June 17, 2007
SAUCE FOR THE GANDER: A new environmental proposal from Joshua Sharf.
SAUCE FOR THE GANDER: A new environmental proposal from Joshua Sharf.
SO FATHER’S DAY was at my dad’s house at the lake, where my brother and his girlfriend prepared a very nice dinner for my dad and the rest of us. The Insta-Daughter and a cousin went canoeing on the lake, the rest of us hung out, and a good time was had by all.
I’m lucky to have my father around — he had his first heart attack nearly 15 years ago — but he’s doing very well, and he and Helen swap ICD gossip whenver they’re together. Helen’s dad hasn’t been with us for a while, and we went to his grave to lay flowers earlier today. She does that every year at Father’s Day, his birthday, and a few other special occasions. So many family members and former students, etc., have left things there that I joke it looks like Jim Morrison’s gravesite. . .
I hope that you had a good Father’s Day as well. See you tomorrow!
PAUL KRUGMAN: Guilt-tripping American moms?
THOUGHTS ON MASCULINITY AND THE FUTURE, from Phil Bowermaster.
THERE’S BEEN LOTS OF COVERAGE OF THE NIFONG CASE, but K.C. Johnson’s blog is still the place to go.
A RADICAL PREDICTION for Internet Economy: “Here is a radical idea: People start paying for things again.”
BBC REPORTS THAT BBC is biased:
The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.
It reads: â€œThere is a tendency to ‘group thinkâ€™ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.â€
A staff impartiality seminar held last year is also documented in the report, at which executives admitted they would broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but not the Koran, in case Muslims were offended.
During the seminar a senior BBC reporter criticised the corporation for being anti-American.
Admitting the problem is the first step.
MAHMOUD WANTS WAR.
LOOKING LIKE ANTS. Just don’t step on the hill.
IN THE MAIL: The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language. I want the Insta-Daughter to learn Spanish. She wants to learn French. That’s okay, but I suspect Spanish will be a lot more useful in her lifetime.
HAPPY Father’s Day.
MICHAEL YON EMAILS: “This is a very serious offensive kicking off in Iraq. The NYT realizes it’s serious, but nobody that I am seeing realizes just how big this is. Relatively massive.”
LISTEN TO THE GENERALS.
I BET WE’LL SEE THIS: Google bike maps.
SPEAKING OF HURRICANES, here’s a report on how you pay for coastal boondoggles
HAPPY HURRICANE SEASON:
In recent interviews with The Miami Herald and other media, Proenza has strongly criticized leaders of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for spending millions of dollars on a public-relations campaign while hurricane forecasters deal with budget shortfalls.
One of his main concerns has been the imminent demise of a key weather satellite called QuikScat, launched in 1999 and long past its designed lifetime.
No replacement currently is in development and the loss of QuikScat could diminish the accuracy of some hurricane forecasts by up to 16 percent, Proenza and other experts have said.
Government response: Tell Proenza to shut up! Well, it’s cheaper than a new satellite. (Via hurricane-blogger Brendan Loy).
THE JEFFERSON MEMORIAL is sinking into the swamp. This should provide a lovely opening paragraph / metaphor for columns on all sorts of topics.
HOW FITTING: “Looters raid Arafat’s home, steal his Nobel Peace Prize.” This is what Arafat — and the Oslo Accords — wrought.
STATE FARM IS MY INSURANCE COMPANY, and based on Trent Lott’s selfish, vindictive campaign to get them when they wouldn’t pay after he declined the applicable insurance, I’m happy to give them my money. Some policyholders might claim they didn’t understand, but Lott, as a longtime insurance-industry water-carrier, shouldn’t be allowed that excuse. Now he’s after them?
Lott’s an embarrassment to Mississippi, to the Republican Party, and to America.
A GAZA ROUNDUP from Noah Pollak.
SAM DINKIN: “I just got a call purporting to be from the American Civil Liberties Union. Before they got going, they said, ‘This call may be monitored for quality assurance.”
A LOOK AT CALIFORNIA: “California is a trendsetter state. Much like the weather, every Californian fad eventually makes its way over the Sierras and diffuses into the intermountain West. Thatâ€™s wonderful, and itâ€™s frightening, because there are some pretty disturbing things going on in the Golden State right now.”
It seems like there’s a lot of competition to emulate Singapore. (Via Perry de Havilland).
You can get by with ordinary cheese; you can give people that pillow-soft puffed-up crust some adore. But without good sauce in sufficient quantities, itâ€™s not pizza. Just so weâ€™re clear.
I agree. Good crust is important, and so is cheese, but the sauce is the thing. And I particularly dislike the trend, in some quarters, of largely omitting the sauce in favor of a quarter-pound of cheese per slice. If I wanted cheese toast, I’d order cheese toast.
UPDATE: Deep fried pizza?
PALESTINIANS FLEE TO ISRAEL: Because, you know, it’s civilization.
SO AT LEAST THERE’S BEEN ONE CONVICTION IN THIS AFFAIR: Nifong found guilty.
BACK WHEN WE INTERVIEWED RNC CHAIR KEN MEHLMAN LAST YEAR, Helen’s first question to Mehlman was something along the lines of Why is President Bush acting like a Democrat?
The GOP lost, Mehlman has moved on, but the Bush Administration is still acting like Democrats — even to the point of complaining about the “Right-Wing Blathersphere.”
Do they want whining from Michael Chertoff and Trent Lott to form the public image of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party?
Apparently they do. Good luck with that, guys. The political press can run with stories about bloggers being in full revolt over immigration, but it’s not really a case of bloggers vs. the Administration. Rather, it’s a case — like Harriet Miers, Dubai Ports, PorkBusters, etc. — of the Bush Administration ignoring the clear warnings available in the blogosphere. And once again, it’s not just bloggers who think the Administration is crazy. So far, every time they’ve done that they’ve had their head handed to them. That’ll happen this time, too, and if they should happen to “win” and pass their bill, the consequences for the GOP will be even worse. “Bizarre Republican Death Wish?” Indeed.
Frankly, that’s okay with me. I’ve long been unhappy with both Democrats and Republicans. The GOP has been better on national security, though that advantage is fading with time, but overall both parties have been lame and more likely to unite in opposition to citizens’ rights and liberties than to compete in protecting them. I’ve often at least sort-of hoped for a third party that would combine the GOP economic-libertarian strands with the Dems’ social-libertarian strands. I don’t know if the GOP’s self-destruction makes that more likely, but it seems like it might. At any rate, if people really want to commit suicide it’s hard to stop them, and that seems to be the GOP’s main goal at the moment.
Meanwhile, some further thoughts on what blogs are good for.
UPDATE: Bill Quick: “Why, youâ€™d think our would-be rulers live in a bubble or something. Still, I donâ€™t think they really misjudge outside-the-Beltway sentiment. They just ignore it – or try to.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: A view from the cartoonosphere:
THE UNITED STATES: LAGGING IN PHYSICS. What’s worse, this isn’t just about falling behind in the race for the biggest, baddest accelerators, a race that I’m not convinced is as important as portrayed. This is about far more serious systemic problems. Excerpt:
The net result is that the academic community is now devoting far more of its time to writing grants, a shift that has come at the expense of directing and publishing research. In the past, academics have had an escape route from the pressures to retain funding: the “blue sky” research labs run by major companies, such as AT&T’s Bell Labs. But the report refers to these institutions as “once great,” since recent years have seen them closed, sold off piecemeal, or refocused on product development.
Combined, these changes have caused US research output to shrink in comparison to the rest of the world. Based on publications in Physical Reviews B and E, the US contribution to papers has remained flat over the last decade, while papers originating from other countries have nearly doubled. The report predicts that this reduced output will ultimately exact a price on the American economy.
It’s not all bad, of course, that other countries are producing more. But this is a real problem, not merely a demand for more cash.
A BLOG ON HIGH POWER ROCKETRY, with lots of interesting videos.
GAIA 1, PEARL JAM ZERO.
SO IF YOU BASH ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S ADVICE ON LEARNING ENGLISH, aren’t you engaging in immigrant-bashing yourself?
Most amusing line:
A Hispanic advocacy group said Schwarzenegger’s comments show his “ignorance on immigration issues.”
Because what would Arnold know about people who come from a different land, raised in another language, who want to make a life for themselves in America?
BRIAN LAMB responds to the critics.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More developments:
Toward 2 a.m., Chairman Obey challenged Mr. Flake: “The gentleman has offered a lot of motions in the past two years to strike earmarks. Could I ask him how many of them have been successful?”
“Not one,” Flake responded. “I came to the floor 39 times and was beaten like a rented mule every time.”
But the level of public interest and scrutiny over earmarks has increased since those votes, he said, in an interview. Obey “misjudged the way this is viewed outside the Beltway.” . . .
On Monday, Obey announced a revision of committee policy on earmarks: Instead of including member projects, identified by name in spending bills, earmarks would be fully disclosed before the August recess â€“ after all House votes on spending bills, but before the final appropriations are worked out in a conference with the Senate. Lawmakers objecting to any earmark could send a letter to the committee challenging the project.
The move set off protests from editorial boards to accountability websites in the blogosphere. Within hours of the Obey announcement, more than 770 people volunteered to help Congress vet earmarks this cycle on the porkbusters.org website.
“The question is whether Congress is going to live up to the reforms they promised or create conditions which we know corrupt things: earmarks decided behind closed doors and an opaque process,” says Bill Allison, of the Sunlight Foundation. “There’s no reason not to make the requests public now.”
By the terms of the new deal announced Thursday morning, earmark disclosure rules will not apply to the two spending bills currently on the House floor, Homeland Security and Military Quality of Life. But all 10 remaining FY 2008 spending bills will be subject to the new rule.
Republicans say that they will continue to challenge spending levels in pending appropriations bills â€“ and sustain any presidential veto of spending bills that exceed budget limits â€“ but will call off obstructionist tactics over earmarks. In addition, House Republican leader John Boehner says he will try to force a House vote on a reform that allows members to challenge earmarks in authorizing and tax bills, as well as spending bills.
“Democratic leaders finally surrendered to our demands, because supporting secret earmarks in appropriations bills is indefensible and the American people won’t stand for it,” said Mr. Boehner, in a statement.
Yeah, I’ve said it before, but if the Republicans had been willing to take this kind of stand against pork last year, instead of listening to Trent Lott, they might still be in the majority.
OH. THAT’S what he meant? Huh.
UPDATE: Well, he wants to be noticed.
Meanwhile, Ace responds to feigned outrage from the Left, which I guess wants a monopoly on anti-gay slurs or something. “It doesn’t particuarly bother me, but I do seem to notice that, when lefties decide to insult a political opponent, the ‘fag’ slur is always on the list of go-to put-downs. . . . Deal with it, get hip to the idea that there’s one rule for all, not one rule for you and another for everyone else, and finally, please, do try to make some progress towards getting the fuck over yourselves.”
It is kind of funny. First Greenwald calling me gay, now Firedoglake calling Lindsey Graham gay. Meanwhile, constant claims that the rightosphere is “homophobic.” Hypocrisy, thy name is netroots.
THE TRENT LOTT / MOVEON CONNECTION: It all makes sense, now. . . .
RENAME EARMARKS WITH SOMETHING MORE, UM, EUPHONIOUS: Ed Morrissey is running a poll on different choices.
Durham County district attorney Michael B. Nifong said today he plans to resign his job, after admitting that he had â€œcrossed the lineâ€ of ethical standards in some of the public statements he made about the Duke University lacrosse players he charged with rape.
Better late than never.
UPDATE: Brendan Loy asks, What about the “Group of 88″ Duke faculty who criticized the (innocent) lacrosse players?
CAN RORY STEWART fix Afghanistan?
ADJUSTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE: “Many Arctic plant species have readily adjusted to big climate changes, repeatedly recolonizing the rugged islands of the remote Svalbard archipelago off Norwayâ€™s coast through 20,000 years of warm and cool spells since the frigid peak of the last ice age, researchers report in todayâ€™s issue of the journal Science. Their finding implies that, in the Arctic at least, plants may be able to shift long distances to follow the climate conditions for which they are best adapted as those conditions move under the influence of human-caused global warming, the researchers and some independent experts said.”
Human-caused global warming goes back 20,000 years? Who knew?
BETTER THAN HARDBALL AND SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY PUT TOGETHER! The latest Corn & Miniter Show is up!
A ROUNDUP OF THE WORST JOBS IN SCIENCE: Starting with “whale feces researcher” and going downhill from there.
Another interesting undercurrent to this is the contempt of the left-wing bloggers for the Politico, and the Drudge Report, which often links to the site. The story was “based on unsubstantiated, third-party recollection,” says Geiger, under the headline “The Politico Fails Journalism 101.” “Politico, the online soul-mate to the Drudge Report, has gotten into the habit of creating news stories through innuendo, omission, outright error, and now today, out of thin air,” was the line from Kos blogger BarbinMD (is that a professional opinion, doctor?). And the grand wizard of Politico haters once complained that Drudge and the Politico are “poisonously joined at the hip.”
Well, for all that griping, it seems the Politico nailed this story, and Drudge just did what he always does–amplify it. Dr. Barbin still contends this is a non-story–though, apparently factually accurate despite protestations to the contrary–because it was just “a throw away line…that Harry Reid said to the unable-to-be-reconfirmed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s face.” And Geiger puts off the outrageous statement Reid claims to have made to the senator’s “tendency to speak like the straight-talking, former boxer that he is.” If it’s all true, then Reid’s a brave man, but a jerk nonetheless. The other possibility, of course, is that he’s full of it and never said any such thing to Pace–in which case, he’s still a jerk, but not so stupid as to question the integrity of this nation’s highest ranking officer to his face.
The lefty bloggers, for their part, have shown themselves to be totally inept. They failed to report the comments, then they denied Reid ever made them while making their own unsubstantiated allegations, and now they defend the comments as irrelevant–and without even the slightest doubt as to their validity. Which is worse?
THOMAS LIFSON: “The business model he established for the New York Times Company continues to collapse under the feet of Pinch Sulzberger. The very latest revenue figures of the company released just minutes ago show that advertising revenue and gross revenue are declining at a rate that cannot be matched by growth in revenues from the expensive internet properties purchased by Sulzberger.”
DISSING THE “PAJAMA PEOPLE” on Studio 60.
As usual, the pajama people have gotten the last laugh.
POPULAR MECHANICS ROUNDS UP last-minute gadgets and tools for Father’s Day. I kind of like the Stanley FuBar, and I admire whoever named it, but I wonder if it would really make a good gift. And who would give it. My suspicion is that these roundups are as much about presents for men to buy for themselves as for actual Father’s Day purposes.
BUREAUCRATIC OPPOSITION TO SPACE TOURISM in the European Union? Not hard to believe. It’s new! It’s innovative! It’s an American idea! It must be stopped!
CARMAKERS AREN’T GETTING THEIR MONEY’S WORTH from the politicians they’re supporting.
IS POLYGAMY LAW IN A pre-Lawrence state of non-enforcement?
OH, YEAH: France!
BILL ROGGIO IS NOW BLOGGING ON IRAQ for The Examiner.
COMPARING GAZA TO THE SOPRANOS is, I think, an injustice to Mafiosi everywhere. Still, I take the point.
DOWNSIDE OF MISQUOTING BLOGGERS: They correct you.
Upside: They link to you.
Downside: They point out that, apparently, they’re your only reader.
TRENT LOTT LASHES OUT AT TALK RADIO: Mickey Kaus notes the irony. Lott’s a pretty good indicator of what’s wrong with the GOP at any given moment.
UPDATE: No, really. A year ago, Trent Lott was saying he was “damn tired” of PorkBusters, and now the GOP is all about fighting the pork. Difference? They lost an election by listening to him. Now what will they be saying after the next election? Because if they listen to Lott, a textbook example of what’s wrong with the GOP on Capitol Hill, they’ll lose that one, too.
JOHN TAMMES POSTS HIS REGULAR ROUNDUP OF news from Afghanistan. As always, it’s full of stuff you probably didn’t see elsewhere.
LOTS OF NIFONG ACTION YESTERDAY: I didn’t have time to follow it, but K.C. Johnson did.
IMMIGRATION BILL UPDATE: It’s baaack!
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: John Boehner is claiming victory:
House Republicans banded together this week to force Democrats to restore GOP earmark reforms that brought real transparency and accountability to the budget process.
Faced with a united Republican Conference, the Democratic leadership backed down on their plan to hide earmarks in a series of multi-billion dollar slush funds and, effective immediately, agreed to allow Republicans to challenge wasteful spending in appropriations bills on the House floor.
As part of the deal completed after extensive negotiations that ended late today, Republicans agreed to allow two appropriations bills (Homeland Security and Military Quality of Life) â€“ bills that include few or no earmarks â€“ to move forward immediately. All 10 remaining appropriations bills will come to the floor later with their earmarks fully disclosed and subject to challenge by any lawmaker â€“ a key element of the 2006 GOP reforms.
The issue of transparency and accountability in government spending has been at the forefront of congressional action all year.
If only the Republicans had been this anti-pork last year. But then, I’ll bet they’re wishing that now, too. Still, better late than never.
HOME AGAIN, H0ME AGAIN: So I drove to Nashville for another meeting of the Gubernatorial Succession committee. It went well, and Ned Ray McWherter — who wasn’t able to make the first meeting — was there. He’s looking pretty spry, and offered some interesting insights. He’s an old-fashioned politician in the best sense — I was an intern for the State Senate when he was Speaker of the House, and yet he learned my name and remembered me when I ran into him years later. I can only imagine the kind of mental rolodex that takes. I certainly don’t have that kind of mental rolodex.
No pictures of the Capitol this time, as I was in too much of a (pointless, as it turned out) hurry to start home. But here’s one of the Legislative Plaza and War Memorial.
POLITICO 1, LEFTY BLOGOSPHERE ZERO:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday that he told liberal bloggers last week that he thinks outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is “incompetent.”
Reid acknowledged similarly disparaging Army Gen. David Petraeus, head of Multinational Forces in Iraq.
But Reid, whose comments to bloggers first appeared in The Politico, also told reporters: “I think we should just drop it.”
I’ll bet he does.
UPDATE: Yes, this certainly calls into question statements like these:
We asked Joan McCarter, who blogs at DailyKos under the name McJoan and wrote about being on the call here, if she recalled Reid calling Pace “incompetent.”
“I don’t remember him saying anything like that,” she answered. “I can’t swear he didn’t say it. But I have no memory that he actually did. It’s not in my notes.” . . .
“I don’t even recall Pace’s name specifically being mentioned,” adds Barbara Morrill, who blogs at Kos under the name BarbinMD and says she was on the call. “If it was, he did not say that he was incompetent.”
Asked if he’d criticized Petraeus, Morrill said: “Not that I recall. I checked my notes,” and there was nothing like this. . . .
Finally, here’s what MyDD’s Jonathan Singer, who wrote about the call here, told us: “I don’t remember him calling Pace incompetent.” He added that while he couldn’t promise that he hadn’t done it, “I just don’t recall those statements.”
Most likely, those sorts of statements just don’t make much of an impression with the netroots. Which is ironic, since Reid probably made them for their benefit.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stan Smith mocks them for their Scooter Libby stance: “And these folks can’t
even remember what someone said mere DAYS ago….”
Call Patrick Fitzgerald!
MORE: J.D. Johannes, fresh back from Iraq, has more thoughts on Reid’s remarks. “Mr. Reid, these men and women are not toys. When you treat them as pieces in your electoral games you treat them with contempt.”
And reader C.J. Burch emails: “You’re more charitable than I am. I would say that the lefty blogosphere is out right lying…again.” Well, I’d be interested in seeing the traffic from the new, more secure version of the Townhouse list. But I think it’s really just that antimilitary slurs are so common in that crowd that they don’t make enough of an impression to be memorable.
GETTING IT BACKWARDS, AS USUAL: I don’t pay much attention, generally, but I’m stuck in a car with nothing but Technorati for company, and noticed that in one of his typically verbose efforts, Glenn Greenwald gets around, eventually, to making two points, One is that I’m a geek, whose interest in Western culture’s retreat from traditional ideas of masculinity is thus silly:
Glenn Reynolds — who, by his own daily admission, devotes his life to attending convention center conferences on space and playing around with new, cool gadgets in the fun room in his house, like a sheltered adolescent in his secret treehouse club — to fret: “Are we turning into a nation of wimps?”
But, see, that’s the point. I’m a geek. If I notice it, it’s probably real. It would be like Greenwald complaining that the country was going overboard in hatred of Bush.
He also accuses me of favoring a “more rubble, less trouble” approach to foreign policy. He offers no link because it’s such a stretch that even Greenwald’s readers might notice. Here’s what I actually said, once, after a lengthy discussion of the situation with Iraq:
On the other hand, it’s also true that if democracy can’t work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a “more rubble, less trouble” approach to other countries in the region that threaten us. If a comparatively wealthy and secular Arab country can’t make it as a democratic republic, then what hope is there for places that are less wealthy, or less secular?
I’ve made clear, in that post and elsewhere, that I think democracy can work in Iraq — this comment was aimed at advocates (like Greenwald) of giving up. Though Greenwald has shown trouble understanding conditional statements in the past, I’ll note that his failure to link probably indicates that this is, even for him, a stretch in terms of misrepresenting my positions.
Greenwald also shows his instinct for the capillary here, as the real weak point in that post is the suggestion that Rumsfeld wasn’t likely to go. Well, if Bush had known what he was doing, he would have let him go before the election or not at all. But there’s that damn conditional again . . . .
UPDATE: Greenwald’s acolytes are mocking this picture as insufficiently manly. But hey, who but a man secure in his masculinity would pose in that hat?
MORE: And he gets more attention than he deserves, here: But then, that’s usually his goal, and any attention fills that bill. But there’s this: “Let’s translate that last paragraph from Glennwaldese to plain English: No, you guys are wimps. . . . Do women not exist in Glenn G’s world?”
CALL THE BLOG ETHICS COMMITTEE!
WHAT I’M SEEING AT THE MOMENT: Alas, I’ve been seeing it for a while.
UPDATE: Stuck for an hour, waiting for this. But it had the whole road blocked until they dragged it to the side.
REPORTERS: Don’t trust news reports!
At least not when they don’t make the proper political point. Meanwhile, some liberal bloggers are disputing the Reid story, The Politico is standing by it, and as far as I can tell Harry Reid hasn’t commented — but I’m on the road and may have missed something. Ed Morrissey has a roundup on the story.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Claiming victory on earmarks:
House Republican leaders Thursday announced an agreement to end the standoff over member-requested spending projects that temporarily stalled floor action, allowing the annual appropriations bills to move forward.
But Democrats were not so sure. “The deal is not final, and negotiations are ongoing,” said Stacey Farnen Bernards, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) laid out a compromise at a morning news conference, boasting: “House Republicans worked together to demand an end to secret slush funds for earmarks. â€¦ We’ve won this round.”
Democrats, in the tenuous accord, agreed to include a list of earmarks in the 10 spending bills the House has yet to address. In addition, theyâ€™ll give lawmakers the opportunity to strike specific projects from the final version of each appropriations bill after both chambers have passed their respective versions.
Not to beat a dead horse, but if Republicans had been this diligent in opposing earmarks a year ago, they’d probably still be in the majority. But hey, better late than never.
A NEW IRON TRIANGLE?
THOUGHTS ON flicking and spitting.
THOUGHTS ON GAZA AND IRAQ.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT:
Kieran King’s views on marijuana have led to his suspension from Wawota Parkland School.
King said he was threatened with police action by Principal Susan Wilson previously after making the case that marijuana was less harmful than alcohol.
A REGGIE WALTON / SARAH SILVERMAN CONNECTION? Only Hitchens could make that work.
BILL FRIST responds to Harry Reid.
Like most of the American public, I have stood at the pump at my local filling station and cursed the cost of gasoline. Yet, after filling my tank I inevitably drive to Starbucks to stand in line with other women seeking a reprieve from morning mommy detail, handing over $4.24 without batting an eye as I order my beloved venti, soy chai latte.
The other morning I had, as Oprah might say, an “aha” moment. After paying for my cup of tea, I thought “What’s wrong with this picture? Why am I complaining about the price of gasoline while forking out what is arguably a lot of money for a cup of hot water and spices?”
Mothers and fathers beware – if certain members of Congress have their way, you will not be standing in line at Starbucks any more because you’ll be too busy waiting in mile-long lines to get gasoline.
Maybe the solution is for Starbucks to go into the gasoline business, so that people will be happy to pay outrageous prices.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: TOM COBURN TAKES ON THE EARMARXISTS:
Six months ago, the Democratic Party regained its majority in an election that was not just about Iraq. The new House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said the American people “called for greater integrity in Washington, and Democrats pledge to make this the most honest, ethical and open Congress in history.”
The history of the intervening months has only confirmed that promises in Washington have a very short shelf life. Any promise not fulfilled within 60 days after an election is apparently considered expired, to be replaced with new promises. I saw this behavior in my own party with regard to the reform of pork-barrel spending — aka “earmarks” — and no Republican fought more forcefully against the forked-tongue syndrome than I did. . . .
If earmark reform in the House is the story of “three steps forward, six steps back,” as Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) tartly observed, the situation in the Senate resembles sidesteps. When we considered ethics and earmark reform in January, Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S. C.) ingeniously forced our chamber to vote on a strong earmark-reform package — written by none other than House Speaker Pelosi herself. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initially blocked the “DeMint/Pelosi” amendment, but after it was “modified” in a face-saving exercise it passed largely intact.
The DeMint/Pelosi language would disclose backdoor earmarks, often called report language earmarks, that are tucked away in non-binding, staff-written appropriations committee reports. Ninety-five percent of all earmarks are written as “coercive suggestions” to agencies in these explanatory reports that accompany bills. DeMint/Pelosi would make public the sponsors of earmarks, requiring members to file a public disclosure statement stating that neither they nor their spouse will benefit financially from a pork project. Finally, it would give members new procedural tools to block bills that violate these rules.
However, the underlying legislation, S.1, a central Democratic campaign promise, has gone nowhere since it passed five months ago. House and Senate conferees have not even begun meeting to iron out a final bill. Each day, it looks more like another expired promise.
Sen. Reid and top Senate Democrats have had two other opportunities to enact Ms. Pelosi’s earmark reform language. They blocked both attempts, arguing that ethics reform must be done comprehensively, not in a piecemeal fashion — conveniently making the perfect the enemy of the good and doable. Some members of Congress seem to be hoping the public will lose interest in earmark reform. That isn’t likely. Voters and taxpayers continue to be enraged — Congress’s approval rating is an abysmal 27%, in part because reform hasn’t happened. Presidential politics will keep the issue front and center, and the army of bloggers who have long led on this issue are ratcheting up their criticism of the status quo.
And we’ll be ratcheting some more! Meanwhile, here’s video of the Wall Street Journal’s Brendan Miniter on how the Democratic Congress is hiding the pork in ways that their GOP predecessors never dreamed of.
LEGACIES OF the Falkland Islands war.
MORE ON HARRY REID AND INCOMPETENCE:
Democrats keep challenging the weakest administration since Jimmy Carter, and incredibly, prove to be even weaker. . . . It took Republicans 12 years to dissolve. Democrats have done it in less than six months.
I congratulate them on their efficiency.
It’s a race to see who can commit suicide faster. As I’ve said before, Ana Marie Cox calls Washington “the Special Olympics of sex,” but it’s beginning to look like the Special Olympics of politics, too. Can’t anyone play this game?
A NEW CIVIL RIGHTS BILL in Ohio.
A EUROPEAN ROCKET PLANE aimed at the space tourism market:
Europe’s biggest aerospace company, EADS, has concluded that carrying wealthy tourists to 100 kilometers in altitude for several minutes of weightlessness could be a multibillion-dollar industry in 20 years and is seeking co-investors to build a rocket plane it already has designed. . . .
Taking off from an as-yet undetermined spaceport using two conventional jet engines, the plane would climb to 12 kilometers in altitude before its rocket engine ignites, powering the vehicle through the atmosphere and into a coast phase whose 100-kilometer apogee would provide passengers with one and one-half minutes of near-zero-gravity experience.
It’s very nice to see how this field is, er, taking off. I remember a seeing presentation by Wolfgang Demisch on the likely impact of space tourism as a technology and economic driver over ten years ago, and being very impressed with its potential. Looks like that potential is becoming actual.
IF THE ISRAELIS HAD DONE THIS KIND OF THING IN GAZA, there would have been a worldwide outcry. There might also have been more of a chance for peace. Certainly it would have been hard for things to have worked out worse. But since it’s Hamas killing people, nobody will really care — unless, ironically, they can find a way to blame the Israelis. Or Bush!
UPDATE: Boy, that didn’t take long!
LOCAL LETTUCE=“liberty cabbage.”
HONDA REPLACES THE ACCORD HYBRID with an efficient, clean-burning diesel: “If you find this sad, youâ€™ve never driven an Accord hybrid. The regenerative braking system felt stiff and unresponsive, the car shook noticeably when the gasoline engine turned on and off, and it looked just like a boring olâ€™ Accord.”
RED-LIGHT CAMERA justice.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More from The Examiner:
It may not be possible for Democratic leaders in Congress to look even more ridiculous on earmarks reform than they do now but theyâ€™re doing their best. Take House Speaker Nancy Pelosiâ€™s suggestion Tuesday that House members â€œleave this room today forgetting earmarks.â€ Her appeal came as House members on both sides of the aisle bashed each other over provisions of the $36 billion homeland security appropriations bill. At issue were provisions to spend tax dollars on such terrorism-fighting essentials as puppet shows and designer hand bags. Pelosi suggested forgetting earmarks would help restore a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in the House.
Forgetting earmarks now wonâ€™t change the basic characteristics that make them such a ripe symbol of the culture of corruption that still pervades Congress and underscores its inability to control federal spending. The pork-barrel crowd loves earmarks for several reasons. Most important is the anonymity for the member sponsoring an earmark. Then, recipients donâ€™t have to go through a competitive bidding process once their earmark is approved. Finally, earmarks are handy tools for rewarding campaign donors, lobbyists, special interests, loyal staff aides and even family members. Democrats promised to reform Republican abuses of earmarks but observers across the political spectrum have concluded in recent weeks that nothing has changed since the November 2006 election.
My expectations for the Democrats were modest enough — I just figured they wouldn’t be any worse than the Republicans — but they’ve been disappointed nonetheless. And don’t get me started on the business with the jets.
RICHARD RAHN: “The rise of anti-Americanism in Europe is a danger to both American and European pocketbooks, and our collective liberty.”
LOOK WHO’S TALKING: Harry Reid calls Generals Pace and Petraeus “incompetent.”
Reader Brett Conner, who sent word of this, writes: “As a veteran who has served under General Pace, I can
attest to not only his competence but also his compassion for his Marines and as a member of the Joint Chiefs, all servicemembers. Senator Reid has crossed a sacred line between the military and our civilian leaders. One of the reasons I left the military was being stabbed in the back by our fellow countrymen. It happened to my father in Vietnam, and I didn’t want to continue living through the same experience.”
I’m afraid a lot of people will view Harry Reid’s statement that way. Of course, some folks like the way the Vietnam War turned out.
UPDATE: Waiting for Wesley Clark to slam Harry Reid as a “chickenhawk,” as he did with Joe Lieberman. Wouldn’t that be a “chickendove?” But then, Reid voted for the war, didn’t he? So maybe it’s more a case of chicken . . . well, never mind.
MARK STEYN TALKS DOOMSDAY WITH ROGER SIMON.
LET THE CHILDREN PLAY, or they will never learn:
Children are so cocooned by their parents that they rarely venture far from home and have little concept of space, volume and how the world actually works, David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, said yesterday.
The area in which children were allowed to range freely by their parents was a ninth of what it was a generation ago, he said. He also referred to “most worrying” research which showed children could not grasp basic maths. . . .
Mr Willetts’s comments come amid increasing concern that children’s experiences are being stifled by over-anxious parents obsessed with “stranger danger”, and an increasingly litigious society which means schools and clubs are nervous about taking children on activity holidays and adventure trips.
As a consequence, children who sit in front of their computer or television, grow up with concentration problems as a result, and suffer a “nature deficit disorder”, Mr Willetts said.
I can’t say I find this surprising. Plus, there’s this:
Britain’s safety charity suggested yesterday it would be better for the occasional child to fall out of a tree and break their wrist than develop repetitive strain injury from playing computer games.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said parents were too risk-averse, particularly after the abduction of Madeleine McCann in Portugal, and youngsters should be allowed to bruise and cut themselves.
IS KILLING YOUR HUSBAND LESS SERIOUS than serving kids beer?
OBVIOUSLY, IT’S SWEEPS WEEK IN THE BLOGOSPHERE:
I really enjoy reading the indominable Oliver Willis. And of course he’s right about this. But let’s review the titles of some his recent posts:
* “Kim Kardashian and the Brazilian Butt-Lift”
* “Jessica Alba Makes The Case For Why She And Not Lindsay Lohan Should Have Been #1 on Maxim’s Hot 100″
* “Obama and the Celebrity Hottie Vote”
* … etc.
Why, it’s almost as if Oliver Willis uses images of attractive Hollywood twentysomething women to improve his ratings!
Hey, I should try that!
A LOOK AT gay life in Afghanistan, which is reportedly improving.