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October 22, 2005

MICHAEL YON reports on the Iraqi elections in the Weekly Standard.

A LEBANON PROTEST ROUNDUP FROM PUBLIUS, plus some Beirut protest photos at light seeking light, and another roundup, with video, at Gateway Pundit.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

A LIBBY/MILLER ROUNDUP, from Tom Maguire.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett and George Russell report some rather sinister connections in the oil-for-food scandal.

HOWARD KURTZ has more on the NYT/Miller split.

THE SOUTH ASIA QUAKE BLOG collects recovery resources for the Pakistani earthquake, whose toll seems to keep getting worse. I agree that "disaster fatigue" has led to this getting less attention than it deserves.

JONAH GOLDBERG DECLARES AGAINST MIERS: "It's not just that Miers was in favor of racial quotas -- we'd pretty much known that for a while. It's the fundamental confirmation that she's a go-along-with-the-crowd establishmentarian."

UPDATE: Here's George Will's column on the nomination.

MICHAEL TOTTEN IS PHOTOBLOGGING the anti-Syrian rally in Beirut.

BETTER ALL THE TIME: The Speculist posts its roundup of good news on all sorts of fronts that hasn't gotten enough attention. It's mostly tech stuff, but not exclusively.

A RATHER RUDE ANTIWAR READER challenges me to admit that the Iraq invasion has produced a quagmire. This seems like an odd time to be claiming that given the recent elections, but I'll just endorse this statement from Kevin Drum:

In other words, democracy is nice — eventually — but the bigger issue is kicking over the status quo in the Middle East and forcing change. And the hawks would argue that this is happening. Slowly and fitfully, to be sure, but let's count up the successes so far: Iraq and Afghanistan are better off than before, Libya has given up its nuke program, Lebanon's Cedar Revolution is a sign of progress, Egypt has held a more open election than any before it, and the Syrian regime is under considerable pressure.

Did the invasion of Iraq precipitate these changes? I think the hawks considerably overstate their case, but at the same time they do have a case. Even if Iraq is a mess, it might all be worthwhile if it eventually produces progress toward a more open, more liberal Middle East. At the very least, it's an argument that needs to be engaged.

I think the critics overstate their case, and rather consistently ignore the good news that Kevin notes. My anonymous emailer thinks that U.S. casualties are proof of a quagmire. That's an odd formulation, since it means that any war in which troops are killed, which means pretty much any war generally, is a quagmire. There's no question that some antiwar folks think that's true, but pardon me if I'm unimpressed with that argument. (What I said here in 2003 about antiwar folks being disappointed that things had gone so well seems to remain true, as people keep making every effort to portray Iraq as Vietnam). Saddam's on trial, Iraqis are counting ballots, and as noted above we seem to have shaken things up -- though I'd argue not enough yet -- throughout the mideast.

If Bush's effort here fails, it won't be because the antiwar critique of bloodthirstiness and warmongering is correct. It will be because Bush hasn't been vigorous enough in toppling governments and invading countries in the region. What happens with Syria in the next little while may answer that question. (And don't miss this).

In the meantime, this piece by Jim Bennett from 2003 is also worth reading again. It has certainly proved prescient -- just read the last paragraph.

UPDATE: Reader Fernando Colina emails:

One of the indications that the war may be going much better than the MSM would want it to is the Miers controversy in the right. At critical points in the course of the war I suspect that most conservatives would have let the Miers thing go relatively unchallenged because of overriding national interest. Not any more.

For years, the left has been focusing on domestic issues and has wished the war to go away; well, maybe it's about to and the right is now refocusing on spending, the border and the supremes. The game has changed.

I think that's probably right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stuart Williamson emails:

Quagmire is one of those ominous-sounding words that negativists apply blindly to any minor reversal or static situation. A quagmire is like a quicksand, into which you are steadily sucked down to death. That is certainly not the situation in Iraq and the Middle East generally. The truth is the exact reverse. The Arab peoples are slowly, slowly being raised out of the bog of despotism. Iraq is not even a stalemate: the forces of democracy are gaining, painfully slowly, but steadily. The best parallel is a wrestling match, with
the coalition gradually pinning their weakening opponents to the mat. Anyone who uses "quagmire" in a critical sense can be immediately dismissed as blindly anti-war and beyond reasoned response.

Indeed. Plus, people were declaring a "quagmire" by this time in 2001, suggesting that they're both unduly negative, and anxious to be so.

More here and here.

A WHILE BACK, I wrote about some modern ideas for energy conservation and observed: "I haven't heard anyone suggest bringing back the 55 mile per hour speed limit, though, so I guess I should be grateful for small favors."

Well, the San Francisco Chronicle has, sort of, proposed doing that, in an article encouraging people to just drive 55 now, even where the speed limit is 70. Overlawyered thinks that the Chronicle is putting profits before people and observes:

In sum, the Chronicle and the 55 Conservation Project are making a recommendation that doesn't really save that much (if anything) in the way of money, can substantially inconvenience others, and, most of all, make the roads more dangerous.

What's the liability reform tie-in? Well, note that automobile companies have been hit with millions of dollars of product liability verdicts for design decisions less risky and more cost-saving than what the Chronicle and 55 Conservation Project are proposing here. And (as should be the case) no one thinks that these two institutions, or the drivers that unilaterally adopt their recommendation to needlessly drive slower than the prevailing traffic, should be held liable for the foreseeable consequences of the recommendation or its adoption.

If we held news media liable for defective products in the same fashion that we do for, say, automobile companies or drug manufacturers, they'd all be bankrupt.

BILL KELLER sends an email to the NYT staff on the Judy Miller case. Shockingly, AP seems to have obtained a copy.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Gamble emails: "Why is it that when the NYT and Judy Miller mis-reported the WMD threat, they made 'mistakes,' but when Bush turns out to (arguably) be wrong on the exact same topic and in exactly the same way, he told 'lies?'"

ANOTHER UPDATE: NYT Editor Vows Not to be Distracted by Scandal.

MORE: Jeff Jarvis comments on Keller's letter, and on a column by some woman who writes for a private, subscription-only website.

MORE STILL: A reader notes Keller's repeated use of references to entanglement and wonders what that means. Perhaps we'll find out.

EVEN MORE: Jake Tapper has more on the Dowd / Miller catfight. It is amusing to see Dowd complaining that NYT staffers are allowed to write all sorts of absurd things without editorial supervision . . . .

ORIN KERR NOTES a Kansas Supreme Court decision holding that treating same-sex conduct differently from heterosexual conduct for purposes of statutory rape laws violates Equal Protection.

If this case winds up in the Supreme Court it will be interesting to see how the Court resolves the tension with the Michael M. decision, which held that subjecting men, but not women, to criminal liability for underage sex does not violate the Equal Protection clause because, essentially, men don't get pregnant. Bonus points to the reader who first spots a law review article arguing that Equal Protection permits treating homosexual activity more favorably than heterosexual activity, but not the reverse, because there's no pregnancy risk . . . .

October 21, 2005

A NETWORK OF LONERS?

HERE'S THAT POPULAR MECHANICS STORY ON PORTABLE DEFIBRILLATORS that I mentioned below. They were kind enough to make it available on the web in response to my mention. PM editor Jim Meigs writes:

I think what's cool about the study is that it shows that ordinary citizens are eager to use the technology made available to them to save a life. They don't have to wait for the experts to show up. And a 60% survival rate is pretty amazing, given the circumstances.

Yes. He also forwards this abstract of a New England Journal of Medicine story on automated defibrillators, and this other article on the topic.

UPDATE: Reader Greg Gray emails:

In your item today (10/21) about home defibrillators, you said "... -- it doesn't strike me as a mass-market item." I'd have to stand in disagreement with that idea.

It seems to me that a home defibrillator /*would */become a mass-market item, to be stored in each home along with the medical kit and fire extinguishers, and in the trunk in each car along with the jumper cables, blankets and bottled water. Granted, most people probably give little thought to the possibility of a heart attack until they've reached at least middle-age, but with a little advertising push... who knows?

The main barrier would seem to be price. Once defibs reach commodity status, everyone will own one.

Good point. So maybe Amazon's heavy advertising is helping!

SYRIA IMPLICATED in death of Hariri:

A United Nations report that accuses Syrian and Lebanese officials of orchestrating an intricate plot to kill former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is expected to bring a swift call for action from the UN Security Council. Reuters reports that both Syria and Lebanese President Emile Lahood are trying to distance themselves from the UN investigation.

Read the whole thing, and here's the report.

UPDATE: Publius has much more:

The Mehlis report was released today, and it was the historic bombshell that everyone knew it would be. It implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence chiefs and military generals, all the way up to members of Assad’s family. The commission was also extended up until December in order to allow for further investigations into more recent developments and leads. And, speaking of those leads, Mehlis deleted the names of some of those suspected of conspiring in Hariri’s murder for reasons not yet known.

The unredacted report is here. Publius observes:

It makes for incredible reading. In fact, it reads like a spy/conspiracy novel, because that’s exactly what it is. A real life, high level conspiracy.

Exposed.

MORE: Read this, too:

The last-minute alterations made to the Detlev Mehlis report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri may have been made under pressure by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Israel Radio reported Friday afternoon.

A diplomatic source reported that Annan had an interest in removing the name of Syrian President Bashar Assad's brother and brother-in-law, along with other important Syrian officials, from the list of suspects in the Hariri killing.

Assad's brother and brother-in-law had previously been implicated in having involvement in the Hariri assassination.

Annan, according to speculations, was concerned that the harsh report could cause political instability in Syria, perhaps even leading to an overthrow of the Assad regime, and thus preferred a watered-down version of the report.

Oh, yeah, we wouldn't want that. Are there any tyrants Annan won't cover for?

ANDY BOWERS has a podcast roundup.

UPDATE: Here's a podcast interview with Chris Peterson of the Foresight Institute regarding nanotechnology, etc.

YES, BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT today. I'm on travel. Thank Verizon EVDO that I'm blogging at all!

Or curse 'em, whatever . . . .

TOM MAGUIRE: How covert was Valerie Plame?

A NOT-SO-MAGNIFICENT obsession?

LARRY KUDLOW:

The White House’s economic policy is drifting off course. . . . Why haven’t they come out in favor of the House GOP effort to increase mandatory spending cuts and seek a three-percent across the board discretionary cut as per Marsha Blackburn and others? It would get them $500 billion or $600 billion in 10-year savings estimates. Why didn’t the White House signal help for Senator Coburn’s “Bridge to Nowhere” pork-barrel spending cut?

Why, indeed? Here's more reaction to the Coburn Amendment disgrace. (Via Andrew Roth, who also observes that: "Using 2005 numbers, by voting down the 'Bridges' amendment, the Senate let the country know that it was unwilling to defund 2 out of 13,997 pork projects today. That’s 0.0142887762 percent.")

ORIN KERR offers more evidence of a Miers tipping point.

BILL STUNTZ looks at the upside of the Miers nomination. "Harriet Miers is to the Supreme Court what Dan Quayle was to the vice presidency: a sign of rising standards."

SO WHEN I GO TO AMAZON I keep seeing ads for the Philips Heartstart Home Defibrillator, to the point where I'm wondering if they're trying to tell me something. (It has to be me, as the Insta-Wife already has one built-in.) Now I'm also getting ads for this gadget.

Okay, actually I suspect that some sort of Amazon cookie-tracking, preference-establishing algorithm has figured out that we have someone in the household with heart issues. But it is a bit creepy, somehow.

There's an article in the latest Popular Mechanics -- not on their website yet -- saying that the home defibrillators really do save lives. As they get cheaper and more ubiquitous, it's likely to make a real difference. A lot more people die from sudden cardiac death, where a defibrillator will save them but nothing else much will, than is generally realized. Likewise, inexpensive blood pressure monitors mean that -- since you don't have to go to a doctor -- more people will track their blood pressure. Just another way technology is empowering ordinary people.

UPDATE: Maybe they're not as tricky as I thought. Ryan Kelley emails:

Hey Glenn. Amazon knows I'm 29, shop for athletic items on their site, and have never bought any medical supplies off Amazon and yet I get that ad almost everytime I visit. No way they're keying on me off their demographic shopper models.

Amazon looks like they're pushing it more then they pushed the Segway. Let's hope this marketing push is more successful.

That surprises me -- it doesn't strike me as a mass-market item. But maybe it'll at least save some lives.

LOADS OF AVIAN FLU STUFF at TCS, for those who are interested.

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS IN CUBA: Some firsthand blog reporting, with photos.

THE BELMONT CLUB remembers Nuremberg and has thoughts on trying Saddam:

I wrote earlier that any trial of Saddam Hussein would automatically bring in recent history as a co-defendant. I guess that the "internationalists" feel they are the only ones with the moral authority to judge the former President of Iraq. To the question 'what law applies', their answer will be the 'international law' they have been at pains to construct. Any law but those of who at all events have disqualified themselves from the power of judgment by removing Saddam Hussein by force. Yet the "internationalists" cannot hold themselves entirely blameless. Implicit in Saddam's trial is another question: 'how did such a monster carry on for so long in the face of an international system that pretends to civilization'? And would Saddam, even now, be gassing Kurds and throwing living human beings into woodchippers if any but those whose moral qualifications are now doubted not acted against him?

Shooting Saddam on sight would have been fine with me, and the "internationalists" -- who, often, were on Saddam's payroll -- hardly have standing to complain. But in fact Saddam is being tried by the Iraqi people, his longtime victims, and they have far more standing to do so than any international body whose chief moral claim is a longstanding history of ineffectualness.

IT'S THE SMELL OF TEXAS HOME COOKIN' -- and I don't mean that beef stuff they pass off as barbecue.

UPDATE: The barbecue-related hatemail pours in: "The culinary delight that is Texas barbecue obviously exceeds your otherwise good taste. May your in-box overflow until you take those hateful words back."

Actually, that beef stuff is pretty good. It's just not, you know, actual barbecue.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Josh Wills emails:

You and I disagree on many things (though we were all on the same page with the Coburn amendment), but your affront against Texas barbecue cannot stand. I'm assuming you (mistakenly) believe that ham soaked in vinegar qualifies as "real" barbecue? I'll be keeping an eye on you from my new blog, pulledporkbusters.blogspot.com.

No, that would be those North Carolina apostates. Real barbecue is pork (as reader David Ruddell writes: "If it ain't pork, it ain't barbecue. 'Nuff said."), but in a tomato-based sauce. Other approaches are amusing, and sometimes tasty, diversions, but they're not barbecue.

MORE: Boy, the Texans are hopping mad. John Kluge emails:

Just because you hillbillies in Tennessee don’t have the money to raise cattle the way we do here in Texas, doesn’t mean you know how to barbeque. I grew up in Kansas City and have my share of time in Memphis and Chicago and used to be an apostate about barbeque until I moved to central Texas and saw the light. There is no piece of meat of any kind made in the world that can exceed a piece of brisket from the Kretz Market in Lockhart, Texas. They were making barbeque there when people in Tennessee were still living in trees and eating pig guts.

Ahem. First, there's nothing wrong with chitterlings. Second, there wouldn't be a Texas if it weren't for Tennesseans, something all literate Texans realize, and give thanks for, every day.

Meanwhile, reader Brian Erst is advocating a big-tent approach:

Barbecue is a big tent, open to good people of all persuasions. Don't you remember the 11th Commandment "Thou shalt not speak ill of barbecue"?

I should think that everyone in this great nation of ours can agree on the Holy Trinity of Barbecue - Smoke, Meat and Fat. Everything else is just the lovely melange of spice and tradition that makes regional America great. Claiming there is only one true 'cue leads us further down the path of the strip malling of America. While I like the option of getting a consistent cup of joe at Starbucks, I'd be sad if the funky coffeehouse with Jazz on Saturday afternoons down the street closed shop because Starbucks was the only "true" coffee.

I come from a town that is sadly deficient in true barbecue (Chicago - they boil ribs!), so I own my own smoker and have made pork butt, ribs, brisket, chicken and more. I've made gallons of sauce, from tangy tomato-based ones, sharp vinegary ones, Asian-inspired sauces with blood orange and ginger and a dozen more. While I will always have a special place in my heart for slow smoked pork, covered in my secret rub and brushed with my favorite homemade sauce, I love all barbecue - because barbecue is what makes America great.

Perhaps I should make an across-the-nation barbecue tour, just out of fairness.

MORE: The Blogger Formerly Known As SKBubba emails:

There are three things you don't discuss in casual conversation: politics, religion, and barbcue. But you are correct. Barbcue is pork. Pulled. With red sauce. That stuff in Texas is "roast beef."

Indeed. Mike Hendrix is living proof!

ED MORRISSEY notes a flood of bad news for the Miers nomination, and suggests an escape route.

JAMES GLASSMAN:

Still, don't expect much soon in the way of European economic transformation. This is the life they have chosen -- one in which, they believe, the state relieves them of the stress of a market society. But the price is very high. Surveys show rampant European unhappiness and pessimism. European birth rates have fallen so sharply that populations are headed for steep declines. Why? Sadly, couples don't place a high priority on bringing children into the paradise they've created.

But Europeans will have to find their own path. My concern is with Americans. Is it inevitable that, as we grow more prosperous, we will become more like Europe -- losing initiative, insisting that our governments coddle us?

I worry that we are beginning to see the initial signs of just such a turn for the worse.

The good news is that people have been saying this for decades. The bad news is that to a significant degree they've been right.

JOHN FUND writes on the bizarre twists of the Miers nomination, while the WSJ editorializes that the White House is walking the nominee into a crossfire.

October 20, 2005

AMERICAN EXPRESS HIRES BLOGGERS: This is an interesting model.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON IS STALKING TIM RUSSERT. Tom Maguire is helping.

Maguire also notes that more than a few reporters are still searching for a clue.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: This article in Salon on military nanotechnology is pretty good, though it shares the arms-controllers' rather narcissistic view that America's actions determine whether there will be a nanotechnology arms race or not. In fact, I think the Chinese, to name just one nation, will move as fast as they can regardless of what we do. Nanotechnology -- offering an opportunity to unsettle a one-sided ratio of military power overnight -- is likely to appeal more to a challenger like China.

What's more, our experience with biowarfare illustrates that arms-control approaches can actually make things worse. That's not to understate the problem -- just to note that solutions aren't simple.

UPDATE: On a less scary -- but significant -- note, there's this report:

Researchers at Rice University have created a "nanocar" measuring just 4 x 3 nanometers. It is slightly wider than a strand of DNA -- a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers thick. The car has a chassis, axles and a pivoting suspension. The wheels are buckyballs, spheres of pure carbon containing 60 atoms apiece.

So much for those who claimed that such precise nanoscale structures weren't possible.

U.N. POINTING AT SYRIA over the Hariri assassination. Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here's an interview with Sen. Tom Coburn regarding his anti-pork efforts, by Jed Babbin on Hugh Hewitt's show. Here's an excerpt, where he responds to Patty Murray's threats:

JB: Well, does that bother you, Senator? I mean, are you worried so much about Oklahoma projects?

TC: No. I don't ask for any projects. I ran on a platform of saying the biggest problem we face in our country is financial and economic, and cultural in Washington, that if we don't change that, I promised you I will not earmark a thing until the budget is in surplus.

JB: Wow.

TC: So I don't have any earmarks. So I don't have any...you know, there's no power over me to withhold earmarks, because I have none.

JB: Well, how tough is it going to be, though, to undo this culture of pork? I mean, the porksters are all around you. I mean, we're not naming names, but you're outnumbered there pretty solidly, so...

TC: Look, when the American people want things to change, they will change. Just as like in 1994, they changed?

I don't think the Senate Republican leadership wants an 1994 rerun, now that they're in the majority. Also scroll down or read this post.

UPDATE: Andrew Roth has a statement from Coburn and this update:

The Senate did accept three Coburn amendments. One amendment required that all earmarks be included in the bill’s conference report. This amendment helps lift the veil of secrecy that conceals the process of inserting special projects into appropriations bills. Similar amendments have been attached to the Agriculture, Military Construction and Department of Defense Appropriations bills.

Another amendment limits the amount HUD can spend on conferences to $3 million. Last year the Department spent $13.9 million on conferences.

The other Coburn amendment that was accepted requires the Community Development Block Grant Program run by HUD to cease violating a law that requires them report on their rate of improper payments.

The first of these is of some significance.

DAVE KOPEL DECLARES a major civil-rights victory in Congress.

WRITING UNDER A PSEUDONYM, one of my students won an award from Project Censored.

A MIERS TIPPING POINT? And scroll down for more.

FUNNY, HE DOESN'T LOOK NEO-CONISH.

MICKEY KAUS CORRECTS THE NOTE:

In essence, the Note tells Dems, in classic, media-consultant fashion, that instead of basing their pitch on the reality of the case (the leak) they should base it on BS (that somehow the prosecution is refighting the Iraq war). Shouldn't it be a general premise of Democratic politics that it's reality-based and not spin-based? . . .

I know, ABC's Halperin & Co. might say they are only parodying hack Democratic media advice. But even if they are, the parody (like all good fiction) reveals a depressing truth about modern Dem politics. Also, they're not. They clearly buy into it.

Yes.

HEH: "The big irony to savor at the center of the Valerie Plame case is that everything everyone thinks they know about Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation has been leaked."

Or just made up.

OUCH:

The Miers debacle is beginning to remind us of New Coke--a product introduced in an effort to expand market share, which instead infuriated loyal customers. If Bush wants to "save his presidency," the way to do so is clear: withdraw the Miers nomination and reintroduce Court Classic.

You know, if the White House had been reading the blogs, they wouldn't have been blindsided by this reaction, as they seem to have been.

THE SENATE HAS REJECTED THE COBURN AMENDMENTS: Mark Tapscott opines:

It appears the majority of senators think it is more important to shelter dogs and cats in Rhode Island than people in Louisiana and Mississippi made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

Indeed. So what's a Republican Senate for, exactly?

UPDATE: Via email from Coburn's office, a correction: Those were different amendments, to the same effect. The "Bridge to Nowhere" amendment is coming up shortly. I imagine it will fail too -- though I'd love to be wrong -- but I hope that this Senate action will get a lot of attention.

Meanwhile, Patty Murray is threatening people over the Coburn cuts.

I predict a revival of interest in term limits and a balanced budget amendment. But at least we've got their attention.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tapscott has updated with a list of how Senators voted, and observes about Patty Murray's threats: "Getting that defensive this quick is probably an indication of just how scared the Big Spenders in both political parties are that the Coburnites will succeed."

MORE: Reader Monte Meyer emails:

Just after I read your blog on the Coburn Amendments' failure, I received a phone call - AT MY OFFICE (a church) - from the Republican National Committee thanking me for my past support and asking for more money for some critical election in Florida.

I interrupted them and said "You won't get one thin dime from me, until you do something about the pork. I called my Republican Senator's (Coleman) office a couple weeks ago to talk about Pork - but barely received a response. Now they rejected the Coburn amendment. Where is the fiscally responsible Republican party I helped to elect? You won't get any more money from me until it changes."

They said they took down my comments, and thanked me. Probably nothing will happen - but at least it made me feel better - for 8 or 9 seconds.

If enough people do the same, I guarantee you that something will happen.

MORE STILL: Andrew Stuttaford writes:

It's interesting to see the identities of the thrifty thirteen who voted for the Coburn amendments. Only one Democrat broke ranks to do so, Russ Feingold. Good for him. Of the possible Republican presidential candidates McCain and Allen voted for Coburn. Frist voted against, showing, perhaps, that he's set on running as an 'establishment' candidate. In the current mood of the country (and the rank-and-file GOP) that does not look like a wise move.

I agree. Sadly, Kos's prediction that Democrats would vote with Coburn turned out to be incorrect. But Kos is hammering the Democrats

It's embarrassing that Feingold was the only Democrat voting for it. What a great way to show the country that Democrats are the party of fiscal responsibility. Sheez... This is becoming a gross failure by both parties and the institution of government.

Yes, it is. I also agree with Kos when he says: "Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero. And by the way, Feingold is starting to look really good for '08."

RIGHTSIDE REDUX HAS A LIST of bloggers blogging from the Capitol today. So does Ian Schwartz, who's liveblogging.

UPDATE: More here.

IN THE MAIL: Terry Eagleton's Holy Terror, which argues that terrorism is a modern technique with its roots in the French Revolution.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: "It's only taken a decade or so, but suddenly there's momentum in Congress for spending restraint. We'll be watching the fine print, but you can tell Republicans are worried about complaints from conservative voters because for a change they're trying to act, well, like Republicans."

PATTERICO: "If you need me this morning, I’ll be out on the window ledge. Because it is becoming clearer and clearer that we are headed towards the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice who has no idea what the Constitution says."

THE COLLEGE GENDER GAP CONTINUES TO WIDEN:

As women march forward, more boys seem to be falling by the wayside, McCorkell says. Not only do national statistics forecast a continued decline in the percentage of males on college campuses, but the drops are seen in all races, income groups and fields of study, says policy analyst Thomas Mortenson, publisher of the influential Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Since 1995, he has been tracking — and sounding the alarm about — the dwindling presence of men in colleges. . . .

But even as evidence of a problem — a crisis, some say — mounts, "there's a complacency about this topic," McCorkell says.

There has been no outcry, for example, on the scale of a highly publicized 1992 report by the American Association of University Women, How Schools Short-Change Girls, which compiled reams of research on gender inequities.

That study "really ... got people to focus on girls ... (but) there is no big network that protects the needs of boys," says family therapist Michael Gurian, author of the just-published The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life, which argues that elementary and secondary schools aren't meeting the developmental needs of boys.

I think we'll be hearing more about this in coming years. (Via guess who).

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Here's a nanotechnology podcast from John Furrier, and here's a list of nanotechnology blogs, courtesy of Technorati.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE:

Now, two Washington think tanks -- one left-leaning, one right-leaning -- are taking a different approach. They proclaim: We differ on solutions. We agree on the problem. The federal budget is on an unsustainable trajectory. Spending over the next couple of decades, particularly on retirement and health-care benefits, will rise much faster than revenue unless Congress does something. The economy won't expand fast enough to avoid unpleasant choices. Politicians are ducking that fact.

The message is delivered with equal conviction by budget mavens at the Brookings Institution, home of many Democrats who have been or hope to be in government, and at the Heritage Foundation, a younger think tank that is the source of many Republican talking points and proposals.

It will take more than porkbusting to address this problem, of course, but if Congress can't even address pork it's hard to imagine that it can deal with entitlement reform.

UPDATE: The Club for Growth reports that the Coburn Amendment is now getting bipartisan support, Even Kos is on board.

More on the Coburn Amendment here and here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Tapscott: "Mr. Smith is back in Washington, and his name is Tom Coburn."

And don't miss this big roundup from Sissy Willis. Meanwhile, Mike Krempasky observes:

Make NO mistake - the establishment Republicans are terrified of this bill. The chutzpah of the little people demanding an end to one of the most immoral acts of Congress - earmarked pork spending - has got some in quite the tizzy.

Word is that some are trying to stop the Coburn Amendment from even reaching the floor for a vote.

I'll bet they are. Let's keep the spotlight on this.

MORE: Rhode Island blogger Caroll Andrew Morse called Sens. Chafee and Reed to ask their position on the Coburn Amendment, but reports that they're staying mum:

The staffers were very polite and professional, but both offices informed me they couldn’t share the Senator’s position until after the vote was taken.

Is this really how deliberative democracy is supposed to work? Aren’t public officials supposed to make their positions on issues, well, public?

You'd think. Let me know if you hear anything from your Senators.

MORE STILL: Reader Jim Hogue emails:

I just got off the phone with a staffer in Sen. John Cornyn’s Washington office. He (the staffer) said he had never heard of the Coburn amendment but said I was the second person to call today urging the Senator to support it. I told him about “porkbusters” and asked him to relay to the Senator that I hold responsible to remain true Texas Republican roots to reduce federal spending. He seemed genuinely bemused by my call.

Since the staffer didn’t even ask for my name, I guess I’ll call back later!!

I urge my fellow Texans to call Cornyn at 202-224-2934 or Kay Bailey Hutchinson at 202-224-5922 and let them know where they stand.

As a troubling aside, it seems to be getting harder and harder to communicate with my elected representatives. If you call direct they seldom take your name and number unless you insist on a return call. Now I’m seeing caveats on their websites about “security procedures” slowing down their ability to respond to anything other than email and they rarely answer email with anything other than a form letter; just an unverifiable perception on my part.

A lot of people seem to have the same perception.

MICKEY KAUS: "Does McCain really think he's going to win the GOP nomination by enlisting the media in calling Republicans who disagree with his policies bigots?"

DEPAUL UNIVERSITY, CENSORSHIP OF STUDENTS, AND WARD CHURCHILL: Andrew Marcus has set up a blog devoted to this topic. If I were an administrator at DePaul, I'd have heartburn about now.

MARK GLASER:

But how can one county in Florida prosecute obscenity cases on the Internet, where obscenity might as well have its own domain suffix? Sheriff Judd told me that his jurisdiction applies to any material that begins and/or ends in his county, regardless if the server or site owner is based in another state or country.

I've looked at some of these issues in the past, though the Supreme Court has so far failed to see things my way.

THE COLD WAR is truly over, reports Austin Bay.

WITH ALL THESE VOTER FRAUD CONVICTIONS, you'd think the East St. Louis story would be getting more attention.

October 19, 2005

RUSSERT, ROVE, AND PLAME: Perhaps we should just indict everyone in Washington for talking to one another. . . .

AN ABLE DANGER EXPLOSION?

WIILLLMMMAAA! Brendan Loy has her covered. StormTrack has lots, too.

JONAH GOLDBERG HAS THOUGHTS on Robert Bork and who's a "real" conservative.

Not me, for sure! I have some much lengthier thoughts on Bork, original intent, and judicial confirmations here.

N.Z. BEAR IS SETTING UP A SPECIAL PAGE for people participating in the Congressional blogging event tomorrow. If you'll be participating, please let him know.

Also, Matt Margolis is taking questions to ask the House members. Submit yours!

I say, ask 'em about the pork, and the Coburn amendment. (Yes, I know it's in the Senate, but someone could always introduce a House version.)

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The more I think about it, the more I think that the Coburn Amendment is a big deal. It's setting the precedent whereby members of Congress go after each other's taxpayer-shafting pork projects rather than turning a blind eye and engaging in logrolling.

It seems to me that this makes it an especially good project for bloggers to get behind, and to encourage their senators to support. I expect that quite a few people in Congress are worried about this, and will be trying to ensure that it dies a quiet death rather than coming to the floor for a vote. I think the country is better off with transparency, and I'd like to hear any Senator who opposes this measure explain why he or she favors funding a bridge that could buy a personal jet for every inhabitant of Gravina Island, instead of spending the money on fixing ruined bridges that people actually use in Louisiana. They won't want to talk about that, of course, but they need to be asked.

Perhaps tomorrow at the big Capital blog event would be a good time to ask some questions?

UPDATE: Reader Bob Rahm emails:

Is it possible to mount a public campaign that will pressure the Republicans in the Senate to elect Coburn as majority leader? This is the kind of leadership we need.

It's certainly possible.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More comments here.

AUSTIN BAY thinks that we should have tried Saddam sooner. I think he's probably right -- with the caveat that we may have gotten some useful intelligence out of him, and the probably bigger caveat that it's different to have him tried after the Iraqi people have voted on a new constitution.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: THE CLUB FOR GROWTH is supporting the Coburn Amendment that would take money from Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" and put it into Katrina relief. Here's more information on the Coburn plan, including links to the amendment and to Coburn's "Dear Colleague" letter.

MICKEY KAUS has an interesting piece on why there's so much attention aimed at Judith Miller. I think he's spot on with this bit:

a) Treason: Miller wasn't just perceived as in cahoots with neocons in foisting the war off onto the public. She was doing it from within the New York Times, which the Left correctly perceives as one of "its" institutions. As a traitor within the liberal camp, she has to be expelled and punished, in a way she wouldn't be punished if she'd been an equally mistaken and influential reporter for National Review. The host body rejects her.

I also think it's interesting to see how many people are now pretending (1) that Miller's WMD/Iraq reporting didn't start until the Bush Administration's war buildup, when actually it goes back to the 1990s; and (2) that nobody else thought that we'd find vast WMD stockpiles when we invaded, when in fact everyone thought we would. (The valuable lesson for would-be Saddams -- don't run a bluff against the United States -- is also lost).

I also like Kaus's Judybats reference. Since I know a couple of the original Judybats myself, I'm always glad to see them get press!

UPDATE: More appropriate Judybats references: "Doubters' Club," and "Pain Makes You Beautiful."

GEORGIA'S VOTER ID REQUIREMENT was struck down as discriminatory. That's to vote though. You still need one to buy beer. . . .

JOHN STOSSEL ON GUN CONTROL:

Guns are dangerous. But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people.
"Don't tell me this bill will not make a difference," said President Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law.

Sorry. Even the federal government can't say it has made a difference. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.

I wanted to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts. "I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care less if they had a background check or not."

Read the whole thing.

MORE FACTS AND FICTION ON KATRINA, rounded up by Gateway Pundit.

THE POCKET PART is a new companion-blog to the Yale Law Journal.

THE SWARM: Why it's not safe to pick on the little guy any more, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

The United States and its allies should threaten to cut the budget of the United Nations if it fails to end corruption and adopt badly needed reforms, the man who led the probe into the U.N. oil-for-food scandal said yesterday.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that he opposed a unilateral U.S. withholding of U.N. dues, but that a "de facto alliance" of nations demanding reform could cut through the world body's "culture of inaction."

The message, he said, should be: "Look, if the organization isn't ready to reform itself, that has budgetary implications."

The Iraq oil-for-food program has proven to be the biggest financial scandal in U.N. history, tarnishing the reputation of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other top U.N. officials and fueling calls for a complete overhaul of the body's internal oversight and personnel practices.

Read the whole thing.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ADVICE for bloggers. From an expert!

THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up!

FIGURING IT OUT: The House Republicans are having a special get-together for bloggers tomorrow. I got the invite, but I'm in no position to make the trip. But Matt Margolis has the scoop for those who are interested.

Ask 'em about the pork!

SOME GOOD NEWS on the Afghan elections.

EBAY NATION AND THE GOLDEN GOOSE: My TechCentralStation column is up.

TAEGAN GODDARD'S POLITICAL WIRE interviews John Edwards.

BELDAR RESPONDS to my WSJ column on the Miers nomination.

October 18, 2005

JUST FINISHED another episode of Firefly ("Shindig"). People asked me earlier how it compared to Serenity, and I think I've seen enough episodes to form an opinion now: The movie was good, but the TV series was better. I hope the rumors of another season done for DVD are true.

UPDATE: Reader Mike Lacy emails:

Thanks for the heads-up on this excellent series. Despite its low-budget woes, Firefly really grew on me. It is very refreshing to see a sci-fi that does not revolve around a high-tech government warship or a quest to save the galaxy.

Aside from the implied libertarian politics, I also enjoy the humor, the dialogue and the chemistry of the crew. The scenes around the dinner table are priceless. Its nice to see a show about loyalty to a
family/crew rather than loyalty to a bureaucracy.

P.S. Wait till you see the "Our Mrs. Reynolds" episode. Heh.

I think it's next. Related thoughts here. I'm just glad that you can watch shows on DVD so easily now; I much prefer it to tuning in at a fixed time.

ADAM BELLOW: "They don't teach a course in patronage and nepotism at Harvard Business School — but they should."

BILL QUICK'S E-BOOK NOVEL, Inner Circles, is now also available in dead-tree form.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Note the Coburn amendment discussed below. There's a copy of the amendment, and one of Coburn's "Dear Colleague" letter in support of it.

Meanwhile, here's a blogger who got a personal phone call from Rep. Rob Bishop (R, UT) in response to a PorkBusters email. Better than a form letter.

UPDATE: Here's a response from Rep. Mark Udall:

Udall actually echoed back to me part of what I said and addressed it. So this is at least a better-targeted form letter. (In fact, I hope that it's a form letter -- that means a congresscritter in Colorado's most liberal district got so many requests to cut highway pork that his staff created a letter specifically for that topic.)

Read the whole thing.

JUDY MILLER UPDATE:

Bridgeview used car salesman Muhammad Salah recalls being beaten, housed in a "refrigerator cell" and threatened with rape by Israeli soldiers until he admitted to bankrolling overseas terrorists, according to a new filing in U.S. District Court.

In an odd twist, the interrogation was witnessed by embattled New York Times reporter Judith Miller, and defense attorneys suggested Monday the best way for the U.S. government to prove its case -- and prove Salah wasn't abused -- is to call the controversial journalist to the witness stand.

"We think the government is going to call her," said Chicago defense attorney Michael E. Deutsch.

The prosecutor? Patrick Fitzgerald. This certainly complicates things. (Via Petrelis Files).

UPDATE: More here.

JACOB WEISBERG TELLS DEMOCRATS to stop enjoying the Plame case:

Hold the schadenfreude, blue-staters. Rooting for Rove's indictment in this case isn't just unseemly, it's unthinking and ultimately self-destructive. Anyone who cares about civil liberties, freedom of information, or even just fair play should have been skeptical about Fitzgerald's investigation from the start. Claiming a few conservative scalps might be satisfying, but they'll come at a cost to principles liberals hold dear: the press's right to find out, the government's ability to disclose, and the public's right to know.

Depending, of course, on what Fitzgerald does.

UPDATE: And note this observation:

[I]t is not a crime in this country to discredit Joseph Wilson – if it were, we’d have to lock up every member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Heck, we'd have to lock up Joseph Wilson.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve Sturm wonders why Wilson lied about his trip.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Reader Robert Duncan notes some real progress regarding Alaska's Gravina bridge-to-nowhere:

Take a look at this amendment that Senator Coburn filed today to the TTHUD appropriations bill. It takes money from the bridge to nowhere in Alaska and designates it to pay for the bridge from Slidwell La. to New Orleans. If you want to make real progress, tell people to call Senator Coburn's office and encourage him to ask for a vote on this amendment. They should also call their Senators' offices and ask them to support this amendment. Attached is the text of the amendment. Looks like your efforts are starting to pay off.

You can see the amendment emailed by Duncan here.

UPDATE: Here's a PDF of Coburn's Dear Colleague letter in support of the amendment.

CATHY YOUNG SAYS THAT BLOGS WERE CRYING "WOLF!" over the Oklahoma suicide-bombing story.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: This memo suggests that we've still got a ways to go. On the other hand, it's now over a week old, and we've seen some signs of progress since then.

GATEWAY PUNDIT offers some overlooked images from Saturday's vote in Iraq.

UPDATE: Anomalies in the form of high turnout will produce a manual recount, according to this report.

HERE'S A COOL NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES EVENT:

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005
12:30-2:00 PM
Keck 201 Conference Room

Space Settlement: Homesteading on the Moon?

The degree to which land on the moon may be owned has been the subject of debate and international treaties since the start of the Cold War. This seminar will address the relationship of existing treaties to lunar property rights and the role of such ownership as an incentive for commercial space settlement. Panelists will address the following questions:

Why settle the moon?
What are the policy implications of a lunar settlement?
What are the opportunities and challenges?
Should privately funded missions play a role in lunar settlement?

I wish I could go. (Via Space Law Probe, which also notes that there's more general interest in space property rights these days).

BRENDAN MINITER writes that GOP spending hawks are respectable again.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE TO YAHOO! over its cooperation in suppressing Chinese dissidents.

HURRICANE KATRINA PROMPTS GROWTH IN GUN OWNERSHIP: A reader sent me this NPR story from last week, which I had missed. In part this was driven by the sensationalized reporting from New Orleans, of course. It's funny that most journalistic organs oppose private gun ownership, but can't resist sensationalizing crime in ways that encourage people to be armed.

UPDATE: Reader Sean Malloy emails that a different NPR story led him to join the NRA some years ago:

In 1999 or so, NPR ran a story about an armed gang of about 30 men in Bosnia rounding up all the military-aged men/boys in a village and executing them in their village square. About 300 were killed.

The thought "it would take a whole lot more than 30 men to kill 300 villagers in an armed society" occurred to me, and I joined the NRA that evening.

NPR execs would have puppies if they knew.

I like puppies.

MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE YEAR LEADING UP TO THE IRAQI REFERENDUM: Bill Roggio has a report and a Flash presentation on what's been going on.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Jon Henke has some thoughts on curbing runaway government spending that go well beyond the PorkBusters project. They're somewhat reminiscent of Brannon Denning and Brooks Smith's proposed Truth in Legislation Amendment, which I do think would help. (Via Restless Mania, which observes that PorkBusters "has really started to gain critical mass." Yeah, but it's a process, not an event.)

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BLOGGER: Heh.

TOM MAGUIRE looks at Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and the futures markets.

THANKS TO ALL THE FOLKS who've rocketed An Army of Davids up to #385 on the Amazon charts, which isn't bad for a book that won't be out for months. Thanks!

UPDATE: Maybe it was this recommendation that did it!

THE CHINESE AUTO INDUSTRY: Not ready for prime time. Of course, that's what they said about the Japanese in 1970.

IT'S A MOSTLY ELECTION-RELATED Carnival of the Liberated this week, with posts on the Afghan elections and the Iraqi referendum.

And the Carnival of Liberty (don't confuse the two) is up, too.

GRAND ROUNDS IS UP!

ARNOLD KLING looks at Kurzweilonomics.

MORE ON MIERS: I've got an oped in today's Wall Street Journal on problems with the Miers nomination. Excerpt:

It's entirely possible, of course, that if confirmed, Ms. Miers will become a stellar Supreme Court justice; history has produced surprises before. Earl Warren, after all, was a politician, and expected to be easily manipulated by the court's brighter intellects. William J. Brennan, Jr., was a state judge of no special reputation when Eisenhower nominated him, yet he so came to dominate the Court that some observers referred to the early Rehnquist Court as the "Brennan Court." Perhaps Ms. Miers will prove a similar surprise, though conservatives may not find the examples of Warren and Brennan entirely comforting.

Nonetheless, after the John Roberts nomination, people on both the left and right had high expectations for the next nominee, and President Bush has managed to dash those. Ms. Miers, while possessed of a respectable résumé, is not the kind of star that people expected. But the most serious problem with her can be found in the most recent line on her résumé, the one that reads "White House counsel." The path from the counsel's office to the Supreme Court is not well-trodden, and for good reason.

Despite charges of cronyism, Ms. Miers is not simply the president's crony, but his lawyer -- formerly his personal attorney, and now his presidential attorney. This has already given rise to paranoid theories from the left to the effect that Mr. Bush is trying to protect himself from prosecution growing out of the Plame affair or the Iraq war. These theories are unlikely, not least because Ms. Miers's current position would probably disqualify her from hearing precisely those kinds of cases. And even if she were not disqualified, there might be doubts about her objectivity that would undermine the court's reputation.

But that's only the half the trouble. The tendency in recent years to nominate judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court has led to a certain amount of politicking and positioning by appellate judges who think they have a shot. That's bad, but surely it would be far worse if future White House counsels started letting hopes of a court nomination distort advice they offer the president.

I think it was a poor choice.

October 17, 2005

NOT AGAIN! "The mayor of New Orleans warned residents to prepare for another evacuation if Tropical Storm Wilma strengthened and headed towards the hurricane-weary city. Forecasters say it could pose a threat for the Gulf Coast."

IT'S LIKE AN ARMY OF DAVIDS, OR SOMETHING: Here's more on India's IIPM scandal: "Bloggers have discovered in a week more than what a mainstream reporter may have in a month. They called up IIPM’s Toronto office and found it was not an IIPM office at all. Even Chaudhuri’s educational qualifications, along with IIPM’s sister concerns are under the scanner. Bloggers also dug out a scanned page of an affidavit on submitted by Malay Chaudhuri, IIPM founder and father of Arindam, as a Lok Sabha candidate from Balasore in Orissa in 2004 claiming.he did his MSc, PhD and DSc from Berlin School of Economics from 1962-1970. They found that the institute was founded in 1971!"

DENNIS COYLE:

Decades ago Country Joe MacDonald wailed with absurdist resignation, “And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for?” — a question many conservatives are asking themselves today.

The Miers nomination may prove to be a wake-up call so energizing the Republican base that they rise in revolt, scuttling the nomination and demanding that Bush fulfill his promise to name a Scalia or a Thomas. That seemed unlikely at first, but the uprising seems to be gaining surprising momentum.

Then there's this:

Survey USA poll today indicates that 44% of self-described conservatives have a "favorable" impression of Harriet Miers as opposed to only 12% who have an "unfavorable" impression. (45% don't have an opinion.)

Good news for the White House?

Not exactly. Two weeks ago, CNN/Gallup's poll showed 58% of self-identified conservatives describing the Miers nomination as "excellent" or "good." (29% thought it "fair" or "poor.")

Perhaps Bush will try to make nice with the base by championing term limits and a balanced budget amendment. The Congressional Republicans won't like that -- that stuff was for when Democrats were in charge -- but Bush has made clear that he doesn't much care what Congressional Republicans think . . . .

AS I WATCH ANOTHER EPISODE OF FIREFLY, here's a BlogCritics review.

UPDATE: Here's John Coleman's review of Serenity.

THE IRAQI ELECTIONS THREE YEARS AGO: Some perspective.

TAXPROF BLOG: NBER Paper Finds Attractiveness of Woman Soliciting Charitable Gift Increases Size of Donation.

I guess that explains why the Insta-Wife's fundraising campaign is doing so well!

CINDY WHO?

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Pork Response emails just keep coming. Roni Carpenter writes about Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL):

Just three weeks after I contacted his office, I have received my very own form letter from Senator Shelby’s office!

I contacted him to 1) show my support for his stand to freeze the budget for the next couple of years to help fund Katrina recovery, 2)encourage him to reconsider pork that already exists in both the federal budget and in the notorious transportation bill, and 3) recommend oversight and accountability in the way the recovery money will be spent.

Of these three items, he addressed only the first:

"I believe we need to look at the budget in a comprehensive way because the reality is that special projects are only one piece of the larger federal budget. To that end, we must also look for ways to reduce mandatory spending which comprises more than two-thirds of the federal budget. It will take more than just reductions in special projects and federal programs to provide the funding necessary for this massive reconstruction effort. We should also closely examine the idea of freezing the federal budget over the next couple of years. That would result in tremendous savings, while causing minimal strain on the American people."

So, while he does seem interested in keeping the budget from growing (Yeah!), he is not yet willing to sacrifice any of the existing pork in the name of fiscal responsibility (Boo!).

*******
Thanks for all the effort you have made for this project, Mr. Reynolds. It is a great cause -- if only we can convince our elected officials of that!

Indeed. More on this on her blog. Meanwhile, reader Jim Allan writes about my own Congressman, Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN):

Response from "Jimmy" Duncan.

Told me he was one of the most fiscally-conservative members of Congress. Highly recognized by NTU & CAGW.

Says this: "When a large bill moves through the Congress, it often contains some things which are good and some that are bad. However, we often only have one up or down vote on the overall bill. Sometimes I vote for a bill because it contains more good things for East Tennessee than bad even though I may not agree with everything in the bill."

Like everyone else, he just wants to get re-elected.

Indeed. Texas reader Lee Bailiff emails:

I have recently received a letter from Rep. Kay Granger - (R) in reply to my letter asking her about what, specifically, she plans to do about cutting pork in order to help fund Katrina and Rita relief.

I posted her letter at my blog here:
http://mercsplace.blogspot.com/2005/10/federal-pork.html

Needless to say, I'm not too impressed with her response.

Needless to say . . . Reader G.M. Roper writes:

Per the Pork Buster program, I emailed my congressman (Ruben Hinojosa, D - 15th District of Texas) regarding helping with the effort to cut spending. I actually had high hopes that Mr. Hinojosa would assist. I'm glad I didn't hold my breath. Here is his totally non responsive response:

Dear Mr. Roper: Thank you for sharing your views on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As we continue to aid residents from the floodwaters and devastation of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama it is crucial that they get the aid and assistance they so desperately need. The generosity of the American spirit is once again shining strong.

In Texas, shelters were constructed, citizens offered refuge in their extra bedrooms, school districts accepted students, people contributed money, corporations offered funds, and in many cases temporary employment. I applaud the generosity of so many Americans and urge them to continue offering assistance however they can. Our mission as a nation must be to help the least among us; the poor and disenfranchised that have been dramatically affected by Hurricane Katrina. This could have happened just as easily in Texas as in any other state, and before it happens again, we clearly need to investigate the response to this disaster.

Now is the time for Congress to focus on the relief and recovery efforts taking place in the Gulf Region and to do everything possible to help the victims. The federal response to this Disaster was far from adequate. We should appoint an independent commission to learn from the mistakes that were made and to guarantee that those mistakes never happen again. We owe this to the survivors and evacuees and to every American. Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. Please continue to inform me on maters of importance to you.

Sincerely,
Ruben Hinojosa
Member of Congress

No mention at all of out of control spending, but a patent dig at the federal government (and no mention of the New Orleans or Louisanna government's response). After this response, I am wondering what would be the use of informing him on "on maters of importance" to me. I'm going to have to think VERY very hard before voting for this guy again.

I blogged about it here: http://www.gmroper.com/archives/2005/10/the_pork_buster.htm

You know, people challenging incumbents will be able to find some good stuff by googling them, after this! Reader (and former East Tennesseean) Matt Crandall isn't very impressed with the letter from Jimmy Duncan that I posted earlier:

Your thread on this topic has now grown to the point where another update might be superfluous, but I couldn't let this go: Jimmy Duncan sez "I believe there are a number of areas ripe for savings. One example is the proposed lunar mission, which carries a price tag of $104 billion."

What tripe! As a Congressman, Duncan should know that the entire budget for the lunar mission is coming from existing NASA dollars. If he thinks otherwise, he is welcome to debate the point with the 400+ contractors that have already been laid-off from NASA Glenn, and the additional 400+ civil servants who are targeted for RIF's. (All to free up dollars for the Space Program, at the expense of "pure science" jobs whose dearth is lamented, somewhat ironically, in a nearby Instapundit post.)

And as NASA Administrator Griffin has already pointed out, the lunar and shuttle programs are conducted almost entirely at NASA's Space Centers, which are located--- you guessed it--- all along the Gulf Coast. So in Mr. Duncan's world, government pork in the form of Katrina Relief is better than good-paying aerospace jobs in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Reader Lawrence Earnshaw isn't very happy with the response he got from Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT):

Here is the response I received from Senator Lieberman:

"Thank you for your letter concerning spending on recovery efforts in
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As you know, the scope of current efforts in the Gulf Coast is already extraordinary and will continue to grow. Our commitment to individuals and communities in the Gulf States must be matched by a commitment to safeguard federal aid against waste, mismanagement, and fraud. It is important to have mechanisms in place as soon as possible to oversee the billions of dollars that will be directed to Hurricane Katrina recovery and relief.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Committee with jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), I am working to ensure the integrity of the use of the funds appropriated to Hurricane Katrina efforts. Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and I have introduced a bill (S.1738), which would assign a Special Inspector General for Relief and Reconstruction to oversee and audit federal Katrina-related expenditures. The Special Inspector General would deploy a team of auditors and investigators who would serve as watchdogs over spending decisions and would investigate allegations of financial mismanagement or wrongdoings. The Special Inspector General's work would supplement the internal audits and control systems of the various agencies dispensing Katrina relief funds. I believe that this is the best way to ensure that the money for relief and reconstruction efforts is spent in the way for which it was intended.

In addition, I have also cosponsored the Oversight of Vital Emergency Recovery Spending Enhancement and Enforcement Act of 2005 (OVERSEE; S. 1700), introduced by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (R-IL). This bill would create a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to oversee all expenditures associated with Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction. This CFO would be staffed by experts from federal agencies and would have management and oversight over any agency using federal funds for the recovery. The OVERSEE bill also would require the CFO and the Government Accountability Office to issue regular reports to Congress on Katrina related spending. I believe that S. 1700 would ensure that public funds for the relief are allocated as efficiently as possible.

Thank you again for letting me know your views and concerns. My official Senate web site is designed to be an on-line office that provides access to constituent services, Connecticut-specific information, and an abundance of information about what I am working on in the Senate on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. I am also pleased to let you know that I have launched an email news update service through my web site.You can sign up for that service by visiting http://lieberman.senate.gov and clicking on the "Subscribe Email News Updates" button at the bottom of the home page.

Additionally, the web site for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is designed to provide visitors with information about the matters of the Committee, including news regarding our investigation into the preparation for, and response to Hurricane Katrina. You can access the schedule of upcoming hearings, view press releases, track legislation that has been sent to the Committee and view other Committee information by visiting http://hsgac.senate.gov. I hope these are informative and useful."

Never mentioned the Pork!

Matt Duffy, meanwhile, blogs the latest from Rep. Tom Price of Georgia and observes:

A notable lack of any hard numbers, but at least he's saying the right things. A few weeks ago, few representatives in Washington were talking about fiscal discipline. Now, lawmakers are stumbling over themselves to brandish their carving knives. The variable in that equation is the blogging community; I think we should all be pleased.

By the way, I'm impressed with Price's call for a balanced-budget amendment. Haven't heard any other lawmakers bring this anachronism back to the debate. I, of course, am all for it. And don't give me that "need to spend out of a recession" argument either. Plenty of states do just fine with a balanced budget. The United States could do just as well.

I suspect we'll see that idea gain momentum between now and 2006, and in particular 2008. A Congressional reader who no doubt prefers anonymity, meanwhile, sends this advice:

I have been a fan of your website for sometime and I really appriciate what you guys are doing with porkbusters. Coincidentally, I happen to be currently working for a congressman (in fact his back is to me as I type this) anyway I wanted to give you all a big heads up on your letter writing campaign. (I'm a low level worker so as you can guess I am quite familiar with e-mails, faxes, phone calls, etc.)
To combat the massive wave of form letters and spam e-mail that house members recieve, the powers that be who run the computer systems for the house office buildings have for the past week been installing and updating the e-mail system here. If you send a form letter prepare for a quick and somewhat terse form letter response. There will be no real human contact. It would be much more effective if you were to incourage constituents to call their representative's DC office. While this puts a big strain on the interns and front desk people, it gets the message across. But DON'T RAMBLE, people need to get their point across, thank them for their time and say good-bye. We low-level guys have plenty of stuff to do without all the phone calls. But we and the congressmen appreciate and pay more attention to constituent calls more than form letter e-mails, half the time we pitch the e-mails anyway.

Good advice. Go for it! RedState, meanwhile, has a response from Senator Jim Bunning, and reader Dan Williams has this to say about his Representative's response:

Message from Peter DeFazio 4th District Congressman from Oregon. He thinks we should keep the Pork he likes and get rid of anything supporting Bush policy or any campaign promise he's made. Medicare Perscription drug program, Space effort, WOT, anything.

I think we need a lot of anti-pork primary challengers in 2006. It's not too late!

UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Bailey emails:

I think the Porkbusters message is beginning to penetrate, slowly, but it is penetrating. This is the latest newsletter from Senator Jon Kyl and he is specifically discussing pork, offsets for Katrina relief spending, etc. I am happy to see it, as well as the fact that he voted against the Highway and Energy bills on grounds of too much pork.

Let's hope. I'm not adding the Kyl newsletter to this already too-long post, but he specifically praises Citizens Against Government Waste and notes that pork is a bipartisan problem. Here's just a bit from Kyl:

Now we’re looking for ways to offset some of the spending required to recover from hurricanes Rita and Katrina. There are those who believe that focusing on fiscal responsibility in the aftermath of a natural disaster indicates a lack of compassion, but I believe the opposite is true. A personal tragedy, like a flood or fire, causes families to look for ways to save money before going heavily into debt to rebuild - for example, by cutting back on lower priority spending. So too should the federal government. A good place to start would be to defer some lower priority highway bill projects and apply the money to rebuilding the Gulf Coast. You don’t have to be a Taxpayer’s Hero to figure that out.

Nope.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More progress is reported here:

In a development that will certainly please conservatives who look at the growth in federal government and wonder which party has won the past few elections, the House has begun to turn towards budget reductions and the reduction in federal growth that has long been the GOP standard. In fact, Operation Offset, launched by Rep. Mike Pence, has stirred interest largely due to Tom DeLay's contention that no further fat could be found in a federal budget that eats up a higher percentage of the nation's GDP than it ever did during WWII.

Thanks, Tom!

JEFF GOLDSTEIN has thoughts on racial jurisprudence and the new obsession with blood quanta. Sounds rather racist and Nazi-ish (or Apartheid-ish) to me.

THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS IS UP! So is the Carnival of Personal Finance.

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS is up to #724 #560 #387 on Amazon. Cool.

UPDATE: It must be the IMAO review that put it over the top!

THE OLD INDUSTRIAL STATE: Some thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

This L.A. Times article, which I hadn't read when I wrote the piece, tends to strengthen its point.

IS AVIAN FLU BEING OVERHYPED? Reader Patrick Cunningham emails:

As a medical researcher, I want to make a gentle but sincere plea to the blogosphere to calm down this flu hysteria just a bit. The main way that flu kills is by predisposing its victims to "superinfection" by bacterial illnesses - in 1918, we had no antibiotics for these superimposed infections, but now we have plenty. Such superinfections, and the transmittal of flu itself, were aided tremendously by the crowded conditions and poor sanitation of the early 20th century - these are currently vastly improved as well. Flu hits the elderly the hardest, but the "elderly" today are healthier, stronger, and better nourished than ever before. Our medical infrastructure is vastly better off, ranging from simple things like oxygen and sterile i.v. fluids, not readily available in 1918, to complex technologies such as respirators and dialysis. Should we be concerned? Sure, better safe than sorry, and concerns about publishing the sequence are worth discussing. Should we panic? No - my apologies to the fearmongers, but we will never see another 1918.

Patrick Cunningham M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Section of Nephrology
University of Chicago

I certainly hope that this is right. I do seem to remember seeing a study some years ago suggesting that many of those who died from the 1918 flu really died because inactive cases of TB reactivated under the stress of the flu infection. Far fewer people harbor inactive TB, in the U.S. at least, than did back then -- though in less developed countries I suspect the toll could be very high. However, as I've said repeatedly, much of the avian-flu preparation is also relevant to other possible pandemics, which might be even more dangerous.

THE MANOLO IS PROFILED over at the Pajamas Media site.

There are lots of other profiles, too, including Pamela of Atlas Shrugged and Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom. Just go here and keep scrolling!

SO MY FORTHCOMING BOOK IS ALREADY UP ON AMAZON, but did I find this out from the publisher? Nope. I found it out first from reading a blog.

Which is just more evidence in support of my thesis!

And so is the fact that the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, thanks to its efforts to suppress blog-criticism, remains at the top of the Technorati listings day after day . . . . Background here.

UPDATE: Reader Bob Schneider emails: "I think you're being unfair to your publisher. Amazon posts new books in advance of their publication. It's difficult for a publisher to keep track of just when a book will be posted."

I wasn't picking on the publisher -- this is just a case of one computer talking to another, actually. I just thought it was funny that I got this from a blog first. I suspect that they were waiting to tell me about it until the cover graphic went up.

UPDATE: Up to #905 #814 on Amazon at the moment. Not bad for a book that doesn't have cover art yet!

WALID PHARES has thoughts on the Iraqi vote.

LAWBLOGARAMA: This week's Blawg Review, the law blog carnival, is up. And check out BlackProf.com, a black lawprofs blog.

JOHN SCALZI HAS A NEW BOOK OUT: It's called The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies.

RAY KURZWEIL AND BILL JOY AGREE that publishing the 1918 Spanish Flu genome was a very bad idea:

To shed light on how the virus evolved, the United States Department of Health and Human Services published the full genome of the 1918 influenza virus on the Internet in the GenBank database.

This is extremely foolish. The genome is essentially the design of a weapon of mass destruction. No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb, and in two ways revealing the sequence for the flu virus is even more dangerous.

On the upside, those who complain that this Administration is too concerned with secrecy in the name of Homeland Security are proven wrong! Here's their big point, though, with which I am in complete agreement:

We also need a new Manhattan Project to develop specific defenses against new biological viral threats, natural or human made. There are promising new technologies, like RNA interference, that could be harnessed. We need to put more stones on the defensive side of the scale.

We realize that calling for this genome to be "un-published" is a bit like trying to gather the horses back into the barn. Perhaps we will be lucky this time, and we will indeed succeed in developing defenses for these killer flu viruses before they are needed. We should, however, treat the genetic sequences of pathological biological viruses with no less care than designs for nuclear weapons.



This is one of those areas where you only have to screw up once to have terrible consequences.

MORE CRITICISM OF THE MIERS NOMINATION, from John Fund:

There are philosophical reasons for Republican senators to oppose Ms. Miers. In 1987, the liberal onslaught on Robert Bork dramatically changed the confirmation process. The verb to bork, meaning to savage a nominee and distort his record, entered the vocabulary, and many liberals now acknowledge that the anti-Bork campaign had bad consequences. It led to more stealth nominees, with presidents hoping their scant paper trail would shield them from attack.

President Bush has now gone further in internalizing the lessons of the Bork debacle. Harriet Miers is a "superstealth" nominee--a close friend of the president with no available paper trail who keeps her cards so close to her chest they might as well be plastered on it. If Ms. Miers is confirmed, it will reinforce the popular belief that the Supreme Court is more about political outcomes than the rule of law.

Read the whole thing. Also, Ramesh Ponnuru looks at the fault lines that the nomination has exposed.

October 16, 2005

scornedwomansm.jpg
SO WITH THE BOOK NOT QUITE DONE, BUT UNDER CONTROL, I took the afternoon off and went out to take pictures -- not far, just up around Coalfield, Oliver Springs, and Petros. I haven't had time to work with the pictures much, but I liked this sign advertising cheese stix of an unusual variety.

I also finally got around to watching one of the Firefly episodes on DVD. I can see why the series fans are so rabid. Serenity did okay, but not great, in spite of the blogosphere boost the first week. I'm surprised, but then again, it's kind of like the series -- better than the size of its audience would suggest. Too bad.

Sorry bloggging's been a bit light, and email response worse than usual, these past few weeks. I've been bumping up against my limits. Things should get back to normal over the next little while.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: Haveil Havalim is up. So is the History Carnival, and a spinoff Asian History Carnival.

The latest Carnival of the Recipes is up over at Blonde Sagacity, and it's all about pork! Don't miss the Carnival of Cordite, and I think I forgot to mention the Carnival of the Vanities last week. Does that dropped ball qualify me for the Carnival of the Clueless?

Plus, don't forget the Carnival of Liberty!

UPDATE: Oh, and how could I forget the Carnival of Comedy?

SPACE ELEVATOR UPDATE: Keith Curtis has an interview with Dr. Bradley Edwards on space elevator development.

PUBLIUS HAS PICTURES from the Boston walk for democracy in Belarus.

TOM MAGUIRE has weighed in on the latest Judy Miller / Valerie Plame stuff.

UPDATE: Tom has some further questions and observations.

ROB SMITH is checking himself into a hospital. I guess the bloggy tough-love approach worked. Good!

FINISHED JOE HALDEMAN'S Camouflage last night. The ending was a bit abrupt, but it kept me turning pages right up to the last one.

RAND SIMBERG NOTES another staged pro-war propaganda event: "Controversy has erupted among the press corps in the last few days as news has spread that the now-famous picture of the 'victorious' flag raising over Iwo Jima a couple weeks ago was staged."

DAVID ADESNIK NOTES confusion at the Times and Post regarding the Iraqi elections.

Meanwhile, here's the take from StrategyPage, whom I've come to regard as more reliable than either:

The government is getting better at running national elections under the threat of terrorist attacks. The legislative elections last January had fewer than ten million people voting (69 percent of those registered), and over 40 people killed by terrorists opposed to the elections. This vote, on the new constitution, brought out over ten million, and left fewer than ten dead. There are several reasons for this progress. First, the government is getting better. There are more police, and more of them are trained and reliable. The government has used its experience well, and the country was basically shut down for yesterday's election, making it difficult for terrorists to move around. And apparently the terrorists did not move much, and attacked even less. But another reason for that was the effort by many Sunni Arab anti-government groups to get Sunni Arabs to vote against the new constitution. If the three mainly Sunni Arab provinces could get two thirds of the voters to go against the new constitution, the constitution would have to go back for more revisions and a new vote. Many Sunni Arabs decided that they could live with the new constitution, and turned out to vote that way. As a result, it appears that the Sunni Arabs did not stop the constitution.

All of this is another major defeat for the al Qaeda and anti-government forces. These two groups have not been able to stop any elections, and their efforts are weaker with each round of voting.

Read the whole thing. And note this interesting historical contrast.

UPDATE: Murdoc Online notes that every step so far has gone better than the critics predicted.

Heck, I can remember when Afghanistan was a quagmire!

Here's some gloating from a Marine. Excerpt: "The fact that there wasn’t a major mass casualty of voters, SBVIED in polling centers or assassinations conducted that the foaming mouth reporters could get in the middle of just reinforces how far the Iraqi forces have come and how they are getting stronger than the scumbags. . . . Reporters countrywide saturated the area days prior to the elections to hopefully catch the US forces failing. Well to damn bad it didn’t happen so pound sand! . . . I know that if there were an unsuccessful election, it would have been nothing but 'Breaking News' shots about how we failed."