TIM BLAIR: "I’m not religious, so I don’t have a God in this fight, but I’d sure like to read a 'short, wicked and witty' book by Robyn Williams exposing all the scientific flaws in fundamentalist Islam (and the ABC’s aggressive promotion of that book)."
UPDATE: Iraq veteran Chris Seamans isn't impressed with the analysis in the Post article:
Among my other duties in Iraq, I was a convoy gunner. I am also a native of inner city Philadelphia who has spent almost all of my life in some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. I can say from direct experience that combat duty in Iraq isn't as easy or as safe as walking down the street in Philadelphia. This is a simple fact that the statistics you've linked to attempt to obfuscate. The statistics don't take into account the fact that the majority of servicemen in Iraq spend their deployments behind rows of T-walls, Hesco barriers, and checkpoints, and that the much smaller number of troops that spend their time outside the wire face far greater danger than young black men walking the streets of Philly. The statistics also ignore the fact that the American military has some of the best trauma care in the world, and that the number of people who live despite grave injuries vastly outnumbers those who die from them. (If I remember correctly, the Army said a little while ago that the number of deaths in Iraq would be four times greater if not for its ability to quickly evacuate casualties to top quality medical facilities.) This means that a lot more soldiers have faced potentially life-threatening injuries than just those who have died. If the proper statistics were referenced (or even available) I'd bet my next paycheck that they would back up the obvious reality: Iraq is a warzone that is vastly more dangerous than even the deadliest sections of Philadelphia.
Jeez, you figure when you read something positive about the war in the Big Media it's probably true. Oh, well.
ANTOTHER UPDATE: A response to Chris Seamans here:
No one is trying to say that Philadelphia is "more dangerous" than Iraq. (Well, okay, I'm sure someone somewhere is. But I'm not, Glenn Reynolds wasn't, and the Washington Post article didn't...)
Let me repeat: The point wasn't that Philadelphia is "more dangerous" than Iraq. The point was that the death rate in Philadelphia among black men was 11% higher in 2002 than it was in Iraq among US troops during the first three years of the campaign. For the purposes of the point at hand, the statistics referenced were, indeed, the "proper" ones and they're very clear.
I think that nearly everyone realizes that Iraq is far, far more dangerous than Philadelphia. But let's not pretend that it's more dangerous than it is. The statistics show how many people died in Iraq and they showed how many black men died in Philadelphia.
The ultimate point is that the numbers, when compared to each other, will probably surprise you.
Yes, by historical standards the war in Iraq isn't terribly bloody, which does tend to get lost in the media coverage.
Let me see if I’ve got this right. The price of all types of fuel is headed toward historically high levels. So how do we respond in this country? What are we doing, at least on principle, to cut our fuel consumption? Cranking up the AC.
I’ve never spent a summer as cold as this one. Everywhere I go, I find air conditioners running at full blast. Now, I’ve got nothing against air conditioning. But have you stepped inside an office building, train, restaurant, airport, house of worship, school, or doctor’s office lately? I rode on a train the other day that was, from one end to the other, nothing more than a rolling meat locker.
I think that air-conditioning is one of the great inventions of Western civilization. But I agree that over-airconditioning is rife, though it actually seems to me that things have been better this summer than last.
SPACE TOURISM UPDATE: "Anousheh Ansari, a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin, will become the world's first female space tourist when she blasts off aboard a Russian rocket on September 14, the launch company said on Friday."
posted at 07:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
FAUXTOGRAPHY AND OTHER JOURNALISTIC FAKERY, discussed by me, Charles Johnson, and Dean Barnett, in the latest TCS Daily podcast.
UH OH: "A landmark scientific report that was supposed to bridge the gap between proponents and opponents of human embryonic stem cell research has become the focus of an escalating feud, with a prominent critic of the research alleging that scientists were deceptive in presenting their results."
posted at 04:20 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HOWARD MORTMAN NOTES A GROUNDSWELL: "If only Teddy Roosevelt had appeared on Comedy Central."
DIVORCE IS A BIG ISSUE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE these days, at least judging from the response to our podcast on marriage and divorce featuring family lawyer Lauren Strange-Boston. It's now been downloaded over one and a half million times, edging it into first place. It's funny, but although the political shows get more attention, overall I think the nonpolitical ones are more popular.
Lieberman -- who after losing an Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Ned Lamont has launched a third-party bid to hold onto his seat in the Nov. 7 general election -- was asked whether he still endorses Diane Farrell, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy, three Democrats looking to unseat endangered Republican incumbents Chris Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson.
“I’m a non-combatant,” Lieberman declared. “I am not going to be involved in other campaigns. I think it’s better if I just focus on my own race.”
Why are the netroots surprised by this? You guys stuck a knife into him. Of course he'll stick you back. And I suspect that this is only the beginning.
HITCHENS GIVES BILL MAHER'S AUDIENCE the finger. Should things go badly with the war, Maher's audience -- and, for that matter, Maher himself -- will be cited by historians as evidence of the American opposition's unseriousness.
UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails: "I suspect that historians will judge Democrats unserious regardless of the war's outcome. In fact, if it goes badly enough, history of the era will be written in Arabic." And even those historians won't respect Maher and his audience, though they may be grateful for their petty Bush-hatred.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The entire Maher show is reviewed here.
JEFF TAYLOR: "Just who at The New York Times does Matt Nifong have naked pictures of? . . . Taking the lead investigator's notes and using them as a narrative doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know about the case while managing to gloss over the huge holes in Nifong's case."
JAMES LILEKS: "Of course, one could make the case that the greatest threats to the freedoms of the West are posed by the head-choppers, plane-exploders, their many merry supporters, and the nuke-seeking state that supports them. . . . But don't expect the artists to make the case. They saw what happened to that Theo Van Gogh fellow. They take the easy way out, these brave souls; they'll perform 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' but only because now some people think it has a happy ending. They cradle their illusions like a big dead pig, singing them lullabies."
But it'll be worth it if it gets rid of the damnable Bushitler regime. "If an attack occurred just before the elections, I have to think that at least a few of the voters who persist in this 'Bush has kept us safe' thinking would realize the fallacy they have been under."
UPDATE: Ouch: "I wasn't a perfect reporter, but it's pretty easy to avoid making stuff up out of whole cloth. My dad and I both know that. Mr. Mitchell does not. My dad and I are both conservative bloggers. Mr. Mitchell is editor of Editor and Publisher. Telling, isn't it?"
ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Mitchell is charged with airbrushing the original story. After bloggers had quoted it. Can he be that stupid?
posted at 03:34 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SADLY, NO: "I'm of the opinion that how to handle Wal-Mart is among the two or three most important issues facing the country."
If only that were true! We'd have it made.
UPDATE: More on WalMart and its critics, here. I feel about WalMart like I do about Bush -- it's not that I'm crazy about them, it's that their critics just seem crazy, period.
Long-term, honest public pressure can force an administration to make changes or change course on a failed policy. It works on domestic issues: witness the Porkbusters campaign, which has rapped the president and Congress without apologies in an effort to shame them into cutting spending.
The advantage of PorkBusters is that it's focused on one issue and been nonpartisan, criticizing porkers regardless of party. I don't think the kind of criticism Weigel's talking about can say the same, though I agree that it would have been more effective if it could. Anyway, it's nice to see that PorkBusters' progress is being noticed.
A New York man was arrested yesterday on charges that he conspired to support a terrorist group by providing U.S. residents with access to Hezbollah's satellite channel, al-Manar. . . .
The U.S. Treasury Department in March designated al-Manar a "global terrorist entity" and a media arm of the Hezbollah terrorist network. The designation froze al-Manar's assets in the United States and prohibited any transactions between Americans and al-Manar.
Iqbal's attorney, Mustapha Ndanusa, said yesterday that the accusations against his client are "completely ridiculous," according to the Associated Press. Ndanusa added that he is not aware of another instance in which someone was accused of violating U.S. laws by enabling access to a news outlet.
This raises some interesting First Amendment issues, but don't blame the Patriot Act or the Bush Administration here. The statute in question, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA, pronounced "Aiyeepa") predates the Patriot Act by decades, and has just been upheld in another context by the Second Circuit. IEEPA is very far-reaching -- in a case that I used to teach back when I taught International Business Transactions, United States v. Spawr Optical Research, 685 F.2d 1076 (9th Cir. 1982) (doesn't seem to be online anywhere), the defendants had violated the Export Administration Act. They thought that they had a pretty good defense, in that the Export Administration Act had actually expired before their actions. The court held that the President had lawfully extended the expired statute's provisions by regulation, under his general powers delegated by IEEPA.
I don't like that case, but it's one of several reasons why I find claims that the Bush Administration is exercising unprecedentedly broad powers unpersuasive.
Personally, I'd favor exempting retransmission of news material, etc., from the statute, and I think there's a pretty good argument that this sort of prosecution violates the First Amendment. But it's also true that sweeping powers of this sort are nothing new in the field of international trade.
posted at 12:54 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE MANOLO OBSERVES: "This intersection between the politics and the fashion it would appear to be at the corner of the Dull Street and the Boring Boulevard."
posted at 12:38 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JEFF GOLDSTEIN MAKES HIS VIDEO DEBUT, at Hot Air. Helen was surprised: "He's really good-looking!"
UPDATE: Heh: "I'm officially starting a countdown to when Goldstein appears in drag on this show. And my money is on next Friday. Who's in?"
posted at 11:19 AM by Glenn Reynolds
OVER AT THE CORNER (scroll down) they've been discussing Serenity and Firefly for the past several days, and talking about Tim Minear's politics. If you're interested, we had a podcast interview with Tim Minear a while back.
PLAN B APPROVED: And I don't find the argument against the approval compelling:
Conservative opponents complained that the FDA had buckled to political pressure. They have argued that easier access to the pill would increase promiscuity.
Whether access to the pill will "increase promiscuity" or not isn't clear, but I think the only question should be whether the drug is safe and effective. It seems to me that's been established for a while, and that it was political pressure that was holding up the approval. But promiscuity, or the lack thereof, isn't the concern of the FDA. Or at least it shouldn't be.
IN Tehran in June, several thousand people held a peaceful demonstration calling for legal changes that would give a woman's testimony in court equal value to a man's. The demonstrators, most of them women, were attacked with tear gas and beaten with batons by men and women from Iran's State Security Forces, according to Amnesty International.
Iranian women may not travel without their husband's permission but they are allowed to wield a truncheon against other women.
Do you think women in Western countries marched in solidarity with the Iranian women demonstrators? Of course not. Do you think there are posters and graffiti at universities condemning the Iranian President? Of course not. You know, without needing to go there, that any graffiti at universities will be condemning George W. Bush, not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (I concede Bush is easier to spell.)
You know, before you get there, that at the Melbourne Writers Festival starting this weekend the principal hate figures are going to be Bush and John Howard. You know there will be many sympathetic references to David Hicks but probably none to Ashraf Kolhari, an Iranian mother of four who has been in jail for five years for allegedly having sex outside marriage and, until last week, who was under sentence of death by stoning.
Thank goddess, as they used to say: a few Western feminists have begun to wonder why women who once marched for women's rights are marching alongside people who would take away even the most basic of those rights.
BILL ROGGIO: "Somalia continues the slide into the darkness of a radical Islamist state."
posted at 01:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MEGAN MCARDLE: "Where does this idea come from that the Japanese and German corporations don't have to pay any costs to cover their employees' health and retirement? And why hasn't anyone bothered to check it?"
BRUCE SCHNEIER WRITES ON WHAT THE TERRORISTS WANT: He's right that we don't want to overreact, and that some of the aviation scares seem like overreactions. It's like an immune system: Overreact and you get allergies and autoimmune problems; underreact and you die of overwheming sepsis or something. But getting the balance right is harder than saying that we need to get the balance right.
But we need to beware of what one of Schneier's commenters notes: "What's to stop terriorists now just getting on flights and acting suspiciously on purpose. If no crime was committed (I was just checking my watch, saying my prayers, going to the bathroom etc.) they can cause disruption, create paranoia and terror at will and get off scott free." That's what I would do if I were a terrorist.
Schneier's blog, by the way, is a must-read on this stuff, and I recommend it, as I have in the past.
posted at 12:56 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A BIG MAZDA RX-8 RECALL: Mine's given me no problems, but it sounds as if Mazda is handling this the right way. More here.
In an ironic twist, legislation that would open up the murky world of government contracting to public scrutiny has been derailed by a secret parliamentary maneuver.
An unidentified senator placed a "secret hold" on legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., that would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, worth $2.5 trillion last year. The database would bring transparency to federal spending and be as simple to use as conducting a Google search.
The measure had been unanimously passed in a voice vote last month by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It was on the fast track for floor action before Congress recessed Aug. 4 when someone put a hold on the measure.
Now the bill is in political limbo. Under Senate rules, unless the senator who placed the hold decides to lift it, the bill will not be brought up for a vote.
More and more people are trying to smoke out the "secret holder" though.
The substance of McCain's claim is pretty weak: I don't recall Bush ever saying that Iraq would be a "day at the beach," and in fact casualties to date are considerably lower than what was generally expected for the ground war to Baghdad, where you generally heard figures in the 10,000 range. (Ted Kennedy predicted that we'd run through battalions a day. Gary Hart predicted worse.) It's more the duration, and the extent of the bad press, that has exceeded expectations, really, though McCain's pretty sensitive to bad press.
But this isn't a "backstab." In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it were choreographed by Karl Rove. Democrats forget it, but Bush doesn't matter much from the perspective of 2008, and if the GOP can get mileage out of Bush-bashing, it will.
Retrospective Reagan hagiography has obscured this, but in the last couple of years of the Reagan Administration we saw the same thing. Reagan was expendable, since he couldn't be reelected, and with the country tired of the same guy, Republicans (politicians and pundits alike) distanced themselves in order to position for 1988. Bush Sr. ran in 1988, in fact, on an "I'm not like Reagan, but I'll still protect the country unlike those weakling Democrats" platform. Whoever is the GOP nominee in 2008 will do the same, and will be able to do it more obviously because -- unlike George H.W. Bush -- they won't be a sitting Vice President.
To the GOP, Bush is a wasting asset; like Reagan at the same part of his term, he's expendable. They'll use him up, and if the best way to get value out of him over the next couple of years is to bash him, then they will. That's just politics, and McCain's just ahead of the curve. Being ahead of the curve may not be smart, since McCain's biggest weak point is with the Bush base, but I think it's the strategy.
MORE: By the way, here's a roundup of lefty predictions about the war that illustrate that many antiwar people were hoping expecting that things would turn out much, much worse than they did. McCain, however, was not endorsing their views at the time.
HARVESTING STEM CELLS without harming the embryo. This, if it proves out, should mollify pro-life opponents of embryonic stem-cell research, though it won't please Leon Kass types who simply don't like the idea of these new treatments at all. Hey, if longer, healthier lives don't appeal to you, we're just not on the same page.
The game goes like this: Each member must pretend to be fiscally responsible. They loudly decry "pork" and/or "fat" in the budget.
However, when it comes to their own district or state what might otherwise be labeled as "pork" turns into a vital public works project.
Therein lies the difficulty. Vital projects and pork projects each happen so frequently that it is difficult to tell the two apart.
But now a disparate group of watchdog organizations have come together in an attempt to provide more transparency to the process. The coalition produced a single database of what are called congressional "earmarks" and each group provides access to that database from its own Web site.
This isn't all that novel, but the twist is that the coalition wants ordinary citizens to examine the list and to investigate any earmarks that catch their eye and report back via either blog or e-mail.
This operates on the theory that local people may be able to provide the best insights as to the relative merits of a particular earmark.
How good is government at wasting our tax dollars? Consider the Department of Homeland Security.
It's not yet five years old, but it's already experienced at throwing away cash. A recent congressional report found that 32 DHS contracts "experienced significant overcharges, wasteful spending or mismanagement." Federal credit cards were used to buy beer-brewing equipment and iPods. Tax money was squandered on luxury hotels and "training" sessions at golf and tennis resorts.
Altogether, those contracts cost the government -- meaning you and me -- $34 billion. Sadly, a lot of that was wasted.
DHS says it can solve the problems -- if it can hire more inspectors. "We need more," Elaine Duke, the DHS chief procurement officer, told lawmakers. "We have an increase coming in the current '07 budget of about 200 additional [workers], and we are working towards needing even more over time."
But the answer isn't to hire more bureaucrats to supervise what the current bureaucrats are doing. There's a simpler, cheaper and more permanent solution: Allow 300 million Americans to review how government spends our money.
Meanwhile, it's easy to see how dangerous things can be when you get corruption in national security matters. Just look at Israel:
The serious news is that the IDF's reserve forces were a shambles when they mobilized. Information from an inside source reveals that, when the reserves' warehouses and depots were opened, key stocks were missing - stolen.
What was gone? Fuel, weapons, ammunition, food, spare parts - all that a modern military needs to go to war. And I doubt it ended up in Iceland.
Trent Telenko speculated that this sort of thing was a problem earlier.
Jobseekers will think twice about employers who lock down work internet access, a senior Microsoft executive said today.
“These kids are saying: forget it! I don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t be freely online during the day,” said Anne Kirah, Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist.
“People that I meet are saying this to me every day, all over the world.”
YESTERDAY'S REAL FOOD / CRUNCHY CONSPODCAST produced a lot of email, including one from Dave Johnston of The Crisper, who says that he lost 51 pounds by switching to a "real food" diet. And the before-and-after pictures are pretty impressive.
This tale of two small tech companies in Alexandria perfectly illustrates how damaging the practice of earmarking — anonymously adding spending to appropriations bills without public hearings, open debate or peer review — has become. And not only for taxpayers who foot the bill.
Vibration and Sound Solutions Ltd. received millions for its “Project M” magnetic levitation program, thanks to earmarks submitted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. The tax dollars kept coming even though the Navy decided five years ago it wasn’t interested in VSSL’s magnetic levitation program.
When federal funds finally dried up earlier this year, Moran campaign contributor and company President Robert Conkling shuttered his Royal Street facility. At that point, according to Department of Defense officials, VSSL had received at least $30 million from the firm’s lone “customer” even though that customer insisted for years it wasn’t interested in the magnetic levitation program.
Moran and Hunter were far from alone in using defense spending for questionable purposes. There were 2,847 earmarks totaling $9.4 billion submitted by members of Congress in the fiscal ’06 defense budget. Not a dime of that $9.4 billion was requested by President Bush or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.
You could do a lot with 9.4 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, Bill Frist responds to an InstaPundit post on pork from yesterday. "Many in the blogosphere – left and right – have rallied to support this crucial legislation, which is fitting, for no group better knows the power of technologically empowered grassroots activism. And, for reasons of policy and politics, many bloggers are rightly outraged that S. 2590 was shot down when I attempted to bring it up for a vote prior to the August recess."
But he doesn't out the Senator behind the "secret hold" on the earmark reform legislation. I suppose that's too much to expect, but it's not too much to hope for. . . .
PREMIUM WATTS ONLY: Popular Mechanics has a driver's report on the Tesla electric roadster. "You squirt through traffic holes without the hesitation—it’s absolutely always in meat of the powerband. And all you hear from the powertrain is a hushed turbine-like wail from behind your head." I'd like one.
As long as we’re appreciating irony, let’s consider the irony of emphasizing the importance of holding one branch of the federal government, the executive, to the strict limits of the rule of law while sitting in another branch of the federal government, the judiciary, and blithely ignoring your own obligations.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr isn't very impressed with Judicial Watch's complaints: "I don't think Judge Taylor wrote a good opinion, but I think it's very far-fetched and rather insulting to her to suggest that her opinion was influenced by some kind of actual conflict of interest."
I suspect that's right, though it's probably true that if this case involved a conservative judge and the NRA we'd be hearing more about it.
1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in “big boxes”.
6. There has always been only one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually “ring it up” on a cash register.
Lots more, including my favorite: "Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober." He's the Thomas the Tank Engine guy, right? But wasn't he in in some band, once, too?
posted at 07:24 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS: "Whose judgment do you trust more: sweet unionized Iowa teachers or cynical unionized Vegas gambling workers? Somehow I don't think the Vegas gambling workers would have picked out John Kerry as 'electable!'"
"Let those who want to judge, pass judgment," Grass said last week in a typically sententious utterance. Very well, then, mein lieber Herr. The first judgment is that you kept quiet about your past until you could win the Nobel Prize for literature. The second judgment is that you are not as important to German or to literary history as you think you are. The third judgment is that you will be remembered neither as a war criminal nor as an anti-Nazi hero, but more as a bit of a bloody fool.
posted at 11:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RICHARD COHEN ON THE MIDEAST: "This inability of Europe to get its act together is what suggests 1938. . . . Hezbollah's avowed aim is to eradicate Israel. Listen to what it says. Pay attention. It will renew its attacks the first chance it gets. This is why it exists."
ERIC SCHEIE HAS SOME THOUGHTS in response to the animal-rights terrorism item I posted earlier:
I think that the tactic of threatening children (which I've posted about infra), while nothing new to animal rights activists, works as a "twofer." That's because it simultaneously accomplishes both of the following:
1. It intimidates the intended audience (all animal researchers, and especially other researchers who might so much as think about doing animal research); and
2. It advances the nihilistic ideology that there is no moral distinction between humans and animals.
The latter fires up the troops, and frightens everyone else.
These observations are not new for me, and I'm sure others have made them too. But the reason I decided to write this post was that the other day I had the occasion to talk to a genetics researcher who works in the United States but who comes from another country, and closely follows what goes on in his field worldwide. He told me that the animal research work is constantly, relentlessly, being shifted to China. (You know... "Outsourcing.")
In an amazing coincidence, the outsourcing of animal research to China is also a "twofer":
1. In China, the concept of animal rights is a laugh (even more of a laugh than human rights, which is also a laugh). This means animal research facilities are not subject to policing or inspections as they are in the West.
2. Chinese researchers are meticulous and hard-working, and cost a fraction of their American counterparts.
So, as a result of the fascistic activist tactics, animal rights research is farmed out to a basically fascist country, where animals suffer more, and where the research can be conducted inexpensively without any real ethical limitations.
Sounds likely to me.
UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails:
Well, in its own way China also upholds the principle that there is no ethical difference between human and animals (sorry, make that "non-human animals"). Animals have no rights there, and neither do humans.
MACACAGATE UPDATE: "Burned by a blog-induced firestorm over an an off-hand comment at a campaign rally, Sen. George Allen's campaign is seeking a conservative blog maven who can blunt future attacks and help rally conservatives in the state and elsewhere behind Allen's campaign." Better late than never, I guess, but . . . .
He's right to warn of these. On the other hand, as I've noted before, the media's tendency to hype every hurricane mercilessly means that warnings about really dangerous ones are more likely to be ignored. I think that was one reason why Katrina warnings got less attention than they deserved.
UPDATE: On further reflection, I want to quote this bit from Brendan's post: "He is mystified by a study that found 60 percent of people in hurricane-prone U.S. coastal areas have no hurricane plan — which to disaster managers means up to a week’s worth of food and water squirreled away, a kit with flashlights and other gear, and an established evacuation route to higher ground."
People, I don't care where you live, you should have a week's food and water, some other disaster supplies, and a plan for where to go if you have to leave your home. More on that here.
posted at 07:55 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MY ARMY OF DAVIDS VIEWS COME IN FOR SOME CRITICISM at Government Executive magazine, which seems to view me as insufficiently friendly to big government. On the other hand, the author also thinks I work at the University of Texas, so I don't feel terribly stung by his criticism.
UPDATE: Reader Bill O'Neill found something else to object to:
Even more characteristic of government bureaucrats than the (now corrected) error in your university is the following sentence from the review you linked:
"I was intrigued by the notion of who might want to beat big government -- usually only tax cheats and other criminals are interested in that kind of racket."
Do you think this pompous bozo believes he works for us, the taxpayers?
Yes, quite a few people found that sentence both revealing and objectionable. (Though I should note that Govt. Executive is published for government employees, but not by government employees). But Shoop did send me a non-pompous email on the error: "Jeez, that was a dumb mistake. My apologies. I’ll correct it."
Quick correction is characteristic of the blogosphere and the Army of Davids, so maybe there's hope for him yet.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg comments on the review, and observes: "It's useful to note that when people criticize big government (at this website, the target is often NASA), it's not (necessarily) criticism of the people who work for the big government. People, good people, respond to the situation in which they find themselves, and they also respond to the incentives inherent in that system."
I've also noticed that some government people -- and some journalists -- respond to criticism of their employer or profession as if it were criticism directed at them, personally.
posted at 05:15 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A MAJOR TAX DECISION from the D.C. Circuit, involving the reach of the Sixteenth Amendment. TaxProf has the scoop.
I think some folks in Congress were hoping that this issue would just kind of evaporate over the summer. Sorry, guys.
posted at 01:00 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MORE ON THE WAR, from Michael Barone. And here are some related thoughts from Arnold Kling. "I think that the popular instinct is that the elites so far have not gotten it right on security and Islamic militancy. And in that regard, the popular instinct is right."
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A Senate staffer — who shall remain nameless here — must have awakened on the wrong side of the bed Monday morning. Said staffer exploded in response to a constituent’s question whether the staffer’s boss was the senator who placed an anonymous hold on S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. . . .
Odds are slim that the real senator or senators behind the anonymous hold will ever come forward voluntarily, even though for years it has been customary in these arcane matters beyond the Senate cloakroom for the identity of such holders to be kept private only so long as necessary to force some sort of compromise on the legislation in question. Compromise is probably not the spirit behind the present anonymous hold.
The problem here, of course, is that federal spending transparency is anathema for too many Democrats and Republicans in government. They think members of the public ought to keep their noses out of how their tax dollars are being spent by the Potomac potentates at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and all the departments and agencies in between. The attitude was epitomized by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s statement that he was “damn tired” of the “so-called porkbusters” because “they’ve been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina.” Those words sound like something you’d expect from a prime suspect in the present mystery, do they not?
Stories like this can only add to a "throw the bums out" mentality this fall. And whoever the senator responsible for the "anonymous hold", the GOP should be under no illusions that - as the party in charge - they will be the ones that end up paying the electoral price.
He concludes, "Are you paying attention, Senator Frist?"
The constant calls, the people frightening his children, and the demonstrations in front of his home apparently became a little too much.
Dario Ringach, an associate neurobiology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, decided this month to give up his research on primates because of pressure put on him, his neighborhood, and his family by the UCLA Primate Freedom Project, which seeks to stop research that harms animals.
Anti-animal research groups are trumpeting Ringach’s move as a victory, while some researchers are worried that it could embolden such groups to use more extreme tactics. . . .
Colleagues suggested that Ringach, who did not return e-mails seeking comment, was spooked by an attack on a colleague. In June, the Animal Liberation Front took credit for trying to put a Molotov cocktail on the doorstep of Lynn Fairbanks, another UCLA researcher who does experimentation on animals. The explosive was accidentally placed on the doorstep of Fairbanks’s elderly neighbor’s house, and did not detonate.
If people were doing this to animal-rights activists, it would be called fascism.
UPDATE: More threats against children here. And the Insta-Wife wonders why the AIDS activists aren't going after the anti-research animal-rights terrorists. Good question!
And reader William S. Aronstein emails:
"If people were doing this to animal-rights activists, it would be called fascism."
In fact, this informal "control of the streets" was a key part of the National Socialist and Fascist program. By intimidating their opponents with threats of violence, the fascists silence them.
With all of the reports of unhinged leftist mayhem catalogued by Michelle Malkin and Gateway Pundit, how far away from such a situation are we?
Still pretty far, fortunately. But I think the FBI should come down hard on animal-rights terrorism, and I think these guys deserve RICO suits to the same degree that anti-abortion terrorists do.
posted at 09:06 AM by Glenn Reynolds
FEWER HURRICANES THIS YEAR, because of cooler seas? When I was in the Cayman Islands earlier this month, people said the water was a couple of degrees cooler than last year. Apparently, that's a general phenomenon this year. But Brendan Loy says more storms may be on the way.
posted at 07:41 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AN 8/22 DOOMSDAY WATCH UPDATE: "It’s the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine."
A LEBANESE student suspected of trying to paralyse the German railway network with a bomb concealed in a suitcase appeared in court yesterday, as a huge police hunt for a second suspect continued.
The 21-year-old man was remanded in custody by an investigating judge in Karlsruhe, southwest Germany, on charges of attempted murder, belonging to a terrorist organisation and attempting to cause an explosion.
The suspect was an engineering student in the north German town of Kiel, where he was held on Saturday morning.
His arrest has thrown the country into panic since it coincides with Berlin’s emotionally charged decision to deploy troops in the Middle East for the first time since the Second World War. Suddenly Germans, too, are beginning to feel that they have become a target.
As opposed to a sanctuary, which is what they've been for years.
posted at 07:24 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AN A'IMMA ANNIVERSARY: "Last weekend, roughly one million Iraqis celebrated a holy day in Baghdad. And they were relatively unmolested."
UPDATE: A less positive take from Omar. He's there, so I defer to his position.
posted at 07:13 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AIDS UPDATE: William Saletan looks at circumcision as vaccination. "Drug researchers would kill for an HIV vaccine half as effective as circumcision." I think he overstates the case somewhat, but the evidence that circumcision makes a difference does seem to be growing.
House Republican leaders promise that even if lobby reform stalls - as it has - they will do something to rein in earmarks when they return to Capitol Hill next month.
The reason: There's too much flak over lawmakers who are cashing in on earmarks - legally, as campaign contributions; illegally, as bribes. Even good projects look bad when they're muscled into spending bills late in the process, anonymously, and with no competition, debate, or chance to delete them.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 08:17 PM by Glenn Reynolds
CATHY SEIPP looks at Spike Lee's new Katrina movie, which seems to be rather conspiracist in nature. Those interested in a more factual account might want to look here.
Upside -- the movie reportedly features Brendan Loy, who provides some background and stresses a point that Lee may or may not address in depth: "Ray Nagin is an incompetent idiot. Here’s a detailed explanation of why. Two days before landfall, I predicted that he would be “the mayor who fiddled while New Orleans drowned,” and I was right. Yes, there were massive failures at all levels of government — local, state and federal — but the single person who bears the most blame, in my view, is Mayor Nagin, for failing to make even a halfway-serious effort at implementing the city’s evacuation plan, even though it was 100% clear by the Saturday morning before landfall that if there was ever a time to do it, now is the time. Spike, I gather, intends to focus on Condi Rice’s shoe-buying tendencies in tonight’s movie, and while that might score political points, it’s not the Secretary of State’s job to protect American citizens from hurricanes."
I don’t mind the inclusion of the conspiracy theories, in the sense that it’s good to know how many people believe that, but Spike definitely didn’t emphasize the debunking of those theories. His treatment was hardly evenhanded, clearly leaving the impression that these theories are plausible, if not likely. A bit more actual scientific commentary on the plausbility of the theories, and alternative explanations for the “explosions,” would have been appreciated. . . . Also: Harry Belafonte is an idiot. But if you’re going to include his inane ranting about how Bush doesn’t care about poor people and black people, where was the alternative viewpoint saying that it was incompetence, not malice? I know Spike had footage available of someone saying that, because I said it. He just chose not to use it. So Belafonte’s crap goes unrebutted, the ridiculous criticisms of Rice go unrebutted, Nagin’s comment about “where are the buses” goes unrebutted (the obvious rebuttal being, you let them drown, Mr. Mayor)… yet when people criticize Nagin, it’s rebutted by Nagin and others. Very interesting editorial choices, Spike.
But, alas, not surprising. Dishonesty is the small coin of documentary filmmaking these days.
THEY SHOULD HAVE HAD AN EXIT STRATEGY: "As the rest of the nation ponders solutions to Iraq war troubles, progressive bloggers are also mired in their own strategic quagmire in CT. After toppling Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in the 8/8 Dem primary, progressives are finding it more difficult than anticipated to rid themselves permanently of the 18-year incumbent. Now that it's clear cable exec Ned Lamont (D-CT) faces a tough battle that threatens to drain progressive resources and attention from other races, as well as draw out GOPers in close House races, some are arguing that Lamont should be cut loose to focus on the larger war against the GOP. For now, the 'stay the course' crowd is winning the debate."
If you criticize Kos, you're siding with the Republicans!
Yet most Senators clearly have no desire to shine a light on their spending practices, and at least one -- perhaps more -- has placed a "secret" hold on the legislation. Normally the architects of these holds are exposed within a few legislative days, but with Congress on recess the masked spender has so far evaded capture and public scrutiny.
Porkbusters, a grassroots outfit that fights government waste, found this untransparent move to stymie government transparency a bit rich, and last week launched a campaign to unveil the blocker's identity. It has asked its members to call on their Senators to disavow the hold, and the responses are trickling in. The group, which is tracking the results on its Web site (www.porkbusters.org), still has the pictures of 91 Senators under its "Suspect" list. The nine Senators who have denied placing the hold are now listed as "In the Clear"; they are Senator Coburn, Barack Obama, Mary Landrieu, David Vitter, John McCain, Ron Wyden, Richard Shelby, Jim Inhofe and Jeff Sessions.
If Congress insists on spending like there's no tomorrow, at least the Members could let the voters see what they're spending it on by passing Senator Coburn's reform. Will the real secret Senator please stand up?
I'm guessing he or she won't come forward voluntarily.
UPDATE: This item has produced an angry email to PorkBusters from a Senator's communications staffer, charging a "guilty until proved innocent" approach. This seems unwise, but I'll leave out the guy's name and attribute it to Monday-morning blahs. But here's some advice.
First, angry emails to bloggers are a bad idea. They usually get reprinted in full.
Second, "guilty until proved innocent" seems a bit strong, but it's also kind of rich considering that the whole issue stems from Senate secrecy about the people's business. It's the Senate's effort to avoid transparency and accountability that's at the root of the problem here. Senators conducting Senate business aren't like individuals going about their private lives -- they're public officials, who work for the public, who are doing the public's business, not their own. The Senate's tendency to forget that, and to wallow in its own sense of entitlement, is what's wrong here. Complaints like this one just underscore that.
posted at 10:44 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MOSCOW MARKET BLAST: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.
DANIEL GLOVER: "Democratic bloggers have invested as much or more of their rhetorical energy into attacking lawmakers in their own party this year as they have Republicans."
posted at 07:32 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AIDS UPDATE: John Donnelly, in the Boston Globe, finds some good news:
Today, the change for the better is astonishing: Idoko now treats nearly 6,000 HIV-positive patients. He has expanded his clinic three times in five years, and his waiting room once again is too crowded. ``Now, we are eyeing an abandoned building nearby," he said last week, chuckling.
The major reason for Idoko's success is the Bush administration's AIDS program, which in the last three years has sent billions of dollars to Africa and helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. When I moved to Africa three years ago, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was just getting off the ground. As I return to Washington this month, the $15 billion program is just hitting its stride, and many Africans believe it has become the single most effective initiative in fighting the deadly scourge.
``The greatest impact in HIV prevention and treatment in Africa is PEPFAR-there's nothing that compares," Idoko said.
Only you wouldn't know it in America-or Canada, or Europe, for that matter-given the tenor of the AIDS debate in Washington and the nature of the international media coverage.
'Defending' Social Security and achieving a decent health care system is less likely to 'galvanize and strengthen progressive reform as a whole' than it is to either bankrupt the government or require a larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear. . . .
It's when you don't think we should save the "universal" Social Security system that you don't want to engineer a few moderate Bush-style cuts now in order to make it solvent for the next 100 years, which will only convince everyone there's no reason to tamper with it! Better to leave the system alone and make truly radical, means-testing cuts later, when a) it will be clear there's a budget crisis and b) Democrats will be in a position to achieve something big, like national health insurance, in return.
I'm not sure how a budget crisis in Social Security will produce a favorable environment for another big entitlement program, but maybe I'm missing something here.
The weekend saw another major Taliban defeat. It began when a force of about a hundred Taliban attacked a town 35 kilometers west of Kandahar. Police held off the attackers as reinforcing soldiers and police moved to hit the Taliban from the rear. NATO warplanes arrived as well, and by the end of the weekend, at least 71 dead Taliban were found in three locations. This battle was part of operations to stop Taliban attacks along the newly rebuilt Kandahar-Kabul highway. The Taliban losses are believed to account for about ten percent of the Taliban combat strength in the area, which is not good for morale. The Taliban have suffered one defeat, like this one, after another all Summer. Moreover, the Taliban have been trying to intimidate the NATO combat troops, without much success. Canadian NATO troops, which the Taliban have been clashing with regularly in the past month, were the ones who hit back at the Taliban this past weekend.
The report also says that Taliban efforts to terrorize Afghan tribes are having mixed results.
MACACA UPDATE: James Joyner says the Washington Post is gunning for George Allen, and offers a psychological explanation: "One gathers the Post is more offended by the insinuation that inside-the-Beltway elites aren’t part of 'real America' than about the 'racist overtones' of the Macaca incident. Perhaps Allen’s remarks hit a wee bit close to home?"
Nah. It's all just misdirection to let them report the real damaging news that Allen is half French. . . .
posted at 07:06 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JOE GANDELMAN looks at Republican pundits deserting Bush, which does seem to be a phenomenon. Bush -- who, as I've said before, has always been politically weak, just stronger than Kerry or Gore -- is in the "sweet spot" on the war, fighting hard enough to anger the antiwar folks but not hard enough to please the prowar folks. This might argue that Bush is getting it right, but I suspect not. If you're going to fight a war, you should probably fight it full bore or not at all, raising the troubling possibility that both sets of critics are right simultaneously. But perhaps a nuanced approach is called for.
More than 6% of U. S adults, or about 9 million web users, have downloaded podcasts in the past 30 days, according to The Economics of Podcasting, a report released today by Nielsen Analytics, part of VNU’s Media Measurement & Information Group.
In a first quarter 2006 study, conducted by Nielsen Analytics at Nielsen Entertainment Television testing facilities in Las Vegas, more than 1700 participants were surveyed on their podcasting usage. About 6% of respondents described themselves as regular podcast downloaders – more than 75% of whom were male. The findings show that a significant percentage, approximately 38%, of active podcast downloaders say they are listening to radio less often.
“The incredible popularity of podcasting is the latest demonstration of consumers’ willingness to take control of their media experiences,” said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics. “While essentially still in nascent form, podcasts offer free audio and video content that is inexpensive to create, easy to access and on a portable platform that has already reached mass distribution. This exciting new medium has only just begun to stretch its legs.”
Judging by the numbers they give for popular podcasts, the Glenn and Helen Show is doing awfully well, though as with all Web stats its hard to be sure that you're comparing apples and apples. In the same spirit, I don't think that Nielsen will learn anything useful by sampling the habits of 400 iPod owners. First, most people listen to podcasts on computers, not iPods. (Even most people who listen on portable players tend to listen on other brands than iPods.) Second, Apple users tend to be disproportionately left-leaning, and while that's probably less true for iPod owners than it is for Mac owners I think it probably injects some potential bias. And finally, given the vast diversity of offerings out there, 400 listeners isn't nearly enough. Even 4000 would be a pretty coarse measure.
UPDATE: Reader Douglas Winship takes me to task, which, er, provides me with a great opportunity to showcase the self-correcting nature of the blogosphere:
I am curious about your assertion that Apple users as a whole tend to lean left. I know it is a common assumption, and Apple certainly has a tendency to lean left in the culture it uses in its advertising, but have there actually been studies on this? Could you cite one, just for grins?
I am curious, because my own experience does not support this. I know plenty of users who range from full-blown BDS sufferers, to California Libertarians (OK, there may not be a difference there....), and a bunch of moderate to conservative Republicans like myself. Now, I am aware that we all gravitate socially to like-minded people, but I find it hard to believe that Mac users gravitate that significantly Left.
He's right to call me. You hear that about Apple users leaning left all the time, but I don't have a study on that. Anybody know if I'm right, or just recycling commonly held stereotypes? I'm probably also wrong on the iPods vs. other players issue, as their market share (I looked this up myself) has risen to an astounding 82% of the retail market, and may be headed higher. Even allowing for the large base of preexisting players from other brands out there, iPods are probably an absolute majority of players in use. Also, interestingly, the percentage (not the number) of iTunes users subscribing to our RSS feed has dropped, as lots of people have started subscribing via Firefox and other agents. I assume those folks are listening on their computers, mostly, and certainly not on iPods.
I stand by my point about 400 iPod users not being a big enough sample, though.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chad Irby emails that the iPod has actually dropped to a "mere" 75% of the market. But mobile phone listeners are coming on strong. We certainly get some of those.
In recent weeks, France stepped forward to act as a broker of peace in Lebanon. “Act” is the key verb in that last sentence, as it now would seem that the only other verifiable part of the sentence is “in recent weeks.”
To correctly parse that sentence, one must understand that when France suggested it wanted to broker peace in Lebanon, it did not necessarily mean “broker” or “peace” or “Lebanon” in the way we might understand those words. The same is true when France further suggested it wanted to “lead” a “strong” “multinational” “force” there.
Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has some new stuff on behind-the-scenes efforts along those lines in the Clinton years. Bill Clinton thought that gun control cost him the Congress in 1996, and there's some evidence that Democrats have taken that lesson to heart, though as the party moves left I don't know if it will stick.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, on the Darfur front, here's a site that scores members of Congress on their efforts regarding the genocide there.
posted at 08:09 AM by Glenn Reynolds
SOME MAP-READING ADVICE for the media: "Really with the ease and speed of web sources there is no excuse for reporters, or at least their editor when the reporter is in the field, to not check the web for correct locations, place names and other facts."