« April 2004 | Main | June 2004 »

May 31, 2004

Beatles Flash

Here's a pretty cool Flash animation of the Beatles' "Come Together". Yes, I was browsing Coolios again.

Jacoby on School Choice

Jeff Jacoby at Townhall.com:

The public education system is essentially a monopoly, and like most monopolies, it wastes money, performs indifferently, and doesn't much care if its customers -- American mothers and fathers -- are satisfied. But give those mothers and fathers the same freedom of choice when it comes to their kids' education that they have when it comes to their kids' shoes or dinner, and all of that would change.

State and local governments should stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars to run public schools directly. Instead they should spend the money on vouchers that would let parents freely choose the schools their children attend. Education would still be compulsory. It would still be publicly financed. But no longer would it be the inferior, one-size-fits-all product of sclerotic government bureaucracies. Vouchers would transform education into a vibrant and competitive free market, with all the innovation, flexibility, and accountability that implies.

Banning Flavor

A proposed bill that will expand the powers of government (in this case, the FDA) over business (in this case the tobacco industry) is being promoted as being, you guessed it...for the children. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, sponsored by Ted Kennedy and Ohio's own invisible Senator Mike DeWine, purports to help protect our children from the rapacious tobacco industry:

"This bill will help keep our children away from tobacco products and protect them from being targeted by the tobacco industry."

This will be accomplished in part by banning flavored cigarettes, because such brands are "more appealing" to children. Reason Online's Jacob Sullum discloses the dirty little secret behind the flavored cigarette ban:

It's just a happy coincidence that Philip Morris, one of the bill's main backers, does not manufacture cigarettes with any of the prohibited flavors—although it does make menthol cigarettes, which are specifically exempted from the ban.

By contrast, Brown & Williamson, which opposes FDA regulation, last March started selling four flavored varieties of its Kool brand: Caribbean Chill, Midnight Berry, Mocha Taboo, and Mintrigue. R.J. Reynolds, which also has resisted Philip Morris' strategy of cozying up with federal bureaucrats, has been selling Camel "Exotic Blends" such as Crema, Dark Mint, Izmir Stinger, and Twist since 1999.

Both companies insist their specially flavored varieties (which cost substantially more than the regular versions) are aimed at adult smokers. Tellingly, anti-smoking activists say that doesn't matter, because teenagers aspire to be like the young adults the cigarette makers are targeting. By this standard, any age-restricted product that appeals to minors is suspect, even if it has a thriving market among adults.

Nicotine addiction is almost as powerful a force as government's addiction to tobacco tax dollars. This monster of an industry must be kept just strong and profitable enough to continue to pay the billions in tobacco lawsuit settlement fees to our state governments.

I'm wondering if the government has any scientific studies showing that if children don't have access to say, clove flavored cigarettes, they would be any less likely to smoke something (anything?) else.

Didn't think so.

(via The Corner)

Examples To Celebrate

Thanks to our media, Lynndie England and John Walker Lindh, an abuser and a traitor, are the most recognizable names from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq for most American citizens. It took the tragic death of reluctant celebrity Pat Tillman to get Americans talking about heroism, sacrifice and patriotism on the part of American soldiers. We're still waiting for the media to balance the one story about abuses with some of the hundreds of stories of good works, reconstruction, compassion, and encouragement by our military.

On this Memorial Day, I thought I'd post Kate O'Beirne's look at some examples of "The Soldiers You Never Hear About". Good stuff. (via LGF)

Friends of Saddam

Jacques Chirac joined at the wallet with Saddam Hussein. It's really that simple, but for a great deal more detail on the extent to which France was riding the gravy train that was the Saddam regime, read this piece, excerpted from Ken Timmerman's book, The French Betrayal of America . This is linked from the excellent new blog Friends of Saddam, a clearinghouse of sorts for information on the Oil-For-Food scam.

Timmerman has much to relate about that particular scandal as well as the "topping off" of oil tankers, French oil companies with $50 billion deals hinging on the lifting of sanctions, and the involvements of Chirac crony Patrick Maugein, a former associate of the infamous Marc Rich. It's pretty slimy stuff (which after a reference to Marc Rich makes for a redundancy, I guess.)

Why is the French government never formally called to account for their support of the murderer Saddam, and for their complete willingness and active efforts to see him remain in power, knowing full well the consequences of that position for the Iraqi people? I'm not talking just about us, their arch-enemy U.S.A. making some kind of critical statement. I'm talking about the proverbial "world community" being heard to oppose the practices and policies of a nation so clearly corrupted by political and financial self-interests as far as Iraq is concerned. So why the hell do they get a pass?

I understand they are still trying to assert their rights to at least some portion the pre-negotiated oil deals as a condition of their support of any U.N. action. Someone please tell me why France would have any diplomatic leverage whatsoever if they threatened to oppose resolutions concerning the establishment of sovereignty for Iraq. Isn't their dirty laundry by now hanging out where everyone can see it? Why are they not shamed and discredited? Are they beyond shame? Has anyone polled Iraqi citizens on their feelings toward the French government? I'm just wondrin' here. And anyone who's read this blog over time (if indeed such a person exists) knows I'm not a gratuitous France-basher. Dick Morris got right to it in a recent op-ed:

Why did France and Russia oppose efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's regime? And why did they press constantly, throughout the '90s, for an expansion of Iraqi oil sales? Was it their empathy for the starving children of that impoverished nation? Their desire to stop the United States from arrogantly imposing its vision upon the Middle East?

It now looks like it was simply because they were on the take.

I won't attempt to excerpt the Timmerman piece but it's terrific, and has had it's intended effect on me. I want to order the book. Read it all.

Rare "Big Media" Post

Hat tip again to Laurie Mylroie for alerting me to this Dave Marash essay on Iraq, from ABCNews.com. Not a lot of news here, but an optimistic analysis, and some sensible commentary rooted in the article's theme that, "the strategic threats to the state of Iraq are declining". Marash celebrates the fact that the Iraqis themselves have asserted their own influence over the other players...

However it is spun, the truth is the Governing Council seized the leadership selection process for Iraq's next "interim" government away from the U.S. and the U.N., and was able to do so for three simple reasons: 1) They are Iraqi. Ambassadors Bremer and Brahimi are not. Iraqis today are far more likely to accept a government appointed by Iraqis than by anyone else. 2) They have the only really functional political organizations in Iraq, with party structures, local leaders and community networks. 3) Most of them have paramilitary resources. Therefore they are the only ones whose displeasure at the choices for the new government matter.

Therefore, when they were displeased by the Shiite Hussain Shahristani's nomination as prime minister, it was withdrawn. When they said they wanted Alawi, they got him. Now, they are left with a largely generational choice for president: the 80-something Adnan Pachachi or the 40-something Sheikh Ghazi Ajeel al-Yawer, both, Sunni pragmatists, both members of the IGC "club" Shahristani never joined. Either way, the Council has won.

May 30, 2004

Streaking Again

The Indians really had no business winning the game tonight. In fact, Manager Eric Wedge almost seemed to concede it before it started. His starting pitcher, Joe Dawley was making his first ever major league start, and was to be followed by Lou Pote, also making his Indians debut. Wedge had decided to rest star catcher Victor Martinez against the Athletics, who figured to be smarting from the 1-0 loss the previous night, and were starting tough young righthander Rich Harden.

The A's did come out smoking and had a 2-0 lead before Dawley had retired a man, (and before we even had our butts in our seats.) By the time Pote had given up three runs in his first inning of work, the good guys were down 6-2, and were still looking for their first hit off of Rich Harden.

Maybe the 26,000 fans had something to do with the comeback win. This was one of the better crowds I have been a part of in the last couple of years. But you have to credit the manager and the players for this one. They are relentless, if often overmatched. Tonight the bullpen, especially Riske and Jiminez, looked great. And even when we left the bases loaded in the 7th, still down a run, you could sense that the team had another rally in them, now that they were deep into the Oakland bullpen. And so it went.

In that 8th, Gerut and Hafner each delivered RBI hits off of tough lefty Arthur Rhodes, and Alex Escobar got it all going with a clutch triple. Martinez didn't get his day of rest after all, but made his presence felt with a pinch-hit, 2-out, RBI single to close to within one run in the 6th.

My preseason prediction that this team would hit better than people thought, but not pitch as well as people expected, is holding up pretty well so far. However, I figured we'd be able to avoid long losing streaks because of good starting pitching, and I was obviously wrong about that. And who could have predicted The Bullpen From Hell - Part II?

If the Indians are still only 5 or 6 games out of first place a month from now, it will be very interesting to see how G.M. Mark Shapiro reacts if and when the Yankees or another contender come knocking about Matt Lawton or Omar Vizquel, the two guys at the top of our lineup most responsible for our early-game run production and our veteran leadership in the clubhouse. Two months ago, this Tribe fan and most any other would have told you they would take a gross of baseballs for Matt Lawton and his $7 million per year contract. Now he looks like our best hitter, and a guy we ought to keep if we have any hope of making a run at the division this year (or next?).

Here's the Minor League Report for May 28th. We did get some good news this week about minor league 3rd base prospect Matt Whitney, who is considered by Indians brass to be the best natural hitting prospect the organization has had since Manny Ramirez. Whitney suffered a broken leg in a freak accident in the Spring of 2003. It was reported this week that he has fully recovered, and will be sent out this week to a minor league assignment to begin play for 2004.

May 29, 2004

Stephen Hayes - "The Connection"

If Claudia Rosett deserves a Pulitzer for her work on Oil-For-Food, then Stephen Hayes should finish a close second for his journalism on the links between Saddam's Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. Hayes' work for The Weekly Standard has been a regular Wizblog feature for over a year now, and now he has a book out on the subject entitled The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America

Today the Standard publishes another article by Hayes, that takes us back to the late 90's and the Clinton administration, when the links between Iraq and Al Qaeda were widely accepted as a fact by the media:

There was a time not long ago when the conventional wisdom skewed heavily toward a Saddam-al Qaeda links. In 1998 and early 1999, the Iraq-al Qaeda connection was widely reported in the American and international media. Former intelligence officers and government officials speculated about the relationship and its dangerous implications for the world. The information in the news reports came from foreign and domestic intelligence services. It was featured in mainstream media outlets including international wire services, prominent newsweeklies, and network radio and television broadcasts.

Newsweek magazine ran an article in its January 11, 1999, issue headed "Saddam + Bin Laden?" "Here's what is known so far," it read:

Saddam Hussein, who has a long record of supporting terrorism, is trying to rebuild his intelligence network overseas--assets that would allow him to establish a terrorism network. U.S. sources say he is reaching out to Islamic terrorists, including some who may be linked to Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile accused of masterminding the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa last summer.

Four days later, on January 15, 1999, ABC News reported that three intelligence agencies believed that Saddam had offered asylum to bin Laden...

...By mid-February 1999, journalists did not even feel the need to qualify these claims of an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. An Associated Press dispatch that ran in the Washington Post ended this way: "The Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against Western powers."

Where did journalists get the idea that Saddam and bin Laden might be coordinating efforts? Among other places, from high-ranking Clinton administration officials.

In the spring of 1998--well before the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa--the Clinton administration indicted Osama bin Laden. The indictment, unsealed a few months later, prominently cited al Qaeda's agreement to collaborate with Iraq on weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton Justice Department had been concerned about negative public reaction to its potentially capturing bin Laden without "a vehicle for extradition," official paperwork charging him with a crime. It was "not an afterthought" to include the al Qaeda-Iraq connection in the indictment, says an official familiar with the deliberations. "It couldn't have gotten into the indictment unless someone was willing to testify to it under oath." The Clinton administration's indictment read unequivocally:

Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.

UPDATE 5/30: Tons of commentary and detail from Dan Darling in this Regnum Crucis post.

May 28, 2004

Many Probes, Little Progress

Claudia Rosett, who has been leading the way in the reporting of the Oil-For-Food fraud, says the investigations are being slowed, underfunded, or stymied before they even get going. I wish I could be as optimistic as she is here:

So, is it time to write off the likelihood that anyone will ever get to the bottom of Oil-for-Food? Hardly. Volcker has plenty at stake — after a long and respected career, he has placed his own reputation on the line, and we might yet hope that this will help overcome his current surroundings. Hankes-Drielsma says that KPMG, given any chance, is willing to proceed with the investigation already begun. And Oil-for-Food, overall, was simply too enormous and too rotten to stay stuffed under a rug. Information will almost certainly continue to seep out.

Yes it will, but does that mean that that those complicit in the scandal will be prosecuted or fully exposed and shamed? So far I've seen nothing that makes me think the investigations will lead to real reform of the U.N., even if they end up being critical of the actions of Annan and son, and Benon Sevan. I'd love to be proven wrong.

May 27, 2004

WFB on Berlin Wall

I just finished reading the first four installments of William F. Buckley's series on the Berlin Wall over at NRO. The series is excerpted from Buckley's book, The Fall of the Berlin Wall, and it's a terrific history lesson and an enjoyable read. Here are the links to the individual articles, (I'll add Part V tomorrow).

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

From today's segment comes this excerpt describing the scene on that day in 1989 when the German people found out that the Wall would come down:

At about 9 PM on Thursday, November 9, the press conference seemed to be winding up when a reporter asked one final question. Hesitantly, and without looking into the camera, as if what he had to say was not entirely fit for public discussion, Schabowski pronounced magic words. "Permanent emigration is henceforth allowed across all border crossing points between East Germany and West Germany and West Berlin."

Viewers turned to each other in disbelief. . . . Did he say what I thought he said? Then, Is this some kind of trick?

A few decided to test out the words of manumission. There and then. A group of friends, who had been watching the televised press conference in a bar, quickly paid their bill and walked four blocks to the nearest border crossing, at Bornholmerstrasse. They showed their identity cards to the Grepo on duty. He permitted them to cross the bridge into West Berlin. One of them spoke to an American reporter. "To walk across this bridge into West Berlin is the most normal thing in the world. But things haven't been normal here for 28 years."

The news traveled with the speed of light. West Berliners also poured out into the streets. By midnight the whole area between the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie was one huge, joyous party. Car horns tooted, there was dancing in the streets, and champagne, or a reasonable substitute, was raised in toasts, drunk, and sprayed around the assembly.

There were tears too, of relief, of sadness for wasted years, of mourning for those who had died trying to escape. One young man said in wonderment, "I couldn't imagine that I'd ever just be able to walk through the Brandenburg Gate. It's unreal, unbelievable." Willy Brandt told a group of revelers, "Nothing will be the same again."

Come Clean

Got something you want to get off your chest? Or just want to read other people's deep dark secrets. There's something voyeuristic about reading somebody else's anonymous confessions.

May 26, 2004

Dirty Tricks

Interesting piece on opposition research in political campaigns called "Playing Dirty", by Joshua Green in The Atlantic. As you might expect with the left-leaning Green, Republicans are cast as the biggest heavies of the piece, but the Democrats are shown to be adept at eating their own young, as when Wesley Clark's campaign team virtually destroyed the Dean campaign by manipulating the press by "seeding" negative Dean stories.

Green's big scoop is that the way the Bush "oppo" men are now framing the case against John Kerry, is the same tactic used by the RNC team "whose job it was to discredit and destroy Al Gore." It seems not to occur to Green that the reason Kerry and Gore might be engaged politically in much the same way is that they have so many of the same weaknesses as candidates. Or even that they themselves might have had a bit to do with the negative ways that they are perceived by American voters.

The are both products of elite Eastern liberalism, and have shared nearly lifelong ambitions to win the White House. They have careers as Senators with voting records to defend that are politically well to the left of much of mainstream America. They are both men of great wealth and elite upbringing who seem to struggle to relate to the common man. They both lack personal warmth and I think come across as arrogant and condescending. They share the inability to arouse much passion in voters. They are perceived by many Americans to be panderers and flip-floppers on many issues, and to have certain issues with "truth-telling", not so much because of effective RNC opposition research, but because people have eyes and ears and gut instincts, and long memories.

Green is a little short on accounts of the October 2000 Surprise Bush DUI story and other great moments in Democratic Party "oppo". Attempted "destructions" of Speaker Livingston, Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney among others don't find their way into the piece. Check it out anyway.

May 25, 2004

Shooting The Messenger

It's apparently OK to monitor the human rights of Palestinians as long as only Israelis are being cited for abuses. The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG) has seen its funding slashed by the European governments that have supported it in the past now that it has taken note of the fact that most of the violence affecting the Palestinian people is perpetrated by Arafat's men or by factional fighting among Arab gangs struggling for power. This article in The Scotsman reports these findings from the PHRMG's latest report...

Palestinian cities are in a state of near anarchy, with people on the payroll of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA) blamed for 90 per cent of gangland violence.

It highlights numerous incidents of torture of prisoners and refers to the killing of civilians in gunbattles between Palestinian factions.

It is another blow for Mr Arafat’s organisation, which was recently accused of misusing £134 million of European Union funds. Mr Arafat was accused of signing cheques to people linked with terrorist activity.

The organisation behind the latest report, the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), has won few friends for its work documenting human rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Although it has been strongly critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, its criticism of the PA has seen its funding by European governments slashed.

Yes, that criticism of Israel was voiced in this report as well. Israel shares responsibility for the violence because its...

"...failure to reach a substantive and acceptable peace agreement has led Palestinians to vent their feelings of futility against Palestinians."

You see, its Israel's fault that Arab gangs of thugs are killing each other with guns and bombs purchased with foreign aid dollars from Western nations that are meant to benefit the Palestinian people. Those obstinate Israelis are so obsessed with building barriers to keep suicide bombers out of Israel, and finding and destroying tunnels that are being used to smuggle in missiles to be used to kill Israelis, that they have somehow "failed to reach a substantive and acceptable peace agreement."

The Europeans governments that are now defunding the PHRMG because the realities being reported cause them political embarrassment, show how shallow their concern for Palestinian human rights really is.

If I seem to be dwelling on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a lot lately, it's more by happenstance than by design. The frightening rise in anti-Semitism worldwide is of course fueling much of the increased attention, including mine, to the conflict. The ridiculous double-standard to which Israel is held regarding pre-emptive self-defense from terrorism, and the willfull denial, especially by Europeans, of Palestinian responsibility for the condition of their people, makes the Jew-hating Arabs seem somehow principled by comparison. At least they wear their anti-Semitism on their sleeve. We know that they will not be satisfied untill every Jew is dead. They tell us every day, in word and deed.

The Europeans couch their support for a movement that is sworn to genocide in terms of a concern for the human rights of Palestinians. Their willfull blindness to Arab abuses of Palestinians reveals their hypocrisy and yes, their anti-Semitism.

What result short of abject surrender and Israeli national suicide would satisfy them, I wonder? Israel's annihilation by Arabs would, I suppose, cause a few people to forget that it was Europe's treatment of Jews that necessitated the State of Israel in the first place. But I suppose it's bad manners to bring up that nasty episode.

May 24, 2004

Teddy Takes A Spill

Scott Ott of Scrappleface is on a roll today:

BREAKING: Ted Kennedy Hurt in Mountain Bike Spill

(2004-05-24) -- U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy today suffered minor injuries when the mountain bike he was riding slid on a patch of loose stones and crashed near the end of a 17-mile ride at the Kennedy family compound in Massachusetts.

When told about the incident, Senate colleague John Forbes Kerry expressed his "grief and prayers for Teddy, his bicycle and the entire eastern seaboard."

"His injuries remind me of my own three Purple Hearts earned during the Vietnam war," Mr. Kerry added.

Check out Scott's other posts from today here and here.

Media Buys PA Line

Israel's action in Rafah appears to be "Jenin" all over again. In other words, another example of the world media uncritically accepting the version of events promoted by the Palestinians, without any reasonable examination of facts and circumstances. As in the case of the early reporting of the "massacre" at Jenin, the PA version is reported as fact, and some of the inconvenient details (such as the Palestinian "standard operating procedure" of using innocent women and children to shield armed fighters) are ignored by the press.

David Meir-Levi takes a look at the context of the IDF action in Rafah, much of which has gone unreported in major media accounts. We expect this from the Arab press, but we should hold the Western press to a higher standard of objectivity. Shouldn't we?

Media coverage depicts the civilians as an orderly "demonstration" upon which the IDF fired without provocation...

...nowhere in the media do we learn that the urgency of this operation was due to the fact that terrorists in Rafah were trying to smuggle in Strela anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down civilian airliners. Strela missiles from the Gaza strip could shoot down planes landing at Ben-Gurion airport...

...Our media also neglected to mention that a UN special envoy to the PA noted that "Palestinian gunmen (were) using a mob of civilians as cover". At least a dozen armed terrorists were scattered within this demonstration.

There were c. 3000 people about a mile from the IDF tanks. A group of c.100 unexplainably separated from the main body and advanced toward the tanks. The armed terrorists were in this group of 100. Some were armed with anti-tank RPGs. One hardly need wonder what their intent was...

...aerial video surveillance shows that an Israeli Apache gunship fired a warning missile into an EMPTY FIELD in order to deter the procession. When the mob continued to move on Israeli soldiers, field commanders, fearing a major assault on their troops by the RPG-bearing terrorists who were using the civilians as human shields, fired flares into the air. When the mob still advanced on the tanks, the IDF directed machine gun fire and four tank shells at an ABANDONED BUILDING near the marchers.

A total of 10 people were killed and many more wounded, but the IDF spokesman said, after reviewing the surveillance tapes, that it seemed highly unlikely the casualties were caused by Israeli fire.

The army did note that the path taken by the mob was an area "rigged with explosive charges planted by the Palestinians."

So it is quite possible that the carnage among the Palestinian civilians was caused by land mines planted by Palestinian terrorists to stop IDF advances.

Oh. I hadn't heard that.

UPDATE 5/24: Just when I'm making rash generalizations about media coverage, Andrew Sullivan links to a BBC slideshow that does give the IDF perspective on the search for smuggling tunnels in Gaza. As Andrew said, "Good for the Beeb. There's hope yet."

May 23, 2004

Witness To The Chalabi Raid

Laurie Mylroie passes along an eyewitness account to the seizure and search of Ahmed Chalabi's house and the INC offices. Granted, there's a lot to learn yet about what Chalabi has done, but Bremer seems out of control right now. (Write Mylroie at sam11@erols.com to receive her email updates.)

From an American Friend Who Witnessed the Humiliating Raid Against Chalabi (With thanks to Harold Rhode) Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 10:26 AM Subject: Baghdad update

Hi folks,

I wanted to let everyone know that I am safe in Iraq after what was a very eventful day yesterday. As most of you know, I work closely with Dr. Chalabi in Iraq, assisting the INC as a financial advisor. Yesterday, as I was sitting in my nightshirt and shorts, getting ready to face the day, my guard came in and told me that Dr. Chalabi’s guards were being arrested. Yelling to my friend and housemate Francis, I raced over to Dr. Chalabi’s house to find a confrontation between the Iraqi Police (IP), guarded by the US military and advised by plain clothed “advisors” to the IP. Two Americans demanding to know who was in charge of this operation, startled them. Suddenly some of the American “advisors” disappeared into their cars. The US military were fine—just obeying orders. After a back and forth with the IP and the US military, one unarmed IP was allowed inside to search for the persons for whom they had warrants.

It is helpful to understand that these “warrants” are coming from a special court established by Paul Bremer and reporting directly to him. The judge used to be a translator at the CPA Ministry of Justice and was imposed on the court by the CPA. His first charge was against Aras Kareem, the head of INC intelligence. According to the arrest warrant, he was charged with stealing 11 vehicles that belonged to the Ministry of Finance. Those 11 vehicles had been parked on INC property for protection and the MOF had taken the keys with them. The temporary offices of the MOF (its permanent building was damaged in the war) had no room for the vehicles. The MOF sent a letter to the judge saying there was no basis for the charges. The judge threatened the MOF lawyer with imprisonment if the MOF did not withdraw the letter. He also refused to take the letter from Aras’s lawyer. Even yesterday, when they came to arrest several people (none of course were at Dr. Chalabi’s house), their investigation was so poor that they did not even know the last names of the people they were trying to arrest. They tried to arrest one of Dr. Chalabi’s drivers just because his first name was Kamaran—a common Kurdish name. It would be like going to an office with a warrant to arrest Mike and arresting anyone with that first name.

After the police left (with nothing) I went over to China House—the INC office--where this time there was no pretense of arresting anyone. The plain-clothed American advisor without ID said they were seizing the building. I asked to see the warrant but none was available and no one would admit to being in charge. Under the watchful eye of these advisors, the IP ransacked the office, shooting Dr. Chalabi’s picture, overturning furniture, looting what they could carry off and spewing garbage everywhere. Dr. Chalabi had a group picture of his father—about 50 persons in total. The police had smashed the glass and punched a hole through the face of Dr. Chalabi’s father. We forget that Iraqis have long histories and long memories. That this police officer would recognize the face of Dr. Chalabi’s father in a sea of faces is illustrative of the roots of the invasion of his office.

Paul Bremer’s imperious manner has resulted in a tremendous loss of American and Iraqi lives. His subversion of Iraq’s nascent judicial system to silence a political opponent not only undermines Iraqi democracy but ours as well. I am okay in Baghdad, but angry.


I hope Bush does more than spout platitudes when he speaks to the nation tomorrow. We deserve to know what the hell's going on with Chalabi, how we're progressing in Fallujah, what the status is of WMD searches and interrogations. The secrecy and silence so far is an insult to the Americans who supported the liberation of Iraq.

And the failure of the administration to effectively tout their many positive accomplishments in Iraq is staggering. This war will be won or lost here at home, and the PR job done by the White House is almost nonexistent. The Oil-For-Food scandal has been strictly off limits as a topic for Bush, so afraid is he of upsetting the U.N. That needs to stop now. Handing over Iraq to an organization still scrambling to cover up the biggest fraud in history before that fraud can be investigated and prosecuted would be a complete sellout of the Iraqi people.

UPDATE 5/24: This report from Niles Lathem of the N.Y. Post says that:

Jordan's King Abdullah fueled the U.S. move against Iraqi leader Ahmed Chalabi by providing bombshell intelligence that his group was spying for Iran...

...An explosive dossier that the Jordanian monarch recently brought with him to White House sessions with President Bush detailed Mafia-style extortion rackets and secret information on U.S. military operations being passed to Iran, diplomats said.

As they say...developing.

May 22, 2004

Kinsley Reviews Brooks

At the end of Michael Kinsley's review of David Brooks' new book "On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense", he decides that Brooks must be a liberal. After all, anyone who "actually seems reasonable" and candidly critiques and skewers "the products and culture of capitalism" must be liberal, or so it seems to Kinsley. His review ends lamely and nonsensically, but the Brooks book does look interesting.

Barney's Barn

It's necessary to periodically set aside serious issues of war, politics and public policy and smile a bit. Here's a site where you can create your own drum solo, and then watch yourself (well, actually watch a cow) perform your solo on "Moo TV" at Barney's Barn in front of a crowd of enthusiastic and appreciative fellow cows. No, really.

May 20, 2004

Will The U.N. Be Welcome in Iraq?

It is notable that we haven't heard Iraqis themselves making the moral equivalence arguments heard recently from Europeans and Massachusetts senators comparing Abu Ghraib abuses to the Saddam regime. As William Safire said the other day, "Iraqis know the difference".

And Mark Steyn warns that we might want to consider the track record of the U.N. before we hand over too much responsibility for the administration of a free Iraq to them:

What do the "Bush's boast rings hollow" crowd want for Iraq? Usually, they want the UN to take over.

Is the UN perfect? No.

Is the UN good? Well, I'm not sure I'd even say that. But if you object to what's going on in those Abu Ghraib pictures - the sexual humiliation of prisoners and their conscription as a vast army of extras in their guards' porno fantasies - then you might want to think twice about handing over Iraq to the UN.

In Eritrea, the government recently accused the UN mission of, among other offences, pedophilia. In Cambodia, UN troops fueled an explosion of child prostitutes and AIDS. Amnesty International reports that the UN mission in Kosovo has presided over a massive expansion of the sex trade, with girls as young as 11 being lured from Moldova and Bulgaria to service international peacekeepers.

In Bosnia, where the sex-slave trade barely existed before the UN showed up in 1995, there are now hundreds of brothels with underage girls living as captives. The 2002 Save the Children report on the UN's cover-up of the sex-for-food scandal in West Africa provides grim details of peacekeepers' demanding sexual favors from children as young as four in exchange for biscuits and cake powder. "What is particularly shocking and appalling is that those people who ought to be there protecting the local population have actually become perpetrators," said Steve Crawshaw, the director of Human Rights Watch.

By now you're maybe thinking, "Hmm. I must have been on holiday the week the papers ran all those stories about 'The Shaming of the UN.'"

For that matter, you haven't heard the pro-U.N. crowd express too many reservations about returning to power in Iraq the people who presided over the multi-billion dollar looting of the oil resources of the Iraqi people through the Oil-For-Food program. It remains to be seen if the Iraqis will welcome these bureaucrats with anything resembling open arms. I'm doubting it.

Bennett on Why We Fight

From William Bennett's "Remembering Why We Fight"

Let me start with the images of Abu Ghraib. We were all rightly disgusted and dejected by what we saw there. Several of our soldiers engaged in ugly, deplorable, disgusting, and inhumane acts. Let's remember those adjectives. We need to get our language right. Emerson said, "The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language." What happened at Abu Ghraib was not a matter of poor training or bad supervision. These were humans acting inhumanely. When I hear that they were not properly trained or supervised, I wonder if those who say that have lost their common sense as well.

What kind of training does someone need to know that it is wrong to abuse other human beings like that, mugging for a camera, knowing such images will travel somewhere—if not everywhere? This was not a matter of poor military training any more than it was a matter of poor military judgment. This was a matter of poor human training and poor human judgment. We don't need to read the Geneva Conventions or the Code of Military Justice to know this. This was basic stuff. You can find it in the Bible; you can find it in Aristotle. If you need the armed forces to be trained in decency, you've waited too long. This was not the fault of our armed forces any more than it was the fault of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or President George W. Bush.

Let's remember the characters here, and let's remember how it shows the character of America. Yes, some American soldiers did this ugly stuff in Abu Ghraib. But it was reported and stopped by other American soldiers. We have the image of Lynndie England (the cultural descendant of Tonya Harding), pointing to naked men, holding another man by a leash. We do not need to see her again. We've forgotten—perhaps because it wasn't much reported —the name of Army Specialist Joseph M. Darby. But as Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post wrote last week, both soldiers—Darby and England—had choices. England had the choice to engage in inhumane activity, and Joseph Darby had the choice to do nothing about it. Here, however, is what Darby chose: "He chose to place an anonymous note under the door of a superior describing the abuse. Later he chose to make a sworn statement, setting off the investigation."

We know little of England, save that she grew up fairly poor and in a trailer park. As if that general report explains anything. It doesn't. Here's what we know, now, of Specialist Joe Darby: "Darby lived in a coal town, in a household headed by a disabled stepfather. To make ends meet, he worked the night shift at Wendy's." Bad actions, wrong actions, even evil actions, have nothing to do with economics, poverty, wealth, or any other artificial construct any more than good actions do. They have to do with moral fiber. Those who attacked us on 9/11, as much as those who planned and trained them, were upper- and middle-class Arabs. Bin Laden is wealthier than any of us can hope to be. Mohammed Atta drove a Mercedes. Al-Zawahiri is a physician from an upper-class family. Let's hear no more of root causes; let's speak, instead, of right and wrong and good and evil. What Lynndie England did is not anywhere near on par with what our attackers did, but economic circumstance is the cause of neither of their actions. And as for shame, the bag should be on Lynndie England's head, not the prisoners'. She is the one who should be hiding, or should have been hiding, from the camera—not mugging for it.

Fractal Art


At a site called fractalism.com, is a gallery of fractal art, which is defined there as "the visual depiction of complex mathematical equations." OK, nobody said I have to "get it" in order to enjoy it.

The Day After Never

This Patrick Michaels article from the Washington Post quotes numerous scientists and experts who dismiss as patent nonsense the theories behind the ecological disaster depicted in the move "The Day After Tomorrow". Al Gore has already touted the film, and the producers defend it as a method of "consciousness raising" on the issue of global warming.

Is a Gulf Stream "failure" that would be sufficient to produce an ice age even possible? Ask MIT's Carl Wunsch, the world's authority on oceanic currents. He's very upset at these silly scenarios and believes they can harm efforts to reduce industrial emissions by subjecting the entire global warming issue to ridicule. (After all, Gore is the pitchman.) Wunsch recently wrote in a letter to Nature magazine that the only way to trigger a Gulf Stream-caused ice age "is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the earth's rotation, or both."

It is hoped by the left that the film will have an influence on the political process. Michaels describes a political scenario that could conceivably result from the film. It's sort of a "best-case" result for warming alarmists. That the film is based on junk science matters little to its creators and promoters. Their agenda is more political than environmental anyway.

Media Does A "Blix" on Sarin Bomb

blixhome (2).jpg
(via Rodger at Curmudgeonly and Skeptical)

Frank Gaffney suggests that its hard to hit a moving target when it comes to demonstrating the existence of WMD in Iraq:

One could be forgiven for thinking that the detonation of two "improvised explosive devices" equipped with toxic chemical agents would be seen as confirmation that there are still Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. These events might even be seen as rebuttals to those who have derided the Bush administration for its prior inability to substantiate pre-war claims that such weapons in Saddam’s hands constituted an intolerable threat to the United States.

Unfortunately, such thinking fails to appreciate a stand-by of Washington Beltway politics: "moving the goalposts." Whenever the opposing team comes close to proving its point, one simply relocates the end zone to a point out of reach.

May 19, 2004

Safire's Four Noes

William Safire posits the "four noes" that have become the Iraq defeatists' platform. These positions have become increasingly difficult to defend with anything but a contorted and selective use of facts, and a denial of inconvenient realities. Safire's title, "Sarin, What Sarin", illustrates that the first "no", the absence of WMD's, is getting more threadbare with each passing day.

The second article of faith of the defeatists is the absence of a connection between Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda, a myth that can now only be promoted with willfull blindness to the many proven such links.

The third "no" is no human-rights high ground can be claimed by us regarding Saddam's torture chambers because we mistreated Iraqi prisoners. This equates sleep deprivation with life deprivation, illegal individual humiliation with official mass murder. We flagellate ourselves for mistreatment by a few of our guards, who will be punished; he delightedly oversaw the shoveling of 300,000 innocent Iraqis into unmarked graves. Iraqis know the difference.

Safire suggests that history will correct the record, and put the lie to these self-deceptions:

In weeks or years to come — when the pendulum has swung, and it becomes newsworthy to show how cut-and-runners in 2004 were mistaken — logic suggests we will see a rash of articles and blockbuster books to that end...

...Will today's defeatists then admit they were wrong? That's a fifth "no."

May 18, 2004

Bush Speech to AIPAC

Power Line links to today's speech by President Bush, which celebrates our country's kinship with Israel...

Our nation, and the nation of Israel, have much in common. We're both relatively young nations, born of struggle and sacrifice. We're both founded by immigrants escaping religious persecution in other lands. We have both built vibrant democracies, built on the rule of law and market economies. And we're both countries founded on certain basic beliefs: that God watches over the affairs of men, and values every life. (Applause.)

These ties have made us natural allies, and these ties will never be broken. (Applause.) In the past, however, there was one great difference in the experience of our two nations: The United States, through most of our history, has been protected by vast oceans to our east and west, and blessed with friendly neighbors to our north and south. Israel has faced a different situation as a small country in a tough neighborhood. The Israeli people have always had enemies at their borders and terrorists close at hand. Again and again, Israel has defended itself with skill and heroism. And as a result of the courage of the Israeli people, Israel has earned the respect of the American people. (Applause.)...

...expresses his respect and gratitude for our military forces...

We have come to know the skill and the courage of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.) They have fulfilled every mission their country has given to them. They and their families have endured long deployments and uncertainty. Our men and women in uniform have fought in mountain passes and desert sands in the remotest part of the world. They've lost brave friends and comrades, who will always be remembered and honored by a grateful nation. (Applause.)

They have done all this to defend our country and to advance the cause of freedom and peace. And their loved ones, and those who wear our uniform, must know that America is very grateful to their service. (Applause.)

...and vows not to weaken in the face of violent challenges to Iraqi democracy:

This is an historic moment. The world watches for weakness in our resolve. They will see no weakness. We will answer every challenge. U.S. Army soldiers and Iraqi security forces are systematically destroying the illegal militia in the south of Iraq. (Applause.) Coalition forces are working with Iraqis in Fallujah to end control by Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters. (Applause.) We're building up Iraqi security forces so they can safeguard their own country. We're flexible in our methods, but our goal is unchanging: Iraq will be free, and Iraq will be a democratic nation. (Applause.)...

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Mark Helprin has brickbats for both Republicans and Democrats in his op-ed "No Way to Run a War". He rips the Bush administration for their conduct of Iraq policy, and then has at the Democrats for their "ideological confusion". I won't even try to excerpt this one folks. Read it all, and pass it along.

"Skipping Off To The Gulag"

In an informative debate on the Patriot Act from FPM, Heather MacDonald of City Journal, arguing in favor of the act, points out how its critics not only assume the bad faith of the country's law enforcement community, but also remain unable to suggest how we might better combat terrorist organizations, than by pre-emptive and secret investigation.

Her debate opponent Joe Williams, who can hear the jackboot heels clicking just around the corner, calls Patriot Act supporters "...the repression apologists, who seem content skipping merrily off to the gulag." Failing to cite actual abuses of Patriot Act powers, he'd prefer the act "be viewed as a metaphor for all the civil liberties violations that are currently occurring."

I'm as much in favor of limiting the powers of government to intrude in the private lives of citizens as the next guy, but as MacDonald points out, critics like Williams haven't answered the key question:

How do you investigate terrorist planning in public? His core objections are to Patriot Act provisions that allow the government to surveil and gather information on terror suspects in secret. I remain sincerely puzzled by what he thinks the alternative is. Either Mr. Williams is unable to grasp the difference between the prosecution of a previous crime and the pre-emptive investigation of terrorist activity, or he simply rejects the idea that the United States faces an ongoing threat of destruction from Islamic madmen.

She's right that you never seem to hear Patriot Act critics even talking about the problem of Islamist terror, or acknowledging the broad bipartisan Congressional and popular support for the act. They'd rather try to scare people into believing that the government wants to monitor the library borrowing habits of soccer moms on the way to establishing a totalitarian state. There's no time for serious discussion of alternatives when there's anti-Bush fearmongering to be done.

May 16, 2004

Syrian Sanctions

The underreported story of the week has to be Bush's Executive Order declaring sanctions on Syria. The Assad regime has not responded appropriately to the carrot, and so the President will now try the stick. Not only has Syria refused to help prevent fighters from crossing the Iraq border to join the fight against American troops, they have also continued to fund and support Palestinian terror groups. Here's an excerpt from an article at Front Page Magazine

Despite a promise by Assad to U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to close the offices of terrorist organizations in Damascus, CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “There are matters about the continuing harboring of Palestinian rejectionist groups, whose public relations outfits may have been shut down, but the operations haven’t been shut down[5].” The CIA has determined that Syria has maintained the operational arms of Islamic terrorist groups in Damascus. Officials claim that much of the funding for attacks by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah either stemmed from or were transferred through Syria.

And here's part of Wretchard's take on the new policy toward Syria:

The imposition of US sanctions on Syria is both an acknowledgement of its role in attacking US forces in Iraq and an admission that the US is not willing to confront Damascus militarily -- yet. The Executive Order, whose full text has not been prominently carried by many newspapers, is extraordinarily accusatory. The effects of the sanctions, as observers have pointed out, are mostly symbolic and are of a piece with other holding actions on the Sunni front.

May 15, 2004

America's War

David Gelernter says we had to know that the knee-jerk critics of America would use the occasion of the Abu Ghraib abuses to equate us with Saddam Hussein's regime. But that doesn't mean we should take it lying down:

Because of Abu Ghraib, America is (temporarily!) down and out and getting kicked in the head by every two-bit moralizing moron in the universe, while her thoughtful Euro-friends twist the knife by informing us that hundreds of dead American soldiers might just as well have stayed home; America's rule is no better than Saddam's. We need to hear from America's political leaders, loud and clear: "Yes, we abominate the Abu Ghraib crimes but will not accept your forgetting what America has paid to liberate Iraq, will not allow foreign nations to slander the United States, will not permit you to forget what we and the British have accomplished: a world without Saddam Hussein; a vastly safer, profoundly better world. And no one will be allowed to dishonor American soldiers and this nation by telling us 'you're just as bad as Saddam'; that lie will never go unchallenged."

We need to hear those things especially from Democrats. For the world to know that this nation is united, Democrats have to speak. They haven't. The message has not been delivered.

Are you listening, Ted?

$20,000 In Beer Money

In an academic world spending millions to fund arcane, impractical research, it's good to know that some students are engaged in research projects that have the potential to do some good for mankind, and improve the human condition. In this case, something they can put to use even before they graduate:

Adam Hunnell, a first-year student in Case's Physics Entrepreneurship Program has conceived the Keg Wrap, a portable method for keeping beer kegs cold indefinitely.

He has received a $20,000 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) to build a prototype.

Hunnell's idea is to design a wrap, made of nylon or a similar material, using thermoelectrics. The wrap will be cold enough to keep a keg at between 32 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be powered by a conventional electrical outlet or an automobile's cigarette lighter...

..."It's always easier to move forward with an idea with $20,000," he says.

My son Andy, (center in photo), a Case alum himself, sent me the press release link. To think, the Class of '01 had to use ice for four long years.

May 14, 2004

A Show Of Hands

This is just one story out of hundreds, in which Americans have given of themselves, in time, money and work, to help the Iraqi people.

In this instance, a group of citizens from Houston has arranged to bring seven Iraqi men, who had their right hands amputated on Saddam's orders, to Houston to be supplied with new electronically controlled prosthetic hands. It's a terrific story, and a documentary film has been made about the entire project. So far, no interest from U.S. networks or cable stations. I wonder why.

May 13, 2004

Google Blog

The Google Blog is four days old. In one of their first posts, they try to explain how an anti-Semitic hate site came up in a Google search on the word "Jew".

Baby Steps

It's not all dog leashes and porn in Iraq. Read Belmont Club on how coalition strategies in Fallujah and Najaf in recent weeks are quietly working.

This was not supposed to happen. April was supposed to mark the death rattle of the American occupation in Iraq. It was never meant to lead to joint Marine-Iraqi patrols in Fallujah or Iraqi commandos hunting down Moqtada Al-Sadr in Najaf. Yet the change did not proceed from "more American boots on the ground" nor from the provision of additional guards for the Baghdadi antiquities or an influx of NGOs. Still less was it the consequence of a grant of legitimacy from the United Nations or the messianic arrival of French troops. In fact it coincided with the departure of the Spanish contingent from Iraq. The change sprang from the correct application of the original strategy: building a democratic and free Iraq by recognizing the leadership which arose from the circumstances. It arose not from an imposed set of politically correct commissars in Baghdad but in complementing indigenous efforts with American strengths.

Wretchard's star is clearly rising.

GM Won't Advertise On Air America

It's telling that General Motors has apparently decided that the venom spewing from the airwaves on Air America is not something they want their advertising dollars to support, according to this NY Daily News review of the new liberal radio network. Small wonder, given air personality Randi Rhodes' suggestion of a Mafia-style hit on the President:

Rock bottom came when she compared Bush and his family to the Corleones in the "Godfather" saga. "Like Fredo, somebody ought to take him out fishing and phuw," she said, imitating the sound of gunfire.

Funny, funny stuff. No doubt a chorus of condemnation of this hate speech will be forthcoming from the media establishment. Any day now. Real soon.


In a segment called "Why Isn't Bush Losing?" in yesterday's Best of the Web, Taranto talks about the polarization of the electorate and the fight for the middle, undecided 20% or so, and makes this interesting observation:

It's not Bush vs. Kerry but Bush vs. anti-Bush. Our sense is that this bodes well for Bush.

Consider: Between 1972 and 1996, six incumbent presidents sought re-election. Three of them--Nixon, Reagan and Clinton--were polarizing figures, intensely loathed (for a variety of personal and ideological reasons) by partisans on the other side, but solidly supported by their own party. All three won.

The other three--Ford, Carter and the elder Bush--spurred much more tepid opposition from the other party (is the idea of a "Ford-hater" even imaginable?). But all three faced challenges for their own party nod, and Carter and Bush saw third-party candidates drain away their support in November. All three lost.

Bush is clearly in the Nixon-Reagan-Clinton mold rather than the Ford-Carter-Bush one. That doesn't mean he's a shoo-in, but the "anybody but Bush" vote is not going to be sufficient to carry Kerry to the White House. If you don't already hate George W. Bush, it's unlikely that you will develop such a passion between now and November.

Convention has it that when a president seeks re-election, the vote is a referendum on the incumbent. He might lose if voters see him as tainted by scandal (Ford), incompetent (Carter) or out of touch (Bush père). The challenger also has to convince voters of his own superior merits: Carter's honesty, Reagan's optimism, Clinton's compassion. The Dems may yet find a winning formula, but our sense is that "Bush is evil and Kerry served in Vietnam" won't do the trick.

Fouad Ajami - The Curse Of Pan-Arabia

I've been getting Laurie Mylroie's newsletter and assorted articles for the last few days and the best of the lot so far is this Fouad Ajami essay from the May 12 Wall Street Journal. For starters, the Johns Hopkins professor thinks that U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is exactly the wrong person to be influencing the political future of Iraq:

"...nothing in Mr. Brahimi's curriculum vitae gives him the tools, or the sympathy, to understand the life of Iraq's Shiite seminaries; nothing he did in his years of service in the Arab league exhibited concern for the cruelties visited on the Kurds in the 1980s. Mr. Brahimi hails from the very same political class that has wrecked the Arab world. He has partaken of the ways of that class: populism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, and a preference for the centralized state. He came from the apex of the Algerian system of power that turned that country into a charnel house, inflicted on it a long-running war between the secular powers-that-be and the Islamists, and a tradition of hostility by the Arab power-holders toward the country's Berbers. No messenger more inappropriate could have been found if the aim was to introduce Iraqis to the ways of pluralism.

He warns of a new Pan-Arabism that would threaten a young Iraqi democracy, and addresses the prison abuse issue only in the context of where to go from here:

We have stumbled in Abu Ghraib. But the logic of Abu Ghraib isn't the logic of the Iraq war. We should be able to know the Arab world as it is. We should see through the motives of those in Cairo and Amman and Ramallah and Jeddah, now outraged by Abu Ghraib, who looked away from the terrors of Iraq under the Baathists. Our account is with the Iraqi people: It is their country we liberated, and it is their trust that a few depraved men and women, on the margins of a noble military expedition, have violated. We ought to give the Iraqis the best thing we can do now, reeling as we are under the impact of Abu Ghraib -- give them the example of our courts and the transparency of our public life. What we should not be doing is to seek absolution in other Arab lands.

Ajami says George Bush is apologizing in the wrong places, to Jordanian leaders and in Egyptian newspapers, instead of directly to the Iraqi people; "Why not take representatives of a budding Iraqi publication into the sanctuary of the Oval Office and offer a statement of contrition by our leader?"

Smart guy. I strongly urge you to read it all.

May 12, 2004

More On Saddam- 9/11 Link

More evidence has surfaced to support a longstanding claim by the Czech intelligence service that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Ahmed al-Ani, an Iraqi intelligence official on April 8, 2001 in Prague. Laurie Mylroie has details in a Front Page Magazine article:

Following the 9/11 attacks, the Czech informant who had observed the meeting saw Mohammed Atta’s picture in the papers and told the BIS he believed that Atta was the man he had seen meeting with al-Ani. On September 14, BIS informed its CIA liaison that they had tentatively identified Atta as al-Ani’s contact.

May 11, 2004

Sullivan and Peters

As someone who rarely finds himself at a loss for words, the effect of the disclosures of abuses at Abu Ghraib has been to sadden, depress and anger me, and to leave me with little to say beyond that. Up until now that is. I have supported the U.S. effort to liberate and to democratize Iraq on humanitarian and moral grounds, and while I am no less convinced that the effort was necessary and justified on these and other grounds, I am, like so many others, reeling emotionally from this haymaker. The shameless attempts by Democrats to capitalize politically disgust me. Lieberman and a couple of others are notable exceptions. I find myself nodding in agreement these days when I read Andrew Sullivan on this particular topic.

...we must still win. This isn't about scoring points. It should not be about circling partisan wagons. And it must not mean withdrawal or despair. Much has also gone right in Iraq. Saddam is gone; the Kurds are free and moving toward democratic rule; in many areas, self-government is emerging. The alternatives to regime change, we should remember, were no alternatives at all. Civil war is neither inevitable nor imminent. Before the Abu Ghraib disaster, there were encouraging signs that Shiites were themselves marginalizing al Sadr's gangs; and that some responsible Sunnis could be integrated into a new Iraq. We have time yet to win over the middle of Iraqi opinion to the side of peaceful democratic change.

And as he so often does, Ralph Peters steps up to say what needs to be said to put things in perspective:

As an American, I want my country to be held to higher standards - we can live up to them. Proudly. But we don't need any more hypocritical charges from states with no standards at all.

The international media have been no better. It's certainly fair to criticize America. Our system's robust enough to stand up to even the most bigoted scrutiny. But when stations from al-Jazeera to CNN International cover the misbehavior of a few U.S. prison guards with more fervor and airtime than they did Saddam's mass murders (or the ongoing crimes in virtually every other state in the Middle East), then, as an American, all I can do is to tune them out.

All those who opposed the removal of Saddam, from the BBC to Egyptian state television to The New York Times, act as though the events in Abu Ghraib prove that they were right all along.

No. They weren't right. And no amount of disingenuous "reporting" or feigned shock on the part of newsreaders can change the fact that America behaved nobly and bravely in Iraq - or that we continue to struggle to do the right thing, if sometimes ineptly.

We've made mistakes. We'll make more. We're human. But it's never a mistake to fight for freedom. If the Iraqis make a mess of their one great chance, it won't be our fault. But it will be the fault of those regional governments and the global media who encourage anti-American hatred at every opportunity, pretending that terrorists are freedom fighters.

Now that al-Zarqawi has sawed off the head of an innocent civilian, and captured the event on video to multiply the horror of the act, al Qaeda has once again revealed themselves to be barbarians of the first order. But unfortunately, now the edge has been taken off of that charge by the barbarism of some of our own soldiers.

The conflict is being contested on both sides by humans, flawed to a man. The difference in civilizations will be demonstrated by how outraged and disgusted Americans react to the barbarism of their own countrymen. Those responsible will be tried and punished in a transparent process. The barbarism of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will be celebrated by millions, and there will be no one except the United States military who will make any effort to bring him to justice.

Sullivan is calling for an end to the double-standard of the media where showing video footage of "abuses" is concerned:

Let's start an internet campaign to insist that the major media - including the New Yorker, the networks, the major newsweeklies, and every major paper - run a picture of Zarqawi holding up Nick Berg's severed head. It's time to release the Pearl video and stills too. Enough with the double standards. The media were absolutely right to show the abuse photos. But they are only part of the story. It's about time the media gave us all of it, however harrowing it is.

And from another post, on the media's "insane spin"...

How are the media this stupid? AOL headlines: "Abuse Scandal's Deadly Fallout" referring to the hideous beheading of Nick Berg. Or this idiocy: "American Beheaded for Abuse." Do these people have no memories? This is al Qaeda. They beheaded Daniel Pearl long before the war in Iraq. They murdered thousands in New York City long before Saddam was removed from power. And they are as stupid as they are evil. Iraqis now have contrasting images. Do they want to be run by people who cut innocent people's throats at will or by people who have removed a dictator and are investigating unethical abuse of prison inmates? Zarqawi has now done something for our morale as well as his. He has reminded us of the real enemy; and he has reminded the Iraqis. One simple question: will CNN now show these video stills? I know it must be torment for the family. But if we are in a propaganda war, as we are, we need to be as ruthless in publicizing the murders committed by our enemy as we are in exposing the abuses committed by our own.

Glenn Reynolds has a summary of reaction from bloggers to the media treatment of the Berg murder and the Abu Ghraib abuses.

Belmont Club reacts to Sullivan's call for an end to the double media standard:

What was new about the May coverage was that the press had pictures of the Abu Ghraib abuses and was in a position to project, not a new set of facts, but a new set of powerful emotions upon the public. Getler's claim is really an assertion of the right to invoke outrage, disgust and hatred at a specific act and its perpetrators, and those who may have been indirectly responsible for it. By taking this logic to its limit, Sullivan claims the same right: to unleash a symmetrical set of set emotions at another group -- and demonstrates the absurdity. For it must either be correct to publish both the Abu Ghraib and Berg photos or admit partisanship. Surely, if it is acceptable to run the risk of tainting the entire US military with the brush of Abu Ghraib then there can be no harm in coloring all Muslims with the hues of Al Qaeda. But this is madness.

May 10, 2004

Minor League Report

I'm trying to stay in the habit of posting the Indians' Minor League Report about once a week or so, on the days when the report includes complete batting and pitching statistics for all four minor league teams. (pdf document format) It was nice to see the big boys rattle Fenway Park with eight doubles tonight in a satisfying 10-6 win.

"Bold And Visible Action..."

Kristol and Kagan of The Weekly Standard call for moving up the election timetable for Iraq. For Bush administration policymakers, the status quo isn't going to cut it any longer. Here's an excerpt from the editorial:

Among the biggest mistakes made by the Bush administration over the past year has been the failure to move Iraq more rapidly toward elections. It's true that many, inside and outside the administration, have long been clamoring to hand over more responsibility to Iraqis, responsibility above all for doing more of the fighting and dying. But the one thing even many of these friends of Iraq have been unwilling to hand over to Iraqis is the right to choose their own government. This is a mistake.

We do not believe in the present circumstances that the current administration plan moves quickly enough toward providing Iraqis real sovereignty. It is not real sovereignty when a U.N. official tells Iraqis who their next prime minister will be. We strongly doubt that the announcement of a new interim government--three to four weeks from now, to take office almost two months from now--will have sufficient impact on Iraqi public opinion to overcome the images of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. Nor do we believe the present course will give the American people and their representatives sufficient reason to hope that a corner may be turned in the near future. The coming weeks are critical.

May 9, 2004

Endless Picture Frame

This image is fun...but not for too long. (via Coolios)

Who Ended The Streak?

Everybody Indians fan knows what position player is generally credited with ending Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak on July 17, 1941. But I was wrong when I guessed Ken Keltner to the question "What position player ended the DiMaggio streak?", in a trivia contest at a local watering hole the other night. An online bio of DiMaggio says of the streak:

It kept an entire nation enthralled through June and half of July, before two great plays by Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner ended it on July 17.

Greatest games lists and "top plays" sites also say Keltner "stopped" Joe D.

July 17: In front of more than 60,000 fans at Cleveland, Joe DiMaggio's hit streak comes to an end at 56 games. Indians pitcher Al Smith and Jim Bagby, plus sensational plays by third baseman Ken Keltner, stop the amazing streak. Yankees pulled out a win though 4-3.

Actually, Keltner was just my best guess, since I was aware that, while he had made two great plays on shots by DiMaggio, I was by no means sure that either of them had been in DiMaggio's last at bat. And the correct answer would have to have been the Indian who made either the assist or the putout on Joe D's final at bat of the game.

A couple trivia teams guessed Keltner, as one would imagine, and nobody got the "right" answer, which was announced by the emcee to be Lou Boudreau. He provided no further details, which prompted me to Google for further details. And I found out that he was kinda right...and kinda wrong.

I found that Keltner and Boudreau had long shared the glory for stopping the greatest hitting streak in history, but neither man had recorded either the putout or the assist on DiMaggio's last at bat.

DiMaggio had been thwarted by the spectacular plays by Keltner in the first and the seventh innings, and had drawn a walk in the fourth. With the bases loaded in the eighth, he hit a ball sharply to short. Boudreau went to his right and fielded a bad hop, some accounts say barehanded, and started a 6-4-3 double play. (scroll to #45)

Assist on the play retiring DiMaggio - second baseman Ray Mack. Putout - first baseman Oscar Grimes. No, I'm not playing the trivia game under protest. Let's just say it's today's lesson in Tribology.

"The Illusion Of Moral Action"

Anti-Globalism = Anti-Americanism, by French author Jean-Francois Revel points up the intellectual bankruptcy of the anti-globalist movement, showing how it boils down to the traditional left's hatred of capitalism, combined with knee-jerk anti-Americanism. Here's a sample, but this is too good not to read the whole thing:

The simplistic article of Marxist faith that capitalism is absolute evil, and that it is incarnated in and directed by the United States, may be the most important principle shared by the current crop of anti-globalizers. America is the object of their loathing because for a half century or more it has been the most prosperous and creative capitalist society on earth. But ultimately it is something even bigger that the anti-globalizers want to destroy: liberal democracy and free-market economics. Or quite simply liberty itself...

...Anti-globalists have tried to replace democracy with a despotism of the mob, advancing the brutal proposition that street demonstrators are more legitimate than elected governments. Wherever they have been active, their goal has been to prevent elected heads of state or appointed officials of international organizations from meeting. Like other totalitarians, they treat the mere expression of ideas contrary to their slogans as a crime.

Anti-globalizers have no ambition to advance a program by democratic means, for the simple reason that they don’t have a program, or coherent ideas, or facts on their side. So instead they beat relentlessly on the archaic anti-capitalist and anti-American drum. In Genoa we saw red flags adorned with hammer and sickle, effigies of Che Guevara, and the acronym for the Red Brigades.

The anti-globalists are often incoherent. They brought mayhem to Seattle in the name of combating a “savage” globalism that “profits only the rich.” Yet which groups met in Seattle? The World Trade Organization (WTO), whose role is precisely to monitor international economic transactions so as to prevent them from being “savage.” There has not been a country in the world that hasn’t been eager to be admitted into the WTO, and the poorest are the most eager...

...If you ask the developing countries what they want, they will tell you they want more globalization, not less. What they desire most of all is freer access to the world’s best markets for their products. So when well-heeled young radical protestors try to subvert meetings whose goal is to extend free trade and strengthen poor countries’ ability to export goods, they actually act as enemies of the world’s poor...

...It’s important to recall that it is only market globalization that the Left rejects. In fact, the Left has always hoped for globalization without the market—an ideologically correct world government. Soviet and Maoist communists always felt the vocational urge to impose their models on the whole of humanity, if need be by armed subversion, which they did not hesitate to use on five continents. Although they lack the means to undertake bellicose operations on such a scale, today’s anti-globalizers are no less internationalist in their ambitions.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

May 7, 2004


Back in November I posted an excerpt from Roger Kimball's speech on political correctness that had appeared at Armavirumque. I located the full text the other day and had to post it. The speech won Kimball the 2003 Douglas-Home Trust prize, and while it defies excerpting effectively, I'm going to try to do it anyway, just to get someone to click over and read it all...

Today, the phrase "political correctness" is generally accompanied by a smile--an uneasy smile, but a smile nonetheless. The phrase describes some exaggerated bit of left-wing moralism--so exaggerated that it is hard to take seriously. We smile when we read about an elite American college that has enrolled the sin of "lookism"--the unacceptable belief that some people are more attractive than others--into its catalogue of punishable offenses. We laugh when hearing that a British academic has condemned Frosty the Snowman as a white "male icon" that helps "to substantiate an ideology upholding a gendered spatial/social system."

...we know that such strictures, though preposterous, are not without consequence. Indeed, the phenomenon of political correctness is a great teacher of the often overlooked lesson that the preposterous and the malign can cohabit happily.

There is also the fact that the odor of malignity, of thuggishness, is never far from the lairs of political correctness. The student accused of lookism can be severely penalized for the offense, as can the student accused of racism, "homophobia", or "mis-directed laughter."...

...At its center is a union of abstract benevolence, which takes mankind as a whole for its object, with rigid moralism. This is a toxic, misery-producing brew.

...this "lethal combination" is by no means peculiar to communists. It provides the emotional fuel for utopians from Robespierre to the politically-correct bureaucrats who preside over more and more of life in Western societies today. They mean well. They seek to boost all mankind up to their own plane of enlightenment. Inequality outrages their sense of justice. They regard conventional habits of behavior as so many obstacles to be overcome on the path to perfection. They see tradition as the enemy of innovation, which they embrace as a lifeline to moral progress. They cannot encounter a wrong without seeking to right it. The idea that some evils may be ineradicable is anathema to them. Likewise the notion that the best is the enemy of the good, that many choices are to some extent choices among evils--such proverbial, conservative wisdom outrages their sense of moral perfectibility.

Word Power

An interesting post by John Derbyshire in The Corner today:


Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelms. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig huh?

May 6, 2004

The U.N. Stonewall Continues

So far it appears that Kofi Annan and the U.N. are doing the opposite of cooperating with the investigation into the multi-billion dollar Oil-For-Food corruption scandal. Letters have surfaced from U.N. officials to two major contractors to the program, telling them not to disclose internal audits and other documentation of their activities. Claudia Rosett reports;

...in the interval between March 19, when Mr. Annan finally conceded in the face of overwhelming evidence that the program might after all need investigating by independent experts, and April 21, when former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker was appointed to head to the investigation, Mr. Annan's office explicitly reminded these two crucial contractors, which worked for the Secretariat's Oil for Food program checking the imports and exports involved in more than $100 billion worth of Saddam's oil sales and relief imports, to keep quiet.

May 5, 2004

Kerry Officers Speak Out

A group of Vietnam veterans who served with John Kerry have published a letter contending that he distorted the facts concerning the conduct of his fellow soldiers and calling for him to release all of his military and medical records. On top of that a former superior officer has been quoted as saying he thinks Kerry is unfit to be the commander-in-chief.

And if that isn't enough bad P.R. for one day, the doctor who treated Kerry for a wound for which Kerry lobbied for a Purple Heart, details the nature of Kerry's injury. I think Kerry may yet regret having made his Vietnam experience the focal point of his campaign, if he doesn't already.

May 4, 2004

Policy Was Pushed Out

Carmen Policy's exit from the Browns' front office wasn't as voluntary as he tried to imply, according to Steve King, writing in The Medina Gazette. A number of factors contributed to Policy being shown the door, not least the budding relationship between Coach Butch Davis and Randy Lerner, son of original Browns owner Al Lerner.

According to one member of the Browns organization, Lerner and Policy never hit it off from the moment they became joined at the hip after the death of Randy's father, Al, in October 2002.

Policy was known to be quite cozy with talk show host Mike Trivisonno of WTAM radio, and it is likely Trivisonno who is referred to here:

The coach, like Lerner, did not like Policy's chattiness, especially with one particular member of the media. Policy said to the media member that he wanted to hire him as a team consultant because of what he perceived to be his great football knowledge....When that was brought to Davis' attention, the coach went berserk, going into a profanity-laced diatribe during which he said, in so many words, that the media member didn't have a clue about football.

The signing of Jeff Garcia and the dumping of Tim Couch was the death knell for Policy's term at the head of the Browns:

Davis did not like it that Policy went to Florida to begin trying to work out a deal for quarterback Tim Couch to return...."Butch's thought was, ‘What happens if Carmen signs some deal down there and I find someone better than Couch? Then I'm stuck with him,' " the source said.

There are now just three players left from the expansion Browns of 1999, so it is now truly Davis' team, for better or for worse. I've never been a big Carmen Policy fan, but to his credit, he has conducted himself as a gentleman and a professional since his exit.

Two years ago a first round playoff loss led to the firing of the Defensive Coordinator. After last season's 5-11 record the Offensive Coordinator got the boot. Now the team President is forced out in a Davis power play. Next time Butch looks around for someone to blame, the axe might be falling a little closer to home. Player personnel man Pete Garcia, a guy Davis brought with him from Miami, may have to answer for some dubious drafting, and Butch himself for numerous player relations fiascos. All will be forgiven if the other Garcia can help him win nine games or so, and sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team.

Clinton Struggles To Finish Book

Is this hard to believe? From the N.Y. Post:

The publisher of Bill Clinton's forthcoming memoir is "despairing" that the ex-president hasn't churned out enough pages - and that the book is too full of self-justification and blaming of others, a new report claims.

Apparently Clinton only recently started writing about the Lewinsky matter, and while his writing is good, according to editors, there's just "not enough of it". And true to form, he contends that none of his troubles in office, (including I'm sure, the accosting of women, the illegal Chinese campaign cash, the pardoning of rich crony felons, etc) were his fault...

a Clinton friend says, "He does not act like he has anything to be ashamed about . . . He really believes this was some right-wing conspiracy and he didn't do anything wrong. Maybe he misbehaved in his marriage, but so has every other president in the last 50 or 100 years. He does not go around with his head down in shame."

Clinton also apparently is loath to take any responsibility for having failed to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, saying, "How did this happen, I don't remember," according to a former top aide quoted by the magazine.

Ah yes, the tried and true Clintonism..."I don't remember".

May 3, 2004

One-Two Punch

One month into the season, the Indians have the top two pitchers in the American League by earned run average. After beating Curt Schilling and the Red Sox tonight, Jake Westbrook (1.32 ERA) pushed past teammate C.C. Sabathia (1.61 ERA) into the top spot. Not far behind, in the 11th spot is lefty Cliff Lee (3.14 ERA), who is also sporting a 3-0 record.

I'm already looking forward to attending Thursday's matchup of Sabathia and Pedro Martinez. The bullpen looked good tonight. Maybe the worst is behind us. And this is the first and last time I will point out that with their current record at two games below .500 (11-13), if the Indians play .500 ball the rest of the season, they will win 80 games, my official prediction.

Glad I got that out of the way.

May 2, 2004

Worst Album Covers Ever II

It's hard to argue with any of these selections. (via Dave Barry Blog)

The Amirault Case

On Friday, April 30, Gerald Amirault walked out of prison, having served 18 years for his conviction on a fabricated sex abuse case that, in the words of Dorothy Rabinowitz, was "built out of thin air, political ambition and the relentless coercion of four- and five-year-olds, pressed to make charges against the accused." As the WSJ said on Friday;

Along the way, the law was stood on its head. The rules of evidence were changed to accommodate the prosecution; the burden of proof was put on the accused. Four- and five-year-olds were coached to say what adults wanted to hear. All this was done in the name of virtue, with the result being the kind of catastrophic miscarriage of justice we saw in Mr. Amirault's case. There never was any truth to the charges brought against him. Nor was there anything that would, in saner times, have passed for evidence in an American courtroom.

Rabinowitz has chronicled the Amirault case for the Wall Street Journal and the nation since 1995, winning the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in the process. I remembered the McMartin case in California, but had little recall of the details of the Amirault case, if I ever knew them. So I read the whole series of Rabinowitz articles today, most of them for the first time, and felt compelled to include links to them in this post for others who might not access them elsewhere.

Start with "A Darkness in Massachusetts", the first in Rabinowitz' series, and you'll be hooked. Just as it's hard to comprehend that it has been only 40 years since this country legally mandated civil rights for people of all races, so is it difficult to imagine that less than 20 years ago, the Amirault family could have been convicted in a cultured, sophisticated East Coast city, by a combination of community hysteria, junk psychology, and a blindly zealous child services agency establishment. Worse yet, the travesty was perpetuated by prosecutorial teams and judges too invested in the outrage to admit their errors, even to this day.

The story of what has happened to the Amirault family is heartbreaking...and chilling. Rabinowitz' reporting is riveting. My recommendation is to "read it all".

A Darkness in Massachusetts

A Darkness in Massachusetts II

A Darkness in Massachusetts III

The Children Behind The Glass

A Citizen of Massachusetts

"Finality" For The Amiraults

The Pursuit of Justice, Continued

Judgment in Massachusetts

Cheryl Amirault is Freed

Only In Massachusetts

A Juror Has Second Thoughts

A Hearing in Boston

Gerald Amirault Has Reason To Celebrate

Justice At Last

Witness for the Prosecution

In another Rabinowitz essay of justice miscarried, a doctor's life is ruined by a phony accusation of sexual abuse. A Doctor's Story

Links to these and other articles on the Amirault case can be found here.

Bush's Harvard MBA In Practice

A contemporary of George Bush at Harvard Business School emphatically rejects the left's favorite notion that the president "coasted" through school on the strength of his family connections. And Thomas Lifson goes on to demonstrate how Bush has in fact used his HBS education to help him govern.

Having attended Harvard Business School at the same time as the President, graduating from the two-year program a year after he did, and then serving on its faculty after a year’s interval spent writing a PhD thesis, I am intimately familiar with the rigors of the program at the time, and the miniscule degree of slack cut for even the most well-connected students, when their performance did not make the grade.

There is simply no way on earth that the son of the then-Ambassador to China, or anyone else, could have coasted through Harvard Business School with a “gentleman’s C.” I never, ever heard of a case of an incompetent student being allowed to graduate, simply because a certain family was prominent. On the contrary, I did hear stories of well-born students having to leave prior to graduation. The academic standards were a point of considerable pride.

So what did George Bush learn at Harvard when he took time out from drinking?

The very first lesson drummed-into new students, as they file into the classrooms of Aldrich Hall, is that management consists of decision-making under conditions of uncertainty. There is never perfect information, and decisions often have to be made even when you’d really prefer to know a lot more. Given this reality, students are taught many techniques for analyzing the data which is available, extracting the non-obvious facets, learning how read into it the reasonable inferences which can be made, while quantifying the risks of doing so, and learning the costs and value of obtaining additional data.

The job of the executive of to weigh probabilities in evaluating imperfect information; to assess the costs and benefits of acting or not acting; and to construct scenarios around the various possible time frames for taking action, taking into account the probable reactions of the other vital actors. That political opponents at home carp at him over his imperfect data at the time is no surprise, and no reason to regret his decision. The costs of not acting were simply too great, and the downside potential of erroneous information too low to prefer inaction. Better data would have been preferable, of course, but President Bush shows no sign of remorse for doing what he knows was the prudent thing under the circumstances.

Good stuff as usual, from The American Thinker.

Buckeyes Suspended

Two guys who had been granted a free college education in return for agreeing to play football for Ohio State have allegedly mugged a man for his wallet, on the street at 3 o'clock in the morning. What, they needed pizza money?

Ohio State has issued a statement regarding the status of sophomore tight end Louis Irizarry and sophomore tailback Ira Guilford, who were arrested following an early-morning incident on the OSU campus this morning.

According to reports, the two players were arrested after allegedly trying to rob a man. Irizarry and Guilford were apprehended by OSU police after they allegedly struck a man, knocked him to the ground and then tried to take his wallet.

Both players have been suspended from the team indefinitely. OSU should let the legal system run its course and if the case holds up, then make the suspensions permanent. There should be no scholarships for thugs and robbers. If they pay their debt to society and wish to finish college, let the University decide if they should be allowed to continue. On their own dime, or on a financial aid package based on their financial need, just like anyone else. But their time as representatives of Ohio State on the football field should be over. That is a privilege they have chosen to surrender.

UPDATE 5/4: I was glad to see this statement in this morning's Plain Dealer:

Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger said Monday, "These guys are gone. They're done."

The Next Step

Israel announces its plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and is roundly denounced. But isn't denunciation of Israeli actions automatic? Charles Krauthammer suggests that..

if Israel were to announce today that it intends to live for at least another year, the U.N. Security Council would convene on a resolution denouncing Israeli arrogance and unilateralism, and the U.S. would have to veto it. Only Britain would have the decency to abstain.

Among other points made here by Krauthammer is that the positions taken by George Bush on the Palestinian "right of return", and on Israel's return to the pre-1967 borders, do not represent a change in U.S. policy:

The Bush administration has been attacked not just for supporting the Gaza plan, but for bolstering Israel in this risky endeavor with two assurances: First, that the Palestinian refugees are to be repatriated not to Israel but to Palestine; and second, Israel should not be required to return to its 1967 borders. Enlightened editorial opinion has denounced this as Bush upsetting 30 years of American diplomacy.

Utter rubbish. Rejecting the so-called right of return is nothing more than opposing any final settlement that results in flooding Israel with hostile Palestinians and thus eradicating the only Jewish state on the planet. This is radical? This is something that Washington should refuse to say?

What is new here? Four years ago at Camp David, this was a central element of the Clinton plan. As was the notion of Israel retaining a small percentage of the West Bank on which tens of thousands of Jews live.

Moreover, the notion that Israel will not be forced to return to the 1967 armistice lines goes back 37 years -- to 1967 itself. The Johnson administration was instrumental in making sure that the governing document for a Middle East settlement -- Security Council Resolution 242 -- called for Israeli withdrawal to ``secure and recognized boundaries,'' not ``previous boundaries." And it called for Israel to withdraw ``from territories occupied'' in the 1967 war -- not ``from the territories occupied,'' as had been demanded by the Arab states, and not from "all territories occupied" as had been demanded by the Soviet Union.

Arthur Goldberg (U.S. ambassador to the U.N.), Lord Caradon (British ambassador to the U.N.) and Eugene Rostow (U.S. Undersecretary of State) had negotiated this language with extreme care. They spent the subsequent decades explaining over and over again that the central U.N. resolution on the conflict did not require Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines.

Confronted with these facts, the critics say: Well, maybe this is right, but Bush should not have said this in the absence of negotiations. Good grief. This was offered to the Palestinians in negotiations -- in July 2000 at Camp David -- with even more generous Israeli concessions. Yasser Arafat said no, and then launched a bloody terror war that has killed almost a thousand Jews and maimed thousands of others.

This excellent Cliff May column details some of the policy positions (and logical blindspots) that are helpful in considering oneself "pro-Palestinian" in the current climate...

To be thought of as pro-Palestinian, you must cite the plight of the Palestinian refugees as a key motivation for violence, ignoring the fact that there would have been no refugees had Israel's Arab neighbors not launched a war to destroy the tiny Jewish state immediately upon its birth.

Indeed, Arabs who chose to stay in Israel are today Israeli citizens, as are their children, enjoying more freedoms than do the citizens of neighboring Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia or even Jordan. Disregard all this if you want to be seen as someone who cares about Palestinians.

May 1, 2004

Talkin' Tribe

Saw a game and a half at The Jake this afternoon. Maybe 3,000 of the crowd of 17,000-plus were still around when Coco Crisp singled home the winning run in the 13th inning. Each inning from the 8th on, a significant exodus of fans occurred when the Indians failed to score in their half of the inning. Sure, it was 50 degrees and windy and nasty, and I guess most fans had reason to be pessimistic when they realized that the game had become a "battle of the bullpens". But I still have a hard time understanding how people can get up and leave a game in which they have invested three and a half hours, that is still tied in extra innings. Got a dinner date? Afraid you'll feel like an idiot if you stick around and then we lose anyway?

It's another example of how drastically different the crowds at Jacobs Field are today, compared with the sellouts of the 90's. Clearly the product on the field is not a playoff caliber team, but there is zero enthusiasm for what is going on out on the field. Unless the scoreboard puts up the pathetic "Make Some Noise" notice when we need one more strike from Sabathia to retire the side, the crowd sits in dazed silence. There's no applause when the next Indians hitter is announced, and almost no verbal exhortation from fans to players as the game goes along. One of the reasons I continue to yell "Let's go, Jody", or "Sit 'im down, C.C." from my seat some 25 rows back is that I'm sure the players will be able to hear me, such is the frustrating silence that prevails most of the time. That, and I'm hoping I can demonstrate to some young or inhibited fans that it's OK to yell positive, encouraging things to individual players or to the team in general. Nobody gets hurt. And I do feel like I loosen up some of the people sitting around me, because they start to yell too, once they see or hear me do it. But it's still a drop in the bucket. These people are lifeless.

While I'm recounting pet peeves about Indians games, let me say that I continue to be embarrassed for the organization when they play that idiotic "Talkin' Tribe" song every game, as the Indians are taking the field for the top of the first. Even Michael Stanley's "This is My Team", in all of its vapidity, wasn't as grating to the ears as this lame number:

We've got the players, this guy's really hot (Hot, Hot)
We've got a future, we're headed to the top
We're on the warpath, it's spreadin' far and wide
We're talkin' baseball (Indians Baseball) Talkin' Tribe!

We're on the warpath? I know we can do better than that. And to sing "we've got a future" is an admission that we lack a present. On top of that, it's just a really stupid song. Even at that however, it's not as embarrassing as playing "We Will Rock You!" when we're down 5-1, and we get a man on first with two outs in the 8th inning. We will what? Really?

Enough bitching. I love watching C.C. Sabathia pitch. That he owns 44 big league wins at the tender age of 23 is remarkable, but it's been great to watch him mature in his approach to pitching over the last year or so. Despite being all business when he's on the mound, he has some endearing quirks and habits that are becoming his trademarks, and make him fun to watch.

For one, he always catches the ball with his bare hand when it comes back to him after being thrown around the infield following a putout, (which only happens with no runners on base). Early in his career, the third baseman would throw it to him from the customary spot near third base. Always a nice soft lob, but even that I thought was pretty risky, given the money riding on the fingers of C.C's pitching hand staying healthy. I've noticed that now, probably at the insistence of management, Blake and C.C. walk toward each other as the ball is going around so that when Blake takes the throw he is standing right next to C.C., and flips it to him from a foot away. It's a little thing, but it's cool. And C.C. is far from the first guy to have a superstition about stepping on the foul lines when he goes on and off the field from the dugout. But when a guy that big vaults the line, people notice...and the earth moves a bit.

And then there's the baseball cap, tugged to one side, which is C.C's "look". It might elicit some ridicule from opponents or even teammates if he wasn't 6' 7", 300 lbs. and throwing a baseball 97 mph. In fact, it appears that the look is becoming something of a trend. Called the "C.C. Hat", it's so cool, it's catching on. I love it.

One last thing. Isn't it about time somebody gave Mark Shapiro a pat on the back for signing Ronnie Belliard? All the personnel moves don't work out, and I'm sure that the performances of Scott Stewart and Jose Jiminez will get better, and Belliard will undoubtedly cool off. These things balance out. But by anybody's standards, a month is a long time to hit over .400, and nobody expected anything like this performance, defensively as well as offensively, from this kid. No matter what happens the rest of the way, this guy can play, and Shapiro deserves the kudos for seeing it.

Here's a recent Minor League Report (in .pdf file format), that includes player statistics for all the farm teams. Note that at AAA Buffalo, the Indians' middle infielders of the future are tearing the cover off the ball. Brandon Phillips is hitting .359, and Jhonny Peralta is at .368.

The Al Qaeda Plot For Jordan

The plotters trained at camps in Afghanistan, and met with mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. It was to be Al Qaeda's first chemical attack, and the plan was to kill as many as 80,000 people with the blasts and the ensuing chemical cloud. Ironically, the success of targeted regimes at thwarting these attacks tends to hurt the cause of public awareness and support:

...the public appetite for stories about the al-Qaeda threat was waning. "One of the reasons that it hasn’t captured the public imagination is that it didn’t happen.

"We are also reaching something of a fatigue because of a massive amount of information relating to foreign plots and arrests. Another example is Saudi Arabia. You heard of the attacks on Saudi Arabia this week, but what is not noticed is that the Saudis are seizing vehicles on a weekly basis filled with explosive. Last week there were five. To stay on top of this is a massive analytical exercise."

The goal of course was nothing short of toppling the Jordanian regime. They detest any Arab ruler who has reached any sort of accommodation with Israel:

"It should not be such a surprise," he said. "Jordan is the prize possession of regime change for al-Qaeda, because it is right next door to Israel. It has a peace process with Israel, and it is one of the regions that al-Qaeda would like to destabilise."

Lots more details of the plot in this article from The Scotsman. (via The American Mind)