Archive for June, 2007

June 27, 2007

MORE ON THE RIAA AS A DEFENDANT.

June 27, 2007

COMPETING CLOCKS ON IRAQ: “the military clock in Baghdad, the Iraqi government clock, and the US political clock in Washington.” Biggest strategic bind: “the U.S. political cycle.”

June 27, 2007

FRED THOMPSON ON LOBBYING, at Ed Morrissey’s place.

June 27, 2007

AMAR BAKSHI IS TRAVELING THE WORLD, asking people what they think of America on video.

June 27, 2007

A LOOK AT CHINA’S WAR IN SPACE:

Every industrialized country relies on satellites every day, for everything from computer networking technology to telecommunications, navigation, weather prediction, television and radio. This makes satellites especially vulnerable targets. Imagine the U.S. military suddenly without guidance for its soldiers and weapons systems, and its civilians without storm warnings or telephones.

Some satellites, however, are at greater risk than others. Most spacecraft — including spy sats — are in low Earth orbit, which stretches 1240 miles into space. As the Chinese test proved, such targets could be hit with medium-range missiles tipped with crude kill devices. GPS satellites are far higher, orbiting at about 12,600 miles. Many communications sats are in the 22,000-mile range. Destroying them requires a much more powerful and sophisticated long-range ballistic missile — yet it can be done. “You’d need a sky-sweeping capability to comprehensively negate a space support system that is scattered all over,” says John Pike, a space analyst at GlobalSecurity.org. “You’d need ICBM-size boosters — hundreds of them.”

Such an all-out satellite war would render space useless for decades to come. “There’d be so much debris up there,” Clark says, “that it wouldn’t be safe to put anything up in space.”

I’d be very upset if that happened.

June 27, 2007

MORE VIDEO OF protests in Tehran.

UPDATE: Also, Iran’s self-sanctions.

June 27, 2007

EARMARKS IN THE IMMIGRATION BILL.

June 27, 2007

CHINA DEVELOPS A BAD BRAND IMAGE: “As a country develops and moves up the consumer supply chain, they generally acquire a reputation for making high-quality goods (think Japan and South Korea). What’s interesting is that China seems to be moving in the opposite direction.”

June 27, 2007

QUIETLY MAKING NOISE.

Read this, too.

June 27, 2007

PREDICTION: Right now it’s Democrats pushing a return to the “Fairness Doctrine,” but they’ll soon be joined by Republicans tired of things like this, and there will be pressure to extend regulation to the Internet. Incumbistan will unite under threat from outside.

June 27, 2007

I’D RATHER THAT I PAID WARREN BUFFETT’S TAX RATE than that he paid mine.

June 27, 2007

SCOTT JOHNSON:

Virtually everything important that is happening with respect to the immigration bill seems to be happening under the surface, away from the eyes of prying journalists and concerned citizens. The procedural maneuvering is incomprehensible. The substance of the amendments before the Senate is extraordinarily difficult if not overwhelming given the limited time allowed for their consideration.

I have only my intuition to go on. My intuition tells me that it is impossible to be cynical enough about what is transpiring here.

And why is intuition important? Lack of information. Here’s a comment from an open thread at the Volokh Conspiracy:

The problem as I see it, is that most of us don’t really understand the bill all that well. And Congress is really to blame for that – my impression is that it was not drafted out in the open, it is quite large, and amendments are not welcome. Plus, it seems like it is being rushed, possibly because the more that the people know what’s in it, the more they are likely to complain.

Indeed. And some thoughts from Rich Hailey: Read the whole thing.

June 27, 2007

CHENEY’S OFFICE SEEMS TO HAVE ABANDONED the claim that he’s actually a legislator.

June 27, 2007

HERE’S MORE ON the situation in Iran.

June 27, 2007

NIFONG NEWS CONTINUES TO UNFOLD, and K.C. Johnson continues to keep track of it.

June 27, 2007

MORE ON JON BRUNING, who’s challenging Chuck Hagel in the primary.

June 27, 2007

WALT MOSSBERG TRIED THE IPHONE FOR TWO WEEKS and liked it pretty well. And to my surprise, the lack of tactile feedback didn’t matter to him: “The iPhone’s most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt — who did most of the testing for this review — was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years.”

On the other hand, there’s a major drawback: you’re stuck with AT&T cell service.

UPDATE: Reader Zachary Bennett emails: “what’s wrong with AT&T cell service?”

Possibly nothing, but you don’t get a choice. I’d have to quit my contract with U.S. Cellular, for example, to buy an iPhone.

June 27, 2007

I AGREE:

It’s the birthday of Rudy “Rudolph” Perpich, governor of Minnesota. Among his notable accomplishments: he sent the National Guard to calm down the bitter Spam Strike of 1986, and he signed the law that bumped the drinking age up to 21. It’s a cliché, yes, but it’s still a reasonable argument: if the state will trust you to herd strikers with a rifle when you’re 18, why won’t they trust you with a beer?

Why, indeed? If anyone actually cared about the youth vote, they’d back a rollback in the drinking age.

June 27, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War.

June 27, 2007


The surge is well underway, Baqubah is under assault, Anbar is mostly pacified, and while people in iraq seem somewhat more optimistic, American politicians are getting increasingly wobbly. Meanwhile, we’re seeing assassinations and riots in Iran. What’s going on, and what should we expect in coming months?

We talk to Jim Dunnigan, publisher of StrategyPage.com and author of numerous books on war, intelligence and security, and Austin Bay, who blogs at AustinBay.net, and who is the author of both novels and nonfiction works on war and military matters. They provide their always-interesting take on what’s going on, and what’s likely to happen next in Iraq and Iran.

You can listen directly — no downloading needed — by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file and listen at your leisure by clicking right here, and you can get a lo-fi version suitable for dialup by going here and choosing the lo-fi version. Plus, you can always subscribe for free via iTunes, which is what all the cool kids do.

This podcast is brought to you by Volvo USA — buy a Volvo and tell ‘em it’s all because of the Glenn and Helen Show!

June 27, 2007

A LOOK AT THE SITUATION IN IRAQ from USA Today.

June 27, 2007

HIGH INSTITUTIONAL STANDARDS: So I emailed my Associate Dean that I’m now up to #11 on the Social Science Research Network list of top legal scholars. His response: “Most excellent, but head for single digits.”

Excelsior!

June 27, 2007

SOME THOUGHTS ON DIANNE FEINSTEIN’S PLAN TO bring back the “fairness doctrine:”

What Feinstein really wants is for federal bureaucrats to decide what political opinion programming we should hear. She presumes to know better than listeners what is “fair.” . . . What is especially revealing about these trial balloons for renewed regulation of political speech is that America already has an incredible diversity of media giving vent to opinion and commentary on every conceivable issue in public policy. Thanks to the Internet, America is in the midst of an unprecedented political news and commentary explosion. Anybody with an opinion can start a blog that can be read by anyone in the world with an Internet connection. There are literally millions of political blogs, podcasts, video blogs and blog-based radio operations providing analyses from every conceivable ideological position.

Political expression in America is being liberated as has never before been done in human history. Why does that bother Feinstein, Boxer, Clinton, Kucinich and other Fairness Doctrine advocates?

Read the whole thing.

June 27, 2007

IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, something positive: “It is a measure of soaring Kurdish optimism that government officials here talk seriously about one day challenging Dubai as the Middle East’s main transportation and business hub. The Kurdistan Regional Government is betting that it can, investing $325 million in a modern terminal at the Erbil International Airport to handle, officials hope, millions of passengers a year, and a three-mile runway that will be big enough for the new double-decker Airbus A380.”

June 27, 2007

THE IMMIGRATION AMENDMENTS ARE ONLINE in searchable format, courtesy of N.Z. Bear.

June 27, 2007

IS TEHRAN BURNING? People are certainly unhappy. Video and photos at the link.

June 27, 2007

mushroom.jpg
AN IMPORTANT WARNING:

Never water your lawn in the night, or you will get cramps and drown. No – you’ll get mushrooms. That’s it. Fungal surprises will pop out of your lawn with such force that clods of dirt will strike you in the face.

Well, I didn’t water my lawn at night, but it rained and sure enough, I got mushrooms. But they look kind of cool.

And if I’ve got mushrooms in my lawn, is that a sign that the drought is over?

June 27, 2007

MARK STEYN: “There’s something creepy about a political class so determined to impose a vast transformative bill cooked up backstage in metaphorically smoke-filled rooms on a nation that doesn’t want it. It’s an affront to republican government and quasi-European in its disdain for the citizenry.”

Yes, the unwillingness even to seriously argue the merits is the most disturbing aspect. But close behind is the GOP’s willingness to alienate its base at a time when — you’d think — the exigencies of the war would dictate the opposite.

UPDATE: Ron Coleman: “What a squandered, ugly moment.”

June 26, 2007

FINE ART from Paris Hilton. Well, art. Well, a drawing, anyway.

June 26, 2007

CAMPAIGNS AND THE POWER OF THE WEB: A contrarian take.

June 26, 2007

NEWT GINGRICH: The West is losing World War IV. “The source of failure is not to be found in the American people but in the inarticulate and unimaginative leaders all across government who now preside instead of lead.”

June 26, 2007

FRED THOMPSON IN NASHVILLE: Video from A.C. Kleinheider.

June 26, 2007

TUNGUSKA IMPACT CRATER found?

June 26, 2007

PLAYING POLITICS with the weather.

June 26, 2007

OUTSOURCING YOUR OWN JOB and pocketing the difference. Heh.

June 26, 2007

RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF IMMIGRATION: John Leo takes a look.

June 26, 2007

HERE’S THE TEXT of the 373-page so-called “clay pigeon” immigration bill amendment.

June 26, 2007

AN ALL-DAY LOOK AT ROBERT BORK’S SCHOLARSHIP: I confess that I’m no great fan of Bork’s work, for reasons explained at some length in this paper.

June 26, 2007

CAMPING OUT FOR IPHONES: An interview with a rather extreme fan. But with a “sweet mustache.”

UPDATE: Death of the clickwheel?

June 26, 2007

REPLACING YOUR HIP FRIEND: Beats replacing your hip.

June 26, 2007

WHERE ARE ALL THE HURRICANES? Staying away until after my vacation, I hope. “Checking the latest map of global sea temperature anomaly, I find the Atlantic Basin looking a little more normal, but coolish conditions continue in the regions of hurricane formation.” Fine with me if that lasts a while longer.

June 26, 2007

RAMMING THE IMMIGRATION BILL THROUGH FASTER THAN ADVERTISED? “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be using an ‘unprecedented combination of legislative procedures’ to push through the controversial Kennedy Immigration Bill – today!”

He couldn’t do that if the Republican leadership was determined to stop him. But it’s not.

June 26, 2007

AN ASSASSINATION IN IRAN: “The killing of a senior figure in Iran’s regime, the third in two months, is again downplayed by the country’s authorities.”

June 26, 2007

WHAT SHOULD REPUBLICANS DO as the GOP seems to be committing suicide? I dunno — saving the GOP isn’t my job, and if the Democrats weren’t worse on national security I wouldn’t mind much. (And the GOP advantage there seems to be shrinking anyway).

But you’ve got three basic choices: Exit, voice, and loyalty. That is, quit, bitch like hell, or hold your nose and vote.

Problem is, people have been exercising “voice” a lot and it’s clear that President Bush, Trent Lott, et al., don’t care and aren’t listening. So if you don’t want to hold your nose, you’ve got to exit, either to a third party, to a GOP candidate you like, or to another engagement on Election Day — go fishing, perhaps? I think the GOP’s vulnerability to a third party challenge has just gone way up.

UPDATE: Yeah, that’s a book, and the subtitle seems especially appropriate: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. The G.O.P. certainly seems to be declining at the moment.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ben White emails:

You forgot the only option that actually helps:

Run against them in the primary elections. Or find someone to run and support them.

Jon Bruning is running against Hagel. I sent him a contribution even though I’m not from Nebraska. I will send a contribution to a Trent Lott primary opponent. The same goes for John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and any of the rest of these guys.

Well, that’s “voice,” isn’t it?

June 26, 2007

DICK CHENEY, BABE MAGNET?

I’m not so sure, but hey, some women like the bad boys. . . .

June 26, 2007

A LOOK AT THE CURRENT SITUATION IN IRAQ, at the Small Wars Journal.

June 26, 2007

R.I.P. G.O.P.: Out in the car I heard a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh talking about the immigration bill moving forward. I think the Republicans’ situation is looking pretty grim, and I wonder, what impels them to make such a self-destructive
move? Limbaugh was wondering too.

More here.

June 26, 2007

SOME PERSPECTIVE: I was reading some stuff on the plans for invading Japan at the end of World War II when I ran across this:

Nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the casualties resulting from the invasion of Japan. To the present date, all the American military casualties of the sixty years following the end of World War II — including the Korean and Vietnam Wars — have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there were still 120,000 of these Purple Heart medals in stock. There are so many in surplus that combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan are able to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to wounded soldiers on the field.

And at current rates we’ll still be using them for decades. My grandfather fought all across Europe, then got shipped to the Pacific in preparation for invading Japan. He was extremely happy that the war ended without that being necessary.

June 26, 2007

RIAA SUED for malicious prosecution.

June 26, 2007

AN ARMORED SUPER-HUMVEE: Armor’s nice, but there’s a big sacrifice in cost and mobility to up-armoring everything.

June 26, 2007

A HUGE IMMIGRATION-BILL ROUNDUP.

Updated almost minute by minute.

UPDATE: Oops: “Bush Calls Immigration Bill ‘Amnesty.’”

June 26, 2007

IN THE MAIL: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. Lino Graglia likes it. Graglia and I, however, often disagree.

June 26, 2007

PARASITES AND PREDATORS: “Predators want to kill you and eat you right there on the veldt. Parasites, by contrast, want to keep you alive, the better to serve as a parasite paradise, a cozy haven where they can grow at their own pace, suckle on your moist, nourishing tissues, multiply their numbers and finally, one way or another, pass those numbers along.” Kinda like the difference between, say, terrorists and lobbyists.

June 26, 2007

FRED THOMPSON on Queen Elizabeth, Salman Rushdie, and Monty Python.

June 26, 2007

WONKS VS. REVOLUTIONARIES: Arnold Kling looks at divisions among Democratic activists.

June 26, 2007

ASK DR. HELEN: The Insta-Wife is soliciting your questions for a new advice column.

June 26, 2007

THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE POWERFUL: Mickey Kaus crows over his YouTube campaign, which has produced “A slew of actual Shrumesque attack ads” He’s got links.

Maybe this really is why the folks on Capitol Hill are getting so testy.

UPDATE: Yep, that must be it.

It’ll be interesting to see whether some of these ads wind up getting broadcast as part of TV news coverage. It’s a Macaca Moment for half the Senate!

ANOTHER UPDATE: They just keep coming. What hath Kaus wrought?

MORE: And another.

STILL MORE: My favorite so far.

June 26, 2007

MYSPACE VS. FACEBOOK: A class divide?

UPDATE: Link was wrong before — fixed now. Sorry.

June 26, 2007

NEWS FROM CHINA: “For Communist Party officials, their worst nightmare is becoming reality. The new middle class often own their homes, and when property values are threatened by some government policy, these middle class Chinese organize and show their displeasure. There have been several recent mass demonstrations by middle class Chinese, usually protesting efforts to put factories, or other property value destroying facilities, in the middle of newly built middle class communities. Local government officials, who control the local police, find that they cannot just use force to disperse the middle class demonstrators, as they do farmers, or poor, working class protestors. The middle class crowd is better organized, and have useful connections themselves. The middle class have cell phones and Internet access. The middle class also has access to the upper reaches of the Communist Party, which relies on middle class administrators and technocrats, to make things happen. If the middle class turns on the Communist Party, the communists will lose.”

Mess with the rising bourgeoisie at your peril!

UPDATE: Bored with socialism?

But today’s China is, in some respects, less socialistic than much of Western Europe, with a moth-eaten social safety net and a wild free-market economy. Students in almost any urban Chinese school can look out their classroom windows and see just about everything but socialism being constructed: high-rise office buildings, shopping malls, movie theaters, luxury apartment buildings, fast-food restaurants, hotels, factories — the whole capitalist panorama.

Socialism is inherently boring, which is why its main enthusiasts are bores themselves people with high boredom thresholds, like professors and politicians.

June 26, 2007

535 COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF: Now it’s Richard Lugar calling for a new strategy. Maybe we could do something to stop Iranian troops entering Iraq? I don’t think he has anything so useful in mind, though.

UPDATE: Fresh back from Iraq, J.D. Johannes posts a wrapup. And he emails that he’s got a rant about Senators on the way: “you know, we could have this thing all but won and still declare defeat. That is sickening.” Our political class isn’t known for bravery or discipline.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bob Owens casts doubt on the reports of Iranian troops.

June 25, 2007

HAS BUSH squandered the last of his political capital on immigration? I’d say the answer is pretty much yes, which is unfortunate with more war-funding battles coming up soon.

UPDATE: The end of the conservative coalition?

MORE: “The Republican Party is in serious trouble.”

MORE: I agree: “Supporters of this bill sell it as a compromise that will heal America’s divisions. I fear it’s quite the reverse. This bill is infuriating the public and undermining faith in government itself. You can see it in the polling on confidence in Congress and the President. If this bill passes, it’s going to aggravate and embitter politics for years to come. Passing a measure over such overwhelming opposition is like slapping the public in the face.”

June 25, 2007

POLITICS, THE PRESS, and a truly vital election.

June 25, 2007

A LOOK AT CITIZEN JOURNALISM IN CHINA:

In the strictly controlled media world of communist China, “citizen journalism” is beating a way through censorship, breaking taboos and offering a pressure valve for social tensions.

In one striking example this month, the Internet was largely responsible for breaking open a slave scandal in two Chinese provinces that some local authorities had been complicit in.

A letter posted on the Internet by 400 parents of children working as slaves in brickyards was the trigger for the national press to finally report on the scandal that some rights groups say had been going on for years.

The parents’ Internet posting was part of a growing phenomenon for marginalised people in China who can not otherwise have their complaints addressed by the traditional, government-controlled press.

Hey, somebody should write a book about this phenomenon!

June 25, 2007

A FRIEND AT NASA sends this rather cool picture of the newly-remodeled International Space Station:

isssm.jpg

June 25, 2007

NEWS ON THE TALIBAN: “The Taliban has admitted defeat, in their own unique way. In recent media interviews, Taliban spokesmen announced a shift in emphasis to suicide bombings. The Taliban also admitted that the Americans had infiltrated their high command, which led to the death or capture of several senior Taliban officials, and the capture of many lower ranking ones as well. There have also been some prominent defections recently, which the Taliban spokesmen did not want to talk about.”

UPDATE: That’s okay, we’re having our own defections, too.

June 25, 2007

OH NO, ANOTHER GAS CRISIS: “I’ve been watching the price of gas drop all weekend. It seems like it’s adjusted on the hour. I’ll never understand how a load of gas the station bought at a higher price last week can sell for less today. I mean, I can understand why they’d charge more for gas they bought last week at a lower price – they’re evil and bad. But this charging less for something they bought at a higher price – it makes no sense.”

June 25, 2007

THEY’RE GETTING KIND OF TESTY in Trent Lott’s office: “A hostile woman answered and told me that my opinions were ‘my prerogative’ and hung up on me without further adieu—-I did not get a ‘thank you’ or a ‘good-bye.’”

They’re sounding kind of irritated in Jim Webb’s office, too, though it’s not clear how he’ll vote.

The leaders of Incumbistan would rather not even have to answer the phone. Unless, you know, it’s somebody offering them money who’s calling. If you want to annoy any Senators, here’s the contact list.

UPDATE: Reader Earl Perry writes: “Senator Salazar’s office staff Is distinctly crusty these days too. The words are borderline civil as they dismiss you, while the tone is savage. He got a certain amount of crossover Republican support in his first election to the Senate, including mine. He co-sponsored the Iraq pullout requirement, and he’s nuzzling the immigration bill. These are probably wiser moves for an entrenched dinosaur like Teddy Kennedy than for a tenuous upstart. He’ll need a real dolt for an opponent to re-get my vote.” Well, the GOP can probably find one of those . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: This may account for some of the testiness: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 22% of American voters currently favor the legislation. That’s down a point from 23% a couple of weeks ago and down from 26% when the debate in the Senate began. Fifty percent (50%) oppose the Senate bill while 28% are not sure.” Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel — the more they argue for it, the less I’m inclined to support it. I’m not sure how much of this is that the bill is stupid and how much is that the arguments (and arguers) are, but I guess it doesn’t have to be either/or.

Or maybe they’re upset at Mickey Kaus’s unfolding YouTube campaign.

YET ANOTHER UPDATED: Reader Kevin McKinley says they’re nicer in person:

I visited Jim Webb’s Virginia Beach, VA office yesterday to officially register my opposition to the immigration “reform” resolution.

The staffer there was polite, and volunteered that of all the people who have contacted that office, not a single person had expressed support for the resolution.

She told me Webb does not support it; when I asked her if he would vote for cloture she couldn’t tell me.

Sounds like he’d be crazy to vote against cloture, but this is the Senate, so who knows?

MORE: Another report from reader Chris Farley:

I called each office. I could not get through to the DC office – in ten tries, three of them got the “all circuits are busy” message. Capitol Hill must be going nuts.

At the other offices, I told them that I was calling to request that Senator Webb vote “no” to cloture for the immigration bill. I then asked if they knew how the senator planned to vote.

Hampton Roads – a very, very friendly and perky woman answered the phone. She took my name, address, phone and e-mail when I registered my opposition and thanked me for participating in the process. She told me that Senator Webb hasn’t made up his mind yet on how to vote.

Roanoke – a woman answered the phone and tried to get me off as quickly as I could. She was cordial at best. She only took my name. She told me that “we don’t know here but he voted against cloture before so we assume he’ll vote against it this time.”

Richmond – a very young sounding woman answered the phone, told me “okay” when I registered my opinion and also told me that the senator hasn’t made up his mind on how to vote. She didn’t even take my name.

I voted for Webb primarily because I dislike George Allen. So far, I like the concentration Webb has been given to Veteran’s issues, since I’m a veteran myself. But, I’m starting to dislike Senator Webb primarily because of the way his constituent services offices are treating me. Democracy really sucks when the primary driver behind a vote is because you dislike the other candidate. It is a bit depressing.

Most of ‘em are depressing, if you look too closely.

STILL MORE: Meryl Yourish emails that the lines are jammed: “I tried calling Jim Webb’s DC office. Voicemail is full; line is busy. Same goes for Warner’s office. But their local offices are free. So I called to let them know that I do not want them to vote for the amnesty bill.”

June 25, 2007

A COOL COLLECTION of photos from China.

UPDATE: Plus this bizarro abandoned Chinese EPCOT clone.

June 25, 2007

MY LOCAL PAPER HAS bought my local alt-weekly. It’s probably a good business move for them, but it makes Knoxville even more of a one-newspaper town.

UPDATE: Brendan Loy: “Big national developments like Rubert Murdoch’s bid for the WSJ get all the headlines, but it’s the consolidation of ownership and lack of competition in local markets that upsets me most, because local newspapers, TV and radio are the predominant non-Internet news sources for the average person, and the realities of the modern market have robbed them — particularly the newspapers — of the journalistic vitality they once had.”

June 25, 2007

GLOBAL WARMING wreaks havoc in London! Has Al Gore visited there this week?

UPDATE: Obviously Prince Charles needs to do more!

ANOTHER UPDATE: But of course! “Mr Gore was in London on Wednesday to promote his Live Earth 24-hour concert next month .”

Via Don Surber, who emails: “It is so difficult to type while I laugh.”

I have that problem a lot.

MORE: Has Gore been to Sweden recently? Say what you will, he’s personally helping to hold back global warming.

June 25, 2007

FEARLESS POWER WORKERS: OSHA would not approve.

June 25, 2007

THE DEMOCRATS SEEM worried about Fred Thompson.

UPDATE: Heh.

June 25, 2007

DISCOVER MAGAZINE: “All over the world, no matter what the cultural or language differences, science is more or less guided by scientific principles—except in many Islamic countries, where it is guided by the Koran. This is the ultimate story about science and religion.” Excerpt:

The evil West is a common refrain with El-Naggar, who, paradoxically, often appears in a suit and tie, although he is wearing a pale green galabiyya when we meet. He says that he grieves for Western colleagues who spend all their time studying their areas of specialization but neglect their souls; it sets his teeth on edge how the West has “legalized” homosexuality. “You are bringing man far below the level of animals,” he laments. “As a scientist, I see the danger coming from the West, not the East.” . . . El-Naggar even sees moral meaning in the earthquake that triggered the 2005 tsunami and washed away nearly a quarter of a million lives. Plate tectonics and global warming be damned: God had expressed his wrath over the sins of the West. Why, then, had God punished Southeast Asia rather than Los Angeles or the coast of Florida? His answer: Because the lands that were hit had tolerated the immoral behavior of tourists.

Theocracy — it’s not just for John Ashcroft anymore. If it ever actually was. . . .

June 25, 2007

A CONCRETE TEST of “which presidential candidate cares most for the needs of older and disabled Americans.”

June 25, 2007

AMITY SHLAES on the New Deal. “The incredible rightness of FDR’s war policy obscures the flaws in his prior actions.”

I haven’t read the book, but this is pretty interesting stuff.

June 25, 2007

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS on why it’s stupid to try to satisfy Angry Muslims: “Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.”

June 25, 2007

THE COMPETITORS for the X-Prize lunar lander competition have been announced. Except for one “secret” competitor that is, apparently, not Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin enterprise.

June 25, 2007

JACKSON DIEHL:

Where does the global human rights movement stand in the seventh year of the 21st century? If the first year of the United Nations Human Rights Council is any indication, it’s grown sick and cynical — partly because of the fecklessness and flexible morality of some of the very governments and groups that claim to be most committed to democratic values.

At a session in Geneva last week, the council — established a year ago in an attempt to reform the U.N. Human Rights Commission — listened to reports by special envoys appointed by its predecessor condemning the governments of Cuba and Belarus. It then abolished the jobs of both “rapporteurs” in a post-midnight maneuver orchestrated by its chairman, who announced a “consensus” in spite of loud objections by the ambassador from Canada that there was no such accord.

While ending the scrutiny of those dictatorships, the council chose to establish one permanent and special agenda item: the “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” In other words, Israel (or “Palestine,” in the council’s terminology), alone among the nations of the world, will be subjected to continual and open-ended examination. That’s in keeping with the record of the council’s first year: Eleven resolutions were directed at the Jewish state. None criticized any other government. . . .

What about Western human rights groups — surely they cannot accept such a travesty of human rights advocacy? In fact, they can.

It’s as if they’re a bunch of antisemitic thugs, and their apologists, or something. (Via Harry’s Place, where a commenter observes: “Just goes to prove what the long term expenditure of large amounts of Arab oil money can achieve.”)

June 25, 2007

JOHN EDWARDS keeps the haircut story alive.

June 25, 2007

HOWARD KURTZ ON POLITICAL DONATIONS BY THE PRESS: “The scorecard — 125 of 144 donations to Democrats — provides fresh ammunition to those who say the press has a liberal tilt. It’s hard to argue you don’t favor one party when you’ve just coughed up cash for that party.”

But isn’t banning those donations just covering up the problem? It’s really a failure of diversity.

June 25, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More Murtha pork:

In April 2004, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) celebrated the groundbreaking for a gleaming new office building here, designed around its anchor tenant, a Rockville, Md.-based technology company called Aeptec Microsystems.

Murtha pursued millions of dollars worth of legislative earmarks for the company, and Aeptec’s federal contracts blossomed after it opened a branch in his district in 2001, rising from about $13 million in 2000 to $45.6 million in 2003 and $33 million in 2004, according to fedspending.org, a database of federal contracts. The company had been represented by two lobbying firms with close ties to Murtha: KSA Consulting and the PMA Group.

But Aeptec never moved into the Indiana building, which was built mostly with state and local development funds and remains mostly empty after opening last month. The company, also known as 3eTI, instead moved its staff of about 15 people into a nondescript office park across town, where its name is not even posted on the outside door. It has since been bought by Texas-based EFJ Inc.

Aeptec’s story is not unique. Murtha has obtained millions of dollars in earmarks for firms in his district, many of them clients of PMA and KSA. But in many cases the money is not for local companies, it is for companies that move to the district, and frequently it is for start-ups that essentially would not be in business were it not for Murtha’s largesse. Some of the firms also are simply store-front offices of companies that do most of their work elsewhere.

Jeez.

June 25, 2007

MORE ON POTENTIAL LAMAR ALEXANDER CHALLENGER Mike McWherter. Hmm. Didn’t Lamar become less friendly to the immigration bill about the time people started talking about this?

June 25, 2007

IN THE SUPREME COURT, a big win for campaign finance deregulation. Good.

June 25, 2007

I’VE LINKED BEFORE TO STUDIES showing that circumcision reduces AIDS risk. But here’s a new report suggesting that it’s more complicated than that:

Male circumcision, which had previously been found to lessen the risk of contracting HIV, is largely irrelevant, suggests a new study. Rather, it is the number of prostitutes in a country that determines the spread of HIV infections, says researcher John R. Talbott, in the journal PLoS ONE.

After conducting statistical empirical research across 77 countries, Talbot contends that prostitute communities are typically very highly infected with the virus, and because of the large number of sex partners they have each year, can act as an “engine” driving infection rates to unusually high levels in the general population.

He adds that while male circumcision may indeed reduce the risk of transmission by around 50 percent in each sexual encounter, reducing single encounter transmission rates alone cannot control the epidemic. Why? Because individuals in highly infected countries have multiple contacts with the infected, so reducing transmission rates only defers the inevitable.

Hmm. Read the whole thing.

June 25, 2007

MICKEY KAUS’S YOUTUBE REQUEST bears fruit.

June 25, 2007

WAITING FOR SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE: A crime against humanity? It’s not enough to have scientific consensus, you have to have it when the politicians think you should have it.

UPDATE: Related item here:

In his new book, “The Assault on Reason,” Gore denounces what he sees as today’s politics of fear. Yet his own campaign of mass persuasion — any such campaign — is not amenable to contradiction and uncertainty. It’s about fright and absolutes.

Yes, even the scientific consensus isn’t consensus-y enough for Gore.

June 25, 2007

BRING IT ON! A fast-track approach to terraforming Mars.

June 25, 2007

JOHN WIXTED HAS MORE on the effort to downplay Al Qaeda in Iraq.

UPDATE: Related item here.

June 25, 2007

A REALITY CHECK FOR THE ANTIWAR CROWD: “As an Iraq war veteran who participated in combat operations and political reconciliation efforts, I take issue with some of the arguments repeatedly being made on Capitol Hill. Most recently I was bothered by statements from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who cited three common antiwar arguments in his June 21 op-ed, ‘Lincoln’s Example for Iraq,’ all of which run counter to realities on the ground in Iraq.”

June 25, 2007

BLADE RUNNER, 25 YEARS LATER: An appreciation.

June 25, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Michael Makovsky’s Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft. Fouad Ajami likes it.

June 25, 2007

MICHAEL YON POSTS ANOTHER REPORT FROM BAQUBAH. Excerpt:

On the evening of the 24th I spoke with a local Iraqi official, Colonel Faik, who said the Muftis would order the severance of the two fingers used to hold a cigarette for any Iraqis caught smoking. Other reports, from here in Diyala and also in Anbar, allege that smokers are murdered by AQI. Most Iraqis smoke and this particular prohibition appeared to have earned the ire of many locals. After an American unit cleared an apartment complex on the 23rd, LTC Smiley, the battalion commander, reported that residents didn’t ask for food and water, but cigarettes. In other parts of Baqubah, people have been celebrating the routing of AQI by lighting up and smoking cigarettes.

Other AQI edicts included beatings for men who refused to grow beards, and corporal punishments for obscene sexual suggestiveness, defined by such “loose” behavior as carrying tomatoes and cucumbers in the same bag. These fatwas were not eagerly embraced by most Iraqis, and the taint traveled back to the Muftis who sat in supreme judgment. Locals, who are increasingly helpful in pointing out and celebrating the downfall of AQI here, said that during the initial Arrowhead Ripper attack the morning of the 19th, AQI murdered five men. Townsend’s men found the buried corpses behind an AQI prison, exactly where they’d been told to look for the group grave. Locals also directed Townsend’s men to a torture house. Peering through a window, American soldiers saw knives, swords, bindings and drills. AQI is well-known for its macabre eagerness to drill into kneecaps, elbows, ribs, skulls, and other parts of victims.

As always, read the whole thing. Only don’t tell Mike Bloomberg about the finger-cutting for smokers. It might give him ideas . . . .

UPDATE: This kind of undercuts those lefty bloggers who have been trying to downplay the Al Qaeda presence.

And via email, Michael Yon writes: “The attack continues to unfold here. I’m told that there are reports that the attack in Baqubah is over. If there are such reports, they are untrue.”

June 25, 2007

IMPEACH CHENEY IF YOU WANT, but do bear in mind that he’ll preside over his own impeachment trial.

No, really. The Senate has the sole power to try impeachments. The Vice President is the President of the Senate. He presides. The Constitution provides for only one exception in cases of impeachment: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” That’s because of the obvious conflict-of-interest of having the VP preside when the President is tried. But there’s no similar provision for having someone else preside if the Vice President is impeached.

Presumably that’s because no one could imagine a Vice President doing anything significant enough to warrant impeachment, which was certainly an accurate reflection of the office’s character for the first two centuries or so of our nation’s history. And it’s another argument against the VP being given extensive executive responsibilities, now that I think of it.

June 25, 2007

THE QUESTION FOR CANDIDATES: Ban or embrace blogs?

June 25, 2007

FIGHTING WORDS, TO SOME: “Five days to the iPhone. If you care. I don’t.”

June 25, 2007

JOHN LEO RECOGNIZES dubious achievement in higher education.

June 25, 2007

HOW GREEN IS MY . . . chainsaw?

June 25, 2007

THOUGHTS ON OBAMA AND RELIGION. Plus, does Giuliani have a John Kerry problem?

June 25, 2007

N.Z. BEAR RESPONDS TO MAX SAWICKY in defense of porkbusting.

June 25, 2007

MEGAN MCARDLE: “I find the argument that the problem with immigrants is illegal immigration pretty uncompelling. . . . It is far from clear to me that being an illegal alien is a morally wrong, as opposed to legally wrong, act.”

I certainly agree that we’re talking about malum prohibitum rather than malum in se here. Just like if you don’t pay your taxes. But it seems to me that most of the anger out there isn’t about the immigrants at all, but about the arrogance of, and the transparently disingenuous arguments made by, Trent Lott and the other folks in Congress and the White House in support of the bill.

UPDATE: Readers wonder if we’ll have an amnesty for people who don’t pay their taxes? Well, we’ve seen that kind of thing before, actually. Of course, moral arguments aside there’s a good argument that the already-swamped federal immigration bureaucracy can’t possibly handle the demands that the immigration bill would impose. And there’s the question of assimilation, which to me is most important: We’ve assimilated big waves of immigrants before, but that was back when the folks in charge of education and government thought assimilation was a good thing — as we see in Britain, when the dominant ideology is PC-ish and multi-culti, we tend to see a sort of reverse-assimilation instead.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A look at one-time tax amnesty: The sequel.

MORE: Speaking of Trent Lott . . . .