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July 31, 2003

Weary of Clarett

I can't handle this for three more years.

He was the leading rusher for the Buckeyes, and a dominant performer at times in their drive to the National Championship last season. He is made the odds on favorite by many pre-season publications to win the Heisman Trophy this season. He's an immense talent, and I am a huge fan of the Bucks. So why am I sick of hearing about Maurice Clarett?

Mainly because he can't seem to subordinate his own selfishness to the best interests of the team. As an incoming freshman last year, he seemed to say all the right things at first. He worked hard in practice, earning the respect of his teammates and the coaching staff, and also earned the starting running back job as a true freshman for the opener, a rare and commendable achievement.

After some early season success, he raised a few eyebrows with his combativeness with the press and some general cockiness that was written off by most of us as immaturity, understandable for an 18-year old performing well on a national "stage". He caused a bit of a stir nationally, and surely a distraction for his team, when in midseason, he posed for an ESPN The Magazine cover story, throwing off his OSU jersey presumably for the NFL variety, the theme of the article being his unstated, but implied intention to consider leaving college after one year and challenging the traditional rules against early entry to the NFL for undergraduates.

It was hard for me to give Maurice the benefit of the doubt when he said, in the aftermath of the magazine story, that he had been unaware of the angle that the story would take, and that he had not exactly said he was planning to leave OSU early. What did he suppose was the meaning of the cover photo shoot of him taking off and discarding the Buckeye jersey? Did he even consider the reactions, expressed or otherwise, of his teammates, upon learning that their precocious star back might just as soon bolt for a pro paycheck?

At various other times during the course of the year, Clarett gave indications that his self-promotion meant more to him than being a part of a team did. After each of what I assume was a series of closed-door sessions with Coach Tressel or other coaches, we'd hear something from Clarett in the media, sounding scripted and rehearsed, to take the edge off of whatever "me-oriented" statement or action had precipitated it.

To me however, the Clarett spotlight-hogging selfishness reached its pinnacle in the week leading up to the Fiesta Bowl. It is during this pressure-packed week, as the teams are on the road preparing for the biggest game of their lives, that coaches try to focus their teams on game preparation, keep tight security, and carefully manage the press access to the players. Team unity and singleness of purpose is paramount as the National Championship game looms, with all of the proverbial college football marbles on the table.

It was in this setting that Clarett decided to give a story-starved press corps just what they wanted. A hot item. He held court with the media to denounce the OSU administration for not granting his request to be flown back to Ohio in midweek for the funeral of a childhood acquaintance that had been killed several days previous in an incident in Youngstown. OSU had lied to him, he insisted, and the ensuing flap engulfed the next few days of press coverage as the administration scrambled to state their side of the story and justify their decisions in the matter.

No matter that his TEAM was about to play for the National Championship in a couple of days. One got the feeling that Maurice Clarett was right where he wanted to be. In front of the TV cameras talking about Maurice Clarett and how he had been personally "dissed" in some fashion. No mention of the Miami Hurricanes and the upcoming contest. His adversary was the Ohio State University administration, and to hell with his teammates, OSU fans, coaches or anyone whose concern might happen to be a fairly important upcoming football game.

Consider also his reaction when an ex-graduate assistant, (by now somewhat discredited), alerted the New York Times a few weeks ago to a "story" about Clarett receiving some special assistance in the form of an oral exam for a course with which he was presumably having difficulty. Reportedly, Clarett reacted to this reporter's revelation by giving her information on several of his teammates who were guilty of "cheating" in some way in their academic pursuits. What a stand-up guy! Don't look at me. Look at my teammates cheating. There's a "team player" for you.

This is by no means to excuse or minimize the cheating in any way, if there was any. And it is beside the point that this particular "scandal" seems to have been as much the result of disgruntlement by a fired teaching assistant with a revenge motive, as it was about any misbehavior by Clarett. My point is to observe how he immediately pointed the finger at his own teammates as a reaction to accusations of some possible "scandal" involving him.

To be entirely fair, if we acknowledge that the accusing ex-teaching assistant lacks credibility on the original charge, we must also admit the same lack of credibility in the portion of her account dealing with Clarett "fingering" teammates. Actually, it was the questionable motive of the accuser that discredits her account, not necessarily that the content of her charges strains credulity. That an oral exam was given is not even in question. It turns out it was not an unusual practice, nor one limited to athletes. In fact, absent Clarett's alleged disclosures of the cheating by others, it's practically a non-story.

And with that non-story barely over with, Clarett once again is embroiled in controversy. He has again caused embarassment to the university by admitting that he lied about the contents of a vehicle that was broken into, exaggerating the values of many of the items in the vehicle, and as a result has been effectively suspended from the team pending NCAA investigation of the incident.

Memo to Maurice: The excuses being made for you by others won't fly anymore. You're not the only 19 year old on this team, or the only one who has had to deal with a less than ideal childhood, or a disadvantaged upbringing. It has gotten old, at least for this Buckeye fan, and you haven't even started your sophomore year. You helped the team last year, but you weren't the team last year. We won games with you, and we won games without you. Granted, there were a couple that I don't think we could have, or would have won without you.

You are a talented athlete, and it is my hope that you can wait a year or two more to become a millionaire. I wish for that because I am a Buckeye fan, and I root for you because you wear the Scarlet and Gray. In another school's uniform you'd be just another Ohio kid with talent, who for some reason went to another school to play ball. I'd wish you well as I do for all Ohio kids, but that would be it. No passion. My passion is OSU, and, off the field, you have missed few opportunities to make OSU look bad. That bothers me, and I'm not alone.

I'm weary of it.

If you need the money, the cars, the jewelry, and all the other trappings of wealth and superstardom, and can't wait for college to be over to get them, then I suggest you take it on down the road, away from OSU, wherever that road leads for you. I don't want that to happen. It would be your choice. For now.

If you stay, just be a member of the team. Get out of yourself. Be a college kid. Have fun. Play ball. Kick ass for the Buckeyes.

We'll all love ya.

July 29, 2003

BBC in Baghdad

Denis Boyles covers the European media for NRO. He followed the BBC's World Service radio broadcasts during those early days of April when the U.S. troops were taking Baghdad. Small wonder that anti-Americanism is rising worldwide if these are the "news" broadcasts that more people listen to than any other.

July 28, 2003

Baseball Cheaters

It's only been a few weeks since Sammy Sosa was caught using a corked bat, and it seems the baseball world has forgiven and forgotten. Is it because cheating in baseball has such a storied past, and Sosa can now be remembered in future years as just another lovable rogue, like Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford? An amusing piece by Bob Herzog of Newsday.com suggests that we shouldn't do anything rash about cheating incidents. They didn't keep Ford or Perry out of the Hall of Fame, and Sosa will surely follow them to Cooperstown. (link via Off Wing Opinion, a sports blog well worth bookmarking)

Ignoring The Positives

Which description best fits the roles of the U.S. military in Iraq and those there who are still trying to kill us? In Andrew Sullivan's words....

a) "Colonial powers opposed by restless population"

b) "Liberators still opposed by remnants of totalitarian regime"

Our political and military leaders, rank and file soldiers, along with those reporters and observers who have actually been in Iraq, observing and interviewing Iraqis, say that clearly the answer is "b".

Why then are there so many media types, Democratic presidential candidates, and assorted other naysayers trying so hard to convince people that the answer is "a"?

The easy answer, of course, is partisan political considerations. That's why the subject for these folks has been a sentence in a 7-month old speech, and not the difficult and steadily progressing work that our people are doing in Iraq today. As Sullivan says, it's unfair to the Iraqis themselves:

It's perfectly legitimate to question - aggressively - the fallible intelligence that was used in part to justify the war. But to use such an inquiry to undermine the current attempt to rebuild Iraq is to compound forgivable government failure before the war with the desperate need for allied success after it. To replay the war debate now is a fatal distraction from the vital work at hand. Even if you disagreed with the war, it is utterly unfair to the Iraqi people now to use their future and their lives as pawns in a domestic political squabble. Yet some would try to do exactly that. Their agenda needs to be resisted just as firmly as the cowardly attacks by Baathists in Iraq. For they serve the same purpose: the demise of democratic promise in Iraq and the collapse of the West's long and difficult war against terror. We can afford neither. And it's past time petty politics ceased in the face of that reality.

Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post says Iraqis are coming together more quickly than we had hoped, and that worries of tribal warfare were exaggerated. Here's an excerpt:

Two great discoveries have emerged in the ruins of Baathist Iraq. One is that fierce religious and ethnic hatreds that the experts -- them again -- warned would trigger bloodbaths if Hussein were toppled have been phantoms. For all of its problems, Iraq is not today beset by ethnic or religious warfare.

Second, the predicted great cleavages between "exiles" and insiders have quickly narrowed as Iraqis of all backgrounds seek common solutions. Some of Bush's own Cabinet members should try that approach. "Iraqis are not a defeated people and should not be treated by American authorities as such," Chalabi tells me at the end of a long day of palaver. "We defeated Saddam, even if it was the Americans who defeated his forces. We survived him. The people did not fight for him."

From today's Bleat, Lileks recalls that it wasn't that long ago we were embroiled in protests over the Afghanistan intervention.

In the Sunday book pages of the Strib was an article about the women of Afghanistan. It was discussing the new-found freedoms of women in the post-Taliban society, about girls queuing for school after years of oppression. Quote: “No matter what one’s political misgivings about the war might be, the sight of those girls was a thrilling shock.”

That sentence stuck in my head, and made me think back to October 01, to all the discontent over the Afghan campaign. We’ve forgotten what that was like - the marches in Europe, the predictions of mass casualties, the accusations of empire-building, how it was all about (cue Twilight Zone theme) an oil pipeline, how it would become a quagmire, how it was a quagmire, how we should have used international law to bring OBL to justice. It was the dress rehearsal for Iraq. The same blind sputtering fury; the same protests with Bush = Hitler posters and giant mocking puppets; the same inability to accept that a byproduct of the campaign would be a freer society for the very people the protesters supposedly cared about.

Any mass executions at the Kabul soccer stadium recently? No?

Wonder why.

That book-review quote says it all. We have to honor those who had “political misgivings,” because dissent is a virtue too pure to be stained by truth. Nevermind that the end result of those “political misgivings” would have been another generation of Afghan daughters beaten with bats for winking at a cute guy. Those “political misgivings” would have assured that any young Afghan woman who stepped outside her house and asked to be educated would be whipped with 2 X 4s by the Committee for Flaming Theocracy Gynophobe Committee.

But that can’t be said. People who were wrong for the right reasons will always get a pass.

Just as those who invoke the "Q" word today regarding Iraq are those who favored a policy that would have left Saddam, Uday and Qusay in power for the foreseeable future.

Laugh....No Grieving Allowed

Back in May, when it first came out, I linked to this piece by Mark Steyn on the life and career of Bob Hope. I went back and reread it when I heard the news of Hope's passing today. It's even better the second time around.

What a life!

July 27, 2003

U and Q Buy Farm

For a narrative of Saddam's boys' last days, check out this Newsweek article.

And now that the Uday and Qusay are dead, more stories of their depravity can be told. Like this little anecdote from a former executioner who worked for Uday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the difficult work of making order of chaos continues, as Chief Wiggles blogs from Iraq , and Christopher Hitchens recounts in this interview with John Gibson. (both links via Instapundit)

Lomborg Book Reviewed

For people who have heard of The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg, but have not yet bought or read it, this excellent review and summary of the book may be of real interest. It was written by Alex Kozinski, and reprinted from the Michigan Law Review. I have slogged my way through about 90% of the book's 500 pages, (passing on some topics, the details of which didn't interest me a whole lot), and having done so I can attest to the accuracy and thoroughness of this review. (link via Chicago Boyz)

The review itself is long, (in .pdf format) but it is well documented, very readable, and may well persuade you to spring for the whole enchilada. The following excerpt from the review gives a bit of a feel for Lomborg's premise.

The great bulk of Lomborg’s book, nearly two hundred tightlywritten and densely-footnoted pages, is devoted to examining the true state of the world in those areas that have been the subject of alarmist prediction by environmental activists. He paints a picture of a world where human welfare is dramatically improving in just about every way one might measure it. While, as Lomborg readily admits, there are many ways in which things can continue to improve, all measurable trends point in a positive direction.

Thus, “we now have far more food per person than we used to, even though the population has doubled since 1961” (p. 61). While the population is continuing to increase, it is doing so at a continually slower rate and is expected to peak during the middle of the next century. We have more — and cleaner — water per person than we ever did before (ch. 13); our population is healthier and better educated; infant mortality is sharply reduced; and life expectancy has increased dramatically (ch. 4). Indeed, the main reason for the continued increase in world population is, in the words of a UN consultant, “not that people suddenly started breeding like rabbits; it’s just that they stopped dying like flies” (p. 46). We have more leisure time and greater access to consumer products (ch. 6); we breathe cleaner air (p. 210); we suffer less from natural disasters (p. 85). Animal species are not dying out at an alarming rate, as has often been asserted as fact by environmentalists (ch. 23); our forests are not disappearing, in fact, they’re making a comeback strong enough to satisfy any Ewok.

As discussed earlier, we are nowhere near running out of waste space (p. 206). Nor are we running out of energy or other natural resources. While we use more energy every year, proven reserves of oil, gas, coal and uranium are constantly increasing (ch. 11). Technology for extracting energy from renewable sources, such as solar power and wind, is improving and will become cost-effective within a few decades — long before we run into a serious shortage of non-renewable energy sources. Proven reserves of other resources, such as iron, copper, aluminum and zinc have also been increasing; their prices have steadily declined (ch. 12). Acid rain was never the “ecological Hiroshima”34 that environmentalists proclaimed it to be, and has been largely eliminated as an environmental problem (ch. 16). The relationship between pesticides and disease, notably cancer, is vanishingly small, and elimination of pesticides would be quite costly and, in fact, dramatically increase cancer deaths.35

If Lomborg’s description of the world differs markedly from the one most of us have come to accept, it is likely because our perceptions are shaped by media reports that uncritically adopt and amplify the predictions of doom peddled by professional environmentalists. Examining with a statistician’s eye the very same sources used by the environmentalists, Lomborg comes to very different conclusions. Does his analysis make sense? Is it adequately documented? In a word, yes.

A professional statistician, Lomborg doesn't claim to be an environmental scientist. He uses the sources cited by those scientists and cuts through the doomsday talk, to the nuts and bolts of "costs vs. benefits", spending priorities, and rational, reasoned, fact-based debate.

Absent the apocalyptic rhetoric, environmentalism can become what it should be. A serious topic for scientific study, a matter for vigorous public policy debate, and concerted government and private sector action. The environmental lobby can become what it should be. One among many "interest groups" in our society, educating citizens, recommending options, and advocating for environmental issues as significant priorities to be addressed by a society and a government with finite resources, and other important priorities.

Amazon.com link to The Skeptical Environmentalist containing many additional reviews.

Dopes vs. Buffoons

How did you guess we were talking about the Gray Davis recall? Jill Stewart documents the spin and the stupidity on both sides, and decides that, regardless of how the media tries to sanitize what's going on, "the voters are getting wise to the Big Sneak."

July 26, 2003

Saddam's Pain

Ralph Peters says the deaths of his sons is the ultimate punishment for Saddam Hussein. Here's an excerpt:

Saddam feels, at last, the pain he inflicted upon countless Iraqi families. He murdered their sons or threw their lives away in wars of aggression. Now he knows the shock of a father's loss. Saddam has been called "inhuman" with good reason. Now he feels as human as any man.

Nothing could hurt him more than the loss of his sons. Not the loss of Iraq. Not even his own death. For all those who longed for revenge upon Saddam, this is it. If he is still alive, the deaths of Uday and Qusay are the greatest torment that could be visited upon him.

His fall, his suffering - his punishment - are almost Biblical in their resonance. Pharaoh has lost his first-born and more. The prodigal sons will not return in this telling. He who sowed the wind has reaped the whirlwind.

July 25, 2003

Cheney Speech

Supporters of Bush's Iraq policy have been urging the administration to be more outspoken in defense of their actions and motives, in light of the endless media and Democratic carping on the "16 words".

Vice-President Cheney's speech to the AEI yesterday was clearly a step in that direction. I urge you to read it all, such is the importance of the message, but I have excerpted some key passages:

I've watched for more than a year now as President Bush kept the American people constantly informed of the dangers we face and of his determination to confront those dangers. There was no need for anyone to speculate what the president was thinking. His words were clear and straightforward and understood by friend and enemy alike.

When the moment arrived to make the tough call, when matters came to the point of choosing, and the safety of the American people was at stake, President Bush acted decisively with resolve and with courage.

Now the regime of Saddam Hussein is gone forever, and at a safe remove from the danger, some are now trying to cast doubt upon the decision to liberate Iraq. The ability to criticize is one of the great strengths of our democracy, but those who do so have an obligation to answer this question: How could any responsible leader have ignored the Iraqi threat?

Last October, the director of Central Intelligence issued a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's continuing programs of weapons of mass destruction. That document contained the consensus judgments of the intelligence community, based upon the best information available about the Iraqi threat.

The NIE declared, quote, "We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction program in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions. If left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade," end quote.

Those charged with the security of this nation could not read such an assessment and pretend that it did not exist. Ignoring such information or trying to wish it away would be irresponsible in the extreme.

And our president did not ignore that information; he faced it. He sought to eliminate the threat by peaceful diplomatic means and when all else failed he acted forcefully to remove the danger.

And later, a challenge to the critics:

Critics of the liberation of Iraq must also answer another question. What would that country look like today if we had failed to act? If we had not acted, Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be in power. If we had not acted, the torture chambers would still be in operation, the prison cells for children would still be filled. Mass graves would still be undiscovered. The terror network would still enjoy the support and the protection of the regime.

Iraq would still be making payments to the families of suicide bombers attacking Israel and Saddam Hussein would still control vast wealth to spend on his chemical, biological and nuclear ambitions.

All of these crimes and dangers were ended by decisive military action. Everyone for many years wished for these good outcomes. Finally, one man made the decision to achieve them: President George W. Bush.

And the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East and the American people have a safer future because Saddam Hussein's regime is history.

Bottom line: Bush acted to protect Americans and liberate Iraqis. If our intelligence was faulty, then we need to improve and/or correct it. But it's quite a stretch to make the case that Bush lied about WMD's so he could invade and occupy a country where his lie would be immediately revealed as such.

Clinton Remarks on Larry King

It's not terribly surprising how little major media attention was given to Bill Clinton's statements on CNN the other night, when he called in to Larry King Live to weigh in on the Uranium-Niger non-scandal. Normally they breathlessly report his every utterance as the closest thing to Revealed Truth. This time though, it's different.

I suspect Bill knows that the U.S. forces continue to amass evidence of WMD in Iraq, and that eventually this evidence will be made public, smearing yet more egg on the faces of critics of Bush administration policy. He seems to be suggesting that Democrats follow their own advice and "move on", for their own good:

"I thought the White House did the right thing in just saying 'we probably shouldn't have said that,'" Clinton told CNN's Larry King in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

"You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president. You can't make as many calls as you have to make without messing up. The thing we ought to be focused on is what is the right thing to do now."

More importantly, he confirms what is, in his words, "incontestable", and in the process, pretty much endorsed the Bush administration's actions. Here's the summary of his comments on the King show:

Clinton also said Tuesday night that at the end of his term, there was "a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for " in Iraq.

"At the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what [Saddam] had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes, and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it.

"But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say, 'You got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.'"

Clinton also told King: "People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons."

No wonder the story has been conspicuously absent from the media since the remarks were made. They don't serve the overall agenda of undermining the progress in Iraq and discrediting the Bush administration.

Charles Krauthammer lists the new strategic realities that exist in the Middle East now as a result of Bush's leadership, and explains the Dems need to keep the "scandal" alive:

The fact that the Democrats and the media can't seem to let go of it, however, is testimony to their need (and ability) to change the subject. From what? From the moral and strategic realities of Iraq. The moral reality finally burst through the yellowcake fog with the death of the Hussein Brothers, psychopathic torturers who would today be running Iraq if not for the policy enunciated by President Bush in that very same State of the Union address.

That moral reality is a little hard for the left to explain, given the fact that it parades as the guardian of human rights and all-around general decency, and rallied millions to try to prevent the very policy that liberated Iraq from Uday and Qusay's reign of terror.

Arnold Will Run

Advisors to Arnold Schwarzenegger say he will enter the race for Governor of California. There's lots of Republican competition, but the Terminator has lots of factors running in his favor. Popularity with Hispanics and young people are among them. The WSJ has the story.


I got a kick out of John Derbyshire's "Questions for Hillary" inquiry the other day in The Corner. First, Derb set the stage by asking readers to submit their questions, and then published some of the ideas sent in by Corner readers. I'm working on some of my own. Stay tuned.

By the way, Dick Morris says the more Bush's approval ratings slide, the greater the chances we see Hillary run in '04.

July 24, 2003

Afghanistan Update

Glenn Reynolds had an Afghanistan report the other day that was filled with stuff I hadn't heard elsewhere. Seems the rout of the Taliban and the presence of the Americans haven't yet turned the place into Club Med, but it's getting better. Here's an excerpt:

Bombings and attacks are considered as personal affronts to the notable progress achieved through the hard work of the citizens themselves—with little help from NGOs. Terrorism is viewed as a mark of the increasing frustration and desperation of the reactionaries still operating here. They’ve lost their main chance; now all the Islamofascists can do is to try to temporarily disrupt an increasingly civil society strongly committed to stability and peace.

A few may possibly yet harbor some residual sympathy with the radical religious tenets of extreme Islam, but the lack of mosque attendance in the city indicates the vast majority is happy with the development of a more secular society. Peace has broken out in a big way in Kabul and its environs, many Afghans have assured me.

July 22, 2003

Glass Half Full

Josh Chafetz, of Oxblog fame, writes about What's Gone Right in Iraq. While bad news continues to grab more headlines than the good stuff, there is progress being made.

July 21, 2003

Quotes of the Week

"...the vast majority of Iraqis are far better off than they were under Saddam - and they know it. Our remaining problems are with a cluster of sore losers who don't have permission to torture their neighbors anymore." - Ralph Peters

"The Democrats smell blood and don't want to be told that it's their own." - Mark Steyn

Blair is, at heart, a socialist; I’ve no time for half the stuff he wants and most of the stuff he’d agree to. But he’d get my vote. We can argue about the shape and direction of Western Civ after we’ve made sure that such a thing will endure. - James Lileks

“I devoutly believe that words ought to be weapons. That is why I got into this business in the first place. I don’t seek the title of ‘inoffensive’, which I think is one of the nastiest things that could be said about an individual writer.” - Christopher Hitchens

Howard Dean can roll up his sleeves in public all he wants, but as long as you can see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearm, he's never going to get off the pad. I hope they send Howard Dean out to do battle with Bush because he'll get his ass handed to him quicker than someone who just got out of liposuction surgery." - Dennis Miller


An exchange of letters between Michigan Congressman John Dingell and Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Coalition. Let's do lunch!

Local Boy Wins British Open

Who is Ben Curtis? Just the British Open champion.

Ivan Maisel says Curtis won because he was too naive to know how hard the course was. The Beacon Journal's Brian Windhorst says being an "unknown" helped too. All the attention and the pressure was on other, bigger name players.

July 19, 2003

Tribe Trade

At first glance, I like the move that GM Mark Shapiro pulled off yesterday, acquiring outfielder Ryan Ludwick from Texas for Shane Spencer and Ricardo Rodriguez. I hate to see Rodriguez go because I love his stuff and his competitiveness, but young pitching is our strength, and outfield power is certainly our biggest weakness, so the trade makes a lot of sense from that standpoint.

Texas GM John Hart, the architect of the Indians powerhouses of the 90's, keeps in touch with his protege Shapiro, and this is the second significant trade these two have executed. The Indians sent Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese to Texas for Travis Hafner this past offseason. (Is that significant?)

Ludwick seems like a good right-handed compliment to Gerut as a corner outfielder. His strong arm helped him to be named Best Defensive Outfielder in the Texas League (AA), and he hit .303 at AAA this season before being called up, to go along with the power numbers that he has put up at every level.

Blair Speech

Full text of the speech is here. Someone wrote yesterday that if the Democrats had ONE candidate with the stuff of Tony Blair, they'd have a shot in '04. I'd go along with that. Here's an excerpt:

There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty.

We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal. Abraham Lincoln said, "Those that deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty.

In some cases where our security is under direct threat, we will have recourse to arms. In others it will be by force of reason. But in all cases, to the same end, that the liberty we seek is not for some, but for all, for that is the only true path to victory in this struggle.

July 18, 2003

Do As I Say....

Corporate welfare is a dirty word to the New York Times. Except of course when it benefits the New York Times. Michelle Malkin reports.

Doing Union Bidding

Dutiful Senate Democrats, always asking "how high?" when the teachers unions say "Jump!", are threatening to filibuster a school choice bill that is the result of months of negotiation, and has the approval of the Democratic mayor and many other D.C. liberals. Today's Washington Post editorial slams them for blocking this bipartisan, much-needed legislation:

Perhaps the Democrats are suffering from a misapprehension: The school choice initiative is not some partisan program being foisted on the District by the White House. This is an experiment that many of the city's Democratic leaders, most notably the city's mayor, have finally concluded is worth trying, to help the city's poorest children. It is inexcusable for a group of senators, many from distant states, to turn this into a partisan issue of their own. Instead, they should fight to make the D.C. school system work better for more children, in public, private and charter schools across the city.

One third of the bill's funding goes to vouchers, another to charter schools, and the third to existing public schools. Democrats threaten to withhold support unless the "voucher provision" is revoked. The voucher provision is the reason the legislation exists! The rest is payoff to public schools so they can't claim that vouchers drain money from their system.

The Post suggests that Dems might be acting on a "misapprehension", as if they aren't aware that this bill has bipartisan support. In other words, it would be okay to oppose this bill, and deny poor D.C. children school choice, if this legislation were a White House initiative, and thus by nature "partisan". At least here the Post acknowledges that it is not principle or the creation of sound public policy that earns the votes of Senate Democrats. What is truly sad is that one gets the feeling teachers unions, and hence Democrats, oppose school choice not because they think it will fail, but because they fear it will succeed.

July 17, 2003

No Flies

Okay, so what if the latest Mark Steyn piece on uranium from Niger has been linked to by every blogger in the Western Hemisphere? Steyn often makes me laugh out loud, but I just about spit my coffee onto my keyboard when I read his reference to "the Democratic National Committee, headed by Clinton stain-mopper Terry McAuliffe". Sorry for spoiling that one for you. Read the rest.

Who's Radical?

Good piece by Michael Young at Reason Online, dealing with the left-to-right apostasy of Christopher Hitchens since 9/11. Those now smearing Hitchens from the far left can't accept that it was his association with their ideological emptiness he was leaving behind. An excerpt:

Only rarely has it been said that Hitchens' denunciations are sincere. And almost never has it been suggested by those on the left that he, more than they, embodies what it means to be a radical—one who sees criticism as something necessarily following the observation of abhorrent actions, not the computation of political costs and benefits as they pertain to one's allies or enemies.

Alex Massie had lunch with Hitch recently.

Big Lies

The AIM newsletter started this trip down memory lane. Miquel Rodriguez, the U.S. Attorney who was the lead investigator in the probe into the death of Vince Foster, goes public with an interview , in which he discusses several key aspects of the Foster case and of the investigation.

You may recall that Rodriguez resigned from the Ken Starr-led project when it became apparent that the results of said "investigation" had been predetermined as a finding of suicide, and that no valid process would be allowed to take place. He covers a variety of topics, from the amount of blood at the scene in Ft. Marcy Park, to the moving of the body, to the professional and personal threats he received during the investigation and after his resignation, as a result of his pursuit of the truth.

Listening to this interview, I was jarred back to the 90's, to the days when lies were spewed from the White House with the audacity of a double-dog dare, and accompanied by a freshly minted executive privilege of some sort. As the media and Bush's political opponents conjure up, and then dwell on Bush's supposed "lies" to the American people, it's instructive to look back on the Clinton administration for contrast and perspective.

That Clinton's was a presidency in which lying by a President was "normalized" and excused has been pretty well documented. We have now formally set the precedent that felony perjury and obstruction of justice by the President don't "rise to the level". As a nation, we just have to live with that, as the Clintons' legacy. But it seems to me the 90's were really about Big Lies.

The Lewinsky lies are small-time stuff, even though they got him impeached. Even Clinton's lies about his conduct as a serial sex offender; about Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, as telling as they are about the person that he is, are not the government lies that kept me awake nights in the 90's. Even the Clintons' denial of the "sale" of the 1996 campaign to the Communist Chinese government in return for defense secrets and technologies, and the subsequent cover-up, don't measure up to what I consider to be the three Big Lies of the Clinton administration. In no particular order, they are:

1) That the FBI/ATF had no prior knowledge of the plot to blow up the Alfred Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

2) That the TWA 800 crash was caused by an spark from an electrical short in the center fuel tank.

3) That Vince Foster committed suicide in Ft. Marcy Park.

(A close fourth would be the claim that the Branch Davidians set their own compound on fire and incinerated 80 men, women and children. Imagine, by the way, the Waco massacre happening with Ashcroft as the Attorney General who ordered the assault. Might the spin be a bit different?)

So, call me a "conspiracy theorist". Call me a "Clinton-hater". Make cracks about tinfoil hats and grassy knolls. But none of the above claims can withstand serious scrutiny. Notice that I am not making the claim that the Clintons personally killed Foster, or even ordered his murder. I am not making the claim that Islamic terrorists shot down TWA 800. I am not claiming that Timothy McVeigh was not guilty in the OKC bombing case.

What I am saying is that the government, from the White House on down through the intelligence agencies, NTSB, the Justice Department, and the Congress, conducted deeply flawed, politicized pseudo-investigations in all three cases, and that the American people were systematically lied to as to what really happened. A compliant press went along with their Democratic soulmate in the White House, feeding the public whatever line the government saw fit to serve up. I am not suggesting either, that the government's conduct would have necessarily been different in a Republican administration, save for the "compliant press" angle. With that disclaimer, let me add a quote from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, "Is Bill Clinton to blame? Of course he is. Degradation spreads from the top down".

However, it seems that as a country we have now just about swallowed these particular lies, because to know the truth would be to admit some very ugly things about our government, and its capacity to exceed its mandate simply to "govern". It's much more convenient and less disturbing for most Americans to just buy the story that McVeigh and Nichols acted alone, or that the crash was an accident, or that Foster was simply "depressed".

It would be much too emotional, divisive, expensive, and "partisan" for the successor to the White House to dig for the truth and prosecute any criminality. Can't we just move on? I have heard commentators suggest that we were "scandal fatigued" during the Clinton administration, and who could deny it? We were bombarded by, and hence inured to, lies from government. We gradually became incapable of outrage, and incredulous at the sheer volume of it all.

I suppose we are fortunate that the Big Lies happened to take place during the dawn of the Internet Age. An astonishing amount of information is available for review by any interested party, on any one of the three incidents. (See links below). Much of that information was discounted at the time by Big Lie apologists simply by virtue of it being on the Internet, as if that alone made it suspect. Some of it was, no doubt, suspect. (Less than a decade later, now that CNN, ABC, and the NYT have prominent Internet presences, we get less of that out-of-hand dismissal of Internet content as somehow tainted.)

But the Internet does give us an edge toward ultimately discovering the truth. For one thing, it serves as an archive for all of the previous news, information, commentary, debate and conjecture, which is outside of government control. Second, it provides a continuing forum, independent of the major media, in which all these issues can be updated, discussed, or revisited, (for better or for worse). I can't help but think that the more "mature" Internet of the early 00's, including an active blogosphere, would have made a difference in the pursuit of truth during the years of the Big Lies.

I realize how very impolitic it is to dredge up these scandals of the past, and how some people, just by reading this far, have already written me off as a knuckle-dragging, reactionary, conspiracy kook. And I suppose that if those people want to file away as fact the official government explanations for TWA, OKC and Foster along with the one that says Oswald acted alone, then the fact that they consider me a nut bothers me little. I have consistently found that the less a person knows about the case, the more likely he is to be satisfied by the government line.

To me, the Big Lies are scarier than the sex lies or the policy lies, because they indicate that what we refer to as the "intelligence apparatus" in this country is seriously out of control. Under Janet Reno or John Ashcroft, the bureaucracy is basically the same animal. It is an organization that threatens U.S. Attorneys and intimidates Senators. It stifles and/or controls investigations. It can ignore 150 eyewitnesses to a missile taking down a jetliner. It can alter autopsy documents. It can indict credible witnesses on trumped up charges, to impugn their credibility. It can, and it does.

We have learned about the entrenched careerism rampant in our intelligence agencies, and the bureaucratic inertia that drives all investigations of those agencies and their actions into a black hole. We have come to wonder if the intelligence apparatus is accountable to the Commander in Chief, or if it is the other way around.

Whenever the subject of one of the Big Lies comes up I go back and re-read the classic column by the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, titled Goodbye, Good Riddance, which he wrote in 1997, having been reassigned from the Washington D.C. beat. If you never have, please read it all. A couple of selected excerpts: Of the OKC cover-up...

If it turns out that the bombing was a bungled sting operation by the FBI, as some of the victims are now alleging, the only fit response is to send bulldozers down Pennsylvania Avenue to flatten the Hoover Building once and for all.

A monument should be raised on the rubble of the FBI headquarters that reads Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who Shall Guard the Guards?) as a warning to free-born Americans of the next millennium.

And then, an observation and a warning...

Nothing does more to sap the life of a democracy than the abuse of power.... ....To the American people I bid a fond farewell. Guard your liberties. It is the trust of each generation to pass a free republic to the next. And if I know you right, you will rouse yourself from slumber to ensure exactly that.

Big Lie Information Links:

Vince Foster

Death of Vince Foster
Allan Favish Links
Foster Archive

OKC Bombing

OKC Info Links
Oklahoma City Bombing
OKC Links
Jayna Davis evidence (summary)
Jayna Davis evidence (detail)

TWA 800

TWA 800 links
Donaldson Report

July 14, 2003

Population Bust

The U.N. is preparing for their population conference, usually held once every ten years, in which they warn us of the dangers of overpopulation. The fact that there isn't a world overpopulation problem anymore, (if there ever was one) may not matter to these bureaucrats. The U.S. and China have stabilized their populations and in Europe, especially Russia and France, populations are declining, dangerously so in fact. As Paul Weyrich says:

the UN has a whole bureaucratic structure tied up with the other point of view. Bureaucrats almost never admit they are wrong. Moreover, they most often keep pushing in the same direction even when all the data point to the need for an abrupt about face.

If indeed we have another UN population conference warning us of the dangers of overpopulation, perhaps Russia would like to explain to the bureaucrats that she risks going out of existence if the current birthrate is not reversed. Perhaps the village in Spain, that offers a pig to each set of new parents as an incentive for them to have babies, can explain to the UN why they feel they need to do so. Maybe the nations of Europe can make presentations on their welfare state programs aimed at getting young people to have children. These governments know the truth. It is high time for the UN to acknowledge it and to tell the world what is really happening or we should never support a conference on population again.

Weyrich, writing a column for Accuracy in Media, was reacting in part to this Washington Post editorial on the topic of the "Baby Bust" in the U.S.

July 13, 2003

Gerecht in Iraq

I read somewhere today that the number of reporters embedded with coalition forces is down from 700 or so during the war, to 23 today. Maybe that's why the top "Iraq" story in the U.S. media for the last couple of weeks has been about one sentence from a Presidential speech six months ago. That is, nothing at all about what is currently going on in Iraq.

Bush's political opponents, many trying desperately to make people forget that they favored a policy that would have left Saddam in power, find themselves frustrated. In hindsight, some of these people are now on board, and agree that the prospect of a free and self-governing Iraq may well be a good thing, but only if they can prevent any feathers from finding their way into Bush's cap. They do have a plan though, to deal with their "concerns" about the intelligence community. A Congressional investigation of the "uranium sentence" scandal. Sorry, but didn't we already have the Democratic response to the State of the Union address?

The media elements among this crowd then, naturally dwell on coalition problems, setbacks and embarrassments in their reporting. After all, I guess building infrastructure, distributing food and natural gas, and setting up governmental institutions doesn't sell papers. These are some of the same folks we hear babbling on about uranium and Niger and the CIA, as if any of that has the slightest impact on the task we face helping the people of Iraq to establish democracy and to otherwise order their lives and their country.

Reuel Marc Gerecht went to Iraq, toured the country, interviewed citizens, spoke with clerics, and seems to have had a tough time reconciling what he observed there, with what he reads in the Western press:

As I walked the streets of Baghdad at night, which in most districts of the city isn't a particularly dangerous thing to do, as I visited mosques and clerics in the Sunni and Shiite lands to the north and south, I picked up a fairly acute case of cognitive dissonance. Reading too much of the Western press before and especially during a visit to Iraq is mentally unbalancing. Though the problems in Iraq are enormous and the isolation of many U.S. officials in the Jumhuriyah Palace headquarters in Baghdad is surreal, neither the country nor its American administrators appeared to be sliding downhill into chaos. In most of Iraq--in the key areas of the country, in the Shiite south, the Kurdish north, and in Baghdad--just the opposite is happening. Productive energy and commerce are slowly returning to the streets, which is impressive given how long it is taking to rebuild a functioning nationwide telephone system. In mid to late June, U.S. officials--for all their clumsiness, lack of language skills, and enthusiastic ethos of "force protection"--appeared to be drawing closer to the Iraqi population, not farther away. This was especially true in the Shiite regions of Iraq, which are essentially everything from Baghdad south.

One of Gerecht's key recommendations is for the government to transfer as many as possible of our "culturally savvy", Arabic-speaking officials from their various other assignments to Iraq, since communication, and most of all listening, is our most urgent task at this point. He does say that the ones we have there now are making good progress:

With a very small staff--unquestionably too small--a handful of Arabic-speaking officials is successfully building ties to this community, which is slowly, fitfully, and still quite timidly developing political legs to stand on. At the American headquarters in the town of Hilla, which is where the front-line administrators reside for the southern Shiite zone, a small cadre is learning the ABCs of the Shiite community. This isn't at all an easy task, and could not have been done before the Anglo-American invasion, since the Shiites themselves are only beginning to understand their own post-Saddam identity. There is no reference work through which a U.S. official could have acquired the slimmest working knowledge of who the Iraqi Shiites really are. The American team at Hilla, led by an intrepid Arabic-speaking foreign service officer who operates wisely with minimum security, is doing the ground-breaking, democracy-building spadework of figuring out what is the real power-matrix among the Shiites. The team is slowly compiling a useful understanding of the Shiite tribes, which will inevitably produce, once the tribal leaders themselves determine the number and relative loyalties of their followers, more than a few of Iraq's future key parliamentarians.

Read it all.

The WSJ weighs in on the real reason that the "uranium story" is getting so much airtime. Here's an excerpt:

...the uranium issue is the latest in a series of desperate efforts by critics to impugn the president's success in Iraq. As the British might say, this is very odd indeed. Usually, intelligence controversies are over who is to blame for failure; this time it seems to be about discrediting victory.

For more reporting direct from Iraq, see this earlier post from an Army Major.

July 11, 2003

Fashion Post

So that last one makes five sports-related posts in a row. No, we are not about to become an all-LeBron-all-the-time blog. But speaking of "sporty" things, please check out this men's swimwear fashion statement, courtesy of a link from Jonah Goldberg in The Corner. To quote Jonah, "it's not for the squeamish"

Total Cred

Ralph Wiley is, in my opinion, one of the best sports "feature" writers of our time. He was at the LeBron coming out party in Orlando this past week, and obviously came away impressed. Here's a brief excerpt:

The moves, the quickness. That's the key. No, a key. He has several. The strength. The awareness. If he can't get you one way, he'll get you another. It is astounding to see an 18-year-old look like not just a man, be physically outfitted like a man, and not just a man, but as a man among men. Total body control, then to add a grasp of the game that goes far beyond the heads of men 10 years older? It is true, he needs to work on his handle, his D, his shot, especially the deep shot, the 3-ball, but the point is, all that is already there to be improved upon. It's not like he doesn't have it, and in NBA All-Star starter proportion. Yes, there will be games when he goes 2-for-9 and scores nine and gets busted by somebody like Stef or J-Kidd. But then, there won't be that many of those nights, and there aren't that many of those guys, and what few there are, they'll be gone in a few years, and he'll have grown by then anyway, and ... but there are many crowd affirmations, shout-outs, passes, turnovers and fly-by dunks to go, between now and then.

Forget the destination. It's the journey.

Read it all. This guy's good. Wiley, I mean.

Winning Streak

I had a feeling my luck was changing a couple weeks ago when the Indians finally won a game with yours truly in the house, after eight unsuccessful tries.

So tonight's exciting, 3-2 extra-inning win over the hated Yankees (I know, that's redundant) was especially sweet. And not just because it's now a two-game winning streak for me, and not just because it was the Yankees.

I got a foul ball. And that's a first in my half-century on the planet. But hey, I've only been going to baseball games since I was about five years old. My best "guestimate" is that I've been to about 400 games, give or take.

The circumstances didn't exactly make for a story worthy of telling while bouncing grandchildren on one's knee, so I may have to embellish a bit when that time comes. But for now, here's the unvarnished truth.

As so often happens, the first guy to get his hands on the ball takes the heat off of it, and some lucky Johnny-come-lately gets a Sunday-hop souvenir, while the first guy rubs his hands and curses under his breath. So, call me Johnny.

My Section 259 friend Dave, who has been sitting six seats down from me since 1994, happened to be the guy with the sore hands. He reached across in front of an elderly couple and made a good grab at it, and I in turn, reached across in front of the two young ladies to my right, lunged, and snagged it as it hovered in midair, having popped out of Dave's grasp. The guy in the seat between the elderly couple and the two young ladies, would have had an easy souvenir, had he not stepped out to make a phone call moments before.

After hearing some editorial comment from some lady a row or two back about chivalry being dead, I figured I should apologize to the nice girls for reaching in front of them for the ball...okay, practically diving in front of them for the ball. But I had made a nice one-handed grab, and hadn't bumped them or knocked them down or anything, so they were OK with it, even complimenting my catch. I have no idea if either of them made any attempt to make the catch, so single-minded was I in pursuit of "my ball".

Later, I explained how I had had a pretty rough half-century where catching foul balls was concerned. I figured they didn't need to hear the story of how my sister once had a Joe Altobelli foul ball land in her lap, a mere seat or two away from me, since that happened a decade or so before these two girls were born.

Besides, that would have made me seem bitter and full of self-pity, if only because I still remember this obscure player's name, (the bum). My sister never even saw it coming, but she's always had one more foul ball souvenir than I did. Till tonight.

Game Boy

Great article from ESPN.com on the talented, angry, intelligent young man that is Indians centerfielder Milton Bradley.

July 8, 2003

Traber Eclipses LeBron

So it was supposed to be LeBron James night for Cleveland sports fans. But Billy Traber never got the memo, and he went out and threw a one-hitter, shutting out the New York Yankees, 4-0. He was one batter away from a perfect game, retiring the last 21 Yanks in a row.

Traber got shelled in his last start, so this was a bit out of the blue for the Indians rookie. The overall improvement and growing confidence of the young Indians may be the bigger story that's starting to emerge. They are 31-30 since May, 1, and the second half of the season is going to be fun to watch. They are loaded with good young starting pitching, and these guys are taking their lumps this season and trying to learn how to win. Tomorrow, the veteran goes: 22 year old All-Star, C.C. Sabathia.

And as I have blogged before, we all know that this is the only thing better than a one-hitter against the Yankees.

LeBron Debuts

170 media credentials were issued for a July NBA Summer League game. The game result was the top sports story of the night on ESPN.com.

The attraction was the pro debut of LeBron James, and he didn't disappoint, putting up 10 points 4 bounds and three assists in the first quarter alone, and finishing with 14, 7, and 6 for the game. Oh, the Cavaliers won, 107-80.

Let's Roll

I had heard nothing of the 29 year old Iranian female twins, joined at the head, until it became news that their separation surgery was about to begin. But what an amazing story their lives seem to have been. Both law school graduates, they knew the risks of the surgery, and rolled the dice anyway. It's no wonder Iran mourns today. More on the last day from The Straits Times.

July 7, 2003

News From The Front

Great post from LGF. A first person report from the ground in Iraq by a U.S. Army Major. He speaks of electricity infrastructure, water purification, oil production, natural gas distribution. All the things that our troops are working on that we don't hear much about anywhere else. And, oh by the way, they're still shooting at us.

Over the Top

Ann Coulter didn't expect to win any friends or defenders on the Left, considering the title of her new book, Treason; Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. But her hysterical rhetoric now has even conservatives saying "Enough!"

When you're being compared to Maureen Dowd and Michael Moore by conservative writers, that should signal trouble. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the WSJ focuses on Coulter's "all-out effort" to rehabilitate the reputation of Joseph McCarthy with her selective use of some facts, and her omission of others.

And Andrew Sullivan just asks for a little perspective. Here's his "money quote":

...part of the frustration of reading Coulter is that her basic causes are the right ones: the American media truly is biased to the left; some liberals and Democrats were bona fide traitors during the Cold War; many on the far left today are essentially anti-American and hope for the defeat of their country in foreign wars.

But by making huge and sweeping generalizations about all liberals, Coulter undermines her own arguments and comes close to making them meaningless. If you condemn good and bad liberals alike, how can you be trusted to make any moral distinctions of any kind?

Read the whole Sullivan piece, if only for the quotes from Ron Radosh, a true Cold War historian and scholar, who laments the damage done to the cause of real anti-communism by Coulter's defense of McCarthy.

UPDATE 7/8: David Horowitz pens an excellent critique of Coulter's book

Wanted: Bush Leadership on Drug Plan

Robert Novak says George Bush has undercut Republicans' ability to negotiate a worthwhile prescription drug plan in the House-Senate conference by indicating that he'll sign whatever plan emerges from Congress.

Choice in D.C.

The time may have finally come for school choice in Washington D.C. There seems to be enough support from the mayor and others to see to it that not only rich people have an opportunity to send their kids to private schools. It's not a done deal. Politicians in the pocket of public school teachers unions will fight, but this time voucher proponents may prevail. Bravo.

July 5, 2003

War Stories

As the frequency of guerilla bombings, shootings and attacks by what are presumed to be displaced Baathist soldiers and/or security forces increases, some media elements paint a picture of a "growing resistance" to the coalition. Implied in some accounts is that this is a "popular" resistance. Stories of targeted attacks, coupled with man-on-the-street interviews expressing a frustration with the U.S. presence could lead the reader to assume that those resisting the U.S. forces have some popular backing among regular Iraqi citizens. However, there seems to be no factual basis for this notion, if polls of Iraqis are to be believed.

A tape of a man purporting to be Saddam says he's alive , and encourages the resistance. The timing could have been better, I suppose, since U.S. spokesmen have been assuring us that these attacks do not appear to be coordinated in any way. If Saddam is alive, we know he has plenty of weapons and plenty of cash, and his loyalists know that they will never have the life of power and privilege that they enjoyed working for the dictator. To me the claims by U.S. leaders of "no coordination" are ringing a bit hollow these days.

I wonder and worry about the morale of our men and women in Iraq. They are no longer doing what they do best, and they've got to feel like sitting ducks, especially with the recent spate of attacks. VDH calls the situation "surreal". To say a Victor Davis Hanson article is worth reading seems a redundancy, so read it all. Here's one quick excerpt:

Marines and army units literally were asked to evolve from combatants to peacekeepers to reconstructionists in a matter of hours — as enemy soldiers who ran from battle, now on occasion shot at them for American felonies like directing traffic, seeking to restore electricity, and other unmentionables like treating the sick and organizing local councils....

....After risking American lives during the war to preserve Iraqi assets, our soldiers were then blamed for not anticipating that the Iraqis — unlike any liberated or occupied populace in history — would then themselves as natives destroy what we as foreigners had sought to save. Indeed, stung by charges of "occupation" and "imperialism," the American military erred for the first time, and for about 30 days sought an unrealistically low profile, worried that their presence would be deemed intrusive and thus aggravating to the sensitivities of the Iraqi public — only to be immediately condemned by the same citizenry as either naive or deliberately lax for not applying the iron hand to protect them from themselves.

As to the broader War on Terror, William Bacon has a Scorecard of sorts on Front Page Magazine, that documents some of the good news. And we're not fighting this thing alone, even though it sometimes seems that way. A recent Al Qaeda arrest in Pakistan , and a suicide in Saudi Arabia , are encouraging developments.

Here at home, we have heard critics on the left and on the right sound off about violations of our civil liberties as the Bush administration attempts to protect U.S. citizens in the War on Terror. Originally published in Commentary Magazine, and recently republished online at Front Page is a piece by Robert Bork, which debunks much of the scaremongering and misrepresentation that has characterized criticism of Ashcroft and Bush policies and initiatives.

UPDATE 7/6: The WSJ says we should admit that we are in a guerilla war in Iraq, instead of continuing to pretend that's not what it is.

July 4, 2003

Barry Blog

I realize that for those of us who are familiar with the writing of Dave Barry, the very idea of a Dave Barry blog sounds dangerous. Well, it's what you might expect. Links to obscure, bizarre, and humorous websites and articles, accompanied by typically deranged commentary by DB. See for yourself. Trust me, you'll want to go back.

July 3, 2003

For The Holiday

If you don't have time to read Dinesh D'Souza's book, What's So Great About America, at least read his article, "10 Great Things" to love about America. It's not a flag-waving lovefest. D'Souza acknowledges the "warts", but as someone who wasn't born here, he's able to look past them to our unique attributes and admirable qualities. Perhaps just once a year we can be permitted a little self-appreciation.

Steyn on Howard Dean

Mark Steyn has been watching Howard Dean on local TV for the last 10 years or so, and has some thoughts on the man who would point to Vermont as an example for the rest of the country.

July 1, 2003

The Last Hillary Review

He has to do it. It's his job. But P.J. O'Rourke says we don't have to read Living History by Hillary Clinton. His review is worth reading, however. The beginning "hook":

If you plan not to read this summer, "Living History" is just the book.

It's a "non-read", says P.J. Here's another excerpt:

"Living History" arrived from the publisher with a seven-page executive summary (itself ferociously tedious) that indicates no one is intended to read this book. Of course, a couple of people had to. There is the junior associate--doubtless a strong, intelligent woman--at the law firm of Bland and Blander who slogged through every word to make sure nothing was actionable. And then there's me. Poor me. But, except for us, "Living History" suffers the fate of modern poetry, with an authorship of many and an audience of none.

Not that the book isn't supposed to sell. And I understand it's selling nicely. I do not begrudge Hillary and her publisher their profits. The money will allow them, per Dante, to visit the fifth cornice of purgatory, where avarice is atoned, whenever they can get family leave from the ninth circle of hell where they'll be eternally tortured for spreading false doctrine. The free market is a good thing.

Found Stuff

Thanks to Eve Tushnet for the link to Found Magazine. Proof yet again that the Internet can accommodate a little bit of everything, no matter how flaky. This place is for "found" stuff....photos and notes mainly, found in attics, alleys or trash cans, often by strangers with no connection to the originators of the items. Interesting.....kind of.