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October 14, 2006

EXTREME MORTMAN says that Keith Olbermann has his facts wrong.

MY EARLIER DISASTER PREPAREDNESS POST drew this email:

Glenn, if you are so inclined, please remind people that one of the best things to do to be prepared for disasters is to be trained in first aid and CPR. Too many people (myself included, but I'm planning to fix that) don't even know the basics of first aid, and ought to.

Secondly, a plug: If anyone can, please try to volunteer at and be trained by local fire and rescue/emergency medical units, especially in more rural areas. Many men and women volunteer their time to serve their communities in this way, and they are CRITICAL. I am so proud of my husband, because he saw this need in our community, and stepped up to the plate.

Each person who aids their neighbors this way deserves our deep gratitude and recognition!

Absolutely. And reader Tom Jank writes:

Maybe there's something in the water, regarding interest in Disaster Prep. CBS just renewed "Jerico," the one hour drama about a small town cut off by a nuclear blast.

Checking my office email, I noted this message from the other day (we're on Fall Break so I hadn't noticed it before): "A Homeland Security exercise involving multiple jurisdictions will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, on part of the UT campus. Several parking areas and sections of roads will be closed for the exercise."

And, pulling together two big themes from today, reader Scott Cosman writes:

Perhaps folks are buying the disaster kits in preparation for the Democratic takeover of Congress.

It all makes sense, now.

UPDATE: Chris Nordby emails:

During a large-scale disaster, one with mass casualties, the priorities of medical care shift to doing the most good for the most people with the available resources. Sustaining CPR until outside helps arrives during such a disaster is not a very realistic proposition. I would suggest that if isolated pockets of people have a member of the group present the signs and symptoms that are taught in CPR classes, then they will lose nothing by attempting to revive the afflicted member. However, stopping after a prudent time will probably be necessary if the casualty doesn’t spontaneously respond.

I suggest advanced first aid training as a better adjunct for disaster preparedness such as that available from the American Red Cross. (Personally, I also keep a copy of my old Boy Scout Handbook in my kit because of the variety of subjects that support disaster preparedness.)

Ah, as a matter of full disclosure, I am a former US Army Special Forces Medical NCO (MOS 18D) and now make a living as a Security Analyst for Lockheed Martin servicing a Homeland Security contract. I routinely act as part of a team assessing Homeland Security installations to determine their level of preparedness in the face of a terrorist attack. My part on that team is to assess their medical preparedness and reaction to WMD events.

Anyway, CPR is great and helpful for a functioning community with ready access to EMS support, but first aid is better for disasters where survivors can expect to be cut off for anywhere from 3-14 days.

Yes, I took an advanced first aid course years ago -- it was more like bush medicine, really, with everything from how to do traction and bonesetting to delivering babies, and I hope I never use any of it -- but that's closer. However, many CPR courses are bundled with other basic trauma first-aid training. Good point, though.

STEPHEN SPRUIELL: "Several Israeli journalists quit the IFJ when that organization lobbed similar smears at their country's military. Will any American journalist have the courage to do the same?"

My Blog JuiceWE'RE NUMBER ONE -- among law professor blogs, anyway.

Pretty much everything I do -- from photography, to fitness, to music, to, well, blogging -- falls under that category: "Not bad -- for a law professor." Oh, well, that's good enough for me!

(Via Volokh).

HERE'S THE TEXT of the U.N. resolution on North Korea that passed this afternoon. Sounds like an endorsement of the anti-North Korea measures, already underway, that Chester described last week.

A GOP PRE-MORTEM: So is it over for the GOP majorities in Congress? It's still too early to say, I guess, but when even John Hinderaker is sounding extremely gloomy that's certainly the way to bet.

So I want to stress, for the edification of any Republican leaders who might pay attention, that this is the result of a series of unforced errors on their part. Following is a (partial) list:

1. The Terri Schiavo affair: The bitterness it aroused, which was substantial, opened a fracture in the GOP coalition: Social-conservatives against the rest. And as I noted at the time, the social conservatives were pretty nasty to the rest. No, it wasn't really a case of "theocracy" at work, as people like Ralph Nader agreed with the social conservatives. But the haste to enact federal legislation over a matter of state law, and the mean-spiritedness with which those who disagreed were treated, did the Bush coalition no good. What's more, as I noted at the time (see first link above), this wasn't enough to make the social conservatives happy anyway. Politically, I think this marked the beginning of the end.

2. The Harriet Miers debacle: Plenty of warning in the blogs that this was a big mistake, but all ignored by the White House and Congressional leadership. Social conservatives were mad here, and so was anyone who cared about the credentials of nominees. The nomination was withdrawn, but the damage was done.

3. The Dubai Ports disaster: Here I think that the Administration was on defensible ground from a policy perspective, but its ham-handed approach -- once again ignoring early warnings from the blogs -- turned it into a mess, and cost it major credibility with its national security constituency. The Administraiton was bumbling and inept in addressing this matter, which gained currency because of its flaccid stance on the cartoon Jihad. The consequence: Lost faith from its strongest constituency.

4. Immigration: Another unforced error. The national security constituency once again lost faith in the Administration. You can't talk about secure borders when the borders are porous. The Administration also failed to make a strong clear argument for immigration, outsourcing that to the Wall Street Journal, which did its best but couldn't do the President's job. Again, the White House's position on immigration was defensible in the abstract, but favoring easy immigration is one thing, favoring easy illegal immigration is another.

5. William Jefferson: A Democratic Congressman is caught in a bribery scandal with a freezer full of cash, and Dennis Hastert backs him up, making clear that protection of insider privilege is more important to the Republican leadership in Congress than either party or principle. The White House, at least, intervened here, eventually. Add to this the GOP leadership's failure to follow through on promised ethics reforms, and its addiction to pork-barrel spending, and you've got lots of reason to think that they don't stand for anything except stuffing their pockets.

6. Foleygate: Not much of a scandal in itself, but the last straw for a lot of people. As Rich Lowry noted, a long chain of missteps and self-serving actions has exhausted their stock of moral and political capital, leaving them vulnerable to, well, almost anything. This was probably enough.

At the end of this process, the Republicans have managed to leave every segment of the base unhappy, mostly over things that weren't even all that important. It's as if they had some sort of bizarre death wish. Looks like the wish will come true . . . .

As I've said before, the Republicans deserve to lose, though alas the Democrats don't really deserve to win, either. I realize that you go to war with the political class you have, but even back in the 1990s it was obvious that we had a lousy political class. It hasn't improved, but the challenges have gotten greater. Can the country continue to do well, with such bad political leadership? I hope so, because I see no sign of improvement, no matter who wins next month.

As I wrote earlier, in suggesting that the GOP deserved to lose:

The counter-case is that a Democratic House would be a disaster for the country. I gathered from Boortz's discussion that that's the case that Hannity and Limbaugh were making yesterday. It's a strong argument -- except that if Republican control of the Congress is so all-fired important to the future of civilization, then why haven't the Republicans who control Congress been acting as if it is so important? . . .

Were GOP control of the Congress so important to the country, wouldn't the GOP leadership have exercised a trifle more self-discipline and self-denial? And if it's not capable of doing so, then what kind of leadership is it?

If, as seems likely, the GOP fares badly in next month, it should ponder this point. If it somehow squeaks through -- well, then it should ponder this point just as hard, as it will have squeaked through in spite of its performance, not because of it.

UPDATE: Preston Taylor Holmes adds:

I would add that Bush (and the GOP) not backing up the Bush Doctrine when Israel tried to apply it against Hizbollah should have been included. If you’re not going to back up your own “doctrine” then don’t have a doctrine, you half-assed pansies.

A bit harsh, but it demonstrates the GOP problem with the "war base" that I've mentioned here before. So does this email from a reader named Stacy, in Tucson:

One point I have not seen much in the blogs or elsewhere concerns the Republican handling of the War on Terror. As part of the conservative 'base' I am dissapointed in the administration for not being MORE agressive in fighting the war...it reminds me of the speech by George C Scott in Patton..."Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser"...I think that the Republicans could remain in power if they showed more outward signs of strength in the matters of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. If we were fighting to 'win', I think the average american would back the president and congress.

Yes, Jacksonians want to fight and win, not just fight. (See this, too.) Meanwhile, over at The Corner, I'm savaged by a reader who emails Jonah Goldberg:

And if it doen't go down, it's becuse it had it coming ? Insipid.

I give Dick Cheney's advice to Leahy to all you boneheads who don't have the courage to stand up for the only political party that responds to Conservatives, as the House did in refusing to support the ridiulous Amnesty bill from the Senate.

Many of you live in the Media and Beltway bubble. You actually shiver when the WaPo attacks relentlessly someone like George Allen. You buy into the smearing of Speaker Hastert. You care what your Liberal friends think of you because of your political beliefs.

What will the Dems do when they lose ? That's the question.

I think it's silly to pretend that the GOP isn't in trouble -- just look at the futures markets, as WindyPundit has. And if they do somehow squeak out a victory, it won't be because they've been doing well all along. As WindyPundit says, "Certainly they haven't delivered much of what they promised."

Reader Stephen M. sees me as a shill for the Democrats: "Are you stumping, knowing that polls are so often wrong? Or is that a pre-Victory lap?"

Neither. But I've seen fumble after fumble and just thought it would be helpful to point them out. Dale Light also thinks I'm wrong:

My reaction -- what self-serving bullhockey!

Are we to turn the party, the government, the conduct of the war, and everything else over to a bunch of narcissistic amateur loudmouths with keyboards?

The Democratic Party is going down that path right now, and the results are not pretty, nor do they promise to lead to good government.

Do we really want a government that responds dutifully to direction by the Kossacks and Move Oners? Neither should we want a Republican majority to follow the prescriptions of the conservative bloggers. There are good and rational reasons for every one of the policy decisions that the Instapundit denounces. Certainly the Schaivo stance was controversial. So was the Miers nomination..., and so on. But in each case the decision was eminently defensible, and I usually supported the leadership's positions.

I applaud the Republican leadership for having the courage to take difficult stances, even if they were unpopular with the ideologues of "the base".

Remember, "al Qaeda" is Arabic for "the base."

Blogging is fun..., I certainly enjoy it. But like journalism it is essentially an irresponsible game. Those who actually have to wield power cannot allow the ideological enthusiasms of their respective "bases" to determine their decisions.

These are, as John Keegan recently remarked, mean and dangerous times. The issues at stake are far too important to be turned over to tumescent fringe elements in either party. The center must hold.

Well, I've got nothing against tumescence. But I don't see the GOP here as having been smart about moving to the center, either. The moves I discuss above were politically dumb. They weren't pragmatic political moves that outraged the fringe -- they were ham-handed moves that angered the base without winning anyone else over.

Sam Lambert emails: "I can't believe you, of all people, forgot the unforced error of pork. This was an issue they could have really pleased their base with."

Well, I mentioned pork above. But it's true that they blew it by not taking on the issue in a bigger way. We saw some modest improvements at the end of the session, but they could have ridden this issue hard if they'd wanted to.

Rebecca Harris emails: "Yes, we are all unhappy at the lack of leadership, the staggering around like a drunk outside a whorehouse, but how can we decry GOP leadership if we are not making our wishes known, loudly and often? They behave as if they have a mandate, which is certainly wrong. There has to be a mechanism for making them understand that they DON'T have a mandate, and that we are not to be taken for granted. What is it, short of the risk of voting them out of power?"

I think the dissatisfaction has been obvious for a while. I think they just haven't cared enough to do anything about it, assuming that people would vote for them regardless rather than let the Dems win. I think the polls and the futures markets indicate that they've hit the limit of that principle.

Fred Boness, however, isn't giving up yet:

As Tip O'Neill said, "All politics is local."

I think as bad as people feel about Republicans in general or Democrats in general they will vote for their own Republican or their own Democrat and see the individuals they know in a better light than they will poll on the generic loathed politician.

The GOP certainly hopes so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey thinks that the GOP's electoral woes are overstated. We'll see. But as I say above, even if they win, they need to learn from their mistakes. A last-minute win after four quarters of dropped balls doesn't mean that the balls weren't dropped. Me, I think that although a GOP win (meaning retention of both houses) is possible, it's looking unlikely, and the reason is defection from the base for the reasons I list above.

Interesting discussion going on in Ed's comments. Just keep scrolling. More thoughts here and here. And Ginny at Chicagoboyz has more thoughts, too.

But Thomas Valletta emails:

Man, I'd hate like hell to have you as a coach. Real motivating half-time chat - you're going to lose and here's why you deserve it. I'll respond by telling you that the people do not deserve to lose and that is what happens if the Dems win in November. We lose our money through taxes, our freedoms through Democrat-appointed judges, and we lose our wars with a "cut and run" leadership. I'm sure glad you can take it so calmly, and with such a snooty and detached posture. Well, I'll tell you what, Reynolds, I think Bush and Rush are right and you are wrong. I think the Republicans hold both Houses. I think you then come off as a total idiot. Remind me to write you after the elections.

I'm not a coach, or a cheerleader. I call 'em as I see 'em. But even if Valletta is right, the GOP has gone to the "Democrats are worse" well about as much as it can. It's true, the Democrats are worse, but lots of people are starting to feel taken advantage of by that approach, as the GOP shows no signs of trying to get, you know, better.

Likewise, reader Mike H. writes:

All the perfection in the world won't do any one, any good, if there isn't a culture to support the perfection. The Democrats want to cut and run from not only Iraq, but the War on Terror. Explain how the resultant chaos will allow us to clean up pork? Explain how the multicultural nightmare that is Europe would be the role model that would be desirable for the US. We should welcome the rapes in Sweden and the riots in France? We should welcome the chance to buddy up to Chavez? We want to go with a party that thinks the military are a bunch of jackbooted nazi's?

Oh well, so be it. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

I'm not asking for perfection here. Just a little effort.

MORE: Barry Dauphin emails:

I think the reasons you listed possibly represent the dissatisfaction of many core Republicans. I don’t think they are reasons so much as examples of something. Yes, there has been a hamhandedness on the part of Republicans, and I think that spending and immigration are really big base issues (the other ones are fleas by comparison).

However, should the Republicans lose Congress, the elephant in the living room is Iraq. If we are in a war, people have to pick sides even if one’s side has substantial problems. I believe that many supporters of Bush have become demoralized by the pace of progress in Iraq and the drumbeat of media negativity. I think that many people implicitly believed that this would be tough, but that we would prevail in a more demonstrable way and sooner. Instead the picture painted is that of an endless pit of commitment. When the Baker workgroup is making policy recommendations that look an awful lot like “cut and run”, it is easy for loyal supporters to get down. It is difficult to develop metrics for the kind of war we are in, but the public needs metrics of some sort to get a sense of where we are at.

I don’t think the Administration being “tougher” is the issue. I’m not sure what toughness is missing, frankly, and what the Jacksonians wish the US to do that is realistic and that wouldn’t lead to a copious amount of other problems. We need a causus belli for Syria and Iran, and the US population is no where near that yet. We cannot fight that kind of war without the support of the public. At some point we have to remember that the public is us.

However, having said that, those who support the WoT and Iraq should decide if they want to take the risk of having the Dems chair all the committees, distract the efforts of the Administration, further polarize the country, etc. Those who choose to sit home are essentially voting for Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid; committees chaired by Conyers, Dingell, Kennedy, Waxman, etc. Those are the choices. Maybe we can try to understand why the Iraqis are having difficulty developing the democratic process when we stop and think about our own choices. We can be demoralized, or we can be grownups and act.

If the Reps lose, it will be because the “base” allowed it to happen not because the Dems command a lot of support. If the “base” chooses to sit and pout, they have no right to complain about the results, but they will. And the op-ed people will continue to make a healthy living “defending” the base.

Well, there's something to that. But nobody likes feeling taken for granted, and a lot of people feel that way. The sense is that support for the war is being abused, in order to keep Republican leaders from having to deliver on other promises. As I say, I think the GOP leadership has taken that as far is it will go.

This says it all: "Yes, I would prefer (R)'s to win this election, but, if they do they should fall on their knees and thank god because they 'deserve' to win like I 'deserve' to get freaky with Inara from Firefly. . . . As to tantrums? This argument keeps bobbing to the surface like a dead cadaver, and it stinks just as bad. Tantrum? Is it a tantrum to hold an intervention for a good friend who has become lost to himself through drink or drugs? To confront a good friend who seems to have lost his principles? To have lost his way?"

And C.J. Burch emails: "The folks that are giving you a bad time for pointing out the Republicans' ineptitude need to read Bill Quick. Come to think of it, the administration needs to read Bill Quick. Those are the folk the Republicans have alienated. They better hope they don't need them in November. At this point I'm just hoping that after the election is over we will have one party that is responsible and sane. I don't care which party it is. Recent history seems to indicate I will be disappointed, though."

One reason that a lot of people see me as cheerful and optimistic is that my expectations are really rather low. I know that a considerable level of ineptitude and shysterism is normal in almost every sphere of human affairs, and that's tolerable so long as the important stuff gets taken care of. Nonetheless, I've been disappointed myself.

FINALLY, FINALLY: Here's a Bill Quick post on the war that further illustrates what some emailers said above: Bush has indeed lost many of his former supporters on the war, but in many cases it's because they don't think he's fighting the war aggressively enough, not because they've somehow become antiwar.

MORE THOUGHTS ON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS and defenses against them, from Rand Simberg, who looks at a larger cultural context.

Meanwhile, here's a positive example of student response.

GERRY STUDDS HAS DIED, AND IS REMEMBERED:

"Gerry's leadership changed Massachusetts forever and we'll never forget him. His work on behalf of our fishing industry and the protection of our waters has guided the fishing industry into the future and ensured that generations to come will have the opportunity to love and learn from the sea. He was a steward of the oceans."

U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

___

"No one fought harder for human rights, particularly in Latin America; for our environment; and for the fishermen of New England and the entire nation. He was a true pioneer."

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., whose wife, Lisa, once worked as an aide to Studds.

Will they remember Mark Foley the same way? More on Studds' career and death here.

UPDATE: More on Foley vs. Studds here.

THOUGHTS ON WHAT'S SEXY, from The Anchoress.

SO WHEN I WAS AT THE MALL THE OTHER DAY, I saw that Eddie Bauer had a prominent display featuring this Disaster Emergency Kit for 2. It's not bad, especially for a car or apartment, though I'd certainly want to supplement it.

But what struck me more than the kit itself was the prominence of the display. Put that together with the fact that Target is marketing survival kits with the American Red Cross, Slate has run a series on disaster survival, and Consumer Reports is pushing disaster preparedness and it looks like we've got something of a trend. (Popular Mechanics is on the job, too, but you expect that from them.) And walking through J.C. Penney the same day I saw hand-cranked dynamo lanterns and radios prominently displayed by the entrance.

It's a trend I approve of, of course, as I think that everyone should be prepared for emergencies. And it's one that's being pushed by government -- my brother recently got a mailing from the State of Ohio telling him he should have a month's worth of food set aside in case of avian flu or other disasters -- but it seems to be more than that. I think that it's something that goes to the Zeitgeist. We know that the world isn't the warm, fuzzy place that it often seemed in the 1990s (it wasn't then, either, but it was easier to ignore that if you tried, and most of us tried). Modest preparations now, of course, can have a big payoff later, so I'm glad to see people giving the subject some thought. Whether or not Eddie Bauer sells many of those kits, everyone who sees them will at least have disaster preparation cross his/her mind.

More on disaster preparedness here and here. Remember, though, it's not just about buying things -- it's about learning things, too.

UPDATE: A reader emails: "Picking up your disaster kit at Albertson's is always part of the back to school routine in California."

And another reader writes:

You know survival kits are mainstream when Costco is selling them. And last weekend at my local Costco, in the food section, there was a front of the aisle display of survival food buckets. They were going for $110 and had about 275 servings of freeze dried vegetarian meals.

10 years ago, this was the stuff of Soldier of Fortune.

Yes, that's exactly what I'd noticed. No Costco in Knoxville, alas, or I'd go take a picture or something.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Blue Crab Boulevard reports: "Cheaper than Dirt has some survival kits that are, well, cheaper than dirt."

And Eric Klien of the Lifeboat Foundation sends a link to some really serious disaster preparedness.

Finally, reader Eric McErlain emails:

I just signed up for a Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team class here in Virginia. The ads for the training were in the local paper only a few weeks ago.

I'm wondering if this is all coming together at the same time.

I doubt there's a grand plan. But I think it's a convergence of several cultural forces.

And reader John Richardson recommends Kim du Toit's posts on "grab and go kits," found here and here. Excellent advice, and for most people some sort of firearm -- perhaps less elaborate than these setups -- should be part of anys survival preparations. My point in this post, though, was not so much on the need for preparation, but rather the way in which that need seems to be much more widely appreciated.

POSSIBLE WARNING: I hope that Costco has upgraded those disaster kits since this post. Beware the daily calorie-count!

MORE FOOT-DRAGGING:

Despite winning key concessions, Russia and China raised new objections that could delay a vote Saturday on a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing punishing sanctions on North Korea for its claimed nuclear test. . . .

The latest draft demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but expressly rules out military action against the country, a demand by the Russians and Chinese. The Americans also eliminated a complete ban on the sale of conventional weapons; instead, the draft limits the embargo to major hardware such as tanks, warships, combat aircraft and missiles.

The more I follow doings in the Security Council, the less secure I feel.

A FOILED COUP PLOT in Pakistan. That they're foiling them is good. That they're having them -- in a country with nuclear weapons and terrorists -- isn't. (Via Newsbeat1).

UPDATE: A denial from Pakistan.

HARRY REID UPDATE:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said this week that he is in discussions with the Senate ethics committee to determine whether he should amend his financial disclosure forms to include details of a Nevada real estate transaction that allowed him to collect $1.1 million.

Reid sought the opinion after The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the senator didn't disclose to Congress that he sold some land to a friend's company in 2001 and took an ownership stake in the company. He didn't collect the seven-figure payout until the company sold the land in 2004.

Frank James, meanwhile, thinks that Reid is being treated unfairly. Investor's Business Daily disagrees.

Some media outlets are getting questions from their readers about why the story hasn't gotten more attention. Seems to me that the questions here could be settled with a little bit of reporting, if anyone wanted to do that.

MEGAN MCARDLE offers some objections to the Iraqi Oil Trust idea. Hmm. . . Hillary Clinton vs. Megan McArdle? Who to believe?

No contest there, but Ilya Somin offers some responses. In the comments to his post, Megan takes a more positive line.

YES, I'M FAMILIAR WITH THIS PROBLEM: "Man, I could have driven home from St. Louis in the time it took me to fly, and I could have done it without spending any time fretting about whether I'd have to stay overnight in Chicago."

JOHN HINDERAKER CONTEMPLATES THE POLLS: "It's a sea of blue, with the Democratic candidate leading in just about every race for every office, nationwide. The polls can't all be screwy, and if this batch are anywhere near right, they foretell a rout of astonishing proportions."

The GOP richly deserves to lose its majority in Congress. I just wish the Democrats deserved to win one. Apparently, however, the Dems have a big advantage in physical attractiveness, at least from the perspective of the Washington Post.

ALI BUBBA CONTEMPLATES SUICIDE, but recovers after contemplating Freddy Mercury.

A YOUTUBE JIHAD? At least it keeps them off the streets and plastered to their monitors.

October 13, 2006

THE AD ON THE RIGHT FOR THE DVD RELEASE OF REDS is kind of unusual. According to the ad guy, Warren Beatty personally picked out all the blogs it would run on. I didn't realize he read blogs, and I'm kind of surprised.

There's a preview here. I haven't seen it since it was in theaters, but I seem to recall thinking that Jack Nicholson (as Eugene O'Neill) stole the show.

DUKE LACROSSE UPDATE:

Three Duke Lacrosse players stand accused of assaulting an exotic dancer earlier this year. Now, however, the other dancer who was there that night says it didn't happen the way the purported victim said it did.

Just months ago, Kim Roberts, who is the second exotic dancer in the Duke Lacrosse house was considered the backbone of the prosecution's case against the three young men. . . .

Ed Bradley does the interview. "Did she give you any reason to believe that she had been assaulted?" he asks

Roberts reply: "No."

Bradley: "Did she at any point that night say anything about being in pain or having been hurt in any way?"

Roberts: "No, she wasn't. She obviously wasn't hurt, because, you know, she was fine," Roberts replied.

Bad news for DA Nifong.

NORTH KOREAN TEST LOOKS LIKE A NUKE:

The U.S. government has determined that one scientific test, among many conducted since North Korea's announced nuclear test, was consistent with a nuclear explosion, a senior administration official said Friday night. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cautioned that the administration has not made a definitive conclusion about the nature of the explosion.

"The betting is that this was an attempt at a nuclear test that failed," the official said. "We don't think they were trying to fake a nuclear test, but it may have been a nuclear fizzle _ an effort that failed."

For more on how they determine these things, see this article that I linked the other day.

UPDATE: Gerard Baker writes: "It will be the first nuclear power to be headed by a crazed monomaniac who boasts of his commercial interest in shipping nuclear weapons to terrorist groups. . . . Out of a combination of fear, opportunism and cynicism, the world’s so-called powers have ridden a tiger for the past decade. Now the tiger has turned on them."

MORE TERROR BUSTS AT HOME:

The imam of a Georgia mosque admitted he has provided material support to the Palestinian group Hamas, which is designated a terror organization.

Mohamed Shorbagi pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with government investigators, said David Nahmias, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia. Under his plea agreement, released Friday, he could be sentenced to as much as 15 years in prison, but prosecutors agreed to ask for a much shorter term if he provides useful information.

Shorbagi, of Rome, Ga., said he helped raise money for a Hamas front organization, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. He acknowledged knowing what the foundation was since, as its Georgia representative, he attended meetings where high-level Hamas leaders were present and he also invited them to his mosque in Rome.

Rome, Georgia, that is. Not likely much of a domestic threat here, though.

HOW TO REMOVE a federal judge: "Most everyone assumes that impeachment is the only means of removing federal judges and that the Constitution’s grant of good-behavior tenure is an implicit reference to impeachment. This Article challenges that conventional wisdom. Using evidence from England, the colonies, and the revolutionary state constitutions, the Article demonstrates that at the Founding, good-behavior tenure and impeachment had only the most tenuous of relationships."

Hmm. Even if that's true, I think that 200 years of pretty consistent understanding to the contrary should count for something. (Via Tom Smith).

FALLING GAS PRICES -- bad for the economy! "The largest decline ever in gas-station receipts pushed overall retail sales down 0.4 percent in September, the Commerce Department said in Washington." Oh, no!

There's a small bright spot amid the gloom, though: "Excluding service stations, purchases climbed 0.6 percent, three times the gain in August. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index jumped to 92.3 in October from 85.4 the prior month."

Hey, just getting into this election-runup media psychology!

IT'S LIKE THE VIEW, only, er, good. Mary Katharine Ham, LaShawn Barber, and Kirsten Powers are guests. At Hot Air.

A NEW STRATEGY FOR COMBATING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS:

Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they got - books, pencils, legs and arms.

"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.

That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.

But school officials in Burleson said they are drawing on the lessons learned from a string of disasters such as Columbine in 1999 and the Amish schoolhouse attack in Pennsylvania last week. . . .Browne recommends students and teachers "react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down."

This seems right to me. Joanne Jacobs has further thoughts on the subject.

UPDATE: Here are some further thoughts, from an expert.

ANOTHER UPDATE: SayUncle weighs in.

MORE: It's certainly a change from this approach:

At Columbine, the armed “school resource officer” refused to pursue the killers into the building, and kept himself safe outside while the murders were going on inside. Even after SWAT teams arrived, and while, via an open 911 line, the authorities knew that students were being methodically executed in the library, the police stood idle just a few yards outside the library.

Jeez. (Via Mike Rappaport).

MORE STILL: John Weidner is saying I told you so!

THE BOOBIES ARE BACK:

Oh, yes, feminism has gotten rolled up into the conventional left-right of American politics. Ever since feminists chose to subordinate themselves to the interests of the Democratic party to help Bill Clinton with his problems, the feminist discourse in this country has been lame. It's a means to a political end, and so you always know who your "enemies" are. Fifteen years ago, feminists critiquing each other was an important part of feminism. Now, doggedly serving liberal partisan politics squelches everything that could become vital.

Maybe if feminists had the nerve to engage in real debate about feminism they could get some young people excited about real ideas. But go ahead, tart up your website with boobies for now.

Yes, please do. Not the botched ones, though.

UPDATE: It could be worse. No, really.

"DARFUR IS JUST RWANDA IN SLOW MOTION:" This week's Blog Week in Review podcast is up, with Gerard van der Leun, Austin Bay, and Michael Totten.

SOMEBODY TELL PRESIDENT BUSH that border security isn't there yet:

In Brownsville, he witnessed half a dozen men swim under one of the international bridges “with complete immunity” which in turn prompted him to take the immigration issue to the next level.

Bhakta decided to see if he could get an elephant accompanied by a six-piece mariachi band across the river.

According to his Web site, he is in favor of “sensible immigration reform” and supports a border fence, local law enforcement assistance with immigration laws and the use of the National Guard troops to help the U.S. Border Patrol.

“To my surprise, the band played on, the elephants splashed away, and nobody showed up,” Bhakta said of the stunt. “I’m astounded.” . . . “If I can get an elephant led by a mariachi band into this country, I think Osama bin Laden could get across with all the weapons of mass destruction he could get into this country,” Bhakta said.

Well, now that the mariachi secret is out, anyway.

UPDATE: Here's video.

IT'S ALL OVER for Republican Bob Ney, resigning soon in the face of corruption charges. "Through a combination of arrogance, ambition, and corruption Ney has arrived at the worst of all possible outcomes: he's going to prison next year as a convicted felon, and by dragging out the process (culminating with a guilty plea 3 weeks before the midterm elections) he's done about as much damage as he could possibly do to the Republican party under the circumstances."

THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION has joined the Harry Reid pile-on:

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid would be well advised to stop thundering about corruption in the Republican ranks or crying "cover-up" over the GOP's failure to promptly and appropriately deal with former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and his sexually explicit e-mails to congressional pages. Reid faces too many questions about his own behavior to crusade against the misdeeds of others.

Currently, he's trying to explain a land deal in Nevada on which he made a pile of money and which may not have been properly disclosed. When the property was sold in 2004, it belonged to a company formed with a long-time friend and included a parcel that once had been owed by Reid. Despite having transferred his parcel to the company, the Nevada Democrat continued to report in Senate documents that he still owned it personally. That's a breach of Senate disclosure rules, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the transaction details.

Reid is now considering whether he should amend his disclosure statement. . . . Unfortunately, Reid's ethics meter only seems to work when it's too late.

I'm not sure how bad the Reid scandal really is, but it's clearly enough that he's got no business going on about corruption. The truth, as I've said repeatedly, is that both parties are pretty corrupt, and that we need more transparency and accountability.

And I'm beginning to think that term limits might not be a bad idea, either.

Joe Gandelman, meanwhile, has a roundup and also observes: "This is the final stretch in a vital election so what's unfolding now is what makes many independent voters stay independent voters. Some members of Reid's party are responding in a way different to how they would respond if he was R-Nev and not D-Nev. And some Republicans and talking heads now suggest that this somehow negates, defuses, or lessens the gravity of the parade of Republican financial (and now flesh) scandals that have taken place since the Republican controlled Congress morphed into the very kind of Congress Republicans (and many voters) thought they had replaced under the politically-late Newt Gingrich. Answer to that: not one iota."

Meanwhile, Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker says that the AP story doesn't add up.

UPDATE: Tom Bevan is puzzled by Harry's hangup:

Let's assume for the moment that the land deal is exactly what Harry Reid says it is: a simple, straightforward, perfectly legal transaction that is being misreported or blown out of proportion. Why on earth wouldn't Reid simply state as much for the record? He could have said "we've been over all this before," or he could have said "you are way off base." Heck, he could have said just about anything. Instead, Reid hung up.

If you believe actions speak louder than words, what are we to make of the fact that the most powerful elected Democratic official in the country feels like he can just hang up in the middle of a tape recorded interview with the largest news syndicate in America?

At the very least, an outraged sense of entitlement?

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCING: Peggy Noonan looks at recent efforts to crush dissent.

AIR AMERICA RADIO FILES CHAPTER 11: Earlier reports were just a bit premature, I guess.

CURSES! DRUDGED AGAIN! A podcast interview with David Zucker about his Madeleine Albright / Kim Jong Il ad.

SANDY BERGER, back in the news: "How he managed to avoid using the word 'pantload' even once is beyond me, and a tribute to Andy's professionalism."

IN THE MAIL, Max Boot's new book, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today. It's quite comprehensive.

THEY PAY BUT DENY ANY GUILT: "But if the primary purpose of class-action suits is to hold companies accountable for their actions -- and hopefully to learn from their mistakes -- then the system is failing miserably in light of a key aspect of virtually all settlements: No one takes any blame."

On the other hand, if a primary purpose is to make lawyers rich, they're succeeding admirably. Woohoo!

THE REFUGEE WEAPON:

While unhappy with North Korea's recent nuclear weapons test, there is not a lot China can do about it. This is because North Korea threatens to unleash hundreds of thousands of desperate North Korean refugees across the border, into northern China, if China applies too much pressure. Currently, the North Koreans have pretty tight control over this border, but that could be relaxed in an instant, allowing a flood of refugees into China. To counter that threat, over the last month, China has been moving more troops and police into northern China, not just to look for existing North Korean refugees, but to man more border posts, in an effort to keep out North Koreans.

Citizens or hostages? In a regime like Kim Jong Il's there's no difference.

JOHN TAMMES ROUNDS UP NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN that you've probably missed.

A TRANSCRIPT IS NOW AVAILABLE for our podcast interview with Richard Posner regarding his book, Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency.

UPDATE: By the way, lots of people liked the music for this one, by The Nevers, and wanted to know where to get it. It isn't available on line yet, but in response to my importuning they've agreed to make it available soon. I'll let you know.

DICK ARMEY slams James Dobson.

Meanwhile, Cato says that libertarians are this year's swing voters.

HARRY REID GETS ATTENTION: The Philadelphia Inquirer editorializes:

After the land was rezoned for a shopping center, the corporation sold it in 2004. Reid received $1.1 million in the sale, turning a neat profit of nearly $700,000 in six years.

While now insisting he did nothing wrong, Reid is also offering to make a "technical change" to his earlier ethics reports if the ethics committee so desires. Simply giving the Democratic leader a mulligan is hardly the way to handle this case. When the Senate debated ethics reforms earlier this year, Reid was out in front to demand the toughest of standards from lawmakers.

"Americans have been shocked and even disgusted by revelations of corruption in our current system by Republican lobbyists, senior Bush Administration officials, members of Congress, and former congressional staff," Reid said in March. "The scandals have shown that some outsiders and insiders believed they could act with impunity."

That's how this case looks, too. Unless Reid comes up with a better explanation for this lack of disclosure, Democrats should not keep him as their leader in the new Congress in 2007.

Ouch. And the Washington Post writes:

THE BEST CASE for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is that he was sloppy about financial disclosure rules in accounting for a real estate deal on which he made a $700,000 profit. The more unattractive case is that the senator's inaccurate description of the investment was an effort to disguise his partnership with a Las Vegas lawyer who's never been charged with wrongdoing but whose name has surfaced in federal investigations involving organized crime, casinos and political bribery since the 1980s. As of now, the evidence points toward sloppiness; Mr. Reid's friendship with Jay Brown isn't exactly a secret in the state. But either way, an Associated Press report about Mr. Reid's dealings doesn't cast the senator in an attractive light. Neither does his response to the AP story, which indicates a casual disregard for the importance of accurate reporting of lawmakers' financial affairs. . . .

Mr. Reid's professions of transparency and full disclosure are transparently wrong. His investment was not reported in a manner that made clear his partnership with Mr. Brown. It's true -- under the inadequate financial disclosure rules -- that even if Mr. Reid had listed the newly formed corporation, Patrick Lane LLC, that wouldn't have by itself demonstrated Mr. Brown's involvement. Nonetheless, that Mr. Reid no longer owned the land, but instead had sold it for an interest in the Patrick Lane corporation, was not some mere "technical change," as the senator would like to brush it off. It's an essential element of financial disclosure rules, the purpose of which is to know how and with whom public officials are financially entwined.

We need more transparency. As the Inquirer notes, Reid himself was saying that not long ago.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has more on this story, here and here.

So does A.J. Strata. More transparency, please.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Oklahoman comments:

Democrats in Congress wasted no time calling for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal. They regularly rail against profits reported by Big Oil. Now that Reid has been caught with a hand in the cookie jar, so to speak, will they issue similar requests for his resignation and blistering criticism for Reid's "obscene" profits?

Don't bet on it.

There are differences, of course. The Foley scandal involves allegations of sexual harassment, not making money the old-fashioned (if unethical) way. And we have no problem with anyone making money on a real estate transaction.

Still, you can bet that if Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., violated ethics rules and made a killing on a land deal, his Democratic colleagues would be howling for his ouster.

Yep.

MORE: This is clearly true:

Land deals are the meat-and-potatoes of government corruption, sometimes illegal, sometimes merely smelly. Behind every crooked politician, there's a crooked land deal. My first big story was the existential essence of the land deal: a couple of the local pols used insider advance knowledge to buy up land around a proposed freeway interchange for resale under the name of a dummy company.

The goverment builds on, buys, sells, or rezones land. Said land increases in value. Pols, friends, relatives invariably exploit the change. Harry's part of a grand bipartisan tradition. If more reporters were covering this stuff at City Hall, there would be many fewer bad guys of either party in Congress.

Unfortunately, too many reporters think this kind of thing is boring. Maybe local political bloggers will pick up the slack.

STILL MORE: SobekPundit writes:

A very simple search on the Nevada Secretary of State web page shows that Jay Brown is the manager of Patrick Lane, LLC. So anyone who knew that Reid was involved in Patrick Lane, with the click of a few buttons, could have immediately determined that Reid was also involved with Brown -- but of course Reid did not disclose his interest.

Seems like there's a better way than this.

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE HAS BEEN AWARDED -- and, in something of a departure, it's gone to somebody who actually deserves it:

Bangladesh's Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank have been awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr Yunus, an economist, founded the bank, which is one of the pioneers of micro-credit lending schemes for the poor in Bangladesh.

The bank is renowned for lending money to the least well-off, especially women, so that they can launch their own businesses.

Micro-credit is far more effective at fighting poverty than big government programs. And Grameen's efforts to empower women have made them very unpopular with Islamists, which is reason enough to applaud. As reader Kjell Hagen emails:

Business owners look to the future, not to "martyrdom". And making women self-sustained economically helps improve equality between the sexes, which I think is an important lever to weaken the islamo-
fascist stronghold on poor, islamic countries. No wonder this bank was bombed earlier by islamic terrorists.

Indeed.

KAUS ON THE LATEST POLLS: "Grim for the GOPs, but if it were a ballgame you wouldn't head for your car."

October 12, 2006

THE WASHINGTON POST OUTS CHRIS WALLACE: as a registered Democrat.

(Via Bill Quick).

HUGH HEWITT HASN'T GIVEN UP ON HARRY REID: It's a Reid-o-Rama at his place.

A BUSTED UK-US TERROR PLOT:

Dhiren Barot, of north London, planned to use a radioactive "dirty bomb" in one of a series of attacks in the UK, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

He intended to cause "injury, fear, terror and chaos", prosecutors said.

Barot, 34, also allegedly plotted to cause explosions at several US financial buildings "designed to kill as many innocent people as possible". . . .

Seven other men are due to face trial next year.

Glad they're catching these guys before anything happens. Hope they keep that up.

REASONS TO APPLAUD HILLARY:

No. 1, she avoids the "Bush lied, people died" mantra, which tends to delegitimize our effort in Iraq. Instead, she says, not unreasonably, "We have to deal with the Iraq we have, not the Iraq we wish we had." That sounds to me like someone who is thinking realistically about a responsibility that might be hers starting Jan. 20, 2009.

No. 2, she endorses the idea, which I championed long ago, of an Iraqi oil fund that would distribute part of the state's oil profits in payments to every individual. She says that she recommended it in 2003 and that it was shot down by Dick Cheney–something I've never seen before in print.

"I thought it was something that could demonstrate clearly that we were not on the side of the oil companies, we were not on the side of the ruling elites–we were on the side of the Iraqi people." Yes, exactly! She says that over the past month she has asked the president and deputy prime minister of Iraq and the U.S. ambassador there, "When are you going to get the oil deal done?"

Well, that's two cheers. And I'm certainly on-board with the oil-trust idea. In fact, it may have started here. At least, Michael Barone got the idea here.

UPDATE: Ilya Somin cheers too, and adds: "As to whether Sen. Clinton really did urge the Bush Administration to adopt this approach back in 2003, I have no way of knowing. However, a number of people did try to persuade the Administration to embrace it at the time, including my colleague and Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith. Unfortunately, their advice was not followed." He has some thoughts on what might be done now, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Larry Stevens emails:

The first I heard about the idea was in April, 2003, when I asked Milton Friedman what to do about it. He suggested selling the oil concession and putting the proceeds in exactly such a fund.

I have also read recently that Ahmed Chalabi proposed modeling a program on the Alaska oil trust in those early days.

Hmm. There are certainly some non-silly arguments against this approach -- the likelihood that it would make people act like they're on the dole being one -- but it seems to me that it deserved much more attention than it got from the Administration. Any time Milton Friedman, Vernon Smith, Ahmed Chalabi, and Hillary Clinton agree on something . . . .

YOU GET INTO PAYPAL EARLY and make a pile. You get into YouTube earlier and make a bigger pile. So what do you want to do with your life? "Mostly he just wants to be a professor."

Proving that he really is smart. (Via Who else?).

CLAYTON CRAMER looks at media innumeracy and the Lancet report. And Stephen St. Onge has further thoughts.

Megan McArdle has also read the study and is unimpressed. "Yes, I've read it; it's not exactly heavy going, since it's eight pages long and surprisingly fuzzy. They don't break out the figures by individual province; the only clue is a map, on which Baghdad is in the basket marked "2-10 deaths per thousand per year". This does not inspire much confidence. And the reason it is not confidence inspiring is that the fuzziness prevents comparison with figures known to be relatively reliable, such as those from Baghdad's central morgue." And just keep scrolling, as she has multiple posts on the subject.

FRANK J. INTERVIEWS A 9/11 CONSPIRACY THEORIST who happens to be running for Congress.

Related item here.

HILLARY CLINTON believes that torture should be safe, legal, and rare, according to this report. "Torture is OK as long as the president approves it, as long as it's an exception, and as long as it's secretly reported to Congress. That doesn't sound like a bright moral line to me."

I guess she's been reading the polls. (Via Alarming News).

ROBERT COX writes in The Examiner that the Left is on the way to owning the Internet the way the Right owns talk radio.

Except that the Right doesn't own the infrastructure for talk radio.

UPDATE: Hmm. I feel sorry for Google shareholders -- no sooner do they buy YouTube than they seem to be flushing its value away.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stuart Gittelman has a different take:

YouTube definitely has problems with sending conservative videos to the cornfield, but in this case, I think the real concept at plays is a tangent to the Army of Davids paradigm.

It appears from the notice that the Associate Press got YouTube to pull the video over copyright issues. Fair enough, that's their right. But it reflects the AP's total "old media" approach: this is our toy and no one plays with our toys in our sandbox unless we say so. But look at FoxNews, for instance. How many little snippets quite like the one the AP is clutching like Linus' security blanket did they allow Ian Schwartz at The Political Teen to post knowing the free, viral marketing they got out of it burnished their credentials. And that's just one fr'instance.

The bottom line is that one embraced the technology and the Davids. They're doing pretty well. The other is still trying to play Goliath. I suppose that's good work if you can get it...but only while it lasts.

Very interesting.

THE MANOLO ON CONGRESS: "The Pageboy is to be the hairstyle, not the pen-pal."

THOUGHTS ON NORTH KOREA from Victor Davis Hanson.

PRESIDENT BUSH WILL SLEEP BETTER TONIGHT: Mickey Kaus pronounces himself satisfied regarding the White House's intentions on the fence bill.

IT'S LIEBERMAN 53, LAMONT 40, according to SurveyUSA.

TREASONOUS SPEECH IN SUPPORT OF ENEMY POWERS: Tom Bell has thoughts on the Gadahn indictment:

A treason charge in the War on Terror? Who would have thought of that? Well, um, I would have. Indeed, I wrote a law review article on the topic: Treason, Technology, and Freedom of Expression, 37 Ariz. St. L. J. 999 (2005) [PDF] (that link offers a late draft of the paper, which I plan to soon replace with the published version). As I said there, "Courts have already held that an American employed as an enemy propagandist may justly suffer prosecution for treason. Any American employed as a propagandist by the al-Qaeda terrorist network would doubtless risk the same fate." Id. at 1004.

I must admit, though, that I did not expect U.S. officials to finger an actual agent of al-Quaeda.

As usual, Bell is farther ahead of the curve than even he knows. Some further thoughts on the subject from Eugene Volokh.

A SUMMARY OF THE HARRY REID LAND DEAL, over at The New Editor.

Sounds like pretty standard semi-sleazy local politics, except for his failure to report the deal to Congress. But it's probably true that if a Republican were involved it would be getting a lot more attention.

UPDATE: Who am I kidding? It's undoubtedly true that if a Republican were involved it would be getting a lot more attention. At least between now and election day.

MAKING MARCONI PROUD, one taxpayers' grant at a time.

HERE'S ANOTHER REPORT that Mark Warner won't be running in 2008. We were supposed to do a podcast interview with him and the date kept slipping -- I don't know if that means that he's been uncertain about running for a while or not. When I talked to him on the phone in June he said he wasn't sure if he was running, but I took that with a grain of salt -- they all say that -- but I guess he really wasn't sure. A politician who tells the truth? No wonder he's bowing out . . . .

IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER SNARK about intelligence agencies, reader Paul Stinchfield suggests replacing the CIA with one of these.

Well, it would be cheaper. It "has all the answers you need." And it wouldn't meddle in domestic politics.

Seriously, I know that gathering intelligence about closed, totalitarian countries is hard. But the CIA has a lousy track record, and there's no clear sign that anything's being done to make it better.

ROBERT NOVAK looks at pork for defense -- and the defense of pork:

In a caucus of Republican senators, 82-year-old, six-term Sen. Ted Stevens charged that freshman Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork crusade hurts the party. Stevens then removed from the final version of the Defense Department appropriations bill Coburn's "report card" requiring the Pentagon to grade earmarks. The House passed, 394 to 22, the bill, stripped of this reform and containing some 2,800 earmarks worth $11 billion. That made a mockery of a "transparency" rule passed by the House earlier this year, supposedly intended to discourage earmarks.

"You would think that with a war and all the controversy surrounding earmarks that the appropriators would hold back a little," said Steve Ellis of the non-partisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. "But with an election just weeks away, they dug into the trough to find pearls to send home to their districts." Ellis located unauthorized spending embedded in the bill that was harder to find than ever. Republicans in Congress seem unaffected by their conservative base's anger over pork.

Stevens, the Senate's president pro tempore and its senior Republican, reflects a majority in both parties defending pork.

That last bit is the most depressing point. It's insiders vs. outsiders, not Democrats vs. Republicans, and however the elections go things aren't likely to change much because of party shifts. We need outside pressure, something that's just beginning. We need to ratchet things up next session, whoever's in charge.

MICHAEL TOTTEN'S The Hezbollah War is now available through Amazon. This would be good for a class assignment.

MARK WARNER is expected to announce that he won't run in 2008, according to the Hotline blog. That's too bad. I was actually hoping for a Warner/Giuliani race, as something that might defuse the polarization a bit.

CONTINUING A TRACK RECORD OF DECADES, the intelligence community appears to have gotten its North Korea predictions all wrong.

Can't say I'm surprised. Maybe I'll send 'em one of these -- they seem to be the target market . . . .

JOURNALISM PROFESSOR BOB STEPNO wonders if Editor and Publisher is stealing stories. Even if they've got a content-sharing agreement (which isn't clear), crediting a story to "E&P Staff" seems a bit dubious if it comes from somewhere else. How about the old standby "compiled from wire reports" instead? (Via Michael Silence).

AUSTIN BAY notes the emergence of revisionist history on missile defense.

Plus, a problem for China: "Kim's nuke test publicly exposes China's failure -- a major power's failure on its own border."

AN INTERESTING LOOK at nuclear detection technology and how it works.

MICKEY KAUS is still worried that Bush won't sign the fence bill. But this email from Tony Snow would seem to settle the question: "The president hasn't signed the bill because it hasn't arrived from Capitol Hill. When it arrives, he'll sign."

Seems pretty clear to me.

JOSH MANCHESTER: "Kim Jong Il is not your average individual. Anyone who was raised to think of his father as a god is not going to fit in well at your average high school reunion. But persistent attempts to portray him as 'crazy' in popular discourse are both inaccurate and dangerous."

CLAUDIA ROSETT: Expel North Korea from the U.N.

VOTER FRAUD IN ST. LOUIS: AP reports:

Election officials say hundreds of potentially bogus registration cards, including ones for dead and underage people, were submitted by a branch of a national group that has been criticized in the past for similar offenses.

At least 1,500 potentially fraudulent registration cards were turned in by the St. Louis branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, leading up to Wednesday's registration deadline for the Nov. 7 election, said Kim Mathis, chairwoman of the St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners.

Invalid registrations solicited by ACORN workers included duplicate or incomplete ones, a 16-year-old voter, dead people registering, and forged signatures, Mathis said.

"Fifteen hundred may not sound like a lot, but it is a big deal and it disenfranchises the election process," she said. "It's time someone be prosecuted. There's a lot of taxpayer dollars being wasted on this."

St. Louis-based Gateway Pundit has a roundup. This just underscores John Fund's point.

October 11, 2006

BLOG-BLOCKING by Uncle Sam?

ANDREW STUTTAFORD WRITES:

I've finally got round to my emails on the topic of that Internet gambling/national security bill and there are far, far too many to reply to. No-one who wrote to me was a fan of the move and there were a good few that said this was the 'last straw' so far as their November vote was concerned. Most of the opposition to the law was on broadly libertarian grounds, but there was another strain too, which made interesting reading in the light of Congress' reputation at the moment.

Supposedly, the reason (apart, of course, from national security) that Senator Frist rushed through this legislation was to send a signal to the more moralistic voters out there. Maybe that will work, maybe it will not, but a revealingly large percentage of my correspondents felt that the real reason for passing the law was to protect the interests of Las Vegas, Indian tribes and other entrenched gambling interests. In other words, a piece of law designed to make the GOP look clean has made them look even dirtier than before.

Of all the uses of the Internet, gambling seems to me to be among the stupidest -- I mean, the roulette wheel at the casino might be rigged, but the one flickering on your computer screen? How could you ever tell? -- but people are allowed to be stupid. It was a bad bill, and whether or not its purpose was corrupt it stunk. If it was also a political misjudgment, well, that's pretty much par for the course with this Congress, I'm afraid. I'm with Barney Frank on this one.

UPDATE: An email from Radley Balko. Balko writes:

On Internet gambling -- the overwhelming majority of web wagers are on poker. And all of the major poker sites are heavily regulated and publicly traded (most on the London Stock Exchange). Watchdog groups routinely test them for fairness with dummy accounts that measure the randomness of the cards dealt. The major sites also all have pretty sturdy child protection measures, and some even allow for built-in limits if you don't trust yourself with your money.

Of course, as soon as the bill passed, most of the major sites announced they'd cease doing business with U.S. consumers. I'm sure they're scared to death now that DOJ is plucking overseas gaming execs out of airports and tossing them in prison (one wonders what kind of implications this will have for American travelers overseas). This means that the 95% of players who gamble recreationally and responsibly are now out of luck. But if you're a curious minor or an addict, there are still plenty of sites that aren't publicly traded, and aren't regulated by Canada or the U.K. There's also no telling who's operating them, and there's no recourse if they take your money. Those sites will almost certainly seee an uptick in traffic as a result of this dumb law.

I hope Stuttaford's email pans out. This was paternalistic, big government moralizing at its worst. It's sympomatic of what's wrong with the GOP. That First slapped it onto a port security bill just hours before Congress was set to end the session and go home makes it all the more dubious. And that's not even touching the carve-outs in the bill exempting state lotteries (which studies show are much more addictive than poker) and politically-powerful interests like horse racing.

The kicker is that the bill's champion in the house -- Bob Goodlatte -- sits on the Internet Caucus, a group that's supposed to keeping government regulation off the web.

I enjoy playing poker with real people, but I've never really had the gambling jones. Still, if people want to waste their money on this stuff, it's nobody's business but their own.

COLUMBIA'S MINUTEMEN FRACAS is mocked on The Daily Show.

MY EARLIER POST on the Harry Reid scandal was somewhat skeptical. But this post by Ed Morrissey suggests that there may be more to the story than I thought. Stay tuned, and let's see whether anything develops.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE:

The government must balance close oversight of the fast-growing field of nanotechnology against the risk of stifling new development, a Food and Drug Administration conference was told Tuesday.

These contrasting views emerged from a host of experts that the agency brought together to how it should regulate products containing tiny particles, some as small as one-millionth the width of the head of a pin.

Increasingly, those submicroscopic particles are being incorporated in the thousands of products overseen by the FDA, including drugs, foods, cosmetics and medical devices. . . .

The FDA doesn't believe nanotechnology is inherently unsafe, but does acknowledge that materials at the nano scale can pose different safety issues than do things that are far larger.

The FDA wants to learn of new and emerging science issues related to nanotechnology, especially in regard to safety, said Randall Lutter, the agency's associate commissioner.

I've written on this topic recently here. And read this, too. And note that some people are trying to engage in silly scare tactics.

Plus, check out this cool video on nature's nanotechnology.

WHO TO BELIEVE? Jimmy Carter vs. The New York Times. Okay, it's an easy choice, really.

A NEW LANCET STUDY ON IRAQI CASUALTIES: I'm skeptical, given their past track record. Meanwhile, Tim Blair notes the paucity of actual data: "Remember: Lancet came up with this via a survey that identified precisely 547 deaths (as reported by the New York Times)." He also notes that it's a rather large claim by historical standards: "It is a larger number than were killed in Germany during five years (and 955,044 tons) of WWII bombing." John Wixted comments:

The Lancet, of course, is the same journal that published a similarly flawed study on the eve of the last presidential election in a transparent attempt to influence the outcome (to no avail, fortunately). That study claimed that more than 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the invasion.

(Compare that claim with this UN study.) He notes that The Lancet also claimed that 567,000 Iraqis died as a result of sanctions before the war. Omar of Iraq the Model is not pleased, and one of his commenters wonders where all the bodies are. And Chicago Tribune blogger Frank James says that people are right to be skeptical.

UPDATE: MedPundit Sydney Smith notes that the study is getting a skeptical reception from statisticians.

MORE: A new Lancet study finds 600,000 WMDs in Iraq.

SOME THOUGHTS on podcast advertising.

DANIEL DREZNER: This generation's Nostradamus.

RADLEY BALKO: "The lefty blogs are again jumping all over John Tierney. Actually, not really. They're jumping all over an incarnation of John Tierney they've created that allows them to dismiss him without really considering what he's written."

INTERESTING, if a bit later than it should be: "The House Government Reform Committee will review the Sandy Berger-National Archives case in order 'to determine whether any documents were missing from Clinton administration terrorism records, to review security measures for classified documents and to seek testimony from Berger.'"

FRANCE SAYS KIM JONG IL IS A BIG DUD -- or at least his bomb is: "France said outright for the first time Wednesday that North Korea's proclaimed nuclear test produced such a small blast that it must have failed, and analysts warned such challenging talk could lead Pyongyang to try again."

Somebody tell the analysts: That's not a bug, it's a feature. And if they succeed next time, we say "Oh yeah? Bet you don't have any more bombs that work!" The key is not to admit we're convinced until he runs out of bomb material.

A PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO AN APARTMENT BUILDING in Manhattan. Not much in the way of detail at the moment. Most likely an accident, but it's natural to wonder at this point.

UPDATE: Slightly more information here, via Drudge.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Seems pretty clear that it's an accident.

MORE: Much more information from Brendan Loy.

STILL MORE: Apparently, Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was aboard the plane.

MORE STILL: An Alec Baldwin sighting.

AND FINALLY: John Podhoretz emails to defend Alec Baldwin:

I actually know why Alec Baldwin was trying to cross the barricade. He was going to visit a friend who just had a baby at New York Hospital, which was blocked off. I know this because his friend is a close friend of my wife's, who was herself visiting the hospital a few minutes before the plane hit.

So there you are.

EUROPE RETHINKS ISLAMIC IMMIGRATION:

Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values.

“You saw what happened with the pope,” said Patrick Gonman, 43, the owner of Raga, a funky wine bar in downtown Antwerp, 25 miles from here. “He said Islam is an aggressive religion. And the next day they kill a nun somewhere and make his point.

“Rationality is gone.”

Mr. Gonman is hardly an extremist. In fact, he organized a protest last week in which 20 bars and restaurants closed on the night when a far-right party with an anti-Muslim message held a rally nearby.

His worry is shared by centrists across Europe angry at terror attacks in the name of religion on a continent that has largely abandoned it, and disturbed that any criticism of Islam or Muslim immigration provokes threats of violence.

I just hope they don't overreact, now that they're reacting. Claire Berlinski has a lot of useful, if sometimes depressing, thoughts on this situation.

MORE: Brian Dunn emails: "One of my biggest worries is that a war being waged fairly gently to save Islam will turn into a war against Islam. And the Europeans are high on my list of worries in this regard."

He's got a longish post on the subject.

HUGH HEWITT MAKES A BOLD PREDICTION: "The high water mark for the 2006 Democrats was a week ago."

UPDATE: Hmm, well, this story helps his case:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show.

In the process, Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews.

The Nevada Democrat's deal was engineered by Jay Brown, a longtime friend and former casino lawyer whose name surfaced in a major political bribery trial this summer and in other prior organized crime investigations. . . . Reid hung up the phone when questioned about the deal during an AP interview last week.

Read the whole thing. With Republicans, it's sex. With Democrats, it's money.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Anthony Calabrese thinks there's probably less here than the AP story suggests:

I am a long time reader -- also a tax lawyer. While my practice does not involve real estate investments, I think it may be much ado about nothing. Generally, if you transfer property to a company in return for an interest in the company, there is no federal income tax on the transfer. If the company was an LLC (as stated in the media reports), the company was probably a partnership for tax purposes. There would be no LLC level tax as profits and losses would pass through to the partners.

So I can see no real tax issue. The only issue is that Reid might have been hiding his ownership of the property, but holding investment property in an LLC is fairly common in order to protect the owners from torts or bankruptcy. I think this is simply an issue of someone forgetting to file a form.

Well, we'll see. In an election year already marked by Republican scandal, I'm sure the press will want to be evenhanded about looking into potential Democratic improprieties.

But reader C.J. Burch disagrees:

Had Dennis Hastert hung up on a reporter CNN would have provided round the clock coverage with analysis by Carville and Begala for three days. I wonder how they'll treat this?

Stay tuned.

MORE: More thoughts on Reid's land deal:

It looks like Brown did all the work and cut his friend Reid in on the deal. The AP report contains no evidence that there was anything crooked about the transactions themselves, although they apparently were never documented. Basically, the partners bought land that was zoned for residential use, and persuaded local authorities to change the zoning to commercial, then sold out to developers who put up a shopping center. Brown obtained the re-zoning in part by emphasizing Reid's participation in the deal.

Is there anything wrong with this? Not necessarily. You can make easy money by buying land on the outskirts of a fast-growing town like Las Vegas. It helps if you have the influence to get zoning changed, but, to be fair, there's nothing wrong with re-zoning land to permit commercial development as a community grows outward.

It does appear, though, that Reid clearly violated Senate ethics rules by failing to disclose the existence of the LLC and his partnership with Brown. He reported the income, but not the relationship. I suspect the reason for Reid's reticence is explained by the AP's description of his friend's history.

That seems right, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions based on a single wire story. No doubt we'll learn more in coming days.

SOME RARE BUT WELCOME GOOD SENSE FROM MARY ROBINSON: "I hoped that the Human Rights Council would act in a human rights way, and set up a commission of inquiry into both. Alas -- and this was a problem of the previous Human Rights Commission -- it only set up a commission of inquiry into what had happened in Israel, by the Israel forces. And that is not the human rights approach; that is the political approach. And if the Human Rights Council continues to taint human rights with the political approach, this time because of the Organization of the Islamic Conference countries.... They had the majority, they wanted to hit Israel, not do human rights work."

(Via AtlanticBlog).

JOE MALCHOW has more on the Insider-vs.-Outsider alumni politics at Dartmouth. It's getting pretty ugly.

WELL, WOULD JOURNALISM EVEN BE POSSIBLE without "hundreds of anonymous experts?"

BRENDAN LOY is attacked by Kos-blogger McJoan and responds with customary insouciance: "This is the first time I’ve been linked on the front page of Daily Kos, and I must say, the link is producing a surprisingly feeble amount of traffic." The Kossacks, in my experience, don't follow links much.

ON, WISCONSIN: "Why doesn't the university have a program that promotes debate about tough issues and teaches students how to express themselves forcefully? No, no, when someone mocks your political ideas, you ought to slink away and go back to your little room and download a report form. (And, yes, it's incredibly ironic that the university also went to the wall for free speech values when it dealt with Kevin Barrett.)"

JACOB SULLUM: "I Have a Dream...of a Nation Where the Sons of Former Slaves Practice Voting Fraud As Effectively As the Sons of Former Slave Owners."

Dreams do come true!

A STRONG DEFENSE OF CAPITALISM, from Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps. Read the whole thing.

THINGS THAT DON'T SUCK: We have some high ceilings with light fixtures so far up that they require a big ladder to change the bulbs, which is a pain. So I ordered one of these and it worked like a charm. Beats hauling the ladder around and trying not to bang the walls.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Army Secretary Francis Harvey on Recruitment, Retention, and Force Structure

army.jpg
Will there be a draft? How's the Army doing in the Long War? No, and pretty well, according to Dr. Francis Harvey, Secretary of the Army, who notes that recruitment is at a 9-year high and that reenlistment is very strong. Harvey talks about the Army's strength levels, force structure, equipment maintenance loads, and general ability to withstand the stress of the Long War against terrorism. In particular, he responds rather forcefully to claims that the Army is lowering standards to make its recruitment numbers. Plus, we hear about Helen's brief dalliance with the Air Force, and how it may explain the Chinese Embassy bombing. . . .

You can listen to the show directly -- no messy downloading -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. You can get a lo-fi version suitable for dialup by going here and selecting "lo-fi." If you'd like to sign up for the duration, you can subscribe via iTunes here, and you can see an archive of our past podcasts, and check for new ones, at GlennandHelenShow.com.

Music is "Superluminal," by Mobius Dick.

This podcast is brought to you by VolvoCars.us. If you buy a Volvo, tell 'em we sent you!

As always, my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments and suggestions.

A TRAGEDY AVERTED through the skillful and appropriate use of arms:

It happened Monday afternoon at a home in the 4200 block of Ocean Drive. A 14-year-old boy shot and killed a man who broke into his family's home Monday and threatened to kill him and his mother, Police Chief Bryan Smith said.

Smith said the man, confronted a woman as she was carrying groceries into her home shortly before 1 p.m. The man forced her inside and tied her and her son up. Smith said the woman was able to loosen the binding and free her son, who got his father's revolver from a security box beneath a bed.

As the man tried to break into the room where the two were and threatened to kill them both, the teen fired a shot through the door and hit the intruder in the head, Smith said.

Not only was this tragedy averted, but if the guy had gotten away with it he almost certainly would have killed others. Not now.

UPDATE: Naturally, the boy is still getting some criticism:

This is really not excusable behavior. You aim for the center of mass, child: center of mass - especially if you're shooting through a door. Save head shots for the Playstation.

If you make the shot, it's not bad shooting.

NORM GERAS: "I understand from a friend in Washington that, contrary to the report in The Nation that's being going round the blogs, retired Colonel Sam Gardiner does not believe an 'October surprise' military strike on Iran is imminent. Gardiner, who who has war-gamed air strikes on Iran independently of the Bush administration, thinks an attack is likely at some point before Bush leaves office; but it is still some way off."

I agree. And so, apparently, does Ahmadinejad:

"Their latest decision was to gather all their political force and frown at us, cast bad looks and shout with empty threats to force us to retreat," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech in a rally in a town west of the capital.

That pretty well describes the multilateral nonproliferation process, I have to admit.

HE'S NOT BACKING DOWN:

Pope Benedict said on Wednesday Christians could not allow their beliefs and identity to be diluted for the sake of dialogue with other religions.

"We have to remember that this identity of ours calls for strength, clarity, and courage in the world in which we live," he told pilgrims and tourists at his weekly general audience.

Since he made controversial comments on Islam a month ago, the question of how much dialogue Catholics should have with other religions has become a point of debate in the Church.

Some Catholics feel they have compromised too much of their Christian identity in the four decades since the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council called for increased dialogue with Muslims, Jews and members of other religions.

Read the whole thing. Will Benedict be able to stay on the middle course he's charting?

A LOOK AT AL QAEDA'S WORKING PAPER for a media invasion of America.

BEAM ME UP, OSAMA: My TCS Daily column is up.

THE GLENN AND HELEN SHOW is one of the featured political podcasts in iTunes' pre-election roundup. Go to the main podcast page in iTunes, or click here. It's kind of cool to see our basement production up there with PBS, the Washington Post, and NPR.

We'll have an interview with Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey up later this morning, talking about force structure, recruitment and retention, and more.

WAS NORTH KOREA'S BLAST A SUITCASE NUKE? Richard Miniter has investigated, and reports that it's not likely.

THE DEATH OF CURSIVE:

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters.

I'll take neat printing over sloppy cursive any day, and -- take it from a guy who's graded a lot of bluebooks -- nearly all the cursive you see is sloppy. It's hard to find someone under 70 with nice, traditional penmanship.

Is it a loss that people don't have beautiful cursive? In the abstract, maybe, but kids have lots of more important stuff to learn.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Stopping bleeding with a self-assembling nanogel. Sounds pretty cool. (Via Magic Statistics).

October 10, 2006

A BLEGBURST? I hope this doesn't catch on. . . .

Seriously, if you like Bob Owens' work, support him with a donation.

NORTH KOREA'S NEIGHBORS are more worried about collapse and refugees than nukes, according to this Wall Street Journal report. (Free link).

WHOOPING COUGH IS BACK: "State laws that make it easy for children to skip school-required vaccinations may be contributing to whooping cough outbreaks around the country, a study suggests. . . . Compared with stricter states, those with easy exemption policies had about 50 percent more whooping cough cases, according to the study. Also, about 50 percent more people got whooping cough in states that allowed personal-belief exemptions, compared with those allowing only religious exemptions, the study found."

I wrote a column on a related topic a while back. It's here. Bottom line: "Drugmakers get sued for defective products; 'activists' and sensational journalists do not. If I were to start a drug company, and peddle a drug with no more evidence of its safety and efficacy than anti-vaccine activists and their media allies had to peddle their approach, and if as many people were made sick, or killed, as a result, I'd probably be in jail now. So where's the accountability for the people whose bogus claims and hysterical coverage led to this situation? Nowhere in sight. With that sort of an incentive structure, we're lucky that we're not in worse shape."

UPDATE: Reader Paul Strasser emails:

Take it from an adult who got whooping cough two summers ago. It sucks, big time. My son first got it from some kid at school whose parents believed that the vaccine was dangerous. The kid got it, and transferred it to my son, who then gave it to me. It was god-awful. But even worse was listening to my son cough so loud, so hard, then actually have to gasp and gulp for a breath of air – every few minutes you think your child is suffocating. Every time he did this (and he was a trooper, bless his soul) I silently swore a blood oath against those damn parents who think that vaccines are evil. No, the parents were inconsiderate, stupid bastards.

Yes, both my son and I had our vaccines.

The vaccines, alas, aren't perfect -- and because of that, it's important that enough people be vaccinated to prevent transmission. If you don't have enough vaccinated people to produce "herd immunity" then the level of protection is lower for everyone, even those who get the shots.

ANOTHER RECORD HIGH FOR THE DOW, but nobody seems to care much. Worrying about "the economy, stupid" is so 1990s.

KNOXVILLE MAYOR BILL HASLAM is reportedly backing away from Mayor Bloomberg's anti-gun initiative at full speed, but it's not helping as much as he might hope:

I'm uncertain if Haslam's membership in the anti-gun Mayors Against Guns Alliance was intentional or an oversight. However, neither option portrays him in a positive light. He is either against guns or doesn't have any idea what he did. Haslam is tied pretty heavily to the Bob Corker campaign. This little incident may cost Corker some votes. Maybe someone should ask Corker that in his debate tonight?

Ouch. Bad news all around. Plus, poor communications.

UPDATE: Audio of Haslam defending his position can be found here.

BEING A CONGRESSIONAL SPOUSE can really pay. And, once again, it hardly seems to matter which party is involved.

I AGREE WITH ANN ALTHOUSE: It's a good thing that nobody is showing this ad. It's a regular triumph of good taste that it's not being shown anywhere at all. . . .

Though I'm glad I got to watch Kim Jong Il slam-dunking, even if it was in a commercial that no one at all will ever see. Because, you know, they're not showing it anywhere.

BRAD RUBENSTEIN is blogging the Web 2.0 Kongress in Frankfurt. Just keep scrolling.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS VERY UNPOPULAR AMONG TENNESSEANS, according to a new statewide poll. I guess that explains why Harold Ford, Jr. has been taking such a strong position against it.

MICHAEL YON: "A very well-placed government source told me Tuesday afternoon that the North Korean explosion was non-nuclear." He also suggests that even though the test was in North Korea, it may have been by or on behalf of the Iranians.

AUSTIN BAY has more thoughts on North Korea: "Time to hermetically seal the Hermit Kingdom."

DAVE KOPEL looks at training to resist school shootings.

JOHN MCCAIN is guestblogging at Captain's Quarters, with a post on North Korea.

BYPASSING THE BEEB, CONT'D: 18 Doughty Street, the British Internet television network I mentioned earlier, is now up and running. Check it out.

IN THE MAIL: My former student Elizabeth Price Foley's new book, Liberty for All: Reclaiming Individual Privacy in a New Era of Public Morality. It's an excellent book -- somewhat Randy Barnett-ish in approach -- and it's already won a Lysander Spooner Award. I'm pleased that it's out, and more pleased still that it's out from Yale University Press.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: FedSpending.org, a new transparency website created by OMB Watch, lets you search over $12 Trillion of federal spending for free.

You can also see a webcast of its unveiling here.

Bit by bit, this stuff is becoming more accessible. Will that make a difference?

It will, if people want it to make a difference.

And they should.

PUMPING OUT THE VOTE: Bill Bradley writes: "As he steams smartly toward hoped for re-election four weeks from today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a secret weapon, the largest and most technologically sophisticated voter mobilization operation California Republicans have ever seen."

UPDATE: Reader Michael McFatter emails:

It's not just California. Rove has been refining this machine for the last three elections and some smaller ones in between. This is the real reason they call him The Architect. When you hear The Architect you should think The Matrix, not building designer. This guy pioneered direct mail for politics in the 80's to extraordinary success. Every election the system gets better. He experiments every election too, in select districts to see if new strategies work and then collects huge amounts of data back after the election. Newsweek had an article that brushed the surface of this, but it got buried under the Foley scandal. I think there are going to be some very, very surprised Democrats come November 8. It doesn't matter if you lead at the polls if the other guy gets 95% of his supporters to cast their vote and you can only manage 65%.

A lot of Republicans are counting on this. But will the supporters turn out this time? Only if the Democrats overplay their hand as usual.

STEVEN DEN BESTE looks at voodoo politics.

THOMAS BARNETT says that Bush is blowing it on North Korea: "Beijing isn't ready, in large part, because we haven't prepared them well to emerge as a trusted great power ally. This administration keeps hedging its bets, sort of treating China like a military enemy, sort of treating it like a diplomatic ally, sometimes demonizing it and sometimes indulging it. Our 'separate lanes' policy of trying to compartmentalize our relationship with China has been a disaster in my opinion, keeping us trapped in an immature strategic relationship with Beijing that makes it harder for us to deal with rogues like Iran and North Korea. . . . We tolerate Russia and India and China instead of embracing them as key allies, and we indulge the Japanese and Europeans, when neither has shown much inclination to grow up strategically any time soon (although I have my hopes for Abe as the next iteration in Tokyo). Bush and Co. define the new era all right. They just don't seem to recognize that a lot of players have changed sides in the meantime. "

THE NEW BUSH ADMINISTRATION SPACE POLICY was unveiled yesterday; I meant to post it then but got distracted.

I've written on some aspects of this policy already, here and here. And, on the commercial side, read this, too.

BRENDAN LOY looks at misrepresentations about Joe Lieberman and comments: "This is precisely the sort of tactic that makes me so incredibly hostile to the entire anti-Lieberman movement. As I’ve said repeatedly, if Connecticut voters feel so strongly about Lieberman’s stance on the war that they want to vote against him on that basis alone, I have no problem with that, even though I disagree. But instead of running an honest campaign on the issue(s), Lamont and his allies — and before anyone tries to distance Kos from Ned, let’s recall that they appeared in a campaign ad together — have consistently smeared Lieberman’s character and distorted his record. . . . I realize that distortion and deception is par for the course in politics, but to see such tactics used by one Democrat (and his vast array of far-left allies) against another, more moderate Democrat is what made August’s primary defeat feel a bit like a purge."

YEAH, I KNOW, the timestamps on my blog are messed up. It's nothing in the blog settings -- I think the server clock is off by 12 hours or something.

MICHAEL RUBIN: " Let’s be fair: To condemn the Axis of Evil speech is to condemn Bush for prescience. He didn’t create the Axis of Evil; rather, he voiced the problem. And if that shocked European diplomats, well too bad. If it’s a choice between national security and enabling European diplomats to remain secure in their illusions, I’d hope both Republicans and Democrats would favor the former. Clinton administration attempts to engage the Taliban and the North Korean regime were folly. Any attempt to do likewise with Iran would be equally inane. Certain regimes cannot be appeased. Dialogue is no panacea."

Yes, though diplomats tend to overvalue dialogue. I listend to former (Bush I) Ambassador Gregg's Diane Sawyer interview on XM yesterday, and it made me very grateful that he no longer has a hand in formulating U.S. policy. Some excerpts from that interview can be found here.

BYPASSING THE BEEB: Britain's first Internet TV station, with a very different political slant, will launch tonight. Tim Montgomerie has the scoop.

JOE KATZMAN WRITES on why North Korea shouldn't be our focus.

K.C. JOHNSON GETS SOME CREDIT in a New York Magazine article on the Duke Lacrosse case:

“I’ve never felt so ill,” says one reporter about the paper’s coverage of the Duke lacrosse-team case. Luckily, a blogger’s on the story, too. . . .

In the movie, Tom Hanks would play K. C. Johnson. He’s the most impressive of the “bloggers who have closely followed the case,” in the Times’ tacitly pejorative construction. But Johnson is the Platonic ideal of the species—passionate but committed to rigor and facts and fairness, a tenured professor of U.S. history (at Brooklyn College), a 38-year-old vegetarian who lives alone in a one-bedroom Bay Ridge apartment and does pretty much nothing but study, teach, run, and write.

Johnson has no connection to Duke. (His B.A. and Ph.D. are from the Harvard of the Northeast.) His attention was grabbed in April by the “deeply disturbing” public comments of Duke faculty that righteously indulged in invidious stereotypes and assumed the lacrosse players’ guilt. “One area that the academy, especially since McCarthyism, is supposed to stand up is cases where due process is denied,” he says.

Read the whole thing.

KAUS is still not convinced that Bush will sign the fence bill. At this point, I'd be very surprised if he didn't.

Ed Morrissey called the Hill instead of the White House and agrees: "Expect to see this get signed somewhere between October 24th and November 1st. The White House considers this bill a front-and-center accomplishment and wants the boost to last all the way through Election Day."

The somewhat weak response that Kaus got from the White House, however, suggests that they need to work on their PR operation a bit more.

October 09, 2006

ESKIMOS: NOT WARMING TO HUGO CHAVEZ:

In Alaska's native villages, the punishing winter cold is already penetrating the walls of the lightly insulated plywood homes, many of the villagers are desperately poor, and heating-oil prices are among the highest in the nation.

And yet a few of the small communities want to refuse free heating oil from Venezuela, on the patriotic principle that no foreigner has the right to call their president "the devil."

Read the whole thing. (Via Dan and Angi, where there are some suggestions. Anybody know how to donate to these folks?)

GOOGLE BUYS YOUTUBE: A roundup of reactions here.

KNOXVILLE'S MAYOR, BILL HASLAM, AN ANTI-GUNNER?

Seems Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is a member of Michael Bloomberg's Alliance of Mayors Against Guns. I have intentionally left off the word illegal because Bloomberg's antics have not targeted illegal gun dealers but legal and lawful dealers. . . . Now, the mayor of Knoxville has allied himself with that. What was he thinking?

One issue is that what is illegal in New York is, for the most part, not illegal elsewhere. What Bloomberg is targeting is not illegal here. So, Mr. Haslam, what's the deal?

This seems quite odd to me. Haslam is thought to have ambitions toward statewide office, and this sort of thing isn't likely to fly, well, anywhere in Tennessee.

UPDATE: A related post from Dave Hardy.

WELL, OF COURSE Jon Stewart reads blogs.

ED DRISCOLL has a podcast interview with Mark Steyn, in which Steyn talks about his new book, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.

THE BELMONT CLUB ASKS: "Was North Korea testing a suitcase nuke?"

MARK BOWDEN ON MOGADISHU: "No, the battle was not an al-Qaeda ambush. Yes, President Clinton could have done more."

(Via The Mudville Gazette.)

JIM GERAGHTY LOOKS BACK at 2001's anthrax attacks, and draws some lessons for today.

AN END TO THE FENCE KERFUFFLE? Patrick Ruffini emails: "I have checked up on this and there is nothing more to the story beyond the President’s CNN quote. The President will sign the Secure Fence Act."

DEFENSETECH SAYS IT'S A DUD: "No one has ever dudded their first test of a simple fission device. North Korean nuclear scientists are now officially the worst ever. . . . I'd say someone with no workable nuclear weapons (Kim Jong Il, I am looking at you) should be crapping his pants right now. First the missile, then the bomb. Got anything else you wanna try out there, chief?"

UPDATE: Donald Sensing says not so fast with the jeering:

I don’t mean to belabor the point I have made before, but I was trained in the Army as a nuclear-target analyst. A yield of 550-800 tons (.55-.8 KT) is not too small by any means as an achievable yield. It does not require a lot of fissionable material, either, which is one factor mitigating against the “hoax” conclusion. If the test was a “proof of concept” test rather than one intended to validate an actual warhead, then it makes sense for the DPRK to use as little nuclear material as possible. They don’t get the stuff very easily.

Well, in the abstract this makes sense. But it doesn't seem to fit the North Koreans' style very well. I'd like it if they were this short of fissionable material, though.

I THINK THIS IS THE BEST KIM JONG-IL PHOTOSHOP I've seen.

UPDATE: Okay, this one is pretty good, too.

I know that in the real world he's a nasty murderer. But no matter how hard Kim tries to act like a badass, he just comes across as a sort of Austin Powers villain.

MICHAEL FUMENTO is blogging from Ramadi. This passage contains the bottom line:

Guthrie also offered, "This place has gotten a lot better but it's still a shit hole."

The ever present trend-vs.-present-state distinction.

I WAS GOING TO DO A COLUMBUS DAY POST, but honestly I think that this one from last year holds up pretty well.

CHESTER LOOKS AT ARGUMENTS that the North Korean nuke test was actually a fake. I wouldn't put it past the North Koreans. Perhaps, however, we should act as if it's a hoax anyway, regardless. If nothing else, this will annoy the North Koreans. And if the test was real, this mockery will encourage them to set off another nuke to prove us wrong, causing a waste of valuable nuclear material . . . .

Meanwhile, here's more from Captain Ed.

UPDATE: More on this from Clayton Cramer. And still more here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more from Jay Manifold.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Beer and Barbecue with Milblogger Smash

SMASH.jpgHelen couldn't make it -- it was a bit late for her -- but I caught up with milblogger Scott Koenig, better known as Smash, when he passed through Knoxville last week. Since he's a celebrity blogger, I took along a portable recorder and managed to cadge an interview. Listen as Scott describes his part in the new milblogger book, The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, recounts his experience blogging from the war zone, and talks about his up-close encounters with antiwar protesters from Code Pink at Walter Reed Army Hospital. There's even an audio excerpt of his somewhat Pattonesque bullhorn address to those protesters, which I'm sure they didn't enjoy. But you may. Plus, Smash and I "fast" for peace!

Music, The World's Unfair (Since 1982) is by Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere, off their album "Knoxville Tells."

You can stream the file -- no downloads needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file directly by clicking right here, or get it in lo-fi suitable for dialup by going here and selecting "lo-fi." You can subscribe via iTunes right here.

This podcast brought to you by VolvoCars.us. If you buy a Volvo, tell them we sent you!

Technical note: The interview was recorded with the Edirol R-09 that I mentioned earlier, and the CS-15 external microphone that I said I was ordering a while back. I think it turned out quite well, especially considering the noisy setting.

As always, my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments and suggestions.

A.C. KLEINHEIDER watched the Memphis Ford/Corker debate and reports that this time Ford came across as "too slick by half."

I heard local talk-radio star Hallerin Hill talking about it this morning, and he said that what struck him were Ford's frequent and overt biblical references, plus an out-and-out statement that "I love Jesus." Kleinheider comments on that, too.

UPDATE: Here's a blog-report on the Talent-McCaskill debate in Missouri: "If you missed the debate this morning, you didn't miss very much." They have transcripts and video, too.

BLAMING FOLEY, NOT THE G.O.P.: "The aggressive politicization of the Foley story is itself a story and the voters witness it and react. It's hardly surprising if they've reacted with revulsion to politicians for their expedient use of the story to claw toward power, which really is more repugnant than self-indulgent sexual expression. Would it shake your preconceptions to find out that even hardcore morals voters see that?"

IN THE MAIL: An advance copy of Charles Stross's The Jennifer Morgue, a followup to his very enjoyable The Atrocity Archives, which blended espionage, magic, and arcane physics in a way reminiscent of Tim Powers' Declare.

A MASSIVE ANTI-CHAVEZ RALLY: BBC reports: "Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in support of the main opposition candidate, Manuel Rosales. . . . Many claimed that they were seeking liberty and democracy and that made Mr Rosales their only option."

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS:

The Labor Department released its September jobs report on Friday, and some wags are calling it the "whoops" report. The "whoops" is a reference to the upward revision of 810,000 previously undetected jobs that Labor now says were created in the U.S. economy in the 12 months through March 2006.

So instead of 5.8 million new jobs over the past three years, the U.S. economy has created 6.6 million. That's a lot more than a rounding error, more than the number of workers in the entire state of New Hampshire. What's going on here?

Our hypothesis has been that, due to the changing nature of the U.S. economy, the Labor Department's business establishment survey has been undercounting job creation from small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs. That job growth has been better captured in Labor's companion household survey, which reported 271,000 new jobs in September after 250,000 new jobs in August, and a very healthy total of 2.54 million new jobs in the past year.

The household survey is what is used to determine the unemployment rate, which fell in September to 4.6%, the lowest level in five years. The establishment survey, meanwhile, is used to announce the monthly "new jobs" numbers. Every year the Labor Department revises its job estimates from the previous year, in essence reconciling the figures from the two surveys, and the missing 810,000 jobs was the result through March 2006.

Getting out of the statistical weeds, the news here is that the U.S. has a very tight labor market -- which is now translating into significant wage gains. Over the past 12 months wages have climbed by 4%, which is the biggest gain since 2001 and which economist Brian Wesbury points out is higher than the 3.3% average annual wage growth of the last 25 years.

Most of the media has ignored all this and instead focused on the disappointing 51,000 "new jobs" number from the establishment survey for September. But even in that survey, the jobs number for August was revised upward by 62,000 and the U.S. jobs machine continues to roll out an average of about 150,000 additional hires each month. Even the loss of residential construction jobs in September, due to the housing market slowdown, was nearly matched by payroll gains in commercial construction.

You'd think that all this good economic news would get more attention, but it seems that "It's the economy, stupid!" was a 1990s phenomenon. Or something.

UPDATE: Fausta has further thoughts.

BROWNSHIRTS AT COLUMBIA: The D.C. Examiner editorializes:

The thugs should be expelled from Columbia and barred from admission at any other self-respecting university. But frankly, we doubt that Columbia officials will do much of anything beyond delivering figurative slaps on the wrists of the offending students and their accomplices. Too many American academic officials have become cowed by fear of appearing to violate the politically correct orthodoxy that rules most campuses.

Yes, commitments to free speech and academic debate are trotted out when it's politically useful, but it's been clear for years that many university administrators don't really believe them.

A LOOK AT the Mullahs' massacre on the road to Qom. "The second fact is widely, in fact compulsively, denied by a plethora of self-proclaimed experts on Iran. And that is the bravery of Iranians who wish to be free to practice their religion and politics as they see fit, rather than as their tyrants insist. Thousands of people stood up to the regime’s killers, in defense of a solitary mullah whose crime was to preach traditional Shi’ite values. That’s a major event, especially because Islam is not very popular these days in Iran."

MICKEY KAUS: "Why is nearly every top Republican (Bush, Hastert, Sensenbrenner) suddenly babbling about 'appropriations,' using the same weasely, Clintonian syntax? It would be crazy not to be paranoid."

If the GOP is this stupid, they deserve the brutal drubbing at the polls that will result. Message to the White House: You blew it on Harriet Miers and Dubai Ports because you ignored the early-warning signals from the blogs. You can't afford another such disaster, so if Kaus is right here, you'd better rethink, pronto.

MORE ON THE NORTH KOREAN NUKE: The test now shows on the USGS quake map.

Japan and China join to call it "unacceptable." Kim Jong Il is a uniter, not a divider!

Op-For looks at the implications, and notes that North Korea has probably been able to do this for most of a decade. Plus, a look at the bright side: "Our missiles work. Theirs don't."

The reality is that the international nonproliferation regime has failed again, because although people are willing to talk, nobody's willing to actually do anything significant when a country appears close to going nuclear. See also Iran.

This article from the Washington Post features lots of stern diplomatic statements from lots of countries. If people actually do something about this, it may help bring Iran under some degree of control. If strong words are, once again, followed up by no action then it will have the opposite effect.

Meanwhile, Korean expat-blog The Marmot's Hole has advice for American expats in Korea.

My own thought: North Korea usually does something attention-getting when Iran needs a distraction. So keep an eye on the mullahs, too.

And this piece from Friday by Josh Manchester just became more timely.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Josh Trevino takes a look at the situation, and manages to use the phrase: "puerile predator in Pyongyang." Extra points! Plus he recommends the site MissileThreat.com.

DEFICIT HALVED, three years early. Due to the absence of even virtual gay sex, no one cares.

October 08, 2006

UNCONFIRMED REPORTS of a North Korean nuclear test.

UPDATE: Tentative confirmation from South Korea. And a claim from North Korea. (Thanks to Dan Riehl for the links).

On Fox News however, the USGS is saying it hasn't detected any unusual seismic activity in Korea.

More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wretchard interviews Dr. Robert Ayson of the Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence at the Australian National University on the subject of how Australia and Japan might react.

And here's a big roundup from Pajamas Media.

TIGERHAWK LOOKS AT POPULATION AND WARMAKING:

In 1967, at the height of the battle for Vietnam in the middle of World War III,1 we had 1.7% of our population under arms, or approximately 3.4 million people. Today, while waging two wars in Asia at what many of us fear is not the height of World War IV, we have less than 0.5% of our population under arms. Point is, the present conflict may be pushing the limits of our existing military, but it has barely burdened us a society. With our modern willingness to open virtually all missions to women and recognize the value of soldiers in their "late youth," we obviously could build a much larger military if we wanted to.2

The other circled table, relating to the cost of gasoline, is typical New York Times legerdemain. The Times has chosen to show us a two-month old price of gasoline ($3.07), so it has grossly distorted the real increase in gasoline prices in the last 40 years. In fact, the average price of gasoline at the pump was only $2.31 as of October 2, the last week that government data are available. That would have shown very little difference in real terms from 1967, only about 15% over 40 years. Given the massive expansion of world oil consumption in that period, that small real increase reveals the extraordinary productivity of the oil industry, which is driven primarily by technology from American companies such as, er, Halliburton. In any case, cynics will speculate that the Times chose to husband the resources of its graphic arts department rather than correct the chart because the facts undermine the NYT's political objectives.

Heh. There's a lot of that going on lately.

UPDATE: Related post here.

MOMENTUM IN THE WAR: An interesting discussion in the comments, here.

SUPPORTING THE CANADIAN TROOPS: Well, it's better than nothing.

DEAN BARNETT sends a link to what he says will be his last Foleygate post. In his email, he comments: "I can't stand it any more. Remember when sex scandals actually involved sex? I miss Clinton!"

Enough to make Barnett miss Clinton? Ah, the pieces are all coming together now . . . .

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has lots of posts. Just keep scrolling.

ANOTHER UPDATE: William Beutler has the best-titled post so far.

And various readers quibble on whether the Clinton scandals involved sex, both from the Left (variations on the old Arkansas saw, "Eatin' ain't cheatin'") and from the Right ("it was about perjury.") Whatever, it was juicier than this one by an Arkansas mile.

HMM. I'm not sure my sardonic approach came through in this article on website valuations. Not that the quote was inaccurate, or anything -- it's exactly as I said it. Oh, well.

MORE UNREST IN IRAN:

An Iranian cleric, Mohammed Kazemeini Boroujerdi, has been arrested amid clashes between his supporters and police outside his house in Teheran.

Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of his followers, who had formed a cordon around his residence.

In his sermons Mr Boroujerdi advocated a traditional interpretation of Islam which separates religion from politics. He is accused of misinterpreting Islam.

However, his supporters see him as a religious leader with spiritual powers.

I hope that this backfires on the Iranian authorities in a big way. That's more hope than expectation at this point, alas.

PUTIN GROWS EVER MORE THUGGISH:

She was a fearless critic of President Putin and chronicler of atrocities in Russia’s long war with its breakaway republic of Chechnya. One of those concerns may have cost Anna Politkovskaya her life.

The most famous investigative journalist in Russia was shot dead by an assassin on Saturday, Mr Putin’s 54th birthday, as she stepped from the lift of her Moscow apartment building to collect shopping from her car. The murder bore the hallmarks of a contract killing. . . .

Hundreds of people gathered in Pushkin Square to light candles in her memory, many accusing the authorities of complicity. One poster read: “The Kremlin has killed freedom of speech.”

Valeri Borshchev, of the liberal Yabloko party, said: “This is a political killing, and the authorities are mixed up in this.”

I hope that this will get the reaction it deserves from the international community, but I'm afraid my faith in the international community isn't what it once was.

UPDATE: Ivan Lenin thinks it's unfair to blame Putin: "Those who ordered this murder were most likely politically motivated, and it's very possible they are pretty high up in Putin's administration. But this event is so much more likely to destabilize Putin's regime than strengthen it."

On the other hand, here's more thuggishness from Putin.

A "BIZARRE CALUMNY" at Crooked Timber. I know the feeling.

K.C. JOHNSON has much more on the Duke lacrosse case.

And read this post, too. While the national media seem to have mostly lost interest in this case, K.C. has continued to follow it in detail.

PATTERICO REPORTS that Oklahoma Attorney Stephen Jones is trying to silence a blogger.

That never seems to work out for people, and often backfires. Before proceeding, maybe Jones should read this article. And this one.

AUSTIN BAY LOOKS AT the trouble on the North Korea / Chinese border.

Perhaps Kim Jong Il wants nuclear weapons as much to deter the Chinese as to deter the United States.

MICKEY KAUS WONDERS if Bush will pocket-veto the border fence bill. He will, if he wants a Democratic majority in Congress.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Ed Morrissey, who thinks that a pocket veto is unlikely.

IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO DONATE to the blogger Boobiethon for breast cancer.

Did I mention it's got boobies? Lots of them! (But the page I'm sending you to is work-safe.)

PRESTON TAYLOR HOLMES issued a challenge.

Mary Katharine Ham responded.

Now it's time to pay the piper.

And Ali Bubba is offering wardrobe advice.

CLERICAL CLASHES IN IRAN:

Several hundred supporters of an outspoken cleric in Tehran, Ayatollah Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, gathered today in the streets around his house to protest what they described as violation of "freedom of religion."


Protesters told Radio Farda that they were trying to prevent the arrest of Boroujerdi by security forces. Boroujerdi advocates the separation of religion from politics.

One of his supporters told Radio Farda that during the past two months there have been several attempts to arrest the ayatollah.

"[Security forces] took away his daughter and 38 others two months ago, they've freed them but they came this morning to take away [Boroujerdi] but the neighbors didn't give in," the man said. "They came again later to arrest him but his supporters have gathered here and will resist. Thank God, we're many, about 2,000 to 3,000."

Seems like this is a guy I could grow to like.

HERE'S MUCH MORE on the Gloria Wise / Air America financial scandal, including questions about favoritism from Eliot Spitzer.