July 22, 2007
HOMELAND SECURITY: Still a joke.
HOMELAND SECURITY: Still a joke.
IS TURKEY ISLAMIFYING? Not so much, according to InstaPundit’s Istanbul correspondent, Claire Berlinski, who writes:
Does this look like Iran to you? David took these a few hours ago at the AKP headquarters in Istanbul. Lots of women in headscarves were dancing arm-in-arm with women who looked like this, lots of women were dancing arm-in-arm with men, and lots of people — of all ages and both sexes and in various degrees of undress — were dancing, period, which is hardly an activity commonly associated with Islamist tyranny. I felt completely welcome and comfortable even though I was wearing the shortest skirt in my wardrobe. I don’t at all dismiss concerns about the AKP, and I think my credentials as someone who takes the rise of Islamic extremism seriously are well-established, but what I saw tonight was utterly benign. Here’s a short video. It won’t win any cinematography awards (I took it with my digital camera and the light wasn’t good) but you can definitely see that this looks nothing like Iran. Again: This is the AKP headquarters.
The images do look pretty non-Iran-like to me.
ADVICE TO POLITICAL STRATEGISTS: (Especially Republican) — You might want to get this book into the hands of your guys ASAP, just in case. Looks like the authors are following their own advice already: “Kerr Fuffle”?
FAKING AUDIENCE PHONE CALLS at the BBC.
IS GIULIANI getting organized?
KEEPING THE FLYING IMAMS airborne. I really don’t understand what the Democrats think they’re going to accomplish here. It certainly suggests that they don’t think major terrorist attacks are imminent, since if that happens and it turns out someone didn’t report something, the blowback will be fierce. In that regard, at least, I hope they’re right.
WILL TURKEY “ISLAMIFY?” A report on the Turkish elections.
UPDATE: InstaPundit’s Istanbul correspondent, Claire Berlinski, says fears of islamification are exaggerated. Stay tuned for a report later this evening.
BUSINESS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: “The public editor at the New York Times on Sunday castigated the newspaper for not writing enough about its owner — the Ochs-Sulzberger family — and whether it will succumb to the same pressure that forced The Wall Street Journal into the grasp of Rupert Murdoch.”
Hmm. The Sulzbergers have already politicized the NYT to a fare-thee-well. At least a Murdoch-type might figure out how to keep it profitable.
WELL, THIS IS A SHOCK: “U.N. suspends peacekeepers amid sex abuse charges.”
OIL REFINERY PROBLEMS: “Oil refineries across the country have been plagued by a record number of fires, power failures, leaks, spills and breakdowns this year, causing dozens of them to shut down temporarily or trim production. The disruptions are helping to drive gasoline prices to highs not seen since last summerâ€™s records.”
So it would probably be a good idea if we had more of them, right? And yet. . . .
A LOOK AT bloggers, journalism, and newspapers.
OVER AT THE BOOKS FOR KIDS BLOG, a full-length Harry Potter review.
UPDATE: My best concert ever? Seeing Steve Earle and The Rainmakers at the 930 Club in Washington DC — for five bucks. I forget who opened for who; it was just before both hit it big. I found out a couple of years ago that Mickey Kaus was at the same show, though I didn’t know him then. But given the small size of the 930 Club in those days, that means that at least one percent of the crowd was made up of future bloggers. . . .
SOME PRESS CRITICISM from Cassandra.
AN ARMY OF GEORGE GALLOWAYS.
KNOXVILLE: The number three town for boat owners. And yet I don’t own one. What’s wrong with me?
DIGGING THROUGH THE GIULIANI ARCHIVES.
AN INSTINCT FOR THE CAPILLARY: “The LAT finally puts out another Villaraigosa-Salinas story–which focuses like a laser on the least interesting aspect of the scandal, the journalistic conflict of interest! Yes, that’s why Angelenos are upset–because a Telemundo reporter might have compromised her objectivity. Someone call CJR!”
AS I SAID, SPACE IS GETTING MORE COMMERCIAL:
Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed July 5 to increase its stake in Scaled Composites – the builder of the Ansari X-Prize Cup-winning SpaceShipOne and a host of record-breaking aircraft – from 40 percent to 100 percent, Northrop Grumman spokesman Dan McClain confirmed July 20.
McClain, who declined to disclose the value of the deal, said the company expects it to close in August pending regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Scaled Composites currently is working with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture on a vehicle designated for now as SpaceShipTwo, which would carry two pilots and six paying passengers into suborbital space for a few minutes of weightlessness. The company also is building a new carrier aircraft, dubbed WhiteKnight2, that will carry SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of 15 kilometers before releasing it to soar to suborbital space.
It seems that the big money wants a piece of the small-space action. Is that good, or bad? We’ll see. More here.
UPDATE: Here’s somebody who thinks it’s bad.
And this bit from Rand has to be right: “The fact that such acquisitions are now occurring is to me a sign of the transition of the old age to the new.”
“IGNORE SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.“
HARRY POTTER REVIEW COUNT: It’s now up to 176.
UPDATE: Hmm. Clicking around a few sitemeters, it appears that yesterday was the slowest Saturday in a long time for the blogosphere. Coincidence? Or all those people reading Harry Potter?
Okay, I didn’t check enough to be scientific, but I still think we should be glad J.K. Rowling didn’t release the book on a Monday, as the economic drag would probably tip us over into recession . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ilya Somin liked it.
PENELOPE TRUNK: It doesn’t matter that journalists misquote everyone. Because it’s all narrative.
WELL, WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS: Norm Geras profiles someone unexpected.
JOURNALISM 101: Blowing it on Iraq.
Oops. Link was wrong at first. Fixed now.
UPDATE: John Tabin responds.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Advice to journalists: “For people who love their ‘Question Authority’ tee shirts so much, they don’t seem to actually do an awful lot of it; witness how little Questioning Jesse Macbeth initially got on claiming to be an Authority on Iraq. . . . Before trying to concoct myths, you should spend some time in the company of actual soldiers. Actually knowing a soldier other than the ones you saw on the screen in Platoon or Jarhead would make your myths so much more believable. Of course, actually knowing a soldier might make you pause before concocting your myths in the first place.”
BETTER THAN THE BOOMERS? Dean Barnett on the 9/11 generation.
IT’S A BAD IDEA TO BURGLARIZE a place marked “K-9 Training Facility.”
A PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST defends his guild by attacking bloggers. That’s so 2003.
I HAVEN’T PAID MUCH ATTENTION to the whole JetBlue / Bill O’Reilly / DailyKos kerfuffle, but I see that JetBlue has pulled its sponsorship of YearlyKos. Theres’ some gloating on the right, but I actually think this is bad for the blogosphere as a whole.
Since I haven’t followed this closely I may have missed something, but is it possible that this is payback for the Netroots’ efforts to keep Democratic debates off of Fox?
JAMES LILEKS: Internet killed the newspaper star.
MORE MONEY PROBLEMS FOR IRAN:
What would you do when faced with a cash flow problem? You might try to curb expenditure, work harder to earn more, borrow money, or, when all else fails, put up the family jewels for sale. The latter is precisely what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadâ€™s administration is trying to do as it faces a cash shortage.
Signs that the government may be running out of money have multiplied in recent months. Tens of thousands of civil servants, including school teachers, have not been paid since January. Bills from private contractors working for the government are piling up, threatening the survival of many businesses. . . .
All this may seem surprising if only because Iran has earned almost $150 billion from oil exports since Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005. So, were did the money go?
Um, centrifuges, maybe?
MORE EXCITING THAN SEAN HANNITY’S AMERICA: The latest Corn & Miniter Show is up!
THE NEXT WINDOWS VERSION is now supposed to ship in 2010. Given the lousy experience people I know have had with Vista — including some very technically sophisticated people — I predict that XP will still be in wide use then.
A MORE FASHIONABLE space suit. The idea’s not actually new — they tested these things in vacuum chambers at JPL back in the 1960s, I believe — but materials have come a long way.
A LOOK AT THE WEDDING-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: That’s the topic of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding (The comments are amusing; I especially like “Wedding Culture in the Age of Bridezilla.”) And then there are all those shameless jewelry ads at Valentine’s Day. . . .
MORE ON CONGRESS’S PLUMMETING APPROVAL NUMBERS:
Congress now has no base outside of its staff, the reporters who cover it and Mom, and even she is wavering.
I am not laughing. I am not gloating. I am troubled. . . .
In a democracy, people must have faith in their institutions. In a totalitarian government, fear will do.
The problem is that neither party shows leaders in Washington who are in touch with the realities that their constituents face. Congressmen and senators have too much money, too much power and too much tenure.
Last year, the congressional Republicans went hog wild on pork spending. Prosecutors put a couple of them in prison for selling favors. One of them was caught messing with the House pages, who are the equivalent of political altar boys.
Voters threw the bums out. But unlike 1994, when voters voted in new Republican leadership, voters elected the old Democratic leadership. Democrat David Obey of Wisconsin became House appropriations chairman — again after a 12-year absence.
This is reform?
Meet the new boss, yada yada.
MICKEY KAUS continues to tweak the L.A. Times over being outreported by Luke Ford on the Villaraigosa scandal. Only I don’t think the LAT actually wants to be in the lead on that story.
A REVIEW OF RATATOUILLE.
TIGERHAWK: “I find myself in the rare position of agreeing with the folks at Firedoglake. . . . No, it is not lamentable that Hillary Clinton wore a lower neckline than usual (even if it was far from unprecedented). It is depressing that the Washington Post would see fit to comment that she did.”
IS FRED THOMPSON BLOWING IT? Blogometer thinks rivals are smelling blood and observes: “It is rule one in politics that if you don’t define yourself, others will.”
Yep. His pre-campaign was masterful, but the transition to actually running for office seems a bit sloppy.
KEEPING SCORE: Obama beats out Romney on sex education.
SLASHDOT: Which Google should Congress believe?
SHOULD PRESIDENT CHENEY PARDON SCOOTER LIBBY? A poll.
RUDY GIULIANI GETS A Bo Derek endorsement.
TRASH OR TREASON? More on the Oak Ridge nuclear-theft story.
BOB KRUMM: “One difference Iâ€™ve noted between certain elements of Americaâ€™s two political parties is that Republicans tend to criticize Democratic primary candidates as being ‘too liberal,’ while Democrats criticize the GOPâ€™s potential offerings as not being conservative enough.”
IN EAST TENNESSEE: Two Blogfests and a Blogathon!
FOREIGN POLICY LISTS the world’s stupidest fatwas.
PEOPLE USED TO WAIT UNTIL THEY HAD ACCOMPLISHED THINGS before publishing their memoirs.
AND TO THINK PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ACCUSING WAR SUPPORTERS of being indifferent to genocide:
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isnâ€™t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.
So much for the moral high ground.
UPDATE: From Ace: “He’s right.” Read the whole thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John F. Burns: “I think it`s a much larger truth that where American forces are present, they are inhibiting sectarian violence, and they are going after the people, particularly al-Qaeda and the Shiite death squads, who are provoking that violence. Remove them or at least remove them quickly, and it seems to me — controversial as this may seem to be saying in the present circumstances, while I know there`s this agonizing debate going on in the United States about this — that you have to weigh the price. And the price would very likely be very, very high levels of violence, at least in the short run and perhaps, perhaps – perhaps for quite a considerable period of time.”
MICHAEL YON EMAILS: “Wow. There was zero combat reported in Baqubah yesterday. Hard to believe. But I am right here, and that’s the way it was.”
He’s also got a new post: 7 Rules: 1 Oath.
As always, read the whole thing. And remember that — like Michael Totten, who’s also blogging from Iraq now — he’s funded by his readers. So if you like his reporting, hit the tipjar.
HAIR ADVICE for Fred Thompson.
ANN ALTHOUSE: “There’s some idea, apparently — here in the midwest? — that a naked male torso is supposed to be endured with sullen solemnity or something.”
RANDY BARNETT HAS FURTHER THOUGHTS on libertarians and war.
HOW TO be a better grillmaster.
A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF electric cars.
IN THE MAIL: Bill Bass & Jon Jefferson’s Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science.
Our podcast interview with Jefferson & Bass from last year can be found here.
LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: More on Al Gore and the endangered Chilean Sea Bass.
DAVID BERNSTEIN: “Opponents of the use of the Due Process Clause to protect substantive rights, notably Robert Bork (see, e.g., Coercing Virtue p. 55), trace the origins of ‘substantive due process’ to Scott v. Sandford. This is disingenuous (or perhaps ignorant) on two levels.”
My thoughts on Bork and substantive due process can be found here.
A LOOK AT the science of sticky.
MICHAEL TOTTEN, live from Baghdad.
A LOOK AT THE NEW PATENT REFORM LEGISLATION. I haven’t been following it closely enough to have an opinion, really. I note, though, that positions seem to break down by industry, with IT people generally not liking strong patents while pharma people do. That makes sense, given their different business models. I suppose that actually treating different kinds of patents differently is unworkable.
CHEAP, PAINTABLE SOLAR CELLS:
Researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have developed an inexpensive solar cell that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets. “The process is simple,” said lead researcher and author Somenath Mitra, PhD, professor and acting chair of NJIT’s Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences. “Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations.”
Bring it on. But “someday” isn’t soon enough.
THOU ART GOD: At least if thy name is Sergey Brin, apparently.
HAPPY MOON DAY: But it’s kind of pathetic that we haven’t been back for nearly 35 years.
JAMES PETHOKOUKIS: Are Democrats the Peak-oil Party?
A BASIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Norm Geras, Andrew Sullivan, and Ramesh Ponnuru have been writing about this. The best treatment of this subject is Arthur Allen Leff’s Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law, 1979 Duke L.J. 1229 (1979), which is, alas, not available online, even on Westlaw. Leff wrote:
I want to believe –and so do you– in a complete, transcendent, and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe –and so do you– in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to discover the right and the good and to create it.
And here’s a passage from his Memorandum from the Devil, 29 Stanford Law Review 1479 (1977) addressed to Prof. Roberto Unger, who ended his Knowledge and Politics with the plea “Speak, God.” Leff, the least diabolical of people, nonetheless responded in character:
Yes, yes, I know your book ends “Speak, God,” and that I, therefore, am the very antithesis of Him whose reply you so sincerely sought. But after all, a good part of the book is written, if not to me, at least against me. And Knowledge and Politics, despite the meagreness of mortal or divine response thus far, is a very important book, certainly meriting a little diabolical commentary. So hear me, pending Him. It was, indeed, the fact that you ended your work with prayer that first attracted my attention. I am something of a connoisseur of these attempts by scholarly humans to find and describe some meaning in their personal and species existence, and when nonironic divine address comes out of Langdell Hall these days, attention must be paid. . . .
Well, well, let me not be cruel. I know at least as well as you what total separation from Him can lead to in the way of self-deception and bad lines. I tried to replace God with myself, and you tried, as He appeared unwilling to come again, to put your faith in some laughable Second Coming of Man. No hope. As long as you wanted simultaneously to make something in the world–mankind– into the good and still reserve the right to judge its goodness, you were doomed. You were trapped in what, to save time, I might call a GÃ¶del problem: how to validate the premises of a system from within itself. “Good,” “right” and words like that are evaluations. For evaluations you need an evaluator. Either whatever the evaluator says is good is good, or you must find some superior place to stand to evaluate the evaluator. But there is no such place in the world to stand. From the world, only a man can evaluate a man, and unless some arbitrary standards are slipped into the game, all men, at this, are equal.
Or to put it another way, one more congenial, I think, to both of us, by dispensing with God we did more than just free ourselves of some intellectual anachronism. We also dispensed with the only intellectually respectable answer to the ultimate “Why is it right to do X?” It was not so very long ago that most people (and I, too) could and did answer: “It is right to do X because God says so.” That answer was at least intelligible, the only one that did not depend upon mere sublunary assertion, the only one that even if it too involved the transformation of fact into value, was not for that reason insufficient. For assuming that God existed, and had commands, it was He who was evaluating our actions. He was not part of our evaluation system, nor were his evaluations subject, or even amenable, to our evaluations of them.
That does not mean, of course, that God exists, or existing, bothers to evaluate your activities. He may not, literally or figuratively, give a damn. It is just that if He does exist (whether or not He cares), as an intellectual matter your problem of normative grounding would be solved. No more would ethical imperatives consist merely of human beliefs, intuited in privacy, perhaps validated by wide sharing or whatever, but just mortal opinions nonetheless. A belief in God and His will would solve the GÃ¶del problem and would avoid the necessary defeat visited on any attempt to validate a system from within itself.
There are, Professor Unger, not very many possibilities. In fact, there are, I think, just two. The first is that mankind is a species that doesn’t mean anything at all, except to itself. There is no evaluator out there. If the species is or becomes one thing or another, or ceases to exist altogether, nothing else cares–except perhaps some other species which, mostly with joy, might register the ecological impact of man’s extinction. You are what you are, and will become what you will become, and the goodness or badness of that being and becoming is for you, and you alone, to define and declare. No state of being is more authentic than any other or, just because it exists, any better. Oh, it’s not so awful. If being isn’t meaning, and it isn’t, meaninglessness isn’t nonbeing either. You and the species get to live. It’s just that you have to shape your living, and its meaning, all alone.
The second possibility is that God exists, and still cares. My own opinion is that the Hand that holds you suspended over my fiery pit doesn’t abhor you, but has forgotten completely that It has anything in It. But God may still care, and, if that is so, you have but one epistemological problem, to learn the will of God. If there is no God, everything is permitted; if there is a God, it’s even more terrifying, because then some things are not permitted, and men have got to find out which are which. Since He has the right and power to evaluate you, but no duty to do so, you are bravely right: you must pray.
But while you try to live as best you can until His revelation, perhaps you will accept some practical advice from me. Look around you at your species, throughout time and all over the world, and see what men seem to be like. Okay? Now take this hint from what you have seen: If He exists, Me too.
The older I get, the more profound this seems.
UPDATE: You can get Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural law online through JSTOR, if your university or public library has a license. Thanks to reader Dale Belhoffer for the tip.
Oh yeah. That’s her.
THOUGHTS ON handgun ownership and privacy rights.
MICKEY KAUS: “Is the infamous NYT TimesSelect paywall about to disappear? kf hears rumblings that the paper is about to abandon the whole misconceived project in which it has blocked unpaid Web access to its op-ed columnists.”
It was a bad idea, but I find I don’t miss them all that much. I get Times Select for free, but I basically never read Dowd or Krugman anymore.
NEWSPAPERS: Another day, another debacle.
GOOD NEWS: “AIDS drug cocktails may be able to restore the ravaged immune systems of some people infected with HIV, researchers reported on Wednesday. Immune cells known as CD4 T-cells returned to normal levels in an ideal group of patients, picked because they responded optimally to a combination of at least three AIDS drugs, the researchers reported in the Lancet medical journal.”
More progress, please. (Via Andrew Sullivan).
HOMELAND — SECURE! “A published report in Knoxville says federal agents took 3,400 rounds ammunition from a training exercise in Texas back to Oak Ridge on board a government plane without declaring it. . . . A report in Thursday’s Knoxville News Sentinel quotes a report by the Energy Department’s inspector general as saying 119 rounds of the armor-piercing ammunition is still unaccounted for. Further, the report says someone had colored the tips of some regular ammunition black in an apparent attempt to conceal that the more lethal variety was missing.”
GITMO UPDATE: Senate Rejects Moving Gitmo Detainees to U.S. Soil.
We’ve seen this pattern before.
UPDATE: Reader Wright Steenrod emails: “Can you imagine the New Republic, of all magazines, writing a German occupation story in WWII and focusing the actions of some sick soldiers and not focusing of the existence of a mass grave of Jewish children?”
THE CHRISTOPHER LITTLE LITERARY AGENCY is embarrassing itself.
JAMES LILEKS IMAGINES THE 1977 VERSION OF FACEBOOK:
Imagine youâ€™re in college. Far from home. Itâ€™s 1977. Youâ€™re partying down, as the Grand Funk Railroad put it. One guy is walking around with a clipboard, asking personal questions; heâ€™s also taking photos. As the night goes on, inhibitions fade like cotton candy in a hot shower, and you find yourself in a hot shower. With someone named Cotton Candy, as it turns out. Who invited her? That guy is still taking pictures, too. Eventually you ask what heâ€™s doing.
â€œWell,â€ he says, â€œIâ€™m going to put together a big collection of incriminating photos and remarks, and post it up at that bulletin board outside the grocery store. And thereâ€™ll be another one in your home town.â€
The 2007 response? “Awesome! Thanks, dude!”
AL QAEDA FOOLS RICHARD CLARKE: But, really, how hard is that?
A CYNICAL SAUDI SOLUTION:
While Saudi Arabia is not happy with how Shia Arabs have taken control of Iraq, and appear able to hold on to it, they are pleased with how the fighting in Iraq has greatly depleted the number of al Qaeda backers inside Saudi Arabia. Over 5,000 Saudi Islamic radicals are believed to have died in Iraq so far. For the last four years, up to half the suicide bombers have been Saudis, and about half the 135 foreigners currently held in U.S. military prisons over there, are Saudis. Currently, American intelligence believes about 45 percent of the foreign fighters (less than ten percent of all terrorists there) are Saudis. . . .
The few Islamic terrorists that remain at large are desperate, dangerous and good at avoiding capture. The only acceptable outlet for their zealous urge to kill, is Iraq. So the government has reached another informal truce with Islamic radicals. They can live in Saudi Arabia as long as they remain quiet and non-violent. The government will not interfere with their traveling to Iraq to do a little jihad. Apparently, most of these fellows do not survive the process.
Hmm. I wonder if this is the plan. Plus, good news and bad news about Taliban vs. drug lords in Afghanistan:
U.S. and NATO troops continue combing the south, smashing Taliban combat groups, and, more importantly, depleting the supply of Taliban leaders. The drug gangs see the Taliban as tools, not a threat. The Taliban like to puff themselves up, but most Afghans see them as a bunch of ignorant, vicious and inept religious zealots. The drug gangs are another matter, because these guys have lots of money, and more realistic goals.
Think what we could accomplish with drug legalization.
CRUISE MAKES HITLER FILM: Seems miscast — what would Tom Cruise know about an oddball cult founded by a reclusive weirdo that demands slavish devotion from its followers?
EARNINGS PROBLEMS for Google.
A VIDEO INTERVIEW from Michael Yon.
WILL COLLIER: “I was just interviewed by a camera crew, and will apparently be on the CBS Evening News tonight. . . . this must be the slowest news day in the history of the planet, and possibly the universe.”
REDSTATE’S JEFF EMANUEL IS HEADING TO IRAQ, and he’s soliciting contributions for coverage. I donated.
ED MORRISSEY INTERVIEWS JOHN MCCAIN.
OAK RIDGE WORKER CHARGED with trying to sell nuclear secrets to France.