “brothers in pork” with Democratic incumbents. But the GOP delegation is, for the most part, just as corrupted as the Dems — and they managed to get that way faster — and there’s no longer any stomach for challenging the status quo. Most of them, it seems, would rather be a fat, happy minority than do what it takes to win (or even keep) a majority. (See this about Trent Lott). And if that’s what they want, that’s probably what they’ll get.

UPDATE: Bob Krumm writes: “My guess is that whichever side’s leader portrays himself as the most anti-status quo, will win not just the White House, but a larger majority of both houses next year.”

April 26, 2007

MICKEY KAUS has questions about Unity ’08.

April 25, 2007

WE KEEP HEARING THAT JOBS ARE LESS SAFE, AND LESS STABLE THAN IN THE PAST, but that doesn’t seem to be the case: “The story about inequality is indisputably true. But we’re starting to learn that the second story, the one about instability, is more complicated. It may even end up being wrong. . . . Volatility may or may not have increased over the last generation, but it does not appear to have changed in a fundamental way.”

April 25, 2007

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to hang a picture.

April 25, 2007

WILL SERBIA AND RUSSIA DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND over Kosovo’s independence? Spengler thinks they might, and that the consequences might include “a small shooting war.” This seems like something to avoid if possible.

April 25, 2007

JOHN MCCAIN BLASTS HARRY REID: Two other Senators call for Reid to resign.

UPDATE: Much more here.

Plus, Harry Reid mythbusting. And some people seem to be losing it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s the roll call on the surrender vote.

April 25, 2007

A LOOK AT IRAN’S ROLE IN SUPPORTING THE INSURGENCY, from Richard Miniter: “The Islamic Republic tries to hide its involvement with ‘layers and layers of intermediaries,’ the head of a special Kurdish counter-terrorism service told PJM’s Richard Miniter. While this might fool the CIA, the Kurds are not misled.”

April 25, 2007

OF GULFSTREAMS AND GREENHOUSES: More global-warming hypocrisy.

Plus the Prius as energy-hog beard:

The problem for most people who buy a Prius is that they have to drive it, putt-putt-putting around the city. What makes Prius so popular with the Beautiful People is that it’s just a statement. They talk Prius, and they drive Lexus.

Think about it. How many times have you ever seen a Beautiful Person on TV or in the gossip columns getting out of a Prius, as opposed to how many times you’ve read about these phonies bragging that they own one? . . .

What a Beautiful Person really needs when he buys a Prius is a second parking space at the office. Leave the Prius in the most prominent slot, and then, around the corner, park the SUV you – or your driver – really uses. . . . Another option: Solar panels on the vacation home. But the downside is that once you cop to owning a second place, the hoi polloi start asking, just how many square feet in this place?

Of course, the Lexus could be a hybrid . . . .

April 25, 2007

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Democrats are taking ownership of a defeat in Iraq.”

April 25, 2007

REDSTATE’S JEFF EMANUEL is now reporting from Iraq.

April 25, 2007

MAKE THE DEBATE VIDEO PUBLIC: Larry Lessig has sent a letter to the RNC and DNC, which I signed on to, asking them to make the 2008 Presidential debate video available to everyone via the web.

April 25, 2007

MORE ON BEES — though “unnatural pollination” sounds like something that James Dobson should be unhappy about . . . .

April 25, 2007

NOW THEY’RE BLOGGING AT the Library of Congress.

April 25, 2007

LET THEM EAT NOTHING: Claudia Rosett on the muted response to the North Korean famine.

April 25, 2007

DOW 13,000: Good news, I guess.

April 25, 2007

STEVEN LANDSBURG on disaster relief: “Poor people, more than most, value cheap housing. A policy of disaster relief makes cheap housing hard to find. Therefore a policy of disaster relief is likely to impose a particular burden on the poor. If you want to help poor people, eliminating federal disaster relief is a good place to start.”

You’ll be shocked to hear that he has more thoughts on this provocative subject in his new book.

April 25, 2007

SEND MOYERS, GUNS AND MONEY. Mortman has the best titles. . . .

UPDATE: And don’t miss the comments.

April 25, 2007

A PROFILE OF PORKBUSTERS HERO TOM COBURN:

Coburn continues to make headway, if not achieve outright victories. While his campaign against the Bridge To Nowhere lost by over 60 votes, his effort to eliminate the “Railroad to Nowhere” lost by only a handful of votes, and the same with his recent effort to remove approximately $100 million in federal support for the parties’ political conventions. It is no longer possible to view his efforts as fruitless or quixotic. His strategy has been to offer amendment after amendment seeking to highlight and then remove these spending abuses, and it has brought about consequences. As Fraser describes it, “He is trying to force them on each and every vote to have an honest debate.” In many instances Coburn’s efforts are designed simply to force the Senate to follow its own rules and provide adequate time for consideration of these spending bills. According “NZ Bear,” blogger and co-founder of the Internet watchdog alliance Porkbusters, “He is the one who has been willing to stand up and just keep reminding the Congress of their responsibility to behave like adults, over and over again.”

More important, perhaps, than the daily fight over earmarks was his championing of S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. Co-sponsored by Barak Obama, S. 2590 passed in September 2006 and established an online, public search-engine and database to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and loans. Coburn says that greater transparency will bring “more accountability” and that media, watchdog groups, and political challengers will have the “tool” they never had to demonstrate the profligacy of government. As Schatz describes it, “The way to change the whole process is to change how taxpayers view it.” By exposing the details of government spending and grants, Coburn and his supporters hope to provide the public and political challengers with political ammunition to finally return rationality to the budgeting process.

Let’s hope.

April 25, 2007

MICHAEL TOTTEN IS WITH THE IRAQI POLICE IN KIRKUK: He’s got video, too. Excerpt:

“If America pulls out of Iraq, they will fail in Afghanistan,” Mam Rostam said.

Hardly anyone in Congress seems to consider that the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan might become much more severe if similar tactics are proven effective in Iraq.

“And they will fail with Iran,” he continued. “They will fail everywhere with all Eastern countries. The war between America and the terrorists will move from Iraq and Afghanistan to America itself. Do you think America will do that? The terrorists gather their agents in Afghanistan and Iraq and fight the Americans here. If you pull back, the terrorists will follow you there. They will try, at least. Then Iran will be the power in the Middle East. Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism. They support Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Ansar Al Islam. You know what Iran will do with those elements if America goes away.”

Read the whole thing.

April 25, 2007

STOPPING THE NEXT PANDEMIC BEFORE IT BEGINS: Well, that’s the time to stop it, of course. Cataloging viruses, as described in the linked article, is a good idea. So is the kind of open source disease surveillance described by Vernor Vinge.

April 25, 2007

FACT-CHECKING HARRY REID at Pollster.com.

UPDATE: And still more Reid fact-checking.

April 25, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Col. David Hunt’s new book, On the Hunt: How to Wake Up Washington and Win the War on Terror. According to the cover blurb he wants to abolish the Department of Homeland Security, a move that I certainly have a lot of sympathy for.

April 25, 2007

OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER: Rosie O’Donnell will leave The View.

April 25, 2007

HENRY MILLER ON BIOTECH REGULATION:

Many people who use the terms “biotechnology,” “genetic engineering,” and “genetically modified” don’t know what they’re talking about. Literally. Confusion about the terminology has led to the stigmatization of superior techniques by unscrupulous NGOs and some government officials, worthless conferences and reports, and poorly conceived experiments performed in the name of “biotechnology risk assessment.”

And this is costing lives. Read the whole thing.

April 25, 2007

IS THAT ALL? “Report: 80 percent of blogs contain offensive content.”

But seriously, this is lame:

But what’s really considered “offensive” content? A blog merely has to contain a single instance of profanity to be considered offensive, according to ScanSafe. “There were as many blogs with the ‘F-word’ as the word ‘China’,” Nadir told Techworld.

ScanSafe’s larger focus is not necessarily on single instances of offensive content, but overall security and liability for employees who might get caught with undesirable content on their computers while at work.

From what I can tell, the Taliban have fled Afghanistan and now run the Human Resources and IT departments at major American corporations.

April 25, 2007

SOMETHING NICE from Southwest Airlines. I wish they flew to my town.

April 25, 2007

(MOSTLY) GOOD NEWS FOR APPLE: “Federal securities regulators said yesterday that they would bring no civil charges against Apple over the backdating of executive stock options. But they stopped short of removing the cloud that for nearly a year has hung over the company’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs.”

April 25, 2007

TM LUTAS MAKES A PREDICTION:

Out of the 18 Iraqi provinces, 3 kurdish ones have their greatest security threats being foreign incursion from Turkey and Iran. Terrorism is successfully kept out. 4 arab provinces are under local management and we rarely, if ever, do anything there. That’s 7 down, 11 to go with the rest of the provinces in various stages along the road towards handover. I fully expect that when the balance is 10:8 instead of 7:11 that we’re going to see a sea change in coverage because “a majority of Iraq is under local control and relatively quiet” and all the MSM is going to realize that if they don’t get on the right side of this quickly, the deluge of broken credibility will very likely worsen and shorten their personal careers significantly.

I expect at least 3 more provinces to get handed over between now and the height of campaign season 2008. I’d like to think that at least 6 more would make the transition by then (obviating the need to explain Kurdistan’s special situation in the stats). The defeatists have to change the natural progression of Iraqi government and security institution building and do it soon or they’re going to be in deep trouble in 2008.

I certainly hope he’s right.

UPDATE: Reader Kjell Hagen makes another prediction:

By summer 2008, things will be have improved considerably in Iraq, but it will not be reported. The MSM will focus on the presidential election, and whoever is in favor of the Iraq engagement will be slammed by the MSM.

By spring 2009, the MSM will report that, yes, now everything is much better in Iraq. Whoever is president, especially if he/she is a democrat, will get the credit. Bush will still be blamed.

Sounds plausible!

April 25, 2007

RICHARD MINITER REPORTS ON PAYING THE IRAQI POLICE.

April 25, 2007

SOME THOUGHTS ON TECHNOLOGY AND HOMELAND SECURITY, from Fred Thompson.

April 25, 2007

TONY BLANKLEY on hardened divisions within the western polities.

April 25, 2007

THE NEW CONGRESS, SAME AS THE OLD CONGRESS:

Another part of this thing that is worth looking at is the way Democrats kept this bill from coming to a vote . In the paragraph quoted below, the same article explains that the Democratic majority did not concede unanimous consent and thus blocked the bill from being voted on that day. The Roll Call article that is quoted explicitly states that Democrats needed more time to look over the bill, but besides that, it went down similarly to how S.223, the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, was secretly held. . . .

Either way, as The Sunlight Foundation’s Ellen Miller put it, “a hold is a hold is a hold, unless you want to debate what the definition of “is” is.” And, since this holding procedure is being used by both parties to manipulate popular transparency legislation to suit the fancy of a few, it is time for the rule to be revised.

Indeed. Back before the elections, I said that the Republicans deserved to lose Congress, but the Democrats didn’t deserve to win it. Sadly, that’s how it’s turning out.