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February 04, 2006

The Glenn and Helen Show: War, Oil, and Blogging

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.

Hope you like it! You can listen directly by clicking here; it's also available via iTunes.

And, as always, the lovely and talented Insta-Wife wants your comments and suggestions.

And there's a complete archive of podcasts here, too.

PERRY DEHAVILLAND wonders why Iran is threatening to put economic sanctions in place against itself.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN looks at Identity Politics, Free Speech, and the Future of Worldwide Liberalism.

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.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Backlash?

Read More ?


EUGENE VOLOKH has more on The Boston Globe's double standard regarding religiously-offensive speech.

Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens argues in favor of mocking religion.

N.Z. BEAR is updating the PorkBusters page.

AUSTIN BAY WRITES on Syrian cynicism in the Cartoon War.

UPDATE: Tim Cavanaugh looks at the bright side:

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.

Heh.

AMAZON is getting bloggier.

THE ONLY WINNER out of all this Islamist stuff in Europe is Claire Berlinski, whose book Menace in Europe : Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too is coming out later this month. We're planning a podcast interview with her.

Meanwhile, here's a Dane who feels betrayed by the U.S. State Department. "The world's gone topsy-turvy: Germany and France show common sense, backbone and true loyalty."

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.

DANISH EMBASSY BURNED in Syria. Gateway Pundit has a roundup. This really is a case of civilization against the barbarians. The good news is that moderate Muslims are standing up for civilization:

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.

David Bernstein has more on double standards.

MORE: Ashish Hanwadikar says the Europeans are hypocritical in a different way.

And Ed Driscoll has much more, including a look at Serrano's more recent employment.

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."

STILL MORE: A Jordanian newspaper is braver than the Globe:

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.

(Via All Things Beautiful).

Much more here.

EVEN MORE: Of course, the brave Jordanian editor has been arrested:

A Jordanian newspaper editor sacked after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has been arrested.

Jihad Momani is accused of insulting religion under Jordan's press and publications law.

The newspaper had fired him after he decided to reproduce the cartoons - originally printed in Denmark - which have caused a global storm of protest.

Pathetic.

AND MORE STILL: Reader Kathleen St. Onge emails: "Unsurprisingly, I didn't see any protest babes in the photo you posted. As such, I have to conclude that this is a movement of losers."

Yes. Angry, bitter losers. But potentially dangerous ones.

AUSTIN BAY notes that the Egyptian ferry disaster is recapitulating Lord Jim.

HUGH HEWITT:

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.

ARMY YIELDS TO ARMY OF DAVIDS: It helps, of course, to be right.

HEH: " Angry Muslim Terrorists Protest Cartoon Stereotypes of Angry Muslim Terrorists." And that's not even from Scrappleface.

UPDATE: But as usual, The Onion was ahead of the curve. This is from 1997:

Crazed Palestinian Gunman Angered by Stereotypes

HEBRON, WEST BANK—In an emotionally charged press conference Monday, crazed Palestinian gunman Faisal al Hamad expressed frustration over the stereotyping of his people.

Enlarge ImageCrazed Palestinian Gunman Angered By Stereotypes

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).

MATTHEW YGLESIAS has joined BloggingHeadsTV. He's good, too!

I think that this is one of the coolest new things on the web, and if I were, say, Chris Matthews, I'd be worried.

TERRY HEATON ON NEW MEDIA: So what do you do when the deer have guns? You go into the ammunition business.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON targets Chris Matthews. He seems to be taking fire from all directions these days.

February 03, 2006

OUCH.

A WARNING ABOUT blogger conference calls.

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 . . . .

BRENDAN LOY WONDERS why people aren't paying more attention to Julian Bond.

Though Bond's remarks were more offensive than Trent Lott's this seems similar in other respects: There were media folks there who heard them, but chose not to report them.

BROKEBACK TO THE FUTURE: The film that couldn't be made until now. Heh. (Via Ann Althouse).

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?

PRAISE AND PREJUDICE: Daniel Glover rounds up blogospheric reactions to Boehner's elevation to Majority Leader.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT PRACTICES APPEASEMENT:

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
Overijse
Belgium

I agree.

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.

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.

IT'S ONLY A flesh wound.

WE MUST BE NEAR THE TOP OF THE ECONOMIC CYCLE:

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.

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.

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.

DANIEL HENNINGER:

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.

He's certainly right about that last.

MARK STEYN ON IRAN: He's not very positive.

UPDATE: Lee Harris:

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.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yes, of course, Frank J. was way ahead of us on this. As always.

BIGWIG IS BACK, and he's unhappy with European dhimmitude.

ARAB TERRORISTS IN IRAN:

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.

Interesting.

February 02, 2006

TIM CAVANAUGH ISSUES A PREDICTION:

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.

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."

SOME NANOTECHNOLOGY CLAIMS have Derek Lowe bemused.

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).

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.'"

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.

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.)

IT'S BOEHNER. This take seems about right to me:

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."

Here's a recent article by Boehner on competitiveness, here's his Wall Street Journal piece on earmark reform and porkbusting, and here's his interview with Hugh Hewitt.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear comments:

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."

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.

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.

More here.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:

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.

Indeed.

fusionrazor.jpg
RAZORBLOGGING REDUX: Last year's razorblogging was popular enough that when I passed the rather absurd-looking Gillette "Fusion" 5-blade razor -- on sale at Walgreen's for $5.99 -- I thought "why not?"

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.

INSTAPUNK IS SPONSORING A CONTEST to rewrite Tom Toles' disgraceful war cartoon.

UPDATE: Ron Coleman notes an instructive contrast in the handling of controversial cartoons.

HOW REPUBLICANS CAN GET THEIR GROOVE BACK: Jon Henke looks at the House Majority Leader race.

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. . . .

HEY, I DO HAVE my own Pez dispenser! Somebody tell Laurence Simon.

I'VE BEEN SKEPTICAL of the alcohol-for-petroleum switch that President Bush was talking about, but Bob Zubrin is an awfully smart guy, and he thinks it can be the answer.

STRATEGYPAGE:

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.

Stay tuned.

AN INTERESTING LOOK at reconstructing -- or really, constructing -- the power grid in Iraq, from the IEEE Spectrum. Excerpt:

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.

UPDATE: The Iraqis can take comfort in this: "we are in danger of doing a far worse job rebuilding New Orleans than rebuilding Baghdad."

ILYA SHAPIRO looks at problems with the immigration system.

As I've said before, it's too porous and too strict at the same time.

BAD BOY OF RADIO, meet the bad boys of the Internet:

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).

February 01, 2006

BUT NO TERRORISTS WERE HARMED BY THIS INVASION OF PRIVACY:

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.

So it's okay, then. (Via T.M. Lutas).

KARL ZINSMEISTER: Facts and fiction from the front:

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.

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.

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.

Very interesting.

PAJAMAS THEATER 3000 is Ed Driscoll's new blog devoted to home theater technology, videos, etc.

THIS, AS BEST I CAN TELL, is how the Cory Maye case should have turned out:

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.

DANIEL GLOVER interviews Roy Blunt. Interviews with Shadegg and Boehner are coming.

CAM EDWARDS:

Last night, in addition to Cindy Sheehan being arrested for her anti-war t-shirt, the wife of a Florida representative was apparently asked to leave for wearing a support the troops shirt.

Who the heck wears a t-shirt to the State of the Union address anyway?

I'm sure The Manolo would send the Fashion Police after both of them.

Hey, maybe he did! It's a fair cop.

I'VE MENTIONED JOEL MILLER'S BOOK Size Matters: How Big Government Puts the Squeeze on America's Families, Finances, and Freedom before. (Earlier today, in fact!) He'll be talking about it at the CATO Institute tomorrow. Drop by if you're in DC. Or take advantage of the streaming audio and video if you're not. (Via Hit and Run).

I also recommend his earlier book, Bad Trip : How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America, as do the Hit and Run folks. Here's an interview with him about that book.

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.

Read the whole thing.

THE BAYOSPHERE EXPERIENCE: Dan Gillmor talks with Mark Glaser about what happened, and what's next.

AUSTIN BAY looks at why the Woodruff story has gotten so much attention.

UPDATE: Capt. Alfred Nugent emails:

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.

AMATEUR OBSERVERS tracking spy satellites. It's just more evidence of what individuals and small groups can do with today's technology and communication.

Hey, somebody should write a book on that!

MORE SUPPORT FOR FREE SPEECH in Europe, from newspapers in Germany and Sweden.

Kinda sad that this is news, but still . . . .

MCCAIN to endorse Shadegg, according to a report at NRO.

JOHN SCALZI offers anecdotal evidence of the Long Tail.

BUSH: Dropping the "F-bomb"?

TOM ELIA:

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.

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?"

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?

TOM BEVAN: "Do Conservatives owe John McCain an apology?"

FIREFLY SEASON TWO: The digital distribution season. I like the idea.

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.

CAN'T STOP THE SIGNAL: Phil Bowermaster Stephen Gordon proposes an end run around Google's Chinese censorship.

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 . . . ."

TIM CHAPMAN reports on the House Majority Leader race:

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.

HOWARD DEAN appears to be a poor financial steward.

SIGNS OF RESISTANCE:

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.

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.

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY ROUNDUP of media bias regarding guns is up.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP of blog reactions to the State of the Union, from PJ Media.

More comments here.

A BLOGGER IS asking for help. (Via John Stephenson).

January 31, 2006

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.

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.

On the energy stuff, see this article from Popular Mechanics on hybrids, and other automobile technology, a topic also discussed in last night's podcast. (Direct link here, or via iTunes).

Austin Bay has thoughts, too. And reader Meghan Hammond emails: "More Math and Science teachers? Alternative energy resources? Someone has been reading The World is Flat."

The CNN panel keeps saying how Bush is on the ropes, but he certainly didn't act like he shared their opinion.

Lorie Byrd reports that it's not just CNN.

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).

ADVANCE STATE OF THE UNION EXCERPTS: Click "read more" to read more.

To the delight of Republicans, Cindy Sheehan will reportedly be in the audience. GayPatriot will be liveblogging. And RightSideRedux has a lot of reports from the blogger event on Capitol Hill this afternoon; just keep scrolling. And reportedly Rumsfeld took a hand. Daniel Glover has more. This early bird report is amusing, too. But David Corn isn't excited. The Corner is moreso, and is liveblogging.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey will be liveblogging, too. I don't know if I'll liveblog, but I'll at least have some thoughts later.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Full text available now -- it's below the excerpts. Just click "read more" and scroll.

Lots more livebloggers here.

"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.

Read More ?


THANKS, GUYS! Army of Davids is now up to #78 on Amazon, which isn't bad for a book that doesn't come out for over a month. Keep those pre-orders coming; they're much appreciated!

UPDATE: #66! With a bullet!

ANOTHER UPDATE: #52! #45!

And reader Steve Waite says that the book is now Number One on Amazon's Movers And Shakers list. Cool!

IN YESTERDAY'S PODCAST (direct link here), Popular Mechanics editor Jim Meigs talked about their hybrid/gas comparison article. It's now up on their website, and you can read it here.

MYSTERY POLLSTER writes on spin and counterspin in State of the Union polling.

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!

Indeed. What's more, it's a good recommendation!

FOLLOW THE MONEY?

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.

SUPPORT FREEDOM: Buy Danish!

UPDATE: Here's much more on that.

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.

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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.

But you can pre-order it now! Did I mention that?

UPDATE: Laurence Simon emails:

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!

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."

ISLAM IN EUROPE: Interviews with Bruce Bawer and Claire Berlinski. Excerpt (from Berlinski):

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).

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.

OVER AT TCS DAILY, James DeLong is defending Google. On the other hand, my TCS Daily column on Google is somewhat less positive.

Dean Esmay, meanwhile, is less temperate. (Via China Syndrome).

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.

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?

January 30, 2006

AN AMUSING remix contest based on the sounds of failing hard drives.

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."

THE NEW YORK TIMES VS. THE BLOGS: Jason Kottke looks at how a long bet is going.

The Glenn and Helen Show -- Interviews with Michael Gurian and Jim Meigs

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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 this Newsweek 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.
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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.

NOT VERY CLOSE: Filibuster on Alito broken, 72-25.

A CINDY SHEEHAN FOR SENATE BLOG: Why not?

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.

EUGENE VOLOKH does the math.

YOU CAN HEAR ME and some other bloggers talking about political blogging on KQED here. I come in about halfway through.

THE CONSUMERIST REPORTS on an effort to shut down a blogger. No, criticizing someone's product on your blog isn't trademark infringement. Jeez.

THE NEW TALENT HAS ARRIVED at Wonkette, which is undoubtedly a relief to those who didn't like the lame substitute bloggers such as myself. Background on the new guys is here.

PHILIP BOBBITT writes on eavedropping in the New York Times, and as always it's interesting. Austin Bay has thoughts, too.

THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: Another mess confronting Harper, apparently.

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.

MICHAEL BARONE:

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.

MORE ON THE HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER RACE:

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.

Read the whole thing.

I'M GLAD TO HEAR ABOUT THIS:

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.

Faster, please.

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.

USING WOUNDED TROOPS to support a filibuster on Alito. Can this really be true? I hope it's not.

A LIE DETECTOR THAT really works: Boon, or Orwellian nightmare?

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here's a fairly encouraging report on how things are going:

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.

Indeed. Now let's see how the Majority Leader race goes.

CHANGING THE NATURAL ORDER:

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.

The political landscape seems to have been reshaped, too:

"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.

Actually, the problems seem to precede Katrina.

January 29, 2006

WELL, DIVERSITY IS A GOOD THING, RIGHT?

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."

Indeed.

HOW BAD HAVE THE DEMOCRATS' PROBLEMS with their "activist base" gotten? Bad enough that Joan Vennochi in the Boston Globe thinks they're going too far to the left:

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).

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.

FILM NOIR involving the dread Gizmodo crime family. That's scary, all right.

PAUL BOUTIN discovers that the Chinese Google filter only works if you can spell.

THE SAD THING IS, I actually kind of want one of these.

CATHY SEIPP:

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.

Read the whole thing.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: I was pretty lame about posting blog carnival links last week, so here's a makeup roundup. First, the Carnival of Couture, which as always was super-fantastic. Some other highlights: The Carnival of Education, Don Surber's new Carnival of the Celebrities (Google-bait!), and the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Lots more carnivals, of course, at BlogCarnival.com.

BOB WOODRUFF and an accompanying cameraman have been seriously injured by a terrorist bomb in Iraq.

UPDATE: Joe Gandelman has thoughts.

FINISHED READING Joshua Palmatier's The Skewed Throne. I enjoyed it very much -- it's quite good, even leaving aside that it's a first novel.

UPDATE: He's got a blog, too. This story about an accidental rejection letter is pretty funny.

I once got a rejection letter from a law review for a piece I'd never submitted to them. On the other hand, I've also gotten an acceptance for a piece I never submitted, so I guess it evens out.

ARNOLD KLING: Is blogging a fad?

UPDATE: In a related topic, Terry Teachout and Rick Brookhiser debate the future of e-books.

I SUSPECT that a lot of these too-busy grandparents were too busy as parents, too.

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 . . .

GOOGLE'S NEW MOTTO: "Be semi-evil. Be quasi-evil. Be the margarine of evil. Be the Diet Coke of evil — just one calorie; not evil enough."

Lots more on Google at the China Syndrome blog.

UPDATE: BizzyBlog wonders why the lefty blogs don't seem to be paying much attention to the Google story.

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.

Why?

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 . . . .

MORE: Here's a defense of google.

MICHELLE MALKIN has a Davos roundup, with video.

CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS REWRITING WIKIPEDIA to make their boss look good. Charming.

UPDATE: Sean Hackbarth says this is another blow to Wikipedia.

IS CINDY SHEEHAN becoming the voice of the new Democratic Party? Hey, they used to dismiss Kos as fringe, and now he's mainstream.

UPDATE: Bruce Kesler isn't happy with this mainstreaming.

G.M. ROPER: "Thursday, January 26th, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Talk about a kick in the teeth." Drop by and offer him your good wishes.

HERE'S AN AP story on Michael Yon:

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.

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."

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

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."

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.