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August 30, 2003

Strange Bedfellows

The Bali bomber thanks the anti-war protestors for their opposition to American government policy. Bet that makes them proud. This dimbulb sees no inconsistency in murdering 202 innocent people, and then making a statement like this:

"For all human beings to stop now in this world, destroy all of the destructive weapons . . . if there were no weapons then peace can be created," he said.

The world will be closer to peace when this scumbag is roasting on a spit in hell. Excuse me for briefly succumbing to my dark, unforgiving, intolerant side. It happens.

The link is courtesy of Michael Totten, who adds some pointed comments to those very antiwar protestors. While not equating their position with support for terrorists (I don't either!) Totten suggests:

You need to stand unflinchingly against terrorism everywhere, always, forever. This “of course we are against terrorism” line doesn’t cut it. At least one terrorist thinks he’s your buddy. He said it, not me.

When you reserve most of your judgement, criticism, and wrath for Western governments while speaking barely a word against Islamofascist death squads, it sends funny signals to our enemies. I know you don’t support terrorists and fascists. Well, when the victims are Jews it looks like some of you do.

But the rest of you don’t, and your message is not getting across. Louder, please. Draw a line in the sand.

Your domestic political opponents are not your enemies. Hamstringing America and defeating the Republican Party is not more important than defeating terrorism.

Your enemies are those who are trying to kill you. Make the proper distinctions. Get your priorities straight. Trust me, you don’t want to hear Osama bin Laden, or whoever is making those audio tapes, say he’s your pal. It could happen if you don't watch it.

Well said, Michael.

Glass Half Full

Austin Bay on how we're winning in Iraq. My favorite paragraph:

Defeatist hotheads who natter about "root causes of terror" must understand the taproot of terror is tyranny. Theft and brutality by local dictators are the leading causes of Third World poverty. UC-Berkeley faculty resolutions don't stop gangsters. Cutting the taproot usually requires the explicit presence and sometimes the precious lives of Western soldiers.

August 29, 2003

Condi in 2008

Yes, I'd vote for Condi Rice for President. I hope she'll consider running in '08. What a great message and example she brings to young people growing up in America...or anywhere for that matter. Her story, as told in this in depth article , is one of family, faith, intellect and tenacity all coming together in dazzling achievement. What a star! (link via susanna at cut on the bias)

Here are a couple of excerpts that I found particularly telling about her view of herself and her worldview on behalf of the country she serves:

She believes in empowering people," Zelikow says. "In international affairs, that means real commitment to liberty and freedom. She sees the message of her life as a message of how to realize a person's potential. No one should ever become the prisoner of other people's expectations.".......

........"Power matters," Rice told National Review in 1999. "But there can be no absence of moral content in American foreign policy, and, furthermore, the American people wouldn't accept such an absence. Europeans giggle at this and say we're naïve and so on, but we're not Europeans, we're Americans—and we have different principles."

Opposing Freedom

The bombing of a mosque that has so far resulted in 82 Iraqi deaths further underlines the point made by the U.N. bombing last week; that it is not the U.S. occupation that is being "resisted", but rather Iraqi self-government and independence. (link via Tim Blair)

The slain (and presumably targeted) Shiite cleric opposed attacks on coalition troops:

Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, Iraq's best-known Shiite Muslim politician, was a voice of moderation despite his fierce opposition to the presence of foreign troops in his homeland.

Hakim, killed in yesterday's car bombing in Najaf told his followers that the way to remove the US and British soldiers was not by guns, but by unifying and speeding up the reconstruction of the war-shattered country.

What Ails the Dems

An example of the blogosphere at its best is the dialogue generated by this Jane Galt post and the subsequent comments, as well as this thoughtful and insightful response to it by R. Alex Whitlock at Reductio Ad Absurdum.

The topic: the panderfest that has become the Democrats' modus operandi, and the absence of any real theme or populist cause, not only to unite and/or expand the party, but to make them electable.

August 28, 2003

Mars Pics

Samizdata has posted some great pictures of Mars.

Revealed Truth

This website cleared up a lot for me. Everything is coming into focus now. I think I get it. And to think... the answer was right there for us all along.

The link is via Dave Barry's blog, but I had to pass the word. It's just that important. In fact, it's unbelievable.

August 27, 2003

Sportsblog is Up!

There's a new sports blog up called...you guessed it, Sportsblog. Yours truly will be a contributor to the site, blogging on Browns and NFL football stuff at first, and other sports as we get rolling. Be advised that the site design is in progress, so the "look" you see now doesn't resemble where it will be when the official launch takes place shortly after Labor Day. So check it out!

Not Showing Their Cards

Stephen Hayes says the Bush administration is running a great risk by sitting on the growing body of evidence linking Saddam's Iraq to Al Qaeda:

The Bush administration has thus far chosen to keep the results of its postwar findings to itself; much of the information presented here comes from public sources. The administration, spooked by the media feeding frenzy surrounding yellowcake from Niger, is exercising extreme caution in rolling out the growing evidence of collaboration between al Qaeda and Baathist Iraq. As the critics continue their assault on a prewar "pattern of deception," the administration remains silent.

This impulse is understandable. It is also dangerous. Some administration officials argue privately that the case for linkage is so devastating that when they eventually unveil it, the critics will be embarrassed and their arguments will collapse. But to rely on this assumption is to run a terrible risk. Already, the absence of linkage is the conventional wisdom in many quarters. Once "everybody knows" that Saddam and bin Laden had nothing to do with each other, it becomes extremely difficult for any release of information by the U.S. government to change people's minds.

Hayes catalogs the evidence convincingly, demonstrating that those who deny these links can only be willfully blind. For me, the message delivered by Hayes to his media colleagues is this; "Hey guys, it's called reporting. Do any of you remember what that is?" (I find the Weekly Standard in general to be particularly good at that "journalism" thing).

Smart money has the administration beginning to deliver the goods from investigator David Kay and others shortly after Labor Day, on or around the 9/11 observances. It's not a moment too soon. Supporters of the president's Iraq policies deserve the information, and the "pattern of deception" crowd deserves their dressing down.

August 26, 2003

Media Malice

Canadian journalist David Warren notices more than just bias in the media where George Bush is concerned:

Returning from four weeks of holiday, in which I did my best to avoid all news, I find myself again somewhat shocked by the sheer malice of the mainstream media. The journalists themselves are overwhelmingly "liberal". In the U.S., for instance, they have been shown to vote as a class for Democrats over Republicans by margins of more than ten-to-one; and further, that they tend to identify with the left wing of that Democrat Party. They want to bring down President Bush, at all costs; and if Iraq is turned back into a Saddamite killing field, or Al Qaeda is given a new lease on life, they don't particularly care. For they smell Republican blood.

Pipes on Being Borked

Daniel Pipes breaks his silence, and responds to his detractors following his recess appointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Patriot Act Debate

A lot of ink has been spilled in the major media in recent weeks about the Patriot Act, much of it in derision of John Ashcroft's cross-country tour designed to counter growing criticism of some of the act's provisions. Rich Lowry claims that among other critics, "over-the-top editorial writers" have "whipped up a dangerous hysteria". It's a good piece that gets into more detail of actual specifics of the Patriot Act than one finds in some of the aforementioned editorials, like this one in the NY Times. Lowry says:

The challenge to critics should be this: Name one civil liberty that has been violated under the Patriot Act. They can't, which is why they instead rely on hyperbole in an increasingly successful effort to make the Patriot Act a dirty phrase.

Ashcroft defended the legislation on The Capital Gang this past Saturday, but in fact there have been specific and substantive criticisms of the Patriot Act that cannot all be dismissed as hysteria and hyperbole, as Lowry suggests.

While the press and the political left seems to concentrate on the scaremongering and Bush/Ashcroft bashing, much of the seriousness and actual analysis of threats to civil rights comes from the libertarian right and the high tech industrial sector.

Jacob Sullum of Reason Online spells out some of those concerns, (and links to ACLU statements on the legislation). And the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in an older article, zeroes in on the ways that the Patriot Act impacts online activities and the broader "Digital World".

And Robert Bork had his July Commentary essay, Civil Liberties After 9/11 reprinted at OpinionJournal.com this week, if you're interested in a detailed, thoughtful and scholarly look at the issue. It should be required reading for Congressmen before they act on the Act.


An article in the Mercury News tells of Dennis Kucinich's comedic debut:

Kucinich got some laughs Thursday night as a guest on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," even though many in the audience did not appear to know who he was.

Asked if he thought President Bush's administration was secretive, the congressman from Cleveland told host Jon Stewart that he wasn't allowed to tell him.

Stewart then asked him if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a robot.

"I am on the committee that has oversight and I would have to say 'yes,'" Kucinich quipped.

Wow, that must have had those Comedy Central kids in stitches. What a zany, madcap character. Please Dennis, stop...before I absolutely split a gut.

August 25, 2003

Indians Trade Anderson

The Indians traded pitcher Brian Anderson to the Kansas City Royals on Monday, acquiring minor leaguers Trey Dyson and Kieran Mattison in exchange.

Anderson had pitched very well for the Indians this year, going 9-10 with a 3.71 ERA, and as a local product (Geneva, OH) was a popular player here as well. As it turns out however, his success this season probably worked to diminish the chances that he would sign to remain with the Indians after this season. Anderson will be a free agent at season's end, and his effectiveness this year will mean a contract term and salary on the open market that the Indians would consider prohibitive for a 30-something pitcher, given their youth movement and wealth of young pitching.

Dyson is a 23-year old first baseman-outfielder playing in the Class A Carolina League, where he is currently ranked 5th in RBI (72), and hits (126), and is 3rd in doubles (31) and 4th in extra-base hits (45). He is batting .275.

Mattison, 23, pitched 108 innings at Class A Burlington in the Midwest League, going 8-5 with a 2.50 ERA, and 89 strikeouts and 26 walks.

Kathy Boudin's Parole

Greg Yardley has an excellent piece at Front Page Magazine on the recent parole of Kathy Boudin, murderer, Weather Underground member, and icon of the Left. Boudin actively tried, (and apparently succeeded) to appeal to the sympathies of two black parole board commissioners with her claim that:

she participated in the robbery because she felt guilty for being white. She told the commissioners she believed the crime would help 'oppressed' black people and advance the cause of 'civil rights'.

As Yardley goes on to explain, the facts of her case and the history of the radical movements that Kathy Boudin championed would make her claim to the parole board laughable, were the crimes she committed not so brutal and the results so tragic. Among other ironies, the Brinks robbery/murder that sent her to jail left three men dead, including the first ever black police officer on the Nyack, NY police force. More from Yardley:

Boudin's claim, that the Black Liberation Army helped blacks, isn't remotely believable to anyone who knows the origins and history of the organization. The Black Liberation Army was a militant split-off of the Black Panther Party, criminal organization with a political panache; their members had already engaged in a series of ordinary (but violent) crimes, engaged in fratricidal combat with other Panthers and murdered two police officers. Several others had been shot. In their decade of existence, they had done nothing for the cause of civil rights. Their actual goal, shared with a fellow terrorist organization called the Republic of New Afrika, was the establishment of a Communist black separatist (i.e., racist) state in the American south. Kathy Boudin was veteran radical and terrorist, a fugitive for the past eleven years. She knew what the Black Liberation Army had done and what they stood for, and embraced it. Her claim, that she thought the Black Liberation Army would distribute the money to poor neighborhoods, cannot be taken seriously.

By the way, Yardley is himself a "recovering" Communist, and has started a new blog called commiewatch that tracks the protests, publications and related antics of the loony far left. Check him out. If you find the blog name a bit silly or anachronistic, (or if you believe that the Communists among us no longer bear "watching"), that's all the more reason to check out Yardley's content. These people are amazing.

August 24, 2003

Russia Helped Iraq with WMD's

Ion Pacepa, former deputy chief of Romanian foreign intelligence, is the highest- ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Soviet Bloc, coming to the U.S. in 1978. In a Washington Times article Pacepa charges that former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov ran Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, and was in Iraq with two other Russian generals for the three months just before the start of the coalition invasion, overseeing the liquidation of those chemical and biological weapons programs. Pacepa was familiar with the Russian program for getting rid of WMD's:

The Soviet Union and all its bloc states always had a standard operating procedure for deep sixing weapons of mass destruction — in Romanian it was codenamed "Sarindar, meaning "emergency exit. "I implemented it in Libya. It was for ridding Third World despots of all trace of their chemical weapons if the Western imperialists ever got near them. We wanted to make sure they would never be traced back to us, and we also wanted to frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with.
All chemical weapons were to be immediately burned or buried deep at sea. Technological documentation, however, would be preserved in microfiche buried in waterproof containers for future.

Syndicated columnist Jay Bryant calls this "the most important news about Iraq since the fall of Saddam's government", and calls on the press do their jobs:

They should smoke out Primakov – and his two cronies, too, perhaps even more so – and ask them to explain what they were doing on the banks of the Tigris in the winter of '03. Whatever lie they tell in answering, reporters should follow up on, disprove and write another week's worth of stories.

Putin, too should be made to feel the heat of this investigation. Primakov, Achalov and Matlsev may have been there on their own, without Putin's imprimatur, but I doubt it, and anyway, Putin should be put on the record with that claim, if he chooses to make it.

Here's more from Pacepa:

The Soviet bloc not only sold Saddam its WMDs, but it showed them how to make them "disappear." Russia is still at it. Primakov was in Baghdad from December until a couple of days before the war, along with a team of Russian military experts led by two of Russia's topnotch "retired"generals,Vladislav Achalov, a former deputy defense minister, and Igor Maltsev, a former air defense chief of staff. They were all there receiving honorary medals from the Iraqi defense minister. They clearly were not there to give Saddam military advice for the upcomingwar—Saddam's Katyusha launchers were of World War II vintage, and his T-72 tanks, BMP-1 fighting vehicles and MiG fighter planes were all obviously useless against America. "I did not fly to Baghdad to drink coffee," was what Gen. Achalov told the media afterward. They were there orchestrating Iraq's "Sarindar" plan.

The U.S. military in fact, has already found the only thing that would have been allowed to survive under the classic Soviet "Sarindar" plan to liquidate weapons arsenals in the event of defeat in war — the technological documents showing how to reproduce weapons stocks in just a few weeks.

Let's hope this story gets some legs.

Steyn is Hot

The French are dropping dead in unprecedented numbers from the oppressive heat this summer, and the explanation for much of the death toll is that elderly people are left home alone in the heat as the rest of the family vacations at the beach or wherever, this time of year. Estimates run as high as 10,000 deaths attributable to the heat. According to Mark Steyn, some folks are just having Mum put on ice until the vacation is over:

Bernard Mazeyrie, managing director of France's largest undertakers, told the New York Times that several of the bereaved were in no hurry to bury their aged loved ones: "Some, he said, informed of the death of relatives, postponed funerals, not to interrupt the August 15 holiday weekend, and left the bodies in the refrigerated hall." Au bord de la mer? Ou au bord de ma mère? Hmm. Tough call.

We can only hope to be as sophisticated as the French one day, if we pay close attention to how they do it. More Steyn:

In Paris this spring, a government official explained to me how Europeans had created a more civilised society than America - socialised healthcare, shorter work weeks, more holidays. We've just seen where that leads: gran'ma turned away from the hospital to die in an airless apartment because junior's sur la plage. M Chirac's somewhat tetchy suggestion that his people should rethink their attitude to the elderly was well taken. But Big Government inevitably diminishes its citizens' capacity to take responsibility, to the point where even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the state should do something about.

Read it all. Somehow Steyn manages to wring some humor from a serious topic. Surprised?

August 22, 2003

OSU Statement on Clarett

Here is the text of the statement released today by OSU Athletic Director Andy Geiger on the eligibility status of Maurice Clarett.

UPDATE 8/22: More on Clarett from ESPN.com

UPDATE 8/23: A few more details of how the processs will play out from here were made public in and after the press conference yesterday, and are specified in this article by Steve Helwagen at Bucknuts.com.

To sum up the new information:

OSU officials will review a list of allegations against Clarett, consider precedents in other cases, and recommend a penalty to the NCAA. The NCAA will then either approve of, or reject that recommendation, and in the event of a rejection, OSU will have the right to appeal the decision to committee of their "peers".

OSU Athletic Director, Andy Geiger said he will take "a few days" before making that recommendation to the NCAA. In the meantime, Clarett can practice with the team.

Whittle on Responsibility

Bill Whittle, a man that can make Den Beste look concise, has a new essay out called Responsibility. But since he usually has a lot to say, it's okay that it takes him a while to say it.

Whittle defines himself as one of a supposed "new breed" of conservative, that confounds the left by defying their stereotypes. He's right that his breed is different, but I won't concede that it's new. He goes on to talk about the "vast, sensible middle" of America, so I don't suppose he is implying that any previous incarnations of "conservatism" fit neatly into the left's concept of racist, homophobic, misogynistic neanderthal. He must know that won't wash, as large parts of my (boomer) generation stand as examples to the contrary. He's right on one thing though; old labels don't fit anymore. Actually, he's right on many things. Read it all as soon as you can. Here's an excerpt:

One of the things that makes the current political debate so rancorous is that we do a lot of talking past each other, because the old labels no longer seem to apply. Rachel Lucas is a gun-toting, idiot-intolerant, pro-gay, pro-choice conservative. My Liege Lord and Master, Emperor Misha I, the Hammer of Idiotarians, is a deeply religious, formidably armed firebrand who smashes with righteous fury any homophobic or racist morons who darken his cyberdoor. And Kim Du Toit, the rootin’-est, tootin’-est bad-ass hombre who ever lived, a veritable poster boy for the idea of an assault rifle in every crib, is a former South African who marched in the streets against racism and took huge risks fighting for the equality of all of his fellow citizens before he came home to America.

They, like me, call themselves conservatives, but we are indeed a new breed: pro-choice, pro-gay, vigorous defenders of equality of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. We’re big on freedom and big on responsibility.

The left hates us. We are harder to attack than the racist, homophobic, misogynists that they formerly could comfortably lambaste as right-wingers. (And they deserved to be lambasted, by the way – and I’m not even sure what lambasting is, but it does sound nasty and severe.)

His primary thesis, that how we define "responsibility" will determine our positions on a wide variety of divisive societal issues, is well stated and amply supported. And as always, he's fun to read.

Going it Alone

Mark Levin in The Corner:

It's time for Ariel Sharon to do the unthinkable. It's time for him to tell President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell that he will do whatever he must to save the lives of Israeli babies, including, if necessary, the toppling of the terrorist regimes in Iran and Syria that are waging war against Israel through their Palestinian surrogates.

It's time for Prime Minister Sharon to look President Bush in his eyes--leader to leader--and tell him that the lives of his citizens are every bit as precious as the lives of American citizens, and that the perpetuation of a double standard, where the U.S. practices preemption and Israel is forced to practice restraint, is no longer acceptable. It's time for Sharon to tell Bush that he, as President of the United States, wouldn't tolerate the almost daily massacre of American babies, and he won't tolerate the massacre of Jewish babies, either. They're all God's children.

Amen. There's more. Read it all.

August 21, 2003

Ben Maller's Notes

Ben Maller's Rumors and Notes site is a comprehensive summary of sports news items, updated every day, and leaving no stone unturned. It has become a daily stop for me. You might want to check it out.


Victor Davis Hanson is on the same wavelength as Oliver Kamm. An excerpt:

The intifada was unleashed during negotiations and concessions. The World Trade Center and Pentagon were bombed in a time of peace after a decade of forbearance in the face of continual affronts. The killing in Afghanistan focuses on aid workers and restorers. And the U.N. complex in Baghdad was not a casualty of war, but rather targeted during the postbellum efforts to feed, clothe, and rebuild civil society. There is a pattern here...

...Our astonishing defeats of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban cannot blind us to the reality — unchanging since 9/11 — that we are in a war to the end with those who wish to destroy Western society and all that it holds dear. Both tactically and strategically this is a conflict that our enemies cannot win — given their military inferiority and accompanying failure to offer an attractive alternative to the freedom and prosperity of the West.

This doom the nihilists grudgingly accept. Thus the past week in Afghanistan, in Baghdad, and in Jerusalem they have once more embraced the tactics of the bomb-laden truck and suicide belt to demoralize civil society and to win the only way they can — as was true in Beirut and Mogadishu — by eroding public support for the continuance of war. Otherwise, they will lose and the virus of reform and legality will only spread.

Kamm on Terrorism

One of the humbling things about the blogosphere for a nascent blogger and amateur writer like me is that it is painfully easy to find others who are expressing what I think and feel much more eloquently and clearly than I could.

Once I get past that insecurity thing though, it's therapeutic to link to those writers, and then sit back with a certain element of satisfaction that I have identified, and brought to the attention of what few readers of this blog there may be, the words of my ideological soulmates. In this, the umpteenth occurence of this phenomenon today, I give you Oliver Kamm. Responding to Paul Keetch's suggestion that the Baghdad bombing and other "resistance" attacks on Iraqi infrastructure demonstrate "an urgent need for coalition forces to set up an Iraqi backed administration that has the support and respect of all groups in Iraq", Kamm says:

...when you obfuscate the nature of suicide-terrorism you also misperceive the solutions to it: hence Keetch's massive non sequitur. There is indeed an urgent need for a competent Iraqi-backed administration, but the notion that it would have 'the support and respect of all groups in Iraq' is fanciful. Seventeen civilians lie dead because a stable and popular administration is the last thing desired by a coalition of Islamist and Baathist terrorists, some of them foreign but nonetheless 'in Iraq'.

Typically the BBC accompanies its report with this sentiment from one its readers:

"The attacks won't stop until a stable and popular government is in place."

The attacks won't stop then either; they'll intensify, because legitimate civil authority is the opposite of what fascist terror gangs, theocratic and secular, aim for. It's a recurrent lesson that liberals have to learn - and the party known paradoxically as 'Liberal' in British politics, but not representing anything recognisable as liberalism, is nowhere near imbibing it - that there is no political or economic solution to terrorism, only a military one. Terrorists kill not because they're goaded into it by any sins of ours, but because their ideology is founded on the exercise of arbitrary authority and systematic violence. As the historian and former (Irish) Labour politician Conor Cruise O'Brien has long maintained, no political solution to terrorism is attainable, for there are no concessions that a democracy could make that even in principle would satisfy the demands of those ideologically opposed to liberal political rights and the rule of law.

Add to the list of liberals who don't "get it" the names of John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, who took the occasion of the Baghdad bombing to bemoan the lack of "an adequate plan" (Kerry), and "postwar progress and stability" (Lieberman). In fact, as Kamm illustrates, and as Ralph Peters posits, the bombing shows not only the desperation of the resistance in the face of coalition progress, but that what is being resisted is not U.S. "occupation", but Iraqi self-government.

Arafat Orders Crackdown

Is it real, or is it Scrappleface?

Preemption Works

From The Jerusalem Post: (link requires free registration):

The IDF arrested four members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell from the West Bank town of Jenin on Tuesday, thereby thwarting another terrorist attack on the day a suicide bomber killed 20 people and wounded over 100 in Jerusalem.

According to security report released Thursday, the terrorists were on their way to carry out a suicide bombing in Haifa. An IDF unit arrested the bomber, 26-year-old Omar Utman; his driver Ashraf Halil, and Muhammad Thana, who was in a leading car and was meant to clear the way for the car carrying the suicide bomber.

During their interrogation by the Shin Bet the terrorists gave up their commander and planner of the strike, Bashar Shuhana. Shuahana was released from an Israeli prison in March this year. He was serving a two-year sentence.

The terrorists also led the interrogators to the suicide bomber's explosives belt, which weighed 10kg. Army sappers detonated t device in a controlled explosion.

(via LGF)

Novak on The Passion

Michael Novak is one of a handful of people who have seen Mel Gibson's new film, The Passion. He calls the film "the most powerful movie I have ever seen". Here's the rest of his review.

August 20, 2003

Bush Hatred

Well said, Rich Lowry.

UPDATE 8/22: Jonah also has a take on this.

Clarett Doubtful

With the University of Washington game coming up in 10 days, and Maurice Clarett not yet even practicing with the team, it's unlikely he'll play on Aug. 30.

Missed This on CNN

Iraqi teachers and students joined U.S. Marines in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a rebuilt school in An Najaf. (link via On The Third Hand)

The Al Gary Secondary School for Girls, which was heavily damaged during the war, was the target of a $72,000 renovation that was supervised by the Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, Air Detachment, based in Port Hueneme, Calif.

Since the end of major combat operations on May 1, the division has focused a great deal of man-power and funding to repair dozens of schools in southern region that had been damaged or neglected due to the war with the former regime. In An Najaf province alone, the Marines and Seabees have repaired 13 schools.

The legacy that the Marines want to leave Iraq with is not one of war, but a legacy of freedom and education for the children of Iraq.

There are countless stories like this one of the humanitarian work that coalition forces are undertaking in Iraq that are reported each day via emails from U.S. troops, Iraqi bloggers, and other first person accounts. It seems that at least the Iraqi people are appreciative. If more Americans heard about this kind of work through the media, the perception of whether or not our mission is a "success" would surely be different.

The Best They Can Do

Ralph Peters in the N.Y. Post:

Our enemies' initial "Mogadishu Strategy" - based on the faulty notion that if you kill Americans they pack up and go home - was a disaster for them. Our response devastated their already-crippled organization. Now, with reduced capabilities and decayed leadership, they've turned to attacking soft targets. It's the best they can do.

It's ugly. But it's an indicator of their weakness, not of strength.

Diagnosed At Last

Step One, of course, is just admitting that you have a problem. (via Dave Barry Blog)

August 19, 2003

Nice Place To Visit....

...but it sounds like he couldn't live there anymore. Sylvain Galineau, Chicago Boyz blogger, is a French expat living in the U.S. His recent visit home made him....sick?

the truth is, I cannot deal with this putrid mental garbage anymore than I could ignore sewage bursting in my basement. And nobody should. It's simply too costly. Politically. Financially. Socially. And more. Statism a la Francaise, with all the psychological baggage that comes with it, is simply the biggest and longest slow-motion train wreck movie ever produced by the French "cultural exception". So enough with the morons who dismiss you as "Pro-American" as if that was a self-contained, self-evident proof you are wrong. Enough with the lame, far-flung conspiracy theories about foreign governments when our own politicians waste and otherwise divert our own billions under our nose, when they're not busy supporting, financing and ordering coups in Africa to replace one murderous fuck with another.....Enough sermons about unilateralism when our navy commandos sink Greenpeace boats that are no threat to anyone.

Read it all, he says good stuff about France too. Really.

Kerry Exploits Bombing

John F. Kerry is a disgusting hack. The blood of murdered U.N. employees is not yet cold, and Kerry takes the occasion of the Baghdad bombing to attempt to score partisan political points. Here's his statement:

"It is becoming increasingly clear each day that the administration misread the situation on the ground in Iraq and lacks an adequate plan to win the peace and protect our troops.''

Mr. Kerry, would an "adequate plan" be one that could have, or would have prevented leftover elements of Saddam's regime or fanatical outsiders from killing soldiers or diplomats? Perhaps you had such a plan that you've been keeping under your hat. Did George Bush ever suggest that this "winning of the peace" would be easy, or free of U.S. or other casualties? You continue to be the Chief Weasel of the Democratic Party with your fence-straddling on Iraq policy.

In an equally unserious and transparently political statement, Joe Lieberman said that the bombing should...

"explode the illusions of postwar progress and stability the Bush administration continues to cling to.''

Mr. Lieberman, the "illusion" is yours if you suggest we are not progressing in Iraq. There is a difference between "progress" and "stability". Progress is what our coalition is making every day in Iraq. Just because you and the media choose to ignore or minimize it doesn't mean it isn't happening. Stability is what will result only if we are firm and resolute in our mission to help Iraq democratize. It is sad to see you abandon your earlier principled position on Iraq just to chase the nomination of the Bush-haters.

Don't you two have a left-handed transgendered plumbers union convention to go pander to? They've got 13 perfectly good votes you can buy.

Who's Quarterbacking?

Joe Bauserman is a talented high school quarterback and a star pitcher in baseball. He's been in the news since his recent decision to accept a scholarship to play football at Ohio State. The one thing that might change that plan would be a high level of interest by professional baseball scouts, which would result in a high draft position next June, and a big bonus check to sign and play pro baseball instead.

But whatever becomes of Joe Bauserman, it sure doesn't seem like the kid is calling the shots. Following his sophomore year, his parents relocated the family from Virginia to Florida so that he could play against better competition, get more national exposure, and presumably have a better chance at a professional career. Except that Joe didn't want to go. Joe liked his small school and his friends in western Virginia. He hates the hot weather in Florida. His Mom and Dad talk about the "sacrifices" they are making in the interests of Joe's sports career. I wonder.

What's wrong with this picture? Joe's father apparently knows best, "It's been a very good move for him, even though he might not think so". Okay, Dad.

I realize that parents of talented athletes do make sacrifices, and that often the kid benefits from the "pushing" that is done by the parents toward a goal of excellence and achievement. But I also know that uprooting a high school kid from his home, school, and circle of friends is a traumatic thing. I've seen it many times when a parent's job change or transfer dictates it, and most any parent that goes through it will tell you it was extremely difficult emotionally for the kid. In fact many parents turn down such opportunities just so they can avoid putting their kids through that trauma at that crucial time in their adolescence.

And we've all seen examples of overzealous, overbearing parents who take their "support" for their child's athletic pursuits to an insane level. Perhaps they are frustrated or less talented athletes themselves, serving some need to thrill vicariously through their children. To the point where the questions become: Whose interests are being served? Whose "goals" are being pursued? At what point does the kid's opinion count for something?

Joe's parents are both retired teachers, so there wouldn't appear to be a selfish monetary incentive to make sure their son gets rich in a pro career of one kind or the other. And I don't presume to impugn their motives on the basis of one article. The scholarship to Ohio State would seem to indicate that their mission has been accomplished, at least to this point. There are no plans for any of them to stay in the Florida weather that none of them really like. And maybe Joe didn't really know as well as his parents did what was best for Joe.

It just seems like nobody paid much attention to what Joe said he wanted. Maybe he'll thank his parents someday. Or maybe he'll turn out to be another Todd Marinovich.

Poster Wars

I'm all for flushing out Saddam's supporters if we can, but I can't help thinking that this is just a really bad idea. Has anyone seen John Poindexter in Tikrit? (via Instapundit)

August 18, 2003

Pro-Choice on Health Care

Bob Bartley thinks we ought to have a health care plan as good as the one Congress and other Federal government employees have.

Hey, while we're at it, we should insist on a retirement plan as good as the one state teachers and other state and federal employees have. I'm not going to get into a Social Security reform discussion, at least not here and now, but the hypocrisy of politicians participating in a private insurance plan for themselves, while insisting on a bloated, inefficient government plan for the rest of us shlubs, is breathtaking.

August 17, 2003

Stars, Love, Murder, PC

This story from France makes the Laci Peterson case look like a common mugging. Here's the set-up from Nidra Poller's essay at NRO:

The bare-bones story doesn't exactly qualify as Shakespeare. Marie Trintignant, 41-year-old French actress, is dead, and her lover, 39-year-old rock star Bertrand Cantat, is being held in a Wilno prison hospital. According to initial reports in the French press, the lovers had a violent quarrel Saturday night (July 26-27), and the actress fell and hit her head. She underwent surgery, he was hospitalized; she was in a coma, he was nearly comatose, from a combination of drugs and alcohol. The incident occurred a few days before the end of shooting — Marie was playing Colette in a TV film directed by her mother, Nadine Trintignant. (The eldest of her four sons, Roman Kolinka, has a role in the film; her brother Vincent is assistant director.) Cantat, leader of the record-breaking rock group Noir Désir, is quick to explain that Marie was injured accidentally, though he admits that he pushed her. She is hovering between life and death. She is brain-dead. A French surgeon flies to Wilno for a second, last-chance operation. Hopeless. Marie's mother speaks up, both directly and through her lawyer. Her daughter was beaten to death. Cantat is arraigned. He's terribly sorry about the accident, but denies the crime; he's ready to take his punishment, but not in Lithuania.

It's a bit long, but I found it fascinating to read about the indifferent, even sympathetic reaction of the French press and public to at best a brute, and at worst a murderer, who just happens to be oh, so politically correct.

BBC Story

If you haven't been following the BBC scandal, this piece by Josh Chafetz, (of Oxblog fame) is a good summary of the issues and events. The feedback to the article has apparently been fast and furious, and over at Oxblog, Chafetz responds graciously to his critics.

Clarett "Humbled"

This is a promising development. A quote from Maurice Clarett:

"The bottom line is I needed to humble myself, and this is a humbling process right now," Clarett said. "The NCAA came in and humbled me. Coach Tressel humbled me. (OSU athletics director) Andy Geiger humbled me.

"That should be the headline of the story: Clarett humbled. It’s a humbling process."

None too soon.

European Priorities

Ralph Peters compares "risk averse" Europe with a courageous, opportunistic America, and says it goes back to what kind of people got on the Mayflower. Here's an excerpt:

And so it comes to pass that, as America seeks to change the world for the better, Europeans are content to let dictators thrive and populations suffer - as long as Europe's slumber is not disturbed.

Strategically, Europe is in danger of becoming the greatest impediment to positive change in the world. Europe clings to the international status quo, no matter how dreadful, simply because risk has been bred out of its culture. This leaves the United States (and Britain) with the choice of doing that which is necessary and just without Europe's support, or accepting the rules that made the 20th century history's bloodiest.

Europeans are correct when they insist that America has become a danger. We are, indeed, a tremendous threat to their self-satisfaction, to their dread of change, to their moral irresponsibility and to their dreary, state-supported cultures.

Our ancestors chose a new kind of human freedom. Europeans have resisted it ever since.

Still Faster, Please

Michael Ledeen hopes that George Bush can prevail over the State Department lifers who seem to want to appease the regime in Iran, and abandon the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

So It's Kelly

After weeks of (yawn) competition, the Browns have announced that Kelly Holcomb will be their starting quarterback for the 2003 season.

As much as I like Tim Couch personally, this is probably a good thing. It's pretty obvious to an unbiased observer (me?) that the team responds well to Holcomb, and he is much better at looking and throwing the ball vertically down the field, as opposed to Couch who seems to look first to "dink" the ball to backs and to shorter routes in the flats. Holcomb throws a very catchable ball, with great touch, and just has the intangibles that you can only sense in your gut when you watch the team play.

(There now, have I used up most every sports cliché ever created in that paragraph? No? Let's see, somebody needs to step up, so that we'll all know he came to play, because it's all about winning football games. That should do it.)

I listened to Couch at the press conference, and he was understandably down, but says he will be a success in the NFL, the obvious inference being that he suspects that it will happen with another team. But such are the twists and turns of a professional sports season that Joaquin Andujar of the St. Louis Cardinals once said that he could sum it up in just one word..."You never know".

In more words, that means that something like this could happen to Holcomb, and we'd be right back where we started. Couch had the misfortune to play in a very unsophisticated college program at Kentucky, where the coach literally drew up plays in the dirt, and then came to a brand new, and very bad expansion team in Cleveland, where he proceeded to get his brains beat in for three years. That he survived is a testament to his toughness and that he has never bad-mouthed anyone is a testament to his character.

I wish him well, but I agree that we are starting the best quarterback now.

August 16, 2003

Kristol Defines Neoconservatism

In the new Weekly Standard, Irving Kristol, one of the original so called neoconservatives, defines "what it was, and what it is", in The Neoconservative Persuasion. In this excerpt from the foreign policy segment, Kristol asserts three neoconservative "theses":

First, patriotism is a natural and healthy sentiment and should be encouraged by both private and public institutions. Precisely because we are a nation of immigrants, this is a powerful American sentiment. Second, world government is a terrible idea since it can lead to world tyranny. International institutions that point to an ultimate world government should be regarded with the deepest suspicion. Third, statesmen should, above all, have the ability to distinguish friends from enemies. This is not as easy as it sounds, as the history of the Cold War revealed. The number of intelligent men who could not count the Soviet Union as an enemy, even though this was its own self-definition, was absolutely astonishing.

August 14, 2003

Hafner Powers Up Cleveland

The city of Cleveland was powerless this afternoon thanks to the Great Power Outage of 2003. An hour from the city, our whole town was without power for five hours, which in retrospect now looks like nothing much more serious than a run on ice. It took me four tries to find a place that still had some, and the convenient store that did have a couple bags left let me have them for free, since they were melting anyway. I experienced only the early pangs of Internet withdrawal.

But for Indians fans, the "Day the Power Went Out" will have to share the date with "The Day Hafner Hit For the Cycle". The 6'3' 240 lb. Hafner legged out a triple in the eighth inning, much to the delight of his teammates, who had been trying to figure out where the slow-footed first baseman would have to hit the ball in order to get all the way to third. (The right-centerfield alley, as it turns out.) By the way, good guys win, 8-3.

August 13, 2003


No, it's not an exaggeration in this case. It seems the stuff that ELF was doing wasn't violent enough for Craig Rosebraugh, so he started his own outfit. Wonderful.

Roger Sandall in TNC

What happened to the words culture and civilization? How did they go from being words used primarily in the singular, denoting an elevated human condition of sorts, to their newer alternative, if not contradictory meaning of simply a "way of life", no matter how base or barbaric it may be?

Roger Sandall evokes Orwell and identifies semantic devices like Bald Inversion and Barefaced Oxymoron, in the process of taking on the subject. (I shamelessly lifted the Orwell quote that now adorns my blog's banner. It just sounded "right" for me, and who knows, perhaps someday my semantic devices will be capitalized). Here are some key paragraphs, but it's worth reading the whole essay. From The politics of oxymoron, in The New Criterion.

What exactly is going on here? Three important terms have been subverted, weakened, corrupted, and destroyed. In the humanities, one hundred years ago, the meaning of “culture” was very like “civilization.” It denoted both a universal process of human improvement and the condition to which that process leads: an increase in amenity, an amelioration of the harsher aspects of life, a diminution of ignorance and fear, a flowering of the arts and sciences, and finally, crowning all, a “civility” which only peoples blessed with the mature religious, legal, political, and economic arrangements of “civil society” are fortunate enough to know. This evaluative meaning was entirely compatible with Matthew Arnold’s humanistic ideal—culture as acquaintance with the best that humanity had thought or said or done. It was not pluralistic. It did not involve “cultures” (plural) scattered all over the globe. It did not pretend that all cultures were broadly equal. Instead it visualized a single universal scale of achievement in which some things were decidedly better than others....

...the word had not just one meaning but two—and these two meanings were very far apart. Matthew Arnold’s usage was universal, hierarchic, and singular, fearlessly arranging things on a vertical scale of value from the worst up to the best. The other meaning lurking in the shadows was the meaning of “culture” in social science. This was local and pluralistic, and it had nothing whatever to do with better or worse. It simply denoted a social system—any kind of social system at all, at any level, anywhere...

...Soon it appeared that whereas the singular and universal Arnoldian vision had consistently stood for the best, the plurality of anthropological “cultures” could just as easily represent the worst—the least amenity, the deepest ignorance, the grossest delusions, the most vicious habits, and the absence of any art or science worth the name. However one chooses to define the semantic process involved (inversion, extension, expansion, or whatever) usages which would at first have seemed oxymoronic now won acceptance everywhere: street culture, jail culture, porno culture—while a generously accommodating modern sensibility found a place for drug culture too.

August 12, 2003

Baby Steps

How young are the Cleveland Indians? Their starting lineup for Tuesday's game had a combined total of 508 career major league at-bats prior to the start of the 2003 season. It's not uncommon for one player to have 500 at-bats in one season, so that is a mind-blowing statistic, at least to my feeble mind.

On the upside, the Tribe unknowns hit four homers tonight and beat the Twins 9-6, with their best player, Milton Bradley, out with an injury. My faith in the "program", the rebuilding one, had been waning a bit lately because as excited as I am about the young pitching, I couldn't picture the position player talent being as good as it needs to be to contend. But recent hitting by Travis Hafner and Ryan Ludwick gives me hope that the lack of power at the corners that I thought was a real problem, may be answered by those guys, among others.

Throw in the promise of Bradley, Jody Gerut, Victor Martinez, Ben Broussard, and (yes, still) Brandon Phillips, and you see that the cupboard isn't too bare. Put Burks and Vizquel back in that lineup, (along with their 14,432 career at-bats) and we look almost like a major league team. One that's going to get a lot better.

August 11, 2003

Jim Brown On Clarett Team

Jim Brown, (the greatest running back who ever walked the planet) was with Maurice Clarett today at a meeting with NCAA investigators on the Ohio State campus. The O-Zone has the whole story.

Brown had met Clarett at an awards dinner some time ago, and said he was there in a capacity as "friend of the family" and advisor of sorts. Brown spoke with the media about the ongoing investigation:

"I was contacted to exchange dialogue. I was invited to come here today because I'm a great Ohio State fan. Jim Tressel is a good friend and champion," Brown began.

"I think Maurice is an intelligent and fantastically talented young man. I want to give him all the support that I can in going through this investigation. He's been unreal as far as his cooperation. We're going to go back and huddle and have a conversation about what has been talked about here today and try and make some decisions on how to either assist them or do whatever is going to help them expedite whatever decision they have to make."

Vince Marrow, Clarett's cousin and confidant, who attended the meeting, expects Clarett to be cleared to resume practicing and playing for the Buckeyes as soon as this week. Said Marrow...

"Maurice is in good spirits and everything is going fine. I think this will be the last time that the NCAA comes in, but they still have to go back and decide what they're going to do, but I think it's going to be very positive."

Unfiltered News

It's encouraging to see this kind of first-person report from Iraq. This quote kind of sums it up:

The newspapers and television paint a picture of doom and gloom and that we are having major problems over here. That is just not the case. The Iraqis have a saying about the situation over here "Every day is better than the day before".
Good Stuff. (link via Instapundit.)


Bjorn Lomborg tries to separate facts from hysteria on global warming. (link via The Corner)

August 10, 2003

Al-Qaeda in Iraq

This Sunday Times article is sobering, if not unexpected. Al-Qaeda infiltrating Iraq, joining forces with disgruntled Baathist regimists or military figures, plotting terror against coalition forces.

And while the idea of that terror becoming a significant and long term problem in Iraq is chilling, my reaction to the article was at first skepticism of the scope of this effort. For one thing their evidence of a new wave of more "sophisticated" attacks consists mainly of one large truck bombing. And it's not as if it's news that there are established links between the Saddam regime and Islamic terror groups, specifically Al-Qaeda.

I guess direct involvement of Al-Qaeda in ongoing attacks on U.S. troops, if true, is newsworthy. But do the media have to pretend we are just learning of these ties?

Bremer and the military people are all over it, and Bush has harped on it for two years now. It's as if the media are catching on ever so slowly.

The U.S. confirms it believes al-Qaeda is operating in Iraq. Paul Bremer, the civilian administrator, said the military had found strong links between al-Qaeda, other Iraqi groups and guerrilla attacks that have so far killed 55 U.S. soldiers since Mr. Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1.

Our 150,000-strong troop presence represents vulnerability, but also control. Yes, we've got a lot of Americans hung out to dry over there, subject to attacks by these thugs, but if the Sunday Times is citing U.S. Military sources for their information, then I'm comforted that Bremer and Rumsfield are on top of their "training camp" at Razaza.

The fact that these jihadists are arriving in Iraq from Saudi Arabia is gasoline on the fire of our incinerating relationship with the Saudis. Two excellent fresh features in the new Weekly Standard get into our changing relationship with Saudi Arabia. Max Singer's "The Saudi Oil Weapon is Overrated" explodes myths about our energy dependence on the Saudis.

And the indispenable Stephen Schwartz traces the two years since 9/11 from the Saudi perspective, and says either major changes in the regime, or "regime change" itself are unavoidable. Here's one excerpt, but read it all: The Dysfunctional House of Saud .

The first task before the administration remains what it was on September 12: to obtain a full and transparent accounting of Saudi involvement in 9/11, no matter how high it reaches into ruling circles. Inevitably, this means focusing on Prince Nayef--the leading figure most infected with Wahhabi hatred of the West, according to Saudi dissidents, and the minister responsible for the terror-funding charities, to which he has contributed generously. Following full disclosure, we must insist that the Saudi regime turn off the tap on money flowing to the Wahhabi religious bureaucracy and maze of state-affiliated organizations--especially their international operations--and thus separate the government of Saudi Arabia from its extremist ideological legacy. We'll know we're on the right track if Saudi Arabia's withdrawal from global troublemaking leads to an opening up of Saudi society, not to a final hunkering down behind closed doors.

August 9, 2003

A Serious Candidate?

Now comes Peter Ueberroth as a candidate for Governor of California, a man with a track record of business management and successful public service. In the words of Steve Lopez , in the L.A. Times, "the man is doomed". Another excerpt:

He told me he will not run any negative TV ads.

He will not beat opponents over the head.

He will not respond in kind to personal attacks against him.

And he will not waste time discussing anything but public policy.

Say a prayer for the man. Running a clean and meaningful campaign in the year of our Lord 2003 is a bold and dangerous gambit, if not a suicide mission, and there's no telling whether Ueberroth or anyone else can pull it off.

Butch Mushroom

Courtesy of the Dave Barry Blog, the first ever mushroom with a tongue. It's not as mind-numbingly satisfying as the Copter Game, but it could get you through a coffee break.

August 8, 2003

Lileks' "Perfect" Candidate

James Lileks, from Friday's Bleat:

Listened to much radio commentary today on the Arnie candidacy, and as usual there was much lamenting and rending of garments on the ironclad right; he’s not this, he’s not that, he said this, he sleeps with a Shriver, etc. I am always mystified by people who would rather die pure than live with imperfections. Every candidate will always disappoint, somehow. Any candidate with whom you agree 100% is probably unelectable. If your bumpersticker says DON’T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR AYN RAND I'm not particularly impressed. ‘Cause she’s dead and none of that stuff is going to happen. Doesn’t mean we can’t keep the ideas in play, but if you don’t vote because no candidate vows to privatize the sewage systems and disband the Food and Drug Administration, don’t come crying to me when your marginal tax rate hits 71 percent.

Today's Bleat also features Lileks' version of Rush vs. the Blogosphere.

The Fence

Rather than take note of the fact that the Palestinians have not even taken the first steps required of them in Phase 1 of the so called roadmap for peace in the Middle East, our State Dept. is criticizing the construction of the fence by Israel. Krauthammer says it's a last resort to stop the killing:

The Israelis are not happy with the fence. They love the land as much as the Palestinians, and scarring it with any barrier is so painful to Israelis that for years they resisted the idea. The reason they finally decided to build it is that they could no longer in good conscience refrain from taking the one step that could prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from sneaking into Israel to blow up innocents.

This is not speculation. There have been nearly 100 Palestinian suicide bombings. All the terrorists came from the West Bank, where the barrier is being built. Not a single one has come from Gaza. Why? Because there already is a fence separating Gaza from Israel.

UPDATE 8/8: Amitai Etzioni's op-ed on "the fence".

"Don't Mind Me...."

"....I'm just having my baby. By the way, does this mean I have to pay another train fare?" (via cut on the bias)

Kobe Update:

Eagle, CO; In a late breaking development, it was learned late Wednesday afternoon that Kobe Bryant may have farted during his court appearance here to answer sexual abuse charges. Although this story could not be confirmed with absolute certainty, Kobe was seen reaching over to his right, ostensibly for some papers on the other side of the table, in the classic move required for a "leaner". In addition, pained expressions on the faces of both the defense and prosecution teams lent credence to the belief that Kobe may in fact have "let one". Sources close to Bryant confirmed when queried on the matter, that the superstar had enjoyed an Italian sausage omelette for breakfast. More details as the drama unfolds. Continue to check this space for all the latest news in the Bryant case.

August 5, 2003

Those Crazy Greens

What will those zany environmentalists think of next? This stunt goes a long way towards saving the planet, don't you think?

Tiger Story

A funny story about Tiger Woods and the 2000 U.S. Open Championships from John Ellis' blog.

Bureaucracy Kills

It may be a bit much to say that millions of bodies "can be laid at the doorstep of author Rachel Carson", as Lisa Makson does in this Front Page Magazine article.

But there has been a deadly upsurge in malaria, especially in Africa, and it seems fair to blame the 31-year old DDT ban that was inspired by Carson's now-discredited "science", and the government bureaucracy and the environmental movement that are too entrenched, funded, stubborn or paralyzed to let it go. Meanwhile, malaria goes on killing literally millions of people.

Makson describes the scope of the problem:

According to the WHO, "more people are now infected [with malaria] than at any point in history," with "up to half a billion cases [being reported] every year." The National Institute of Health reports that "infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death" in the world and is "the third leading cause of death in the United States." WHO estimates put the number of people in Africa dying from malaria annually is equal to the number of AIDS' deaths over the last 15 years combined!

Makson's tells DDT's story, and the essay is thorough and fact-filled, (if poorly edited), and worth reading in full.

But let me get this right. So politically entrenched is the DDT ban, with its accompanying bureaucracy, that even though the chemical's safety has been proven, and millions are dying that could have been saved had we changed course sooner, we can't muster the political will or the social outrage to bring an end to the ban. So who supports the ban?

In a June, 2002 essay by Todd Seavey of the American Council of Science and Health, titled The DDT Ban Turns 30 , the blame for the ban is placed with the U.S. EPA, the United Nations, and environmental groups, especially The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). On the upside, the World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, and UNICEF have recommended continued DDT use, but they appear to be in an uphill battle.

One bizarre angle in the story is that the notion of millions dying is perfectly alright with some of these zealous pro-DDT ban environmentalists. It's population control, a needed social "good" presumably. From Seavey:

Around the time of the DDT ban, Dr. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, may have revealed how some environmentalists really feel about human beings when he was asked if people might die as a result of the DDT ban: "Probably...so what? People are the causes of all the problems; we have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any."

What's wrong with a little social engineering among well-intended environmentalists? I get it. If you can't defend your position with scientific evidence or logic, just redefine the deaths of millions of people as a good thing. In fact, there's not much to go on to condemn the use of DDT:

No DDT-related human fatalities or chronic illnesses have ever been recorded, even among the DDT-soaked workers in anti-malarial programs or among prisoners who were fed DDT as volunteer test subjects — let alone among the 600 million to 1 billion who lived in repeatedly-sprayed dwellings at the height of the substance's use. The only recorded cases of DDT poisoning were from massive accidental or suicidal ingestions, and even in these cases, it was probably the kerosene solvent rather than the DDT itself that caused illness. Reports of injury to birds could not be verified, even when one researcher force-fed DDT-laced worms to baby robins. Reports of fish kills have been greatly exaggerated, resulting from faulty data or aberrant, massive spills or overuse of the chemical that do not hint at a general danger in its use.

An excellent Washington Monthly piece from April, 2003 does acknowledge that some studies show possible harmful effects:

That's not to say that DDT is harmless. Matthew Longnecker studied American women who had lived during the period of high DDT use and suggested that high levels of DDT in the bloodstream of pregnant women might cause pre-term delivery and low birthweight, for instance. But public health use doses – two grams per square meter of wall sprayed indoors at most every six months – aren't likely to produce those concentrations. Since DDT is not absorbed through the skin, spraying DDT in houses is unlikely to expose pregnant women – or anyone else – to amounts great enough to pose a danger. And scant evidence suggests DDT gets into the environment in significant amounts when sprayed indoors. According to a WHO report in 2000, "The targeted application of insecticides to indoor walls ... greatly reduces dispersion of the chemicals into the environment. For this reason, the environmental risks from such targeted measures [are] considered minimal."

Today, proponents of DDT use advocate using it to spray residences, indoors, and not any longer as an agricultural pesticide, further reducing any possible threat to health. And as Alexander Gourevitch of Washington Monthly reasons:

... the clear benefits of DDT use would seem to outweigh the potential dangers. Malaria, after all, also causes low birthweight in newborns (and mental retardation in infants). And while DDT may prove to have as-yet-unknown side effects, malaria has a well-known, direct effect: It kills millions of people a year.

Another good information source on DDT is here.

And even on a web site purporting to debunk "anti-environmentalist myths", no real, factual defense of a DDT ban is attempted, other than to point out that some misuse and/or overuse of the chemical early on by certain countries or groups of farmers helped to hasten the development of resistance to DDT by malaria-carrying mosquitos. (By the way, opposition to any environmental policy or program favored by empowered environmentalists, regardless of cost or efficacy, apparently qualifies one to be an "anti-environmentalist". Like these 350 scientists, for example.)

I've blogged before on this idea of "bureaucratic inertia", as relates to the issue of overpopulation. Science obviously outpaces government, and as Paul Weyrich said, "bureaucrats almost never admit they are wrong".
And as Winston Churchill said, "The Americans will always do the right thing... After they've exhausted all the alternatives." Well, faster please!

We know now what we didn't know then. And government can't, or won't shift gears to reflect current reality, even if that reality is 180 degrees from the direction they're heading. There are too many jobs and grants and pensions at stake. There are reputations and egos at stake. At least in the population debate, we're only talking about U.N. talking heads pretending there is still a poulation crisis. I suppose it's relatively harmless if they persist, (except for the wasted money.)

The DDT ban is a different animal. Lots of real, dead people.

UPDATE 8/5: This TCS article on the outgoing WHO head contradicts the idea expressed elsewhere, that the WHO favors DDT use

UPDATE 6/17/05: I wanted to acknowledge that the quote from Dr. Charles Wurster used above has been called into question, as this web page claims. Their evidence that the quote is in error consists principally of a denial of it by Wurster. Thanks to the commenter for bringing this discrepancy to my attention.

Updated: March 2014: There are a few newer articles (no kidding...the post is over ten years old)that I thought should be appended here:

From the site scienceheroes.com, a resource page on The DDT Controversy.

And yes, there's a site called RachelWasWrong.org.

If that isn't blunt enough, see also The Lies of Rachel Carson.

August 3, 2003

Computer Geeks Left Unattended

Okay, that's way too much serious stuff lately. Here are a couple of web sites where brains, creativity and computers have come together wonderfully:

Check out Yugo Nakamura's site surface.yugop.com. Don't ask, just click, and spend some time there. You'll see a horizontal row of dots along the bottom of the screen. Click on them one at a time, watch what happens, and then feel free to experiment with your mouse on the screen. Most are interactive. I mean, I'm easily amazed, but this is very cool stuff. (link via Samizdata)

And while you're at it, take a look at Play-Create.com , the creation of a British designer, Daniel Brown. I liked Piano, Butterflies, and Bits and Pieces for starters. (also via Samizdata)

Uday's Body Double

As is the case with most accounts of Uday Hussein, this story deals in rape, torture and death. It is the story of Latif Yahia, a man who had the misfortune to look almost exactly like Uday, and as a result was forced to work as his "double".

August 2, 2003

Steyn on Liberia

Another example of why Mark Steyn is in the right hand column of this blog under "Regular Reads".

Can Love and Politics Mix?

I saw this essay by Michael Knox Beran in City Journal comparing the concepts of compassion and pity, and figured I'd share it as a change of pace. By demonstrating how the differences impact the ways we educate our children and conceive of social welfare programs among other things, Beran works to make the case for an effective "compassionate conservatism" as well as anyone else I've read.

August 1, 2003

Michael Kelly Interview

What a treat it was to read this interview with Michael Kelly, conducted just a few weeks before he was killed in Iraq this past April. (link via Michael Totten) Kelly never got to see the statue of Saddam falling in Baghdad, as he died five days before Iraq's liberation. But he predicted it fairly accurately:

I would say it's intended as a war of liberation, and I would bet an awful lot that it's going to work out that way and very quickly. It's not a war of occupation or a war of aggression or a war of imperialism. It's intended as a war of liberation. It is in a sense unfinished business, or what the first war should have been but wasn't. That is the truth about it. I think what people will see—and I guess everybody will see what happens—but in the end, I do think that you will see an honest-to-God picture of people in Iraq and Baghdad cheering America.

Most of the interview concerns Kelly's first trip to Iraq, before and during the first Gulf War in 1991. Asked about what he might have learned during that trip, Kelly shares this insight:

One of the things I found out which is quite interesting personally is that people, at least men, I don't know about women, but men go to great lengths in life to not find out the answer to the question, How brave am I? War presents you with specific opportunities to find out the answer to that question—you can't avoid it at all. The question is asked for you and answered for you, in front of you and in front of other people. It's interesting, because you see it of all the people around you and you see it of yourself. And that's knowledge you have for the rest of your life.

Kelly thought he'd be safer this time around, "embedded" as he was with U.S. troops:

I probably shouldn't say this, because it makes me sound like the undramatic middle-aged man I am, but I don't think it will be that dangerous for me. Last time it was different, because I was wandering around by myself in the desert. This time, if I go over, and it looks like I will, I'll go over attached to a U.S. military outfit, so I'll be surrounded by a large number of young men with automatic weapons. That's a luxury I didn't have last time.

Sadly, he was wrong. Kelly was in a vehicle with a couple of those "young men" when they came under enemy fire, and while attempting to evade that fire, lost control of the vehicle and crashed, killing all three men. This was a brilliant, humble, funny man. Read the whole thing.

Totten Off The Reservation

I don't always agree with Michael Totten, but I read his blog to remind myself that there are free-thinking, thoughtful, principled liberals out there if one looks for them. (My family is another place where this species can be found.) In The Globalization of Gaza , Totten says, "It is time to ask ourselves honestly: Is it possible to support a Palestinian state without encouraging terrorists elsewhere?"

His essay proceeds to take a courageous position, among liberals that is, in that it echos George Bush's view that regards an end to Palestinian terror as a necessary precondition to the discussion of a Palestinian state, not as a negotiating chip with which they can forever "bargain". He is critical of the so called "roadmap" however:

The trouble with the road map isn't that Palestinians won't cooperate. The problem is there's no punishment if they don't...Instead, Israelis are effectively told they have no right to defend themselves; that only the Palestinian Authority is allowed to fight terror.

Totten then proceeds to spell out his solution in no uncertain terms:

First, defeat terrorism. Second, nurture democracy. Third, negotiate a settlement.

Sound familiar? In a refreshing departure from so much of the leftist rhetoric which equates the "wrongs" of Palestinian terror and Israeli occupation, Totten proposes the following:

The first phase should be simple. Terrorism must be punished. And anti-terrorism must be encouraged. The Palestinian Authority should be given one last chance to eliminate terror. And if the PA refuses, the U.S. must do the following:

Classify the Palestinian Authority as a terrorist organization.

Declare "regime change" in the West Bank and Gaza the official United States policy.

Support to the hilt every anti-terror operation by Israelis short of war crimes.

The first phase would not be complete until the enemies of peace are defeated, deported, imprisoned, or killed. These include Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Yasser Arafat's Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It may also include the Palestinian Authority.

Interesting plan, however simplistic and lacking in nuance it may be. Read it all.

UPDATE: This article reminded me of another recent example of a prominent liberal writer talking sense on the Palestinian question. Martin Peretz, editor of The New Republic had this essay at Front Page Magazine a few weeks ago.

Second Thoughts on Iraq

In the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq, I had a couple of email exchanges with family and friends who were sympathetic to those people who referred to themselves as "human shields", "peace workers", etc., who were traveling to Iraq to protest U.S. policy and "wage peace".

My correspondents bristled at my suggestion that these people were effectively functioning as propaganda agents for Saddam, that they were being exploited in the service of his regime, and were in far more danger from Saddam and his henchman than they were from coalition bombs. This "second thoughts" story by Charles M. Brown is not the first such account by "shields" types who went to Iraq and came back having had their eyes opened by what they encountered. But because it is written by one of the founders of this particular organization, it possesses some unique insights into the thinking behind the "Before" picture, and how that picture changed, for him at least, as he came to understand how blinkered was the view of his colleagues. Brown's group pre-dated the Iraqi invasion, protesting U.N. sanctions for years, but what they shared with their successors, the human shields, was their seeming indifference to the nature of Saddam's regime, as long as they were opposing U.S. policies. For example:

To be perfectly frank, we were less concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people than we were in maintaining our moral challenge to U.S. foreign policy. We did not agitate for an end to sanctions for purely humanitarian reasons; it was more important to us to maintain our moral challenge to "violent" U.S. foreign policy, regardless of what happened in Iraq. For example, had we been truly interested in alleviating the suffering in Iraq, we might have considered pushing for an expanded Oil-for-Food program. Nothing could have interested us less. Indeed, we even regarded the paltry amounts of aid that we did bring to Iraq as a logistical hassle. When it suited us, we portrayed ourselves as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization and at other times as a political group lobbying for a policy change. In our attempt to have it both ways, we failed in both of these missions.

We were so preoccupied with our own agenda that we didn't notice or care that the regime made use of us. When critics asked us whether the group was being exploited by the Iraqi regime, we obfuscated, and in so doing put Saddam and his minions on the same level as the U.S. government...