Sunday, July 31, 2005

Who didn’t know? - Time magazine has an article titled “When they knew” that tries to lay down a timeline for when Bush administration officials, including Karl Rove, might have discovered the connection between Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. John Podhoretz writing on the Corner believes that Time is spinning and the evidence clears Rove (and Scooter). The Minuteman isn’t so sure but quips: “Maybe the TIME piece should be re-headlined - "Lots of People Kept A Secret For A Surprisingly Long Time".
The cyber-war on terror

Via Bizblogger, here’s an article from the UK Times about Al-Qaeda web sites blinking out of existence:

Over the past fortnight Israeli intelligence agents have noticed something distinctly odd happening on the internet. One by one, Al-Qaeda’s affiliated websites have vanished until only a handful remain, write Uzi Mahnaimi and Alex Pell.
Someone has cut the line of communication between the spiritual leaders of international terrorism and their supporters. Since 9/11 the websites have been the main links to disseminate propaganda and information.
Although normally I’m a free speech nut, I applaud this tactic. Why give the Islamofascists access to wicked Western technology to spread their hatred, or worse, coordinate actions among terror cells? Let’em use smoke signals or something.
Air America agrees to pay back the money they insist they didn’t take – The “sweaty” Brian Maloney has all the latest on the twisting Air America story.

Just as a side-note, I listened to the Air America show "Morning Sedition" late last week hoping against hope that they would address the faux loan issue in some peripheral way. No dice. Air America is all Rove all the time. Even the staff at MoveOn must be getting tired of it.
Suicide bombing: one way to get off the dole in England

Mark Steyn writes that the “Terrorists are way too cozy in United Kingdom”:

''Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999. Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No. 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years. Omar, received £88 a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say.''

''Council property'' is Britspeak for public housing. So here's how things stand four years after 9/11: United Kingdom taxpayers are subsidizing the jihad.
(Hat tip: Betsy)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Artifacts from the future – This month’s Wired magazine has a crossword puzzle from the year 2019 and the clue for 1 across is: “46th U.S. President or GM staple food.” The answer, of course, is “Rice.”
Spoilers ahead! - Just for the record, I finished "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince" today. I still can't believe that Harry got biz-zay with Hermione while using the Invisibility Cloak and the Muffliato spell.
Am I that predictable? - Here’s Mark Kilmer: “Those of you visiting from Viking Pundit or Political Teen, who often link to these previews….” Nice. Aaaaaanyway, it looks like the Discovery astronauts are orbiting around the Sunday news shows tomorrow, which is cool.

(P.S. – Mark says they’re having problems over at Red State in case anybody’s trying to get on.)
Question: How can you tell there’s an “election” coming up in Egypt?

Answer: “Riot police and government supporters beat dozens of pro-reform activists with clubs, sometimes kicking them as they lay on the ground Saturday during a protest in the Egyptian capital against President Hosni Mubarak
Anything is better than Drudge – Here’s another one of those news roundup sites with all the latest links and thinks. One nice feature: the front-page images of the major U.S. newspapers.
Republicans advance agenda in Washington

From the WashPost: “On Capitol Hill, A Flurry of GOP Victories - Key Measures Advance After Long Delays

After years of partisan impasses and legislative failures, Congress in a matter of hours yesterday passed or advanced three far-reaching bills that will allocate billions of dollars and set new policies for guns, roads and energy.
The measures sent to President Bush for his signature will grant $14.5 billion in tax breaks for energy-related matters and devote $286 billion to transportation programs, including 6,000 local projects, often called "pork barrel" spending. The Senate also passed a bill to protect firearms manufacturers and dealers from various lawsuits. The House is poised to pass it this fall.
Not to throw cold water on this state of affairs, but it’s easy to spend money. It seems infinitely more difficult to stop or even slightly slow down the pace of spending in Congress. Social Security reform may still pass, but when Congress can’t even slow the rate of growth of Medicaid, it’s not a promising proposition.

Extra – McQ on Q&O had the same reaction: “Porking up the so-called budget.”

Friday, July 29, 2005

Note the Gore/Kerry/Hillary pattern – From Slate’s “Hillary’s electability problem”: “Yet Hillary does face a genuine electability issue, one that has little to do with ideology, woman-hating, or her choice of life partner. Plainly put, it's her personality. …she still lacks a key quality that a politician can't achieve through hard work: likability. As hard as she tries, Hillary has little facility for connecting with ordinary folk, for making them feel that she understands, identifies, and is at some level one of them. You may admire and respect her. But it's hard not to find Hillary a bit inhuman. Whatever she may be like in private, her public persona is calculating, clenched, relentless—and a little robotic.”
Four words I never thought I’d typeChelsea Clinton is hot

And then there’s First Twins Jenna and Barbara:

Oh yes.
Is my CD collection too large? Never!

Today I was driving home and heard the excellent "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet over my XM radio receiver. Then I was wondering to myself: do I have that CD? Yes, yes I do.

If I remember correctly, Nick Hornby wrote in "High Fidelity" that you're not really a true music fan until you have 500 albums. I would also submit that once you start forgetting CDs you own because of your vast collection, that'll work as well.

(That reminds me: I need to pick up the new Belle & Sebastian and Jason Mraz.)
That’s that - Bush to appoint Bolton next week
Like Winston Churchill’s pudding, the Democrats have no theme

From CBS News: “Democrats’ solidarity fades

But it is the lack of message more than the fighting that is really creating stress inside party circles. Democrats know they need one but can't figure out what it is. … Many were hoping that a good fight over a Supreme Court judge might unify the unhappy campers, but so far Judge Roberts is not giving them the fodder they were hoping for. Attacking Bush, Karl Rove, John Bolton and Social Security makes them happy, but deep down they long to be positive. If only they could figure out what to be positive about.
They’re pretty enthusiastic about keeping Americans chained to the Ponzi scheme known as Social Security. That’s something, right?
Fat man of the people

So-called filmmaker Michael Moore makes the Bitter Waitress database on both coasts. First in New York:

This fat bastard first bitched about not being able to get a table by the window then ordered enough food for himself to feed me for a week. After busting my ass trying to bring him the next plate before he finished the first he only leaves a dollar and some change for a tip... Dude wheres my tip?
Then in Los Angeles:

OK i ran my ass off for this guy and his friends. Funny I didnt know this guy had friends, maybe they were kissups. 2.5 hours they spent shoveling food down their fat faces. Numerous refills. By the way MM is a pompous ass judging from his treatment of the staff.
(Hat tip: Raging Rightwing Republican)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another skeptical view of AmeriSave – “Though it is laudable that Democratic House Leadership acknowledge that no retirement plan is complete without outside investments, AmeriSave accounts fail to achieve their objective: you can’t save money that doesn’t exist.”

Update – Will Franklin, with supporting graphs and data, calls AmeriSave “hilariously dumb.”
Too low to measure in Philly – Via Brainster: “Both [Air America affiliate] WHAT and [Al Franken’s] show have fallen off the charts, according to radio-rating service Arbitron, meaning there were too few listeners to measure during the second quarter of this year - the so-called spring book.” Boy, if Air America can't pull listeners in heavily-Democratic Philadelphia, there's really no hope.
Bloggers review the new seriesOver There” – Ace (ahem) didn’t care for it.
And then there’s that other runaway entitlement – From Parapundit: “Medicare Rewards Hospitals For Poor Care And Excessive Treatment” Unintended consequences again.
Unraveling the mystery of John Roberts

[scene: Senate office. Charles Schumer bursts in excitedly, waving a small yellow piece of paper]

CS: “Pat! Pat! I found it! After digging through all of John Roberts’ papers, I’ve got the evidence to sink his nomination.”
Pat Leahy: “Lemme see! [pause] Um, where did you find this?”
CS: “It was stuck to the top of one of the briefs he wrote while he was working for the Reagan administration.”
PL: “Chuck, this is a Post-it note. It says: ‘Pick up milk, bread, eggs’”
CS: “Eggs, Pat, eggs!”
PL: “Yeahhhhh?”
CS: “Eggs, as in ovaries? As in turning over Roe v. Wade? It’s all right there, clear as day. Plus it’s obvious that “pick up bread” is a euphemism for taking a payoff. Probably from the Federalist Society.”
PL: “And the milk?”
CS: “Likely related to a case about public breastfeeding. You know how those plaid shorts types are.”
PL: “You may have something here. Let’s demand a full accounting of all of John Roberts’ Post-it notes dating back to his graduation from Harvard.”
CS: “I don’t think Post-it notes have been around that long.”
PL: “Perfect! Prepare the filibuster!”

(Inspired by James Lileks’ “Let’s review what the Left has on John Roberts”)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It’s not too late to fix Social Security

From City Journal: “A Feasible Fix for Social Security

Conservative reformers greeted President Bush’s late-April proposal for “progressive indexing” of Social Security benefits with dismay—and prominent conservative leaders haven’t said much about it since. They’re wasting an opportunity. Yes, Bush’s proposal was meant as a giveaway to liberals—a politically calculated trade to win their support for reining in Social Security’s unsustainable growth. And it’s a fair deal, provided that conservatives get what they’ve always wanted from reform: personal accounts within Social Security, to entice millions of middle-income Americans to join the investor class.
A very good, comprehensive argument on how “this neat evolution does the opposite of killing Social Security.” Check it out.
"Baby we like backpacks" - That Target commercial with Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" is hilarious. What's next? An airline commercial to Afroman's "But I Got High"?
London bombers update

Viking Pundit on July 19th: “Did the London bombers know?”

The New York Times today: “Police Debate if London Plotters Were Suicide Bombers, or Dupes

Within hours of the July 7 attacks here, many British police and intelligence officials assumed that the four bombers had intended to die with their bombs.
But in recent days, some police officials are increasingly considering the possibility that the men did not plan to commit suicide and were duped into dying.
Investigators raising doubts about the suicide assumption have cited evidence to support this theory. Each of the four men who died in the July 7 attacks purchased round-trip railway tickets from Luton to London. Germaine Lindsay's rented car left in Luton had a seven-day parking sticker on the dashboard.
A large quantity of explosives were stored in the trunk of that car, perhaps for another attack. Another bomber had just spent a large sum to repair his car. The men carried driver's licenses and other ID cards with them to their deaths, unusual for suicide bombers.
In addition, none left behind a note, videotape or Internet trail as suicide bombers have done in the past. And the bombers' families were baffled by what seemed to be their decisions to kill themselves.
More speculation and background by Michael Leeden here. Also, let me restate for the record that even if the London terrorists were duped, they’re just as guilty. It’s important, however, for other would-be terrorists to understand the nature of the beast.
Less than zero

I’d like to say something nice about the Democrats’ “AmeriSave” program for “retirement security.” Really, I would. At first glance, it seems like an unobjectionable idea to help businesses guide their employees into better savings habits. Education and automatic enrollment into 401(k)s – sure why not? But then Donald Luskin notes:
[I]t consists mostly of incentives for lower-earning Americans to save money they don't have, because Social Security has already sucked it out of their paycheck.
There’s the rub: AmeriSave’s effect on the Social Security problem can’t be measured with a micrometer. At best it will cushion the blow when Social Security goes belly-up in 2017 2041 and benefits are automatically cut 27% to match incoming revenues. In reality AmeriSave is a Potemkin village, designed less to solve the government’s unfunded liabilities than to provide cover to Democrats who don’t want to explain that real reform is required to keep Social Security solvent. That means a combination of tax increases, massive borrowing, or benefit cuts.

If the Democrats were really so concerned about the ability of Americans to save for retirement, they would lift the single-most regressive tax on their paychecks. Instead, they want to hand out pamphlets.

Update - My bad. Benefits do not run out in 2017. Instead, that's when the SS payments are outstripped by revenues and the Social Security administration needs to start to cash in treasury bonds. Those bonds are depleted in 2041 and then - by law - the government can only pay out benefits equal to the payroll tax revenues coming in. Copied from comments in a previous post of mine:

From the Washington Post:

“The Social Security Administration estimates that by 2042, the system will have depleted trillions of dollars worth of Treasury bonds piling up in its trust fund. At that point, BY LAW, the system could pay out in benefits only what it would receive in Social Security taxes.

By then, the number of Social Security beneficiaries will have ballooned to 91.5 million people, from 47.9 million today, according to the Social Security Administration. For every beneficiary, there would be only two workers, who, under a 12.4 percent payroll tax, would generate nearly $960 billion less in taxes than are promised in benefits. At the moment of "trust fund exhaustion," benefits would have to be cut 27 percent from promised levels.”
Too good to be trueAir America steals cash from poor kids? Must be Karl Rove’s fault…somehow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

“Black hats” gather in Las Vegas – Security experts shake in their boots (and what happened to the missing Cisco pages?)
Those damn Yankees Republicans!

Sean at Everything I Know is Wrong doesn’t think much of Hillary’s latest speech:

Let's put this in perspective: Republicans won the 2004 presidential election. That makes them, by definition, the majority. The majority would, by definition, have to encompass at least half of the center. What Mrs. Clinton is really saying when she talks about the "Grand Canyon gap" is that Democrats are so far left that even the centrist Democrats to whom she is speaking can't tell the center from a giant hole in the ground.
And I like the part where Hillary complains about the Republicans “consolidating power.” For heaven’s sake, isn’t that what political parties do? She seems baffled at the whole process of winning elections and stuff.
The Estradafication begins – “Democrats ask for more memos related to Roberts nomination” What, we can’t have privileged documents? No, we haven’t seen the letter. You leave us no choice but to filibuster…and so on.

Extra – Patterico: “Bogus document controversy begins
Light Speed – Tonight on PBS there was an excellent show about fiber optics on the series “Innovation.” I let my son stay up past his bedtime so that he could get an inkling of what I do for a living.
Back to space

Now come back safe…
The Dems’ big idea: giving you something you already have

Today, Fark linked to this Fox News story about the Democrats’ quest for conviction with this quip: “Democratic party to firmly be for something, as soon as the polls telling them what it is are completed.” So after months of bashing the Democrats for failing to take a position on Social Security reform, imagine my surprise when I caught this WashPost headline: “House Democrats to offer proposal for retirement savings.”

Could it be true? Have the Democrats finally faced up to the unavoidable realization that Social Security – that cornerstone of the New Deal – must be reformed to survive? Are they (gasp!) acting responsibly on this issue, putting aside short-term political gain for the long-term fiscal security of the nation?

Alas, no. You have to scan down to the very end of the story to figure out what the Democrats are proposing:

An outline of the Democratic plan said it would "dramatically increase the number of people investing in 401(k) accounts by encouraging employers to automatically enroll eligible employees into 401(k) or other retirement plans unless the employee chooses not to participate." Thomas also favors requiring workers to opt out rather than opt in.
Big whoop - this gives the word “token” a bad name. The Democrats are going to make employers do automatically what most people do voluntarily: sign up for a 401(k). (“Dramatically increase” my ass). This proposal does absolutely nothing to address Social Security’s looming insolvency. Its nefarious purpose, rather, is to offer a countermeasure to the Republicans’ personal account plan and provide a smidgen of political cover.

You know, one blogger posts on the top of his page: "If your goal is to change minds and influence people, it's probably not a good idea to begin by asserting that virtually all elected Democrats are liars. But what the hell." Why not? The evidence keeps piling up.
Daily Roundup - Scott has moved his daily Election Projection roundup here. That’s where I found out that Bill Rice has a new baby girl. Nice.
Good question – “Why should we tolerate these Islamofascists who hate us all?”
Better to overreact than under react - Here’s Jeff Jacoby in “Failures of intelligence”: “If intelligence failures are inevitable — and in a world of human fallibility, they are — we are better off worrying too much about our enemies and taking steps to defeat them than worrying too little and being caught, unready, when they attack. Worrying too much led the United States and Britain to topple a brutal tyrant. Worrying too little led to 9/11 and 7/7.”

Monday, July 25, 2005

All your base are belong to us

What a great day to be a Republican. All of our traditional enemies are split, demoralized, and increasingly irrelevant:

The mainstream media:

The conventional news media are embattled. Attacked by both left and right in book after book, rocked by scandals, challenged by upstart bloggers, they have become a focus of controversy and concern. Their audience is in decline, their credibility with the public in shreds. In a recent poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 65 percent of the respondents thought that most news organizations, if they discover they've made a mistake, try to ignore it or cover it up, and 79 percent opined that a media company would hesitate to carry negative stories about a corporation from which it received substantial advertising revenues.
The unions:

Declaring "a new era for American workers," Teamsters President James P. Hoffa prepared his workers Monday for an historic split from the AFL-CIO, labor's umbrella organization representing 56 unions.

This change in audience location altered the balance of power inside the studios. It reduced the once-almighty movie distribution arms to minor players while awarding star status to the home entertainment divisions that produced well over three times as much revenue. Through this reversal of fortunes, the stage has been set for what a top studio executive warned could be "Hollywood's death spiral."
Can the lawyers be far behind?

Financial markets appear to have yawned over the nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. They shouldn't have.
Roberts may well help tilt the scales in coming legal battles over tort reform that will have dramatic effects on corporate profits and the economy. That is, of course, assuming he is confirmed.
Soon it will all be ours! Bwahahahaha!!!
Get a job, hippies! – Thanks to an injunction by John Densmore, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger can’t tour as “The Doors.” (HT: Fark)
Unexpected excitement at a baseball game - Who was the most popular athlete at the Amateur Baseball Association World Series? That star of the baseball diamond: Muhammad Ali.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The scandal soufflé

Here’s the superb Michael Barone with “Bush Bashing Fizzles”:

Now the unsupported charges that "Bush lied" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have been rekindled via criticism of Karl Rove. A key witness for the Democrats and mainstream media was former diplomat Joseph Wilson. Unfortunately for his advocates, he turned out to be a liar. A year after his famous article appeared in The New York Times in July 2003 accusing Bush of "twisting" intelligence, the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a bipartisan report, concluded that Wilson lied when he said his wife had nothing to do with his dispatch to Niger, and Chairman Pat Roberts said that his report bolstered rather than refuted the case that Saddam Hussein's Iraq sought to buy uranium in Africa. So despite the continuing credulousness of much of the press, it appears inconceivable at this point that Karl Rove will be charged with violating the law prohibiting disclosure of the names of undercover agents. The case against Rove -- ballyhooed by recent Time and Newsweek cover stories that paid little heed to the discrediting of Wilson -- seems likely to end not with a bang but a whimper.
This past weekend, former CIA agent Larry C. Johnson gave the Democratic radio address and he criticized President Bush for failing to fire Karl Rove. You may recall Johnson from his July 2001 New York Times article: “The Declining Terrorist Threat.” (Quoth Taranto: “If this is the attitude that prevailed in the foreign-policy establishment before Sept. 11, we begin to get an inkling of how America might have been caught unawares.”)
Breakin’ up is hard to do – “Leaders of four of the country's largest labor unions announced on Sunday that they would boycott this week's A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention, and officials from two of those unions, the service employees and the Teamsters, said the action was a prelude to their full withdrawal from the federation on Monday.”
Lance Armstrong approaches 7th Tour de France win – It would be priceless if Mr. “It’s not about the bike” raced the final stage on a BMX bike with a playing card in the spokes. That would be awwwww-some.
Chad fever – Here’s the great Mark Steyn with “Dems had their chance to pick justice
An Arab from England says “enough

From WashPost: “After London, tough questions for Muslims

I'm sure it was also those dog-eared statements that our clerics and religious leaders read out telling us that Islam means peace -- it actually means submission -- and asking us to please forget everything they had ever said before July 6, because as of July 7 they truly believe violence is bad. Their backpedaling is so furious you can smell the skid marks.

Some are not even bothering to put their feet on the pedals, such as the 22 imams and scholars who met at London's largest mosque to condemn the bombings but who would not criticize all suicide attacks.
Ankle-biting Pundits calls it “a column that should appear in every Arab newspaper.” Don’t forget about Indonesia.
Tae Kwan Do, yes. Baseball, no

Oh it will always be a favorite of retirees and simple-minded folk, but you know that a sport is circling the drain when it can’t even gain a slot at the Olympics. From “Olympic committee passes on U.S. national pastime”:

So the International Olympic Committee votes to cut some sports from the 2012 Summer Games, the first time in 69 years it has dropped any sports. And guess which two they are – baseball and softball, both American inventions and one of them supposedly our national pastime.
Baseball joins other Olympic rejects like tug-of-war, polo, croquet and roque. I have no idea what roque is.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sometimes dogs do eat homework – The wit and wisdom of Judge John Roberts
Curses, my cursor!Another timewaster. If he starts to launch something from the ground, stay high and get ready to maneuver.
Do they ever leave? – Joe Biden, Charles Schumer and John McCain will be on the Sunday morning news shows tomorrow. Shocking, I know.
Suicide by police – That’s the only way to explain the death of a Brazilian national, shot by London undercover officers after a chase in the London Underground. When I get stopped for speeding (it’s been over five years now, knock wood) I turn my engine off, put my hands on the wheel, and don’t reach for anything unless the cop says it’s OK. This guy was wearing a heavy jacket in July, jumped a turnstile, and ran from the police onto a subway car only two weeks after the 7/7 bombings that killed 54 people.

Follow-up – Crazy “Red Ken” Livingstone is right for once: “This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility.”

According to this Fox News poll, there are few things that Americans regard as more boring than baseball. Responding “yes” to the question “do you find ____ boring?”

Al Franken – 93%
Baseball – 86%
C-Span – 61%
World Series of Poker – 42%
NASCAR – 12%
Professional football – 10%
Viking Pundit – 2%

Hey, numbers don’t lie.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Religion of Peace strikes again - Dozens dead in Egyptian resort blasts
Further proof that NASCAR is the new national pastime: “A new reality show about nine out-of-control teenagers in boot camp nearly rivaled baseball's annual celebration featuring all-stars on the diamond in the ratings. The 76th annual All-Star Game on Fox was seen by just 12.3 million people last Tuesday, making it the least watched telecast of the midseason classic since at least 1983.”
Air America claims another victim

This time it’s WHJJ-AM in Rhode Island. Here’s Brian Maloney, the Radio Equalizer:

In one of the biggest screw-ups in talk radio history, a well-performing conservative talk station has been destroyed by switching to "progressive" Air America programming.

Most amazing: it took only a year to kill Providence's WHJJ-AM.

Since it's one of the few nationwide that actually dumped a viable conservative lineup for Franken & Co., it provides an important case study for why liberal talk will never succeed.
The RE asks: “What approach can liberal talkers use, other than boring Bush-bashing? Where's the audience demand?” I’ve wondered this myself, listening to Morning Sedition on XM during my commute. Even if you’re the biggest Bush-hater in America, how many times can you listen to the same vapid catchphrases and free-form vitriol? Air America is a turgid mélange of left-wing conspiracy theories and crackpot spittle, as others have noted:

I can reveal at least part of the reason for all this: Air America is truly terrible, amateurish and sometimes downright embarrassing. It sounds like University Radio Essex did in my student days - paved with good intentions, but lacking in technical expertise or professional flair. Limbaugh, by contrast, is a brilliant performer who instinctively understands the rhythm and pace of radio. His show crackles, while Air America sounds as though it is struggling for air. Even the ads seem to scrape the barrel, with Franken wretchedly recommending some brand of mattress.
The numbers don’t lie: even at Air America’s flagship station in New York, the ratings were higher when they were playing Caribbean music.
Judge for yourself - From the Strata-Sphere: Carnival of the Chillin’ – SCOTUS edition
There’s a lot of Milton Friedman, natch - Conservative economics in quotes

Thursday, July 21, 2005

There’s a time for defiant stoicism and there’s a time for ass-kicking

Read this account on Wizbang of one of the attempted London terrorists and how, with a smoldering (dud) bomb at his feet, he still managed to escape from the Underground.

Yo know- We Americans consistently get belittled as being too willing to use force. And I'm not trying to insult our British friends... But (genuinely) do you see this guy getting away in New York????
Maybe my arrogant American side is showing but I wouldn't have wanted to be him for that 20 seconds before the door opened if that were here in the States. I don't know the layout of the train etc but I just think in my gut that this guy wouldn't have made it out the door except on a stretcher in this country. We would have killed the guy. I'm not saying the Brits did anything wrong - I just think it is a cultural difference. YMMV
Quite right, chap. I’m a little stunned by the UK Sun story about how the attempted bomber stood on the subway platform praying intently and apparently didn’t draw much attention only two weeks after 7/7.
NASCAR stuff – This is funny: Home Depot driver Tony Stewart has taken to climbing the fence next to the flag stand after winning a race. On his homepage, there’s a shot of him climbing up with the caption: “Hey Tony, we have ladders.”
Harry Potter - Picked up "Half-Blood Prince" today but first I need to review "Order of the Phoenix", it's been so long.

Extra – I won’t read this for fear of spoilers: “When Harry met Osama – Terrorism comes to Hogwarts
Your online math tutor: Danica McKellar

By way of InDC Journal, here’s an excellent article on “Wonder Years” star Danica McKellar who went on to co-author a mathematical proof: “Percolation and Gibbs States Multiplicity for Ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller Models on Z²” Now on “The West Wing” the sexy McKellar isn’t above a little dirty talk:

"I love continuous functions and proving if functions are continuous or not," she said.
Yes! Don’t you ever dx/dt. See more of Danica at and be sure to click on the “mathematics” link.
Get a room – Here’s David Brooks in full poetry mode: “In short, I love thee, Roberts nomination. President Bush has put his opponents on the defensive. He's sidestepped the culture war circus. And most important, he's shown that character and substance matter most.”
If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged…

…will a nuclear bomb turn us all into Tom Tancredo?

For those of you who haven’t heard, representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO) recently suggested that if a nuclear bomb exploded in the United States, an appropriate response might be to bomb Mecca. He’s crazy! they all cried, including that voice of conscience James Lileks:

Bombing Mecca to revenge the acts of maniacs is like nuking the Vatican to protest the pedophilia scandal in Boston. The idea appeals to those whose nuanced study of Islam makes them conclude it's better to alienate 1 billion people than defeat a fraction of the same group. It appeals to those who believe that Islam is a metal shard that cannot be absorbed and must be removed, preferably by blowing up the body.
Yes, surely it’s an unthinkable idea this disproportionate retaliation, until about one second after the images of a vaporized Baltimore shipyard hit American TV screens. Then you won’t hear any more of that perfunctory chatter about the “religion of peace.” Everybody – including James Lileks – knows this to be true.

Let’s put it another way. Suppose that the four London bombers were all traced back to a particular South London mosque. Surely the Brits wouldn’t close down the mosque, thereby punishing all worshippers alike for the evil actions of a few. But what if the head of that mosque had been inciting young men to do violence, to wage jihad, and destroy the unbelievers? Freedom of religion is not a death pact: the British government would have no choice but to close down an assembly line for suicide bombers.

To that point, here’s an excerpt of the July 15th sermon by Dr. Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayis, Imam of Islam’s holiest mosque, Al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, courtesy of Little Green Footballs:

Oh, Allah, heal our sick, have mercy on our dead, release our prisoners, and save our Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, liberate our Al-Aqsa Mosque from the defilement of the occupying and brutal Zionists. Oh Allah, make it high and mighty until Judgment Day. Oh Allah, punish the occupying Zionists and their supporters from among the corrupt infidels. Oh Allah, scatter and disperse them, and make an example of them for those who take heed.
Remember: “their supporters” = us. This is the word handed down from the holiest mosque of the great religion of peace in the holiest city of Islam.

But this is all moot. We would never, ever, in a million years visit any harm on Mecca (we’re too addicted to Saudi oil, for one thing). But if another major terrorist attack springs from the heart of Saudi Arabia, a lot of Westerners are going to decide what many Muslims already accept: we cannot live together.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

GWOT update - Pakistani Cops Questioning Al Qaeda Leader Linked to London Attacks

Update - More London explosions – Expat Yank is there
I guess the French fries issue doesn’t rise to “extraordinary” circumstances

Here’s former Democratic congressman Martin Frost with “To the victor goes the Court”:

Elections have consequences. George W. Bush has won two elections as president of the United States and now he gets to name Supreme Court justices. And as long as those nominees are qualified and not extreme, they deserve confirmation. His first nominee, John Roberts, should be confirmed unless something unforeseen surfaces during Senate hearings.
Sounds about right. Also from the NY Times – “The strategy for a successful nomination: Disarm opposition

Extra – From Blogs for Bush: “Bush’s mandate to nominate conservatives
Farewell Scotty

Here’s an odd twist: James Doohan’s life was saved by smoking

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren’t heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on the screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. Fortunately the chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.
By the way, Scotty taught me everything I needed to know as an engineer running a major project: always inflate all time estimates.
How America stays strong – The creative destruction of our vibrant economy
It is a puzzle

Well this is weird. From the letters page of the WashPost:

How many times in the history of man has the 21-letter answer to "23 Across" in the Sunday [July 17] crossword puzzles of both The Post and the New York Times been the same?


Aaarrrrr, ‘tis a mighty pun, Mr. Boley! The answer for both is “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Here’s the WashPost Sunday crossword puzzle (the NYT wants money).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Plus he smells like roses - I’ll throw a link back to Ryne who writes this about Roberts: “If I may use a baseball reference here, it looks like Roberts is something of a five-tool player: he's decent, he's made few enemies (that we know of yet), he's a great lawyer, he's been a great judge, and he conforms to what "conservatives" have in mind when it comes to what a Justice ought to be.” That first one goes a long way: by all accounts so far, both supporters and detractors attest that Roberts is a very likable fellow.
First impression: John Roberts is a great pick and an absolute shoe-in

This is a haphazard roundup, so bear with me:

FindLaw profile of Judge Roberts
WashPost profile
NY Times: “Conservative judge is Bush’s choice for high court” (Duh!)
Only one person picked John Roberts on the Hedgehog Report contest. WTG, Michael Chattin!
Roberts was approved to the D.C. Court by unanimous consent
More background from
Hugh Hewitt: “A home run for the president, the SCOTUS, and for the United States.”
Reactions on the WashPost blog and Red State

Finally, there’s this from the Corner:

A couple of decades ago in the Reagan White House, John Roberts and I had adjoining offices, and we've kept in touch, in a desultory way, ever since. What can I tell you about him? That he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. Devout but light-hearted, a devoted husband, and the doting father of two adopted children. And so thoroughly modest that I had no idea of his reputation for brilliance within the legal community--I'd supposed he was a pretty good lawyer, but knew no more--until the President nominated John to the D.C. Court of Appeals. We'll all have to wait for the slicing and dicing of John's legal work to form views of his judicial philosophy, but I can tell you from personal knowledge that what we have here is a thoroughly marvelous human being.
I’m happy that Bush didn’t play “identity politics” and instead picked a judge with personal and professional merit. A filibuster is completely out of the question and Roberts will be confirmed by a comfortable margin.
It's John Roberts

John Derbyshire: “I repeat my bold prediction of July 1st: the SCOTUS nominee will not be a white male of European ancestry.”

Katherine Lopez: “Prediction: Bush will nominate a white male tonight. Just because they said he couldn't.”

The nominee is John G. Roberts of the D.C. Circuit Court. That sounds pretty masculine and European to me.
My choice for SCOTUS

First choice: Judge Samuel B. Kent for the single funniest decision I’ve ever read.

Second choice: Judge Gerald J. Klein for his unflappable response to this.

On a serious note, I’m still firm in my belief it will be Emilio Garza. I think Bush wanted to nominate Gonzales but faced too much opposition from conservative groups. I also believe that Laura Bush’s “offhand” remark that she would like to see a woman on the Court was a contra-intentional signal. President Bush has 55 solid votes and the Gang of 14 to rule out a filibuster, so why not put in a true conservative? Plus, as a Hispanic, it will be difficult for certain Senators to vote against this ex-Marine.

And please, enough of the “unite the nation” or “in the mold of O’Connor” or “keep the balance” blather. Don’t like it? Win an election.

Update: Edith Jones, Michael Luttig, and Priscilla Owen are now posting double-digit increases on Tradesports.
SCOTUS WAGs - Erick with a K finally admits: “What I know for sure is that I don't know who the nominee is going to be.” And the WashPost blogs: “But don't forget what Bush's aides often remind reporters: The president likes surprises.” I’m going to gloat sooooo much if my super-pundit powers are proven to be more than just a figment of my imagination.
Did the London bombers know?

The other day, Thomas Friedman wrote that the key to stopping jihadism is understanding why the London bombers took their fatal step towards destruction:

The secret of this story is in that conversion -- and so is the crisis in Islam. The people and ideas that brought about that sudden conversion of Hasib Hussain and his pals -- if not stopped by other Muslims -- will end up converting every Muslim into a suspect and one of the world's great religions into a cult of death.
But John O’Sullivan makes an intriguing argument that the London bombers may have been unknowing participants:

Here is the evidence: They bought return railway tickets. Their bombs were not strapped to their bodies but carried in knapsacks as if to be left behind on the trains. None of them was heard to shout the customary ''Allah Akhbar'' before the bombs exploded. Unusually for suicide bombers, they left identification on their bodies. And surveillance videotapes show them laughing and joking casually -- rather than grimly determined or prayerful -- as they caught the Underground train.

These little pieces of circumstantial evidence suggest the possibility the bombers were duped. Maybe they were told by their controllers that the bombs were timed to go off five minutes after being detonated rather than immediately. It would not be the first time that al-Qaida had deceived its devotees: Osama bin Laden revealed that not all the 9/11 hijackers were aware that the planes were to be flown into buildings. And the bombers' ''suicide'' would protect the terrorist network against the chance that they might be caught and persuaded to talk.
And this may be insignificant, but one of them had on a brand-new pair of sneakers. Hmmm. Duped, but not innocent, by any means.
Much better – John Cole has redesigned his site at Balloon Juice.

Monday, July 18, 2005

You can’t have your Court and Edith too - The Hill: “Conservatives are told it will not be Gonzales” I’m sticking with my Emilio Garza prediction.

Update - Does somebody know something? Edith Clement is way way up (+30) on the Tradesports market.

Update 2 – I should’ve checked Red State. Erick with a K says it’s Clement. Of course, he also predicted that Rehnquist would resign on July 5th.
Yes maybe no no yes yes – That’s the progression of Joe Wilson’s answers to this question: “Did the former Niger prime minister meet with any Iraqi officials in June 1999?” Oh, Joe. You had me at “maybe.”

Bonus – Christopher Hitches with “Rove Rage: “Thus, and to begin with, Joseph Wilson comes before us as a man whose word is effectively worthless.”
Democrats are angling for the “abuse of power” narrative

When I first heard the Karl Rove story, my immediate reaction was that if a top White House aide “outed” a covert CIA case officer, there could be no excuse. Now it’s become clear that:
- Valerie Plame was not a covert agent
- There’s no possible interpretation of the law indicating Rove did anything illegal
- Joseph Wilson’s actions before and since his African trip indicate he’s less concerned with national security than manufacturing a political issue

Everything Mark Steyn wrote the other day is spot-on: “Nadagate” is (in the words of Powerline) “the most miniscule "scandal" in history” which “keeps getting smaller and smaller.”

Meanwhile, Democrats who insist they only want to get to the bottom of this issue have wasted more time castigating Rove than requesting that jailed reporter Judith Miller reveal her Plame source. The dirty truth is that this microscandal is the Democrats best – and maybe only – hope to regain relevance in American politics. But first, let’s return to the Matt Bai article (referenced below):

Cutter's war room began churning out mountains of news releases hammering daily at the G.O.P.'s ''abuse of power.'' In an unusual show of discipline, Democrats in the Senate and House carried laminated, pocket-size message cards -- ''DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY, AGAINST ABUSE OF POWER,'' blared the headline at the top -- with the talking points on one side and some helpful factoids about Bush's nominees on the other. During an appearance on ''This Week With George Stephanopoulos'' in April, Senator Charles Schumer of New York needed all of 30 seconds to invoke the ''abuse of power'' theme -- twice.
Without any policies to call their own, Democrats have decided that the political landscape should be shaped by the allegation of Republican “abuse of power.” The GOP controls everything, they argue, and it has led to unchecked control of legislation and the federal courts. This was their argument for the filibuster wars, the Social Security reform fight, and now the Supreme Court battle. The Rove/Plame something plays into the “abuse” angle by conjuring up a pseudo-scandal and then excoriating the White House on a daily basis for acting like an independent branch of the government. Can the Sith Lord references be far behind?

This the state of a political party that cannot even formulate an opinion on the cornerstone of New Deal politics. With no issues to run on, Democrats are now entirely defined by their opposition to the Republicans. The "abuse of power" argument is a perfectly logical extension of their deep-seated belief that Americans really want to vote Democratic, since it's self-evident (to them) that too many Republicans are a threat to the country.

President Bush may have slipped in the polls recently but this molecular-level scandal will disappear soon enough along with the “abuse of power” mantra, especially if obstructionist Democrats thwart tradition and deny a Supreme Court nominee an up-or-down vote. The hollow rallying cry of “there are too many Republicans” may stir the Howard Dean crowd but it isn’t an election winner.

Extra – Reliapundit lists all the abuses of power bogus Bush scandals over at Astute Blog.
But that was then - Remember that time a famous Washington figure accidentally outed a covert CIA agent? There was a five-minute uproar before it was discovered that the agent was not really clandestine, but was instead only a CIA analyst. Then everybody forgot about it. Good times, good times.
Don’t lose your head – Has-to-be-seen-to-believe Thai talent show winner (HT: Ace)
Money matters – From the WSJ Sunday: “Bloggers put the personal in personal finance sites
Not dead yet? – Robert Novak writes that Social Security reform with surplus-funded personal accounts may move forward, although any vote won’t occur until fall. Tax increases and benefit cuts are off the table, so it’s a mystery how the solvency issue will be addressed. (Hat tip: Decision 08)
Quote of the Day – From “StraightParty” (not a troll, I think) over on the DNC’s Rove rant: “Sigh... Once again we seem to have a great issue and look like a bunch of idiots frothing at the mouth. Fellow lefties, the facts ARE important. The facts can help us if we use them right. The right wingnuts are killing us with the facts right now. We are just hyperventilating. Alot of air is going in and out of our mouths, yet we're just getting dizzy.”
Put the blame on frame

The New York Times featured a long article about linguist George Lakoff and how his theory of “framing” political issues has taken hold among Congressional Democrats desperate to understand why the public continues to reject them at the ballot box. Here’s how Arts & Letters Daily linked to the article:

Republicans offer “strong defense, free markets, lower taxes, smaller government and family values.” With the help of Prof. George Lakoff, the Democrats offer, well, uh….
At the heart of the essay is the faddish idea among Democrats that the Republicans are better at using language to reach voters. Lakoff is selling out auditoriums pitching the idea that if the Democrats re-shape the delivery of their political message, they can bring Americans back into their camp. Author Matt Bai can’t let this go by:

He [Lakoff] sums up the Republican message as ''strong defense, free markets, lower taxes, smaller government and family values,'' and in ''Don't Think of an Elephant!'' he proposes some Democratic alternatives: ''Stronger America, broad prosperity, better future, effective government and mutual responsibility.'' Look at the differences between the two. The Republican version is an argument, a series of philosophical assertions that require voters to make concrete choices about the direction of the country. … Lakoff's formulation, on the other hand, amounts to a vague collection of the least objectionable ideas in American life.
Bai also points out that after the GOP opposed Bill Clinton’s health care reform, they came out with a substantive list of action items known as the Contract of America which played a role in the Republican sweep of Congress in 1994. The weakness of the Democrats stems from the fact that they have no concrete ideas. This is what makes Lakoff’s kool-aid so appealing: it doesn’t require thinking, only repackaging.

Extra - More thoughts on Matt Bai’s article from Right Wing News and Red State. Check ‘em out.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Times watch - The NY Times botches an op/ed piece and makes this startling admission: “Many saw an anti-Bush bias in the added language.” No!
Who got the loot?

From the Economist, here’s the world’s biggest banks:

Frankly, I had never heard of HSBC. It turns out the acronym stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, yet it’s a British firm founded in the mid-1800s.
How to save energy

Stop making ethanol

Supporters of ethanol and other biofuels contend they burn cleaner than fossil fuels, reduce U.S. dependence on oil and give farmers another market to sell their produce.

But researchers at Cornell University and the University of California-Berkeley say it takes 29 percent more fossil energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount of fuel the process produces. For switch grass, a warm weather perennial grass found in the Great Plains and eastern North America United States, it takes 45 percent more energy and for wood, 57 percent.
Another good reason to get rid of Iowa’s “first in the nation” caucus.
I’m back! - And of course I missed all the Sunday morning news shows, but Mark Kilmer didn’t. Check out the Rightsided Newsletter for a great review. Strangely enough, Joe Biden made an appearance.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Off again - Yes, I'm going camping for the weekend. See you Sunday.
London bombmaker nabbed - From Fox News: “Chemist sought in London blasts caught” Apparently, he got a good education right here in the U.S.A. at North Carolina State University.
And just like that, the Rove story goes “poof

Lorie Byrd writing on Polipundit: “This report from the NYT, if true, strikes me as a bombshell, Rove is innocent, Dems are full of it, and reporters have gotten this story completely wrong revelation. (At the very least, I am getting a very strong feeling that Democrats are about to lose another game of rope-a-dope.)”

Let me go an evil step forward: is it possible that Karl Rove gave that incendiary speech to the New York Conservative Party as a way to provoke the Democrats, knowing they would call for his head? In other words, did he set ‘em up just to shut ‘em down?

Did I mention that I am getting the feeling that Democrats may be on the verge of losing the mother of all Rope-a-Dopes?”

Yes, Lorie! Heard you the first time. The Anchoress says the same thing. I’d love to read more, but I gotta go…
The last 15 songs I downloaded from ITunes

“The Sign” – Ace of Base
“Get the Party Started” – Pink
“One Toke over the Line” – Brewer & Shipley
“Walk Away” – James Gang
“Pony” – Kasey Chambers
“Can’t Let Go” – Lucinda Williams
“Without Love (there is nothing)” – Clyde McPhatter
“Strokin’” – Clarence Carter
“Groove is in the Heart” – Deee-Lite
“Deep Purple” – Donnie & Marie Osmond
“You Sexy Thing” – Hot Chocolate
“How Great Thou Art” – Elvis Presley
“Boulevard” – Jackson Browne
“Here’s where the Story Ends” – The Sundays
“Heat of the Moment” – Asia


Thursday, July 14, 2005

A world of hurt – It seems like forever since I had a post on Social Security but guest blogger Will Franklin has a graph over at Wizbang showing that the stuff hits the fan around 2017. As wheelbarrows of cash are led away from the Treasury Department, that’s exactly the year when Americans will realize – too late! - the mess we’re in.
Playing right into the puppet-master’s hands

I had a E-mail conversation with Lorie Byrd today who tweaked me on my Karl Rove position. I went on to write that I couldn’t believe that Chuck Schumer was stupid enough to appear with Joe Wilson to demand Karl Rove’s ouster. If the Democrats just bided their time, they could stretch out the scandal while appearing to be above the fray and more concerned about national security (for once) than political gain.

But the girl can’t help it. The always-outraged Schumer must have his suits tailored with built-in microphones because there’s no issue which will keep him away from television cameras. In the blink of an eye, the Democrats have turned the Rove issue into a political food-fight. After Rove is cleared (because Plame was not a covert agent) the Dems will still try to gin up outrage but the vast majority of Americans will have tuned out.

In 1996, Bob Dole asked “where’s the outrage?” and John Kerry asked the same question in 2004. The outrage card never works yet the Democrats continue to play it over and over (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, DeLay, Rove). Bottom line: the more the Democrats pound the table in high dudgeon while ignoring issues that really matter to Americans, the more likely it is that Karl Rove will remain in the White House. Given the trajectory of events so far, and throwing in the pending Sunday news shows, it’s looking pretty likely that Rove’s nameplate will remain on the door of his West Wing office.
Staying put - Rehnquist puts on his Nike hat and says “I’m not retiring.”
Brazilian volleyball update

That's the end.
Senate outlook 2006

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball says:

Of the 16 possibly competitive Senate seats for 2006, ten are Democratic and only six Republican. That should give Democrats pause.
As Sabato has noted before, there’s never been a sixth-year midterm election where the President’s party didn’t lose seats in the Senate. That hasn’t stopped Jayson on Polipundit from predicting at least a +1 pickup for the GOP. Right now, my pundit powers tell me: no change.
One cheer – The government is overspending by slightly less than they thought. Hurrah.
Quote of the day – Here’s Scrivener on estimates that the economic growth rate in Europe will slip below 1% over the next 20 years: “Sub-1% growth ... that'll sure make it fun for them to pay for the world's most generous unfunded, taxpayer-financed retiree benefits.”
Chillin’ too – Electric Boogaloo

GWU professor Jonathan Turley involuntarily joins the Coalition:

Then came the filibuster deal itself. Seven Democratic senators agreed to a proposal that protected the right of the filibuster while allowing some candidates to be confirmed. The result was a disaster for the Democrats. To this day, most people cannot figure out what the Democrats got from the deal. The four candidates that the Democrats had vowed to filibuster as the previously deemed "worst of the worst" were allowed to be confirmed, while the Democrats promised (according to some of the signatories) not to filibuster any nominee on the basis of ideology. At the time, Minority Leader Harry Reid heartily praised the deal and the dealmakers for a masterful and historic agreement. Now, the Democrats are facing either a breach of the agreement by voting on the basis of ideology or a vote with Republicans to prevent a filibuster under the prior agreement.
Between the Gang of 14 and McCain’s declaration, the judicial filibuster is dead.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This pretty much says it all: “They kill kids. They do it on purpose.”
And if you know song lyrics

Driving home today, I heard the song “Tell Her No” by the Zombies. This song holds the distinction of being the second-most negative song (repeating the word “no”) after the Human Beinz “Nobody But Me.” But I also noticed that it might be the only top-40 song to kick off with the word “and”:

And if she should tell you “come closer”
And if she tempts you with her charms
The only other example I can think of is the beginning of “Funky Cold Medina” by Tone-Loc which starts “And we go a little something like this.” It’s debatable whether this is a lyric or just an introduction. Any other examples?

(Hey, I have a long commute. These are the kind of things I think about.)
That is good news

Here’s the synopsis of this Sunday’s New York Times magazine, as Slate sees it:

Matt Bai's cover article argues that since the 2004 elections, Democrats have been smart in focusing less on new ideas and more on how to frame them. Where Republicans once ruled Congress with "tax relief" and "partial-birth abortion," the Dems held their own in the recent filibuster battle with "abuse of power" and "checks and balances." At the center of the vocabulary makeover is George Lakoff, a linguist-turned-political sensation. Lakoff's advice is taken seriously within the party, yet Bai thinks perhaps "Democrats are still unwilling to put more concrete convictions about the country into words, either because they don't know what those convictions are or because they lack confidence in the notion that voters can be persuaded to embrace them."
Oh. My. Heck. This is how far the Democrats have fallen: they have to choose between having no convictions or hiding them from an uncomprehending electorate. And Matt Bai thinks this is good news! Bon chance framing the issues (you have no opinion on) in 2006, Dems.
More fun with the NEA business agenda

The NEA will develop a strategic program to help NEA Republican members advance a pro-public education agenda within the Republican Party.
“NEA Republican members” = Jim Cooper from Ohio (probationary member).
At first he was afraid, he was petrified

Can Karl Rove survive?

Karl Rove will survive
Minority Derangement Syndrome hits the Democrats

Here’s Pat Sajak (yes, the Wheel of Fortune guy) on “The Unhinged Minority”:

They act as if they are still the majority party whose rights are being trampled by a herd of rogue elephants. They’re like a professional boxer who is KO’d by his opponent only to argue he should win on points. So they obstruct, they accuse, they flail about wildly hoping something—anything—will get those ignorant voters to see the error of their ways and return the world to the way it was meant to be.
Stupid voters! Hat tip: Ex-Donkey
Sure, why not?Bolton may accept recess appointment

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Speaking of the Clintons – Only Ed Morrissey looked past Hillary Clinton’s speech comparing President Bush to Alfred E. Neuman to find the real silliness within.
Conservatives to Viking Pundit: Drop Dead!

OK, so my post suggesting that Karl Rove should resign wasn’t very popular. Trust me, it’s wrenching to align myself with that clown John Kerry especially when there’s a lot of truth to the Wall Street Journal and Fox News points of view. But in the end Bush said he would “fire” anyone involved with the leak (or did he?) and Rove was clearly one of the leakers (there were different leakers to Judith Miller and Robert Novak.) I just don’t want to get into the kind of playground logic of “the Clintons did worse things” or the reflexive “Screw the Democrats!” mentality.

(But it's worked so well in the past... Quiet you!)
Have I mentioned recently that Bob Woodward is a shameless attention whore?
Supply siders rejoice - Donald Luskin gets the last Laff-er curve on Paul Krugman. Using data from the OMB, Luskin shows that tax revenues have risen steadily since the 2003 tax cuts. Luskin must be the last person left in America who reads Krugman voluntarily.
What would drive liberals more insane than a Karl Rove pardon? – Prof. Bainbridge says that John Paul Stevens might retire from the Supreme Court.
It’s an omen – From Hotline: “The Last Time Liberals Were This Giddy Was Election Day '04 About 3pmZing! We all know how that one turned out: Karl Rove won.
No Earl Warrens and no filibusters

Bizblogger: “You want anyone to listen to your suggestions for a nominee and/or be taken as anything other than a punchline? Win an election - then you can nominate whoever you wish.”
Roll Call (through Bench Memos): “There’s a lesson in that challenge that Democrats seem to have forgotten as they clamor for “joint power” in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. In all of their chest-beating calls for “moderation” and “consensus” and “cooperation,” Democrats, led by Sens. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.), are conveniently ignoring the one stumbling block to their desire for presidential power sharing — those pesky democratic elections when a president and his party earn the right to govern through majority rule and, in so doing, to also choose the nation’s judicial nominees.”

And true to Fred Barnes’ prediction, Harry Reid announced the Democrats would not filibuster a Supreme Court nominee just as John McCain was hinting that he would support the “nuclear/Constitutional” option to override a filibuster, if necessary. Let's bring back Miguel Estrada!
Today’s must-read - What we should expect from Muslims: “Islam will have made itself at home in the West when Western Muslims can express dislike for The Satanic Verses while defending Salman Rushdie's right to publish it; when they accept the right of Muslims to leave Islam as cordially as they encourage non-Muslims to embrace it; and when they welcome Christian and Jewish worship in Saudi Arabia in the same free and tolerant spirit that Islam has been welcomed in the West.
Let Karl Rove go

Right off the bat, let me state in my best armchair-lawyer fashion that based on the evidence, Karl Rove broke no laws in telling Matthew Cooper that Joseph Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Two things need to be true (and provable) for Rove to be guilty under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act: first, Plame had to be a covert agent and second, Karl Rove needed to knowingly reveal this information. The latter point appears unanswerable; on the first there has been much confusion and, official designation aside, it seemed to be the worst kept secret in Washington:

When Matt Cooper went on deep background with Karl Rove, before all of this came out, he asked Rove about Wilson's credibility. Rove warned Cooper not to trust Wilson. The White House knew Wilson lied about both the report and the nature of his assignment, and gave Cooper the information to back that up. Plame's status as CIA agent hardly qualified as a secret; NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell concedes that most of Washington's media elite already knew it. Novak simply printed it, although no one knows who gave it to Novak. At any rate, on the evidence given so far, Rove never broke the law as even the Times article makes clear in its final paragraphs.
The problem for the White House, then, is the political fallout of a top advisor to the President misleading the American people. And while Joe Wilson and his wife are both partisan, media-hungry, liars and the blowdry brigade in the mainstream media is sniffing for blood, and it would set off raucous celebration among the MoveOn rabble, the White House should allow Karl Rove to resign.

Two reasons:
1.) Karl Rove was hired to get President Bush elected and re-elected. He succeeded. Take a vacation.
2.) If he remains, Rove will be a diversion at a critical moment in President Bush’s second term between legislative battles, Supreme Court nominations and the War on Terror. On this last point, here’s the eloquent Dr. Shackleford:

I dunno about the rest of the world, but I for one did not vote for Karl Rove. I voted for George W. Bush. And I didn't vote for him because I was worried about indexing the alternative-minimum-tax to the inflation rate. I voted for Bush because I want a President who will respond to threats against the United States with force and without hesitation. Rove will only prove to be a distraction to the [expletive] on the Left looking for any excuse to appease our enemies. So, Mr. Bush, fire Karl Rove and then do what we elected you to do: Kick. Some. Terrorist. Ass.
I think Rove can frame his exit in the sense that he doesn’t want to be a distraction for the President and the ongoing investigation. Freed from the constraints of the White House, Rove can meet with the press and explain why he felt it was his duty to discredit Joe Wilson who dissembled on his wife’s role in his Niger trip and the details of his report. After the dust settles, and there’s no frog-marching, Rove can go on the lecture circuit or join the lobbying corps and earn ten-times what he’s making as a White House advisor.

Let’s throw Karl Rove into that briar patch.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Flop house – Paul Phillips has an interesting online journal from the World Series of Poker, by way of Slate.
Set your bookmarks – Following in the footsteps of the Conservative Grapevine, it looks like Scott Elliott has started a meta-blog over at Election Projection.
Keeping my powder dry – Many, many other blogs are commenting on the Rove/Plame story and I’m going to wait a day to see how things play out. Near as I can tell, though, Karl Rove’s crime is that he said that Joe Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA but not that she was a covert agent. Also, it would be fair to say that Wilson’s motives in this whole matter are highly suspect. Check out the Minuteman who has a “clear as mud” roundup with many links.
It's a miracle! I got a blogroll ping! Hooray!
Supreme smackdown

Two great posts on Q&O take on Chuck Schumer and E.J. Dionne for their unique positions that the President simply must get permission from Senate Democrats before nominating a new Supreme Court justice. Meanwhile, the Washington Post sounds a similar note while voicing this Pollyannaish hope:

Liberals and Democrats, having lost the election, cannot reasonably ask Mr. Bush to nominate a justice to suit their tastes. But that doesn't mean a full-fledged war is inevitable. Even in the current environment, there must be a potential nominee who will satisfy the president but offend a minimal number of his foes. The president would do great service if he could find such a person.
Dream on, WashPost. If the Democrats were a confident party, they might act like statesmen, and live up to the traditional quality of advise and consent. Instead, they’re ready to attack anybody that Bush nominates for the position to appease their special interests. Then the WashPost and the NY Times will predictably follow up with heartbroken editorials about how it’s Bush’s fault that the country is so divided.
Katie Holmes: from cutie to kooky in one month flat. Free Katie!
People in need of a little perspective

Here’s a conversation between two MoveOn acolytes, courtesy of the Washington Post:

Fazio was working in San Francisco when his partner, Genny Morelli, text-messaged him.
"Did you hear?"She didn't have to fill in the details. He knew, and she knew he would know.
"Oh. My. God. We're in deep (expletive)," is what she remembers him saying.
"Gen, this is the worst freakin' news I could ever imagine," is how he recalls it.
Pop quiz – were they talking about:

a) The terrorist bombings in London
b) Exit polls from Ohio, circa November 2004
c) The deaths of four Navy SEALs who may have been close to capturing Osama
d) Hurricane Dennis
e) The replacement of a moderately-conservative Supreme Court justice with a slightly more conservative justice

If these people flip out like this with O’Connor retiring, what are they going to do when John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsberg steps down? Get a grip.

Follow-up – Drudge is reporting that the host of the MoveOn party carefully choreographed what the Washington Post would see and hear. Essentially he told his guests to leave their tinfoil hats and “Bush Lied” T-shirts at home.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Waving the red flag – Right Wing News has a long post titled “Debunking 8 anti-war myths about the conflict in Iraq.” John Hawkins makes some reasonable points but I get the feeling the post is more about infuriating the Left than convincing the Middle. (The flame war is already in full scream over at Fark.)
We be chillin’ – Fred Barnes believes that a filibuster of President Bush’s judicial nominee would be all-but-impossible but that even if it came off, the “Gang of 14” Republicans would split off and invoke the “Constitutional option.” (Hat tip: Polipundit)
A word on Southwest and people who fly Southwest

Southwest airline grade: A

Everybody I encountered from Southwest during my trip to Virginia was polite and professional to a fault. For a low-price airline, they display high-price class. The pilots (both out and back) made playful jokes about the Boston Red Sox and the flight attendants were cheerful and attentive. When I almost didn’t make the flight back to Bradley, they quickly put all the pieces together so that I could get home. Bravo to you, Southwest.

Southwest passengers grade: F

Listen up, morons. There’s no assigned seating on Southwest and every flight is overbooked. That means there will be no free seats on any flight…ever. When you get on a Southwest flight, do not occupy the seats such that the only ones left are the window seats and the last people onto the flight have to climb over you. On the flight out, a brain-addled husband and wife sat in the aisle and window seats then promptly put all their crap (coffee cup, bag, magazine) onto the middle seat. About a minute later, somebody needed that seat so there was this convoluted and unnecessary reshuffling. On the flight back, my wife had to climb over a couple who occupied the aisle and middle seats but, when we landed, decided they were going to wait until the entire plane emptied before they would get out. This forced my wife, who did not want to wait, to climb over them again.

Another thing: checking bags is not a terrible thing. You’re probably going to have to wait for the shuttle bus anyway, so please OK? Check your bags. People carry everything onto the plane. Unless it’s a portable dialysis machine, please please please stop clogging up the overhead bins. All I’m asking for is a little cooperation to keep things moving.
Wanted: ideas, positions, belief. Contact Howard Dean.

I’m constantly amazed at the ideological wasteland that is the modern Democratic Party. Here’s David Broder in “Democrats in need of stances”:

When I interviewed Dean recently, he readily acknowledged that "people think they know what the Republicans stand for, and they can't say that about the Democrats." But he said he has his staff collecting ideas from Democratic officeholders, activists and contributors about the party's agenda, and he hopes at the DNC's September meeting in Phoenix to find agreement on "three or four broad things we all have in common," then use them in his speeches and on the Web.
On my favorite topic, Broder writes: “The tactic of not offering an alternative on a subject as vital as Social Security -- which makes sense in the legislative context -- does nothing to enhance the Democrats' reputation with the public.”

Friday, July 08, 2005

Travlin' man - I'm heading down to Virginia today for a wedding (not mine). Posting will be spotty to non-existent until Sunday. Be sure to check out all the fine sites on the left. Later.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Globe & Mail: “A mourner weeps as she holds up the U.S. flag and a newspaper front page on September 13, 2001 during the playing of the U.S. national anthem by the Coldstream Guards band at London's Buckingham Palace. The special changing of the guard was ordered by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States.”

AP: “Police officers raise a British flag in front of the State Department in Washington, D.C., Thursday, July 7, 2005, in remembrance of those killed in the London bombings.” According to Publius Pundit, this is the first time a foreign flag has ever flown at the State Department.
Not dead yet - Willisms has the latest installment of "Social Security Reform Thursday" and reminds us that many Americans support personal accounts. Unfortunately, they don't vote and send letters to Congress every time the mail comes late.
London terrorist attack - First word from Free Republic and the Expat Yank has been updating from London non-stop.

Michelle Malkin has the inevitable Al-Qaeda link.

And here’s the BBC home page.

The Economist (UK) - Rush hour attack on London: "Bombs have exploded across central London, at several points on the metro system and on at least one bus, as Britain hosts the Group of Eight summit in Scotland. Details are unclear but it looks disturbingly like a repeat of 2004’s horrific Madrid train bombings."

More – Poliblog has the statement from the Muslim-UK group; Martini Pundit thinks it could do without the qualifiers.

Extra - David Plotz has a dispatch from London on Slate.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bud Bowl IV didn’t make the cut - Top 10 greatest upsets of all time

Paris towers over others for 2012 bid
Chirac's reheated food jokes bring Blair to the boil
London wins 2012 Olympics
French stocks fall on Olympic blues
A Nuclear Fisking

Today’s Washington Post carries an anti-nuclear essay by Peter Asmus titled “Nuclear Dinosaur” that is so rife with half-truths, hyperbolic claims, and tendentious rhetoric that it’s just begging for a fisking.

The recent call by President Bush to restart a major nuclear power program in this country in response to concerns about our dependence on foreign energy sources and global climate change would have Adam Smith rolling in his grave.
There is no power source less compatible with the GOP's love of free markets and disdain for regulation and subsidy than nuclear fission. Without government intervention, there simply would be no nuclear industry.
Or aircraft carriers, state colleges, or Amtrak. What a silly statement: all the energy markets are heavily regulated and subsidized; nuclear energy would be different only in the sense that nuclear fuel would have to be closely monitored.

Now, it is true that nuclear energy does not contribute to global climate change. And the new pebble bed modular reactor may well leak less, greatly reduce the risks of catastrophic meltdown and use less uranium fuel. But nuclear power is far from being clean or green.
Leak less” – that’s cute. They've decommissioned those reactors using loofahs and screen doors. Three Mile Island represented the worst leak in the American nuclear industry and, in the words of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, resulted in a “very small off-site releases of radioactivity” and “In the months following the accident, although questions were raised about possible adverse effects from radiation on human, animal, and plant life in the TMI area, none could be directly correlated to the accident.”

Consider the following:
· In the nuclear fuel process, uranium enrichment depends on great amounts of electricity, most of which is provided by dirty fossil fuel plants releasing all of the traditional air pollution emissions not released by the nuclear reactor itself. Two of the nation's most polluting coal plants, in Ohio and Indiana, produce electricity primarily for uranium enrichment.
This circular logic is baffling. Would it be OK to enrich uranium with electricity from nuclear power plants which don’t burn those “dirty fossil fuels?” Plus, if we’re talking cost-to-benefit ratios, we should shut down all the ethanol plants which consume close to $1 of energy for every $1 of ethanol processed. After uranium is enriched it provides enough energy for decades after the initial cost of processing.

· The operations of nuclear power plants release dangerous air emissions in the form of radioactive gases, including carbon-14, iodine-131, krypton and xenon.
The radioactive isotopes released from burning coal are far more dangerous than the emissions from nuclear power plants, which is mostly steam. In the new pebble bed reactors, helium is used as the cooling medium. Since this gas is radioactively inert, even if there were a “leak” in the system, there would be no radioactive danger from the gas.

· Uranium mining mimics techniques used for coal, and similar issues of toxic contamination of local land and water resources arise -- as does the matter of the unique radioactive contamination hazards to mine workers and nearby populations. Abandoned mines contaminated with high-level radioactive waste can pose radioactive risks for as long as 250,000 years after closure.
Which option poses a greater threat to the environment: the billions of tons of coal removed from the earth or the tens of tons of uranium? Also, I’m befuddled by the self-evident statement that radioactive mines are, um, radioactive. Don’t go down there.

· Concerns about chronic or routine exposure to radiation are augmented by the supreme risk of catastrophe in the event of power plant accidents. A major failure in the nuclear power plant's cooling systems, such as the rupture of the reactor vessel, can create a nuclear "meltdown." Catastrophic accidents could easily kill 100,000 people.
What anti-nuclear article would be complete without the obligatory Chernobyl/China Syndrome reference? Closer to the truth is that the nuclear power industry has been extremely safe for a half-century. Furthermore, the new pebble-bed reactors being built in China are meltdown-proof; even if somehow the helium cooling medium escapes from the main reactor, the fuel cells will heat up but cannot melt because of the ceramic material surrounding the uranium.

I first learned about the electricity industry when I covered the battle to close the Rancho Seco nuclear plant in Sacramento in the 1980s. A long list of problems had resulted in local rate increases exceeding 200 percent. There were rumors of drug use, and even sex orgies, under the immense cooling towers. The picture painted by some insiders was of an operations crew made up of a bunch of yahoos who would fit right into an episode of "The Simpsons."
This innuendo is beneath contempt. “Rumors of drug use” in the 1980s? Please.

Over the next 15 years, I learned the ins and outs of the electricity business, the world's largest -- and most polluting -- industrial enterprise. The subject is boring and complex, which has led to ignorance about its extremely important activities. Past decisions authorizing a spate of nuclear plants were made with little scrutiny of their economic or environmental impacts. The consequences of those decisions, and the government subsidies that helped promote the fiction that they were cost-effective, helped set the stage for today's crisis in energy supply.
The author’s concern for the pollution attached to the business of creating energy is misplaced in this article. After hydroelectric dams, nuclear energy is by far the cleanest of the reliable energy sources. Burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels release tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and particulates into the atmosphere – nuclear does not. Quite to the contrary, instead of spewing waste into the atmosphere, the waste from nuclear energy is tightly contained.

The United States, with its 103 operating nuclear power plants, is already the world's top consumer of electricity generated from nuclear fission. But we have yet to build a federal repository for nuclear waste. Given that U.S. reactors produce about 2,000 tons of high-level waste every year of operation, calling for greater reliance on nuclear power is not only supremely irresponsible but also an insult to the "conservative" wing of the Republican Party. Teddy Roosevelt is also turning over in his grave.
Hey! Only one grave-gyrating metaphor per article, please. Aside from that, Asmus should demand that the government open up Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository instead of shutting down the nuclear industry altogether. His argument is like saying that since we have no good place to throw our trash, we should stop eating.

That Republicans call for more nuclear power is truly mind-boggling.
Oh don’t be so shocked, Mr. "Sex and drugs, oh my!"

There has never been a more subsidized, socialized power technology than nuclear. Virtually all of the countries that derive the greatest amount of electricity from nuclear power -- France, Lithuania, Ukraine, Sweden -- feature central planning and socialistic energy policies.
Don’t forget about the commies!

Real, free-market energy policies suggest smaller, smarter and cleaner power sources. The last thing the United States should embark on in these volatile times tainted by the terrorist threat is the dinosaur technology that is nuclear power.
Wrong again. The United States now imports a higher percentage of its petroleum from the Middle East than it did during the OPEC oil shock. Our dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia means more dollars for a corrupt kleptocracy that was home to 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers. Nuclear energy (as well as opening up ANWAR) are steps in the right direction for energy independence and national security.

The writer is author of "Reaping the Wind" and "Reinventing Electric Utilities."
Of course he is. For somebody so concerned about government subsidies, Asmus should note that renewable energy (e.g. wind, solar) gobbles up a huge portion of the federal government’s energy subsidies, second only to natural gas subsidies.