MURDERER IN THE CATHEDRAL: Andrew Marcus and Richard Miniter are reporting on Khatami at the National Cathedral. It's some useful background you're unlikely to see elsewhere. Plus, hot Iranian protest babes.
TIM RUTTEN: "SURVEYING the smoking ruin that is ABC's reputation after the 'The Path to 9/11' debacle, it's hard to know whether you're looking at the consequence of unadulterated folly or of a calculated strategy that turned out to be too clever by half."
Republicans have spent more than Democrats, and now Democrats favor censorship.
A third, non-idiot, party would be nice.
posted at 02:55 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RUBY TUESDAY'S -- the restaurant for fat people!
That slogan won't sell, but I'm not the only one to complain about their new menu. Danny Glover writes:
I recently had a business lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. I used to like going there because of the numerous healthy options on the menu, but they were gone on my last visit. I'm actually on a low-carb diet right now, so I was still able to order a steak and vegetables. Still, I was irritated that it was my only option.
Weirdly, my earlier post got me some abusive emails accusing me of betraying market principles and libertarianism by complaining about Ruby's menu. But I wasn't calling for the government to regulate them, just complaining about their new menu. A view of market capitalism in which customers aren't allowed to express their dissatisfaction is . . . weird.
The real power of Posner's effort is that he stands back and measures whether Guantanamo Bay and wiretapping are really worth it. It's proof that the best cure for partisan shrieking is a good old-fashioned game of cost-benefit analysis.
Our podcast interview with Posner can be found here.
If Mom and Dad had it, we don’t want it. The principle has been an article of faith since homo sapiens first stalked the savannah. Bouffant hairstyles? Brylcreem? Gedoutta here. Eighteen-hour girdles? Puh-lease. When it comes to vehicles, there’s nothing stodgier than Mom's old station wagon. If thirty or forty-somethings think about the genre at all, it’s with mocking derision. From National Lampoon’s “Family Truckster” to That 70’s Show’s Vista Cruiser, the station wagon is the ultimate icon of suburban conformity and, well, blah. It really IS your father’s Oldsmobile. . . .
I’ve always believed wagons were God’s chosen vehicles. After all, what can a four-door sedan do that a station wagon can’t? Other than the sedan’s [highly subjective] advantage in the appearance department, nothing. Pistonheads will protest that station wagons don’t accelerate, corner or brake as well as their non-wagon counterparts. And no wonder; manufacturers usually delete the sedan’s high-performance parts from the station wagon's OEM equipment list. When a station wagon gets the right greasy bits (think WRX, Magnum SRT-8) their performance is pretty damn close to the trunk-equipped version– and they retain the utility that makes a wagon, well, a wagon.
I agree. I drove a Passat wagon for years -- had to have something that would hold the sound equipment -- and it was a great car, roomy, comfortable, and fairly quick. I replaced it with the Highlander hybrid, and it's an even better car, but it's basically a station wagon with plausible deniability. Had I been able to get one, and had the InstaWife and InstaDaughter not threatened revolt over replacing the old car with something virtually identical, I would have probably gotten the Passat TDI wagon -- not zoomy, with its diesel engine, but nearly as quick as the gas model and getting 38+ mpg.
posted at 09:27 AM by Glenn Reynolds
DON'T MESS WITH NURSES: "A nurse returning from work discovered an intruder armed with a hammer in her home and strangled him with her bare hands, police said."
As muggings go, it began like many others. A 56-year-old woman was leaving her building in her wheelchair, her only company the small dog perched on her lap.
Her attacker came from behind, the police said, and there was no one else around. But this attempted robbery had an ending unlike many others. As it turns out, the would-be victim, Margaret Johnson, has a permit to carry a .357 handgun — and she carries it often.
The mugging ended seconds after it began, the police said, when Ms. Johnson pulled out her gun and shot her attacker in his arm. Last night, the man accused of the attempted mugging, Deron Johnson, 45, was in stable condition at Harlem Hospital Center with a gunshot wound to his elbow, the police said. He was under protective custody and is facing a robbery charge, the police said.
Even in New York, armed citizens can take a bite out of crime. Which is why they should have more of them. Nice to see the NYT reporting this kind of story. And note this bit: "The man accused of attacking her, Mr. Johnson (no relation), was described by the authorities as a 'robbery recidivist,' with nine previous arrests." Not that surprising.
posted at 09:21 AM by Glenn Reynolds
September 08, 2006
HERE'S MORE on the earmark transparency bill, from CNN:
Now that the blogosphere has revealed the "secret senator," bloggers are claiming another victory after a bill authorizing a Google-like database of public spending passed the Senate.
Late Thursday, the senators passed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act by unanimous consent after holds from "secret senator" Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, were lifted. . . .
News of the bill's passage was received triumphantly in the blogosphere, and one of the bill's orginal co-sponsors, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, credited "the army of bloggers and concerned citizens" for their victory.
Coburn and the bill's other original co-sponsor, Sen. Barak Obama, D-Illinois, said they had reached agreement with sponsors of the House version, which was passed in June. The House could take up the new language as early as next week.
The Porkbusters podcast interview with House Majority Leader John Boehner can be found here.
posted at 10:39 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MY FAVORITE THEORY SO FAR on the reason for Khatami's visit: "Khatami and Cheney are negotiating or conferring on how to best get rid of Ahmadinejad, and that a few hours on the ground provide enough opportunity."
Well, I'd certainly like it to be true.
posted at 08:25 PM by Glenn Reynolds
FOILED CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Will Vehrs, suspended from his job for blogging, has won his grievance hearing. The complaint against him always seemed bogus to me, and has merely served to call attention to the poor economic prospects of Martinsville, Virginia -- and the petty and otherwise deficient character of its town fathers.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The House and Senate have reached an agreement on the earmark reduction bill. House Majority Leader John Boehner reports:
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), Barack Obama (Ill.), and Tom Carper (Del.), and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) today announced that they have reached agreement on legislation to increase accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts. House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) announced he plans to schedule the agreed-upon language for House floor consideration next week.
“This process has focused on enhancing the accountability and transparency in the federal budget process,” Blunt, Boehner, and Davis said. “The federal government awards approximately $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 different organizations. Each year, roughly one million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold. We need to be sure that money is spent wisely. Our legislation creates a transparent system for reviewing these expenditures so that Congress, the press, and the American public have the information they need to conduct proper oversight of the use of our tax dollars. The package we’ve agreed to move requires the Administration to establish searchable databases for both grants and contracts.”
“I’m pleased that the House leadership agreed with us that all federal spending should be accessible through this website. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grant, an earmark, or a contract, this legislation will allow the public to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Sen. Obama.
It's a small but important step. It's worth noting, though, that as important as structural changes like this are, we also need to change the culture. That's starting to happen, too, but we've got a long way to go. Transparency should help with that, though.
Here's more from Americans for Prosperity. I certainly hope that this part is true: "With this online spending database now headed for reality, I have a feeling that those grassroots taxpayers and bloggers will soon show that they’ve just been getting warmed up."
DRIVING A HYBRID, I only fill up every couple of weeks, and when I filled up last night I was pleasantly surprised to be paying $2.50/gallon, which was much less than I paid last time. I thought it was good news, but it turns out it's all part of the insidious Big Oil conspiracy to lower prices.
UPDATE: Kathy Grim emails: "You may be really frustrated to know that you should have waited one more day to fill up. I filled up for $2.399 at Callahan and Central Ave Pike this morning."
Those bastards! I blame Halliburton.
posted at 01:24 PM by Glenn Reynolds
DANIEL DREZNER LOOKS AT THE LATEST SALVO in The New York Times' jihad against Wal-Mart, and is deeply unimpressed: "This leads to a fundamental question -- what on earth motivated the New York Times to put this article on the front page of its Business section? Properly headlined, an article that blares, 'Little Money Flowing Between Wal-Mart and Washington Think Tanks' wouldn't even have run, much less on the front page."
9/11 Commissioner John Lehman had some interesting takes on the controversy. "The larger truth," he told us, "is that neither administration fully grasped what the threat was. Partially it was inadequate intelligence but you can't blame it all on the inadequate intelligence -- there was, I think, a very naïve view held by some in the Clinton administration, mainly Albright and Janet Reno that force was counterproductive."
Lehman, a Republican, told us that the campaign against the film by the Clinton officials misses the point. "I think what they're trying to do is to take the fact the specific scenes portrayed were fictional and to try to refute the underlying reality that the Clinton administration just didn't get it. And by the way before 9-11 neither did the Bush administration."
Yes, and that's why I've never been too critical of the Clinton Administration, or the pre-9/11 Bush Administration. Hindsight is 20-20, but not many people took the threat of Islamist terror seriously enough before the World Trade Center attacks, and I certainly didn't. As I noted a while back:
Before 9/11 -- and what we learned afterward -- I agreed with the basic strategy of trying to contain Islamist terror until it collapsed under the weight of its own stupidity. That was before I realized how widespread it was, and how thoroughly intertwined with hostile states it was. I don't fault the Clinton people for not catching on before I did.
But I do fault the people who are peddling the absurd story that Clinton had this terror thing under control until Bush screwed it up. That's partisan twaddle, and a real disservice in time of war.
By making a big noise over this film, the Clinton people are implicitly disavowing the "pass" they've enjoyed, and in the process inviting more, rather than less, scrutiny of that Administration's antiterror record, which strikes me as very unwise, politically.
Just so you know: 9/11 reset the clock for me. All hands went to midnight. I’m interested in what people did after that date, and if the movie shows that before the attack one side lacked feck and the other was feck-deficient, I don't worry about it. It's like revisiting Congressional debates about Hawaiian harbor security in November 1941. Y'all get a pass. The Etch-A-Sketch's turned over. Now: what have you said lately?
MORE: ShrinkWrapped doesn't like Democratic officeholders' threats against ABC: "Not only is there is no awareness that the campaign they are running against the Disney Corporation is dangerous but they revel in their ability to use all the forces at their command to intimidate a media outlet. If Republicans did this, the howls of outrage would know no bounds, yet the Democrats, champions of civil liberties as they fancy themselves to be, propose censorship without a trace of irony."
This is generating more blowback elsewhere: "This is exactly the sort of behavior that forces me to vote Republican even when I disagree with half their platform. Hopefully, the American people still believe the First Amendment should be upheld by both parties, and will act accordingly in November."
STILL MORE: Reader Susan Voss notes that Peggy Noonan was ahead of the curve, writing in 1998:
Maybe, of course, I'm wrong. But I think of the friend who lives on Park Avenue who turned to me once and said, out of nowhere, "If ever something bad is going to happen to the city, I pray each day that God will give me a sign. That He will let me see a rat stand up on the sidewalk. So I'll know to gather the kids and go." I absorbed this and, two years later, just a month ago, poured out my fears to a former high official of the United States government. His face turned grim. I apologized for being morbid. He said no, he thinks the same thing. He thinks it will happen in the next year and a half. I was surprised, and more surprised when he said that an acquaintance, a former arms expert for another country, thinks it will happen in a matter of months.
So now I have frightened you. But we must not sit around and be depressed. "Don't cry," Jimmy Cagney once said. "There's enough water in the goulash already."
We must take the time to do some things. We must press government officials to face the big, terrible thing. They know it could happen tomorrow; they just haven't focused on it because there's no Armageddon constituency. We should press for more from our foreign intelligence and our defense systems, and press local, state, and federal leaders to become more serious about civil defense and emergency management.
Not enough people were thinking this way, obviously.
IN THE MAIL: Ronald Dworkin's new book, Is Democracy Possible Here?: Principles for a New Political Debate. Dworkin is unhappy with the present polarized state of political debate, and of course he's right to be. On the other hand, when a lefty author writing on this sort of theme gets a lukewarm review from Publisher's Weekly it's a bad sign. Perhaps there will be a civil discussion in the Amazon discussion forum for the book.
Regarding Mayor Bloomberg's "sting" of gun dealers -- The total conviction count is one dealer pleads to disorderly conduct. Bloomsberg's police seize the gun store inventory, then return it quietly a week later.
He sues out of state dealers, two have filed counter-suits, and he offers to settle against the others for supervision -- for which NYC will pay.
Comes now the Queens' Ledger to proclaim it a great success.
I guess the standards for success are pretty low in Queens.
STOP THE PRESSES: Armitage says he was source of Plame leak. "The confirmation of Mr. Armitage’s role, long the subject of media speculation, shows that the initial disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s identify did not originate from the White House as part of a concerted political attack, but was divulged by a senior State Department official who was not regarded as a close political ally of Vice President Dick Cheney."
Over three years of the press hyperventilating about nothing. And, I might add, pretty obviously nothing. But it served its goal, which was to drive Bush down in the polls, so I don't think the hyperventilators regret it much.
JIM PINKERTON: "Reporters, meanwhile, like to say that they are there, in the battle zone, to 'tell the story' -- although most people know, or at least most people believe, that reporters are there to shape the story, to shape opinion in a certain way. Therefore, depending on one's point of view, journalists are either an asset, or a liability; but they are anything but neutral."
The 32 months of violence in the Moslem south have so far caused nearly 4,300 casualties (40 percent of them fatal). During that period, there were some 5,500 incidents of Islamic terrorist violence. That's an average of 5-6 a day, among a population of 2.4 million (some 80 percent Moslem). The violence was largely directed at the 400,000 or so non-Moslems. The terrorist attacks have had the effect of doubling the normal murder rate in the south. A religiously inspired crime wave, so to speak. But the terror is very real as well, especially for non-Moslems. Since most of the deaths are among the non-Moslem minority, the death rate for that community has risen to about 15 per 100,000 per year. The rate in the U.S. is about 6 per 100,000 people per year.
While the number of bombings has increased this year, the casualty rate has gone down. This is largely because of the thousands of additional soldiers and police sent to the south. These security forces are everywhere down there. But the damage has already been done, and thousands of non-Moslem Thais have fled the south. The main objective of the Islamic terrorists is to expel all non-Moslems from the south, and then set up a religious dictatorship.
Sounds like ethnic cleansing by terror. Why isn't the UN protesting? If this sort of terror were directed at Muslims in Israel, or the United States, it would be an international cause celebre.
The passage of this legislation is a triumph for transparency in government, for fiscal discipline, and for the bipartisan citizen journalism of the blogosphere.
Without the efforts of ordinary Americans empowered by the Internet, including many hardworking members of the iFrist Volunteers, this legislation might easily have been successfully obstructed. Instead, the unprecedented synergy between online grassroots activists and Senate leadership provides a new model for participatory democracy in action.
I look forward to reconciling S. 2590 with its counterpart in the House and delivering this deserving legislation to the desk of President Bush for his signature.
Onward and upward. Or, in the case of pork spending, hopefully downward.
Needless to say, the "gunfights after every traffic accident" which were predicted by the gun control advocates have not transpired in any state adopting such "no retreat" measures.
But make no mistake, they continue to fight such legislation. Their latest tactic? Identifying the death of any armed home invader or rapist at the hands of his intended victim as a "murder," they have launched a Web site opposed to these new self-defense laws, dubbed www.licensetomurder.com. . . .
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, these are lies. Shooting in self-defense is not "murder."
BOYCOTTING MILLER BEER, at Hot Air. I've been boycotting Miller for years, because it's not very good. . . . I say, support your local brewery!
posted at 12:43 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE MANOLO looks at Dictator Chic, and without ignoring the important role of "the super hotty she-devils."
Plus, Ahmadinejad is no Qaddafi: "Qaddafi, he’s not just the despot, he is the Arab Superfly, White Shaft in Africa! And, and you, you’re just the crazy Mr. Ahmadinejad, the scourge of the first period homeroom."
I hope somebody translates that into Farsi.
posted at 12:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ANN ALTHOUSE: "We're going to mark the 9/11 anniversary in an especially shabby way this year. . . . If you haven't caught up with the spirit of 2006, you might want to keep the TV off for the next few days and stay away from the internet."
posted at 12:21 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SCHEMAXPERT is a program that "dynamically and accurately creates XML documents from XML schemas." To be honest, I have only a vague understanding of what that means, or why it's useful. But my lovely and talented sister-in-law has been laboring over SchemaExpert for months, so if you understand that more than I do, be sure to check it out!
Facing unprecedented public scrutiny and an election this fall, Congress is under the gun to tighten the rules on the time-honored lawmaker practice of slipping pet projects into legislation - and it has about 30 days left to get the job done.
Both House and Senate leaders pledge to change the rules on lawmakers' earmarks this month, before Congress breaks for the midterm election. But this week, sticking points emerged, complicating their pledge to push the changes through. . . .
"I don't think senators realized that people cared so much about transparency and responsiveness," says Zephyr Teachout, national director of the Sunlight Foundation, a broad-based coalition of groups that mobilized bloggers to identify the source of secret holds.
Public support for change should be credited to former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) of California, whose vast defense earmark-for-bribe scam - some earning his co-conspirators profit margins in excess of 800 percent - stunned many colleagues and sent him to prison. It also raised the profile on the hidden process of securing funds for member projects and mobilized public-interest groups and bloggers to shine a bright light both on earmarking and moves to reform the process.
Even if negotiations fail to produce comprehensive lobby reform, House and Senate leaders say they will change the rules of both bodies to require disclosure of all member projects and their sponsors.
"One way or another, we will address this issue," said House majority leader John Boehner, as Congress resumed work Tuesday. "It's important to use taxpayers' resources wisely - and important [that] we move forward on reform."
I think that there will be major backlash if nothing gets accomplished this fall.
HOWARD KURTZ ROUNDS UP Clintonite complaints about the ABC 9/11 docudrama. Call me crazy, but I don't regard Sandy Berger as trustworthy on the historical record here, as given his document-removal activity I think he had something to hide.
This response, of course, will only add to that impression.
posted at 07:13 AM by Glenn Reynolds
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS -- IT'S NOT JUST FOR INSTAPUNDIT ANY MORE: Actually, it never was, but I do go on about the subject. But I notice that my latest Consumer Reports has an article on it, and Slate is covering the subject, too. An ounce of prevention, and all that.
The Times scolds Fitzgerald for his lack of response, but they still have not taken responsibility for their own role in this witch hunt. These men and women led the public charge for the investigation to be wrested from the DoJ and assigned to a special prosecutor accountable to no one except a panel of judges, also accountable to no one but themselves. They reversed their own stand on special prosecutors taken during the Clinton administration and demanded this appointment, and they made sure enough Democratic politicians spoke up to get it. Now that the case has utterly collapsed, the Gray Lady acts like a prim schoolmarm, wagging her finger at little Patrick for mischief she thoroughly endorsed.
I confess that it's kind of fun to watch, though. "Fitzmas" is looking more and more like the wait for The Great Pumpkin. Which I guess is why Tom Maguire can't finish his list for laughing too hard.
BILL ROGGIO: "The news of the Pakistani government signing a truce agreement with the Taliban in North Waziristan is far worse than being reported." Note, however, that Pakistan is denying reports that it's given Osama a pass.
posted at 11:47 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I'LL BE ON MSNBC at around 11:30, talking about the midterm elections.
ED MORRISSEY debunks efforts to rehabilitate the Clinton Administration's terror record.
Factual errors aside, I'll just note a contradiction in simultaneously claiming that today's surveillance programs are Big Brother incarnate, and claiming that the mean old Republicans blocked Clinton's efforts to deploy such programs in the 1990s.
MITT ROMNEY denounces Khatami's visit to Harvard. "Romney criticized Harvard for honoring Khatami by inviting him to speak, calling it 'a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists, especially on the eve of the five-year anniversary of 9/11.'"
Another Democratic senator appears to have placed a “secret hold” on legislation that would pry open the murky world of federal contracting to public scrutiny.
That’s the word that Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn received Tuesday from the Republican cloakroom, the place that tracks who is blocking legislation using the parliamentary maneuver.
The news came soon after Coburn learned that Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, had finally lifted his hold on the measure that Coburn and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., introduced in April. The measure would create a searchable database of some $2.5 trillion in federal contracts, grants, loans, insurance and federal assistance each year.
Stevens and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West. Va., both indisputable masters at bringing home the bacon, placed the holds during the August recess. Both lifted them after prominent bloggers began calling senate offices to “smoke out” the senator responsible for holding up the open government bill.
If a Democrat does have a hold then they may have misled the blogger community which ruled out every Democrat except for Byrd last week. Every Democrat is on the record publicly denying that they have a hold on S. 2590. http://porkbusters.org/secrethold.php
If it turns out that a new hold has been placed, that senator might be in hot water with his/her party. That’s because leaders from both parties are urging passage of the bill in a particularly tight election season.
Mark Tapscott thinks the porkers are trying to outlast us:
Looks to me like opponents of Coburn-Obama have decided to see how long the measure's supporters in the Blogosphere can keep up the campaign of unmasking anonymous holders. There are more than 75 senators who are not co-sponsors of the bill.
If even a dozen or 15 of them agree to place successive anonymous holds after each new holder is unmasked - assuming they are - they could easily exhaust the legislative calendar and perhaps also the Blogosphere, thus effectively blocking consideration of the bill.
And don't think there aren't at least that many senators from both parties who would be more than happy to play a role in such a scenario.
Bill Frist has promised to move the bill in September. Will he let these kinds of shenanigans cause him to dishonor his promise?
UPDATE: Frist responds: "My Democrat colleagues have not yet cleared this legislation ... but I'm confident that they will do so promptly or pay the consequences of continued obstruction. Now is the time to act on S. 2590. And we will act this September to pass this bill and bring the bright light of public scrutiny to the federal budget."
And an email from his staff reads: "Senator Frist will not dishonor his promise."
MORE: I'm told that Senator Stevens has re-activated his hold on the bill.
Apparently, we're back to having two holds on the bill. [Bumped to top because it's important.]
MORE STILL: I think we should start pressuring Congress to go forward with the bill and override any holds.
Calling a guy who has lunched solo in Ramadi since the invasion chicken seems a bit much to me, but hey, whatever. The antiwar left's efforts to bolster its macho credentials are always amusingly inept, but they keep trying.
UPDATE: On the Ramadi thing, Barnett adds: "When Greenwald (or even one of his sock-puppets) does the same, then he'll have more solid ground to stand on when questioning another's manliness."
I'm waiting for "Ellison in Mosul"!
But as I've noted before, there's a difference between political and physical courage. But, really, the political coward's way out for Steyn would be to renounce his pro-war stance, knowing that he'd suddenly be lionized by lefties as a "true conservative" and enjoy Strange New Respect for years. Look how well that sort of turnabout has worked for Kevin Phillips!
posted at 06:21 PM by Glenn Reynolds
DANISH TERROR ARRESTS: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.
As Maeda notes, Apple manages to sell products with fewer features for more money than its competitors, by investing in design that makes them easy to use and that gives them a feeling of quality. I wish more manufacturers would pick up on that.
posted at 12:53 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JOSH MARSHALL'S FATHER HAS DIED, and he remembers him beautifully in this post. Please send him your condolences.
posted at 12:04 PM by Glenn Reynolds
The Glenn and Helen Show: Russell Friedman on Moving On
Our podcast on divorce with lawyer Lauren Strange-Boston was popular enough that we thought we'd follow up with some non-legal issues relating to divorce. We talked to Russell Friedman, relationship expert and author of Moving On: Dump Your Relationship Baggage and Make Room for the Love of Your Life about, well, pretty much what the book title suggests. He offers a lot of good advice on dealing with divorces and breakups, and with relationships that you want to keep from facing a divorce or breakup, and when it's best to pull the plug. (My favorite line: "You can't love someone into mental health.")
You can listen directly via your browser (no messy downloads needed) by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here, or get it in lo-fi here. You can subscribe via iTunes here.
Something almost without precedent in America will happen Thursday. That’s the day when McCain-Feingold — aka the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — will officially silence broadcast advertising that contains criticism of members of Congress seeking re-election in November. Before 2006, American election campaigns traditionally began in earnest after Labor Day. Unless McCain-Feingold is repealed, Labor Day will henceforth mark the point in the campaign when congressional incumbents can sit back and cruise, free of those pesky negative TV and radio spots. It is the most effective incumbent protection act possible, short of abolishing the elections themselves.
It's wrong, it's unAmerican, and it's the single best argument against either McCain or Feingold running for President in 2008. (Via John Hawkins).
Is it too much to ask that judges and legislatures acknowledge the difficulty of this debate by leaving it to normal democratic processes? In fact, the more passionate an issue, the less justification there often is for constitutionalizing it. Constitutions tempt those who are way too sure they are right. Certainty is, to be sure, a constant feature of our politics -- some certainties endure; others are fated to be supplanted by the certainties of a succeeding age. Neither we nor the Framers can be sure which is which, but the Framers were sure that we should debate our differences in this day's time and arena. It is sad that the state of James Madison and John Marshall will in all likelihood forsake their example of limited constitutionalism this fall. Their message is as clear today as it was at the founding: Leave constitutions alone.
posted at 09:16 AM by Glenn Reynolds
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Hill reports that members of Congress aren't just keeping us in the dark -- they're also keeping each other ignorant:
House leaders have vowed to improve transparency in the earmarking system, whether or not Congress passes a broader lobbying reform law this year. But critics note that the proposed reforms would neither eliminate appropriations earmarks nor address the prevalence of earmarks in tax and authorization bills.
Scott Lilly, a former Democratic staff director for the Appropriations Committee who now works at the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), argues that the lack of transparency stems from a desire among appropriators to keep their colleagues in the dark when it comes to the process for apportioning earmarks.
“If every member of the House has a complete listing of what every other member got, he can immediately begin to compare his standing in the institution, his support of the committee on key votes, and any other factor that might arguably serve as a basis for determining the distribution of earmarks with members of the House who got more than he or she did in earmarks,” Lilly wrote in a column posted on CAP’s website.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 08:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds
CAM EDWARDS looks at the AHSA, an astroturf "moderate" gun-rights group that's been touted in The New Republic. It's got big name supporters, rich-guy backing, and press folks willing to misrepresent its nature and history. It's got everything but members! As Jim Geraghty comments: "Dude, 150 members. You get more than that in one theater of a large multiplex on a Friday Night. About ten or eleven rows of seats in the Meadowlands."
UPDATE: A reader emails:
150 members? That's about as many members as the New Jersey Coalition For Self Defense, a genuine grassroots group I had a hand in launching a few years back. (http://www.njcsd.org)
Of course, the NJCSD has no rich guy backing, has a press willing to entirely ignore them, a legislature willing to write them off as extremist agitators, its supporters painfully cough up the $20 membership fee, no coffers to speak of, and it is crewed entirely by volunteers who are paid nothing to squeeze a few minutes or hours out of their full work and family day to work for the group's agenda.
THAT is what grass roots looks like. It's tiresome, frustrating, and thankless when you're the voice crying in the RKBA wilderness that is NJ.
Indeed. It's more fun being astroturf, I imagine.
posted at 08:43 AM by Glenn Reynolds
CATHY SEIPP looks at Katie Couric and the future of CBS. Bottom line: "New anchor, same Titanic." Plus, an amusing Tom Snyder anecdote.
posted at 08:36 AM by Glenn Reynolds
RON BAILEY PENS A TRIBUTE TO NORMAN BORLAUG, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who actually contributed greatly to human welfare.
posted at 08:31 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THE DEMOCRATS' PEACE PLAN gets a bad review: "They want Donald Rumsfeld's head on a pike outside the White House, but they can't even gin up the courage to use his name in their letter."
After the United States helped broker a Darfur peace deal in May, the United Nations promised to come to the rescue with a peacekeeping force capable of enforcing the accord. But, as Darfur faded from public consciousness, the world body has again proven itself utterly ineffective. As the feeble and largely symbolic African Union force (itself indifferent at best to the continuing rapes and murders) prepares to leave the region in five weeks, Darfur is on the brink of massive human killing with no international force forthcoming. The UN's own chief of humanitarian operations, Jan Egeland, conceded in a recent interview that mass murder is about to begin on a tremendous scale, while rapes and individual killings are already the rule, not the exception. (Systematic sexual violence against women, we recall, is the hallmark of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Sudanese regime's Janjaweed militia in Darfur. Even after they have been driven from their homes into wretched camps, Darfuri women still must venture out to fetch wood and water, putting themselves at risk.)
THE JOY OF FLEX: Tom Lutz writes on the real benefit of a professorial lifestyle:
It isn’t the pay scale, which, with a few lucky exceptions, offers the lowest years-of-education-to-income ratio possible. It isn’t really the work itself, either. Yes, teaching and research are rewarding, but we face as much drudgery as in any professional job. Once you’ve read 10,000 freshman essays, you’ve read them all.
But we academics do have something few others possess in this postindustrial world: control over our own time. All the surveys point to this as the most common factor in job satisfaction. The jobs in which decisions are made and the pace set by machines provide the least satisfaction, while those, like mine, that foster at least the illusion of control provide the most.
My first year as a law professor, I noticed that I was actually working more hours than when I was practicing law at a big firm. But it felt much less stressful, because I had much more control over what I was doing, when. As I've noticed before, I think that sort of control is also part of the appeal of self-emplyment and cottage industry.
UPDATE: Reader Craig Mason writes: "Regarding your post on 'The Joy of Flex'--I like a quote from my grad school advisor about being an academic: 'The best part of being a professor is that you get to work whatever 70 hours a week that you want.'"
That's about right. But that's huge.
posted at 04:54 PM by Glenn Reynolds
CLAUDIA ROSETT: "The United Nations is, as Ambassador John Bolton has said, 'a target-rich environment,' and keeping up with the Kofi-isms alone can become a full-time job. I’ll try to stick to the top hits, so there is time on this blog for other matters."
posted at 12:36 PM by Glenn Reynolds
LIKE STEPHEN AMBROSE ON ACID, OR SOMETHING: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. "Brooks tells the story of the world's desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts 'as told to the author' by various characters around the world."
MORE STILL: And, apparently, the masses mass too much, too: "An obesity pandemic threatens to overwhelm health systems around the globe with illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, experts at an international conference warned Sunday."
STILL MORE: Exposing "corporate greed at the expense of workers" -- in a shocking place. "Is it fair to judge this particular company for the fact that its workers only receive a little more than one-third of the total output of the company? It is -- when they condemn the rest of them for paying out only about half."
MICKEY KAUS on Hillary: "But if the problem is that she's overly cautious, calculating and chameleon-like--but can raise lots of money--then Senate Minority/Majority Leader might be a good job for her, no?"
posted at 10:15 AM by Glenn Reynolds
September 03, 2006
I'VE BEEN A BIT UNDER THE WEATHER TODAY, so I've been reading Robert Charles Wilson's Spin, which I got after a recommendation from John Scalzi. I'm about halfway through, and so far it's quite good.
MARK STEYN: "What's stunning is not that almost all Western media organizations reporting from the Middle East are reliant on local staff overwhelmingly sympathetic to one side in the conflict -- that's been known for some time -- but the amateurish level of fakery that head office is willing to go along with."