Archive for December, 2007

December 28, 2007

A YEAR-END DEFENSE OF REBECCA AGUILAR: “It might have something to do with the fact that the shooter is white.” [LATER: That link's stopped working. Try this one.]

If Aguilar’s behavior was so seemly, then why did KDFW move so quickly to get the video off the Web? (More here, And background here.)

December 28, 2007

MICKEY KAUS: “Truthchecking the MSM’s Truthcheckers.”

December 28, 2007

NAOMI WOLF’S regrets.

December 28, 2007

WHAT? COLONEL SANDERS ISN’T AN ACTUAL COLONEL in the United States Army? Never mind.

December 28, 2007

THIS SEEMS LIKE A NON-STORY: Giuliani advised the maker of Oxycontin. So what? Yeah, it gets abused — most drugs do — but it also provides a lot of people with pain relief. I think the “crusade” against Oxycontin is just more drug-war hysteria, putting Giuliani on the side of the angels here. Well, paid on the side of the angels, but that’s as much as you can ask from lawyers in private practice . . . .

December 28, 2007

GO FIGURE: Traffic on Daily Kos Decreasing As Primaries Approach? Well, Kos has been pretty thoroughly co-opted, and become part of the Democratic establishment himself, which no doubt makes the site seem less fresh and interesting.

UPDATE: An alternate explanation: “Daily Kos is less fresh and interesting than in the past. But that’s because Kos hasn’t been as active there. He has stretched himself thin by taking on columns for establishment media outlets like Newsweek and The Hill. He’s also the father of two children as of April. . . . The Kos brand is languishing because the blogger is the brand and the blogger has more than his blog to feed these days.” That’s a good point, though of course the two aren’t entirely inconsistent.

Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus wonders if it’s General Petraeus’s fault: “I was at a very nice left-wing party over the holidays and the youthful antiwar types were saying that traffic was down on all the left-wing sites because of … Iraq. … That’s not what I said. It’s what they said. … Iraq just isn’t as salient now that it doesn’t seem to be spiraling into apocalypse. . . . Of course, some right-wing sites seem to be experiencing a mild decline since August also. Maybe the whole blogosphere was about Iraq!” Hmm. InstaPundit traffic is up considerably since August. But then, InstaPundit has a somewhat broader focus than just politics and Iraq. Come for the war, stay for the nanotechnology! And the gadgets! And the science fiction recommendations! And the podcasts . . . .

December 28, 2007

WESLEY CLARK ATTACKS BARACK OBAMA for Obama’s attack on Hillary.

December 28, 2007

HEIL, WOODROW! That’s the title of David Oshinsky’s surprisingly positive review of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism in Sunday’s New York Times. Excerpt:

Coming of age in the 1960s, I heard the word “fascist” all the time. College presidents were fascists, Vietnam War supporters were fascists, policemen who tangled with protesters were fascists, on and on. To some, the word smacked of Hitler and genocide. To others, it meant the oppression of the masses by the privileged few. But one point was crystal clear: the word belonged to those on the political left. It was their verbal weapon, and they used it every chance they got. . . .

Leftists still drop the “f word” to taint their opponents, be they global warming skeptics or members of the Moral Majority. The sad result, Goldberg says, is that Americans have come to equate fascism with right-wing political movements in the United States when, in fact, the reverse is true. To his mind, it is liberalism, not conservatism, that embraces what he claims is the fascist ideal of perfecting society through a powerful state run by omniscient leaders. And it is liberals, not conservatives, who see government coercion as the key to getting things done.

“Liberal Fascism” is less an exposé of left-wing hypocrisy than a chance to exact political revenge. Yet the title of his book aside, what distinguishes Goldberg from the Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages is a witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults — no mean feat in the nasty world of the culture wars.

Read the whole thing. Our podcast interview with Jonah is here.

December 28, 2007

A REVIEW OF The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, from someone who’s read the book and who took two kids to the movie.

December 28, 2007

THAT WOULD BE NUMBER TWO, DAVID: Is the Internet destroying our culture, or is it just annoying our snobs?

December 28, 2007

FROM TIME TO THE NEW YORK TIMES? The HuffPo is reporting that Bill Kristol will become an NYT columnist in 2008. So far, HuffPo commenters seem less than pleased.

December 28, 2007

ARE LAW PROFESSORS UNHAPPY? Not this one!

December 28, 2007

TRUST THE GOVERNMENT WITH YOUR PERSONAL DATA: Full Social Security Numbers Were Compromised In Election Commission Theft.

December 28, 2007

SNOWBALLS: Fred Thompson vs. the press.

December 28, 2007

BLOOMBERG GROUP RUNS anti-gun ad in Iowa. Dan Riehl comments: “If that’s the first card Bloomberg has decided to play, his entry into the race is bound to help the Republican candidate more than anything else.”

December 28, 2007

CALLING FOR A 2008 SCIENCE DEBATE. Sounds like a good idea to me. And through the page, I notice that my former Tennessee colleague Stuart Pimm is one of the organizers.

Of course, the result might not be pretty.

December 28, 2007

RANDY BARNETT: Was the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Conditioned on Service in an Organized Militia?

UPDATE: Some related thoughts here.

December 28, 2007

FROM BLOGBURST TO TV: Jon Henke emails that the Thompson campaign is running this TV ad in Iowa with money raised from the blogburst.

December 28, 2007

FROM MICHAEL YON, a news flash for Osama bin Laden.

December 28, 2007

POOF.

December 28, 2007

THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO regulate online communication.

December 28, 2007

BLOG: Middle East Strategy at Harvard.

December 28, 2007

JOHN FUND: Why Charlie Wilson’s War couldn’t happen today.

December 28, 2007

ROAD TESTING the Terraniac. With video.

December 28, 2007

MORE ON Huckabee and stem cells, from The Politico. And it goes beyond stem cells:

Mike Huckabee last year accepted $52,000 in speaking fees from a bio-tech giant that wants to research human embryonic stem cells, a non-profit working to expand access to the morning after pill and a group pushing to study whether tightening gun control laws will reduce violence.

Ugh.

December 28, 2007

IRAQPUNDIT on Pakistan and Iraq.

December 28, 2007

JOHN HINDERAKER CHARGES HARPER’S with smearing U.S. troops.

December 28, 2007

ELEVEN IRANIAN SPECIAL-OPS TROOOPS killed in Iraq.

UPDATE: Oops, I misread that. They were “special groups,” not special ops — Iranian-backed militias. Was a bit rushed this morning as we were getting ready to return home from Atlanta, where the Insta- wife and daughter were hitting the after-Christmas sales. Or trying to, as a lot of stuff was sold out.

December 28, 2007

A FRIGHTENING POST FROM JEFF JARVIS, on the lowest common denominator and free speech.

Almost as depressing, however, was this photo of air travel as it used to be. Sigh.

December 28, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Investor’s Business Daily tells Bush not to be shy:

The Congressional Research Service issued a report last week confirming that earmarks not included in the actual bill but written into accompanying reports — which is most of them — do not have force of law and can therefore be disregarded by the president. . . .

But don’t just blame Democrats. This out-of-control, unaccountable waste and abuse of the citizens’ hard-earned money is a bipartisan disgrace. Byrd’s Republican counterpart on the spending panel, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, out-oinked even Byrd, with $774 million in earmarks. So did Alaska’s Sen. Ted Stevens, infamous for the taxpayer-funded Bridge To Nowhere and responsible for $502 million in earmarks this time around.

Not only would the president have the Constitution on his side if he declared war on the earmark racket; he would have the vast majority of Americans with him. Most people are tired of finding out after the fact that they’ve paid for billions of dollars in projects that should have been locally financed — or maybe not built at all — due to the 11th-hour stratagems.

I hope the President does the right thing.

December 28, 2007

I LIKE THE SNOWFLAKES at Katie Granju’s new digs.

December 28, 2007

SAY IT AIN’T SO, RON: “Yes, I know I wrote an article tentatively supporting Ron Paul, but please, someone, tell me this clip in which Dr. Ron Paul rejects the theory of evolution has been edited to remove the full context of the remark.”

December 28, 2007

GHALIA AYMEN REPORTS FROM PAKISTAN:

As they mourn and try to recover from the shock of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis are trying to come to terms with the security failure that allowed such a carefully coordinated shooting-suicide bombing to take place, and asking themselves if it was, indeed, a failure —or a conspiracy.

Neither answer is a good one. Even if there was no government–approved conspiracy to eliminated her, the fact remains that Bhutto was presumably being protected by the tightest security possible. Pakistanis ask themselves if someone of her stature is so vulnerable, how can a common person be safe in their home?

The feeling of insecurity and uncertainty combines with the general atmosphere of sadness and mourning. Bhutto’s supporters and even those who would not have voted for her are expressing their sympathy for her and her family.

The sadness is quickly transforming into anger.

Read the whole thing.

December 28, 2007

ABE FOXMAN: “We welcome and accept Will Smith’s statement that Hitler was a ‘vicious killer’ and that he did not mean for his remarks about the Nazi leader to be mistaken as praise.”

December 28, 2007

STEPHEN KAUS: Hillary bucks the spirit of the 22nd Amendment. Yes, that’s Mickey’s brother.

December 28, 2007

240 PROTESTS AGAINST the Iranian Regime this month.

December 28, 2007

AN AWFUL ARTICLE on Ahmadinejad.

December 27, 2007

BARACK BLASTS “secretive” Clintons.

December 27, 2007

PEOPLE USING INTERNET EXPLORER were having trouble opening the PJ Media Straw Poll to the right. I fixed the coding problem and it should work for you now. Please vote!

December 27, 2007

LEE HARRIS OBSERVES that cleverness is not on top, and never has been. Jurgen figured this out a while back. . . .

December 27, 2007

HEH.

December 27, 2007

JOHN PODHORETZ: The End of the Primary’s Holiday From History.

December 27, 2007

REMEMBERING THE ARCHITECT of victory in Anbar.

December 27, 2007

COULD AN UNTRAINED PERSON LAND A JETLINER IN AN EMERGENCY? I could, but only if I could plug in a keyboard and mouse, and run Flight Simulator . . . .

December 27, 2007

IS THE U.S. LIKE ROME? Carter Wood says no, and adds: “Besides, everyone knows it was overtaxation that caused Rome’s fall.”

December 27, 2007

A FINAL SOLUTION TO THE REDNECK PROBLEM. Jeez. (Via Hot Air). Call me crazy, but I doubt that the forced migration of millions from Texas and Mississippi to the East Coast would result in liberal nirvana . . . .

UPDATE: A pungent response from Bill Quick.

December 27, 2007

STUDY: Web ads better than TV ads.

December 27, 2007

WELL, IOWA IS LOCKED UP.

December 27, 2007

HMM: A fully-submersible concept car.

December 27, 2007

goldbergcov.jpgIt’s sure to make a splash, and it’s already got some left bloggers in a tizzy even though it doesn’t come out until next week. It’s Jonah Goldberg’s new book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. The title comes from H.G. Wells, and the history won’t be news to people who’ve paid attention — which means it will be news to a lot of people — but Goldberg has a lot to say about the “progressive” roots of both socialism and fascism and the way they’re reflected in contemporary politics. (He goes out of his way to make clear, though, that he’s not saying liberals are fascists.) Plus, thoughts on the Hillary and Huckabee candidacies.

You can listen to the show directly — no downloads needed — by going right here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the whole 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 selecting “lo fi.” And, of course, you can always get a free subscription from iTunes if you like — and why wouldn’t you? Show archives are at GlennandHelenShow.com.

This podcast was brought to you by Volvo Automobiles. Music is “Nobody’s Full” by Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere. (Bumped.)

December 27, 2007

A FINANCIAL SURGE:

It’s no front-page news that Iraq is a dangerous place. But a capital magnet? The presses have stopped for less. According to the not-quite-closed record book for 2007, Iraqi sovereign bonds, the Iraqi currency, and the Iraqi stock market have each logged astounding, not to mention politically provocative, gains.

Not many would have predicted that Iraq’s long-dated, dollar-denominated debt would have proven a safe haven during a worldwide credit crisis. But the 5.8s of 2038 did just that. Since the subprime mortgage meltdown began in August, these evidences of indebtedness of the government in Baghdad have gained no less than 18.3%.

Interesting. I seem to recall someone arguing last summer that the surge wasn’t working, based on the performance of Iraqi financial instruments. I wonder if they’ll revisit that argument now.

December 27, 2007

DAVE HARDY: “47 Senators have requested that Interior Department modify its regulations to allow [gun] carrying in National Parks. Since National Parks are often large, thinly populated with LEOs, and frequently contain wildlife that may think that humans taste very good, it seems like a plan to me.”

December 27, 2007

I’VE MENTIONED THIS BEFORE, but here’s more on cut-and-paste in police reports:

“It’s a shortcut and I shouldn’t have done it,” Officer Daniel Pratt said in his recent testimony, before apologizing on the stand.

When asked by defense attorney Mary Carey why police officers aren’t supposed to cut and paste, he responded: “For the obvious reasons of mistakes and every statement is individual.”

Carey said, “I’m absolutely appalled that the person who we trust to be honest would present evidence in an official document that was false. “The fact that there’s history in that department presenting falsified police reports makes me extremely worried of the propriety of any reports coming out of that department.”

“It’s impossible to know whether it’s one bad apple or a culture of fraud and deceit,” she said.

I can see why people do it, but I can also see why people don’t like it.

December 27, 2007

MUCH MORE ON THE BENAZIR BHUTTO ASSASSINATION, including statements from various Presidential candidates, at The Corner.

Plus, a questionable reaction from Bill Richardson.

UPDATE: Dropping the ball at NBC.

And Huckabee apologizes. Apologizes? Jeez, he is Jimmy Carter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: At the Huckabee post linked above, an update with this from the Huckabee campaign: “Gov. Huckabee while speaking at a campaign event earlier this morning in Florida intended to extend his deepest sympathies to the people of Pakistan when he used the word ‘apologies.’ He is outraged and saddened by the attack and the loss of a world leader whose life he believes was a profile in courage.”

December 27, 2007

OLEG KOZLOVSKY: A thorn in Putin’s side.

December 27, 2007

CLEAN, 75 MPG DIESEL CARS: Bring ‘em on.

December 27, 2007

AL SHARPTON, STILL RELEVANT? “The piece remains mysteriously congratulatory, given the low batting average Sharpton boasts on peaceful, lasting resolution of such conflicts.” Gee, you think?

December 27, 2007

BENAZIR BHUTTO killed in suicide attack. (Via JWF).

UPDATE: Big roundup here. Watch for further developments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here and here.

MORE: Some perspective from Bob Krumm:

Ms. Bhutto was killed at a campaign rally just two weeks before a Pakistani election. It is worth remembering as we begin our own campaign season in earnest next week that no matter how acrimonious the political discussion becomes, we live in a country where those who root for the death of their political opponents exist far outside the mainstream and that even if an assassination attempt were to occur here, there is zero risk of anything but an orderly transition of power on January 20, 2009.

Excellent point. And follow the link for more.

December 27, 2007

BILL RICHARDSON AND FRED THOMPSON are leading among InstaPundit readers at the moment.

December 27, 2007

MARK WARNER emails that he’s trying to get 1500 new donors before the end of the year. Our podcast interview with him can be heard here. I don’t know much about his Republican opponent, Jim Gilmore.

December 27, 2007

BRITAIN STILL DOOMED.

December 27, 2007

MICKEY KAUS: “Are you impressed with a drop in home values of 6.6% over a year? It doesn’t seem like such a big correction, given the dramatic run-up in prices over the last decade or so. … And don’t declining prices make housing more… what’s the word? … affordable?”

December 27, 2007

LOOKING FOR WRONGED GUN OWNERS:

The National Rifle Association has hired private investigators to find hundreds of people whose firearms were seized by city police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to court papers filed this week.

The NRA is trying to locate gun owners for a federal lawsuit that the lobbying group filed against Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley over the city’s seizure of firearms after the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.

In the lawsuit, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation claim the city violated gun owners’ constitutional right to bear arms and left them “at the mercy of roving gangs, home invaders, and other criminals” after Katrina.

Read the whole thing.

December 26, 2007

DOG BITES MAN.

December 26, 2007

MARK STEYN: “I don’t accept that free-born Canadian citizens need the permission of the Canadian state to read my columns. What’s offensive is not the accusations of Dr Elmasry and his pals, but the willingness of Canada’s pseudo-courts to take them seriously. . . . This morning I spent 20 minutes mulling over a couple of offers for overseas rights to America Alone from the Islamic world. It seems that Muslim publishers from Turkey to Indonesia are more robust than Osgoode Hall law students. What a sad comment on the decayed Dominion.” And on Osgoode Hall law students.

UPDATE: I’ve mentioned it before, but if you want to support Steyn you might buy a copy of his book and send it to:

Canadian Human Rights Commission
344 Slater Street, 8th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1E1, Canada
Telephone: (613) 995-1151
Toll Free: 1-888-214-1090
TTY: 1-888-643-3304
Fax: (613) 996-9661

December 26, 2007

A LOOK AT blu-ray vs. HD-DVD.

December 26, 2007

FRESHMEN keeping their distance.

December 26, 2007

A FRED THOMPSON blogburst.

UPDATE: More here.

December 26, 2007

CHINA VS. THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: This isn’t comforting.

December 26, 2007

FREE BUGS BUNNY cartoon downloads.

December 26, 2007

BILL CLINTON: “We Need To Stay in Iraq to Protect the Kurds From The Turks.” At HuffPo.

December 26, 2007

RISKY BUSINESS? Japan drills for methane hydrate.

December 26, 2007

ADVICE TO HUCKABEE from two-time Iowa Caucus winner Bob Dole.

December 26, 2007

MICKEY KAUS: “How grudging and testy is Bob Wright’s acceptance of the surge’s relative success?” Not as grudging and testy as it might be . . . .

And the “Anbar Awakening” wasn’t something that happened in spite of U.S. activity. Read Michael Yon on the subject.

December 26, 2007

IN THE MAIL: When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough: Quick Fixes for Everyday Disasters. Looks quite handy.

December 26, 2007

JONATHAN ADLER: “The Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research is seeking state approval to train science teachers. This is one of those ideas that should be left on the shelf, right next to Lynne Spears’ book on parenting.”

Plus, debating creation vs. evolution in the comments. More support for creationism than I’d have expected there.

December 26, 2007

I LIKE THIS. Business people for Big Media outlets may feel otherwise. “For some casual bloggers, a bigger bite of the online advertising pie.”

Plus, this non-pecuniary upside: “Getting paid might even help validate what may otherwise seem like a silly or obscure obsession.”

December 26, 2007

HILLARY CLINTON blogs for Glamour magazine.

December 26, 2007

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CANDIDATES: People want to know who I endorse, or who I’d vote for. I don’t do endorsements — I think they’re presumptuous in newspapers, and I’d feel silly telling people how they should vote at this point. Most of my readers probably know more than me anyway. But since people keep asking, here are some thoughts. Since they’re kind of long, click “read more” to read them.

December 26, 2007

ARE CHRISTMAS SALES REALLY DISAPPOINTING? If so, it may be because women’s fashion has missed the boat. Rachel Lucas expresses this view in her own inimitable fashion:

The biggest issue is WHO IN THE HELL IS MAKING THESE CLOTHES? I mean for f*ck’s sake, people. I haven’t seen such ugliness in all my life, even the 1970s. Everything is orange and pink and bright red, covered in ridiculous patterns that make you have a migraine. Nobody wants this sh*t! You can tell because of every item, there are 50 each of the orange, pink, and bright red left, but maybe one green and one blue remaining, either in extra-small or extra-large. Get a clue, designers. A g*ddamn CLUE. . . . Who slept through design class the day it was explained that MOST women have what we call a FIGURE, which means their waist and their hips are not the exact same circumference? We’ve been over this before and I will spare you another rant about it. It’s enough to say that by the time I came out of the dressing room, I was almost in tears and ready to start killin’. . . . You want women to spend money, try making attractive clothes for normal human females. It can’t be that hard. GAH!

The rest of her post also offers other, er, clues to why people might have chosen to stay home. I’m glad I did nearly all of my shopping online! (Via Colborne 2016).

UPDATE: Another post on this theme from Peg Kaplan: “From Macy’s to Nordstrom’s to TJMaxx and points inbetween, I saw enormous quantities of clothing that I wouldn’t wear if someone paid me to do so. After over an hour of pawing through racks and racks and racks of sweaters, blouses, jackets and more that I couldn’t imagine putting in my closet, much less wearing on my body, I could only think to myself: ‘No wonder stores are complaining. Who, other than some 15 to 24 year olds, would buy this stuff?’”

December 26, 2007

DOES MANDATORY “DIVERSITY TRAINING” JUST LEAD TO MORE LAWSUITS? I certainly hope so . . .

UPDATE: “Not loving the chains.”

December 26, 2007

LARRY KUDLOW says that Bush has had “a very good year.” Well, certainly by comparison with the year before, anyway. And I agree with Larry that Bush and the GOP need to move against pork: “The statute of limitations for Republican overspending, over-earmarking, and over-corrupting that caused huge congressional losses in last year’s campaign will not run out until the GOP shows taxpayers it again can be trusted on key issues of limited government and lower taxes.” Yes.

December 26, 2007

BEST OF THE WEB is back from holiday break.

December 26, 2007

FROM MICHAEL TOTTEN: A fresh look at Hezbollah.

From Michael Yon, a thank you letter from a commander in Iraq.

Both of these guys are supported by reader donations, so if you like their work, don’t forget the tipjars.

December 26, 2007

TURNING PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS: “Computer network security personnel are encountering more and more ugly surprises when they take apart the hacker programs that are planted in PCs. . . . While most of these super-payloads are being used for stealing money or salable information from individuals or companies, these tools can also be turned into military weapons.”

December 26, 2007

OST-ALGIA: “That’s how it used to be in the Soviet Union; nothing but delicious lobster, all the time, for everyone.”

December 26, 2007

AUSTIN BAY: “Sometime within the next six months or so, al Qaeda or Saddamist terrorists will attempt a Tet offensive.”

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: I hope this guy is right: “I don’t think that the antiwar spin after Tet would have succeeded–even given the idiotically unrealistic expectations the Johnson administration had created–if the Web had been available.”

It’s true that the Web, and talk radio, make the “wall of sound” approach to consensus-manufacture much more difficult.

December 26, 2007

IRAQPUNDIT: Dude, where’s my story? Reader C.J. Burch emails: “It’s almost like journalists don’t want to tell about what is really happening.”

Doesn’t fit the narrative.

December 26, 2007

THE SURGE’S COLLATERAL DAMAGE: “The successes of President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq are quieting things down in another, unexpected place: the Democratic campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

December 26, 2007

A TIME FOR CHOOSING: A Ronald Reagan blast from the past.

December 26, 2007

JOHNATHAN PEARCE on the growth of sovereign wealth funds: “The truth is, emerging economies in Asia, coupled with the petro-dollar wealth of the MidEast, parts of Asia, Russia and even Africa, is giving these funds a degree of market muscle that has taken some investment observers by surprise, but it should not do so. We are living through a major period of change in the economic clout of non-western states. We might as well learn to profit from it.”

December 26, 2007

IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, David Leonhardt argues for higher taxes on booze:

Each of the three taxes is now effectively 33 percent lower than it was in 1992. Since 1970, the federal beer tax has plummeted 63 percent. Many states taxes have also been falling.

At first blush, this sounds like good news: who likes to pay taxes, right? But taxes serve a purpose beyond merely raising general government revenue. Taxes on a given activity are also supposed to pay the costs that activity imposes on society. And for all that is wonderful about wine, beer and liquor, they clearly bring some heavy costs.

Nowhere in the discussion, though, are the — apparently quite significant — health benefits of alcohol taken into account. Shouldn’t there be some balancing? After all, the vast majority of people who drink will never kill anyone in a drunk-driving accident, yet most of them probably drink moderately enough to get the health benefits.

For that matter, people who die early of cirrhosis probably save the government money in Social Security and Medicare. I’d be interested in seeing a fuller accounting of costs and benefits. Given the questionable track record of “public health” interventions in recent decades, at any rate, I’m going to be skeptical of these proposals. When the parasite problem is solved, perhaps we can talk about further efforts in social engineering. Well, no, not even then.

December 26, 2007

MOST-ADMIRED MAN AND WOMAN? George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton.

UPDATE: Ron Coleman asks, how can this be?

December 26, 2007

THE HUCKABEE / NOVO NORDISK STEM CELL STORY doesn’t seem to be getting much media traction. It’s like they’re rooting for him. Some discussion here, though: “Over the weekend, it came out that Huckabee received $35,000 in honoraria in 2006 from a company that does stem cell research, the very same company that social conservatives blasted Mitt Romney over because his blind trust had invested in it. Huckabee’s take of $35,000 from the stem cell researchers was but a small sliver of the roughly $378,000 in outside fees that Huckabee raked in during his final year as Arkansas’ governor. Too bad he didn’t have Hillary Clinton’s facility with commodities trading–such a skill probably would have made things easier for Huckabee.”

UPDATE: Reader Jason Palk emails:

Long time reader, first time e-mail response:

I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill here, or if there are serious issues here, then just about every candidate is taking money from a corporation with politically inconvenient sources of income.

Your characterization of Novo Nordisk as a firm that participates in embryonic stem cell research is correct, but belies the fact that millions of diabetics around the world rely on Novo Nordisk’s products. The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is a company that makes insulin, not as a company that participates in stem cell research, but you do not characterize it as such in any of your posts so far on the subject. It would be far more benign to your readers to see that Huckabee was paid by a company known for making diabetes drugs that happens to do research in embryonic stem cells.

If this remains a serious issue in your mind, I would point out that many universities that fund embryonic stem cell research in lieu of taking federal research funds are supported by their congressmen and senators, even though their primary purpose is not to support embryonic stem cell research. We should then speak out against anyone speaking on any University of California campus, for example, as those campuses receive funds and carry out embryonic stem cell research.

The same argument can hold true for any corporation that carries out as its primary purpose some service or good, but at the same time does some that is politically inconvenient, such as bribing foreign officials or God forbid, spending too much money in Congress.

Hmm. But wouldn’t these defenses apply equally to Mitt Romney, who got grief from pro-life people for investing in Novo Nordisk?

Look, I’m pro stem-cell research. Leaving aside the separate question of whether a sitting governor should earn a lot of money from people who may have interests relating to his day job, I don’t have a problem with people taking money from Novo Nordisk. But if you think embryonic stem cell research is so bad that Romney’s investment was bad, why isn’t it just as bad for Huckabee to take money from Novo Nordisk?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bob Krumm emails:

I’ve long thought that gotcha politics about who took campaign contributions from whom is usually a silly game to play. Even a max donation of $2,300 is hardly enough to sway a US Senate candidate, much less a presidential aspirant. However, this wasn’t a simple campaign contribution. This was a payment of $35,000 along with an unspecified agreement to distribute thousands of copies of Gov. Huckabee’s book. This wasn’t a contribution; it was a relationship.

Yes, it’s more than just a contribution.

December 26, 2007

JACK LAIL has thoughts on crowdsourcing fatigue.

December 26, 2007

ROGER KIMBALL on Will Smith, Hitler, and the perils of benevolence.

December 26, 2007

MY EARLIER SUGGESTION that immigration enforcement, minimal as it is, is still making a difference seems to have been correct:

In the past year, U.S. immigration police have stepped up workplace sweeps across the country and teamed up with a growing number of local forces to train officers to enforce immigration laws. . . . Mexican consular sources in Phoenix say they are seeing a spike in the number of immigrants applying for Mexican citizenship for their U.S.-born children, which will allow them to enroll in schools in Mexico.

They are also seeing a rise in requests for papers enabling families to carry household belongings back to Mexico, free of import duties.

Members of the Brazilian community in the U.S. northeast, meanwhile, say they are starting to see an increase in the number of illegal immigrants heading back to their homes in Brazil in recent months.

Apparently there’s more sensitivity to enforcement at the margins than many people believed.

UPDATE: A reader suggests that the falling dollar is why people are leaving — since the money they send home would be worth less. That sounds plausible, but I checked the dollar/peso conversion chart and the dollar’s about where it was in May, and when you look at the five year chart things seem to have been pretty stable, so that doesn’t seem especially likely.

Several other readers noted the irony of needing Mexican citizenship to enroll in Mexican schools, when American citizenship is not required to enroll in American schools. I don’t know the Mexican law on the subject beyond this passing reference in a news story, but I suspect that a demand for strict reciprocity would produce amusing political results.

December 26, 2007

PARASITES:

Roundworms may infect close to a quarter of inner city black children, tapeworms are the leading cause of seizures among U.S. Hispanics and other parasitic diseases associated with poor countries are also affecting Americans, a U.S. expert said on Tuesday.

Sounds like it deserves more attention.

December 25, 2007

TODAY’S BLOGGERS: Descendants of Julius Caesar?

December 25, 2007

SLED POLICE — with radar guns. I agree with the commenter who says, “When cops start this kinda thing, it’s time to start laying them off. They have way too much time on their hands.”

UPDATE: Orin Kerr thinks my provocative headline is misleading. I guess he’s right, though I saw the story as evidence of creeping nanny-statism, likely to produce a slippery slope leading to mandatory helmet laws, actual speed limits, etc. Plus, who didn’t know that sleds can go 19 miles per hour, roughly as fast as a man can run? This seems to be how most of the commenters at Don Surber’s blog, linked above, saw it too. We’ve been down that slippery slope in plenty of other areas, and we didn’t need a sled to do it. But to the extent my pithiness was misleading, I apologize. Meanwhile, Meryl Yourish has thoughts that I hope are tongue-in-cheek. Er, can you do that while wearing a mouthguard?