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October 31, 2003

An Easy Target

Don't expect the recent trend toward more open and vicious anti-semitism to abate anytime soon, says Victor Davis Hanson. First of all it's relatively risk free, as bigoted slurs go:

they all, whether by design or laxity, take the easier way out — especially when slurring "Israel" or "the Jews" involves none of the risks of incurring progressive odium that similarly clumsy attacks against blacks, women, Palestinians, or homosexuals might draw, requires no real thinking, and seems to find an increasingly receptive audience.

So things may get worse before they get better, says VDH, as the Middle Eastern despotisms and the declining European statisms look for a handy scapegoat (again), rather than address their real social problems straightforwardly:

These are weird, weird times, and before we win this messy war against Islamic fascism and its sponsors, count on things to get even uglier. Don't expect any reasoned military analysis that puts the post-9/11 destruction of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's evil regime, along with the liberation of 50 million at the cost of 300 American lives, in any sort of historical context. After all, in the current presidential race, a retired general now caricatures U.S. efforts in Iraq and quotes Al Sharpton.

Do not look for the Islamic community here to acknowledge that the United States, in little over a decade, freed Kuwait, saved most of the Bosnians and Kosovars, tried to feed Somalis, urged the Russians not to kill Chechnyans, belatedly ensured that no longer were Shiites and Kurds to be slaughtered in Iraq, spoke out against Kuwait's ethnic cleansing of a third of a million Palestinians — and now is spending $87 billion to make Iraqis free.

That the Arab world would appreciate billions of dollars in past American aid to Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, or thank America for its help in Kuwait and Kosovo, or be grateful to America for freeing Iraq — all this is about as plausible as the idea that Western Europeans would acknowledge their past salvation from Nazism and Soviet Communism, or be grateful for the role the United States plays to promote democracy in Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, or the Middle East.

No, in this depressing age, the real problem is apparently our support for democratic Israel and all those pesky Jews worldwide, who seem to crop up everywhere as sly war makers, grasping film executives, conspiratorial politicians, and greedy colonialists, and thus make life so difficult for the rest of us.

October 30, 2003


After the game was over, just before 1:00 a.m. Eastern, the basketball Talking Heads on ESPN and ESPN2 were all raving about what they had just seen. Some admitted to having been skeptical. No more.

25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, assorted dunks, finger-rolls, alley-oops, no-look passes, routine jumpers, and a last second airball that finally allowed the Sacramento Kings crowd to "boo" instead of "oooh".

It was the NBA debut of LeBron James. If he was nervous at the beginning, he showed it by scoring or assisting on five of the team's first seven baskets. Better yet, this Cavaliers team that won only three road games a year ago, came all the way back from a 19-point deficit to take a brief 4th quarter lead against what may be the best team in the NBA.

They were led by James, but he is surrounded by some very good young players this year in Carlos Boozer, J.R. Bremer, and Ricky Davis among others. The 106-92 loss itself was insignificant to Cleveland fans, NBA execs and Nike stockholders, although LeBron said all the right things in the postgame interview. You know; individual statistics don't mean much, we didn't win the game, blah, blah.

Anybody who watched it knows what was important. The kid is for real.

UPDATE 10/30: More from the LeBron-a-Thon, this article from Marc Stein at ESPN.com.

And a couple from the Plain Dealer, here and here.

October 29, 2003

A Real Live Heroine

I was so impressed by the responses of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi in the interview conducted by Amir Taheri this past week. What an courageous and optimistic person she seems to be.

Two things jumped out at me from the conversation. First of all, she takes pains to avoid laying the blame for the societal dysfunction in Iran on anything inherent in Islam. She is consistent and usually persuasive in making that case. When asked if the Islamic Republic should be replaced with a secular regime, her answer was:

What we have in Iran is not a religious regime, but a regime in which those in power use religion as a means of staying in power. If the present regime does not reform and evolve into one that reflects the will of the people, it is going to fail, even if it adopts a secularist posture. I support the separation of state and religion because the political space is open to countless views and interests.

When asked what she would say to those who say Islam is incompatible with human rights?

That they are wrong. It is true that human rights are violated in most Muslim countries. But this is a political, not a religious, reality. We have had all sorts of regimes in Muslim countries, including secularists, Marxists, and nationalists. They, too, violated human rights. If corrupt and brutal regimes oppress their people, in what way is this a sign of Islam's incompatibility with human rights? The Baathist regime in Iraq was supposedly secular. And in North Korea we do not have an Islamic regime.

The other theme for Ebadi is her role as a champion of equality for women, or what she calls "half of humankind". Again though, she doesn't fault Islam per se:

The problem that women face in Muslim societies is not because of religion. It is a result of the patriarchal culture. What we need is a gender-neutral reading of Islamic texts. The humiliation inflicted on women is the result of a diseased gene that is passed to every generation of men, not only by society as a whole but also by their mothers. It is mothers who raise boys who become men. It is up to mothers not to pass on that diseased cultural gene. I am not against men. I am against a patriarchal culture that denies equal rights for half of humankind.

She's not trying to portray women as strictly victims, or absolve them from all responsibility for their situation. Quite the contrary, "it's up to mothers...", to help solve the problem. Beautiful.

On why she doesn't wear the hijab outside Iran:

I wear it in Iran because it is imposed by law. If I don't wear it, I will be violating the law. I want that law changed, because I think the state has no business telling women whether or not they should cover their heads. I don't wear the hijab outside Iran because there is no such law. This is the case with many Iranian women. Instead of telling girls to cover their hair, we should teach them to use their heads.

Any message for Muslim women?

Yes. Keep fighting. Don't believe that you are decreed to have an inferior position. Study the Koran carefully, so that oppressors cannot impress you with citations and interpretations. Don't let individuals masquerading as theologians claim they have a monopoly on understanding Islam. Educate yourselves. Do your best and compete in all walks of life. God created us all equals. In fighting for equality we are doing what God wants us to do.

A focus on equality as individuals, self reliance, personal responsibility, a message to compete, to "fight", in the positive sense of the word. Wow. I'm sold. What a lady. Read it all.

Peters - Not Vietnam

Some plain talk from Ralph Peters in the NY Post. Here he cuts to the heart of why we're going it alone in Iraq:

Why are so few nations willing to help us? Because many political leaders want us to fail. Because the United States has returned to its original ideals, supporting freedom, self-determination, the rights of the individual and simple human decency.

Our example terrifies every one of Iraq's neighboring governments and infuriates the Europeans - who long profited from their political love affairs with dictators, even as they damned America for similar behavior.

We have taken a stand for freedom. And freedom still has few friends in this world.

Peters suggests the many ways in which Iraq is NOT another Vietnam, and identifies the one common thread:

There is only one way in which the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam: Our enemies realize that they can't win militarily. This is a contest of wills much more than a contest of weapons. The terrorists intend to wear us down

Washington Post Gets It

It was encouraging to see these words on the Washington Post editorial page today:

There is no basis to believe that the U.S. goals of stabilizing Iraq under a representative government cannot be achieved. In much of the country there is little violence and coalition authorities have the support of most of the population. Even in Baghdad, there has been measurable progress in recent months: More power is on, the curfew is lifted, streets and shops are usually full. Most important, the coalition authority and most Iraqis share the same goal: to transfer authority to a sovereign government and replace U.S. forces with Iraqis as quickly as can be done safely. The enemy offers not an attractive alternative but an agenda of viciousness embodied in the attacks on the humanitarian workers of the United Nations and International Red Cross. This is the brutal trademark of al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein, whose return on the heels of departing U.S. troops is the future Iraqis fear most.

October 28, 2003

Sullivan Fisks Kerry, Clark

Yes, there's a verb in there somewhere. Andrew Sullivan has begun a regular feature in The New Republic, in which he "Fisks" a statement or column that cries out to be "Fisked". Today's pigeons are John Kerry and Wesley Clark.

Unabomber Has Mail Problem

What can we do as citizens to right these wrongs? It seems that Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber is upset about the way his outgoing mail is being handled from his maximum security cell in federal prison. Kaczynski, doing life for killing three people and maiming numerous others with letter bombs, seems to want his outgoing mail to be given a bit more respect. Oh, the humanity!

Economy Watch

Irwin Stelzer gives the economic forecast, the good and the bad, and comes up with a "partly sunny" conclusion.

UPDATE 10/29: Bill Safire's "Pollyanna Conspiracy" has a similarly positive tone.

October 27, 2003

Let's Be Friends

This should work.

Where presidents and prime ministers have failed, Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt and wife Jennifer Anniston hope their star power will work wonders in new roles as Middle East peace envoys.

They will team up with other actors such as Edward Norton, Jason Alexander and Danny DeVito on a private mission to help resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The fact that you folks are five white, American millionaires that are huge stars in the decadent, infidel Western pop culture scene should help you make a big impression with the Palestinian Arab man-in-the-street. Maybe if you start out by apologizing for the actions of the U.S. government..... Anyway, I'm sure your agent said he loved the idea. Good luck...really. (via Buzz Machine)

Gems From the Debate

A quote from Al Sharpton during last night's debate. "One of the reasons I'm glad to be in this race is we're going to have the battle between the Christian right and the right Christians."

Interesting to hear expressed so bluntly what has been implied in so much of the Democrats' divisive rhetoric. That there are "good" Christians, and there are "bad" Christians, and they are sorted out by their political affiliation. Just as there are blacks who are "authentic", and then there are blacks of the other variety, "sellouts" being one of the nicer things they are called, again easily distinguishable by their views on certain political and social issues.

Courtesy of BOTW, here are a couple of other quotes from those who would be President:

"My mother is from the South. One of the things I learned is you can't plant a watermelon seed and grow oranges. You cannot get right out of wrong. . . . We cannot continue to play Bush roulette. It used to be Russian roulette, now it's Bush roulette."--Al Sharpton

"Gen. Boykin has confused the heck out of the White House with all this talk about the Almighty, because when he talks about the Almighty, the president thinks he's talking about Cheney, Cheney thinks he's talking about Halliburton, . . ., and John Ashcroft thinks they're talking about him--so they don't know where to go."--John Kerry

"We blew the place up; we have to fix it back."--Carol Moseley Braun

Winning The Culture Wars

If you read nothing else this week, read Brian Anderson in City Journal. Learn how South Park, Fox News, and the blogosphere are turning the tide. One excerpt before you go read it all. Of the liberals bitching and moaning over the success of Fox News and the blogs, Anderson says:

Well. The fair and balanced observer will hear in such hysterical complaint and angry foot stamping baffled frustration over the loss of a liberal monoculture, which has long protected the Left from debate—and from the realization that its unexamined ideas are sadly threadbare. “The Left has never before had its point of view challenged and its arguments made fun of and shot full of holes on the public stage,” concludes social thinker Michael Novak, who has been around long enough to recognize how dramatically things are changing. Hoover Institute fellow Tod Lindberg agrees: “Liberals aren’t prepared for real argument,” he says. “Elite opinion is no longer univocal. It engages in real argument in real time.”

As the man says, Heh.

The Sliming of Reagan

At NRO, Ed Morrow has a great article about the real Ronald Reagan, and the hit piece that CBS has produced to smear him. If the content and the tone of the TV movie is accurately described by those who have read the script, I fully support Morrow's suggested boycott of CBS during sweeps week. The creators freely admit their contempt for Reagan and their production, not surprisingly, sounds like a spiteful, despicable lie. Here's an excerpt from the Morrow article, but please read it all:

Brolin presents Reagan as a dim-witted actor of modest ability manipulated by a self-centered, domineering wife who is contemptuous of underlings. One suspects that Brolin had little difficulty getting "into" this role, but it is a portrait of Reagan that is unrecognizable outside of an old, lame Saturday Night Live skit. It is a caricature. Indeed, Brolin's heavily rouged, orange-haired Reagan is a caricature of the standard liberal caricature of Reagan. He is a doddering fool, stumbling around using his acting talents to pass for a statesman. His power-mad wife and a cabal of evil advisors make his decisions for him. His public affability and patriotism are just a façade over sanctimonious religious bigotry. When the film's Nancy Reagan advises him that the federal government should take steps to deal with AIDS, the film quotes him as saying, "They that live in sin shall die in sin." There is no source for such a quote, and the scriptwriter admits she invented the line, but this doesn't matter to the filmmakers. It serves their purpose, sliming Reagan.

So why the spite? For starters, because Ronald Reagan is a hero to millions of Americans, and it makes these people crazy.

And because the monopoly that the dominant media used to hold on the shaping of the public perception of Reagan has slipped in recent years. Books of his writing such as Reagan In His Own Hand, have persuasively put the lie to the myth of the "amiable dunce", manipulated by calculating "handlers". The book is a collection mostly of Reagan's handwritten texts for radio talks, given between 1975 and 1979. In the words of one description of the book,

"they cover every topic imaginable: from labor policy to the nature of communism, from World War II to the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, from the future of Africa and East Asia to that of the United States and the world. They range from highly specific arguments to grand philosophy to personal stories...

... He was very much the author of his own ideas, with a single vision that he pursued relentlessly at home and abroad....These writings show that Reagan had carefully considered nearly every issue he would face as president. When he fired the striking air-traffic controllers, many thought that he was simply seizing an unexpected opportunity to strike a blow at organized labor. In fact, as he wrote in the '70s, he was opposed to public-sector unions using strikes. There has been much debate as to whether he deserves credit for the end of the cold war; here, in a 1980 campaign speech draft, he lays out a detailed vision of the grand strategy that he would pursue in order to encourage the Soviet system to collapse of its own weight, completely consistent with the policies of his presidency."

In fact, in the post-Reagan era, we have not had as thorough and detailed a statement of a Presidential candidate's positions on such a variety of issues, before having an opportunity to vote for or against him.

Another dose of historical fact that has recently rained on the Reagan-haters' parade (Streisand reference purely accidental) is the publication of Reagan: A Life in Letters. More a window to the man than to his policies, this collection of personal correspondence shows the thoughtfulness, humility and compassion of the man that (I'm guessing here) might not come through in the CBS depiction. Here is Time magazine's cover story on the book

On the personal side, the venom of the revisionists seems to have been saved mostly for Nancy, as Morrow attests. After all, it would be hard even for those who loathed Reagan's politics to portray him as anything other than affable, (hence the "amiable dunce" label). But that doesn't stop CBS from making him out to be a homophobic bigot, even though they must resort to ouright lies to do so.

Again, facts and truth keep interfering with the leftists' preferred version of history. Consider the take of superblogger Andrew Sullivan, who happens to be an HIV-positive gay man, on the sensitivity of Reagan regarding matters sexual. Responding to Reagan's stated willingness to "accept physical desire as a natural, normal appetite to be satisfied honestly and fearlessly with no surrounding aura of sin and sly whispers in the darkness . .", Sullivan replies:

He's a Californian Republican, not a Southern one. He is specifically challenging the doctrines of Saint Paul, daring to challenge the Bible itself. And he's an antidote to the cramped, fearful and narrow notions of someone like Senator Santorum who has said that love has nothing to do with marriage. He reminds me of what I once found so attractive about a certain kind of open-hearted Republicanism, something that has gotten so lost among the paranoids and puritans that now sadly dominate the party.

Sullivan reviews Reagan:A Life in Letters in more detail in this article, which I am excerpting at some length, because it's so damned good:

His image of Reagan then:

I grew up watching Spitting Image versions of Ronald Reagan. He was a senile, slobbering fool. He was basically illiterate, knew nothing and wanted to blow up the planet. At best, he was a vaguely out-of-it B-actor whose grasp of politics or economics or diplomacy or anything faintly resembling intellectual life was close to zero.

And now:

Reagan was a highly articulate, well-read and subtle man. The range of his interests, the extent of his knowledge and understanding of world events and history, his grasp of detail are all completely counter to the image we have long held. From developments in Communist China to the latest economic figures, from isolated dissidents he helped free from the Soviet Gulag to an intricate account of how the Iran-Contra affair escaped his political management, we find a man far more clued in than we had been led to believe...

...He was extraordinarily humble. Even while in office, he would take hours out of his day to hand-write detailed and earnest replies to complete no-bodies. Even the crackpots who vented at him received polite and gracious counter-arguments...

...The intelligence of the man is undeniable. There's a detailed letter setting Professor Arthur Laffer right on petrol taxes; there's a complicated analysis of spending trends in his administration to another irked correspondent; there's a long explanation of the crossed wires that led him to pay tribute to dead SS Officers at a cemetery in Bitburg, Germany. And there's sharp honesty about his strategy for defeating the Soviets as early as 1982. He tolerated the deficits, he explained, for a long-term reason: "I don't underestimate the value of a sound economy but I also don't underestimate the imperialist ambitions of the Soviet Union ... At the time, he was pilloried as a warmonger by the nuclear freeze movement. Later, critics were stunned by his apparent volte-face into peace-making. But he knew what he was up to from the beginning. And now we know for sure...

...there's an old-world civility to Reagan that has been lost in contemporary American politics, a dignity and empathy with middle America that is as rare as it is touching. His diligence in hand-writing long letters to obscure pen-pals, even while holding down the most stressful and busy job on the planet, leaves me slack-jawed.

The fact that Reagan's policies have been proven right in so many cases is no doubt another motive for those behind the slime machine. If you can't win an argument in the arena of ideas, a personal smear is Plan B.

The cruelty of this CBS hatchet job to the Reagan family seems to matter not a whit to the network or the movie's creators. They are on a mission. The made up quote on AIDS victims attributed to Reagan is another example of the Hollywood left's general contempt for people of faith. It attempts to equate Christianity with narrow-mindedness, and Christian witness with sanctimony. It's really pretty disgusting. The network needs to know that we see this movie for what it is. It would be difficult for me to boycott CBS more than I already do, but I will let the network know what I think more directly.

UPDATE 10/28: The boycott effort is in motion

Syria - Hezbollah Land

The parallels between today's Iraq and Lebanon twenty years ago are striking. American soldiers in large numbers are playing nursemaid to a democracy that is threatened by Islamic extremists. Our enemies are hoping for a similar result this time around. Barbara Lerner says we should provide Syria with some disincentives to continuing their current behavior:

Syrian-occupied Lebanon — Hezbollah land — is important symbolically as well as strategically, because the terror war began there 20 years ago. American marines were in Lebanon then, in Beirut, serving as peacekeepers in a land where there was no peace to keep. Lebanon, once the freest, most progressive, and most democratic state in the Arab world, was in the midst of a civil war: Islamists were battling moderate Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, and an international medley of entrepreneurial others who once found Lebanon a safe and congenial place. Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group, had a population larger than that of its opponents, experienced terrorist allies from Sunni terror groups like the PLO, and a steady supply of money and weapons from the terrible trio. Hezbollah had no interest in compromise or peace. Its jihadis were determined to seize control of Lebanon, subjugate all local Arabs who opposed them, and drive the Americans out — and they succeeded. Hezbollah terrorists launched a brutal attack on our marines, asleep in their barracks, massacring 241 of them. And we collected our dead and went home.

Red Sox Consider Manuel

The Boston Red Sox have apparently not had enough of recycled Cleveland Indians coaches, and now have former Tribe manager Charlie Manuel as a "target" for their open managerial position, the Boston Herald reports today. (via Ben Maller)

Manuel is a good baseball man, a solid hitting coach, and a nice guy, but I don't think he'd last until the Fourth of July in Boston. First of all, he proved in Cleveland that he's just not a very engaged field manager. And I have a feeling that he would be eaten alive by the Boston media, starting the first time he opened his mouth in front of a camera. Amusement with his homespun (to be charitable) verbal style would quickly descend into mockery and contempt by those "sophisticated" East Coast media types the first time he drops three games in a row.

As a manager, he made Indians fans pine for Mike Hargrove. As a communicator, he evokes Junior Samples. It wore thin in Cleveland. I don't think Boston could take it.

Rummy Feels Fat

This is hilarious. I'm still laughing.

More From Stephen Hayes

Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard continues to lead the way with his reporting on Iraqi links to Al Qaeda and to Islamic terrorism. While pundits debate the meaning of the word "imminent", and nitwits like Molly Ivins solemnly assert that "Iraq never had anything to do with al Qaeda", as if reading it from stone tablets, Stephen Hayes has been engaging in actual journalism. What a concept.

Hayes has as many questions as answers, but as he says.."the overarching fact--that Saddam and al Qaeda had a relationship--can no longer be seriously disputed." Teddy Kennedy, call your office.

This blog has also linked to Hayes' previous articles on the topic here, here, here, and here.

As they say, it's all good.

October 26, 2003

SDB on Spam

Steven Den Beste has a good post up on Spam and the various available Spam-filtering software products and their logic. I learned a few things, but then that's usually the case when one reads USS Clueless.

Who Was That?

You just heard a song on the radio, and you didn't catch the name of the song or the artist, but you know you liked it, and you might want to buy it, or at least find out who it was.

Just note the time, and the spot on the FM radio dial, and you're in business at Yes.net. The easy interface can have you ordering the CD from Amazon.com, (or going to E-Bay if you prefer) faster than you can get your credit card out of your wallet. The site keeps track of every song played on FM for the last 24 hours, anywhere from Vero Beach to Visalia, Albany to Albuquerque, and then makes it absurdly easy for you to buy it if you so desire. As Radley Balko says, it's "pretty cool". Check it out.

UPDATE: Looks like stations from some smaller cities and towns aren't on the site's list; (Cleveland's are, Akron's aren't, for example)

October 25, 2003

Make My Day - "Fisk" VDH

I so look forward to Fridays. It's VDH day. Every week I read his column and feel the urge to throw out a challenge to nobody in particular; "Okay...rebut that!"

He reminds that there are lots of things we no longer have to worry about, having rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein:

the world is a far better place without the worry of Kurdish genocide, 10,000 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, perpetual no-fly zones, clumsy U.N. embargos, Abu Abbas loose, guided missiles and WMD programs in Iraq, blood money for suicide bombers, exasperation that Saddam Hussein had violated 1991 agreements, SCUDs raining down on Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv, assassination plots against American presidents, and so on.

He forgot to mention political opponents being fed feet first into industrial shredders, but let's forgive him that oversight. Hanson calls the liberation of Iraq "the event of the age", not only because of the geopolitical importance of a free, democratic Iraq in the middle of the Middle East, but because of what it will demonstrate to the rest of the world about the true nature of the United States:

Millions are slowly learning how different the United States is from its critics in Europe. France will threaten the awful regime in Libya but only about matters of monetary recompense, in the same manner that money led both it and Germany to trade with Saddam Hussein after 1991 and haggle over oil concessions for the next half century. Neither state would remove a dictator, much less pledge lives and nearly $90 billion to create a democracy in the Middle East. All that is too concrete, too absolute, too unsophisticated for the philosophes, who would always prefer slurring a democracy to castigating some third-world bloody ideologue.

The prospect of an American "success" in Iraq is as disquieting to George Bush's political opponents at home as it is to those in France and Germany whose Iraqi business interests with the dictator were disrupted by the messy liberation.

The old notion of Democratic idealism is in shambles. Unless Democratic contenders can come up with alternative plans for Iraq or explain exactly why some of them once made a mistake in voting for the war, then their constant carping will remain just that, and will become embarrassingly shrill in the months ahead....

....Removing dictators and implanting democracies, after all, used to be just as much a Democratic idea as was the use of force to ensure national security in a world of dangerous and criminal tyrants. But now the sorry crop of would-be presidents resembles Republican antiwar contenders circa early 1939, who would have been outraged had we agreed to join Britain in stopping a nascent Hitler in Poland and France.

What's riding on the outcome in Iraq?

For some reason or another, a series of enormously important issues — the future of the Middle East, the credibility of the United States as both a strong and a moral power, the war against the Islamic fundamentalists, the future of the U.N. and NATO, our own politics here at home — now hinge on America's efforts at creating a democracy out of chaos in Iraq. That is why so many politicians — in the U.N., the EU, Germany, France, the corrupt Middle East governments, and a host of others — are so strident in their criticism, so terrified that in a postmodern world the United States can still recognize evil, express moral outrage, and then sacrifice money and lives to eliminate something like Saddam Hussein and leave things far better after the fire and smoke clear. People, much less states, are not supposed to do that anymore in a world where good is a relative construct, force is a thing of the past, and the easy life is too precious to be even momentarily interrupted. We may expect that, a year from now, the last desperate card in the hands of the anti-Americanists will be not that Iraq is democratic, but that it is democratic solely through the agency of the United States — a fate worse than remaining indigenously murderous and totalitarian.

The prospect of history coming to regard George W. Bush as a liberator, a hero, and a pivotal 21st Century figure is obviously so repellant to European and American leftists, that even the continuance of Saddam's murderous regime might have been a preferable alternative. For them, a free Iraq will be just one embarrassing reminder of their utter irrelevance in the course of events. As for Bush, a free Iraq will be his legacy, and its importance should become clearer with the passage of time.

But if present behavior predicts future behavior, around the time that Iraq is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its independence, Hollywood will trot out a new "docu-drama", perhaps starring Sean Penn as GWB, portraying a "silver spoon" aristocrat abusing alcohol, driving drunk, stealing an election (or two), bullying the world, and then evangelizing his way through two hubristic White House terms. Meanwhile in Baghdad, they'll be polishing his statue in the plaza once a year in preparation for George Bush Day.

October 24, 2003

Playing Doctor

From the L.A. Times, an editorial cartoon that gets to the heart of the issue of partial-birth abortion. (via Southern Conservatives)

Patriot Criticism "Overblown"

Maybe if some of the folks who are constantly scaremongering about the Patriot Act would listen to what Democratic Senators are saying about it, we could all be spared some of the warnings of imminent Bush/Ashcroft-inspired facism that have become so common and tiresome lately.

A Washington Post article cites statements by Dianne Feinstein and Joe Biden demonstrating that not all Democrats are hearing jackboot heels clicking just around the corner. Here's an excerpt:

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), speaking at the first of several oversight hearings on terrorism legislation, called criticism of the Patriot Act "ill-informed and overblown" and commended prosecutors' work in some terrorism cases.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) mounted a strong defense of the Patriot Act, saying she believes there is "substantial uncertainty and perhaps some ignorance about what this bill actually does do and how it has been employed....

....I have never had a single abuse of the Patriot Act reported to me," she said.

Perhaps some ignorance?

This blog has previously linked to Patriot Act articles and information, here and here , and some of those resources are worth revisiting, especially the Bork article on civil liberties since 9/11.

Edwin J. Feulner, writing at Townhall.com, says that critics of the Act can't back up their charges of abuse with any facts or specifics, and besides, "it's easier to scare someone than to persuade him". More from Feulner's piece:

All the Patriot Act really did was take many laws that were already on the books and apply them to terrorism. For example, the government now has the same power to wiretap terrorist suspects that it has long had to wiretap suspected members of organized crime. All these wiretaps, of course, are conducted under a judge’s supervision.

Unlike Patriot Act opponents, who can’t cite examples of abuse, supporters are able to point to specific ways it helps keep us safe. Prosecutors and investigators now can exchange information in ways they couldn’t before Sept. 11. The Justice Department, for instance, says the Patriot Act helped it obtain a criminal indictment of Sami al-Arian, the alleged U.S. leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Substantive and informed criticism and debate on the particulars of the Patriot Act are healthy and necessary, and that is what is happening now in the runup to the reauthorization of the legislation. And fortunately, the uninformed and hyperbolic Bush-bashing that has been masquerading as Patriot Act criticism isn't hard to spot from a distance.

UPDATE 10/28: David Tell adds his two cents.

October 23, 2003

Borderline Whining

Sure I'm a Yankee Hater, and proudly so, but this post is about business, not pleasure. Baseball Crank links to the official salary data for all major league teams, and wonders just how anyone is supposed to compete with the Yankees when they spend 37% more on salaries than the next highest team, and a mere 303% more than their World Series opponent, the Florida Marlins.

That Steinbrenner spends more than anyone else is not exactly a revelation, but the numbers are instructive, and the Crank makes the case that Yankees GM Cashman doesn't have to be "good" at his job. He just has to identify the best available players and get out George's checkbook. What free agent has he wanted that he didn't get? Sour grapes? Well, yeah. Sort of.

Did KSM Kill Danny Pearl?

And is it now Al Qaeda's deepest secret? Why would Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 9/11 mastermind, now in custody and charged with murdering 3000 people, not admit to being the man who slit the throat of the Wall Street Journal reporter?

Belmont Club, fast becoming one of my blog-reading priorities, has a link-filled post on the topic. I'd suggest you take a look... if terrorists murdering American civilians interests you.

October 22, 2003

Orwell on Writing

I have worked in a consulting services business for many years, and was given this advice early in my career by a mentor; "Don't say 'blah, blah, blah', when all you need to say is 'blah'".

I often forget that maxim while blogging, figuring more words are somehow better than fewer words. I resolve to do better after reading this Jeffrey Meyers piece in The New Criterion, and then re-reading Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language".

It's especially humbling to realize that I've broken nearly all of Orwell's six stylistic rules since I got up this morning. Meyers says they "are worth repeating". No kidding:

i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do. iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active. v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Orwell deplores the use of "tired metaphors", pretentiousness, the passive voice, and unnecessary use of foreign phrases, but he saves his real venom for political writing, and it is from the following passage in "Politics and the English Language" that I previously lifted the quote that now sits on the Wizblog banner:

Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase -- some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse -- into the dustbin, where it belongs.

The entire TNC article on Orwell is enjoyable. Check it out. And like I said, I'm going to try to do better.

Beer Goggles

This article brings to mind the old line about the guy whose idea of a "Perfect 10" is a "4" with a 6-pack. (Rimshot)

It is being reported that The University of Vienna, (historically involved in ground-breaking, worthwhile research) has determined that the reknowned "beer goggles effect", that causes a woman to become more attractive to a man as his alcohol consumption increases, is apparently a perceptual one-way street.

Sadly, research from the University of Vienna now suggests the beer goggle phenomenon is not a reciprocal arrangement.

While men only need a six-pack to make a life-long commitment to the psychopathic parolee with the skin condition, a homely looking male remains just that to a woman, even if she's just drunk the brewery dry.

The author of the article jumps to certain conclusions however, based on the survey results:

The reason for the variations in this experiment is that men are far more stupid than women.

Men have never believed it necessary to become acquainted with a female they intend mating with. Women, on the other hand, will usually speak with a potential partner and ensure he's not engaged in the white slave trade before engaging in footsies under the table.

So what's your point?

(via Dave Barry Blog)

Rhymes With Hype

The fact that I just learned about Skype today makes me aware that a) I need to read Slashdot.org more often, b) I've been needlessly wasting money on phone bills, and c) the blogosphere rocks.

It was actually on Outside the Beltway that I read the post about Skype, the hot new free VoIP (Voice over IP) software from the Swedish inventors of KaZaA. Then my Slashdot search turned up this review of the Skype product as compared to the competing SIPphone technology.

I had tried out DialPad and other attempts at Internet/Phone services a year or so ago, and wasn't at all impressed with the result, but the reviewers say that the sound quality of the call is significantly better now, so I'm going to give it a try. Looks like eventually the SIP device may make more sense, but since they're charging $80-130 for hardware at the moment, I'll limit my experimentation to the freebie for now. I'm off to install and test. Film at 11.

Chinese Espionage

An interesting report from AIM.org on past and present Chinese espionage operations against the U.S.

VDH on Education

One of the best pieces of commentary I have read in a long time is Victor Davis Hanson's critique of the current state of American academia. NRO has it available online here, but the format is not easily readable and the better quality HTML version is only available to subscribers to NR Digital. I was going to excerpt some of my favorite sections of the piece, but finally decided just to reproduce it in its entirety, along with a link to the subscription page to sign up for NR Digital.


American universities are places of dizzying unreality — and this does considerable harm


Our universities have become odd places. They appear almost eerily out of step with the rest of us in times of national crisis. When all of our institutions become subject to greater scrutiny in wartime, the public begins to grasp just how different academic culture has become from the world of most Americans.

This vast abyss was on view in some lopsided academic-senate votes during the controversy over war with Iraq. In California, as elsewhere, about 70 percent of the public supported the armed removal of Saddam Hussein. Yet at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the faculty senate voted 85-4 to condemn the war. In fact, most of the state’s university faculty representatives weighed in along the same lines, from Santa Cruz’s 58-0 vote to Chico’s 43-0 — not a single professor voicing support for a position held by seven out of ten Americans. Like plebiscites in Vietnam, Cuba, and the old Iraq, or the embarrassing balloting of the Soviet legislature, the results were as lopsided and predictable as they were meaningless.

We catch equally disturbing glimpses of this strange landscape through the periodic bloodcurdling pronouncements of faculty members at a time of national peril — such as Columbia professor Nicholas De Genova’s wish for “a million Mogadishus” or University of New Mexico professor Richard Berthold’s praise of the September 11 murderers: “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote.”

There were also the predictably wrongheaded pronouncements from purported experts in diplomatic history, political science, and Middle Eastern history — such as Jere Bacharach of the University of Washington, who on March 28, nine days into the Iraq campaign, grandly announced, “The war is over and we have lost,” inasmuch as American armor would soon be “surrounded and forced to surrender.” Yale professor Immanuel Wallerstein warned of the possibility of “a long and exhausting war,” dismissing the scenario of a quick triumph — “Swift and easy victory, obviously the hope of the U.S. administration, is the least likely [outcome]. I give it one chance in twenty” — before concluding that “losing, incredible as it seems (but then it seemed so in Vietnam too), is a plausible outcome.”

In still other instances, academia’s problem shows itself to be one of pure ethics, rather than anti-Americanism or poor judgment. We feel something has radically gone wrong with the training and culture of scholars, for example, when our top professors and recipients of academic praise and prizes — a Joseph Ellis, Michael Bellesiles, or Doris Kearns Goodwin — purvey misinformation or expropriate the work of others.

It is not the lamentable behavior and pessimism of university humanists alone that grates. Institutionalized hypocrisy also is endemic on campus, and casts doubts on the supposedly principled and ethical proclamations issuing from administrators. An entire industry exists to chronicle the pernicious effects of university speech codes and the double standards that allow conservative campus newspapers to be stolen but would cite infringement on free speech if feminist or race-based publications were pilfered. Ethnic and religious slurs are habitually ignored or pardoned — if confined to Israel and fundamentalist Christians. Campus-funded MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) organizations embrace racist and separatist language (“For the race everything; for those outside the race, nothing”) that would be deemed hate speech if espoused by any other group.

Anyone who has spent a few years in academic life can corroborate any of these accounts by personal anecdote. After 20 years of teaching I have my own favorites. After I reviewed unfavorably a classicist’s edited book, she bragged to an online worldwide classics list server that she had called the FBI to report my coauthor, John Heath, and me — we wrote Who Killed Homer?, an account of the tragic decline of Classics — as likely suspects in the Unabomber manhunt. The American Philological Association, the scholarly organization of classicists, did nothing in response to such McCarthyite tactics, even though the story was published in the Wall Street Journal — indeed, at the time the culprit was an officer of the group and often active in urging the membership to explore social and gender injustice within the profession.

On another occasion I reported to a department chairman that I had been informed that activist graduate students were stealing some books on military history I had put on reserve on the department’s library shelf for seminar students’ use. In response, he warned me about the controversy of a military historian’s teaching a graduate course on agriculture and war in an academic climate devoted to theory and gender; quickly wrote me a check for my losses; and then came up with the idea that, in the future, I must put false library stickers on all the volumes to fool the students into thinking that the books were university property rather than my own. I did, and the theft abruptly stopped.

I once went to an academic hearing to discuss charges made by unnamed accusers that a professor in our department had said insensitive things about a female colleague — in the privacy of his own office. That the complainers remained unidentified yet confessed to eavesdropping through the walls of someone else’s office to glean “evidence” seemed to make no difference. The transgressions of hearsay, snooping, and anonymous accusations were ignored — as it was a matter of supposed male rudeness and insensitivity.

Most recently our university invited activists and persons convicted of felonies — including blowing up university laboratories — to relate their experiences in a conference on radical environmentalism. The fact that in the post–9/11 environment, and at a time of California budget disasters, it made little sense to invite terrorist felons to campus on the state’s nickel occasioned little controversy — until donors to the university complained about the absence of balance. (No dissenters had been invited.)

The common theme in all these instances is that the embrace of politically correct ideology provided zealous miscreants with immunity from the strictures of common sense if not legality itself. Bearing false witness, character assassination, petty theft, eavesdropping, and felony criminal acts — all this was excusable if done in service to more noble political goals such as the professed struggles for gender sensitivity, pacifism, feminism, or environmentalism.

Such politicized activism would be merely the stuff of black humor if the university were at least doing its job of training literate and reasoned thinkers. But often it is not. Graduating seniors have worse reading and writing skills than the students of 30 years ago. At many campuses of the California State University system, almost 40 percent of the units taken by first-year students are remedial courses, basic high-school-level classes designed to teach elementary reading, writing, and arithmetic. Tuition consistently rises more rapidly than inflation, as the public is asked to pay ever more for ever more inferior instruction. Education really is a zero-sum game of a finite number of hours in the life of a harried college student: A politicized and therapeutic curriculum comes at the expense of literature, history, and philosophy. It is, after all, easier to talk about gender bias than take a student through Paradise Lost or Hegel.

Although the faculty is a bastion of “progressive” thinking, some of the worst sorts of labor exploitation are also routine on campus. Part-time Ph.D.’s without medical or retirement benefits teach an increasing number of units, creating a 19th-century caste system of tenured versus temporary faculty, a divide that has no real counterpart in the coal mine or steel mill. The creation of all sorts of nonacademic and outreach programs, new administrative positions, and the general reduction of teaching loads from 30 years ago often require cash-strapped universities to cut costs in instruction. Consequently, students at many elite graduate universities rarely encounter full professors in their first two years, but instead are taught by postdoctoral lecturers and graduate-student teaching assistants — often paid per class at 25 percent or less of the tenured-faculty rate — who are often less qualified and experienced than junior-college teachers.

There are many explanations for this disturbing picture, both institutional and generational. Lifelong employment through tenure can breed complacency, ensure mediocrity, and foster insularity. Underachieving but tenured academics, despite dismal teaching evaluations and nonexistent scholarship, are virtually immune from meaningful censure — docked pay or dismissal — from their peers. Instead, they are like Brahmins from their seventh year to retirement — essentially three decades and more of institutional unaccountability.

Oddly, tenure often does not even achieve its one professed goal of protecting academic independence and eccentricity, as the one-sidedness of those recent academic-senate votes demonstrates. Instead, whether out of peer pressure or in constant pursuit of promotion, grants, good reviews, and book contracts — most adjudicated through peer review and faculty governance — professors who cannot be fired still rarely voice any sentiments at odds with prevailing academic mantras. Saying that George W. Bush is a warmonger might be a brave thing to do in Toledo or Fort Worth, but not in New Haven, Palo Alto, or Madison, where such sentiments are utterly unexceptional.

Principled faculty critics cite the new vocationalism that has ruined the university — the inclusion of nonacademic curricula like hotel management and leisure studies — or the dishonesty of mercenary athletic departments dressed up as amateur collegiate-sports programs. Yet they grow silent when similarly tough questions are asked about their own overspecialization, the use of public grants and sabbaticals to pursue esoteric and often irrelevant research, and the near absence of any readership for academic articles and subsidized university-press books.

An eight-month work year — most of us teach only 30 of 52 weeks — without regular hours required at school outside of class also lends an unreality, a starry-eyed utopianism to professors who count on steady pay raises, permanent work, and an insulation from the hurly-burly of the workplace. That most tenured faculty members in the humanities have never run a business, been laid off, or had their pay cut makes it unlikely that they have suffered dire economic consequences for bad decisions or quirks of fate.

The expansion of the university in the late 1950s and 1960s explains much as well. With over one million bachelor’s degrees granted annually, academia has now become a multibillion-dollar industry, one that must certify rather than educate 21-year-olds for future employment. The boom years of the 1960s created a need for tens of thousands of Ph.D.’s, many of whom simply did not have the talent or training of the far smaller cohort of their predecessors a half-century past. Imagine the quality of athletes and play if we suddenly expanded the National Basketball League to 500 teams, or the NFL to 100.

But more than the institutionalized academic culture or the absence of talent explains the hostility of most academics to those values held by mainstream America. Something very different, something very unusual, transpired in the 1960s when a combination of events altered the perceived mission of the American university. If the tree-lined campus of old was a home to elbow-patched eccentrics and tweedy idealism, by the time of the Vietnam War it had transmogrified into a counterculture that offered a comprehensive alternative to politics as usual. For thousands of young men facing the draft in an unpopular war, and with sexual, racial, and environmental reform on the nation’s agenda, the university responded with new curricula, new campus policies, and new faculty aimed at righting society’s wrongs by proper training and indoctrination. The old Socratic idea that through give and take students might learn a method of inductive reasoning was considered passé, since the mastery of dialectic could only ensure a method for acquiring wisdom, not ipso facto the “right” thinking.

In the past, humanities professors taught a body of knowledge — historical facts, philosophical doctrines, time-honored themes in novels and plays — that might offer a student the ability to translate the daily chaos of the present into some abstract wisdom of the ages, with an appreciation for beauty thrown into the bargain. But of what immediate relevance were all such distant facts and ideas when old white men in the here and now had ensured that young people were dying in Vietnam and that the planet was suffocated in a gaseous cloud?

In response, the university took on the Sisyphean task of guaranteeing social change according to the idealistic visions of an often out-of-touch and ill-prepared faculty. The deductive thinking of predetermined results and theories — the ancient creed of the sophists — now triumphed, as the old notions of fairness and two sides to every issue were deemed less important. The right politics were alone the proper corrective: If students were to leave the university equipped to counterbalance the power of corporate America, white males, the Republican party, and the global reach of the United States, there were only four brief years of preparation and no time or need to offer competing “discourses.”

Sometimes we see the results in the proliferation of “Studies” programs — “Ethnic Studies,” “Women’s Studies,” “Environmental Studies,” or “Peace Studies” — as if the traditional missions of philosophy, literature, and history suddenly about 1970 had been found incapable of dealing with age-old issues of class, race, gender, war, and the environment. Take, for example, the list of classes from the University of California, Santa Barbara, for the academic year 2001-2. There are some 62 different courses listed under “Chicano Studies,” among them Introduction to Chicano Spanish; Methodology of the Oppressed; Barrio Popular Culture; Body, Culture, and Power; Chicana Feminism; History of the Chicano; History of the Chicano Movement; History of Chicano and Chicana Workers; Racism in American History; Chicano Political Organizing; Chicana Writers; De-colonizing Cyber-Cinema; and Dance of the Chicanos. In the history department are listed 13 similar courses on Latino and Chicano issues, in addition to more generic classes on race and oppression. In contrast, the entire catalogue has few classes listed on the Civil War, and no real courses dedicated to either the Revolutionary War or World War II.

It is not just that many of these classes are politicized — imagine writing a paper on past corruption in the United Farm Workers Union’s health fund, the fascist Sinarquismo movement of the early 20th century that favored both Prussian militarism and later German Nazism, or ritualized mass murder in pre-Cortés Mexico City in “Methodology of the Oppressed” or “History of the Chicano.” The problem is also that such therapeutic classes as “De-colonizing Cyber-Cinema” do not necessarily teach a broad body of disinterested knowledge — elements of the ancient world, Renaissance, Reformation, or Enlightenment — that is subject to debate and differing analysis, the building blocks of a true liberal education. Instead they reinforce the most unfortunate of youthful tendencies — arrogance coupled with ignorance — as activists with incomplete historical knowledge and without writing and speaking fluency claim wisdom on the basis of their commitment or zealotry in a particular cause.

Two other developments may account for the academy’s sinking reputation. If during the Vietnam War such pernicious ideas about education were confined to activist young professors and graduate students, they are the common currency of that generation now come of age and into institutional authority and responsibility. Yesterday’s assistant professor is today’s college dean, provost, or president. Like swallowed prey making its way through the digestive tract of a snake, the 1960s generation has gone from newly minted Ph.D.’s to tenured radicals and on to university administrators, thus explaining why today’s institutional hierarchies tend to support rather than mitigate often extremist views.

The other development involves the glaring issue of privilege. It is one thing for the public to see poorly paid assistant professors demonstrating against the pathologies of American capitalism in Berkeley’s Free Speech Plaza, quite another to witness the smug disdain of the United States voiced by well-off endowed professors and elite faculty. One of the reasons that a Noam Chomsky or Edward Said wears so thin is precisely that his own radical politics are so at odds with the compensation he receives, the house he lives in, and the places he jets to — all greater than those enjoyed by most of the middle-class Americans whom the professoriate so smugly dismisses. So it is no surprise that the hotspots of activism against the Iraq war were places like Westwood, Santa Cruz, La Jolla, the Berkeley Hills, and Davis rather than Bakersfield and Tulare. Affluence, leisure, and security are an integral part of campus radicalism.

But revolutionary politics and elite tastes are always a bad match. The public that is often a paycheck away from penury has little tolerance for affluent professors who preach American pathology while living off the country’s largess. Perhaps guilt about living lives so at odds with professed radical politics explains unquestioning faculty support for affirmative-action quotas, suspicion of Western civilization, and empathy for opponents of the U.S. military. For every trip to Europe or each child at prep school, psychological penance is achieved by weighing in at little cost on the side of the happily distant other.

Does this campus tragedy have repercussions in wider society other than the fact that so many of today’s socially aware graduates cannot write well, speak clearly, or do basic computation? The three meae culpae that emerged after September 11 — multiculturalism, cultural relativism, and utopian pacifism — either to excuse or to mitigate the horror of the mass murderers are all explicable only in terms of a contemporary academic ideology that has filtered down to millions in America well beyond our elite media and universities. Multiculturalism on our campuses taught us that the customs of all peoples are more or less equal, one society — whether the Taliban or Saddam Hussein’s Baathists — not being qualitatively better or worse than another. But the public saw that the theocracy in Afghanistan is a different sort of rule from democracy — an exclusive product of Western civilization — and results in the subjugation of women and the crushing of homosexuals by toppled stone walls, not electoral disputes in Florida.

Cultural relativism reprimanded a generation not to judge a people on its customs and practices; there can be no objective criterion of worth, since the very concept is an arbitrary “construct,” created by those in power to maintain their control and privilege. Yet burkas transcend culture: They are hot, make daily tasks excruciatingly difficult, and are often demeaning for women forced to wear them across time and space.

Conflict-resolution classes suggested that war is a product of exploitation, oppression, poverty, or miscommunication — rarely attributable to the aggressive policies of an autocrat who seeks power, fame, status, and honor through attack on perceived enemies. Terrorists must have material, not imaginary religious or ideological, grievances — and thus upscale brats like Mohamed Atta and Osama bin Laden surely must somewhere have been deprived of nutrition, education, or enlightenment in some way that can be traced to an act, policy, or idea of the West.

Thus war is “resolved” through greater understanding and “mediation,” as if we could achieve peace by sitting down with the murderous Mullah Omar — some in our State Department, remember, even floated the idea of a coalition government to include the Taliban — rather than by defeating him. That terrorism is often the domain of the pampered, bored, and conniving makes no sense to academics who have been schooled in the material determinism of Marx and his epigones — and who have never seen anything quite like an Osama or Saddam in the faculty lounge or the halls of the academic senate. Unprofessional deans and hurtful chairmen are one thing; cold-blooded killers who enjoy blowing up children with plastic explosives, nails, and rat poison are quite another — and, of course, usually a world away.

The past two years have done untold damage to the reputation of the contemporary university. Its experts — who neither read nor teach the history of wars — often predicted military defeat in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Campus protests against America and Israel offered anti-Semitic slogans and were organized by creepy neo-Communists who professed support for Fidel Castro and North Korea. The sexism, homophobia, and racism of bin Laden’s fanatics discredited the idea that such pathologies were uniquely Western. And what we saw of the Pakistani street, the parades of ten-year-olds with suicide belts in Gaza, and the madrassas, all gave the lie to the canard that there is no abstract measure to distinguish good from bad.

In contrast, American armed forces, drawing on a deadly military tradition unique to the Western world and subject to civilian oversight, not only obliterated Saddam’s military in a few weeks but ended the conflict of some twelve years that began in August 1990 through force leading to victory, not negotiations facilitating appeasement. Contrary to university gospel, the military proved not merely strong but moral as well, as it seeks to implant democracy in the difficult arena of postbellum Iraq. In response to all that, what is a postcolonial-studies professor or a lecturer in conflict-resolution theory to do?

Worse still for the campuses, embedded reporting of the American military offered a sharp contrast with the more elite culture of the university that was shown wanting in everything from race relations and inculcating maturity to tolerating dissent. If Hispanic and black Americans often are voluntarily segregated in university “theme houses” and dining halls or participate in racially segregated graduation ceremonies on “liberal” campuses, the military force-feeds integration and allows no such separatism. If 19-year-olds on campus engage in heated debates over perceived slights in campus newspapers and endlessly waste time over strange things like “lookism” and the rights of the “transgendered,” their generational counterparts on aircraft carriers are busy shepherding $40 million jets around crowded tarmacs, death or dismemberment always a few inches away. If faculty and students chant about perceived oppression abroad, college-educated officers and their rugged enlistees brave rifle fire to depose fascists and install democracies in their place.

Nor do Harvard or Stanford undergraduates have any monopoly on popular culture, as their peers in the Marines listen to the same music, wear the same style of sunglasses, and use the same jargon — the military and its officer corps more attuned to today’s adolescents than are frustrated professors who claim contemporary youth do not listen to them as they should. They don’t, and for good reason. If you asked today’s undergraduates at most campuses whether they respected a Gen. Tommy Franks or a Joint Chiefs chairman Richard Myers more than most of their college professors, the vast majority might well weigh in with the military.

Not all is doom and gloom on our campuses. If the faculty was lopsided in its opposition to the American effort in Iraq, according to most polls the students were evenly divided, or in fact favored military intervention. If the complaints of professors about the ideology of today’s undergraduates are any indication, a river of change is about to burst through the Augean stables of most American campuses. With civil rights legislation long ago enacted, the draft now history, controversy on campus about inviting rather than expelling ROTC, far more female than male undergraduates, and the U.S. military at war with right-wing fascists like Noriega, Milosevic, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein, today students do not believe that their own culture is necessarily racist, warmongering, or sexist.

In real dollars, tuition has steadily increased, lending a sense of the practical to today’s undergraduate “consumer.” Maybe it is the characteristic of youth to question authority; maybe today’s indebted students want tangible results for their investment. But whatever the cause, undergraduates more than ever are questioning their professors’ ideology, resent “off topic” meanderings into contemporary politics, and don’t think it is the university’s business to offer bias as “balance” to the supposed wrongs of the dominant culture they will soon enter.

In short, much of our present academic pathology is the cargo of a particular generation, one that is slowly making its way out of the university. Its influence is felt most acutely today as it reaches the apex of power, but as this generation nursed on campus protest passes — and it soon will — there is reason to hope that it may not have replicated itself and so will be remembered as a sad artifact of our recent history.

Mr. Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and the author of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter).

Report on N. Korea Prison Camps

A new report has been released by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea that documents and examines the massive system of forced labor prison camps in North Korea. Read Claudia Rosett's WSJ article on the topic here, and a summary of the report here. The full 120 page report is available in .pdf format from that summary page.

Before we kid ourselves by signing non-agression pacts with the lunatic dictator Kim Jong Il, (his latest demand) or otherwise make him feel secure, as a way of maintaining "stability", Rosett argues that we need to become more aware of the nature of his regime, including this prison camp "hell on earth", and then ask ourselves if this is really a reality that deserves to be "stabilized". An excerpt from Rosett:

we need to understand just how systematic, deliberate and cruel an institution it is--no accident of Kim's misrule, but a pillar of his totalitarian state, and of the much-discussed security of his regime. The structure has been faithfully inherited from Kim Jong Il's totalitarian father, Kim Il Sung, designed to routinely and utterly dehumanize, torment and destroy the inmates, while squeezing from them the kind of labor once favored in the Nazi or Soviet death camps. And the policy of starving prisoners, notes this report, "preceded, by decades, the severe nationwide food shortages experienced by North Korea in the 1990s."

I realize that there are no easy answers in dealing with the threat that North Korea poses to the U.S., with our tens of thousands of soldiers within easy range of Kim's missiles, to its neighbors and to its own people, but a policy that even begins to grant Kim a sense of legitimacy or a feeling of "security" for his murderous regime seems to me flatly immoral.

UPDATE 10/22: Anne Applebaum in the WaPo on the same topic. (via Instapundit)

October 21, 2003

Not Just Another Yankee Fan

Nice piece by Larry Miller on the playoffs, and baseball as Americana. Here's a taste:

Then last week I began to love the terrific young Marlins and their great manager. But I kept thinking, it's the Cubs and Sox, stupid. Every time they missed a chance, or began to slip and lose focus, my heart went out to them. Every time something went against them, or their opponents began to rally, my wife and I would look at each other and shake our heads muttering, "We don't believe in curses, do we?"

On The Ground in Iraq

Almost without exception, the reports from people who have visited and toured liberated Iraq are left with a positive feel about conditions, attitudes and progress there. Many have remarked that the actual situation bears little or no resemblance to the image portrayed in the U.S. media. Here's an upbeat report from Karl Zinsmeister, editor of The American Enterprise, writing in the Christian Science Monitor. I won't excerpt from the long list of coalition accomplishments he cites. It's well worth the time to read it all. The illustration accompanying the article is alone worth the "click". (via Oxblog)

(Zinsmeister has conducted an opinion poll of Iraqis in conjunction with the Zogby polling group that you might also want to check out.)

Moussaoui Case Study

Time.com titles their article on the case of Zacharius Moussaoui, "How the Moussaoui Case Crumbled". While it's true that the government will probably not get, or even seek a death penalty conviction in the case of the so called 20th hijacker, it seems to me that the case has hardly "crumbled".

Time acknowledges that Moussaoui has admitted to being a part of Al Qaeda, and having conspired to commit terrorist acts against the U.S., which are enough to put him in prison for life. I'd settle for that.

It doesn't seem like the judge in the case has acted irresponsibly. She will no doubt be criticized for being over-protective of the defendant's interests at the expense of the government's case, but I suppose that is preferable to the opposite course, in terms of the long term credibility and integrity of our prosecution of terrorists. The Justice Department would probably pull the case from the civil court into a military tribunal before they would agree to allow Moussaoui to depose other captured terrorists as a part of his defense, (as if the testimony of Ramzi Binalshibh or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would provide a persuasive defense anyway.)

According to the interrogations of these 9/11 "masterminds", it appears that Moussaoui was either an option of last resort for the 9/11 attacks, or was to be used in a separate unrelated terrorist attack. So if we can't link him directly to the 9/11 plot, what difference does it really make? He was one of them. He freely and proudly admits that. He came here to take flying lessons to assist in terrorist hijacking operations. He was wired money by Binalshibh just like the other 9/11 hijackers. He will never be free again to murder innocent Americans. It doesn't sound to me like our case has crumbled. The Time article is really pretty good, by the way, the misleading title notwithstanding.

Gerut Wins Rookie Award

The Indians' Jody Gerut has won the Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year award. Gerut batted .279 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI, and led all AL rookies with a .494 slugging percentage, while playing excellent defense. The award was something of a surprise to Gerut and to other baseball observers, who felt that the favorites were probably Hideki Matsui of the Yankees or Rocco Baldelli of the Devil Rays. Congratulations Jody!

This entry has been cross-posted at Sportsblog.org

October 20, 2003

Brooks Pegs Democrats

Thank you, New York Times, for having the sense to hire David Brooks:

Saddam Hussein would be jubilant in Pelosi's Iraq. He has long argued that America is a decadent country that will buckle at the first sign of trouble. If the Pelosi Democrats had won yesterday's vote, the Saddam Doctrine would be enshrined in every terrorist cave and dictator's palace around the world: kill some Americans and watch the empire buckle.

Jonah on Kicking Butt

Jonah Goldberg says that after 9/11, we needed to kick somebody's butt, and Iraq's butt made the most sense. An excerpt from a most readable column:

Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is to beat the tar out of a bad guy — even if that bad guy was "innocent" of the specific offense that ticked you off. If a crackhead robs your house, there's no reason in the world you should feel bad about shutting down all of the crackhouses in your neighborhood. If a rat bites your baby, would you tell your wife "Well, honey, I know there's a whole rat's nest out in the backyard, but there's no way I can identify the specific rat that bit the baby. So, there's nothing I can do."

I doubt Saddam had anything to do with planning 9/11 and frankly I don't give a damn. The lesson of the 3,000 dead was that we're going to take our responsibilities seriously again. And that means cleaning up unfinished business and telling the rest of the world we are serious. Nobody — nobody — has made a remotely persuasive case for why it would have been good to keep Saddam in power. Nobody dares make the case that Saddam and his regime didn't deserve everything they got — because that would be like arguing you shouldn't fix the shot brakes on your car because your last accident was the result of bald tires.

It's not all quite this flip. But it is vintage Goldberg. Speaking of Jonah, read his mom's review of NR Editor Rich Lowry's new book, Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years

Dem AG Voted For Arnold

You don't think anyone would hold this against Bill Lockyer in a future campaign for Governor as a Democrat do you? Sacramento Bee blogger Daniel Weintraub has the story. Here's an excerpt:

(Lockyer) said he opposed the recall but chose Schwarzenegger in the replacement election because he stood for "hope, change, reform, opportunity, upbeat problem solving." He added, "I want that. I'm tired of transactional, cynical, dealmaking politics."....

...In comments to reporters after his speech, Lockyer had this to say about why he didn't vote for his fellow Democrat: "You know the people in your profession really well. You know who works hard and who doesn't. You know who is honest and who isn't. Cops know that about cops. Doctors know that about doctors. I know that about politicians. The common thing to all these professions is none of them say it. That's all I'm going to say."

What If....?

Howard Kurtz looks at the phenomenon of "Bush hatred", with lots of quotes from both sides of the political divide. The article centers largely on Jonathan Chait's recent piece, "Why I Hate George Bush". I'm inclined to agree with those who see the spitting fury of the left as born of frustration that they, the wise and enlightened, are not currently in charge of the Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, or the majority of the Governorships in this country. As to Bush's critics such as Chait, I'd agree with the New York Times' David Brooks, that...

"After you say you hate the way Bush walks and talks, you can never again ask readers to trust your judgment on anything involving Bush."

Notice there are rarely any specifics examples cited by the Bush-Haters when they talk about his "extreme right wing policies", his supposed environmental degradations, and his favors to "corporate cronies". I often wonder how bad it would be if there were some actual meaty scandals.

Because the comparison to the infamous "Clinton-haters" of a decade ago is invoked by those who today show contempt for Bush, I sometimes imagine how some "Clintonesque" scenarios might be treated by the media and the political left, were they to occur today in a Bush administration. For example...

*** A Bush campaign volunteer today claimed she was the subject of unwanted sexual advances by President Bush when she met with the him to ask for his help in obtaining employment, in a small room adjoining the Oval Office. The woman, whose husband had been killed only days earlier, says Bush grabbed her breast, saying he had always wanted to have sex with her. She tearfully expressed the shame and outrage she felt when the President, a man she knew casually and claims to have liked and trusted, assaulted her in this manner.

*** Bernard Schwartz, CEO of large defense contractor, Loral Corporation, and the single largest individual campaign donor to the Bush 2004 re-election fund, has been accused of illegally transferring secret missile technologies to the government of the Peoples Republic of China, in apparent payback for the millions of dollars of illegal campaign contributions originating in communist China that have been funneled to the Bush re-election fund through a network of Asian-Americans and Republican Party operatives.

*** Laura Bush has been placed in charge of the formulation of all major domestic policy legislation and decisions in the Bush White House, it was learned today. Dismissing critics' concerns that she is neither elected nor officially "appointed", and is therefore unaccountable, the Bush team emphasized the fact that Mrs. Bush is highly intelligent and capable, and that George and Laura are really now co-Presidents, working as a policy-making "team". They express surprise that anyone could be critical of granting an important policy-making role to a First Lady, especially one with such manifest intellectual gifts.

*** Attorney General John Ashcroft today ordered that a compound housing more than 80 American citizens, including many women and children, all belonging to a rare religious sect, be stormed by agents of the FBI and the ATF. The resulting fire incinerated the compound, killing all those inside. The Justice Department claims of possible child abuse and weapons law violations occurring inside the compound were as yet unsubstantiated.


October 19, 2003

The Neoconservative Cabal

Joshua Muravchik brings some perspective and history as well as some sanity to the topic of the so called "neoconservative cabal" advising the Bush administration and influencing U.S. foreign policy. I finally caught up with this article reading my September Commentary magazine, and then found it online at AEI, Muravchik's employer. So it's a bit dated, (9/3/03) but I found it helpful in understanding the much-discussed influence of Leo Strauss on the neocons, and the attempts of the left to portray that influence as malign.

Muravchik also argues persuasively that the "Jewishness" of many prominent neocons, often made an issue by their critics as a way of suggesting a bias toward Israel's interests, doesn't appear any more significant than does the "non-Jewishness" of other key Bush advisors like Rice, Powell, or Cheney. That many neoconservatives happen to be Jewish should not be surprising, however. Here's an excerpt::

Many neoconservatives are in fact Jews. Why this should be so is not self-evident, although part of the answer is surely that Jews, whenever and wherever they have been free to indulge it, exhibit a powerful attraction to politics and particularly to the play of political ideas--an attraction that is evident all across the political spectrum but especially on the Left. Indeed, the disproportionate presence of Jews in early Communist movements in eastern and central Europe became grist for the Nazis and other far-Right movements that portrayed Bolshevism as a Jewish cause whose real purpose was (yes) to serve Jewish interests. In reality, Trotsky and Zinoviev and the other Jewish Communists were no more concerned about the interests of the Jewish people than were Lenin and Stalin which is to say, not at all.

As it happens, the Jewish affinity with the Left may be one reason why neoconservatism boasts so many Jewish adherents: it is a movement whose own roots lie in the Left. But the same affinity is to be seen at work in many of the insinuations against Jewish neocons by leftists who are themselves Jews or who profess some Jewish connection. Michael Lind, for one, has gone out of his way to assert his own Jewish "descent," and Tikkun is in some self-professed sense a Jewish magazine. Even the BBC's assault on the neocons featured a Jewish critic in the starring role. So passionate are these Jews in their opposition to neoconservative ideas that they have not hesitated to pander to anti-Semitism in the effort to discredit them. What about their ulterior motives, one wonders?

The Bosnian intervention is one example cited by Muravchik in which the so called neocons disproved the theory that they act and advise to promote the interests of Israel over those of America, and this excerpt also makes a pretty fair attempt at summarizing the neoconservative view of foreign policy goals post-9/11:

...when hostilities first broke out in Bosnia and then-President George H.W. Bush dismissed them as a "hiccup," while Secretary of State James Baker declared: "We have no dog in that fight." These two were not heartless men, but they were exemplars of a traditional conservative cast of mind. The essence of the matter, as they saw it, was that Bosnia engaged little in the way of American interests, which in the conventional view meant vital resources, or strategic geography, or the safety of allies.

Then a movement coalesced in opposition to American inaction. Its leaders, apart from a handful of young foreign-service officers who had resigned from the State Department in protest and who carried no ideological labels, were almost all from neoconservative ranks. Perle, Wolfowitz, Kirkpatrick, and Max Kampelman were among those in the forefront. So ardent was I myself on the issue that Bosnia was the chief of several points impelling me to support Bill Clinton against Bush in 1992, a choice over which I would sing my regrets in these pages when Clinton turned out to care no a whit more about Bosnia than had the elder Bush.

It bears recalling that the Bosnian cause was championed by international Islamists, and that the Bosnians themselves had been part of the Croatian fascist state during World War II, infamous for it brutality toward Jews. Logically, then, if there was any "Jewish interest" in the conflict, it should have led to support for the Bush-Clinton position. But as the bloodletting wore on, neoconservatives, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, were much more likely than traditional conservatives to support intervention. Despite the occasional, prominent exception--neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer was an opponent of intervention, conservative Senator Bob Dole a supporter--the prevailing division on Bosnia demonstrated that a distinctive neoconservative sensibility, if not ideology, endured, or perhaps had been reborn, after the end of the cold war. It centered on the question of the uses of American power, and it was held even by some who had not made the whole journey from liberalism with the original neocons.

What is that sensibility? In part it may consist in a greater readiness to engage American power and resources where nothing but humanitarian concerns are at issue. In larger part, however, it is concerned with national security, sharing with traditional conservatism the belief that military strength is irreplaceable and that pacifism is folly. Where it parts company with traditional conservatism is in the more contingent approach it takes to guarding that security.

Neoconservatives sought action in Bosnia above all out of the conviction that, however remote the Balkans may be geographically and strategically, allowing a dictator like Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic to get away with aggression, ethnic cleansing, and mass murder in Europe would tempt other malign men to do likewise elsewhere, and other avatars of virulent ultranationalism to ride this ticket to power. Neoconservatives believed that American inaction would make the world a more dangerous place, and that ultimately this danger would assume forms that would land on our own doorstep. Thus it had happened throughout the 20th century; and thus, in the fullness of time, it would happen again on September 11 of the first year of the 21st.

October 18, 2003

Realignment Toward GOP

Fred Barnes crunches the numbers that document a significant trend toward political dominance for the Republicans. Most GOP leaders are hesitant to say that any significant realignment is a fait accompli, but Barnes says...

There's really no reason to wait. Realignment is already here, and well advanced. In 1964, Barry Goldwater cracked the Democratic lock on the South. In 1968 and 1972, Republicans established a permanent advantage in presidential races. In the big bang of realignment, 1994, Republicans took the House and Senate and wiped out Democratic leads in governorships and state legislatures. Now, realignment has reached its entrenchment phase. Republicans are tightening their grip on Washington and erasing their weakness among women and Latinos. The gender gap now exposes Democratic weakness among men. Sure, an economic collapse or political shock could reverse these gains. But that's not likely.

The trend holds in both national elections and at the state level says Barnes:

In 1992, Democrats captured 51 percent of the total vote in House races to 46 percent for Republicans. By 2002, those numbers had flipped--Republicans 51 percent, Democrats 46 percent. And Republicans have held their House majority over five elections, including two in which Democratic presidential candidates won the popular vote. They won 230 House seats in 1994, 226 in 1996, 223 in 1998, 221 in 2000, and 229 in 2002. They also won Senate control in those elections...

...The same Republican trend is true for state elections. In 1992, Democrats captured 59 percent of state legislative seats (4,344 to 3,031 for Republicans). Ten years later, Republicans won their first majority (3,684 to 3,626) of state legislators since 1952. In 1992, Democrats controlled the legislatures of 25 states to 8 for Republicans, while the others had split control. Today, Republicans rule 21 legislatures to 16 for Democrats. Governors? Republicans had 18 in 1992, Democrats 30. Today, Republicans hold 27 governorships, Democrats 23.

Thr California recall has shown that now even that reliably Democratic state is at least competitive. The two reasons cited by Barnes are the increasing numbers of Latino voters that are voting Republican, and the "cultural" factor:

With Schwarzenegger and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as the second and third most visible Republicans in the country, it's difficult for Democrats to pigeonhole Republicans as conservative extremists. Schwarzenegger "bridges the cultural gap" between moderate and conservative Republicans, says Republican representative Tom Davis of Virginia, an elections expert. Luntz, the Republican pollster, says the emergence of Schwarzenegger means "you can be cool and be a Republican."

October 16, 2003

Saddam's Blog

OK, so I've been living under a rock, but until today I didn't realize that even Saddam has a blog.

Idiotic Remark of the Week

"...now that it's over, does anyone see any reason for our having invaded Iraq?....Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire.....These are early days, certainly, to attempt a full historical evaluation....Iraq is in chaos, and apparently the only way we'll be able to stop it will be to kill a lot of Iraqis. Just what Saddam Hussein used to do." --Molly Ivins

Pssst...Tax Cuts Are Working

From today's Opinionjournal.com:

The good economic news keeps coming. Yesterday's reports included bullish growth for September and early October from 10 of 12 Federal Reserve districts, and another spate of sharply higher corporate earnings. Sooner or later all of this is going to get noticed by the American electorate, perhaps even by the Democrats running for President...

...there's no doubt that the second round of Bush tax cuts, which advanced the marginal-rate reductions to this year, are having exactly the growth effect that supply-siders predicted. They boosted incentives, both for individuals and small businesses that pay taxes at the individual tax rate, and investment has accelerated in turn.

The news on the employment front is generally positive as well. (via Andrew Sullivan) Here's another fairly recent article on employment numbers.

But before anyone gets giddy, we would do well to remember how dicey a science we're talking about, as Irwin Stelzer points out in "The Unknowables".

UPDATE 10/17: More from Forbes.


Bloggers and economists weigh in on how to deal with the Cubs loss. Even a Tribe fan can muster a little sympathy for the Cubs...now the Red Sox are another story.

I will say that if the Yankees win tonight, all the sex appeal of the World Series will be gone. I was hoping for a Red Sox-Cubs Series (who wasn't, outside of NY and Fla.?) because it would have made for great theater. And while one of the two teams would end its long streak of futility, just as surely the other team wouldn't, making the Indians 1948 championship continue to look recent by comparison. That's what it's all about, right?

October 15, 2003

The Florida Myth

The myth of black voter "disenfranchisement" in the Florida election of 2000 still has life. We still hear about it almost three years later, mostly from Democratic candidates for President, in what amounts to nothing less than demagoguery, given the lack of evidence for such a charge.

The Democrats tried to make it an issue in the Florida campaign for Governor in 2002, and while the voters didn't buy it, giving Jeb Bush a landslide victory, the pernicious claim is still made even by otherwise reasonable people like Joe Lieberman, who is apparently not averse to a good racially motivated pander when it suits the occasion, even if it is a lie.

My question is this: If the Democrats were able to identify even ONE black Florida voter who was prevented from voting, or even one who was "intimidated" by police, voting officials, or anyone else in the 2000 Florida election, don't you think that person would have already been: a) on the cover of Time magazine, b) given approximately 57 out of "60 Minutes", or c) appeared on Oprah for an in-depth interview?

Finally today, an article by Peter Kirsanow, of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, explodes the myth of black voter disenfranchisement. A statement like this is long overdue. The article should be read in its entirety, but here are a couple of excerpts, starting with the most important statement:

There's absolutely no evidence that a single person was intimidated, harassed, or prevented from voting by Florida law-enforcement officials.

Despite claims of rampant police intimidation and harassment, the only evidence of law-enforcement "misconduct" consisted of just two witnesses who described their perceptions of the actions of the Florida highway patrol. One of these witnesses testified that he thought it was "unusual" to see an empty patrol car parked outside a polling place. There was no evidence that sight of the vehicle somehow intimidated the witness or any other voters from casting ballots. There was no evidence that the erstwhile occupant of the vehicle harassed voters. There was no evidence that the empty vehicle was there for the purpose of somehow disenfranchising anyone assigned to vote at that location.

Regarding the list of felons that supposedly systematically barred blacks from voting:

Much has been made of the "felon purge list," i.e., a list of those individuals who, under Florida law, were to be barred from voting due to felony convictions. The list had been prepared to prevent the kind of fraud that had occurred in the infamous Miami mayoral election, in which a number of ineligible felons voted.

The list was inaccurate; it included people who shouldn't have been on it. Thus, the myth holds that the purge list was somehow a tool to deny blacks the right to vote.

But facts are stubborn things. Whites were actually twice as likely as blacks to be erroneously placed on the list. In fact, an exhaustive study by the Miami Herald concluded that "the biggest problem with the felon list was not that it prevented eligible voters from casting ballots, but that it ended up allowing ineligible voters to cast a ballot."* According to the Palm Beach Post, more than 6,500 ineligible felons voted.

On the charge that somehow Governor Bush and Secretary of State Kathryn Harris conspired to "disenfranchise" blacks:

Again, reality intrudes. The incontrovertible evidence shows that by statute the responsibility for the conduct of elections is in the hands of county supervisors, not the governor or secretary of state. County supervisors are independent officers answerable to county commissioners, not the governor or secretary of state. And in 24 of the 25 counties that had the highest ballot-spoilage rates, the county supervisor was a Democrat.

It's time to hold the demagogues to account for this pernicious lie, and get back to honest debate on real issues. Thanks to Kirsanow, we've taken a step in that direction.

October 14, 2003

Postcards From Euclid Beach

I stumbled onto a collection of classic American postcards today, at a site called "America as it Was"

That in turn led me to the Ohio collection (lots of broken links), which led to the Cleveland collection, a wonderful resource for Clevelanders like me, and something of little or no interest to people from anywhere else, I suppose. Oh well.

It's part of a web site called The Cleveland Memory Project, which has a lot of other good stuff besides the postcard collection, if you're so inclined. (All photographs are to be credited to the Cleveland State University Library, by the way.)

I guess Lileks has made old postcards fashionable in the blogosphere, so since I'll never write like he does, at least I can do the postcard thing.

What a kick it was for me looking at the postcard section on Euclid Beach Park, the amusement park of my childhood. It was about 10 miles from our house on the east side, right on the lake. I'm sure I rode my first roller coaster there. The Flying Turns petrified me. Banking turns practically upside down in a creaky wooden chute gave this kid a whole new appreciation for gravity. The Thriller was one great coaster too. The park is gone now and has been for some time, so if you want to do the Memory Lane thing, the pictures will have to do. It's better this way, because in the pictures it's still 1962.

There must be 200 or so from Euclid Beach alone, but here are a few of my favorites:

Euclid Beach Park Entrance

Great American Derby ride

Rocket Ships

Derby Racer

The Pier

Surprise House

Dancing Pavillion

Pavillion Interior

Flying Ponies


The Theater

Pool and Bathing Beach on Erie

Boating and Fishing

Beach Fountain and Pool

Swimming at EBP

The Flying Turns

The Thriller

Aerial View of Park

Here's the link to a Euclid Beach Park nostalgia site, with a few more pictures and remembrances from fans.

O.J. and the War on Terror

What does the Simpson case have to do with the War on Terror? Cato's Timothy Lynch says the idea that military tribunals should be used for terror suspects because the civil criminal justice system is "broken", is based on a "myth" that resulted in part from the Simpson case. Lynch says that's not why Simpson is a free man today:

The source of the myth is not simply Simpson's acquittal. The myth stems from the wrong-headed conclusion that defense attorney Johnnie Cochran so bedazzled and angered the Simpson jury with stirring rhetoric and emotional racial appeals that the jurors either lost sight of the facts or, worse, acquitted Simpson even though they may have suspected -- or known -- that he was guilty. In truth, Simpson walked because the government prosecutors -- Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden -- were incompetent.

How incompetent? Three examples:

First, after the nationally televised slow-speed chase, the police recovered a "To Whom It May Concern" note written by Simpson's own hand after he was charged with the murder, but before he was arrested. Defense attorney Robert Shapiro said he had little doubt that it was a suicide note. But an innocent person would very likely be outraged about being charged with a murder and eager to find the real killer. Prosecutors never presented the note to the jury.

Second, after the chase, the police also recovered several key pieces of incriminating evidence, but the prosecutors failed to use them during the trial. Officers found a fake mustache, a fake goatee, and, most damning, a receipt that showed the items were purchased two weeks before the murders -- yet the prosecutors never asked jurors to consider why Simpson would need the elements of a disguise just prior to the murder of his wife and Ron Goldman.

Third, detectives tape-recorded an interview with Simpson just a day after the murders. Simpson, asked about a wound on his hand, admitted that he had cut himself the previous night and that instead of immediately applying a bandage, he dripped blood around his estate. When a detective asked him the cause of the cut, Simpson's reply -- again, on audiotape -- was, "I have no idea, man." Unbelievably, the jury never heard this audiotape or his bizarre admission that he was bleeding all over the place right around the time of his wife's murder. Instead, prosecutors took weeks to present DNA evidence -- and then, in response to the defense claim of a police frame-up, offered up a lame, "Yes, racist cops exist in the LAPD, but this case is not a frame-up."

His point is that we conservatives complain when incompetent or ineffective government programs are simply given more money to work with instead of being abolished or reduced. We should hold government prosecutors to the same standard. More prosecutorial "power" is not what they need!

It is thus ironic that many conservatives have been citing the failed prosecution of O.J. Simpson as a reason to expand the prosecutorial powers of the government and to dilute the constitutional rights of people who are accused of crime.

Baghdad Poll

From BOTW; A new Gallup poll of Baghdad residents suggests that denizens of the Iraqi capital are considerably more pro-American than Democratic primary voters. The poll "found that 71 percent of the capital city's residents felt U.S. troops should not leave in the next few months," the Associated Press reports.

"The biggest surprise," the AP adds, "may have been the public's reaction to the questioners: Almost everyone responded to the pollsters' questions, with some pleading for a chance to give their opinions."

Consider also that Baghdad is in the infamous "Sunni Triangle" and thus home to a higher percentage of Baath loyalists than other regions, where the percentages of those opposing a quick U.S. exit is no doubt higher.

October 13, 2003

Our Friends The Saudis

Joel Mowbray, in an opinionjournal.com excerpt from his book, Dangerous Diplomacy, details and explains the cozy relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. State Department. The number of ex-State officials currently feeding at the Saudi "trough" is staggering, especially when you consider the implicit assumption that current officials expect they too will be "taken care of" by the Saudis when they retire from State. In the meantime, our policy toward Saudi Arabia is utterly corrupt.

October 12, 2003

WMD in Iraq, Then and Now

Robert Kagan and William Kristol tell the whole WMD story, from 1991 to present, in a thorough and persuasive essay that makes the "Bush lied" crowd look like idiots or demagogues, or both. It's too good and too important to merely excerpt. Read it all.

More on Iraq-Terror Links

Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard is still on the case of possible links between Saddam's Iraq and Islamic terrorism. But he says very few other journalists are asking similar questions. Hayes adds that the ongoing political battle between the White House and the CIA has made the administration reluctant to broadcast the links that they already have:

American soldiers have come across other interesting documents in Baghdad. A recent stash yielded new information about Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the plotters of the 1993 World Trade Center attack. For nearly a decade, Yasin has been on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list in connection with his role in that bombing. And for nearly as long, American officials have known that he was in Iraq.

Documents uncovered recently tell us that Yasin was harbored by the former Iraqi regime. That bears repeating. The man who burned his leg mixing the chemicals for the 1993 World Trade Center truck bomb has been living in Iraq and received a monthly stipend from Saddam Hussein. Cheney referred to Yasin--though not by name--in his appearance on "Meet the Press" last month, and the vice president has mentioned him in several recent speeches, most recently in a feisty talk on October 10 at the Heritage Foundation. But the Bush administration has otherwise been reluctant to provide details of the links between Iraq and al Qaeda. That is not, officials from across the administration insist, because there are serious questions about the connections. Rather, the White House is nervous that publicly discussing the links could trigger another set of leaks, most of them presumed to come from the CIA, attempting to discredit the new information. Those are battles the White House doesn't want to fight.

UPDATE 10/21: Deroy Murdock has a useful summary of documented links between Saddam's Iraq and Islamic terror.

Buckeyes Choke

My initial reaction to Ohio State's 17-10 loss this evening is that the Buckeyes were simply outplayed by a good Wisconsin team. It is also fitting that Wisconsin should emerge victorious, because of the flagrant and outrageous attempt to injure the Wisconsin quarterback by OSU linebacker Robert Reynolds that put starting QB Jim Sorgi out of the game. Justice was served when Sorgi's backup threw a game-winning 79 yard TD pass with 5 minutes to go.

Caught on national television, and occurring after the QB was down and the play over, Reynolds inserted his hand into the helmet of the opposing player and apparently pushed or "choked" his throat in some way. I can see no other reason or intent in this action than a purposeful attempt to injure the player.

In my opinion, Coach Tressel should act quickly and dismiss Reynolds from the team. How else can the message be delivered that this kind of classless viciousness cannot and will not be tolerated. This event spoiled an otherwise good football game for me, the Buckeyes defeat notwithstanding. It's embarrassing to me as a fan, and terribly embarrassing for a football program that has already suffered its fair share of PR damage in recent months. More than that, I'm disgusted by the act itself. It's a game! It's not a streetfight.

Reynolds should be gone. No excuses, no second chances.

October 11, 2003

Noble Nobel

I liked James Taranto's summary of the Nobel Peace Prize story at BOTW today. Here's an excerpt:

The announcement each year of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate provides a reminder that it is a moral error to view peace as an end in itself. Sometimes the award goes to dictators or thugs (Le Duc Tho in 1973, Yasser Arafat in 1994) simply for making promises of peace. Last year, when it went to Jimmy Carter, some members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said they meant it as a rebuke to President Bush's plan for the liberation of Iraq...

Sometimes, though, the Nobel Peace Prize goes to someone who deserves it--someone who uses nonviolent means in pursuit of worthy ends. Laureates in this class include the Martin Luther King (1964), Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983) and the Dalai Lama (1989). Happily, this year's laureate, Iranian human-rights activist Shirin Ebadi, falls into this category.

October 9, 2003

Last Words on Recall

An excellent post mortem by Marc Cooper in LA Weekly on Gray Davis, and those who went down with his ship. Here's an excerpt: (via No Left Turns)

Refusing to validate or even recognize the raw voter resentment against the political cesspool of Sacramento, liberals wound up pinned up against the wall, on the losing side of an historic voter revolt. As the insurgency swelled, the best that liberal activists could do was plug their ears, cover their eyes and rather mindlessly repeat that this all was some sinister plot linked to Florida, Texas, Bush, the Carlyle Group, Enron, and Skull and Bones. By bunkering down with the discredited and justly scorned Gray Davis, they wound up defending an indefensible status quo against a surging wave of popular disgust. So gross was their miscalculation that the campaign ended last week with the lobbyist-infested state Capitol being surrounded by 10,000 broom-waving Arnold supporters instead of by what should have been an army of enraged reformers and progressives.

If you think it odd that Schwarzenegger and the California Republican Party should be able to effortlessly assume the posture of populist slayers of special interests, then you are normal. But if you can’t figure out that it’s Gray Davis’ coin-operated administration and the liberals’ refusal to divorce themselves from it that allows such a comic-opera, then you’re, to be polite, naïve.

You Might Be A Leftist If...

Marc Levin lists some warning signs. Here's a sample, but read them all:

-You support every kind of "diversity" on campus, except political orientation.

-You applauded Jimmy Carter for talking about human rights in foreign policy but opposed George W. Bush for doing something about human rights.

-You support campus speech codes that ban pick-up lines and amorous gazes, but never spoke out against President Clinton's physical sexual harassment in the White House.

-You believe the former Governor of a New England state with 608,827 people is more than adequately experienced to be President in 2004, but the Governor of a Southwestern state with 21,325,018 people was completely unprepared in 2000.

October 7, 2003

Israel Addresses U.N.

In another little publicized, but important address to the U.N., Dan Gillerman, the Israeli Ambassador points out how Syria has implicated itself in its support for terrorists, both ideologically and materially, and calls the U.N. body on its double standard relative to "occupation", and protection of one's citizens:

(To read the entire address, click on "Continue reading..." below.) (via LGF)

"In another State-run announcement on 1 January 2002, Damascus Radio declared “The entire world knows that Syria, its political leadership and its Arab people...have turned Syrian Arab soil into a training camp, a safe haven and an arms depot for the Palestinian revolutionaries.” And on 13 May 2002, President Bashar Assad himself announced in reference to so-called acts of resistance “If I was not President of Syria I wouldn’t hesitate to participate in them.” This was not said by Osama bin Laden or by Saddam Hussain, but by a President of a State that is a member of this Council. Syria has also played host to a number of conferences in which senior terrorist operatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organizations meet.

The membership of this arch-sponsor of terrorism in the Council is an unbearable contradiction and an embarrassment to the United Nations. For Syria to ask for a Council debate is comparable only to the Taliban calling for such a debate. It would be laughable, if it was not so sad.

And yet, members of the Council and the United Nations can hardly be surprised at this shameless act of hypocrisy by the Syrian regime. This is the same regime that speaks so often of occupation while it brutally occupies the neighbouring territory of Lebanon. It is the same regime that speaks of international law and human rights while it subjugates its people under a repressive and primitive dictatorship, violating countless international obligations. It is the same regime that supported the Saddam Hussain regime in Iraq in violation of Security Council resolutions and that to this day facilitates the infiltration of terrorists to attack civilian and military targets in Iraqi territory. And it is this same despotic regime that speaks so freely of double standards at the United Nations. Syria would do well to take a hard look at the mirror and count itself fortunate that it has not yet, for unfortunate reasons, been the subject of concerted international action as part of the global campaign against terrorism — not yet.

The President: I give the floor to the representative of Israel.

Mr. Gillerman (Israel): First, let me congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council. Let me also express to you my regret that your first meeting should be of this nature and take place on this day.

I wish also to express to Sir Emyr Jones Parry my great appreciation for his able and fair stewardship of the Security Council last month.

This meeting of the Security Council is being convened within hours of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. I deeply regret that the Council could not meet after this most important religious day so as to allow Israel to participate fully in the debate. I will, unfortunately, have to leave this meeting after I make my statement in order to observe this holy day. Yesterday, a Palestinian suicide bomber entered a crowded beachfront restaurant in the port city of Haifa, murdering 19 innocent civilians and wounding at least 60 others. The restaurant — a symbol of Arab-Israeli coexistence, as is the city of Haifa — was frequented by Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel alike, and among the victims were four Israeli Arabs, three children and a little baby girl. Five victims were members of the same family and three were members of another family. Whole families were wiped out by that horrendous act, taking place on the Jewish sabbath on a quiet, peaceful beachfront in the city of Haifa.

Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization that operates freely from Palestinian Authority territory and has headquarters in Damascus, Syria, proudly claimed responsibility for this massacre. Islamic Jihad is an organization committed to the destruction of Israel through holy war and which engages in the deliberate and widespread murder of innocents to that end. It opposes moderate Arab Governments and actively supports terrorist attacks against Western targets. There could not be a more obvious example of a terrorist organization.

The massacre in Haifa is the latest of over 40 terrorist atrocities committed by Islamic Jihad in the past few years. Among the attacks perpetrated by that organization were the massacre of 21 teenagers at a discotheque in Tel Aviv on 2 June 2001; the bombing of 5 June 2002 at the Meggido Junction, which killed 18 Israelis; the bombing of a commuter bus on 21 October 2002, which killed 14 Israelis; the attack on a shopping mall in the Israeli town of Afula on 19 May 2003, in which three civilians were killed and over 70 wounded; and the attack on 30 March 2003, in which a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a café in Netanya, wounding 58 civilians.

The encouragement, safe harbour, training facilities, funding and logistical support offered by Syria to a variety of notorious terrorist organizations is a matter of public knowledge. Among the many terrorists group that operate and benefit from the auspices of the Syrian dictatorship are Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hizbollah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It is well known that the Secretary General of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, is one of several terrorist leaders who operate freely in Damascus and receive immunity and support from the Assad regime.

Allow me to briefly detail, for the benefit of Council, the extent of support that Syria, as well as the regime in Iran, afford to terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad, which are engaged in the deliberate massacre of innocent civilians.

Safe harbour and training facilities are provided throughout Syria for terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbollah, both in separate facilities and in Syrian army bases. The Ein Saheb base, which was targeted in Israel’s measured defensive operation today, is just one of those facilities sponsored by Syria and Iran. Recruits at camps such as Ein Saheb come from Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist groups. They are taught how to assemble bombs, conduct kidnapping, prepare suicide belts, gather intelligence and establish terrorist cells. Some have also received aviation instruction. Recruits training at those camps are slated to return to Palestinian Authority territory and other areas to set up cells and conduct terrorist operations.

Syria has itself facilitated and directed acts of terrorism by coordination and briefings via phone and Internet and by calling activists to Damascus for consultations and briefings. Three such operatives — Tarek Az Aldin, Ali Saffuri and Taabat Mardawi — have been identified under investigation as specifically designated liaisons for relaying instructions between officials in Damascus and terrorist cells in the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. Mardawi himself has admitted involvement in many attacks, including a bus bombing in Haifa in May 2001, a suicide attack at a restaurant in Kiryat Motzkin in August of that year and an attack on a bus near Nazareth in March 2002.

Another example comes from an intelligence report provided by the Head of the Palestinian Preventative Security Apparatus on 31 October 2001, which asserts that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah were meeting in Damascus “in order to increase their joint acitivity ... with the aid of Iranian money”. Instructions are also given to halt terrorist activity when it suits Syrian or Iranian interests to avoid the spotlight, such as following the terrorist attacks of 11 September in the United States. It is very strange that Syria decided to be in the spotlight today and actually put itself in the dock on this very day, after these actions.

Iran, through the use of the Syrian and Palestinian banking systems, sustains a systematic money transfer system, and large sums of money have been transferred to Islamic Jihad as well as other terrorists organizations through Damascus for the planning and perpetration of attacks. Mr. Shallah himself, the Secretary-General of Islamic Jihad, is known to have transferred funds in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from Damascus to the individual accounts of Islamic Jihad operatives such as Bassani ak-Saadi, who is responsible for Islamic Jihad financing in Jenin.

Syria uses its State-run media and official institutions to glorify and encourage suicide bombings against civilians in restaurants, schools, commuter buses and shopping malls. To mention but a few examples, Radio Damascus — far from being a free radio — in a broadcast on 9 May 2002 lauded “the wonderful and special suicide attacks which were executed by some of the sons of the Palestinian nation”. In another State-run announcement on 1 January 2002, Damascus Radio declared “The entire world knows that Syria, its political leadership and its Arab people...have turned Syrian Arab soil into a training camp, a safe haven and an arms depot for the Palestinian revolutionaries.” And on 13 May 2002, President Bashar Assad himself announced in reference to so-called acts of resistance “If I was not President of Syria I wouldn’t hesitate to participate in them.” This was not said by Osama bin Laden or by Saddam Hussain, but by a President of a State that is a member of this Council. Syria has also played host to a number of conferences in which senior terrorist operatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organizations meet.

Syria has facilitated the transfer of arms to Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad by allowing the transfer of sophisticated weapons from Iran to Hizbollah through Syrian territory. Hizbollah, itself a vicious terrorist organization, has then sought to smuggle those arms to Palestinian terrorist groups, as was evidenced in the Karine A arms shipment and similar incidents.

These are just a few examples of the extent and nature of the involvement of the Syrian regime in the deliberate murder of innocent civilians. Each and every one of these acts constitutes a grave violation of international law and Security Council resolutions, as well as a threat to international peace and security. There are few better exhibits of State sponsorship of terrorism than the one provided by the Syrian regime. Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter — which in act of the highest hypocrisy Syria itself voted for — makes absolutely clear that States must prevent acts of terrorism and refrain from any form of financing, support, safe harbour for or toleration of terrorist groups. Syrian complicity in and responsibility for suicide bombings are as blatant as they are repugnant.

The membership of this arch-sponsor of terrorism in the Council is an unbearable contradiction and an embarrassment to the United Nations. For Syria to ask for a Council debate is comparable only to the Taliban calling for such a debate. It would be laughable, if it was not so sad.

And yet, members of the Council and the United Nations can hardly be surprised at this shameless act of hypocrisy by the Syrian regime. This is the same regime that speaks so often of occupation while it brutally occupies the neighbouring territory of Lebanon. It is the same regime that speaks of international law and human rights while it subjugates its people under a repressive and primitive dictatorship, violating countless international obligations. It is the same regime that supported the Saddam Hussain regime in Iraq in violation of Security Council resolutions and that to this day facilitates the infiltration of terrorists to attack civilian and military targets in Iraqi territory. And it is this same despotic regime that speaks so freely of double standards at the United Nations. Syria would do well to take a hard look at the mirror and count itself fortunate that it has not yet, for unfortunate reasons, been the subject of concerted international action as part of the global campaign against terrorism — not yet.

The Syrian delegate speaks a great deal about socalled resistance. Perhaps he can tell us precisely, without his familiar diplomatic word games and misrepresentations, how exactly the murder of children and babies in a restaurant is an act of legitimate resistance. Or perhaps he could tell us how the Syrians themselves have dealt with resistance, such as in the case of Hama, in which some 10,000 Syrian civilians were murdered by the Syrian armed forces.

Israel’s measured defensive response to the horrific suicide bombings against a terrorist training facility in Syria is a clear act of self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. Those actions come after Israel has exercised tremendous restraint despite countless acts of terrorism that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives, for which Syria bears direct and criminal responsibility. It comes after Israel and the international community as a whole have repeatedly called on Syria to end its support of terrorism and finally comply with international law. And it is designed to prevent further armed attacks against Israeli civilians in which Syria is complicit, with a view to encouraging Syria to resolve its dispute through bilateral negotiations in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), as it is legally required to do. This is not a hypothetical question. Many States members of the Organization and of the Council have been faced with terrorism of far less intensity and have responded with far less restraint and far less concern for human life.

And yet the Security Council has not seen fit to scrutinize their conduct. Indeed, on certain occasions the Council has specifically endorsed such defensive measures.

If there is a double standard in this Organization, it is that while some States are afforded the right to protect their citizens, Israel too often is sent the message that its citizens are not worthy of protection. If there is a double standard, it is that some States are able to support terrorism with impunity, while those defending against it are called to account. If there is a double standard, it is Syria sitting at the Council table and raising one hand to vote against terror and the other to perpetrate and initiate terror around the world. For the sake of peace and the reputation of the Council, let there be no such double standard today.

In the face of the rejectionism, aggression and terrorist sponsorship of the Syrian regime, together with Iran and the Palestinian Authority, what would the international community have us do? Like any State faced with such a critical and prolonged threat, Israel must exercise its inherent right and obligation to defend its citizens. What can we tell the Arab and Israeli mothers of children murdered in this weekend’s attack in Haifa? Should we say, “We could have prevented the death of your son or daughter. We could have stopped a terrorist from walking into your town, your school, your home, your bedroom — but our hands were tied”? Israel remains committed to a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict and is ready to make painful compromises to that end. But no peace can come while terrorism prospers. No negotiations can bring progress, while our citizens die on the streets.

Today, on the very eve of the Day of Atonement and the thirtieth anniversary of the Egyptian-Syrian aggression that initiated the Yom Kippur War, we call on members of the Council to come to the aid of the victims of terrorism, not of its sponsors. Syria deserves no support for its complicity in murder, and the Council would commit an unforgivable act of moral blindness were it to act otherwise. The time has come for the Council, which adopted resolution 1373 (2002), and which has been at the forefront of the global counter-terrorism campaign, to hold to account a brutal dictatorship that is world-renowned for adopting terrorism as its primary tool. The world is watching. And today, more than on any other day, God is watching too

Powell - What Kay Found

The Secretary of State, in a Washington Post op-ed, sums it up nicely. Here's an excerpt:

Kay and his team have "discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery . . . has come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that the Iraq Survey Group has discovered that should have been declared to the U.N."

Steyn on the Recall

A throwaway line from Mark Steyn's column on the California recall:

"Hasta la vista, Grayby!"

October 6, 2003


So now that the contracts for cell phone services for Iraq have been let by the Governing Council, we can ask; What American corporate cronies of the Bush-Cheney cabal have been cut in on the action?

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint?

MCI, Qualcomm, and SBC?

Well, no.

The Iraqi Communications Ministry granted licences to three consortia: one led by Orascom Telecom, an Egyptian firm, and the others to groups led by Asia Cell and Atheer Tel. All three include Iraqi firms, and the second two have significant representation from neighbouring Kuwait, which Iraq - under Saddam Hussein - invaded in 1990.

(via HobbsOnline A.M.)

David Kay Interview

Here is the transcript of the David Kay interview with Fox News' Tony Snow, following the release of Kay's interim report on Saddam's WMD programs. Among Kay's comments on bio weapons evidence:

KAY: Well, that's one of the most fascinating stories. An Iraqi scientist in 1993 hid in his own refrigerator reference strains for — active strains, actually would've — were still active when we found them — Botulinum toxin, one of the most toxic elements known. He was also asked to hide others, including anthrax. After a couple of days, he turned them back because he said they were too dangerous; he had small children in the house.

This is typical. We now have three cases in which scientists have come forward with equipment, technology, diagrams, documents and, in this case, actual weapons material, reference strains and Botulinum toxin, that they were told to hide and that the UN didn't find.

Kay expresses "surprise" that some of the more revealing evidence he presented had not been reported much in the mainstream press. He is more surprised than I am.

Browns Wax Steelers


I say we "waxed" the Steelers. ESPN chose to use the word "rout" to describe what the Browns did to the Steelers tonight. Upon reflection, I think maybe "stomped" may actually say it best. No matter. Insert a word of your choosing.

What happened was that Tim Couch played like a quality NFL starter, the defensive line rushed the passer, and the team played tough for 60 minutes instead of 45 or 50.

As a result, Butch Davis got a gorilla off his back that he has been carrying around for two years. He had to be fuming if he read the newspapers this morning, since both the Beacon Journal and the Plain Dealer (with 9 pictures of the guy on one page) were running "Cowher is God" features. Alongside the Cowher-worship were sidebar opinion columns in the BJ and PD with the common theme of "Butch Davis can't beat the Steelers".

Butch insisted on continually attempting to run the ball, against all the advice, even exhortation, of noted NFL strategic genius, broadcaster Paul McGuire. The result was a 115 yard rushing total for William Green, and better protection for Couch's passing game. And Couch was the story of the game, completing 16 of his first 17 throws with two TD's, and rushing for a third score, all in the first half. The Steelers helped out by throwing interceptions (one for a 75-yard TD) and generally playing like they had some place they'd rather be.

I watched the game with a group of 15 guys, and at various points along the way we wondered aloud if perhaps we had entered a parallel universe in which, not only is the game pretty much decided before the fourth quarter, but the good guys are on top.

I've decided on that word. It was a stomping.

This item was cross-posted at Sportsblog.

October 5, 2003

L.A. Times Misreads Voters

I have avoided commenting on, or even caring much about the California recall vote, but one can't help reading about it, what with all the slime being peddled, mostly about the frontrunner. But others have interesting observations. Roger Simon predicted a Schwarzenegger victory before it was easy, and now he opines on how the L.A. Times blew it, misreading what the voters apparently want. Among the things that the Times just doesn't get:

The very things that they are publicizing in Arnold are the very things the public loves about him--not that he was a groper or mistreated women--but that he is AWAKE. Unlike the others competing against him (Davis, Bustamante, McClintock), he is a vibrant personality that interests and attracts people. The LA Times is the opposite of that--a paper that is so gray it out grays the "gray lady" NY Times by miles. In the city that gave the world Hollywood, these folks don't realize how much the public craves theatre. If they had, they might have known the best way to defeat Schwarzenegger was quietly, reducing a larger than life figure to the humdrum world of the state politician, peppering him with obscure questions of budget and tax law, not by sliming him with outtakes from the Enquirer.

Get Shapiro on the Line

Ben Maller, (who has a great sports blog by the way) linked to a reported rumor that the Yankees are possibly interested in trading Alphonso Soriano for Royals centerfielder Carlos Beltran, because they are "tired of watching Bernie Williams flail around in center field".

Mark Shapiro has said that his top priority this offseason is to acquire a run-producing second baseman. So it occurs to me that we have an excellent defensive centerfielder, who has great offensive numbers, comparable to Beltran, that we don't quite know what to do with. As good as Milton Bradley is, we have a number of guys that could play center for us for the next dozen years or so in Crisp, Gerut, or Sizemore, and if the Yanks would take Beltran for Soriano, why not talk to them about Bradley instead?

I suspect Shapiro is more interested in a shorter-term guy, but I'm not sure why. He has said that Phillips will start at AAA next season, but at shortstop, not at 2nd, to be prepared as Vizquel's eventual replacement, and as far as I know, we don't exactly have the next Joe Morgan anywhere in our minor league system. Bradley may have too much personal baggage and be too injury prone to interest the Yanks. Come to think of it though, when did George S. ever care about personal baggage if he could get a good player?

Iraq's Address to the U.N.

Lost in the news shuffle of spy outings and candidate gropings over the last few days was the news that the head of the Iraqi delegation to the United Nations addressed that body on October 2. The speech by Ahmad Chalabi may have received more play elsewhere, but it caused barely a ripple in the U.S. media. Small wonder, because it was a not so subtle shot at those who didn't suppport the liberation of the Iraqi citizen: (link via On the Third Hand)

Those within his country have inflicted on him the worst kinds of torture: they have attacked his honour, betrayed his family, humiliated him, enchained him and thrown him into miserable wars. His brothers and friends in the region not only maintained silence, ignorance and blindness toward his catastrophe, they also criticised him and shamed him the day he dared raise his voice. And throughout the world, those that stood to benefit scrambled to trade and work with his torturer.

Very few spoke the truth and embraced it. Very few turned to the catastrophe of this fellow human being and declared that he was a victim. To our calls we heard nothing. So the Iraqi remained lost and persecuted twice over, first from the injustice of the sword with which the dictatorial regime attacked him at home, and then from the injustice of the criticism, a more painful affliction, from those outside.

Chalabi then credited the man most responsible for Iraq's rebirth, and challenged the critics to come and see for themselves:

The first truth that I begin with is that Iraq's long dark night has been ended. The bitter experience of humiliation, pain and suffering that Iraqis have endured for more than three decades has ended. It ended with Saddam Hussein fleeing, along with his cronies and with the collapse of the symbols that they had erected in Baghdad and throughout Iraq.

As for the second truth, it is that the liberation of Iraq, and what happened is indeed liberation, could not have been achieved without the determination of President George W. Bush and the commitment of the Coalition. At the forefront are the United States of America and Great Britain. If today we hear the voices of those in doubt of the intentions of the American and British governments in undertaking this liberation, we invite them to go and visit the mass graves, to visit the dried up marshes, to visit the gassed city of Halabja, to examine the list of the missing whose very right to live was taken away from them by the regime.

No wonder this thing got absolutely no play in the U.S. media. The only people more embarrassed by this tribute had to be the U.N. delegates sitting there listening to it in person.

It only gets better. Chalabi went on at length about the Constitution, checks and balances, democratic spirit, the preeminence of the individual, government transparency and accountability, federalism, the rule of law. He might as well have just said, "we want to build a nation on the model of America".

He ends with a conciliatory tone:

Our right today from the world is to demand help and assistance, thanking all those that stood by Iraqis at their worst hour and forgiving those that did not stand with us. It is important for all the nations of the world to acknowledge that what happened in Iraq yesterday in terms of horrors, and what is happening today in terms of reconstruction, presents a dramatic historic event. The international community must stand with Iraq in this.

How long do you suppose it will be before someone accuses Rove or Cheney of writing the speech for their "puppet" Chalabi? It's not a matter of if, only when.

October 3, 2003

France as Netscape

In a Chicago Boyz post reacting to an article on French declinism, Sylvain Galineau compares the U.S. relationship with France and others, to that of Microsoft and their "competitors". I think he makes a good point:

When you're a midget and looking important with the rest of the crowd matters most, standing up to the biggest guy is one obvious, if dangerous, choice. The susbstance of your opposition does not matter. Being seen to oppose is the main objective.

In a way, the U.S. position today is that of a geopolitical Microsoft : hugely successful, rich, powerful, sucking up the best talent, fast and nimble despite its massive size, ruthlessly efficient in crushing its opponents. Hated, insulted and derided more for it successes than its failures, the favorite subject of conspiracy theories, urban legends and other lunacies. Surrounded by lesser powers and interest groups all vying for its attention and a piece of the action. Harrassed, stalked and sued by a constellation of once great dwarflings who will never admit their diminished position has at least as much to do with their own stupidity and mistakes as it has with the giant's deft cunning.

Feeling entitled to greatness and influence on the sole basis of their past, they claim what should be theirs has been stolen from them. The U.N. is their Department Of Justice. Chirac fancies himself as their David Boies. With more expensive suits. And he loves the attention.

Kay Report

All the headlines I saw today said, in effect, "We've Found No WMD's", based on David Kay's report to a House committee.

Andrew Sullivan has a few selected highlights from Kay's report that reveal it wasn't exactly "nothing" that we have found so far. He concludes:

"What we now see may not impress those who are looking for any way to discredit this administration and this war. But it shows to my mind the real danger that Saddam posed - and would still pose today, if one president and one prime minister hadn't had the fortitude to face him down. We live in a dangerous but still safer world because of it. Now is the time for the administration to stop the internal quibbling, the silence and passivity, and go back on the offensive. Show the dangers that the opposition was happy for us to tolerate; show the threat - real and potential - that this war averted; defend the record with pride and vigor; and fund the reconstruction in ways that will make it work now not just for our sake but for the sake of those once killed in large numbers by the weapons some are so eager not to find."

Junk Yard Blog has a pretty good post on the subject as well.

And as James Taranto notes in BOTW, there's a lot of evidence that a substantial housecleaning took place shortly before we arrived:

"In addition to the discovery of extensive concealment efforts," Kay continues, "we have been faced with a systematic sanitization of documentary and computer evidence in a wide range of offices, laboratories, and companies suspected of WMD work. The pattern of these efforts to erase evidence--hard drives destroyed, specific files burned, equipment cleaned of all traces of use--are ones of deliberate, rather than random, acts."

And from NRO, Andrew Apostolu sums up Saddam's WMD strategy.

Sombrero Galaxy

Hat tip to Charles Johnson at LGF for this image from the Hubble Telescope, and this article from NASA on Messier 104, also known as the Sombrero Galaxy. Permit me to just be amazed that we have this kind of an image of something that is 28 million light years away, okay?

Spies at Gitmo

Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis has several excellent posts on the spies we have uncovered at Guantanamo, and the damage they may have already done passing good intelligence to Al Qaeda, and seeing to it that bad intelligence gets back to us. Go here, and just keep on reading.

October 2, 2003

Sullivan on Reagan

Check out Andrew Sullivan's essay on the recently published book of Ronald Reagan's private letters.

October 1, 2003

Limbaugh Lame

I'll have to agree with Peter King's analysis of the Rush Limbaugh/Donovan McNabb business...to a point. That is, Rush is no racist, he's just wrong.

Rush, who should know a thing or two about being overrated, either a) hasn't seen enough of Donovan McNabb to make an informed observation on his QB play, b) wouldn't know a talented quarterback if one walked up and smacked him (which could still happen) or c) was on deadline to write his controversial commentary du jour and all he could come up with was this lame bullshit.

But Rush wasn't wrong about everything. The NFL does promote young, talented, intelligent, charismatic black QB's, as any business with a marketing department and half a brain would do, and the media cooperates in that effort, and probably makes more of his "blackness" than even he (among others) is comfortable with. But McNabb is both a huge talent and a "star" figure, if still a little erratic or inconsistent as an NFL QB. And yes Rush, the Eagles defense carried them through some times when the offense was struggling. But as to the defense not getting any "credit" for playing well? Well maybe the streets aren't all abuzz with talk of the Eagle "D" in your part of South Florida. But most NFL fans have a clue.

And it would be hard to top the media hero worship and promotion afforded Brett Favre (and a few other white QB's), so it's tough to hang the race card on the phenomenon of the NFL "star" system. Favre has taken his lumps lately and the Packers aren't worried. How fast did the bloom fall off of Kurt Warner's rose? Tom Brady went from hero to bum from 2001 to 2002. Kordell Stewart was an MVP candidate in 2001 and last year he lost his job. It's a tough racket.

Which brings me to another point that Rush seems to miss. It's hard as hell for ANY quarterback to look good, and move an offense, and score, and win, week after week in the NFL these days. Defenses are too good. Pass rushers are too fast, linebackers are too big. Cornerbacks are the best athletes on the team.

Ask any Browns fan if they'd trade Tim Couch, the player drafted just before McNabb, straight up for Donovan. No brainer. In a heartbeat. Where do I sign? In fact, you could probably count the NFL teams who would not trade their starting QB for McNabb on the fingers of one hand. Now I know that being a great athlete and being a great NFL quarterback are two different things, and I would not yet put McNabb in the latter category. So tell Canton not to cast that bust just yet.

But "overrated"? And this overrating is supposedly carried out by liberal sportswriters with the agenda of proving right their long held complaint that there should be more black QB's? C'mon El Rushbo. Are sportswriters clamoring that Spurgeon Wynn was unjustly denied his chance to be a star by a racist NFL power structure? In the era of Cunningham, Vick, Brooks, Leftwich, Culpepper and McNabb, can anyone actually be suggesting that mediocre black quarterbacks are being lionized by a gaggle of PC lefty sportswriters, and a gullible public is being conned? Or is it just McNabb, Rush?

McNabb has won big games. He has won Division titles. He's still young. He's got a big arm and great mobility. He's smart and he's tough. From everything I can gather, he's also a gracious and humble man. McNabb is a star. Rush is entitled to his opinion of any player's ability or potential. And now we've learned that when it comes to evaluating NFL talent, he's got his head up his ass. Keep the day job, buddy.

I know it's all about ratings. Controversy for its own sake. From what I heard he was a success at the ratings game the other day. But Rush should stay away from player personnel commentaries in the future, because his football ignorance is showing. Good ratings or not, if this keeps up, he'll be gone from the network faster than you can say "Dennis Miller". At least we laughed at Dennis Miller for all the right reasons.

UPDATE: I didn't even get this posted, and Limbaugh is gone. Political correctness reigns.

UPDATE 10/3: Allen Barra of Slate is a sportswriter, and he defends Limbaugh, saying he is exactly right, and that he said what other sportswriters should have said long ago. Here are a couple of the money paragraphs:

So far, no black quarterback has been able to dominate a league in which the majority of the players are black. To pretend that many of us didn't want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he's black is absurd. To say that we shouldn't root for a quarterback to win because he's black is every bit as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn't have rooted for Jackie Robinson to succeed because he was black. (Please, I don't need to be reminded that McNabb's situation is not so difficult or important as Robinson's—I'm talking about a principle.)

Consequently, it is equally absurd to say that the sports media haven't overrated Donovan McNabb because he's black. I'm sorry to have to say it; he is the quarterback for a team I root for. Instead of calling him overrated, I wish I could be admiring his Super Bowl rings. But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be.

While I still think Rush is wrong in terms of his football talent evaluation, I do not see a single "racist" or "hateful" word or thought in anything he said. Of course, the more noise people can make shouting "racist" and being "shocked" and "outraged", the more they can avoid discussing or debating the issue on its merits. If people can demonize Rush as having said things that are beyond the pale of civilized discourse, then they can preempt conversations that they are uncomfortable having.

Bill Maher makes a similar point, humorously. (via Instapundit)

UPDATE 10/3: As of the moment, I am aware of no outraged calls for the resignation of Allen Barra. We'll stay on top of this one.

On the Record

A reminder list of sorts, that we can refer to when we hear the "Bush lied about WMD" mantra. (Thanks to Horsefeathers.)

The Left Rages

James Taranto is all over the story of the Angry Left at Best of the Web Today.