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Duncan Hunter is a Scary Man

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 3:15 PM EDT

dhunter.jpeg I'll just say this about Duncan Hunter— the man could not more be hawkish. At one point in his speech here at FRC's Washington Briefing, he promised more preemptive wars without even bothering to explain why or with whom, saying only that they might be necessary. And almost completely out of the blue, he said, "That little country, that little postage stamp called Israel, has stood by the United States on every major security issue in the Middle East. They should not give back an inch of their land." The room absolutely erupted in cheers—one woman literally jumped up and down. I guess I was unaware of how important Israel is to this community. I wonder why no other candidate has mentioned it.

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China's CO2 Output Fueled By Us

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 2:00 PM EDT

5293336_4e517670cf_m.jpg I've wondered about this for a while, as it becomes all too easy to blame China and do nothing ourselves. Now we learn that one quarter of China's greenhouse gas emissions are produced making goods exported to the West. The report by the UK's Tyndall Centre worked with 2004 data, the latest available. The percentage may well be higher now. The authors concluded: "The extent of 'exported carbon' from China should lead to some rethinking by government negotiators as they work towards a new climate change agreement."

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Tort Reform Brings More Doctors to Texas, But Only for Rich People

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 1:44 PM EDT

In 2003, Texas voters approved a ballot initiative known as Proposition 12 that helped radically restrict state residents' ability to sue doctors or nursing homes that killed or injured them. Insurance company lobbyists had claimed doctors were fleeing the state because of lawsuits and high malpractice insurance premiums, threatening access to care. Proposition 12 was supposed to fix all that. Not only would doctors rush to Texas for its friendly legal climate, but, supporters claimed, obstetricians would move en masse to the 152 poor, rural Texas counties that had no ob/gyn to deliver local babies.

The New York Times recently declared Prop 12 a huge success because doctors (ob/gyns in particular) are supposedly flocking to Texas now that they don't have to worry about getting sued. One thing the Times didn't point out, though, was that the number of those new ob/gyns who've moved to rural, underserved Texas is exactly zero.
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The Texas Observer this month crunched the numbers, and came to the not-so-startling conclusion that while there may be more doctors in Texas thanks to tort reform, virtually all of them moved into the state's richest suburbs, which were already well-stocked with highly paid specialists. As it turns out, doctors don't shun the Texas sticks because of lawsuits but because they'd just rather live closer to Starbucks and their golfing buddies.

Thompson Speaks With Substance. What?

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 12:56 PM EDT

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In the speech he just gave to the assembled Christian politicos, Fred Thompson bucked the trend by actually laying out some positions and issue ideas. Revolutionary idea for a presidential candidate...

Mixed with a certain degree of pablum (Examples: "We live in the greatest country in the history of the world. Our obligation is to do everything we can to keep it that way." "We must pass good laws. We must stop bad laws."), Thompson took strong positions on the following issues: (1) Unborn babies. (2) Courts. (3) Gays. (4) National debt. (5) "Global conflict with radical Islam."

Those positions were: (1) Save 'em. When Fred Thompson saw the sonogram of his youngest daughter, he knew he could never be anything but pro-life.

(2) Stop 'em. "Too often, it is our judicial branch of government that violates our approved law." (I thought that was called a check and/or balance?) Courts make our social and cultural rules, Thompson argues, and that's just wrong. We need more judges like Chief Justice John Roberts.

(3) Don't let 'em marry. No elaboration needed.

(4) Fight it. We're leaving near-fatal levels of national debt to future generations, who are too young to have a seat at the table during this discussion.

(5) Win it. Duh.

I'll add three things. Because I like numbering, apparently.

More On How The Weak Dollar Jacks Up the Price of Oil

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 12:40 PM EDT

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Yesterday I blogged on how the weak dollar is responsible for roughly $30 of the $90 a barrel of crude has (so far) topped out at. And I'm being doubted by some in our comment section and on Digg. Today, more confirmation from the folks at Bloomberg:

Crude oil breached $90 a barrel in New York for the first time as the dollar traded near a record low against the euro, enhancing the appeal of commodities as an investment....
"The weak dollar is pushing the price higher,'' said Simon Wardell, energy research manager with Global Insight Inc. in London. ``It's hard to see how this is going to turn around quickly.''...
The U.S. currency fell to $1.4302, from $1.4279 yesterday, and traded at a record low of $1.4319 earlier in the day.
A lower dollar makes oil cheaper in countries that use other currencies. In U.S. dollars, West Texas Intermediate, the New York-traded crude-oil benchmark, is up 46 percent so far this year. Oil is up 35 percent in euros, 40 percent in British pounds and 42 percent in yen.

I rest my case.

And for you yahoos who can't understand how this can be possible when they've always heard that the price of gasoline is so much higher in Europe...We're talking about CRUDE OIL, people. A raw commodity. Refined gasoline is indeed more expensive in Europe, because, largely, European governments choose to tax it to pay for roads and schools and health care and to discourage people from buying ridiculously big cars. Now you can argue about whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, but at least argue over the same issue.

Does Barbie Eat Fries?

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 12:14 PM EDT

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Back in June, under fire for marketing junk food to children, McDonalds pledged to become more socially responsible. The company insisted that it didn't need to be regulated by the government. It would do its part to fight the childhood obesity epidemic by producing new advertising that included "healthy lifestyle messages" for kids.

Well, here's what they've come up with: A Barbie on rollerblades in every Happy Meal. The plastic sex-kittens are part of a new promotion to get little girls to consume the 700 calories and 28 grams of fat that are the average Happy Meal. But hey, Barbie is rollerblading!

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Tom Tancredo and the Plight of the Second Tier

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 10:53 AM EDT

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Tom Tancredo has a tough sell here today. He is trying to pitch himself to a crowd that is salivating at the chance to hear McCain, Thompson, Huckabee, and Giuliani speak. In fact, in the lobby of the Hilton Washington earlier this morning, I overheard a girl in her twenties says to her friends, "I keep taking these quizzes on 'Who is your favorite candidate?' And it keeps coming up Tancredo. And I'm like, 'Who are you??'"

Tancredo takes this in stride. He opens his speech with a joke about being a second-tier candidate and by telling a story that goes something like this:

"I went to speak to the NAACP in Detroit recently, and when I got into the cab at the airport, I was wearing jeans, I didn't have an entourage, and I was still eating the sandwich I was eating on the plane. The cab driver asked me, 'What are you doing here?' I said, 'I'm speaking to the NAACP."
He said, 'Why?'
I said, 'Because they asked me to.'
He said, 'Why?'
I said, 'Because I'm running for president of the United States of America.'
And he turned back and looked at me. He paused and said, 'Nah.'"

That joke may not translate onto a blog, but it was pretty funny at the time. Sorry.

Live, From the Most Religious Place in America, It's FRC!

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 10:20 AM EDT

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I'm at the Family Research Council's Washington Briefing, an annual meeting billed on the FRC website as "THE PREMIER VALUES VOTER EVENT OF 2007." It's a collection of America's most politically-savvy evangelical Christians. That means if the rapture occurs today, it's just going to be me and a bench of media members in bad sportscoats.

The day was kicked off with a Sam Brownback book signing. The senator from Kansas is a long-time defender of pro-life and anti-gay positions, and this ought to be his crowd. But yesterday, it was announced that Brownback will likely drop out of the presidential race today. Brownback, tucked amongst booths for groups like Exodus International ("Freedom for a World Impacted by Homosexuality") and PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays), was immediately mobbed by members of the media seeking information on the rumor.

"I'm here for a book signing, folks," he said, taking an exasperated look at the half dozen video cameras and scores of reporters toting laptop bags and notebooks. "I'm making an announcement later today."

Squeezed between members of the media were thirty or so people who actually wanted to get their copies of "From Power to Purpose" signed. A small boy with wire glasses and a buzz cut tired to take a picture of the senator with a digital camera. A convention staffer stopped him, saying "No unauthorized photos. You need a media credential." The kid, a bit shocked, mumbled an apology and began putting his camera back in his pocket when a reporter standing nearby intervened.

"I'll take the picture," he said, reaching for the kid's camera. As the boy got his book signed, the reporter jostled his way to the front of the table to get a picture. Maybe the rapture will take him, too.

Senator Chris Dodd Takes Stand on FISA, Takes On TeleComs

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 2:50 AM EDT

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From Senator Chris Dodd's site (via Wired News, Via Digg, courtesy of Paul Ward, aka dssstrkl—how hip am I?):

The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons.
No more.
I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegally providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.
I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.
Indicate your support for my hold as well as your thoughts on this issue in the comment section below.

Now unfortunately, it seems as though the "comments" section is really just a way for Dodd's campaign to capture email addresses. And this hold is surely a good way to get publicity when you're stuck in the second or third tier. But let's put cynicism aside for the moment. Well done, Senator!

Update: Correntewire suggests a plan of action for Senator Rockefeller, who authored the bill to give them amnesty...

The Great German Immigrant Panic (aka John Derbyshire Is Just Too Aggravating To Ignore)

| Fri Oct. 19, 2007 1:52 AM EDT

Jonathan has a righteous bit of outrage about National Review columnist John Derbyshire's latest inanity (heavens to murgatroid! there are Hispanics in Iowa!) that I can't resist piling on to. About a century ago the Derbyshires of the day were tearing their hair out about the way German immigrants were taking over Upper Midwest towns. In Minnesota, there was much hand-wringing over "Stearns County Syndrome," which consisted of Mueller and Schmidt kids graduating from 8th grade without having learned English.

When I was reporting on Latino immigration in a small town not so far from Storm Lake (10 years ago, by the way--and the town was about 50 percent Latino then, so what's Derbyshire's big news here anyway?), a local church lady told me about how her Norwegian parents used to warn the kids not to hang out with the riffraff from across town. "Back then it was Swedes, today it's the Spanish people," she said. Then she went off to root for the new boys' high school soccer team, 50 percent Mexican kids plus a few Bosnians and Somalis. They made the state tournament that year.