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January 28, 2006

MARK TAPSCOTT: "The pork is not the point about the pork."

TOM MAGUIRE:

I would guess that blogs and the internet have made the unelectable left even better organized and harder to work around; the days when a candidate could tell Barbra Streisand what she wanted to hear, pocket her check, then tell the public something that made sense are long over.

Indeed.

AUSTIN BAY looks at the Hamas victory and what it may mean. The Belmont Club looks at the money. And Patrick Belton continues to report on Oxblog. My favorite bit is Hanan Ashrawi's unhappy take:

Not mincing words, she expressed utter disbelief in the Hamas 2.0 hypothesis, said she would not be open to joining a coalition with the party and told me that she thought Hamas would bring the West Bank and Gaza into theocracy.

Sorry she's unhappy, but her crowd had years and years to do something about Hamas, to get their rampant corruption under control, and -- for that matter -- to make (and keep) a peace agreement that would have led to prosperity in Gaza and the West Bank. They didn't, and this is part of the consequence.

Meanwhile, an article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel features interviews with locals with Palestinian roots, and I have to agree with this guy:

Fathi Husain agreed. He said that everyone would like to see peace and working relations in that part of the world, but for now he will wait and see what comes out of this democratic election.

"Democracy is a process, not just an event," Husain said. "It takes a lot of effort to make it work right."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

UPDATE: Here's a transcript of Hugh Hewitt and Frank Gaffney talking about this subject.

DAVE KOPEL LOOKS at blogs and the Canadian election.

A GOOGLE BACKLASH? I'm getting a fair number of emails like this one from reader Jeff Schneider of Texas Roast:

I run a small gourmet coffee company that does decent business on the internet, thanks to the reach of Google Ad Words. However, I cannot live with Google's decision to succumb to the wishes of the brutal dictatorship in China. So, as of today, my company has suspended all business with Google. This will have a substantial negative impact on my bottom line, but in some cases principle means more than money. As a veteran of OIF, I know all too well how valuable freedom is and I cannot support a company that helps to suppress it.

I would ask you to encourage any of your readers who might use Google Ad Words to take the same actions and send a message to Google. It is time for Americans to tell businesses when they have gone too far in compromising the most basic principles of freedom and make them pay a price for their actions.

Here's more on a Google boycott. I don't know how seriously this will impact Google (boycotts usually don't do much damage) but I think this will be a good opportunity for any GoogleAd competitors (Blogads, say) to snap up some of Google's business.

UPDATE: Blogger News Network is stopping Google Ads too.

JAMES LILEKS: "Simple rules for making a fool of yourself on the Internet."

COMING SOON: CentCom podcasting.

IT'S THE KOS-MOVEON EFFECT:

Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.

These activists -- spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns -- have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush's upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts. . . .

"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."

Yep, that's the trick.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Ardolino is congratulating Markos.

Also, a Watership Down comparison.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reports:

Now for the good news. Amid the humiliating publicity about the bridge to nowhere in Alaska, maple syrup research in Vermont and blueberry subsidies in Massachusetts, nearly everyone in Congress is suddenly swearing off pork. . . .

Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona and Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain have one good idea, which is to bring more transparency to earmarking. They would require that every earmark be specifically included in the text of the legislation Congress is voting on. We'd also like to see a requirement that every earmark list its main Congressional sponsor and its purpose (other than to re-elect the Member).

Good idea. And that last bit doesn't really need spelling out, does it? . . .

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE FRONT: Lots of interesting developments in Iraq that deserve more attention. Insurgent infighting, the Iraqi Army getting stronger -- you'd think we were winning, or something.

VIA THE MAGIC OF AMAZON RECOMMENDATIONS, I discovered this: Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies. I haven't read it, but I think its mere existence is significant, somehow.

Of course, if these guys really knew what they were talking about, wouldn't they have sent me a copy already? Or wouldn't I have heard about it from another blog, instead of Amazon? The reader reviews are good, though.

AND NOT IN A CHEAP HORROR MOVIE: Giant Octopus attacks submarine!

"I go full reverse and blast him with all these seabed particles," said Wood, describing the attack shown in the video. "Finally, he lets go and disappears off into the gloom.

There's video.

FUR-LINED UNDERWEAR banned in Uzbekistan? As "too erotic?" Go figure.

SAUDI ARABIA AND DENMARK: Where is the anger?

January 27, 2006

ANDREA SEE TURNS 30: Many happy returns.

GOOGLE HAS pulled its official censorship statement. (Via China Syndrome).

UPDATE: At Davos, Bill Gates is defending Google. Given that Microsoft's record of cooperation with the Chinese authorities is worse than Google's, that's neither surprising nor impressive.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Google responds to its critics on the Google Blog.

Dartblog is unpersuaded.

RICHARD POSNER, in The New Republic: "What if wiretapping works?"

MY EARLIER COMMENTS ABOUT HAMAS get me accused of over-the-line hate speech: "You know there are a lot of nasty things you can say about a group of people but comparing them to Windows ME is beyond the pale."

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll defends the comparison: "Well, they do both tend to crash and explode quite a bit."

SHADEGG FOR MAJORITY LEADER: I won't call this an "endorsement," because that's pretentious. I'm just a blogger, and not somebody in a position to issue endorsements.

But it seems to me that the GOP would be very wise to choose John Shadegg to replace Tom Delay as Majority Leader. Blunt, despite some reformist comments, is basically the candidate of business-as-usual. Boehner seems a bit better, but not tremendously different. Shadegg is the only one who seems like a plausible agent for reform, and it's going to be hard to persuade people who would like to see the GOP get back to its small-government, clean-Congress 1994 roots that there's any chance of that if they choose a business-as-usual Majority Leader.

Of course, that's only a start. As Daniel Henninger makes clear, there's also a structural problem:

Poll after poll says the public thinks both parties are equally corrupt. It depends, of course, on what the meaning of corruption is. If by corrupt you mean lobbyist sleaze, quid pro quo, the pork barrel, earmarks to nowhere and grossing out even the public's generally low expectations, then yes, both parties are equally corrupt.

But it gets worse. Congress legislated the system that now exists. Congress planted the seeds back in the '70s for what is revolting you now with two enactments--the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Both were marketed as reforms.

The first law turned political Washington into a trillion-dollar industry camouflaged as the federal budget. The second ensured that sitting members of Congress and K Street lobbyists would become the entrenched management of that industry. Compared to this, Enron is a kindergarten game.

He's right, and there's a chapter (entitled "The Big Bang") in The Appearance of Impropriety that discusses this at considerable length. But it's also true that to fix this requires people at the top who want to fix it. Shadegg seems much more likely to deliver these results than either Blunt or Boehner.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear thinks that Shadegg is the guy, too.

IRAQ THE MODEL: "Iraqi tribes in Anbar arrest 270 Arab and foreign al-Qaeda members!"

PODCASTING -- JUST A FAD? John Hawkins has some thoughts in response to my TCS Daily column on podcasting.

In truth, we don't disagree that much. He's right that podcasting isn't ready for prime time yet. It's just that to me, that's part of the fun. A couple of points:

1. Podcast listenership will almost always be less than blog readership.

True. Oh, I get some listeners via iTunes, links from other blogs, etc., but nearly all come from InstaPundit, I imagine. And since not everyone who reads the site, the audience has to be smaller. But it's not just about audience. I was just talking to a friend who does podcasts for NPR, and he said that after 20 years in radio he feels "rejuvenated" doing podcasts, because they take away the barriers between him and the audience. I feel that way, too. They're fun!

2. Successful podcasts will just get picked up by radio stations.

Er, is this a bug, or a feature? I wouldn't mind if my podcasts got on the radio. Would we take a deal to do the "Glenn & Helen Show" for a radio station? Maybe. And somebody smart will start an XM or Sirius channel that's all podcasts all the time. (We're not far from that -- I heard Chris Lydon's show on XM last night when I was out getting frozen yogurt for my wife and daughter).

Will podcasts that don't get on the radio just be "vanity projects?" I guess -- but that's what blogs are anyhow, in a way, isn't it? The important thing is that they're fun, and some people like them. Like blogs, podcasts will fork -- some will get big, and make money, but most won't and will be just for fun. And both ways are okay.

UNREST IN CHINA:

China's Ministry of Public Security admitted that, last year, there were 87,000 riots, demonstrations and smaller protests, an increase of 6.6 percent over 2004. The most common cause of this unrest is government corruption, particularly among Communist Party members. The government has responded by pledging to come down hard on anyone who disturbs the peace, as well as finding and punishing corrupt officials. More restrictions are being placed on public access to the Internet (which over 110 million Chinese use.) All this was the same response the government had last year, when it was announced that unrest had been up for several years.

I tend to suspect that these numbers are, um, optimistic, too. There's more on events in China at the China Syndrome blog.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON is targeting Tim Russert.

JAMES JOYNER on the similarities between Wal-Mart and academia.

IN THE MAIL: The Skewed Throne, by Joshua Palmatier.

JUNKETING BLOGGERS: I nobly resisted this temptation, by not being invited.

WONKETTE ON ALITO: "The Dems vs. Alito: Let's Hold Hands and Jump."

NOT REALLY A SURPRISE:

Canadian broadcasters are among the most vulnerable to an onslaught of new technology that is changing how people watch TV, warns a report titled "The end of television as we know it."

(Via Newsbeat1).

STEPHEN GREEN:

So let's say it again: There is no such thing as an efficient dictatorship. Only, when you it this time, think of Google and China.

Yes, it's true that Google should take great shame in kowtowing to the Butchers of Beijing, but that's not the whole story.

We take Google for granted, but we shouldn't. For those lucky enough to live in the US, Google has given has a virtual research library Ė for free. I'm a better thinker, a sharper writer, and a richer individual thanks to Google.

And what will Google do for China? The answer is: Less than it's done for us. . . . China is trying to compete in the high-tech economy, while crippling the tools that make such competition possible.

(Via China Syndrome). More thoughts here.

"LOOSEN THE STRINGS:" Some thoughts on improving diplomacy.

ALITO'S CONFIRMATION AS AN "IDEOLOGICAL COUP:" Ann Althouse is unimpressed with the imagery.

STUCK ON 1968: Arnold Kling writes:

If 1968 were an influential thinker, it would have many disciples who share its folk beliefs. Those folk beliefs are the mental security blanket still being clutched by my liberal friends, even those who are not old enough to remember 1968.

I want to contrast the way the world might have appeared to a reasonable liberal in 1968 with the way events have unfolded since then. Afterwards, if you still prefer the folk beliefs of 1968 to my views today, so be it. But at least you have an opportunity to reconsider.

Read the whole thing.

MORE ON THE HAMAS VICTORY at Winds of Change. M. Simon responds with thoughts on control theory.

Patrick Belton, meanwhile, envisions it as an incomplete software update. So Hamas is like the WindowsME of Palestinian governance?

JONAH GOLDBERG: "Chuck Norris is the new 1970s/1980s male nostalgia icon."

January 26, 2006

HUGH HEWITT AND JONATHAN ALTER: An interview transcript.

TIGERHAWK: "Cindy Sheehan gives away the game."

I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THIS WAY: "Kerry has become the Paris Hilton to Al Gore's Nicole Ritchie on the stage of American politics."

SINCE I DON'T SKI, I don't really care.

I don't need sex therapy, either.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, DANA MILBANK, TIM RUSSERT: Too conservative. Indeed.

ON THE ANNIVERSARY, James Oberg looks at 7 myths about the Challenger disaster.

DID IRAQI WMD GO TO SYRIA? Once we invade them, I guess we'll know.

IRAQI MAYOR VS. SCOTT RITTER: Who to believe?

A SCHOOL LAWSUIT over bias against boys. I expect we'll see a lot more of those.

EUGENE VOLOKH looks at what is, and is not, McCarthyism.

JIMMY CARTER'S APPEAL TO HAMAS seems to have gotten the usual response.

HEH. Pretty much the last word on the should-InstaPundit-have-comments subject.

And if anyone actually tried to swamp me with hate-email, I didn't notice. Message to trolls: Not only do I crap bigger than you, even my spammers crap bigger than you. No surprise, really.

KARL ROVE on the NSA intercepts, and more. Hugh Hewitt interviewed him; transcript and audio are here.

MAYBE IT "TAKES A VILLAGE TO CONFRONT WAL-MART," but apparently it takes the population of a small city to apply for jobs there:

A year and a half after some Chicago alderman stopped Wal-Mart from opening a store on the city's South Side, 25,000 people applied for 325 job openings in the company's new store, located just one block west of the city's boundary in south suburban Evergreen Park, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Sounds like it might be a more attractive place to work than some people realize.

UPDATE: Bill Quick wonders how many jobs the anti-WalMart folks created in January.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Freeman Hunt emails:

I've never worked there, but I do know that it is one of very few companies where you can start at the very bottom and work your way to the top. I grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of Wal-Mart and most Wal-Mart executives. I think people would be surprised at how many of the people at the top started out working at Wal-Mart stores. One man I knew in particular was one of the VPs in the international division making a six figure salary, and he started with Wal-Mart as a cart pusher. I think "cart pusher" is probably the lowliest job you can get at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is definitely a company where someone can work his way up. No wonder so many people applied for those jobs.

You know, to me Wal-Mart is a lot like George W. Bush. It's not that I'm that big a fan in the abstract, really, it's just that the viciousness and stupidity revealed in its enemies tends to make me view it more favorably than I otherwise would.

HOWARD KURTZ has more on China and Google.

STUART BUCK fact-checks claims that the Secret Service is being remade into a national "Gestapo."

I've noted before that the Secret Service has management problems and a heavy-handed approach (see this post collecting examples) but this sort of over-the-top claim just makes the claimer look dumb, and actually serves to distract attention from the real problems.

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on cyber-disinhibition, and its tendency to lead to flaming. (Via Matoko Kusanagi.) Some people are obviously more susceptible to this phenomenon than others . . . .

GADGET UPDATE: I bought this cool Olympus digital recorder with an eye toward podcast interviews. So far I've just tested it out recording my classes, but it's been very good at that -- I was quite surprised by the quality, both with the builtin microphone and the plug-in remote microphone that came bundled with it. I bought a stereo microphone separately, but haven't tried it out yet.

CHINA SYNDROME is a new PJ Media blog set up to track the way foreign businesses like Google and Microsoft suck up to China.

JUSTIN FOX IN FORTUNE:

For members of the Old Media, Davos remains stuck in a blissful time warp where they still matter and there's no Matt Drudge or Instapundit or Daily Kos around to cause trouble.

Enjoy it, guys.

FRANCE, IRAN, AND TERRORISM: They seem to be taking a tougher line:

What is so surprising is that Mr. Chirac's government has in the past favored an approach of conciliation or even appeasement toward Iran and the Arab nations. He was, after all, the vociferous foe of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and a hard line against Iran. That approach benefited French companies that were able to obtain lucrative contracts in competition with corporations based in the land of the great Satan. So, what happened? There are two contributing factors. The first is the civil unrest in France several months ago, which involved nightly riots and a myriad of car burnings in many areas of the country. This violence had the same kind of impact upon Mr. Chirac and the French government that September 11 had upon the United States.

In his speech, Mr. Chirac bluntly declared, "In numerous countries, radical ideas are spreading, advocating a confrontation of civilizations." Mr. Chirac now understands the problem. The jihadists are attempting to capture town by town, areas within Western Europe. As one French government official put it, "This is more than a clash of civilizations. It is a cancer within our country that if unchecked will destroy all of France."

With his statements, Mr. Chirac is warning Iran and the Arab countries to desist in supporting and encouraging residents of France who launched last year's attacks and are undoubtedly planning to do far worse. His approach is to cut off terror at the source. This resembles the policy being pursued by the U.S. government, although it is hard to imagine how great the public outcry would be if President Bush threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Indeed. Read the whole thing. (Via Newsbeat1).

A HAMAS VICTORY in the Palestinian elections:

The Islamic militant group Hamas captured a large majority of seats in Palestinian legislative elections, officials in Hamas and the ruling Fatah Party said Thursday - a devastating upset that is sure to throw Mideast peacemaking into turmoil.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his cabinet ministers submitted their resignations to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday. "This is the choice of the people. It should be respected," Qureia said. "If it's true (the results), then the president should ask Hamas to form a new government. For me, personally, I sent my resignation."

Patrick Belton, who's been there covering the race for OxBlog writes:

It's not clear anyone wanted this, least of all Hamas, who in assuming the administration of the Palestinian national authority's creaking and often corrupt bureaucracy single-handed in a moment when its sole lifeline of European and other international support appears threatened, may just have stumbled into the biggest molasses patch the Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah has ever faced. Unlike the Lib Dems of 1985, Hamas did not go to its constituencies to prepare for government. It had prepared for a coalition, or possibly pristine opposition, but not this.

Read the whole thing, and here's a blog-roundup from PJ Media.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is depressed about the results.

January 25, 2006

GEORGE GALLOWAY, voted out.

UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has video.

ROY BLUNT STUMBLES: Ouch.

SLATE rounds up a lot of blog posts on Google's China capitulation.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN has an idea on how to cut pork.

The Glenn & Helen Show: Norah Vincent

norahcover.jpgSo we interviewed Norah Vincent, author of Self Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back. Helen does most of the talking on this one, as Vincent talks about dating women as a man, the importance of fathers, and why being a man isn't nearly as easy as most women think.

You can listen to the show (no iPod required!) by clicking here, or via iTunes.

We thought it was really interesting, and we hope that you will, too.

Music: Strange and Beautiful (intro) and The Crush (end) by Audra and the Antidote.

And as always, the lovely and talented producer of this show is soliciting comments.

WELL, this certainly fits.

SOME THOUGHTS ON CIVIL DISCOURSE from Louise Slaughter.

I DON'T THINK I MAKE A VERY GOOD ANA MARIE COX, but I'm guestblogging over at Wonkette today.

CINDY SHEEHAN says that Clinton killed more Iraqis than Bush. I wonder how widely reported this will be.

I'M DOING a live online chat over at the Washington Post site starting in just a minute. You can submit questions now.

UPDATE: Not everyone approved.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reuters proves my point about comments and the press very nicely, with a quote from LGF. Thanks, Reuters!

(Said AP earlier. Fixed.)

OVER AT SPACE LAW PROBE, Jesse Londin posts the first blog review of An Army of Davids.

SCIENCE FICTION UPDATE: Just got the paperback reissue of Vernor Vinge's first novel, Tatja Grimm's World. Amazon reviews are mixed -- it is a first novel -- but what the hell, it's Vinge.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

George Galloway faces the prospect of a criminal investigation into his activities by the serious fraud office, which has collected evidence relating to the oil-for-food corruption scandal in Iraq.
A four-strong SFO team returned from Washington with what a source close to US investigators calls "thousands of documents" about the scandal. The team is expected to produce, within the next four weeks, a report for the SFO director, Robert Wardle, as to whether a full criminal investigation should be mounted into UK individuals and companies involved, including Mr Galloway.

Ed Morrissey has more on this. And then there's this damning evidence. Of, er, something . . . .

AUSTIN BAY takes a look at the Palestinian elections. "This is a slow civil war, but at the moment a slow civil war with the chance to change into something far less violent."

Meanwhile, Patrick Belton is on the scene and posting reports at OxBlog. Just keep scrolling.

JIM BENNETT offers advice for new Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

His legislative agenda probably needs to focus on government process -- transparency primarily, to decouple the Liberals' cash machine, and secondly disintermediation, to finish the end run around the CBC and the press oligopoly. The Bloc Quebecois and to some extent the New Democratic Party can get behind that agenda, even if as leftists they cannot support much of the Conservative substance.

But aside from that, the Prime Minister's office is a pretty good bully pulpit, and he would be smart to use it to start deconstructing the Trudeavean deconstruction of the old Canada. He should make sure the Canadian troops in Afghanistan are decorated in a visible and public ceremony, exactly what has been denied to them to date. He should make a show of honoring the Canadian WWII veterans conspicuously and repeatedly, and having a substantial ceremony on every one of the big Canadian military anniversaries: Vimy, Dieppe, D-Day, etc. He might bring back the Red Ensign in a historical context -- ordering it flown as a "veteran's memorial flag" on select days like D-Day, and for Canadian ships to fly the Blue Ensign on a suitable day as well, maybe November 11th. It would be very hard for people to criticize him for remembering the veterans more conspicuously. And perhaps he might even consider a surprise visit to the forces in Afghanistan. . . .

The Liberals and the media are waiting for him to become a "clone of America" -- but by taking an Anglospherist tack he can throw them off balance and turn the negative Canadian nationalism (in the form of anti-Americanism) into positive Canadian patriotism. America (and the Anglosphere) doesn't need a lackey of America on its northern border -- it needs a neighbor that has abandoned its touchy defensiveness and can take its proper place in the English-speaking community, of which it used to be a leading member.

I'm certainly no expert on Canadian politics -- though I think that increased transparency has already helped matters -- but I encourage interested parties to read the whole thing.

SO I SAW THE LINK AT BAINBRIDGE'S PLACE and naturally, I took the quiz. I guess it works!

I'm a Mazda RX-8!

You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

UPDATE: Okay, I seem to have killed their server with the picture link, so I've substituted one of my own. Here's another.

AHMADINEJAD escapes bomb blasts in Iran.

ERIC S. RAYMOND has thoughts on Academia and the Internet.

ALTERNATIVE MEDIA ARE TAKING OFF -- Again! My TCS Daily column is up.

January 24, 2006

GOOGLE CAPITULATES TO CENSORS: "Google announced that it is officially launching its services in China, a move that will require the Internet firm to subject itself to self-censorship."

UPDATE: Publius has more, and points out the oddity of Google being more willing to cooperate with the Chinese than with the American government. "Perhaps they should change their motto to, 'Itís just business.'"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rebecca MacKinnon notes in mitigation, "Google seems to be trying to minimize its evilness in several ways."

MORE: David Pinto: "I've removed Google AdSense from my website due to their agreement to censor searches in China."

STILL MORE: Jonah Goldberg writes: "I think Google's a great product and company, but doesn't this just demonstrate that their principles are marketing tools more than anything else?"

CAPITALISM AND TECHNOLOGY: The conversation continues over at Cato Unbound.

FRANK WILSON: "Apparently, there are now only five stand-alone newspaper book sections in this country."

WOMEN AND HEART ATTACKS: You can see video of the Insta-Wife talking about her experience here.

Helen has more.

IF KANYE WEST HAD BALLS, he'd pose as Mohammed, instead of Jesus. But he doesn't. Efforts to be controversial have become so predictable. Yawn.

THE BBC'S WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT is tired of America-bashing.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a post-mortem on the Canadian elections, plus a suggestion for Daniel Drezner.

Meanwhile, over at GlennReynolds.com, I suggest that the Canadian elections ought to serve as a warning to the GOP.

I THINK IT'S PROBABLY OK to question Joel Stein's patriotism:

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. . . . But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.

Actually, to some people it's always Vietnam.

UPDATE: The Mudville Gazette notes a rather sharp contrast.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein is unimpressed. So is Major John Tammes: "'a fighting tool of American imperialism'? Really, sir, that is so 1968."

MORE: Hugh Hewitt interviewed Stein. Here's a transcript.

And though Stein wrote "you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico," that may turn out not to be the case.

Meanwhile, as number two, the LAT seems to be trying harder.

STILL MORE: J.D. Johannes is glad that Stein is out of the closet: "Stein, a humor columnist whose writing I have enjoyed over the years is pointing out an uncomfortable truth for the left. If the troops support the war, want to win, want to see it through to the end, how can calling for their immediate withdrawal be supporting them? . . . The anti-war-left's support for the troops is a charade. They know the soldiers and Marines volunteer and probably make the same calculus as Stein that the troops are guilty of crimes against conscience. But to advance their political objectives, they swallow hard and pretend to support young men and women whose objective is to kill terrorists. '

EVEN MORE: Laura Lee Donoho is very unhappy.

DARFUR UPDATE: Writing in the New York Review of Books, Nicholas Kristof reviews two books on Darfur -- Julie Flint and Alex de Waal's Darfur : A Short History of a Long War, and Gerard Prunier's Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. Kristof writes:

Much the same has been true of the Western response to the Armenian genocide of 1915, the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, and the Bosnian massacres of the 1990s. In each case, we have wrung our hands afterward and offered the lame excuse that it all happened too fast, or that we didn't fully comprehend the carnage when it was still under way.

And now the same tragedy is unfolding in Darfur, but this time we don't even have any sort of excuse. In Darfur genocide is taking place in slow motion, and there is vast documentary proof of the atrocities. Some of the evidence can be seen in the photo reproduced with this essay, which was leaked from an African Union archive containing thousands of other such photos. And now, the latest proof comes in the form of two new books that tell the sorry tale of Darfur: it's appalling that the publishing industry manages to respond more quickly to genocide than the UN and world leaders do.

Norm Geras comments: "It's hard not to be led to the most disheartening of conclusions about the putative legitimacy of the international system. For those of us who look towards a strengthening of transnational institutions, and of the quality and the reach of international law, whether in working for peaceful outcomes, in bringing to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, or in preventing major atrocities, especially genocide, how is it possible to speak for that emergent legitimacy, or the claim to one, when the international community repeatedly just stands by as the worst crime on its books unfolds?"

How, indeed? Here are some earlier thoughts of mine on this topic.

JOHN TAMMES: Undefeated in Afghanistan, beaten in America.

GRAND ROUNDS is up!

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (free link) reports:

When President Bush reveals his budget request in two weeks, he likely will repeat a boast from recent speeches: "We've now cut the rate of growth in nonsecurity discretionary spending each year since I've been in office."

But such spending -- for everything from air-traffic control to education and prisons -- amounts to one-sixth of a $2.5 trillion budget. And it is the only piece that isn't ballooning.

What are mounting are the political untouchables: defense and the so-called mandatory entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The bottom line? Total spending this year and for fiscal 2007, which starts Oct. 1, is heading in the same direction it has since the start of the Bush administration: up.

Conservatives are fuming because this is occurring when Republicans control both the White House and Congress. "The White House always says it's [due to] defense and homeland security...but even without defense and homeland security it's record spending," says Brian Riedl, budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The brakes are off everywhere."

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz offers part of the explanation:

I've always wondered why busy lawmakers make so much time for lobbyists, at least when they're not playing golf or being comped at Signatures, and gradually I realized: They envision themselves, a few years down the road, in the same role. After all, half the former members of Congress--half!--are now earning many times their Hill salaries by trying to persuade their ex-colleagues to fund a Bridge to Nowhere or some equivalent measure.

That's only part of the problem, but it's a significant part.

JOSHUA SHARF has a review of Joel Miller's new book, Size Matters. Excerpt: "The book is more likely to appeal to conservatives and libertarians looking for ammunition than to open-minded liberals. But it may also help free-marketeers-by-instinct, who've never given much thought to the underlying principles. By outlining the case and giving it a structure, Miller is helping to build support from the ground up."

PATRICK BELTON: reporting from Ramallah.

APPARENTLY, BEING CRUSHED UNDER THE IRON HEEL of Chimpy McHitlerburton's evil empire isn't so bad:

Iraqis and Afghans are the among most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests. . . .

In Afghanistan, 70% say their own circumstances are improving, and 57% believe that the country overall is on the way up.

In Iraq, 65% believe their personal life is getting better, and 56% are upbeat about the country's economy.

Go figure.

UPDATE: Norm Geras has more thoughts.

MARC COOPER is unhappy that Pacifica Radio is being taken over by a crazed conspiracy theorist. "So just when media is more important than ever in the political fight, just when cheap digital technology makes radio production immediately doable and accessible, Pacifica has marooned itself on the margin."

I'm afraid the problem extends beyond Pacifica.

January 23, 2006

CANADIAN ELECTION UPDATE:

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will become Canada's next prime minister, as Canadians have elected a Tory minority government and ended a 12-year reign of Liberal rule.

Nationwide, the Tories are currently leading or elected in 121 ridings, the Liberals in 101, the Bloc in 50 and 28 for the NDP.

The Tories appeared to make significant gains in Ontario and Quebec, leading or elected in at least two dozen seats in Central Canada.

The NDP also made major gains, leading or elected in 30 ridings, up 11 from the 2004 vote.

In Quebec, where they were shut out in 2004, the Tories made major inroads, leading or elected in 10 ridings, eight from the Bloc and two from the Liberals.

In vote-rich Ontario, the Liberals, who captured 75 seats in 2004, are leading or elected in 57 ridings. But the Tories increased their support and are leading or elected in 38 ridings, a gain of 14. The NDP is leading in 11 ridings, up four.

Interestingly, Portugal saw a Socialist defeat yesterday.

And Capt. Ed Morrissey -- who can claim a major role in this development with his breaking of the publication ban on the Gomery investigation -- has been liveblogging, though heavy traffic has made his site inaccessible at times: "Based on the polls done before the election, that's a better showing than I expected for the Liberals, but there is still no doubt that tonight has been a debacle for Martin and his party."

UPDATE: Mark Steyn has a wrapup, and David Warren has thoughts on Canada's political situation in general. Damian Penny writes: "We've been waiting 12 years for this."

And Kate McMillan is already celebrating. Meanwhile, Publius has thoughts, and Newsbeat 1 is, as always, on top of the story. There's lots more at NealENews, too.

Steve Janke, I have to say, seems more happy than "Angry in the Great White North" tonight.

And here's the AP story, whose first paragraph suggests that the Canadian press may not be overjoyed. Actually, most of the paragraphs give that impression.

Too bad! "The Internet has also brought a new class of people into politics -- I would almost say a new generation who arenít accustomed to the old rules."

MORE: Over at GayPatriot, an observation that anti-Americanism may be the last resort of scoundrelous regimes, but it's one that hasn't been working very well lately.

And Ann Althouse writes: "I suppose I'm one of those Americans who don't spend much time thinking about Canada. I know it's up there, disapproving of us, like a sanctimonious older sibling. But I like the idea of this change."

DANIEL GLOVER: "What was John Kerry thinking? . . . Kerry's first foray into the blogosphere certainly will be memorable -- but probably not in a flattering way."

AS USUAL, Winds of Change has big roundups of war news and Iraq news.

A LOOK AT THE ROLE OF BLOGS and talk radio in the runup to the Canadian election.

GEORGE RUSSELL AND CLAUDIA ROSETT:

How bad is the still expanding scandal in the United Nations' multi-billion-dollar procurement division? Based on a still-secret internal investigation, the answer is: for the U.N., it is just as bad as the gigantic Oil-for-Food debacle ó or maybe worse.

The focus of the current scandal is U.N. peacekeeping, a function that consumes 85 percent of the U.N.'s procurement budget ó a cost that could reach $2 billion in 2005. Like many of the U.N.'s financial dealings, it is shrouded in secrecy. And like the multi-billion-dollar Oil-for-Food scandal, it is wrapped in what the U.N.'s own investigators now call "systematic abuse," "a pattern of corrupt practices," and "a culture of impunity."

Read the whole thing.

IF THIS PICTURE doesn't finish off George Galloway's career, I don't know what will.

MATT WELCH IS MOVING TO THE L.A. TIMES: Congratulations, Matt! And I guess this means an LAT turnaround is now imminent.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: John Fund writes:

In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, It seems everyone has discovered the excesses of pork-barrel spending. Voters may now be disgusted enough to make the political costs to a member seeking pork greater than the benefits.

Read the whole thing. I think he's right. It's usually only small sub-constituencies who care about pork. Oldstyle pork-barreling depends on them knowing, and being grateful, while others are oblivious. Sufficient transparency will put an end to that. We're on the way, but we're not there yet.

UPDATE: According to his office, Sen. Coburn is going after pork in a big way: "Coburn intends to offer an amendment on every pork project stuffed into appropriations bills this year. There were at least 13,998 earmarked projects contained in last yearís appropriations bills. By way of comparison, the Senate had only 366 roll call votes last year. Needless to say we are beefing up our appropriations staff for this challenge and we have requested that we be given at least 72 hours to review appropriations bills before they are considered."

LEGAL AFFAIRS is ceasing publication. That's too bad. They may continue as a Web publication, which makes sense to me. Given their audience and subject matter, I've never really understood why they leaned so heavily into the print model.

REDSTATE declares a free-speech victory. More from Rick Hasen and Ann Althouse.

WONDERFALLS UPDATE: I ordered Wonderfalls a while back, but was too busy to sit down and watch it until last night. I was spurred to get it out by this email from reader Jeff Roche:

Just wanted to thank you for your Wonderfalls suggestion on your Blog Instapundit.

I was looking for an extra gift for my Wife for XMas and bought it for the her.

We put off watching it till last night thinking how good can it be. We sat there and watched 4 episodes in a row, laughing the whole time. What a wonderful show. I can't believe it only aired 4 times before cancellation.

We couldn't figure out how such a great show could have been cancelled so quickly. Then we read it aired on Fox.

That explains everything. The Network that cancelled "Briscoe County JR", "Space Above and Beyond", "Firefly", etc.

I watched two episodes. The first one put me off a bit -- I felt kind of sorry for the heroine, whose troubles are manifold at the kickoff -- but I really enjoyed the second, which seemed to hit its stride. I look forward to watching more.

Thanks to Tim Minear, who made the initial recommendation!

MORE ON IRAN, and what to do.

UPDATE: Sorry, that link was open when I posted it, but the Weekly Standard folks seem to have closed it down now; I guess it wasn't meant to be publicly available yet. My apologies to all concerned.

AUSTIN BAY has thoughts on the Canadian elections, and the Canadian military.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: The Carnival of the Capitalists and the Blawg Review are up. Also the Tangled Bank, the Carnival of Cars, and Haveil Havalim. Want more carnivals? They're all right here, at BlogCarnival.com.

And, with today's elections in Canada, you'll want to check out the Canadian Red Ensign Standard carnival.

UPDATE: Plus, the Carnival of the Cats!

HOWARD KURTZ offers some advance notice for An Army of Davids.

He also mentions Kos's new book (coauthored with Jerome Armstrong) and this passage sounds like something I could agree with:

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, who speaks regularly with Democratic leaders, will soon publish "Crashing the Gate," his indictment of "a progressive movement that is failing to keep up with the times," including "issue groups that don't realize it's no longer 1975 or even 1995" and "an incestuous relationship between the party committees and consultants that serve themselves more than our candidates."

I don't think I'd like a Democratic party remade in Kos's image, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to dealing with it. And here's more evidence that reality can transcend partisanship at times:

I just finished reading the type script of Glenn Reynolds' "An Army of Davids: How Markets & Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths." We're supposed to be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but I agreed with so much in the book, especially about the power that blogging and the new technology have given to the individual to take on big media, big government and the status quo.

Indeed.

BRAD RUBENSTEIN is blogging from Digital Life Day in Munich. Excerpt:

One of my favorite pull quotes - Gabe McIntyre, of xolo.tv. "Blogs are OK, but there is so much text, and I hate to read..." He then launched his promo-reel of video blogs. I suspect a quarter of the audience had their cell phones out, taking pictures which will probably appear on flickr before you know it. Preaching (almost literally) to the converted. . . .

I'm struck by the large number of projects going on in areas I am interested in, which I feel like I'm falling upon just by chance. Almost every web site that people are talking to me about is new to me. It's not just information overload in general, even in the narrow niche where I want to know what's going on, it's too much to keep track of. The internet is too big, that's the problem.

Indeed.

MORE ON GENDER AND EDUCATION:

First lady Laura Bush and a growing number of physicians, educators and psychologists say Americans need to wake up and see that boys lag far behind girls in school, and then demand that something be done.

Mrs. Bush, mother of two grown daughters, speaks at conferences and in interviews about the declining status of boys in today's learning environment. She has charged that boys are being overlooked.

"I think we need to pay more attention to boys. I think we've paid a lot of attention to girls for the last 30 years ... but we have actually neglected boys," Mrs. Bush told Parade magazine early last year.

William Pollack, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, agrees.

(Via PoliPundit). Related thoughts on higher education, here.

UPDATE: Are boys just "defective girls?"

IF YOU WERE OFF, you know, having a life or something over the weekend, you may have missed our podcast interview with Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan regarding Iranian nukes and related matters. And note the "Podcasts" tab in the Nav bar at the top, which will take you to a podcast archive.

And reader Stephen Lalley writes with something that's news to me: "I have TiVo and they just started a new feature where you can listen to Podcasts. I input your RSS feed and there was the list of casts. Pretty cool!" Sure enough, he's right. Cool, indeed.

I'M NOT GOING TO CALL the Canadian elections until they're over, but Michelle Malkin has a roundup.

January 22, 2006

MORE ON IRAN, at GlennReynolds.com.

THE JAMES FREY DEBACLE, explained.

LOADS OF INFORMATION on the GOP Majority Leader candidates, including audio and transcripts of the blogger conference calls, Hugh Hewitt interviews, etc., at N.Z. Bear's roundup page.

MIGUEL OCTAVIO reports a big anti-Chavez march in Caracas. Photos here.

IRAQI INSURGENTS declare war on Al Qaeda. May both sides fight to the last man . . . .

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE HAS MORE THOUGHTS on UCLA's angry alumni and the question of academic diversity.

Read this, too.

GOOD NEWS THAT I HOPE IS TRUE: Roger Stern has an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences arguing that oil is, in fact, plentiful, and that supply issues are politically driven. PDF version is available here.

Okay, it's only sort of good news, as you'll see if you read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Reader Daniel Reinhold sends this link to a paper on oil supplies.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Roger Simon.

IRAQ THE MODEL has more on political events in Iraq.

Austin Bay's short take: "Al Qaeda definitely lost the election."

ED MORRISSEY IS PODCASTING now, too. He's got a lengthy interview with J.D. Hayworth up. Topics include immigration, lobbying reform, Abramoff, and more.

UPDATE: John Tabin and Dave Weigel are podcasting, too.

I'LL BE ON "RELIABLE SOURCES" ON CNN at about 10:30 (Eastern) today, talking about Abramoff, Murtha, etc.

UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has the video. Most striking to me is the bit at the end, where Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune says that Murtha's war record is a fair story, but one that should have been reported by a legitimate news organization, not Cybercast News Service, which she calls a "right wing part of the blogosphere." I'm guessing if the Chicago Tribune had been on the story first, CNS would have foregone its own investigation . . . .

VIDEOGAMES: Defending the American way of life!

American troops appear to have a considerable advantage because most of them grew up playing video games and using PCs. More and more military equipment uses computers, or are basically electronic gadgets. American troops require a lot less time to learn how to use this stuff, and tend to be very good with it. This extends from fire control systems in armored vehicles, to new radios, electronic rifle sights and training systems (which are very similar to those video games.) Many other countries have to spend a lot more time training their troops to use this stuff, and the proficiency of the troops is never particularly good. This effect is often seen when this high tech American equipment is provided to foreign troops who didn't have such an electronic childhood.

Another big American advantage here is that U.S. troops can quickly get into the computerized training systems and further enhance their combat skills. A major problem with computerized simulators and wargames is the time it takes to learn to use them. But most American troops see this stuff as just another computer game, and get right into it.

Heh. Indeed.