August 31, 2007
TRAFFIC’S UP TO A 12-MONTH RECORD, which is odd for August. I don’t know where it’s all coming from, but thanks for coming by!
TRAFFIC’S UP TO A 12-MONTH RECORD, which is odd for August. I don’t know where it’s all coming from, but thanks for coming by!
STAND BY THE MISSION: A petition to support the surge.
NORMAN HSU UPDATE: “A top Democratic fundraiser wanted as a fugitive in California turned himself in Friday to face a grand theft charge. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge H. James Ellis ordered Norman Hsu handcuffed and held on $2 million bond. A bail hearing was scheduled for Sept. 5, at which the judge will consider reducing his bail to $1 million. . . . On Friday, Hsu, who has an apparel business in New York, also resigned from the board of trustees of The New School and from the board of governors of The New School’s Eugene Lang College. The college received a federal appropriation secured by Clinton last year, but a spokesman for the school said Hsu was not involved in seeking money for the school.”
MICHIGAN MAKES ITS MOVE “Breaking news from Michigan: there won’t be a Democratic caucus in Michigan. There will be a Democratic Primary on Jan. 15. The Michigan Democratic Party will resubmit its delegate selection plan to the DNC. The DNC will find the plan in non-compliance and strip Michigan of its delegates. The candidates will then have to decide whether to compete there.”
LARRY CRAIG WILL resign tomorrow.
WELL, SUMMER’S ALMOST OVER ANYWAY: “There will be no summer of love in Iowa.”
ERIC SCHEIE IS DISAPPOINTED WITH THE LARRY CRAIG SCANDAL:
I realize that there are things missing in this analysis, and of course the biggest problem is that it does not involve actual sex, but the perception of sex. In that respect, Craig’s “sex” is like the nonexistent sex of Mark Foley, whose crime was not sex, but sending suggestive emails. (Or Vitter, whose name was found in an address book.) . . .
What is it with these guys that they can’t even run a proper sex scandal?
Who ever heard of sex scandals without sex?
At least when the Democrats have a sex scandal, it involves real, honest to goodness sex. Yeah, I know, Bill Clinton said the sex wasn’t sex. But let’s face it, it was. Had Bill tapped Monica’s foot, the most he’d have been accused of was playing footsie, and there’d have been little to no outcry, much less an impeachment. And as Matthew Sheffield makes clear, the double standard is appalling; Democrats keep their jobs after drowning women in cars or keeping male brothels, while Republicans are hounded out of office for sex scandals without even the component of sex.
If I were the American people, I’d be totally sick of sexless Republican sex scandals by now.
The GOP needs to shape up.
It is pretty thin gruel.
HOW ABOUT A MOVIE WHERE HOLLYWOOD FILMMAKERS TAKE MONEY FROM AMERICA’S ENEMIES TO UNDERMINE MORALE? It wouldn’t be any more dishonest than Brian de Palma’s latest.
Here’s more on Hollywood’s missing movies. Instead of the predictable propaganda they actually make. Plus, how Hollywood screenwriters engage in “literary guerrilla warfare.”
UPDATE: More thoughts here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Factchecking DePalma.
IS THE LED ZEPPELIN taking off?
THIS WOULD SEEM TO NARROW JOSH MARSHALL’S CORRUPTION GAP:
Eliot Spitzer’s fall from grace is extraordinary. A mere seven months into his term after a landslide victory, the Empire State’s brash new governor is openly ridiculed as a liar and worse. An astonishing 80 percent of respondents tell pollsters they want the governor to testify under oath to prove his claim that he had nothing to do with “troopergate,” a dirty-tricks plot to smear Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, a Republican rival.
His fellow Democratic pols are largely abandoning him. After two investigations found that his top aides used the state police for a political hit job, and with four more probes gearing up, one of which could bring indictments, Spitzer is suddenly a lonely man. As one prominent supporter put it, “nobody believes him when he says he didn’t know.”
Spitzer has always struck me as a phony.
“PIGGLY,” INDEED: Financing a grocery store’s renovations with federal money.
THOUGHTS ON MANAGING THE INEVITABLE DECLINE of the newspaper industry.
WHAT DO THEY TEACH THEM IN SCHOOL NOWADAYS? Reader Bo McIlvain notes that Newsweek calls Bjorn Lomborg “the anti-Cassandra.” But as McIlvain points out: “I guess no one at Newsweek remembers that Cassandra’s curse wasn’t just that she was always right, she was NEVER BELIEVED. So, it’s more apt to call Gore the ‘Anti-Cassandra’.” Yes, the term “Cassandra” as synonym for “doomsayer” is a popular trope, but it does betray unfamiliarity with the story on which it’s based.
JOHN HARWOOD: Why Bush stepped into the subprime meltdown.
VIACOM CHARGES MAN WITH VIOLATING HIS OWN COPYRIGHT, after he YouTubed their program that used his video.
POISON GAS AND COUNTERFEIT CASH: A look at the United Nations’ inventory problems.
A SHOCKING LAPSE IN JUDGMENT: This story on fugitive campaign donor Norman Hsu contains a passage that’s not about politics, and that reflects badly on academia:
Mr. Kerrey said he was introduced to Mr. Hsu about two years ago, and shortly thereafter Mr. Hsu joined the board of governors at the Eugene Lang College for liberal arts at the New School. He joined the universityâ€™s board of trustees last July.
â€œSo much of the university is about the immigrant culture, and I liked his personal story, coming from China, and he had an interest in fashion as well,â€ Mr. Kerrey said. â€œIt all intrigued me.â€
He said that the university did not do background checks of prospective trustees, and that he saw no reason to ask Mr. Hsu to resign from its board.
This is probably not that unusual — guy seems nice, has a lot of money to donate, and the diversity factor is a plus. So why look deeper? But it’s wrong. Universities are, in fact, large and wealthy corporations possessing special legal status and imbued with public trust. Their boards oversee large expenditures in a fiduciary capacity. It’s true that university administrators prefer for the boards to be mere rubber-stamps, but the management of most corporations would prefer less oversight from the board, too. We’ve moved away from that in the for-profit sector, but nonprofits haven’t caught up. They need to, because there’s a lot of money in the nonprofit sector now, and nowhere near the scrutiny over where it goes, either internally or externally.
JOHN WARNER IS RETIRING: Marc Ambinder looks at the impact. Will Virginia’s next Senator be named Warner, too?
GOOSE CREEK UPDATE:
Two Egyptian students at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday on charges of carrying explosive materials across states lines and one was accused of teaching the other how to use them for violent reasons.
Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based university, faces terrorism-related charges for teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives.
He and Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, an engineering student, were stopped for speeding Aug. 4 in Goose Creek, S.C., where they have been held on state charges. A federal grand jury in Tampa handed up the indictment.
Seems that there was something to this story after all.
NOT THAT THERE’S anything wrong with that!
A ROUNDUP OF NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ, from the Iraq-bound Major John Tammes.
WAS A CRIME COMMITTED IN HADITHA? Jim Hanson doesn’t think so.
THE SWING OF THE PENDULUM: At Captain’s Journal, a look at rules of engagement.
“IF YOU THINK GOVERNMENT IS FAIR, go to the grocery store and buy me a six-pack.”
HOSPIBLOGGING: The Insta-Mother-in-Law had hip surgery this morning; she’s out and doing okay now, though rather groggy.
It’s discussed here.
YAMMERING ABOUT PRINCESS DIANA, while forgetting a more important anniversary.
LATER: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!
FINE WITH ME: Gay marriage now legal in Iowa.
DEFINING DIPLOMACY DOWN: “Finally, George W. Bush has secured the support of the ‘traditional ally’ most favored among on the American left. You would think the New York Times would be delighted. You would be wrong.”
APPARENTLY, PEOPLE RESPOND TO PRICE CHANGES: With gas more expensive, small cars are coming back.
STEVE CHAPMAN: “Before the nation undertakes the extravagant project of rebuilding New Orleans and securing it from the elements, we might ask if there isn’t a better option, not only for the nation but for the flood victims.”
MAYBE WE NEED BRADY-STYLE BACKGROUND CHECKS AND WAITING PERIODS before people are allowed to donate to politicians:
From $62,000 for Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, to $10,000 for the Tennessee Democratic Party, the full extent of fund-raising by Norman Hsu came into focus yesterday, as campaigns across the country began returning his money in light of revelations that he is a fugitive in a fraud case.
Beyond the hundreds of thousands of dollars he raised from others for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Mr. Hsu personally contributed more than $600,000 to federal, state and municipal candidates in the last three years, a review of campaign finance records shows. It was a startling amount of money for someone whose sources of income remained far from obvious yesterday, as visits to addresses he has provided for his businesses found no trace of Mr. Hsu.
If it saves just one campaign it’s worth it.
SOME GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS: “The economy grew at its strongest pace in more than a year during the spring as solid improvements in international trade and business investment helped offset weakness in housing.” If they hadn’t been writing mortgages to homeless people, it would be even stronger . . . .
WILD PARTIES IN SUDAN: A report from Khartoum.
ROGER KIMBALL ON the cult of Diana.
FRED THOMPSON’S CAMPAIGN THEME: Security, Unity & Prosperity.
IS ENFORCING A LAW THAT’S NEVER ENFORCED some sort of due process violation?
Of course, if they’d gone after this particular guy for aggravated ptomaine violations, there’d be no room for argument.
HOWARD MORTMAN HAS SOME QUESTIONS about the Larry Craig arrest.
SAN FRANCISCO’S CITYWIDE WI-FI PLAN FIZZLES: That’s too bad, I guess, although the whole thing might have become obsolete in short order anyway.
JUST KEEP SCROLLING: James Lileks continues to blog from the Minnesota State Fair.
ANOTHER ANTI-GUN HEADLINE with no support in the actual story, according to Countertop Chronicles. But at least the WaPo listened to criticism.
THE COUNTERMAJORITARIAN DIFFICULTY, Turkish style.
SHRIMP AND GENDER: Why are we eating more shrimp? Male vs. female explanations.
DANIEL HENNINGER on loss of trust in the media. But it’s worse than that:
All this has gotten the media into high anxiety over the one thing it presumes to value most: the public’s trust. “The defining problem of contemporary television,” the BBC’s Mr. Paxman told the TV professionals last week, “is trust: Can you believe what you see on television, does television treat people fairly, is it healthy for society?”
Fascinating and worthwhile questions to be sure, insofar as most opinion polls of how much the American public “trusts” the press, TV news or even Congress have put their approval ratings in Lindsay Lohanland.
But for the media ponderers there’s a more troubling issue than the restoration of trust. It’s the possibility that too many people now simply don’t much care about the major media anymore.
I expect they find being ignored even worse than being distrusted.
FRED THOMPSON ANNOUNCES that he will announce on September 6. The summer has been rough for him, as his non-campaign has been a bit disorganized. He’ll need to hit the ground running next week.
MICHAEL BARONE on law schools and affirmative action.
THOUGHTS ON the media and foreign policy.
GETTING VIETNAM RIGHT.
MICHAEL VICK HAS NOTHING ON FRANK J., who’s been caught running a vicious dog quiz ring.
THE YANGTZE RIVER DOLPHIN appears not to be extinct after all.
MORE ON THE NORMAN HSU CAMPAIGN DONATION SCANDAL, from TigerHawk: “The substance of the story remains fairly thin, even if embarrassing for Democrats. . . . The facts reported so far can be assembled into quite different malign and benign stories, both of which are essentially speculation.”
MARINE TO SUE MURTHA, over irresponsible Haditha accusations. The story does seem to have withered.
LOOKING IRAQIS in the eye.
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION FOUND: At the United Nations? “ABCNews has learned that United Nations weapons inspectors discovered six to eight vials of a dangerous nerve gas, phosgene, as they were cleaning out offices at a U.N. building in New York Thursday morning.” And yes, I know that phosgene isn’t a nerve gas. So does ABC, but you have to read farther. Give ’em a break — this was rushed.
UPDATE: Ouch: “Aren’t these the guys who are supposed to be keeping track of Iranian uranium enrichment?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: If the Foreign Policy folks had taken the time to read this post closely, they’d have realized that I was being snide, not “breathless.” Breathlessness is not my, er [Idiom, sir? — ed. Yes, that’s it.] idiom. Continuing in that vein, I should note that it’s a different bunch of hapless weapons inspectors who are in charge of the Iranian nukes. And a bang-up job they’re doing, too . . . .
A GUN CONTROL QUESTION for the Republican YouTube debate.
IN THE MAIL: Tony Kronman’s new book, Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life.
It looks like a very interesting and important book.
ACTUALLY, THIS WILL PREPARE THEM FOR THE REAL WORLD: High school journalism students graded on ad revenue: “The syllabus says $600 will get you an A, $500 will get you a B, $400 gets a C, $300 gets a D and less than $300 worth of ads sold will earn a student an F on the assignment.” (Via Romenesko).
GHOSTS OF ANBAR, PART 3: Another dispatch from Michael Yon.
MORE ON HIGHER WAGES WORLDWIDE, from Megan McArdle: “There’s a lovely psychic benefit to thinking of Chinese workers getting wealthier, happier and healthier, all while supplying us affordable HDTVs. Some analysts, however, are worried that this benefit will come at a stiff cost to us: inflationary pressure from Chinese exports.”
And some related thoughts here:
I spent a significant part of the last three years working in India training derivative traders and I saw the same phenomenon ocurring as described in the Times article. Wages rising fast but, more importantly a shortage of truly qualified workers. India has an enormous population of uneducated lower class workers. Those workers however need a great deal of education before they can step in and work in the call centers or programming shops. The cheap cheap labor era is over in India. The same appears to be ocurring in China. The impact will be higher inflation in the developed world than we have seen in the past decade.
Hmm. That doesn’t sound good.
THE KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL HAS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST, and is asking bloggers for help.
WALT MOSSBERG LOVES THE NEW YAHOO MAIL and says it’s better than Gmail. “I’ve been testing the new Yahoo Mail on both Windows and Macintosh computers. It has some downsides, but it beats Gmail, in my view, both in terms of features and in terms of its ability to act like a standard computer program rather than a Web page, something for which Gmail often gets more credit.” And unlike Gmail it supports folders for sorting messages. I like Gmail, but maybe I’ll give it a try.
THE NEW YORK TIMES’ EDITORS think that the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is in the Constitution. But then, they believe many things that are demonstrably untrue.
UPDATE: More questions about the NYT’s constitutional scholarship.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Further thoughts here: “So, when you spend a great deal of time touting your authority based on the unique advantages of editors, the question must be asked, who reviews the views and claims of the editors?” And the suggestion that they bring in Randy Barnett as a tutor — boy, he’ll be awfully busy if everyone accepts the blogosphere’s recommendations where he’s concerned!
MORE: “Oy vey.”
J.D. JOHANNES posts a bit of combat video from his forthcoming documentary. Plus, thoughts about Katie Couric.
MICHAEL YON EMAILS to recommend this piece at Small Wars Journal from Dave Kilcullen. Yon writes: “Everything in this latest rings true from what I have seen in Iraq.”
FUNDRAISER NORMAN HSU: A wanted man.
KAZAKHSTAN SETS FOOT IN THE E.U.: “But is the Kazakh ‘president for life,’ Nursultan Nazarbaev, really an alternative to Putin?”
NEXT YEAR’S political bathroom bust, today!
ON THE UPSIDE, IT WOULD REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS: “Gasoline prices could rise to about $9 per gallon if the United States withdraws troops from Iraq prematurely, Rep. Jon Porter said he was told on a trip to Iraq that ended this week.”
“Could?” Yeah. Would? Doubtful.
EDWARDS VS. THE SUV: More from The Politico. “Of course, none of this automotive stuff holds a candle (to choose an unsafe metaphor) to the gas they’re all burning with those private jets.”
Because it’s all about The Hypocrisy!
A ROUNDUP OF LARRY CRAIG REACTIONS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE, at The New York Times. I agree that this is the worst part of the Craig story:
According to the police report, the senator presented a business card and asked, â€œWhat do you think about that?â€
Bathroom sex — or the possible attempt to obtain same — is one thing. Abuse of power is another.
UPDATE: Well, yeah.
AFTER AMES: From Brian Pickrell, a look at where the GOP candidates stand in Iowa, three weeks after the straw poll.
EATING MEAT IS WORSE THAN DRIVING: “But didn’t you know this already?”
TNR TAKE NOTE: Wesley Morgan demonstrates what to do when you’re taken in by a bogus story.
JAMES FALLOWS: “I think it’s silly to complain that David Petraeus’s 20-year-old PhD dissertation from Princeton has lots of vapid passages. I’ll make this challenge (though I probably won’t take the time actually to carry it out): give me any 20-year-old PhD dissertation in the social sciences, and I will show you lots of vapid passages.” Yeah, if they aren’t there to begin with, the committee will make the candidate add them.
“BRAVE” ARTISTS liken Osama to Jesus.
I GUESS IT’S GOOD THAT THEY’RE PREPARING:
What may be the largest pandemic planning exercise ever conducted in the U.S. is set to begin next month. The dry run will force financial services firms to operate with shrinking numbers of employees — on paper, at least.
More than 1,800 organizations have signed up to participate in the three-week simulation, which is being sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.
I hope we never need to use the knowledge it produces, though.
PUMPING OIL FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE GULF:
Even better, a recent discovery by Chevron has signaled that soon there may be vastly more oil gushing out of the ultradeep seabeds â€” more than even the optimists were predicting four years ago. In 2004, the company penetrated a 60 million-year-old geological stratum known as the “lower tertiary trend” containing a monster oil patch that holds between 3 billion and 15 billion barrels of crude. Dubbed Jack, the field lies beneath waters nearly twice as deep as those covering Tahiti, and many in the industry dismissed the discovery as too remote to exploit. But last September, Chevron used the Cajun Express to probe the Jack field, proving that petroleum could flow from the lower tertiary at hearty commercial rates â€” fast enough to bring billions of dollars of crude to market.
Much more at the link.
UPDATE: A geologist reader thinks the above is a bit overstated on current facts: ” ‘Jack’ was a nice discovery, and does indeed confirm potentially commercial oil recovery from a new trend, but it in no way proves up 15 billion barrels. The initial well and test does not even prove up a commercial field – we will need several more wells to confirm the extent and continuity of the discovery (at over $100 million each). . . . . That said, the federal lease sale the other day attracted a very large number of bids by BP in deep water Gulf of Mexico – I haven’t plotted just what acreage they bid on, but it might indicate they are also optimistic about this trend (or a different one). Notably, Chevron did not bid on a lot of acreage – either they already have all they want of the trend, or they don’t think it’s as good as it is being marketed.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stu Wagner emails:
Your geologist writer is correct, Jack by itself is not that big (there are probably only a handful in the world that are more than 3 billion bbls). But it is one of several discoveries in the Lower Tertiary trend in the deep-water GOM. Consequently, multiple discoveries could aggregate enough reserves to justify a large-scale development with central production facilities, even in thousands of feet of water. However, cost and technology means it will take years to bring on to production.
I find it interesting that weâ€™re messing with deep-water reserves with meaningful environmental risk from hurricanes, etc. while billions of bbls lie under the North Slope of Alaska, where thereâ€™s existing infrastructure to carry the oil to market (the TAPS pipeline) and the environmental hurdles and challenges are far less than in 10,000â€™ of water (not to mention much lower cost and years quicker to market)â€¦..
We have a highly dysfunctional political system.
BEWARE THE HORROR OF “CELL-PHONE FACE:” But happily there are spa treatments for that.
AMERICA: Exporting high wages!
UPPING THE ANTE: A 12-megapixel pocketcam that goes to 6400 ISO. I don’t care about the extra megapixels, but the higher sensitivity is nice — I like to take available light pictures, and sometimes there’s not as much light available as I’d like.
AMY ALKON ON the homoerotic Taliban.
A BIG FEC FINE for the Soros-backed ACT. Seems to me to be evidence of why campaign-finance regulation is a crock — the election is years over, the group is shut down, and while the fine’s big by historical standards it isn’t really all that big considering. It’s as if the whole thing is a sham or something.
ANTIGUN PROTEST FIZZLES: “A swarm of two showed up to protest guns and gun stores near Seattle yesterday.” This minuscule turnout seems to be common.
FLAMING AND BURNING: A report from Greece.
A RATHER COOL photo.
JOHN EDWARDS: SPORTUTES FOR ME, but not for thee. The photo is pretty damning.
UPDATE: Sorry — the link seems to have killed Hedgehog Report. The topic was John Edwards’ statement that we’d have to give up SUVs. Here’s the photo of Edwards’ house, with SUVs indicated. Though, really, the house itself should be damning enough where talk of energy conservation is concerned.
MORE: Professor Bainbridge comments: “Does this remind anybody else of Ted Kennedy’s simultaneous support for renewable energy and opposition to the wind farm proposed to be built near his Massachusetts home? It’s a particularly nasty form of NIMBYism when you have the power to force others to make sacrifices you aren’t willing to make.”
MICKEY KAUS GIVES UP: “I have run out of ways of saying that the LAT is a pathetic stuffy, faux-newspaper run by respectable liberal twits and doomed to die!”
THOUGHTS ON THE ANTI-PETRAEUS TALKING POINTS, from Greyhawk in Baghdad.