January 4, 2009
THOUGHTS ON rites of passage.
THOUGHTS ON rites of passage.
BUT I THINK MORE OF HIM: The president-elect’s silence on the Gaza crisis is undermining his reputation in the Middle East. People want him to condemn Israel — well, some people do — but he hasn’t. And Israel’s just playing by Chicago rules: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way!” And he hasn’t been silent — he’s made himself clear.
CONOR FRIEDERSDORF says I’m wasting my time. “I guess I’d say that nowadays Instapundit isn’t really arguing with anyone of consequence when he makes these sorts of arguments. Those who disagree with him — the estimable Nicholas Lemann excepted, if he hasn’t changed his views on blogging — are dinosaurs unlikely to do anything noteworthy in the field of journalism.” My earlier thoughts here and also here.
YOUR HOMELAND SECURITY DOLLARS AT WORK: “Photographer Duane Kerzic was standing on the public platform in New York’s Penn Station, taking pictures of trains in hopes of winning the annual photo contest that Amtrak had been running since 2003. Amtrak police arrested him for refusing to delete the photos when asked, though they later charged him with trespassing.” They had no legal right to ask him to delete the photos. He should sue. I also think — as I’ve said before — that we need federal civil rights legislation to protect photographers’ rights. There are too many situations like this, where idiot security officers violate the law. And homeland security is still a joke.
LOTS OF GUNS but no gun murders in North Dakota.
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Hartford Courant:
After nearly 28 years of consistent popularity, U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd saw his public approval ratings sag to below 50 percent in late 2008 after months of news disclosures about his cut-rate mortgages from banking giant Countrywide Financial and his long absence from duty while he was running for president earlier in the year. Now it’s decision time for Dodd on whether to launch a run for a sixth Senate term in the 2010 election. Dodd has denied wrongdoing, but still refuses to release documents related to his mortgages while the Senate conducts an ethics probe.
Remember that — though Dodd would like you to think otherwise — the Senate ethics probe is no barrier to him releasing the documents now.
THE BRAVE RESISTANCE: “Hamas operatives are in the hospital and have disguised themselves as nurses and doctors.”
ANDREW MALCOLM, L.A. TIMES: Billygate: Why Obama Dumped Gov. Richardson Now.
UPDATE: Another Obama cabinet scandal? “A developer in New York state donated $100,000 to former President Bill Clinton’s foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman’s mall project.” (Via John Stephenson). The hits just keep coming! But it’s hard to blame the Obama vetters here — who’d've thought there might be questionable stuff in the Clintons’ background?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg thinks this is bad for commercial space, given Richardson’s excellent record on the subject. I think he’s right.
WELL, GOOD: “More than three-quarters of laboratory leukemia cells exposed to an extract from grape seeds died within 24 hours, effectively killing themselves while leaving other cells unharmed, a new study shows. University of Kentucky researchers say they found that the extract activates JNK, a protein that regulates the cell-signaling pathway the leads to cell death, or apoptosis.”
REMEMBER THOSE ARRESTS BEFORE THE RNC? Well, it was because an informant warned of firebomb plans:
ST. PAUL, Minn. — To some of the people who know him back home in Texas, Brandon Darby is a traitor.
In his own mind, he’s proud of what he did — feeding the FBI information that led to the arrests of two men accused of trying to disrupt the Republican National Convention.
“I feel like, as an activist, I played a direct role in stopping violence,” Darby, 32, said in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Darby’s role as a confidential informant in the case leaked out in a pretrial hearing. It was a remarkable transformation for a man known to many back in Austin as a fiery, grass-roots activist with a mistrust of government.
Darby was key to the investigation of David Guy McKay and Bradley Neal Crowder, both of Austin. The two men are scheduled for federal trial on Jan. 26 for allegedly building Molotov cocktails during the convention. They have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors claim the two men built the firebombs because they were angry that police had seized a trailer filled with riot shields they’d built and hauled to Minnesota. In a conversation recorded by the FBI, McKay allegedly told Darby he planned to use the explosives on law-enforcement cars parked in a lot near the Xcel Energy Center.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: A reader notes that there’s already a website aimed at attacking Brandon Darby. A WhoIs search says that it’s registered to a Robinson Block of Bellaire Texas, presumably the same guy who wrote this letter on Israel.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Julie Stacy writes: “I’m sure it’s completely unrelated, but the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw your post was the the unsolved firebombing of the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin last year. The there’s the firebombing of Bush’s childhood home in Midland, which is a small museum, and the torching of Sarah Palin’s church, all in one year. Yes, surely all unrelated, but in 2008 there was a bit of a pattern of anti-Republican arson happening. Not that the press would take notice.”
YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED: “Twitter wants to make us all Instapundit.”
OKAY, THIS IS A SHOCKER: Richardson Withdraws Name as Commerce Secretary-Designee. “New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name from consideration as commerce secretary for President-elect Barack Obama, citing an ongoing investigation about business dealings in his state.” I guess there’s more to that scandal than I had realized.
Boy, with this, Blagojevich, etc., this Obama “honeymoon” is looking kinda rocky.
UPDATE: Reader Mark Shelden writes: “If we include the aborted Pritzker nomination, it seems like Obama will have tied Clinton’s AG selection process for most withdrawn nominations prior to an actual confirmation hearing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpassed Clinton though.”
Plus, going beyond Jerry Springer. (Bumped).
WORRIES ABOUT where the dollar is heading.
THE PHYSICS OF pole-vaulting.
THE KINDS OF GUNS THAT used to be legal. From a time when crime was lower. Go figure.
THE HEALING POWER of cupcakes.
CONCERTS IN intimate home settings. Beats a smoky club.
IN THE MAIL: From McKinley Conway, Project New America, a plan to generate jobs while achieving energy independence.
CHARLES RANGEL UPDATE: Rep. Charles Rangel denies he made inappropriate pitch for funds.
DOC SEARLS on the delights of air travel. As far as I can tell, the only really significant perk of being rich as opposed to upper-middle-class is flying on private jets instead of flying commercial.
GO NORTH, YOUNG MAN. Joel Kotkin advises Obama to form a North American Energy Agreement:
A U.S.-Canada energy consortium — with the eventual involvement of Mexico — provides us out from our fundamental geopolitical dilemma: how to grow our economy while reducing our dependence on imported energy and, over time, carbon-emitting fuels. This could take the form of something like a North American Energy Community, which would help coordinate research, development and environmental resources across the continent.
This approach would offer a way to shift our economic interests away from unreliable and unfriendly regimes towards countries with whom we have far better personal, political and economic ties. Current estimates indicate we will increase oil imports from 12.6 million barrels a day today to 16.4 million in 2030. More than half of that is expected to come from OPEC suppliers, with much of the rest from Russia and the Central Asia autocracies.
A continental strategy would halt this dangerous slide. Taken together, the resources of our three countries are both immense and extraordinarily diverse. Overall, North America ranks second only to the Middle East in proven oil reserves. Canada, for example, has the world’s second largest proven crude oil reserves, outpaced only by Saudi Arabia; the United States ranks 11th and Mexico 14th. The three North American states rank in the top fifteen in natural gas production, as well.
This alliance can work both in the short run on fossil fuels and will, over time, blossom with the shift to renewables.
Read the whole thing. Especially if you’re Barack Obama.
NAT HENTOFF ON “OBAMA’S BLACK WIDOW:” Thanks to Bush and Obama, the National Security Agency now knows more about you. Hey, wait — I thought all this “spying” stuff would change after the election! And how come Hentoff got laid off right after this column came out . . . .?
RESIDENTS of a model housing estate bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities and hand-built by Jimmy Carter, the former US president, are complaining that it is falling apart.
Fairway Oaks was built on northern Florida wasteland by 10,000 volunteers, including Carter, in a record 17-day “blitz” organised by the charity Habitat for Humanity.
Eight years later it is better known for cockroaches, mildew and mysterious skin rashes.
AT THE L.A. TIMES, more on Harry Reid and Rod Blagojevich.
UPDATE: Reid’s certainly getting hit over this, even at Democratic Underground:
On one hand, we have Dems threatening not to seat an African American duly appointed to serve in the US Senate by a sitting governor; an African American who has worked his way up from local office through statewide office before this appointment.
On the other hand, we have Dems cheering the naming of a wealthy white woman who has never held public office, interviews badly, but has an important surname and the “right” pedigree.
No further comment needed.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE (TO HATE): The politically-impossible TigerHawk plan for the economy. We could do worse — and probably will! I like the “money haven” plan in the comments, too . . . .
HUNTING: It’s not a “sport,” it’s “sustainable protein.”
THE NEW BROWN SHIRTS.
A RATHER NEGATIVE TAKE on the economy.
TAM HAS THOUGHTS ON VALKYRIE: “As far as I’m concerned, enough machine guns and dead Nazis will cover for nearly any movie-making sin. I can’t think of a single movie, from It’s A Wonderful Life to Mary Poppins, that wouldn’t be improved by a whole bunch of machine guns and dead Nazis.”
REFRAMING A DRUG PROBLEM in terms of multiculturalism.
HUFFINGTON POST: Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted.
TODD ZYWICKI NOTES an error in an A.P. mortgage story: “There is an Associated Press story that has been running around the country on mortgage walkaways and state anti-deficiency laws. Here is the long version of the story. The story accurately quotes me but then provides a list of states that the reporter on the story claims are the ‘full list’ of states that have anti-deficiency laws and the positioning of the list in the story makes it look like the reporter got the list from me. He did not. And based on my understanding, the list provided is highly inaccurate.”
ELENA KAGAN, KATHLEEN SULLIVAN under consideration for Obama Solicitor General spot. I think that either would be an excellent choice. I don’t know Elena Kagan personally, but by all accounts she’s been an excellent Dean. I know Kathleen Sullivan a bit better, and I think she’s smart, fair-minded and thoughtful, as well as being a Constitutional Law scholar and Supreme Court litigator of some note.
RACISM, HARRY REID, AND A double standard?
SOME THOUGHTS ON GAZA.
I’VE OFTEN ARGUED that the relationship between blogs and Big Media should be thought of as symbiotic rather than competitive, and here’s some more evidence. Jack Lail, managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, emails that InstaPundit sent them nearly a million pageviews last year, and holds two spots (for pjmedia.com/instapundit and pjmedia.com/instapundit) on their list of top 20 referrers. Smart news people — like Lail — are more interested in getting bloggers to deliver traffic than in complaining about blogger competition. And smart news organizations will take advantage of new technology to facilitate their hard-news reporting ability via the “Army of Davids” approach, rather than complaining that people who post breaking-news reports on blogs or Twitter don’t have journalism degrees.
It’s interesting to me that we see far more anger from Old Media folks aimed at bloggers, etc., than at Craigslist, even though Craigslist has done far more economic harm to the newspaper industry than bloggers, who probably add eyeballs rather than (as Craigslist does) subtracting them. My suspicion is that the Old Media folks care more about prestige and position than money, and bloggers have hurt them in the prestige and position department. Of course, caring more about prestige and position than money isn’t a formula for a flourishing business . . . .
Meanwhile, here’s more on how bloggers and Big Media can work together in covering an issue.
UPDATE: Steven Den Beste emails: “Craigslist is stealing revenue, but most reporters and editors don’t worry about revenue. Bloggers are challenging the MSM’s function as gatekeepers of the news, and in particular the MSM’s ability to suppress stories. That DOES directly affect reporters and editors.” Indeed. And that’s not lost on readers.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Thoughts on Craigslist from Ron Coleman.
WEATHERBLOGGER ALAN SULLIVAN has been keeping track of the Yellowstone earthquakes and what they might mean. I view this as a rather remote risk, but I could be wrong. Here’s more on the subject. Question: What would you do, and what should the state and federal governments do, if we knew that a major eruption was highly likely?
Meanwhile, if you want to get ahead of the curve, here’s a guide to volcano survival and response, drawing on USGS and FEMA documents. Don’t know if it’s any good, but I’ve ordered one in case this story picks up.
MARS ROVERS hit 5-year mark.
DON SURBER: “Democrat Joe Biden loses his solid gold Senate cufflinks, and we’re supposed to trust him with national secrets?” I don’t think Obama is trusting him with very much . . . .
BOB KRUMM has had a lot of traffic in the past year, and asks for advice on what to do with it.
IN CALIFORNIA: A pension tsunami? “Essentially, CalPERS officials rolled the dice and lost, but the burden will ultimately fall on the taxpayers.”
HMM: Poll: 77% of Americans Blame Media for Making Economic Crisis Worse. Talk in the article of criminal liability for the press seems rather farfetched, and it’s not as if there are no real economic problems — but if we’re in a “panic” then the tone of press coverage certainly could be expected to make a difference, and the press doesn’t seem to be trying to moderate its tone, something it does in other areas. After all, the press is exquisitely sensitive to the impact of its reporting when matters of race, gender, or sexual preference are concerned. But hey, go-go reporting a few years ago probably pushed the bubble up, too, so it evens out . . .
Meanwhile, Michael Silence comments: It would be 100 percent if they all watched NBC News. “Screw the economy. It’s all about ratings.”
UPDATE: Hmm: “Compare the last 6 years (or so) of unremitting (and largely unwarranted- until recently) doom-and-gloom economic coverage, against the press’ bend-over-backward efforts to avoid riling the American public after 9/11.” Like I say, they know how to be exquisitely sensitive, when they’re protecting something they care about.
GEE, DO YOU THINK? U.S. could be facing debt ‘time bomb’ this year.
Plus, are we finally starting to see “bailout fatigue?” I certainly hope so. Plus this: “If Republicans are looking to play a constructive role and join forces with Democrats to help revive the economy, they might suggest a serious bipartisan effort to examine how the bailout money has been spent and what it’s given us. That might be the basis for a fruitful discussion — one that both ends of the political spectrum might embrace — about whether, now that the immediate panic of the financial crisis has passed, we have had quite enough of bailout-mania.”
LES JONES DISCOVERS the steampunk version of Peak Oil.
ISRAEL ALONE. Except for America, and their “secret friends” in Egypt.
SOME REPORTING ON AFGHANISTAN.
ERIC POSNER on the Gaza conflict and the limits of international law.
BRUCE BARTLETT: Who saw the housing bubble coming?
WELL, HE DOES LIKE THE JFK MODEL: “President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.’s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China.” He’s also reviving the old Space Council, which is a good idea. I wonder, however, how this barrier-tearing-down will play with his supporters from the antiwar left.
UPDATE: Reader Corey Appleby writes: “I predict what just last year would have been called ‘unprecedented militarization of space’ will suddenly be hailed as a brilliant move towards furthering science in this country.” Heh. Well, another advantage of having a Democrat in the White House, I guess . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: But see this piece by Rand Simberg.
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Connecticut Post:
Thumbs down to U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd for his continued obfuscation over the particulars of his alleged special mortgage rate treatment. This needn’t be an issue, but if Dodd won’t answer questions, people are going to keep asking. He says there was nothing untoward about the mortgage rate he received from Countrywide Financial, a company that was heavily involved in the nationwide mortgage collapse. He feigns indignance each time the issue is raised. But he can make the questions stop easily. All he has to do is release documents on two mortgages from Countrywide, each of which seemingly came in with interest figures below the going rate. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, he should have long ago put this issue to rest.
Yes, he should have, and his failure to do so suggests to many that he’s got something to hide.
TWO KINDS of careers.
JEFF JARVIS: Bad News, Good News.
A TOUGH JOB MARKET FOR PHILOSOPHERS: “Philosophers should be people who think especially well, but to have decided upon a career in philosophy marks you as irrational. How do you deal with that raging incoherence?” Is that really fair? You might rationally decide you want to be a philosopher even if the job prospects are poor. But if you do so decide, then it’s irrational to complain about a poor job market, I guess.
WILL BLAGO meet RICO?
BIOTECH OPPONENTS: Playing with human lives?
IN THE MAIL: From Charles Glasser, who’s Global Media Counsel at Bloomberg News, the new edition of the International Libel & Privacy Handbook: A Global Reference for Journalists, Publishers, Webmasters, and Lawyers. Looks quite useful.
JOHN ROSENBERG: “It’s almost as much fun watching the law professors disagree over whether the Senate has the right to refuse to seat Roland Burris (it does; it doesn’t; etc.) as it is to watch Senate Democrats try to balance appearing to oppose corruption with not appearing to exclude a black appointee.”
UPDATE: No, they don’t pay me $330K/year, and — judging from this — not many other “senior law professors” are making that kind of salary either. In fact, I got called the other day by a school looking to fill a big-deal endowed chair and the compensation they were offering was nothing close to 330K.
JEFF TAYLOR THINKS THAT 2009 will be worse than 2008.
BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of news regarding the Apple empire. A new Mac Mini, an iPhone Nano, and more.
MORE CHARLES RANGEL SCANDAL? New York Times: Rangel Pushed for a Donation; Insurer Pushed for a Tax Cut. Now it’s an A.I.G. connection:
On April 21, 2008, Representative Charles B. Rangel met with officials of the American International Group, the now-troubled insurance giant, to ask for a donation to a school of public service that City College of New York was building in his honor. . . . Mr. Rangel’s exchange with A.I.G. last spring appears to be at odds with the public statements he has made since his fund-raising for the school became an issue. When his approach to A.I.G. was first reported in The Washington Post in July, Mr. Rangel said that he could not recall any issues his committee might have considered in which A.I.G. had an interest.
(Via Lawhawk, who observes: “Rep. Charles Rangel keeps finding himself in this situation.”).
UPDATE: A reader complains that Rangel’s party affiliation is omitted, but in fact, down in paragraph 6, there’s a reference to Rangel’s “fellow Democrats.” Whether party affiliation would be featured more prominently if Rangel were a Republican is a question I’ll leave to readers.
Meanwhile, here’s a big Rangel roundup.
JULIAN SANCHEZ on conservatism and technology.
EVOLUTION IN BLOGGING: THE BITCH GIRLS is now mostly a foodblog.
PERRY DEHAVILLAND: An appeal for disunity.
RUN THOSE PRINTING PRESSES: Democratic Governors Want $1 Trillion.
UPDATE: “Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: A hedge-fund reader emails:
I think of it as President Bush smashing the national piggy bank, and handing the contents to Obama and a harshly partisan Democrat congress.
It’s a nightmare scenario on the fiscal side, with the Wall Street debacle as context, rationale and scapegoat.
Why bother voting GOP if they’ll sell you out for nothing?
You’ll have to ask the G.O.P. for an answer on that one . . . .
PHYLLIS CHESLER: “Now, not only is Hamas launching an increasing number of rockets deeper into Israel but grassroots ‘attack’ groups, organized by mosques, Muslim student and civil rights groups and by their left-wing allies, are on the march.”
Games, clown show, whatever.
GOOGLE WANTS YOU TO be its (unpaid) muse.
11 QUESTIONS for Obama’s science team.
MACGYVER on MacGruber.
THE TOP TEN tax stories of 2008.
ROBERT WRIGHT AND MICKEY KAUS on Obama’s drift to the right.
He’ll probably push a restoration of that “assault-weapon” ban as a sop to the left.
A POLITICAL YEAR at the movies.
WILL FEMIA: Are suckers born, or made?
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE APOCALYPSE. But what about the zombies? (Should I be worried that so many of the items on the zombie list are showing as “out of stock?” Do you people know something I don’t? . . .)
UPDATE: SayUncle emails: “Well, there was an election recently and many dead were walking the earth to vote.” Good point!
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: Senate Goes Wobbly on Card-Check. “It’s hard to defend taking away the secret ballot.”
CLEAN DIESEL: Test-Driving the Touareg TDI.
A READER EMAILS: “I’ll bet Obama wishes he’d Hsut up!” President-elect’s name may emerge in Norman Hsu fraud trial.
At least once in Earth’s history, global warming ended quickly, and scientists have long wondered why. Now researchers are reporting that the abrupt cooling — which took place about 12,900 years ago, just as the planet was emerging from an ice age — may have been caused by one or more meteors that slammed into North America.
That could explain the extinction of mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and maybe even the first human inhabitants of the Americas, the scientists report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.
Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again any time soon.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Nizar Rayyan of Hamas on God’s Hatred of Jews.
LARRY TRIBE SAYS the Senate doesn’t have to seat Burris.
UPDATE: Jane Hamsher: “Harry Reid, Punk’d By Blago Over Burris, Rejects The Rule Of Law.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: “So at at time when there isn’t a single black person in the U.S. Senate, a black man arrives at the doorway and means to go forward to take what he believes is his rightful seat… Great imagery, Democrats!”
CRO-MAGNON VS. NEANDERTHAL: “Competition, not climate change, led to Neanderthal wipe-out.”
U.P.S. IS TESTING hydraulic-hybrid vehicles.
MEET THE NEW SCHOOL, same as the old school.
PETER BERKOWITZ: Conservatives Can Unite Around the Constitution. “The principles are familiar: individual freedom and individual responsibility, limited but energetic government, economic opportunity and strong national defense.”
OUCH: Greedy Executives Double Salaries, Cut Customer Service, May Ask for a Bailout. “No, it’s not the latest Wall Street failure. It’s D.C.’s Metro public transportation system. The D.C. Examiner reports that the system is anticipating major reductions in service, a hiring freeze, and possibly layoffs. Yet salaries at all levels of Metro have increased at several times the rate of inflation.” Well, they have to increase that way. Otherwise, how would they buy votes?