BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: "The Ohio House is preparing legislation aimed at making sure other Ohioans don't face the kind of government snooping that Samuel Joseph — 'Joe the Plumber' — Wurzelbacher was subjected to during the presidential campaign."
SUING STUDENTS over charges of racism in the classroom. "Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the Peltz case was typical of many that come to FIRE in that they involve professors accused of racism or sexism based on statements or views that some students find objectionable. He said that college leaders are responsible for situations like the one faced by Peltz by not defending professors whose views are unpopular."
I should note that FIRE does good work, and if you're looking to make an end of the year charitable donation, you could do a lot worse than sending some cash their way.
In her seminal book, The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel writes about the real political divide — not left versus right, but what she calls stasists versus dynamists. The former fear change and want to use government power to minimize it, if not eliminate it. The latter accept that improvements in the human condition require change by definition, and understand that the best way to ensure it is to allow individuals the freedom to make choices, with consequences, both good and ill, to be borne by them.
By these definitions, both presidential candidates in this election were largely stasists.
HMM: Murdoch to media: You dug yourself a huge hole. "With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers."
UPDATE: Following Circuit City's lead? If newspapers want to survive, they should keep the best reporters and focus on hard-news reporting. Yes, that costs more, but it also gives customers something they actually want.
CUT THEM OFF AT THE BANK: "In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where much of Iran's foreign trade is handled, local banks are refusing to do business with the 10,000 Iranian trading firms based there. This has caused delays and cancellations of Iranian imports (over $9 billion worth from the UAE last year) and exports. This is being felt by the rule elite in Iran. There, the large extended families of the clerical leadership live the good life, and the goodies come in via the UAE. The sudden shortages of iPods, flat screen TVs, automobiles and bling in general, has been noticed in Iran, and is not appreciated. The falling price of oil is producing another problem, national bankruptcy."
Problem? I don't see it as a problem, really . . . .
The Postal Service is investigating whether the nation's postmaster general improperly received a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial Corp., the chairman of the service's governing board said.
Postmaster General John E. Potter is one of several prominent current and former U.S. officials who received discounts and other benefits from the mortgage giant. The Postal Service has hired an outside investigator to review the deal, which reportedly included one shaved point and waived fees for Potter's $322,700 loan. . . .
Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., have acknowledged receiving mortgages through the VIP program but have said they were unaware of any favorable treatment. Dodd was instrumental in crafting a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry.
Stay tuned -- there are more "friends of Angelo" out there, I suspect.
YEAH, BLOGGING WAS A LITTLE LIGHT TODAY: I stored up some scheduled posts and then went to Nashville and back to attend a memorial service for my friend Bob Simms, who died earlier this week. Bob played guitar for a band called The Soul System, which got some regional fame back in the 1960s, went to Sewanee and Cumberland Law School, and then worked as counsel for the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee for over 3 decades. I met him when I interned for that committee in college and we kept in touch. Doug Weinstein and I saw him in the hospice last week and he wasn't doing well, though he recognized us and seemed glad to see us. Still it's a shock.
There was quite a turnout of Nashville notables -- Sen. Doug Henry was the very first person I saw on the way in, and he seems largely unchanged from when I was in college -- but what was most impressive was the turnout of extended family and childhood friends. Quite a few partners from his brother's law firm turned out, too, which I thought was a very nice touch.
Bob was a terrific guy, and the world is diminished by his loss.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RENEE: Kenneth Anderson emails: "My Kid turned 16 and to my surprise one of the things she asked for as a birthday present was a junior NRA membership. She would be tickled pink if you would consider posting a happy birthday note to her and congratulating her on becoming the NRA's newest junior member ... here's a photo of her from a couple of years ago that would probably please the Instapunditry." Happy Birthday and congratulations, Renee, and thanks for setting a good example to America's youth!
posted at 08:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TIGERHAWK REVIEWS BARACK OBAMA'S 60 MINUTES APPEARANCE: "The Obamas were dignified, modest, amusing, sometimes funny, apparently genuine and almost entirely non-partisan in tone. This will not persist, but it is what the country wants right now. Hell, it is what I want right now."
UPDATE: Reader Greg Gransden writes:
I watched it, too. I would have been more reassured if the FDR book Obama says he's been reading was Amity Shlaes' "The Forgotten Man," which painstakingly demonstrates how Roosevelt's economic policies helped to prolong and worsen the Great Depression.
Unfortunately, the book Obama's been reading actually lavishes praise on FDR's economic management in the early months of his presidency - which seems to me precisely the wrong lesson to take away from that period.
Uh oh. More on FDR's policies and the Depression here.
OBAMAMANIA not taking hold in Japan. "Japanese media seem concerned that officials there have few contacts with Obama or his advisers and that Obama doesn't seem to know much about Japan." Reader Paul Harper, who's living in Japan and sent the link, adds: "Hope? Over here we have a different four-letter word to solve problems: w-o-r-k."
PAUL MIRENGOFF on the GOP's prospects: "The Democrats won't be ousted from power when the Republicans develop great conservative policies with cross-over appeal; the Democrats will be ousted when the electorate concludes that they have screwed things up. . . . Consider this year's election. The liberal Democrats did not return to power because of this or that domestic policy idea or because, more generally, they had conducted a sober reassessment of liberal dogma following prior setbacks. They returned to power, without having revised much of anything, because the electorate was sick of the Republican administration. This scenario is the rule in presidential politics, not the exception."
posted at 02:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SMALL WARS JOURNAL:How Should the U.S. Execute a Surge in Afghanistan? Michael Yon emails the link and adds: "Last time I was in Afghanistan, I mentioned an off-the-cuff number that we might need something like 50k more troops. . . . This 25-40k clearly will NOT BE ENOUGH. They pick that figure because that's all they are likely to get in their wildest dreams. Let's seal this in Iraq, and then we've got some troops!" How many troops can we support, logistically, in Afghanistan?
posted at 01:19 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PONDERING THE FUTURE OF FISH: "I don’t want to go into a fish market on Cape Cod and find farm-raised salmon from Chile and mussels from Prince Edward Island instead of cod, monkfish or haddock. I don’t want to go to a restaurant in Miami and see farm-raised catfish from Vietnam on the menu but no grouper. Those have been my recent experiences, and according to many scientists, it may be the way of the future: most of the fish we’ll be eating will be farmed, and by midcentury, it might be easier to catch our favorite wild fish ourselves rather than buy it in the market." Note, though, that property rights are a solution to overfishing, as they are generally to tragedies of the commons.
Glenn, I've read Amanda Ripley's book. It's interesting, but a little dry. I also recommend "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why" by Laurence Gonzalez. In it, he looks at more individual cases. For example, 4 people trapped on a raft in the middle of the ocean, why only two survive. Gonzalez' theory is how your brain responds to severe stress will determine your likelihood of survival. The people best able to endure are those that can bifurcate between their logic and their emotion and not let the emotion overcome the logic. I'm not doing the book justice - it's a fascinating look at survival and also why seemingly intelligent people do seemingly stupid things when they are in a crisis. (Hint: from their vantage point, it does not seem stupid at all). Thanks for all your great work!
Thanks! I think I posted something on that a while back.
In Pigeon Forge with the family to take advantage of the fact that no one is supposed to be shopping this year. Everyone else had the same idea. It’s packed.
Heh. Plus, from the comments: "All of the shopping plazas around here have been crazy packed, too. It’s very odd." Probably all the deep discounts from retailers worried that no one would be shopping . . . .
WHY WE SHOULDN'T BAIL OUT THE AUTOMAKERS: "That beeping sound you hear this week is the semi-truck being backed up to the Federal Treasury in Washington. After being filled with taxpayer billions, it's on its way to Detroit."
HOPE AND CHANGE! "I'm actually beginning to think had Hillary won there would be fewer Clinton retreads coming on-board."
Plus, from The New York Times: "The selection of Mr. Emanuel and other veterans of President Bill Clinton’s administration to run the transition stood in contrast to Mr. Obama’s message about finally moving beyond the Clinton era."
UPDATE: Well, at least there won't be a bunch of Skull-and-Bones types running things. Oh, wait . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan Riehl thinks the Clintonista influx is a good thing, and I agree. It's just not very changey.
posted at 05:06 AM by Glenn Reynolds
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: "Disgraced former NY Governor (and john) Eliot Spitzer actually has the gall to offer a WaPo op-ed opining on how to fix the financial crisis. In the old days, people who did what he did had at least the decency to quietly fade away. In the more recent days, they at least had the decency to wait a reasonable amount of time before trying to rehabilitate themselves. But not Spitzer. Not these days."
He doesn't think much more of Spitzer's recommendations than he does of Spitzer . . . .
President-elect Barack Obama has imposed stricter conflict-of-interest restrictions on his White House transition team than any president before him. But a list of transition team members that his office made public on Friday includes a complicated tangle of ties to private influence-seekers.
A STIMULUS: Rangel Plans Push to Cut Top Corporate Tax Rate to 28 Percent. "New York Representative Charles Rangel said he's revising his tax overhaul proposal to reduce U.S. corporate tax rates to 28 percent, down from the current rate of 35 percent. . . . Only Japan has a higher marginal corporate tax rate among developed nations, the Treasury Department said last year. When state taxes are factored in, U.S. corporations pay about 39 percent on their last dollar of profit."
MEXICO: Worrying Signs from Border Raids, according to Stratfor. I hope that those troops we'll soon be able to bring back from Iraq won't have to put their counterinsurgency and urban-warfare skills to work closer to home . . .
A GOVERNOR SAYS, don't bail out my state: "Community bankers tell me that they are now at a competitive disadvantage for being careful about who to lend to, because others that were less disciplined will get a federal bailout. This is also true for states. Those that have been fiscally responsible will pay for or lose out to the big spenders. California increased spending 95% over the past 10 years (federal spending went up 71% over the same period). To bail out California now seems unfair to fiscally prudent states."
Plus this: "Federal appetites may know no bounds. But the federal government's ability to borrow is not limitless. Already, our nation's unfunded liabilities total $52 trillion -- about $450,000 per household. There's something very strange about issuing debt to solve a problem caused by too much debt."
Because it is vacuum-sealed in a can and does not require refrigeration, Spam can last for years. Hormel says “it’s like meat with a pause button.”
Yum! One thing that isn't clear from the story is whether people are buying lots more spam because it's all they can afford now, or whether they're stocking up against possible hard times yet to come; seems more like the latter than the former.
WASHINGTON POST:Ex-Lobbyists Have Key Obama Roles. "Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to change Washington, vowing to upend the K Street lobbying culture he encountered when he joined the U.S. Senate. But more than a dozen members of President-elect Obama's fast-growing transition team have worked as federally registered lobbyists within the past four years. They include former lobbyists for the nation's trial lawyers association, mortgage giant Fannie Mae, drug companies such as Amgen, high-tech firms such as Microsoft, labor unions and the liberal advocacy group Center for American Progress."
Plus this artful phraseology:
In a 2007 speech, he said he was "running to tell the lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded my campaign. They won't work in my White House."
A few days later, he changed the phrasing to say that lobbyists "are not going to dominate my White House."
Quite a backslide. It'll be interesting to see if he can even live up to the watered-down promise . . . . How big a deal is this? Well, you can make too much of these appearance issues, but on the other hand, he promised an entirely new kind of government. So far, that's looking a lot like the similar promises of rectitude from Congressional Democrats in 2006, promises that -- to put it mildly -- weren't borne out once the election was over.
UPDATE: Reader Matt Mullen emails:
It's quite a backslide to say go from saying that the days of lobbyists setting the agenda are over, to saying that they are not going to dominate my White House?
No, it's a backslide to go from saying that "they won't work in my White House" to saying that they won't "dominate" it.
Unsuccessful efforts to uncover the identity of Internet bloggers critical of the Memphis Police Department and its top officers will cost the city $88,000.
The city filed suit in state court in an attempt to identify the people behind a Web site called MPD Enforcer 2.0, but the lawsuit was eventually dropped.
The legal bill for that suit has arrived, and The Commercial Appeal reports it totals about $88,000. The city’s legal department declined giving a breakdown on the legal expenses, and the police department had no comment.
AUX ARMES MALLS, CITOYENS! Reader Frank Vance emails:
Listening to Economist James Smith on the Hugh Hewitt show on the way home tonight, and he essentially stated that the depth and length of the downturn in the US economy largely depends on how much consumers spend during the upcoming Christmas season.
Looks like it is time to once again deploy the Retail Support Brigades!
People like Anand Gupta saved us after 9/11. I hate to call upon them again, but America is in need. Will they answer this time?
UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi sends this sitrep from the front:
Out on the town last night, driving through moderate-to-heavy suburban/urban traffic — seeing bustle at mall complexes and packed restaurant parking lots — I thought the scene contradicted some observations on the spirit of consumers. Certainly, retail is down; but not out.
The economy, surrender? Nuts!
We shall fight them in the strip malls, we shall fight them in the restaurants, we shall fight them online -- we shall never surrender!
Well, okay, they can have Chuck E. Cheese if they want.
IT'S POLIWOOD with Roger Simon and Lionel Chetwynd. Don't miss it! It's free to everybody, no registration required. (Bumped, because the no-registration thing wasn't working last night. Hey, it's beta . . . .)
VIA BAILOUTS, turning the U.S. auto industry into American Leyland. Plus, from the comments: "They are not car companies any longer. They are benefits distributors that happen to also make vehicles on the side."
DAVID BROOKS: "Granting immortality to Detroit’s Big Three does not enhance creative destruction. It retards it. It crosses a line, a bright line. It is not about saving a system; there will still be cars made and sold in America. It is about saving politically powerful corporations. . . . It is all a reminder that the biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state."