The D-Day Piper has put down his chanter


I don’t know why, but Brits write the best obits. From the recent Economist, a tribute to Bill Mullin, the D-Day piper. An excerpt:

He was ordering now, as they waded up Sword Beach, in that drawly voice of his: “Give us a tune, piper.” Mr Millin thought him a mad bastard. The man beside him, on the point of jumping off, had taken a bullet in the face and gone under. But there was Lovat, strolling through fire quite calmly in his aristocratic way, allegedly wearing a monogrammed white pullover under his jacket and carrying an ancient Winchester rifle, so if he was mad Mr Millin thought he might as well be ridiculous too, and struck up “Hielan’ Laddie”. Lovat approved it with a thumbs-up, and asked for “The Road to the Isles”. Mr Millin inquired, half-joking, whether he should walk up and down in the traditional way of pipers. “Oh, yes. That would be lovely.”

Imagine if Bush Had Done This, Part 9,623


So Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent out a memo to his employees — and by definition our employees — last week, encouraging them all to go to that big rally they held last weekend in Washington, DC. No, not that big rally. The other one. From the Washington Examiner:

President Obama’s top education official urged government employees to attend a rally that the Rev. Al Sharpton organized to counter a larger conservative event on the Mall.”ED staff are invited to join Secretary Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other leaders on Saturday, Aug. 28, for the ‘Reclaim the Dream’ rally and march,” began an internal e-mail sent to more than 4,000 employees of the Department of Education on Wednesday.

Could Sarah Palin Be An Effective President?


This past weekend, Vanity Fair released the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll that finds that a third of adults polled nationwide believe in ghosts, 46% think taxing tanning at a salon is a bad idea, and 76% are just as likely to see Mel Gibson’s movies now as they were before he became known for his racist rants. All in all, the poll asks pretty worthless questions. But one question’s results are garnering a bit of attention throughout the blogosphere. The question:

Do you think SARAH PALIN would have the ability to be an EFFECTIVE PRESIDENT?

Some Good News for a Change


From Time this morning:

… a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that – for reasons that aren’t entirely clear – abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one’s risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

2012: Goodbye, Cruel World


As many of you know—especially those of you who plan your social life around the Mayan calendar—the end of the world is coming in 2012. Recently, a hit film simply called 2012 showed the planet cracking up and threatening not only the earth’s nearly 7-billion people, but even worse, John Cusack and his family.

The Mayans—like the Aztecs—were a fairly well-advanced civilization in southern North America. They built great monuments, had advanced mathematical and scientific systems, and, all in all, despite minor issues with things like human sacrifice and slavery, were pretty well ahead of their time.

Surveillance Without Search


A few federal court opinions have been making a big public splash recently by taking surprising positions on how the Fourth Amendment applies to location surveillance. The latest opinion in the line is Magistrate Judge James Orenstein’s decision in In The Matter Of An Application Of The United States Of America And Order For An Order Authorizing The Release Of Historical Cell-Site Information, handed down on Friday. The decision holds that historical cell-cite data — records generated by cell phone providers in the ordinary course of business that indicate which cell towers were communicating with a phone, and thus, the rough location of the phone — are protected by the Fourth Amendment and its warrant requirement.

It’s only a decision by a Magistrate Judge, and it is not binding on anyone. But it is an extraordinary opinion, in my view: It’s an extraordinary result, reached in an extraordinary way, and based on an extraordinary number of errors. — Orin Kerr

Holy disgraced ex-governor!


Facing a retrial on 23 counts of corruption, ex-governor Blagojevich has found the perfect way to show potential jurors that he’s actually a crusading reformer, namely, a guest appearance at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Convention 2010 (h/t Kevin Underhill’s “Lowering the Bar” column at Forbes).

Here’s Blago sitting at the wheel of the original Batmobile. He posed for photos, hung out with original Batman Adam West, and sold autographs for $50 a pop (replenishing that defense fund!).

A Tale of Two Successions


As if global politics weren’t turbulent enough, the Obama administration better start thinking about impending dynastic successions in two different but very dangerous places. Read this Economist article for a brief rundown on Egypt, where dictator Hosni Mubarak is mortally ill and laying the groundwork for a transfer of power to his sun Gamal. Egypt is widely regarded as the most important country in the Middle East, and while Mubarak is no democrat, he has kept the peace with Israel and fought jihadist terror. It’s not only his son jockeying for position, however. The Muslim Brotherhood is an important force in Egyptian politics, and it may make a play to rule if it sees an opportunity. Meanwhile, Egyptian democrats like Ayman Noor and Mohamed El-Baradei are also in the mix.

Then there’s North Korea. Kim Jong-Il’s slave state is on the cusp of meltdown. (Read Barbara Demick’s excellent New Yorker article on Kim’s disastrous November 2009 currency “reform.”) Kim has traveled twice to China in recent months, perhaps introducing his Chinese patrons to his son, Kim Jong-Un. Noko watchers say the elder Kim will designate his son heir at an upcoming party conference. But will the North Korean military, political, and intelligence establishments accept a third Kim as god-king?

From IOU to IPO: Obama’s Government Motors Folly


Read Shikha Dalmia at Forbes:

The General Motors IPO, the second largest ever, is arguably this decade’s most hyped financial event. But it might also turn out to be this decade’s biggest financial fiasco. Its timing is driven not by the financial needs of the company– or the interests of taxpayers who are poised to get royally screwed–but the election-year needs of the Obama administration.

Huckabee Starts Thank You Petition for Ken Cuccinelli


Via Dave Weigel, who remarks, rightly: “Interesting.” Here’s Huckabee’s video. Why the thanks? “In taking on the federal government’s new health care law,” Huckabee tells Cuccinelli, “you are doing what’s right. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of Virginians and all Americans who are frustrated with this unprecedented expansion of the federal government’s powers.”

Is it a simple stunt? Maybe it’s a stunt and a nice idea, too. That’s the fun thing about politics. One thing is certain: Huck ’12 speculation? Fueled.

Election ’10: Ten Weeks Out, a Wave Builds


It’s still early, yet, but it’s not that early. There’s something happening, here, and what it is is pretty straightforward: the Democrats in Congress and the White House are not very popular, and they are not very popular because of their policies. Yesterday Diane noted Gallup’s new poll showing a ten-point Republican lead on the generic Congressional ballot — the largest such margin in history — and Rasmussen’s finding that voters trust the GOP over the Dems on all ten of the issues regularly tracked by the polling shop. But wait — there’s more.

* “[T]he gap between registered and likely voter polls this year,” writes Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, “is about 4 points in the Republicans’ favor — so a 10-point lead in a registered voter poll is the equivalent of about 14 points on a likely-voter basis. Thus, even if this particular Gallup survey was an outlier, it’s not unlikely that we’ll begin to see some 8-, 9-, 10-point leads for Republicans in this poll somewhat routinely once Gallup switches over to a likely voter model at some point after Labor Day — unless Democrats do something to get the momentum back.”

Next of Kim


Last week, a decrepit Kim Jong-il took a midnight train from North Korea into China, where he met with Chinese president Hu Jintao in the northern Chinese industrial city of Changchun.The trip had two probable motives. The first was to avoid having to meet Jimmy Carter, who was in Pyongyang to free an American citizen. The Dear Leader can be forgiven his desire to skip an encounter with the world’s most irritating man.The second motive was probably to introduce his son and heir, Kim Jong-un — dubbed Youth Captain — to his Chinese overlords. After a long struggle, a consensus has emerged: Kim Jong-un is the new Kim on the Block. So what do we know about the Youth Captain? Not much. A photo of him as a boy is on the right. Other than that, you know, the usual. From the Chosun-Ilbo:

Those who knew “Pak Un,” the name he used at the Swiss school, say he was indifferent to political issues and never made any anti-American comments. He worshipped basketball players in the NBA. A friend who visited his apartment at #10, Kirchstrasse, Liebefeld, recalls that Kim had a room filled with NBA-memorabilia.

The Fantasy of Sexual Socialism


There’s a new book out that changes everything. Just listen:

Since Darwin’s day, we’ve been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science–as well as religious and cultural institutions–has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man’s possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman’s fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates keep climbing as adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages.

The Numbers Are Looking Good For Republicans


Some encouraging news for Republicans from the newest Gallup poll:

Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP’s largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

The Myth of the “Southern Strategy”


Today’s Uncommon Knowledge segment with Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has produced a couple of comments about the GOP and the “Southern Strategy.” The basic question: In appealing to the South, did the GOP play on racism? Back in the Fifties and Sixties, GOP backed a few unsavory candidates. But the work of historian Gerard Alexander–superb, searching work, thoroughly documented–demonstrates that the basic answer is “no.” For a brief example of Alexander’s work, take a look at his 2004 essay in the Claremont Review of Books.

An excerpt:

The Man from Yazoo City


Up today, my Uncommon Knowledge interview with the governor of Mississippi, Ricochet’s own Haley Barbour. Just go to the right hand side of the Ricochet homepage, scroll down until you see a picture of the governor and me, and then click. You’ll be transported to National Review Online, where Uncommon Knowledge first appears.

Beginning with tomorrow’s segment, the governor starts throwing punches. Today, though, he and I engage in a kind of warmup round, discussing his political origins. Which are pretty amazing. Haley Barbour chose to become a Republican activist at a time when Republicans accounted for only six percent of Mississippi voters.