Saturday, May 10, 2008
"When Bush v. Gore was decided in December of 2000, everyone thought it was a hugely significant case. But was Bush v. Gore a significant case after all?
When the votes were actually counted, after the fact, they showed that Bush would have won anyway. Nearly eight years later, it is safe to say that the case has not generated a jurisprudential revolution, even though a panel of Ninth Circuit judges tried to stop the California recall election by relying on Bush v. Gore, only to be overturned by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court has not cited the case at all, as far as I know, since Bush v. Gore was decided. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a constitutional law case decided in the past eight years that has been referenced less than Bush v. Gore has been referenced."
Friday, May 9, 2008
"Here’s former Jordanian “minister of religious endowment” Sheik Ali Al-Faqir appearing on Al Aqsa TV May 2, 2008, with an Islamic supremacist rant about taking over the world.
This isn’t happening on some street corner in Amman. It’s being broadcast to millions of people on Arab television."
I SAW A FEATURE BY NEIL CAVUTO last night on food stockpiling, in which one of his correspondents explained how he'd spent $1500 at Costco stocking up against shortages. You know, if you have stories like this on TV regularly, you'll get food shortages at stores even if there's no actual shortage in supply, because today's just-in-time inventory practices mean that there's no real slack for sudden increases in demand. The empty shelves will then promote panic and more stockpiling, setting the stage for the equivalent of a bank-run on grocery stores even if there's no actual reason. I'm all for people keeping a good-sized supply of food at home in case of emergencies, but press people who cover this need to do so responsibly.
On the other hand, if they create a crisis, then they can report on the crisis. Your media at work!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
GETTING READY FOR A BIG PUSH IN SADR CITY, and a media-related prediction: "This will likely take weeks to complete. Once the battle starts, expect to read and hear plenty of media reports emphasizing civilian deaths, setbacks in the battle, defections in the Iraqi Army, and statements of defiance from Sadr. What we won’t hear is progress by Maliki and the US in finishing off Sadr’s forces until it suddenly becomes impossible to ignore it — and then we will hear about how inept the Iraqi forces were in achieving victory. Call it the Basra Narrative. Just because it failed in Basra doesn’t mean the defeatist media won’t use it again, and again, and again."
The basic rule of press coverage is that if there's fighting, we must be losing. All wars produce ups and downs, bad news and good. It's interesting, though, that our press seems mostly interested in making things look bad, though they're not even very good at reporting the bad news that matters. Some related thoughts here.
UPDATE: Reader Walter Boxx emails: "The way the Japanese could tell they were losing WWII was that the great victories reported by their media were getting closer and closer to home. Our media problem is like a fun-house mirror version of this - the way we can tell we are winning is that our crushing defeats are happening less often and to different enemies."
"Nancy Pelosi chanted Veto and Drill , Veto and Drill in caricaturing the threatened presidential veto of windfall oil company taxes and desire to drill in ANWR and elsewhere. But all that might sound, in fact, good to most Americans. With the world s largest reserves of coal, after creating the nuclear power industry ex nihilo, and with billions of oil still under our soil and waters, it makes no sense to produce less energy while blaming and taxing those who produce what we have, rather than drilling, digging, and saving, as we find ways to transition to the alternate energies. The problem is not just oil, but importing oil at $120 a barrel that is bankrupting us as much as it is enriching the wrong people.
A postscript: I'm not sure that, ecologically speaking, drilling oil in about 2000 acres in the north of Alaska is all that different from dotting our mountain ridges and coasts (ask the Kennedys et al) with enormous windmills or creating vast acres of solar panels throughout our fragile deserts or covering our roofs with panels and pipes and assorted gadgetry.
"Hillary s campaign has transformed the politics of this nomination from a contest between individual candidates to a contest between the coalition partners of the Democratic Party. The downside of Hillary s efforts to portray Obama as the Black Candidate , helped along not a little by Obama himself and Jeremiah Wright means that he is the Black Candidate now.
For that reason Obama will be almost invulnerable to personal criticism among the factions which supports him. After decades of loyally supporting a liberal white candidate, the emergence of a viable Black Candidate means a significant bloc of the Democratic Party now feels entitled to take their turn. Hillary s people have no standing in selecting who this bloc candidate is going to be. Any objection that Obama, at 46 can wait his turn, misses the point. It s not Obama s turn. It is the Black Voter bloc s turn. The Faustian bargain has come due. And Hillary is welshing.
This might have been a good thing if Barack Obama were a moderate Democrat. But in addition to being the Black voter s candidate, he is also the chosen representative of the Party s Left. They too feel it is their turn .
Hillary's campaign was one of those classic cases where the political past was used to predict the future. What worked in the past would work again. This time, though, the Clintons came across a discontinuity. A literal Black Swan. Past trends no longer held. The quiescent Black votes bloc has surged to the front of the bus and demanded their seat from the liberal white party elite.
Ironically John McCain may be the moderate Democrat that the Hillary, in other times, might have been. This means the year 2008 will see two transfers of power. The first involving the Presidency; the second involving the coalition blocs of the Democratic Party.
What ship is the Hillary Kamikaze crashing? It is the vessel of their old coalition"
DUKE PROFESSORS ARE FEELING THE HEAT FOR THEIR PROMOTION OF THE DUKE RAPE HOAX. K.C. Johnson responds to their efforts at self-justification, and Jim Lindgren observes: "Why do these Duke professors bother to write about the Duke lacrosse hoax if they are not going to deal with their own actions honestly? If they can't simply face the truth, they should put down their shovels and stop digging.
This is certainly going to be worth following. Follow the links, especially Johnson's....
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
"“Judge Sherman Ross tried to assemble a jury of peers for a woman accused of possession of a marijuana on trial Tuesday. But authorities say prospective juror Cornelia Mayo might have taken that concept a bit too far after she was caught smoking a joint outside the courthouse during a break."
"Well, it’s early days, to be fair, but so far the Great Depression 2008 is shaping up to be a Great Disappointment. Not so much The Grapes of Wrath as Raisins of Mild Inconvenience. Last week the Commerce Department reported that the US economy – battered by the credit crunch, pummelled by a housing market collapse and generally devastated by the wild stampede of animal spirits – actually grew in the first three months of the year."
"Gack. Now Obama is ranting about how he's going to make the corporations give us super fuel-efficient cars, find awesome new sources of oil, make renewable energy affordable, and invent a really delicious fat-free ice cream. However did we manage to get through the first 200 years without Barack Obama to beat some progress out of the corporations that have been holding us back?"
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Did Saddam Hussein cooperate with al-Qaeda to attack America? The Institute for Defense Analyses survey of Saddam Hussein's relationship to terrorist organizations, based on 600,000 captured documents, categorically concludes they can't find the connection -- there's "no smoking gun (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda" -- but thoroughly documents the Iraqi dictator's systematic use of terrorism to attack Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Iraqi dissidents all over the world and, when it suited him, American interests.
"When Bill Clinton was first elected, baby-boomers had just become an absolute majority of working journalists, and among some of them simmered an envy-cum-distrust of the first baby-boomer commander-in-chief. Somebody our age is president? Then, over the course of Bill Clinton’s bungled, distasteful presidency and Hillary Clinton’s bungled, distasteful campaign for the presidency, the couple have separately and together become incarnations of the most unattractive attributes of their generation’s elite—blind ambition cloaked in do-good self-righteousness, a sense of entitlement, high-handed snobbiness “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked COOKIEs” , hedonism Monica et al. , narcissism. As a poster couple for people of a certain age and demographic, they have become a bit of an embarrassment.
So it’s ironic that the media and their fellow upscale Americans are now disposed to like Obama precisely because he resembles them in so many ways. The difference is he’s relatively unsullied, an exquisite, idealized version of themselves: educated, thoughtful, twigged to nuance, a lovely writer, well-traveled, witty, cool, dignified, candid, a little quixotic, a clued-in grown-up but not yet ruined by the ugly facts of Washington life."
"Smithtown is one of a number of districts on Long Island and around the country that have recently closed their campuses at lunchtime, canceling a generations-old rite of passage because of school officials’ and parents’ growing concern over traffic accidents and in some cases, truancy. This 11,000-student district in Suffolk County stopped allowing students to go out for lunch in November, the day after a lunchtime car accident that killed two Smithtown West seniors and a third teenager."
This is just another appalling development in the stupidity of our parenting and educational practices. You can probably blame the lawyers because, in this case, I would imagine that the school district is doing their best to avoid liability. But how much good are you doing these kids by covering them in bubble wrap when they need to be learning that they need to be responsible for their own safety?
Life is a scary proposition, folks; and no amount of coddling is going to change that. As parents, we owe it to our kids to let them find much of this out on their own, lest we wind-up with a bunch of sniveling little Europeans on our hands who cannot wipe their own asses without an act of Congress. Sorrily, we are going to lose some of them along the way; and no matter how many ways we try and keep that from happening, these kids - especially teenagers - are going to figure out new ways to worsen the odds. Oddly enough, it's the parents who need to grow up.....
Monday, May 5, 2008
Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor helped you find a job, and helped ease you into middle age. Now he wants to help you build the last web page you'll ever need.
Tributes.com is scheduled for a soft launch in June. It aims to provide a central location to house online memorials for those who have passed on. It's starting with $4.3 million in funding, with The Wall Street Journal as a lead investor.
Swiss lawyers are elaborating the doctrine of vegetable rights. "A few years ago the Swiss added to their national constitution a provision requiring "account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms." No one knew exactly what it meant, so they asked the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out." In short, they are arguing that plants have inherent rights which humans can't transgress. It sounds ridiculous. Why should we care? But we should.
A 24 page PDF edition of the committee report can be read here. One of the arguments for plant rights is that vegetables are members of "collectives". But beyond that, each individual plant has inherent worth, rather in the way that men used to have. Therefore the committee concludes that "it is unanimously held that plants may not be arbitrarily destroyed ... the majority considers this morally impermissible because something bad is being done to the plant itself without rational reason and thus without justification."
But who is really being "empowered" by the Swiss committee's decision? Is it plants? No. It is bureaucrats. The point of vegetable rights isn't to give plants dignity but to transfer yet more individual human freedoms to activists and government officials.
I'd say that John Cole is right and a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies is a pretty bad idea -- it doesn't really make sense to say that we're going to try to pass laws explaining exactly how profitable different kinds of companies should be. Now, "windfall profits tax to raise revenue" (Obama) is a better idea than "windfall profits tax to finance gas tax cut" (Clinton) or "gas tax cut paid for by magic" (McCain) but if you're really willing to hurt the oil companies in the name of the public interest what you really should be doing is raising the gas tax and rebating about half of the revenues to taxpayers.
"Four score and seven years ago… No, wait, my mistake. Two score and seven or eight days ago, Barack Obama gave the greatest speech since the Gettysburg Address, or FDR’s First Inaugural, or JFK’s religion speech, or (if like Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books, you find those comparisons drearily obvious) Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech of 1860. And, of course, the Senator’s speech does share one quality with Cooper Union, Gettysburg, the FDR Inaugural, Henry V at Agincourt, Socrates’s Apology, etc: It’s history. He said, apropos the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, that “I could no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother.” But last week he did disown him. So, great-speech-wise, it’s a bit like Churchill promising to fight them on the beaches and never surrender, and then surrendering a month and a half later, and on a beach he decided not to fight on.
Michelle Obama is a bizarre mix of condescension and grievance — like Teresa Heinz Kerry with a chip on her shoulder. But the common thread to her rhetoric is its antipathy to what she calls “corporate America.” Perhaps for his next Gettysburg Address the senator will be saying, “I could no more disown my wife than I could disown my own pastor. Oh, wait…
Whatever one thinks of Senators Clinton and McCain, they’re as familiar as any public figures can be. Obama, on the other hand, is running explicitly on a transcendent “magic.” It doesn’t help when the cute girl in spangled tights keeps whining about how awful everything is and the guy you sawed in half sticks himself together and starts rampaging around the stage. The magician has lost control of the show."
"As envisioned by its designer, the memorial to the victims who died on Sept. 11, 2001, when United Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., would follow the topography of the bowl-shaped land, creating a circular pathway ringed by trees, all focused on the “sacred ground” of the crash site near the bottom of the circle."
Yesterday's Ranger game was pretty much an encapsulation of their entire season - they fell behind in a desperate situation, found a way to come back, and then found yet another way to lose. The piss-poor refereeing aside, the Rangers were pretty much over-matched against a Pittsburgh team with perhaps the best collection of offensive weapons in the NHL, and a bad case of the nasties.
Playoff hockey requires a snarl that the Rangers seemed incapable of. Their defense was far too well-mannered in front of their own net; and, especially yesterday, they allowed the Penguins to take far too many liberties with Jagr (who did not have a single shot on net). Did anyone besides me notice how Malkin physically mistreated Paul Mara after he scored his incredible backhand goal? All this, plus a few other mental and physical mistakes made it virtually impossible for the Blue Shirts to prevail.
There is much needed to be done for next year. For now, all I can say is "So it goes..."
Words matter, and in the global war on terror we are losing the battle of words, in a self-inflicted defeat. The consequences could not be more profound.Recent government policy memoranda, circulating through the national counter-terrorism and diplomatic community, establishes a new "speech code" for the lexicon in the war on terror, as reported by the Associated Press and now available in the public domain .These new "speech codes" recommended that analysts and policy makers avoid the terms jihad or jihadist or mujhadid or "al-Qaida movement" and replace them with "extremists" and by extension other non-specific terms.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Read the whole thing.
No, Adam Liptak, our main problem is that we are a violent society.
I know you’re used to people telling you that the prisons are filled mostly with first-time drug users and low-level property criminals. But the facts tell a different story. Here is a chart from the U.S. Department of Justice showing that over half of state prisoners in this country are incarcerated for violent offenses like “murder, negligent and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, sexual assault, robbery, assault, extortion, intimidation, criminal endangerment, and other violent offenses.”