October 29, 2007
TOM SPAULDING remembers Porter Wagoner.
TOM SPAULDING remembers Porter Wagoner.
MIKE HUCKABEE responds to John Fund.
AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER with a five-mile range and a 15 mph top speed. This might actually be useful for some people’s commutes.
AN ENVIRONMENTALIST WORRIES ABOUT “PLUNDERING THE MOON.” And note the defeatist, anti-humanity tone of many of the comments to his piece. Happily, others are more sensible.
Actually, however, Rob Merges and I have this topic covered already, in this (relatively short) piece from the NYU Environmental Law Journal. You’ll pardon me if I think that our discussion is sounder, as well as more nuanced. Among other things, private property rights are likely to be both more environmentally friendly and more wealth-creating than centralized regulatory schemes.
MICHAEL YON IS WORRIED ABOUT AFGHANISTAN: “Iraq is looking better month by month. But at the current rate, surely we shall fail in Afghanistan.”
Sounds like we need to take a new approach, as we did in Iraq.
UPDATE: Lawhawk says the problem is Pakistan. “Instead of fighting to win, the Pakistani government under Musharraf is fighting to simply bide time. That’s a losing strategy for everyone but the Islamists, who use this time to regroup and rearm.”
And read this analysis from Strategypage: “While the Taliban are seen as the major problem in Afghanistan, that is not really the case. The big problems are poppies, corruption and Pushtun tribal politics. All three of these combine to produce the Taliban. But to eliminate the Taliban, you have to destroy the highly profitable drug business, curb the corruption and deal with the Pushtun problem. None of these solutions are easy to implement.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Chuck Simmins emails:
Glenn, the problem with Afghanistan is that it is a NATO operation. The European approach, as we have seen in Basra in Iraq, involves far more accommodation, and far less giving terrorists new accommodations.
The major complaint in Afghanistan is the lack of participation by our NATO allies in the pacification / anti-terror operations. Indeed, the utter lack of preparedness for any such ops. The Canadians have been outstanding, punching well above their weight class. The Brits and Aussies have done well, too, though the Brits have given away gains through diplomacy on several occasions.
The Dutch and French Air Forces have made their ground troops look bad.
I’ve heard quite a few complaints about the NATO operation in Afghanistan.
MORE: A contrary note from Josh Foust of Registan:
I noticed you posted about some frustrations on the mission in Afghanistan. Over at Registan.net, we’ve been covering the ways it has been faltering for years, as well as a series of policy prescriptions for how to right it. The most salient to the thrust of your post is this piece on what’s going on in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and urges caution about drawing too many conclusions:
Link. (and more here: Link.)
I have to point out that with the possible exception of pointing fingers at Pervez Musharraf, your links to analysis are almost entirely flat out wrong. Strategy Page in particular seems to confuse cause and effectâ€”poppies are a symptom of severe instability and a wrecked infrastructure, not a cause ( Link ); similarly, for centuries Pashtun tribal politics (called “Pushtunwali”) have provided appropriate, non-violent means of conflict resolution and justice, and it is only in recent decades as we deliberately imported Saudi-style Salafism into the tribal regions that things got out of hand (the excellent Afghanistanica covered this several months ago: Link). In this analysis, corruption is likewise both a cause and symptom, though to conflate it with opium and the Taliban (or even to conflate the Taliban with Pashtunwali) is a mistake.
Similarly, the bit about NATO is at best sort of true: while it is true the European countries have been stingy in their commitments, so have we: to date, Afghanistan a total amount of aid from us what we send to Iraq every few months. From the start, it was crippled, underinvested (the first year of occupation only had a few million dollars allocated toward development and reconstruction, and already troops were being siphoned off to invade Iraq), and ignoredâ€”by both the media and by the Bush administration. It’s a bit silly to complain that NATO doesn’t shell out when we can barely be bothered to.
Well, unlike Europe we’re busy elsewhere.
MORE: When I posted the above I didn’t realize that Josh Foust had posted on this. Sorry, Josh, but taking a few hours to respond to your email is nothing I’m going to apologize to, and linking to people you disagree with is not error requiring “correction.” And the rather churlish reference to “superwarblogger Michael Yon” explains why I tend to discount your analyses — Yon’s spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, he’s got a lot of contacts there, and he’s got a good track record.
SUPREME COURT ADVOCACY: You get what you pay for.
ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK FOILED: “Azerbaijan detained a group of militant Islamists preparing an armed attack near the U.S. embassy in Baku, the security ministry of the former Soviet state said on Monday.”
Michael Silence thinks this is good news in the larger war on terror: “Is it not telling that the terrorists can’t even pull one off in Azerbaijan? I mean, for heaven’s sake, one of its neighbors is Iran.” We have seen a lot of foiled attacks lately. It’s as if someone’s selling them out.
YOUTHFUL REBELLION OVERCOMES parental fear and prejudice. It’s like the 1960s all over again!
BRUCE ROLSTON celebrates a blogging milestone. I think I’m at something like my 50,000th post, but I’m actually not sure.
IN GREENLAND, an upside to global warming. “But now that the climate is warming, it is not just old trees that are growing. A Greenlandic supermarket is stocking locally grown cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage this year for the first time. Eight sheep farmers are growing potatoes commercially. Five more are experimenting with vegetables. And Kenneth Hoeg, the regionâ€™s chief agriculture adviser, says he does not see why southern Greenland cannot eventually be full of vegetable farms and viable forests. . . . Cod, which prefer warmer waters, have started appearing off the coast again. Ewes are having fatter lambs, and more of them every season. The growing season, such as it is, now lasts roughly from mid-May through mid-September, about three weeks longer than a decade ago.” During the Holocene climatic optimum, hardwood forests grew to the edge of the Arctic ocean, and Norwegian women wore string miniskirts. Downside: The American midwest was near-desert. That probably outweighs Norwegian women in string miniskirts, however appealing that may be.
JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS! James Lileks’ new book, Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery. I love the cover art.
JOHN FUND says that renewed interest in the “Fairness” Doctrine is all about liberals’ failure to compete in talk radio:
The stakes are high. “Lovers of liberty must expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are,” writes Brian Anderson, editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.
That’s because the attempts to control the airwaves won’t stop with so-called equal time rules. Al Franken, the liberal former Air America host who is now running for the Senate in Minnesota, is already slipping into the role of potential legislative censor of his old industry. “You shouldn’t be able to lie on the air,” he told Newsweek’s Mr. Fineman earlier this year. “You can’t utter obscenities in a broadcast, so why should you be able to lie? You should be fined for lying.”
In fact, you can be “fined” for lying, if the person you lie about successfully sues for defamation. But the First Amendment makes it exceedingly difficult for defamation plaintiffs to prevail, especially if they are public figures–and for good reason.
Given how things are going at The New Republic, the “fines for lying” idea seems a risky move.
WALTER SHAPIRO wonders which Republican presidential candidate is most macho.
Among the Democrats, of course, it’s not even a contest . . . .
THE MOTHER OF ALL TAX HIKES. Funny how Saddam’s little turn of phrase has outlasted Saddam by a sizable margin.
GOODBYE RON PAUL EXPERIMENT. Hello Stephen Colbert experiment.
A POINT OF HONOR: Bob Owens gets serious about The New Republic.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY SPLIT OVER WAR grows deeper and angrier.
RUDY CRITICIZES HILLARY for interfering with U.S. diplomacy.
A LOOK AT political correctness in Imperial Rome.
STILL NO WINNER IN THE LUNAR LANDER PRIZE, which means that the entire two million is still on the table.
CONGRATULATIONS TO GATEWAY PUNDIT JIM HOFT. I’m feeling a bit left out.
DON SURBER WONDERS at the Associated Press’s sudden enthusiasm for pork barrel spending. What could account for that?
I’ve had some thoughts on this subject myself.
ANTIWAR PROTESTS FIZZLE. Again.
How do you ask someone to be the last man to march for a mistake?
RICK ELLENSBURG, Internet detective. This cries out for an IowaHawk parody . . . .
UPDATE: More comedy gold.
MORE: Ouch. “Lacking even the ethics of a journalist.”
STILL MORE: Some historical perspective.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BLOGGER: It’s pledge week at Tim Blair’s place.
THE UNSTOPPABLE COLBERT-FOR-PRESIDENT CANDIDACY: “A million Facebook users have signed up for the ’1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T Colbert’ group in the last week â€” though the group could be read as a satire of Barack Obama’s similarly-named group, which has fewer than 400,000 members after 9 months.”
UPDATE: More on Colbert: “I think his goal should not be South Carolina, but to actually participate in two of the debates, one for each party he’s running in. I guarantee they would be the most watched debates ever.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Edwards Campaign, running scared, tries to gin up a snack food controversy.
SNUBBED: “The Democratic Party’s convention in Florida during the weekend was like a rock concert performed solely by warm-up bands. . . .. All the leading Democratic presidential candidates followed orders from the Democratic National Committee to boycott the 3-day convention at the Walt Disney World resorts, and public campaigning in the state in general, as punishment for Florida’s move to hold its presidential primary early.”
MARK STEYN EXPLAINS that life is not a movie.
GERALD FORD on Bill and Hillary.
NOW THIS IS A SHOCK:
A high-profile documentary, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains,” had a poor debut, taking in just $10,573 at seven theaters. The film from director Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs”) follows the former president during a tour to promote his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”
Failing to pack theaters for a documentary about Jimmy Carter? How fickle, the public.
MAYBE I SHOULD TRY THIS solution to air-travel woes.
THE RANGEL TAX BILL: Redistributing wealth from the “very rich” to people making between $200,000 and $500,000 a year! “Thus, as a first approximation, the plan increases the progressivity of the tax code by redistributing income from the very rich (e.g., CEOs, hedge fund managers, superstar athletes and actors) to the upper middle class (e.g., doctors, lawyers, congressmen).”
Supporting the people, not the powerful!
ERIC SCHEIE ON THE BUCHANANITES: “They may be right wing fringe, but they’re providing an incalculable service to the left.. . . I wasn’t going to bother with a post, because this is really nothing new for Pat Buchanan. But — now that I’ve seen these characterizations of Little Green Footballs as a ‘pro-Muslim, left-wing blog’, I think a few words are in order.”
DEBT VS. DEFICIT: “The Bush administration and congressional Republicans have spent the past several weeks celebrating the fact that the unified budget deficit for fiscal 2007 ($161 billion) was 1.2 percent of GDP. But that ratio has become increasingly misleading in recent years because the annual increase in the national debt has dwarfed the unified budget deficit and the nominal growth rate of the economy.” Falling deficits are good, but not sufficient. And even during the “surpluses” of the 1990s the national debt continued to grow. It’s not really a surplus unless debt goes down.
UPDATE: Charges of “an elementary analytical error.” Dang. I’d hoped to achieve advanced analytical error.
PEOPLE ARE STILL CIRCULATING THE FAKE CNN STORY blaming MEChA for the California fires, so it’s worth repeating that it’s fake. I agree with the commenter who notes, “this is not The Onion, this is more like those phishing emails that look almost exactly like paypal or ebay.” Yes, it’s not meant to fool you for 5 seconds, it’s meant to fool you, period.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA on the big screen.
ENVY AND FEAR, in Canada’s heartland.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE POLITICIZATION OF JUDICIAL RACES: But couldn’t the term just as easily be “democratization?” Yeah, there’s politics — but there’s plenty of politics in judicial appointments, too. It’s just not out in the open.
A LOOK AT mandatory diversity in Iowa, from John Rosenberg.
MOVING THE GOAL POSTS: The Mudville Gazette notes a grudging accommodation to realities on the ground:
The narrative on Iraq – the one you see in the media, that is – is changing. Claims that “we’ve lost” and that American soldiers have been beaten by opponents who are righteous heroes or nine-foot tall and bullet proof are being quite subtly shifted to arguments that no potential victory (if even grudgingly acknowledged) could be worth the price. This argument may prove irresistible to those who’ve invested heavily in defeat.
But read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Don Surber spots similar lemons-from-lemonade behavior from CBS. “You see, if the enemy turns its swords into plowshares, thatâ€™s bad because the enemy will corner the market on plowshares.”
IN THE MAIL: John Hart’s novel, Down River.
I’M SURPRISED THIS HASN’T COME AROUND BEFORE: A cubicle defense system.
GREG MANKIW ROUNDS UP tax reform proposals.
WHEN MURDERERS are heroes.
TECHNOLOGY THAT DOESN’T WORK: We’ve been in DC, investigating the MRSA outbreak — we brought plenty of hand sanitizer — and the hotel we’re staying in features the Miconic 10 elevator system, where you enter your floor number instead of just pushing “up” or “down” and the system routes the elevators for maximum efficiency. Except that it doesn’t work. Wait times have been as much as 15 minutes. Plus, one poor woman rushed to get into our elevator as it was heading up, only to realize that — since there are no floor-selection buttons in the elevators themselves — she was just stuck there until she could get off at another floor and select her destination there. Plus, there’s something slightly disturbing about the lack of any controls in the elevator — it’s the “spam in a can” approach to interfloor navigation, or something. I’ve used these systems in big skyscrapers (the Hearst building has them) and they seem to work there, but in this hotel, it’s pretty much sucked.
A PHOTO TOUR of the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.
“TRUMAN LIED, ALIENS DIED.”
OBAMA TAKES THE OFFENSIVE: ” Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Saturday lashed out at rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, accusing her of dodging tough questions about Social Security. Obama, campaigning at a senior center in Des Moines, said all the presidential candidates need to talk honestly about Social Security instead of sidestepping the issue, but he singled out Clintonâ€”the front-runner for the nominationâ€”for special criticism.”
THE KREMLIN’S CYBER-OFFENSIVE: “After ignoring the Internet for years to focus on controlling traditional media such as television and newspapers, the Kremlin and its allies are turning their attention to cyberspace, which remains a haven for critical reporting and vibrant discussion in Russia’s dwindling public sphere.”
BIN LADEN ADMITS DEFEAT in Iraq.
A LOOK AT CHINA’S underground electronic music scene.
THE INFLUENCE OF “BIG MONEY” ON POLITICS: Suddenly, not such a big deal.
INDEED: “As Dan Rather –obviously TNR editors’ role model– would say: ‘Courage.’”
MONSTERS EVERYWHERE? I don’t care! I wonder if there will be a Dutch translation?
JAMES LILEKS: “If you could tell your previous 1997 incarnation one thing, what might it be?”
I’m pretty sure it would be “Buy Google.”
A DIFFERENT SLANT ON ILLEGAL ALIENS: “If he wins his bid for the White House, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson may be just the man to get to the bottom of the 60-year-old Roswell UFO mystery.”
I GUESS THEY FIGURED THAT AFTER AHMADINEJAD AT COLUMBIA, IT WAS OKAY: “In the boneheaded move of the year, conservative student group Young Americans for Freedom invited British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin, a flat-out racist and Holocaust denier, to speak about the dangers of Islam at Michigan State University.”
UPDATE: Ron Paul supporters?
EXTREME MORTMAN: Congress can get something done!
SEARED, SEARED in his memory.
MICKEY KAUS: “Will three surges late in his term salavage Bush’s presidency? 1) Petraeus’ ‘surge’ in Iraq; 2) Bernanke’s rate-cutting liquidity surge to prevent the economy from sliding into recession; 3) The new border enforcement surge, which might tighten the unskilled labor market so the economy looks good from the bottom as well as the top (and save Bush from whiffing completely on a signature issue)?”
Kaus, however, underestimates the resourcefulness of the American media in extracting lemons from lemonade.
SOLVING THE MEDIA’S diversity problem.
OUCH: “Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay.â€
LIVE-BLOGGING FROM THE X-PRIZE CUP, at Rand Simberg’s place.
POL POT’S STRETCH LIMO for sale on eBay.
Ever notice how the champions of the proletariat always have stretch limos?
CAR LUST: The unforgettable AMC Matador X.
WITH ALL THE CAREERS BEING BUILT ON FAKE NEWS, I don’t see why a fake press conference comes as any surprise, really . . . .
In the Colbert Administration, all press conferences will be done this way!
SOME POST-CALVAN advice for reporters in Iraq.
AT THE NEW REPUBLIC: Mistaking Vietnam movies for real life. “To read the Thomas pieces was, simply, to doubt them. And to wonder if its editors had ever actually met a soldier on his way to or from Iraq, or talked to any human being involved in the modern military.”
UPDATE: What goes around, comes around.
TOM MAGUIRE: “Does the John Edwards campaign have a death wish? To the litany which includes the 28,000 square foot home, his job with a hedge fund (to learn about poverty!) and the $400 haircuts we can now add a story about the decision by the Edwards campaign to locate their campaign headquarters in the poshest part of posh Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And the death wish? Well, the location of his campaign headquarters was a non-story until the Edwards people got a bit heavy-handed with a UNC professor.”
GATEWAY PUNDIT ROUNDS UP more news from Iraq.
IN KNOXVILLE, A RED-LIGHT CAMERA TRAVESTY IS FINALLY FIXED:
For months, citizens accused of running camera-monitored red lights in Knoxville were told they’d have to pay $67.50 just to have a hearing to contest the charge.
“The city acknowledges that was a mistake, having that incorrect language in the notice,” attorney Michael S. Kelley told U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips at a hearing Thursday.
Neither Deputy City Law Director Ron Mills nor Municipal Court Administrator Rick Wingate could say how long it took city officials to discover that error.
The whole thing has pretty much been outsourced: “Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., a private company tapped to administrate the camera-based enforcement program, was responsible for fashioning those citation forms.”
And the city officials could have discovered the error by reading InstaPundit back in 2006.
BLOGLIGHT: The best disinfectant.
IN THE MAIL: A novel by Harold Coyle and Barrett Tillman, Prometheus’s Child.
SO MUCH FOR THAT WHOLE “LEGAL TENDER” THING: Apple refusing to accept cash for iPhones.
LEARNING ABOUT THE BBC from Facebook.
HOUSE OF PAIN: John Baden on the housing market and why pain is important.
Although the panel said it would not accept anonymous tips, it assured those who came forward that their identity would be held in the “strictest confidence.”
But in an email sent out today, the committee inadvertently sent the email addresses of all the would-be whistleblowers to everyone who had written in to the tipline. The committee email was sent to tipsters who had used the website form, including presumably whistleblowers themselves, and all of the recipients of the email were accidentally included in the “to:” field — instead of concealing those addresses with a so-called blind carbon copy or “bcc: . . .
Compounding the mistake, the committee later sent out a second email attempting to recall the original email; it, too, included all recipients in the “to:” field, according to a recipient of the emails.
That’s gonna make people want to come forward. Meanwhile, how about some remedial education in “how to use email” for the Judiciary staff?
IN THE VALLEY OF ENNUI. That’s pretty much my reaction.
IF THE FU HSITS: “I confess. I’ve been just waiting for the opportunity to write that.”
STUPID HUMANS: Ralph Kinney Bennett observes that people insist on doing what they want, not what planners think they should.
THOUGHTS ON swinging the war-fatigued, at RedState.
RON ROSENBAUM on Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Putin.
THE JOYS OF spiked coffee.
A LOOK AT SPACE TETHERS: Promising cheap, efficient Earth-space transit, if they just unspool right.
IT’S A QUAGMIRE: America can’t win the war on fire.
IN THE MAIL: Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman’s Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in the World.