September 30, 2007
THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING: “A federal judge has ordered Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) to testify in a defamation case related to the deaths of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005, according to the Associated Press.”
THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING: “A federal judge has ordered Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) to testify in a defamation case related to the deaths of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005, according to the Associated Press.”
DOES BERNANKE KNOW ABOUT THIS? “The Dollar Aisle has abandoned all pretense. Some items now go for $2.50, which contravenes the very foundational premise of a dollar aisle.”
THE BEST THING WRITTEN ABOUT the Ahmadinejad visit.
NEWS FROM COLOMBIA, where FARC isn’t doing that well.
HSUPOCRISY: Talking reform but taking cash.
CAPTURING WAR ON FILM: This is not a trailer.
JAMIE KIRCHICK ON MUGABE IN the Los Angeles Times: “Those who say Zimbabwe’s president was once a hero are fooling themselves.”
IS HILLARY the new old Al Gore?
NEWS FROM UKRAINE: “Yulia Tymochenko has said she is preparing to become the next prime minister of Ukraine after exit polls gave her more than 30 per cent of the vote in the country’s legislative elections.”
IT’S NOT A “SMEAR” — it’s better understood as “battlespace preparation.” And the target is the traditional media; the intent is to limit the ability of people like Limbaugh or O’Reilly to drive stories in the mainstream news as we get closer to the election. Expect more of this, with more targets.
Of course, it’s also generated some blowback.
UPDATE: More here.
MORE: Desperately seeking “Betray-us.”
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More trouble for Ted Stevens:
The 83-year-old senator is under scrutiny in a far-reaching Alaska corruption investigation. The FBI has been looking into whether Stevens received illegal gifts from a once powerful energy contractor, Veco Corp. Last week, a former Alaska House speaker was convicted of taking bribes from the same company. And during that former legislator’s trial, bruising details of the bribery scandalâ€”which has engulfed several former state lawmakers, including Stevens’s sonâ€”have come to light.
Chipping away. No charges have been filed against Stevens or his son, and the senator maintains his innocence, as does his son, Ben Stevens. But the recent revelations appear to be chipping away at the elder Stevens’s support base. GOP Gov. Sarah Palin has called on Stevens to explain himself, and one independent poll taken this summer showed that 44 percent of voters in Anchorage had a negative view of the senator.
Stevens should retire now. But I doubt that he will.
THAT’S PROP-A-TAINMENT! “What accounts for Hollywoodâ€™s failure to capture the reality of war? . . . Tinseltownâ€™s ‘moralistic monkey has climbed back up on its shoulder,’ resulting in films that have nothing to do with combat and everything to do with politics.”
Actually I think it’s just evidence that this prediction (“War focuses issues in ways peace cannot.”) was overoptimistic.
I GUESS IT’S A HYBRID, OF SORTS: A human / electric bike with an electric-powered range of 62 miles and a top speed of 28 mph.
A GAY LOVE SONG for Ahmadinejad. “I know you say that there’s no gays in Iran — but you’re in New York now, baby!” I hope that the image of Ahmadinejad in a slinky red dress atop the piano gets plenty of circulation with the folks back home.
THIS IS INTERESTING:
A KEY suspect in the alleged plot to mount an attack in Germany on the scale of 9/11 is on the run in Britain, German security officials disclosed yesterday.
Scotland Yard counterterrorism detectives are hunting the man, who escaped from Germany after a plot to explode bombs at Frankfurt airport and a US airbase. The collective power of the bombs would have exceeded those in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005.
The plot was foiled on September 4 when three men were arrested at a rented holiday apartment near the central German town of Kassel. Police recovered chemicals and bomb-making equipment which investigators believe would have led to the biggest loss of life since the 9/11 attacks in America six years ago. . . . Wolfgang SchÃ¤uble, Germanyâ€™s interior minister, revealed last week that the three arrested men had acquired detonators that originated from Syria and had received direct orders to act from operatives in Pakistan. â€œWe know that there is a clear network, highly conspiratorial,â€ he said.
Read the whole thing. And note this earlier report: “The prime suspect in a German terror plot that allegedly intended to blow up hundreds of people may have had contact with Mohammed Atta, who hijacked one of the planes that was flown into the Twin Towers.”
UPDATE: Beware of the fear-mongering.
CAR LUST: Remembering the Plymouth Super Bird: “The Super Bird came with the stock 440, the legendary 440 Six Pack, or the epic 426 Hemi. Power was not a problem.” I used to see one of these driven around Knoxville occasionally, but I’m sure it’s been snapped up by some collector in the past few years.
DOUG BAND QUESTIONS, from Mickey Kaus.
MORE ON the Marines in Oakland.
HSUTZPAH: “Fund-raiser Norman Hsu: Dismiss rap, give back my $2M bail.”
BLOG LIKE A PIRATE: Corsair interacts with the folks from ReputationDefender.
MORE ON THE SHOCKING lack of homosexuals in the Arab world: “It may come as a surprise to Columbia faculty and students to learn that a current professor at Columbia has argued that there are no homosexuals in the entire Arab world, except for a few who have been brainwashed into believing they have a homosexual identity by an aggressive Western homosexual missionizing movement he calls ‘Gay International.’”
UPDATE: A reader emails with a splendid idea:
Maybe we should embrace Ahmadinejad’s view on gays in the Middle East, with a Darwinian twist.
Why aren’t there gays in the Middle East? Because, when Middle Easterners realize that they’re gay, they do the right thing from Ahmadinejad’s point of view and become suicide bombers, or they join the Revolutionary Guard and walk through mine fields to clear them for the troops behind. So Ahmadinejad is right; gayness is slowly being eliminated from the population. It also explains where suicide bombers come from. Remember those Taleban-in-eyeliner photos? Everything is all falling into place.
Let’s go with it: Maybe a gay rights group could adopt a few suicide bombers, post their martyrdom videos and celebrate their presumed gayness posthumously. I suppose people who want to become suicide bombers for other reasons could object that this will tarnish their sacrifice, but they are either bigots or, more likely, protesting a bit too much, don’t you think?
SO I’VE HAD MY JVC HDTV for most of a year, and I’ve been very happy with it. My only complaint is that the HDMI connections are in a different — and hard to see — place from the rest of the connections and when I set it up I spent longer than I should have looking at the back and scratching my head. (The manual shows the HDMI connections, but only in close-up, so that didn’t help.) But the picture’s great, the connectivity’s great, and it’s been completely trouble-free.
This information is, of course, largely useless since almost a year is ages in consumer electronics time. But the new Consumer Reports has a big roundup with this unsurprising good news: “Bigger, better, cheaper — those three words sum up the major trends in LCD and plasma TVs this year.” If only everything got better this fast. That’s one reason I like gadget-blogging; it’s inherently cheerful because things pretty much always are better than last year.
There is, of course, a downside to constant improvement: Last year my TV was the one they liked best; this year it didn’t make the list at all, and this 50″ Panasonic plasma got the nod as producing the best picture they’d ever seen on a TV. And for less money than I paid for my TV last year . . . .
Looking at the reviews, though, the big news seems to be the price drop for smaller TVs in the under-40 inch category. They recommend this 37″ Olevia, and it’s only 800 bucks. For those interested in a TV in this size range, I’d say waiting no longer makes sense, as prices can’t fall that much farther. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer for mine, though: Yeah, I could have gotten a bigger, better TV for the same money by waiting (or the TV I bought last year for less money this year), but the one I got was more than adequate for my needs, and I’ve had it for the past year. That’s worth something too. The other news is that last year people were saying that plasma TVs were on the way out, but this year the Consumer Reports people seem surprisingly bullish on them.
UPDATE: Reader Darren Miller emails about the 37″ Olevia:
I got one this past March, but it appears to be a slightly down-version of the one you linked to. I checked out all the reviews in advance and have to agree:
1. The remote *does* look cheap. It works, but it just looks cheap.
2. The tuner can take 3-5 seconds to change channels when you press the CH+ or CH- key, or when keying in a channel.
Other than that, I really like it.
Also, in response to another reader question, as I noted last year, I got my TV locally from H.H. Gregg, which matched the Amazon price. I think it’s probably fine to order ‘em from Amazon — obviously, lots of people do — but I kind of liked having somewhere local to complain to if something breaks, though that’s less and less of an issue as the technology matures.
IT’S NOT PERSONAL, it’s just business.
AN INSINCERE APOLOGY from Duke President Richard Brodhead.
AS THE NEW YORK TIMES WRITES ABOUT BLACKWATER, it’s worth remembering that its own security operation in Iraq has not been beyond reproach. (Via Michael Petrelis, who also notes that Blackwater seems to be more gay-friendly than the U.S. military. You’d think that would get them some points . . . .)
INDEED: “Call it Spook’s Inverse Law of Iraq War Reporting: if you don’t see a spate of stories on U.S. casualties at the end of the month, then there must be some good news the MSM is ignoring.”
When a San Mateo County judge accepted Democratic financier Norman Hsu’s no-contest plea on a grand theft charge 15 years ago, nearly everyone expected Hsu would return to court a few weeks later and be sentenced to three years in prison by that same judge.
Instead, the defendant went on the lam in 1992. Veteran judge Aram Serverian retired in 2000.
Now that Hsu is finally back in court, his attorney says the old plea agreement should be tossed out because Serverian is unavailable to impose the sentence.
That’s an audacious move.
TIM RUTTEN ON AHMADINEJAD AND COLUMBIA: “One of the world’s truly dangerous men, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left New York a clear winner this week, and he can thank the arrogance of the American academy and most of the U.S. news media’s studied indifference for his victory. If the blood-drenched history of the century just past had taught American academics one thing, it should have been that the totalitarian impulse knows no accommodation with reason. You cannot change the totalitarian mind through dialogue or conversation, because totalitarianism — however ingenious the superstructure of faux ideas with which it surrounds itself — is a creature of the will and not the mind. That’s a large lesson, but what should have made Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University this week a wholly avoidable debacle was the school’s knowledge of its own, very specific history.”
Read the whole thing. And some of the comments to his post show that the Silvershirts’ descendants are still active, condemning America and excusing dictators.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here.
DON’T MESS WITH SCIENTOLOGISTS, unless you’re tougher than this guy. “A man who agreed to plead guilty in a plot to extort more than $1 million from Tom Cruise for the actor’s stolen wedding photos was found dead in his home, authorities said.”
NEWT WON’T RUN: “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president in 2008 after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain as head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said Saturday.”
ERIC SCHEIE starring on XM. They should give him his own show.
INVASION OF THE body politic snatchers?
MONKS AND BLOGGERS in Burma.
This is basically the narrative of The Big Con: we used to have this terrific economy with low inequality and a growing government share of national income, with everyone except a few rich malcontents happy, then this giant Republican conspiracy to make us all hate taxes came along and lured us off the Yellow Brick Road and onto the Road to Perdition.
This seems an odd belief to hold in a nation that was basically founded in a tax revolt. A modestly comprehensive perusal of pre-1970 literature reveals that Americans seem to have hated taxes all along. And why wouldn’t they? Taxes don’t need any special conspiracy to make you hate them, at least if you are among the majority of people who would rather have more money in your pocket than less. . . .
But perhaps even more importantly, it’s not clear that 1980-2007 are the anomalies in American public sentiment about taxes. On the contrary, I think I can make a better case that 1945-1970 was the oddity. While incomes were growing rapidly, and inflation wasn’t, the American public was willing to accept a higher tax burden because even after taxes, they felt a lot richer. As soon as productivity growth slowed (and therefore growth in real incomes), people started to feel the pinch of a growing tax burden, particularly since inflation was pushing them into tax brackets originally meant for “the rich”.
What does this say about the next decade?
SOME MORE VERY NICE Manhattan photos.
SOME IMPORTANT fashion advice for men.
A RECIPE FOR FRIED RAVIOLI. It sounds delicious — and oh-so-dietetic!
LAWFARE: When legal news on the war on terror isn’t news.
THE SHORT, HAPPY LIFE of a Russian anti-corruption investigator. Emphasis on the “short.”
IN THE AMERICAN THINKER, this analysis: “There are signs that the global Islamic jihad movement is splitting apart, in what would be a tremendous achievement for American strategy.” Read the whole thing, and hope that he’s right.
AT BOINGBOING, some Velvet Underground video.
“FAKE SOLDIERS:” It goes way beyond antiwar faker Jesse MacBeth: “How serious is the problem of ‘phony soldiers?’ Congress last year passed legislation to allow prosecution of people who claimed medals that they had not earned. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously. It was introduced by Congressman John Salazar (D-CO), whose press release on the measure lists several phony heroes.”
IN THE MAIL: Walter Russell Mead’s new book, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World. According to the blurb: “With wit, verve, and stunning insight, Mead recounts what is, in effect, the story of a centuries-long war between the English-speaking peoples and their enemies.”
MORE ETHANOL DOWNSIDE: “Soaring food prices, driven in part by demand for ethanol made from corn, have helped slash the amount of food aid the government buys to its lowest level in a decade, possibly resulting in more hungry people around the world this year.”
JOHN MCCAIN: Boot Burma out of ASEAN.
ENTITLEMENTS FOR THE UNBORN? Greg Mankiw has some questions about Hillary’s baby-bond proposal: “How might this be funded? There are only three groups that could be asked to pay for the new entitlement with higher taxes (or lower benefits): the current elderly, those currently of working age, or the same future generations who are getting the new benefit and are slated to pay for existing unfunded entitlements. Which group do you think Senator Clinton has in mind?”
IN THE ATLANTIC, Robert Kaplan defends Blackwater: “For all the notoriety of private military contractors like Blackwater, they represent an important aspect of the future of war. And that future is not all bad.”
PARKER V. D.C.: I’ve got a modest essay on cases that may come before the Supreme Court this term, in the latest issue of the Cato Supreme Court Review. InstaPundit readers are likely to be most interested in my discussion of Parker v. District of Columbia, the case in which the D.C. gun ban was overturned by the D.C. Circuit.
You can download the essay for free right here. The Parker discussion starts on page 13.
Even though the wealth gap is a positive in most economies for driving the economic creativity of those not-yet-rich, much is made of it in the media and among politicians who worry about individual wealth consolidation even more than they do the corporate kind. A quick look at the Forbes 400 would surely assuage some of their fears.
Indeed, of the charter members of the first Forbes 400, only 32 remain today. Far from a country where only the rich get richer, the wealthy in the US are very much a moving target. While there are 74 Forbes 400 members who inherited their entire fortune, 270 members are entirely self-made. Though many attended Harvard, Yale and Princeton, there are countless stories within of high school and college dropouts, not to mention others who grew up extremely poor. Politicians who regularly engage in class warfare would do well to keep the Forbes 400 out of the hands of their constituents, because it makes a mockery of the kind “Two Americas” rhetoric suggesting the existence of a glass ceiling that keeps hard workers at the bottom of the economic ladder. To read the Forbes 400 is to know with surety that the U.S. is still very much the land of opportunity.
(Via Greg Mankiw).
WOMAN STUCK IN CAR FOR EIGHT DAYS, as authorities dawdled in the face of her husband’s missing-person reports. It seems they were more interested in seeing if he’d killed her than in finding her:
“I basically hounded them until they started a case and then, of course, I was the first focal point, so I tried to get myself out of the way as quickly as possible. I let them search the house. I told them they didn’t have to have a warrant for anything, just ask,” he said.
Thursday morning, detectives asked him to come in to sign for a search of phone records. They also asked him to take a polygraph test.
“By the time he was done explaining the polygraph test to me, the detective burst into the room with a cell phone map that had a circle on it,” he said.
His wife’s car tumbled about 20 feet down a ravine and lay buried below brush and blackberry bushes. The air bags deployed, but she was injured and trapped. Rescuers had to cut the roof off to get her out.
“I know there were delays (in finding her) because of red tape,” Tom Rider said.
Nice work, King County. Reader Tom Gunther reports something he saw that’s also bad:
During the segment report on GMA it was mentioned that her husband did not notify authorities until four days after she was last scene. The husband then appeared live with (I believe) a King County police officer, and Diane Sawyer asked the husband about this. The husband responded to the effect that the report was not accurate he called earlier but was told by the authorities that her wife is an independent woman and can go where she pleases. Sawyer did not press the King County official about this issue.
After eight days trapped in a wrecked vehicle, I’m sure she appreciates their concern for her freedom.
INSTEAD OF DONATING MONEY TO YALE, I wish I could invest it with them.
AT BLACKFIVE, some big news in the world of lawfare.
WELL, DANG: I missed National Punctuation Day.
OUCH: “One could glean a more accurate and comprehensive view of Latin American economic conditions by renting Evita.”
ANDREW BREITBART on Hollywood’s hostile work environment.
ILYA SOMIN looks at federalism and politics in the United Federation of Planets.
A HYDROGEN HYBRID TOYOTA. With excellent range between fillups.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means to me.
AL GORE: Missing in Action?
THE SUNSTEIN/REYNOLDS DISCUSSION CONTINUES, at the University of Chicago Law Faculty Blog.
SLOW-COOKER DOWNSIDE: I’m making the Lamb and Guinness Stew, and I’m home, and it smells so good it’s hard not to eat some early. The Insta-Wife has been ravenous all day.
THOUGHTS ON ADVANCING WIND POWER, from Jonathan Adler.
I’D BUY IT! Nanotechnology-enhanced food:
Scientists at Rice University in Houston raised their fruit flies on a diet of yeast-and-nanotube paste, and then used an infrared camera to watch the progress of the tubes as they passed through the fliesâ€™ digestive systems, and in some cases were absorbed into the fliesâ€™ organs. The study found that nanotube-fed flies grew just as big and lived just as long as flies fed plain yeast, adding another data point to a simmering debate.
Some previous studies have found that inhaling nanotubes causes inflamed tissue in mice and rats, and causes cell death in lab tests. But other tests have found no evidence of toxicity, leading to claims of faulty experimental design on both sides.
But not until they can make it taste like steak. Related item here.
BURMA BLOWBACK FOR CHINA: Boycotting Lenovo Thinkpads.
NATIONAL REVIEW: “The situation with the Romulan Empire is rapidly becoming the defining crisis of our age.”
THE ANCHORESS: Not begrudging the rich their riches.
YOU CAN CRACK DOWN, but you can’t hide: “Satellite images confirm reports of burned villages, forced relocations and other human-rights abuses in Myanmar, scientists said on Friday.”
DEMS IN IRAQ ‘TIL 2013: The latest Corn & Miniter Show is up!
JOHN LEO REGARDS LEE BOLLINGER’S RECENT TALK about free speech at Columbia as hypocritical:
Last October, Columbia radicals stormed a campus stage, knocking over furniture, creating pandemonium and preventing speeches by Minutemen leader Jim Gilchrist and a colleague. Nobody seemed very upset about this, least of all Lee Bollinger, who issued a tiny bleat about free speech before referring the issue to a committee where it languished for three months. Awakening briefly on Christmas weekend, the committee administered an undescribed slap on the wrist to an unknown number of unidentified members of the censoring rabble and there the matter ended.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), now the most powerful free-speech watchdog in the country, dismissed BollingerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s “say-one-thing-do-another-act” and noted that Columbia “has a long and distinguished record of suppression of free speech.” Mayor Bloomberg echoed the thought, urging Bollinger to get his arms around the problem, because “There are too many incidents at the same school where people get censored.”
Several people, myself included, suggested that if Bollinger is as interested in free speech as he keeps saying he is, then he should reschedule the Minutemen and introduce them himself, with enough security around to discourage the reappearance of last year’s stormtroopers in training.
A few weeks ago, it looked as though Columbia was about to make a rare lurch in the direction of free speech. Students re-invited the two Minutemen, but after these proposed speakers bought plane tickets, Columbia’s pro-censorship DNA re-asserted itself and the two men were once again disinvited. Not a peep out of Bollinger.
Yes, and this hypocrisy is a problem with higher education more generally, alas. It’s why people don’t take claims that “we’re just opening up a debate” seriously — because, you know, they’re basically lies.
Related item here.
But the real point, as I noted before, is that the question was a cheap shot that Shuster wouldn’t dare ask Hillary, who also voted for the war.
UPDATE: Some related thoughts from Ace on the media’s self-destruction. Trust, once lost, is hard to get back. On the other hand: ‘I think we’ll see an awful lot more of this. It’s simply too easy to break with supposed journalistic traditions of objectivity and become a crusading hero to one quarter of the population.”
It’s going to get kind of tough for the journalistic industry if they’re all trying to feed themselves from an audience made up of one quarter of the population.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader James Ivers emails: “I eagerly await Shuster’s asking a liberal Rep. if they can name the most recent person to go on welfare in their District. Or the person who most recently died due to ‘lack of health insurance.’ Until then, he’s a hit artist and I’ll pay him no attention at all.”
I’d settle for Shuster asking the name of the most recent Medal of Honor winner. As for the “no attention” bit, I suspect that’ll be the attitude of the other three-quarters. Good luck with that business plan, guys.
SWEET HSURRENDER: Ed Rendell is returning the donations from Norman Hsu. “Rendell and other recipients of donations Hsu gave or helped facilitate have been trying to distance themselves from him over the past month.” Do you think?
WHAT HAPPENS IN SULAIMANIYAH STAYS IN SULAIMANIYAH: Vegas-style casino opens in Iraq.
MANHATTAN at night.
IN THE MAIL: Alan Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa’s Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire– Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do.
BURMA UPDATE: IN THE WSJ: (free link) Citizen journalists evade Myanmar’s blackout.
RON BAILEY looks at the latest in ozone hole science, after twenty years.
IF YOU MISSED the first PJM show on XM Radio’s POTUS ’08 Channel, you can listen online here.
MICKEY KAUS: “John Edwards is getting grief because the hedge fund he worked for is responsible for some subprime loans and foreclosures in Iowa. But the hedge fund for which Chelsea Clinton has worked is not exactly Landlord of the Year either.”
Plus, uninteresting news about Kiefer Sutherland!
SIDNEY VS. CHARLES: I think Sidney would be wise to “redeploy.”
DAN RIEHL SPOTS SOME media battlespace preparation underway.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Bringing back fallout shelters.
America needs a “revolution in diplomatic affairs.”
Even the State Department’s chardonnay and brie brigade suspects we have entered a new era of grimy, street-level foreign policy. It’s an era where effective diplomacy starts with long days in bad neighborhoods, as culturally-savvy diplomats identify the hopes, fears and trends that seed future crises, and — preferably — create American-influenced opportunities to positively shape events.
Read the whole thing.
HMM: “The Iranians are in a state of total panic.” Well, possibly. I hope so.