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COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW: Are Female Journalists Softballing Jill Abramson Because She’s A Woman?

Here’s the thing. I don’t begrudge Abramson the right to pick the journalists she believes will give her the warmest embrace, or will accept her terms for an interview. Why shouldn’t she do that? In this case, she’s not in the role of “journalist,” she’s the newsmaker trying to spin her version of events. And on that score Abramson has a deft touch. She is not only brilliant at overseeing the news, she is also brilliant at managing the news, particularly when it’s about her. In the weeks since her firing, the public relations skirmish looks something like: Abramson 7, The New York Times 0.

But it is an absurd display of credulity and clubbiness on the part of her interviewers to take dictation on whatever Abramson says, to accept her version of highly controversial events surrounding her firing at The Times and then call it a day.

There are plenty of questions still to be asked: What about Abramson’s compensation battles with her bosses and, if true, her extraordinary decision to hire a lawyer when she was the executive editor? What warnings was she given that she might be fired? What did she tell then-managing editor Dean Baquet about the prospect of another managing editor coming in? Is his version of events complete?

I happen to be one who thinks there indeed was a double standard operating in the executive suite at The Times, and that a man would not be dismissed for his management style when his performance as a journalist was unsurpassed. But I was hoping for some better understanding of this issue when Abramson finally started speaking.

I’m beginning to think the details may never come out. Abramson has mainly dodged male reporters. And the male reporters I know would just as soon stay clear of the whole matter anyway. Most men don’t go rushing to cover tempestuous stories of sex discrimination.

That means it’s probably up to female journalists to seek complete answers to an event that’s still of no small importance in some quarters, particularly the quarters containing the young female journalists Abramson says she cares about most.

If female journalists want to be treated equitably, they should abide by their own principles of fairness. That means not giving your own a slide because you think they deserve it. Behaving otherwise is convenient, but it’s not journalism.

If it weren’t for clubby double standards, today’s journalism wouldn’t have any standards at all.

CATHY YOUNG: The Surprising Truth About Women And Domestic Violence: Traditional stereotypes have led to double standards that often cause women’s violence—especially against men—to be trivialized. “Family and intimate relationships—the one area feminists often identify as a key battleground in the war on women—are also an area in which women are most likely to be violent, and not just in response to male aggression but toward children, elders, female relatives or partners, and non-violent men, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Violence.”

21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: How Will Sexbots Change Human Relationships? Nobody tell that notorious robophobe Matthew Yglesias.

But if you’re going to worry, as this author does, that “female” sexbots will shape male expectations of real women, what about vibrators? The oldest of all sexbots, have they shaped female expectations of men? Plus, note this old post on double standards. Plus, a discussion in the comments here.

SHIKHA DALMIA: Does NYT’s Jill Abramson Have It Worse Than Her Indian Sisters?

Now, much of the agenda of American feminists—wage gap, not enough female CEOs, tax payer-covered birth pills, and, the emerging cause celeb, the absence of paid menstrual leave—strikes me as special pleading masquerading as gender justice. (What’s next? All expenses paid bikini waxes?) But sexism—holding women to different behavioral standards than men—is a genuine issue in America, especially in workplaces.

That’s true, but the double-standards work both ways. All sorts of behavior that would be punished as sexual harassment if done by men is ignored when done by women, for example.

#WARONMEN: Shocking video shows how members of the public intervene when they see man attacking his girlfriend… but stand by and LAUGH when the roles are reversed.

A hard-hitting experiment has revealed how strangers react differently when seeing domestic abuse depending on the gender of the aggressor.

A video filmed with hidden cameras at a London park shows a male actor attacking his ‘girlfriend’ in front of onlookers who immediately rush to help, with one shouting: ‘Oi mate, what’s wrong with you?’

The man is told ‘someone will call the police if you carry on doing that to someone’, before a passer-by says to the woman: ‘You don’t have to put up with that honey, he’s not worth it’.

The experiment is then conducted with the same actors – but this time, the woman is the aggressor, attacking him and saying: ‘Don’t try to walk away – listen to me when I’m talking to you.’

However, instead of reacting with shock, nobody watching even attempts to help the man. They actually seem rather entertained by the incident, stopping to stare and laughing about it.

If it weren’t for double standards, nowadays, we’d have no standards at all. Video at the link.

JAMES TARANTO: Drunkenness And Double Standards: A balanced look at college sex offenses.

Winerip notes that between 2005 and 2010, “more than 60 percent of claims involving sexual violence handled by United Educators”–an insurance company owned by member schools–“involved young women who were so drunk they had no clear memory of the assault.” We know from Sgt. Cournoyer that the accused young men typically are drinking to excess, too. What is called the problem of “sexual assault” on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. (Based on our reporting, the same is true in the military, at least in the enlisted and company-grade officer ranks.)

Which points to a limitation of the drunk-driving analogy. If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students “collide,” the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser’s having had one drink is sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt. . . . In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that “if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other.” In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.

That is self-evidently unjust, yet it turns out to be a matter of high principle for many feminists. Last fall Slate’s Emily Yoffe, the mother of a college-age daughter, was the target of a Two Minutes Hate for a post titled “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk,” even though she offered the same advice to college men: “If I had a son, I would tell him that it’s in his self-interest not to be the drunken frat boy who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate.”

Women are obviously too fragile to handle college. They should just get married young, have babies, and stay home. Luckily, ObamaCare encourages that!

CLAUDIA ROSETT ON THE HYPOCRISY OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONDEMNING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OVER SEX ABUSE:

That’s rich coming from the U.N., which has still not solved its own festering problems of peacekeeper sex abuse, including the rape of minors. Exposing abusers and holding them to account is a great idea. The Vatican has spent years addressing the scandal of its own past handling of such cases. But the U.N. hardly engages in the transparency it is now promoting.

The U.N. releases only generic statistics on violations committed by personnel working under its flag. The U.N. doesn’t share with the public such basic information as the names of the accused or the details of what they did to people the U.N. dispatched them to protect. Blue berets accused of sex crimes are simply sent back to their home countries, where in the majority of cases they drop off the radar.

Though the U.N. has been recording a drop in sex-abuse cases since it began releasing numbers in 2007, the number of alleged instances of rape and exploitation each year still runs into the dozens. (This may understate the realities, given the hurdles to victims coming forward, often in societies in tumult or at war.) From 2007-13, the U.N. reported more than 600 allegations of rape or sexual exploitation, with 354 substantiated—many of them involving minors. The numbers do not convey how ugly some of these cases get. Details can occasionally be gleaned when an incident seeps past the U.N. wall of omerta and makes it into the news, as with the peacekeeper gang rape in 2011 of a Haitian teenager, whose agony was caught on video.

If it weren’t for double standards, the U.N. would have no standards at all.

DOUBLE STANDARDS: “Juan Williams thinks he’s defending Obamacare by observing that it has no effect on him and the other members of the Sunday talk show pundit panel. This is the sort of thing that a Republican would be pilloried for saying. . . . Williams shouldn’t get away with that callousness. Where’s the empathy?” You demonstrate “empathy” by being a Democrat, especially a minority Democrat. As a Republican, you can only demonstrate “empathy” by agreeing with Democrats’ demands, preferably accompanying that agreement with an apology for your own existence.

DOUBLE STANDARDS: Why Is Female Sex Tourism Embraced By Society? “One would assume that since society views men who visit prostitutes in a negative light they would also be critical of women doing the same thing. In the case of sex tourism, both older men and women from developed countries make trips to the developing world to pay for sex with partners far younger than themselves. However the way society and the media view the men and women doing the same thing couldn’t be more different. Male sex tourists are depicted, at worst, as criminals or, at best, as low-life scum taking advantage of poor desperate women. Meanwhile, the media practically celebrates women who do the same thing—in the form of films and articles—while the at-large society seems to accept this glaring double standard.”

Female sexuality is always to be celebrated, unlike that icky and dangerous male sexuality.

REVERSE THE SEXES AND THERE’S NO STORY HERE:

Writing for his college paper, Cory Booker once admitted that he groped a friend when he was 15 years old.

Now the mayor of Newark and a candidate for New Jersey’s open Senate seat, a college-aged Booker described the experience of grabbing the girl’s breast and having his hand pushed away.

But it is unfortunate for him that people are bringing this up as so many other Democratic politicians — and feminist heroes — are having problems.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse proves my point about double standards, and also demonstrates that even I am not immune.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Is Althouse playing the Drudge juxtaposition game?

DOUBLE STANDARDS: Tea Party Groups May Be Too Political For IRS Comfort, But Here’s How OFA Defines Itself. “The video was sent out by OFA today and posted on BarackObama.com, which is operated by OFA. But 501(c)4’s aren’t supposed to be about politicians, theoretically, but about issues. Yet there’s not much in the video in the way of substance.”

INDEED: Hate Speech Against Gun Owners Shows Double Standard. Hey, if it weren’t for double standards, the left would have no standards at all!

Plus: “If liberals and left-wingers get any more civil, conservatives and Republicans might have to start wearing body armor.” Start?

LAW, JOURNALISM, AND DOUBLE STANDARDS: David Gregory, Meet James O’Keefe.

Howard Kurtz dismisses the legal concerns. Gregory may have violated the law, but he was just engaged in a media stunt. ”I don’t think Gregory was planning to commit any crimes,” Kurtz writes — no crimes other than violating D.C.’s gun laws that is. But who cares if it was illegal, it was good TV! Tell that to James O’Keefe who, Kurtz may recall, was prosecuted for his own legal indiscretions when trying to film some stunts of his own. Prosecutors wisely allowed O’Keefe to plea to a minor charge, but he wasn’t let off the hook just because he was attempting act of journalism. Why should David Gregory and his NBC colleagues be held to a different standard?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Kurtz springing to O’Keefe’s defense.

UPDATE: This is all over Facebook.

David Gregory Gun Crime

ANOTHER UPDATE: Guns And Posers: Why Isn’t David Gregory In Jail?

MORE: The David Gregory meme started at Legal Insurrection with this post: Feds and media jump to David Gregory’s defense as race card goes missing.

INNATE FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY AND INSECURITY?

As we watch the Syrian dictator struggle to survive, and the Egyptian would-be dictator run from an angry mob, and as we think back to the many fallen dictators of the recent past – Gorbachev, Ceausescu, Pinochet, and their numerous ilk– we might well ask ourselves two questions:

Why does that job look so good?

And why do so many intellectuals cozy up to the dictators?

It doesn’t say good things about the “intellectuals,” though.

ENEMIES LISTS: From Nixon to Obama. “For those of use who lived through Watergate, it must be at least slightly surprising how little attention Strassel’s columns have drawn. . . . The mainstream media are of course missing in action. An election is looming and if it weren’t for double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.”

Yeah, if you wonder how Watergate would have played out under a Democratic President, well, wonder no more.

WILL AMAZON’S PUSH FOR SAME-DAY DELIVERY destroy local retail? “Physical retailers have long argued that once Amazon plays fairly on taxes, the company wouldn’t look like such a great deal to most consumers. If prices were equal, you’d always go with the ‘instant gratification’ of shopping in the real world. The trouble with that argument is that shopping offline isn’t really ‘instant’—it takes time to get in the car, go to the store, find what you want, stand in line, and drive back home. Getting something shipped to your house offers gratification that’s even more instant: Order something in the morning and get it later in the day, without doing anything else. Why would you ever shop anywhere else?”

Avoiding stores is mostly a plus, not a minus. Maybe if physical retailers had better staff. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Hunt Brown writes:

Hypocrite.

I like your page, and I enjoy your perspective, but when you start slamming bricks and mortar retailers about the time involved… without mentioning that absent the cost of gas looking on line for an item can be as infuriating as Burdines on December 24… well, that’s not entirely transparent, especially when you are taking a percentage of all online sales that slip through your site. You rail about Obama’s double standards and duplicity, perhaps it’s time you considered your own.

Tough love sucks.

Hey, Farhad Manjoo wrote that passage, not me. (And my Amazon Affiliate status is hardly any secret). But I’ve seldom had to spend much time finding things online — and nothing like the experience of looking in a crowded brick and mortar store. (And I just bought a new skillet at Williams-Sonoma, ending my boycott over their maltreatment of the Insta-Daughter.)

There are some things (shoes, nicer clothing) that I prefer to buy at brick-and-mortar stores; for everything else, I’d personally rather shop online. I do feel, though, that brick-and-mortar stores ought to be trying harder to make the shopping experience pleasant. Instead, I often get the feeling that the staff views me as a disturbance to their texting-their-friends time. I wrote a column nearly eight years ago about how brick and mortar stores could compete with online selling, but most of them seem not to have listened. Oddly, places that compete most directly with online — like Best Buy — seem to try the least.

Meanwhile, reader Grace Kittie has another complaint:

You have touched on a subject near and dear to my heart! I agree that dealing with what passes for “staff” these days is a fine reason all on its own for avoiding local shops, however the feature that has driven me to my laptop and comfy chair is the music that assaults the shopper the instant one steps through the door. It is not uncommon to have two or three different “tunes” floating through the air at once if the shop is large enough. Whatever happened to the concept of quiet contemplation? My first push to the online approach was a few years ago when a locally owned book store, where for many years I had enjoyed wonderfully peaceful browsing, started sponsoring live music events. I complained but was clearly in the minority. I was gone shortly thereafter. (So was the bookstore, come to think of it.)

On the other hand, when you shop online sometimes music starts up in another browser tab and it’s hard to find it and shut it down. At least when you have as many tabs open as I do.

And reader Marc Bacon writes to tell me where I should be shopping: “At Publix. Where shopping really is a pleasure…really.”

Well, we’re getting a couple of new Publix stores later this month. Happy to have someone challenge Kroger’s near-monopoly anyway, but on that recommendation I’ll definitely check them out.

And reader Clay Register gets the last word:

Funny this came up today. Last night I ordered a new $30 weather station from Amazon at about 8 P.M. (tree ants got my remote for the old one). It arrived this afternoon from Kentucky (I’m in FL). I told the UPS guy that, even if I had to pay taxes, this kind of service would be better than driving to the store and possibly not finding what I wanted

You know, I’ve never really considered moving to Florida, but if you’ve got ants that can carry away a remote, I’m pretty sure I never will. But yeah, that’s pretty good. Meanwhile, some related thoughts from Megan McArdle.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Tina Parker emails: “My son, an Economics doctoral student, just came in from the local games & graphic novel store. He browsed, bought a card game, and a couple of books. He said he realized he could have bought the game for less at Amazon but decided he wanted to reward the store for their customer service and game selection. Service will be the only way brick and mortar stores will survive online buying.” That’s what I keep trying to tell them.

MORE: Reader Mike Reynolds (no relation) writes:

First, Thank you for the site, love it, I will keep visiting. Second, in response to your reader Hunt Brown who called you a hypocrite, I must call foul. Having visited your page on a regular basis over the years I know you are affiliated with Amazon. You have told us so and have indicated our patronage of the Amazon link puts a little money in your pocket. I get that. It’s called capitalism. I actually appreciate your recommendations. I shop Amazon weekly and will continue to do so because I get what I need at a great price and with Prime, I get it quick.

If you want to use my name, you may. It’s Reynolds, and even though we are not related, I will continue to visit your site throughout the day.and click through to Amazon. Then I might hit The Corner, or Wired.

And reader Michelle Dulak Thomson emails:

Unless I’m listening to music for work (I’m a classical CD reviewer) at my computer, or watching online video/podcasts/whatever, I just turn the speakers off. There is too much loud and obnoxious music tied into websites these days (or, more often than not, to the pop-up ads associated with them, which Firefox isn’t catching as often as it used to).

Re: Amazon, the sales tax business doesn’t affect me at all, as I’m in Oregon. But if they can leverage their capitulation on the tax thing into even quicker shipping, good on them. I’ve noticed, as Manjoo did, that my Amazon orders are frequently coming ahead of schedule.

Indeed.

SO MUCH FOR THAT “NEW CIVILITY” BULLSHIT: Creepy Democrats Now Stalking Republicans At Home.

Related: Alternator Belt Cut On Romney Bus.

UPDATE: Speaking of double standards, reader John Casey writes: “There was a certain US Senate candidate who complained about video recordings made during his 2004 campaign, and I’ve suspected that the ‘invasion’ was blown out of proportion by the press, which was working for him even then.” Ya think?

They always go all have you no decency? when it’s done to them.

Plus, on the Romney-alternator story, from the comments: “Nobody knows whether Robert Gibbs cut the alternator belt on Mitt’s bus.”

And where’s the Secret Service? Romney’s the presumptive nominee, and anybody who could cut the alternator belt could have cut a brake line, or planted a bomb.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Obama vs. Romney: Bully vs. Nerd.

Romney’s big problem is that he grew up in another America. He was raised to believe there is a clear standard for adult conduct, that even politics has rules and that it is the duty of a president to unite and lead the nation through its economic crisis.

Timing could be his great misfortune. Fate has given him a demoralized electorate that is growing distant from that old America and an opponent who spouts its verities, but actually believes in none of them.

Barack Obama believes that politics is a knife fight, and the only rule is that he must win. His conduct reflects the unholy mix of a messiah complex with the muscle of The Chicago Way. His goal, he tells us, is to “transform” America, not fix it.

This culture clash explains a presidential campaign operating in parallel universes.

Old-fashioned America’s remedy for bullying: Punch the bully in the nose. Twice as hard. Think Romney knows that?

MORE: A Secret Service reader emails:

Regarding your “where’s the Secret Service?” response to the sabotaged Romney bus: frequently used motorcade vehicles are always under lock and key or attended by agents. If a vehicle is only occasionally used (like, say, a campaign bus), we don’t guard it, but the vehicle is carefully checked for bombs and sabotage prior to return to service.

And reader John Pennell writes:

I just finished the first two of Peter Godwin’s books about Zimbabwe, this smacks of the very early stages of Mugabe’s tactics which have kept him in power. One has to wonder if/when the “occupy” crowd becomes our own “war vets”.

By the way, the three books are available on Kindle and very much worth reading. 1) Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, 2) When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, and 3) The Fear.

I think that may have been the intent with Occupy, but it’s hard to get good goons these days.

SUDDENLY NOTICING “ONLINE HARASSMENT.” As Stacy McCain emails, if it weren’t for double standards, they’d have no standards at all.

WHEN CUPCAKES ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE CUPCAKES: In Massachusetts, “Bake sales, the calorie-laden standby cash-strapped classrooms, PTAs and booster clubs rely on, will be outlawed from public schools as of Aug. 1 as part of new no-nonsense nutrition standards, forcing fundraisers back to the blackboard to cook up alternative ways to raise money for kids.”

RELATED: Shocker: FLOTUS’s plan to weed out “food deserts” failing to bear much fruit.

UPDATE: An Insta-reader emails some thoughts on the Orwellian doubletalk in the “War on Food:”

Food desserts are alleged to cause obesity. I am talking about the alleged epidemic of “hunger”.

“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a significant step forward in our effort to help America’s children thrive and grow to be healthy adults. Thanks to the dedication of this Congress and First Lady Michelle Obama, more kids will have access to healthy, balanced, nutritious school lunches. By increasing the number of students eligible to enroll in school meal programs and improving the quality of food served, this legislation simultaneously tackles both hunger and the obesity levels currently affecting too many communities across this nation.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

How can we have epidemics of starvation and obesity at the same time? A statement like the one highlighted above should be the subject of constant ridicule (e.g. The Fat Children are Starving…). At the very least the government should be forced to pick one or the other area in which to overreach.

My children (who are not overweight in the slightest) are subject to monitoring and now food restrictions at school. Meanwhile, they are dragged to community service at the local food pantry and badgered about “walking for hunger”. This is Orwellian doublespeak at its finest, and nobody is talking about it.

This sounds like it would make for great updates to the next editions of both Liberal Fascism and the Tyranny of Cliches.

ROGER KIMBALL: How the Liberal Mind Works, WaPo edition.

The moral: if you are a liberal think tank, advocacy is OK because you are advocating the right ideas. If you are a conservative think tank, advocacy is not OK because it is “divisive,” “partisan,” and lacks “objectivity.”

The good news is that the double standards are increasingly obvious.

OOPS: Obama Fares Worse Among Women after Month-Long Contraception Mandate Battle. “The bottom line is that it’s not clear at all that the fight over the contraception/abortifacient mandate has hurt Republicans.”

UPDATE: So how’s that anti-Limbaugh campaign working out?

“The dust up over Sleep Train, along with the blowback suffered by Carbonite over that company’s public denunciation of Limbaugh… demonstrates that the iconic radio talk show host is dealing from a position of strength in the campaign to deprive him of advertisers. One tends to prosper when one advertises on Limbaugh’s show. But cross him, and one will suffer.”

Writes the lefty Drudge Retort, noting that Limbaugh hasn’t lost listeners (and has probably gained listeners, people who are “curious about what the fuss is all about”).

Stay tuned. Things don’t seem to be following the narrative here. More from Prof. Jacobson.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, reader William Moselle writes that he just quit HBO: “Had it for a decade or more. Loved it and ignored Maher. But the time came to make a bit of a statement, no matter how small, about the utter hypocrisy and double standards. Being Breitbart (in my own little way).”

I’d be interested to know how many people have done the same over the past week or so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh my: Obama’s approval rating hits new low in CBS poll.

MORE: On HBO, reader Bill Ryan emails:

I tried to quit HBO yesterday and I was told I was getting it for free and I had been getting it for free since Nov. My wife talked to them about a TV package back then but had no idea we were getting HBO for free. I told them I wanted to quit anyway because of Maher and their anti-Palin movie and their left wing bias.

This reminds me of when I tried to quit the Denver Post. They kept delivering it for months afterwards even though I called them to stop delivery. They kept delivering and offered the paper free if I would buy the Sunday edition.

I wonder how many other “subscribers” to HBO are getting it for “free.”

Heh. I don’t know. I’d like to know, though.

STILL MORE: Reader Ray Toohey writes:

Hey Glenn, you asked who has canceled HBO recently. I’ve never had it, so I couldn’t cancel it. BUT I did have Carbonite.

I called them last week and said “cancel me as of today.” The guys response was, “does this have anything to do with the recent troubles?” Yep!

He said they wouldn’t refund my money (I only had a month left before renewing.) I told him I don’t care I just wasn’t interested in their service anymore due to their politics.

Dropped them and got IDrive. (following a recommendation from another of your readers). Enough is enough!

Keep up the good work!

And reader John Hickey emails:

Just a quick note to let you know I’m another one of those Brietbart types who cancelled my subscription to HBO. I was able to cancel with ATT Uverse on line, but I did follow up with an email to HBO listing “Game Change” and Bill Maher as a couple of reasons for leaving. They never gave me the courtesy of a response.

I am Breitbart!

Stay tuned. Plus, one more reader email:

One explanation for the Obama administration/media misstep in the contraception contretemps is that the decision makers may be thoroughly cocooned that they really could not see how this would play out.

I think it is entirely possible of Obama’s inner circle and (to a lesser degree) the MSM that a) they don’t know many practicing Catholics b) they really did not recall how much more often left wing commentators and entertainers had said things about right wing women that were far more vile than anything Rush Limbaugh said, and c) Sandra Fluke seemed like a person whose life story would resonate, because her story is so similar to about half of their circle of friends.

A little more contact with the real world would have led them to the cautionary advice that a) many Catholics _actually believe_ that forcing religious institutions to pay for contraception and abortion in health coverage is a violation of their religious freedom, b) the Left says horrid things about conservative women all of the time, and they really would lose a tit-for-tat on this subject and c) Georgetown law students who want free contraception are really not as awesome of a victim group as it might seem on first look.

I don’t think this will be the last time during this campaign that Republican “losses” and Democrat “wins” get revised in the court of public opinion.

No name if used, please.

Like I said, stay tuned.

And note this, from the New York Times:

At a time of rising gas prices, heightened talk of war with Iran and setbacks in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 percent of respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 percent saying they disapprove — a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking re-election.

Hey, wait, I thought those dumb Republicans had thrown away their chances last week.

And reader Eric Rauch writes: “I just canceled HBO with Directv and the young man knew why I was canceling before I had to explain it to him. He said HBO is getting canceled a lot because of Bill Maher and the Palin movie. If I understood him correctly he offered discounts for 6 months of HBO free. Of course I canceled anyway.”

Plus, from reader Leslie Eastman: “A business model in which you cannot even give away your product for free is full of fail.”

And reader Eugene Dillenburg emails: “I don’t see what the big deal is. All that’s happening is the conservatives want to ‘make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.'”

ANN ALTHOUSE LOOKS AT double standards on Presidential offspring. After all the Trig Palin nastiness, I have no patience with the have you no decency? crowd, since it is obvious that they possess none themselves.

CLEVELAND? REALLY? Obama praises Cleveland as the ‘tech belt.’

UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails: “If he gets a second term Cleveland and Detroit will have the highest standards of living in the country. It won’t be because either of them improved, either.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader William Jamieson emails:

If The One called Cleveland the tech belt, he’s the only one who’s done so, to my knowledge. Maybe some local, rah-rah guys from the chamber of commerce have, but that’s just the spin and the hype, which no one believes. Seriously, aside from some nano stuff nearby, I’m not sure what The One might mean.

We’re an old blue-collar, factory town, and once thrived as a producer of cars and steel. We made things. Now, I don’t know how you’d describe us, as I don’t think we’ve made any real transition to a new business base.

I work in the midst of the projects, but only a few miles from the University Circle area and the Cleveland Clinic complex. Some of the best medical facilities in the world, along with one of the best art museums and orchestras in the world, are a 5 minute drive from my work.

But you wouldn’t know it from my work’s immediate neighborhood, which is rife with abandoned houses and the barrack-style projects built immediately post WW II, or so they look; around another corner, brick multi-story buildings, which once housed factories, but have been abandoned 10 or 20 years, are only now being torn down. Who’s the largest employer near us? RTA…the Regional Transit Authority, as in public transportation, heavily subsidized, of course. It’s a pretty depressed and depressing area.

If you want to see what 25 or so years of single party rule (democrat) have done to a city and county, and don’t want to go to Detroit, you should come here. Democratic mayors, congressional reps on east and west sides, county commissioners and other county officers, many of whom are going to jail….you think Chicago is corrupt, you should come here.

We’ve had the feds crawling all over some of these county guys for 3-4 years now, nailing one after the other. The County Auditor pleaded guilty a few months ago, in exchange for a light sentence for his son, also convicted of corruption, and is soon off to jail for 20+ years, the bastard. A county commissioner is going down with the ship, too. Of course, he’s innocent. I hope he gets double the auditor’s sentence.

Meanwhile, jobs have melted away, high school graduation rates every year hover at 50%, little new commercial construction has started, save for government buidlings….and, seemingly, no new businesses are moving in.

Gee, I wonder why?

ORGASM, INC: Will You Love or Hate This Documentary about the Search for a Female Viagra? Quite possibly neither. But I like this: “The unexpected star of the film is Stuart Meloy, a North Carolina anesthesiologist implanting electrodes into the spines of women who want to have orgasms. There’s something weirdly likable about him, demonstrating insertion of an electrode with a model of the human spine. A remote control completes the package which Meloy has christened the ‘Orgasmatron,’ after a device in Woody Allen’s 1973 comedy ‘Sleeper.'”

Plus this: “When it comes to sexual pleasure, we still have double standards. We’re often paranoid about drug companies and doctors such as Melroy selling orgasms to women, yet we don’t assume there’s a conspiracy when the guys are being offered Viagra. Is that because we still think satisfaction is optional for women and necessary for men?”

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND, if you were off having a life or something:

Advice to the new Congress: My Sunday Washington Examiner column.

Dollar goes down, oil goes up.

More airports consider ditching TSA.

2010: A Momentous Year For Commercial Spaceflight.

Why California has become the epicenter of unemployment.

Lee County School Board doubles down on stupid.

Some fascinating automotive history.

Brain-dead anarchists for socialism.

Blizzard-inspired thoughts on low-budget disaster preparation. And a followup here.

Thoughts on sexual double standards.

Instead of plowing, NYC snowplow guys got plowed.

The James Cole controversy won’t go away.

Austan Goolsbee’s debt problem.

A SEXUAL HARASSMENT DOUBLE STANDARD ON THE VIEW:

“The women on the show, by virtue of their age and status into the media world are able to say and do pretty much what they please, including invading the personal space of male guests and talking to them about subjects that would be taboo if the genders were reversed.” Examples include their discussion of Robert Pattinson’s private parts, their grilling of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino regarding his condom usage, and their flat-out declaration of Benicio Del Toro as “sexy.”

And yes, he is sexy. But this does, admittedly, reek of double standards

The View is all about entitlement, so this makes sense . . . .

DOUBLE-DIP? Mortgage rates hit all-time low, but lending activity remains quiet. “The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 4.69 percent this week from 4.75 percent last week, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. That marks the lowest level since the company started tracking the data in 1971 and breaks the most recent low set in December. Rates have hovered below 5 percent since early May. Yet home sales are tumbling and mortgage applications are slipping. Potential buyers have retrenched, discouraged by employment fears, the recent expiration of a home buyer’s tax credit and tough lending standards, industry experts said. . . . Although the economy added more jobs in May than in any other month in the past decade, the job growth was driven by temporary hiring for the once-a-decade census.”

PARTISAN SENATE NOMINEE FLAILS ON MEET THE PRESS: Rand Paul? No, the other partisan Senate nominee, Hugh Hewitt writes:

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee Joe Sestak turned in a horrible, halting and dissembling performance on this morning’s Meet The Press, even though host David Gregory let him get away with a simple acknowledgment of a job offer from the Obama Administration to get out of the primary he won against Arlen Specter and a stonewall on the details of who offered what to the Congressman.  There is a very good argument that the offer is itself a crime, and it is hard to imagine Gregory and the MSM refusing to force answers out of a GOP nominee for senate in 2008, 2006, 2004 or 2002 who had been offered such a deal by President Bush or Karl Rove.

Sestak’s hard left record and agenda will dominate much of the commentary around the November race against Pat Toomy, but the MSM’s lay down on this story is an amazing example of the double standard that dominates Beltway media when it comes to covering the Obama Administration.

Once the dust settled on the 2008 race, these sorts of double-standards ceased to be amazing, and become the accepted coin of the realm in MSM land, sad to say.

UPDATE: More at Hot Air.

ANN ALTHOUSE WILL BE LIVEBLOGGING the State Of The Union. And Jason Pye emails that the folks at UnitedLiberty will be liveblogging, too.

Stephen Green, of course, will be drunkblogging it, and has links to various State Of The Union drinking games. Jim Treacher will be liveblogging, too, and while it isn’t formally “drunkblogging,” well, informally it just might be . . . .

The country’s in the very best of hands. Our future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades. So sit back, relax, and watch!

Plus, Sandy Levinson on a SOTU catastrophe. “If we really do believe that there is, say, a 1% probability that a successful attack will take place on the Capitol when everyone gathers for the State of the Union address, that’s a good reason either to revert to an earlier tradition, when Presidents delivered written messages, or, at the very least, telling most of the Cabinet and Justices, for starters, that they can, like the rest of us, watch it on TV. (I note that Dick Cheney did not attend the immediate post-Sept. 11 address to Congress, but did seemingly attend all of the States of the Union address thereafter. But why? I ask this as a fully serious, and not cheap-shot, question.)” Well, Hillary isn’t attending tonight, but not as a security holdout. What does that mean?

UPDATE: More liveblogging from a panel of experts at the Cato Institute.

Also the inimitable Dana Loesch.

Plus, Jules Crittenden is doing the drinking games.

From the Cato Liveblog: “The assertions about the Depression we would have had are outrageous. Their forecasts of the stimulus’s impact have been horrible, so how can they have any credibility on this kind of issue? ” I think it’s full speed ahead, here, credibility be damned. Plus this: “Bastiat is spinning in his grave.”

The “stimulus” didn’t produce any jobs, but if we pass a new stimulus and call it a “jobs bill,” it will!

On Facebook, Alex Lightman writes: “I was looking forward to the State of the Union speech. Then I read most of it, and got depressed. It’s as if he’s running for office, not holding office. I didn’t hear anything about what’s going to be cut. Anyone can make promises to spend other people’s money.”

Reader C.J. Burch writes: “‘The worst of the storm has passed.’ Forget Green and Crittenden, what the Hell is Obama drinking?”

More from Cato: “Wonderful, more government-directed investment. That worked really well with Fannie and Freddie.” Plus this prediction: “He’ll pivot from a new $100 billion jobs bill to cutting the deficit.”

Ann Althouse: “Small businesses are good. (Come on, talk to them.) Big business sucks though. We want to help small business grow… so it can become big business and then we can hate it.”

Seems pretty much like a recycled campaign speech to me.

And not just recycled campaign speech — the Cato folks note this:

“Through stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest standards of conduct.”

–George W. Bush, 2002 SOTU

They told me if I voted for John McCain we’d see a third Bush term. And they were right! [LATER: Tad DeHaven keeps running quotes from Bush SOTUs that match what Obama’s saying tonight.]

More from Cato: “He has decided to run against lobbyists. The populist turn again. Carter did that too.” Those guys are on fire. Just head over there to catch all the gems. But here’s one more: “This is the most awful anti-trade position of any president in a long time.”

More liveblogging from Jason Van Steenwyk.

Ed Driscoll: The Semiotics Of The Anointed.

Stephen Green: “’Our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as one trillion dollars over two decades.’ Fine. But when those two decades mean another 20 or 30 trillion dollars of debt, you’re talking about scooping pee out of the ocean with sieve.”

Plus this: “’Let me know.’ Dude, the voters of Massachusetts just did.”

And: “The guy who just bragged of his (mysterious) 25 tax cuts just ragged on the Bush tax cuts.”

An Obama speech word cloud.

“But we took office in a crisis — and never let a crisis go to waste!” Okay, I kinda interpolated the second part. . . .

Hey, does this sound familiar?

Many of you have talked about the need to pay down our national debt. I listened, and I agree. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now, and I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years.

It’s from George W. Bush’s 2001 SOTU.

A reader emails: “Oh for heaven’s sake. It’s a freaking stump speech. You’ve been elected all ready Mr. President. Now you have to do things. See the difference?”

The freeze starts next year? And I start my diet tomorrow.

From Dan Mitchell at Cato: “We’ve all done something very naughty if this is the government we deserve.”

Now Obama, after delivering an hour-long stump speech, criticizes the perpetual campaign. Luckily for him, most people will be watching Teen Mom on their Tivo by now.

A reader sends a link to Reagan’s 1982 State Of The Union by way of comparison.

The Insta-Daughter: “He needs to quit referring to Bush. It’s weird.”

Nick Schulz: The Definition of Chutzpah.

John Samples at Cato: “I agree with Chris. It is surprising how unsurprising this speech has been, particularly for a president in deep political trouble.”

More liveblogging at Reason. Radley Balko: “wow. no none is better at trivializing opponents’ arguments than obama.”

A call to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’m for it, but I’ll bet there’s not much follow-through.

Stephen Green: “’I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.’ Okay. Except you embraced the competence of Jimmy Carter & Herbert Hoover.”

Jim Harper at Cato: “Following through on his transparency promises would be a great way to actually deliver change.”

Matt Welch: “8-year-olds sending money to the president don’t make me all tingly inside.”

Reader Rob Lain emails:

Others have probably done this already, but I just ran these numbers:

Obama SOTU 2010 First Person Singular Pronoun Count

I – 96 times

me – 8 times

Bush SOTU 2008 First Person Singular Pronoun Count

I – 39 times

me – 2 times

Think this may wind up correlating to their relative contributions to the national debt, when all is said and done?

I dunno, but what’s funny is that I think Obama was restraining himself here . . . .

Okay, it’s over. My sense is that he was trying a bit too hard. Comparing the mood to last year, the Democratic applause and cheering seemed rather forced, too. Plus, I don’t think his public scolding of the Supreme Court was very Presidential — or, for that matter, very smart.

Krauthammer is noting that Obama treats “Washington” as a pejorative, but that he is Washington now.

Matt Welch: “I think I’ve forgotten it already. Except for the I WON’T QUIT part. Don’t worry, it *is* about you, etc.”

Reader Matt Barger writes: “There has never been a SOTU as patronizing as this. God help us.”

C.J. Burch emails again: “A brittle speech by a brittle administration. He’s done as a political force, I think. If not now, soon.” We’ll see.

And Stephen Green concludes: “We’re into the Big Finish… but there’s no new here. For a guy who got his bottom handed to him in three big elections, he’s strangely reluctant to change course. In fact, he’s not even willing to change tone. Which means, whatever you thought of Bush’s lousy last three years, Obama has already outdone him in being tone-deaf. Let me restate that. This guy hasn’t gotten one single thing done since Porklulus was passed 11 months ago, and he just doubled down. Well, you know what? Who cares how much is in the pot when it’s other people’s money?”

Reader Allen S. Thorpe writes: “It is probably better to think of it as a State of My Presidency speech and it’s probably the best chance he’s had since his Inauguration to speech to this size of an audience. He’d better be in campaign mode, because he’s losing the election right now. From the back of my memory, some familiar words are floating up: ‘Lipstick on a pig.'”

Gerard van der Leun emails with praise: “Excellent digest. All the hot liveblogging lines with none of the screen refreshing tedium.”

Thanks! As Leon Lipson once said, “Anything you can do, I can do meta.” But really, follow the links to the other blogs as this is just the merest skim of cream.

And there’s always the Zomby translation.

Plus, Richard Fernandez weighs in. “Since the current administration is doing all these good things, it will stay the course. It won’t let the aforementioned saboteurs and wreckers stand in the way.”

The McDonnell reponse? The bar for these things is low — and he was certainly infinitely better than Jindal last year. But the big story is the subtext: “I was just elected in a state Obama carried, even though Obama campaigned against me. Whatever he may say under the lights, he can’t save you come election day.” Likewise, the Scott Brown mention.

And from Meryl Yourish: Breaking the Obama Code:

Tonight, he addressed the American people, and he addressed Congress. Go back and look at the speech. He was earnest, and his chin was down, his head relatively level, when speaking to Congress. When he spoke to us, his chin rose, and he talked down to us—literally.

Go ahead. Take a look. Note his posture. You’ll see it, too. You and I, we are not his equals. He is above us.

That’s what sets my teeth on edge every time I listen to him.

That’s almost worth rewinding the DVR for, but . . . no, I’ve suffered enough.

Some extensive thoughts from Dan Riehl, including this: “Obama praised the concept of separation of powers, then immediately turned to question the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign finance reform. That tendency caused much of speech to ring hollow throughout.”

Alex Castellanos writes: “There were too many Barack Obamas tonight, making too many promises to too many interests. The same president who said he wasn’t interested in relitigating the past . . . did exactly that for over an hour. The same president who yearned for less partisanship also resorted to it without hesitation, often just a few sentences afterwards, blaming his problems on his predecessor one long year into his own administration.”

Jim Geraghty: On His Last Day in Office, Obama Will Still Be Talking About What He Inherited.

More from The Anchoress:

You know, one could argue that President Bush “inherited” Al Qaeda from Bill Clinton, who did little-to-nothing in response to all of Al Qaeda’s provocations throughout the 1990’s and unto the USS Cole bombing. But never, not once, did Bush ever say, “I inherited this…” It’s time for Obama to become a man.

Much more at the link.

John Podhoretz: “One liberal trope after the speech, voiced by Chrystia Freedland of the Financial Times on Charlie Rose, is that Obama is putting Republican politicians on notice he will go after them as the do-nothing impeders of progress. Republicans should pray this is the case, and it may be the case.” In New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts he’s proven impotent. Why should people fear him more now, when he’s weaker?

And reader Eric Naft writes:

You posted a CATO link that mentioned Bastiat, but do you realize exactly how precisely delicious that observation is? In extolling the virtues of the stimulus, President Obama cited several small businesses, including a “window repair company” in Philadelphia.

Having read Bastiat’s influential “That Which Is Seen & That Which Is Not Seen: The Unintended Consequences of Government Spending,” I don’t think he could have chosen more poorly (or perhaps more aptly?). The opening vignette of Bastiat’s seminal work, which demolishes the notion that government spending stimulates anything, is subtitled, “The Broken Window.” It explains that paying to repair broken windows doesn’t help the economy at large because the money used to pay for the repair is money that can’t be used to buy a shirt or to do whatever else the private citizen may be inclined to do with his money.

Has nobody in the administration’s speech-writing team ever read basic economics? Never mind. I think I know the answer to that.

Yes, I do realize. But heck, forget the speech-writing team. What about the economic team?

Plus, what the voters think about Obama’s speech points.

Chris Matthews on Obama: ‘I Forgot He Was Black For an Hour’.

Good grief. Why is this guy still on the air? Oh, wait, he’s not — he’s on MSNBC . . . .

And reader Scott Blanksteen writes:

Obama’s comments about the Supreme Court’s decision enabling foreign corporations to donate in US campaigns are particularly ironic given that it was his campaign that mis-configured their credit-card acceptance software in a way for which the only purpose would be to enable foreign donations!

More on that here, here, and here.

Jules Crittenden: “But seriously, we have just witnessed an extraordinary exercise in presidential oratorical animation that may be without peer or precedent. Can it be said that any American president has ever tried to blame so much on other people, or has been willing to so rapidly abandon his own principles for the betterment of his standing with the people, to seize up the banner against himself in our nation’s time of need, that this nation should not stand against him? For this, the president deserves our unabashed, gaga-eyed astonishment.”

ALINSKY LIVES: Just remember that these tactics work both ways, and people on the left — used to having the media cover for them and less used to harsh criticism in private settings — are probably more vulnerable. Wind, whirlwind, and all that . . . .

UPDATE: For pointing out the wages of thuggery, I’m accused of being a “tenured thug.” Double standards abound on the left.

ANGER AT TAX DOUBLE STANDARDS:

We’ve been wondering all morning why this year, of all years, Americans from coast to coast are choosing to mobilize in these Tax Day “tea parties” marches, described by Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds in an opinion piece in Wedneday’s Journal as “rallies . . . to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending.”

Part of it, as Reynolds outlines, has to do with technology and its ability to bring big groups of people together fairly quickly. And part of it likely has to do with the state of the economy and a broader objections by swaths of the populace to President Obama’s policies. But might part of it also reflect an anger on the part of the people over the willingness of some of the nation’s leaders to play fast and loose with (or at least show carelessness in regard to) the tax laws?

Somebody should ask Rep. Jane Schakowsky. Plus this:

IRS compliance employees have reported that taxpayers occasionally are citing the Geithner case when asked to pay their tax bills. “It’s making the compliance conversation harder,” she said.

Just explain that taxes are for the little people — and they’re the little people. That should do it.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY on tea parties and double standards:

Five more “tea parties” took place last weekend to protest runaway congressional spending. Showing up with hand-lettered signs were people not often seen at protests. . . . But the real reason the major media aren’t interested in these protests is that they don’t agree with them. In the final analysis, these affairs are really taking issue with the political party they helped elect without hiding bias in the last election.

That’s why a small scrum of Acorn-financed wackos on a bus tour to intimidate AIG execs last weekend made the news while the tea parties didn’t.

Indeed.

FIVE STATES CAUSED THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS? “The beneficiaries of taxpayer charity will be highly concentrated in just five states – California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Michigan. . . . It turns out that the five states with by far the highest foreclosure rates have some things in common with each other, but very little in common with most other states.”

UPDATE: Some thoughts from Dan Riehl.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: “Whatever became of Rep. Laura Richardson? The Democratic Black Caucus member that no one talks about at all, the one with the 4 mortgages, all in foreclosure, the one who got to vote on the measure making debt forgiveness a non-taxable event? How about reviving interest in her touching case?”

Well, here’s a story on her multiple defaults from last summer. Plus, some thoughts on double standards.

MORE: Here’s a more recent article on Laura Richardson:

First Rep. Laura Richardson was having problems making house payments, defaulting six times over eight years.

Then after a bank foreclosed on her Sacramento house and sold it at auction in May, the Long Beach Democrat made such a stink that Washington Mutual, in an unusual move, grabbed it back and returned it to her.

This week, in the latest chapter in the housing saga, the Code Enforcement Department in Sacramento declared her home a “public nuisance.” The city has threatened to fine her as much as $5,000 a month if she doesn’t fix it up.

Neighbors in the upper-middle-class neighborhood complain that the sprinklers are never turned on and the grass and plants are dead or dying. The gate is broken, and windows are covered with brown paper.

Seems to me that she and her colleagues are taking about as good care of the country . . . .

Plus this: LAURA RICHARDSON PROMISES TO EXPLAIN ALL THOSE DEFAULTS–AFTER THE ELECTION. I don’t think she did. I love this bit:

“This election is about fiscal responsibility,” she said.

But she is defining fiscal responsibility narrowly.

”My personal [financial] experience is not what this particular election is about,” she emphasizes.

Your political class at work.

DOUBLE STANDARDS?

Timothy Geithner, nominated by Barack Obama to be secretary of the treasury, seems to have a little problem with taxes and domestic help.

Questions regarding taxes and other unpleasantries have dogged Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means — the panel responsible for tax policy.

Allegations of crony loans from Countrywide (the lender that came to symbolize subprime excess) have been raised against Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

The rules, it seems, do not apply to the lofty.

Indeed. Plus, hypocrisy on transparency, on Capitol Hill.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE? So we’ve had nearly 8 years of lefty assassination fantasies about George W. Bush, and Bill Ayers’ bombing campaign is explained away as a consequence of him having just felt so strongly about social justice, but a few people yell things at McCain rallies and suddenly it’s a sign that anger is out of control in American politics? It’s nice of McCain to try to tamp that down, and James Taranto sounds a proper cautionary note — but, please, can we also note the staggering level of hypocrisy here? (And that’s before we get to the Obama campaign’s thuggish tactics aimed at silencing critics.)

The Angry Left has gotten away with all sorts of beyond-the-pale behavior throughout the Bush Administration. The double standards involved — particularly on the part of the press — are what are feeding this anger. (Indeed, as Ann Althouse and John Leo have noted, the reporting on this very issue is dubious). So while asking for McCain supporters to chill a bit, can we also ask the press to start doing its job rather than openly shilling for a Democratic victory? Self-control is for everybody, if it’s for anybody. . . .

UPDATE: Well, here’s an opportunity to see how they do.

Plus, days of rage.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, it’s not my rage. Remember, I lack fire. “Reynolds, at his most, barely reaches the level of mildly peeved.”

ROGER KIMBALL on media scrutiny and double standards about privacy.

UPDATE: Demonizing “the other.” “In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does.”

LOSE A NUKE, LOSE YOUR JOB: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted the Air Force’s top military and civilian leaders Thursday, holding them to account in a historic Pentagon shake-up after embarrassing nuclear mix-ups. Gates announced at a news conference that he had accepted the resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne – a highly unusual double firing.” Seems fair. But we also need to clean things up down the line: “The report drew the stunning conclusion that the Air Force’s nuclear standards have been in a long decline, ‘a problem that has been identified but not effectively addressed for over a decade.'”

UPDATE: Background here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

I get the impression, from my military acquaintances, that the nuclear forces have been regarded by the rest of the armed services as the weird aunt in the attic nobody talks about. That kind of attitude tends to be hard on the morale of the “weird aunt”, and bad morale leads to carelessness and other manifestations of bad performance.

For whatever it’s worth.

We need to continue taking the nuclear deterrent seriously. I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and we’ve become a political football over the last few years. Bad morale, reduced performance …. yeah.

Indeed.

MORE: Further background, going beyond the nuke issue to many other Air Force turf battles, from Noah Shachtman.

STILL MORE: A reader emails:

I was an OIC (1st Lieutenant at Minot when I left) in charge of several branches of the 5 MMS (Munitions Maintenance Squadron) WSA (Weapons Storage Area) at Minot in the mid-eighties. That was back when SAC (Strategic Air Command) existed and controlled all of the nations ICBM and Heavy Bomber Nuke forces. Back then, SAC set the standard, DOD-wide, for excellence in Nuclear Accountability and Control…I personally went through many SAC IG, NSA, DNSA and other Nuclear Surety inspections when I was there, and they were absolutely gut-wrenching in their thoroughness…they were terrifying actually…and I am glad they were. Even minor clerical paper-work or simple procedural errors could cause a failed inspection for the entire base…resulting in the Wing Commander and many, if not most, officers in his direct chain of command being fired and removed from the base within 24 hrs of the inspection results being published…my point is that sometime after Clinton’s reorganization of the USAF and the retirement of SAC…these exacting standards seem to have disappeared. Not blaming him, since much of this was on the recommendation of Bush the first’s defense re-organization efforts, but when you remove the elite and professional status that an organization such as SAC had…well, this happens.

And here’s a blog post from Former Spook that goes into some detail, too.

ENRON WAS FOR PIKERS (CONT’D):

The federal government’s long-term financial obligations grew by $2.5 trillion last year, a reflection of the mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits as more baby boomers reach retirement.

That’s double the red ink of a year earlier.

Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That’s nearly $500,000 per household. . . . The reason for the discrepancy: Accounting standards require corporations and state governments to count new financial obligations, even if the payments will be made later. The federal government doesn’t follow that rule.

If it did, it would be harder to promise voters a free lunch! Plus, the actuarial assumptions on which many government pension systems are based are likely bogus. You’d better be saving for your own retirement, because Social Security, etc., isn’t likely to deliver. And that’s just the beginning of the bad news, I’m afraid. Meanwhile, a reader who probably doesn’t want me to use his name emails:

I am GC for a private company with a legacy UK pension plan. Since I joined the company in December 2001 the pension plan has been the number one non-operational issue for the company. This experience has left me absolutely frightened of what is going to happen to municipalities in the US. The most basic concepts relating to pension funding assumptions are likely beyond the grasp of most city council members. Some of these issues:

– Since 2000, the S&P 500 has been essentially flat. If your pension scheme has 50% of its assets in equities (fairly typical) and presumed equities would earn a 10% return (unrealistic, but probably not uncommon for these pension funds) your scheme likely has less than 75% of the assets that were projected in 2000.

– These pension funds likely are using early 1980s mortality tables. If updated to current mortality rates, the liabilities will increase anywhere from 10-20% (recognizing that a 2 year increase in life expectancy is at least a 10% increase in the length of time a person earns a pension).

These two items alone could mean that a pension plan that was thought to be fully funded in 2000 is, at best, 60%-70% funded today. Investments alone will never recover these type of funding deficits. These deficits will disappear only if (i) the municipalities file for bankruptcy, or (ii) there are massive tax increases.

Realistically, I think we’ll see drastic benefit cuts, one way or another.

STUART TAYLOR looks at free speech and double standards on campus. Excerpt:

The silencing of Summers was easy to miss. The Washington Post did not report it. The New York Times gave it three sentences. The Los Angeles Times ignored it, except for one nonstaff op-ed.

By contrast, the briefly martyred Chemerinsky — who was hired, fired (based on conservative complaints about his political views), and rehired (thanks in part to free-speech conservative support) as founding dean of a new law school at UC Irvine — inspired 17 articles and editorials in the Los Angeles Times, two articles and an outraged editorial in The New York Times, and one article in The Washington Post.

The notion that Summers stands for “gender” — let alone “racial” — prejudice is a fantasy espoused by loopy radicals and people ignorant of what he actually said about women and certain sciences. (For more, see my 2/5/05 and 2/26/05 NJ columns.) But loopy radicals dominate political discourse on many a campus, and they despise intellectual diversity.

These episodes, and enough others to fill volumes, expose the double standard that many academics and journalists apply to free-speech controversies. Such people passionately champion the freedoms of liberals such as Chemerinsky and “dialogue” with America-haters such as Ahmadinejad. But they downplay, ignore, and in some cases support censorship of conservative and even centrist speakers.

Read the whole thing.

MORE ON Ahmadinejad at Columbia.

UPDATE: Nick Schweitzer wonders why people care about Ahmadinejad: “While I certainly question the motives of those at Columbia University who invited him to speak… my questions center on them, not him. Why would they want him to speak? What value does his insight into world politics bring? His hatred of Jews? His hatred of freedom? His encouragement of terrorism? Does Columbia find these things valuable because they agree with them, or because they want to provide him a forum to pronounce his views and hope that students will backlash against him?” I think, though, that those are the concerns of most people on the subject, especially given the free-speech double standards we’ve seen at universities recently.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A Lee Bollinger Rope-a-Dope?

HATE CRIME BILL UPDATE: In the latest National Journal, Stuart Taylor writes on Hate Crimes and double standards:

Consider three criminal cases.

No. 1: Christopher Newsom and his girlfriend, Channon Christian, both students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, were carjacked while on a dinner date in January, repeatedly raped (both of them), tortured, and killed. His burned body was found near a railroad track. Hers was stuffed into a trash can. Five suspects have been charged. The crimes were interracial.

No. 2: Three white Duke lacrosse players were accused in March 2006 of beating, kicking, choking, and gang-raping an African-American stripper, while pelting her with racial epithets, during a team party.

No. 3: Sam Hays bumped against Mike Martin in a crowded bar, spilling beer on Martin’s “gay pride” sweatshirt. Martin yelled, “You stupid bastard, I should kick your ass.” Hays muttered, “You damned queer” and threw a punch, bloodying Martin’s lip.

Now the quiz.

Which of these would qualify as a federal case under a House-passed bill — widely acclaimed by editorial writers, liberal interest groups, law enforcement officials, and many others — expanding federal jurisdiction to prosecute “hate crimes”?

Bonus question: Why have the interracial rape-torture-murders in Knoxville been completely ignored by the same national media that clamor for more laws to stop hate crimes — the same media that erupted in a guilt-presuming feeding frenzy for months over the far less serious Duke lacrosse charges, which were full of glaring holes from the start and turned out to be fraudulent?

The answers.

The interracial Knoxville rape-murders would probably not qualify as hate crimes. The reason is that although the murderers were obviously full of hate, it cannot be proven that they hated their victims because of race. (Or so say police.)

Both the Duke lacrosse case and the (fictional) barroom scuffle, on the other hand, would probably be federally prosecutable under the bill that the House passed on May 3 by 237-180. This is because the angry words attributed to the accused could prove racist and homophobic motivations, respectively.

Do such distinctions make any sense? Not much, in my view.

He also notes a media double standard: “The reason that the national media have ignored the Knoxville case is that the defendants are black and the victims were white. The media would also be uninterested if both the victims and the defendants were black. But had the victims been black and the accused white, the media would have erupted into the same politically correct sensationalism that characterized the Duke case. And many would have cited the case as proof that we need more hate crime laws.”

I think that’s probably right. The link above is subscriber-only, but you can read the whole thing for the next few days at this link.

Meanwhile, A.C. Kleinheider says “Nazis! I hate those guys!”

UPDATE: More from Nat Hentoff.

WOLFOWITZ RESIGNS.

This should just be the start of a cleanup at the World Bank.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Professor Kenneth Anderson:

One of the many ironies in the Wolfowitz affair, however, is that in many respects, the target of the Bank staff seems to be as much Riza as Wolfowitz – she is a true believer in feminism, and as a true believer, she seems to believe that so many, many things can be traced back to misogyny – and, as a true believer in misogyny, was more than willing to throw fits to get her way by playing the gender card. She deserved, in my view, her raises as compensation for the ending of her career at the Bank, but it is clear that she played the gender card even there – everyone, starting with the Ethics Committee and the human resources department, caved rather than face a scene, and in some respects it was the unwillingness even to face, even to have a meeting with, an angry Muslim feminist whose career, after all, was being sacrificed on the altar of her paramour that is a central reason why that political hack (now hacking away at UNDP, but then the two deserve each other) Ad Melkert would not meet with her and dumped the whole thing back on Wolfowitz. . . . So the rest of the world may talk the gender talk, but it doesn’t mean it, at least not in the way that Americans, following conditions laid down by a combination of Mackinnon and the US Supreme Court, understand it. Maybe they’re right and the Americans are wrong – I’m not a feminist and see many problems with how the United States has evolved on these things. But in any case, in an international organization these rules seem on a collision course with the fact, among other things, of the acceptability of extramarital and other affairs at the Bank and the UN and all sorts of places – unless the institution reconciles them with a large, large dollop of hypocrisy and double standards. That is the usual attitude I have found at international organizations.

Read the whole thing.

MORE ON THE TROUBLES AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY, from Cathy Young:

The SFSU flag-stomping case continues this trend. It also seems to bear out the charges of double standards. Four years ago, the university took no action when the campus was plastered with posters that showed soup cans with pictures of dead babies and labels reading, “canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license.”

She also observes: “It’s hard to tell whether the selective deference to Muslim sensibilities stems from a politically correct regard for a minority group or from fear of violent protests.”

“UNTERMENSCHEN:” He’s right. That’s how they seem to think.

UPDATE: Reader Ted Clayton emails: “Perhaps you could specify who “they” refers to. ”

As you can see from reading the linked item, it refers to those allegedly-progressive Westerners who refuse to hold non-Westerners to the same moral standards applied to, say, America and Britain. That should be obvious to, well, anyone who’s paying attention.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Drew Kelley writes: ‘I am shocked, shocked, to find prejudice among our “best and brightest’.” The descent of the “progressives” into racist double-standards is an old story, but it’s still one that bears pointing out now and then.

WE HAVEN’T HEARD MUCH OF THIS, but finally someone is complaining that the Iranians are violating international law by parading prisoners on TV.

International law is rapidly becoming a joke because of double standards. And, as noted, because of its enforcement problem. At a guess, we’re likely heading toward a regime of strict reciprocity, as that’s all that can work in such a degraded environment.

UPDATE: A few emailers are suggesting that there’s some sort of contradiction here in my pointing this out, as if I’d never discussed the Geneva Conventions before. But, of course, the point is the double standard: the Geneva Conventions never seem to do our guys any good. Our enemies don’t obey them, and our critics use them — even when they don’t apply — as a way to call American troops and their friends torturers and war criminals. That’s what I meant by “degraded environment,” which aptly describes the political and intellectual environment in which such critics operate. As I’ve observed in the past, we don’t operate in an environment of reciprocity now. As Professor Kenneth Anderson has noted, the Geneva Conventions tend to serve more as a source of urban legends for anti-American and anti-Bush writers who often don’t even know, or care, what the Conventions say.

OVER AT OPINIO JURIS, an interesting online symposium on challenges to public international law.

One challenge, it seems to me, is the prevalence of double standards.

UPDATE: Ouch: “If the standards are not consistent, it is simply not a regime of law, is it? It is a fig leaf for something completely different and, inevitably, something far less benign.”

AT ECOTOTALITY: “Why the Gore story matters.”

UPDATE: In all of this, we’re just following in Eric Alterman’s footsteps. Here’s what he wrote in the September, 2004 Atlantic Monthly (not available for free, alas):

Needless to say, Hollywood offers nearly limitless opportunities for anyone seeking to expose hypocrisy in the lifestyles of the rich and progressive. Laurie David, who dedicates herself to fighting for improved fuel-economy standards and reviles the owners of SUVs as terrorist enablers, gives herself a pass when it comes to chartering one of the most wasteful uses of fossil-based fuels imaginable: a private plane. (She’s not just a limousine liberal; she’s a Gulfstream liberal.) One night I visited the home of the former TV star Heather Thomas (The Fall Guy) and her husband, the entertainment lawyer and philanthropist Skip Brittenham. I drove past SUVs and assorted luxury vehicles on what felt like a quarter-mile-long driveway to a mansion large enough to house one of the small Amazonian villages the Brittenhams want to save. Just the energy consumed by the house and all the vehicles would power a sizable chunk of Amazonia. And this was nothing next to the Sunset Strip home of Stewart and Lynda Resnick, where I attended a book party for the journalist and progressive candidate-conspirator-hostess Arianna Huffington. Guests picked at smoked-salmon and caviar hors d’oeuvres beneath twenty-foot ceilings supported by towering Greek columns. Each gilded room was larger than most New York City apartments. The house would not he out of place if plunked down as an extension of Versailles, save for the enormous bust of Napoleon in one of the salons. The Resnicks, Lynda told me, are the “largest farmers in America”; they are the country’s biggest grower of fruits and nuts, and a member of the Sunkist cooperative (she urged me to try the selection of new Sunkist beverages at the well-stocked bar); they also own the Franklin Mint. Later I listened to her refer to the celebrity-laden crowd as “disenfranchised.”

But it’s a rich lode of hypocrisy, and it’s nowhere close to mined out. And who knew that Eric Alterman was the original coiner of the term “Gulfstream liberal?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Also in 2001, Jonathan Rauch coined the more-euphonious “Learjet liberal,” though he wasn’t really talking about global warming or energy efficiency.

And there’s more, over at Creative Destruction.

MORE: Don Surber comments on the coverage:

After reading the Editorialist’s coverage at the Washington Post of Al Gore’s overuse of electricity, I don’t want to hear about Republican hypocrisy ever again.

If Al Gore were a Republican, the story of his consuming 20 times the national average while lecturing the rest of us on cutting back on our energy use would be front page news from coast-to-coast. Late-nite comedians would have a field day. The editorial pages would puff up about Republican hypocrisy.

Instead we get excuses, excuses, excuses. . . .

As a proud member of the mainstream media, let me suggest that this double-standard — this refusal to hold Al Gore accountable for his actions which are contradictory to his words — only feeds the belief that the media is biased in favor of liberals — particularly born-to-the-manor, overfed, limousine liberals who consume 22,000 kilowatts of electricity each year in just one of his three homes.

Well, look at the kind of people who own newspapers . . . .

LOADS MORE LIBBY TRIAL BLOGGING at Tom Maguire’s place. “In a brutally devastating but gentlemanly low key way the defense destroyed a key prosecution witness.”

And lots more on developments at Duke at K.C. Johnson’s, plus a link to this oped by Johnson.

UPDATE: No, it wasn’t a misquote from Tom above — I cut-and-pasted accurately, but then he fixed the error. I’ve followed suit.

THE MEDIA SCRIPT: Reader Gary Casteel emails:

Why don’t you ponder the media focus on the Duke lacrosse rape case compared to the media focus on the recent sadistic murder of the young Knoxville couple?

It was not a carjacking, it was a hate crime pure and simple. What’s been released to the public clearly indicates that it was a hate crime.

If the young couple had been black and the suspects white can you imagine the media attention, both local, and of course national? Why do local authorities continue to call this a “carjacking”?

Well, “hate crime” goes to motivation and I’m not so sure that there was a racial motivation here — and I don’t really like the “hate crime” concept anyway. Murder is murder either way. And the story’s bad enough without that:

Investigators believe Channon Christian and her boyfriend were carjacked and she was held hostage and raped repeatedly for days before her death, a federal marshal said Thursday.

Details of the slayings surfaced on the same day authorities captured three men sought for questioning in the killings of Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.

That said, it’s certainly true that if the races were reversed the media would be employing an irrebuttable presumption that it was a hate crime. This double standard, though, is actually unfair to blacks, assuming that horrific crimes by white people must be motivated by something special, like racial hatred, while similar crimes by black people are just par for the course. Like so many of those double standards, it manages to be racist in both directions at once.

ANOTHER RECORD HIGH FOR THE DOW yesterday: “Recent company comments and government data have underscored the notion that the U.S. economy is stronger than expected, heading into the end of the year, and that companies will post another quarter of double-digit earnings growth.”

So, is it the economy, stupid? This election will be a test.

UPDATE: Eric Ashley emails:

Its not “the economy stupid” because the MSM gets to change the standards by which they, and in consequence, a lot of people judge events and leaders. Its somewhat like the hour eye-care place where the doc flips through various lenses asking “is this one better, or this one?” until he finds the ones that makes his “EIMG” chart look good.

The difference is the doc’s definition of looking good is clarity. The MSM’s is prettiness of the chart aka ‘voting Democratic’.

And Bart Halls says it didn’t get much on NPR:

A yawn. Didn’t even mention it. “Dow Jones industrials closed up about 20 points.” Nothing to see here. Move along.

I recall back in late ’99 and early ’00 they were crowing about it every single time. Then again, there was a Democrat in the White House. That sort of self-deception is one reason the left are repeatedly disappointed by their electoral results.

Yes, it does seem to me that the economy during the tech bubble got a lot more positive attention.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Duane Simpson blames Bush!

We can’t really blame the press for ignoring the economy, the Administration is just as responsible. “It’s the Economy Stupid” was a quote from Carville to remind Clinton and Co. to constantly talk about the economy. Bush and all of the Republican candidates for office need to be talking economy all of the time if they expect to get any credit for it.

Advice to Karl Rove: Here’s your story hook — get the press to cover the Bush Administration’s failure to talk about how good the economy is! There’s an angle they’ll buy . . . .

TIM BLAIR notes a double standard regarding the Michelle Malkin photoshop on Wonkette.

But a commenter notes the problem that transcends the faux-tography issue: “What’s hypocritical about being photographed in swimwear? Is she an advocate for Sharia law?”

Plus, remedial education for urbanites. What, the answer isn’t “the store?”

UPDATE: More troubling Malkin photos. Plus, from a commenter, the most important observation of all: “At least she didn’t cat blog.”

TOM MAGUIRE has thoughts on torture. He’s a bit hard on Andrew Sullivan, but not as hard as Sullivan is being on me — Sullivan has brought out the waterboard of blogging, reprinting emails from readers of his who say they’ll never read me again, only Sullivan, from now on. Okay, it’s actually more like the endless-replaying-of-Barry-Manilow of blogging.

I’ve gotten some emails from readers wondering why Sullivan seems to think that my blog is the most important aspect of the torture debate, especially as — once the Bush-bashing and posturing is set aside — my position and Sullivan’s aren’t really very different. (As I wrote a while back, “What would I do? Ban anything that causes injury or outright pain. I’m not so sure about sleep deprivation and things like that. I’d permit playing Barry Manilow, too.” Okay, so now I’m rethinking the Barry Manilow part.) I’ll spare you the text of those emails; I used to wonder about that, but I’ve pretty much given up. Andrew will blog about what he wants to blog about, and I will blog about what I want to blog about. And that state of affairs will bother, well, at most one of us.

Meanwhile, note this comment by Tom Holsinger.

UPDATE: Reader Steven Jens demonstrates that the email thing works both ways:

I’d just like to say that I will never read Andrew Sullivan again. I have been increasingly put off by his hysteria, his double standards, and his rumored habit of squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube. Time Magazine has given him a bully pulpit, and it’s a shame that he can’t be as wise, reasoned, or downright handsome as you are.

Heh. I think we’ve just seen the future of the blogosphere. And it scares me.

UPDATE: Uh oh. Manilow-blogging is spreading.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It’s an out of control blog phenomenon!

ILYA SOMIN: “I don’t often agree with Alan Dershowitz. But he is absolutely right to note the double standards inherent in the near-universal praise for the the recent targeted killing of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi when contrasted with the near-universal condemnation of Israel’s very similar targeting of top Hamas terrorists.”

Personally, I’m okay with targeting both.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Austin Bay.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s an article on targeted killing as legitimate self-defense from the Case Western Law Review.

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS published the Mohammed cartoons that have mobs of ignorant thugs rampaging around the world. The reader reaction was favorable:

“Thank you,” was the consistent message.

“Thank you for taking a stand for freedom of the press when so many of our U.S. newspapers caved in,” an e-mail from Breckenridge told me. “My respect for you and the Rocky Mountain News is renewed.”

“Congratulations on being an equal opportunity offender,” another e-mail said. “Well done and well said. The Danish cartoon reveals media double standards, bias and political correctness run amok (all of which continue to be denied, save for you and a few others).”

“Thank you, Mr. Temple, for not bowing to the pressure from the Muslim world concerning the printing of the cartoons,” a third writer said.

“It is time for the Western nations to know that the mere existence of the Western world is an ‘insult to Islam.’ There is a double standard at work here. We must tiptoe around to avoid offending Muslim ‘sensibilities’ while they can clearly state a goal as the destruction of Israel and run cartoons with impunity depicting other religions in an ‘insulting’ manner.

“I believe that political correctness is the downfall of a free society. It stifles free speech and expression and leads to both self-censorship and imposed censorship.”

I received only a handful, literally, of complaints, and three of them were form letters late in the week.

Badly written form letters, at that. The conclusion: “This whole experience of publishing these cartoons has been enough for me to want to wear a Danish flag pin in solidarity with that country and to regret – at least during this test of journalism’s commitment to free speech – my membership in the American Society of Newspaper Editors.”

They keep forgetting that it’s their job to tell us stuff, not to decide what we shouldn’t be told.

A DOUBLE STANDARD ON PROTESTS in Britain?

Once again, the message is that if you blow things up, or even look as if you might, we’ll be nice to you. And once again, I note that this is a very unwise message to send.

I should note, by the way, that last night I spent some time reading an advance copy of Claire Berlinski’s new book, Menace in Europe : Why the Continent’s Crisis Is America’s, Too. It looks very good, and I hope it finds a wide readership. The timing is certainly right.

UPDATE: Berlinski emails from Istanbul:

Evidently there were “hundreds of demonstrators” at the Danish consulate here today. (I missed it; I was happily oblivious until I read the news.) Now, “hundreds of protestors” never congregate in Istanbul without government sanction. There is no such thing as freedom of assembly here; if you’re out protesting, it’s because the government authorized it, period. So Denmark and Turkey are going to be part of one big happy EU family? Sure thing. Tell that to the Danish diplomats cowering in their consulate in Istanbul and nervously reviewing the fire escape plans.

Oh, and someone shot a Catholic priest in Ankara today, too. Not clear yet whether it was related.

That said, “hundreds of protestors” isn’t that much in a city of 10 million, and when I went out today everyone seemed to be their normal friendly selves, including the Islamist grocers down the street, who have never been anything but pleasant to me. So don’t be put off if you’re thinking of visiting, Istanbul is still great, and very safe. (Almost certainly safer than London: I have no doubt that if the protestors get too frisky here, the government will mow them down like dogs.)

Jim Geraghty, also in Istanbul, has a report, too. “The Syrian reaction is intolerable. But the Turkish reaction is honorable. I hope the world can see the difference.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Berlinski — perhaps my most devoted reader in Istanbul today — sends this followup in response to Jim’s post:

Jim Geraghty is absolutely right, everyone should have the right to protest peacefully if they so wish. If you’ve got your panties in a wad over some cartoons, by all means, you should be perfectly free to say so. My point is that people here don’t enjoy the freedom to protest–just ask the mothers of Kurds who have disappeared in Turkish prisons–so when they do, unimpeded, it has a certain significance. He’s right, there’s a world of difference between the Turkish reaction and the Syrian reaction. But Syria’s not applying for EU membership.

Indeed.

MORE: Michael Totten reports on Islamist violence in Beirut and observes: “I strongly suggest the civilized people of Lebanon, Muslim and Christian alike, stage a counter-demonstration downtown where flags are not burned and where buildings are not set on fire.”

MORE STILL: Iraqpundit:

Anyway, since when did stupid, tasteless cartoons start stirring such passions among the Muslims? Arabic language newspapers and magazines regularly run cartoons that offend all sorts of communities. It would be easier to respect all this rage if these angry people applied the same standards all around.

You know, in 2002, 15 Saudi schoolgirls burned to death when Saudi religious police wouldn’t let them escape their building because they were not in hijab.

Waiting for my fellow Muslims to react to that kind of criminality with the same impassioned outrage they save for offensive newspaper cartoons has been rather like waiting for a desert-blown Godot. Our community leaders, as always, fail us.

Indeed.

AND YET MORE: Jim Geraghty sends a correction:

I’m in Ankara, not Istanbul, and the shooting of the priest was in Trabzon, not Ankara. As of 4 a.m. local time, the U.S. Embassy didn’t have any information on motive. The wires ( Link) are reporting the kid was shouting “God is great” as he ran from the shooting scene; if accurate, this would appear to be Islamist terrorism.

Dang.

DANISH EMBASSY BURNED in Syria. Gateway Pundit has a roundup. This really is a case of civilization against the barbarians. The good news is that moderate Muslims are standing up for civilization:

The Danish press has also paid very little attention to the representatives of a group of 80 immigrants who have expressed their support of Jyllands-Posten. A statement by the group placed on the internet carries the caption “We must condemn Islamist threats against free speech.” It goes on to accuse the Islamists of “viewing any criticism or any making fun of the Islamic religion as an affront and an insult to Muslims. In this way they want to prevent any human being from questioning the Islamic religion and its holy book and the prophet Muhammad. … With the same argument Islamic regimes and other forces in the Middle Eastern and Arabic countries have killed thousands of people and issued fatwas against authors, journalists and artists.”

The bad news is that the Boston Globe is siding with the barbarians, comparing the Danish cartoonists to Nazis. Just look at the photo and decide who really deserves that comparison. Michael Graham is unhappy with the Globe, too.

The funny thing is that the Globe views fundamentalist Christians as a god-besotted threat to liberty, but makes excuses for people like this.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has more thoughts. And Michelle Malkin has a must-see video presentation. And a reader points out that the Boston Globe was defending “Piss Christ” artist Andres Serrano’s right to federal funding back in 1990. Apparently, standards of decency have “evolved” at the Globe, or perhaps it’s just a measure of who they’re actually afraid of.

David Bernstein has more on double standards.

MORE: Ashish Hanwadikar says the Europeans are hypocritical in a different way.

And Ed Driscoll has much more, including a look at Serrano’s more recent employment.

Plus, Tigerhawk looks at appeasement and wonders why it remains so popular. “This has been a long time coming — after the Rushdie fatwa, the West cannot claim that it isn’t on notice. It will be a long time in the undoing, too.”

STILL MORE: A Jordanian newspaper is braver than the Globe:

Meanwhile, a Jordanian gossip tabloid on defiantly published three of the cartoons that have triggered outrage in the Arab and Muslim world.

“Muslims of the world, be reasonable,” said the editor-in-chief of the weekly independent newspaper Al-Shihan in an editorial alongside the cartoons, including the one showing the Muslim religion’s founder wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

(Via All Things Beautiful).

Much more here.

EVEN MORE: Of course, the brave Jordanian editor has been arrested:

A Jordanian newspaper editor sacked after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has been arrested.

Jihad Momani is accused of insulting religion under Jordan’s press and publications law.

The newspaper had fired him after he decided to reproduce the cartoons – originally printed in Denmark – which have caused a global storm of protest.

Pathetic.

AND MORE STILL: Reader Kathleen St. Onge emails: “Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see any protest babes in the photo you posted. As such, I have to conclude that this is a movement of losers.”

Yes. Angry, bitter losers. But potentially dangerous ones.

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

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

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

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

Lots more livebloggers here.

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

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

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

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

To the delight of Republicans…’ »

TOM MAGUIRE HAS A BIG SUV / FUEL ECONOMY / CAFE ROUNDUP: Read the whole thing, as it’s link-rich and informative.

A few points worth making here. First, the SUV craze isn’t solely the result of car-buyers being idiots. It’s in no small part an artifact of government regulation. Andrew Sullivan, in a post that Tom links, notes that people used to just toss the kids in the back of the station wagon (at least I hope that’s what he means by the “trunk.”) Do that now, and you’d practically be charged with child abuse. (Accusing SUV owners of treason is a bit, er, excitable, too.)

Now you have to strap them into car seats until they’re quite large. This produces demands for more room, DVD players, etc., to keep them amused, and the like. What’s more, station wagons — at least the big ones that Andrew invokes — were actually casualties of the CAFE standards and other regulations; car makers switched to SUVs to give people the station-wagon-like room while getting to treat the vehicles like trucks for purposes of safety and economy rules. The government didn’t have to set things up that way, but it did, and the result was predictable if unintended. (Also, the ability of self-employed people to deduct high-gross-weight vehicles on more favorable terms plays a big role). [LATER: A subsequent post on Andrew Sullivan’s blog blames the “Bush tax cuts” for this, but actually I believe this policy predates Bush — and it was tightened up (somewhat) in 2004, though it was loosened for a bit before that, I think.]

I lack the religious opposition to SUVs that many have, but I don’t want one. When I bought the Passat wagon over 6 years ago, gas was less than a dollar. I drove a lot of SUVs, and wasn’t thrilled by their truck-like driving and lousy mileage. The newer ones drive better, but $2.50/gallon gas hasn’t done anything to make the lousy mileage more tasteful.

And I’m not terribly happy with the offerings right now. The Passat is still OK, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and I’d like to replace it in a year or two, depending on how it does. I enjoy looking at cars, and I’ve looked at minivans — roomy, but dull, and with mileage that only looks good next to SUVs — various “crossover” SUVs (I visited the Knoxville Infiniti dealer and looked at an FX35; it was cool, but pricey, and actually smaller inside than the Passat. The salesman was really pleasant and knowledgeable, though.) and the small crop of wagons out there (the Jaguar Estate is perhaps the ugliest car I’ve seen since the Vega). I want to look at the Toyota Highlander hybrid, but I haven’t yet.

A salesman at Harper VW told me that there was actually a TDI version of the Passat wagon on sale last year that got 38 mpg on the highway, but it’s not offered any more, which seems like bad timing. Or why not a station-wagon version of the Accord hybrid? I’d like to see car makers bring out more vehicles like that — and if gas prices stay this high, they probably will. That would suit me.

UPDATE: Michael Wenberg emails:

You and Andrew have a point about SUVs, but he in particular forgets that some people actually “need” big rigs. As much as I’d like to, I can’t pull 2 tons of hay with my 1987 VW Cabriolet. Same with the horse trailer. And we’re not alone. Out here in the rural west, trucks and SUVs are even more common than the big coastal urban areas. I’m sorry, but just because we happen to own two horses doesn’t make me a closet supporter of Islamo terrorists. We can certainly do more with our energy policy than just give tax breaks, but pummeling SUV owners because they take advantage of moronic tax policies seems to be a wrong way to go about it.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Johnathan Pearce has more thoughts.

Meanwhile, reader Bob Whitehead emails:

I’ve been saying this about car seats and seat belts laws causing SUV’s popularity for three years now to all the liberals I know in Jackson Mississippi and keep getting blank stares in the process. Maybe since they don’t have kids they don’t get it. Don’t forget the passenger-side airbag effect as well, keeping older kids in the backseats with their siblings deep into the tween years. The bottom line is–if you have more than two children, you HAVE to drive an SUV or minivan.

Yes, the airbag issue is a real one.

MORE: A reader notes that the VW.com website lets you build a TDI Passat wagon, so maybe they’re still available after all, despite what I was told. Or maybe the website’s out of date.

Meanwhile, reader Paul Milenkovic emails:

I don’t know whom to blame on this one, but Ford is making a fuel-efficient “crossover-SUV” big station-wagon like thing called the Freestyle in my home town of Chicago, and Ford can’t seem to sell very many.

It is styled like its big brother the Explorer, it has the chassis from a Volvo XC-90, it has the same EPA mileage ratings as a Taurus, and it has gotten top marks in the both the Federal and IIHS crash tests. It has the same 3 litre motor as a Taurus but coupled to a gas-saving transmission that allows this motor to move a substantially bigger and heavier vehicle. That transmission called a CVT works on a similar principle as a hybrid car in that the gasoline engine is operated under more fuel efficient load conditions, but I guess it hasn’t been marketed with the “democracy, whiskey, sexy” hype of the hybrid.

The 3 litre engine and CVT transmission don’t have enough oomph to haul a horse trailer, but then how many soccer mom’s board horses? What gets to me is that every self-styled automotive expert who has reviewed this car whines “not enough power!” or “don’t buy until they come out with the 3.5 litre!” The 0-60 numbers are competitive with other vehicles out there, but the CVT transmission doesn’t give the feel of shift points like you are making progress accelerating the car. If this drive train were called a “hybrid”, everyone would be saying how virtuous it is to drive such a car but since it is simply a gas engine and a fancy transmission, all of the car pundits are complaining.

On one hand the punditocracy is complaining about $3 gasoline and wasteful habits and evil SUV’s, and on the other these same people are writing about how the Freestyle is way underpowered and these things are parked all over dealer lots.

In fact, Ford has reportedly discontinued it, though reportedly there will still be a Mercury version in 2007. Here’s a review of the Freestyle from Popular Mechanics.

Reader Francisco Moreno, meanwhile, sends this article from Car and Driver on why diesels are hard to come by:

The trouble with diesels in the U.S. is at the tailpipe. They can’t pass the emissions regs that go into effect in California this year and phase in across the country over the next four years. This may surprise those who’ve seen or sniffed the exhaust coming out of the latest passenger-car diesels—it looks and smells as clean as that of a gas engine to the naked eye or nose. The diesel combustion process, in which the air-fuel mixture is ignited not by a spark plug but by the high temperature and pressure created by a high compression ratio, is naturally clean in terms of carbon moNOXide, hydrocarbons, and other organic gases, so those standards are easily met. But those high temperatures and pressures result in oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and particulate matter—the soot your Olds diesel belched—that are very difficult to clean up, and the new standards apply equally to all fuels. No more special dispensation for diesel.

New technologies may fix that, but many manufacturers are giving up. Finally, Wall Street lawyer-turned Red State soccer mom Jane Meynardie emails on the airbag issue:

One used to be able to put a child below the age (and size) of 12 in the front seat, but can’t do that anymore without risking death by airbag. That means if one has four children, or three children any one of whom has a friend who likes to tag along, one must have a third row of seats (or at least one of those nasty pop-up seats in the cargo area). My one monster-size SUV in which I ferry my 3 boys and their buddies uses less gas than the two vehicles I (and my husband or hired chauffeur)would have to manage if I didn’t have it.

Indeed.

MORE STILL: Ted Nolan thinks we worry too much about safety:

When I was young, and there were no interstates between Columbia SC and Fernandina Beach FL, my parents would prepare the car for the trip by putting a big sheet of plywood across the back seat. This covered the hump, and with blankets spread over it, made a dandy play area for my sister and me to loll and squirm about for the 8 hour drive. If we got tired of that, we could lay down in the shelf between the back seat and the back window. The car may have had seat belts in the front; certainly no one ever used them.

The operative assumption was that my parents were good drivers and they would trust themselves to keep us safe. I think we lost something very important when we lost that presumption. . . . I think sometimes that if we knew where things would end up, we might have gone a different way even though every step seemed to make sense at the time.

I’m a big believer in seat belts, myself, but I take the point. And reader Julie Kelleher Stacy emails:

I hate to email you and take up your time, but this SUV issue strikes very close to home for me. Some people who live in the Northeast, like Andrew (whom I haven’t read in a year), don’t realize that some people in red states own or work on ranches, or work on large government properties, and have kids or guests, and really need these things. Northeasterners sometimes have no concept of how big and diverse this country really is. (By the way, your readers Mr Wenberg and Mr Whitehead have very good points, and I agree with them completely.)

For example, I present my annual childhood summer vacation. Every summer in my childhood of the ’60’s and early seventies was spent at the Big Bend area ranch that has been in our family since the 1880’s. I guess my parents should have had the the foresight in the 50’s to downsize and leave a small footprint on the earth by having fewer kids and selling off my mom’s share of the ranch. But no— instead I was afflicted with the existence of three siblings and a large ranch to help manage. (All working Trans-Pecos ranches have to be large. It takes on average 50 acres to sustain one cow/calf.)

So our parents would stuff all us kids, plus the dog, into the old Buick station wagon (what’s a seatbelt?), drive 350 miles west to the turnoff from the highway (did I mention that Texas is big?), and slowly limp up the several miles to the house. We would park the old Buick in the driveway for the next month, because it couldn’t hack the roads. So instead we would use the ranch pickup for all of our driving. Double cabs did not exist, so it was three people in the cab with a big stick shift between the legs of the child in the middle, and the other kids and dog in the bed of the truck. We even drove 20 miles to town like this to get groceries and library books (no sat dishes back then), at 70 MPH once we hit the highway. I loved riding in the back. We had no idea how dangerous this was, and now it’s illegal in many areas.

When the ranch started buying some early SUVs, first a Wagoneer and then a Suburban, what I liked best was the rear AC units, seemingly heaven-sent. More important was this: SUVs provided ranch families the means to transport humans INSIDE the vehicle, with seatbelts, a huge leap forward in safety for family transportation.

So I intensely resent this demonization of an inanimate object that has so greatly enhanced the safety and comfort of rural families. This is a huge, wealthy, diverse country, with room for people with all kinds of lifestyles. Do I wish SUVs got better gas mileage? HELL YES. I think, hope, and pray that markets and technology will take care of this in time. Faster please.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails along these lines. See also this post from Greg Ransom, and here’s an interesting tidbit on the front-seat airbag problem:

I’d like to point out, though, that we purchased a brand new minivan (a Mercury Monterey) a couple of weeks ago, and it doesn’t have the problem. If the passenger seatbelt latches, and it thinks that it’s an adult-sized amount of weight, it turns the airbag on. If it latches, but the weight is too low, it determines that it might be a child, so it turns off the airbag.

That makes sense, but I didn’t know it was available. That’s a good thing, though it would be even more useful in smaller vehicles, for obvious reasons.

MICHAEL POLLARD WRITES:

Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber writes that “bloggers like Glenn Reynolds …. think that blogs should replace the mainstream media.” I don’t think you’ve written anything that can be fairly interpreted this way, but perhaps I’ve misread you?

I note that in this post you write that “the political blogosphere is to a large degree about media criticism,” and you approvingly quote a reader’s comment that “Blogs are the letter to the editor that the editor does not want to print.” (Here’s another post where you cast bloggers largely as media critics.) Doesn’t sound like you regard bloggers as a replacement (or even potential replacement) for the MSM. On the other hand, you’ve also “pushed the concept of bloggers as news collectors”. I don’t get the impression that you think news collecting blogs will someday replace the Washington Post and New York Times, but like I said, maybe I’ve misunderstood you.

Care to address Farrell’s post directly?

Well, okay. First, Farrell says that I “seem” to believe that blogs will replace big media, and maybe to him I do seem that way, at least to him, though I can’t think of what I might have written to that effect, and apparently neither can he as he provides no link or quote. So maybe he’s just characterizing my views that way so as to create an apparent contradiction that he can exploit. . . .

But I don’t think I’ve ever said that that blogs will replace Big Media. (As I have said, it’s possible to imagine some sort of distributed news-collective that would do the same kind of work that newspapers or TV networks do, but there’s nothing like that in existence, and if there were it wouldn’t be a blog). I’ve generally characterized the relationship between the blogosphere and the legacysphere as symbiotic, with the prediction that blogging would remain an amateur activity by and large. And it is, at least overall. Jay Rosen is right when he says the shift is as much tonal as structural, with blogs forcing a conversation. And as I’ve said repeatedly, the real threat to Big Media is not so much to their pocketbooks as to their self-importance.

My hope (not borne out as much as I’d have liked) has been that blogs would pressure Big Media to do a better job, both by criticism and by force of example. I also think that blogs do a lot to produce reporting of things that Big Media can’t or won’t report — with the tsunami reportage and the AP bogus-boos story being examples from each category. I do think that blogs (and the Internet in general, via things like CraigsList) are pulling eyeballs from Big Media, for which there is considerable evidence. But that hardly boils down to a claim that blogs will replace Big Media, and I don’t know where Farrell gets that idea. Neither, apparently, does he, as he provides no sourcing.

Farrell also conflates InstaPundit with the blogosphere as a whole, by suggesting that my statement that InstaPundit is not a news service somehow means that the blogosphere isn’t up to news-gathering. InstaPundit is mostly about punditry (hence the name) but many other blogs are otherwise. Via this conflation, though, we get a claim of hypocrisy on my part: The argument is: Reynolds thinks blogs should replace Big Media; Reynolds admits he can’t cover everything; Therefore Reynolds is a hypocrite.

So we have an unsupported mischaracterization of my opinion, followed by a duck-and-switch in which InstaPundit is equated with the blogosphere, leading to a charge of hypocrisy. Farrell’s treatment of this issue — in which he accuses me of engaging in a dodge when I say I’m not a news service — is rather dodgy itself, and does him no credit.

What’s more — and Farrell really knows too much to make this sort of mistake, I would think — individual blogs aren’t the unit of analysis, the blogosphere is. Unlike Big Media, who until recently could black out a story with the agreement of a very small number of players, bloggers can’t do that. If I had ignored the tsunami, or RatherGate, other people would have covered them, and my omissions would have made little difference. That’s a fundamental difference in media, and hence in responsibilities in terms of inclusiveness. (And it cuts both ways, as I suggest in a response to Chuck Divine in the comments to this post by Rand Simberg.)

Farrell wants to carve out a niche as a scholar of the blogosphere, and he’s done some interesting work together with Daniel Drezner. Posts like this one, however, make me wonder how reliable his insights are likely to be.

UPDATE: Reader Randy Beck points out this from last summer, which I had forgotten. Fortunately, not everyone had. That’s another thing about Big Media and the blogosphere. In both cases, our readers are smarter than we are. But bloggers both know it and, more importantly, admit it!

Admit it? Heck, I rely on it. Meanwhile, Power Line notes Farrell’s use of the term “slavering right-wing hacks,” but also observes:

I think Farrell is missing the distinction between particular blogs and the blogsphere as a whole. No one blog can cover everything and many blogs, such as ours, deal primarily in opinion. But one can envisage a blogosphere that readers rely on to obtain essentially everything they now get from a newspaper or a newscast. The basic facts of a story would come from links to news services. The analysis would come from specialized blogs or non-specialized blogs that happen to have expertise in the subject area. The op-ed type opinions would come from the opinion blogs. I actually think we’re pretty close to having such a blogosphere, although that’s clearly a matter for debate.

I still think, as I indicated here, Big Media organizations have an enormous advantage in gathering hard news. But that advantage obtains, of course, only to the extent that they choose to employ it, and are trusted when they do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In an update to his post, Farrell accuses me of being “characteristically evasive.” This assumes that he has a point worth evading, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Farrell says that it is hypocritical of bloggers, like me, to criticize Big media for failing at comprehensiveness and objectivity when we bloggers are neither comprehensive nor objective.

If I were running a newspaper, he might have a point. But for a blogger to criticize a newspaper surely doesn’t require that the blogger run his or her blog as if it were a newspaper. InstaPundit’s tagline is “Making even the dumbest sh*t interesting,” not “All the news that’s fit to print.” Farrell seems to be straining awfully hard to find a basis for criticism here.

However, treating Farrell’s point as worthy of engagement — it is the holiday season after all — I’d say that it fails on its own terms. We’ve seen how little the Big Media standards that Farrell invokes amount to — just look at the response of the Star Tribune’s ombudsman in the Nick Coleman affair, for the most recent example in a long and sad series. Newspapers, etc., claim to be comprehensive and objective, and are not. Bloggers do not claim to be comprehensive or objective, and are not. Who’s being hypocritical here, again?

MORE: Hugh Hewitt suggests, correctly, that Farrell is being rather ungracious. (“Rather than graciously admit how perhaps he might have ‘overwritten’ a bit (‘slavering right wing hacks’), Henry has doubled down, and it isn’t pretty.”) No, it’s not — and it really is going to make it hard for me to take Henry seriously as a scholar of the blogosphere, now that he’s written off half of it so unpleasantly.

But it’s not just Henry. I’ve noticed that others among the lefty bloggers have been rather down on the blogosphere lately, uttering complaints about partisanship and the like, and I strongly suspect that it has a lot to do with the election results.

What’s funny is that the reason why they hate us — Kerry’s defeat in spite of overwhelming and underhanded support from Big Media — is misplaced. The power of the non-lefty blogosphere is, as I’ve written before, largely an artifact of Big Media’s bias in favor of the left.

Meanwhile, King Banaian thinks I’m wrong:

I disagree with Reynolds that “Big Media organizations have an enormous advantage in gathering hard news” unless he means the first AP reports from places like Aceh about tsunamis. On that he’d be right. But blogs get a huge payoff for gathering a piece of information that helps shape stories other bloggers and the MSM are gathering. It does so in an efficient fashion: Spontaneous order occurs because those blogs able to gather good information draw eyes, Technorati rankings and NZ Bear love. In contrast, the marginal value to an MSM organization of getting a particular piece of data is small; ad rates and subscriptions will not be affected by coverage of one particular story nearly as much. As the mainstream media comes to understand that order in the blogosphere, it will rely on blogs more and more to help with the information gathering — rather than compete, there will be some desire for cooperation between the blogosphere and the MSM. See, for a current example, the reliance on Sharkblog’s coverage of the Washington governor’s race by the Seattle Times. I think this absorption will only grow.

Hmm. I think that’s more like the symbiosis I was describing.

Eric S. Raymond has a somewhat different take.

LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: Jay Rosen weighs in with much more in an update to this post — you’ll have to scroll to the bottom: “Farrell did something I have seen many journalists (Nick Coleman is one) do: refute an argument that isn’t out there about blogging and Big Media. I’m sure someone somewhere has said something like it, but it is extremely rare to encounter any regular observer of the scene, blogger or not, right or left, who thinks the major news media’s army of reporters is about to be “replaced” by bloggers. I just don’t find anyone claiming that, probably because it’s an absurd and overblown idea that falls apart after about a minute of thought.”

MY HAPPY EXPERIENCE with BellSouth’s robot-driven repair service this weekend led to a column, which will be up later in the week at TCS. But here are a couple of thoughts that didn’t make the column.

One is that when it comes to reliable phone service, you still can’t beat the Bells. One of the local cable companies, Knology, offers phone service, as do some other local-phone competitors. I’m glad they’re competitive, but I have serious doubts about the quality and reliability of their service compared to BellSouth’s. (I haven’t heard anything bad about Knology, to be fair, but my mother-in-law has local service from some other provider, and her service calls take, literally, months.)

Another is that the move to internet telephony as something more than a hobby or add-on is going to make reliability worse. Internet telephony seems to be on the verge of becoming a mass-market consumer item — but the Internet itself isn’t especially reliable, by phone standards.

Call me old-fashioned, or more concerned with reliability than most people (and I probably am the latter, at least) but I wouldn’t rely on a VOIP setup as my sole telephone connection. I gather that some people are, but they obviously feel differently about these things than I do.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

I concur with your assessment of VOIP and POTS; when hurricane Charley came through Orlando we lost power for 3 1/2 days, others lost it for over a week, some for longer. I have a good size UPS that supports my PC, cable modem and router, but I didn’t have internet access because the cable company didn’t have power to its boxes.

Being law enforcement and an emergency responder to the county courthouse, I’m on the “special” list for my county-issued cell phone, so I had cell access while my neighbors did not. They could receive calls but couldn’t make them because for the first day after Charley public cell access was restricted to ensure emergency service workers could communicate (911 calls would go through, others would not).

My “dumb” phone from Bell South worked the entire time because Bell has battery backup and generators, and their wired network is independent of everyone else’s.

I was seriously considering VOIP up until we became Hurricane Central. Now, I might add VOIP to get real cheap long distance, but it will be in addition to POTS because of the reliability.

That’s certainly my view. The Bells have a different attitude — and network setup — than most other people. On the other hand, reader Stan Davis emails:

As a Senior Engineer for a small, up-and-coming VoIP company, I can assure you that your fears about the unreliability of VoIP telephony are fast becoming unfounded. It very much depends on the company, of course, but our network has double and sometimes triple back-ups for every piece of mission critical equipment. Our goal is to not have a single dropped or choppy call and we are 99.9% successful in that. Our biggest obstacle lies, ironically, not with the Internet per-se, but with the Bell companies, and others, that provide the DSL (and cable) to the home. This piece is the weakest link and entirely out of the VoIP industries hands. You might be surprised to hear that a very large portion (sorry, don’t have exact numbers, but would guess 80%) of all domestic long distance telephone calls today travel over a VoIP network at some point! The same is true for mobile calls. I hope this will help you to understand the extent that VoIP has penetrated the telephony industry already, unbeknownst to the general public.

Actually I did know that the numbers are big. I’m delighted to hear that people are taking this seriously, because I think that peoples’ primary phone lines should be extremely reliable. Of course, the local-loop segment is the most important, and I don’t think those are treated as carefully for Internet access as for Plain Old Telephone Service, meaning that POTS is still likely to be more reliable.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Steele emails:

Further to your item about POTS vs VOIP I can second some of your correspondents comments. We were without power for 5 weeks after Hurricane Andrew and NEVER lost phone service. Without power for that long no matter how reliable they make a VOIP backbone there is no UPS available to mankind that will last that long :-)

Indeed.

IT’S NOT JUST UNSCAM — The U.N. has other problems:

The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.

Yeah, I know that pointing out the double standards is considered unsporting — but imagine how this would be playing if American troops were involved.

UPDATE: Patrick Spero has some observations on this story.

KEEPING IT “CLEAN:” SEAN HACKBARTH NOTES double standards at Hardball.

UPDATE: More double standards noted here.

ANTISEMITISM IN EUROPE: Some thoughts from Simon Montefiore:

Yet something has changed about the European attitude to Jewishness. One feels it everywhere: we have moved, as it were, from the world of Howard Jacobson back to Franz Kafka. This is connected to Israel, America, 9/11 and Iraq. For more than a decade now, Israel has been the fashionable bete noire of the chattering classes. The response to Israel in the European media, particularly the BBC and the Guardian, has long been prejudiced, disproportionate, vicious often fictitious.

A typical case of the media’s mendacity on Israel was the invented coverage of the Jenin “massacre” (not) by British news organisations, which were so anti-Israel that they popularised an event that they could not have witnessed, because it had not happened. They never apologised – because any Israeli “atrocity” is seen to illustrate a greater truth. Another example was the Israeli assassination of the man whom the BBC called Hamas’s “spiritual leader”: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was actually a terrorist boss, about as “spiritual” as Osama Bin Laden.

Yet, in the British media, every Israeli sin is amplified, while those of the Arab world are ignored. The million dead of the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein’s 300,000 victims, thousands more massacred in Chechnya, the Arab militias killing black Sudanese, the torturing Middle Eastern tyrannies are ignored – but in Britain, every Palestinian death is reported like a sacred rite. Our media conceal the venom directed at Israel by Arab clerics, television and the internet, presenting Israeli complaints as propaganda. The Middle East commentator Tom Gross revealed in the National Review that when the “moderate” Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais visited Britain this month, the BBC hailed him as a brave worker for “community cohesion”. Yet his Friday sermons call for Jews – “scum of the human race, rats of the world” – to be “annihilated”. . . .

It is as if, in the mythical scale of 9/11, al-Qaeda had unlocked a forgotten cultural capsule of anti-Semitic myths, sealed and forgotten since the Nazis, the Black Hundreds and the medieval blood libels. Just words? But words matter in a violent world.

Read the whole thing. (Via Eugene Volokh).

UPDATE: This column by Mark Steyn on European double standards in hate speech law enforcement is worth reading, too, in this connection.

SEXIST DOUBLE STANDARDS: Today’s Wall Street Journal has a story (p. B6) describing the “Advertising Women of New York” group’s complaints about sexist advertising. They’re most upset about an ad for Sirius Radio featuring Pamela Anderson in a wet tank top. (“She uses her bottom as a chrome buffer.” No wonder Stern is thinking of moving to Sirius)

But that’s not the only sexism in the story. Get this:

The trade group does cite some ads for portraying women in a positive light. For example, MasterCard will be praised tonight for a commercial in which a woman opens a jar of pickles after her weakling husband fails the test.

Women as sex objects: bad and demeaning. Men as weaklings: good, and progressive.

UPDATE: Steve Verdon has opined on this before.

HUGH HEWITT HAS SOME COMMENTS FOR PETER BEINART on scandals and media double standards:

The New Republic’s Peter Beinart and I mixed it up today, when after dancing around the fact that he and the staff at TNR had been discussing the Kerry allegations he chastised me for bringing up the DrudgeReport’s allegations on air without any evidence for their veracity. Trap sprung. I asked Peter for the evidence supporting the allegations that Bush was a “deserter” or “AWOL”, allegations that he and the TNR staff have been rolling about in for days. The only “evidence” he could cite was General Turnipseed’s alleged charge.

Understand that Turnipseed has never alleged that Bush was AWOL or a deserter. Never. Four years ago he said he doesn’t recall seeing him. On Tuesday he stated that Bush could well have been on the base, but that he just didn’t see him.

In other words, there is no evidence whatsoever to support Terry McAuliffe’s slanderous charge that was repeated in Congress yesterday by a Democratic congressman and by countless pundits including the increasingly repugnant Begala, and widely read websites of the left like Joshua Marshall’s.

But while Beinart and his colleagues of the left have no problem covering the Bush story and shifting coverage from the lack of evidence for the charges leveled at Bush to their dissatisfaction with the completeness of the Bush denials, they are feigning shock that a report from Matt Drudge on alleged Kerry infidelity should be mentioned outside their newsrooms.

The timing of the new allegations is wonderful especially because it throws such a defining light on the bias of the Washington media –ever ready to carry the water of the Democrats and dismayed that they might be obliged to cover some nasty business about the front-runner from the left.

I am, as I’ve said before, underwhelmed by the Kerry scandal. But I’m even more underwhelmed by the National Guard flap. It’s quite obvious that there’s a double standard here, and Hugh is right to chastise them for it.

Scroll down or click here for more.

UPDATE: Then there’s this comment from reader Don Williams:

Given their constant rush to put out breaking news, I was surprised that the TV networks haven’t let out a peep re Drudge’s report of a Kerry affair with an intern.

Then it occurred to me that if Kerry’s “electability” is questioned –if the Kerry bubble pops –then Howard Dean is the last man standing. Given how the TV networks torpedoed the Dean campaign with roughly 473 misleading broadcasts of his “Iowa Scream” (with the cheering crowd edited out) can anyone doubt what a Dean FCC would do to the networks?

Isn’t Edwards still standing?

ANOTHER UPDATE: TNR has responded to Hewitt on its campaign blog. “This isn’t an example of ideological bias. It’s actually the opposite. It’s the press trying to be scrupulously unbiased.”

Yet another reason why all media operations should have blogs.

Then there’s this cartoon, taking a somewhat different perspective.

MORE: Bo Cowgill comments on the TNR response.

STILL MORE: Here’s another response to the TNR post. (“So how can you argue that the AWOL story should be covered because it was being discussed by a major Democratic candidate, but NOT cover the Kerry adultery story even though it was being shopped around by the exact same person?”)

MORE EMBARRASSMENT FOR THE FORD FOUNDATION:

The quip going around nonprofit circles these days is that the Ford Foundation’s support for Palestinian extremists is the one area of funding it could defend on the grounds of donor intent–an allusion to the notorious anti-Semitism of automaker and founder Henry Ford.

But Chuck Grassley, for one, is not amused. In response to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency series detailing Ford’s support for Palestinian NGOs crusading against Israel, the Iowa Republican has announced that the Senate Finance Committee will review the matter. In so doing, we hope it raises a question long overdue for Congressional scrutiny: How U.S. tax laws intended to encourage charity have had the unintended effect of spawning a foundation priesthood funded into perpetuity and insulated from public accountability.

The NGOs and foundations deserve much, much closer scrutiny than they’re getting, both in terms of their activities, and in terms of where the money goes. And that’s even before you get to basic questions of accounting, oversight, and general honesty in advertising. The kind of financial shenanigans that go on in this world make the for-profit business scandals look minor.

UPDATE: A reader emails that this investigative series by the Boston Globe regarding the Cabot Family Foundation is a model for the kind of inquiry that ought to be going on. (Look to the lower right for links to more stories).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Djerejian, who works in NGOs, says I’m wrong to compare NGO corruption to Enron and Parmalat. (Though his suggestion that we should compare dollar amounts seems to miss the point.) But fellow nonprofit reader Rudy Carrasco emails:

Good to see your details about Ford Foundation et al. Big foundations like Ford regularly grill and dissect small nonprofits, and they need to be grilled themselves. Truth is that all ngos need the grilling (it’s usually helpful for us) but there are times when the close inspection is about gate-keeping (keeping ngos that don’t toe the party line out of the money pool) and not about good governance. . . .

Made me mad again – because I get pressured, as a nonprofit bringing in under 400k a year, to govern well and properly – which is fine, it makes us better. But to see this double standard irks me. Good to see Ford held to same standards they hold us to.

Well, I’ve heard a number of horror stories from people I trust who work with NGOs. But, of course, without monitoring it’s hard to know just how deep the problem is. Personally, I think it’s probably pretty deep — because when you have large sums of money, few clear metrics for success, and little accountability to outsiders, it usually is. One useful article on this subject, though it’s now a bit old, is David Samuels’ Philanthropical Correctness: The Failure of American Foundations, from the September 18, 1995 issue of The New Republic. It doesn’t seem to be on the web, but here’s an excerpt:

In the past twenty-five years, however, a startling shift in foundation funding has occurred, away from research and toward the support of advocacy groups and the kinds of social service programs best accomplished by government and private charity. Of 240 grants made by the Carnegie Corporation in 1989, totaling $37 million, only 27.5 percent (sixty grants) went to American universities. Most were relatively small, and many went to non-research oriented projects such as an “international negotiations network” at Emory University’s Carter Presidential Center, or “Reprinting and Disseminating the Handbook for Achieving Sex Equity Through Education and the Sex Equity Handbook for Schools.” Most of the Carnegie grants fell into one of two categories: funding and disseminating a host of high-flown reports by Carnegie-sponsored commissions; and funding advocacy groups including the Organizing Institute, the International Peace Academy, the aclu Foundation, the National Council of La Raza, the Fund for Peace and the Children’s Defense Fund. It is the stuff of which Republican careers will doubtless be made: a multi-billion-dollar tax exemption for the political agenda of liberal elites.

Those who share the broader social concerns of the foundations might wonder as well whether doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to ideologically driven advocates–who lack the time, the training or the inclination to evaluate what they do–is the best prescription for future innovations in public policy. Foundations enjoy their present tax-free moorings because they claim to operate as a nonpartisan force dedicated to the pursuit of innovative solutions to our pressing social ills, sheltered from the shifting partisan winds. The preponderance of foundation grants to advocacy groups, however, suggests that foundations are less devoted to the reasoned pursuit of the public good than to the multiculturalist dogmas propounded by their staff. . . .

No longer subject to academic review, evaluations of foundation programs today are carried out by foundation staff and by grantees themselves. Certainly many of these recipients are worthy and well-intentioned. The trouble is that, under the new system, it’s almost impossible to evaluate what actual good they do. One recipient of major foundation grants, an educator in a Northeastern city who refused to allow his name to be published, described the process with a cynicism that appears to be general: “They think they’re being clever by asking you to come up with your own criteria for success–60 percent of children in the eighth grade will be reading at a ninth-grade level in two years, or whatever. And they ask you to select an independent evaluator’ to report on whatever progress has been made. It’s all very numerical: but the goals you select are always goals that you know you can reach. Maybe 60 percent of eighth graders are already reading at a ninth-grade level. Maybe it’s 70 percent. The foundations don’t know. And the evaluators you select are people with a stake in the project. They’re getting a salary–from you, or an organization related to yours; some part of their income comes from that grant. And so the project is evaluated, declared a success, and everyone–the program officer, the trustees and you–can go home happy.”

Samuels isn’t so much concerned with bags-of-cash corruption, exactly, as with the pumping of huge amounts of money into politics instead of actual effort to help people, and he notes the way in which many foundations have abandoned, or shifted, metrics for “success” so as to make real accountability difficult. Though that’s a form of corruption in itself, and it tends to lead to more traditional kinds of corruption, as well.

I believe that this article created something of a storm at the time, but it doesn’t seem to have changed things, much.

MORE: A reader sends a link to this transcript of an interview with Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN) who’s looking at foundation practices. Here’s an interesting fact: “The Ford Foundation, a $9 billion foundation, the government says you need to give away roughly half a billion every year. Almost $100 million of that, almost $100 million of that is overhead.”

As I say, more scrutiny is needed, at a number of levels.

DAVID AARONOVITCH IS WELCOMING PRESIDENT BUSH TO LONDON:

The double standards here are obvious but worth a reminder. During the week anti-Bush protesters will, we’re told, be splashing red paint to symbolise the spilled blood of the people of Iraq. No such red paint was splashed around London after Halabja, after the 1991 Shia and Kurdish uprisings or during the Iran-Iraq war, almost as if that were not real Iraqi blood. Blood, after all, is only blood if Americans spill it.

No crimson splotches were created during the state visit of Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu in 1978, a visit which – because of Romania’s semi-dissident position in the Soviet bloc – suited both cold warriors and sections of the Left. Earlier this year the Chechnya-enmired President Putin escaped almost any kind of demonstration. . . .

It isn’t America that sends ambulances to blow up aid workers or Istanbul synagogues. It is America, above all, that is bearing the cost of helping to create a new Iraq – a new Iraq which, despite the violence, is being born in towns such as Hilla and cities such as Basra. And yet some of our writers and protesters – betraying their own professed ideals – identify with bombers and not teachers, administrators and policemen who are building the country.

Where is the red paint to protest against the blasts at Najaf, of the UN in Baghdad, of the Red Cross, of the synagogues, of the Bali night-club, of the Arab-Jewish restaurant in Haifa? Where are the ‘No Suicide Bombings’ posters in the Muswell Hill windows? Or do you really believe we can save ourselves by constructing a huge wall around these islands, or around America, and painting it with smileys? That maybe then the ills of the world will leave us alone?

Fat chance. (Via William Sjostrom).

MARK STEYN ON PLAME:

If sending Joseph C. Wilson IV to Niger for a week is the best the world’s only hyperpower can do, that’s a serious problem. If the Company knew it was a joke all along, that’s a worse problem. It means Mr Bush is in the same position with the CIA as General Musharraf is with Pakistan’s ISI: when he makes a routine request, he has to figure out whether they’re going to use it to try and set him up. This is no way to win a terror war.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Meanwhile Mark Kleiman writes:

If you’re used to the idea that the people around George Bush do bad things, then it may be easy for you to swallow burning Valerie Plame as just another bad thing they did. But most of the bad things (bad, that is, in my view) that Bush and his colleagues do don’t seem bad to them, or at least seem justified. (Sliming John McCain to win the South Carolina primary? Just politics; too bad, but that’s the way the game is played.) From the very beginning, it’s been hard for me to see how any of those folks could have talked themselves into an act so appallingly wrong according to their own standards.

It was hard for me to see that, too, but when I pointed it out people were accusing me of shilling for the Administration. Ron Bailey is sounding the same theme over at Reason:

Why would anyone in the White House think revealing that Joseph C. Wilson IV’s wife worked under cover for the CIA would “punish” or “intimidate” him for publishing an article critical of the Bush Administration’s use of bogus information about supposed Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from the African country of Niger? If disclosing that information was aimed at somehow “discrediting” Wilson, it was just plain stupid. Besides being illegal, it just makes Wilson seem more credible, not less.

Why, yes. That’s what I thought, too. As I noted a while back:

But it doesn’t make sense to me. First, if you want to “intimidate” someone, committing a felony at which you can be caught — and which doesn’t hurt the target — doesn’t seem to be the way to do it. What possible benefit was there to the Bush Administration in saying that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA? When what they could have said is what the British did say, which is that Wilson was gullible and inept? Had Plame been fired on a pretext, or Wilson’s taxes been audited, or some such, then there’d be an “intimidation” argument. But this?

Meanwhile, as Kleiman notes, the “six reporters” to whom the story was allegedly shopped and that we’ve heard so much about may not even exist — rather, they may have been contacted after Novak’s story. Seems like this case really is complicated, after all. Advantage: InstaPundit!

And I grow steadily more suspicious of the CIA role in this as time goes on. I was already in favor of seeing Tenet fired — and have been pretty much since 9/11 — so this isn’t exactly a deciding factor for me. But perhaps it should be a deciding factor for President Bush.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon notes: “I think the great mystery that possibly is underlying the entire Plame/Wilson Affair is why Tenet was not fired in the first place after 9/11.”

Well, things are still complicated, so I’m not sure I’ll say that it’s the mystery underlying Plame. But, to me at least, it’s a mystery all its own.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Doug Levene emails:

In addition to your suspicions about CIA treachery afoot, I would add my dismay that Wilson is getting a free ride for perfectly dishonorable behavior, namely writing an Op-Ed about the results of a confidential mission that he undertook for the CIA simply because he was pissed off that the president failed to take his advice. I always thought that if you worked for the CIA, your work product stayed in Langley. That principle applies just as much to a one-time special assignment as to a career employee. Why aren’t all the folks so indignant about protecting the sanctity of the CIA concerned about Wilson’s breach of his duty of loyalty and confidentiality?

I think that the CIA is in desperate need of some re-engineering, and that Bush has been handed an excuse to do it.

MORE: Donald Sensing says that nobody really wants to expose the leaker, regardless of party, for obvious Washington institutional reasons.

But I do!

STILL MORE: Reader Frank Walters wonders:

Quite aside from alleged White House revenge motiations, nothing else about the Wilson/Plame dust-up makes any sense. Does not the CIA realize that assigning a covert agent’s spouse to a special mission doubles the risk to both of exposure should either be revealed (particularly if both relate to WMDs)? I am amazed that they do not have a policy against such paralled missions for spouses. And does not Joseph Wilson have enough experience in public life to realize that stirring up a huge media storm increases whatever danger there is to his wife of being exposed through his mission (even if Novak had revealed her CIA connection earlier)? Finally, was his mission not classified? If so, why is he not in violation of the law by revealing its details? If it was not classified, assigning it to the spouse of a covert CIA agent makes even less sense.

I agree.

MORE STILL: Here.

POLITICAL ADVICE FOR THE DEMOCRATS — they seem to need it, and I’m offering it over at GlennReynolds.com.

I don’t think, though, that anyone would offer me the DNC chairmanship, though it was once held by a law school classmate of mine. And the Democrats were doing better then, too.

UPDATE: John Conyers apparently hasn’t gotten the memo about the youth vote.

And here’s an issue too.

And a reader has more suggestions, as follow:

Continue reading ‘POLITICAL ADVICE FOR THE DEMOCRATS — they seem to need it, and I’m offering it over at GlennReynold…’ »

LAST WEEK I WROTE ON DOUBLE STANDARDS in the treatment of Baghdad’s looting incidents. (That was before I knew that journalists were among the looters, or it would have been triple standards!) But now Andrea Harris identifies more doublethink:

I am intrigued by the idea that the column’s author, one Philip Hensher, apparently thinks that 1) it is possible to fight a “caring” war (how? Drop sympathy cards and flowers along with bombs?) and 2) that the best way to show “caring” would have been to shoot more civilians. The ways in which the minds of anti-Americans work never cease to cause amazement.

Yeah. And that’s why it’s been hard for me to take the looting complaints all that seriously, even before it started to seem likely that at least some of the media types doing the complaining were also pocketing Saddam’s silverware. As I wrote in my earlier piece, if it can be shown that the United States was in a position to stop the looting, and deliberately or callously let it happen, then that should be a big embarrassment and those responsible should be punished.

But, really, the complaints just seem so much like desperate efforts to find something to complain about that it’s hard to take them seriously, even though perhaps we should. (Jay Manifold calls this the bitter fruit of incompetent criticism, noting that the antiwar folks blew their credibility earlier, and now people aren’t listening even to valid complaints.)

A reader wrote me to say that it was worth risking American (and Iraqi) lives to protect the National Museum, even if it meant diverting resources from elsewhere. Well, maybe to some people, but not to me. Mickey Kaus says that the United States should be held to a “strict liability” standard here, with us responsible for anything that happens regardless of whether we actually did anything wrong.

I’d disagree with that. I think a lot of these criticisms underestimate the “fog of war” and the (rather high) likelihood that the Museum was looted before American troops even arrived. To make out a case that goes beyond carping, you have to show (1) that the Museum was un-looted before Baghdad fell; (2) that it would have been comparatively safe and practical for the United States to prevent looting; and (3) that the United States knew all of this, but just refused to act.

There is some evidence that Jay Garner sent a memo on this before Baghdad fell, but that doesn’t really answer the question. I’d have to call the case for negligence here “not proven.” Or as Roger Simon puts it: “It was only a teeny tiny bit our fault.”

Of course, as a mystery writer, he’s a beneficiary of the looting, which will provide MacGuffins aplenty for future works. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Rajat Datta emails:

I wonder how many of those who blame the coalition troops, and Bush and Rumsfeld in particular, for the looting would have held Clinton responsible for the mass expulsions of Muslims from Kosovo by Milosevic and the Servs when we liberated Kosovo. The Serbs were at fault then, and the looters are at fault now, despite the fact that they obviously took advantage of an oportunity that opened up because of our military operations.

Art historian David Nishimura, meanwhile has posts here, here, here, and here. His latest sum-up:

Points to note: the robbers have been heavily armed, quick to shoot, and not easily deterred; there has been extensive insider involvement; and finally, the most secure vaults have successfully defied all break-in attempts. This emerging picture (along with the report noted here that armed intruders had been firing at US forces from the national museum) poses a further challenge to the assumption that the looting of Baghdad’s museums and libraries could easily have been prevented, and was thus the direct result of American negligence.

Stay tuned.

EUGENE VOLOKH HAS MORE ON VIBRATORS AND DOUBLE STANDARDS — not the sort of thing you usually expect from the Volokh Conspiracy, but done with characteristic thoroughness and elan.

“SNOBBISH, RACIST, AND PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME OF DOUBLE STANDARDS:” Ian Buruma takes on the world’s reaction to the Miss World riots. Well, the non-Blogospheric world’s reaction, anyway:

Staging the contest in Nigeria might not have been wise, and the journalist may have been courting danger. But some of the reactions in London suggest that the killers may have had a point. There is an odd convergence between fashionable political correctitude and religious bigotry, as though people who have the bad taste to enjoy beauty parades are criminally culpable. Rod Liddle, for example, found it difficult to disagree with the Muslim lynch mob, “from a theoretical point of view”, that Miss World represents everything that is horrible about “western culture”. . . .

Besides snobbery, there is a worse reason for being more outraged by western vulgarity than non-western murderousness. It might be called moral obtuseness, or even moral racism. The assumption appears to be that Africans or Asians can’t be held to our own elevated standards. They are more like wild animals, whose savagery should not be provoked by our foolishness. When we do provoke them, the consequences are entirely our fault. It would be as misplaced to apply our moral standards to their behaviour, as it would be to expect tigers to talk. The murder of Nigerians or Indian Muslims, or Iraqi Kurds, is par for the course, unless we did it, or Americans, or Israelis.

Yes.

PC DOUBLE STANDARDS: Reader Mark Shawhan writes:

I wanted to take issue with your recent post on what you see as a double standard for left and right (the one made on 11/15). Essentially, I’m wondering where the evidence is for your agreement with James Lileks that “Yes, every opinion is valid – but as a famous pig once remarked, some are more valid than others.” So far, your discussion of the matter has cited Mr. Lileks’ post on the subject, the fracas at UT over the hate speech code there, and Martha Burk’s “modest proposal,” and I fail to see how any of these items support your claim of a double standard.

Here’s how I see it: My point in pointing to Burks was that a non-lefty white male who wrote something similar, but aimed at women, wouldn’t be allowed the defense of “spoof.” Lilek’s point was that a non-lefty white male who painted something similar, but aimed at black people, wouldn’t be allowed the defense of subjectivity. And the Kappa Sigma blackface incident seems to me to be proof of both.

Separately, Kevin Drum of the usually excellent CalPundit blog emails that he’s surprised I haven’t censured Kathryn Jean Lopez for “deliberately falsifying” Burk’s piece. I didn’t take from Lopez’s posts that she had done that. Looking at Drum’s blog, I find a post that seems to call me a liar. I don’t see why. (And I don’t think I ever got the email he says he sent, though I get so many I wouldn’t swear to that). But in my post on the subject, I added a link to the text of what Burk wrote, and to a CNN transcript saying it was a spoof, as soon as I got them. You can read the post here, and see if you think Drum’s characterization is justified.

But, as I thought was abundantly clear, my point was that if, say, Hootie Johnson wrote a piece calling for all women to be equipped with Norplant, to be removed only with the consent of their “designated partners” nobody would be bending over backwards to cut him slack because it was a spoof. How hard is this point to understand?

Too hard for some people, apparently. As I say below, a lot of people on the left are so thoroughly blind to the double standard that they can’t believe people who point it out aren’t somehow, pulling a fast one. All I can say is, get real, guys. You’re only fooling yourselves. And the hysterical response that appears every time someone points out the hypocrisy of the left on these matters seems to suggest that you’re having trouble even with that.