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April 30, 2005

YOU CAN SEE VIDEO of President Bush's appearance at the White House Correspondents' dinner here and here.

"ISLAM HAS NOT CONQUERED ARAB CULTURE -- ARAB CULTURE HAS CONQUERED ISLAM:" I'm watching Irshad Manji on Tucker Carlson's PBS show, plugging her book on the trouble with Islam. She's quite impressive, and it will be interesting -- and, I have to say, an exacting test of the "moderate muslims" we've heard more about than from, since 9/11 -- to see how she's received.

UPDATE: Here's a link to her website.

LATIN AMERICA: The Community of Democracies vs. the "Axis of Subversion."

PATTERICO: "Los Angeles Times editors have edited a Reuters story to remove critical facts supporting the U.S. position on an important international issue."

BLOGS AND IMPACT: An interesting report in The New York Times:

A blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons laboratory, is threatening to end the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos.

Four months of jeers, denunciations and defenses of Dr. Nanos's management recently culminated in dozens of signed and anonymous messages concluding that his days were numbered. The postings to a public Web log conveyed a mood of self-congratulation tempered with sober discussion of what comes next.

Interesting. And, no doubt, worrisome to all sorts of people.

GIULIANA SGRENA UPDATE: Ed Morrissey reports:

CBS News reports that the American and Italian investigators looking into the death of Italian commando Nicola Calipari and wounding of hostage/journalist Giuliana Sgrena have evidence that Sgrena lied about the incident from the beginning. Sgrena has long insisted that the Italian driver slowed down to under 30 MPH before approaching the checkpoint, whereupon American soldiers opened fire without warning. However, CBS now claims that data from military satellites clearly showed the car traveling towards the checkpoint at over 60 MPH without slowing down at all, triggering the defensive response from the American soldiers.

Can't say I'm surprised.

IMMIGRATION IS A BIG ISSUE, AND IT'S GETTING BIGGER: Arnold Schwarzenegger has weighed in on illegal immigration, and he doesn't seem to be backing down:

On Thursday, Schwarzenegger said on a Los Angeles radio show that the Minuteman Project, which has been patrolling the Mexican border in Arizona in an attempt to prevent illegal crossings, has been doing "a terrific job," and he credited the volunteers for reducing the flow of entries, though he provided no data.

Schwarzenegger, who immigrated to the United States from Austria more than 25 years ago, softened his comments only slightly Friday. He said he is a strong proponent of immigration, "but you've got to do it in a legal way." He said he favors proposals for a guest worker program that would allow some Mexicans to work in the United States and an opportunity, over time, to apply for citizenship.

Neighborhood watch

But the governor again expressed support for the Minutemen, who have been denounced by some, including President Bush, as vigilantes trying to take the law into their own hands. Schwarzenegger compared them to neighborhood patrol groups, in which citizens work with police to prevent crimes.

As I mentioned before, I have several legal immigrants in my family, and they're pretty resentful of illegals who ignore all the rules. I suspect that Arnold feels a bit that way himself, and I think he's in a position to draw the distinction between legal and illegal immigration more clearly than many other politicians.

ELECTRIC HORSEMEN: Tom Maguire has further thoughts on Henninger's comments about blogs and Mongols.

ROGER SIMON REPORTS on the progress of Pajamas Media.

REMEMBERING THE FALL OF SAIGON: And remember, too, that there are some people here who would like to see the same thing happen in Iraq.

STRATEGYPAGE NOTES THE MARCH OF DIPLOMACY:

Iraq's neighbors are increasingly supporting the interim government and opposing the Sunni Arab and al Qaeda terrorists. Most of them are more or less are opposed to radical Islamist movements, so that is one thread linking them together. But there are also other issues affecting the stance taken by the various countries surrounding Iraq. Turkey seems in favor of a strong centralized Iraqi government so that the Iraqis can keep the Kurds under control. The Gulf Arabs want to see a strong Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran, though the Kuwaitis are somewhat concerned that a revived Iraqi military might threaten them. Jordan sees the potential need for a strong ally in the event of problems with Syria, while Syria seems inclined to support the new Iraqi regime if only as a way to improve ties with the U.S. Two countries are less committed to the new Iraqi government. Saudi Arabia is tentative about supporting Iraq, since it has to balance its brand of conservative Islam with the certainty that a successful democratic -- or at least representative -- government in Iraq will probably be strongly secular. The Iranians don't want Iraq to fall under the control of either the Sunni Arab dominated Baath Party, or the Sunni Islamists (represented now by al Qaeda), both their blood enemies, but have reservations about a secular, democratic Iraq and about American influence in the region. The Iranian situation is complicated by the fact that their country is a clandestine conduit for the movement of Islamist personnel and money among Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

I think this counts as progress.

April 29, 2005

MATT DRUDGE: "I don't appreciate being called a blog." Video here.

I don't appreciate being called a drudge. But, then, both of us should admit that there's a certain amount of truth to those comments . . . .

"SCHOOL MISTAKES HUGE BURRITO FOR WEAPON:" I've encountered some that were pretty close to deadly.

TURNING THE TABLES ON THE GUARDIAN by sending emails to British voters? Let's hope it works out better than it did for The Guardian . . . .

SOME READERS ARE OBJECTING to Daniel Henninger's characterization of bloggers as a virtual Mongol horde, but I think it's a compliment, and dead-accurate.

Mongols drove all their enemies before them, feared nothing but lightning, and were so much faster than their opponents that they could ride around the outside of a besieged fortress faster than the defenders could redeploy on the inside. Sound familiar?

UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails that some of us have reason to fear the lightning. . . . But we don't let it stop us.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF CORDITE IS UP, featuring, er, loads of gun-related posts.

IF YOU'RE A BLOGGER, and you haven't read this post by Roger Simon on Pajamas Media, then you probably should.

PUT DOWN THAT DOUGHNUT: Guestblogging over at GlennReynolds.com, Tom Maguire looks at fat and longevity.

WITH WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY COMING UP, Austin Bay surveys press freedom in the former Soviet Union, and is less than fully impressed.

BLOGGING FROM THE SPACE ACCESS CONFERENCE, Rand Simberg reports some very interesting news:

What's different now? We have supportive national policy, including the words "public space travel" in the Space Transportation Policy for the first time in history, with responsibility falling on Secs of Commerce and Transportation to carry that out. We have realistic objectives this time: no technology breakthroughs required, suborbital trajectories with primary emphasis on passengers, using available technologies. We also are seeing non-federal funding become available from numerous wealthy individuals, as well as good support by state and local governments. Prizes are helping as well. The regulatory framework is in place with the Commercial Spacelaunch Amendments Act, which puts Congress and administration on the record as supporting human spaceflight.

FAA has a very ambitious homework assignment to write the regulations for passengers, experimental permits, and license requirements, which will result in a Notification of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in a year or two.

They're hoping for input from the public, too.

MICHAEL TOTTEN IS DECLARING VICTORY FOR THE CEDAR REVOLUTION: That's absolutely terrific news. But remember: Democratization is a process, not an event.

AND WITH PLENTY OF TIME BEFORE DINNER: This week's Carnival of the Recipes is up.

JAMES PINKERTON writes that videogames may be killing the media stars:

Applying Marxist terminology (all those years in lefty schools in the '70s ought to be put to some good use!) to this situation, we might say that while the economic substrate for videogames is larger than that of movies, videogames' cultural superstructure is still dwarfed by the flicks' superstructure. And yet if we are going to be good materialists, we must believe that situation determines consciousness. Or, to put it another way, the media phylum with the greater mode of production will ultimately produce the greater superstructure. Therefore, according to the dialectical laws of history, this anomalous situation will be reconciled, as videogames empower many a flower of the new super-culture.

In the meantime, another interesting question is this: Why has Hollywood proven to be so far behind the cutting edge of entertainment?

I think that the structure of videogames is inherently more positive than movies. In movies the actors are on the screen. In a videogame, the true actor -- the one who acts -- is the "consumer," who is also the producer of the entertainment in a very real way. This is something I've written about before, and I think it's significant. Movies encourage passive titillation; videogames encourage active involvement, and often present consequences as well.

And maybe that's Hollywood's problem. A culture built around passive titillation isn't likely to view its audience in ways that facilitate active engagement.

WANT BASKETBALL BLOGGING? Then you've come to the wrong blog! But the Carnival of the NBA has loads of posts by people who care about basketball in a way that I, sadly, just don't.

MICHAEL SILENCE points to this Gallup poll on what Americans would ask President Bush if they had 15 minutes, and observes:

Scroll way down the page and you'll find moral issues just got a response of 6 percent, and just 1 percent mentioned the courts and judicial system.

The war in Iraq, the economy and Social Security topped the list.

I'm not surprised by that, but some people will be.

ERNEST MILLER DOES SOME INTERVIEWING OF HIS OWN, and explodes a bogus L.A. Times claim about Trekkies and pedophilia.

One suspects that the LAT's editors would have been more careful had the claim been made regarding other distinct and insular minorities.

April 28, 2005

JAMES LILEKS IS WRITING ABOUT BRATZ:

The Bratz are now Baby Mommaz. Yes, the hooker-in-training dolls have children. Bratz are the main reason I do not keep a supply of bricks around the house, because everytime the commercials come on I wish to pitch something kiln-fired through the screen so hard it beans the toy exec who greenlighted these hootchie toys. The Baby Bratz are as bad as you can imagine: “Bottles with Bling.”

The Insta-Daughter has emerged from her Bratz phase (some Bratz-blogging from back in the day here and here: "And if you don't know about the Bratz, well, it just means that you're in the wrong demographic. Relax, you're not missing much.")

The good news is that after Bratz you get The Sims, which teaches a variety of constructive life lessons that Bratz don't offer.

ANN ALTHOUSE NOTES A SLUMP IN INTEREST for both liberal and conservative talk radio,and puts it down to the boringness of today's debates:

I'd say people get tired of talking about politics all the time. And -- the article doesn't mention this -- the debate about Social Security was mind-numbing! Also, even though I'm especially interested in the topic, the subject of judges, religion, and the filibuster is really tiresome. What are the good topics?

How about the history of the filibuster! I think this has its parallels in the blogosphere, too. Some people wish I were blogging more about politics, but I find Social Security and filibusters boring as well. Sorry. More words of wisdom: "If you satisfy some listeners, you lose others. You can't please everyone, and putting together an interesting mix is an art."

And the blogosphere is a place with millions of channels.

THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY is hosting a discussion regarding the constitutionality of the new abortion bill.

CATHY SEIPP HAS THOUGHTS ON HOLLYWOOD and history.

IT'S THE FIRST CARNIVAL OF COMEDY, hosted over at Imao.

BOTH TIGERHAWK and Ankle-Biting Pundits are live-blogging the Bush press conference.

UPDATE: TigerHawk link was busted before; fixed now. Sorry.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The mainstream media, of course, ignored the special blogger press conference segment. But here's a transcript.

JOHN WALT says that the pro-filibuster protest that I photoblogged yesterday was part of a MoveOn campaign. I can't say I'm surprised.

MY BROTHER EMAILED that this link makes him very happy. I can see why. Congratulations, bro!

IS CANADA THE NEXT FAILED STATE? Austin Bay ponders.

OOPS:

Sen. Ken Salazar said Wednesday he regrets referring to Focus on the Family and its founder James Dobson as "the Antichrist" - a term among the worst slurs in Christianity.

Salazar issued a statement Wednesday evening, backing down from a remark he made Tuesday night during an audio interview aired on KKTV of Colorado Springs.

If the Republicans are overplaying the religion card, well, so are the Democrats, in a different way. A plague on both of their houses, I say. But only one of the minor ones, like the frogs.

UPDATE: No, not these frogs. Which are toads, anyway.

I'M KIND OF BUSY this afternoon, which means that blogging may be light. But if you're interested in the future, check out the Carnival of Tomorrow, a collection of futuristic posts. And you can tour the Indian blogosphere at this week's Blog Mela. India and the future seem to go together anyway, these days.

"CORSET-PIERCING:" Not an urban legend (heck, I knew that, and I don't stay in close touch with the fetish community these days), but not terribly appealing, either. But there's this added attraction: "They usually can’t heal properly because they are a surface piercing in an area prone to rejection and they use a type of jewelry that isn’t really suitable for permanent use in the area."

Whatever turns you on, I always say.

IN THE MAIL: Richard Zacks' The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805. Looks like an interesting account of one of the more exciting episodes of early American military history.

LEBANON UPDATE: Michael Young is reporting from Beirut:

BEIRUT -- It was enlightening, though not surprising, that in the days leading up to the Syrian Army's pullout from Lebanon, which was completed on Tuesday, a peculiar activity took place. Syrian soldiers removed statues and other effigies of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad and his son Bassel, who was killed in a car crash, fearing the Lebanese would vandalize them and show what a sham the long-vaunted "brotherly relations" between Lebanon and Syria really were.

The Syrian withdrawal, which was imposed by a combination of international pressure and domestic Lebanese protests, ends a 29-year-old military presence. During that time, particularly after the war ended in 1990, Syria ran Lebanon like a protectorate, and was the final decision-maker on everything of consequence in the country, including who would be president, prime minister and Parliament speaker, who would be appointed where in the public administration, even who could be invited to political talk shows -- and much else both high and low.

At the same time, Syria extorted vast sums of money from the Lebanese economy, usually in collaboration with local politicians. According to a report written by a Lebanese businessman for a presentation before the French Senate in 2003, Syria may have extracted through illicit activities alone as much as $41 million from Lebanon between 1991 and 2001. While the figures cannot be confirmed, they square with many other estimates circulating in recent years.

Read the whole thing. And don't miss the Spirit of America Lebanonblog, where Michael Totten is continuously updating from the scene.

TIM RUSSO HAS THOUGHTS on the FEC and blogging.

ARE THE DEMOCRATS TRYING to come across as wimps? First there's the bogus brouhaha about Bolton being "abrasive" (another Moynihan? Horrors!). Now Mickey Kaus notes that Education Secretary Margaret Spelling is a regular thug:

It seems she once called somebody "unAmerican" and contacted Utah's governor instead of its education superintendent! She even threatened to cut off federal funding if Utah flouted the law's requirements for getting federal funding! If that's Dillon's idea of "bare-knuckle politics" he must have grown up in an ashram.

Call me crazy, but "the party of Tom-Daschle soft-talkers" seems like a bad branding move to me.

OUR "FRIENDS," THE SAUDIS: Not so much, really. As Dan Darling notes: "I mean, how else should we take their chief justice calling for jihad against US forces in Iraq as well donating cash towards said endeavors? And from the comfort of a government mosque, no less."

I continue to regard the Bush Administration as insufficiently serious where the Saudis are concerned, though I'd love to turn out to be wrong about that.

I'VE MENTIONED KNOX COUNTY SCHOOLS' rather draconian attendance policy, and how that conflicts with the school system's own unseriousness at times, but yesterday took the cake. My daughter had a wonderful time -- on a day-long "field trip" to see the local minor-league baseball team play. Enjoyable, yes? Educational? Not so much.

IT'S NOT LIKE THERE'S A WAR ON, or anything.

RAW-FILE ENCRYPTION: A tempest in a teapot?

April 27, 2005

CANADA UPDATE: Damian Penny says that Paul Martin is desperate.

PROTESTS IN EGYPT have passed a crucial milestone: They're now producing photos of protest babes. This should have Hosni Mubarak worried.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's a report of a protest by Syrian dissidents, in Damascus.

I THINK THAT ANDREW SULLIVAN IS GUILTY OF OVERREADING my earlier comments on the religious right. Unlike Sullivan, I don't think we're in the grip of a theocracy -- unless "theocracy" is defined as "a population that doesn't support gay marriage," in which case the point is true, but trivial.

I do think that the Republican Party is making the very mistake that I warned against immediately after the election, in Reason:

“Great election, kid. Don’t get cocky.” That could be Han Solo’s advice to President Bush. But it’s not the advice he’s getting from either the left or the right. Eager to explain away Kerry’s defeat in a way that lets them feel morally superior, many on the left are saying that it was all about “moral values,” particularly gay rights and abortion. Eager to expand their power in the second term, advocates for the Christian Right have been swift to agree.


Listening to them would be a big mistake for Bush. There’s no question that incidents like the Janet Jackson breast episode have angered a lot of Americans who feel that the entertainment industry doesn’t respect their values. And gay marriage polls badly even in the bluest of blue states. But there’s little reason to believe Americans eagerly cast their votes in November in the hope that busybodies would finally start telling them what to do.


In their book The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge explain how the Republican coalition could go wrong: “Too Southern, too greedy, and too contradictory.” Taking the advice of advocacy groups left and right is likely to send the Bush administration in that direction. Is Karl Rove smart enough to realize that?

The answer would seem to be "no." I do think, though, that Andrew's constant complaints about theocracy aren't helping and indeed make even his valid points less persuasive. Andrew did a wonderful job of convincing undecideds -- and even some decided-againsts -- to think positively of gay rights and gay marriage, but lately his tone has been such that I doubt it's winning many converts. I support gay marriage, though no doubt with less intensity than Andrew, but it's clearly a minority position in the country, and last year's courtroom "victories" seem to have done more harm than good. You go from being a minority position, to a majority position, by convincing people that you're right. It's not clear to me that playing the theocracy card will do that. Because either the American people agree with the "theocrats'" program, in which case there's not much difference between theocracy and democracy, and you'd really better start changing some minds, or they don't agree with it, in which case they'll discipline the Republicans at the next election -- assuming that the opposition doesn't discredit itself to an even greater degree first. Trust me -- you don't want to sound like Al Gore.

UPDATE: Related thoughts, here, from Daniel Drezner, and here, from Chris Lawrence.

[LATER: Sorry -- Chris Lawrence link was wrong before. Fixed now.]

THE IRS FLUNKS AN AUDIT:

The Internal Revenue Service's employee tuition assistance program has spent more than 60 percent of its funds -- or $4.4 million in two years -- on administrative costs, employing the equivalent of 30 full-time workers while turning away hundreds of employees for lack of funds, an inspector general audit has found.

(Via TaxProf, which also has a link to the audit itself).

It was a nice day for a protest!

HERE'S SOMETHING I HAVEN'T SEEN BEFORE: A pro-filibuster protest at my local mall this afternoon. Signs read: "U.S. Senate -- Nuclear Free Zone," and something I couldn't make out regarding "right-minded judges."

ANNE HAIGHT IS WENDY'S-BLOGGING -- and giving fear-mongers the finger.

FOR PROFESSORS, HAVING A BLOG means that no research idea is ever wasted! And here's more on academic blogging, in the Baltimore Sun.

MORE ON THE NEW YORK TIMES' REVISIONISM, at The Mudville Gazette.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails:

The Times was pummeled in Nov 2003 for this revisionism - Andrew Sullivan
(the old Andrew) had two timely posts.

Link

Link

EJ Dionne, *not* a Righty, criticized Bush after the 2003 SOTU for offering
*three* rationales for war, and asked him to pick one.

Link

Finally, here is the speech Feb 26, 2003 speech to which the NY Times
referred.

Link

Really, the Times -- and those others who are trying to rewrite history here -- ought to be ashamed. No one denies, of course, that Bush talked about WMD, but what's inexcusable is the way the critics are now trying to deny that he talked about anything else.

Roger Simon adds this observation:

T]he Times' own executive editor wrote a long, positive profile in their magazine (before the war) of Paul Wolfowitz, in which the Deputy Defense Secretary speaks ad infinitum about the democracy argument. What I think is really going on here is liberal embarrassment. They have been caught on the wrong side of history. Worse, the anti-idealistic side.

Good point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom didn't say he posted on this, but he did. Read the whole thing, which goes beyond the comments above, but this point is worth quoting:

Years later, the Times may be imagining that, since disarmament was the only reason that liberals wanted to hear, it must have been the only reason Bush offered.

Well, they knew better at one time, and perhaps they will again.

Especially if we keep reminding them!

A MEDIA TIPPING POINT? My TechCentralStation column is up.

RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up.

A DESPERATE BID FOR ATTENTION at Air America.

UPDATE: Here's some valuable historical perspective.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF EDUCATION is up, featuring education-bloggers from all over.

MORE VIOLENCE IN TOGO.

NOW THIS IS JUST OUT-AND-OUT DISHONESTY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES:

The only plausible reason for keeping American troops in Iraq is to protect the democratic transformation that President Bush seized upon as a rationale for the invasion after his claims about weapons of mass destruction turned out to be fictitious. If that transformation is now allowed to run off the rails, the new rationale could prove to be as hollow as the original one.

I've already provided a link-rich refutation of this revisionist history, and this claim that democratic transformation was some sort of new rationalization is, not to put too fine a point on it, an out-and-out lie, readily fact-checkable and in fact already fact-checked, that the Times should be ashamed of.

What's more, the Times editorial board should be very careful not to confuse "wrong" with "fictitious," given its miserable performance on the war.

UPDATE: Reader Greg Wallace notes that The New York Times editorial board apparently doesn't even read its own earlier work. Like, say, this from February 27, 2003:

President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a ''free and peaceful Iraq''...

Sorry, but this is just a pathetic performance by the Times, and warrants a correction. And an apology.

ANOTHER UPDATE: James Bennett (not the Anglosphere one) has further thoughts.

MICKEY KAUS refers to "the semi-mysterious slump of President Bush in the polls."

I don't think it's much of a mystery, and I agree with Bush pollster Matthew Dowd that it has something to do with Terri Schiavo. ("The country's generally unhappy, and maybe they think the Terri Schiavo case is taking away from things that Congress or Washington ought to be working on.") Only it's broader than that.

The Democrats' weakness is that people worry that they're the party of Jane Fonda. They tried -- but failed miserably -- to convince people otherwise in the last election.

The Republicans' weakness is that people worry that they're the party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. They tried, successfully, to convince people otherwise in the last election, but they're now acting in ways that are giving those fears new life. Add to this the fact that the war is going well, weakening the national security glue that holds Bush's coalition together, and a drop is natural: People who reluctantly backed Bush because Kerry was just unacceptable on national security are now seeing their worries about domestic issues as more credible.

Perhaps the Republicans think this will all be forgotten by 2006, or at least by 2008. And perhaps they're counting on the Democrats to remain so feckless on national security that it won't matter. Perhaps they'll be right, but they're certainly suffering short-term declines in the polls that hurt the President's ability to act right now. I think that if he had a 60% approval rating, or even a 53% approval rating, he'd be making more progress on Social Security reform and on his various nominations. Was it worth this damage to solidify the social-conservative base? They seem to think so, but I'm not so sure.

UPDATE: Caught a few minutes of Limbaugh as I was running errands this afternoon. He seemed to be playing defense on this issue ferociously enough to convince me that there's something to it.

Rand Simberg and Rob Huddleston, on the other hand, think this is much ado about nothing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Will Franklin says it's all about consumer sentiment

CAPTAIN ED says that the Duelfer Report's language on WMD and Syria is being misrepresented.

THE SUPREME COURT'S ENTHUSIASM FOR FOREIGN LAW seems to have its limits:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday curbed the reach of a federal law that prohibits convicted felons from possessing guns, ruling 5 to 3 that the law does not apply to those who were convicted by courts in foreign countries.

The majority arrived at that conclusion by interpreting the statute's reference to a conviction in "any court" to mean "any court in the United States." Justice Stephen G. Breyer's majority opinion said that in the absence of any indication that Congress even considered the issue when it enacted the law in 1968, the court should apply a legal presumption that "Congress ordinarily intends its statutes to have domestic, not extraterritorial, application."

Justice Breyer said the gun law would create anomalies if applied to foreign convictions, because foreign legal systems have made different choices of what conduct to regard as criminal. Citing the Russian criminal code as an example, he said that someone might be regarded as a felon "for engaging in economic conduct that our society might encourage." A foreign conviction does not necessarily indicate that a person is dangerous, Justice Breyer said.

That's true, and I'm delighted to see such a forthright acknowledgment that American values differ sharply from those of other countires.

On the other hand, quite a few domestic felony statutes have nothing to do with dangerousness, and I wonder if the promiscuous designation of crimes having no significant moral or dangerousness component as "felonies" might itself be a due process violation.

April 26, 2005

JEFF JARVIS is asking for car stereo advice.

PUBLIUS NOTES more protests in Belarus, where the opposition is not letting itself be cowed.

PHIL CARTER: "Nine months after the 9/11 Commission issued its report, America sees little follow-through on many of the Commission's critical recommendations."

He also says there's been a failure of responsibility over Abu Ghraib, though I suppose that's not entirely surprising given the way it has been politicized.

UPDATE: More homeland security problems here.

MICKEY KAUS notices that Fox News' viewership lead over CNN is shrinking. But he misses the obvious explanation, which is that CNN has been actively courting bloggers for months. What else could it be?

SHOULDN'T FAKE RACIST HATE-MAIL be punished as severely as the real thing? It's just as damaging.

NORM GERAS ASKS: "What is it that has led to this intellectual and political debacle of so much of the left of (roughly) my own generation? The pathology of anti-Americanism? The failure to call certain political phenomena by their proper names? A loss of nerve and/or moral perspective in face of a capitalism seemingly everywhere triumphant? Perhaps (three times). But a debacle is what it is - the loss to progressive opinion of half a generation or more of those who might otherwise have been expected to pass on a mature wisdom to younger others. Instead, this shameful legacy."

And here's another example.

ANOTHER BLOW TO FRENCH SELF-ESTEEM:

PARIS -- The United States' bread-baking skills were crowned superior to those of France and the rest of the world the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, the World Cup of Baking, held in Paris, France.

The 2005 U.S. Bread Bakers Guild team was coached by Didier Rosada and included Jeffrey Yankellow, both of the San Francisco Baking Institute. They beat 11 other countries' teams to win the competition, the Bread Bakers Guild of America reported today.

And even the metric system is growing less Francocentric.

AND THE 2008 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE IS . . . well, we'll see if he's predicted by this poll.

TED FRANK REPORTS THAT HE IS TAKING THE BOEING -- "though I'm not sure that metaphor works for a lawyer taking a paycut."

CATHY SEIPP turns over the Mom card.

GEORGE W. BUSH -- CLOSET DEMOCRAT? The rich are paying a greater share of taxes, and the poor a lesser share, than in 1979.

UPDATE: Brendan Nyhan leaps to Bush's defense by arguing that taxes haven't really gotten more progressive, and that the rich really are getting richer. Whew! That's a relief.

On the other hand, judging by this photo, maybe "closet Democrat" wasn't quite the right closet.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

ANOTHER UPDATE: This Matt Welch slamming of the Bush photo-op seems about right to me.

IT'S NOT TOO LATE to sign up for BlogNashville, happening May 5 & 6 in, er, Nashville. It promises to be the biggest blog conference yet, and I think it'll be worth the trip. I certainly plan to be there.

MORE support for Hugh Hewitt's theory that immigration is the Achilles' heel of the GOP coalition.

AUSTIN BAY:

US and US-ally naval officers have told me the big fear in southeast Asia is terrorists hijacking an oil tanker. The terrorists blow up the tanker and create an ecological disaster. Of course this attack could be executed anywhere. Straits (choke points) channel sea traffic. Pirates in small, fast boats can launch a quick attack from the coast. A terror attack will always generate huge headlines, but the headlines will be bigger if international shipping is stalled because a key strait is closed.

He has much more on maritime threats.

THEY'RE ALWAYS DISSING HOME DEPOT over at The Corner, but I usually shop at Lowe's. I had to go to Home Depot today, and it reminded me why I usually shop at Lowe's. It took over an hour to execute what should have been a ten or fifteen minute purchase. There were lots of employees, but they were all talking on the phone, often crouched behind desks for maximum inconspicuousness. Once I found someone who would help, she was pleasant but clueless. Overall, not an impressive performance.

UPDATE: Praise for non-big-box hardware stores here.

TOM MAGUIRE looks at some missing stories, and at the Democrats' Contract With America.

JOE GANDELMAN has a Syria/Lebanon roundup.

JAMES LILEKS:

I’m curious: how many people do you have to kill, and how many books do you have to destroy, before you’re no longer a benign historical image to be used in a “clever” ad campaign? . . . Next up: Stalin shills for the church! Hey, he was a seminarian, once. See, it’s funny and clever when they didn’t kill anyone you know.

I guess.

GADGET UPDATE: I mentioned that I like this heart monitor for exercise, but my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, who's visiting, says that he has this far-more-sophisticated gadget and that it works: "You'll do the run just to see the graph." Well, maybe. He's more serious about fitness -- and gadgets -- than I am, since he runs marathons and works in high tech.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Hoover emails with a reference to this frightening device: the Garmin Forerunner 301 GPS with Heart Rate Monitor.

Forget that FitSense rig. It's great, but for the ultimate, you want the Garmin ForeRunner 301. Talk about incentive to run! You're not only looking at a graph of your workout, you're looking at a map. In fact, you can overlay the map created during your workout onto free downloadable high-res satellite photos (from the Terra server) and literally trace your route.

I use mine for endurance inline skating. To a technically oriented person, having such a richness of performance statistics available allows performance tuning of the body in ways never possible before.

These things have a real cult following. Here's a great resource page:

http://www.gpsrunner.net/

Follow the Garmin link to see a graphic that would have looked science-fictional not long ago. Yes, there are lots of people who are both fitter and geekier than me.

CATHY YOUNG dismissed conservative claims of religious bigotry yesterday, producing this response from Stephen Bainbridge, which produced this reply from Young. I agree with Eugene Volokh that Young gets the better of the exchange.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse:

The origin of a nominee's views -- in religion or outside of religion -- should not matter. Both Democrats and Republicans have exploited religion to manipulate people in the current squabbles over the judiciary. Some Democrats assert that nominees are religious zealots who will drag us into theocracy. And Republicans will try to immunize nominees because their unacceptable views have a religious source. Both parties need to avoid stirring antipathies about religion and irreligion for political gain.

And neither is capable of such self-restraint, which is why they're barely capable of governing.

JOHN TIERNEY does a pension comparison, and loses.

A CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY in Florida:

The law will let Floridians "meet force with force," erasing the "duty to retreat" when they fear for their lives outside of their homes, in their cars or businesses, or on the street.

Many states, of course, already have such laws and have for years, which rather undercuts the alarmist complaints of the critics. But it's nice to see this modern trend advance.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer has related posts here and here.

SYRIA HAS PULLED OUT OF LEBANON ahead of schedule:

Hundreds of Syrian troops left the country over the weekend after burning documents, demolishing walls and filling bunkers. Yesterday, Syrian intelligence abandoned Anjar, the headquarters of Rustum Ghazaleh, the intelligence chief who was once the most feared man in Lebanon. He was reported to have left for Damascus last night but was due to return for today's ceremony.

Meanwhile, Michael Totten is explaining why Lebanon matters.

WANT HEALTHCARE BLOGGING? Then visit this week's Grand Rounds, where among other things we learn that hoofbeats sometimes come from zebras.

April 25, 2005

GENERATIONAL CHANGE? Hmm. Could be.

MY EARLIER FITNESS POST produced a fair amount of email, including requests for workout tips.

I don't have anything especially great -- like a lot of what I do, my fitness could fairly be described as "not bad -- for a law professor" -- except that, as with everything else, only maybe moreso, eighty percent of it is just showing up. It's much more important that you work out regularly than that you pick any particular workout.

I've been doing a lot of balance-and-stability type work lately (one-legged squats, squats on a half-ball, etc.) which works all the little stabilizer muscles and which has done wonders for my computer-related aches and pains. I also find that doing any exercise regularly for too long tends to produce diminishing returns and increasing aches and pains, so I'm big on variety.

But I'm no Tom Bell when it comes to exercise. But then, neither is this guy!

Old posts on this subject here and here. Meanwhile, Tom Maguire reflects on svelteness.

UPDATE: I should say that I do have one of these, and find it very useful in ensuring that I don't get slack on the aerobic exercise.

UPDATE: A reader writes: "What manner of fool writes to a law professor for tips on fitness? With all of the other resources on the web, they write you for advice on how to blast their abs?"

Yeah, go figure. If they were smart, they'd write Tom Bell!

MORE ON PUTIN'S SPEECH: Publius says he was pandering to pensioners.

JOHN TEMPLE, the editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, has started a blog, and he's not afraid to expose his paper's internal debates.

That's excellent, and I hope we'll see more of this kind of thing.

WAR LESSONS LEARNED:

A study of the first year of the Iraq war revealed some typical Pentagon failures. The main problem was the lack of war reserve stocks. These are supplies (especially ammo and spare parts) that are stockpiled in peacetime so that, when a war comes, the troops would have adequate supplies for the first few months of the conflict. Or at least until new supplies could be ordered and delivered. After the Cold War ended in 1991, the war rather large reserve stocks were allowed to run down, or were sold off. The Cold War stocks were large, and expensive to maintain. It made sense to reduce them. But not much was purchased to create “post-Cold War” war reserve stocks. To compound the problem, the Pentagon had not developed an effective inventory control system for wartime operations. The military war reserve stocks were managed like there would never be a war.

As the piece notes, this has always been the historical pattern, but we need to do better in the future.

WINDS OF CHANGE has its regular Monday war news roundup posted.

MICKEY KAUS:

Why don't the LAT and NYT (and Time, and Newsweek, and The New Republic, etc.**) accurately disclose to their readers the date they were actually finalized (e.g. the date they were printed)? They could easily do it. The reason they don't is because readers prefer to read the latest information, and the publications want their customers to think they are getting information that's more up-to-date than it actually is. In other words, it's not just an unavoidable problem, or trivial lack of disclosure. It's conscious deception for commercial gain!

They'd certainly be hard on another industry that did that sort of thing.

INAPPROPRIATELY DRESSED: A somewhat frightening photoblog, and it's asking for your submissions.

Maybe I should take a camera to Dollywood this summer . . . .

CARNIVAL OF THE CANADIANS: This week's Red Ensign Standard is up!

STINGINESS UPDATE: Over a billion dollars in private tsunami relief from Americans. And thanks to Chuck Simmins for keeping track.

EUGENE VOLOKH looks at the military's policy on sodomy and observes that reports of a sensible policy change have been greatly exaggerated.

I HAVEN'T SEEN ONE, but my neighborhood email list is reporting coyote sightings. This is part of a more general phenomenon of wildlife and predators becoming comfortable in suburbia.

If a coyote eats one of my cats, I intend to make a coyote rug.

AM I BEING COY? If so, that would explain a lot!

JAMES LILEKS:

I have no idea if Best Buy knows, or cares, but every annoying check-out interchange reminds me anew: buy online. If I hadn’t needed the DVD player that night to review some family movies I’d just cut (want to get them done now, since I’m wiping the drive to install Tiger nice and fresh next Friday) I would have ordered online. Not because I think my privacy is held in greater honor – they have my address, too – but because it’s just less of a pain in the arse. As it stands, you end your Best Buy transaction by saying NO, NO, and NO. They might consider ways to let people leave with the word “yes” fresh on their lips.

I agree, which is why I seldom go there.

MICHAEL BARONE LOOKS AT religion and politics in America:

But whether the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy is actually a silly question. No religion is going to impose laws on an unwilling Congress or the people of this country. And we have long lived comfortably with a few trappings of religion in the public space, such as "In God We Trust" or "God save this honorable court."

The real question is whether strong religious belief is on the rise in America and the world. Fifty years ago, secular liberals were confident that education, urbanization and science would lead people to renounce religion. That seems to have happened, if you confine your gaze to Europe, Canada and American university faculty clubs. . . .

America has not moved in the expected direction. In fact, just the opposite. Economist Robert Fogel's "The Fourth Great Awakening" argues that we've been in the midst of a religious revival since the 1950s, in which, as in previous revivals, "the evangelical churches represented the leading edge of an ideological and political response to accumulated technological and social changes that undermined the received culture."

My thoughts on the subject can be found here.

UPDATE: Jon Henke thinks we're far from theocracy:

I'm simply not persuaded by the argument that there is a burgeoning "Theocracy" in the United States. You can tell the Social Conservatives are losing by the very battles they are fighting. Almost without exception, they are doing rear-guard duty. I mean, we've got partial nudity on prime-time television, and gay marriage on the radar.

That's one hell of a long way from the 1940s-50s, where even married TV characters had separate beds, and the question was not whether homosexuals deserved marriage, but whether they deserved a lobotomy. We may feel strongly about arguments like the 10 Commandments statue, Intelligent Design in schools, and Janet Jackson's nipple, but the fact that we're arguing about these should indicate just how secular our government has become. 50 years ago, we were putting God into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Indeed.

I DON'T AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT:

MOSCOW - The collapse of the Soviet Union was "the greatest political catastrophe of the last century," Russian president Vladimir Putin said Monday as he delivered his annual state of the nation address.

But he's sounding as if he's working on an excuse to try to reverse it:

The former KGB agent said the 1991 breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a "true drama" that left tens of millions of Russian people living outside Russia, in breakaway republics formerly under Soviet control.

Keep an eye on this guy. He's going to be trouble, even if he is talking about democracy.

UPDATE: More on Putin's speech, here.

ARMS, ARMOR, AND THE MARINES: Jason Van Steenwyk has some thoughts in response to the New York Times' coverage.

UPDATE: More criticism here.

LEVI'S is now doing videoblogads. Cool.

Meanwhile, Henry Copeland thinks that Business Week has missed the story on blogs.

DAVID BROOKS:

The release of a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that overweight people actually live longer than normal-weight people represents an important moment in the history of world civilization. It is the moment when we realize that Mother Nature - unlike Ivy League admissions committees - doesn't like suck-ups.

It turns out she doesn't like those body-worshiping, multi-abbed marvels who've spent so much time at the bench press machine they look as if they have thighs growing out of either side of their necks. She doesn't like those health-conscious rice cake addicts you see at Manhattan restaurants ordering a skinned olive for lunch and sitting there looking trim and fit in their tapered blouses while their buns of steel leave permanent dents in the upholstery.

Though to be fair, the bench-press dudes, even at 5% bodyfat, come in as "overweight" on the lame body-mass indices usually used for such studies.

UPDATE: For those interested in this subject, I highly recommend this book by Ahnuld. If you read it carefully, you'll know more than most trainers at most gyms. And this one, though more basic, is still quite good -- and worth the purchase price just for the amusingly dated photos.

And yes, I know that this runs counter to Brooks' stop-worrying-and-enjoy-life point. But only sort of. Lifting weights and exercising in general will make you feel better, not worse. I'm no Arnold, of course (you've seen the photos!) but it's done me a lot of good. Nor, approached properly, does it interfere with enjoying life -- as one of my friends says, "I work out so I can drink beer, not so I can't!" After all, there's nothing hedonistic about sitting on your ass all the time.

[LATER: First Ahnuld link was bad; fixed now.] Also Ogged hammers Brooks on the BMI factor. And Tom Maguire has more.

UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Jackson emails:

I started lifting a year ago, a 50 yr old attorney, for surgery rehab. I enjoyed it, read Arnold's book, kept reading and lifting, and have a comment or two on your post.

First, the best site on the web for info on lifting belongs to one of Arnold's old competitors, davedraper.com. The discussion forum is priceless. The articles on nutrition and exercise are very good.

Second, Arnold's book is fine, but his high-volume isolation approach is way wrong for most beginners. Look at the sample workouts on Dave Draper's web site, and you will see the alternative approach, focused on fewer, compound movements. I am much happier with this approach than Arnold's, and expect I will be for a long time to come.

I find that variation is the key, over time.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has another roundup of underreported news from Iraq: Don't miss the BBC's surprise.

MATT DRUDGE: "For some reason the media elites aren't as hostile to me."

NEW CANADIAN PUBLICATION BANS: And Ed Morrissey is promising to violate them again, if he can:

Gomery's publication ban only applied, of course, to rebroadcasting the specifics of Jean Brault's testimony. If one was either fortunate or well-connected, seats were available for the public hearing in which Brault testified to accepting and making bribes and kickbacks in exchange for contract renewals, as well as hiring Liberal Party workers who never performed any work at all for Brault -- but spent their time on party business, off the books.

Politicians will know the specific testimony of the two witnesses at the end of each day, if not almost in real time. Some media sources will watch and hear Guité and Coffin tell everything they know about Adscam and the politicians who profited most from it on live TV feeds that they will be barred from rebroadcast. The only people left in the dark will be those Canadians who have seen their money stolen by the people they trusted to wield power lawfully.

As part of the 'imperfection' mentioned tangentially in the Montreal Gazette, I had hoped that the brouhaha over my publication of Brault's testimony would have convinced Justice Gomery of the folly of publication bans. Apparently not. If my original source can get me reliable information on the testimony under the ban, I will republish it again here.

Stay tuned.

PROTESTS IN MEXICO:

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans marched in silence Sunday against a government campaign to put a popular leftist politician on trial in a battle that could knock him out of presidential elections.

Protesters crammed into Mexico City's vast central square and narrow streets in the historic downtown, many waving banners condemning the legal case against Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

"Don't let democracy die," read one banner. Others vilified President Vicente Fox as a traitor and dictator.

(Via Joe's Dartblog, which observes: "It is amusing, if not scary, that Americans often have a better idea of what is going on politically across the Atlantic than the situation south of the border.")

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up, for all your business- and econo-blogging needs.

TOGO ELECTION ROUNDUP: Gateway Pundit looks at the aftermath, which isn't at all pretty: "Reports of Violence, Death and Destruction in the Aftermath of Togo's Presidential Election."

April 24, 2005

IS GM "TOO BIG TO FAIL?" Thoughts at GlennReynolds.com.

DANIEL DREZNER OFFERS praise for the wisdom of average Americans.

SOME LARGELY DEPRESSING THOUGHTS on democracy, stability, and Nepal.

IT'S NOT (QUITE) TOO LATE to register for the BlogNashville conference. Be there, or be square!

ANGLOSPHERE UPDATE: NATALIE SOLENT has interesting thoughts relating to Jim Bennett's book.

TODD ZYWICKI:

There aren't many good studies on this, but some have concluded that as much as 10% of bankruptcy filings are caused by tax liabilities (and that doesn't count those who would have alot more money available to pay their debts but for having to pay their taxes or pay their taxes because they are generally nondischargeable in bankruptcy). For those keeping score at home, this exceeds the number of bankruptcies traditionally thought to be caused by health problems, death in the family, college expenses, and gambling.

Interesting.

UNSCAM UPDATE: ROGER SIMON has new information on the unravelling Volcker Committee.

PERHAPS THIS IS BECAUSE IT WAS ALWAYS A CROCK, but The New York Times notices that ending the assault weapons ban didn't matter:

Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments.

The ban was symbolic legislation, designed to bolster the media profiles and direct-mail efforts of gun control lobby groups, while building momentun for eventual complete gun confiscation (something that some gun-control enthusiasts admitted, and others unconvincingly denied). It failed at that, and in fact succeeded mostly in costing the Democrats control of the legislative and executive branches.

UPDATE: More thoughts here and, in the comments, here. ("I never wanted a semi-automatic rifle until the government told me I could not have one.")

TIM WORSTALL is hosting another BritBlog roundup.

(SALMA) HAYEK-O-RAMA: Nobody tell Daniel Drezner about this.

THE BBC: Hiring hecklers? This seems quite damaging:

The BBC was last night plunged into a damaging general election row after it admitted equipping three hecklers with microphones and sending them into a campaign meeting addressed by Michael Howard, the Conservative leader.

Sheesh.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER RIGGED ELECTION in Africa. Publius has a Togo election roundup. We need to be working harder to promote democracy in Africa.

SPONGEWORTHINESS UPDATE: The Sponge is back. (Via The Well-Timed Period, which has much more).

LIGHT BLOGGING: Went to a Seder last night at Doug "InstaLawyer" Weinstein's. Got back late. Had a good time, as usual.