May 13, 2007
“AM I RACIST?” No.
“AM I RACIST?” No.
THIS CRUSHING OF DISSENT STUFF is starting to show a pattern.
JAM YESTERDAY AND JAM TOMORROW, BUT NEVER JAM TODAY: Reader Thomas Prewitt writes:
Funny how Bush 41 led a hugely successful military effort with Gulf War I yet lost an election because of the perception that “it’s the economy, stupid.”
Now, Bush 43 is in the tank because of the perception that Gulf War II is a disaster based on lies and gets no credit for a remarkable economic turnaround with record stock market highs, low unemployment, and huge chunks taken out of the budget deficit.
How does that happen?
I think it’s the Martin Crutsinger approach to economic reporting.
“AM I RACIST?” No.
“TALIBAN CHIEF’S DEATH A BIG U.S. VICTORY:” That’s pretty strong stuff coming from AP, not noted for its positive war coverage, so I guess it’s big news. For lasting success, though, it’ll take a lot of these — and probably some improvement with Pakistan, which is looking pretty dicey at the moment.
StrategyPage has more on Afghanistan, including this observation: “Overall, the level of Taliban violence is less than last year. The Taliban boasted of a larger ‘offensive’ this year, but so far have not been able to deliver. . . . The Taliban have had more success using publicists, than guys with guns.”
I DON’T LIKE THIS, EITHER:
In 2009 the betting is that America will see the son of a former president replaced by the wife of another former president. If Hillary Clinton is then re-elected in 2012, the world’s greatest democracy will have been ruled by either a Bush or a Clinton for 28 years straight. And why should things end there? Michael Barone, author and pundit, points out that George P. Bush, the current president’s nephew, will be eligible to run for the presidency in 2012, Chelsea Clinton will be eligible in 2016 and Jeb Bush will remain a viable candidate until 2024. . . . The dynastification of American political life is weakening America’s claim to be a democratic beacon. These days political dynasties are usually associated with the young democracies of South Asia rather than mature republics. The dynastification of its political life also points to a deeper problem: the fact that America is producing a quasi-hereditary political elite, cocooned in a world of wealth and privilege and utterly divorced from most people’s lives.
Plus, as political dynasties go, the Bushes and Clintons seem pretty second-tier, anyway — but then, so is our entire political class these days. I also agree with Professor Bainbridge:
Perhaps it really is time to rethink how we select political leaders, so as to get back to the old model of citizen-legislators. Term limits, anyone?
Perhaps it is.
UPDATE: Reader Ben Borwick emails: “Almost all polls show Hillary losing to Giuliani so why perpetuate this
hype?” But will the Republicans be smart enough to run Rudy? Meanwhile, Professor Bainbridge writes: “Between Clinton and Bush 43 we’ve been ruled by Southerners for the last 4 presidential terms and Barnett wants to foist yet another good ol’ boy on us. Not that there’s anything wrong with Southerners, per se, of course. But maybe it’s time to let a Yankee city boy have a chance?” I’m not sure where Hillary’s faux-southern accent fits into this analysis.
Sort-of related thoughts here.
MOTHERS AND ADHD: Only a Mother Could Love Him.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada yada yada:
Such is life in Washington, where members of Congress still donâ€™t get it.
Voters sent a clear message last November when they flipped 30 seats in the House and another six in the Senate, handing control to Democrats. Congressâ€™s love affair with pork-barrel projects — and the secrecy associated with them — was viewed as a defining factor in the election.
Yet today, six months after the elections, the Senate still has not enacted rules making earmarks transparent. Democrats have repeatedly rebuffed efforts by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) despite promises to govern more openly.
In the House, Democrats have had difficulty following a new set of earmark rules adopted earlier this year. When an intelligence spending bill came up last week, Democrats hadnâ€™t even told the ranking committee Republican, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), about pork projects in the bill, let alone other members or the public.
But the Democratsâ€™ shenanigans arenâ€™t nearly as surprising as some Republican failures on the issue. Shortly after the White House vowed to veto the pork-filled agriculture supplemental spending bill last Thursday, three Republicans — Reps. Greg Walden (Ore.), Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Denny Rehberg (Mont.) — not only spoke in favor of the bill, they condemned President Bush for opposing it.
Term limits, which I used to view with skepticism, are looking much more appealing.
And, of course, on Mother’s Day your thoughts may turn to . . . James Lileks!
You can hear James and Cathy Seipp talking about parenting in this podcast from last summer. Cathy — who was, I believe, a fine mother — is no longer with us. Be nice to your mom today.
A POST-IMUS DOMINO EFFECT: “Now, it seems, the company is must demonstrate to each interest group that it matters as much as the last one that was able to extract a firing.” Well, not each interest group, quite.
ED MORRISSEY INTERVIEWED TROY SCHEFFLER who was booted from Hamline University for making some politically incorrect remarks. “What is certain is that Hamline should be embarrassed to have treated Troy in this manner. Had Hanson actually met Troy, she would have seen that she had nothing to fear from him. He would have shown her that people who get concealed-carry licenses don’t have a psychosis or some kind of aggression against humanity; they just want to have the option to defend themselves effectively when placed in dangerous situations. And it’s Hamline that put him and its other students in those situations in the first place. Shame on Hanson, Stern, and Hamline for their prejudice and their mistreatment of a fine, upstanding, and unassuming young man.”
I WOULD HOPE NOT:
New Hampshire authorities said yesterday that they will not press charges against a former Marine who stepped into a deadly shooting and killed a 24-year-old high school dropout who had moments earlier fatally shot a police officer.
The former Marine, Gregory W. Floyd, 49, was driving with his son along Route 116 in Franconia on Friday night when he saw Liko Kenney, 24, shoot Franconia Police Corporal Bruce McKay, 48, four times in the torso. After Kenney drove his Toyota Celica over McKay as the officer lay on the ground, Floyd grabbed the officer’s service weapon and shot and killed Kenney. . . .
The elder Floyd drove his Tahoe into a spot between McKay and Kenney as a shield and told his son, who is in his late teens, to run to the officer’s cruiser and radio for help.
The elder Floyd picked up McKay’s gun from the ground and ordered Kenney to drop his weapon. Kenney refused, and Floyd saw Kenney appear to be reloading, Conte said. Floyd then shot and killed Kenney, Conte said. . . .
New Hampshire’s attorney general, Kelly A. Ayotte, said Floyd will not face charges because he was justified in using deadly force.
I would say that deadly force was not merely justified, but actively called for. Good for him.
UPDATE: This happened in Mark Steyn’s neighborhood, and he comments:
What’s slightly unnerving is the assumptions underpinning the Bostonian reporters’ opening paragraph – that somehow a quick-witted citizen-hero is the guy who has some splainin’ to do. Mr Floyd is exactly the kind of fellow you want around when trouble strikes. He seems not to have been armed himself, but he figured out what was happening very quickly and managed to retrieve the one available weapon from the dead officer. Rather than talking about “not pressing charges”, the state of New Hampshire ought to be thanking him for his bravery and improvisation.
NIGERIA: IT’S GETTING A LOT WORSE: “MEND is not the only armed militia to come out of the 20 million people living in the Niger River Delta. But it is the most militant, determined and effective. After only a year, MEND has cut nearly a third of the countrys oil production. That’s a big deal, and the rest of Nigeria is paying attention. . . . It’s an ugly situation, and not likely to turn out well. This is especially true because there are now splinter groups in MEND, largely the result of arguments over how ransom money should be split up. While attacking oil facilities gets the most attention from the government, MEND gets most of its revenue from ransoms, followed closely by selling stolen oil and various criminal scams.”
Read the whole thing, and you’ll see some similarities to the current situation in Iraq. Lots of oil money, plus weak government, produces this sort of thing.
EVERY BRAIN is different.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT:
Calling it a fight with Goliath, the Foothill Cities blog has removed controversial postings about Pomona City Manager Doug Dunlap after it received a cease- and-desist letter from the city attorney.
In an e-mail sent Thursday, City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman called the Web postings “lies and falsehoods” and demanded the content be removed.
The city attorney threatened legal action if Foothill Cities, which is written by an anonymous blogger, failed to comply.
On Friday, Alvarez-Glasman said the removal of the postings was “a move in the right direction.”
Even assuming Alvarez-Glasman has a legal leg to stand on here — which is far from clear — why is the City Attorney making legal threats on behalf of a private interest? Because the city has no interest in not being libeled, and the City Manager’s interest is a personal one. Does the City Attorney routinely do personal legal work for city officials?
They told me that if George W. Bush were reelected, people who dared criticize the government would find themselves roughly silenced. And they were right!
BRIAN MOCKENHAUPT HAS AN INTERESTING LOOK AT ARMY TRAINING in the latest Atlantic Monthly. There’s lots of interesting stuff, but the parts worth breaking out have to do with how society isn’t living up to the Army’s ideals, not the other way around:
Young people are fatter and weaker. They eat more junk food, watch more television, play more video games, and exercise less. They are more individualistic and less inclined to join the military. And with the unemployment rate hovering near historic lows, they have other choices. . . .
Every platoon sergeant and squad leader I spoke with told me a version of this story: Many of the new privates are smart and eager; theyâ€™re quick learners and they know what theyâ€™ve gotten themselves into, joining the infantry in wartime. But too many are physically weak, are undisciplined, or have mental and emotional problems that should have gotten them screened out at basic training, if not earlier by the recruiter. . . .
The Armyâ€™s problem, however, is really just the nationâ€™s problem writ small. The number of Americans serving in the military has steadily shrunk from more than 1 in 10 during World War II to fewer than 1 in 100 today. The all-volunteer military has allowed most Americans to distance themselves from national service, forcing the Army in particular to work harder and spend more to get the people it needs. As former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in another context, â€œYou go to war with the Army you have. Theyâ€™re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.â€
Until more Americans are more willing, more able, or perhaps more compelled to serve, the Army must maintain an effective all-volunteer force with the people it has and the limited number of additional people it can recruit. And that larger conundrum is beyond the power of any generals, captains, or drill sergeants to solve.
I think it’s a poor reflection on how we’re bringing up kids and teenagers, and on civilian/military relations in general.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Lunday begs to differ:
I retired in Jan 2001, however, I still work with these soldiers in a contract job. Your copy of a post regarding their, shall we say, less than optimum physique, is way overstated. Tell ya what, pick a day I have a group out here and you can run with em. And these are the 24 to 38 year olds, CPTs and COLs – not the 18 to 20 year olds that leave basic.
I think they could out run, out lift and out ‘hump’ me (btw, hump means hike with a Ruck Sack) except when I was their age (gotta say that ya know,,,, it’s a guy thing). These guys/gals are the best we have, and they are awesome.
The longest race I ever ran in was a 10k, and I considered it a victory the way Saddam considered Gulf War I a victory — at the end, I was still alive, and hadn’t puked. I’m not really built for running. [What are you built for? -- ed. Blogging! And . . . er, never mind.]
Meanwhile, reader Rashad Mahmood emails:
Look, you can’t just explain away incentives by blaming it on parents. There is a simple way to increase the number and quality of volunteers for the army. Pay them more.
That’s true. I was commenting more on the physical condition and discipline aspects. It’s also true, however, that if society valued military service more, the psychic income involved would go up, and that’s a factor as well, as demonstrated by the vast numbers of twentysomethings who toil away in rock bands despite the generally nonremunerative character of that work.
POWERLINE TO THE DNC: So sue us! “We therefore associate ourselves with our reader’s statements regarding Governor Dean and invite Mr. Sandler to sue us for defamation as he threatens to sue Free Republic. This is to put him and his client on notice, however, that we intend to seek our attorney’s fees under federal law for the assertion of a frivolous claim if he does so.”
It seems to me that more people are trying to silence bloggers all of a sudden. Well, they told me that if George W. Bush were reelected, people who criticized the powerful would suffer. And they were right!
Why such libel claims are a bad idea, however, is discussed here.
UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails:
“It seems to me that more people are trying to silence bloggers all of a sudden”
As well as radio personalities. Interesting trend, huh?
It’s “battlespace preparation” for 2008.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dart Montgomery thinks it’s all about creating a Parliament of Clocks.
BORIS YELTSIN: LESSONS FOR AMERICA PART TWO:
The Americans with whom I discussed these events were surprised at hearing about the high death toll. They didnâ€™t realize it was this bad, nor had they been informed about the anti-Semitic nature of the riots. It seems the media had failed to do its job, which is strange considering that Moscow was swarming with foreign journalists. As far as I can remember, my personal impressions at the time were that in an attempt to stay objective, the Western journalists chose some questionable middle ground – which made their coverage anything but objective. . . .
Apparently, in their minds, a fascist must always have a swastika prominently displayed on the sleeve at all times – otherwise heâ€™s just a victim working out grievances. These journalists wouldnâ€™t recognize fascism if it smacked them over the head with a hammer and sickle, which is the Soviet version of swastika. They probably wouldnâ€™t have believed me if I were to tell them that in the twisted minds of these ultra-nationalist maniacs, all Westerners were under the suspicion of being Zionist running dogs working to enslave and destroy Mother Russia. To appreciate just how crazy they were, consider the fact that one of their worst imaginary Zionist enemies was Bill Clinton.
Hmm. This sounds familiar.
UPDATE: Mark Kleiman notes that Barack Obama, despite being pictured with the others and a fan of 100 dollar bills, has released his tax returns, something that the story doesn’t mention until way, way, down.
PEOPLE LIVE LONGER, and yet: “The average retirement age is now 62, not 65. Indeed, only 27 percent of Americans retire at age 65 or later, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.”
I find that amazing.
UPDATE: Reader Dick Thompson thinks I find it amazing because I’m assuming it’s voluntary retirement:
The question that needs to be asked is how many people retire willingly at 62. I know that my company, Citibank seems to have a history of having a personnel cut about every year or so and it also seems that almost all of the people cut are in the age group of 61-63 or 64. I know that when I got retired of the thousands who were cut at that time the age range seemed to be about my age of 63. The cut the year before and the one before that had the same profile. At that age what are your chances of getting another job of the same type where you will not be told that you are way overqualified for the position, sorry.
The other companies on Wall Street seem to be doing the same thing. The problem is that the cutting is not done at the highest levels but at the middle management levels so that the highest level people stay on and those of us who were in the range of 60-100K or better (I was in the slightly over 100K range) are the ones who are cut and basically forced to retire. I would love to see some studies done on this question because I think a lot of the retirees are for this reason. When you are used to getting a paycheck of x amount of dollars then going from there to living on your 401K is not really a good option and people cash in their SSA. The other problem with this group is that the company health insurance is converted to COBRA after 3 months and you have to grab that or you lose it. Have you priced COBRA health insurance for people in the 60+ age range?
No, happily. But this is a good point.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Not quite such a good point, from Kevin Drum: “If you work in a stimulating, highly rewarding job like, say, law professor or paid blogger, it makes sense that you might want to keep working past 62. On the other hand, if you’ve slogged away as, say, a Wal-Mart checker or an accounts payable clerk eight hours a day for the past 40 years, it makes perfect sense that you’d want to get the hell out at the earliest possible moment, even if it means accepting a lower Social Security payment. What’s so amazing about this?”
Well, yes, but I assumed that to people with low-paying jobs, retiring early is harder as they (probably) don’t have big 401(k) plans, much less fat defined-benefit pensions that start at 62. Given what I hear about Americans not saving for retirement, if only 27 percent wait until 65 that means either that Social Security turns out to be more generous than is generally supposed, that people have more resources than I thought, or that there’s something elese going on. One thing, I suspect, may be that many of these voluntary early retirers have spouses with good benefits packages who will continue working until they hit Medicare eligibility at 65+. Because if you retire at 62, there’s a health insurance gap until 65 that is too long to cover with COBRA. Though some employers will continue health benefits for early retirees to fill that gap, I’ll be not many of those are the low-wage jobs that Drum talks about.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bruce Goldston emails: “I wonder how much this situation has been created by the huge number of public employees . . . national, state, city, and county government, and all the various municipal corporations and boards, not to mention the education establishment. Very few of those folks work til 65.” That’s true.
And reader Gary Thomas doubts the accuracy of Dick Thompson’s account: “The fact is that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) specifically protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination. Companies have to bend over backward not to target them – even during early retirement ‘windows’ when they try to induce people to leave by giving them more retirement credit. It strains credulity to think that a company would want to get rid of the 63-year-olds- after all, they’ve pretty much accrued all of their pension and that cannot be taken away from them. I speak as an actuary who has worked for 10 years as an employee benefits consultant.”
Well, I’m no expert, but you certainly hear a lot about efforts to squeeze out older workers. Are those stories just media myths? That’s possible, I guess.
MORE: Reader Michael Hankamer begs to differ:
I read your post on early retirement and the updates that followed. I’m afraid that your reader Dick Thompson is probably right.
I’m 62, my wife is 61. She’s retiring from teaching in June, and while her co-teachers and principal are supportive, her school administration is not. She could stay on (a continuing contract), but the administration could care less about keeping an experienced teacher — it would much rather hire an inexperienced, and cheaper, teacher to replace her. ADEA doesn’t apply. The administration isn’t actively or inactively discriminating against her; it simply isn’t trying to keep her.
My case is quite similar. I’ll be retiring when I hit 63 in a few months. Not that I really want to; I love engineering. But the emotional burden of staying on in a place where I’m not supported by my management isn’t worth the paycheck. So I’m leaving too.
My suspicion is that I’m far from alone. With the benefit of early social security, our pensions and savings, we can afford to retire, so we’re leaving voluntarily. But not because we really want to; it’s simply that the emotional burden of staying on outweighs the financial incentive to do so.
DE-COMMUNIZATION IN POLAND: A Polish court says it’s unconstitutional, leading Perry de Havilland to observe: “But surely justice cannot be served by allowing the communist era and above all, the role of the people who made it all possible, to vanish down the memory hole. If people did despicable things during the communist era, why should they escape punishment? I cannot imagine a German court being allowed to stop the process of de-nazification in Germany, so why tolerate something similar in Poland in the aftermath of communism? Forgiveness can not come before repentance and a lot of people have yet to repent. I wonder if there are any senior judges who might have an embarrassing file on their communist era activities that they would rather not see the light of day? Just wondering.”
SPRINGTIME IN ISLAMBERG: No doubt it’s full of FBI informants.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: If you’re serious about fuel economy, propose a carbon tax. Forget CAFE standards.
RUDY GIULIANI wants a bigger army.
PATRICK BELTON HAS THOUGHTS on Sarkozy’s first 100 days.
THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM IN AMERICA: fat people on TV?
A REVIEW OF DANIEL WILSON’S Where’s My Jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived, by (no relation) Simon Reynolds. Troubling observation: “Today we seem to have trouble picturing the future, except in cataclysmic terms.” That’s a cultural thing, I think, brought about more by the values of filmmakers, etc. than by anything inherent in reality. But it’s true enough.
IF YOU MISSED IT: Here’s a complete set of links for the dialogue that Bob McChesney and I had on the future of media at the L.A. Times.
NICE WORK: Reporters’ errors heard ’round the world.
NEXT WEEK: It’s the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. Looks interesting.
THE (IMPERFECT) MAGIC OF AMAZON RECOMMENDATIONS: It was kind of cool to discover Volume Two of The Official Firefly Companion, by Joss Whedon. But I had never known that there was a Volume One. Oh, well — I do now!
For a show that didn’t even go one full season, Firefly has certainly supported a huge secondary market, with a movie, other books, etc. And, of course, the series DVD has done very well. Quite unusual. I wish the rumors of a second season straight-to-DVD had been true.
Our podcast interview of Firefly executive producer Tim Minear can be heard here.
MARY KATHARINE HAM REPORTS FROM THE MILBLOGGERS’ CONFERENCE, in the latest Ham Nation.
KAROL SHEININ ON THE FORT DIX TERRORISTS: “When Elvis and Dritan Duka, two of the three brothers arrested on terrorism charges in Fort Dix, were kids, they were neighborhood bullies. When they got a little older, they became drug dealers. How do I know? They grew up in my neighborhood, my brother and his friends used to brawl with them on a fairly regular basis. My brother’s best friend’s mom was friends with their mom. Then they moved to New Jersey and became Jihadis.”
I’D RATHER THEY FOCUSED ON STOPPING IRAN FROM GETTING NUKES:
In a letter written earlier this week to the House Intelligence Committee, the official, Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, said it was â€œentirely appropriateâ€ that the intelligence community prepare an assessment of the â€œgeopolitical and security implications of global climate change.â€
No doubt we’ll soon hear that the case for carbon caps is a “slam dunk.”
UPDATE: Some further thoughts on intelligence from T.M. Lutas.
STRANGE BREW: Terrorism and Saudi Arabia:
Some details of terrorist operations in Saudi Arabia have been getting out, in the wake of the recent round up of 172 terrorist suspects, and the seizure of weapons, explosives and plans. There were seven different terrorist cells involved in those arrests. One of the cells had a safe house in Syria, where meetings with terrorist groups in Iraq were conducted. The Saudis are not happy with the links between terrorists inside Saudi Arabia, and Iraqi Sunni Arabs. The Saudis have told the Iraqi Sunni Arabs that the Sunni Arab nations in the regions will not bail them out, and that they must make peace with the Shia Arab majority. Many Sunni Arabs, throughout the region, do not agree with this. But they are a small minority. Most Sunni Arabs are appalled at the body count the Sunni Arab terrorists have created in Iraq. While most of the dead are Shia Arabs, a growing number are Sunni Arabs, killed either by the suicide bombers, or by Shia Arab death squads looking for revenge. While most Sunni Arabs would like to see Sunni Arabs running Iraq, there was revulsion at Saddam Husseins methods, and even greater distaste for the subsequent mayhem by his followers.
Well, that’s good. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia makes Freedom House’s “Worst of the Worst” list for human rights.
LOOKING AT THE G.I. FILM FESTIVAL.
DESPITE THE CHARGES BEING DROPPED, THERE’S A LOT GOING ON STILL in the Duke/Nifong/Mangum false accusation case. K.C. Johnson continues to follow it. Latest: A call for an investigation of the Durham Police by the Attorney General.
LOTS OF LOVELY PHOTOS, at Melissa Schwartz’s blog.
ADVICE FOR LIBERTARIANS AND CONSERVATIVES, from Josh TreviÃ±o. “The challenge of building the right wing, conservative, and/or libertarian movement online is in many ways less daunting than that faced by its opposites on the left.”
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Talking the ethics talk, but not walking the ethics walk:
House Democrats are suddenly balking at the tough lobbying reforms they touted to voters last fall as a reason for putting them in charge of Congress.
Now that they are running things, many Democrats want to keep the big campaign donations and lavish parties that lobbyists put together for them. They’re also having second thoughts about having to wait an extra year before they can become high-paid lobbyists themselves should they retire or be defeated at the polls.
The growing resistance to several proposed reforms now threatens passage of a bill that once seemed on track to fulfill Democrats’ campaign promise of cleaner fundraising and lobbying practices. . . .
The situation concerns some Democrats, who note their party campaigned against a “culture of corruption” in 2006, when voters ended a long run of Republican control of Congress.
Actually, they campaigned against a “culture of corruption” before the voters ended Republican control of Congress. Since then, not so much.
UPDATE: A lovely poem:
They promised us laws to reform the corruption,
But now they’re in charge, that’s a needless disruption.
They’ve got bigger tasks -
What they are, please don’t ask.
HILLARY: Mission accomplished!
A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN PAKISTAN? “Opposition to General Musharrafâ€™s alleged attack on the independence of the judiciary was initially led by lawyersâ€™ associations and rights groups striving to bring Pakistan under the rule of law. But the protests have evolved into a pro-democracy movement, with broad support across Pakistan that extends well beyond earlier antigovernment demonstrations that were led by radical Islamic groups.” This could end well, but probably won’t. (Via Dan Riehl).
“BUSH RESIGNS:” Some wishful thinking at CNN?
Of course, they probably wouldn’t like having to utter the words “President Cheney” hundreds of times a day . . .
THOUGHTS ON TAXING AND SPENDING, from Professor Bainbridge.
MICHAEL SILENCE EXCEEDS THE SPEED LIMIT ON I-40 and still gets passed like he’s standing still. Video at the link.
A LOOK AT polling on Iraq.
EXPENSIVE IDEAS from John Edwards.
VARIOUS PEOPLE think that the sound quality on yesterday’s podcast was especially good. I think it’s mostly just that we had a really good phone connection. They vary a lot, and alas there’s not much we can do except try redialing if they’re too bad. But on listening to some older podcasts, I have to say that the audio treatments we added a while back have made a big difference, too. Thanks, Ready Acoustics! (Various other podcast questions answered here.)
A LOOK AT Paris Hilton’s prison hell.
ROBERT MCCHESNEY AND I LOOK AT MEDIA CONCENTRATION in today’s Los Angeles Times.
“ICE-COLD REALPOLITIK” from Morton Kondracke. I’m afraid I’m not that cold.
THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE fact-checks Barack Obama on fuel economy and finds some major errors:
Obama this week flew to Detroit to deliver his message that the U.S. auto industry is the villain for “investing in bigger and faster cars while foreign competitors invested in more fuel-efficient technology.”
The domestics certainly haven’t flooded showrooms with gas/electric hybrids like the Japanese. But in fairness, the newest Japanese assembly plant in the U.S. produces 14-m.p.g. Toyota Tundra pickups, not Prius hybrids rated at 60 m.p.g.
“While our fuel standards haven’t moved from 27.5 miles per gallon in two decades, both China and Japan have surpassed us, with Japanese cars now getting an average of 45 miles to the gallon,” Obama said.
“I’m not sure where he got that figure,” Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said. “No carmaker gets 45 m.p.g. Ours is closer to 30 m.p.g.”
If elected president, perhaps Obama’s first appointment should be a fact-checker.
Not just for number crunching but also because neither China nor Japan mandate fuel-economy standards. And the 27.5 m.p.g. standard was set by the government, not the automakers.
(Via Matt Sheffield).
A LOOK AT JIHADI CHIC: From Jonah Goldberg.
Then there’s the fun of Mayor Bloomberg slamming Virginia for “enforcing the laws.” Is this guy for real? Maybe Bloomberg should try not violating federal firearms laws before he gets on his high horse.
UPDATE: Reader Josh Coray is sure these are Airsoft guns: “Being an avid paintballer and related airgun fan, yes, those are airsoft guns.” Others aren’t so sure. So I guess I can’t blame AP for the photo too much, regardless.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More from SayUncle.
OKAY, IT’S NOT HOSPIBLOGGING, it’s doctor-office-blogging, while the Insta-Wife gets imaged. Thank goodness for EVDO.
IT’S BETTER THAN KEITH OLBERMANN AND HARDBALL PUT TOGETHER! The latest Corn and Miniter Show is up!
IN THE MAIL: Joe Haldeman & Martin Greenberg’s Future Weapons of War. I thought at first that it was a nonfiction book by a couple of science fiction guys, which would have been pretty cool, but it’s actually an anthology of military SF stories. They’re all copyrighted 2007, so they’re all new, apparently.
DOG BITES MAN: Zbigniew Brzezinski wrong again.
LONG LIVE THE BLOGOSPHERE: Norm Geras has some thoughts on newspapers and blogging.
HOWARD KURTZ rounds up reactions to Tony Blair’s step-down announcement. It seems to me that it comes with less a bang than a whimper. Perhaps that’s because he’s leaving on his own, but I notice that libertarian Britblog Samizdata hasn’t posted anything on the subject yet. You’d expect them to be cheering.
UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive: At Samizdata, Perry de Havilland writes: “I do not really give a damn because it is actually not that important. Glenn expects us to be cheering, but why? About the prospect of Gordon Brown running our affairs? Sorry but that is nothing to cheer about and I cannot really see that this will make a great deal of difference to government policies.”
And further thoughts from Paul Marks: “Mrs Thatcher was interesting. Mr Blair (like Mr Major) was just another statist politician.”
Well, aside from the general benefits of government turnover — which come into play more strongly when there’s a change of party anyway — I don’t think the difference will be huge.
BORIS YELTSIN: lessons for America.
WALMART SALES PLUMMET, but Bob Krumm thinks that’s actually economic good news: “Well, simply put: No-one likes to shop at Wal-Mart unless they have to. Itâ€™s always crowded, the checkout lines are understaffed, the place is dirty, the parking lot is a mess.” Thus, when Wal-Mart goes down, it means people can afford to shop elsewhere. Interesting theory — we’ll see if he’s right. Personally, I’m a Target man because he’s right — Wal-Mart is just depressing. But I’d ditch Target in a second if someone would open up a Samuel’s in my neighborhood.
MICKEY KAUS on politicians who drive 100 miles per hour: “Isn’t this a pretty basic violation of social equality?”
Er, yes. Lots of people drive fast — I was going to visit my brother a while back, zipping along in the left lane at what I thought was the highest prudent speed for the road in my Mazda RX-8, only to find an endless array of minivan-driving soccermoms coming up on my rear bumper and signalling me to move over. Everybody drives awfully fast nowadays — but the rest of us face tickets if we do it. As Kaus points out, Bill Richardson wouldn’t even pull over when a cop tried to ticket him.
UPDATE: Reader Joe O’Rourke emails:
Though not environmentally responsible or safety conscious, most cars nowadays are more than capable of holding speeds in excess of 80mph comfortably. This is noted by your minivan experience.
20-30 years ago, cars would shake a lot while doing 75mph, or they would feel â€œfloatyâ€. Chassis and suspension engineering and good quality tires have eliminated these sensations, and superior engine technology means the car doesnâ€™t strain to hold the speed.
I think itâ€™s time for our longer highway systems, at the least to begin raising speed limits. When a supermajority of the populace does not obey the law, is that not a mandate for increasing the limit of the law?
The problem with that is that highways would need to be maintained to a level consistent with high speedsâ€¦and, at least in the northeast, no state ever maintains their roads to a level of safety consistent with modern day speed limitsâ€¦
True on all counts.
YEAH, I CAN IMAGINE things worse than polygamy, too.
HERE’S AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ROBB, whose book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, I mentioned a while back.
SOME THOUGHTS ON character and the Presidency, from Ross Douthat.
BLAMING THE AUDIENCE for Katie Couric’s failures.
A NEW AP-IPSOS POLL: “People think the Democratic-led Congress is doing just as dreary a job as President Bush, following four months of bitter political standoffs that have seen little progress on Iraq and a host of domestic issues. . . . The survey found only 35 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, down 5 percentage points in a month. That gives lawmakers the same bleak approval rating as Bush, who has been mired at about that level since last fall.” Upside for Nancy Pelosi — she’s still more popular than Congress as a whole, which means she can spin it that she’s more popular than Bush!
K.C. JOHNSON NOTES that despite the utter collapse of the Nifong prosecution, members of the Duke faculty are continuing to make fools of themselves. Sounds like more of that “rhetorical will to power by way of narrative control” that I’ve been hearing about.
This is not academia’s finest hour.
CENSORING ART IN RICHMOND:
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama hasn’t been elected and already his campaign is engaged in a cover-up of sorts.
Before the Illinois senator spoke Tuesday night at a Richmond art gallery to about 500 Democrats, an Obama advance woman asked the gallery to cover one painting deemed potentially offensive and to remove another.
Artist Jamie Boling said he first was offended by the censorship but now has mixed feelings. In today’s political and cultural climate, the pictures could have been used against Obama, he said.
They told me that if George W. Bush was reelected we’d see objectionable paintings taken down. And they were right! (Via Don Surber, who comments: “Shades of John Ashcroft and the nekkid statue.” Hey, thanks to Alberto Gonzales, Ashcroft is acquiring a retroactive glow!)
ARE OPIE AND ANTHONY imperiling an XM/Sirius merger? Wired’s Epicenter Blog thinks so.
VETERAN SOUTHEASTERN ROCKERS will probably remember the seminal ’70s punk band Balboa. Lynnpoint Records has put a bunch of their songs up online for free download now — from a compilation I put together with Balboa guitarist Terry Hill in 2001 shortly before he died. You can get the tunes here. My personal favorites are Live Like This, The Big Sleep, and Writer and the Artist. (Bumped).
RADLEY BALKO LOOKS AT hypocrisy as a driving force:
Corzine isn’t the only one. There’s an increasing hubris among many elected officials that their job is so important, their time so much more precious than ours and their position in public life so privileged, that they can zip by us on the road, pushing everyday folk aside so they can get to their far more important destinations.
This is about more than just traffic laws, of course. It’s about the arrogance of power. These politicians not only assume their lives, meetings and fundraisers are more important than everyone else’s to the point that they don’t have to follow the rules, they’re willing to put other people on the road at risk to prove their point.
In 2003, The Washington Post reported that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson routinely ordered his driver to whip down public roads at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Even after those reports, when a police officer attempted to pull over Richardson’s car for speeding in 2005, the governor’s driver refused to stop. In the last two years, Richardson’s lieutenant governor has also been caught running a red light and parking in a fire zone.
For his part, Richardson refused to apologize for his law-breaking. He said he’d instruct his drivers to slow down, but cited his busy schedule as governor and said he wouldn’t promise not to speed again. By April 2006, his car was seen pushing 90 again.
In 2003, South Dakota Rep. Bill Janklow blew through a stop sign while speeding and killed a man on a motorcycle. Janklow had been previously pulled over 16 times for speeding, but never ticketed.
Though Janklow was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the accident, in 2004 prosecutors determined he was officially “on the job” when he struck the motorcyclist, meaning federal taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the $25 million lawsuit filed by Janklow’s victim’s family.
Press reports in 2004 revealed that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s car had been clocked traveling over 100 miles per hour on nine separate occasions. Rendell subsequently admitted to giving his drivers permission to speed to get him to meetings, though he did promise to stop giving those instructions in the future.
After Corzine’s crash in April, Rendell acknowledged that despite his prior assurances, his drivers do sometimes still exceed the speed limit to help him make appointments, but he assured Pennsylvanians that he always wears his seat belt. Well. Good thing he’s keeping himself safe.
Yeah, it makes me feel better. I think we should allow citizens to arrest politicians they find breaking traffic laws, since ordinary law enforcement officials have a conflict of interest. That’ll pass!
DIVORCE RATE lowest since 1970.
Since 88% of Audi buyers spent a significant amount of time on audiusa.com before purchase, Audi is spending dramatically more online this year, Mr. Keogh said, though he declined to reveal details.
KEITH HENSON UPDATE: Surprise arrest for Scientology critic. I swear, it’s safer to confront the mob — and they like it that way, I think.
JACOB SULLUM: “To me, it seems kind of strange that someone arguing in favor of hate crime legislation would single out people for criticism based on their race and age.”
To me, it seems entirely predictable.
Wal-Mart announced Thursday that its suppliers of compact fluorescent light bulbs have agreed to dramatically reduce the amount of mercury in the energy-saving bulbs. . . . The company said its CFL suppliers â€” GE, Royal Philips, Osram Sylvania and Lights of America â€” “committed to achieving a greater reduction in mercury content than the 5 mg standard set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association earlier this year. These suppliers will also adhere to clean production techniques that will minimize mercury pollution from factories manufacturing CFLs.” . . .
The mercury content in the average CFL â€” now about 5 milligrams â€” would fit on the tip of a ballpoint pen, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and manufacturers have committed to cap the amount in most CFLs to 5 milligrams or 6 milligrams per bulb.
The majority of Philips Lighting’s bulbs contain less than 3 milligrams, and some have as little as 1.23 milligrams, said spokesman Steve Goldmacher.
Read the whole thing.
THE EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY of Lou Dobbs.
TONY BLAIR STEPS DOWN, and James Joyner comments:
After eleven years, few of his countrymen are sad to see him go. Then again, that was the case for Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, too. Leaders simply wear out their welcome after long stints in office. Thatâ€™s been the case with every two term American president since FDR. Perhaps itâ€™s inevitable in the media age, especially with the advent of 24/7 instantaneous commentary.
When we had kings, and the death of one meant a nontrivial chance of bloody succession struggles, people liked longevity in a leader. Now that the stakes are lower, not so much. Boredom is one of the great forces in politics, and nonstop news coverage makes it worse.
I was never a fan of Blair in general, and before 9/11 would have been delighted to see him go. I’ve never liked the soft totalitarianism that Labour has championed, and to a large degree implemented, in Britain: Cameras everywhere, political correctness, gun confiscation — and yet a diminished ability to actually maintain public order.
On the other hand — and it’s a big other hand — I did, along with many others, value Blair’s clarity on the subject of Islamic terror, and his pro-American sentiments, which were the exception rather than the rule in Old Europe. Blair was a beacon in that regard, and we needed him I’ll miss that, but honestly we’re short of clarity on this side of the Atlantic, too. And I suspect we’ll wind up missing that even more than Tony Blair’s.
Paul Cella has some similar mixed feelings.
OUTSOURCING LOCAL NEWS COVERAGE to India. Yeah, that’ll save the industry.
WILL WILKINSON: “What can we learn from ‘happiness’ research?”
THE KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL’S JACK LAIL on the Nashville Tennessean’s decision to publish a searchable database of people with gun carry licenses: “It is an illustration that just because you legally and easily can publish databases of public information, the public might not think you should. And if you can’t defend your position in answering their concerns, maybe they have a point.”
SADLY, YES: “The fact that a law firm feels it necessary to train its young associates on something so basic as meal etiquette is certainly an interesting comment on modern society.”
WHY NOT regulate guns like cars?