Archive for January, 2006

January 31, 2006

ARMY OF DAVIDS is now up to #37 on Amazon, which makes me very happy. (This link from Hugh Hewitt helped a lot, I’m sure. And this one from Greyhawk.) Thanks so much for all the preorders! I’m sure I’ll be in bed before it updates again, but if it goes any higher, somebody let me know.

January 31, 2006

SHORT REVIEW: Better than I expected, though that’s a function of my low expectations. State of the Union speeches are generally weak, and Bush is no star as a speaker. But the delivery was, for Bush, good, and the substance was mostly good, too, though the cloning-ban stuff didn’t thrill me. The Presidential Commission on entitlement reform was also very lame, though realistically it’s probably all he can do.

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

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

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

Lorie Byrd reports that it’s not just CNN.

In the Democratic response, Tim Kaine’s (rather repetitive) refrain is “there’s a better way,” which sounds like he’s trying out a campaign slogan. He keeps citing state initiatives as examples. That doesn’t reflect well on the national Democratic party, but it sets things up well for a 2008 presidential run by a Democratic governor. Hmm. Who could he have in mind? . . .

His brief Iraq discussion, however, notably lacked any specifics about the “better way” there, and quickly shifted to a discussion of veterans’ benefits. That’s been the problem that the Democrats have had on this subject all along. They can criticize, but if there’s not an entitlement program, they can’t get motivated.

Still, overall, as with Bush he exceeded my low expectations. SOTU responses, after all, are traditionally even lamer than SOTU addresses.

Brit Hume just said that the “better way” language actually comes from the Robert Redford movie The Candidate, which doesn’t seem entirely promising.

UPDATE: A reader writes: “As an Iranian, I thought this was Bush’s best message to Iranians…it had a perfect balance and he did try distinguish between the Mullahs and the citizens and he did not name a reform group or anything like that.or even use a threatening language, when you threaten Iran people have not choice but to support the Regime..way better than ‘axis of evil’ message… ”

FINALLY: Andrew Marcus shot video of the anti-Bush protests in Chicago, and interviewed protesters talking about revolution and civil war. You can see it here (WMV) or here (QT).

January 31, 2006

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

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

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

ANOTHER UPDATE: Full text available now — it’s below the excerpts. Just click “read more” and scroll.

Lots more livebloggers here.

“Every year of my presidency we’ve reduced the growth of nonsecurity discretionary spending.” Not a barn-burner of a line. But a bit later he endorses earmark reform, a key PorkBusters goal!

MORE: N.Z. Bear: “George W. Bush — Porkbuster!” The Bear continues: “Having the Presidential bully pulpit keeping Congressional feet to the fire on the need for earmark reform is a Very Good Thing — and one that I sincerely hope is not a This Night Only performance.”

STILL MORE: I don’t like the cloning ban endorsement, though.

Continue reading ‘ADVANCE STATE OF THE UNION EXCERPTS: Click “read more” to read more.

To the delight of Republicans…’ »

January 31, 2006

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

UPDATE: #66! With a bullet!


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

January 31, 2006

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

January 31, 2006

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

January 31, 2006

NICE WORK WITH THE PRE-ORDERS, FOLKS: An Army of Davids is now up to #119 on Amazon. It was 23,719 yesterday. Thanks!

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Casey emails:

I just pre-ordered An Army of Davids at Amazon. FYI – Amazon suggested that it would be better bought together with James Lileks’ Mommy Knows Worst : Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice. Interesting… Bloggers, apparently, rule, even on!

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

January 31, 2006


Sen. Harry Reid has been found with his hands in the Abramoff cookie jar. But is the problem too many lobbyists buying influence or that there is too much influence to buy?

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, hoping like most Democrats that charges of corruption and the depiction of Republicans as the party of Jack Abramoff will help them retake the House or Senate or both, said on “Fox News Sunday”: “No Democrat delivered anything, and there’s no accusation and no investigation that any Democrat ever delivered anything to Jack Abramoff.”

Ah, but there is, as host Chris Wallace dutifully pointed out.

I’m on record as saying this is primarily a Republican scandal, but the more the Democrats try to pretend it’s nothing but, the worse they look. They can’t seem to help overplaying their hand every time.

January 31, 2006


UPDATE: Here’s much more on that.

January 31, 2006

ALITO CONFIRMED, 58-42: In theory, if everyone opposed had supported a filibuster, he wouldn’t have been, but that was never really in the cards.

January 31, 2006

ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: Well, the book officially comes out in just over a month — if you’d like to preorder a copy (and I’d really appreciate it if you would, as the publisher thinks its important to have lots of preorders, and early enough that the books will actually be on-hand and ready to ship that first week) you can do so via Amazon or, if you’re one of the people who doesn’t like Amazon, there’s always, or your local brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Here’s an advance look at some of the blurbs that will appear on the book (and, someday, on the Amazon, B&N, etc., sites):

“Reynolds shows that technology can empower individuals to determine their own futures and to defeat those who would enslave us . . . a book of profound importance—and also a darn good read.”—MICHAEL BARONE, senior writer at U.S. News & World Report and author of Hard America, Soft America

“Glenn Reynolds has written an essential book for understanding how technology and markets are creating a bottom-up shift in power to ordinary people that is changing business, government, and our world. Packed with fresh ideas and adorned with graceful prose, An Army of Davids is a masterpiece.”—JOE TRIPPI, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

“Reynolds shows how average Americans can use new technologies to overcome the twin demons of corporate greed and incompetent government.” —ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, author of Pigs at the Trough and Fanatics and Fools

“A smart, fun tour of a major social and economic trend. From home-brewed beer to blogging, Glenn Reynolds is an engaging, uniquely qualified guide to the do-it-yourself movements transforming business, politics, and media.” —VIRGINIA POSTREL, Forbes columnist, author of The Future and its Enemies

“Reynolds’ beguiling new book tells the insightful story of how an ‘army of Davids’ is inheriting the Earth, leaving a trail of obsolete business models not to mention cultural, economic, and political institutions in its wake.”—RAY KURZWEIL, scientist, inventor, and author of several books including The Singularity is Near

“‘Must read,’ ‘gotta have,’ ‘culture changing,’ –I am suspicious of blurbs with such overused plugs.

But Glenn Reynolds’ An Army of Davids is in fact a must read new book, that you gotta have if you are going to even glimpse the culture changing forces that are unleashed and at work across the globe.

And did I mention that it is the best title in a decade?” —HUGH HEWITT, syndicated talk show host and author of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World.

An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and other Goliaths (ISBN: 1-59555-054-2, $24.99 U.S., Nelson Current) will publish March 7, 2006.

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

UPDATE: Laurence Simon emails:

Will you be offering signed copies of the Army of Davids book?

I’ve been collecting autographed copies of blogger books.

That and Pez dispensers. But I’m assuming there isn’t a Glenn Reynolds Pez Dispenser.

Sadly, no. But I’ll figure out a way to autograph a copy of the book for anyone who wants it.

MORE: Several readers sent advice like this, from Laura Blanchard: “Signed bookplates… much cheaper to mail than books.”

Great idea. Closer to the pub date I’ll post more on how to do this: An address you can send a SASE to and I’ll return a signed bookplate, or some such.

Meanwhile reader Kathleen Hay observes: “I think this is a shrewd time to release your book. I just received $75 in amazon gift certificates that come from spending money using the amazon Visa card for Christmas presents.”

That’s enough to buy 4 copies!

January 31, 2006

BRENDAN MINITER: “Mr. Bush’s speech is likely to come as a blow to the status quo candidate for majority leader, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri.”

January 31, 2006

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

The problem — which we see in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Italy, Britain, everywhere in Europe, in fact — is that every single European country has imported a huge body of ill-educated, unskilled immigrants who for both cultural and economic reasons cannot be assimilated and who do not see themselves as part of the larger story of Europe, and do not feel that they have been able to claim their proper share of the postwar European bounty. Neither France nor any European country can solve this problem because they are insoluble, at least within the parameters almost every European country has rigidly defined, in the postwar era, for solving social and economic problems.

Read the whole thing(s).

January 31, 2006

LILEKS has a new screedblog up. I think that universities are being infiltrated by agents in service of a clever Evan Coyne Maloney marketing campaign.

January 31, 2006

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

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

UPDATE: Andy Kessler is harshing on Google today, too — his piece is in the WSJ, subscription only, but the link takes you to his blog where he’s posted a copy. His analysis is more like mine: Google has lost a lot of moral capital.

January 31, 2006

CALL ME CRAZY but this report makes me deeply suspicious:

TBILISI, Georgia, Jan. 30, 2006 (AP Online delivered by Newstex) — Iran started exports of natural gas to Georgia on Monday in answer to Tbilisi’s appeal for help for its severe energy shortage, and Georgia’s president vowed to reduce his U.S.-allied nation’s energy dependence on Russia.

Mysterious explosions Jan. 22 on the Russian pipeline network that transports gas into Georgia cut off supplies to the ex-Soviet Caucacus Mountain state, leaving millions of Georgians shivering in their homes in bitterly cold temperatures.

“Mysterious explosions,” eh?

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

JAMES JOYNER: “As President Bush prepares to give his annual address on the State of the Union (I predict it will be ‘strong’) it is time to reflect on the state of our enemy.”

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006


ANOTHER PODCAST: It’s guy stuff, with interviews about boys in school and hybrid cars. Michael Gurian, the author of The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life (and subject of this Newsweek cover story) talks about how boys learn differently, and how changes in education have hurt their progress. He also offers some solutions, and some thoughts on videogames, character, and violence.

As you might imagine, Helen has some thoughts on that subject too, and the discussion is very interesting.

Also (beginning at about 18:30), Popular Mechanics editor Jim Meigs talks about hybrid hype and reality. For an article in their next issue, the PM folks tested some hybrid vehicles wheel-to-wheel with their purely gas-powered counterparts and discovered some interesting things. He also talks about the prospects for future energy-efficient (and maybe gasoline free) automobiles.

No word, though, on when I can expect my flying car. I forgot to ask. Maybe next time!

You can listen by clicking here (no iPod needed) or via iTunes. We hope you like it! As always, the lovely and talented producer is soliciting comments.

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006


January 30, 2006

GETTING IT WRONG: It’s an issue of The Economist from November, but the “Lexington” column, which is often quite good, contains this howler: “The rumor-mongers interpret Mr. Cheney’s recent ubiquity as more proof that he is desperately trying to save his job.”

Er, except that, you know, the Vice President can’t be fired. Cheney holds an independent office, and doesn’t work for Bush. It’s possible that he might be persuaded to step down in favor of someone (*cough* Condi *cough*) else, but there’s no desperation involved. He could spend the next almost-three years hunting pheasants and fly-fishing and nobody could say boo. Any “rumormongers” saying otherwise are probably fellow British journalists who don’t understand that either . . . .

I don’t want to be too hard on “Lexington,” which is actually quite a good column in general. But I showed that passage to several colleagues (none of them people who would likely be upset if Cheney were fired) and all of them laughed. At least, said one, it wasn’t an American journalist making that mistake, though that would be no great surprise if it happened. Perhaps someone should set up seminars for foreign journalists on how the Constitution works.

UPDATE: Various readers note that Cheney’s widespread responsibilities within the Adminstration aren’t part of his official VP duties, and he could be relieved of those any time Bush wanted a different straw boss. True enough, but that’s a bit different from “desperately trying to save his job.” Others note that Cheney would probably step down if asked, for the good of the party. No doubt, and in fact I kind of expect him to do so before too terribly long, to help set up a successor. But that’s not the same, either.

January 30, 2006

EUGENE VOLOKH does the math.

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

BRIAN TRANSEAU (“BT”) is one of my favorite musicians (I especially recommend his Movement in Still Life, and the 10 Years in the Life collection is also great). I just noticed that he’s started blogging, and he’s currently complaining about bogus lawsuits by “some ambulance chaser attorney working on a percentage with nothing better to do than try to force a settlement with a huge corporation.” The case certainly sounds bogus.

UPDATE: I think I mentioned this before, but since this is a music post I’ll note that Mobius Dick’s Embrace the Machine is now available on iTunes.

January 30, 2006


I haven’t seen a defense of pork barrel spending in the blogosphere recently, so let me make one. The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to argue that pork barrel spending was politically benign because it was one way for an administration or for the congressional leadership to hold together a majority that could act decisively on other, more important issues.

Expensive, perhaps, but a small price to pay in order to assure functioning government.

Such unwritten-constitution arrangements, however, require self-discipline to function properly. That seems to be in exceptionally short supply among our political class today.

January 30, 2006


Has the political “CW” been wrong before? Too many times to recall. But for a number of reasons (among them Shadegg’s rock star support in the conservative blogsophere and the absence of the sort of MSM scrutiny which Boehner and Blunt were subject to at the race’s outset) the momentum that had carried Blunt’s candidacy to the brink of inevitability a few weeks ago has hit a wall.

Read the whole thing.

January 30, 2006


In the confusion of this post-Cold War, terrorist-troubled world, Congress is betting more and more foreign aid dollars on fighting that one common foe everyone can agree upon: infectious disease.

“Medicine can be a currency for peace” says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon and a force behind the change. Today that “currency” is near $4 billion — almost triple in real dollars what the U.S. was providing per year in 2001.

That increase parallels — and is energized by — efforts by private philanthropists like billionaire Bill Gates, who pledged Friday to triple his contributions to fight tuberculosis. Democrats have almost uniformly backed the shift. More striking has been rising support from Republicans, drawing in both the religious right and old-line fiscal conservatives who long have opposed more traditional development programs.

Faster, please.

January 30, 2006

BUSH BREAKS FIFTY PERCENT APPROVAL on the Rasmussen poll. He’s been trending up there for several days. I’m not sure why, but it seems as if he does better whenever John Kerry and Ted Kennedy get face time on the national news. The Democrats would be wise to let other people represent them.

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

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

January 30, 2006

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

These are dark days for earmarks, more commonly known as “pork.”

Packing bills with special provisions has long been a tradition in Congress, but a pall has fallen over the practice. Bolstered by a budget crisis and a series of scandals involving legislative favors, an increasingly prolific government watchdog movement is turning pork into a four-letter word. . . .

The watchdogs work closely with friendly lawmakers, such as Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, who tried to redirect funding for the “Bridge to Nowhere” to a New Orleans bridge ruined by Katrina. The informal investigative alliance also includes Internet bloggers, including a “porkbusters” campaign on the site, an online effort to mobilize against wasteful federal spending.

“It’s a $2.4 trillion budget,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “There’s work for everybody.”

Congress is embarrassed enough by the Cunningham and Jack Abramoff scandals, both involving huge sums of cash for legislative favors, that lawmakers are considering ways to crack down on earmarks, which typically show up in bills at the last minute, after little or no scrutiny. The watchdog groups are wary that Congress will focus on lobbying activities, rather than clean up the legislative process.

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

January 30, 2006


Last year’s record hurricane season didn’t just change life for humans. It changed nature, too.

Everywhere scientists look, they see disrupted patterns in and along the Gulf of Mexico. Coral reefs, flocks of sea birds, crab- and shrimp-filled meadows and dune-crowned beaches were wrapped up in _ and altered by _ the force of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Dennis.

“Nothing’s been like this,” said Abby Sallenger, a U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer, during a recent flight over the northern Gulf Coast to study shoreline changes.

The political landscape seems to have been reshaped, too:

“I think the most polite term that you can use is disarray,” said Elliott Stonecipher, a Louisiana pollster and political analyst. “The party apparatus seems to have taken a knockdown, if not a knockout punch.”

The last party chairman, Jim Bernhard, resigned less than three weeks after Katrina roared ashore Aug. 29, nine months into the job.

Bernhard said he needed to focus on his engineering and construction company, The Shaw Group Inc., but critics said he needed to resign to avoid allegations of favoritism as Shaw received millions of dollars in post-hurricane rebuilding contracts.

Bernhard had replaced Mike Skinner, a former U.S. attorney who left the chairmanship after a series of disappointments in the 2004 congressional elections, including the election of Republican David Vitter to the U.S. Senate.

On paper, the party is still dominant, with about 1.6 million Democratic voters in Louisiana to 694,000 Republicans, according to January voter registration numbers from the secretary of state’s office. About 600,000 are registered with other party affiliations.

However, Democratic voter rolls are shrinking while the number of registered Republications has grown in recent years.

Actually, the problems seem to precede Katrina.

January 29, 2006


Saying that they want to ensure that a wide range of views is heard and tolerated on college campuses, a group of state lawmakers is proposing legislation that would ask South Dakota’s six state universities to report periodically on their efforts to promote “intellectual diversity.”

Rep. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, chairwoman of the House Education Committee and the chief sponsor of HB1222, said Wednesday that the goal is to prevent situations already seen in other states where students, speakers and faculty members have been harassed because of their views.

“This is not an indictment at all,” Heineman said. “For us, it is good governance. . . . We are just trying to be proactive and not wait for any incidents, such as the Iraq war veteran who was harassed at Columbia University.”


January 29, 2006

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

Calling for a filibuster makes political sense for Kennedy, who is adored by every left-wing constituency in America. He isn’t running for national office; he can afford to stick to strict liberal principle. He wants to go down fighting. For Kennedy, a filibuster call mollifies the left at no political cost. It is also an attempt to make up for the obvious: He used the wrong tone and tactics during the hearings. Going after Alito as a bigot backfired. Forget about Mrs. Alito’s tears. The moment Kennedy was exposed for belonging to a discriminatory college fraternal organization, it was over. He lost the moral high ground.

Kerry’s enthusiasm for a filibuster is harder to fathom, except as more of the same from a perpetually tone-deaf politician.

Why volunteer to look like a creature of the left if you are plotting a second presidential campaign? The perception helped undercut Kerry’s first presidential campaign. . . .

The longer Democrats and Republicans in Congress maintain the high level of hostile partisanship, the less attractive any would-be presidential candidate who hails from Congress looks. These senators who would be president help the cause of governors — Democrats and Republicans — who hold the same ambition.

I think that’s right, but the Senators are looking at the Kos/Moveon crowd. (Via Paul Mirengoff).

January 29, 2006

LIBERAL BLOG MYDD has commissioned some professional polling. Here’s the first installment, and here’s a writeup by Mystery Pollster, who lauds the transparency and openness involved, with all the data being put online.

UPDATE: Reader Rachel Walker emails:

I just finished reading MyDD’s opinion on polls. As a liberal I was rather disturbed with the blogger’s wish that Bush’s approval rating was in the 30’s. Does that mean he is so unimpressed by our own party that the only way we could win is to make Bush look bad? With such an attitude, we don’t look so great either.

It’s such whiny and desparate behavior that leads me to more centrist and conservative blogs than anything Kos or DU related. It seems to me liberals have forgotten to be liberal (tolerant, polite, yet firm in belief), and such behavior is why many people, though they do not like Bush or some conservative ideas, tend to distance themselves from the left. I know that’s the reason for me.

Well, wishing for the other guy to go down is natural, I think. I was mostly interested in the poll for its transparency, and because I think it’s good to see blogs out there doing this kind of thing.

That said, I think that lefties are over-focused on Bush, and that the GOP likes it that way. Bush’s numbers may be down (though they seem to be trending up on Rasmussen at the moment, for reasons that aren’t obvious to me; the filibuster talk, perhaps?) — but it doesn’t matter. Bush isn’t running again. The next GOP candidate will run on an “I’m not Bush, but you can trust me on security more than the Democrats” platform — as the elder Bush did in 1988. The Democrats’ Bush-hatred just plays into that strategy. If they were smarter, they’d be building up some people of their own, which among other things would involve keeping them out of the fray of Bush-bashing. The only candidate who seems to fit that bill is Mark Warner, but I suspect the Kos/Moveon crowd won’t like him.

January 29, 2006

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

January 29, 2006

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

January 29, 2006

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

January 29, 2006


When journalists go from keeping secrets about sources to expecting sources to keep secrets about them, something in the media has begun to stink with self-importance. I think this corner of the sausage factory could do with some inspection and fresh air, so I wrote about all this on my blog.

Read the whole thing.

January 29, 2006

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

Lots more carnivals, of course, at

January 29, 2006

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

UPDATE: Joe Gandelman has thoughts.

January 29, 2006

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

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

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

January 29, 2006

ARNOLD KLING: Is blogging a fad?

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

January 29, 2006

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

January 29, 2006

AUSTIN BAY looks at some modest signs of political progress in Kuwait. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum wonders if Kuwait is running out of oil. IAs I understand it, some of this reflects inflated estimates from past years (I had an item on similar questions about Saudi reserves, and I’ve seen speculation that Iran has less than it lets on), but of course it’s in the interest of these countries to inflate their reserves, thus discouraging additional drilling and competition that might lower prices.

Perhaps this is an argument for not drilling in ANWR and elsewhere in the United States yet — leave that stuff in the ground for a few decades while consuming Middle East oil now, and eventually we’ll be selling oil to them. Or not . . .

January 29, 2006

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

Lots more on Google at the China Syndrome blog.

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

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Joe David McReynolds emails:

IMHO your reaction, and much of the right side of the blogosphere’s, to Google’s entry into the Chinese marketplace is wrongheaded. Do you think that if Google doesn’t go there, Chinese internet users will just twiddle their thumbs and not search for stuff? That a blow will be struck to their machine of censorship?

Of course not. There are Chinese search engines that are almost the same, and they will (and have been) use those.

If anything, Google going into China is a net benefit to the Chinese people, same as MSN was.


American companies censor like the government forces them to, but as we see in the case of MSN, they are FAR MORE LAX about censorship and reporting of suspect activities than similar Chinese companies.

Getting Google into the Chinese market will probably neither slow nor accelerate the demise of China’s ruling regime, when and if that comes; the vast majority of Foreign Direct Investment in China comes from abroad.

As far as the “Resistance to evil” factor, what one might call “washing our hands”, that ship sailed a long time ago. The economic miracle that has been the Party’s foundation of legitimacy in China was financed largely by overseas Chinese, not American multinationals. China is not like the Soviet Union, where dissidents could take comfort that somewhere, out there, there was someone who would fight the Soviets to the end. That just isn’t the case in China, and Google’s decision makes no difference.

I’m sorry that Google’s action makes it harder to feel “clean” of the world’s unpleasantness, but as stated above, if anything this is to the benefit of China’s citizens who would like a free internet.

I imagine you’ll get plenty of e-mail on this topic, but I’d hope this argument (whether made by myself or those more articulate than I) is something you will address.

Yes, my TCS column this week will look at those “constructive engagement” arguments. They’re nontrivial, but still . . . .

MORE: Here’s a defense of google.

January 29, 2006

MICHELLE MALKIN has a Davos roundup, with video.

January 29, 2006

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

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

January 29, 2006

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

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

January 29, 2006

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

January 29, 2006

HERE’S AN AP story on Michael Yon:

The 41-year-old former Army Green Beret, self-published author and world traveler didn’t know exactly what he was going to do when he got to the war zone last year, nor did he have any particular plans to report what he saw to the world at-large.

But that’s what he did.

After getting himself embedded as a freelance journalist with troops last year, he used his Internet blog to report on the car bombs, firefights and dead soldiers. But he also wrote descriptively about acts of compassion and heroism, small triumphs in the country’s crawl toward democracy and the gritty inner workings of the military machine.

Yon’s dispatches have been extolled by loyal readers as gutsy and honest reporting by a guy who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He has been interviewed and his blog quoted by major newspapers and TV news networks, and he has drawn comparisons to Ernie Pyle, the renowned World War II correspondent who shared the trenches with fighting soldiers.

Nice story. Read the whole thing.

January 29, 2006

WRITING IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, Hossein Derakshan blames Bush for the rise of Ahmadinejad. Seems like a bit of a stretch, to me.

UPDATE: A comment here: “Derakshan fundamentally does not understand democracy.”


January 29, 2006

IMMIGRATION REMAINS THE “SLEEPER ISSUE” in U.S. politics, but I just got a press release from Time suggesting that it may not sleep much longer:

Almost two-thirds of Americans (63%) consider illegal immigration a “very serious” or “extremely serious” problem in the United States, according to a TIME Poll. The majority (74%) believes the U.S. is not doing enough to secure its borders. . . .

TIME’s Poll shows that half (50%) of Americans favor deporting all illegal immigrants back to their home countries (45% oppose). Three-in-four (76%) favor allowing illegal immigrants in the U.S. to earn citizenship if they learn English, have a job and pay taxes. . . . Meanwhile 700,000 undocumented immigrants from around the world continue to enter the U.S. each year, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

I favor making legal immigration easier — essentially under the guidelines above — but I also favor much stricter enforcement against illegal immigration. Which, I think, puts me pretty much on the opposite side of the issue from the Bush Administration.

The issue is, I think, heating up beneath the surface and it’s only been kept from breaking out politically by the extraordinarily low unemployment rates of recent years. Once unemployment, inevitably, moves back up toward historical averages, people will become much more vocal about this issue in a hurry. It would be nice if we could come up with a sensible policy before that happens, as the discussion is likely to be a lot nastier if we wait.

UPDATE: John Tabin has a podcast illustrating some of the politics of this issue.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona has an oped on the subject. He stresses the importance of immigrants adopting American culture.

As Jim Bennett says: “Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism. Pick any two.”

January 29, 2006

BLOGS OF THE UNION: Chris Lydon’s Radio Open Source invites you to write your own State of the Union address. They’re collecting them for a broadcast on the real thing.

January 28, 2006

MARK TAPSCOTT: “The pork is not the point about the pork.”

January 28, 2006


I would guess that blogs and the internet have made the unelectable left even better organized and harder to work around; the days when a candidate could tell Barbra Streisand what she wanted to hear, pocket her check, then tell the public something that made sense are long over.


January 28, 2006

AUSTIN BAY looks at the Hamas victory and what it may mean. The Belmont Club looks at the money. And Patrick Belton continues to report on Oxblog. My favorite bit is Hanan Ashrawi’s unhappy take:

Not mincing words, she expressed utter disbelief in the Hamas 2.0 hypothesis, said she would not be open to joining a coalition with the party and told me that she thought Hamas would bring the West Bank and Gaza into theocracy.

Sorry she’s unhappy, but her crowd had years and years to do something about Hamas, to get their rampant corruption under control, and — for that matter — to make (and keep) a peace agreement that would have led to prosperity in Gaza and the West Bank. They didn’t, and this is part of the consequence.

Meanwhile, an article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel features interviews with locals with Palestinian roots, and I have to agree with this guy:

Fathi Husain agreed. He said that everyone would like to see peace and working relations in that part of the world, but for now he will wait and see what comes out of this democratic election.

“Democracy is a process, not just an event,” Husain said. “It takes a lot of effort to make it work right.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

UPDATE: Here’s a transcript of Hugh Hewitt and Frank Gaffney talking about this subject.

January 28, 2006

DAVE KOPEL LOOKS at blogs and the Canadian election.

January 28, 2006

A GOOGLE BACKLASH? I’m getting a fair number of emails like this one from reader Jeff Schneider of Texas Roast:

I run a small gourmet coffee company that does decent business on the internet, thanks to the reach of Google Ad Words. However, I cannot live with Google’s decision to succumb to the wishes of the brutal dictatorship in China. So, as of today, my company has suspended all business with Google. This will have a substantial negative impact on my bottom line, but in some cases principle means more than money. As a veteran of OIF, I know all too well how valuable freedom is and I cannot support a company that helps to suppress it.

I would ask you to encourage any of your readers who might use Google Ad Words to take the same actions and send a message to Google. It is time for Americans to tell businesses when they have gone too far in compromising the most basic principles of freedom and make them pay a price for their actions.

Here’s more on a Google boycott. I don’t know how seriously this will impact Google (boycotts usually don’t do much damage) but I think this will be a good opportunity for any GoogleAd competitors (Blogads, say) to snap up some of Google’s business.

UPDATE: Blogger News Network is stopping Google Ads too.

January 28, 2006

JAMES LILEKS: “Simple rules for making a fool of yourself on the Internet.”

January 28, 2006

COMING SOON: CentCom podcasting.

January 28, 2006


Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.

These activists — spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns — have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush’s upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts. . . .

“The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. “The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left.”

Yep, that’s the trick.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Ardolino is congratulating Markos.

Also, a Watership Down comparison.

January 28, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reports:

Now for the good news. Amid the humiliating publicity about the bridge to nowhere in Alaska, maple syrup research in Vermont and blueberry subsidies in Massachusetts, nearly everyone in Congress is suddenly swearing off pork. . . .

Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona and Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain have one good idea, which is to bring more transparency to earmarking. They would require that every earmark be specifically included in the text of the legislation Congress is voting on. We’d also like to see a requirement that every earmark list its main Congressional sponsor and its purpose (other than to re-elect the Member).

Good idea. And that last bit doesn’t really need spelling out, does it? . . .

January 28, 2006

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE FRONT: Lots of interesting developments in Iraq that deserve more attention. Insurgent infighting, the Iraqi Army getting stronger — you’d think we were winning, or something.

January 28, 2006

VIA THE MAGIC OF AMAZON RECOMMENDATIONS, I discovered this: Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies. I haven’t read it, but I think its mere existence is significant, somehow.

Of course, if these guys really knew what they were talking about, wouldn’t they have sent me a copy already? Or wouldn’t I have heard about it from another blog, instead of Amazon? The reader reviews are good, though.

January 28, 2006

AND NOT IN A CHEAP HORROR MOVIE: Giant Octopus attacks submarine!

“I go full reverse and blast him with all these seabed particles,” said Wood, describing the attack shown in the video. “Finally, he lets go and disappears off into the gloom.

There’s video.

January 28, 2006

FUR-LINED UNDERWEAR banned in Uzbekistan? As “too erotic?” Go figure.

January 28, 2006

SAUDI ARABIA AND DENMARK: Where is the anger?

January 27, 2006

ANDREA SEE TURNS 30: Many happy returns.

January 27, 2006

GOOGLE HAS pulled its official censorship statement. (Via China Syndrome).

UPDATE: At Davos, Bill Gates is defending Google. Given that Microsoft’s record of cooperation with the Chinese authorities is worse than Google’s, that’s neither surprising nor impressive.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Google responds to its critics on the Google Blog.

Dartblog is unpersuaded.

January 27, 2006

RICHARD POSNER, in The New Republic: “What if wiretapping works?”

January 27, 2006

MY EARLIER COMMENTS ABOUT HAMAS get me accused of over-the-line hate speech: “You know there are a lot of nasty things you can say about a group of people but comparing them to Windows ME is beyond the pale.”

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll defends the comparison: “Well, they do both tend to crash and explode quite a bit.”

January 27, 2006

SHADEGG FOR MAJORITY LEADER: I won’t call this an “endorsement,” because that’s pretentious. I’m just a blogger, and not somebody in a position to issue endorsements.

But it seems to me that the GOP would be very wise to choose John Shadegg to replace Tom Delay as Majority Leader. Blunt, despite some reformist comments, is basically the candidate of business-as-usual. Boehner seems a bit better, but not tremendously different. Shadegg is the only one who seems like a plausible agent for reform, and it’s going to be hard to persuade people who would like to see the GOP get back to its small-government, clean-Congress 1994 roots that there’s any chance of that if they choose a business-as-usual Majority Leader.

Of course, that’s only a start. As Daniel Henninger makes clear, there’s also a structural problem:

Poll after poll says the public thinks both parties are equally corrupt. It depends, of course, on what the meaning of corruption is. If by corrupt you mean lobbyist sleaze, quid pro quo, the pork barrel, earmarks to nowhere and grossing out even the public’s generally low expectations, then yes, both parties are equally corrupt.

But it gets worse. Congress legislated the system that now exists. Congress planted the seeds back in the ’70s for what is revolting you now with two enactments–the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Both were marketed as reforms.

The first law turned political Washington into a trillion-dollar industry camouflaged as the federal budget. The second ensured that sitting members of Congress and K Street lobbyists would become the entrenched management of that industry. Compared to this, Enron is a kindergarten game.

He’s right, and there’s a chapter (entitled “The Big Bang”) in The Appearance of Impropriety that discusses this at considerable length. But it’s also true that to fix this requires people at the top who want to fix it. Shadegg seems much more likely to deliver these results than either Blunt or Boehner.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear thinks that Shadegg is the guy, too.

January 27, 2006

IRAQ THE MODEL: “Iraqi tribes in Anbar arrest 270 Arab and foreign al-Qaeda members!”

January 27, 2006

PODCASTING — JUST A FAD? John Hawkins has some thoughts in response to my TCS Daily column on podcasting.

In truth, we don’t disagree that much. He’s right that podcasting isn’t ready for prime time yet. It’s just that to me, that’s part of the fun. A couple of points:

1. Podcast listenership will almost always be less than blog readership.

True. Oh, I get some listeners via iTunes, links from other blogs, etc., but nearly all come from InstaPundit, I imagine. And since not everyone who reads the site, the audience has to be smaller. But it’s not just about audience. I was just talking to a friend who does podcasts for NPR, and he said that after 20 years in radio he feels “rejuvenated” doing podcasts, because they take away the barriers between him and the audience. I feel that way, too. They’re fun!

2. Successful podcasts will just get picked up by radio stations.

Er, is this a bug, or a feature? I wouldn’t mind if my podcasts got on the radio. Would we take a deal to do the “Glenn & Helen Show” for a radio station? Maybe. And somebody smart will start an XM or Sirius channel that’s all podcasts all the time. (We’re not far from that — I heard Chris Lydon’s show on XM last night when I was out getting frozen yogurt for my wife and daughter).

Will podcasts that don’t get on the radio just be “vanity projects?” I guess — but that’s what blogs are anyhow, in a way, isn’t it? The important thing is that they’re fun, and some people like them. Like blogs, podcasts will fork — some will get big, and make money, but most won’t and will be just for fun. And both ways are okay.

January 27, 2006


China’s Ministry of Public Security admitted that, last year, there were 87,000 riots, demonstrations and smaller protests, an increase of 6.6 percent over 2004. The most common cause of this unrest is government corruption, particularly among Communist Party members. The government has responded by pledging to come down hard on anyone who disturbs the peace, as well as finding and punishing corrupt officials. More restrictions are being placed on public access to the Internet (which over 110 million Chinese use.) All this was the same response the government had last year, when it was announced that unrest had been up for several years.

I tend to suspect that these numbers are, um, optimistic, too. There’s more on events in China at the China Syndrome blog.

January 27, 2006

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON is targeting Tim Russert.

January 27, 2006

JAMES JOYNER on the similarities between Wal-Mart and academia.

January 27, 2006

IN THE MAIL: The Skewed Throne, by Joshua Palmatier.

January 27, 2006

JUNKETING BLOGGERS: I nobly resisted this temptation, by not being invited.

January 27, 2006

WONKETTE ON ALITO: “The Dems vs. Alito: Let’s Hold Hands and Jump.”

January 27, 2006


Canadian broadcasters are among the most vulnerable to an onslaught of new technology that is changing how people watch TV, warns a report titled “The end of television as we know it.”

(Via Newsbeat1).

January 27, 2006


So let’s say it again: There is no such thing as an efficient dictatorship. Only, when you it this time, think of Google and China.

Yes, it’s true that Google should take great shame in kowtowing to the Butchers of Beijing, but that’s not the whole story.

We take Google for granted, but we shouldn’t. For those lucky enough to live in the US, Google has given has a virtual research library – for free. I’m a better thinker, a sharper writer, and a richer individual thanks to Google.

And what will Google do for China? The answer is: Less than it’s done for us. . . . China is trying to compete in the high-tech economy, while crippling the tools that make such competition possible.

(Via China Syndrome). More thoughts here.

January 27, 2006

“LOOSEN THE STRINGS:” Some thoughts on improving diplomacy.

January 27, 2006

ALITO’S CONFIRMATION AS AN “IDEOLOGICAL COUP:” Ann Althouse is unimpressed with the imagery.

January 27, 2006

STUCK ON 1968: Arnold Kling writes:

If 1968 were an influential thinker, it would have many disciples who share its folk beliefs. Those folk beliefs are the mental security blanket still being clutched by my liberal friends, even those who are not old enough to remember 1968.

I want to contrast the way the world might have appeared to a reasonable liberal in 1968 with the way events have unfolded since then. Afterwards, if you still prefer the folk beliefs of 1968 to my views today, so be it. But at least you have an opportunity to reconsider.

Read the whole thing.

January 27, 2006

MORE ON THE HAMAS VICTORY at Winds of Change. M. Simon responds with thoughts on control theory.

Patrick Belton, meanwhile, envisions it as an incomplete software update. So Hamas is like the WindowsME of Palestinian governance?

January 27, 2006

JONAH GOLDBERG: “Chuck Norris is the new 1970s/1980s male nostalgia icon.”

January 26, 2006

HUGH HEWITT AND JONATHAN ALTER: An interview transcript.

January 26, 2006

TIGERHAWK: “Cindy Sheehan gives away the game.

January 26, 2006

I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THIS WAY: “Kerry has become the Paris Hilton to Al Gore’s Nicole Ritchie on the stage of American politics.”

January 26, 2006

SINCE I DON’T SKI, I don’t really care.

I don’t need sex therapy, either.

January 26, 2006


January 26, 2006

ON THE ANNIVERSARY, James Oberg looks at 7 myths about the Challenger disaster.