Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan on the war, Roger Stern and Lynne Kiesling on oil supplies and energy policy, and warblogger Michael Yon on his experiences in Iraq, and his difficulties with the U.S. Army -- all in the latest podcast.
Once again, we got syndicated columnist, author, and blogger Austin Bay together with author and StrategyPage.com publisher Jim Dunnigan and let them talk (with just a few questions from us) about what's going on in the world. The discussion covers Iran, the Cartoon War in Europe, the difficulties in intervening in Darfur, and more.
Also, Roger Stern, from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins (and author of this paper on geopolitics and oil pricing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) talks with Lynn Kiesling, Director of the Center for Applied Energy Research, and blogger, about oil pricing and U.S. policy -- will there be pressure for higher petroleum taxes, and is that better than pushing particular technologies like hybrids or ethanol?
Finally, warblogger Michael Yon talks about his experiences in Iraq, a famous photo, and his difficulties with the U.S. Army's legal team -- difficulties that were resolved once the blogosphere got involved. Apparently, a lot of people in the Pentagon read blogs.
UPDATE: Interesting email from reader Edward Tabakin, with an (unfortunate) "Army of Davids" angle. Well, as I say in the book, technology empowers bad people, as well as good ones. Click "read more" to read it.
A couple of thoughts about the protests over the Danish cartoons:
1. In earlier times, one way that a great power could flex its muscle was to send the fleet, make a show of force. I'm currently reading Alan J. P. Taylor's Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848 -- 1918, and there's a description of how making a fleet demonstration, or even the threat of doing so, worked in Great Power diplomacy. In 1856, following the Crimean War and the Congress of Paris, France and Britain were looking for a way to "open" the Italian question, the unification of Italy.
Cavour [the prime minister of Sardinia] was not yet ready to challenge Austria; the only opening therefore seemed to complain of misgovernment in Naples . . . . In October 1856 Great Britain and France broke off diplomatic relations with Naples and threatened to follow this up with a fleet demonstration. Since neither of them was prepared to go beyond this and since the British, in addition, were afraid that a revolution in Naples might end up with Murat, Napoleon's cousin, on the throne, the fleet demonstration never took place. But enough had been done to provoke a Russian protest.
It strikes me that the angry protests about the cartoons is a modern day equivalent to a fleet demonstration, a projection of power. And judging from the reaction, a very effective fleet demonstration: the cartoonists are in hiding, in fear for their lives; and confusion and anger abounds in Europe and America. Some newspapers in Europe have reproduced the cartoons in support of free speech, while here, CNN says it won't show the cartoons out of respect for Islam; and bloggers report angrily on what MSM newspapers are saying and doing about the cartoons (mostly report about them, but not show them). The US State Department issues a statement, you call it appeasement and Reason Online condemns it as "a craven condemnation of an affair that is none of their business." Gene Volokh responds that the State Department statement "is a good deal more assertively pro-free-speech than the Reuters account suggests." To which you grouse that "this is not a time for nuance." Confusion reigns, to our enemy's delight.
2. In the 19th century, fleet demonstrations were the province of Great Powers; but this jihadi fleet demonstration was built on "army of Davids" principles. Mark Steyn hit on this in his speech at the Claremont Institute this past December. He said:
[W]ith a couple of airline tickets, an ATM card and some crude explosives, the jihad can project itself from Saudi Arabia or Pakistan to Paris, to Brussels, to Berlin for little more than a few hundred bucks; whereas most NATO militaries by contrast simply got no way of projecting themselves to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan at all.
What went into arranging these demonstrations across Europe and the Middle East? E-mails, phone calls, postings on a few web sites; probably even some suggestions as to what provocative messages to write on the signs.
3. Looked at this way, the cartoon protests as a projection of power, it's significant that the protest started in Gaza a few days after Hamas won the election. Hamas is tight with Iran; at least as tight as Great Britain and France were in 1853. And the cartoon protests coincide with the IAEA referral of Iran to the UN. The Danish Embassy in Syria was set ablaze; something to draw the population closer to that country's unpopular government, in the face of western pressure against the government? Perhaps the goals of the cartoon protest are as specific as the threatened fleet demonstration in 1853; or perhaps it's simply a general statement of power to the world, akin to Theodore Roosevelt sending out the Great White Fleet. Looked at this way, the State Department message might have been aimed at specific troublesome governments; and maybe they've hit just the right note. I'm not a diplomat, so I can't say one way or the other. Just don't ask Joe Wilson for an opinion.
But a closer look at those "Anger growing over cartoons" headlines reveals something more encouraging than just another story of the perpetually hurt feelings of Muslim community leaders. The actions of inflamed Muslims have been producing consistent reactions from their targets. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons have been reprinted by newspapers in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary and Jordan, and on countless blogs. The longer the protests continue the more widely the cartoons get distributed. The issue will almost certainly lead to a revisiting of the lamentable laws against "hate speech" in Europe, and with any luck to a debate on whether these laws are more likely to destroy public harmony than encourage it. Muslim activists are finding out why getting into a negative-publicity fight is as inadvisable as wrestling with a pig: You get dirty and the pig enjoys it.
To be fair, as Eugene Volokh points out, the State Department's statement was far more supportive of free speech than press reports suggested. But this was not a time for nuance.
UPDATE: Reader Shivan V. Mahendrarajah emails:
While I agree that the State Dept. was wrong to be nuanced in their response re the cartoons of the Prophet and the ensuing brouhaha, in a Machiavellian way, I think it brilliant (though unintentionally so, otherwise that would be giving the State Dept. way too much credit). Here's why:
1. U.S. Embassies worldwide have not been stormed, attacked or burned, and if they had been, Marines would have to disperse the crowds to prevent another Teheran, even shoot to kill (one of my former Army Drill Sergeants was in that sort of a situation in Baghdad - very unpleasant), and shootings by Marines would exacerbate the anti-Americanism that currently prevails and take the focus off the Muslim v. Europe fight as it currently stands;
2. Maybe now the Euroweenies will wake up and see what we "imperialist" Amerikaners have seen. . . .
One hopes that this will serve as a wakeup call in some quarters.
The Danish press has also paid very little attention to the representatives of a group of 80 immigrants who have expressed their support of Jyllands-Posten. A statement by the group placed on the internet carries the caption "We must condemn Islamist threats against free speech." It goes on to accuse the Islamists of "viewing any criticism or any making fun of the Islamic religion as an affront and an insult to Muslims. In this way they want to prevent any human being from questioning the Islamic religion and its holy book and the prophet Muhammad. ... With the same argument Islamic regimes and other forces in the Middle Eastern and Arabic countries have killed thousands of people and issued fatwas against authors, journalists and artists."
The bad news is that the Boston Globe is siding with the barbarians, comparing the Danish cartoonists to Nazis. Just look at the photo and decide who really deserves that comparison. Michael Graham is unhappy with the Globe, too.
The funny thing is that the Globe views fundamentalist Christians as a god-besotted threat to liberty, but makes excuses for people like this.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has more thoughts. And Michelle Malkin has a must-see video presentation. And a reader points out that the Boston Globe was defending "Piss Christ" artist Andres Serrano's right to federal funding back in 1990. Apparently, standards of decency have "evolved" at the Globe, or perhaps it's just a measure of who they're actually afraid of.
Plus, Tigerhawk looks at appeasement and wonders why it remains so popular. "This has been a long time coming -- after the Rushdie fatwa, the West cannot claim that it isn't on notice. It will be a long time in the undoing, too."
Meanwhile, a Jordanian gossip tabloid on defiantly published three of the cartoons that have triggered outrage in the Arab and Muslim world.
"Muslims of the world, be reasonable," said the editor-in-chief of the weekly independent newspaper Al-Shihan in an editorial alongside the cartoons, including the one showing the Muslim religion's founder wearing a bomb-shaped turban.
The American Spectator's Jed Babbin was on John Batchelor's radio show yesterday, and stated that the intelligence community believes West Virignia Senator Jay Rockefeller is the leaker who illegally supplied the New York Times with the details of the NSA program.
Given that the CIA's Porter J. Goss stated emphatically that the leak had done very serious damage to the United States, if Rockefeller is a suspect, he should be hauled before a Grand Jury asap. When the crime was bribery (Abscam)no one protested that a sitting U.S. Senator ought not to be a target.
If the crime is much more serious --and this is-- purported good intentions should not shield the suspect.
Has any member of the press asked Rockefeller point blank if he's the law breaker yet?
No doubt the New York Times will be calling for a criminal investigation, as it did in the Plame matter.
posted at 08:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ARMY YIELDS TO ARMY OF DAVIDS: It helps, of course, to be right.
Faisal al Hamad, seen here shrieking anti-U.S. slogans, says that "not every crazed Palestinian gunman is exactly alike."
"As a crazed Palestinian gunman, I feel hurt by the negative portrayal of my people in the media," said al Hamad, 31, a Hebron-area terrorist maniac. "None of us should have to live with stereotyping and ignorance."
He then began screaming and firing into a busload of Israeli schoolchildren.
"It hurts that in this supposedly enlightened day and age, people still make assumptions about other people," al Hamad said. "We should not rely on simple generalizations. Each crazed Palestinian gunman is an individual."
Al Hamad said that he himself has often been unfairly stereotyped. "Any time I enter a crowded temple with fully loaded AK-47s in both hands, people just assume I'm going to open fire," he said. "That really hurts."
"Yes, I sometimes do gun people down in the name of the One True God," he noted. "But there is so much more to me."
Life imitating art imitating life. (Thanks to reader Brian Sament for the link).
SO I SPENT THE AFTERNOON IN TENURE MEETINGS, and I'm happy to say that neither the substance nor the atmosphere matched the kind of thing you read in David Horowitz's The Professors. To the contrary, numerous people said things like "I disagreed with this argument, but the article was good." That's how it ought to be, of course.
Also, as I've observed before, we send all scholarship to multiple outside reviewers, something that I guess was never done with regard to Ward Churchill . . . .
UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS TO 4.7 PERCENT: "The U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 4-1/2 years in January as employers hired 193,000 new workers, the government said on Friday in a report revising up job growth for the preceding five months."
Hmm. More evidence that we're hitting the top of the cycle?
posted at 02:32 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PRAISE AND PREJUDICE: Daniel Glover rounds up blogospheric reactions to Boehner's elevation to Majority Leader.
Washington on Friday condemned caricatures in European newspapers of the Prophet Mohammad, siding with Muslims who are outraged that the publications put press freedom over respect for religion.
By inserting itself into a dispute that has become a lightning rod for anti-European sentiment across the Muslim world, the United States could help its own battered image among Muslims.
"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims," State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question. "We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable."
"We call for tolerance and respect for all communities for their religious beliefs and practices," he added.
Major U.S. publications have not republishing the cartoons, which include depictions of Mohammad as a terrorist. That is in contrast to European media, which responded to the criticism against the original Danish newspaper that printed the caricatures by republishing the offensive images themselves.
Perhaps this is just payback for European non-support on other topics, but I think it's a dreadful mistake.
UPDATE: Reader John Friedman emails: "I'm sorry. Did I miss the State Dept. analysis of 'Piss Christ?' Perhaps you could link to it."
I'm sorry, but the lesson here is that if you want to be listened to, you should blow things up. That's a very bad incentive structure, but it's the one the allegedly responsible parties have created.
Related thoughts from Sissy Willis. Meanwhile, a reader from Belgium emails:
On the "dreadful mistake bit". Of course we Europeans (I am Belgian) have only ourselves to blame but Americans have to understand how fearful we are becoming of this violent minority in our midst. Muslims are already a majority in the lowest age groups in several large European cities. The potential for civil war is clearly there and what is even more worrysome is the dedication of most our governments to appeasement.
For the US State dept to seize this opportunity to burnish its image with the "muslim community" was only to be expected however and I am pretty sure that this is exactly the kind of noise our governments would want to hear from the US at this stage. So no harm done to us in any case. It will gain you zero goodwill from the fanatics, but it will not harm us. I do hope however that nobody at State dept really thinks that the fanatics have to be appeased and that those caricatures should not have been published. *That* would be a mistake of the first magnitude.
Bernard Vanden Bloock
posted at 02:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
FROM MUST-SEE TV TO PC TV: Actually, where Will and Grace is concerned I suspect a Rovian plot: As the characters have gradually become less attractive personally (and, in Debra Messing's case, physically) they've also become more and more strident politically.
posted at 10:48 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN THE MAIL: James Swanson's Manhunt : The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. From the description, it sounds like a real-life thriller -- a sort of Victorian Tom Clancy story, or something. "For 12 days, assisted by family and some women smitten by his legendary physical beauty, Booth relied on smarts, stealth and luck to elude the best detectives, military officers and local police the federal government could muster. Taking the reader into the action, the story is shot through with breathless, vivid, even gory detail." Sounds pretty cool.
The humble bathroom, long a place of refuge and solitude, is playing quiet host to more workplace transactions. Bathroom business has gone way beyond tapping out furtive emails on a BlackBerry. Lately, more hard-driving homeowners have converted their loos into virtual satellite workspaces, with retractable desks or waterproof touch-screen monitors. Manufacturer Acquinox of New York says sales of its steam shower/whirlpool units -- a hands-free phone is standard in each -- nearly tripled last year to 14,800 modules. Wisconsin-based Seura, meanwhile, reports rising sales of its vanity mirrors, which feature LCD screens in the glass. The mirrors, starting at $2,400, let users check their tie-knot, then flip a switch to watch the embedded TV.
Very near the top.
posted at 09:09 AM by Glenn Reynolds
APPARENTLY, I'M NOT SHILLING WELL ENOUGH for my brother's band. Reader Barry Pike emails: "Did I miss it or have you already told everyone about Copper winning the D'Addario 'Greatest Band We've Never Heard' contest?"
Well, I thought I had, but searching "D'Addario" says I didn't. D'oh! So here's the link. (My brother is the one in the Smith & Wesson t-shirt.) They played a special show at Blue Cat's a couple of weeks back, and quite a few bigshots from Atlantic Records were there, so stay tuned.
posted at 09:01 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHAEL SOCOLOW writes in The Globe: "There is a dirty little secret in journalism: War reporting is the fastest way to get ahead. The trade-off is obvious. In exchange for putting one's life on the line for a story, a journalistic organization will reward that courage with a promotion. Being in the right place at the right time is the essential journalistic value, and war zones always qualify as 'right' places." But, he says, there's more to it than that.
At a time when the Democratic elites no longer have a vibrant ideology and the Republicans in Washington are deserting theirs, the public across the spectrum seems to be screaming for recognizable signposts, shared political principles. . . .
The argument of practicing politicians against all this is that politics is ultimately about control by whatever means. You win, you control. This is often true, but now amid Abramoff, "out of control" GOP spending and the Democrats' 24/7 carping, whatever works is in low esteem in the heartland, if not discredited. In the new media world, the political sausage factory is always on view. Ugh.
There is an important law about power that is too often overlooked by rational and peace-loving people. Any form of power, from the most primitive to the most mind-boggling, is always amplified enormously when it falls into the hands of those whose behavior is wild, erratic, and unpredictable. A gun being waved back and forth by a maniac is far more disturbing to us than the gun in the holster of the policeman, though both weapons are equally capable of shooting us dead. And what is true of guns is far more true in the case of nukes.
That is why nuclear weapons in an Iran dominated by a figure like its current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad make us more nervous than nuclear weapons in the hands of the Swiss. Both could make big explosions; but the Iranian bomb would tend to keep us awake thinking in the night, while the Swiss atomic bomb would be as threatening as a cuckoo-clock. This does not mean that Iran has to use the bomb; it doesn't. All Iran has to do to make people wonder if it might use it -- and many of us are already pondering that question, thanks to the disturbingly bellicose rhetoric of Ahmadinejad.
It is an immense form of power simply to make other people wonder if you might not do something bad and unpleasant to them.
A corollary is that the United States probably needs to be scarier and less predictable itself.
Oil-rich Khuzestan is largely populated by Shia Arabs who have long complained of discrimination by the dominant Iranian majority. During 2005 there was considerable unrest and sporadic anti-government bombings in June and October, followed by widespread public protests.
Arab resistance groups in Khuzestan are rather shadowy. The “Ahvaz Resistance Squad” may be a new group, or perhaps a cover name for one of the older groups that have claimed responsibility for incidents in the province in the past – the Arbav Martyrs of Khuzestan, the Arab People's Democratic Front, the Arab Struggle Movement for Liberating Ahvaz, and Afwaj al-Nahdah al-Musallahah Al-Ahwaz. Indeed, it is possible that all of these “groups” are just cover names for the same organization.
The Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s was touched when Saddam Hussein invaded Khuzestan with the intention of annexing it to Iraq. The Iranian Arabs largely remained loyal, perhaps more because they new Sunni Arab dominated Iraq was not nice to Shia Arabs. But after the war, the ethnic Iranians resumed their long term disdain and domination of Iranian Arabs (and Arabs in general). The Iranians can't believe their Arabs are smart, or organized, enough to get an effective terrorist organization going. Thus, it must all be a CIA or MI-6 backed plot.
The Republican Party will retain control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. . . .
The problem for the dems is that they have nobody capable of doing what Gingrich did in 1994: defying Tip O'Neill's law and conceptualizing 435 separate contests as a single national referendum. The only Democratic legislator who gets anybody's body heat up to room temperature is Barack Obama, and he is a) not yet old enough to see an R-rated film without accompaniment and b) in the Senate, where revolutions never occur, and where any attempts at energizing the troops will be blocked by DINOs Clinton and Lieberman.
That leaves the House. Fortunately for the Dems, they don't have as tall a task as Gingrich faced in '94. Unfortunately, they also don't have a Gingrich. They don't even have grich, or gin or even a ngr. They have Nancy Pelosi, the most incompetent politician in the western hemisphere.
But he's a notorious right-wing shill.
posted at 11:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HOWARD STERN UPDATE: Went out for beers with Doug Weinstein, a big Howard Stern fan, and he's very happy with his decision to subscribe to Sirius in order to get Stern. He says Stern has been on a roll since going on satellite: "Every day makes me smile."
posted at 11:32 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SOME NANOTECHNOLOGY CLAIMS have Derek Lowe bemused.
posted at 09:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A BAD REVIEW FOR ROBERT FISK: "First there is the problem of simple accuracy. It is difficult to turn a page of The Great War for Civilisation without encountering some basic error. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not, as Fisk has it, in Jerusalem. The Caliph Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, was murdered in the year 661, not in the 8th century. Emir Abdallah became king of Transjordan in 1946, not 1921, and both he and his younger brother, King Faisal I of Iraq, hailed not from a “Gulf tribe” but rather from the Hashemites on the other side of the Arabian peninsula. The Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958, not 1962; Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, was appointed by the British authorities, not elected; Ayatollah Khomeini transferred his exile from Turkey to the holy Shiite city of Najaf not during Saddam Hussein’s rule but fourteen years before Saddam seized power. Security Council resolution 242 was passed in November 1967, not 1968; Anwar Sadat of Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, not 1977, and was assassinated in October 1981, not 1979. Yitzhak Rabin was minister of defense, not prime minister, during the first Palestinian intifada, and al Qaeda was established not in 1998 but a decade earlier. And so on and so forth."
Fisk has never been strong on facts. Of course, his analysis has always been weak, too. (Via Austin Bay).
posted at 08:47 PM by Glenn Reynolds
IS SCALIA AN ORIGINALIST? That's the topic of Randy Barnett's Taft Lecture. Larry Solum has more, including links to the text and to video of the lecture. He also observes: "This is a particularly significant occasion, because Barnett's paper critiques Justice Antonin Scalia's own Taft lecture--Originalism: The Lesser Evil (also available at 57 U. Cin. L. Rev. 849 (1989)). Scalia's lecture is one of the milestones in the development of originalist constitutional theory. In particular, it was a turning point in the movement of originalism from 'original intent' to 'original public meaning.'"
posted at 07:34 PM by Glenn Reynolds
IS CRAIGSLIST A "DIGITAL WALMART?" Then instead of whining, become a digital Target, and kick Craig's ass, the way Target is doing to Walmart. . . .
The newspaper industry keeps producing these columns, but what it really needs is to figure out how to compete. What does Craigslist provide that it's not? What could it provide that people want, that it's not providing? (Hint: Good, original hard news reporting!)
On the other hand, this column is better than some, and contains this piece of potentially useful advice:
We all get the need for online ads and community sites now; why not let the folks in Burlington (or wherever) build their own? Why not (gasp) help them, instead of using his clout to hurt them?
This isn't such a radical idea. Check out the blog world, where the best political bloggers don't try to corner the market – they encourage others to start their own blogs.
Perhaps Craigslist should consider a local-franchise model that would incorporate local news content, something that -- as far as I know -- they're not doing. That would still kill off a lot of local weeklies that are nothing but vehicles for classified ads now, but so what? They're doomed anyway. At least it might add something.
This site from Paulding County, Georgia is a sort of model for that approach. It might be worth a thought. Jeff Jarvis has some views of his own.
posted at 07:06 PM by Glenn Reynolds
VALLEYWAG, the latest Nick Denton blog, is up. It focuses on Silicon Valley and the tech industry. Check it out, if those interest you. And why wouldn't they?
UPDATE: A reader suggests, correctly, that the growth of sites like this one -- or FuckedCompany -- is another example of the Army of Davids effect, for good and for ill -- the ability of people inside companies to share their stories with each other, and the world, when in the past the dirt involved wouldn't have gotten past the water cooler. I've actually got a section on that in the book, which was inspired, appropriately enough, by some comments of Nick Denton's.
ANOTHER UPDATE: With just a little modification, Nick could use these commercials! (Via Ed Cone, who's wondering why this song is going through his head today. I blame Nick.)
Electing Blunt would have been suicidal. Electing Shadegg would have instantly energized the base, and gotten the party respect. In short, the Republican leadership knows that going too far to ignore its believers will lead to a disaster this November... but they want to try to limit the scope of that to as much "business as usual" as humanly possible.
The Diet Coke of reform. One calorie -- not reformist enough!
Boehner's said some decent things; perhaps he'll be more of a reformist than the above take suggests. For the sake of the Republicans, he'd better be. And Boehner rhymes with "explainer."
While the first choice of many of us in the blogosphere, Representative Shadegg, did not win the election, his impact on the race cannot be denied. His candidacy reminded his fellow Representatives that real reform, and real change in the leadership, was not simply the right thing to do, but utterly necessary to ensure the success of the GOP in November.
It is my sincere hope that Representative Boehner takes this message to heart, and takes up the banner of real reform with enthusiasm and commitment. And his past statements give reason for optimism. In our blogger conference call, and in his interview with Hugh Hewitt, Rep. Boehner reiterated his strong commitment against earmarks, and expressed support for the idea of posting legislation online for 72 hours prior to any vote. Limited government fans will be pleased with his direct and positive answer when asked if he'd support rules requiring legislation to contain statements identifying the authority within the Constitution that grants the Congress to legislate in that area ("That'd be fine with me."), and his even more direct answer to concerns about McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform ("We ought to blow the whole bill up.").
It is a critical time for the House GOP, and Boehner's leadership will be essential in bringing the party out from the cloud of corruption scandals.
Indeed. More thoughts here: "So to Rep. Boehner, congratulations and good luck. We'll be watching and writing. We hope you'll do as you've said and seize the opportunity you've been presented to root out the endemic corruption (and change the structure which supports it) and return the House, and the party, to ethical and fiscal conservatism."
posted at 03:41 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A POSITIVE REVIEW FOR An Army of Davids on the Compass Points blog by Brad Miner of Doubleday's American Compass, which has picked up the book. Excerpt: "I’m not prepared to say that Glenn Reynolds is about to become Alvin Toffler (FUTURE SHOCK) for a new generation, but I do believe that his book is just as powerful—and a whole lot more sensible than that 1970s bestseller. . . . This book is so rich in its contents that it’s practically impossible to do justice to it in so short a space as this." Well, unlike most reviewers, he's put his money where his mouth is by picking up the book-club rights!
UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is just plain scary.
posted at 01:01 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHAEL YON is suing the Army. Not only does the Army's defense seem rather lame, but you have to wonder what sort of idiot would get crosswise with Yon over something like this to begin with. Perhaps someone with more sense will get involved now that it's getting publicity.
What has core Republican voters agitated is exactly what we've been warning about for months. Republicans are acting as if they are the party of incumbency and big government. The federal budget is now almost 40% larger than it was five years ago--thanks to a budget process rigged for spending by the Democrats in 1974 that the GOP hasn't changed, and to such embarrassments as a highway bill with an average of four pork barrel projects for every Congressional district in America.
Republicans still have eight months to try for redemption with the voters who put them in charge. But the clock is ticking. Today's vote will tell a lot about whether the process starts now--or ever.
I bought one, and shaved with it with the expectation that five blades would be just plain silly. Shockingly, however, it actually does shave very well. The Insta-Wife's verdict upon feeling my cheeks was that they were noticeably smoother than usual.
What's next? Will my grandsons be shaving with 12-blade razors?
UPDATE: Reader Dan Jacquemin notes that this is another case of life imitating The Onion. Heh.
HOW REPUBLICANS CAN GET THEIR GROOVE BACK: Jon Henke looks at the House Majority Leader race.
posted at 08:33 AM by Glenn Reynolds
NICE START: So I'm drinking my second cup of coffee, and do what I do most mornings -- go over to see what Lileks put up while I was asleep -- and I discover that he's plugging my book. With an Amazon link, no less. I hope this becomes a trend. . . .
There appears to be a serious rift in the cabinet of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some of his supporters are urging a hard-line against the US and adventurism abroad, while others believe that war with the US is not inevitable and that Iran can benefit from maintaining a low profile. Ahmadinejad has apparently let all the international media attention go to his head. Ahmadinejad always was a news hound, and enjoyed getting recognized for accomplishing things while mayor of Tehran. But now many Iranians are getting nervous, because Ahmadinejad is talking war and not getting anything done for the poor and oppressed (by the corrupt clergy who control the government and much of the mismanaged economy). Iranian Internet chatter is full of such misgivings. But Ahmadinejad's playing of the nationalism card makes open demonstrations of opposition dangerous.
Most officials, Iraqis included, agree that there is more power available in Iraq now than there was before the 2003 war. However, that fact is less germane than most people realize, because the allocation of electric power has shifted seismically, and more or less in sync with the shift in political power. Basically, parts of Baghdad and central Iraq now get much less power than they did before the war, while parts of the south and north actually get considerably more.
For many years, the mainstays of Iraq's electrical capacity were steam generating plants near the huge oil fields in the south and hydroelectric plants ["Power Corridors" in the Kurdish regions in the north. Relatively few plants were concentrated around Baghdad, where most of the demand was. So to keep parts of the city energized close to 24 hours a day, as Saddam wished them to be, operators had to black out different parts of the Shiite south and Kurdish north on a rotating schedule.
Rotating blackouts are still a way of life in Iraq's electrical sector, but now they're not done for Baghdad's benefit. The city still gets about half of its power from the north and south, but these days city residents get anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of electricity a day, compared with about 15 hours for people living in Basra.
In the most recent survey by the International Republican Institute, a prodemocracy advocacy group in Washington, D.C., 2200 Iraqis were asked which of 10 different problems "requiring a political or governmental solution" was most important to them. The first choice, by a margin of about 10 percent, was "inadequate electricity." "National security" came in fifth; the "presence of multinational forces" was seventh; and "terrorists" was eighth.
Read the whole thing, which has a lot of interesting technical information on what's being done, and what's been done wrong -- much of it, it seems, in an effort to move too fast. But there's also this, which is a kind of good news:
Because electricity is essentially free, Iraqis have responded much as you might expect: by buying and using air conditioners, television sets, and refrigerators in record numbers. "We don't even know what demand really is, because it is unconstrained by price," says Crane, the Rand economist. Until the ministry begins charging more realistic rates for electricity, he warns, "you could put a hundred billion dollars into the electrical system and not satisfy demand."
With its huge oil reserves and socialistic society under Saddam, Iraq always had some of the lowest electricity rates in the region. But those low rates didn't keep pace with soaring inflation in Iraq in the 1980s and, especially, the 1990s. Under Saddam, when middle-class Iraqis made just a few dollars a month, few of them could afford refrigerators and air conditioners. Now average family income is $150 a month and a lot of people can afford appliances, as the runaway electrical demand attests.
Unless you're in charge of meeting that demand, it's good news.
Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., which liberated radio shock jock Howard Stern from the federal decency standards that he felt had shackled him, is finding that freedom's just another word for $500 million to lose.
Since Jan. 9, when Stern debuted on Sirius, pirated versions of the shows have been made available for free via several online file-sharing networks just hours after Stern signs off. The New York-based broadcaster signed Stern to a five-year, half-billion-dollar contract in 2004.
This was kind of predictable, really. (Via NewsAlert).
Credit and bank card numbers of as many as 240,000 subscribers of The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette were inadvertently distributed with bundles of T&G newspapers on Sunday, officials of the newspapers said yesterday. . . . In addition, routing information for personal checks of 1,100 T&G subscribers also may have been inadvertently released.
The Globe and T&G, which are both owned by The New York Times Co., share a computer system.
Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraq -- my fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring.
Read the whole thing. And here's some related information from Jim Lindgren.
posted at 10:31 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PIECE O'CRAP ALERT: So the Norton Internet Security 2005 on my laptop expired, and instead of just renewing, I foolishly "upgraded" to Norton Internet Security 2006. I've reinstalled several times, but it won't update. When I try, it tells me that LiveUpdate isn't installed. When I try to install LiveUpdate, it tells me that it's already there and won't install. Various visits to their support site have wasted a lot of my time, but left me right where I started. I'm ditching Norton and switching to something else -- my time is worth more than their crappy product. Any recommendations? I need antivirus and firewall. Don't care about spamblocking, adblocking, or parental controls.
UPDATE: At a reader's suggestion, I downloaded and ran the Symantec "Intelligent Updater" program, which seems to have fixed the problem. Apparently you only get the "not terribly bright updater" bundled with the main program . . . . We'll see how this works.
The other thing I've noticed from the email is that *every* program out there has *somebody* who hates it.
posted at 09:00 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A DEMOCRATIC SHAKEUP: The Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" (free link) reports:
As three Republicans candidates vie to replace Rep. Tom DeLay as House Majority Whip in an election Thursday, Democrats showed that anything can happen in a closed-ballot election in Washington.
Democrat Rep. John Larson of Connecticut won a startling election to become the fourth-ranking member of the House Democrats' leadership team.
Larson had just 18 publicly announced supporters heading into the election. Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York had 72 public supporters while Rep. Jan Schakowsky had 56. In the first round of voting, Mr. Larson received 60 votes; Crowley, 79; and Ms. Schakowsky, 56. Since no candidate won a majority of the votes, the top two vote recipients -- Mr. Larson and Mr. Crowley -- moved on to a second ballot. There, most of Ms. Schakowsky's supporters backed Mr. Larson -- and he won, 116-87.
A little more than two years ago, Mario Barcia Jr. was awakened in the dead of night by banging on his door. Startled -- and shaken from two previous robberies -- he grabbed his gun and ran to the front of the house.
Within a matter of seconds his life would change forever. Seeing what he described only as a bright light shining through his back door, Barcia fired a single shot.
Five shots were returned. Then Barcia fired twice more.
His first shot had hit Miami-Dade County police officer Chad Murphy in the back.
Barcia was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, a crime that could have left him imprisoned for life. Murphy, wearing a flak jacket, survived with a bloody bruise.
On Wednesday, it took a Miami-Dade County jury less than 30 minutes to decide Barcia did nothing wrong in shooting Murphy, who had entered Barcia's property without permission or a warrant.
It's still been no picnic for Barcia, but at least he's not in jail like Cory Maye, who acted similarly under very similar circumstances. Radley Balko has a lot more on the Maye case on his blog. Just keep scrolling.
A LOOK AT BUSH'S SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROPOSALS from Ars Technica concludes:
Aside from the proposal to ban certain kinds of medical research, the science and technology proposals are encouraging. The alternative energy proposals are particularly promising, and they may lead to critical new technologies that will hopefully wean the US from its dependence on foreign oil. The value of the science education proposals is certainly debatable, but his proposed solutions are arguably better than doing nothing at all.
The point Mr. Bay makes about "Having a personal connection to someone injured or killed on the battlefield is a relatively rare experience for journalists," explaining the fascination with the Woodruff story is valid. I suspect that in addition, it goes a long way in explaining the Washington Post Editorial Board’s failure of to see just how inappropriate this cartoon was. You’ll have seen the attachments by now on Michelle Malkin’s Site, Link. In the JCS’s 24 star letter they ask they ask "Where do we get such men and women?" Answered rhetorically, and to themselves about the Editorial Board of the Post, I suspect it would be "probably not from your cartoonist's family, the families of your favorite political party’s leaders and certainly not yours either".
Indeed. The Post, of course, would never run a racially insensitive cartoon of that degree. Unless, perhaps, it targeted Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas.
posted at 04:11 PM by Glenn Reynolds
AMATEUR OBSERVERS tracking spy satellites. It's just more evidence of what individuals and small groups can do with today's technology and communication.
To me, the most revealing moment during President Bush's State of the Union speech came when congressional Democrats stood and cheered after Bush said,
"Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security..."
If the Republicans were smart, they should save the tape of that moment, and use it in commercials for the next 50 years.
Yeah, I noticed that too.
UPDATE: I see someone's already thinking along these lines.
posted at 01:20 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE INSTA-WIFE goes all peer-reviewish on that political/racial bias study that's been getting so much attention: "The first time I took the test, my results said that I had a moderate preference for European Americans to African Americans. I took the test a second time and it said I had a slight preference for African Americans over European Americans. Well, which is it?"
posted at 01:16 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PIETER DORSMANN compares the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons with that over Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ."
The lesson is that if you want your religion not to be mocked, it helps to have a reputation for senseless violence. Is this the incentive structure we want?
UPDATE: I emailed Tim Minear, the Firefly executive producer, and he's not very positive about this. Sorry; I'd love to see a second season, too.
posted at 01:07 PM by Glenn Reynolds
CAN'T STOP THE SIGNAL: Phil Bowermaster Stephen Gordon proposes an end run around Google's Chinese censorship.
posted at 01:05 PM by Glenn Reynolds
IT'S NOT A GLENN AND HELEN PODCAST, but I've got a podcast interview with Joel Miller, about his book, Size Matters. Joel's in charge of the CurrentSpeak podcasts, and had done an interview with me about my book, but then said, a bit sheepishly, "Er, I can't really interview myself about my book -- only William F. Buckley can pull that off -- so, well, would you mind . . . ."
Mike Pence (R-IN), the chairman of the RSC, said that two out of the three candidates had taken the time to fill out an extensive questionnaire issued by the RSC. The questionnaire, which was filled out by John Shadegg (R-AZ) and John Boehner (R-OH) but not by Roy Blunt (R-MO), asked a series of questions on issues of central importance to conservatives in the House of Representatives. . . .
The buzzword in Baltimore was reform. Pence says that the current political climate requires not just lobbying reforms but congressional reforms that are tied to a reform agenda. Topping the list of congressional reforms is the issue of earmarking -– the process by which lawmakers designate taxpayer dollars for specific projects (sometimes referred to as pork) in their districts. . . .
The rally cry for earmark reform has not gone unnoticed outside the ranks of the RSC. Both Boehner and Blunt (Shadegg is an RSC member) addressed earmark reform in their speeches to the group. Now, other members of the Republican caucus are beginning to talk about it as well.
The article portrays this as "conservatives" vs. "moderates," with the "moderates" opposing earmark reform. But I'm not sure that's the right formulation.
A French newspaper has reproduced a set of Danish caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have caused outrage in the Muslim world.
France Soir said it had published the cartoons to show that "religious dogma" had no place in a secular society.
Their publication in Denmark has led to protests in several Arab nations.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 10:57 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IT'S NOT HUGE, but this is welcome news: "Two top Egyptian officials called on Hamas to recognize Israel, disarm and honor past peace deals Wednesday, the latest sign Arab governments are pushing the militant group to moderate after its surprise election victory. Separately, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has told Egyptian officials he would hold off on asking Hamas to form the next Palestinian government until Hamas renounces violence." Mubarak is apparently behind this.
ARMY OF DAVIDS is now up to #37 on Amazon, which makes me very happy. (This link from Hugh Hewitt helped a lot, I'm sure. And this one from Greyhawk.) Thanks so much for all the preorders! I'm sure I'll be in bed before it updates again, but if it goes any higher, somebody let me know.
posted at 11:01 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SHORT REVIEW: Better than I expected, though that's a function of my low expectations. State of the Union speeches are generally weak, and Bush is no star as a speaker. But the delivery was, for Bush, good, and the substance was mostly good, too, though the cloning-ban stuff didn't thrill me. The Presidential Commission on entitlement reform was also very lame, though realistically it's probably all he can do.
In the Democratic response, Tim Kaine's (rather repetitive) refrain is "there's a better way," which sounds like he's trying out a campaign slogan. He keeps citing state initiatives as examples. That doesn't reflect well on the national Democratic party, but it sets things up well for a 2008 presidential run by a Democratic governor. Hmm. Who could he have in mind? . . .
His brief Iraq discussion, however, notably lacked any specifics about the "better way" there, and quickly shifted to a discussion of veterans' benefits. That's been the problem that the Democrats have had on this subject all along. They can criticize, but if there's not an entitlement program, they can't get motivated.
Still, overall, as with Bush he exceeded my low expectations. SOTU responses, after all, are traditionally even lamer than SOTU addresses.
Brit Hume just said that the "better way" language actually comes from the Robert Redford movie The Candidate, which doesn't seem entirely promising.
UPDATE: A reader writes: "As an Iranian, I thought this was Bush's best message to Iranians...it had a perfect balance and he did try distinguish between the Mullahs and the citizens and he did not name a reform group or anything like that.or even use a threatening language, when you threaten Iran people have not choice but to support the Regime..way better than 'axis of evil' message... "
FINALLY: Andrew Marcus shot video of the anti-Bush protests in Chicago, and interviewed protesters talking about revolution and civil war. You can see it here (WMV) or here (QT).
posted at 10:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ADVANCE STATE OF THE UNION EXCERPTS: Click "read more" to read more.
"Every year of my presidency we've reduced the growth of nonsecurity discretionary spending." Not a barn-burner of a line. But a bit later he endorses earmark reform, a key PorkBusters goal!
MORE: N.Z. Bear: "George W. Bush -- Porkbuster!" The Bear continues: "Having the Presidential bully pulpit keeping Congressional feet to the fire on the need for earmark reform is a Very Good Thing --- and one that I sincerely hope is not a This Night Only performance."
STILL MORE: I don't like the cloning ban endorsement, though.
America is always at its best when we are shaping events, instead of being shaped by events. Tonight, the President will chart a clear path forward for our Nation:
“In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people … the only way to secure the peace … the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead.”
The President will talk about America’s leadership role in the world, and the importance of working together to better protect our country, support our troops, and advance freedom:
“Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world… the future security of America depends on it.”
“In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.”
“…Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change.”
“To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands.”
To keep America competitive in a dynamic economy, the President will set out an agenda focused on the priorities that families are most concerned about. He will talk about the importance of having an educated, skilled workforce, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and making health care more affordable, accessible, and portable:
“Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.”
“The American economy is pre-eminent – but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India.”
“We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge.”
“America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world… The best way to break this addiction is through technology.”
On Health Care:
“Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance coverage they need.”
Finally, the President will speak to the character and compassion of America:
“…our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.”
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.
Each time I am invited to this rostrum, I am humbled by the privilege, and mindful of the history we have seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history – and it has been my honor to serve with you.
In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another – and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong – and together we will make it stronger.
In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people … the only way to secure the peace … the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead.
Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause.
Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government – with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan … and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink … and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half – in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran – because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.
No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan … or blow up commuters in London … or behead a bound captive … the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.
In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its will – by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself – we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.
America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the Nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed, and move this world toward peace.
We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders – and for the others, their day will come.
We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan – where a fine president and national assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy.
And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized. Second, we are continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. Third, we are striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom.
Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for victory … I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people … I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.
The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels – but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.
Our coalition has learned from experience in Iraq. We have adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by Members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice.
Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.
With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison … put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country … and show that a pledge from America means little. Members of Congress: however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our Nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in its vital mission.
Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices – and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it is like to fight house to house in a maze of streets … to wear heavy gear in the desert heat … to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting the enemy in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: “I know what honor is. It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to…. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.”
Staff Sergeant Dan Clay’s wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening. Our Nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We are grateful to all who volunteer to wear our Nation’s uniform – and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America’s military families.
Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital – but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote. The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election – and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections – now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform – now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity.
The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon – and that must come to an end. The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions – and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats. And tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and the drug trade.
In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America.
Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us. Fortunately, this Nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives to protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks. They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime – so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
In all these areas – from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions – we need the support of friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world. Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. American leaders – from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan – rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy – a war that will be fought by Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom.
Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.
Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs – more than Japan and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.
The American economy is pre-eminent – but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people’s fears. And so we are seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy – even though this economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction – toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.
Tonight I will set out a better path – an agenda for a Nation that competes with confidence – an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.
Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left 880 billion dollars in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families – and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome.
Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent.
Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending – and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another 14 billion dollars next year – and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I am pleased that Members of Congress are working on earmark reform – because the Federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto.
We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million Baby Boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad’s favorite people – me, and President Bill Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis – it is a national challenge. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the Federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices – staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending.
Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security, yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away – and with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include Members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan answers. We need to put aside partisan politics, work together, and get this problem solved.
Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker.
Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty … allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally … and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance coverage they need. We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts – by making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice – leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB-GYN – I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.
The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources – and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative – a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment … move beyond a petroleum-based economy … and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation’s children a firm grounding in math and science.
First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.
Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life – and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.
Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science … bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms … and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America’s children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.
Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative … and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.
America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.
In recent years, America has become a more hopeful Nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.
These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation – a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education, and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record.
Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. And they worry about children in our society who need direction and love … and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster … and about suffering caused by treatable disease.
As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before – and we will do it again.
A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. And I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench. Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our Nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms … creating or implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids … and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator – and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.
A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust. Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington – and I support your efforts. Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility – and that is a pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray.
As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another.
A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America’s Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child – and this good work is led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school – so more of America’s youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.
A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency – and stays at it until they are back on their feet. So far the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris, repairing highways, and building stronger levees. We are providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived. In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child … and job skills that bring upward mobility … and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.
A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African-Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act … and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicine in America. We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America.
Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. And sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.
Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?
Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward – optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
NICE WORK WITH THE PRE-ORDERS, FOLKS: An Army of Davids is now up to #119 on Amazon. It was 23,719 yesterday. Thanks!
UPDATE: Reader Patrick Casey emails:
I just pre-ordered An Army of Davids at Amazon. FYI - Amazon suggested that it would be better bought together with James Lileks' Mommy Knows Worst : Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice. Interesting... Bloggers, apparently, rule, even on Amazon.com!
Sen. Harry Reid has been found with his hands in the Abramoff cookie jar. But is the problem too many lobbyists buying influence or that there is too much influence to buy?
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, hoping like most Democrats that charges of corruption and the depiction of Republicans as the party of Jack Abramoff will help them retake the House or Senate or both, said on "Fox News Sunday": "No Democrat delivered anything, and there's no accusation and no investigation that any Democrat ever delivered anything to Jack Abramoff."
Ah, but there is, as host Chris Wallace dutifully pointed out.
I'm on record as saying this is primarily a Republican scandal, but the more the Democrats try to pretend it's nothing but, the worse they look. They can't seem to help overplaying their hand every time.
ALITO CONFIRMED, 58-42: In theory, if everyone opposed had supported a filibuster, he wouldn't have been, but that was never really in the cards.
posted at 12:27 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: Well, the book officially comes out in just over a month -- if you'd like to preorder a copy (and I'd really appreciate it if you would, as the publisher thinks its important to have lots of preorders, and early enough that the books will actually be on-hand and ready to ship that first week) you can do so via Amazon or, if you're one of the people who doesn't like Amazon, there's always BarnesandNoble.com, or your local brick-and-mortar bookstore.
Here's an advance look at some of the blurbs that will appear on the book (and, someday, on the Amazon, B&N, etc., sites):
"Reynolds shows that technology can empower individuals to determine their own futures and to defeat those who would enslave us . . . a book of profound importance—and also a darn good read."—MICHAEL BARONE, senior writer at U.S. News & World Report and author of Hard America, Soft America
"Glenn Reynolds has written an essential book for understanding how technology and markets are creating a bottom-up shift in power to ordinary people that is changing business, government, and our world. Packed with fresh ideas and adorned with graceful prose, An Army of Davids is a masterpiece."—JOE TRIPPI, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
"Reynolds shows how average Americans can use new technologies to overcome the twin demons of corporate greed and incompetent government." —ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, author of Pigs at the Trough and Fanatics and Fools
"A smart, fun tour of a major social and economic trend. From home-brewed beer to blogging, Glenn Reynolds is an engaging, uniquely qualified guide to the do-it-yourself movements transforming business, politics, and media." —VIRGINIA POSTREL, Forbes columnist, author of The Future and its Enemies
"Reynolds’ beguiling new book tells the insightful story of how an ‘army of Davids’ is inheriting the Earth, leaving a trail of obsolete business models not to mention cultural, economic, and political institutions in its wake."—RAY KURZWEIL, scientist, inventor, and author of several books including The Singularity is Near
"'Must read,' 'gotta have,' 'culture changing,' –I am suspicious of blurbs with such overused plugs.
But Glenn Reynolds' An Army of Davids is in fact a must read new book, that you gotta have if you are going to even glimpse the culture changing forces that are unleashed and at work across the globe.
And did I mention that it is the best title in a decade?" —HUGH HEWITT, syndicated talk show host and author of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World.
An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and other Goliaths (ISBN: 1-59555-054-2, $24.99 U.S., Nelson Current) will publish March 7, 2006.
Will you be offering signed copies of the Army of Davids book?
I've been collecting autographed copies of blogger books.
That and Pez dispensers. But I'm assuming there isn't a Glenn Reynolds Pez Dispenser.
Sadly, no. But I'll figure out a way to autograph a copy of the book for anyone who wants it.
MORE: Several readers sent advice like this, from Laura Blanchard: "Signed bookplates... much cheaper to mail than books."
Great idea. Closer to the pub date I'll post more on how to do this: An address you can send a SASE to and I'll return a signed bookplate, or some such.
Meanwhile reader Kathleen Hay observes: "I think this is a shrewd time to release your book. I just received $75 in amazon gift certificates that come from spending money using the amazon Visa card for Christmas presents."
That's enough to buy 4 copies!
posted at 11:01 AM by Glenn Reynolds
BRENDAN MINITER: "Mr. Bush's speech is likely to come as a blow to the status quo candidate for majority leader, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri."
The problem — which we see in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Italy, Britain, everywhere in Europe, in fact — is that every single European country has imported a huge body of ill-educated, unskilled immigrants who for both cultural and economic reasons cannot be assimilated and who do not see themselves as part of the larger story of Europe, and do not feel that they have been able to claim their proper share of the postwar European bounty. Neither France nor any European country can solve this problem because they are insoluble, at least within the parameters almost every European country has rigidly defined, in the postwar era, for solving social and economic problems.
Read the whole thing(s).
posted at 10:49 AM by Glenn Reynolds
LILEKS has a new screedblog up. I think that universities are being infiltrated by agents in service of a clever Evan Coyne Maloney marketing campaign.
UPDATE: Andy Kessler is harshing on Google today, too -- his piece is in the WSJ, subscription only, but the link takes you to his blog where he's posted a copy. His analysis is more like mine: Google has lost a lot of moral capital.
posted at 07:32 AM by Glenn Reynolds
CALL ME CRAZY but this report makes me deeply suspicious:
TBILISI, Georgia, Jan. 30, 2006 (AP Online delivered by Newstex) -- Iran started exports of natural gas to Georgia on Monday in answer to Tbilisi's appeal for help for its severe energy shortage, and Georgia's president vowed to reduce his U.S.-allied nation's energy dependence on Russia.
Mysterious explosions Jan. 22 on the Russian pipeline network that transports gas into Georgia cut off supplies to the ex-Soviet Caucacus Mountain state, leaving millions of Georgians shivering in their homes in bitterly cold temperatures.
"Mysterious explosions," eh?
posted at 07:31 AM by Glenn Reynolds
January 30, 2006
AN AMUSING remix contest based on the sounds of failing hard drives.
posted at 11:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JAMES JOYNER: "As President Bush prepares to give his annual address on the State of the Union (I predict it will be 'strong') it is time to reflect on the state of our enemy."
posted at 11:31 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE NEW YORK TIMES VS. THE BLOGS: Jason Kottke looks at how a long bet is going.
posted at 10:51 PM by Glenn Reynolds
The Glenn and Helen Show -- Interviews with Michael Gurian and Jim Meigs
ANOTHER PODCAST: It's guy stuff, with interviews about boys in school and hybrid cars. Michael Gurian, the author of The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life (and subject of thisNewsweek cover story) talks about how boys learn differently, and how changes in education have hurt their progress. He also offers some solutions, and some thoughts on videogames, character, and violence.
As you might imagine, Helen has some thoughts on that subject too, and the discussion is very interesting.
Also (beginning at about 18:30), Popular Mechanics editor Jim Meigs talks about hybrid hype and reality. For an article in their next issue, the PM folks tested some hybrid vehicles wheel-to-wheel with their purely gas-powered counterparts and discovered some interesting things. He also talks about the prospects for future energy-efficient (and maybe gasoline free) automobiles.
No word, though, on when I can expect my flying car. I forgot to ask. Maybe next time!
You can listen by clicking here (no iPod needed) or via iTunes. We hope you like it! As always, the lovely and talented producer is soliciting comments.
posted at 09:17 PM by Glenn Reynolds
NOT VERY CLOSE: Filibuster on Alito broken, 72-25.
GETTING IT WRONG: It's an issue of The Economist from November, but the "Lexington" column, which is often quite good, contains this howler: "The rumor-mongers interpret Mr. Cheney's recent ubiquity as more proof that he is desperately trying to save his job."
Er, except that, you know, the Vice President can't be fired. Cheney holds an independent office, and doesn't work for Bush. It's possible that he might be persuaded to step down in favor of someone (*cough* Condi *cough*) else, but there's no desperation involved. He could spend the next almost-three years hunting pheasants and fly-fishing and nobody could say boo. Any "rumormongers" saying otherwise are probably fellow British journalists who don't understand that either . . . .
I don't want to be too hard on "Lexington," which is actually quite a good column in general. But I showed that passage to several colleagues (none of them people who would likely be upset if Cheney were fired) and all of them laughed. At least, said one, it wasn't an American journalist making that mistake, though that would be no great surprise if it happened. Perhaps someone should set up seminars for foreign journalists on how the Constitution works.
UPDATE: Various readers note that Cheney's widespread responsibilities within the Adminstration aren't part of his official VP duties, and he could be relieved of those any time Bush wanted a different straw boss. True enough, but that's a bit different from "desperately trying to save his job." Others note that Cheney would probably step down if asked, for the good of the party. No doubt, and in fact I kind of expect him to do so before too terribly long, to help set up a successor. But that's not the same, either.
BRIAN TRANSEAU ("BT") is one of my favorite musicians (I especially recommend his Movement in Still Life, and the 10 Years in the Life collection is also great). I just noticed that he's started blogging, and he's currently complaining about bogus lawsuits by "some ambulance chaser attorney working on a percentage with nothing better to do than try to force a settlement with a huge corporation." The case certainly sounds bogus.
UPDATE: I think I mentioned this before, but since this is a music post I'll note that Mobius Dick's Embrace the Machine is now available on iTunes.
I haven't seen a defense of pork barrel spending in the blogosphere recently, so let me make one. The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to argue that pork barrel spending was politically benign because it was one way for an administration or for the congressional leadership to hold together a majority that could act decisively on other, more important issues.
Expensive, perhaps, but a small price to pay in order to assure functioning government.
Such unwritten-constitution arrangements, however, require self-discipline to function properly. That seems to be in exceptionally short supply among our political class today.
Has the political "CW" been wrong before? Too many times to recall. But for a number of reasons (among them Shadegg's rock star support in the conservative blogsophere and the absence of the sort of MSM scrutiny which Boehner and Blunt were subject to at the race's outset) the momentum that had carried Blunt's candidacy to the brink of inevitability a few weeks ago has hit a wall.
In the confusion of this post-Cold War, terrorist-troubled world, Congress is betting more and more foreign aid dollars on fighting that one common foe everyone can agree upon: infectious disease.
"Medicine can be a currency for peace" says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon and a force behind the change. Today that "currency" is near $4 billion -- almost triple in real dollars what the U.S. was providing per year in 2001.
That increase parallels -- and is energized by -- efforts by private philanthropists like billionaire Bill Gates, who pledged Friday to triple his contributions to fight tuberculosis. Democrats have almost uniformly backed the shift. More striking has been rising support from Republicans, drawing in both the religious right and old-line fiscal conservatives who long have opposed more traditional development programs.
posted at 09:44 AM by Glenn Reynolds
BUSH BREAKS FIFTY PERCENT APPROVAL on the Rasmussen poll. He's been trending up there for several days. I'm not sure why, but it seems as if he does better whenever John Kerry and Ted Kennedy get face time on the national news. The Democrats would be wise to let other people represent them.
These are dark days for earmarks, more commonly known as “pork.”
Packing bills with special provisions has long been a tradition in Congress, but a pall has fallen over the practice. Bolstered by a budget crisis and a series of scandals involving legislative favors, an increasingly prolific government watchdog movement is turning pork into a four-letter word. . . .
The watchdogs work closely with friendly lawmakers, such as Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, who tried to redirect funding for the “Bridge to Nowhere” to a New Orleans bridge ruined by Katrina. The informal investigative alliance also includes Internet bloggers, including a “porkbusters” campaign on the site TruthLaidBear.com, an online effort to mobilize against wasteful federal spending.
“It’s a $2.4 trillion budget,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “There’s work for everybody.”
Congress is embarrassed enough by the Cunningham and Jack Abramoff scandals, both involving huge sums of cash for legislative favors, that lawmakers are considering ways to crack down on earmarks, which typically show up in bills at the last minute, after little or no scrutiny. The watchdog groups are wary that Congress will focus on lobbying activities, rather than clean up the legislative process.
Last year's record hurricane season didn't just change life for humans. It changed nature, too.
Everywhere scientists look, they see disrupted patterns in and along the Gulf of Mexico. Coral reefs, flocks of sea birds, crab- and shrimp-filled meadows and dune-crowned beaches were wrapped up in _ and altered by _ the force of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Dennis.
"Nothing's been like this," said Abby Sallenger, a U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer, during a recent flight over the northern Gulf Coast to study shoreline changes.
"I think the most polite term that you can use is disarray," said Elliott Stonecipher, a Louisiana pollster and political analyst. "The party apparatus seems to have taken a knockdown, if not a knockout punch."
The last party chairman, Jim Bernhard, resigned less than three weeks after Katrina roared ashore Aug. 29, nine months into the job.
Bernhard said he needed to focus on his engineering and construction company, The Shaw Group Inc., but critics said he needed to resign to avoid allegations of favoritism as Shaw received millions of dollars in post-hurricane rebuilding contracts.
Bernhard had replaced Mike Skinner, a former U.S. attorney who left the chairmanship after a series of disappointments in the 2004 congressional elections, including the election of Republican David Vitter to the U.S. Senate.
On paper, the party is still dominant, with about 1.6 million Democratic voters in Louisiana to 694,000 Republicans, according to January voter registration numbers from the secretary of state's office. About 600,000 are registered with other party affiliations.
However, Democratic voter rolls are shrinking while the number of registered Republications has grown in recent years.
Saying that they want to ensure that a wide range of views is heard and tolerated on college campuses, a group of state lawmakers is proposing legislation that would ask South Dakota’s six state universities to report periodically on their efforts to promote "intellectual diversity."
Rep. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, chairwoman of the House Education Committee and the chief sponsor of HB1222, said Wednesday that the goal is to prevent situations already seen in other states where students, speakers and faculty members have been harassed because of their views.
"This is not an indictment at all," Heineman said. "For us, it is good governance. . . . We are just trying to be proactive and not wait for any incidents, such as the Iraq war veteran who was harassed at Columbia University."
Calling for a filibuster makes political sense for Kennedy, who is adored by every left-wing constituency in America. He isn't running for national office; he can afford to stick to strict liberal principle. He wants to go down fighting. For Kennedy, a filibuster call mollifies the left at no political cost. It is also an attempt to make up for the obvious: He used the wrong tone and tactics during the hearings. Going after Alito as a bigot backfired. Forget about Mrs. Alito's tears. The moment Kennedy was exposed for belonging to a discriminatory college fraternal organization, it was over. He lost the moral high ground.
Kerry's enthusiasm for a filibuster is harder to fathom, except as more of the same from a perpetually tone-deaf politician.
Why volunteer to look like a creature of the left if you are plotting a second presidential campaign? The perception helped undercut Kerry's first presidential campaign. . . .
The longer Democrats and Republicans in Congress maintain the high level of hostile partisanship, the less attractive any would-be presidential candidate who hails from Congress looks. These senators who would be president help the cause of governors -- Democrats and Republicans -- who hold the same ambition.
I think that's right, but the Senators are looking at the Kos/Moveon crowd. (Via Paul Mirengoff).
posted at 11:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
LIBERAL BLOG MYDD has commissioned some professional polling. Here's the first installment, and here's a writeup by Mystery Pollster, who lauds the transparency and openness involved, with all the data being put online.
UPDATE: Reader Rachel Walker emails:
I just finished reading MyDD's opinion on polls. As a liberal I was rather disturbed with the blogger's wish that Bush's approval rating was in the 30's. Does that mean he is so unimpressed by our own party that the only way we could win is to make Bush look bad? With such an attitude, we don't look so great either.
It's such whiny and desparate behavior that leads me to more centrist and conservative blogs than anything Kos or DU related. It seems to me liberals have forgotten to be liberal (tolerant, polite, yet firm in belief), and such behavior is why many people, though they do not like Bush or some conservative ideas, tend to distance themselves from the left. I know that's the reason for me.
Well, wishing for the other guy to go down is natural, I think. I was mostly interested in the poll for its transparency, and because I think it's good to see blogs out there doing this kind of thing.
That said, I think that lefties are over-focused on Bush, and that the GOP likes it that way. Bush's numbers may be down (though they seem to be trending up on Rasmussen at the moment, for reasons that aren't obvious to me; the filibuster talk, perhaps?) -- but it doesn't matter. Bush isn't running again. The next GOP candidate will run on an "I'm not Bush, but you can trust me on security more than the Democrats" platform -- as the elder Bush did in 1988. The Democrats' Bush-hatred just plays into that strategy. If they were smarter, they'd be building up some people of their own, which among other things would involve keeping them out of the fray of Bush-bashing. The only candidate who seems to fit that bill is Mark Warner, but I suspect the Kos/Moveon crowd won't like him.
When journalists go from keeping secrets about sources to expecting sources to keep secrets about them, something in the media has begun to stink with self-importance. I think this corner of the sausage factory could do with some inspection and fresh air, so I wrote about all this on my blog.
AUSTIN BAY looks at some modest signs of political progress in Kuwait. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum wonders if Kuwait is running out of oil. IAs I understand it, some of this reflects inflated estimates from past years (I had an item on similar questions about Saudi reserves, and I've seen speculation that Iran has less than it lets on), but of course it's in the interest of these countries to inflate their reserves, thus discouraging additional drilling and competition that might lower prices.
Perhaps this is an argument for not drilling in ANWR and elsewhere in the United States yet -- leave that stuff in the ground for a few decades while consuming Middle East oil now, and eventually we'll be selling oil to them. Or not . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Joe David McReynolds emails:
IMHO your reaction, and much of the right side of the blogosphere's, to Google's entry into the Chinese marketplace is wrongheaded. Do you think that if Google doesn't go there, Chinese internet users will just twiddle their thumbs and not search for stuff? That a blow will be struck to their machine of censorship?
Of course not. There are Chinese search engines that are almost the same, and they will (and have been) use those.
If anything, Google going into China is a net benefit to the Chinese people, same as MSN was.
American companies censor like the government forces them to, but as we see in the case of MSN, they are FAR MORE LAX about censorship and reporting of suspect activities than similar Chinese companies.
Getting Google into the Chinese market will probably neither slow nor accelerate the demise of China's ruling regime, when and if that comes; the vast majority of Foreign Direct Investment in China comes from abroad.
As far as the "Resistance to evil" factor, what one might call "washing our hands", that ship sailed a long time ago. The economic miracle that has been the Party's foundation of legitimacy in China was financed largely by overseas Chinese, not American multinationals. China is not like the Soviet Union, where dissidents could take comfort that somewhere, out there, there was someone who would fight the Soviets to the end. That just isn't the case in China, and Google's decision makes no difference.
I'm sorry that Google's action makes it harder to feel "clean" of the world's unpleasantness, but as stated above, if anything this is to the benefit of China's citizens who would like a free internet.
I imagine you'll get plenty of e-mail on this topic, but I'd hope this argument (whether made by myself or those more articulate than I) is something you will address.
Yes, my TCS column this week will look at those "constructive engagement" arguments. They're nontrivial, but still . . . .
The 41-year-old former Army Green Beret, self-published author and world traveler didn't know exactly what he was going to do when he got to the war zone last year, nor did he have any particular plans to report what he saw to the world at-large.
But that's what he did.
After getting himself embedded as a freelance journalist with troops last year, he used his Internet blog to report on the car bombs, firefights and dead soldiers. But he also wrote descriptively about acts of compassion and heroism, small triumphs in the country's crawl toward democracy and the gritty inner workings of the military machine.
Yon's dispatches have been extolled by loyal readers as gutsy and honest reporting by a guy who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. He has been interviewed and his blog quoted by major newspapers and TV news networks, and he has drawn comparisons to Ernie Pyle, the renowned World War II correspondent who shared the trenches with fighting soldiers.
Nice story. Read the whole thing.
posted at 09:34 AM by Glenn Reynolds
WRITING IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, Hossein Derakshan blames Bush for the rise of Ahmadinejad. Seems like a bit of a stretch, to me.
UPDATE: A comment here: "Derakshan fundamentally does not understand democracy."
IMMIGRATION REMAINS THE "SLEEPER ISSUE" in U.S. politics, but I just got a press release from Time suggesting that it may not sleep much longer:
Almost two-thirds of Americans (63%) consider illegal immigration a “very serious” or “extremely serious” problem in the United States, according to a TIME Poll. The majority (74%) believes the U.S. is not doing enough to secure its borders. . . .
TIME’s Poll shows that half (50%) of Americans favor deporting all illegal immigrants back to their home countries (45% oppose). Three-in-four (76%) favor allowing illegal immigrants in the U.S. to earn citizenship if they learn English, have a job and pay taxes. . . . Meanwhile 700,000 undocumented immigrants from around the world continue to enter the U.S. each year, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
I favor making legal immigration easier -- essentially under the guidelines above -- but I also favor much stricter enforcement against illegal immigration. Which, I think, puts me pretty much on the opposite side of the issue from the Bush Administration.
The issue is, I think, heating up beneath the surface and it's only been kept from breaking out politically by the extraordinarily low unemployment rates of recent years. Once unemployment, inevitably, moves back up toward historical averages, people will become much more vocal about this issue in a hurry. It would be nice if we could come up with a sensible policy before that happens, as the discussion is likely to be a lot nastier if we wait.
UPDATE: John Tabin has a podcast illustrating some of the politics of this issue.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona has an oped on the subject. He stresses the importance of immigrants adopting American culture.
As Jim Bennett says: "Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism. Pick any two."
posted at 08:42 AM by Glenn Reynolds
BLOGS OF THE UNION: Chris Lydon's Radio Open Source invites you to write your own State of the Union address. They're collecting them for a broadcast on the real thing.