January 14, 2007
SADDAM’S HALF-BROTHER, hanged.
SADDAM’S HALF-BROTHER, hanged.
I’VE BEEN SURPRISED BY THE ECONOMY’S STRENGTH, and apparently I’m not the only one: “Economists are hastily upgrading their forecasts for the US economy after a series of surprisingly strong reports suggesting the so-called ‘soft landing’ may be over and growth is accelerating. Over the past week, surprises have come in stronger-than-expected reports on US job creation, the trade balance and retail sales — all key contributors to economic activity. . . . The latest data showed US employers added a healthy 167,000 new jobs in December, with unemployment holding at a low 4.5 percent. Average wages were up 4.2 percent annually.”
UPDATE: Spengler wonders what the markets know.
Meanwhile, at BizzyBlog, an I-told-you-so. “Thatâ€™s what happens when economists like Ethan Harris read too much Paul Krugman and Rex Nutting, and not enough of yours truly.” (Bumped.)
ADVICE TO CONDI RICE: Adopt Barbara Boxer. Heh.
“SAY IT AIN’T SO, JIMMY:” “It’s hard to read Alan Dershowitz’s denunciation of former President Jimmy Carter without getting a sinking feeling.”
OMAR REPORTS that insurgents in Baghdad are already running away: “the bad guys are adjusting their plans as the government and US military adjust theirs.” That’s how it works, generally.
ACUTE POLITICS is another cool military blog from Iraq.
GETTING IT WRONG AGAIN at the Star Tribune.
THE FOLKS AT CNN’S “RELIABLE SOURCES” just emailed me this excerpt from today’s show transcript with UPI reporter Pamela Hess:
KURTZ: Pam Hess, has the sending of 20,000 additional troops gotten a fair hearing in the media or has it gotten caught up in this wrenching, emotional debate about whether the war itself was a mistake?
PAM HESS: I think it’s gotten caught up about it, and the debate about it is actually all wrong. What reporters know and what Martha says is that 20,000 really isn’t that big — isn’t that big a jump. We’re at 132,000 right now. It’s going to put us even less that we had going in going across the line.
What we’re not asking is actually the central question. We’re getting distracted by the shiny political knife fight. What we need to be asking is, what happens if we lose? And no one will answer that question. If we lose, how are we going to mitigate the consequences of this?
It’s so much easier for us to cover this as a political horse race. It’s on the cover of “The New York Times” today, what this means for the ’08 election. But we’re not asking the central national security question, because it seems that if as a reporter you do ask the national security question, all of a sudden you’re carrying Bush’s water. There are national security questions at stake, and we’re ignoring them and the country is getting screwed.
Better that the story should be missed, and the country screwed, than that a reporter might look unacceptably friendly to Bush!
UPDATE: Read this, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Pam Hess video is available here.
And courtesy of reader Jim Brant, here’s someone who’s asking the tough questions that, as Pam Hess notes, other journalists are afraid to.
Gerard van der Leun: “As always in these times, both the Right and the Left are wrong, have been wrong for quite some time, and will continue in their error since the object of their policies is neither victory abroad or security at home, but the mere destruction of the other in political terms. It is a small and ignoble goal, but it seems to be all our pundits and politicians are capable of at this time. The times demand heros and giants but we are only seeing pygmies and cardboard figures. This is likely to continue until some deeper shock wakes us from our sleep.”
Jules Crittenden: “Thank you, Ms. Hess.”
More thoughts from Bruce Kesler.
IN AN EARLIER POST, I noted Mickey Kaus speculating that the Alternative Minimum Tax is mostly bad because of the hassle. But reading Ann Althouse, I wonder if Turbo Tax isn’t a friend of Big Government.
Ann Althouse says it’s not the hassle, it’s the money:
I use TurboTax, which does the calculations automatically, and the AMT cost me $4900 last year. It’s definitely the money!
And if you want to know why the AMT costs me so much, let me tell you it’s a reason that Democrats should care about, because it’s all about living in a blue state. The deductions I lose in the AMT calculation are — as I wrote here — are state and local taxes, like my incredible $12,ooo property tax bill.
Althouse explains why liberals should hate the AMT and conservatives should like it: The AMT makes it harder to maintain high state and local taxes.
That’s real money. On the other hand, the hassle factor probably does matter some, and programs like Turbo Tax also make increased tax code complexity easier. Should conservatives hate those, too?
NIFONG UPDATE: A bad review for Paula Zahn.
UPDATE: Forget Net Neutrality — Matt Sherman wants to know about Search Engine Neutrality: “Now, this sounds to me exactly the phenomenon that net neutrality advocates are fearing: a money-hungry company effectively controlling who does and doesn’t see your site. . . . Google has much more power over what you see and don’t see than any network provider. In the telecoms world, no company has more than 22% of the consumer market, while Google’s share is somewhere between 50% and 70%, depending on whom you ask.”
BARBARA BOXER VS. CONDI RICE: Mark Daniels says it’s not sexism, but prejudice against the childless, which he says is a common feature in American society.
It’s a good point — though if a white Republican male had said the same thing to a black Democratic female it would be a clear case of racism and sexism.
OVER AT ED MORRISSEY’S, Norm Coleman explains his opposition to the surge in a podcast interview.
BUYING CYBER-WEAPONS on the black market. The Chinese seem particularly interested.
VIDEO: BARNEY FRANK gets upset over questions about exempting American Samoa from the stem cell bill, as it was exempted from the minimum wage increase. I think that the combination of YouTube and C-SPAN is going to provide a lot of new opportunities for the minority.
UPDATE: C.J. Burch emails that this may be good for entertainment, but not for the country: “The majority is intent on quietly lining its own pockets. The minority is intent on screwing with the majority. Neither cares much one way or the other about governing. Where have I seen this before? Of course now the press will be much less invested in reporting on the fact that the majority is quietly lining its pockets, but nothing stays the same forever.” Sadly, I think he’s right. If the stakes weren’t so high, it would be entertaining. But they are.
BRITISH MUSLIMS seceding from the National Health? “The problem is not Islam, it is the National Health Service.”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “The more we learn about Sandy Berger’s brilliant career as a document thief, the clearer it becomes that there is plenty we still don’t know and may never learn.”
EMBEDDED BLOGGER BILL ARDOLINO POSTS more reporting from Iraq. He has this on the surge: “The Marines I spoke to think it’s a good thing, but from what I understand it’s only 4,000 in Anbar. More significant would be a change in strategy, letting the Marines do what Marines do.”
Plus, more on what’s going on in Somalia.
IN THE MAIL: Col. Robert Black’s new book, The Battalion: The Dramatic Story of the 2nd Ranger Battalion in World War II. Looks pretty interesting, and offers some useful historical perspective.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! Mickey Kaus comments on the Democrats’ plan to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax for people in the $100-500K income range:
Washington Monthly’s Charles Peters mocks the “new proletariat” of Americans in the “$100,000-$500,000 income range,” especially their agitation against the Alternative Minimum Tax. … My impression is the main complaint against the AMT is not the extra tax it extracts but the extra paperwork hassle it imposes on those who essentially have to calculate their tax two times, using different sets of rules (or, almost as annoying, pay an accountant to do it for them) … I would think the anti-bureaucratic Wash. Monthly would join in the fraternal struggle against unnecessary government-imposed complications–realizing that Washington could probably collect a lot more tax money, indeed more money from the complaining top 20%, and if only it did so with less hassle.
The hassle is an issue. So is the money. And the Dems have a lot of key constituents in those brackets. Kaus has some interesting observations on Chuck Hagel’s positioning, too.
A NIFONG ROUNDUP from Tom Maguire.
MORE ON HEALTH CARE:
TALKING to Europeans (particularly non-Brits) about things like health care and welfare programmes is a treat. Most of the Europeans I meet seem to believe that huge numbers of Americans get no health care at all, while the rich few wallow in luxury. In fact, the biggest problems uninsured Americans face are not doctors refusing to treat them, but the fact that they use the incredibly inconvenient emergency room for most of their care, and that a really bad illness could force them into bankruptcy. (Some also believe that it reduces quality of care for chronic illnesses like diabetes, but this is much less clear). Not admirable, by any means, but a far cry from the tortured visions of poor Americans dying at the hospital’s door, their pleas for care unheeded.
Americans on the other hand, the overwhelming majority of whom are insured, seem to believe that millions of Europeans die each year from lack of treatment. The reality is much less grim; a fair number of Europeans go without hip replacements and other quality of life treatments, and some do die on waiting lists, but many of those people would have died anyway, because they have nasty diseases with life expectancies measured in months. America caters, expensively, to their desire to live a few extra weeks or months; Europe does not.
Because I’m unhappy with our current state of medical progress, the most important single issue to me is which system encourages research and development. The answer, of course, is that neither does it nearly as well as I’d like, though the U.S. system is pretty clearly better than the European. I want an Andy Kessler world, and I want it soon!
COMPANIES ARE STARTING TO AVOID LOCATING IN CHINA, according to a report in The Economist:
Although all three companies had different reasons for their decisions, the outcome was the same: they chose to avoid China’s thundering economy in order to put their factories elsewhere in Asia. These companies are not alone. In the calculus of costs, risks, customers and logistics that goes into building global operations, an increasing number of firms are coming to the conclusion that China is not necessarily the best place to make things. . . .
Scott Brixen, an analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, a Hong Kong-based investment bank, gives two big reasons why China has not found itself at the top of the list for some new factories: â€œRising costs and a natural desire by companies for diversification.â€
Both of these make sense to me, and in particular the latter. China’s political stability is not to be taken for granted, and it’s a mistake to put too many eggs in that one basket. (Via Gerald Hibbs). On the price front, I think that China is facing the need to shift from being a low-cost supplier to being more competitive in higher-end areas, a transition that some countries have found difficult, though I think that China is well-situated to negotiate that change.
TRUTH IS HARDER THAN FICTION: Amateur detective work lands John Grisham in trouble.
A LOOK AT HARVARD AND GUN CONTROL. I’m pretty sure that these guys would call anyone who accepted grants from the NRA bought-and-paid-for. But the Joyce Foundation is every bit as biased as the NRA, and has a history of paying for scholarship that would be treated as a scandal if it were engaged in by pro-gun folks.
I find much of the public health literature on guns to be highly biased and deeply untrustworthy. It starts with an agenda, rather obviously, and then constructs “research” to confirm it. In this it resembles far too much of the politicized social science we see today, which explains in part why people are far less persuaded by social science claims than they used to be.
Meanwhile, note this piece by Jacob Sullum on gun control’s shaky empirical foundation. Excerpt:
The panelists considered 51 published studies examining seven different kinds of laws, including bans on specific firearms, restrictions on who may own a firearm, and waiting periods for gun purchases. They “found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws.”
In other words, after more than half a century of local, state, and federal gun control legislation, we still don’t know whether these laws do what they’re supposed to do. The report’s most consistent finding was inconsistent findings: Sometimes gun control is associated with reduced violence, and sometimes it’s associated with increased violence.
The world is messy, and it can be difficult to control for all the relevant variables when you’re trying to determine the impact of a particular law. Not surprisingly, the CDC panel calls for more and better research, and it cautions that “insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.”
But it’s scandalous that politicians have been legislating in the dark all these years, promising that the gun control solution du jour would save lives when there was no evidence to back up such claims. If gun control laws have any positive effect at all, it must be pretty modest to have escaped documentation so far.
If a drug company were as cavalier about science as these people are, its executives would all be in jail.
COMMENTS ON IRAQ from a British soldier.
THOUGHTS ON YOUTUBE AND POLITICS, from John McCain’s internet guy, Patrick Hynes.
THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS is angry.
THE STAMP OF SHAME.
DEMOGRAPHICS AND TERRORISM:
Heinsohn demonstrated that when 30 percent or more of a population is aged 15-29, you have too many young men with bad attitudes, and the result is a jump in crime, terrorism and civil unrest. Heinsohn showed that in 90 percent of the 67 of the countries that have the 30 percent “Youth Bulge” (as demographers put it) you have massive unrest. Moreover, 13 of the 27 nations with the largest Youth Bulge are Moslem. In fact, most of the Youth Bulge is found in Africa and in Moslem nations.
Heinsohn also points that many historical upheavals were attributable, at least in part, to the Youth Bulge. These would include the American and French Revolutions and many other uprisings in places like Ireland and Latin America. The current growth of Youth Bulge can largely be blamed on Western efforts to improve the lives and health of people in the developing world. No good deed goes unpunished.
This “youthquake” problem is taken for granted by many experienced terrorism and criminology experts. But the pattern is not generally recognized as the main cause of unrest. However, historically it appears to be the case. In pre-industrial societies, 5-10 years of favorable weather would create an abundance of food, and a population explosion. There would follow a period of civil unrest and wars as these kids came of age. Zoologists note the same pattern in animal populations. Humans are more complex beasts, but just as the American crime rates began to plunge in the 1990s, as the Youth Bulge disappeared, so will the civil disorders and terrorism now causing so much misery.
I guess that’s good news, in a way, though it’s certainly ominous with regard to countries that are stable now but that face an excess of young males, like China and India.
TIGERHAWK HAS questions on the surge.
CONGRESSMAN JAMIL HUSSEIN? Er, or something.
ANDREW CUOMO has Spitzer-like ambitions.
In an Internet age, there’s no reason for Wall Street firms to stay on Wall Street, really. That’s something that New York State officials might keep in mind.
UPDATE: Oliver Willis chooses to read this as an endorsement of corporate crime. It is, rather, a repudiation of politically-motivated prosecutions, a topic explored here. His first commenter corrects him; it’s a pretty silly error, even for Oliver.
DEMINT THANKS DEMOCRATS FOR AGREEING TO PELOSI PLAN: No, really, that’s the news.
I don’t get Mark Kleiman. As I understand it, minorities are typically overrepresented in many branches of government employment, relative to their percentage of the relevant workforce; many have described government jobs as the foundation of the black middle class. Yet all the government agencies I am familiar with have special outreach programmes for minorities as workers and suppliers. Does Mr Kleiman want this to stop?
Yes and no.
GLOOMY THOUGHTS ON AMERICAN POLITICS, from Donald Sensing.
LOTT VS. LEVITT: In my opinion, a lawsuit that shouldn’t have been brought, over a chain of events that shouldn’t have happened, and involving accusations that shouldn’t have been made.
RON ROSENBAUM: “If Iraq is to be compared to Vietnam, how relevant is Cambodia? Ever since the news of the genocidal scale of mass murder in Cambodia reached the West, Iâ€™ve been trying to figure out how to relate it to my previous opposition to the Vietnam War.”
That’s more than most people did.
THE SIEGE OF AIN EBEL: More reporting from Lebanon by Michael Totten.
DEMOCRATS DEBATE THEMSELVES ON THE SURGE: At Ham Nation. I like the Pop-Up Video approach.
HARRY REID seems to have given up the fight against earmark reform in the Senate.
I DIDN’T COVER THE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT EXPO that was going on in Las Vegas at the same time as CES. But Wired’s Regina Lynn did, so you can read her report and see what I missed.
ARS TECHNICA says that some people think that DRM is dying, but that Apple may be DRM’s best friend:
Apple stands to benefit greatly by keeping the FairPlay DRM system up and running. The lock-in afforded by FairPlay creates an Apple ecosystem that essentially ties the iPod to iTunes and to Apple, at least for commercial transactions. Someone has even launched an antitrust suit against Apple over this, though the suit’s specific claims are rather broad.
The symbiotic relationship between iTunes and the iPod has been so profitable for Apple that Microsoft has blatantly ripped it off for its new Zune music player. Apple has managed to create an ecosystem populated with high-margin devices; the company’s overall gross margins are nearly 30 percent, and so even if iTunes were used solely to drive sales of iPods, it would be worth it for Apple to run the store.
Apple has, in an important sense, become a digital gatekeeper for media companies; iTunes is the best way to reach consumers with music, movies, podcasts, and television. Content companies have paid close attention to the success of iTunes; they’ve seen how it saved The Office, pushed billions of dollars in revenue to Disney, and established itself as such a de facto standard on college campuses that students would rather use iTunes than free alternatives. The content companies now need Jobs & Co. as much as Apple needs them.
That’s good for Jobs, but I’m not sure I like it.
A CITIZEN’S ARREST BY PAUL HACKETT: A pro-gun anti-crime Democrat — I’m surprised the party didn’t get behind him.
A REYES TROOP SURGE FLIPFLOP: You’d think it was all about politics or something.
LORENTZ & FITZGERALD, CALL YOUR OFFICE!
So while the House has been in session for almost 48 hours since the 110th Congress was sworn in Jan. 4, the clock on Pelosi’s Web site says only 17 hours 48 minutes have elapsed.
“We’re just counting the legislative hours,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill explained.
Okay, more than relativistic travel, this actually makes me think of Jason Leopold’s “24 business hours” Rove-indictment timetable. Let’s hope the Democrats do better than Leopold did.
THE TOP TEN BLOG STORIES of 2006.
ROMNEY USES AN ARMY OF DAVIDS: That’s Dean Barnett’s take on the Romney fundraising approach.
Romney’s had a good week, and has even managed to not merely neutralize a new-media attack, but to turn it to his advantage. However, his answers to my Second Amendment / Gun Rights questions were not especially strong, and if I were advising him I’d suggest that he strengthen that aspect of his spiel. In light of his record in Massachusetts, it’s a weak point, and one that he hasn’t fully addressed. My email suggests that a lot of people felt that way.
Meanwhile it’s interesting to contrast Romney’s success with this report on the GOP’s online weaknesses.
“DEMOCRATS FUMBLE EARMARKS LEGISLATION:” This AP story has got to hurt.
IN THE MAIL: Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. If controversy sells books, this one should do well! It comes out Tuesday.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION UPDATE:
On Wednesday, the House voted to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.
The bill also extends for the first time the federal minimum wage to the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. However, it exempts American Samoa, another Pacific island territory that would become the only U.S. territory not subject to federal minimum-wage laws.
One of the biggest opponents of the federal minimum wage in Samoa is StarKist Tuna, which owns one of the two packing plants that together employ more than 5,000 Samoans, or nearly 75 percent of the island’s work force. StarKist’s parent company, Del Monte Corp., has headquarters in San Francisco, which is represented by Mrs. Pelosi.
UPDATE: Lance emails:
When I was reading the story on American Samoa, it occurred to me that the irony is that if the minimum wage makes sense, it is precisely in those cases where an isolated market dominated by one or two employers in the same industry leads to wages being held down and where the resulting higher profits are not reinvested in that isolated local economy. American Samoa is a case study. 75% of the local workforce!
Anyway, here was my take.
Good point. [LATER: It said "Lance Frizzell" before, but that was my mistake -- I suffered from a blogger-confusion brain-burp and got my blogging Lances mixed up.]
VIDEO: Miraculously surviving a terrorist attack in Madrid.
ATTACK ON THE U.S. EMBASSY IN ATHENS: PJ Media has a roundup.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: A look at this week’s Earmark Entertainment:
To Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s credit, House Democrats recently passed ethics legislation that included provisions making earmarks more transparent. The House bill included a broad definition of earmarks, thereby making it harder to hide them in, say, last-minute conference reports. It also requires Members to file a public disclosure form when they request an earmark, and to state that neither they nor their spouses will financially benefit. It’s hard to argue that this is anything but elementary good government.
Unless you are Harry Reid. The ethics reform offered by Senate Democrats contained none of these tougher earmark provisions. So Senate Republicans, led by South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, cheekily took the identical language of the House earmark bill and offered it as an amendment to the Senate version. Numerous Democrats instantly denounced it, apparently unaware (or unconcerned) that the language had been sponsored by Ms. Pelosi.
Democrat Dick Durbin then moved to table the amendment, though he lost by 51 to 46. Of the 46 Senators who voted to banish Ms. Pelosi’s reform, 38 of them were her fellow Democrats. The seven Republicans who went along with Mr. Reid included some of the GOP’s biggest spenders (Trent Lott) and Members of the Appropriations Committee, aka Earmark Central Station. When Senator DeMint then moved to have his amendment accepted by voice vote — which is customary — Mr. Durbin objected. The effect of these procedural run-arounds was to give Mr. Reid more time to twist a few more Democratic arms into killing earmark reform.
By our deadline last night, he still hadn’t succeeded, though Senate sources told us that Mr. Reid was considering filing for cloture on the entire ethics bill, thereby foreclosing a vote on the current DeMint amendment. If he prevails, voters will know just much “fiscal discipline” to expect from the new majority.
Reid is a poor frontman for a campaign against the “culture of corruption.”
THE MEDIA SCRIPT: Reader Gary Casteel emails:
Why don’t you ponder the media focus on the Duke lacrosse rape case compared to the media focus on the recent sadistic murder of the young Knoxville couple?
It was not a carjacking, it was a hate crime pure and simple. What’s been released to the public clearly indicates that it was a hate crime.
If the young couple had been black and the suspects white can you imagine the media attention, both local, and of course national? Why do local authorities continue to call this a “carjacking”?
Well, “hate crime” goes to motivation and I’m not so sure that there was a racial motivation here — and I don’t really like the “hate crime” concept anyway. Murder is murder either way. And the story’s bad enough without that:
Investigators believe Channon Christian and her boyfriend were carjacked and she was held hostage and raped repeatedly for days before her death, a federal marshal said Thursday.
Details of the slayings surfaced on the same day authorities captured three men sought for questioning in the killings of Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.
That said, it’s certainly true that if the races were reversed the media would be employing an irrebuttable presumption that it was a hate crime. This double standard, though, is actually unfair to blacks, assuming that horrific crimes by white people must be motivated by something special, like racial hatred, while similar crimes by black people are just par for the course. Like so many of those double standards, it manages to be racist in both directions at once.
As we get wealthier, we also become enhanced physically, cognitively, and morally, leading to a virtuous cycle of improvements to the standard of living. As the economy improves, human cognitive ability and moral reasoning improves, which helps markets to work better and makes the process of innovation more productive, leading to greater wealth, more mental and moral development, and so on. . . .
In the study of history, the importance of mankind’s mental and moral development has often been overlooked. My guess is that the rate of mental and moral development will accelerate sharply over the next few decades, and the phenomenon will be more widely noticed and its significance better appreciated.
A virtuous circle? Bring it on!
MICKEY KAUS DEFENDS GM:
This is a common viewpoint, I’ve found, among my Democratic friends–Jon Alter, this means you!–who would never actually buy a Detroit product but who want to believe the UAW can’t be blamed. The argument seems to be roughly this: a) American cars are now reliable enough, having closed the gap with the Japanese brands, so b) the workers are doing their job; therefore c) if Detroit cars like the G6 are still obviously inferior–tacky and cheap, with mediocre handling–it must be because they’re designed badly by white collar professionals, not because they’re built badly by blue collar union members.
The trouble with this comforting liberal argument is labor costs. When Kuttner says “Japanese total labor costs are comparable, even with Detroit’s higher health insurance costs,” he is–as is so often the case–talking through his hat.
Read the whole thing.
UNREST in Bangladesh.
THE NEW IPHONE: Not as exciting as knitting.
AN EVALUATION OF THE PORKBUSTERS CAMPAIGN: Given its low (i.e., zero) budget, it’s been highly cost-effective. But we’ve got a long way to go.
ER, HOW EXACTLY DO YOU “DECLARE” THAT? “Did the President Declare ‘Secret War’ Against Syria and Iran?”
UPDATE: Hmm. “Three strong explosions jolted southern Iran on Thursday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, but gave no information about possible casualties. . . . Khuzestan, the heartland of Iran’s oil industry, has been simmering with unrest among the province’s mostly Arab population for more than a year.” Hmm, again. If this report is true, it may or may not mean anything. The Iranians are vulnerable to a tit-for-tat strategy on support for insurgents, and it’s possible that the CIA or someone is doing just that. On the other hand, this sort of thing has happened before without outside assistance. Or the report could be wrong. (Via Ace).
ANOTHER UPDATE: The explosion article above is no longer available; I guess Reuters has pulled it. Meanwhile, this newer story puts the explosions down to “mine-sweeping activities.” The original story is still available here, for the moment.
MORE: I blame UFOs.
GREG GUTFELD COME HOME: PJ Media is ready to negotiate!
I suspect this means the markets think Bush’s plan will help. Of course, the markets aren’t military strategists.
UPDATE: Larry Kudlow reads it this way, too. I think it’s at least safe to say that the markets don’t regard the plan as likely to lead to disaster.
MORE ON PORK: Here’s video of Harry Reid criticizing Nancy Pelosi’s earmark reform plan along with the DeMint earmark reform plan. According to Reid, the House moves too quickly, and doesn’t think enough.
JOHN HAWKINS is running a GOP STRAW POLL: Vote if you like.
FRED THOMPSON ON BUSH’S SPEECH:
I was struck by a couple of things he said that indicated not just a change in tactics but a whole new attitude with regard to what’s necessary. Heâ€™s taking the gloves off. . . . I’ll bet that a lot of folks who support the president on this are asking themselves “what if we’d taken care of business this way two years ago?”
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The “100 Hours” is looking pretty lame, as Senate Democrats try to shoot down the Pelosi pork reform proposal. Andy Roth reports:
The Senate is boiling with excitement right now. For background, the Senate is proposing very weak earmark reform rules. In contrast, Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats implemented some very strong earmark rules in the lower chamber last week.
In response, Senator Jim DeMint, who is a very strong advocate for more transparency, figured, â€œLetâ€™s just offer Pelosiâ€™s reforms as an amendment to the Senate bill.â€
It was a very clever strategy. Dick Durbin, the Majority Whip, threw a fit on the Senate floor and offered a motion to table it (kill it).
Let’s be clear about the rich irony here. Senate Leadership tried to kill a bill that House Leadership supported and passed. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are basically saying that they want their pork no matter what, even if it embarrasses their own party.
So when the motion to kill the bill came to a vote, Durbin and the Democrats lost!
It should be noted that a majority should never offer a motion to table if they arenâ€™t sure they can win. It was very embarrassing. Especially since Durbin was trying to kill a proposal that his Leadership colleagues in the House offered!
Anyways, after the motion failed, DeMint asked for a voice vote, which is common. It’s basically used to save time since de facto support of the bill was decided when the motion failed. However, Big Ted Kennedy objected, which is all that it needed to skip a voice vote.
The Dems are now off the floor whipping the hell out of their members for when they take a real roll call vote later this afternoon.
And now they’re back. Roth is updating, and this looks like a real embarrassment. The Democratic reforms in the House don’t mean a lot if the Senate is going to vote for business as usual. Harry Reid, apparently, is much less committed to ending the “culture of corruption” than Nancy Pelosi.
UPDATE: More here: “Reid and Durbin are determined to feed at the trough no matter how embarrassing it is to the party.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: TPM Muckraker is pretty hard on Harry Reid: “Showing he can be every bit as bullying to advance a bad idea, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) held open a vote on his watered down earmark reform legislation today in order to round up enough votes to push it through. . . . According to Craig Holman of Public Citizen, Reid’s version, if it had been applied to earmarks as part of legislation passed last year, would have disclosed the sponsor of only approximately 500 earmarks. DeMint’s amendment would have forced sponsors to be known of roughly 12,000.”
DEAN BARNETT OFFERS A TROOP SURGE FAQ that’s worth reading.
I’ve been an agnostic on the “more troops” argument — see this post where I wrote:
This question — how big should the Army be — is only loosely related to the question of whether we should, as John McCain wants, send 35,000 more troops to Iraq, except insofar as this wouldn’t be such a big issue if we had a bigger Army to begin with. Whether 35,000 more troops will make a difference or not is unclear to me, and it’s a matter on which the generals themselves seem to be divided.
As Barnett notes, though, this is not merely an increase in troops but also, and more importantly, a change in tactics. Will it be enough? I don’t know. I have to say, though, that it’s been amusing to see the same people who were recently demanding that Bush send more troops suddenly reverse and criticize him for . . . sending more troops. The question of troop numbers is one where reasonable people can and do differ, but that doesn’t mean that lame political oppositionalism isn’t recognizable as such.
UPDATE: Maybe these decisions shouldn’t be made by people who think that we’ve been in Iraq for 5 1/2 years.
ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, hitting Bush for sending too many troops and not enough troops in the same column surely qualifies for some sort of award.
MORE ON THAT ATLANTA NO-KNOCK SHOOTING:
An Atlanta police narcotics officer has told federal investigators at least one member of his unit lied about making a drug buy at the home of an elderly woman killed in a subsequent raid, according to a person close to the investigation.
In an affidavit to get a search warrant at the home Nov. 21, narcotics officer Jason R. Smith told a magistrate he and Officer Arthur Tesler had a confidential informant buy $50 worth of crack at 933 Neal St. from a man named “Sam.”
But narcotics officer Gregg Junnier, who was wounded in the shootout, has since told federal investigators that did not happen, according to the person close to the investigation. Police got a no-knock warrant after claiming that “Sam” had surveillance cameras outside the Neal Street residence and they needed the element of surprise to capture him and the drugs.
The resident at the home, Kathryn Johnston, who is reported to be either 88 or 92, was startled by the sound of her burglar-bar door being battered in, and she fired her revolver at the officers. She was killed and three officers were wounded by gunfire or shrapnel.
Buddy Parker, a former federal prosecutor, said that officers who lied to the magistrate could face serious charges in addition to making false statements to a judge.
And if they lied, they should.
MORE TROUBLE FOR JIMMY CARTER:
Fourteen members of an advisory board at the Carter Center resigned today, concluding they could “no longer in good conscience continue to serve” following publication of former President Jimmy Carter’s controversial book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”
“It seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy,” the board members wrote in a letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately.”
I have never been a fan of Carter’s myself, but he does seem to have gone off the deep end in recent years.
UPDATE: Thanks to reader John Palmer, here’s a link to another story that doesn’t require a subscription.
IN THE MAIL: Josh Chafetz’s new book, Democracy’s Privileged Few: Legislative Privilege and Democratic Norms in the British and American Constitutions. It looks quite interesting — and highly relevant in the wake of the William Jefferson office search brouhaha. And it’s strongly blurbed by bigshots who say that it’s not only very good, but also beautifully written. Josh probably picked up those writing chops over at Oxblog . . . .
MICHELLE MALKIN is now blogging from Iraq. Lots of cool photos, too; very impressive.
Plus, Bill Roggio, recently returned from Iraq, comments on Bush’s new approach. Excerpt: “On Sadr and the Mahdi Army: We’ve created this monster, and now its time to put it down. We failed by not taking the opportunity to kill Sadr after his Mahdi Army was roundly defeated in the Najaf uprising in August of 2004.” I think that’s right. At the time I figured the Administration knew something I didn’t; in retrospect that seems unlikely.
And Bill Ardolino continues to blog from Iraq, and has lots of thoughts of his own.
UPDATE: Howard Mortman notices something in Michelle’s photos.
Mitt Romney has officially declared his interest in the 2008 Presidential election. In this interview, he responds to a controversial YouTube video about his positions on abortion and other social issues, and talks about the war, gun rights, health care, research and development, and the role of the blogosphere in the 2008 election, among other things.
That’s kind of cool, using a podcast to respond to a YouTube interview. All new media, all the time! I was going to hold this until tomorrow, but it’s already getting press. [LATER: Wow. Rather a lot of press.]
You can listen to the show directly (no downloads needed) by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the show by clicking right here, and you can get a lo-fi version suitable for dialup, iPhone, etc. by going here and selecting the lo-fi version. And, of course, you can always subscribe via iTunes. And our show archives are at GlennandHelenShow.com. Check out our interviews with Romney rival John McCain, or non-candidate Mark Warner., who explains why he decided not to run.
As always my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments and suggestions.
A PROTEST RALLY IN DC THURSDAY on behalf of imprisoned Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Soliman Amer.
IT’S A FINAL COUNTDOWN to Bush fascism!