« May 2004 | Main | July 2004 »

June 30, 2004

Letter From A U.S. Marine

I received this in an email today, and have seen this letter making the rounds in the blogosphere. I thought it was interesting enough to post, especially in light of the handover of power, which may hamper the Marines from operating as they otherwise might in pursuit of a murderous terrorist. But I'm ahead of myself...

From a Marine officer on the Iraqi warfront with Jihadistan...

(This is an open letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, "Islamic
Response," and the rest of the so-called al-Qa'ida "insurgents"
in Iraq and elsewhere. We don't have an e-mail address for these
swine -- though we are closing in on their snail-mail address,
but we are forwarding this letter to Federalist Patriots around the
world in the hope you good people will forward it to as many other
Patriots as possible to rally prayer and support for our fellow
Marine, Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun. Should these al-Qa'ida pigs
spill his blood, we want them to rest assured that the contents
of this letter will eventually be nailed to their foreheads. Thank
you for your assistance.)

To al-Qa'ida terrorists in Iraq:

I see that you have captured a U.S. Marine, and that you plan
to cut off his head if your demands are not met. Big mistake.
Before you carry out your threat I suggest you read up on Marine
Corps history. The Japanese tried the same thing on Makin
Island and in a few other places during World War Two, and came
to regret it. Go ahead and read about what then happened to the
mighty Imperial Army on Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. They paid
full price for what they did, and you will too.

You look at America and you see a soft target, and to a large
extent you are right. Our country is filled with a lot of spoiled
children who drive BMWs, sip decaf lattes and watch ridiculous
reality TV shows. They are for the most part decent, hard working
citizens, but they are soft. When you cut off Nick Berg's head
those people gasped, and you got the media coverage you sought,
and then those people went back to their lives. This time it
is different. We also have a warrior culture in this country,
and they are called Marines. It is a brotherhood forged in the
fire of many wars, and the bond between us is stronger than
blood. While it is true that this country has produced nitwits
like John Kerry, Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Jane Fonda who
can be easily manipulated by your gruesome tactics, we have
also produced men like Jason Dunham, Brian Chontosh and Joseph
Perez. If you don't recognize those names you should. They are all
Marines who distinguished themselves fighting to liberate Iraq,
and there will be many more just like them coming for you.

Before the current politically correct climate enveloped our
culture one of the recruiting slogans of our band of brothers was
"The Marine Corps Builds Men." You will soon find out just how
true that is. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of
women. If you were men you would show your faces, and take us on
in a fair fight. Instead, you are cowards who hide behind masks
and decapitate helpless victims. If you truly represented the
interest of the Iraqi people you would not be ambushing those who
come to your country to repair your power plants, or sabotage the
oil pipelines which fuel the Iraqi economy. Your agenda is hate,
plain and simple.

When you raise that sword over your head I want you to remember
one thing. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is not alone as he kneels
before you. Every Marine who has ever worn the uniform is there
with him, and when you strike him you are striking all of us. If
you think the Marines were tough on you when they were cleaning
out Fallujah a few weeks ago you haven't seen anything yet. If you
want to know what it feels like to have the Wrath of God called
down upon you then go ahead and do it. We are not Turkish truck
drivers, or Pakistani laborers, or independent contractors hoping
to find work in your country. We are the United States Marines,
and we will be coming for you.

June 29, 2004

Lessons Learned

Ralph Peters on what we learned by doing it wrong in Iraq.

Open Season

There's lots of Michael Moore-bashing going on, but Matt Labash has done some real reporting on his subject, and the resulting portrait goes beyond the Moore body of work, and beyond the much-ridiculed "body" itself, to reveal something about Michael Moore the man. You really should read it all, but I am compelled to excerpt just a bit from "Michael Moore, One-Trick Phony"

He's been compared to Mark Twain by the New York Times, to Voltaire by Newsday, to Mother Teresa by . . . himself. And it is precisely that self-regard--that propensity to concur with his clipping service--that's made Moore what he actually is: a preachy bore and one-trick phony whose work has become so sanctimoniously unamusing it could make Cesar Chavez pull for management...

...Not since Francis of Assisi has a man's geographic origin been so inexorably part of his identity. But the working-class upstart from Flint actually came from the nearby bedroom community of Davison. John Lusk, who went to high school with Moore, describes their suburb as "lily white, . . . solid middle class. It was idyllic. . . . But you'd think listening to Mike [that he] lived in the pits of the Flint depression." In interviews since celebrity found him, Moore's regular refrain has been, "I'm not supposed to be doing this anyway, I'm supposed to be building Buicks back in Flint." But that was a fate Moore had long ago escaped: He never worked a day on the assembly line...

...Though Moore's career has been one long, tiresome impression of a harlequin Reuther brother whistling the song of the working man while cracking the backs of corporate greedheads, he has had no problem adopting celebrity trappings or acting the part of the temperamental starlet. As early as 1990, when Moore was still fresh from the salt-of-the-earth mines, the director of the Sundance Film Festival complained that he was "overly demanding" and "made a scene" when he discovered his accommodations weren't as deluxe as Clint Eastwood's...

...Conversations with some dozen former employees turn up such descriptions of Moore as "mercurial," "demanding," "paranoid," and a "fork-tongued manipulator" who is "totally disingenuous" and "feeds on people's insecurities." Former TV Nation staffers compare their working conditions to "a sweatshop," a "repressive police state," "indentured servitude," and a "concentration camp." One former staffer says, "Most people hated Michael, not because he was a perfectionist, but because he was an a--hole." A former producer, casting about for a despot appropriately "large, with gluttonous appetites--not just ruthless, but sadistic," finally compares a stint with Moore to "working for Idi Amin--without the laughs." Another staffer simply states, "My parents want him dead."

By the way, Labash also reviews Fahrenheit 9/11 here.

A couple more takes on Moore and then I promise I'll leave him alone. Mark Steyn on F/911:

Midway through the picture, a "peace" activist provides a perfect distillation of its argument. He recalls a conversation with an acquaintance, who observed, "bin Laden's a real asshole for killing all those people". "Yeah," says the "pacifist", "but he'll never be as big an asshole as Bush." That's who Michael Moore makes films for: those sophisticates who know that, no matter how many people bin Laden kills, in the assholian stakes he'll always come a distant second to Bush.

And David Horowitz is not so much disturbed that a self-important America-hating leftist radical is making movies to the fawning approval of the press and the entertainment industry. That's been going on for years. He is disturbed by the fact that mainstream Democratic politicians are lining up behind a man who holds some truly deplorable views about our country, and allowing his message to be the message of their party in an election year. Read this David Brooks piece containing some of Moore's quotes, Democrats, and decide if this is a man who speaks for you.

News on Buckeyes' Coach Search

ESPN.com is reporting that OSU Athletic Director Andy Geiger will interview Rice coach Willis Wilson and Vanderbuilt coach Kevin Stallings this week for the Buckeyes' basketball coaching vacancy. The report also names a few other possibilities, and says that the finalist could be in Columbus within a couple of days and possibly hired by Friday.

On an unrelated sports note, Forbes has put out their annual listing of the Top 50 highest paid athletes.

June 28, 2004

Niger - Uranium Story Pans Out

According to an investigation by the Financial Times, there was apparently a discussion of a sale of uranium between Iraq and Niger after all:

Until now, the only evidence of Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium from Niger had turned out to be a forgery. In October 2002, documents were handed to the US embassy in Rome that appeared to be correspondence between Niger and Iraqi officials.

When the US State Department later passed the documents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, they were found to be fake. US officials have subsequently distanced themselves from the entire notion that Iraq was seeking buy uranium from Niger.

However, European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq.

Power Line comments here, and links to an archived August 2003 post in which they wondered why the discovery of some forged documents had people backpedaling from the entirely logical conclusion that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck....

OK, let's put this together. Apart from livestock that cross over into Nigeria, it is hard to find any reference to an export product other than uranium. Iraq had bought uranium from Niger in the 1980's, and in 1999 one of Iraq's principal advocates of nuclear weapons development was sent on a trade mission to Niger. (He was also accredited as Ambassador to Niger.) If he wasn't trying to buy uranium, then what was he trying to buy? The French, who would be in the best position to know since they operate Niger's uranium mines, apparently told the British that he was trying to buy uranium. Would someone please tell me what known facts have "discredited" the claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Niger?

Everyone knows that it was Joe Wilson, self-promoter and partisan hack, who spent eight days drinking mint tea in Niger, and found no basis for any claims that Iraq sought to buy uranium there. At least there were none at the bottom of his teacup. The Belgravia Dispatch links to a follow up piece by FT.com here.

I feel certain that humble apologies will be forthcoming from all of the Democratic politicians who called Bush a "liar" for his statement in the State of the Union address regarding this bit of intelligence.

72 Hole Weekend

Took a break from the Internet and the rest of my routine this past weekend to take a quick golfing trip with 11 other guys. That included playing 36 holes on Saturday, a first for me. So instead of icing down beers at the hotel that evening, we were icing down body parts, a knee in my case. A fun if not relaxing time, but I've been out of touch with news and sports stuff for three days. Back after I catch up.

June 24, 2004

Cutting Through The Fog

Since the 9/11 Commission staff report came out last week and the press did their level best to distort what it said, there have been several good articles on the history of Iraq-Al Qaeda connections, dating back to the Clinton administration. Stephen Hayes, in The L.A. Times, says that the"Al Qaeda Link Exists, Despite the Fog".

Glenn links to a couple of telling 1999 articles, and The Weekly Standard details the Clinton administration case against Saddam.

Just Another Cleveland Joke

For years one familiar rap on Cleveland was that our river was so polluted that it once caught on fire. While ranking somewhat below Dennis Kucinich, the 1969 river incident is still one of Cleveland's all-time embarrassments. But Case Western Reserve professor and NRO contributor Jonathan Adler does us a service by separating fact from myth:

The Cuyahoga fire was a powerful symbol of a planet in disrepair and an ever-deepening environmental crisis, and it remains so to this day. That a river could become so polluted to ignite proved the need for federal environmental regulation. Following on the heels of several best-selling books warning of ecological apocalypse and other high-profile events such as the Santa Barbara oil spill, the 1969 Cuyahoga fire spurred efforts to enact sweeping federal environmental legislation. "The burning river mobilized the nation and became a rallying point for passage of the Clean Water Act," noted one environmental group on the fire's 30th anniversary. The fire even inspired a song by Randy Newman, "Burn On."

There's a problem with this story. Much of it is myth. Oil and debris on the river's surface did burn in 1969, and federal environmental statutes were the result, but so much else of what we "know" about the 1969 fire simply is not so. It was not evidence of rapidly declining environmental quality, nor was it clear evidence of the need for federal action.

There's also a much longer version of Adler's work on this topic (in PDF format) for anyone so inclined.

The U.N. and Anti-Semitism

Anne Bayefsky delivered this speech to a U.N. conference on Confronting Anti-Semitism. She documents the history of U.N. actions and double standards as regards Israel, and specifically recommends some concrete steps they should take that would go beyond the window dressing of holding a conference...

...I challenge the secretary-general and his organization to go further--if they are serious about eradicating anti-Semitism:

- Start putting a name to the terrorists that kill Jews because they are Jews.

- Start condemning human-rights violators wherever they dwell--even if they live in Riyadh or Damascus.

- Stop condemning the Jewish people for fighting back against their killers.

- And the next time someone asks you or your colleagues to stand for a moment of silence to honor those who would destroy the state of Israel, say no.

Only then will the message be heard from these chambers that the U.N. will not tolerate anti-Semitism or its consequences against Jews and the Jewish people, whether its victims live in Tehran, Paris or Jerusalem.

June 23, 2004

Good News From Iraq - Part IV

Another installment from Aussie blogger Arthur Chrenkoff in his series Good News From Iraq. Arthur organizes and links to all the stories that the major media downplay or ignore for fear that they might reflect positively on George Bush. Thanks, Arthur.

June 22, 2004

Moore Takedown

I realize that linking to something after it has been posted by Andrew Sullivan is the blogging equivalent of throwing a matchstick onto a forest fire...or something like that. But this Christopher Hitchens review of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 is so good that I just had to say "ditto". Referring to a previous debate he had with Moore, and in response to Moore's threats to sue the film's critics for libel, Hitch calls him out:

I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers—get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.

I'd pay to see that.

Summer Fun

As much as the fans and the press have been hyperventilating about the Indians quest to bring their record up to .500, the manager and the team don't seem to have let it affect them as well. In fact, when they finally drew even tonight at 34-34 by beating the White Sox, achieving the .500 record (on the sixth try) was an anticlimax to the anticipation of a budding pennant race this summer. How 'bout that?

After all, what good is the win that gets you to .500 if you lose the next four in a row? What's important is that when the Indians got to the crest of the hill, they could see first place without binoculars. They're only four games out, and if they can stay within striking distance until the All-Star Game, then maybe we'll be the ones trading prospects for veterans instead of the other way around.

At the start of the season, the one thing every Tribe fan knew for sure was that we should trade Matt Lawton to anyone willing to give us a gross of baseballs for him, and do it before those suckers changed their minds. Now what would you do if Brian Cashman of the Yankees came calling looking for a veteran left-handed hitter for their bench during the stretch run? Trade your most consistent hitter, leading base stealer and run scorer without anyone in the picture to play his position? (Ryan Ludwick isn't ready, and as talented as Grady Sizemore is, he has never played in a major league game.)

Jody Gerut is slumping and we're still not sure that Coco Crisp is more than a flash in the pan. Even with Lawton, we don't have an outfield that scares anybody. Without him, we're downright weak out there. Especially now that we're purporting to compete with the Twins and White Sox who are sporting big bats in the outfield.

The most encouraging thing that has happened to this team in a month though, is the performance turned in yesterday by Jason Davis. When your supposed #2 starter has only one win by the middle of June and has looked bad getting there, your whole rotation feels the pressure. The coaches have been working with changing Davis' motion and delivery somewhat, and yesterday's results were impressive. If Davis recaptures his form and can be consistent, suddenly our rotation with Lee, Sabathia and Westbrook looks as good as anybody in the AL. Throw in Jason Stanford (coming back soon?) and we can make a run at it. 86 to 88 wins might win the Central.

If we still don't need binoculars in two weeks, it will be very interesting to see if Dolan will open up his wallet, and if Shapiro has a move up his sleeve to add talent instead of purging it. Whether or not we take it up a notch from here, the team shows signs of getting their fans back. The difference in atmosphere between 15,000 and 30,000 fans at Jacobs Field is huge. Rock the Jake.

June 19, 2004

Clinton Summer Tour

A great Mark Steyn piece on the Bill Clinton Summer Tour and Revival.

Why, you wonder, would they want to go through one more summer season of Monica and Paula and all the rest? Because, so his defenders have convinced themselves, it makes them look good: unlike the Bush administration with the scandal of Abu Ghraib and torture, in the Clinton administration the biggest scandal was about oral sex. Say what you like, but, in the Clinton era, the only naked guy with women's panties on his head and a dog leash round his neck would have been the President breaking in the new intern pool.

The New York Times review of the Clinton book "My Life" is surprisingly scathing. Here's a taste:

The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history....In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton's presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration.

Stunt Pilot

What Bridge?

June 18, 2004

Selective Outrage

Accuracy in Media (AIM) is "sickened" by the uneven reporting of the various "outrages" in Iraq:

"a strange double standard seems at work. The pictures of abused Iraqis and the accused soldiers are plastered all over the media, yet the horrific pictures of Americans dying in the 9/11 attacks have been buried as too "inflammatory." Gone are the pictures of those leaping from the World Trade Center to avoid death in the inferno. Also absent from the media are the pictures of celebration in the Middle East of our 9/11 tragedy. So to you American journalists, who lost one of your brethren, Daniel Pearl, to these vermin, where is your outrage at this?"

Act Now Ohio?

The phone rang tonight at about 6:30 p.m. The young female caller asked for my 25 year-old son by his first name only. The rest of the conversation went like this:

Me: He doesn't live here anymore This is his father. Who's calling?

Caller: Well then maybe you can help me. My name is Lisa Hartley and I'm with Act Now Ohio, and we're calling Ohio citizens to get their responses on some important issues. Let me ask you...do you know anyone who has lost their job in the last couple of years?

Me: Who are you again?... and what organization are you with?

(Caller repeats above script verbatim)

Me: Yes, I do know of someone who has lost his job recently.

Caller: Do you consider yourself to be a Democrat or a Republican?

Me: I lean Republican.

Caller: Do you think you would vote for John Kerry or George Bush in the November election?

Me: George Bush.

Caller: OK, which of the following statements do you agree with most:

a)We need affordable health care.

b)We need to create jobs and employment.

c)We need to get our country's priorities back in order.

Me: I think those are all pretty vague concepts as you've stated them, and it sounds to me like an agenda-driven question.

Caller: Well, thank you for your time. (Hangs up)

I'm sure the conversation would have continued had I not outed myself as a likely Bush voter, although I'm not sure what direction the call would have taken. Obviously there is no wrong answer to the question, other than perhaps mine, a refusal to bite. All of the statements were implicitly critical of the status quo, and as such, current administration policies. And they suggest currently favored left liberal initiatives as solutions. i.e. We need affordable health care. (We don't have it now...hmmm, maybe the government should run it?). We need to get our priorities back in order. (They are out of whack now...hmmm, maybe if we could replace the priority-setters?). And of course if you know anyone who has lost his job in the last two years, well, what does that say about the policies of the Bush administration?

I don't mind people campaigning for one or another of the candidates. I'll even engage them on the phone at home at dinnertime, just for sport. I just don't appreciate it when advocacy comes badly camouflaged as a "survey" purporting to be soliciting my views, when its content seems designed more to influence them. Or maybe we Bush voters are just written off as soon as we self-identify. It's the undecided folks and likely Kerry voters that get to talk longer.

My best guess is that it's a recruiting tool to identify likely Kerry campaign volunteers. After all, Act Now Ohio doesn't sound much like a polling organization. It sounds like an advocacy group of some sort, and it's not too tough to figure out what sort that is. If a respondent takes the bait they may be asked to work for the campaign in some way. Guys like me they just want to get off of the phone as soon as possible. Maybe someone can tell me who these people are. (Google has not helped thus far.) I'll keep my eye out for them on the way to November.

BBC In A Bubble

News organizations aren't supposed to have foreign policies, are they? Here's a sample of Tom Gross' critique of the BBC:

The BBC rarely misses an opportunity to denigrate Israel or its prime minister. One program even staged a mock "war crimes" trial for Ariel Sharon. (The BBC verdict — that Sharon has a case to answer — was never in doubt.)

Yasser Arafat, though, receives a very different treatment. One particularly cosmetic exercise was a 30-minute BBC profile of Arafat which described him as a "hero," and "an icon," and spoke of him as having "performer's flare," "charisma and style," "personal courage," and being "the stuff of legends." Adjectives applied to him included "clever," "respectable," and "triumphant." He was also inaccurately referred to as "President."

This was broadcast on July 5, 2002 — just two weeks after President Bush had called for a change in Palestinian leadership following revelations about Arafat's links with suicide-terror attacks. But then the BBC knew that they would get this kind of approach when they asked the notoriously anti-Israeli journalist, Suzanne Goldenberg... to make the program.

A particularly blatant example of bias, perhaps, but not an isolated one. The BBC rarely mention Arafat's dictatorial rule, his endemic corruption, or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — the terror group he set up after launching the current Intifada, a group which, in recent months, has outstripped Hamas in the number of terror attacks perpetrated against Israeli civilians. As for Hamas, Sheikh Yassin was recently described by one of BBC radio's Gaza correspondents, Zubeida Malik, as "polite, charming and witty, a deeply religious man."

Their audience is worldwide. Small wonder we're hated. The BBC is hard at work making sure of that every day.

Minor League Report 6/18

Summaries and averages for all four Indians farm teams. (In PDF file format)

Woody - The Sequel

Kyle Lamb of Bucknuts.com thinks that if the Buckeyes want to make some noise, they'll hire Bobby Knight to be their new basketball coach:

A very common desire amongst the program's followers seems to be more noise. More noise in the building during home games, more noise made nationally amongst the media, more noise on the national recruiting scene, and more noise from the coach itself - a nationally renowned figure in the college basketball world.

Is there anyone noisier than Bobby Knight?

No argument there. The idea of hiring Knight is certainly seductive enough for Buckeye fans. A winner...one of the all time greats...suitably rehabilitated at Texas Tech...coming home to Columbus to break the victory records of Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith. It would be a media circus. More from Lamb:

Suddenly, Ohio State would find themselves in front of a national television audience quite often. ...The game against Indiana would suddenly be a nationally recognized rivalry. It's quite possible a large portion of Assembly Hall would find itself secretly rooting for the Buckeyes, simply on behalf of Knight.

I think we need to take a pass on him. I don't want Ohio State to go down in history as the place where two legendary coaches get canned for clubbing 20-year old players upside the head with a forearm. Who would bet against Knight's career ending that way?

When A.D. Andy Geiger hired Jim O'Brien, he hired the anti-Knight. Distinguished, dapper, and quiet, all O'Brien did was share two Big Ten titles, win one Big Ten Tournament and go to one Final Four in his first four years. I wonder if Andy Geiger's idea of a perfect coach has really swung 180 degrees, or if he's just interested in the national spotlight that a reunion with Knight would bring to Ohio State and the Big Ten. Is it true that there's no such thing as bad publicity?

Increased media attention, or even increased victory totals, don't equate to an increase in prestige or class for the program. In light of disclosures of O'Brien's rule breaking, I guess the prestige level of the current program is debatable anyway. But I would think that hiring a guy who's likely to need a permission slip from the NCAA office and a Zero Tolerance clause in his OSU contract might not be the first step back toward respectability.

But if noise and cash are all Andy Geiger and Ohio State are looking for, they've got their guy:

If Bobby Knight is hired, perhaps the next f-bomb he drops will be drowned out by 20,000 screaming fans. Perhaps the next tossed chair, will have a 2005 Final Four logo on the back. And quite possibly the next time any of those things happen, it will be on national television as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Now that would make some noise, wouldn't it?

I can see how hiring Knight would turn out to be great for the Ohio State program, and that's something I would relish. But for some reason, I hope it doesn't happen.

(Cross-posted at Sportsblog)

UPDATE 6/19: More from ESPN on Knight's "momentum" as a candidate for the OSU job...

Knight's coaching staff, a source said, is hearing that there is a groundswell behind Knight's being hired so that he can finish his career where it began as a player -- in Columbus. But the source said Ohio State athletic officials will not act until they have the necessary support by the university to hire Knight. This apparently is a developing process.

June 17, 2004

Oil-For-Food Update

Claudia Rosett updates the progress, if you can call it that, of the many and varied investigations of what has come to be known as "UNSCAM ", concluding...

"I'm working around to the belief that in the matter of reforming the U.N., the only thing worse than having the U.N. ignore a problem is to have the U.N. investigate it."

Media Distortion Challenged By Bush Team

Richard Miniter lists (again) the various established links between Saddam's Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, after nearly every newspaper in the country led with misleading or downright distorted headlines about what the 9/11 Commission supposedly concluded in their report.

The distortion of the commission's findings, committed by everyone from the Washington Post to USA Today, is in their reporting that the group found no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, when in fact the commission reported no such thing. They did say that there was no credible evidence of Saddam's involvement in Al Qaeda attacks on America, to include 9/11, something that the Bush administration has never even contended. This afternoon, Bush clarified:

"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda," Bush said. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda."

Apparently the White House's forceful replies to this morning's blatant propagandizing has had some effect. The USA Today headline of this morning, "Commission Confirms No Iraq-Al Qaeda Link" no longer seems to be available online, having been replaced by an editorial this evening taking the opposite view, and confirming that news outlets have been selectively and misleadingly reporting what the Commission said;

A 9/11 commission staff report is being cited to argue that the administration was wrong about there being suspicious ties and contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda. In fact, just the opposite is true. The staff report documents such links.
The staff report concludes that:

• Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan."

• "A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994."

• "Contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan."

Chairman Thomas Kean has confirmed: "There were contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, a number of them, some of them a little shadowy. They were definitely there."

Thanks for that correction guys, but the damage done by your headline this morning can't be undone.

Vice President Dick Cheney was characteristically blunt in an interview on CNBC's Capitol Report:

"The press, with all due respect, (is) often times lazy, often times simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework."

Andrew McCarthy has an excellent piece at NRO that deals in facts instead of political campaigning. Under the heading of "inconvenient facts", McCarthy goes back to the pre-Bush year of 1998, when the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection was an established truth, even among journalists:

The staff's back-of-the-hand summary also strangely elides mention of another significant matter — but one that did not escape the attention of Commissioner Fred Fielding, who raised it with a panel of law-enforcement witnesses right after noting the staff's conclusion that there was "no credible evidence" of cooperation. It is the little-discussed original indictment of bin Laden, obtained by the Justice Department in spring 1998 — several weeks before the embassy bombings and at a time when the government thought it would be prudent to have charges filed in the event an opportunity arose overseas to apprehend bin Laden. Paragraph 4 of that very short indictment reads:

Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, 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.
(Emphasis added.) This allegation has always been inconvenient for the "absolutely no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda" club. (Richard Clarke, a charter member, handles the problem in his book by limiting the 1998 indictment to a fleeting mention and assiduously avoiding any description of what the indictment actually says.)

UPDATE 6/18: David Horowitz calls it "The Big Lie".

The OSU - Savovic Caper

If you're interested in the gory details of the scandal that got Jim O'Brien fired as head basketball coach at Ohio State, this Plain Dealer article spells it out. It does seem as though assistant coach Paul Biancardi was responsible for Savovic's paid living arrangements, which were clumsily arranged via a prominent Buckeye booster. O'Brien's name has not been directly connected with any of the goings on relative to Boban Savovic. O'Brien has admitted to being aware of, if not solely responsible for a $6000 payment to the family of Alexander Radojevic, which is enough by itself to justify his termination. I do hope someone gives OB a shot to coach again in D1. If it turns out that all he's guilty of is helping out an impoverished family in the middle of a civil war, NCAA regulations or no NCAA regulations, it would be a shame to end his coaching career for that reason alone.

June 16, 2004

Libyan - Al Qaeda Plot

Here's Dan Darling's special report at Winds of Change detailing the plot hatched by Libyan intelligence to contract Al Qaeda for the assassination of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah. Dan says it seems clear that bin Laden's boys would have stepped in to replace the royal family:

The big deal here is that a prominent American Islamist appears have been more or less subcontracted by Libya to finance an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah and possibly other members of the House of Saud. Given that the only competitor to the royals these days is bin Laden, the clear implication here is that al-Qaeda would take over the Kingdom should Alamoudi's plot succeed, a detail Libyan intelligence surely would have been aware of.

And as Dan points out, neither previous animosities between Qaddafi and Al Qaeda, nor ideological/religious differences prevented them from working together in their common cause.

June 15, 2004

Impossible Objects

From a man named John Rausch...


Is it a puzzle or is it a magic trick? Impossible objects are difficult to classify. They really aren't mechanical because they don't move (usually) and you don't manipulate any of their parts to solve them. You just look at them and think. And they aren't really a magic trick. There's no performer, at least not when you're dealing with the object. But they have the same "how did they do that" quality that a magic trick has. The puzzle is to figure out how they were made.

Okay, so I'm easily amazed. And as Coolios Weblog is the clearinghouse for all manner of marvels and curiosities on the Internet, I frequent the place when I'm sick of politics, the Indians are losing, I can't imagine blogging about anything remotely serious, and my alternative is television.

So I find myself playing this little game when I realize it's nothing more than a jazzed up knockoff of the classic Copter Game. Some time ago I required a 12-step program to overcome my Copter Game habit, an addiction which I blame entirely on Dave Barry. But that's another story.

Miracle Worker

Learned via Power Line of Michelle Malkin's new blog, which in and of itself would have made my day. But then one of Malkin's readers made this observation:

"I have my own Reagan moments and I really love the man. Even at his funeral he was still uniting people. He got the Clintons sleeping together again."


Early returns suggest Michelle Malkin was "born to blog". I guess she can be counted on not to sugarcoat her commentary, if one of her early posts, titled "Joe Biden is a Weasel", is any indication. Blog on, Michelle!

June 14, 2004

Time For Blogs

Time Magazine online has a good piece on blogs. An excerpt:

What makes blogs so effective? They're free. They catch people at work, at their desks, when they're alert and thinking and making decisions. Blogs are fresh and often seem to be miles ahead of the mainstream news. Bloggers put up new stuff every day, all day, and there are thousands of them. How are you going to keep anything secret from a thousand Russ Kicks? Blogs have voice and personality. They're human. They come to us not from some mediagenic anchorbot on an air-conditioned sound stage, but from an individual. They represent — no, they are — the voice of the little guy.

As the man says...Indeed.

"Hold It High"

Peggy Noonan was asked to speak to a group of former Ronald Reagan colleagues last week, and she includes the text of her remarks in today's column. Here is a small sample, but please click and read it all:

It's a short ride. Even the longest life is a little too short. You get some time; what do you want to do with it? You want to bring your love to it. And by bringing that love, be constructive, add to, help build and rebuild just by your presence, just by showing up.

How did Reagan do this? He felt something was true. He studied it; he questioned it; he read about it. He concluded it really was true. But he knew that what was true was unpopular, and it would hurt him if he held it high. He held it high anyway. That was his way of showing his love.

Are we a government that has a country, or a country that has a government? We are the latter; hold it high. Can dictators who run a country the size of a continent in the name of a life-killing ideology, can they push freedom around? They cannot. Say it, hold it high. Is there a natural thing within man that tells him God is real and good, real as a rock, good as clean water--is that thing, that knowledge, natural to man? Yes it is. Hold it high. Should we as a people try to rid ourselves of the natural expressions of this natural knowledge? No. We must keep that and guard it and love it. We must hold it high.

And in the meantime--in the meantime life is not all seriousness and a somber understanding of history, and the work of making life better. Life is beautiful. Life is the best horse on the best ranch and the best ride to see the best sunset. Laugh, have a good time, enjoy it--it's beautiful.

Canadians Looking South

Long waits for treatments and services, like up to six months just to get an MRI, are just some of the problems built in to government-run health care in Canada. Paul Jacob's article at Townhall.com reports that Canada might consider privatizing, if it didn't mean admitting that the American system might be better:

These problems aren't secret. Government commissions have listened to hours of horrifying testimony, and there have been numerous public studies. More strikingly, a current case before Canada's Supreme Court has made the problems front-page news. A Quebec doctor and his patient have sued the government for the right to contract privately for medical services. If the Court agrees, Canada's monolithic approach to medical care may be at an end, and with it Canadian waiting. (The court isn't expected to rule on the case until 2005, however, so they'll have to wait for an end to waiting. They're used to it.)...

... Like socialist systems elsewhere, Canada's health care system rations by procrastination.

I'm reminded again of the great quote from P.J. O'Rourke..."If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."

June 13, 2004

Our Baby Graduates

Sports program scandals at Ohio State will take a back seat today to graduation exercises for the Class of 2004. We are heading to Columbus to see our daughter receive her Bachelor of Arts diploma from the OSU Honors College. She graduates today "With Distinction", and Cum Laude. Her mother and I are so proud of the independent, thoughtful and loving person she has become, that I wanted to salute her in pixels here at Wizblog, and tell her yet again how much we love her.

Congratulations, my dear Susan!

UPDATE 6/14: The weather cooperated nicely this afternoon in Columbus. So much so that we were searching for shade and begging for a breeze for most of the three hour ceremony. Graduates were encouraged to "personalize" their caps, although they needn't have encouraged our girl. She was easy to pick out of the crowd of 7225 graduates, as the only one with a pink parasol.

June 12, 2004

Mr. Clean

Buckeye fans are stunned by the facts in the case of Jim O'Brien, the Ohio State basketball coach who was fired this week when it was disclosed that he was involved in payments to recruits and favors supplied to players that were clear violations of NCAA regulations. O'Brien has always had a squeaky clean reputation, and it is that image in the minds of Buckeye fans that makes this case such a shocker.

The initial report dealt with a cash payment to the family of a recruit, and dated from 1998:

The coach admitted making a $6,000 cash payment to one-time recruit Aleksandar Radojevic, whose home situation in war-torn Yugoslavia was in turmoil.

Radojevic never enrolled at Ohio State, and since he had never played for the Buckeyes, the hope was that while serious, the violations might not carry severe NCAA penalties. Then the reasons for O'Brien's disclosure started to come out. Boban Savovic, another Yugoslavian player who had been a part of OSU Big Ten Championship teams while playing from 1999-2001, was the subject of a lawsuit that had just been filed. Now an actual OSU player was involved, although the involvement of O'Brien in the Savovic matter has not been clearly established at this point. From the Bucknuts.com article by Steve Helwagen, here are some of the details of the allegations:

One piece of the puzzle in the firing of Ohio State men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien is a lawsuit filed by a Columbus woman against former Buckeye player Boban Savovic...

...The suit was filed by Kathleen Salyers in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. She is seeking reimbursement from Savovic for living expenses and other items. In fact, Salyers is asking for compensatory damages, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages of $300,000.

According to the suit, Savovic was living with a Columbus couple, Dan and Kim Roslovic. But when Dan Roslovic, an alleged OSU booster, learned it would be a violation of NCAA rules for the player to live with him, he suggested that Savovic move in with his housekeeper, Salyers.

The suit alleges Roslovic got that advice from former OSU assistant Paul Biancardi, now the head coach at Wright State University. It also alleges that Roslovic agreed to pay Salyers $1,000 a month as well as living expenses for Savovic to stay at her home.

Here is the O-Zone story by John Porentas. It contains links to the actual text of the lawsuit filed by Salyers. Helwagen follows up with commentary and speculation about O'Brien's replacement, calling it a "dark day at OSU". Terry Pluto thinks the new man ought to be Gary Waters, ex-Kent State coach, currently at Rutgers. And the Columbus Dispatch has blanket coverage of the scandal.

As far as I know, there is as yet no clear evidence that O'Brien was aware of the paid living arrangements for Savovic, but he has admitted to involvement in the $6000 payment to Radojevic's family. Dick Vitale looked at the circumstances, along with O'Brien's impeccable track record and reputation, and wondered if perhaps the firing was too hasty:

...considering his entire resumé, my first glance at the allegations tells me O'Brien should have been given a chance to explain.

Perhaps he should have been suspended. Or maybe other punishments would have been appropriate, like a loss of a scholarships or a penalty that would not allow him to recruit off-campus for an extended period.

My understanding is that O'Brien went to Barton Community College to visit Aleksandar Radojevic after he had committed to Ohio State. That same day, the youngster learned his father had died. The player's mom was back in Croatia where she lived, and Radenovic was in a chaotic state. The family was struggling financially.

O'Brien showed he had a heart and offered to loan the player $6,000 on the condition that when he became an NBA first-rounder, he would repay the loan. It was not a gift.

Was it right? No. Should he have made that offer? No. But if you check O'Brien's coaching track record and look at the situation objectively, I wonder if his firing was warranted...

...College basketball lost a quality guy when O'Brien was fired. It just shows the temptation and the pressure these days. It also shows that a coach had a heart bigger than it should have been.

ESPN's Andy Katz says the decisive action by Geiger could help OSU with the NCAA interms of the severity of the penalty. Ironically, it was O'Brien's confession that gave Geiger the green light to act in advance of any investigation:

...O'Brien's admission of a major violation of paying a player's family, even if it was for humanitarian aid for someone dealing with the aftermath of a war, has sent a jolt within the NCAA.

O'Brien was always considered a coach who was above reproach. When St. John's was looking for a "clean image guy, with New York ties," the first name to emerge was Jim O'Brien. O'Brien was not a coach who wanted or liked dealing with any of the sordid elements of the recruiting world while at Boston College or Ohio State.

As for O'Brien, he owned up to his mistake. But the $6,000 figure is too large for him to get a free pass from the university. The NCAA and Geiger immediately termed this to be a major violation. O'Brien obviously made a bad decision, one that has already cost him an $800,000-a-year salary.

As for the NCAA, it looks for preemptive strikes by schools. Geiger took a major step forward by dismissing O'Brien before a formal investigation even begins. That will help Ohio State move forward quicker. It's the harshest move an athletic director can make, but in the eyes of the NCAA, it's the one that will get the most attention if it's done after there is proof.

Read the whole Vitale piece for balance. My selected excerpts left out Vitale's unequivocal statements that the payments to a recruit and his family were wrong, and deserved punishment regardless of the circumstances. After all, there are lots of impoverished families in Yugoslavia, but the payment happened to go to the one with a kid who stands 7'3". The argument that it was a "loan" would seem to have a better chance with the NCAA than the "humanitarian" angle.

I really liked Jim O'Brien. His teams always worked extremely hard, played great team defense, and he always seemed to do "more with less", in terms of the talent he had on the floor. Ohio State can't seem to get one black eye healed these days, before they take a hit in the other one. This roundhouse punch is going to have the basketball program reeling for at least two years. The Buckeyes are going to have to find a coach with a clean image and a reputation for integrity. As one commentator said this week, the bizarre thing is that they thought that's what they already had.

June 11, 2004

Bigger And Better

After the booming U.S. economy, the biggest unreported story by Big Media is the ongoing series of small successes, and the overall progress of liberated Iraq. An Australian blogger named Arthur Chrenkoff is doing his level best to report some of those successes in an excellent series of posts called "Good News From Iraq". Here's Part III in that series.

There are dozens of links here to news stories, including many about the good works by coalition troops or Western companies involved in the reconstruction of schools, infrastructure and social institutions. But the majority are stories of Iraqis doing by and for themselves, like this account of Iraqi surgeons who have banded together to provide free reconstructive surgery to an estimated 3500 soldiers and others who had their ears amputated by Saddam's forces, following a 1994 edict by the dictator.

So it's not all chaos, insurgency and prisoner abuse, and the new Iraqi leadership has appropriately thanked the Americans and the British, and Bush and Blair specifically, for liberating their country and giving them a chance to rule themselves. You mean you didn't hear it from Peter Jennings? Here's the take from the WSJ:

A myth has developed that Iraqis aren't grateful for their liberation from Saddam. So it's worth noting that the leaders of Iraq's new interim government have been explicit and gracious in their thanks, not that you've heard this from the U.S. media.

First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that "I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led international coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq." In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: "Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq."

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing last Thursday: "We Iraqis are grateful to the coalition who helped liberate us from the persecution of Saddam Hussein's regime. We thank President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for their dedication and commitment."

We thought our readers might like to know.

The media couldn't be more nakedly partisan if they did the Evening News wearing their Kerry buttons. If it has the potential to help Bush, you won't see it. And the fact that we're used to it doesn't make it any less disgusting. Check out Chrenkoff for some balance.

Taranto Rebuts Kofi

James Taranto notes;

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave a commencement address at Harvard yesterday. The previous day, the Harvard Crimson reports, "nearly 150 people--including several who appeared to be alums or Harvard-affiliated--turned out to protest what they called Annan's failure to take action against slavery and genocide in Sudan." The anti-Annan protest doesn't seem to have attracted much attention, though, from the national press, which seems to prefer its protests anti-American.

The Crimson, meanwhile, notes that Annan struck an anti-American tone in his speech:

Without explicitly referencing the current U.S. administration, Annan challenged various elements of American foreign policy, including the use of preemptive strikes in the war in Iraq.

"What kind of world would it be, and who would want to live in it, if every country was allowed to use force, without collective agreement, simply because it thought there might be a threat?" Annan said, to applause from the audience.

The real question is: What kind of world would it be if no country were willing to use force against terrorists except with the unanimous consent of countries that make corrupt deals with terror-sponsoring governments?

June 10, 2004

Not Great

After the Browns finally cut Tim Couch today, Len Pasquarelli speculated on where he might land:

Couch could strike a quick deal in Green Bay, since he is further along with the Packers than with other franchises, but the odds are that he will take a few days to at least explore potential other options and to see if the phone rings. Just 26 years of age, with a resume that includes 59 regular-season starts, the quick consensus of a few personnel directors contacted on Wednesday afternoon is that Couch will have some alternatives.

The phone has not been ringing much so far, but that's mostly because Couch has been trying to position himself with a team where he has an opportunity to be the starter, and he has found out that there are precious few of those. Now that he is resigned to being a backup, I'm sure he'd be an upgrade, with his 59 NFL starts, for a lot of teams in the league, if the salary numbers work out for Tim. The fact that he has made about $30 million in five years with the Browns should encourage him to be somewhat flexible, you'd think. But that track record and his pride won't let him settle for a mere $1 million contract as a backup QB.

In the rearview mirror Couch looks like a good guy and a tough football player who just made the mistake of not being great. When you're drafted with the first pick in the entire draft, you're supposed to be great. John Elway great, or Bruce Smith great. Maybe even one step down from Hall of Fame great...say, Keyshaun Johnson or Troy Aikman great. But the first pick is never a sure thing. Sometimes you get Irving Fryar. Or Courtney Brown. An average player, not a great one. So your team ends up four or five years down the line paying an average player a great player's salary. And that can't last.

Couch had the misfortune to be a pretty good guy on a miserable team for at least the first two, and probably three years. I've seen all but a couple of his home games in person the last five years, and he always impressed me with his toughness and stoicism, the one tearful postgame interview notwithstanding. He never criticised his offensive offensive line while they were setting a season record for sacks allowed, either during the games or in the press afterwards. He embraced the city and the budding franchise, and demanded little more in return than simple respect from fans and a competent left tackle. If Couch came up short of their expectations, both the city and the team came up short on their end of the bargain too.

He came into the league one year before Peyton Manning, and soon was eating Peyton's dust, as it became apparent fairly early that Tim Couch was not going to be another Elway or Aikman. He never had the accuracy or the arm strength of those two guys, and while he was fairly athletic and coordinated, he didn't have Elway's speed or Aikman's instincts. That said, the Browns from 1999-2003 had so many holes and so little "star" caliber talent, that we never got to find out if the reason we weren't better was the quality of the quarterback play. Would John Elway have taken that team to the playoffs?

It never made sense for Tim Couch to be anything but the starter as long as he wore the orange hat. Once he proved to Cleveland that he wasn't going to be great, it was really all over. He deserves a fresh start, and he deserves a whole lot less than $7 million a year in salary. Neither of those things could realistically or amicably happen in Cleveland. But I hope good things happen for this guy. Good luck #2.

UPDATE 6/10: I read Terry Pluto's column this morning, and he echoes a lot of the points I made about Couch's time in Cleveland. Tough guy, team player, not great, better off elsewhere.

June 9, 2004

Kampleman on Reagan

Max Kampleman describes "The Ronald Reagan I Knew" in a piece that ran in the Weekly Standard six months ago. It's an interesting look at Reagan's leadership style, his bipartisanship, and his open-mindedness. May Kampleman's fellow Democrats take note:

The Ronald Reagan I knew and worked with had my respect and admiration. No American did more to undermine the brutalities of the Soviet Union and destroy the dictatorships of Eastern Europe. No American did more to spread the gift of democracy and respect for human dignity to people who had not enjoyed them. And no American did more to persuade our country that the spread of democracy and human rights to all peoples is the proper goal of the United States. That reality is not likely to be revealed or understood in the television program that CBS still plans to distribute next year. But the American people know who broke down the Berlin wall.

June 8, 2004

Pitching Wins

The Indians picked Vanderbilt pitcher Jeremy Sowers with their first selection in today's Player Draft. Cleveland's assistant G.M. John Mirabelli said that the strength of the draft was college pitching, and he stayed true to his school by selecting eight pitchers in his first nine picks, and all but one of those are college players.

June 7, 2004

Truth Invades Europe

Denis Boyles, covering the European press for NRO, says that for a day at least it was a bit unseemly to be America-bashing:

The death of Ronald Reagan on the eve of D-Day ceremonies in France provided a very awkward weekend for those in the European press who had grown fat and comfortable taking potshots at American policies and politicians. Perhaps because these two events fell at a time when French-German and American mutual loathing has reached an acute stage, it seemed for a day that cynicism had been ambushed by remembered facts.

First came the news, reported in the Daily Telegraph, that Bush and Chirac may have reached some sort of agreement on a U.N. resolution concerning Iraq. Whether this really has significance is something we probably won't see until after the G-8 meetings conclude this week, but still, the thaw in U.S.-French relations seemed palpable enough.

Then, as preparations for the Normandy commemorations were rolling out in Arromanches, came word that Ronald Reagan had died. The confluence of the symbols of both American sacrifice for Europe and a principled regard for European liberties created a kind of inescapable potency that made it, for a day anyway, difficult to continue the great project of diluting or expunging the U.S. from the history of Germany and France.

Raise The Flags On Friday!

The Internet is brimming with all things Reagan, but I'm compelled to add to it, instead of just immersing myself in it. I was listening to Drudge interviewing Peggy Noonan on his radio show last night. She was spinning yarns about her days in the Reagan White House, recalling that you could always tell that the Boss was approaching from down the hall by the raucous laughter of his entourage. Later on I thought she hit on a terrific idea, a spur of the moment thing, but I do hope that people are following through on it. (Here's one)

After flying our flags at half-mast all week, when Friday rolls around and the funeral is over, we should coordinate a simultaneous national raising of every American flag, back to the top of the pole, in tribute to Ronald Wilson Reagan. What a beautiful sentiment. It would be inspiring, inexpensive and fitting. Maybe some kids would get a clue. I get a buzz just thinking about it.

Noonan also talked to Drudge about the respectful treatment given Reagan by Democrats and most of the left...so far. She thinks by Friday, they'll be ready to explode, and someone probably will. She notes that the "spin" of the Democrats is to acknowledge the personal charisma of Reagan, appreciate the political art, even admit the "Great Communicator" thing, but they avoid like the plague any admission of the triumph of the man's ideas. The fact that he was so demonstrably right intellectually, on a variety of issues from economics to geopolitics to entitlement reform, is something the Left doesn't want people to notice.

Taranto is on the same case today in BOTW.

"Of course Carter and Mondale are right: Reagan was a great communicator, a politician who was very good at politics. But to leave it at that--to portray Reagan's triumph as one of form over substance--misses his real import. Reagan leaves an enduring legacy because of what he was communicating, namely a belief in the American ideal of freedom, an ideal that looked far less robust in the 1970s, the era of Vietnam, Watergate, stagflation and 70% tax rates, than it does in the post-Reagan era.

Reagan didn't accomplish everything he set out to do; in particular, he failed to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Even so, the GOP of today is unmistakably a Reaganite party: unalterably opposed to higher taxes, committed to promoting American ideals--which are really universal ideals--abroad.

Of the inevitable comparisons to George W. Bush, a half-hearted warning from Democrats, (also from BOTW):

(Times writer) Adam Nagourney tries to find hope for the Democrats: "Some Republicans said the images of a forceful Mr. Reagan giving dramatic speeches on television provided a less-than-welcome contrast with Mr. Bush's own appearances these days, and that it was not in Mr. Bush's interest to encourage such comparisons."

Well, maybe. Certainly Bush isn't as eloquent as Reagan was. Then again, neither is John Kerry. When Bush speaks, you often imagine Reagan might have said the same thing better. When Kerry speaks, you imagine Reagan would disagree--assuming he could even figure out what Kerry was saying.

From Human Rights Watch...

...a call to "the international community" to pressure the government of Sudan to end the "ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" in Darfur. From the HRW report, "Sudan: Darfur Destroyed"...

Human Rights Watch spent twenty-five days in and on the edges of West Darfur, documenting abuses in rural areas that were previously well-populated with Masalit and Fur farmers. Since August 2003, wide swathes of their homelands, among the most fertile in the region, have been burned and depopulated. With rare exceptions, the countryside is now emptied of its original Masalit and Fur inhabitants. Everything that can sustain and succour life—livestock, food stores, wells and pumps, blankets and clothing—has been looted or destroyed. Villages have been torched not randomly, but systematically—often not once, but twice.

The uncontrolled presence of Janjaweed in the burned countryside, and in burned and abandoned villages, has driven civilians into camps and settlements outside the larger towns, where the Janjaweed kill, rape, and pillage—even stealing emergency relief items—with impunity.

June 6, 2004

Reagan Quotes

RWN is dedicating the weekend's posting to Ronald Reagan material, and this list of quotes is pretty good. Scroll to Reagan's farewell letter while you're there. One favorite:

"I have seen the rise and fall of Nazi tyranny, the subsequent cold war and the nuclear nightmare that for fifty years haunted the dreams of children everywhere. During that time my generation defeated totalitarianism. As a result, your world is poised for better tomorrows. What will you do on your journey?"

(via The Lopsided Poopdeck, knocking around in his new blog home)


Fred Barnes covered the Reagan White House, and now remembers.

A.S. in brief

Bill Kristol (reprinted from 1997):

Courage is the first of the virtues, and Reagan had it.

His courage and his optimism were connected in this way: Courage often goes hand-in-hand with the belief--not always an entirely rational belief--that your cause will prevail. Reagan was serenely confident that he, and America, would prevail. He believed in the American people and in American principles; he believed that men deserve to be free and that they have the capacity to govern themselves; and he believed these principles would be victorious.

Reagan believed this because he was convinced Providence was somehow on America's side. Reagan was perhaps not conventionally religious, but his confidence that God was looking out for America and for the right seems to have helped give him the courage to do all that he did.

June 5, 2004

Tribe Minor League Report

It's good to have ended the latest losing streak at three games last night. How often this year have the Indians outscored their opponents 5-0 in the last two inning? Refreshing. But on to the Minor League Report for June 4.

Grady Sizemore has been hot, dragging his batting average up over .260 for the first time at AAA Buffalo, and starting to hit with some more power. Corey Smith is headed the other way. The AA Aero's third baseman has crashed and burned to a .227 batting average after hitting .324 in April. Smith has had a reputation for being allergic to leather, and for striking out excessively in his five years with he organization. Drafted in the first round in 1999, Smith is now causing the team to look elsewhere for that third baseman of the future. Speaking of which, I'm still waiting to hear of the minor league assignment for 3B prospect Matt Whitney on his way back from last year's broken leg. I think he's only 20 years old, so he may not be a AAA ballplayer. He really belongs at AA Akron, but he needs to play every day, and that's where the ever-disappointing Corey Smith is playing third every day. It's got to be a nagging question for Shapiro. When do you give up on Corey Smith?

The list of prospects in the Indians system that are opening eyes and turning heads in the 2004 season has to begin with Ryan Garko, the catcher-first baseman drafted last year out of Stanford, who is playing his first full season of pro ball at Class A Kinston. Splitting time evenly between the two positions, Garko is hitting .341 with a .618 slugging percentage. He has 14 doubles, 11 homers and 44 RBI, in 46 games. Also raking at Kinston is last year's No.1 pick, 1B Michael Aubrey. He's sporting a .322 BA and is slugging .538, with 11 doubles, 8 homers and 44 RBI. You'd think the organization would be considering a position change for Garko, with Aubrey as the heir apparent at first base, and Victor Martinez owning the starting catcher spot for the next ten years or so. Can he play third?

But Class A Kinston has the best record in all of professional baseball at 38-15 because they have the best pitching of any of the Indians clubs. Fausto Carmona, Dan Denham, Brian Slocum, J.D. Martin are all promising starters, and closer Ryan Prahm has a 1.59 ERA and 13 saves. Former Buckeye Matt Davis has a 2.04 ERA in 35 relief innings. I 'm hoping to see Kinston play later this year on a vacation jaunt to NC.

The Indians are grooming some other OF prospects that, along with Grady Sizemore, look to replace Crisp and Lawton in the next couple of years. The trio at AA Akron of Ben Francisco, Franklin Gutierrez, (who came in the Milton Bradley deal), and Jason Cooper all look like keepers. But the outfielder having the best start in 2004 is Ryan Goleski at Class A Lake County. He's hitting .329, slugging .623, with 13 doubles, 14 HR and 49 RBI in 51 games.

The next tier of pitching prospects after the Kinston foursome is the group with the Lake County Captains, which includes Sean Smith (6-2, 4.14 ERA) and Adam Miller (4-1, 2.95). Kyle Denney (4-1, 2.61) is the best we've got at AAA Buffalo and Jeremy Guthrie seems to be getting his act together at AA Akron. I believe Peter Gammons, who says the Indians may have more quality pitching prospects in the minors than any other team. It's a good feeling but, to quote Michael Ledeen, "faster, please!"

Ronald Reagan 1911-2004

From the Washington Post:

In a statement, Michael Reagan said, "I pray that as America reflects on the passing of my Dad, they will remember a man of integrity, conviction and good humor that changed America and the world for the better. He would modestly say the credit goes to others, but I believe the credit is his."

Here's a quote from the Scripps-Howard obituary:

On Jan. 11, 1989, Reagan said, "We meant to change a nation and instead we changed a world."

He insisted, "I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things. And they didn't spring full bloom from my brow; they came from the heart of a great nation - from our experience, our wisdom and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense."

June 4, 2004


Hanson is a national treasure. Read all of "The New Defeatism".

June 3, 2004

Pummelling Raines

Power Line and Andrew Sullivan give Howell Raines the old 1-2. Starting with a quote from Raines that encourages Kerry to lie to Americans about his intentions, Sullivan points up the utter contempt for, and condescension to average Americans by people like Howell Raines:

As matters now stand, Kerry has assured the DLC, "I am not a redistributionist Democrat." That's actually a good start. Using that promise as disinformation, he must now figure out a creative way to become a redistributionist Democrat.

So the aim is to deceive voters about what you want to do. This might be amusing coming from a Dick Morris or a Karl Rove. But didn't Raines spend a year and a half lacerating the Bush administration for, er, lying? And now he thinks it's an essential tool for governance? Not all Bush-haters are as dumb or as crude as Raines. But it's useful to see how decadent the left-liberal mind can be in one of its more prominent exemplars. The American people are stupid, craven greed-hounds; lying is good if you can get away with it; American capitalism is a rotten, hollow promise; and even the Democrats refuse to take the advice of the few enlightened people who can help them, like Howell Raines. Well, that makes one thing to be grateful about.


And speaking of dragging stories into the daylight, let's hope that the media will soon be forced to stop ignoring the increasingly obvious reality of connections between Saddam's Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. It has been an article of faith on the Left that no such links exist, (you know, "Bush lied...") but it requires some real contortions these days to maintain that fantasy, as documents surface and officials speak freely in liberated Iraq, and allied intelligence services continue to cooperate.

Since Stephen Hayes' cover story in last week's Weekly Standard, another in a long line of reports by Hayes on Saddam-Al Qaeda ties, several other good reports have been published to bolster and summarize the case.

Andrew McCarthy's article is perhaps the best of the lot. It's well worth reading in full. And Jay Bryant's Townhall.com piece suggests that even if security concerns are inhibiting Bush administration officials from speaking out on the links, or they are waiting for a politically advantageous moment to do so, the time is now to get the word out.

And today, Hayes notes that two officials of the new Iraqi government are making statements confirming that Saddam was indeed connected with many terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda.

UPDATE 6/4: Deroy Murdock has more, including a link to the webpage of author Edward Jay Epstein, who has also been active in coverage of Saddam-Al Qaeda links.

Reaction To Cosby Speech

Matt Rosenberg has a link-filled essay at NRO that nicely organizes much of the widely varying rection to Bill Cosby's candid remarks at last Monday's celebration of the Brown vs Board of Education decision. Noting the way most of the media ignored the story for days, Rosenberg suggests that bloggers helped to drag the story into the public awareness, forcing major media outlets to acknowledge it.

June 2, 2004

Sowell Review

Thomas Sowell has conducted a five-nation study of affirmative action policies, and found some commonalities:

Among the common consequences of preference policies in the five-country sample are:

- They encourage non-preferred groups to redesignate themselves as members of preferred groups (1) to take advantage of group preference policies;

- They tend to benefit primarily the most fortunate among the preferred group (e.g. black millionaires), oftentimes to the detriment of the least fortunate among the non-preferred groups (e.g. poor whites);

- They reduce the incentives of both the preferred and non-preferred to perform at their best - the former because doing so is unnecessary and the latter because it can prove futile - thereby resulting in net losses for society as a whole; and

- They engender animosity toward preferred groups as well as on the part of preferred groups themselves, whose main problem in some cases has been their own inadequacy combined with their resentment of non-preferred groups who - without preferences - consistently outperform them.

Here's a review by Dutch Martin of the new Sowell book "Affirmative Action Around the World"

June 1, 2004

Early Player Dumping

Peter Gammons says the teams that trade their veteran players to eager contenders now instead of waiting until July, can ask for more in return, and often get it.

That is the way Cleveland's Mark Shapiro reasoned two years ago when he put Bartolo Colon into the market early and got three prime building pieces from the Expos in Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore. That was Ken Williams' thinking last year when he moved early on Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett; reliever Frank Francisco has already paid dividends for the Rangers, and right-hander Josh Rupe isn't too far behind. That was Theo Epstein's reason for moving quickly to do the Shea Hillenbrand-Byung-Hyun Kim deal, as Kim went 8-5 with 16 saves and stabilized the bullpen, enabling Boston to make the playoffs.

Lots of player movement speculation here, and with Gammons it's always credible.