Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to Download Videos from YouTube, Google Video,, MySpaceTV and More

Simple: Go here, and enter the video's URL.

Note: To view the resulting file, you'll need a FLV player, many of which are freely available online.

See also Vixy.

Update (10/1/07): Thanks to Dave Almacy for alerting me to Zimzar, a Web site that, for free, converts videos from all the major video sites.

Update (10/4/07): Todd Ziegler recommends Keepvid.

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Quote of the Day

"I think she'd make a much better First Lady than Bill Clinton."

Fred Thompson, on his wife, Jeri.

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What a Post-9/11 Mentality Should Be

9/11 need not have “changed everything,” as President Bush is fond of saying.

Rod Long clarifies the pre-9/11 mentality:

Why didn't more of us . . . abandon our way of thinking in response to 9/11? Because . . . . [w]e've been saying for decades that the U.S. government's arrogant interventions around the world have only been increasing the risk of blowback. . . . The 9/11 attacks simply corroborated our "pre-9/11 mindset."

Tom Friedman recasts the 9/12 mentality:

We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy.

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The Daily Digest

Maureen Dowd reviews Rudy's performance at the recent NRA conference.

Shorter David Broder: Newt is good for America. Shorter Debra Saunders: But not as a politician.

Yesterday, the Council for National Policy issued a resolution that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate [i.e., Rudy] we will consider running a third party candidate.” The NYT's David Kirkpatrick reports (see also WorldNetDaily and Salon), "The group making the threat . . . includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for [the] written resolution."

George Will poses 17 questions for Obama. For example: "You advocate leaving in Iraq 'some' U.S. forces for three missions—fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. forces conducting those two missions. . . . What is your estimate of the numbers required by your policy? How, and in consultation with whom, did you arrive at your estimate? As to fighting terrorists but not insurgents—how would soldiers and Marines tell the difference? If, while searching for terrorists, they make contact with insurgents, would your rules of engagement call for a full-force response? You say all 'combat brigades' should be out of Iraq 'by the end of next year.' Even if al-Qaeda is still dangerous? Who, after the end of next year, will protect U.S. noncombat forces that you say 'will continue to protect U.S. diplomats and facilities' and to 'train and equip' Iraqi forces?"

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Big Christian Brother

Earlier this week, Jonathan Martin reported that the Arlington Group has soured on Fred Thompson:

It is Thompson's stance on gay marriage that is likely to deny him any unified backing from . . . the umbrella coalition of almost every major social conservative group in the GOP constellation.

What about Thompson's stance so angers social conservatives? Simple: In keeping with his federalist lodestar, he opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and instead favors letting states decide.

But for religious conservatives, that’s not enough. "It’s just not going to happen now," [Paul] Weyrich said of Arlington Group backing for Thompson, noting that "a lot of people who had intended to support him pulled back."

Translation: The religious right couldn't care less about federalism, a building block both of conservatism and of the Constitution. When it comes to reproductive rights or gay rights or even euthanasia, federalism goes out the door and federalization comes in with a vengeance.

Related: "Federalism Should Extend to Marijuana Raids."

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Larry Craig, Meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Related: "Despite Denials, Gays Insist They Exist, if Quietly, in Iran."

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Your Dream Job

Intern at iWeb Strategies. iWeb Strategies is an online political consulting firm that helps campaigns and organizations build complete online programs using the perfect mix of communications, grassroots and fundraising.

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How to Say "No Comment"

"We will not be responding to your six-page laundry list of questions, which is full of inaccuracies and biased innuendo. . . . Tell your sources and allies at the Democrat Party we send our regards."

Ryan Annison, spokesman for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Crowdsourcing: The Next Big Thing

Here's the winning entry of Mitt Romney’s ad contest:

I agree wholeheartedly with Patrick Ruffini, who calls this

the best television ad for any candidate of any part so far this election. And it was created not by some big media consultant by Ryan Whitaker, a 23-year old student from Provo, Utah.

The raw footage, music, and speechifying was provided by the Romney media team. But it’s mixed together better than anything the campaign has released so far. It’s also head and shoulders above most of the other entries, showing that Ryan has a real eye for this kind of stuff—something that only an initiative like this could have brought out.

This is the spirit of crowdsourcing taken to a new level. Most organizations do user-generated content to get some free press or motivate supporters—but don’t expect the end product to be anything they can use in any strategic way. This is different, and a bar-raiser.

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Free Burma

A video obtained by CNN shows Burmese soldiers beating a demonstrator

Since President Bush tightened sanctions against Burma earlier this week, American news organizations are again taking an interest in this isolated Asian country. Here's a short essay I wrote in college on the Free Burma movement:

Exiled Burmese are using the Internet to “free Burma,” as the bumper stickers say. Using chat rooms, ListServs and Web sites, people keep one another informed and recruit new support. As one book notes, “Technology has internationalized the struggle . . . open[ing] up new avenues for” resistance.

The Internet is also important as a psychological buttress. As one activist remarked, “No feeling is more powerful than to know that you are not alone in your fight for justice.” Indeed, very few of us have the courage of that unknown rebel in Tiananmen Square, standing alone to block a column of Chinese tanks in 1989.

Activists have also hit Burma where it hurts the most: The wallet. Taking cues from the campaign against South African apartheid in the 80s, and, before that, in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the 60s, such “selective purchasing” aims at crippling the Burmese economy by curtailing crucial foreign investment and thus isolating Burmese markets.

In one famous example from 1995, a handful of undergraduates persuaded Harvard to reject a contract with Pepsi, which did business in Burma with the regime’s approval. It took two years, but ultimately these students persuaded Pepsi to leave Burma. Similar grassroots efforts swayed Walt Disney, Eddie Bauer, and Liz Clairborn, as well as two-dozen cities across America, and culminated in a 1997 federal ban on new investments in Burma by American companies.

Indeed, given our interconnectedness and interdependence today, few businessmen want to invest in an unstable economy, held together by a dictatorship. Such nonviolent activism epitomizes what Ayn Rand called the “power of the dollar.”

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FreedomWorks: The Conservative

The Politico reports that FreedomWorks plans to invest more than $1 million over the next 18 months in order to expand its e-mail list to one million people. The list currently has 142,000 addresses, and FW says it boasts 830,000 members, so this goal is doable.

Indeed, while I dinged FW last month for sloppy writing, its latest e-mail, "Do Green Laws Create Jobs?," was excellent. The subject line was catchy; the text was short, informative, hyperlinked and well-written; and, best of all, the e-mail contained an "embedded" YouTube video.

What's more, FW maintains an official Facebook group, and its Web site, while cluttered, is comprehensive.

To be sure, I think FW's YouTube account is boring, and its blog lacks any bookmarking functions. Yet with the recent hire of Peter Suderman as a blogger and videographer, with Dick Armey at the helm, Chris Kinnan heading up new media and Brendan Steinhauser doing grassroots work, I'm optimistic.

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It's Official: Newt Won't Run

Mike Allen grabs the scoop:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) decided Saturday morning not to run for president just as his staff was preparing to launch a Web site to seek $30 million in pledges, his spokesman told the Politico.

Well, duh.

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The President, Candidates, Pundits and Reports on Iraq

Slate keeps innovating:

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ATTN: College Students: Win Beer Money

If you're a college blogger, the America's Future Foundation wants you.

In order to "encourage original liberty-minded blogger journalism on college campuses," AFF has announced a contest for the best college blog, open to all undergrad and graduate students age 25 and younger. The grand prize: $10,000.

To enter, visit before December 31. AFF will choose 10 finalists, whose blogs will be tracked between January and April by a panel of renowned bloggers. The winner will be announced on April 7, 2008.

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The Problem of Vetoing S-CHIP

Time contextualizes the p.r.:

The president who has famously never vetoed a spending bill is suddenly concerned with an increase that amounts to 2.4% of the $933 billion budget he requested for fiscal 2008. The man who created the $140 billion Medicare prescription drug program is threatening to veto a bill that would grow state children's health care programs by $35 billion. And out of the blue Bush is suddenly talking entitlement reform again, two years after his push to overhaul Social Security died.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Conservative Course Catalog

Would you take a class on diplomacy taught by Ann Coulter? How about one on marriage by Newt Gingrich? How to shape press coverage by Scotter Libby? Airport restroom etiquette by Larry Craig?

Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, wants you to write a snarky college course description for right-wingers. The best entry will receive a $250 gift certificate for books. You need not be a student to enter.

Examples to get you started:

Political Science 312: Military Operations and Winning the Peace
Instructor of Record: Donald Rumsfeld

In this advanced seminar, students will learn that the best way to take the fight to the enemy is to attack a country that didn’t attack you, send in forces you didn’t properly equip, and seek to occupy a country of 27 million people with 130,000 troops and no plans whatsoever. Goodness gracious, me oh my! Other topics will include running a prison with panache; using no-bid contracts to increase quality; and “listening to America,” with a special guest speaker from the National Security Agency.

Political Science 254: International Institutions and Getting to No
Instructor of Record: John Bolton

A very wise man once said that the U.N. Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories, and if you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. This course will explore whether it might not be better to lose all 38. Grounded in diplomatic nuance and sophistication, course topics will include: blustering while paying no dues; which peoples are the most contemptible; “I can’t hear you!”; better spiteful than safe; and being suspicious of everyone, even your hamster. I don’t suffer fools gladly, so fools should register for something else.

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Your Dream Jobs: Flack for Drs. Coburn or Burgess

1. Senator Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK). Candidates must have outstanding written and verbal communications skills, 3-5 years experience in communications (Capitol Hill or campaign experience preferred), Web experience, a demonstrated commitment to limited government, and sound instincts. Day-to-day responsibilities will include writing op-eds, press releases and speeches, scheduling interviews, managing Web site, updating press lists, and editing constituent correspondence. Oklahoma background preferred. Send resume and writing samples to John Hart. No phone calls please.

2. Communications Director for Congressman Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX-26). Candidate will have previous press/communications experience, excellent written, verbal, and organizational skills, an understanding of major issues and politics, and the ability to handle multiple tasks and projects. Responsibilities include developing and implementing a communications strategy, writing press releases and statements, drafting speeches, creating talking points, responding to media inquiries and pitching stories, producing monthly e-newsletters, managing website, maintaining press database, and coordinating Tele-Town Halls. Previous Hill experience preferred but not essential if the candidate has a strong, relevant background in communications/press relations. Salary is commensurate with experience. Submit cover letter, resume and brief writing sample to Please type “Communications Director” in the subject line. No phone calls, faxes or drop-offs please.

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John Berthoud: Friend of Freedom and Friend of Mine

The e-mail arrived yesterday at 7:19 pm. It was titled, "Cancellation: September Party at John's House," and the first sentence struck me like a sharp gust of wind: "We are sorry to announce the passing of John Berthoud."

What!? I had seen John just last night, at the E Street Theater for the premier of The Call of the Entrepreneur. In fact, as we walked into the movie room along with a couple of NTU colleagues, the theater was so packed that we couldn't find a group of seats together. John's solution: he found an open seat, and instead of availing himself of it, said I should take it.

Later, at the after-party, I found myself chatting with NTU's newest employee, who had just finished her third day. As John was leaving, he stopped by, and our last exchange went like this: "You know," I said, "It's pretty cool to have a boss who not only hangs out with you after work, but who's also cool enough to be someone you want to hang out with." John's reply: "Dude, the job's already been filled."

This was John: selfless and dependable, witty and fun.

Whenever we took a taxi somewhere, John insisted that he pay. As he once e-mailed me, "You're a poor indigent 20-something, so I'll cover the cab."

Another e-mail captures the same sentiment. "Amigo— I'm going to pop by this party on Water Street this evening. Want my Red Top [Cab] chauffeur to swing by and pick you up?" I said yes, but asked if we could leave 15 minutes earlier. "Anybody who—post-college—can swim a 200 free in two fricking minutes clearly shouldn't be left tapping his fingers,” he wrote back.

Similarly, at the happy hours we both frequented, it was not unusual for John, finding his drink running low, to ask whatever circle of people he was in what he could bring them back from the bar. There was no ulterior motive; there was even no expectation of reciprocity. This was unqualified generosity—a happiness to be in the company of others, to meet new people and to enjoy life as it came.

I met John when I worked a few blocks away from NTU, in Old Town, Alexandria. We were just acquaintances until about six months ago, when we realized that a woman he had dated was the same one who got me my first job. After that, we became fast friends, both firmly believing in limited government and living a few minutes away from one another in the Clarendon section of Arlington.

You wouldn’t know it if you didn’t ask, but John was not only an advocate, having run NTU for the past 11 years, but also a scholar, having received a PhD from Yale and taught at George Washington University. Indeed, the fight for freedom lost a major figure yesterday, and I lost a great buddy.

Update: Tributes: Jon Henke, Rob Bluey, CAGW, David Keating, Mike Krempasky, ALEC, Mary Katherine Ham, Mike Pence.

Update: From Maria Berthoud:

Reading the funny stories that some of you shared here about John made me smile (which has been hard to do for the past 24 hours), because so many of you captured his dry wit and humor perfectly, and everyone captured his passion and dedication to his work. Although John and I have been divorced for five years, the 10 years we spent together made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the time I had with John. Besides being the man I loved, and will always love, John was also my first real mentor in the work world, and there is no one I respected more, as his dedication to his work was immeasurable. But as his brother Charlie mentioned, so many people didn't know the other side of John—his family, and how much he loved his brothers and their wives and children, and his mother and late father. His family meant the world to him. Those in the conservative movement lost a true hero yesterday, but his family lost a beloved member. I cannot imagine what the holidays will be like this year for his family without John's presence. God bless his wonderful family, and God bless John, an absolutely amazing man that I was lucky enough to have had in my life for so long, and known so well. Goodbye for now JEB.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Newt Isn't Running

On the inauguration of Solutions Day, Matt Lewis reviews the reasons no one is certain whether Newt will run or not (emphasis added):

One DC insider reminds me that longtime Gingrich adviser Rich Galen is currently advising another presidential candidate [Fred Thompson]. While purely an “inside baseball” argument, allowing a top-aide to work for another candidate, I’m told, is a tell-tale sign Newt has never really been serious about running.

Yet another source points to an interview Gingrich conducted earlier this year with Dr. James Dobson in which he discussed his past personal peccadilloes. This attempt to put his prurient past behind him, this source argues, is proof-positive a Gingrich candidacy has always been a fait accompli. (After all, why endure an auto de fe for no reason?)

Another cynical but commonly held view is that Newt’s coquetry with running has always been a gimmick, designed to sell books, promote this conference, and ensure the former Speaker of the House continues to be invited as a regular guest on Fox News.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Berlin Synagogue Reopens

After a lavish restoration, Germany's biggest synagogue, on Rykestrasse in Berlin, reopened last week. The synagogue was set ablaze on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938.

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Is This Presidential Enough, Mr. Romney?

Newt Gingrich is frustrated for what passes as debate among the presidential candidates. He thinks they amount to "a recitation of talking points choreographed to avoid any risk." Or as the NYT recently put it,

This campaign has turned into a mind-numbing blur of 90- and 120-minute debates and forums that has consumed the Democratic candidates in particular. They are trudging from coast to coast at the beck and call of television networks, unions, state political parties and whoever else may want to throw them together on stage in front of a television camera and a blinking red and green light.

Newt's solution: a series of Lincoln-Douglas-like debates, where the answers are as long as they need to be and the conversation is open-ended.

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Quote of the Day

"[H]e's a machine calibrated to say whatever is most likely to emerge from a focus group of Republican primary voters."

Reason's Jesse Walker, on Mitt Romney.

No hat tip, Soren?

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Your Dream Jobs: At the Reason Foundation

1. Web Editor. is a new online project of the Reason Foundation dedicated to advancing the message of free minds and free markets through video journalism and related multimedia productions.

2. Media Relations Specialist. Implement public relations and outreach efforts targeted at news media, trade publications and Web sites. Assist in developing communication, messaging strategies and with media events, prepare media lists, track media coverage and write news releases.

3. Editorial Writer at the Colorado Springs Gazette. "Looking for a libertarian thinker who can consistently write distinctive, persuasive editorials for our daily newspaper and online in tune with our philosophy of (a) respect for the individual, (b) limited government, (c) free markets, and (d) free trade."

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Daily Digest

"What [Larry] Craig did in that men's room isn't an offense," observes Frank Rich. "He didn't have sex in a public place. He didn't expose himself. His toe tapping, hand signals and 'wide stance' were at most a form of flirtation. As George Will has rightly argued, if deviancy can be defined down to 'signaling an interest in sex,' then deviancy is what 'goes on in 10,000 bars every Saturday night in our country.'"

Dana Milbank (whose new book hits bookstores in January) retorts Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "'Our people are the freest people in the world,' said the man whose government executes dissidents, jails academics and stones people to death. 'The freest women in the world are women in Iran,' he continued, neglecting to mention that Iranian law treats a woman as half of a man. 'In our country,' judged the man who shuts down newspapers and imprisons journalists, 'freedom is flowing at its highest level.' And if you believe that, he has a peaceful civilian nuclear program he wants to sell you."

Of Ahmadinejad's visit, Reason's Jesse Walker concludes, "For a few days in September, the president of a repressive . . . regime actually had to engage his critics." The disappointing (though perhaps inevitable) part, as Anne Applebaum points out, is that "[i]nstead of debating freedom of speech in Iran, here we are once again talking about freedom of speech in America."

Michael Kinsley continues his pursuit of transparency in the intersection of politics and religion: Every candidate claims that God is a personal adviser and inspiration, so "I want to know what God is telling them—just as I would want to know what Karl Rove was telling them if they claimed him for an adviser. If religion is central to their lives and moral systems, then it cannot be the candidates' 'own private affair.' To evaluate them, we need to know in some detail the doctrines of their faith and the extent to which they accept these doctrines."

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Fred on Flickr

Fred's new-media team is making terrific use of Flickr.

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Your Dream Jobs

1. Director of Digital Public Relations at 360i. Lead and supervise PR and social-media efforts for both 360i and clients.

2. Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Aspen Institute. Newly created position; responsible for the day-to-day operation of the department.

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Quote of the Day

"I have nothing to start with, so we'll go to questions. Does anyone have a question? (Laughter.) If not, I've got plenty of other things to do."

—White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

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What You Don't Know About

Matt Bai reminds us:

  • It's been around for almost 10 years.
  • It was founded to oppose the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
  • There are about as many senior-citizen members as there are 20-somethings. In fact, the largest single chunk of MoveOn members are in their 40s or 50s.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

The Revolution Will Be Texted?

Newsweek spotted the trend back in August 2006:

As bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform on stage this month, representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund will peddle their policy, encouraging people in the crowd to use their cell phones to send the text message "MABO"—for Move America Beyond Oil—to a special number, or short code. The phone numbers of text-messagers will be compiled with specialized software, and NRDC Action Fund will follow up with those enthusiastic texters to enlist support for its MABO petition, which lobbies for specific policies aimed at reducing American oil dependence.

While NRDC Action Fund is ahead of the tech game here in the United States, text messaging, or SMS (for Short Message Service), in politics is hardly new elsewhere in the world. Opponents of Philippine President Joseph Estrada mobilized their supporters via text message as early as 2001, and a massive texting campaign was credited with boosting youth turnout in Spain's 2004 presidential elections. More recently, Mexico's president-elect Felipe Calderón launched millions of text messages in the days immediately preceding his narrow win over Andres Manuel Lopez Obradór.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Why I'm a Joe Biden Fan

Because he refuses to pander or demagogue, but declares uncomfortable truths with clarity, cogency and humor. From last night's debate:

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Find Your Social Media Score

Is your organization ready? Answer these 12 questions.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Your Dream Job

Web Developer at the David All Group. "We’re particularly looking for someone aggressive, creative and willing to take a risk through technology to make a real difference. Experience with PHP/MySQL/XHTML required. Experience with Javascript preferred." Send resume and online portfolio to Joe Mansour.

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Don't Fear Wikipedia. Embrace It

It's far better to roll up your sleeves and engage this new world than to shy away from it. An editorial in this week's PR Week explains:

[W]hile it may seem comforting to cast off Wikipedia as an untrustworthy source of information, its Google rank, usage statistics, and place in the contemporary lexicon prove that it's a widely visited, widely disseminated site. The only way to survive there is to use the discussion feature, enlist unaffiliated advocates (by appealing to their interest in the truth), and get to a place where the facts are right and the opinions are fair.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Newest Obama Girl Video

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Monday, September 17, 2007

The Daily Digest

The school-choice movement has found a home in New Orleans, which, in the wake of Katrina, has become a magnet for innovation.

Michael Tanner paraphrases Randolph Bourne for Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson: "It's hard to be a small-government conservative while favoring more widespread military intervention. War is a big-government program.

Radley Balko explains to Rudy and Fred why you can't be both a federalist and drug warrior: "If ever there were an issue for which federalism would seem to be an ideal solution, it’s the medical marijuana issue, which touches on crime, medical policy, privacy and individual freedom—all the sorts of values-laden areas of public policy that states are best equipped to deal with on a case-by-case basis, and for which a one-size-fits-all federal policy seems particularly clunky and ill-suited."

Obama's new-media team is innovating with LinkedIn.

Alexa is no longer the gold standard for measuring Web site traffic. I prefer Compete.

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Your Dream Job

Program Manager at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Seeking an organized and energetic individual to manage the Think Tanks and New Technologies Project, which will encourage and help Atlas’s think-tank partners to better use YouTube, podcasts and other Web-enabled vehicles to disseminate ideas.

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The Art and Influence of Pedagogy

Last month, I posted the text of a nomination I wrote for one of my favorite teachers, Al Kelly. The timing was coincidental, since a few days ago I received the 2007-08 edition of Hamilton's "viewbook," which it sends to prospective students and alumni, and which contains a wonderful essay by Professor Kelly on the art of pedagogy. Here's an excerpt (it's not online):

I've learned that what sticks with students could never get into my notes: the way I think about things; the way I bring facts to bear; the way I call the obvious into question; the way I read; the way I tear apart a sentence; the way I try to jolt them into seeing the world differently. The students can look up the Ems Dispatch. But I flatter myself that they cannot look up any of those really important things that I try to teach them. If I do my job well . . . I lead them along the path from what can be Googled into the land of what cannot be Googled. . . .

What long-term effects do I want my history teaching to have on my students? I'd like them to have a hard head and a soft heart. I'd like them to be wise; to maintain perspective; to puncture fatuous claims of novelty; to write with skill and grace; to judge only after they have empathized; and to develop what the Germans learned the hard way to call "civil courage." Faced—God forbid—with a totalitarian regime, my former students would, I hope, be among the first arrested.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If you don't like what's going on, don't get in your car and drive by your school board and maybe drive by the capitol and get on an airplane and fly to Washington and say, 'I don't like the way the school down the street is being run.'"

—The ever-quippy Fred Thompson, on why education should be a state rather than a federal issueeven though he voted to do the exact opposite in 2001 via No Child Left Behind.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Admitting Ignorance Is Admirable

But not when the questions concern policy and you're running for president of the United States. Jonathan Martin reports on Fred Thompson's visit to the Sunshine State:

Taping a television interview for a Tampa-area news channel after his appearance at the Villages, a still-sweaty Thompson offered little when asked two questions by the St. Petersburg Times’s Adam C. Smith that nearly every presidential candidate who has touched down on Florida soil this year has faced—property insurance and Terri Schiavo.

He effectively punted on both, saying that he knew that the hurricane-induced insurance crunch is “an issue,” but that he didn’t “know enough about it yet.”

The matter of whether Congress was right to intervene to save the life of Schiavo was even worse, as Thompson said didn’t “know all the facts surrounding that case.”

“That's going back in history,” he added of the 2005 controversy, forcing his campaign to later plead with the Associated Press to change their characterization of Thompson’s answer from not having an opinion to not offering one.

Ryan Sager elaborates:

"Local matters generally speaking should be left to the locals," he told the Times. "I think Congress has got an awful lot to keep up with. ... I don't know all the facts surrounding that case, I can't pass judgment on it. I know that good people were doing what they thought was best. ... That's going back in history. I don't remember the details of it". . . .

On the way to the next location, I asked the Thompson campaign to clarify. A campaign spokesman, Jeff Sadosky, offered this: "While he believes in the sanctity of life, he also believes that it was a decision for the family to make under state law, so there was no role for the federal government to play." Later, on the bus, he added: "Congress has better things to do with their time."

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Do Pursue

Most people think the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy means that if you don't announce that you're gay, you can keep your job. But in practice, William Saletan documents, if you don't tell, the military can—and often does—investigate and interrogate you until you're forced to tell.

Margaret Witt, a major in the Air Force Reserve, is in the process of being discharged for lesbianism. How did investigators find out she was gay? An anonymous tip. They tracked down her former partner, a civilian, and got the woman to admit that she and Witt had lived together. When they interrogated Witt, she confessed. If she hadn't, they could have prosecuted her for "false official statements" and imprisoned her for five years. Last fall, a federal judge conceded that Witt had "served her country faithfully and with distinction" and "did not draw attention to her sexual orientation." Nevertheless, he concluded, she had no constitutional grounds to contest her discharge. If you don't tell, they make you tell.

Six years ago, the Army kicked out Alex Nicholson, an interrogator, under DADT. How did he disclose his homosexuality? He mentioned it in a letter to a friend—in Portuguese. A colleague found the letter, translated it, and outed him. "Nobody asked me if I was gay and I wasn't telling anyone," says Nicholson. "You would think that a private letter that you had written in a foreign language would be sufficiently safe." But you would be wrong.

Last year, the Army discharged Bleu Copas, a sergeant, from the 82nd Airborne. The basis? Anonymous e-mails. The first time superiors asked Copas whether he was gay, the context was informal, and he denied it. The next time, they put him under formal interrogation—"Have you ever engaged in homosexual activity or conduct?"—and he refused to answer. Eventually, to avoid prosecution for perjury, he gave in.

Four days ago, the Stockton, Calif., Record reported the recent expulsion of Randy Miller, a paratrooper who served in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne. His offense? Being in a gay bar—and rejecting a proposition from a fellow soldier, who apparently retaliated by reporting him to the Army. Like Witt, Miller admitted his homosexuality, but only under interrogation. If you don't tell, they make you tell.

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Uncomfortable Questions

Recently, I posed a bunch of questions for the candidates. The questions were a way to trip up these presidential hopefuls, to make them squirm—and to think on their feet. Happily, at least vis-a-vis the Democrats, Bill Maher did just that earlier this week:

Here's the transcription, via the Boston Globe:

1. Which would you honestly say is more likely to contribute to the death of your average American: A terrorist strike or high-fructose corn syrup and air that has too much coal in it?

2. Why should Americans vote for someone who can be fooled by George Bush?

3. Since 1980, the percentage of Americans who are obese has risen steadily to an all-time high, and a recent report by Trust for America's Health said things were getting worse. In addition, SAT scores have declined and 38 percent of fourth-graders are

4. If the Ten Commandments constitute our greatest source of morality, why is it there no commandments saying do not rape, do not torture, or do not commit incest, yet there are commandments against swearing, working on Sunday, and making statues to other gods?

5. What criticism would you apply to the voters? Do you think they're fair with you guys? Are they fickle? Are they shallow? Do they make informed choices? Do they pay attention to the right things? Do you ever, on the real now, feel like we're spoiled brats who can't take the truth and have to be lied to?

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Picture of the Day

NZ can program, he can coalition-build, and he can take pictures:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Most Trafficked Conservative Web Sites

A quick-and-dirty study:

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Blogging Will Continue to Be Light...

... for the foreseeable future.

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