ANOTHER CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY: "Yesterday the Nebraska legislature defeated a filibuster, and passed a Shall Issue law for licensing the carrying of concealed handguns by adults who pass a background check and a safety class. Nebraska's governor has said he will sign the bill into law." Read the whole thing for a summary of how things stand nationwide. Plus Jim and Sarah Brady shift to a far more reasonable position, assuming they mean what they say.
Amusing question in the comments: "If the GCA/Brady system doesn't violate the rights of gun owners, then what possible objection could there be to implementing the same system for voting?"
posted at 10:05 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ANN ALTHOUSE on blogging and the pro-Test movement. "I love the idea of one guy, alone on the other side of a big, active demonstration, and, instead of being outnumbered, using a blog to draw out the numbers on his side that exist, out there, dispersed in the general population."
The violence in Darfur continues to spread into neighboring Chad. The fighting along the Sudanese border not only involves Chad rebel groups, but also pro-Sudanese government militias that have been raiding the refugee camps just across the border in Chad. To further complicate matters, Sudanese rebel groups have been coming to the refugee camps, to recruit, and to get supplies.
It still seems to me that arming the victims would be a good idea, although Jim Dunnigan has said otherwise.
And here, by the way, is a Darfur website recommended by U.Va. law student Mark Finsterwald.
The gangs of Haiti have become less political, and more just criminal and mercenary. The gangs make economic growth impossible, and play a major role in keeping everyone poor. It's believed that at least 20,000 police are needed to regain control of the streets from the gangs, but only 7,000 cops are available. The UN also has 1,750 foreign police available, who are limited by their limited language and cultural skills. The 7,300 UN peacekeepers really can't police, and are instead used for general security and raids on major gang operations. It would take 3-4 years to recruit and train 20,000 police. Even then, given Haiti's two century history, there's no assurance that this large police force would not be as corrupt as in the past. The biggest problem in Haiti is that no one has any new ideas that seem likely to break the cycle of corruption, poor government and poverty that has cursed the country since its founding.
Unfortunately, the place is hard to ignore, too. Culture, alas, does turn out to matter.
posted at 09:26 AM by Glenn Reynolds
CANADA'S WESTERN STANDARD is a breath of fresh air on the Canadian media scene. It also needs your help.
1) Republicans are preparing to bring the Federal Marriage Amendment to a vote. So I guess the plan from now on is to do this in all even-numbered years, and then throw the idea aside in odd-numbered ones? I know a lot of people support the FMA for principled reasons, but a decisive number of Republicans are clearly just picking on gays for political profit.
2) Republicans are leading a charge to subject "527 groups" to onerous regulations. A minority of them, again, have sincere and above-board reasons for doing this. Most of them just want to shut down groups that are trying to beat them in elections. For a majority to restrict the freedom of others to try to boot them out is pretty much a textbook definition of the abuse of power, isn't it?
posted at 09:19 AM by Glenn Reynolds
WE'RE ON THE ROAD: The funeral is today. Blogging will remain limited for another day or two. Sorry -- tried to give you plenty to read before we left yesterday.
IN THE MAIL: A pretty interesting-looking book on Teddy Roosevelt. "His era shared many features with that of the twenty-first century, including growing economic interdependence, failed states unable or unwilling to discharge their sovereign responsibilities, and even a loose equivalent to today's international terrorist networks in the form of an anarchist movement that felled Roosevelt's predecessor, William McKinley."
Buried deep in the initial version of a vital federal spending bill last year were some unlikely items slated for government money: a Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative, a Virtual Reality Spray Paint Simulator System and a community ski association in Telluride, Colo.
Not all the programs included in earlier drafts of the legislation, which was supposed to pay for Department of Defense operations and the war in Iraq, were included in the final version that President Bush signed Dec. 30. But such earmarks for favored recipients--known colloquially as pork--have become easier than ever for politicians to secure because of the rapid growth in homeland security and military spending, especially if they can find some plausible technological veneer.
Exact figures are difficult to obtain, mostly because spending bills tend to be intentionally obfuscated and specifics are usually absent from legislative text. Government watchdogs, however, say earmarks ostensibly related to technology are clearly on the rise.
"A lot of those projects are really directed at one company rather than a larger role of improving technology," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
A database compiled for CNET News.com by CAGW, a taxpayer watchdog group, also indicated a rise in technology pork projects from fiscal 2003 to 2005.
Read the whole thing. He thinks that things may be improving as the result of porkbusting efforts. I hope he's right. This is clearly evidence that we need more transparency in the process.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.
Researchers emphasized that their work can't address whether God exists or answers prayers made on another's behalf. The study can only look for an effect from prayers offered as part of the research, they said.
They also said they had no explanation for the higher complication rate in patients who knew they were being prayed for, in comparison to patients who only knew it was possible prayers were being said for them.
Hmm. What's the prayer equivalent of a placebo? Scott Ott, meanwhile, offers an alternative take.
President Bush isn’t a fascist, and I can prove it.
We’ve seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you’ll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.
Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.
posted at 11:42 AM by Glenn Reynolds
CINDY SHEEHAN gets no respect from Rep. Jack Kingston, who calls her a "nutcase."
Do you know what is disturbing about that web site? At first I assumed it was something like what Little Green Footballs shows -- the absurdity of one side's argument. Not until the end did I realize that the site was done by a proponent of the movement -- those photos are a source of pride!
My goodness, this issue cries out for some cooling down. I have no problem with an immigrant having ethnic pride. Mine did (Irish, English, German and Italian. Espeically the Italians). But ethnic pride, watered down through the successive generations is a far cry from a demand to deport all Europeans.
I fear, though, that this issue is going to get uglier. The extremes on both sides are doing our great country a disservice.
Yes. And here's an interesting question: Why so little immigration protest in South Florida?
AP SAYS IT DIDN'T PLAGIARIZE but relied on interest groups: "The article written by the AP, 'Security Clearance Rules May Impede Gays,' attributed its information to gay rights groups, who happened to be wrong and who received their information from Raw Story."
UPDATE: Jon Henke emails: "Didn't the New York Times just do a story ripping bloggers for relying on information provided by Wal-Mart (an interest group)?"
Yes, but it's okay when Certified Professional JournalistsTM do it.
posted at 07:32 AM by Glenn Reynolds
TEXAS' AGGRESSIVE ENFORCEMENT of public intoxication laws has generated considerable backlash. Perhaps that's because the Texas legislature seems to be really, really dumb:
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was instrumental in getting the increased staffing, as a member of both the powerful Senate Finance Committee and the Criminal Justice Committee, which oversees the alcohol commission.
Although he agreed hearings are merited, he defended the principle of in-bar citations.
"Even though a public drunk is not planning on driving, that could change in an instant," he said. "There is certainly potential danger."
Even though a Senator is not planning on taking bribes from the underage-goat-sex lobby, that could change in an instant. Best we lock them all up now.
I just wonder when some anti-abortion, or whatever, group will recognize how easy it is to silence contrary opinions in the literary and academic worlds. When you reward behavior you get more of it. NYU is rewarding thuggery. On the other hand, they're certainly providing the American public with an education -- an education in how little all their talk about free speech and academic freedom means. To NYU, at least.
BORDERS AND WALDENBOOKS CHICKEN OUT: If you don't like ideas, don't bother arguing with them. Just threaten to kill people. They'll back down. Or at least their booksellers, universities, and governments will. How long before other groups take this lesson to heart?
Advancing toward fascism, one cowardly institution at a time.
UPDATE: More here: "As a former President of the PEN Center USA (western US branch of PEN), I am calling for that organization to stand up against Borders/Waldenbooks."
posted at 01:44 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE BELMONT CLUB has a couple of interesting, and somewhat "gloomy," though he denies it, reports on events in Iraq. But unlike most of the Big Media analysts, he knows what he's talking about, and has perspective. Just keep scrolling.
STEVE JOBS IS A GENIUS: The Insta-Wife, who's not into gadgets the way I am, finally cracked and bought an iPod nano yesterday. She then spent all night happily buying songs off iTunes to fill it. If you can sell gadgets to her, you're sure to make money.
posted at 08:26 AM by Glenn Reynolds
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS: My brother-in-law's benign tumor turns out not to be benign: It's a "high grade pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma, stage III." Any oncologists out there with special knowledge of this apparently rather rare cancer?
posted at 08:03 AM by Glenn Reynolds
LICHTBLAU SAYS ONE THING: Transcript says another.
posted at 07:48 AM by Glenn Reynolds
JEFF GOLDSTEIN says that "it seems those who claim to despise Bush are secretly so confident in him and his administration . . . that it is they who regard 911 as a lucky blow."
UPDATE: Reader Louis Rossetto emails: "Can we officially label this 'A Crisis in Higher Education'® yet, a la what Time used to be able to do and get away with? Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Yale . . ."
Meanwhile, NYU alumnus Steven Sullivan emails:
I just wanted to write quickly to note the NYU event calendar for today, which is right on the main NYU page at www.nyu.edu. There's a "coming out chat" and a "sex toy party" in addition to a seminar in the "Sex Work Matters" series going on today and tomorrow. All are open to the public. Now, I find nothing offensive in all this. But I feel certain there are some who might. Is John Sexton going to make sure no one comes in from off-campus who might not agree with the content of those sponsored events?
Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I've already written President Sexton a polite letter. I'm sure I'll get something brief, chilly and condescending in return.
Sexton's actually not a bad guy. But we're seeing a distinct lack of backbone here.
It's gotten little attention in the mainstream media but a potentially landmark measure authored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Sen. Barrack Obama, D-IL, was taken up by the Senate today. Call it the "Show Us the Money" amendment for Uncle Sam.
The measure is Amendment 3175, which is one of a bunch of amendments to the Lobbying Reform Bill now being considered by the Senate. Odds are very good that every Member of the Senate will have the opportunity to vote for or against the Coburn/Obama amendment.
The Coburn/OBama amendment directs the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to establish a publicly available database of the more than $300 billion the federal government spends each year via contracts and grants to more than 30,000 groups, businesses and organizations.
Trent Lott seems to have killed it. "Put another way, Lott just told taxpayers to butt out."
MY GRANDMOTHER, CHARLSIE FARRIOR TEAL, DIED TODAY, at about noon. It was sudden and quite unexpected; we'd all gone out to dinner Saturday and she seemed to be doing very well, but at 91, well I guess "sudden" isn't really the word.
Got the call from my mother and headed out there, cancelling my afternoon class. Got there before the paramedics left; there were several nice deputies from the Knox County Sheriff's Department there (they always do that when someone calls 911 to report a death) and even a Chaplain (they do that, too). They were very helpful and considerate.
Spent the afternoon dealing with funeral home stuff, etc. (the funeral will be in Birmingham, where there's still some family, though my grandmother outlived all but one of her friends -- her friend Ethel Claire, whom she met when she was 19, is still alive but has a broken hip and probably won't make it).
My mom is spending the night with us tonight. Back later.
Meanwhile, to the right is a picture of my grandmother from last year, and below is one of her and my grandfather from Daytona in 1938. She had a long, and good, life. I'm still sorry that she died, though.
posted at 08:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TIM WU (coauthor of Who Controls the Internet?) and I are doing a Slate book club revolving around our respective books this week. The first installment, by me, is up here.
JIM BENNETT SAYS that he sees an emerging consensus on immigration: "Assimilation is going with the grain of American culture and history, and must be the focal-point of any attempt to address the problem. Securing the borders is a close second. Whatever the position of the major parties, I think the popular demand for reform is so strong that some poltician will emerge to ride that horse."
The Federal Election Commission decided Monday that the nation's new campaign finance law will not apply to most political activity on the internet.
In a 6-0 vote, the commission decided to regulate only paid political ads placed on another person's website.
The decision means that bloggers and online publications will not be covered by provisions of the new election law. Internet bloggers and individuals will therefore be able to use the internet to attack or support federal candidates without running afoul of campaign spending and contribution limits.
Adam Bonin -- who did excellent work on this -- calls it a "netroots win." Mike Krempasky -- who also did excellent work -- observes: "This is a tremendous win for speech."
UPDATE: Jim Lindgren says the AP does credit blogs, regardless of its stated policy: "I find this story triply strange."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon says it's all part of the class struggle. Onward, comrades!
posted at 02:17 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MOUSSAOUI says he had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. This should get him the death penalty, but it also underscores the damage done by the inept investigation after his arrest. As I noted some time ago: "FBI investigators misunderstood the law, and were thus too slow to search Moussaoui even though the evidence in their possession was more than sufficient. The bureaucratic resistance to searching Moussaoui was so great that field agents in Minnesota wondered -- before Sept. 11 -- if Usama bin Laden had a mole in Bureau headquarters."
I wish him well with the book, but I'm not that interested in the idea of a permanent Republican majority. I'm pretty disappointed in the Republicans now, and I'd just as soon see them under whatever discipline that the notion of a not at all permanent majority provides. That doesn't seem to be enough. . . .
posted at 12:26 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HEART-FRIENDLY BACON: "Geneticists have mixed DNA from the roundworm C. elegans and pigs to produce swine with significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids -- the kind believed to stave off heart disease." Finish your bacon, dear -- it's good for your heart!
posted at 12:21 PM by Glenn Reynolds
UH OH: "The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over columns that linked a former Army scientist to the 2001 anthrax killings."
PEOPLE COMPLAIN that I usually blog about expensive cameras. Well, here's a very cheap camera, dock, and printer bundle -- 4MP, 5x optical zoom, total price just over 200 bucks. My daughter has the EasyShare camera, and it's good, and simple to use. I don't know about the printer.
I've been pretty lame about blogging on cameras, electronics, etc., because I usually do so only when I buy something, and I've been too busy to spend time with new gadgets lately. But here's an earlier post, and here's the Digital Camera Carnival that I hosted, as well as an earlier post on printers.
Some reviewers have called Reynolds’ writing style “conversational,” and it is. This 268-page book, excluding notes and index, is a quick and engaging read. Reynolds’ prose style is just as absorbing as the ideas themselves. For example, he analogizes his beer-brewing hobby with blogging. As mass-produced beer, which has to appeal to the broadest market possible, tends to be “thin and flavorless,” mass-produced news and opinion journalism has become thin and flavorless.
Read the whole thing! But then, you knew I'd say that . . . .
The spread of avian influenza to at least 29 new countries in the last seven weeks — one of the biggest outbreaks of the virus since it emerged nine years ago — is prompting a sobering reassessment of the strategy that has guided efforts to contain the disease. . . .
The speed of its migration, and the vast area it has infected, has forced scientists to concede there is little that can be done to stop its spread across the globe.
"We expected it to move, but not any of us thought it would move quite like this," said Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations' coordinator on bird flu efforts.
Even if bird flu never mutates into a human-transmissible form, this should be a wakeup call about our preparedness for pandemics generally. The good news is that people seem to be noticing. One datum: Our podcast interview with Bill Frist on the subject is our most popular so far, with over 330,000 downloads. Interestingly, a much higher percentage of them are the lo-fi dialup variety than for our other episodes; I'm not sure what that means, but I'm guessing that there's more international interest in the topic.
Many people are eager to fight the Battle of the Borders. The idea is to prevent illegal immigration. In addition, what I might call the "new xenophobia" is eager to fight the Battle over Outsourcing and the Battle over Foreign Ownership. In my view, all of these battles represent misplaced priorities.
I believe that illegal immigrants bring relatively little economic benefit and cause relatively little economic harm. I believe that there are substitutes readily available for the work done by illegal immigrants. Legal residents could do some of the work. Other labor could be replaced by capital or by alternative production techniques. By the same token, because there are many substitutes available for unskilled labor, the salvation of American workers does not lie in immigration restrictions.
I'm not sure how much of the political resonance comes directly from economics, though. I think there's a political aspect, too, having to do with the effort of people who aren't citizens, and aren't here legally, to wield political power within the United States. I think this has a particularly unfortunate resonance in light of recent events in Europe. It's not The Camp of the Saints, but I think it has overtones of that sort.
Meanwhile, the obvious tendency of this weekend's marches to provoke a backlash makes me wonder why they're happening. One possibility is that the organizers are dumb, and don't think there will be a backlash. The other possibility is that the organizers aren't dumb, and figure that they'll benefit from a backlash if it occurs. Either they win (which means they win) or they lose, and get a prop. 187 type response, leaving both illegal and legal Latino immigrants polarized and looking to them for leadership (which means they win). Given the GOP's inroads into the Latino vote, this may be, in part, an effort to sabotage any Latino realignment toward the GOP.
Mickey Kaus thinks that this will wind up hurting the Democrats more than the Republicans. I'm not so sure -- but I am pretty sure that the march organizers don't think so.
UPDATE: Of course, the march organizers may not care as much about how this issue affects the Democrats vs. the Republicans as they care about how this impacts their own political positions. The creation of a visible Angry Latino bloc may hurt the Democrats, but still help those seen as the leaders of the bloc.
Meanwhile, Arnold Kling responds to my comments on his piece: "I can see his point. I would rather see immigrants assimilate first and become a political force later, rather than the other way around." That seems to work better. As Jim Bennett likes to say: Democracy, Multiculturalism, Open Immigration -- pick any two.
posted at 08:42 AM by Glenn Reynolds
HENRY PORTER: "Blair will need to rush through his ID cards bill before people have time to wake up to how terrifying it is."
posted at 07:37 AM by Glenn Reynolds
JOHN HAWKINS interviews Claire Berlinski about her new book,Menace in Europe. "There is something going on in Europe, a flourishing of sects, all of which have something in common and that is an absolute, virtually pathological, refusal to profit from experience. . . . If young Germans are now seen muttering darkly about how they deplore American militarism-a sentiment, I am persuaded, that represents nothing more than their own stifled longing to switch on the tank's ignition and thrill once again to the low deep rumble of its engine-it is certainly nothing new; Germans have complained for a very long time of these things."
UPDATE: If you missed it, our podcast interview of Berlinski is here.
J.D. JOHANNES ON BODY ARMOR -- I told you so: "When I chased a Marine infantry platoon around Al Anbar last Summer I was armed only with a Canon XL-2 camera and only wore a kevlar vest similar to what a police officer would wear. By wearing/carrying 50 pounds less I was able to out run and climb the 21-year-old grunts."
UPDATE: J.D. would move even faster if he used a Canon GL2, which is smaller than the XL2 by far but has the same imaging. No interchangeable lenses, but I suspect that's a minor drawback when covering combat.
The Insta-Wife shot most of her documentary with a Canon XL, but on one interview where she had to fly solo she took the GL2 and it was the best video -- and audio -- of the whole thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Johnson says I'm wrong about the GL2:
The image system on the XL2 isn't identical to the GL2. The XL2 also has 24p option (the GL2 doesn't), where frames are "pulled down" within the camera itself to simulate the film "look." This is the big new development in DV prosumer technology in the past two years, the Panasonic DVX100 series has it as well. One step closer to under $5000 cameras looking no different from film (to a layman) on the DVD player.
Hadn't noticed that, but then that's not an option that I'm interested in.
Extra body armor — the lack of which caused a political storm in the United States — has flooded in to Iraq, but many Marines here promptly stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and cumbersome, many say.
Indeed. Of course, on the general subject of whether more armor is always better I can say I told you so too!
posted at 10:39 PM by Glenn Reynolds
CORY DOCTOROW: "A video made by an elections observer in Belarus shows evidence of electoral fraud. . . . Damn I'm glad my grandfather left Belarus."
Deaths from revenge killings now exceed those from terrorist or anti-government activity. Al Qaeda is beaten, and running for cover. The Sunni Arab groups that financed thousands of attacks against the government and coalition groups, are now battling each other, al Qaeda, and Shia death squads. It's not civil war, for there are no battles or grand strategies at play. It's not ethnic cleansing, yet, although many Sunni Arabs are, and have, fled the country. What's happening here is payback. Outsiders tend to forget that, for over three decades, a brutal Sunni Arab dictatorship killed hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shia Arabs. The surviving victims, and the families of those who did not survive, want revenge. They want payback. And even those Kurds Shia Arabs who don't personally want revenge, are inclined to tolerate some payback. Since the Sunni Arabs comprise only about 20 percent of the population, and no longer control the police or military, they are in a vulnerable position.
After Saddam's government was ousted three years ago, the Sunni Arabs still had lots of cash, weapons, and terrorist skills. Running a police state is basically all about terrorizing people into accepting your rule. For the last three years, the Sunni Arabs thought they could terrorize their way back into power. Didn't work.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Or maybe not, if this report is true.
posted at 12:25 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SO NOW AMAZON seems to think that I'm interested in knitting. At least, recommendations for knitting books, knitting supplies, etc., keep showing up.
I don't knit, I've never bought any knitting supplies or knitting books, and I have no idea where this is coming from. I've actually been buying less stuff than usual from Amazon, and the only non-book purchase I've made lately was not very knitting-related. Maybe they're pushing knitting on everyone, like they did with the defibrillator? Hard to believe. I mean, I know all the cool kids are doing it, but still . . .
UPDATE: Apparently all the cool kids are doing it. Who knew?
RUSSIA AND IRAQ: Gateway Pundit has an excellent roundup. It's a must-read.
posted at 09:29 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MORE AGGREGATION: An Army of Davids gets a good review in the Sun-Times: " I will make a prediction -- in December, when lists of the most important books of the year are drawn up, this one will be near the top."
I could live with that. Plus, Nick Gillespie reviews it in the New York Post: It's "breezy and eminently readable," and Gillespie says "there's no question that he is providing an essential guide to the new world we live in."
posted at 09:19 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AMBIENT REALMS: Long night last night, as I had to go get the Insta-mother-in-law from the hospital around midnight; she had gotten a bad case of the stomach bug that's going around and had to go get rehydrated. (She emerged a new woman, walking under her own power and looking 20 years younger than just a few hours earlier -- let's hear it for Ringer's Solution!)
While I was waiting in the hallway, something you always do a lot of at hospitals, there were three different monitor devices of some sort, beeping at irregular intervals. Their different pitches formed a perfect minor triad, and I was more or less right in the middle. I wish I'd had a digital stereo recorder: Instead of Todd Steed and John Baker's Music for Bus Stations, I could do Music for Emergency Rooms. Or maybe not.