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June 28, 2003

OK, It's Not Me

It had to happen. Going into last night's game the Tribe had played 37 home games and had won 16 of them. I mean, that's not quite half, but it's better than none, which is the number of wins I had seen in my first eight trips to the ballyard this year. The odds were with me, and I finally witnessed a W.

With Burks and Vizquel both out with injuries, and Garcia traded, this is really a punchless lineup that we're fielding these days, so it was good to see the team call up Victor Martinez today. He's been the hottest hitter in all of the minor leagues for a month now, and he can definitely help us. I was feeling pretty good about things until they ripped my guts out this afternoon, losing the game after having a one-run lead with two outs and none on, in the ninth. El Foldo.

June 26, 2003

Dowd and Out

I know they pay her to be as controversial as she is opinionated, but this verbal spit in the face of Justice Clarence Thomas must truly be a new low for Maureen Dowd. I'll have Taranto tell it.

This from James Taranto's Best of the Web Today, Wed. 6/25. (I'm posting this segment in full)

With Extreme Prejudice--II We were skeptical last month when New York Times columnist Bob Herbert suggested that antiblack racism is prevalent at his newspaper. But on today's op-ed page appears powerful evidence that Herbert may have been on to something. Maureen Dowd weighs in on Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the use of racial preferences at the University of Michigan Law School.

Dowd has not a word to say about Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion, or about the dissenting opinions of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. She concentrates on the dissent by Justice Clarence Thomas. She doesn't grapple with his arguments, quoting a mere 35 words from the decision, of which 27 are from a Frederick Douglass quote Thomas used. Instead, Dowd simply throws racial slurs at Thomas, who is black:

What a cunning man Clarence Thomas is.

He knew that he could not make a powerful legal argument against racial preferences, given the fact that he got into Yale Law School and got picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race.

So he made a powerful psychological argument against what the British call "positive discrimination," known here as affirmative action. . . .

The dissent is a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received.

It's poignant, really. It makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race. . . . Maybe he is disgusted with his own great historic ingratitude.

Dowd pretends as if there's no substance to Thomas's argument--she labels his dissent a "therapeutic outburst"--yet she unwittingly illustrates the truth of one of his arguments, namely that racial preferences stigmatize blacks, whether or not they relied on them for advancement. As Thomas puts it:

When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement. The question itself is the stigma--because either racial discrimination did play a role, in which case the person may be deemed "otherwise unqualified," or it did not, in which case asking the question itself unfairly marks those blacks who would succeed without discrimination.

Clarence Thomas graduated from Yale Law School in 1974. Twenty-nine years later, after a distinguished career as a public servant, he is ridiculed in the pages of one of America's more influential newspapers by a colleague who presumes that he was unqualified to gain admission on the merits.

What about Justice Scalia, who joined Justice Thomas's dissent? Is he "barking mad" too? Dowd doesn't say. But then, Scalia is white.

As you read the quotes from Maureen Dowd, ask yourself how those same words would be received if spoken by other, random people...or about other, random people, say, Thurgood Marshall?

Now, I don't know Maureen Dowd personally, so I don't know what she's really like under that snarky, self-satisfied, nasty, smug, elitist bitch exterior. But these words are despicable, even if from,... or especially when from, a national opinion columnist.

My question is this. Will reasonable people on both the left and right denounce her, and/or perhaps suggest she go the way of Jayson Blair? Perhaps the Trent Lott Formula would work. Shame, humiliation, demotion, ridicule. Works for me. Won't it be interesting to find out what the "voice from the left" will say about Maureen Dowd?

UPDATE: Predictable silence from the left, but Eugene Volokh has a take that reminds us that Thomas job is to determine constitutionality, not to express "gratitude".

UPDATE: Sullivan's blurb on the Dowd column.

June 25, 2003

News Flash: Nader Wrong

In an example of good news being ignored by the liberal media if it doesn't serve their agenda, Stephen Moore reports that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation figures showed traffic injury numbers at an all-time low last year. This just doesn't jive with Ralph Nader's predictions of doom from eight short years ago:

In 1995 when the 55-miles-per-hour speed-limit law was repealed, Nader spewed moral indignation. He claimed that "history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life." Joan Claybrook said that there would be 6,400 added deaths per year and "millions of additional injuries on the highways."..

....Since 1995 when the speed limits were raised to 75 and 80 mph in some states, the death rate on the highways has fallen dramatically. It has not risen. The injury rate has fallen too. It turns out the 6,400 additional deaths prediction was a complete fabrication. The 40 states that have raised their speed limits to 65 or above have not seen much difference at all in their injury rates from those states that kept their speed limits at 55. The nation's roads and highways are "safer than ever" proclaims the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Nader groups, you might think would now be forced to eat some crow and admit that they were spreading lies when they claimed a big loss of life from higher speed limits. No. Now they say that what they had predicted was "as many as 6,400 added deaths." Well, I guess, zero is technically "as many as 6,400." But of course, that is like saying that I might hit as many as 75 homeruns in the major leagues this year.

Details on Museum Looting

Perhaps the most thorough reporting on the looting of the Iraqi National Museum by Iraqi civilians that I have seen is this report by Roger Atwood, who spent a week in Baghdad in May interviewing Iraqi officials, U.S. officers, and eye witnesses to the events.

A couple of things seem certain based on this report. First, that the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard had fortified the museum as a military base, and coalition troops were under attack from inside the museum complex when they entered Baghdad, helping to explain why their first priority was not to "secure" the museum's artifacts.

Second, that while the losses were far short of the 170,000 pieces figure originally reported, there were significant losses to looting in this museum and other locations, well above the various "revised" figures ranging from 17 to 33 or so now being reported in the conservative press , a figure now said to be the approximate number of "major" pieces missing.

ABC News also reports on the recovery of the famous Treasure of Nimrud, which was found safe and intact in a flooded bank basement, where it had been stashed in 1990, before Gulf War I.

Long Shadow

He's only going to be a sophomore in high school this fall, but he's already getting attention as a promising quarterback prospect at major colleges. He's at Ohio State's football camp this week, and as he always does, he's answering questions about his famous, and infamous uncle. His name is Miles Schlicter.

Cold War Revisited

It has been 50 years now since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for espionage, and that milestone has generated a look back at June, 1953. Greg Yardley had a piece at Front Page Magazine that reports on a recent "cultural program" on the Rosenbergs in New York City, headlined by Michael and Robert Meeropol, the two sons of the Rosenbergs. It seems that even in the post-Venona era, Rosenberg defenders/apologists remain:

Defenders of the Rosenbergs have always conducted a Janus-like, two-faced defense, ever since the Rosenbergs were arrested. Out of one side of their mouth, they haltingly claim that Julius and Ethel were innocent of their crimes (in direct contradiction of the evidence). Out of the other, they say if the Rosenbergs spied for the Soviet Union, and if they refused to turn in their Communist masters, these were quite forgivable sins - honorable, even, in the face of an 'imperialistic' and capitalist America. They can't adequately deny the Rosenbergs' crimes, nor can they adequately defend them - so they do both at once, hoping to be half-successful twice.

Ron Radosh, a Rosenberg scholar by any standard, co-author of The Rosenberg File, suggests in an Open Letter to the Rosenberg sons that they just give it up.

Why can’t you admit that the Venona decrypts conclusively prove that American Communists were indeed agents of a foreign power? The same decrypts show that your father put together a network of seven primary sources and two active liaison-couriers, as well as three others who carried out support work. All of these people were recruited, as was your father, from the ranks of the American Communist Party. Your father stole top secret military data, including the proximity fuse that years later the Soviets used to shoot down Major Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 plane. Klehr and Haynes refer to the fuse as “one of the most innovative advances of American military technology,” for which Moscow awarded your father a $1,000 bonus in March 1945.

I admit to having a passion for reading about Soviet espionage in the 30's and 40's. Starting about eight years ago with Whittaker Chambers' autobiography, Witness , I became fascinated with Chambers and the Alger Hiss case and subsequently read everything I could get my hands on regarding the Venona decrypts, including The Venona Secrets , by Breindel and Romerstein, the series by Klehr and Haynes , and The Haunted Wood , by Allen Weinstein.

All of that background interest explains why I was knocked out this past weekend, when along comes Robert Novak in The Weekly Standard with a wonderful essay on Harry Truman and The Origins of McCarthyism. Delivering a "message" passed along to him by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Novak's premise is that there is now strong evidence to suggest that the whole nasty spectacle we know as "McCarthyism" might have been avoided had Truman been more forthright about what he knew, as early as 1950, about the Venona decrypts and the proof they contained that, at the very least, Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White were Soviet spies. Moynihan had suggested that Truman's aides had shielded this information from him, but other sources say Truman was briefed early and often, but simply misunderstood or mistrusted the Venona information, or for political reasons, chose to ignore it. Read it all. It's an example of Novak's talents as a reporter and writer, and makes for compelling reading even if you're not an espionage freak like me. Here's a sample:

As Truman told Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, there were "too many unknowns" in the partially decoded Soviet messages. "Even if part of this is true, it would open up the whole red panic again." Truman told Forrestal he could not believe that President Roosevelt could have been taken in by traitors in his midst. At any rate, Truman said he did not believe that Russian penetration of the government could be as widespread as Venona indicated.

In 1950, Bradley informed Truman that Venona had identified two senior U.S. government officials--Alger Hiss at the State Department and Harry Dexter White at the Treasury--as Soviet agents. "The president was most upset and agitated by this," said Bradley. According to Bradley, Truman said: "That goddamn stuff. Every time it bumps into us it gets bigger and bigger. It's likely to take us down." "In the coming decade," the Schecters write, "the nation would pay heavily for Truman's failure to expose Soviet intelligence networks within the United States. By treating the successes of Venona as a 'fairy story,' the president ceded control of the issue of Communist influence in the U.S. government to the political enemies from whom he had hoped to keep it secret. The result turned America inward against itself, creating a paroxysm of name-calling, finger-pointing, and informing on former party members or suspected Communists."

June 24, 2003

Iran Erupts

From a website called The Iranian, a look at the protest that is quickly becoming a revolution. An excerpt:

There are reports of many having been wounded and a few killed by Bassiji vigilante forces, but no sign of the protests slowing down. Also, the protests have now spilled into more areas than the streets around Tehran University. There are rumors that the youth of Naziabad, one of the poorest and traditionally most religious sections of Tehran, have extended their support to the students and offered to do the dirty fighting for them. Even in the well-to-do northern residential areas of town young and old have taken to the streets in support of the uprising.

(Hat tip to BuzzMachine)

June 23, 2003

Off Wing Plug

Eric McErlain has a wide-ranging and well written sports blog called Off Wing Opinion. I've been reading him for a while now, and I find sports stories there that I don't see anywhere else. If you have a minute, check him out.

Sontag Honored

Roger Kimball has some thoughts on an honor received by Susan Sontag from the German book industry. It's appropriate, Kimball says.

June 21, 2003

Looking at LeBron

LeBron James worked out for the Cavaliers on Friday, giving new Coach Paul Silas his first good look at The Kid. Seems he's been working on his outside shot between trips to New York, appearances on MTV, interviews and parties.

UPDATE 6/23: Bill Livingston of the Plain Dealer says it will be LeBron's unselfishness that will be the key to bringing the Cavaliers back to respectability

June 20, 2003

Over The Top

"This republic is at its greatest danger in its history because of this administration," says Democratic senator Robert Byrd.

"I think this is deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America," says liberal commentator Bill Moyers.

David Brooks suggests that "powerlessness corrupts" in his new article, Democrats Go Off The Cliff. He documents much of the loony recent Democrat rhetoric, and says that, while they are anything but insincere, they may be insulating themselves from what mainstream American citizens feel about Bush and the direction of the country. He asks the question that some of us have been asking ourselves: Have they "totally flipped their lids?" Here are a few excerpts, but you really need to read it all.

When conservatives look at the newspapers, they see liberal columnists who pick out every tiny piece of evidence or pseudo-evidence of Republican vileness, and then dwell on it and obsess over it until they have lost all perspective and succumbed to fevers of incoherent rage. They see Democratic primary voters who are so filled with hatred at George Bush and John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney that they are pulling their party far from the mainstream of American life. They see candidates who, instead of trying to quell the self-destructive fury, are playing to it. "I am furious at [Bush] and I am furious at the Republicans," says Dick Gephardt, trying to sound like John Kerry who is trying to sound like Howard Dean.

It's mystifying. Fury rarely wins elections. Rage rarely appeals to suburban moderates. And there is a mountain of evidence that the Democrats are now racing away from swing voters, who do not hate George Bush, and who, despite their qualms about the economy and certain policies, do not feel that the republic is being raped by vile and illegitimate marauders.....

Democratic strategists are trying to put a rational gloss on what is a visceral, unplanned, and emotional state of mind. Democrats may or may not be behaving intelligently, but they are behaving sincerely. Their statements are not the product of some Dick Morris-style strategic plan. This stuff wasn't focus-grouped. The Democrats are letting their inner selves out for a romp.

And if you probe into the Democratic mind at the current moment, you sense that the rage, the passion, the fighting spirit are all fueled not only by opposition to Bush policies, but also by powerlessness.

Republicans have controlled the White House before, but up until now Democrats still had some alternative power center. Reagan had the presidency, but Democrats had the House and, part of the time, the Senate. Bush the elder faced a Democratic Congress. But now Democrats have nothing.

Brooks compares the Democrats' feeling of powerlessness to that experienced by Europe since the Cold War, and suggests that their reactions of animosity, the air of superiority, and paranoia, are similar. He shows how Democrats have lost sight of how they themselves have acted, preferring instead a sanitized view of their own behavior:

In short, when many liberals look at national affairs, they see a world in which their leaders are nice, pure-souled, but defenseless, and they see Republicans who are organized, devious, and relentless. "It's probably a weakness that we're not real haters. We don't have a sense that it's a holy crusade," Democratic strategist Bob Shrum told Adam Clymer of the New York Times. "They play hardball, we play softball," Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile added. Once again, Republicans think this picture of reality is delusional. The Democrats are the party that for 40 years has labeled its opponents racists, fascists, religious nuts, and monsters who wanted to starve grannies and orphans. Republicans saw what Democrats did to Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and dozens of others. Yet Democrats are utterly sincere. Many on the left think they have been losing because their souls are too elevated.

When they look inward, impotence, weakness, high-mindedness, and geniality are all they see.

This is great stuff. Read it all. Really.

BTW, for more Brooks, try his book Bobos in Paradise . Also, his analysis of anti-Americanism among Europeans and Arabs, "Among the Bourgeoisophobes" is another of my favorites. No, I'm not his agent.

VDH - Lessons Learned

Victor Davis Hanson is on the money, as usual. He laments the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" mentality of critics of U.S. involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq:

Americans cannot be blamed for their exasperation.....

...The answer to this dilemma is to accept that whatever we do, we shall be blamed for either too little or too much attention. Such are the inevitable wages of envy and resentment that the successful always earn from the weak and failed....

...we must press ahead, contain our anger, and try to finish the nearly impossible — and absolutely thankless — task of defeating terrorists, and in Afghanistan and Iraq restoring humane government to tyrannized people.

......The Middle East is not static and will not cease its anti-Americanism if left to its own good graces — inasmuch as the conditions that promote terror do not derive from American provocation, but arise out of indigenous pathologies.

As for the theocrats, VDH says they want it both ways; denouncing Western modernity while arranging terrorist attacks by cell phone and Internet. In other words, "walk the walk". Another excerpt:

Second, neither is the Islamic world isolationist. Arabs and Near Eastern Muslims in the millions are desperate to emigrate to the United States and Europe. Fundamentalist clerics, mullahs, and theocrats are free to live within the confines of the Koran and in medieval bliss without their cell phones, antibiotics, glasses, televisions — and sophisticated weapons — that are either imported or indigenously produced on borrowed Western designs. But they do not — and will not.

So the problem is with their hypocritical and vocal leadership, not us — specifically their ambiguous relationship with the West and their creepy desire for Western material comforts, but not the underlying foundations of secularism, gender equity, consensual government, freedom, capitalism, and transparency that alone produce such prosperity. The best way to get America and the West out of millions of Islamic lives is not to burn effigies of George Bush in the Arab Street, but would be for Arab governments to prohibit immigration to the West, to stop importing Western material goods, and to bar decadent Westerners from entering Arab countries.

Any takers? The bitter truth is that the Middle East wants the West far more than the West the Middle East.

I could "excerpt" the whole thing. Just go read it all.

Designated Pessimist

Okay, everybody with hope for mankind take a step forward. Not so fast, Derbyshire.

June 19, 2003

Iran Ignored?

Can't get enough information on what's going on in Iran from traditional media? It seems to me that the budding revolution there is flying under their radar. Here are a few resources that might help:

Iranian blogger Pejman Yousefzadeh wonders why more attention is not being paid to the plight of the Iranian people in this article at TCS. His blog Pejmanesque is another good source of up to date news from Iran, (among other things)

For some background on the situation, try this Heritage Foundation essay , and John Little's Blogs of War site is an excellent clearinghouse type resource, linking to 40-some Iranian bloggers and various other blogs and news sites that have been tracking events in Iran.

Command Post has updated their site to accommodate an increase in interest and information, and opinionjournal.com says that while Bush has supported the Iranian people for some time, it seems as though he has now managed to drag the State Department along behind him.

And of course, Michael Ledeen's latest article is always something to consume as soon as it comes out in pixels.

Andrew Sullivan also wonders why this isn't a bigger story for the news and opinion organs of the left.

Could anyone on the left actually sympathize with the sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic theocrats in Tehran? Of course not. But it seems that many of them hate the American right more than they hate foreign tyranny. A revolution in Iran might serve to cast a better light on President Bush's Middle East policy -- and that's so terrible a possibility that some leftists simply prefer to look the other way.

I mean what principles are worth defending with that kind of downside risk?

New Dan

I'm so out of touch with the popular music scene that I wasn't even aware that Steely Dan had a new CD out until I read this review at NRO the other day. Then a friend clued me that I could listen to the whole thing at the official Steely Dan website. Which I did, about three times through within the last ten hours or so. As my friend Mark said, "it's all about marketing".

As for the music, it's fresh Becker and Fagen, which is good enough for me. If there's a theme, I suppose you'd call it "The New Frontier - Part II", but subtitled "This Time It's The Real Thing". Pessimistic, if not apocalyptic lyrically, but musically as upbeat as ever.

I ordered. Amazon has shipped. Life is good.

Dog Lovers Unite

Krauthammer is really just a big old softie. Who knew? Canine commentary. (Via Oxblog)

June 18, 2003

Jonah on Media

Jonah Goldberg comments on media bias, and does a mini-review of Eric Alterman's book in the process, in this WSJ piece. He suggests that part of Alterman's perspective problem is that he's so far to the left that even the liberal media isn't liberal enough to suit him:

(Alterman) simply dismisses the proven fact that the vast majority of journalists admit they are liberal. When nine out of 10 reporters state in a survey that they voted for Bill Clinton, Mr. Alterman counters that Mr. Clinton wasn't very liberal, and that if he had run for president in, say, Belgium or Germany he'd be considered conservative. That's a debatable point, but it doesn't change the fact that in America the press corps clusters almost entirely at one end of our political spectrum, consistently voting for the most liberal candidate available. If it keeps Mr. Alterman up at night to think that our liberals are to the right of liberal Swedes, let that be his white whale.

As they say, read the whole thing.

June 17, 2003

Bill's Hissy Fit

Someone published something on the Internet about Bill O'Reilly that turned out to be a misrepresentation of the facts. Now Bill is ranting about the problem of people publishing without "restraints":

The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.

To quote Glenn Reynolds, "Well, boo-freakin'-hoo!". Never mind that the untrue factoid originated in a newspaper, it's the Internet that is the problem for celebrity big shots like Bill.

Reynolds has the story, and links to other reaction, the best of which is from James Lileks. , who responds to O'Reilly's statement that "the Internet has become a sewer of slander and libel, an unpatrolled polluted waterway, where just about anything goes." :

And you, Mr. Man of the People, Mr. People of the Man, Mr. Street, Mr. Champion of the Little Guy, Mr. Giving-It-Straight, want the Internet to be patrolled? Note: on most unpatrolled polluted waterways, everything does not go. In such a place things are dumped over the side, and after a moment bobbing unnoticed on the surface, they sink to the bottom.

As a demonstration of the "danger" of the Internet, O'Reilly tries to link an obscure published error about his radio show affiliates to the fact that a Boston child rapist/murderer got the idea for his crime from a NAMBLA website accessed from the library. Lileks responds:

Ergo, we should shut down Massachusetts. Or Boston. Or the library. No? Just the internet? Probably so. I live in fear of the day I visit a website that gives me the idea to abuse and kill a child; I’d be powerless to resist such a command, because I saw it ON THE INTERNET.

And hey, don’t forget that Factor website.

As I suggested in an earlier post, Bill needs to get over himself.

UPDATE: The blogosphere responds. Eugene Volokh's take.

The Jessica Lynch Story

From the Washington Post, a detailed report on the accident, the capture, the rescue, and the aftermath. There's a lot we still don't know, but this makes for compelling reading. Journalism at its best, IMO.

UPDATE, 6/18: Speaking of journalism, everybody wants a piece of the Jessica Lynch story. Landing this interview would be a coup for any news/entertainment organization. As Collin Levey says, who can blame them? It's a compelling story.

UPDATE 6/19: David Adesnik has an informative post on the Lynch story, and media performance on the issue.

UPDATE 6/20: The WSJ weighs in.

June 16, 2003

A Few Of My 15 Minutes?

For me, James Taranto is essential reading five days a week. His Best of the Web Today column, on opinionjournal.com from the Wall Street Journal, summarizes the day's news, complete with links to the full stories, and is peppered with Taranto's own sometimes serious, but often witty and/or sarcastic commentary. This "blog" of his, which really predates the onset of the larger "blogosphere", is read daily by ....well, by a few million more people than read mine. As of today, I'm an even bigger fan of his.

You see, Taranto had the good taste and the infinite wisdom to quote the text of my entire email to him in today's Best of the Web., complete with my name and his humble opinion that I had "put the matter nicely", no less. (Scroll down to the item headed "Checking the Polls -- II").

That Taranto thinks I put something "nicely" is, I suppose, the blogger's equivalent of having Lennon say he likes your song's lyrics, or Sandy Koufax saying you have a pretty good curveball. So I'm flattered. Does it show?

The issue at hand was a poll cited in Friday's BOTW, that purported to show nearly 90% of Hispanics supporting the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Taranto, while agreeing with the majority of those polled on the issue, suggested that the poll seemed biased, as it presented favorable sounding facts and qualifications concerning Estrada, "leading" poll respondents to a positive response to the ultimate question of whether or not they favored confirmation.

I'm inclined to agree that the poll seemed less than impartial. But I felt that the point needed to be made that the public is still waiting to hear one bad thing about Estrada. And today in BOTW, (along with the quote from that astute, but sarcastic reader), the pollster responds, defending his methodology, and making the case that it is not his obligation in polling on this issue to air Democrat talking points.

Anyone who has followed the Estrada case is aware that there is really no legitimate objection to Estrada's confirmation that has been, or can be cited by the Democrats who have thus far refused to allow a vote in the Senate, essentially filibustering to force a 60 vote supermajority to invoke cloture on debate. Their blatant partisanship and obstructionism is as unprecedented in a case of a Circuit Court Judge, as is the nomination of an Hispanic to a judgeship at this level.

Two facts seem to stick in the craw of Democrats as regards Estrada. First, that they must acknowledge that there exists such a thing as an Hispanic conservative, (and a capable and brilliant one at that). And second, that George Bush will forever have the feather in his cap of having nominated the first Hispanic to a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court. At bottom, that is what their objection to Estrada is all about.

Byron York of NRO has covered the Estrada case from the get-go. Read more about it here, and here, and here, and here.

June 15, 2003

AFC North Preview

For anyone starved for Browns or NFL news, John Clayton takes a look at the AFC North Division for the upcoming season. He thinks the Steelers have the edge over their division rivals mostly because of the stability at QB in Tommy Maddox. I agree with his conclusion that the Steelers should win the division, but not with his reasoning. The Steelers are the most talented team in the division overall, but their edge has little to do with the QB position, IMHO. But unless their defensive secondary gets a whole lot better, they are vulnerable to any good passing attack. As for the Browns, I think the defense may be a year away from being good enough to compete with the elite teams.

June 14, 2003


Quotes of the Week are back. Not by popular demand or anything, but just because I saw a few that I liked.

"The reason I like P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde is that they teach you to take frivolous things seriously and serious things frivolously...It's all a complete farce, you understand, we're born into a losing struggle. In the meantime, I think, I must show some contempt and defiance and the best means of doing that that I know are irony and obscenity." (Christopher Hitchens)

The film also had a brief appearance by Madonna; to say she was wooden is to insult trees, which after all do move in the wind and grow over the years. Man, does she look used up. She looks like she’s made entirely of jerky. (James Lileks on seeing the movie "Live Another Day")

the OAS's charter declares that the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy. It does not say the peoples of the Americas except Cubans have the right to democracy. (Colin Powell, in an address to the OAS)

"Living History"...is Hillary's first scratch'n'sniff book. Let me explain. Take a claim in this book, almost any claim, scratch it hard enough and it smells like BS. (Matt Labash, The Weekly Standard)

"This is one of the worst games I've ever been involved in," manager Joe Torre told reporters. "It was a total, inexcusable performance."

It was a total, inexcusable performance. Listening to a Yankees manager speak those words is as stirring for Americans as hearing, "We hold these truths to be self-evident." (Jim Caple of ESPN.com after the Yankees were no-hit the other night)

June 13, 2003

Museum Story Part II

For a few weeks, the Iraqi Museum looting story was the best thing going for the Western liberal press that had opposed the liberation and was grasping for negatives to hype. It was the "crime of the century". Then the story fell apart as it became apparent that something like 33, instead of 170,000 artifacts were in fact missing, and those were likely the product of an "inside job".

Turns out the head of the Iraqi Antiquities commission was a Baath Party official, and he was "angry" about the liberation, so he lied about the extent of the looting, and the western press bought it eagerly and "without an ounce of skepticism" according to Charles Krauthammer. He cites one example of the "deeply satisfying antiwar preening" that the museum looting story provided.

Frank Rich best captured the spirit of antiwar vindication when he wrote (New York Times, April 27) that ``the pillaging of the Baghdad museum has become more of a symbol of Baghdad's fall than the toppling of a less exalted artistic asset, the Saddam statue.''

The narcissism, the sheer snobbery of this statement, is staggering. The toppling of Saddam freed 25 million people from 30 years of torture, murder, war, starvation and impoverishment at the hands of a psychopathic family that matched Stalin for cruelty but took far more pleasure in it. For Upper West Side liberalism, this matters less than the destruction of a museum. Which didn't even happen!

So now that the truth is revealed, do these same naysayers admit their folly? Of course not. They merely change the subject to the supposed "lying" about, or more kindly, the "hyping" of the WMD threat, which is currently the rage among antiwar media types. Krauthammer demolishes the "arguments" put forth by the WMD conspiracy theorists, (and others remind us of who said what in pre-war times). He notes the real purpose served by the media feeding frenzy over the absence of WMD's:

Everyone thought Saddam had weapons because we knew for sure he had them five years ago and there was no evidence that he disposed of them. The WMD-hyping charge is nothing more than the Iraqi museum story Part II: A way for opponents of the war--deeply embarrassed by the mass graves, torture chambers and grotesque palaces discovered after the war--to change the subject and relieve themselves of the shame of having opposed the liberation of 25 million people.

For now though, the issue serves the Left nicely as a club with which to verbally beat George Bush and Tony Blair over the head. That is, until WMD's are found and they are once again proven wrong. I'm all in favor of an evaluation of the intelligence apparatus that generated our information on Iraqi WMD's. But the logical contortions required to buy the notion that Bush willfully deceived the nation about the extent of Saddam's weapons programs are too silly to be taken seriously.

UPDATE: Daniel Henninger thinks that the documentary evidence from 12 years of inspections ought to be enough to convince skeptics who care enough to look at it.

June 12, 2003

Neuheisel Out

University of Washington Football Coach Rick Neuheisel will be fired today, after it was revealed he bet in a NCAA basketball tournament pool. Neuheisel joins Mike Price and Larry Eustachy as high profile coaches fired this spring for "conduct unbecoming".

For me, this is notable mostly because UW is the opening game opponent for the defending National Champ OSU Buckeyes this Fall. There's no love lost for Neuheisel in this corner. He has worn out his welcome with NCAA rules violations or "walked" on contracts for greener pastures a few too many times in his career for me to feel sorry for him.

For strictly partisan reasons, I hope this event has more of a distracting effect on the Huskies team than a motivating one, come August 30 in the Horseshoe.

Ivan Maisel says it's a raw deal.

UPDATE: 6/15; Neuheisel decides to fight for his job.

June 11, 2003

Yankees No-Hit!

Note the exclamation point. I just enjoyed so much writing that headline for whatever it was to be written below it. I caught only the bottom of the ninth of the first time the Yanks have been no-hit in 45 years. I'm not sure if the fact that it was accomplished by six Houston pitchers in interleague play makes it any less sweet. All Yankee losses are good, but this was special. Is this attitude unhealthy?

I know the rivalry extends well back into the pre-Steinbrenner era, with the Indians and Yankees as the two best American League teams of the 50's, with the Tribe being the perrenial also-rans, (except in '54). In other words it wasn't till the Sixties that the Indians got terrible for 30 years or so, and the rivalry between the teams became the haves and the have nots. I watched Mantle, Maris, Richardson, Ford and Pepitone trounce the Tribe all through the 60's. That's where a lot of it comes from.

But for me, the Steinbrenner-factor is now a big part of the whole anti-Yankee thing too. A Cleveland guy who reportedly tried to buy the Indians and then landed the Yankees. No matter what you think of the guy, many Tribe fans I know have sort of a love-hate winning-envy complex about him. We project what it might have been like in Cleveland with Steinbrenner in charge. The good and the bad. The egomaniac along with the World Series titles. I just know that it wouldn't have been boring, losing baseball.

As long as he's in pinstripes though, officially, he's a bum.

And I couldn't help feeling sorry, as the game ended, for the poor guy from the organization was that was going to have to answer for the team to Steinbrenner after the no-hitter tonight. (How long did he have to look to get a General Manager named Cashman anyway?). Maybe he's mellowed in his old age. It's just one game, but those New York players really looked down in that ninth inning. I didn't see any on-camera shots of George.

When the game ended I had a good feeling. Sure, history was made and everything, but it's really about the Yankees losing. It's about as close as I get to experiencing Schadenfreude. (Why do we have no English word for that feeling?) Is there anything wrong with me feeling like that about the New York Yankees? Nobody gets hurt.

Oh, did I mention.....Yankees No-Hit!.....Yankees No-Hit!

UPDATE: ESPN.com's Jim Caple says that the rejoicing is nearly universal. My favorite passage:

Torre must feel miserable. He's taken the Yankees to the World Series five times in seven years, winning four world championships. He's been the man most responsible for the Yankees' return to prominence, a great manager who symbolizes the best New York can offer. And if the Yankees don't turn things around soon, Steinbrenner still will fire him just as soon as he finishes digging up Billy Martin's body.

By the way, this Caple guy is a card-carrying Yankee Hater. Be sure to click on links to several of his various other Yankee-hating columns, and of course the Page 2 List of the Ten Best Moments Ever for Yankee Haters

Noonan on "9/11 Today"

Peggy Noonan has been on hiatus from her weekly column while she writes a book, and I miss reading her every Friday. Today she takes a look at how much our policies, priorities and attitudes stem from the experience of 9/11. Noonan has written movingly of the firemen on that day, and here she comments on an attempt by victims' families to equate all of the deaths of 9/11:

And there is the declaration of the organizations of World Trade Center families-of-victims that there should not be a statue of the firemen at the WTC memorial site. Three hundred forty-three of them died that day, but to commemorate their sacrifice would be "hierarchical." They want it clear that no one was better than anyone else, that all alike were helpless, victims.

But that is not true; it is the opposite of the truth. The men and women working in the towers were there that morning, and died. The firemen and rescue workers--they weren't there, they went there. They didn't run from the fire, they ran into the fire. They didn't run down the staircase, they ran up the staircase. They didn't lose their lives, they gave them.

June 10, 2003

Selective Outrage

Alan Dershowitz illustrates the often bizarre priorities of the academic left with this "What if?". An excerpt:

If a visitor from a far away galaxy were to land at an American or Canadian university and peruse some of the petitions that were circulating around the campus, he would probably come away with the conclusion that the Earth is a peaceful and fair planet with only one villainous nation determined to destroy the peace and to violate human rights.

That nation would not be Iraq, Libya, Serbia, Russia or Iran. It would be Israel.

There are no comparable petitions seeking any action against other countries that enslave minorities, imprison dissidents, murder political opponents and torture suspected terrorists. Nor are there any comparable efforts to silence speakers from other countries.

The intergalactic visitor would wonder what this pariah nation, Israel, must have done to deserve this unique form of economic capital punishment. If he then went to the library and began to read books and articles about this planet, he would discover that Israel was a vibrant democracy, with freedom of speech, press and religion, that was surrounded by a group of tyrannical and undemocratic regimes, many of which are actively seeking its destruction.

Dershowitz suggests we need to ask ourselves some tough questions, as he says, "lest we become the kind of world the visitor would have experienced had he arrived in Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s."

June 9, 2003

A Dog Hit My Car

I say it that way because that's exactly the way it happened, and apparently my car got the worst of the deal. Cindy and I had just left home and were still on our street, doing about 35, when I saw our neighbor walking her two dogs, on leashes as always, on the left side of the road. I had no more than a second's notice, as the dog bolted from the yard to our right across the street to investigate the two animals on the other side. I had no chance at all to brake or swerve, only to brace somewhat for impact as he flashed into my field of vision. I don't think he ever saw the car. The sickeningly heavy thud of dog against car had us fearing the worst, and Cindy, dog lover extraordinaire, gasped and shrieked.

I immediately saw in the rear view mirror that the dog had survived as he ran back into his own yard. We stopped and went back, of course, and found three young children playing in the front yard with an equal amount of adult supervision as had attended the animal. The dog at first seemed to limp a bit, but within a minute was running around as if unhurt. "Mom" wasn't interested enough to come outside and speak with us about what had happened, and it wasn't until we went to leave that we noticed the huge dent in my rear door, just in front of the rear tire. The dog couldn't have weighed over 40 pounds, a stocky but short little mutt, but he came out on top in his encounter with a Toyota Avalon.

As college kids thirty years ago, Cindy and I learned the hard way about training dogs and keeping them on leashes and always safe from traffic, and in all of the years since, we haven't been without a dog for more than a couple of months. As such, we have a pet peeve about people who are careless about their dogs' well being. The owners of this dog couldn't have abused that animal any more if they had beaten him with a lead pipe. I heard someone say once that the best thing that can happen to a dog is to get hit by a car and survive without serious injury. This one probably learned its lesson. Would that the owners did too.

The Hillary Factor

Andrew Sullivan weighs in on Hillary. Even if you're (already) sick of Hillary talk, this is well worth reading in full.

June 7, 2003

French Sophistication?

Interesting story from Glenn Reynolds' correspondent in Paris. Violence and destruction reign in the center of sophistication, diplomacy and pacifism.

The story, which isn't getting much attention outside of France, is that the trade unions' protests over the government's pension reform scheme have become outrageously violent, and France is in chaos.

The scale of the lawlessness and thuggery would generate endless anguished editorials in the English-language press if France were Iraq, and if somehow the United States could be blamed for it. The demonstrators have barricaded roads and railway tracks, ransacked and occupied administrative buildings, set fires, reversed over one another with their cars, sealed off city centers, emptied garbage onto the streets and rendered public transportation throughout the country unusable. Air traffic has been brought to a halt. Demonstrators cut off power lines at the Gare de Lyon. Tourists have been stranded everywhere.

Follow the links on the Instapundit post, or see additional first-person accounts and comment and analysis from David Carr, and Gabriel Syme from Samizdata, and from Sylvain Galineau, of ChicagoBoyz

Den Beste has an excellent look into the French mindset on labor and economics.

Incidentally, the reason for this mayhem? The government proposes to increase the number of years required for public workers to reach full retirement benefits from 37.5 to 40, the same as the requirements for French private sector workers. Well, at least they had a good reason.

UPDATE: Merde in France has pictures and commentary on French rioting.

More pics here. Ugly stuff. (Via Instapundit)

Matt Welch has an informative column in Reason Online (via Oxblog)

June 6, 2003

Hard Raines

Good piece on Howell Raines' ouster from the New York Times, in the New York Observer. (Wish I'd thought of that Dylan line first.)

June 5, 2003

The Blogosphere at Work

Bloggers everywhere are gloating just a little bit tonight after hearing the news that Howell Raines has "resigned" as executive editor of The New York Times. In some significant way, the blogosphere can take credit for, at a minimum, speeding up the process that eventually brought enough pressure to bear on company ownership to make this move. Things are different now in the world of Big Media. Not only does the blogosphere act as a watchdog of the mainstream media, but it is immediate, interactive, and increasingly influential.

Corrections and clarifications that used to take weeks to be published, if they were ever published, are now done overnight, owing to the immediacy of the Internet and the activism of the blogosphere. Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan are perhaps the best known of the NYT watchdogs, but it's much bigger than that. Kaus, in fact, credits internal opposition to Raines as a bigger factor in his resignation than pressure from bloggers. But the truth is that thousands of people are regularly reading those blogs and others, and are getting a different perspective. They are then acting on what they perceive to be the bias, the unfairness and the distortion with emails, phone calls, and comments posted to web sites that get read by decision makers. The Times still "shapes" the news. It's just no longer the only shape that people get to see and react to.

Despite Kaus' contention, Sullivan thinks that Raines' dismissal wouldn't have happened in a pre-blogosphere world:

a few years ago, they would have been able to ride out the storm, using the Times' enormous media power to protect themselves. But the Internet has changed things. It means that the errors and biases of the new NYT could be exposed not just once but dozens and dozens of times. It means that huge and powerful institutions such as the New York Times cannot get away with anything any more. The deference is over; and the truth will out.

Most newspapers are now available online as a competitive necessity. It's hard to say how many new readers this means for any given paper. I just know I never read London's Guardian, or anything from the L.A. Times or other U.S. dailies before about 1996. The heavily left-slanted Guardian published two egregious distortions of comments by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz this past week, taking his statements grossly out of context to make it appear as if he had admitted deceiving the American public about the U.S. motives for the Iraqi invasion. They certainly weren't the only ones to pick up on a deceptive "teaser" from a Vanity Fair interview as a vehicle to criticize George Bush, but they were perhaps the most blatantly biased.

The reaction of the "alternative media" was swift and effective, as Daniel Drezner notes. Today the Guardian posted a "correction" that admits the distortion, among other things. Anyone who thinks that this kind of backpedaling would have occurred in the days before the Internet is kidding himself:

A report which was posted on our website on June 4 under the heading "Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil" misconstrued remarks made by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, making it appear that he had said that oil was the main reason for going to war in Iraq. He did not say that. He said, according to the department of defence website, "The . . . difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq." The sense was clearly that the US had no economic options by means of which to achieve its objectives, not that the economic value of the oil motivated the war. The report appeared only on the website and has now been removed.

Nobody has any illusions about the Times left-liberal slant changing under the stewardship of a new Editor. They will be what they will be. But notice has been served. Big Media doesn't have a monopoly on news-gathering and journalism anymore. The sooner they adjust to that notion, the better the quality and credibility of their product can become.

More from Sullivan:

Only, say, five years ago, the editors of the New York Times had much more power than they have today. If they screwed up, no one would notice much. A small correction would be buried days, sometimes weeks, later. They could spin stories with gentle liberal bias and only a few eyes would roll. Certainly no critical mass of protest could manage to foment reform at the paper. And the kind of deference that always existed toward the Times, and the secretive, Vatican-like mystique of its inner working kept criticism at bay. But the Internet changed all that. Suddenly, criticism could be voiced in a way that the editors of the Times simply couldn't ignore. Blogs - originally smartertimes.com, then this blog, kausfiles.com and then Timeswatch.com and dozens and dozens of others - began noting errors and bias on a daily, even hourly basis. The blogosphere in general created a growing chorus of criticism that helped create public awareness of exactly what Raines was up to. We forced transparency on one of the most secretive and self-protective of institutions. We pulled the curtain back on the man behind the curtain. We did what journalists are supposed to do - and we did it to journalism itself.

Read the whole Daily Dish for 6/6. Come to think of it, read it every day.

UPDATE: A long correction/apology column from The Guardian, crediting the many emails "mostly from the U.S." for pointing out their distortion on the Paul Wolfowitz matter. Noting other recent embarrassments, they admitted, "it has not been the best of weeks".

More comment on the effect of the blogosphere on the Howell Raines resignation from David Warren , and from Samizdata. An excerpt from Warren:

A revolution is happening in journalism, right now; a revolution with huge political implications. Blogs are the cause. And the fall of Howell Raines this last week is like the first brick in a Berlin Wall. It will not stop tumbling.


I post the following statement on partial-birth abortion by Andrew Sullivan in full, because I find that it tracks fairly closely with my own view, not only of PBA, but of abortion in general, (especially the "anguished, conflicted" part.) And he verbalizes that view better than I could. I don't buy the "slippery slope" argument of the pro-choicers as relates to a ban on PBA. It's simply a barbaric practice, and one can oppose it on it's own merit, without implying any particular position on abortion in general. (By the way, there's an intersting discussion of the constitutionality of the ban going on in The Corner over the last day or two.)

THE END OF INFANTICIDE II: I can certainly respect those who do not believe that a first trimester fetus is essentially a human person. But I cannot respect those who are morally untroubled by the hideous procedure of partial birth abortion. In fact I'd go further: one measure of how some pro-choice activists have lost their way is their refusal to see that some restrictions on abortion are indistinguishable from a total restriction on all abortion; and that there is a moral issue here. By the third trimester on, there is an unmistakable human being at stake - visually, intuitively, morally. The awful way in which that human being has its life extinguished in very late term abortions simply shouldn't be a part of any civilized society. Yes, I know my own abortion position - that it should be legal in the first trimester only - lacks complete moral and political coherence. But it's a result of trying to balance in my own mind my personal view that all abortion is wrong and my understanding that in a liberal democracy, others sincerely disagree; and in many cases, such disagreement also involves such an intimate decision on the part of a woman that I feel the state is unqualified to intervene. That's where I am - and where I suspect a lot of people are: uncomfortable, anguished, conflicted. But I see no reason to feel such conflicts about partial birth procedures. If the pro-choice movement eagerly agreed to outlaw these more horrific operations, they would surely have more credibility in arguing for retaining legal abortion in earlier stages. But they won't, because ideology is trumping reason here. It shouldn't. The passage of this law represents a huge step forward for humane medicine, whatever your ultimate position on the abortion matter in more general terms.

Like Sullivan, I feel that "the state is unqualified to intervene" and should not act to restrict a woman's right to choose abortion. People who believe that abortion is wrong, and who would hope to minimize the numbers of abortions performed, must press their case by winning hearts and minds, not by advocating for prohibitive legislation or judicial fiat. Educational and other programs to prevent unwanted pregnancy, facilitation of adoption, counseling, and reasonable waiting periods all seem like worthwhile steps toward that goal. And while programs like that might be assisted or partially funded by government, I don't believe they are the responsibility of government.

Pro-abortion extremists, like some of the "slippery-slopers" who oppose the PBA ban, often seem less resistant to the notion that government might limit abortion, than they are to the notion that that the decision of a woman, (or a couple) to abort an unborn child might carry more moral weight than would, say, an appendectomy, or that the procedure itself might be opposed, on moral grounds, by reasonable people.

In other words, I respect the individual's right to make a decision, but I am uncomfortable with just accepting this practice at its current levels as a necessary component of our society, and with people who insist that it is somehow unsophisticated, or even "dangerous", for anyone to suggest that we should try to do something about it.

FWIW, that's my half-baked opinion.

UPDATE 6/15: An item from the Weekly Standard's Scrapbook column mentions some rather biased and misleading, if not outright false information in their coverage of the partial-birth abortion ban:

In its latest incarnation, that measure [the PBA ban] was approved by The House of Representatives June 4 and is now finally--after eight years--headed up Pennsylvania Avenue to a president who'll actually sign it. Previous iterations of the bill were routinely vetoed by President Clinton, who just as routinely justified the move with one or another version of the same "factual" argument: that partial-birth abortions are a rare and necessary medical intervention generally employed to rescue the mother from grave health risks.

Even at the time, and even to non-specialist ears, the logic of this argument seemed peculiar. What self-respecting doctor, confronted with a genuine medical emergency, would resort to a surgical procedure that takes three full days to complete? Sure enough, President Clinton's partial-birth "facts" have long since been thoroughly debunked as fraudulent. Long-time WEEKLY STANDARD readers may remember, in particular, a lengthy investigation by the Washington Post resulting in a September 17, 1996, story concluding that "in most cases where the procedure is used, the physical health of the woman whose pregnancy is being terminated is not in jeopardy." Also, there was that spectacular, February 1997 confession by Ron Fitzsimmons of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers that he'd "lied through my teeth" about the rarity of partial-birth abortions, a confession that was reported at the time by the New York Times: "In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along, Mr. Fitzsimmons said."

It's a funny thing, then--raising at least an inference of bias, you would think--that even the Post and Times have lately resuscitated Fitzsimmons-like "lies" as objective truth. From the Post's news account of the House vote June 4: "Doctors typically perform [partial-birth] procedures for health reasons, when the fetus's head is enlarged and when doctors want to reduce the likelihood of retained fetal tissue that can lead to infection in the woman." And from the Times: "The procedure...is rarely used, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit research group. . . . Abortion rights groups and many doctors assert that the legislation passed tonight could affect several procedures that are sometimes necessary to preserve the health and fertility of the woman."


Democrats have been criticizing the tax cut legislation for not giving a tax break to people who don't pay any taxes. Is it fruitless to try to use logic with these people? The WSJ tries it.

Morris on Hillary

Of all of the early reviews of Hillary's forthcoming book (if reactions to the few selected paragraphs that have been made public can be called "reviews"), some of the most telling are those of Dick Morris. Whatever your opinions of Morris, this much can be said of him. He was there, as a confidant of Bill Clinton and close political advisor to both Clintons, he is not an ideological opponent of theirs, and has no reason not to be candid now.

In his first public comments on the book, Morris is incredulous that Hillary asks us to believe that she was clueless about the truth of her husbands dalliance with Monica until the day before his Grand Jury testimony in August of 1998. Morris makes the point that:

To buy this latest episode of Hillary's Fables, you'd have to accept that she believed him even after semen was found on Monica's blue dress — and after the FBI took a sample of his DNA, two weeks before his grand-jury testimony. You'd have to be a fool to buy all that.

And, as you might expect, her story is at odds with some other first-hand accounts of that tumultuous time.

But Hillary needs a convenient explanation for having taken such a forceful and combative defensive position at the time; for example, her appearance on the Today show, where she blamed the whole Lewinsky matter on the now famous "vast-right-wing-conspiracy", not to mention having trotted out numerous Cabinet officials to proclaim their belief in his denials, only to have them ultimately look like fools when the truth came out.

So, five years out, the decision has been made to cast Hillary in the role of unknowing wife, instead of as savvy political operative. Why? Because it's politically expedient, of course. As Morris points out, her reward for sticking with him post-Monica was a Senate seat. And keeping it all going requires sticking with that lie. Morris concludes:

She can't admit the truth: that she defended him because she didn't want him forced from office — ending both their political careers — because he'd been unfaithful to her.

So the Clintons continue to dominate the limelight and the Party machinery, much to the dismay of the nine Democratic Presidential candidates who can't generate enough name recognition with their own voters to register a blip on the radar screen. After all, there are books to sell, and speaking fees to rake in. And the rest of us are reminded of the way it was for eight years. With the Clintons playing the American people for idiots, pissing on our heads, and telling us it's raining.

June 3, 2003

Tribe Picks

Here's a bit of info on the Indians' top two selections in today's amateur draft.

Mike Aubrey, 1B-OF, Tulane University (11th pick overall) John Sickels from ESPN.com, in a pre-draft preview, says of Aubrey "a refined college position player with a lot of experience. ...he won't get past the top 10. Everyone thinks he'll hit for average, but some scouts aren't sure how much power he'll show, or if he'll be able to play the outfield." More on Aubrey on the Tribe website.

Brad Snyder, OF, Ball State University. (18th pick overall) Says Sickels "A solid all-around performer, Snyder has patience and power, making him attractive to the usual suspects. He also runs well, and would possibly be considered a top 10 pick if he'd gone to one of the big baseball schools in California or Florida and received more exposure." Other scouts compare him to Paul O'Neill. Now why did they have to go and do that?

First Round Summary

Updated listing of all Indians selections.

More details on Tribe picks.

WMD's and the Media

So, where are they? You know, the WMD's. The reason we invaded Iraq. The latest attempt by the Democrats and the liberal media to discredit or embarrass George Bush involves suggesting that the administration lied about the nature and extent of Saddam's weapons programs in order to justify their presumably preordained invasion. The Wall Street Journal provides some background on this distortion. An excerpt:

selective moralists are leaping on a distorted report about comments by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on WMD. An advance press release from Vanity Fair magazine spun as news the fact that Mr. Wolfowitz had said the following during an interview in early May: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason."

Bill Kristol clears up what it was that Paul Wolfowitz actually said.

The occasion of Bush arriving in Europe for the G-8 meetings has provoked a feeding frenzy in the European press, as documented by Denis Boyles.

Those who opposed the war seem intent on portraying Bush and/or Blair as "liars". Another WSJ excerpt:

But who's trying to deceive whom here? That Saddam had biological or chemical weapons was a probability that everyone assumed to be true, even those who were against the war. U.N. inspections in the 1990s had proved that Iraq had such weapons, including 30,000 liters of anthrax, and Saddam had used chemical weapons against Iran and Iraq's own Kurds. The French themselves insisted that disarming Saddam of WMD, as opposed to deposing him, had to be the core of U.N. Resolution 1441.

Andrew Sullivan makes clear that the lack of evidence "in hand" doesn't make our invasion of Iraq any less justified:

What mattered was not whether at any particular moment Saddam had a certain specifiable quantity of botulinum toxin. What mattered was his capacity to produce such things, his ability to conceal them, and his links to terrorists who could deploy them. No one can doubt that he had had them at one point, was capable of producing them, and was linked to groups who would be only too happy to use them. That was and is the case for getting rid of him. It's as powerful now as it was in January.

As Rich Lowry points out, five years ago it was President Clinton and his administration that were warning of the dangers of Saddam's weapons programs. Were they part of the same "conspiracy" that concocted this threat to the U.S. that the Bush administration is supposedly now exploiting?

In a piece on NRO, Hussein Hindawi and John Thompson speculate on the likely disposition of Saddam's WMD's, and point out many of the absurdities of the claims by Bush opponents that the threat was somehow contrived by U.S. and British intelligence services. An excerpt:

Those who wish the United States harm, whatever the cost, created a monstrous myth.... It is beyond all logic to think any organization could put up such a complex case, without there being at least one person of the hundreds involved who would leak "the true story." Those who would use any pretext to denigrate America have put forth a thoroughly improbable and patently unprovable theory, as virtually all serious analysts have concurred from its first being floated.

So we've been searching a country the size of California for weapons that are small in volume and extremely easy to conceal, and we've been at it for about seven weeks since the end of the war. We have found mobile labs and banned missiles. We have scientists and regime officials in custody and presumably under interrogation. My guess is that we already know far more about Iraq's WMD programs than we have yet made public. Virtually nothing has been released by the administration, and frankly I think it's high time we got a report. Those who supported the administration's policy of regime change in Iraq deserve to know just what we do know to this point.

Supporters of Bush's Iraq policy, looking for a plausible explanation for the lack of concrete evidence of WMD's other than the notion that Bush, Cheney, Powell, and Blair lied straight-faced to the entire world, are asking the tough questions that beg to be asked. William F. Buckley is among them:

We do need to have a much better explanation than any we have had. Going to war to abort Husseinism is justified. But we are nevertheless entitled to know: How was intelligence information, presented as conclusive, so apparently illusory? Who was it, on the assembly line between the first man who spotted what he took to be WMD activity in Iraq, and the Defense Intelligence Agency and the President of the United States who beamed out to the world, not suspicions of WMD activity, but affirmations of it, who screwed up? Who deceived, or was carried away? And what vaccines have our leaders taken to guard against other deceptions of like character?

June 2, 2003

Tressel = Class

It was supposed to be a private thing, no media coverage. Jim Tressel wanted it that way. Archie Griffin suggested it, and Tressel made it happen. The mother of the late Drushaun Humphrey was presented with an Ohio State national championship ring the other day, delivered personally by Coach Tressel at Toledo Rogers High School. Humphrey, a talented football recruit who was recruited by Tressel's predecesor John Cooper, and never got to play at OSU, died of an apparent heart attack two years ago at age 18. The Toledo Blade had a reporter on the story, but Tressel declined to comment. This guy just always seems to do and say the right things. In this case he did the right thing and said nothing, other than to give the credit to someone else. Too good to be true? I think not.

June 1, 2003

Trivial Stuff

I've decided that since all three or four people who occasionally read this blog are reputedly Cleveland sports fans to some degree, (and anyone else who stumbles in here can just take whatever we serve up) that I would post one of my favorite local trivia items for posterity.

Now, it would be an oddity if a pair of brothers happened to play two different professional sports in the same city, one with the Major League baseball team, and his brother with the local NFL team, (not necessarily at the same time). I'm not sure how many times that has happened. Probably not more than a handful of times. I suppose it would be really unusual if there were two sets of brothers in this circumstance in the same major league city. How many cities can say that they have this dubious distinction?

Well, it has happened in Cleveland not twice, not three times, but FOUR times. The burning question of course is: How many of these four sets of brothers can you name? One brother played at one point in his career with the Indians, and the other brother with The Cleveland Browns. Only one of the eight men could really be considered an "obscure" player, and one of them is in the Hall of Fame. Of the other six it would have to be said that they had at least their 15 minutes of fame.

Scroll down for the answers....












Wayne Kirby, Indians OF, 1991-96 and brother Terry Kirby, Browns RB, 1999.
Notes: Wayne got the extra-inning base hit that won the first game ever at Jacobs Field, and was a valuable fourth outfielder in 1994, fading somewhat in the World Series year of 1995. Terry was the top rated player in the country coming out of High School and never quite lived up to the press clippings, although he is still in the NFL as a reliable pass receiver out of the backfield, and a decent kick returner. He had a relatively undistinguished year (who didn't?) with the expansion Browns in '99.

Pat Kelly , Indians OF, 1981 and brother Leroy Kelly, Hall of Fame Browns RB, 1964-73.
Notes: Pat played 15 big league seasons, mostly with the White Sox and Orioles, and was a very fast and skilled outfielder. He played only his last, broken-down year with Cleveland. He had 250 career stolen bases, and was a decent offensive player. Too bad he had to work in the shadow of brother Leroy, Browns legend. He was a brilliant punt returner as a rookie in 1964, the championship year, and an electrifying running back thereafter. His bust can be visited in Canton.

Alex Johnson, Indians OF, 1972 and brother Ron Johnson, Browns RB 1969.
Notes: Alex played 13 years in the bigs, highlighted by winning the AL Batting Title in 1970 with a .329 average. Another example of the Tribe picking up a player on his way downhill. He hit 90 points less than that with us in 1972. Ron was a college phenom running back at Michigan, taken by the Browns in the first round in '69. Traded after that season to the Giants, he had two 1000 yard seasons in 1970 and 1972, before fizzling out of the league by '75.

Karl Pagel, Indians 1B, 1981-83 and brother Mike Pagel, Browns QB, 1986-90.
Notes: Mike was an adequate backup QB for the Browns for a few years behind Kosar, and his brother Karl, the aforementioned Mr. Obscure, had a cup of coffee with the Tribe from '81-83. Career highlights? Of his four hits in '81, two were triples and one a home run. Only 15 at bats, but a .733 slugging percentage. Nickname "Pongo" Pagel. Big guy, but so slow they timed him from home to first with a sundial. A legend.

Cleveland Browns alltime roster