Archive for June, 2005

June 26, 2005


A hostage held alongside Australian Douglas Wood in Iraq has hired bounty hunters to track down his former captors, promising to eliminate them one by one. . . . “I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one.”

(Via Tim Blair, who is appalled at the insensitivity involved.)

June 26, 2005

JOE GANDELMAN NOTES that some recent polls show Republicans losing independent voters in droves. I suppose I should claim vindication. Heck, even folks at NRO are complaining about the “puritanical zeal” of the GOP Congress.

Fortunately for Karl Rove, Democrats are riding to the rescue, as usual.

June 26, 2005


China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

Perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone by floating a rumor that Taiwan is acquiring nuclear weapons from North Korea . . . .

June 26, 2005


“I suggest that he ask the French why the heck for so many years they encouraged Poles to build capitalism when as it turns out they are Communists themselves,” Mr. Walesa, an electrician by trade, said in an interview published Friday in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. He added, “Piotr probably won’t have the chance to say this, so he should at least publicize Poland well in Paris.”

Read the whole thing.

June 26, 2005

THE MISSING LINK: “The WaPo has a front page profile on Karl Rove. Karl’s controversy is featured, but Sen. Durbin is not (even though he was mentioned in Karl’s speech).”

Plus, an attempt at an NYT Wikitorial!

June 26, 2005

EMILY BAZELON AND DAVID NEWMAN have a roundup of potential Supreme Court candidates that’s worth reading, though it unaccountably omits Eugene Volokh and Alex Kozinski.

June 26, 2005

BURNING SQUIRREL has been photoblogging from the Palo Alto anarchists’ march. Best line: “The serious message has a way of getting lost when stuffed movie collectibles are involved.”

June 26, 2005

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF: “By the way, you have to be worried when a guy with too much mascara and a snake wrapped around his neck has a keener grasp of basic new millennium geopolitics than so many leading lights of the Democratic Party.”

June 26, 2005

A SIX-MONTH POST-TSUNAMI ROUNDUP: Things are going about as you’d expect.

June 26, 2005

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING: I don’t get many modeling jobs, so I was happy to pose in a t-shirt for But I’ve been amply repaid, as something about that photo just keeps driving people to make utter fools of themselves. Though perhaps that’s not such a great feat, considering . . . .

In a somewhat-related item, here’s a collection of Robert Heinlein quotes, via Bill Quick.

UPDATE: The Insta-Wife followed the link to Wolcott’s post and observes that he completely misunderstands the point of her film. True, but probably not as much as he would if he had actually seen it . . .

At any rate, nothing says more about the decline of the old media establishment than seeing someone like Wolcott — once, whether merited or not, a man of some consequence — reduced to snarking (repeatedly!) at internet t-shirt ads in a desperate bid for attention. Just because Gaia listens to you, James, doesn’t mean that the rest of us do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A Heinlein fan makes the rubble bounce.

June 25, 2005

BILL QUICK has a cooking thread. I’m of the do-most-everything-with-a-chef’s-knife school myself, though a good fillet knife can come in very handy.

June 25, 2005

GORDON SMITH on the politics of faculty hiring.

June 25, 2005

THE KELO DISCUSSION over at SCOTUSblog continues, with the latest post coming from Bob Ellickson, who observes: “In short, the Institute for Justice should be delighted that popular opinion has moved so sharply its way. I actually worry that political opposition to eminent domain may go too far, as it has in Japan, where completion of the second runway at Tokyo’s Narita Airport has proved to be impossible.”

I think we’re a long way from that. Most everyone I’ve heard opine on Kelo thinks that takings for public works are fine; the opposition is to taking for the sort of “economic development” project that Ellickson agrees tends to be a boondoggle. The danger, however, is that the public may grow sufficiently disgusted with the boondoggles that it stops making that sort of distinction. I don’t think we’re close to that situation, either, but I don’t think this decision is helping.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has been asking candidates about Kelo and is posting their responses.

June 25, 2005


June 25, 2005


NEW LONDON, Conn. – When a divided Supreme Court broadened the government’s right to seize private property this past week, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor painted a grim portrait of what she saw coming.

She said wealthy investors and city leaders had been given the power to run people from their homes to make way for new development. The line between public and private property has been blurred, O’Connor said in her dissent, and no home is safe.

While municipal leaders say O’Connor’s view is unrealistic, people who have fought eminent domain say it’s already here.

Read the whole thing.

June 25, 2005

D.C. JOURNALISTS pick their favorite political blogs.

June 25, 2005


The U.S. Army, scrambling to maintain strength, are now making it easier for reservists to move over to the regular army. This is partly the result of commanders noticing that a lot of reservists are quite enthusiastic about being on active duty, and many are eager to stay on active duty. But by law, unless Congress declares a general mobilization, most reservists cannot be kept on active duty much longer. The maximum time a reservist can be on active duty for the current “emergency” is 24 months. The army isn’t saying how many additional regular army troops it is going to pick up with this program, but it will probably be several thousand, and maybe much more. An important aspect of this is that these troops have a lot of experience, making them much more valuable than newly trained recruits.

It’s interesting that retention seems to be going much better than recruitment. Perhaps the view of what’s going on that the troops get in the field is more positive than the view that potential recruits get from the media.

June 25, 2005

GENOCIDE IN ZIMBABWE: Normblog has a report on what the Archbishop of Bulawayo is saying.

June 25, 2005

BRAD RUBENSTEIN is Roomba-blogging. I hope his experience is better than mine.

June 25, 2005

ACCORDING TO THE INSTA-DAUGHTER AND INSTA-NIECE, who watched it on DVD last night, this is the best movie ever made. I’m not so sure: I think that this is a stronger candidate.

UPDATE: Roger Simon offers alternate suggestions.

June 25, 2005


Liberals woke up yesterday morning wondering what happened to their Democratic Party. Literally overnight, the Democrats had become the President’s staunchest supporters in the war on terror. As much as we welcome the party’s change of heart, we were surprised to see that it was precipitated by the architect himself, Karl Rove.

I told you he was smart. Or maybe he just got good academic advice!

UPDATE: “Karl does know his opponent.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Supporting the troops.

June 25, 2005

THIS IS SURE TO ENRICH SOME PLAINTIFFS’ LAWYERS: Major companies are using spyware.

UPDATE: Reader Rob Beile emails:

It seems to me the advertiser that doesn’t condone this practice has about ten minutes to incorporate appropriate language into the contracts they sign with their respective advertising firms. Otherwise they lose any credibility when it comes to a claiming they disapprove of the practice. The clock started in about 1998.


June 25, 2005


The Leo Burnett advertising agency, which created the iconic macho cowboy, said a new study it conducted found that half the men in most parts of the world don’t know what is expected of them in society and three-quarters of them think images of men in advertising are out of touch with reality.

Most ads have lumped men into one of two groups — the soft, caring type known as “metrosexuals,” who are comfortable with facial peels and pink shirts, or the stereotypical “retrosexuals,” who remain oafishly addicted to beer and sports. . . .

“Men are far more complex than advertisers give them credit for,” said Linda Kovarik, global planning director for beauty care at Leo Burnett, a unit of French ad group Publicis.

Do tell.

June 25, 2005


It was Hobbes’s prescription for “war of every man against every man,” and he was echoed by newspaper predictions of a “theater of tragic events” in which “brute force will reign triumphant.” But the miners peacefully worked out rules for delineating claims and resolving disputes so well that the system was adopted at later camps like Deadwood.

Roger McGrath, a historian who studied dozens of Western mining camps and towns, found a high rate of homicide in them mainly because it was socially acceptable for young, drunk single men to resolve points of honor by fighting to the death. But other violence wasn’t tolerated, he said.

“It was a rather polite and civil society enforced by armed men,” Dr. McGrath said. “The rate of burglary and robbery was lower than in American cities today. Claim-jumping was rare. Rape was extraordinarily rare – you can argue it wasn’t being reported, but I’ve never seen evidence hinting at that.”

An armed society is a polite society, as Robert Heinlein noted.

June 25, 2005


British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there were widespread complaints of security forces and other arms of the government improperly interfering in the first round of voting.

He said many candidates, including all women, were barred by Iran’s Guardian Council from running. Many more potential candidates were deterred from participating by the election procedures.

Media accounts seem to be parroting Iranian reports of large turnout, though Publius reports that turnout was very small.

June 24, 2005

AL-QAEDARRRIFIC? I confess, I’m less impressed with Google News than I used to be.

June 24, 2005

IRANIANS ARE MASSIVELY BOYCOTTING THE RUNOFF ELECTION, reports Publius, with lots more information.

June 24, 2005

I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAYING MORE ATTENTION to The Mudville Gazette’s series on media coverage of the war. But here’s the latest installment. (Sorry, link was bad before. Fixed now.)

June 24, 2005

I MENTIONED Sandeep Junnarkar’s grassroots journalism project on AIDS in India before. Here’s the blog.

June 24, 2005

LINKING TO THIS VIDEO should help me get some Google search action for “Michelle Malkin + Kinky.”

June 24, 2005

MORE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY, from the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

June 24, 2005

HERE’S A ROUNDUP OF STORIES on government taking of private land.

June 24, 2005

RICH LOWRY: “White House reaction to the Rove controversy in case you’re wondering. One word: delighted.”

I figured.

June 24, 2005


June 24, 2005

POSTWATCH NOTES the Durbin/Rove reporting-lag differential. Thing is, Rove was counting on that.

June 24, 2005

KELO AFTERMATH: They’ll sell a lot of these.

June 24, 2005

ROGER SIMON wonders why the New York Times isn’t covering the biggest terrorism trial since 9/11.

June 24, 2005

ADVANTAGE: Anglo-Saxon horde.

June 24, 2005

CHICAGO: Offering free ad space for pimps and violating the Geneva Convention!

June 24, 2005

CRITICAL NODES: Michael Yon is reporting from the Persian Gulf.

June 24, 2005

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE has an article on the Kelo decision in TechCentralStation today. That was fast!

I’m still getting a lot of angry email, and as noted below, the decision seems to have angered people on both left and right. It’s true, as Eugene Volokh noted on Hugh Hewitt’s show last night, that it was only a modest extension of existing law. But I think that existing law has moved, by gradual increments, to a point where it’s out of step with the Constitution and with public sentiment about what’s just. Sometimes a Supreme Court decision, even one that doesn’t make new law, can bring people’s attention to a situation and drive efforts to change it.

Some people are comparing this with Dred Scott, but that’s a bit over the top. A better analogy might be the Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which didn’t make new law, but which led to a sea-change in public attitudes. One difference is that Bowers was consistent with the law going all the way back, while the 20th Century takings doctrines were not. As Joseph Story wrote in 1833:

It seems to be the general opinion, fortified by a strong current of judicial opinion, that since the American revolution no state government can be presumed to possess the transcendental sovereignty to take away vested rights of property; to take the property of A. and transfer it to B. by a mere legislative act. A government can scarcely be deemed to be free, where the rights of property are left solely dependent upon a legislative body, without any restraint.

And yet that’s the law now: The rights of property are left solely dependent upon a legislative body, without any restraint. Small wonder that it’s inspiring a lot of unhappiness.

Check out the Kelo topic page at TTLB for much, much more on the decision.

UPDATE: The New York Times is editorializing in favor of Kelo, but has a huge conflict of interest here as it’s engaged in self-serving eminent domain procedures itself.

And here’s a state legislative response.

Heh: “So according to recent Supreme Court decisions, the government has no business in your bedroom (unless you’re growing marijuana), but they can drive a bulldozer right through it?”

Rod Dreher:

I’ll tell you why the Kelo ruling hits especially close to home this week. The other day, FBI agents raided the Dallas City Hall offices of two city council members, as well as the office of a rich and politically well-connected developer who has built lots of housing in their districts. The FBI is being quiet about what they were looking for, but news reports say it’s part of a federal investigation into bribery and suchlike. Nobody has been charged — yet, anyway — but if the speculation proves out, this stands to be an infuriating example of what businessmen with money can get done when they have corrupt pols in their pocket. I know, I know, this stuff happens every day, all over the place. But the FBI raids on Dallas City Hall have been front page news here all week, and the nefarious potential connection between private and public power and corruption has been on everyone’s mind here in Chinatown, I mean Big D.

Yep. There’s a lot of corruption in local government, particularly where development plans are concerned.

Zach Wendling:

Now that development interests officially trump property rights, I think it’s natural to wonder, “What trumps development interests?”

Follow the link for the answer. Here’s more suggestion of left-right agreement on this decision. And there’s more here.

June 24, 2005

COMMENTING on the increased number of cellphones in Iraq, Mickey Kaus writes:

I would just suggest that, in the kind of war we are fighting, the proliferation of cell phones and other means of fast communication may not be an unalloyed good–e.g. if the cells are used to efficiently spy and coordinate bomb attacks.

Well, nothing’s an unalloyed good. But as the terrorists become less popular all the time, the proliferation of cellphones becomes more and more useful. As StrategyPage notes:

While these improved communications have aided the terrorists, it has hurt them more. People reporting terrorists via phones or Internet, often get a very swift response. As more Iraqis die from terrorist attacks, more phone calls are made reporting terrorist activity. There have been cases where terrorist gangs have tried to seize all the cell phones used in a neighborhood where their hideout was.

My own sense is that when you’re dealing with a small and unpopular group that depends on concealment and intimidation to survive, more communications are likely to be better, not worse.

June 23, 2005

LINDA FOLEY HAS BACKED DOWN. I credit Hiawatha Bray.

But there are a lot of ifs in her apology. And she seems clueless as to why her comments made people angry, or why people don’t trust journalists like they used to, though the tone of her piece might provide a clue . . . .

June 23, 2005


Okay FOX, you win. It worked. I won’t kidnap any young, blonde, blue-eyed, upper class, teenage, all-American girls. Your round the clock mega-hyped coverage of this tragic but nonetheless non-story is working. It’s a brilliant deterrent. Who in their right mind would think suffering through incessant, overblown, 24/7, E! True Suburb Tragedy was worth it?

Like the guy says, it’s a brilliant deterrent.

UPDATE: And so is this!

June 23, 2005


In the Summer 2005 Issues in Science and Technology, two of the primary White House advocates for the original U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, Neal Lane and Tom Kalil, issue a warning: “We are concerned that lukewarm support for nanoscale science and engineering (S&E) puts U.S. technological leadership at risk and might prevent the country from realize the full potential of nanotechnology.”

If you missed it, you may want to read this nanotechnology post from Tuesday, too.

June 23, 2005

HEH: The P.S. is the best part.

UPDATE: More mockery here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The mockery continues.

June 23, 2005


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is the latest Tennessee politician to weigh in on the Cocke County cockfighting raid. Frist, R-Tenn., said in an interview Wednesday that the practice of gambling on razor-armed roosters often fighting to the death “is wrong and irresponsible.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, said he opposes cockfighting and may support a stiffer state or federal penalty for participants. But Duncan also echoed recent comments by U.S. Rep. Bill Jenkins of Rogersville that the FBI should have left enforcement against cockfighting and gambling violations in Cocke County on June 11 to state and local law enforcement.

“Congressman Jenkins told me they spent $400,000 to conduct that raid,” Duncan said in an interview. “I understand there were helicopters and machine guns and all that kind of stuff. I think they went way overboard on that.”

Until they can secure the borders and stuff, it seems to me that cockfighting should be a pretty low priority. D’ya think?

June 23, 2005

SOMETIMES I WONDER if Karl Rove is as smart as everyone says. But just as the Durbin affair was dying down, he makes a comment about liberals and the war that leads Democrats — itching for payback — to angrily demand his resignation.

Trouble is, those demands just provide an excuse for Republicans to repeat every single stupid or unpatriotic thing that every Democratic politician ever said. And there are a lot of those. Examples can be found here, and here, and here. And, of course, there’s this. And because the usual suspects in the media could be expected to pick up on the Rove story much faster than the Durbin story (as they did) now there’s a news hook.

Yeah, he’s pretty smart.

UPDATE: Michael Totten, on the other hand, thinks Rove is deranged.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Eichenlaub sends this transcript from Hardball as evidence that what’s going on is “Rove-a-dope.”

It certainly seems to be working.

Tom Maguire is looking at the story in more detail, and it looks as if the Democrats are taking the bait with disastrous results. One observation: Democrats don’t usually embrace the “liberal” word these days, but they seem to regard Rove’s comments about “liberals” as being aimed directly at Democrats.

Some people have figured it out:

I’m as angry and eager to froth at the mouth as anyone over Karl Rove’s recent statements. But after reading back-to-back posts over at TAPPED working up a chorus to that effect, I got a sinking feeling. Turn back. It’s a trap!

Too late.

GayPatriot: “Rove said ‘liberals’… not necessarily Democrats. But wow, the Democrats who, in the 2004 Presidential Election couldn’t run fast enough from the word ‘liberal’ now seem to be embracing it wholeheartedly in their ‘outrage’ I also never saw a Democrat refuse to take campaign money from and their ilk. . . . Karl Rove was spot on… and the Dems fell for the bait: Hook, Line & Sinker.”

Read the whole thing. And there’s still more here.

MORE: A reader notes this liberal reaction on 9/11, and this one. But I doubt that they made Karl Rove’s reading list. On the other hand, this probably was:

Of course the initial response of left-wing intellectuals to Sept. 11 was one jerking of the collective knee. This was America’s fault. From Susan Sontag to Michael Moore, from Noam Chomsky to Edward Said, there was no question that, however awful the attack on the World Trade Center, it was vital to keep attention fixed on the real culprit: the United States. Of the massacre, a Rutgers professor summed up the consensus by informing her students that “we should be aware that, whatever its proximate cause, its ultimate cause is the fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades.” Or as a poster at the demonstrations in Washington last weekend put it, “Amerika, Get a Clue.”

Less noticed was the reasoned stance of liberal groups like the National Organization for Women. President Kim Candy stated that “The Taliban government of Afghanistan, believed to be harboring suspect Osama bin Laden, subjugates women and girls, and deprives them of the most basic human rights–including education, medicine and jobs. The smoldering remains of the World Trade Center are a stark reminder that when such extremism is allowed to flourish anywhere in the world, none of us is safe.” The NAACP issued an equally forceful “message of resolve,” declaring, “These tragedies and these acts of evil must not go unpunished. Justice must be served.”

Left-wing dissident Christopher Hitchens, meanwhile, assailed his comrades as “soft on crime and soft on fascism.” After an initial spasm of equivocation, The American Prospect magazine ran a column this week accusing the pre-emptive peace movement of “a truly vile form of moral equivalency” in equating President Bush with terrorists. Not a hard call, but daring for a magazine that rarely has even a civil word for the right. . . .

The left’s howls of anguish are therefore essentially phony–and they stem from a growing realization that this crisis has largely destroyed the credibility of the far left. Forced to choose between the West and the Taliban, the hard left simply cannot decide. Far from concealing this ideological bankruptcy, we need to expose it and condemn it as widely and as irrevocably as we can.

But now TAP is angry at Rove.

MORE STILL: Yep, I think this was carefully planned. Daniel Aronstein sends a link to a Pew Internet survey that shows that in 2004 51% of Democrats thought the 9/11 attacks might have been caused by American wrongdoing — though in Sept. of 2001 that number was 40%. But as Aronstein notes, not all Democrats are liberals.

June 23, 2005

I’LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT in a few minutes, talking about the Kelo case. And there are, by the way, a lot of interesting posts over at SCOTUSblog. [LATER: Audio here. Transcript here.]

UPDATE: Charles Fried:

The court might have reined in local governments from bulldozing private property rights by at least demanding some heightened legal inquiry into the government’s claim that its action will bring about a public benefit. But Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the majority opinion for the court, would have none of that: While intoning the formula that a pure grab to favor cronies of the state would not be tolerated, he refused to consider even the mildest boost to judicial scrutiny. Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed to see this point. In a concurrence, he expressed hope that the court would not be powerless to curb abuses of government power—but then unaccountably he joined Stevens’ opinion holding that the state can do no wrong. . . .

Over the last 15 years or so—in decisions like Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, Dolan v. City of Tigard, and Pallazolo v. Rhode Island—the court has shown some backbone in protecting property rights from the insatiable appetite of the regulatory state. Unlike some other rights that get the fullest measure of the court’s protection, these property rights are explicitly mentioned in the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. Kelo, however, is the latest example of the court’s faltering will in this and several other areas. . . . The Rehnquist Court has done its greatest work in reversing the excesses of the years of Justice William Brennan’s ascendancy. But in its recent decisions in the areas of federalism, religion, affirmative action, the death penalty, and now property rights, the court seems to be losing its grip.

I’m already calling it the “Emily Litella court” in an in-progress article on Raich.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader George Zachar says I have the wrong allusion — it’s really the “Andy Warhol court”:

This court won’t you let you use something you’ve grown on your land ON your land because somehow that’s “interstate commerce”.

Now, a govt planner’s fancy report is deemed adequate reason to force a property owner to sell out.

Under this court, the law has become what Andy Warhol said art is: What you can get away with.


MORE: A potent tool for shutting down unpopular businesses, like abortion clinics, gun ranges, nude bars, unpopular religous congregations, hostile newspapers, etc.?

Wal-Marts? (“We think this hemp-based boutique will generate more tax revenues. And we commissioned a report that says so!”)

And Ann Althouse is savaging Justice Kennedy for falling into “the most obvious spelling pitfall in all of law.” That really hurts . . . .

June 23, 2005


UPDATE: Funniest comment, from reader Stephen Herdina:

This ruling leaves open the possibility that the City of Detroit can take away the factories of General Motors (who knows how to lose money) and award them to Toyota (who knows how to make money). Given GM’s woefull book value, the factories could be had for literally a steal, and the tax revenues would be immense.

Heh. Makes sense to me.

June 23, 2005

GATEWAY PUNDIT has more on genocide in Zimbabwe, with video.

June 23, 2005

A ZIMBABWE ROUNDUP at Norm Geras’ place.

June 23, 2005


June 23, 2005

MORE ON KELO: Judging by my email, and the reactions I’ve seen around the blogosphere, I think the political impact of this decision is going to be very large. Here are a few thoughts on the impacts it may have:

Bad for Bush: A lot of conservatives — especially the small-government, libertarian-leaning kind — are already deeply unhappy. This may cause them to either withdraw from politics, or at least lose vigor in supporting the Republicans. It’s been a steady stream of bad news for them this year, and the Bush Administration hasn’t exactly thrown them any bones. Passing Social Security reform might have fixed that, but the less said about that subject, the better.

Good for Bush: The White House spin will be “This is why we need to confirm our judges.” Nice, if they can make it work. But will they be nominating people who would have voted the other way in this case? And — more to the point — judges aside, are they willing to support legislation to address this issue? If they are, they may get some traction. If they aren’t, then the comments about judges will look like an effort to change the subject and escape responsibility.

Other Impacts: I suspect that this decision — somewhat like Bowers — will cause a lot of activists to shift their focus to state legislatures and state courts. One difference: State legislatures, and sometimes state courts, are in the pockets of real estate developers and corrupt local politicians in a way that they weren’t beholden to anti-gay-rights activists. So it’ll be a lot harder. This may also lead to a greater focus on local politics by political activists (and bloggers!) of all stripes. That, at least, would probably be a good thing.

UPDATE: This is not as big a deal for the left, but maybe it should be. As Julian Sanchez notes:

Now that the “liberal” justices on the court have sided with the drug warriors against cancer patients, and with a plan to rob people of their homes for the benefit of wealthy developers, will some court-watchers on the left begin to question the wisdom of having let economic freedom become the red-headed stepchild of modern jurisprudence?

My guess is no, but I’d love to be wrong.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. This post at Kos is supportive of the decision, but the commenters seem to think that it’s a giveaway to Wal-Mart at the expense of the poor. Which is certainly true.

Meanwhile, here’s a proposal from Right-Thinking that even the Kossacks might get behind:

Here’s a thought: How about the GOP-controlled Congress puts the flag desecration amendment on the back burner and gets to work on an amendment limiting the power of the state to seize private property from citizens?

I think it’s a great idea.

MORE: Reader Eric Cowperthwaite has surveyed the blogosphere reactions linked below and observes: “If this is how the normally GOP leaning libertarians and minarchists feel, the GOP is in deep trouble right now.”

Depends on what they do. But if they do what I expect — not much — then, yeah. Meanwhile, reader Matt Ness emails:

Just wanted you to know that I’m a proud liberal who reads your blog on occasion, and I’ve always appreciated your even-handed regarding most subjects, even though I tend not to agree with you on many of them.

I was really happy to see that you acknowledged that not all liberals out there favor the Kelo decision. My wife and I were both horrified when we read the news about it. It didn’t seem like a left-wing decision to us at all–it seemed crazy. And it was quite obvious that this decision would ultimately favor folks like Wal-Mart and business park developers over the poor and middle-class.

I think you’ll find that many self-described “liberals” and “left-wingers” do not support this turn of events. None of us want to see our hard-earned homes handed over to Best Buy or whatever.

Perhaps we’ll have a political Perfect Storm, then. Nothing would please me more.

MORE: A reader who prefers anonymity thinks this is the end of the real estate bubble:

Some of the luster attached to dirt has been severely diminished for the small investor class. I’ve made a few dollars in real estate and now I’m gong to have to look elsewhere. Having the capriciousness of government looming over my property takes all the safety out of the equation. On an even more serious note, the three pillars of prosperity for emerging nations are free markets, rule of law, and private property rights. We just got busted down to third world status.

Ouch. Realistically, I don’t know how much this should affect investment decisions, at least in the short term. But psychologically it may have more of an effect, and the long-term point is apt if perhaps a bit overstated.

STILL MORE: Slashdot: “Needless to say, the little guy loses to the commercial developer this case… ”

Inevitable followup comment: “All your homes are belong to us.”

Jonah Goldberg: “I don’t see any downside whatsoever in George W. Bush going before the cameras and delivering a sober but stern denunciation of this ruling. The principles are obvious.”

TAPPED calls it an “illiberal ruling” and observes:

Loose interpretations of a government’s right of eminent domain is the sort of thing we expect in Harare — not New London.

Plus, Ry Cooder has thoughts. Hey, maybe it is a Perfect Storm!

Still more here. And, er, here . . . .

Jonathan Adler: “There are a few problems with President Bush going out and attacking the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision. First, the Bush Administration had the opportunity to intervene on the side of the homeowners, and they decided not to. Indeed, it was pretty clear to those watching the case that if the Solicitor General’s office participated at all, it would have been on the side of the city government seeking to use eminent domain.” Oops.

Jeff Goldstein: “This is nannystatism at its most cynical. And if the Bush administration were to use this ruling to push for the kinds of conservative justices who strongly object to what amounts to outright thievery and municipal bullying, I think they’d have a real winner on their hands. . . . Personally, I’m for starting a cyber support group for the New Londoners who are planning a show of civil disobedience when the bulldozers tractor up to the doors of their homes. Anybody else?”

Michelle Malkin has another roundup.

Donald Sensing, meanwhile, thinks that churches will make especially attractive targets for eminent domain: “[T]here is no kind of building more vulnerable than a house of worship, for the simple reason that cities do not collect property taxes from houses of worship, nor any other kind of tax. . . . In every city and town in America you will find churches sitting on what is now some the most valuable land there.”

We’ll see.

June 23, 2005

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Tunku Varadarajan looks at the case of Oriana Fallaci.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has some thoughts.

June 23, 2005


In Iraq, it’s the state of the economy, more than anything else, that drives politics and stability. The economy stagnated from 1990 to 2003, because of the UN embargo following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The invasion in 2003 caused another major hit to the economy, causing it to contract 21.2 percent. Since then, the Iraqi economy has had no place to go but up. The economy grew 54 percent in 2004, and is headed for a 34 percent increase this year. Most of this growth is not reported, the violence in Sunni Arab areas being considered more newsworthy. But in the south and north, the economic boom is very visible, just from the growing number of traffic jams, satellite dishes and new construction.

Iraq needs about $100 billion to rebuild. Most of this is not repairing war damage, but doing maintenance of infrastructure that Saddam did not do for two decades. He stopped work on roads, schools, hospitals, and utilities when he went to war with Iran in 1980. . . .

In May, 2005, 1.9 million barrels a day were being produced. Current maximum production capacity is 2.5 million barrels a day. Reconstruction and expansion of the oil industry will take 2-3 years, but will get production up to four million barrels a day. Maximum production of the Iraqi oil fields is believed to be about six million barrels a day. At current prices, that’s over $110 billion a year, which is over $4,000 for every man, woman and child in Iraq. In the past, the Sunni Arabs, about 20 percent of the population, grabbed some 80 percent of the oil income for themselves. The Sunni Arabs continue to attack the oil fields and pumping facilities, to make sure that they eventually get their share of the oil wealth, and maybe a little more. If you want to understand what causes the violence in Iraq, follow the money.

This is why I wish that the “oil trust” idea I was pushing before had gotten more traction. Perhaps there were good reasons for not taking that approach, but I certainly never saw any sign that the Administration was mulling the issue seriously to begin with. I think that might have prevented some of the violence.

On the other hand, the BBC reports that the terrorists’ violence is generating some blowback:

Al Jazeera – often accused by the Americans of stirring anti-US feeling – has adopted less of an “Us and Them” approach.

The militants are no longer referred to as the “resistance” but as gunmen or suicide bombers.

Eyewitnesses are shown denouncing them as “terrorists” – condemnations that are echoed by a parade of Iraqi officials and religious authorities.

One recent attack drew this comment from the al-Jazeera reporter: “Most of the time it’s civilians who pay the price for the violence that has cost thousands of their lives”.

Al-Jazeera’s main rival, the Dubai-based al-Arabiya, has also shown little sympathy for the bombers – a recent report, instead, painted a favourable picture of British soldiers patrolling Basra.

Our PR efforts may be inadequate, but they’re better than deliberately blowing up innocents. As some people keep saying, you can’t win hearts and minds with random bombings.

June 23, 2005

JONATHAN ADLER: “I think a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning is an abomination.”

June 23, 2005

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Does Nancy Pelosi agree with Karl Zinsmeister? Somehow I doubt it.

June 23, 2005

OUR STATIST SUPREME COURT STRIKES AGAIN: They’ve had quite a run lately.

UPDATE: In my stack of reprints-by-mail at the office is one from Lino Graglia with this already-obsolete title: “Lawrence v. Texas: Our Philosopher-Kings Adopt Libertarianism as Our Official National Philosophy and Reject Traditional Morality as a Basis for Law.”

Not so much. They may be rejecting traditional morality — if “a man’s home is his castle” counts as traditional morality — but they certainly aren’t close to adopting libertarianism as our “official national philosophy.” Quite the contrary.

Professor Bainbridge: “So much for private property rights.”

Blake Wylie is rounding up some other reactions.

David Bernstein:

[C]onsider the lineup in Raich and Kelo. Then consider the legal gymnastics it takes to consider local medical pot part of “interstate commerce,” and to consider taking people’s home and giving them to Pfizer a “public use” in the face of two hundred years of precedent that A to B transfers are illegitimate.

I’m unimpressed with this term of the Court.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s an even bigger roundup of reactions. Lots of people are unhappy.

June 23, 2005

PAMELA NOTICES SOMETHING that a lot of people missed. In response, she gets sexist comments on her makeup from a lefty commenter.

June 23, 2005

I FINISHED THE ERIC FLINT BOOK that I mentioned a while back. It’s obviously the start of a series, but I thought it was quite good. The characters are three-dimensional, with virtues and vices displayed in all complexity — Flint doesn’t paint the Cherokees as traditional cardboard victims, but shows their flaws and doesn’t shy from the fact that many owned slaves. Andrew Jackson (whom I’ve never liked) appears as a rounded character, too, and Sam Houston is fun.

And with all the Scots-Irish talk (including the parallels between many of them and the Cherokees in terms of culture), I suspect that Flint has read James Webb, or more likely David Hackett Fischer.

June 23, 2005


June 23, 2005

TECH EDITORS: SOMEBODY HIRE HOWARD LOVY so that he can get back to blogging!

June 23, 2005

ED MORRISSEY says that the flag-burning amendment would put us on the road to being like the E.U. Ugh.

June 23, 2005

WORSTALL’S LAW: “Any Organization Will, In the End, Be Run By Those who Stay Awake in Committee.”

June 23, 2005

FOODBLOGGING: If you like Indian food — and, well, you should! — check out N.D. Rai’s Indian recipe blog.

June 23, 2005

IS THERE A HOUSING BUBBLE? In a word, yes. Not everywhere, but both David Bernstein and Bill Quick have some potent indications.

June 22, 2005

VIA CATHY SEIPP, I’ve discovered that Bewitched is out on DVD now. (That’s the original black-and-white — there’s also a colorized version that will no doubt sell well but infuriate purists.)

I leave the argument as to who made a better Darrin — Dick York, or Dick Sargent — for others.

UPDATE: David Gulliver emails:

Dick York owned the role of Darrin! He and Elizabeth Montgomery had a real chemistry, like a real husband and wife. Dick Sargent may have been a better actor and a more likeable fellow, but he never had a spark with his leading lady. It was like watching an actor play a husband instead of watching a husband. Dick York also had an incredible talent for making extreme facial gestures—the sort you would expect of a person witnessing supernatural phenomena. As for the movie… Will Farrell???? What the heck???? They should have begged, pleaded, and shelled out the cash for Jim Carrey. Carrey could have had me believing I was watching Dick York. Farrell will be lucky to pull off Dick Sargent.


June 22, 2005

INTERESTED IN GADGET BLOGS? Check out Gadget Madness.

June 22, 2005

IF YOU’RE A BLOGGER, consider taking the MIT blog author survey.

June 22, 2005

HEH. Don’t trust — but don’t verify, either . . . .

June 22, 2005

WELL, THIS SHOULD PUT AN END to flag-burning, at least in the Middle East: White House Proposes Printing Q’uran On American Flag.

June 22, 2005

MELISSA SCHWARTZ is photoblogging Brooklyn.

June 22, 2005


June 22, 2005

AUSTIN BAY has more reporting from Afghanistan.

June 22, 2005

DURBIN UPDATE: A Salon article on apologies says:

“I’m sorry I was rude” is good.

“I’m sorry if I was rude” is not. It weasels. It implies that maybe you weren’t rude. It implies that the person being apologized to has a twisted little worldview if they think “Oh, shut up, frog-lips” is rude.

An apology should give the sense that you actually feel some form of regret. “Sorry if” is a conditional apology. Conditional apologies make things worse, not better.

Words to the wise, but usually unheeded. Compare to Durbin’s apology:

“I’m sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time,” he said, adding, “I’m also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military.”

Kind of iffy, I’d say. . . . (Thanks to Wagner James Au for the tip).

June 22, 2005


June 22, 2005


Q: What is Gitmo?

A: Contrary to what some suggest, it does not stand for “Git mo’ Peking chicken for Muhammad, he wants a second portion.” It stands for “Guantanamo,” a facility the United States built to see if the left would ever care about human rights abuses in Cuba. The experiment has apparently been successful.

Hysteria and political point-scoring have turned this into a joke. That happens when you overplay your hand. As Ryan Sager observes:

There’s an important debate to be had in this country about just how far we’re willing to go in our interrogations. But it’s a difficult debate to even get started when one side thinks that we should be extremely concerned with the possibility that someone, somewhere might have desecrated the Korans of the people responsible for the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, three-thousand Americans and now hundreds upon hundreds of Iraqi civilians. . . .

While it would be extremely easy to gloat over this continued meltdown, there’s simply nothing here to be happy about, unless one is among the most partisan of Republican partisans.

For those who have supported the war all along — or at least want to see us win — it’s sad not to have a loyal opposition to help keep the administration honest.

Indeed. Marc Danziger offers some perspective. So does Donald Sensing. Unfortunately, some people are taking a different line.

Interestingly, only 20% of Americans think that the Guantanamo prisoners are being treated unfairly, which is pretty astonishing given the colossal amount of uniformly negative Guantanamo-related coverage. This suggests that overplaying their hand has been as big a mistake as I thought.

UPDATE: Don Surber offers political perspective.

June 22, 2005

THE “FLYPAPER STRATEGY” is getting strange new respect.

UPDATE: Read this post by Tigerhawk, too.

June 22, 2005

MILBLOGGER DOWN: But he’ll be okay, according to this update from his wife. Send him your prayers and good wishes.

June 22, 2005

THE OPEN MEDIA 100: Why not?

June 22, 2005

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Both Rand Simberg and Stephen Bainbridge have thoughts.

June 22, 2005

SOUNDS COOL TO ME: A wireless network covering all of New York City. Bring it on! (Thanks to Micah Sifry for the headsup).

June 22, 2005

JON HENKE on the Administration’s plans for postwar Iraq. He’s discovered some shocking secret documents.

June 22, 2005

UNSCAM UPDATE: In the latest oil-for-food casualty, U.N. procurement official Alexander Yakovlev has resigned. (Via Roger Simon).

June 22, 2005

MICKEY KAUS thinks that Michael McConnell might not be as supportive of campaign finance “reform” as some others have suggested.

June 22, 2005

WARS, BUDGETS, CONFIRMATIONS: But there’s time to pass a flag-burning amendment. Sigh.

UPDATE: The Anchoress doesn’t like the flag-burning amendment either: “I cannot support this amendment. I think it too is stupid. And moronic. . . . Couple years of that, and you’ll see a Democrat in the White House again before you know it.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: It’s worth linking to this post by Eugene Volokh from last year, on why this is a lousy idea.

June 22, 2005

“RIGHT-WING HACKERY” at The Economist?

June 22, 2005

ANN ALTHOUSE: “Durbin apologizing. I saw this on TV and found it … icky. What are you really crying about, Dick? Your own miserable little career?”

June 22, 2005

CONDI RICE is earning her pay.

June 22, 2005

VIRGINIA POSTREL points to this editorial by Steve Forbes on immigration policy. Forbes is right: It’s asinine.

We have the worst of all worlds in our current immigration system — it’s demeaning, unpredictable, and contemptuous toward would-be legal immigrants, while being porous toward illegals. And it’s the main experience most foreigners have of dealing with the United States government. When my Nigerian sister-in-law, before she married my brother, passed her citizenship test, my brother said he was glad that the person who swore her in was so nice, because it was the first time in the entire process that the process wasn’t run by a jerk.

This is a mess, and the Bush Administration isn’t fixing it. It should.

June 22, 2005


Sen. Durbin has finally apologized for his Guantanamo remarks. Readers trapped in Timesworld will never know that some leading Dems may have provided the straw that broke the Senator’s back (we are assuming that the mayor of Chicago still has some swing in Senator Durbin’s home state of Illinois; Mayor Daley’s criticism of Sen. Durbin did not make the Times.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the Times presents Sen. Durbin as the victim of insensitive Republicans. . . .

Oh, you already guessed – the Times is ignoring the comments of the Anti-Defamation League on this topic as well. Evidently, inapt use of Holocaust comparisons is not a subject of interest to Times readers. Who knew?

Read the whole thing, especially if you’ve been trapped in the NYT coccoon.

June 22, 2005

TERRY HEATON has thoughts on TV news in a post-modern world. And the folks being left behind.

June 22, 2005

“THE VAGINA MONOBLOGS:” Really, the post is worth it just for that line. But then there’s the eternal question: “How many tasteless dick jokes can I crack before a lynch mob comes knockin’?”

Judging by this guy, the answer is “rather a lot, really.”

June 22, 2005


June 22, 2005

REBECCA MACKINNON REPORTS that China is blocking all TypePad blogs.

Another reason not to buy Chinese products, I guess. Though Cisco comes in for some blame, too.

June 22, 2005

OUCH: (Via Roger Simon).

June 22, 2005

THE SKBUBBA-OUTING STORY is picked up in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Katie Granju also has some thoughts on her pop culture blog for WBIR.

Conley’s email certainly sounded like a threat to me, but Conley may not have meant it to — which is one of the dangers of email. Judging by experience, it’s especially dangerous to sound like you’re threatening bloggers.

UPDATE: Now someone else is trying to out a blogger. Seems like bullying to me.

June 22, 2005


Somebody tell Meryl Yourish about this.

June 22, 2005

REGULATION OF ADULT WEBSITES: There’s a lot of stuff going on that I didn’t know about. I think that it’s a first amendment violation, as well as a waste of government resources.

UPDATE: Blogging IP lawyer Ron Coleman had a post on this subject last week. I’m less supportive of this legislation than he is, though I certainly note the irony that the Supreme Court seems to grant porn more First Amendment protection than it does political speech.