SPANNING THE WEB - 2/28/2006
1) BATTLE OF THE BLOGGERS – In a strange coincidence, the conservative/libertarian blogosphere’s most prominent denizen has a book coming out at almost the exact same time as the most famous liberal blogger does. Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds’ “An Army of Davids” is coming out imminently as too is Markos Moultisas’ “Crashing the Gates.”
Markos, who runs the Daily Kos, reminds his readers frequently that his traffic is five times greater than the next most popular blog’s, which usually happens to be Glenn’s. So here’s something odd – on Amazon’s sales list, “An Army of Davids” ranks #256 while “Crashing the Gates” checks in at a subterranean #12,749.
So it’s fair to ask, what gives? Both bloggers have flogged their books to their audience. Their release dates are about the same. And yet even though Markos’ audience is supposedly several times the size of Reynolds’, Glenn is selling a lot more books.
Is Glenn’s audience so much more dedicated? Does Markos’ crowd lack the intellectual rigor to read anything longer than a blog post even if it’s written by their hero? Are Markos’ fans waiting to read the reviews before committing to laying out their $18?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
2) ISB UPDATE: Many of you probably recall my story about the Islamic Society of Boston’s efforts to develop a mega-mosque in Boston. Probably only a few of you remember that the Boston Redevelopment Authority, a government agency, cut a sweetheart deal with the ISB giving the Society a parcel of land valued at $400,000 for only $225,000 plus nebulous “services” such as providing a lecture series at neighboring Roxbury Community College.
Well, there’s been a development. It seems shortly before the deal transpired, the BRA appraised the land not at $400k but actually at $2 million! Even if the land were worth $400, 000, the deal would have probably run afoul of the Establishment Clause; at $2 million, it’s not even a close call.
So how should we account for the City of Boston’s largesse on this matter? So far, the BRA and the mayor’s office have been silent. But I will be on the case presently. (But will the Boston Globe? Don’t hold your breath.)
3) So what do we make of President Bush’s sinking poll approval numbers? A CBS poll has his current positive rating at a dreadful 34%. Even though the poll has all the dishonesty we’ve come to expect from a CBS News work product, there’s no doubting that Bush’s approval has been hammered.
Naturally, this has triggered widespread rejoicing in the left wing blogosphere. When you’ve never had an actual electoral triumph to celebrate, I guess you grasp at whatever straw happens to be available.
But here’s why Bush’s ratings are temporarily in the crapper: Conservatives are upset about the Port Storm. Liberals would be making a mistake if they thought these poll numbers mean Bush’s newly disapproving followers are going to volunteer for Hilary Clinton’s campaign. After the Port Storm and the accompanying demagoguery fades from view, Bush’s approvals will bounce back to their normal level of acceptable crappiness.
4) The President is on his way to India. The trip has occasioned the New York Times to trot out some 1980’s style rhetoric regarding nuclear proliferation. Lamenting that Bush seems inclined to give India a pass on nuclear non-proliferation guidelines, the Times ludicrously wails, “That's the worst possible message to send to other countries — Iran comes to mind — that America and its nuclear allies in Europe are trying to keep off the nuclear weapons bandwagon.”
Honestly, do the Times’ editors even believe this stuff? Do they really think that if we took a hard line with India, Iran would suddenly say “Feh” to acquiring nuclear weapons? Realpolitik is really not the Times’ strong suit.
5) But you know what is the Times’ strong suit? Building its own new high rise to host its operations.
In an unintentionally hilarious article from last October’s Harvard Business Review, the Times declares an expertise for construction and design with a brazen arrogance that outdoes Donald Trump. I would link to the piece, but it requires a subscription; it’s the funniest thing that I’ve read in months.
David Thurm, a Times vice-president in charge of the project, offers numerous banalities that he thinks are keen insights. For instance, “Insist on Great Design!” Thurm implores us.
And then there’s the self congratulations. Example - Thurm takes special credit for the Times’ boldness in “embracing (its architects’) proposal for stairways connecting the floors.”
Stairways connecting the floors – now that’s great design!!! Who could ever think of such an idea?
6) My favorite washed up pol makes a special return engagement today to spew still more bile. Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Paul Hackett generally laments how he’s too good a man to be a politician. See, on the one hand you have the career politicians. On the other hand, you have selfless individuals like Hackett who just want to serve. And in Hackett’s mind, he was done wrong by the career politicians.
Hackett reserves some special anger for a few prominent career politicians who, according to his reckoning, shivved him between the shoulder blades. “Sherrod Brown had initially told me he would support my Senate campaign but then changed his mind. Again, a clash of cultures. That's politics. But that's not me. My word is my bond. Schumer and Reid, the guys who said my country needs me, had a change of heart. There was never any explanation given. Schumer, in particular, actively sought to undermine my insurgent campaign.”
Before Paul Hackett appeared on the scene, I couldn’t imagine a circumstance where I would be sympathetic to Chuck Schumer’s position on anything. Oh well – never say never. In the meantime, the country will just have to muddle through without Paul Hackett serving us in the Senate.
7) I think this is kind of neat. The brightest minds at MIT are going to be deconstructing IED’s to figure out how the troops in the field can render them less dangerous. What I’m less enthusiastic about is the fact that the U.S. government will be paying MIT $3 million for the service. Why can’t a university as well endowed as MIT volunteer such services as part of their patriotic duty? It’s not like MIT is scraping to pay the rent.
8) In a hilariously titled editorial called “Meathead Economics,” the Wall Street Journal describes some of the shenanigans that Rob Reiner has been up to in California. Having somehow become the de facto custodian of the tobacco taxes the Golden State rakes in, Reiner has funneled some $23 million to support ballot initiatives that he favors. The money was supposed to go to children’s health care.
Hugh Hewitt’s been all over this one, as has (sit down for this!) the L.A. Times. It’s a wonderful case study in the hyper self-righteousness that some members of the left occasionally indulge in. So convinced are they of their moral infallibility (and their causes’ moral infallibility), they hold themselves to a completely different standard than they do, say, President Bush. Their desire for all things good is unimpeachable, much like Cindy Sheehan’s moral authority. Thus their actions never have to be questioned, least of all by themselves.
9) In the great unreported story of the day, Iraq’s governmental institutions survived the threat posed by the Al Qaeda offensive of last week. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Iraqi people want to live in peace and pursue prosperity. Naturally, this development isn’t to everyone’s liking. As Jack Kelly sharply puts it, “Al Qaida is as eager to start a sectarian civil war as the New York Times is to report on it… Those danged Iraqis. They continue to disappoint by failing to be disappointing. Could it be that most of them value freedom, democracy and peace as much as white Christians do?”
10) HUH? Andrew Sullivan has been engaging in a week long slap-fight with National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru. What’s particularly endearing about Sullivan’s arguing style is not only how he insults his opponents in a crude ad hominem manner, but the way he layers his insults with ridiculous hyperbole. Here’s how Andrew concludes one of his blogging thrusts: “These people mean what they write. When challenged, they lie about it. Repeatedly. They don't want to sound like cranks. But they actually believe that, in an ideal world, masturbation would be a crime. And they get very upset when you point that out.”
Just to be clear about my own personal feelings on the matter, I think masturbation should be safe, legal and rare.
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